The Other Person Your Child Needs


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We’re miles apart connected through cell phones, but the smile I feel in her voice sinks into my bones. With me, through moves across the country, career changes, moments when I was feeling sorry for myself, and times I needed to celebrate, Sibyl always had the words that hit the spot. She’s never shied away from saying what was hard  (she once told me to get off my butt and get started). But her words mattered because they were spoken from someone who knew me and loved me.

We know as adults we need these voices in our lives, but there’s someone who needs them even more: your child.

Wait a minute, your child has you, right? You’re the awesome parent who loves them more than anyone else in the world.

Exactly. You see your child through parent eyes, filled with hope and an achingly deep love that wants them to always try their best, always step into that next opportunity, always get that A, because you know they can do it. You were there the moment they made their grand entrance. You’re the one with the naked baby butt stories they beg you not to tell.

No way can an outside voice ever take your place, but they can fill a different seat at the table that you can’t.

Let’s face it. Somewhere between Lululemon and man buns, you’ve lost your coolness (okay, you haven’t lost it, you just can’t find it at the moment). You’re still essential, but now, there’s more your child needs. They need an additional, I-know-what-you’re-feeling voice. Here’s why:

They need a listening ear that’s not you, because sometimes it’s about you. Geesh, I don’t want my child talking to someone else about me! Actually, you do. Remember that time you made your daughter march back to her room (okay, she stomped) because the shorts she had on didn’t cover the essentials? She felt like you had ruined her life. When she talks to her friends about it, they’re on her side, which isn’t always helpful. When she talks to another wise adult she trusts, they can help with the why behind the what and help her see you’re on her side too. Which is incredibly helpful.

They need someone to sit with them at ground zero. As parents, we want to get them past what hurts and help lift their eyes to tomorrow. But when something hurts, it hurts today. Your child needs someone to talk to that remembers what it feels like to sit at the lunch table alone, left out of the Friday night party, or dumped by their best friend. As parents, it’s tempting to talk them out of feeling sad. It’s okay, there are lots of other parties. But often, they are not ready for this conversation yet. This is where an outside person can “sit in it” with them and help them process their feelings, giving them time for perspective to seep in.

Some things are too itchy for a parent’s ears. We want our kids to talk to us about the hard stuff. Pornography, sexting, what their best friend got arrested for last night, that decision they made that turned out to be a terrible one. But this is where an outside person can be extremely valuable. They can listen without freaking out, bring some wise words and help your child see why they do need to share it with you. A wise outside voice they trust who also reinforces your family relationship and your family values is like gold, and it keeps your child from feeling isolated with things that feel too big to talk about.

If your child already has someone they can talk to that you trust, like a teacher, coach, small group leader, mentor, let your child know you’re okay with it. Be supportive of their conversations, letting them know they can share what they talk about, but don’t force it. And honor the relationship by allowing time for it.

But what if your child doesn’t have an outside voice?

Ask a leader in your church or at their school if there are any young adults they know well who may already be volunteering and would be willing to mentor or be a big brother or sister. Relationship is key here, so make sure it’s someone your kid can connect with.

If your church has small groups for children and students, encourage your child to join. Remember, that other voice doesn’t always have to be one on one. Sitting in a group of kids the same age with a great leader can be an incredible start.

Wherever you find the other person your child needs, get to know them, invite them to have coffee, and thank them for investing in your child.

Check out more Parent Cue Posts here

How to Build Lasting Integrity in Kids

Icebergs and Ice Cubes

Check out the growing leaders blog here

An iceberg has been used over and over again by instructors to illustrate hidden realities. We often talk about the “tip of the iceberg” meaning there’s a larger amount of unseen substance than what’s visible. It’s an analogy. The iceberg is one of our most popular Habitude images when we teach leadership to students.

It has everything to do with integrity.

I believe the ten percent that lies above the water line represents our skills. They’re visible. Everyone can see them. But, they’re only the tip of our influence. The 90 percent that lies beneath the surface represents our character. And it’s always what is below the surface that sinks the ship.

Consider the Titanic for a moment. That tragic shipwreck that killed hundreds of people on board wasn’t due to the tip of the iceberg. It was that massive amount that’s invisible. It’s true about most failures in life, as well. I don’t know anyone who’s derailed their life with a technique flaw. I do, however, know several people who’ve derailed their career or their marriage or their friendships due to a character flaw.

When we teach our children character, (whether they’re six or sixteen), we cultivate substance beneath the surface. It can’t be seen, but in the long run it will surely impact the substance and direction of their lives. It’s invisible but important. The fact is, the majority of our influence lies in qualities beneath the surface.

My guess is—you’re a parent who wants to raise your children to be people with integrity. You want them to live by values, to be honest and ethical and to build a solid reputation. It’s a noble goal, but one that’s not easy to achieve today.

Why Is This so Challenging to Develop?

Becoming a person of integrity is difficult because our society places so much emphasis on what we can see. Our talent. Our Facebook profile. Our selfies. Our appearance. It’s almost always about our image not our integrity. If our kids display any special gifts or leadership qualities, it can be doubly hard. Consider these four statements:

  1. Their talent has the potential to carry them further than their character can sustain them. Without direction, their gift can mold them into someone they don’t intend to become. They’ll be tempted to use their gifts to go places their character isn’t robust enough to guide them or keep them aligned with good ethics.
  1. Trouble comes when their integrity doesn’t keep pace with the momentum created by their intelligence. Sometimes our intelligence is much stronger than our character. Our moral intelligence isn’t strong enough to give us clarity to make good choices. Smart kids can rationalize almost any misbehavior or poor decision.
  1. There is no correlation between giftedness and maturity. It’s easy to assume that a talented athlete, student council member or performer must be a mature leader. Not true. A person can have great gifts . . . and be the most immature person in the world. Unfortunately, they can still have influence. We must help our kids see the difference.
  1. Their commitment to integrity can be easily eroded by their love of progress. If a student lacks integrity, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad people. It may mean they are leaders and this is pushing them forward. Leaders want to make progress! Because they love progress they can compromise a commitment to integrity.

In addition, we live in a day of pluralism and tolerance, where we’ve taught our children to value and accept all points of view. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, kids can unwittingly fail to distinguish perspectives that are just plain wrong or unethical. The unintended consequence can be that kids fail to develop the ability to discern right from wrong. They don’t want to be judgmental, so they withdraw from making even moral judgments. This inability will be conspicuous as they begin their careers.

What Can You Do?

Let me suggest a handful of action steps you can take with your kids:

1. Make a list of values.

One of the two greatest goals you can model and teach to your children is to help them create a list of 4-6 words that describe the person they hope to become as adults. Call it a list of personal core values. Then, help them find ways to live up to those values weekly.

2. Challenge them to add value to others daily.

Next, in addition to living by values, give them perspective on adding value to others. Help them to perform one act every day that adds value to someone else. Try doing it yourself. Living by values and adding value are what makes people valuable to teams.

3. Make it a game to do what you disdain.

Challenge the family to choose something every week that you each don’t like to do, and do it daily. It may be a chore around the house, like taking out the garbage. Keep score on parents and kids. This creates a habit of doing right—even when it’s no fun.

4. Dinner check ups on integrity.

At dinner, talk about a weekly opportunity each family member had to practice something that displayed integrity when no one was watching. Anonymous acts of character. Affirm any growth in each person.

An Iceberg Not an Ice Cube

These simple acts can begin to cultivate kids with robust character. Kids who grow below the surface. Solid. Stable. Steady. Interestingly, there is such a thing as an iceberg that has very little substance below the surface. It’s called a “whistler.” They have nothing more underwater than what’s above. They’re like a floating ice cube. Do you know how you can identify a “whistler?” They consistently make noise as they drift.

Let’s raise our kids to have substance below the surface.

Disciple is here at the New Braunfels Civic Center Thursday, February 16!!!

Disciple is here at the New Braunfels Civic Center Thursday, February 16!!!

Contact Brandon Best at Oakwood Church offices for discounted tickets – 830.625.0267.


Band info from Air1 Website here

The rock band Disciple first came together in Tennessee back in 1992, when Kevin Young, Brad Noah, Adrian DiTommasi and Tim Barrett were in high school. Known for their hard rock sound, and thought provoking lyrics, the band quickly caught the attention of record executives and released their first CD, What Was I Thinking in 1995.

Over the next few years the band released the albums: This Must Sting a Little (1999), By God (2001), Disciple (2004), Scars Remain (2007) and Horeseshoes & Handgrednades (2010). The band also released a variety of songs including: “I Just Know,” “Not Rock Stars,” “The Wait Is Over,” “Game On,” “After the World,” and “Dear X (You Don’t Own Me).” Their song “Game On” was chosen for numerous television shows and commercials.

Though the group considers themselves a “Christian band,” their music has been able to cross genres and appeal to people of all age groups and all walks of life. “We’ve always wanted to be a rock band and wanted to minister to that genre of people who like that style of music, ever since we were about thirteen or fourteen years old,” says lead singer Kevin Young. “So it’s something that God ingrained in us a long time ago. For me, those were the types of bands that were ministering to me as a kid.”

For Kevin Young, being able to reach a younger audience is something that has always been a personal goal, due to his own experience as a teen. “I was trying to find my way as a teenager, and there were a lot of Christian rock bands that really helped me in my walk with God as a teenager,” he says. “To go see those bands play live and hear them talk about Jesus from the stage, it really made an impact on my life personally. And it impacted how we approached being a band. Those guys had a huge influence on our lives. But we’re not sold on just one type of person, I think the Gospel is definitely for everybody.”

Consisting now of Kevin Young, Josiah Prince, Jason Wilkes, Andrew Stanton, and Joey West, the band continues to inspire with their latest O God Save Us All (November 13, 2012) featuring the song “Draw the Line.”

“When I write songs I always ask, ‘how is this going to go over live,’” says Kevin. “I think when you hear the songs on this album it’s definitely loud, but it goes to a whole different level when you hear it live – everything is turned up a notch, not just in volume, but in the energy and intensity. We want our songs to move people, to get them to respond and give a feeling of being wrapped up in the music, and we hope that’s exactly what this record does.”

The band hopes with their music to open the eyes of listeners, and be a catalyst for those who are searching for something greater. “You see a lot of people who get messed up in certain situations that we would think are bad situations they need to be rescued from, but in reality they’re looking for the same thing everybody’s looking for,” explains Kevin. “Nobody wants to be hungry. Nobody wants to be lonely. Everybody wants a purpose for why they’re alive. Everybody wants to be happy. Nobody wants to just be a mistake or an accident.”