The Evolution of Parenting by Denise Heidel


The 1st year…

The first year of parenthood is a year of wonder.  This small bundle of life that spends most of the day, largely sleeping, is a creature worthy of awe.  New parents often sit around and just stare at their baby, enraptured at the perfection swaddled in tiny blankets and wearing teeny-tiny socks.  Parenting in the first year is more about the mechanics:  feeding, bathing, changing.


The 2nd and 3rd years…

These years require more guidance, as personalities begin to bud and take shape.  What was once a cooing infant has become a precocious toddler, full of curiosity.  Parenting in the 2nd and 3rd years are largely spent in discovery and mastering lifelong skills, such a toilet training.


The 4th, 5th, and 6th years…

Your precious little angel is full of discovery but now, a certain degree of independence and willfulness may have entered the picture.  Boundaries are tested.  Opinions are formed.  For some parents, this equates to a child who refuses to wear anything other than a Batman costume.  Ever.  Parenting in these years means you buy two Batman costumes so that you can at least get one washed.  You’ll count to three a lot.  You’ll be amazed at the negotiating prowess of a 5 year old and you may even start looking into the cost of law schools (after all, it’s never too early to start saving for college and surely someone who likes to argue that much will end up being a lawyer!)


The 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th years…

These were my favorite parenting years.  Children are old enough to be self-sufficient but young enough to still want to be with their parents.  They are learning the art of problem solving and many parents find this is the age to step back and let their kids fight their own battles…  We’re close enough to be there if they need us, but we let them stick that big toe in the water and start learning some important life lessons.


The 11th and 12th years…

Welcome to the world of tweens.  No longer children, but not quite teenagers.  It’s a time of awkwardness and they aren’t quite sure where they fit in.  Life is limbo between playing with Barbies and going to the mall.  Greasy skin and lank hair often accompany this age range and very often, their limbs are longer than their bodies as they are growing faster, but not necessarily proportionally.  Parenting a tween is a time of letting go.  You realize – you’re halfway done.  Pretty soon, they won’t need you anymore.  This is a good stopping point in the article if you need to go get a Kleenex.  I know.  It’s sad.  You’ll really wish you could rewind the clock to that first year.


The 13th and 14th years…

Speaking only for myself, these were the years of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  I would frequently ask my son, “Who are you and what have you done with my kid???”  Remember that Kleenex you needed for years 11 and 12?  Yeah, well, these are the years when you start counting forward….how much longer before they are legally an adult?  You’ll also realize how stupid you are, because while your teenager may not outright tell you so, they’ll make their opinion well known with frequent eye rolls.  They also won’t want to spend time with you anymore.  You’ll be aware of the existence of a teenager in your home by the mess left for you in the kitchen, but just like a timid cat who hides under the couch all day, the teenager at this age prefers to come out when no one is looking.


The 15th and 16th years…

Remember in “Up!” when all that was needed to get Dug’s attention was to yell, “Squirrel!”  Same principle applies to a 15 and 16 year old except to get their attention, you should yell, “Car!”  They have tunnel vision and at the end of that tunnel is the day they’ve been waiting on since they were waddling around in an droopy onesy with their Elmo steering wheel clutched in their chubby fists…  the driver’s license.  Everything begins and ends with a driver’s license.  The good news for parents at this stage is that the power shifts back to our control a bit…because they’ll do most anything (even, GASP! Take out the trash!) if it means being handed the keys to the car.


The 17th and 18th years…

Parents of 17 and 18 year olds often find they can almost have a conversation with their teenagers.  Kids at this age seem to have finally grown into their arms and legs, have better control of their emotions, and have matured to the point where maybe parents don’t have to worry about their future so much anymore…  Yeah right.  As if that’s possible.  Parents – you’ve done your job and it’s time for the offspring to stretch their wings and leave the nest…  Don’t worry though.  They’ll always have roots to come home to.

Denise Heidel
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Denise Heidel

Denise Heidel grew up in Winston-Salem, NC. With two brief stints living in other states (Texas and Ohio), Forsyth County kept calling her home, where she plans to stay. Denise works for Forsyth Magazines, a family of publications out of Clemmons, NC. She wears many hats for the magazines, serving as editorial director and project manager and provides support to the advertising team. She has a grown son, Charlie, and shares her home with husband, Wayne, a full-time drummer. Denise loves her coffee and also loves animals, especially cats. In her spare time, Denise enjoys reading and is an amateur historian of the Gone With the Wind movie and book history. Denise also writes a faith-based blog, She manages the social media pages for her church, and recently joined the Proverbs 31 Online Volunteer Team.
Denise Heidel
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