Tag Archives: pro-active parent coaching

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

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy-Mothers-Day-Gregory-Bland

Although we need to acknowledge the value of MOM each and every day, Mother’s Day is a perfect time to celebrate the mothers in our lives

Finding ways to show our respect, appreciation, and love for the moms in our lives makes Mom feel appreciated, but also helps our children develop gratitude that will last a lifetime.. It isn’t about spending lots of money or making a huge gesture but rather taking the time to find ways to show that you are mindful about Mom.

Here are three ways that you and your kids can make mom feel extra special this May:

 Make a card

Offer your child some paper, pencil crayons, and unleash their creativity. Some of the greatest cards Mom’s receive are not those purchased in a store, but rather penned from their own child’s hands.

Have your kids make a card for a mom in their life and include something about what they like most appreciate about her.

Homemade cards are special because they are personalized expressions of our love and appreciation. Best of all, they work at any age.

Create a Meal Together and serve to Mom

Taking time to create a family meal together is an incredible way to connect with our children, but also blesses Mom with a break if she is the one who typically prepares the meals.
Give Mom the experience of a ‘night off’ by making her dinner. Encourage your kids to ask Mom questions about herself and share stories themselves while you eat. What’s her favorite movie? What’s the most fun trip she’s ever been on?

Make a ‘coupon’ book

Putting together a “coupon” book of things that children and teens can give back to mom has been a great Mother’s Day gift for a reason. It is a creative way kids can ‘give back’ to mom with no expectation of anything in return. Also this gift keeps giving long after Mother’s Day has ended.

They could offer a . . .

“Free Hug. Just Because.”
“Massage. After a long day on your feet.”
“Grocery Shop.”
“Drive a younger sibling to baseball practice.”

Mom does so much. Let’s show her how much we care, not only today, but each and every day.

Remember. If you don’t live with Mom any more a phone call goes a long way in keeping relationship alive.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Until Next time let’s treat Mom right
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching
The Legacy Centre

Fathers, You Can’t Afford a Stay-at-Home Mom

stay-at-home-mom-gregory-blandI’ve had this thought in my head for a while now. I’ve been thinking that I can’t afford for my wife to be a Stay-At-Home Mom. Now, I don’t at all mean to offend anyone with this post. I just have to say that for me personally, I can’t afford it. I’d like to explain exactly what I mean by that so that no one thinks I’m in any way devaluing Stay-At-Home Moms. On the contrary, I mean that I quite literally cannot afford my wife to be staying at home. Here’s why…

My wife stays home and takes care of our son every single day. She changes his diapers, feeds him, plays with him, puts him down for his nap, and comforts him when he’s upset. And that’s just the bare minimum. A child can typically get that attention at a day-care. But on top of that, he is her only focus. There’s no other children to tend to. He gets all of her. All of her love, all of her time, all of her energy. She is always there, always near, and always listening. Obviously, this is part of being a parent. You take care of your child and you raise your child. But let’s face it. In our day and age, every service (and I mean EVERY service) is hireable. There is a company ready and willing to do just about anything. So while, yes, my wife is my son’s mother and it is a natural result of being a parent to love and care for your own child, there is also a very quantifiable dollar amount that can be attributed to the services rendered. I am in no way trying to simplify, objectify, or devalue the priceless love of a mother for her child. But let’s be real. Pay day feels good for a reason. Because you’re seeing your hard work appreciated in a tangible way that lets you “treat yo self”. And this is exactly why I can’t afford my wife being a Stay-At-Home Mom. The national average weekly salary for a full-time nanny is $705. That’s $36,660 a year.

Read the rest of the story on weareglory.com

Want to Connect with Your Child/Teen? Part 4 by Gregory Bland

adversary-ally-gregory-bland-the-legacy-centreBefore we can interact openly with our teens we need to understand the answer to this question: Does my teen see me as an adversary or an ally?

Consider the metaphor of a door that guards the heart. This door leads to the pathway of your teen’s inner thoughts. When they feel trust, they readily open that door, leading to an exchange of thoughts, feelings, and desires. On the other hand if they do not trust you, the door is quickly slammed shut and sealed in an effort to defend themselves from hurt and/or rejection.

In light of this, how does your teen perceive you as their parent: an adversary or ally?

Their perception will greatly influence their openness to you as a parent.

I have witnessed the relational influence parents have on teens, they influence trust or distrust which greatly impacts their teens openness in conversation. Despite what many have been conditioned to believe, teens do desire to open up and share their thoughts, dreams, fears, and desires. They simply need to feel safe in doing so.

Listen as Sarah (15) shares her experience.

“I remember the first time I felt like I was truly being listened to. It was shocking for me because I expected to be cut off and given a lecture, but I wasn’t. They simply listened as I talked. It was like they truly wanted to know and understand who I really was and what made me tick. It made me happy and I felt like an adult not a little child. I found myself wanting to talk to this person more and more, especially when I was facing difficult times. I now have someone I can count on, knowing they will be there for me no matter what. That is why I never speak to my parents, because I never get that kind of response, and yet, they still wonder why I won’t open up to them.”

The reality is, if we do not make a practice of listening to our teens. They will find someone else who will.

listening-to-teens-gregory-blandMany parents think listening means solving their kids problems or coming up with answers. If that is your belief you will effectively shut the door to your teens heart. They are not necessarily looking for answers as much as they are support for what they are walking through. As a listener you put your own agenda on hold allowing them to share without interference.

Listening Tips

  1. When your teen begins opening up give them space to fully articulate what they are thinking, feeling, and desiring. Keep your impulse to interrupt or talk over them in check.
  2. Invite them to share their thoughts by asking for more, without defending or disagreeing.
  3. Clarify what you are hearing to ensure that you understand what they are intending to communicate.   This gives opportunity to correct understanding if necessary.
  4. Reserve your own response until later. On important or contentious issues, take some time to collect your emotions and thoughts and ask to reengage in conversation at a later time.

Listening in this way not only gives you more information about what your teen is thinking, feeling, and desiring, it serves to affirm their value and worth. Each of us longs to be known and understood. Listening honours our teens on a deeper level, opening up and giving opportunity to nurture their God-given gifts and talents.

Until next time, remember distrust is a road to no where.  Let’s seek to regain our teens trust by authentically listening.

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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