06Feb/17

Be the G.O.A.T

How can I not say something about last night’s game?

UNBELIEVABLE!

AMAZING!

INSPIRING!

RIDICULOUS!

UNFORGETTABLE!

We were streaming the game at our church and with approximately 9:30 left in the 4th quarter we lost the stream. At that point, NE was down by 16. So, while I fiddled at the computer to restore the stream, everyone started to clean up and wind down for the night. As I was trying to restore the stream, my son Nathan observed on a game-cast that we had the ball back on the Falcon’s 30 yard-line!

My friend Shannon noticed that there was a separate link on Fox’s webpage that led to a Spanish broadcast, so I clicked on that and we had the game back on in Spanish! Eventually, the English broadcast came back on and the rest is history!

We actually missed the fumble-causing sack by Dont’a Hightower that led to a Patriot’s touchdown just a few minutes later. There were many great plays during the 4th quarter, but that sack may have been the most instrumental in the Patriot’s comeback win.

On several occasions during the comeback, all of the teens in the room circled together in prayer to pray for a particular outcome. I believe they prayed for a turnover, the 2-point conversion to tie the game, the overtime coin toss, and the game-winning drive in OT.

I am not saying that God answers our sports prayers, I’m just saying…

Here are some lessons from the Super Bowl for both parents and teens:

  • Don’t quit  – parenting is hard, but sticking to the plan can result in amazing things!
  • It’s never too late – jump in the game now even if you think it is the 4th quarter in your teen’s life. Great things can happen in the end!
  • Stay calm – don’t panic, everything is going to be alright!
  • Do your job – don’t think that everyone else is going to raise your teen or teach them how to be adults. It’s your job. Do it.
  • Believe in yourself and rely on your teammates (family and friends) – you have what it takes. Your friends and family will always be there to support you.
  • Take risks – sometimes the risky path is the right path. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Don’t dwell on your failures – we all make mistakes – even big ones! Get up, wipe yourself off and get back in the game!
  • Stick to the plan – first, make sure you have a plan. Then follow it.
  • Make adjustments when necessary – occasionally you will need to make course corrections. That is normal. Be ready to make necessary changes.
  • Try your hardest – giving 100% is always a good idea. Anything less and you will never know just how good it could have been.
  • Know that you are not alone – every parent of a teenager is going through similar challenges. Learn from them and be ready to share your failures and successes with them.
  • Celebrate victories – it is important to recognize when your and your teen are succeeding in the game of life. Take time to celebrate those successes.
  • Remember who your coach is and listen to him (in my case, it is Jesus) – be accountable to someone and listen to wise counsel.
  • Be the G.O.A.T – as a parent, strive to be the Greatest Of All Time!

Before I sign off on this post I want to give you this update. I will be slowing down on my blog posts and will write when I feel I have something to offer and when time permits. Today’s post marks exactly one year in my blogging journey to post once every week. That is what I committed to myself one year ago and I have fulfilled that commitment.

As always, I am open to guest bloggers and your ideas for new content. Be intentional and have a plan for parenting your teens. Don’t give up!

30Jan/17

Loss Aversion

I am working on a Wellness Program for one of my clients and have been researching different Wellness platforms, one of which is Vitality. I watched a video on their website that describes how their Active Rewards with Apple Watch works. In a nutshell, here is how it works:

  • Pay approximately $57 dollars for the Apple Watch Series 2 (about a $370 retail value)
  • Do no exercise – Pay $13/month for 2 years to keep the watch
  • Perform 10 exercise sessions (specific routine) per month – $10/month for 2 years to keep the watch
  • Perform 18 exercise sessions (specific routine) per month – $5/month for 2 years to keep the watch
  • Perform 25 exercise sessions (specific routine) per month – $0/month to keep the watch

The design of this program is based on a theory call Loss Aversion. I have to admit that I had never heard of Loss Aversion before visiting this website. Essentially, Loss Aversion Theory describes the situation when losses hurt more than gains feel good.

The idea is to let participants buy this spectacular watch at a bargain price and let them acclimate it into their life so that they fall in love with it. Once that happens, and assuming that it does, they won’t want to lose the watch or the deal that they got on the watch. According to the Loss Aversion theory this approach will be more effective than making participants work to earn the watch at some point in the future – thus, losses hurt more than gains feel good.

So what does this have to do with parenting your teen? I am guessing that some of you know where this is going. I will try my best to explain.

I was thinking about this concept as it relates to raising kids and preparing teens for adulthood. You may remember a blog I wrote a few months back describing my approach with my middle son, Nathan, as it related to his grades during his sophomore year. Here’s the post if you didn’t get a chance to read it. Essentially, I put a big “carrot” in front of him that he could earn by getting all As. The “carrot” was my permission to purchase a motorcycle and to get his motorcycle license. The whole point in this exercise was for Nathan to work harder than his natural inclination. I knew that if he applied himself he would get straight As.

Inadvertently, I applied the theory of Loss Aversion by purchasing the motorcycle ahead of time at the beginning of his sophomore year. We went in on it 50/50 (the bargain!). We worked on it over the winter and cleaned it up to get it ready for the spring. Even though Nathan did not drive the motorcycle until after he had earned his straight As and his motorcycle license, he had fallen in love with it over the winter and did not want to lose it.

He now has one riding season under his belt and is pining for warmer weather.

I am thinking that I still can take advantage of Loss Aversion, if necessary, by taking away the privilege that he earned last year. The thought of losing precious warm New England summer days on his motorcycle should be sufficient to keep him on his best behavior!

It is interesting to think of this concept while reflecting back on all the things that we had our kids do to earn things or privileges – to work harder. I wonder if we would have been better off applying the Loss Aversion Theory. At any rate, I am challenged now to think differently.

When it comes to disciplining our teens, I think that most of us actually use this technique by taking away privileges when we are looking for a change in behavior.

Do you have an example of when you used the Loss Aversion Theory to get your teen to work harder? Have you used it when disciplining your teen?

I would love to hear from you!

 

23Jan/17

Rules of Engagement

No, this is not about military maneuvers and war strategy. It’s about how teens engage with adults.

I have observed in our own family, and in others, some pretty inappropriate speech by teenagers (and kids of all ages!).  And by speech, I don’t mean bad language like cursing or coarse jokes. I mean inappropriate responses to or interactions with adult conversations or actions.

Here’s some examples of what I mean.

A number of months ago, a friend of mine told me a story that exemplifies what I am talking about. He observed his friend’s 10-year old son playing a handheld video game and simply asked him what game he was playing. The son replied with something to this effect, “I’m playing a game called nun-ya…nun-ya business!” Both the father and son immediately laughed out loud at the son’s response to my friend.

Another example. In my own home, I have had conversations with my kids (individually) that have not been very pleasant and have caused significant discomfort for them. In some cases, in an effort to exit the conversation as quickly as possible, my teen may start saying things like, “I got it”, “I’m all set”, “never mind”, or “can I go now?”

Here’s another thing that sometimes happens in my household. My teens start to parent each other in our presence! That usually means that they have determined that our parenting skills are lacking in that moment and that we need some serious help. As a matter of fact, they actually believe that they are doing us a favor!  They may reprimand their sibling for some misconduct, remind them to pick up their mess or offer them words of wisdom on a particular random topic. Normally, teens parenting teens does not go over too well.

I was talking with some folks recently who I had just met and they were telling me about some recent challenges they were having with their six-year old. Apparently, when told that she needed to go to bed, the six-year old replied, “I am not going to bed until you go to bed!”

Over the years, I have personally witnessed many children say “no” to their parents’ commands. I have heard teens say things like, “whatever” or “duh” to their parents. I have witnessed many teens interrupt adult conversations and have had my own conversations interrupted countless times! I have even been called a “punk” by the teen of one of my friends!

Why am I citing all these examples? Because I believe that this generation of parents has given too much freedom and latitude to their kids when it comes to engaging with adults.

So what are the rules of engagement? I know it will differ in each home, but here is what we have done that has worked well for us (although, we definitely have room for improvement!):

  • We have always required our kids to respond to us when we call them or after we have given them instructions with the phrase, “Yes Papa” or “Yes Mama.” If you have ever spent time in the south, this rule of engagement is very prevalent. It is very common for kids to say, “Yes sir” or
    “Yes ma’am” when interacting with an adult. This type of response, and others like it, demonstrate a recognition of authority which is important for our teens to understand as they get ready to engage as an adult with other adults.
  • Our kids have been taught to address adults as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” instead of allowing them to call them by their first name. We believe that it is important for kids and teens to recognize that there is (or should be) a difference between their peers and adults. We believe that this is one way to show respect for other adults.
  • We, the parents, should determine when a conversation is over. I am not talking about chit chat or pleasantries. I am talking about serious discussions with your teen. I believe it is important for the teen to remember who is in control and who has the final authority in the home. They should not have the authority to end a conversation (that includes walking away!). This too will help them as they transition to adulthood and interact with others who have authority over them like their direct supervisor.
  • Our teens were taught to not interrupt adult conversations (or anyone else’s for that matter) with words or abrupt actions. When our kids were young, we taught them the technique of putting their hand on our elbow or shoulder when we were talking with someone else. This way we would know that they were waiting to speak to us. Of course, we made exceptions for emergencies! When there was a natural break in our conversation, we would direct our attention to our child. My kids still use this technique today, as well as my wife and I, when they want to interrupt a conversation between two other people.

There are many other rules of engagement that may be worth writing about in a future post, but I wanted to comment on this particular area first.

It has been said, “Do what I say and not what I do.” We all know that there are problems with that parenting or leadership philosophy, especially when what we say is not something we would want our kids to say. We need to model both good speech and good behavior.

I would love to hear your rules of engagement that you have enforced for your teens.

16Jan/17

The Moral Warehouse

Do you ever wonder why people respond or act a certain way when confronted with certain circumstances? I am no psychologist, but I would venture to say that there are three major factors that cause us to respond or act the way we do.

  • Training – the nurture part of the Nurture vs Nature equation
  • Personality – the nature part of the Nurture vs Nature equation
  • External influences – things outside of our control that directly or indirectly impact us

As you know, we have six kids. All six of them have unique, distinct personalities. All of them were raised in the same home by the same parents with almost identical techniques and strategies. So why do they respond differently to similar circumstances? And why are some more prone to bad decision making or less confident or more hard working than others?

Here is my attempt at answering those questions.

Training

This starts at birth. I won’t dive into parenting strategies here, but one thing my wife and I learned early on in raising our kids is that goodness, kindness, grace, mercy, selflessness, purity, integrity, and morality are not standard features in newborns. They must be taught. We took a parenting class early in our marriage that was extremely helpful and shaped the way we parented all of our kids. The curriculum is call Growing Kids God’s Way. Check it out.

One of the points of emphasis was the idea of a “moral warehouse.” The moral warehouse is the place in our kids’ subconscious where they store right behavior, appropriate responses, proper language, good habits, etc. It is our job as parents to stock that warehouse as full as possible with all the right things so that when our kids face a circumstance that calls for an appropriate response, they will find it in their moral warehouse.

When your kids act out in a way that you feel is inappropriate, I would challenge you to ask the question, “did we ever deposit that truth in their moral warehouse?” If you didn’t, your child is simply unaware of the appropriate response and is doing their best with the information that they have. If your answer is yes, it is possible that you inadvertently allowed for alternate responses by not providing the appropriate consequence for inappropriate behavior. The child may rationalize, “I may not have done the absolute best thing, but what I did is not that bad.”

Personality

This is truly a beautiful mystery! Kids’ unique personalities will create varying responses to the same circumstances. Because of this fact, we as parents need to vary our training approach with each of our kids. I don’t believe that means changing the standard. What’s wrong for one child should be wrong for all of them. The consequences should be consistent across all children along with your measure of grace and mercy. What you may have to adjust are things like tone and frequency of your discipline, the consequence type (but should have the same effect as all types), and the training methods and frequency.

For example, once your kids are outside of the spanking years (should be around 10 and older), you will need to find consequences that produce a sufficient amount of pain that will deter your teen from making the same mistake again. This will vary from kid to kid. Some care more about their electronic devices than others while some value their social gatherings more. You should know the personality of your teens well enough to make appropriate decisions regarding consequences.

Another example. You may have a teen who’s personality creates a strong desire for approval, acceptance, and to be liked. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that this teen may struggle with telling the truth for fear of your disapproval. You will have to work extra hard at creating an environment of trust and acceptance so that your teen will come clean when the time comes to confess a wrongdoing.

External influences

This is the most difficult component of parenting – the stuff we can’t control! Back to the moral warehouse. It is important to realize that there are lots of other people making deposits into our teens’ moral warehouses. Here are a few:

  • their friends
  • their teachers
  • their pastors and youth leaders
  • the musicians that they listen to
  • the movies that they watch
  • the advertisements that they see or read

You know this all too well. You have probably heard your teen say something or express an idea about something that totally contradicts your views and/or what you have taught them. This is because you have competition! I am not suggesting that you eliminate your competition by raising your teen in a bubble. I am recommending that you get to know your competition. For example:

  • their friends – how well do you know them and what they believe? Are you monitoring their “friends” on social media? Your teen’s friends are most likely your stiffest competition.
  • their teachers – it is not uncommon for teachers to express their own views on all kinds of issues and to have a natural bias when they teach the curriculum. Ask your teen about what they are learning and be ready to offer your views if they are contrary to what they are learning.
  • their pastors and youth leaders – while this seems like it should not be an issue, you still need to know what is being taught and modeled by the role models in your teen’s life. Don’t assume that they are depositing the same truths in your teen’s moral warehouse.
  • the musicians that they listen to – when was the last time you actually looked up the lyrics to your teens’ favorite songs? I would argue that music is one of the most effective vehicles for making deposits in our teens’ moral warehouse. Lots of repetition accompanied by music, rhythm and fun!
  • the movies that they watch – remember, Hollywood has an agenda! And, it’s not just to entertain. Be careful what your teen watches. Discuss movies with them and ask them what they learned. Be ready to make withdrawals!
  • the advertisements that they see or read – most advertisements that are geared towards our teens are telling them to look and act a certain way. We as parents need to be making frequent deposits into our teens’ moral warehouse that drives home the idea of inner beauty and a balanced lifestyle.

The moral of today’s post is to make many deposits into your teen’s moral warehouse. Look for teachable moments and take advantage of them.

I will leave you with a great verse that I read this morning. It is from Matthew 12:35, the NLT version.

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”

09Jan/17

One Resolution for 2017: Part 2

Last week, I posted the first 5 of 10 questions that I think will help you refocus on your parenting in 2017. You can read last week’s post by clicking HERE. I would encourage you to either include this one resolution on your New Year’s resolution list or to make this one resolution for 2017.

Be a more intentional parent.

So, here’s questions 6-10:

6. Will your teen be ready when things break or need updating?

This is a tough one.  If you look at the Practical Module of our ROP parenting plan, you will notice all kinds of domestic activities that may remind you of a home-economics class you took in middle or high school.  I have saved thousands of dollars by repairing my car, fixing a leaky faucet or tiling my bathroom floors.  I know what you are thinking…that you don’t possess these skills or your time is more valuable than the mechanics, so it makes sense to pay them, right?  Both of these are valid points and may make perfect sense in your family situation.

The goal for me and my wife is to teach our kids what we do know and get help from others on the things that we don’t.  When I change the oil on my cars, I usually drag a kid or two with me to assist – this includes my girls.  When I installed our tile floors recently, I had my son operate the tile cutter.  Last summer I had my daughter lay out a paver platform for our outdoor grill – she did a great job!  When my wife bakes, she includes some of the kids – now a few of my kids bake regularly on their own (not good if you are watching your waistline!).

My challenge to you parents is this: before your turn a wrench, swing a hammer or preheat the oven, invite one of your teens to assist you in the project.

7.  Does your teen exercise appropriate etiquette in various settings?

The more that my wife and I look into this topic the more we realize how deep and wide it is and how little we have actually taught our kids in this regard. Did you know that there is proper etiquette for skateboarding, assisting people with disabilities, and instant messaging? We sure didn’t!  You can learn this and so much more in a great book we discovered called How Rude!: The Teen Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out by Alex J. Packer Ph.D. Check it out!

The areas that are more common for our family that we have included in ROP parenting plan are etiquette for dining, texting, tipping, social media, driving and social gatherings. We believe that our kids represent our family…and who wants to be represented by sloppy, disorderly, and rude children?  Teens with manners will feel better about themselves, will be more liked by peers and adults, and ultimately get ahead in life, just by knowing how to behave in any circumstance.

8.  Is your teen active in community service?

We require our teens to log over 100 hours of community service during their teenage years.  Our goal is to teach them to serve others and expose them to people in need.  If we are not intentional in this area as parents, we risk launching our teens into adulthood with the idea that life is all about them and their needs.

Think about it for a minute.  When was the last time that your teen served you or his siblings without being told?  How often do you serve them by doing their laundry, making their lunch, picking up their stuff, replacing the things they break, helping them with homework, taking them shopping, bringing them to and from school or sports events, etc.?

Is it just me or can teenage life be a dream?

9.  Is lifetime fitness a part of your teen’s life style?

Our kids have always played sports since they were very young largely due to our influence as parents.  We believe in keeping our kids active for a variety of reasons.  One, active kids have less idle time and less idle time usually prevents trouble.  Two, playing sports instills team values like working together towards a common goal and overcoming obstacles.  Three, activity burns calories.  Four, it gives us something to do every evening.

We feel that it is our responsibility to launch our teens down a path of healthy living with proper diet and exercise and lead by example.  My wife logs over 20 miles of running each week and I try to stay active with men’s basketball leagues, ultimate frisbee and just about any other sport that involves other people (running is just too lonely, even with other people – who can talk and run at the same time?).

10.  Would your teen know what to do in the event of an emergency?

There are all kinds of emergencies.  Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, power outages, house fires, broken down vehicles, broken fingernails, just to name a few.  We are not suggesting that you can be prepared for all emergencies, but rather we recommend learning to be prepared for the ones that are most likely to occur and the ones that require minimal effort to have a plan.

For example, do you have a plan if your house catches fire? What will you grab? Where will you go? Who will you call (besides 911)?

Do your teens know what to do if they break down in the car somewhere far from home?  Who will they call first? Second? Is there anything in the car that will make their situation a little easier, such as food, a blanket or a road flare?

A friend of mine has put in a great amount of time putting together a “bug out” bag and a “get home” bag in case you need to quickly leave your home or leave your car.  These are great examples of emergency preparedness.  We have yet to do the same, but we have plans to either build our own or purchase one already assembled.  Click HERE for an examples of ones already assembled.

There is a lot to think about in my last two posts.  Please consider making some changes to the way you parent your teens. It is the greatest investment you can make in your family (outside of a great marriage)!

02Jan/17

One Resolution for 2017: Part 1

If you’re like me, you are not crazy about making New Year’s resolutions. For those of you that love making a resolution list and for those like me, let me try to convince you to either include this one resolution on your list or make this one resolution for 2017.

Be a more intentional parent.

When I started blogging almost one year ago, I posed the following 10 questions to my readers. I would encourage you to look them over again (or for the first time if you missed them previously) and decide where you can be more intentional this year. I will break them up into two sets to keep my posts reasonably short. So, here are questions 1-5:

  1. Does your teen have at least one mentor?

I am not referring to you or your spouse.  I believe that every teen needs another set of eyes and ears in his life.  With our parenting plan, my wife and I require our teens to have at least 3 mentors.  We typically use our pastor, the youth leader, a grandparent and a family friend of our teen’s choice.  In case you are wondering, a mentor is simply a trusted counselor or guide.

We attempt to line up at least 3 meetings with each mentor over the course of the plan (3-5 years).  We provide our mentors with a guide to help them engage with our teens in a structured way, but ultimately we trust them to provide wise counsel and guidance.  The guide can be found at the end of the ROP parenting plan that you may have already downloaded when you subscribed to this blog.  If you don’t have a copy of our ROP parenting plan and would like one, simply subscribe to my blog and you will receive an email with a link to download the plan.

2.  What standard are you using to teach your teen right from wrong?

My wife and I are evangelical Christians and believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  We rely on scriptures, the godly wisdom of other Christians, and the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  Going to church and getting together with our church family on a regular basis keep us grounded and accountable in our faith.  We have leaned on our church family a number of times as we have worked through some difficult parenting challenges.

As such, we are raising our kids on Christian principles and training them in a manner that we believe is consistent with God’s word.  The Bible is full of practical advice for daily living and provides our family with a path that, if we choose to follow it, will lead us to do right and avoid wrong.

So, my challenge to you is this: regardless of your religious beliefs, provide your teens a standard for right and wrong and regularly model that standard. Nothing speaks louder than our actions.

3.  Does your teen know how to find a mate for life?

My wife and I have talked about this one at great length. Should we let our kids date? If so, when? Should we try to implement a courting model? If so, what does that look like?

In the Relational Module of our ROP parenting plan, we instruct our kids to compile four lists: the qualities they are looking for in a mate, the role of a husband, the role of a wife and their ideal family dynamics. Using those four lists, we construct the framework for dating.  There is much to say about this, but suffice it to say that it all boils down to fit and readiness – both of which are very difficult to ascertain.  I frequently reflect on the day that I met Monica.  We were both ready to consider marriage and, within a few hours (yes, hours), I knew that she was the perfect fit for me.  She did not come to that same realization in hours – it took her a few weeks.

4.  Does your teen understand the value of a dollar?

God has blessed both Monica and I with hardworking, successful parents who instilled in us a strong work ethic and a desire to help others in need.  Even though we have had our needs met and have not wanted for much over the years, we feel compelled to pass along the same values that were taught to us.

To that end, we have been clear with our kids since they were small that we would not be paying for their college and that the best way for them to pay for college is by getting good grades in high school and saving at least half of whatever they could earn through odd jobs and summer jobs.  We have always emphasized that their schooling IS their job and to treat it as such.  We expect our kids to do well in school, just like we expect them to work hard at anything to which they put their hands.  We are confident that it will pay off.

I will use our oldest son as an example because he is now an adult in college. Let me preface my remarks with this comment:  My wife and I focus more on the effort than the outcome and we understand that all of our kids may not achieve the same results.  Now that that is out of the way…my oldest son worked his tail off in high school and became the valedictorian of his class of about 260 students. His SAT combined score was north of 2200 and he had a perfect 800 on the math section.  So, is my son a genius? Anyone who knows him well would probably say that he is not, but that he is one of the hardest workers that they know.  I didn’t pull my first all-nighter until college, but my son had many in high school and it was not unusual for him to go to bed after midnight (and not because he was playing video games!).

So, I said all that to say that my son was rewarded for his efforts with a full tuition scholarship from Bentley University which will total over $160,000 by the time he earns his degree!  Do you think my son understands the value of a dollar?  You betcha!

5.  Are you helping your teen decide what they want to be when they grow up?

Do they know what they are good at?  What are they passionate about? Do they have a particular gift or skill set that they continually develop? Do you talk to them frequently about their future? Have they job shadowed professionals from varied industries?

There is a lot to think about here, but I believe it is our job as parents to guide our teens and launch them into their future prepared for success.  We have found that one of the most valuable exercises in this area is job shadowing.  In the Professional Module of our ROP parenting plan, we expect our kids to job shadow at least five different professionals in unique industries.  It has proven to be a great tool to determine their level of interest in a particular field. Of course, if you know which way your teen is leaning, it makes good sense to line up job shadowing in her area of interest.

Someone once said that the key to happiness is to know what your are passionate about and to find a way to make money at it.  I believe that this is very good advice and that it is our responsibility to instill this in our teens.

There is a lot to think about in this post.  Maybe the most important question that I can leave you with is this: Are you being intentional in parenting your teen?

If not, will you add it to your New Year resolution’s list for 2017?

If your answer is yes, please share some things you are doing with your teens by commenting below or adding your reply in the Launch Your Teen Forum.

Questions 6-10 coming next week.

Happy New Year!

19Dec/16

Do I Really Need to Know This?

Insights from Monica…

My husband and I started this whole Rite of Passage parenting plan years ago. We brainstormed everything we wanted our children to know before they leave our home – which, is awesome for teens. However, what about me? I figured that since I am married, I don’t really need to know all the mechanical things that we are teaching our kids. I mean, that’s what Bryan is for, right? And to kill all the really big bugs….

Well, that was fine….until today. The morning temperature here was close to zero and with the wind chill it felt much colder. The kids had a two hour delay for school. So as we lazily got ready for the day, Cassie browsed my Facebook page and discovered that a friend of ours, Michele, had just posted that her car wouldn’t start and she need to get herself to work and her daughter to school. I was about to head out the door anyway, so I figured I’d ask Bryan what I should do. However, he was on a conference call and couldn’t break away. So, I threw jumper cables in the car (someone on Michele’s page said she probably needed a jump-start), told Michele to Google how to jump start the car, and hopefully we could figure it out when I arrived at her house.

On the way, I called my brother-in-law, Jeremy, to get a quick rundown on what to do, hoping he would give me tips on how not to blow up both cars. His instructions were clear and I was confident that Michele and I would be able to get her car started.
Well, I pulled up and then realized I would have to get under the hood of the car first. Fortunately, I quickly located the latch to pop it open. Whew! However, I looked and looked and couldn’t find the stand to prop open the hood. I was envisioning Michele or me holding the hood open while jumping the car, praying furiously that there would be no explosion. Luckily for me, Michele was able to assist in propping open the hood. Thank goodness!

So, once we had that resolved, we set to work getting ready to jump the car…which entailed both of us pulling out our phones and looking at a ” Jump-starting a Car” tutorial on YouTube. I must say, it seemed much more complicated than how Jeremy had explained it to me. We were fiddling with reds and blacks, positives and negatives. Sparks were flying. Fortunately, we live in a small town. Someone had notified our local police, who showed up at Michele’s house and, to my relief, was able to assist us in finishing the job. There was no explosion and Michele’s car started right up.

So, what can I take away from this experience?

  1. I need to step it up! There will be times when I need help and Bryan is not available. I definitely need to step it up in learning how to take care of myself. Plus, it is always good for our kids to see that we practice what we preach. If I believe the items in our Rite of Passage plan are important for them to know, then they are probably important for me to know as well.
  2. Ask for help. Even though it is good to be independent, I will never know how to do everything. It is great to be able to call someone who knows what I don’t know. Even watching tutorials on YouTube is a good way to get assistance, just not when the windchill is below zero.
  3. Accept help, even if you didn’t ask for it. We could have told the officer that showed up that we had it under control, and I have no doubt that Michele and I could have eventually figured out where to put all the cables – although we may have had a bit of frostbite on our hands….it’s hard to use a phone to watch a tutorial with gloves on! But, we did not let pride stand in the way of getting the job done.  And we were grateful for the assistance from the awesome Dunbarton Police Department.

Can you think of anything you want your kids to learn – that you wished you knew how to do?  We’d love to hear from you!

And stay tuned…. a new blog titled “Launch Your Wife” may be coming in 2017

13Dec/16

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Six months ago, I was given a title: adult. Some may say that I earned it, that I worked for it, or that I deserved it. But these things would mean that what I did or accomplished is complete… finished… something that is no longer in progress. However, what I received six months ago was a title for a role that had only been partially filled. Following my graduation and “completion” of the Rite of Passage (ROP), I embarked on a journey to fill that role by entering life with a new perspective and new expectations which have made life nothing less than an adventure.

The day my parents decided to call me an adult was the day I was able to begin the mental transformation of the way I saw myself. Regardless of the decisions I made on my own and the responsibilities I had which made me independent, I never viewed myself as independent in the context of my parents or other adults. Additionally, despite the countless tasks I completed from the ROP, I felt no more like an adult than I had prior to each completion. And to this day, there are still days in which I believe that my adult status is still a work in progress and something that I am still living up to. But the mental shift started to become evident when I slowly began to require more of myself when less was required of me from my parents. So, of the many things that I have learned through this process, one of the first and most important realizations that I came to was that growth doesn’t happen instantaneously.

As I checked off the ROP tasks one at a time, I was gradually preparing myself for the time of my life that began six months ago, and even more so for the time I entered college. During the rather long process of working through the ROP, I didn’t always recognize the value of the assignments that I completed. (I certainly was not overly thrilled about purchasing a stock and learning how to do a car tune-up.) But with the perspective I have now that allows me to look back, I have a sense of appreciation and pride from the things that I accomplished. Instead of questioning the purpose of the tasks that were required, which I certainly did at the time of their completion, I now explore ways and situations in which the knowledge I gained from those experiences can be applied once again. This paradigm shift could have only formed in response to my parents’ new perception of me. Therefore, the more I experienced treatment for that of an adult, the more I wanted to be just that in any way that I could. This is still the case today.

I didn’t realize how quickly someone could begin to recognize them self as independent until six months ago when I experienced it for myself. For me, being placed in a role that was not yet completely fulfilled made me want to strive to fulfill it. Practically, this looked like (and still looks like) making phone calls to resolve any situations I experience, paying for any necessities I may have, making my own agenda, and having the final say in decisions that involve and influence me. However, without the preparation that the ROP provided, I don’t believe that I would be able to carry out these things with the ease and confidence that I do. While the tasks that I accomplished from the ROP did not always directly give me practice with these significant obligations of an adult, they created a foundation for being able to do so. Experiences such as giving a message at youth group, planning a family trip, learning how to shoot a rifle, climbing Mt. Washington, and going on a missions trip all pushed me out of my comfort zone and stretched my abilities in some way, shape, or form. They were challenges that required determination, confidence, and humility in order to overcome. And these developing qualities are those which have prepared me for all the things I have already experienced as a new adult and all the things that I am going to experience moving forward.

For I am still a work in progress. I know that I have a lifetime of experiences to learn from but I also know through mentoring that I don’t have to walk this walk alone. When my parents declared me an adult six months ago, they gave me the freedom of independence but also the freedom to seek out guidance, wisdom, and support from the Lord and other people in my life. I know that I would not be who I am or have made it to this place in my journey without the influence of those around me, especially those who have challenged me in ways meant to help me learn and grow. My parents certainly provided the ultimate challenge with their ROP plan. Even though this plan couldn’t provide preparation and experience for all the things that I could possibly experience in life as an adult, it was the growth that came through the process of completing the plan that provided all the preparation I need to keep moving forward in faith. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

12Dec/16

A Word from Another Launched

My oldest Daughter, Natalie, has just completed her first semester at Evangel University and is now home for the holidays! I have asked her, like I did Cody, to reflect on her experiences going through our ROP parenting plan. She is working on it now and should be ready later today or tomorrow.

Monica and I are extremely proud of her successful start to becoming a nurse – she managed to pull off high A’s in all of her classes! She avoided the infamous “freshman 15”, continues to exercise regularly and eats healthily by counting calories every day!

Most importantly, she is still in love with Jesus and takes advantage of every opportunity to grow spiritually.

Okay, I’m done bragging. I will be posting again soon with her thoughts. Stay tuned…