The Four “C’s” and The Reality of Parenting

The Four “C’s” and The Reality of Parenting

Posted by Regi Campbell on August 16, 2012

It’s not even funny how unprepared I was to be a dad. There should be a law.

My son arrived and I cried. My daughter was born and I cried again. I cried at their baptisms, their graduations, their weddings and at the birth of their children.

A few years ago, a friend shared something that put it all in perspective. He drew this diagram above and explained how it works.

He said you start out doing nothing but caring for a child. He eats, sleeps, cries, coos and poops. He stays where you put him so you don’t worry too much about controlling him. Just keep him from things that could eat him . . . like the dog.

As soon as he learns to move around . . . to roll, crawl and then walk, you move into control mode. You have to control him to protect him. You have to keep him out of the street. You keep him from climbing ladders and bookcases. You control what he puts in his mouth and keep him from French-kissing electrical outlets.

What you might not notice is that as control becomes crucial, care gets less. They go to the bathroom on their own. Before you know it, they’re washing, dressing, and feeding themselves. Your care becomes more economic and logistic, paying for all their stuff and taking them where they need to be. They start making up their own minds. You say ‘no’ occasionally, but it’s with fear and trepidation. You find yourself coaching them on life . . . giving them counsel . . . pointing them to the best choices. When they hit puberty, you realize they’re only influenced by their friends. You hope they’ve chosen good friends and that you’re one of them.

You start to become friends . . . companions. You’re not their buddy . . . buddies go along with stuff. Buddies won’t tell you the truth, even if it’ll save your butt. Buddies will get you in trouble, but they’re never there to get you out.

Friends are different. They love and respect each other. Friends are companions . . . they hang out and do life together.

I love this definition of ‘companion’ . . .

“. . . one that is closely connected with something similar.”

A dad and his kid. Something similar. So true.

Then the day comes when your offspring go to college. You now have zero control . . . you can’t even see their medical records without permission. Your care is totally financial. You have no control. And your counsel is occasional because they’re now on their own. Companionship is what keeps you connected. That’s it.

Graduation, career, marriage, kids . . . they’re launched. You’re done.

The lesson here is to recognize where you are in the cycle. Be fully present and emotionally engaged at every stage, knowing what’s coming next and what’s fading away. Don’t try to hold on too long. But don’t jump ahead either.

Ultimately, the day comes when, if you’ve done the first three “C’s” well, they’ll come back and care for you. The cycle is complete.

Question: Are you fully present with your kids? If you continue on the path you’re on as a dad, will your kid come back and care for you?  If you’d like to, please comment here.

Responses (8)

Sarah Crisp
Sarah Crisp Posted: August 17, 2012, 2:18 pm

I’m in-between caring and controlling my two year old daughter. I’m all too familiar with the word “no” right now! I’m very encouraged to stay in the moment and realize it all goes so fast!

Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell Posted: August 19, 2012, 2:54 pm

We have two grandchildren that age and we’re loving (almost) every minute of it. When their mothers tell about the bad stuff, we have a hard time believing it….they’re so good around us. But we know it’s there. We remember it from when ours were two. It does go fast. Be present!

Jim Fraser
Jim Fraser Posted: August 21, 2012, 11:51 am

Simply brilliant and starting to apply it now. Like the contrast between Buddy and Companion.

Blessings From Upper Canada

Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell Posted: August 26, 2012, 11:51 am

Thanks Jim.

todd@the315project.com Posted: August 23, 2012, 2:53 am

Thanks Regi!

Convicting question…am i fully present to my kids? Sadly not nearly enough. Which is super sad because I am with them most all the time! Leaning into the Spirit, I am increasingly prompted to STOP and kneel down to my 7, 9, and 11 year olds and listen eye to eye. In those brief moments I see in their eyes how much it means to them, and how little effort it takes on my part. They are teaching me with each new day.

The other day I had the unbelievable gift of getting to play my 9 year old in an impromptu game of chess on a huge outdoor game board over at GACS. Those 30 minutes went in slow motion as just he and I went toe to toe in a true father/son battle royale. Margin is priceless.

Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell Posted: August 26, 2012, 11:50 am

atta’ boy Todd!

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