Category Archives: Parenting

A Simple Question: Understanding of What our Child Needs from Us in the Moment. By Gregory Bland

checkers-gregory-blandThe heavy footsteps, sigh, and loud thump as my son sat upon the stairs by my desk clearly indicated something was up. I looked up to see a disappointed look upon my sons face. He stared into my eyes and said,
“Dad, the girls are being mean to me again!”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, they won’t let me in their room, they keep pushing on the door and holding it shut so I can’t get in.”
“Did they give any explanation to you?”
“Yeah! No boys allowed!! What should I do now?”
“Josh, this is an interesting situation. There are several possibilities here. What do you think you should do?”

Looking away from me, he sat silent for a few moments thinking. Placing his elbows on his knees and leaning forward until his chin nestled into his hands, he scrunched his little face up and replied.

“Dad, you have to remember, I’m littler than my sisters, and I don’t know as much as they do. Sometimes you just need to tell me what to do.”

In that moment, as I looked into my son’s eyes, my mind was quickly carried back to a conversation I had with another parent not too long ago.

“Our role in parenting will naturally shift according to our children’s need in the moment.  In some cases we will teach, imparting knowledge, at other times we will mentor, allowing them to glean from our experience, and often we will coach, guiding our children to discovery. The key is discerning what they need in the moment.”

My natural desire to turn this into a learning experience and coach in the moment I took that posture. I was hoping to stimulate thought about how he could engage his sisters, what he needed was something different.

In my desire to help him in this way, I had forgotten to ask one simple question, which would have helped me better understand the role he needed me to play at this particular moment.

“What do you need most from me right now?”

Looking up the stairs my heart was gripped by how sad he looked. I invited him to come closer and sit upon my lap. He stood and somberly sauntered down the remaining stairs, rounded my desk and crawled into my lap.

As he nestled in tightly to my chest, I firmly placed my arms around him and apologized for being ‘insensitive’ and asked, “What do you need most from Daddy right now?”

Quietly he lifted his head and once again looking into my eyes he said softly, “I just want someone to play with. Could we play a game of checkers together?”

What a revealing response to that simple question! He didn’t want to be mentored, taught or coached, rather what he needed the most was simply someone to spend time with.

The truth is we can easily focus upon what we believe is best for our child in the moment and easily miss what they need the most from us. Instead of pushing my own agenda, and tuning into his needs it opened the door to a great time of relational connection.

Have there been times in your parenting where asking a simple question like this may have catalyzed a different outcome with your child? As we conclude, take a moment and think of two variations of the question, “What do you need most from me right now?” that you could ask your child. In this way you will be prepared to ask what your child needs most from you and make the most of that opportunity when it presents itself.

To get you started I’ll offer one more.

a. How can I best help you?
b.
c.

Until next time, continue enjoying the rich relationship parent coaching can add to your family relationships but remember: be flexible.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach.
Greg

Teens Grossly Unprepared for Life Beyond the Home by Gregory Bland

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Today many children/teens will be returning home from school with report cards. Some will proudly present them to their parents. Others may be tempted to stuff them in a drawer and reluctantly pull them out in a weeks time when Mom or Dad ask, “Did you not get a report card last week?”

Parenting is no easy task, that’s true. There is so much for our children/teens to learn before they leave home. But they need much more than head knowledge. Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are good, however they need much more than this to thrive outside of our homes.

They need a solid foundation that will support and enable them to navigate the challenges of life beyond the shelter of our homes. This includes a life perspective that flows from their understanding of who God is and how He impacts their lives, solid character, and strong personal disciplines, the ability to develop and foster healthy relationships, creating boundaries around their lives and time, financial management, and more.

It can seem overwhelming at times when we consider this. There can also be a temptation to believe that the schools are caring for these things. But the reality is many schools are focused on the core subjects that satisfy college admission as opposed to teaching basic life skills for thriving in the ‘real world.’

That’s where our role as parents shine. We have an incredible opportunity to invest within our children and teens and prepare them for life beyond the home. What better place to begin experimenting with decisions, making mistakes, evaluating their experiences, and applying that learning to life than a loving home environment?

As report cards are carried home and you begin to review them with your children, could I encourage you to look at another report card. A Life Skills Report Card*. (Some of you have used this in the past, so this may serve as a simple reminder to continue assessing areas of growth for your children/teens.)

Linked in this email is a practical tool that will help turn your and your child/teens mind toward personal life skills development. It can be an incredible catalyst for conversation and determining growth goals for your child/teen as they look beyond the report card to life on their own.

LIFE SKILLS REPORT CARD

Together we can create a legacy of relational health for generations to follow and prepare our children for life beyond the home.

Blessings today,
Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland

*Life Skills Report card based upon the work of Marlaine Paulsen Cover of Parenting 2.0

**photo credit dollarphotoclub.com 81314986

A Father’s Prayer for His Son

prepare-a-boy-gregory-bland A Father’s Prayer

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.

Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain.”     —GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR,

Biological Reproduction vs Fatherhood

fatherhood-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreIt’s easy, and frankly, quite an enjoyable experience for a man in producing a child.  The responsibility that follows the conception and birth of a child, though, is another story altogether.

I was raised by a single mom. My Dad was distant, not just geographically but emotionally and physically as well.  The role models for Fatherhood in my life were few and far between.  My point of reference left me feeling ill prepared at best. In short, the thought of Fatherhood scared me.

What would I do with a child?  How would I relate to him/her?  Could I love them and be committed to their growth in maturity?  Do I have what it takes to be more than a biological donor and become a young man and/or young lady’s Father?

Please set aside the stereotypical image of Father’s today. Sitcoms depict us as forgetful, undependable, and dim-witted.  Fatherhood today is downplayed significantly despite the research that affirms over and over again the incredible importance a Father plays in a child’s development toward healthy responsible adulthood.

If you’re a Dad or a young man who struggles with the idea of being one can I encourage you with the fact that your role as Father is incredibly important. You’re role as an involved Father is needed.  And your role as a Father is valued by the children who call you Daddy.

Until next time, may your act of Fatherhood intentionally invest in the adult your child is becoming.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

Want to connect with your child/teen? Part 3 by Gregory Bland

not-talking-are-listening-gregory-blandListening connects with one of our children/teen’s greatest felt needs; to be known and understood. Consider for a moment the people that you regularly interact with. Who among them stand out as people who truly understand you, your heart, thoughts, feelings, and desires?

These are truly unique individuals and wonderful gifts to us. Now that you’ve identified them, what characteristics set these unique people apart from others you interact with?

Of all the characteristics you might describe; accepting, non-judgmental, they value me, they are ‘safe’ to speak with, there is a sense of unconditional love. The fact that these people have connected so deeply with you would indicate that they most likely offer you the gift of listening.

Being listened to is a profound experience today, maybe because being listened to is so rare in our hyper busy society. When another person is totally with you – engaged, curious, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel known and understood. Deeper still is that sense of feeling loved.

David Augsburger said, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”

Our children and teens are more eager to open up to us than we often give them credit for. They often do not open up because they fear being judged, rejected, fixed, devalued, or having their thoughts minimized.

The act of listening affirms and empowers our children/teens to express themselves with confidence.  When you listen consistently and intently, the message you are sending is,
“You are important!”
“What you are saying is important.”
“I value you and what you desire to say.”

Listening well means suspending our own needs, including the need to feel like we are doing something – solving problems, saying the right thing, or diagnosing what is truly going on. Listening is a gift we give to our children/teens.

Just because you are not talking does not necessarily mean you are listening. You know as well as I that we can appear as though we are listening yet at the same time be entertaining 101 other things within our minds. You may hear what your teen is saying, in part, but are you really connecting to and understanding their heart? Probably not.

When your child/teen approaches you in conversation it is an opportunity for them to process life and consider the deeper matters of their hearts. What they need is an engaged and listening mom or dad. During these moments they are not looking for a response or judgment, an opinion or solution, or your fix for their dilemma gleaned from your multiple years of experiential wisdom. So take time to fully engage in listening.
The following are some tips to keep you on the listeners edge.

  1. Eliminate distractions. Don’t try to multitask when your child/teen comes to speak with you. This simply communicates that you do not value them as much as what is in front of you right now.
  2. Look at your teen when they are speaking with you. This will help you focus upon them.
  3. Watch their body language, what are their non-verbal clues, gestures, and facial expressions indicating you should ask for more clarification on?
  4. Ask curious questions that allow your child/teen to open up and share.
  5. Don’t interrupt, talk over, or correct. Just listen.
  6. Ask clarification questions to ensure you are truly understanding what they are intending.
  7. Thank them for sharing openly with you, while resisting the strong temptation to fix.

    Remember, we cannot make our children/teens open up to us, but we can create an environment where it is more likely that they will. The way you listen to your child/teen goes a long way in determining their willingness to open up and share their deepest thoughts with you.

Taking it home:

The next time your child/teen has something to say, give him/her your undivided full attention for 5 minutes.

Afterward consider:
How long did those 5 minutes seem? How difficult was it for you to stay focused on them? How hard did you have to work to not jump in and say what you wanted to say? What benefits did listening in this way have for you, your teen, and your relationship together?

Until next time, Listen to connect. Sometimes what our children desire most is not our words but our listening.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

Want to Connect with your Child/Teen? Pt. 2 by Gregory Bland

Each-Teen-Unique-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreIt’s not simply a matter of spending time together on a consistent basis; it’s how we spend time together that makes the difference. Connecting with our children and teens always requires energy. If you want to connect with them but are hoping you can do so without being intentional, forget about it.

Anyone who has more than one child will appreciate and understand this fact; each child is unique. I continue to be amazed as I look at our three children, although there are similarities, there are very distinct differences.

One is very tidy, organized, and plans well in advance. Another believes organization cramps her style. One is dramatic in communication, the other is quiet and unassuming, the third, is a blend of both, dramatic when comfortable and very quiet with unfamiliar people.

Beyond easily identified characteristics reside more subtle nuances. Different interests, passions, gifts, abilities, skills, and distinct calling to make a mark in this world characterize each.

To truly connect with our children requires an awareness of the uniqueness of each child. This knowledge allows us to naturally connect with each one in a meaningful way. When I engage each of my children from the perspective of their uniqueness I am communicating, “I value you and affirm your uniqueness amongst our family.” This helps me to connect with them at their greatest point of interest, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually.

For instance, if my daughter doesn’t enjoy sports, it is unlikely we will connect well through a game of catch. However, if she loves baseball that same game of catch can become a very significant moment of connection for us.   God seems to be actively drawing one of our teens toward music/worship, while He appears to be drawing the other toward practical hands on work with teens.  I cannot expect to engage with them both in the same manner as they discern what God is currently doing within them.

What do you know and understand about your children? Take some time and consider the following in relation to each of your children.

What temperament/personality has God given my child and how does this affect . . .

  1. how they interact with others?
  2. their learning styles?
  3. how they interact within the family?
  4. their friendships?
  5. their schooling?
  6. their social interactions?

What is my child passionate about? (Remember out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.)

  1. What is it that they talk about the most?
  2. What keeps surfacing in conversation?
  3. What is it that pre-occupies their mind?

What strengths and abilities does my child have?
1.  What natural abilities and strengths can you identify?
2.  In what ways could these be encouraged to benefit others? 

What do I recognize God actively doing within their lives?
a. What does He seem to be working on/developing within them as individuals?

  1. What recurring themes or areas do I see God at work within their life?
  2. How can I practically encourage growth and maturity in these areas?

What are they struggling or wrestling with right now?

  1. What are their concerns, fears, or points of stress?
  2. If I don’t know, how could I find out?
  3. What does my child/teen need most from me right now during this struggle?  (This is a good opportunity to ask them what they need most from you, because it may be very different than you expect/think.)

I trust that as you consider the above questions (and maybe others that will come to your mind) you will gain a greater appreciation for the wonderful complexity and uniqueness of your child(ren). But further, you will begin to recognize ways you can connect with each of your children in a way that resonates with who they are.  Who knows, maybe in the process you may discover that you have captured their hearts and they are letting you in just a little bit more.

Until next time,
Enjoy discovering and celebrating the unique characteristics of your child(ren)/teen(s).

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
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Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

 

Want to Connect with Your Child/Teen? pt.1 by Gregory Bland

connect-with-child-teen-gregory-bland

Want to connect with your child/teen?  Spend regular time in casual conversation.

Common sense?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

The busyness of our lives often dictates a need to be quick and efficient.  If we approach conversation with our children/teens in this way we can miss moments of true heart to heart connection and even subtly push our children away.

In this desperate hope for efficiency we focus too quickly on what needs to be different, what needs to change, or the improvements we perceive will benefit our child/teen in the long run.  Often at the expense of relationship.

Spending regular time in casual conversation maintains an openness with our children/teens.  It also prevents the feeling that we only speak with our children/teens when there is an ‘issue’ to be solved.

If every conversation we have with our child/teen is driven by an agenda or focused on solving a problem or issue, it will eventually create resentment, leading them to close down and/or shut us out.

Further, we’ll miss the opportunity to discover what is truly important to our child/teen; what they are passionate about, what they love, and even what they fear or hate.   All topics that often crop up in moments of seemingly casual conversation.

Look for and create opportunities to just listen and dialogue with no agenda. You’re child/teen will appreciate it, and you will discover a wealth of hidden treasure contained within them.

Until next time, make the most of every conversation to gain a greater understanding of your child/teen’s heart.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach

Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

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The Purpose of Conversation with Teens

 

purpose-of-conversation-gregory-blandConversation with our teens can be an incredibly rich and rewarding experience as a parent. Listening as they begin to ‘put into words’ their passions, hopes, dreams, and even their fears warms the heart.  These are the moments we long for as parents and want to hold them with tenderness and grace.

There are other times when our conversations take a turn and feel anything but rich and rewarding.  In these moments it is important to pause for a moment, regain our composure, breathe, and build perspective.  If possible, before it goes from bad to worse.

In these moments, when conversation becomes heated, the words of Solomon ring very true and clear, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

gentle-answer-gregory-blandThis gives me hope.  Although I know that I cannot control how my teen will respond to me, I also know that I have an incredible influence how they might respond.  I need to take responsibility for myself, my actions, and reactions.

In light of this, the first place to look when a conversation begins ‘going south’ is within ourselves.

For me, I take a moment and ask myself, “What am I doing right now that is contributing to the negative direction of this conversation?”

Consider for a moment  . . .

  • What am I communicating to my child/teen right now with my words, tone of voice, and body language?
  • Have I stopped authentically listening to their story and slipped into ‘telling mode?’
  • Might they perceive that I am passing judgement upon them and/or  trying to ‘fix them?’

If we recognize that we have slipped in any of these areas and are communicating negatively with our teen, it’s time to take action and respond in a mature manner.  Apologize and ask to begin again.

Apologize to my teen?  If necessary, absolutely! Humbling ourselves in moments when we are clearly at fault communicates maturity, responsibility, incredible value and respect to our teens.

  • We model humility and maturity in conversation.  When we are wrong, admit it, and ask for forgiveness.  This provides a living model for them to emulate within their relationships.
  • We value our relationship together and are willing to take responsibility for how we communicate with them.
  • We are giving them the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and desire to truly understand what they are thinking, feeling, desiring.
  • We are building self awareness by engaging our own thoughts/feelings and understanding how we are impacting other’s around us.

The next time you begin to experience a conversation ‘going south’ with your teen, take a moment to pause and reflect, and reengage in that conversation in a healthy manner.  I’d be interested in hearing what happens as a result both with yourself and your teen.

Until next time, let’s use conversation to build a deeper connection with our kids not show them how wise we are and in what ways they need to change.  Remember, you can have a rich rewarding conversation with your teen.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
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Everyone Leaves a Mark. What will Yours Be? by Gregory Bland

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“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark.” Chinese Proverb.

It is intriguing the impact ‘others’ have upon our children. Sometimes it is dramatic, and other times it is almost imperceptible, but there is a mark.

Time and time again one of my children has approached me and asked something like, “Dad. Did you notice what ‘Roger’ just did?” Our conversation about what ‘Roger’ just did, or other observations my children make, affirms quite naturally that our children are influenced by the words, actions, and behaviors of others. Whether ‘major’ or ‘minor,’ it leaves a mark.

Several years ago friends of our family encountered some serious marital difficulty and eventually separated. Although these were friends  and not Mommy and Daddy themselves, this experience made a profound mark upon our children.

For the longest time as I prepared to head out for a days work at the office, the children would run and hug me tightly, squeezing with all their might.   As much as I relished these moments of attention, it was their consistent question that haunted me the most.  Their innocent little voices asked with a degree of concern, “Daddy. Are you going to come back home?”

That question betrayed the impact that outside influence had upon the hearts of our children, and a mark was made.

I would assure them each and every time they asked. “Yes. Absolutely I am coming back home.”  Several times through the day I’d call and assure them of my love.

If others, with varying degrees of influence, can so readily mark our children, how much more can we as parents leave a mark upon them?

We are NOT passers by, casual encounters, or subtle influences.  As parents we are positioned to best influence and leave a positive mark upon their lives!

As you reflect upon this think about the mark you are leaving upon your child?

Self Coaching:
Imagine for a moment that it is 10 or 15 years from today. Your children have matured and have launched out from the shelter of your home and they are on their own. Maybe they are married and even have children of their own. You find yourself enjoying a quiet lunch in one of your favourite restaurants when you hear a familiar laugh at a table close by. You sneak a peek and recognize your daughter (or son) enjoying dinner with a friend and they have not noticed you sitting there.

You prepare to announce yourself and say hello when she/he begins speaking about you. More specifically she/he begins speaking about the mark you’ve made upon them as they ‘grew up’ within your home. You pause, and wait, curious to see what they will say. (OK. Now you’re an eavesdropper but try to imagine this for a moment.)

What would they say to their friend about you and the mark that you made upon their lives?
How would they describe your influence upon them?
What would they most appreciate about your parenting and the values you espoused and/or passed on to them?
What highlights would they share?

Listening in on your future son/daughter could be very sobering and/or encouraging.

What Legacy do you desire to leave and how can you begin making a healthy mark upon your children and teens today?

Until next time recognize and know you are making a mark upon your child/teen. Let’s make a good one.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and The Legacy Centre

* Photo credit :  DollarPhotoClub 39193738

Teenagers are God’s Punishment for Enjoying Sex by Gregory Bland

gregory-bland-teens-are-trouble

“Teenagers are God’s punishment for enjoying sex.” “Oh. You have teenagers. I’m sorry to hear that.” “You just wait. You will understand shortly why my stress levels are out the roof, when your teen does what mine does.” “All teens are alike; trouble!”

It’s no wonder with the general attitude toward teenagers that so many people fear teens and tend toward a belief that all teens are alike. Trouble.

In a very tangible way we are being conditioned to believe something that simply is not true of all teenagers. I have met, experienced, and know many capable, responsible, caring, and generous teens who genuinely think of others and want to make a difference with their lives.

Unfortunately, these great teens are often overlooked, overshadowed and unrecognized for the value they bring to society because of a stereotypical lens many adults view them through. These teens live with this reality day by day; many adults don’t give them the credit or respect they are due.

For those reading who are parents of younger children, please resist letting other’s negative view of teens dictate how you will engage your child as they approach the teen years. Admittedly, raising teens today is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards of a rich healthy relationship are possible despite what many will say.

Remember, resist letting other people’s negative experiences or worst-case scenarios instill fear within your heart and colour your approach to your child/teen. Their story is not your story, and their teen is not your teen.

Today you can begin experiencing something different and enjoy a rich rewarding relationship with your child/teen.

Until next time,

Remember, not all teens are the same, keep an eye for the good in yours.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

The Legacy Centre &
Pro-Active Parent Coaching

Building a Legacy of Relational Health for Generations to Follow

 

* Photo credit:Dollarphotoclub # 74667703