Category Archives: Pro-Active Parent Coaching

Discover the heart, skills, and disciplines of the Pro-Active Parent Coaching model by Gregory Bland.

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

Pro-Active Parenting Workshop January 16th, 2016

Bridgewater Open Bible church hosts Pro-Active Parent Coaching Workshop Saturday January 16th, 2016 at 3PM

Details:

$8.00 / person  $15.00 / couple
Childcare and supper meal provided.
Sessions begin at 3pm

To register or for more information please call
Bridgewater Open Bible

310 Jubilee Rd. Bridgewater, N.S. B4V 2A8
Phone: 902-543-3383
Fax: 902-543-0065
openbiblechurch(at)ns.sympatico.ca

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
Large Blog Image

 

 

 

Pro-Active Parent Coaching &
The Legacy Centre

 

 

Everyone Leaves a Mark. What will Yours Be? by Gregory Bland

leave-a-mark-gregory-bland
“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

Face to Face with Fear pt 4 by Gregory Bland

Katelyn-birthKatelyn was welcomed into our home with great anticipation and hopeful expectation. As a couple we had been active in many youth/children’s ministries during the years of our courtship and marriage. Believing in, encouraging, and fostering growth in children/teens was something that we loved doing. I had come to believe that our children and youth are more capable than we often give them credit for.

Somehow though, this was vastly different. We were no longer simply experimenting with ideas, offering encouragement, counsel, creating growth experiences, lavishing love on the sometimes unlovable, then sending the kids home to their parents. No. Katelyn’s birth noted a significant shift in our lives.

We would have direct involvement, 24/7, for a period of years. She was not our possession, but rather a gift we would steward, invest in, and encourage toward the fulfillment of her destiny. Even at birth, there was a stark realization that the days were numbered and one day she would be launching out from our home to make her own mark on the world.

I was determined to do the best I could in preparing her for that purpose.

I knew exactly what I wanted to be as a Dad.

Involved.

Proactive.

Communicative.

Involved: I had witnessed a few families disintegrate because of Dad’s over-involvement with work/ministry and lack of involvement on the home front. It seemed tragic to me that the devastation on the relational home front took less priority than serving others outside the family. What I frequently heard from teens was, “Dad’s always available for them, but never seems to have time for me.” In my mind I thought, “What would it profit me to build a great ministry/business and lose my family in the process?” I had determined to set my boundaries and keep them healthy. Katelyn would have my best, not my leftovers.

Proactive: I was determined to fully engage and enjoy each moment while katelyn-bicyclemaintaining an eye to the future. There will be moments of laughter and celebration; I wanted to embrace every one of them. There would also be tears, and the experience of pain; I wanted to foster learning and embracing the value of these moments as well. From the first words spoken, “Da Da,” her first steps, the first bruised knee, first successful ride on a bicycle without training wheels, driving the family car, graduating, college/university, engagement, marriage, and children. Wow, even as I write that, I recognize how quickly time passes. Katelyn is now driving the family car! The often spoken of and ignored reality is, “Our children will not remain children forever.” Time is fleeting. In retrospect, 18 years is a very short time, and I want to make the most of every one of them.

Communicative: Too often I hear; “Dad doesn’t communicate and simply holds things in until he’s so upset it explodes.” “Dad never says, ‘I love you.’ ‘I can’t remember the last time I opened up and shared my heart with Dad. He just seems disinterested or judgmental. So I seek others that I can be open with.”

Our work with children and teens had evidenced over and over that children/teens will open up to those they know love, accept, and listen without prejudice. It was my heart to cultivate an environment where open communication would be the norm, not the exception and I knew that would mean I would have to model this behavior.

I embarked on our parenting journey with great optimism, enthusiasm, and wonder at what God was going to do in and through this little girl. Katelyn was an incredible joy to parent. Our optimism may have been fueled by our experiences throughout Lynn’s pregnancy, God’s deep work within our hearts, and/or our refusal to consider Katelyn a ‘hindrance’ to our lives. Rather we decided to include her in our lives so she could experience life as we do.

Katelyn’s first ‘rock concert’ was experienced when she was just 2 weeks old. Lynn and I sat closer to the back of course, and watched as Katelyn’ quietly slept through all the ‘noise.’ Her first camping trip took place when she was 9 weeks of age. This was no simple feat for a nursing mother, let alone the fact that we also included 20+ teenagers on this outing. She survived and so did we. Frankly, the youth we worked with loved the fact we included Katelyn on our outings.  Her first major car ride followed shortly thereafter when we traveled from Ontario to Nova Scotia by car. Again, no simple feat, but we recognize the benefits these experiences had on Katelyn because we included her and did not regard her as an inconvenience.

The first 5 months of parenting were an absolute joy for me. I loved having this little girl within our lives. The joy, excitement, and love I felt for Katelyn seemed to grow daily. It was a love I had not experienced before.   A love that I didn’t even know I was capable of having or expressing. Simply put, I was content being a Dad, and loved the fact I was given the privilege of shaping a life that was entrusted to our care.

In my mind things couldn’t be better.  I loved the new community we were living in, our new ministry seemed to be going well, loved the young people and parents we were connecting with, and absolutely loved being Dad.

It seemed nothing could shake me.  That is until one evening I noticed something ‘slightly off’ with Lynn.   Her eyes always betray her and that look told me she had to say something but didn’t quite know how to bring it up.

“What’s up?” I asked. “It’s nothing,” she replied. Both you and I know when a woman says it’s nothing, it’s never ‘nothing!’ So I pressed her, “Come on. I know something is going on inside that pretty little head of yours. Tell me.”

What she proceeded to share rocked me to the core.  Fear gripped my heart quickly and I immediately felt panic and a sense of disorientation I can’t even put into words.

“What do you mean . . .”

Join me for our next installment when I share my journey into fear and what I discovered about myself as a Dad.

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

Redefining Failure Part 6 by Gregory Bland

fallen-child-gregory-blandFailure is a natural part of personal growth. Do you remember watching as your child released their hold on the sofa and excitedly took their first steps? I certainly do. The look in their eye is indelibly marked in my mind and that sense of excitement that rose within my own heart is easily recalled..

Leaning down on one knee, holding my hands out toward them, “Come to Daddy, come to Daddy. You can do it. Yay, look at you taking your first steps.”

They’d smile. Giggle a bit. With wobbly knees and shaking steps they would place one foot gingerly out before the other. Every one of our three children failed to walk on their first, second, and even third attempts at walking.

Even so, each time we’d pick them up and place them back on their feet while speaking words of encouragement as they exercised a new and growing ability. Soon, they were taking multiple steps, and that quickly progressed to full mobility, giggling and laughing as we chased them around the house.

We can learn a lot about embracing failure from children. Failing is a natural part of growth. I’d be deeply concerned if my children quit trying to walk after their first, second, or even third failed attempt. I would do everything within my power to encourage them to embrace failure as a natural part of learning and persist in trying to inspire them to reach their potential.

Like a child I need to embrace this once again. If at first I don’t succeed, try, try again.

Failure is a natural part of learning.

Until next time remember, It’s ok to fail at something, it’s a natural part of growth.

Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland

Redefining Failure pt 5 by Gregory Bland

youre-not-a-failure-gregory-blandThe first important step in redefining failure is embracing and believing that you’re failing at something does not make you a failure.

For me this is hard. I lean heavily toward high expectations of myself, and consequently can be very hard on myself when I ‘fail’ at something or make mistakes. There were moments I would verbally assault myself because I did not meet my own expectations, or blew it in some way. If you are above this personally, God Bless you! If you are someone who can relate, I share your pain.

Fortunately I had a close friend that ‘came alongside’ of me and helped me realize that when I failed at something that did NOT mean I WAS a FAILURE. Truth be known, I was personalizing my failure and allowing it to attack my heart, fill my mind, and erode my confidence.

I needed a different perspective on failure but didn’t know how to change my thoughts and beliefs about failure.

Thankfully a friend noticed what was happening within me and decided to have a conversation that would end up setting me on a new path embracing much healthier thoughts about failure.

“Greg, would you consider something for me?”
“Sure,” I responded.
“I want you to think about someone conducting an experiment. They are attempting something without a knowledge that what they are going to try will be successful. They are investing time, effort, and money into something they are not sure is going to work.”
“O.K. Sounds like an experiment to me.”
“The individual(s) continue and after much effort, time, and money, the experiment falls flat. What they had hoped for didn’t work out.”
“O.K. I’m with you so far.”
“What are your thoughts toward them right now?”
“Toward the one doing the experiment?”
“Yes.”
“Well. First I admire them for trying. Their determination and willingness to invest the time, effort, and money is something I really do admire.”
“But the experiment failed.”
“So what if the experiment failed!”
“What does that say about him as a person?”
“I would say that he is resilient, he’s a risk taker, willing to try. Those all seem like great qualities to me.”
“Greg. Do you think he is a failure because the experiment fell flat?”
“Of course not! Why would I think that?”
“I was just curious what you might think of him personally because your own tendency is to consider yourself a failure when what you try doesn’t work out.”

Ouch. Those words cut just a little. O.K. I’ll admit it, they cut a lot! I believe because they were true and I was being confronted by words that were challenging a faulty belief system. The words of Solomon quickly flooded my mind, “As iron sharpens iron,
 so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 and I knew he spoke these words because he truly cared about my wellbeing.

After a moment he continued, “Greg can I press this out a bit more?”
“Yes. Of course you can.” I said with a slight hesitation.
“What would it take for you to consider your ventures, your stepping out, your risks, as experiments and how would that impact your view of failure?”

 

That question stirred deep within my heart and I chewed on that one for a while. In light of that I’d like you to consider yourself and how you would answer that question personally.

Until next time,
Remember failing at something does not make you a failure
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland