I was thinking recently about parenting. Some parents act like they have 18+ years to teach and train their children but the reality is they only have 12 years. A couple of months ago I read, The principle of path by Andy Stanley. This is what he had to say in this regard (pg.150-151 my emphasis added):
What about the spiritual development of your kids? If you’ve got kids, this is something you’ve got to pay attention to. Seemingly few parents do. And the earlier the better. I know too many parents who treat their kids like their automobiles. They wait for the red light on the dash board to light up before giving them any attention. Preventive maintenance will help you avoid emergencies with your kids and your cars. But in both instances, it is something you have to pay attention to. (Not to turn this into a chapter on parenting, but if you’re waiting until your kids are fourteen or fifteen to get them in an environment that will engage them in the development of their faith, you are going to be sorely disappointed in the results. Spiritual development operates like the principle of the harvest. You sow early and reap later. You can’t cram for a harvest like you cram for a test. Adolescence is when parents begin to reap what they have sown. It is not the time to begin sowing. Unfortunately, too many parents don’t pay attention to this aspect of their children’s lives until they have missed the opportunity to do it right. A good student ministry will not make up for years of spiritual neglect. Parental guidance is definitely required.)
I think we see this in the life of Jesus. At 12 he went to the temple with his parents and stayed behind after his parents had left. When Mary found him, she acted like she was still in “sowing mode” but Jesus’ response: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) suggests that Mary had moved into the “reaping mode” of parenting, where Jesus begins to act independently and take responsibility for his own decisions.