The Three “C’s” of Parenting Cop • Coach • Consultant

By Nancy L. Rommelmann PLLC | Family Law Attorney –

Nancy L. Rommelmann PLLC

Nurturing a child to make good independent decisions for themselves is a goal most parents have for their child. The three C’s of parenting serve as a guide for this process. The three phases overlap at times as a child becomes more mature and more capable of making independent decisions.


When a child is young, there are “absolutes” that cannot be compromised. (i.e. a young child must be told “no” to running into the street or touching something hot.) “No!” is such a frequently used command for a young child and many times quite necessary. However, as soon as a child begins to have some reasoning skills, about 2 1/2 years old depending on the child, it’s important to give a child choices so they appreciate their ability to make decisions for themselves. Obviously as a child gets older, a parent should offer more choices, nurture reasoning skills and the ability to evaluate criteria to make good decisions.

Endless “no’s” do not nurture/develop independent growth. It fails to give the child the opportunity to develop the ability to evaluate the situation/facts to make good choices.


A parent should be functioning as a coach by the time a child starts middle school, about 12 years old, and they should have the ability to make sound decisions at this time. This does not mean to stop parenting and offering input, but the ability to make sound decisions should be instilled by this age.

Presumably, parents laid the ground work in the “Cop” phase to have a dialogue with their child to ask them what they think they should do and then validate/redirect their thought process if need be. At this phase, a child should learn/be encouraged that to wrestle with competing points of view is legitimate and factors into good decision making.


This is when your child is making independent decisions but coming to you for your thoughts and advise. Wait until your child asks for your opinion unless your input would make a significant difference in the outcome.