Perhaps I just have an odd sense of humor but I found this hilarious!
To better understand this post, read my previous post, “Purpose and the Absentee Parent” here
So here’s the thing…most parents know that they have been absent and it kills them on the inside. In fact, a lot of parents feel guilt and inadequacy when they consider their involvement in their children’s lives. So a lot of parents, driven by this guilt, shy away from establishing boundaries and disciplining their kids lovingly which results in these kids becoming unruly and rebellious.
Another problem is quite frankly, many parents have been insincere in their Christian lifestyles. On the one hand they encouraged their children to read their Bibles and go to Church, but on the other hand never modeled what a relationship with Jesus is supposed to look like.
Monkey see, monkey do..and children are no different. They will more likely do what you do, rather than do what you say they need to do.
And yet after all this, you want me to talk to your kid.
Dear parents, if you can allow me to be frank, many of you want me to talk to your son or daughter because it is the path of least resistance. It means that you conveniently wouldn’t have to address family issues that have long been swept under the carpet. It means that you wouldn’t have to take responsibility for whatever role you have played in making your son the insecure and bitter person that he is today.
Listen, I might be able to effectively guide your son into a more intimate relationship with Jesus, help him identify God’s purpose for his life and live a life of excellence but before all of this happens, you as a parent need to speak with him FIRST and begin the process of healing so that you can rebuild his trust.
Talk to him!
And don’t do so with the mentality that you’re going to knock some sense into him. Ask him questions about how he felt when certain circumstances happened in his life. Ask him how he felt when you dropped him off at boarding school. Ask him how he felt when you took that job in Ghana because you felt it was a good career move and he didn’t see you for 6 months. Ask him how he felt when you weren’t there to see him win that trophy.
Remember also to humble yourself enough to take responsibility for where you went wrong. There are no perfect parents and most youth understand that but few parents are willing to admit their mistakes to their almost-grown-up sons and daughters.
Schedule such talks periodically to check in with your child and find out where both of you are at and then begin to form positive new experiences with each other.
Once I am able to identify that the root of a young person’s problems is not a dysfunctional relationship with their parent, and once the process of healing has begun to sort out that dysfunction, I will gladly meet with that young man to do my part in helping him to live out his purpose.
A lot of parents ask me to talk to their kids. A LOT. Often, when I am given the opportunity to speak somewhere or even when adults hear about my profession as a youth coach, inevitably a parent will approach me, take my business card and say something like, ” You really need to talk to my son. He’s a good kid but lacks direction in life, is rude to me, hangs out with the wrong friends, has an alcohol problem and watches TV all day…can you help him?”
I would love to help him but dear Mom and Dad, I would love to help you first understand why he might be like that. I would also like to help you understand that no child grows up in a vacuum and that you might have played a bigger role in making him the person that he is today than you might think.
So parents listen up! This one’s for you.. (If you want to read what I have to say to young men click here)
You see many of you have spent most of your lives chasing things. You have chased careers, you have chased promotions, you have chased Masters degrees and PHDs. You have chased job security, and you have dedicated your whole lives to attaining a measure of success that isn’t even completely clear to you. Unfortunately in the process, you ran so fast that you left your families behind, and it is your kids that have suffered.
You see the Baby Boomer generation (today’s 47 to 60 year olds) approached success sequentially. It looks like this: I will get the job first, that will give me the money and then I’ll fill in the rest later (marriage, leisure, raising children etc). That didn’t work.
This is instead what we find..
Many youth were raised by boarding schools and teachers more than their own parents. Many youth were raised by their peers and their friends more than their own parents. Many youth were raised by maids, househelps and watchmen more than their own parents. Many youth were raised by radios, television programs and DVDs more than their own parents.
Think about this for a moment. The average parent comes home from work at about 5 or 6 and let’s assume that most kids will be asleep by around 10 or 11pm so that they can wake up early in the morning. That gives the family an average of 4 to 5 hours to spend time with each other. Of those 4 to 5 hours, by the time mom and dad have taken their showers, prepared dinner, watched the 9 o clock news and the kids have done their homework, very few of those hours have resulted in quality time between a parent and his child. This is why research has revealed that the average parent provides less than 2 hours of undistracted attention to their child per day.
No parent can provide the appropriate amount of guidance, security, discipline, love and affirmation when they’ve only got 2 hours a day to work with, and 10 hours during the regular work week to do it. All this and I haven’t even included the parents who only raise their kids over the holidays!
Do you blame the system that enslaves parents to work or the parents who allow themselves to be lied to and enticed by the system? I’m not here to blame anyone but to draw attention to the fact that there is a strong correlation between the apathy and rebellion seen in today’s youth and the absentee parents who sort-of-raised-them.
In my next post I will explain what parents can do to make my work, and the journey to discovering purpose, much much easier!
To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children..to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…this is to have succeeded!
Ralph Waldo Emerson on success.