We are fast approaching the Fall. Some parents are dreading the upcoming school year. Others are relieved. Not too long ago we were parenting our two high school age children through this exciting phase in their development. Today our children are in their early to mid-twenties and together, we have grown into new ways of communicating – both parents and young adults.
I will share five shifts we made when we encountered these dynamic years with our two children. Right off the top; I am not an expert in parenting. But I have learned a thing or two about coaching and helping people take action towards the direction God has designed for them in life and ministry. Second, these five shifts are not limited to parenting. They relate to working with teenagers in youth groups or wherever you’re connecting with people in meaningful ways to help them take the next step on their journey to follow Jesus’ mission for their life. I found that I had a multitude of examples of these shifts while empowering my teenagers to become self-led adults.
Shift #1 – Talker to Listener
One of the things we did very early with our kids was introduce the idea of internships. Whatever their interests were, we connected them with people we knew and respected in that particular field. We had both kids in summer internships by the time they entered high school. This was important for their development because it gave them a sense of responsibility, curiosity and confidence.
To learn about the kids’ interests, we had to be disciplined in our interactions. We forced ourselves not to react when we heard “surprising” developments about what they experienced at school that day with a classmate, or what a teacher said that might have been taken out of context or the latest slang terminology. Instead of reacting we responded with – “tell me more?” Sounds simple. And it is in theory. Try it next time you interact with your teenager.
Our eldest was interested in finance. His first internship was with a real estate broker. The broker saw that our son was a fast learner. By the end of that summer our son had processed the paper-work for a $1million loan (under the watchful eye of the broker). What did this do for our son? He discovered certain parts of the job he enjoyed, others he did not enjoy as much and still others that were necessary but not his passion.
Our youngest wanted to work in a pediatric physical therapy clinic. The children were on a spectrum of mild to severe disabilities. As a young teen, my daughter supported the work of the therapists, and interacted with the patients and parents. Similar to our son, she learned a number of lessons that she stored in her memory banks for her future schooling and career choices.
Bottom line! To get the kids to the place from the conception of an internship it began with a curiosity in the work, which progressed to an interest to the point of taking action. These steps were all necessary and important to enter into a work environment as an intern. Our part – listen to the processing they were going through in their heads until they came to a point of taking action.
Here is a simple framework that helps breakdown Shift #1 – Talker to Listener.
Assume a Listening Posture
Key Question: How can I ignore my tendency to share my wisdom and seek to listen?
- Take the posture of a learner
o A coach must believe that they don’t know it all.
- Remain silent
o Stay in a quiet place while your son or daughter processes what they sense the Holy Spirit is saying to them.
- Be patient
o Actively remain in a non-anxious state
Real – time Actions:
o Without contaminating what your son or daughter is processing
- Ask the other person “Is there more?”
o No other question is needed at this time
Following are two opportunities that can help you refine your disciple-coach skills!
5 Disciple Coach Habits webinar – Monday, October 11 from 10-3 PST
The full package includes the webinar AND triad sessions: