Everything in parenting goes through phases.

And it isn’t until we move through these phases with our children that we really understand the stressors that come with each stage of life.

The Beginning Years

When our kids are little, our focus is simple—keep them alive.

When they are a baby, it becomes our sole responsibility to make sure they don’t fall off the couch or stick their finger in a light socket.

Basic safety becomes our goal.

We concentrate on the milestones. Each one is exciting but still brings its own set of worries.

We teach our children to walk and talk and how to do all of the important things that will help them to thrive.

When in this stage, the stress can seem overwhelming, especially with the sleepless nights and lack of your own self-care.

But everyone still manages to get through it.

The Elementary and Middle School Years

The next stage is where our children begin school and start their formal education.

As parents, we want them to be successful in school, and we want them to make friends.

We want them to be safe as they leave home. And we don’t want them to get bullied or to become bullies themselves.

Our hope is that they are the kid that stands up for other kids.

All of these stressors are taken one day, one assignment, and one relationship at a time.

But almost every experience brings with it a life lesson for both us and our children.

The High School Years

When high school comes around, we begin focusing on the next stage of life.

For many, that means college and helping our kids to really think about what they want for their future.

At that age, it’s really hard for our kids to know what they want to do in their life.

But this stage is about making sure they are getting their work done so they can get the grades they need for the college they want to attend.

The stress in this stage comes as you watch how your kids manage their own stressors in life.

You want to help, but you also want to teach them independence, responsibility, and self-reliance.

And then they go off to college and really begin to figure themselves out.

Many people would think that this is the end of our responsibilities as parents.

But it’s not.

Adulthood is just another phase

The other day, someone came up to me and said, “Oh, it must be so much easier now that you’re almost an empty nester and only have two kids left at home.”

But all I can say is that it definitely doesn’t feel easier. The stress doesn’t change.

All that changes is the things you stress about.

And most of the time, those issues are much bigger than simply keeping a baby on the couch.

When they are older, the stresses of parenting are about helping your kids navigate relationships, mental health issues, and finding their path.

When they were smaller, it was smaller issues that we worried about as parents.

As adults, oftentimes, the struggles they are experiencing are much weightier than they were as kids.

At least that’s how it’s been for our family.

We worry about our kids no matter what their age

Even though every family is unique, there’s always going to be a level of stress as a parent.

And this doesn’t change when you’re parenting adults.

It doesn’t matter that your kids have moved out of your house—you’re still going to worry about them.

You may not worry about how you’re doing as a parent, but you worry about their wellbeing.

You worry about them getting the job promotion they wanted. Have they found the person of their dreams? Are they living healthy? Are they happy?

As a parent, I believe that it’s okay to stress about your children even when they are adults.

It shows that you care about them, that you love them, and that you want the very best for them.

Parenting our kids is something we will always do

I think that a lot of times, as parents, we try to step back and let go of the worry for our adult children.

We may try saying, “Well, they’re out of the house. Those are their problems now.”

But in reality, we are still invested in their lives, and we want them to be happy and successful humans.

For us, stressing about our children’s problems is something that we think about on a regular basis.

There are many nights that we don’t sleep because of the challenges our children are facing.

We have had many sleepless nights over the years worrying about our kids. And somehow, I don’t think that is going to change.

However, as they grow and leave home, it’s a different level of worrying and stress.

It’s not better or worse—it’s just different.                    

There are a lot of things for parents to worry about

To be honest, I can’t imagine a day will ever come when I won’t have some kind of worry for my children.

Maybe that’s because I have six children.

Or maybe it’s because they are mine and I love them. And their age will never change how I feel about them.

They are incredibly special to me, and I want them to have the very best life possible.  

I would imagine that most parents feel the same way. And most would agree that our ultimate goal as parents is for our kids to be happy, healthy, and good humans.

Just in these three things, there’s a lot for us parents to think about on a regular basis.

So, although four of my six children are adults, there’s still so much parenting yet to come.

Believe it or not, it’s something I look forward to with open arms.

The stresses of parenting are real—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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