Parents: Coaches or Managers?

I have just a few minutes to write and post this blog this morning. My oldest daughter has a hair appointment at 11:15, and I still have to fix my “faux hawk” (mohawk) after waking from a great nights sleep. If I walk in the salon looking like this, I’m sure they will chain me to a chair and begin a makeover to spare young children from the frightening look of my hair!

I spoke to a group of youth from local high schools yesterday. I was given an hour to speak to them about employment. I got to choose the topics, the message, the lessons, and was given freedom in how to use that hour. And believe me, I could’ve filled four hours easily. The message I gave in that hour was on how to identify skills, talents, and gifts, and how to utilize them by thinking outside the box.

After I spoke, a parent asked me about protecting her teen from making unrealistic career goals to protect him from failure. She didn’t want to see her teen fail after all. This is where I stand on my head and become uber passionate. (I must give credit to our Pastor for the word “uber”!) I believe with all my heart that the only time we really learn is when we make a plan to try something, and then try it. If it doesn’t work, what do we gain?

Everything! The knowledge that we gain from experiencing life’s lessons first hand whether we fail or succeed is by far the best. The classroom of life is the best classroom available. We cannot learn how to live, how to make good and bad decisions, how to have relationships, how to plan, how to pick ourselves up, and how to…oh, I could write a book here, but for the sake of time, I’m just listing a few.

The question I had for the parent was, “who’s life is this? Yours or his?” Until our children are allowed to take ownership of their own lives and learn about accountability, they will miss some of life’s greatest lessons! It doesn’t matter how old our children are. Even at the age of four, we can and should let them assume some responsibility for the decisions they make. If we as parents constantly protect them, especially when they become teenagers, how do we exect them to grow, mature, and become responsible for their own actions, choices, and behaviors?

As I say in many of my presenations, we are all CEO’s. We are all responsible for our lives. We are like a company, in charge of our lives, decisions, growth, set-backs, financial standing, and so on. When do we let our teens become the CEO’s of their lives? God has given our children skills, talents, and a purpose. We as parents are to be coaches and encouragers to help them grow and mature into adulthood. If we constantly make decisions for them, we are hindering their ability to do this on their own. In my opinion, this is a disservice.

I wrote on the whiteboard before leaving to fuel some thought for the parents:

Coaching vs. Managing

Are we as parents coaching our teens and letting them set their own goals?

Are we coaching our teens and letting them accept responsibility for their own actions?

Are we as parents holding our teens accountable for their actions and consequences, good and bad?

Coaching our teens doesn’t mean we stand back and just watch them make stupid choices. Coaching means that we are talking to them, being active in discussing life and the choices they are choosing to take. Coaching means that we are working with them and talking openly about the plans they have for their future.

But what we are not doing as coaches is managing their life for them. When our children reach 40 years of age, we do not want to be manging their families, finances, and careers for them.

Just food for thought.

Because this was a school event, I couldn’t add this, but here in my blog, I can!

Does God not allow all of his children to experience heart-ache?

No! In fact, He uses these to grow us, mature us, and prepare us for what it is He has planned for us! If we were never allowed to experience these things, we would stop growing. When we stop growing, we stop learning! Life is all about growth. As parents, we must be willing to coach them as they grow, learn, and live their own lives. Yes, the transition is hard. But, it is life. And life cannot be learned in a classroom, and it can’t be learned unless we are the individuals who are specifically living our own life.

Now…off to tame that “faux hawk” I woke up with this morning!

By the way, this message even applies to me-a coach. My daughter has been wanting to cut her hair shorter. She has beautiful long hair, and I was worried about her making a mistake, not liking it if it’s shorter, and not being able to style it herself.

She is 15. She will choose her hair. And, as a coach and her mother, I will encourage her to try the new style if she chooses to. I too, have to remember that I have survived all the hairstyles I chose. And growing up in the 80’s, I had some weird hair. As I think back, I am grateful that my parents let me choose and learn from life. There are so many things I wouldn’t have been able to learn otherwise.

Romans 5:2-4 (New International Version)
2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[a] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[b] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.


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