Ten Verbs to Start Your Parenting Day

love-scrabble-text-wood-208099Although it is certainly our desire, sometimes it’s not easy to be at our parenting best. The busyness and challenges of life, and our children’s dependence on us, can leave our tanks near empty at times. Stresses in our own lives are not always easy to compartmentalize, and they can easily spill over into our parenting. And, during the teen years, when our relationships often experience greater strain and conflict, it’s common to carry our frustrations and irritations into the next day. Sound familiar?

To help get your parenting day off to a good start with a fresh attitude, we’re sharing our top ten parenting verbs (with definitions courtesy of Dictionary.com). Think of them as words to live by as you parent to the best of your ability. They will grow your children and strengthen your relationships when you live them out. Here goes:

  1. Inspire:to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence. Children do their best when they are intrinsically motivated and inspired. Share inspirational stories and people and help them discover what inspires them. Set high standards and challenge your kids to be the leader they can be. 
  2. Empower:to give power or authority to. One of the most powerful motivators is to be respected, and it applies to children, too. Although they are still under our authority, the more we can place them in situations where they can demonstrate leadership, the more motivated and growth-minded they will become. This becomes even more important in the teen years.
  3. Encourage:to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. One of the surest ways to build self-confidence in children, and a strong relationship, is to be an encourager rather than a critic. Many children today are exhibiting a fear of failure due to parental overprotection or undue performance pressure. Instead, place your children in situations with uncertain outcomes and be their biggest cheerleaders whether they win or lose. It’s huge.
  4. Understand:to perceive the meaning of. One of the best relationship builders is to “listen to understand.” Often when we communicate, we are so focused on proving our point or convincing the other party, that they inevitably shut down. Mutual understanding should be a key goal of any communication, and it is made possible by empathetic and active listening. Your kids, and especially your teens, will appreciate you for it.
  5. Affirm:to state or assert positively. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our affirmation of their uniqueness, virtues, strengths, and worth. Kids need to know they matter and to be valued more for their person than their performance. Make it a point to compliment their character and leadership qualities whenever you can, and it will pay huge dividends.
  6. Value:to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance. We all need to know that we matter, and this is especially true when our children exhibit self-doubt or have disappointing outcomes. They can feel like they are letting us down. Parents, this is your greatest opportunity to shine, whether through spoken or written words of affirmation.
  7. Engage:to occupy the attention or efforts of a person.Because of overscheduling and technology, today’s children and parents are suffering relational disengagement. We see it everywhere. Children need our undivided attention when we’re together, especially in the teen years when their interest in communicating with parents is more sporadic. Be all in.
  8. Enjoy:to experience with joy; take pleasure in. There’s nothing like seeing parents and children have fun together. It builds memories and relationship capital. However, when we overschedule our children or ourselves, or predominantly focus on academics and performance, we squander opportunities to truly enjoy one another. Be fun. Be playful. Enter their world.
  9. Coach:to give instruction or advice in the capacity of a coach. As children grow, our “maturity differential” with them gradually diminishes. So, when they enter the teen years, it becomes increasingly important to communicate as a coach and influencer rather than as an authoritarian. This mind-shift enables us to move from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat in our child’s life and position for a flourishing adult-to-adult relationship.
  10. Believe:to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something. Aside from unconditional love, our belief in our children and their future is one of the most important gifts we can give. It’s like having the wind at their backs. How can children be optimistic and hopeful when it’s not expressed by their parents? When you’re their cheerleader, and their believer, it’s gold.

Well, what do you think? Which of the above come naturally to you and which are more challenging? How might your children rate you on these verbs?

We encourage you to live out these verbs to the best of your ability and strive to begin each day with a renewed spirit. To help out, we created a special handout that you can access here. Be sure to print it off and keep it in a place where you can see it from time to time. To all of you parents out there, we salute you and believe in you!

Three Tips for Lasting Love

man-carrying-woman-standing-on-the-ground-and-surrounded-by-853406As many of you may have noticed (and many of you may have not), the hit NBC show “The Bachelor” is back for its 23rd season this winter. That is 23 seasons of one man (this year, it’s Pilot Pete) dating a couple dozen women, with hopes of proposing marriage to one in less than two months. The show has a cult following, but it’s no wonder only a very small percentage of the outcoming relationships make it long-term. The whole premise is very unrealistic and doesn’t make sense for relationships in the “real world.”

Why do so many love to watch this show? Maybe it’s because people can relate to the drama of trying to find that “special someone,” and watching someone else go through it has some sort of twisted, vicarious appeal?

Dating can be the best of worlds and the worst of worlds, particularly for older teens and young adults. There are so many new, fun, and interesting people to meet as one’s circles expand (hello, college!), but it’s also a mystery because you never know what will become of the people you meet. I recall feeling like I was on an emotional roller coaster at Six Flags at that stage of life, wondering if this new prospect was Mrs. Right. (Eventually, I would find her seated next to me in a finance class at Grad School.)

Do you (or does the teen/young adult in your life) have a random or a strategic mindset when it comes to dating? Do they have solid ground rules and strongly-held values guiding them, in contrast to the ones displayed on “The Bachelor?”

Although true love can happen opportunistically (e.g., when my undergraduate college sweetheart and I were successfully matched at a computer dance!), it pays to lay down some personal ground rules in your dating life.  One way is to become a “3D dater!”

Here are the 3 D’s:

Be Discriminating 
Be highly selective with your choices of dates. Sadly, so many people define their self worth by whether they’re dating someone that they “date for dating’s sake” and often compromise their values along the way. It always pays to be choosy by strategically focusing on people who share similar interests, values, and goals. What are your “must haves” and “nice to haves?” If a prospect is lacking in anyof these respects, it pays to move on. Trying to force a square peg into a round whole doesn’t work for most things, but especially when our goal is a forever relationship!

Be Discerning
Be wise when you date. Many people approach dating so impulsively and emotionally that they simply don’t think clearly. (“Love is blind” comes to mind.) Understand what you want in a relationship (your expectations) and have the courage to move on if it’s not a great fit.

Be Deliberate
Be patient. This is often the hardest thing to do when the infatuation is intense (or when a computer matches you!). However, if the relationship is truly meant to be, it needn’t be rushed. If you’re feeling pressured, have the strength and self respect to put on the brakes. If they’re not willing to, they’re probably not the best choice for the long term and you’re only delaying the inevitable.
By being a 3D dater, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success rather than settling for short-term, superficial gratification that’s so common today (ahem, reality TV dating). You’re much more likely to find lasting love with fewer peaks and valleys (and heartaches) along the way!

If you are a teacher or parent, this would make for a great discussion topic with the teens under your purview. What are their must haves? Nice to haves? If they’ve dated thus far, what have been the biggest lessons they’ve learned? Don’t be shy about sharing your experiences. They’ll love it!

How This teen Wrecked Her Part-Time Employment

white-ceramic-cup-2878708Are your teens/students ready to excel in the workplace? Here is a story from our area of how one teen chose pleasure over work. If you’re a teacher, parent, or guardian, it would be a valuable case to discuss with the adolescents under your guidance. It directly addresses some of the concerns employers are expressing about their younger workers. Here goes. . .

An Italian family moved to Port Smalltown (not the real name) to establish a new restaurant, living out their dream. Because of their incredible food, staff, and service, it quickly became a hit with the locals. This family poured their heart and soul into their business and was very supportive of the community. That included hiring some area high school students to help fund their college education. One such student (not her real name) was Shelby.

With training, Shelby soon became a valuable employee. She received great tips due to her exceptional service and was given additional hours as a reward. Go Shelby!

But one day, at 4:55 p.m., Shelby called in sick for her 5:00 p.m. work shift. Not surprisingly, the owner was very disappointed with this news. Somehow, they would have to address the problem. Customers were lining up outside to dine, anticipating a great experience.

Then, imagine the owner’s surprise when a co-worker announced 20 minutes later that Shelby was posting pictures on Instagram from a nearby beach party. Judging by the pictures, Shelby was having the time of her life.

The next day, Shelby arrived at the restaurant at 4:45 p.m. to begin her evening shift. She was promptly taken aside by the owner and fired on the spot.

Assignment: Decisions have consequences. Make a list of Shelby’s infractions with the actions she took. What leadership and character qualities did Shelby fail to exhibit and why do you think she was fired over this? What attitudes do you think guided her behavior? What did she lose by her actions and what lessons do you hope she learned?

Some readers may think examples like this are rare, but trust us, they are not. The greatest complaints we hear from employers involve work ethic, dependability, and professionalism. We encourage you to explore our What I Wish I Knew at 18 book and curriculum which holistically builds the leadership and soft skills young people need to succeed. (And, hopefully, to avoid situations like Shelby’s!).

Is This Your Year to Fertilize or Prune?

watering-plants-with-a-watering-can-6442Those of you who know me well know that gardening isn’t my thing. In fact, my thumb is so brown that you wouldn’t want me near your plants! I’m not sure why, but I think I overdo it with watering and fertilizer. More is better, so they say.

And, so it often goes with our early planning for a new year. I, for one, habitually fall into that trap. It might look something like this:

  • A five new goals list, complete with a fancy new planner to keep me on task
  • A listing of a dozen new podcasts or TED talks to listen to
  • A membership to that new health club in town
  • Two new magazine subscriptions and a plan to tackle my book backlog
  • Cut 15 minutes off of my sleep time so I can do more

Compelling new additions to my already full plate, right? Or, back to the gardening analogy, more water and fertilizer applied to a plant that’s already stressed. Here is where moredoesn’t necessarily fix the problem—especially when the first word we use to describe our life is, “busy.”

Or, could this be a year where less may be more? Where we do some judicious pruning in order to bear more fruit? I heard this in a sermon the other day and it really resonated. So, when I returned home, I did what any non-arborist would do, and googled, “Benefits of pruning.” Here were some of the takeaways:

  1. Stimulates a strong network of healthy new growth
  2. Improves fruit quality
  3. Improves root formation
  4. Removes those unsightly sucker branches that stunt growth and nutrition

I rather like these! Instead of always adding, perhaps a trim here and a trim there will stimulate even greater abundance—in our plants and in our lives. Here, a pruning candidate list might look like:

  • Spending less time on social media and devices
  • Cutting back or eliminating time spent on reading, listening, and watching programs/content that brings us down or stresses us out
  • Reducing our consumption of addicting, unhealthy substances
  • Eliminating toxic elements and relationships from our lives
  • Trimming anything that wastes our time or resources
  • Addressing regrets and busyness that’s interfering with our relationships
  • Reducing spending on non-essentials to improve our financial peace of mind

So, what about you? Could your life use a little more fertilizer or pruning? I think I’m going to try some pruning for once and see how it goes.

Happy 2020 from all of us at LifeSmart! We hope this will be your most abundant and fruitful year yet.

 

 

A Simple, Yet Profound Idea for Building Resilience

four-men-sitting-on-platform-923657For years, grit and resilience have been cited by leadership experts and psychologists as key ingredients to success. Given the following synonyms, antonyms, and definition of resilience, it’s easy to see why:

  • Synonyms: adaptable, buoyant, strong, hardy, rebounding
  • Antonyms: fragile, delicate, weak, vulnerable, defeatist
  • Definition: ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, etc.

Who wouldn’t want our children to be able to rebound from adversity and challenges with renewed purpose, confidence, and personal growth?

And, yet, as we talk with employers, observe the contemporary college scene, and visit with college students, we’re struck by how often resilience seems lacking in today’s young adults. What gives?

Could it be that our culture’s growing emphasis on empathy is creating some unintended consequences? In many cases, we believe the answer is, “Yes.” Although empathy, in the right proportion, is certainly an admirable quality, it can easily morph into sympathy if it’s overdone and misinterpreted as such by the affected party. It can, and often does, lead to an entitlement and victim mentality if we’re not careful.

Arguably, this occurs most when parents overly coddle when their children face adversity or discomfort. Out of compassion and fairness, parents often react by overprotecting, expressing sympathy, intruding on their child’s behalf, and even defending poor behavior/performance to authority figures (a common complaint from teachers and coaches). Not surprisingly, the downstream consequences in children can include low self-confidence, emotional fragility, defeatism, lacking perseverance, and disrespect. Unfortunately, it’s even happening on college campuses, courtesy of administrators employing overprotection strategies.

To that end, I came across a magnificent letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal on November 4 by Carla Albers of Colorado Springs. She was responding to a previous editorial on the topic of Bias Response Teams at universities. Here is an abbreviated version of her letter:

“Your editorial brings back memories of my daughter at age 6 or 7. She came into the house crying and crawled onto my lap. Two neighbor children said something that made her feel bad. After drying her tears, I asked her if she wanted other children to control how she felt, and told her she could choose to not let what someone else said make her feel bad: ‘Who do you want to be the boss of how you feel? You or someone else?’ She perked up and said, ‘I want to be the boss of me!’ Out the door she ran.

Years later, my very successful adult daughter told me that was the best piece of advice I’d ever given her. Perhaps campuses could replace their Campus Climate Support teams with ‘I’m the Boss of Me’ teams.”

We believe Ms. Albers hit the nail on the head. In a world that has become increasingly polarized and politicized, and where bullying has taken on new forms, our children are being increasingly tested by the words and actions of others. As we consider the synonyms and antonyms of “resilience” mentioned earlier, we’re witnessing growing signs of the latter—whether in how we respond to others or to the adversity that we face in everyday life. This should be concerning to all of us influencing the next generation.

The challenge for parents and educational leaders is whether to consider their children’s difficult situations as teachable moments to build resilience, or simply to offer empathy. In our view, the best answer is a healthy balance of both.

 

Your Compliment May Mean More Than You Think

hian-oliveira-n_L_ppO4QtY-unsplashThe other day, a friend of mine posted this request on Facebook: “Share the most meaningful compliment you’ve ever received.” What a great idea! It was fun to read the responses and ponder my own.

After thinking long and hard, I made my choice. But, first, a little background…

Back in 8thgrade, I was the one of the shortest guys in my class. As you can imagine, I was occasionally self-conscious about it—especially while slow dancing! I don’t ever recall sharing my sensitivity with anyone, but, somehow, a special someone must have gleaned it.

It was the end of the school year and everyone was signing each other’s yearbook. One of my “must haves” was my revered science teacher, who we affectionately referred to as Mr. Ed. He was voted by students as Teacher of the Year that year, and deservedly so. I was eager to read his comments, and this is what he wrote…

“Denny, there’s a saying that good things come in small packages. I think you prove that saying.”

Wow.

To state the obvious, I never forgot that. And, I never forgot him. He made me feel like I was 6’2 and a million bucks!

What made Mr. Ed’s compliment stand above the others? A big part of it was WHO he was—a man so deeply admired. Second, his words were simple, profound, and focused on WHO I was. And, third, this encouragement had lasting inspirational power—a challenge, if you will, to live up to his sentiments about me.

I rarely, if ever, saw him after, but Mr. Ed’s words in a yearbook now 51-years old and faded had a huge impact on my life. And, I’ll bet that many of you who consider this question will find that yours, too, came from a teacher. God bless our teachers!

Which brings me to a question and a challenge. Do you intentionally look for opportunities to bless someone with a meaningful compliment about WHO they are? (It’s one thing to compliment someone about an accomplishment, but when it involves the PERSON they are, it has even greater impact.)

Might you be the Mr. Ed to someone today?

What’s the most meaningful compliment you’ve ever received?

And, in case you’re wondering, I eventually peaked out at 5’9,” which wasn’t too shabby.

How to Become an Empowering Parent

animal-avian-bird-3114473Our goal as parents should be to raise well-prepared, self-confident future adults who are ready to fulfill their dreams and purpose. Our goal should not be for them to “stick around” as long as possible, to control as much of their lives as we can, or to be their best friend. No, in order to be a parent who empowers, our parenting philosophy and approach need to be aligned accordingly

Of course, it sounds easy to be a purposeful and intentional parent, always keeping our goals in mind. However, it’s more challenging than it sounds! With our busy lives (jobs, activities, travel, friends, kids’ schedules) and constant laundry list of daily to-dos, we are pulled in many different directions. The long and short of it is this: once our teens mature, it’s time to say “goodbye” to a control-oriented approach and “hello” to coaching and empowering. This means giving incremental freedom as our children demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and integrity.

This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them—our belief in them.

So, how do we actually DO empowered parenting?

There are several pillars that we recommend you make a part of your parenting approach, but today we will focus on your parenting philosophy. Philosophically, it all starts with adopting an empowering mindset. Embrace that you are no longer raising a child, but an adult you want to see reach his or her potential. This shift makes a huge difference! Here’s how to get started:

  1. Establish strategic parenting goals. Productive people are goal setters, and this applies to parenting, too. Develop goals and values to guide your children and create your family’s “brand.” This makes a great team-building project to do with your children and can help you better understand each other as you grow together and look forward to the future.
  2. Don’t forget that you’re their parent, not their friend. When our children are little, there’s a maturitychasmbetween us, and it’s easier to feel like the one in charge. However, that gap narrows in the tween years and even more so when they’re adults. When this gap shrinks (and concurrently, when our teens exert more independence and pushback), many parents mistakenly move into a friend role. In their mind, it will help keep the peace and their teen happy. However, this can lead to chaos and disrespect, and your teen can miss out on important life lessons.
  3. Remember, it’s their This may seem to contradict the pointer above, but when held in healthy tension, it actually doesn’t! The difference is the driving philosophy that raising self-confident children is about them, not about us. It’s about helping them understand their potential and chase after their own dreams. We must not impose our own desires, as it will deprive them of the freedom they need to soar. To do otherwise will breed resentment in the adult years that is difficult to overcome.
  4. Teach for independence. Often, parents fall into the trap of doing things for their children because it’s easier, takes less time, gives them a better outcome, etc. However, in order to empower, make sure that instead of doing it for them, you show them how to do it. After all, the acid test of parenting is whether your children can do something well without your help or reminders. This is a vital step in developing the life skills they will need to master as they enter adulthood.

With these pointers applied to your parenting philosophy, we are confident that all parents can position their family for a successful launch. By being intentional and purposeful, we can empower our teens and give them the wings—not strings—they need to soar.

For more information on empowering parenting, we invite you to check out our new book, Wings Not Strings.

 

Wings Not Strings is Now Available!

WNS cover newWe have exciting news to share!  We’ve just released our new book, Wings Not Strings: Parenting Strategies to Let Go with Confidence! As our follow-up to Parenting for the Launch, people are calling it “a must read for every parent and an insightful guide to raising strong and independent kids who turn into exceptional adults!”

We wrote this book because so many young adults are struggling after they leave home and parents are grappling with the practical and emotional demands of preparing them for independence. Truly, “When and how do I let go?” is the most common question we receive from parents! Here is our answer.

Wings Not Strings offers parents vision and strategies to confidently move over to the passenger seat and equip their children with wings to soar. It helps them avoid the pitfalls of contemporary parenting approaches that are inhibiting the self-confidence and adult readiness of today’s adolescents. And, it provides encouragement and powerful solutions to help parents overcome their fears and position their relationship to flourish in the adult years. Readers will:

·      Understand the concerning signs in today’s young adults, their causes, and the role that parenting is playing

·      Discover how to build self-confident and empowered children through encouragement, training, and communication

·      Learn to let go gradually, naturally, and confidently and conquer their fears, pressures, and emotions

·      Build the leadership skills and attributes children need to succeed in the real world

·      Help their children prevent and manage anxiety as they emerge into adulthood

We’ve already received overwhelmingly positive reviews from parenting experts and educators:

Trisha Novotny, Founder, 24/7 Moms:

“Their written tools to guiding both the launching of our teens, as well as our role in letting them go, have taken me from questioning my own abilities to now being confident that I can release them to soar.  A fantastic book and must read for every parent.”

Scott McQuilkin, VP for Institutional Advancement, Whitworth University:

“With insight, clarity, warmth, humility, and intelligence, Dennis and Arlyn have provided tools for families to shape, and then launch, their children into adulthood, equipped to flourish.”

Sandy Fowler, Co-Founder and Podcast Host, Mighty Parenting:

“Their vision of releasing an eagle to soar to the heights, rather than a kite we continue to control—giving children wings, not strings—is a beautiful one that guides us to doing what’s best for both our children and ourselves.”

Because we’re grateful for your friendship, we’d love to thank you and enlist your support in spreading the word! For a limited time, you can order your copy of Wings Not Strings for $2 off at $13.95, by using Promo Code: WINGS at checkout. You can purchase through this link (which also provides access to book excerpts), our website, or by calling 1-800-BOOKLOG. We invite you to forward this note to friends, relatives, and organizations you know who are guiding our next generation. And, we’d appreciate your posting a review, too.

Thanks for joining us on our journey and for supporting parents everywhere!

With gratitude and anticipation,

Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence

LifeSmart Publishing, LLC

9 Decision-Making Mistakes Your Teen Can Avoid

christian-erfurt-sxQz2VfoFBE-unsplashTruth be told, I hate making mistakes. Yes, I know they can be beneficial IF we learn from them, but I prefer my learning to come in other ways!

Given our human condition and imperfections, mistakes come in many forms, especially during the adolescent years when our brains, bodies, emotions, and lives are changing at breakneck pace. And, at a time when kids are making more of their own decisions, it follows that their mistakes will increasingly stem from flaws in their decision-making methods.

No one will ever bat 1.000, but one way we can all improve our batting average is to understand the origins of common decision-related mistakes. Through both personal experience and our professional work with parents, educators, mentors, and students, we’ve identified nine typical inhibitors to sound decision-making. Our hope is that with training, reflection, and self-awareness, the adolescents under your guidance can reduce their decision-related mistakes. Who says learning has to be done the hard way!

So, are you ready to help yours become great decision makers? Here are some common pitfalls they’ll want to avoid. . .

  1. Not considering all realistic options: Sometimes there is only one right answer, but often there are many good alternatives. Case in point: college and career selection. Rather than exploring several options with the benefit of assessments/surveys, etc., many focus like a laser beam on one choice and later regret it. By assuming there is only one best fit from the start, we often commit errors of omission, missing out on great options. Alternatively, by starting broadly and then narrowing our choices through research and analysis, we’ll usually make a better decision.

  2. Not doing the research: Good decision-making means doing our homework and thoroughly vetting the options. Unfortunately, some make decisions impulsively, usually out of haste, by overvaluing their intuition, or from rejecting alternative viewpoints. By doing the proper research and conducting comprehensive pro/con analyses of potential options, their decisions will be on firmer ground.

  3. Favoring peer input over wise counsel: When making decisions, it pays to seek out wisdom and perspective from legitimate sources. However, during the adolescent years, people often feel pressure to do/choose what their friends tell them to. These sources can prove detrimental if they lack wisdom, are biased, or have ulterior motives. When receiving input from others, be choosy and value experience.

  4. Letting emotions interfere with objectivity: In the heat of the moment, especially when we’re upset, our objectivity is compromised. Decisions made under those circumstances are generally regrettable because we’re not thinking clearly. It’s amazing how a good night’s sleep does wonders and often leads to a different and better conclusion. To make good decisions, especially when relationships are involved, our mind must be right and our feet on the ground.

  5. Focusing only on the now: While some decisions have a short-term life, many have long-term, life-altering consequences. Common examples include marriage, college selection, major/career/job selection, living location, and key financial decisions. In these circumstances, it’s important to consider both the near- and longer-term impacts of our choices. Clearly, the longer lasting the impact, the more thorough our research needs to be.

  6. Disregarding core values and personal fit: One critical ingredient to sound decision-making is self-awareness—being able to answer, “Who am I?” It encapsulates such fundamental areas such as our core values, personality, spirituality, skills, experiences, credentials, interests, and passions. So, when we’re faced with decisions about relationships, career pursuits, employment, community service, and our social lives, they’ll need to be aligned accordingly. Some of our biggest regrets are when we disregard or compromise our values with the decisions we make. “Does this fit with who I am?” is an invaluable question to consider before making a final choice.  

  7. Seeking perfection or settling: Let’s face it, some decisions are hard, especially when there is a high level of uncertainty involved! Some people struggle to decide because they are looking for the perfect answer (or person!) that may not exist. Indecision, fear of failure, and risk aversion rule the day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, others are willing to settle or compromise out of fear, despair, hopelessness, and lacking self-confidence. Here, they’re willing to make the call, but take a leap of faith they later regret. There isa happy medium.   

  8. Neglecting intuition: Sometimes we make a preliminary or final decision even though we’re unsettled about it. Here, our intuition or “gut feeling” sends a caution signal that we ignore or minimize at our peril. This is especially true when a decision doesn’t fit who we are. No one knows you like you, so please be cautious about making a decision you’re not at peace with. Rather, do more analysis, pray if inclined, and consult with trusted loved ones to help you reach a conclusion that feels right. 

  9. Disregarding the “how:” There are dreamers and there are achievers. Often, the reason dreamers stay in dreamland is they make a decision that sounds good, but has little or no chance of being realized. In order for a decision to have value, it has to be realistic and achievable by the person making the decision. That means understanding the “what” and the “how” before making the call. Otherwise, it’ll likely end up on a pile of unfulfilled dreams.

 So, here’s an assignment for your families and classrooms. Have the children contemplate their decision-related mistakes or regrets and see how many fall into the categories above. There may be other reasons than the nine above and that’s fine too. Challenge them to see if there are patterns to their mistakes. If so, it might suggest a decision-making flaw and a meaningful growth opportunity! Sure, it takes courage, honesty, and humility, but this can be a valuable exercise to sharpen their skills and live a happier life! And, what’s not to like about that?

 

 

A Guide for Gen Z: What I Wish I Knew Before College, Part 3

family-3817047_1920Recent high school graduates: Do you ever feel unsure of what’s to come? Are you anxious about your future, whether it’s over your relationships, choice of major, or career goals? Do you wonder if life after high school is all that it’s cracked-up to be? 

Parents: Do you worry about the day when your teen will move out and enter the real world? Are you worried they aren’t fully equipped? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, here is some encouragement and insight in this third installment of my “What I Wish I Knew Before College” series.

In case you missed the first two posts on this topic, I’m Heather Sipes, the Communications and Marketing manager for LifeSmart Publishing. I am eager to help you and your student(s) navigate this season of change. You can view the previous weeks’ posts hereand here.

Without further ado, let’s get started. I’d like to close this series with the one final thing I wish I knew the summer after I graduated high school. If I knew then what I know now, I feel that I could have better positioned myself for this big change.

You might have mixed feelings about your parents. I’ll never forget the week I moved into the dorm in my freshman year. My mom flew down to help get me moved in, and she was more than helpful. She stayed in the dorms with me the first couple nights, and I could tell she was excited for this new season in my life. She wanted to be engaged and involved with all that she could—probably because deep down, she was experiencing the mixed emotions of “letting go” and wouldn’t see me for a couple months. I, however, seemed to have different feelings.

I wanted to meet new friends and flap my newly independent wings. I wanted to hang out late in the dorm rooms with my new hall mates—not my mom! I’d been waiting for my whole life for this stage, yet my mom was lingering around, taking in these final moments before heading home. Looking back, I feel deep remorse about the way I treated her that week, and wish I could have a do-over.

This is what I’d like to impart to you, ten years later. Now that I’m a parent myself, I can imagine how my mom must have felt that week: Scared to let go, sad to say goodbye, and nostalgic about memories with her once little (now big!) oldest daughter. It’s totally relatable. I can’t even bear to think about one of my little girls growing up and moving somewhere 2,000 miles away!

Teens, remember this: Please, please, please try not to take your parents for granted. Know that all of their “hovering” and all of their “hanging around,” is because they love you. They’re proud of you and actually enjoy spending time with you. They love being with the adult you’ve become. They don’t want to put a damper on your next chapter, they simply want to soak up every minute with you they can. Cherish and embrace this and don’t hold back from exploring what a new adult-to-adult relationship can look like with them (rather than parent-child). You may not even realize there is a special, unique friendship with your parents just waiting to be kindled.

Parents: Know that things might get a bit awkward during this time when you want to be present, but they’re feeling pulled to practice independence. Let your teen know that you’ll give them space if they need it, but also tell them you’re always there to help, guide, or offer support. Remember to be their chief encourager during this time as you move from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s seat. Being on the sidelines isn’t a bad thing—you’ll get to root for and encourage one of your favorite people in the whole world. Be their biggest fan—they’ll need it in the years to come!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as the back-to-school season is approaching. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments—I’m happy to provide any help that I can. Thanks for stopping by!