Waypoints are used on a GPS to mark locations along the way to the final destination. They can be entered by users (“Grandma’s house”) or downloaded from the GPS (“Jonesboro State Park”). Waypoints not only tell you how far you have come; they often serve a safety purpose as well. You can set up waypoints to route yourself around known road hazards.
In parenting, developmental stages serve as waypoints. Children normally change every few years. Studies of the way children change, and how long it takes them to reach specific milestones, give us a pretty good idea of what is normal for children of a certain age, and what is not. Known hazards are laid out so you can avoid them— or at least be aware of them. Yet it’s impossible to avoid some hazards. They are part of growing up, and your children are going to encounter them no matter what you do. But knowing about them can help you and your children cope. Consider this dad’s experience:
As a single dad, I thought I knew how to be a parent. Things went fine for a while. But then nothing I did seemed to work. All of a sudden, I was the worst dad in history. After reading about developmental stages in children, I found out that my daughter had moved into a new stage. There was a really good reason why nothing was working. It wasn’t me; it was my daughter’s age. I switched some of my dad rules, and things evened out. I’m waiting for the next stage, but now I know what’s coming up next. I won’t be surprised this time.
From COPARENTING AFTER DIVORCE: A GPS FOR HEALTHY KIDS by Debra K. Carter, PhD.