Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kids need Opportunities to display Responsibility

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I have heard and had many conversations about today’s kids.  Many of these conversations have led to the conclusion that kids are just not as responsible as we were when we grew up.  Well that is at least the way we often view it from our memory right?  

Image result for responsibilityRecently I had a discussion with a few good friends that took on a life of it’s own and just maybe a different approach as to the reason for the lack of responsibility.  What began as a discussion about what is the appropriate age that kids can be left at home, sent to the store, even given a cell phone for example, quickly became a walk down memory lane and the realization that maybe our kids lack of confidence, security, and responsibility could in fact be our fault.   As the discussion continued, talk turned to the fact that maybe we are not giving them opportunities to demonstrate good judgement. Maybe we are not putting our children in roles of responsibilities.  Maybe their perceived responsibilities are no fault of their own.  Maybe this perception is not all that accurate.  Maybe it stems from our perceived fears.  Maybe our lack of trust of society and in people, has stifled our kids ability to demonstrate their responsibilities.  

Then the big question and discovery.  Were we this guarded or protected at our kids ages?  Did our parents trust us more?  Were we really as responsible as kids as we like to believe we were?

Image result for kids riding bikesI can remember as a kid having the trust of my parents to be out of their sight.  Growing up, we often went on bike rides.  Sometimes in big groups that would have rivaled any poker run, sometimes in small groups and even on individual rides.  These rides would span multiple miles and have us rolling into the neighboring communities anywhere from six to eight miles away.  We would ride the back roads, the railroad tracks, and at times the main routes of US 36 and State Route 416.  We would play all day in neighboring towns, then spend the afternoon riding home.  

I had a conversation while driving a couple of these routes recently with my wife.  We spent time  discussing whether or not we would let our kids take such rides.  With a resounding no and a look that I would be crazy to even consider allowing this to occur, not that I would, this conversation was short lived, as we both came to the conclusion that it was a different world now.  However, the fact of the matter is, maybe our fears lie in the ability to trust and for we as parents to trust our children, we have to provide the opportunity for our children to display responsibility.  

Image result for kids carrying groceriesImage result for kids carrying groceriesOther opportunities that seemed like such simple tasks, often we have sheltered our kids from in today’s society.  When I think back to my childhood I can recall my parents giving me a couple of dollars and sending me off to the local store, Old Fashion Goshen Dairy, to be exact to purchase a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, whatever may have been needed.  I also recall pumping gas into the family vehicle, and filling gas cans to mow the grass.  I like many of the neighborhood kids, completed these tasks daily, thinking nothing of these tasks.  Quite frankly independence and responsibility were expected.  It was the norm rather than today’s exception. I go back to the fact that  we say that kids are not as responsible, well maybe it comes to the permission and trust we grant.  It is a daily struggle as to when we can leave them home alone, when we can send them to the store, and other places possibly all by themselves.

What I find amazing is that as parents today, we are often protective of the environment that we allow our children to exist in, but yet hand them a device that puts them in far more uncontrollable environments.  I find the world wide web and it’s much further reaches much more frightening than allowing our children to take a ride or run an errand to the  store.

None of these decisions are easy.   I guess I  am just trying to keep in mind, that for our children to demonstrate that they are responsible, they have to be provided the opportunities to demonstrate this life skill.  Here’s to sending my daughter in for a loaf of bread, hope she brings back my change! :)

Monthly Quote:

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”
― Anne Frank

Monthly Challenge:

Inventory your family as to how you allow your children to demonstrate responsibility.  Sit down with your child(ren) and discuss what your expectations and boundaries are for your family.  Give your child when you deem ready to demonstrate this responsibility on their own or maybe with a group of peers.

Global Mentors: Applying the Skills Learned

I had previously written an article in September 2014 about four gentleman that I would consider as personal mentors titled Defining my Mentors Impact in One Word.   These four fathers have continued to help me grow as a husband, father, and friend.  During the summer I really attempt to read as many books as time allows.  I love to read and my goal is to read to grow.  I always have a book or two with me, and this is something that my daughters and I spend time doing in the summer.  We always make time to read.  With that being said, today I would like to introduce you to four professional mentors that have also continued to shape my growth.  One of these men I know personally, one I am an acquaintance of, and the other two are world renowned authors and speakers.  Mentors come in all ages and places.  However, the lessons learned and applied  have greatly helped to shape many fathers and servant leaders.  These four men are Jason Barger, John C. Maxwell, Jon Gordon, and Todd Gongwer.  

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Let’s begin with my good friend Jason Barger, who began a “Step Back From The Baggage Claim” movement a couple of years ago that he has turned into a wonderful career.  Jason who once did a lot of non-profit work conducting missions works and leading groups of people constructing homes for families living in poverty and was Director of Camp Akita.  During this leadership venture, Jason travelled quite frequently and during this time he studied the behaviors of people.  He studied how people moved about, how people interacted with another, as well as witnessing both success and despair in unique settings.  Jason had a desire to grow as a leader and father, announced to his wife that he was going to quit his job, and write a book.  This decision that was supported by his wife, spurned Jason’s first book and now business.   Jason has gone on to speak internationally for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as any group of people wishing to grow and become a better servant leader,  father, husband, and friend. That last sentence is why I am writing about Jason today.  Above all else, everything he has done and is continuing today is about making not only others better, but himself as a father, husband, and friend better.   A big focus of Jason’s is to question whether you are busy or are you effective.  Believe me your kids can answer this one.  Through focus on such terms as culture development and being engaged Jason’s lessons and writings, when applied, cannot help but make you better as a family man.

Image result for john c. maxwell   imagesJohn C. Maxwell  writes and speaks about being Intentional.  If you are going to grow you must be intentional about this and have a plan.  Some people plan more for vacations than they plan for their own improvement.  For we as fathers to improve we must be intentional with our desire to improve.  We simply do not become better by remaining idle or bound.  We become difference makers for our families when we are willing to stretch ourselves, when we are present to encourage our children, when we no longer fear failure and we instill hope in our children.  Maxwell speaks in terms of Laws and each “law” written is followed by action steps being required in order to grow.  Through his one word daily videos he helps to add value to every family that desires to grow.  

Image result for jon gordon imagesOne time a self proclaimed Mr. Negative on the brink of losing his entire family, Jon Gordon uses the lessons from his past mistakes to write and speak to inspire and help others.  Many of Jon’s books are a mirror of his early days as an employee, husband, and parent that are based on his many failures and ultimatum to change.  Maybe the biggest lesson to apply from Gordon is that you need to constantly be aware of your attitude, and take pride in not only what you do but in how you do it.  Our children are watching how we carry ourselves, how we treat others, and how hard we are willing to work.  Gordon attaches to the must haves for development:  having a servant heart, being present as a human touch, and sharing the wisdom of listening while desiring to improve.  Jon goes to great length to detail that to be a difference maker, you have to have a never give up attitude.  You must have a true desire to succeed. These are all skills that all fathers can benefit from.

Image result for todd gongwer imagesWhile Ohio State Buckeye fans are still celebrating the National Championship garnered by the football team, Coach Urban Meyer and his players are gearing up for another title run.   Most of us can name many of the players and certainly can name the head coach, Urban Meyer.  However, there is another gentleman, that few know played a major role in the team's turnaround.  In particular, Coach Meyer has given this man credit for likely saving his career, thus being a huge part of the Buckeyes Rejuvenation.  This man is of  Lead for God’s Sake fame, Todd Gongwer.  Todd and I used to run in many of the same circuits as both of us were young assistant coaches at NAIA schools.  In fact, Todd was part of National Championship teams, during a time we lost in what is now famed as the ‘Sweet Sixteen’.  Although we never met on the court, we chewed a lot of the same turf so to speak.  Todd’s fable addresses being a leader. It addresses being a better husband, father, teacher, coach, and friend.   A major emphasis is making sure your actions align with what you are saying.  The story tells of a highly successful coach, going through a tumultuous season.  It is at this time that the coach finds a mentor in the oddest of all places.  Joe the Janitor, constantly brings to discussion a question of  paramount, “Why do we do what we do?”.  Todd’s initial reason for writing this book was that he wanted to put the heart of his  leadership philosophies in writing for his children to have for generations to come.  Todd preaches maintaining a servant heart, is passionate about helping others discover their purpose in leadership and in life and has used the success of his book to continue to make a difference as a father and family man.  

These four men are just a small sample of the many resources that we can learn from in the comfort of our own homes.  We never outgrow the need for mentors in our lives.  As fathers we can take the lessons from the masses and put into our repertoire of parenting.  Maxwell famously states that the biggest gap in the world is the space between knowing and doing.  Hopefully, I have inspired you to close this gap.

Monthly Quote:

“Today is a unique and sacred opportunity, no matter where I sit and I am grateful for the people and actions that brighten my world.” - Jason Barger

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up.” - John C. Maxwell

“Every morning you have a choice. Are you going to be a positive thinker or a negative thinker? Positive thinking will energize you.” - Jon Gordon

“If your leadership isn’t built on the foundation of your purpose first, your reason for existence, you will never be the leader you were meant to be.”  - Todd Gongwer

Monthly Challenge:

Take time to build a list of who may be your mentors and spend time with your own personal growth plan.  You may find it interesting to read some of the selections from the leaders I mentioned.  In today’s world, learning is at our fingertips.  Take advantage of these resources to become a better father, friend, and family man.