Archive for June, 2013


Image

My first job out of college was as an intake worker in foster care. Great experience, however, at the ripe age of 21, it shaped my perspective on parenthood. That experience is for another day (soon…I promise).

As an intake worker, I had to build the case files for case managers. In the process, I had to enter the social security numbers of the parents and their children. Back then, I was amazed at the fact that after entering the numbers, they seemed to be forever etched into my mind. The same was for my family and friends phone numbers…I just remembered them. Not long ago, someone asked me for my wife’s phone number and I could not tell them without looking into my phone. What happen???

I trace it all back to technology (Cell Phones, Computers, etc.). I did not have a need to “clutter” my mind with senseless information that I could easily access. At least I thought. Now I realize that it was more than knowing, it was exercising a side of my brain that I must not readily use now. We do not have to “think” any more. We just need to read or access a resource that contains the information we need. Some may argue, “what’s wrong with that?” My reply, “nothing, as long as you “always” have access to that “thing” that you depend on.

Let me get to the point…I believe problem solving is the single greatest attribute that a parent can teach their child (next to fearing God). My mother was a problem solver. She was a teen mom and embodied the principle of “where there is a will there is a way.” We did not always have, but we never lacked what we needed. I watched her “figure life out” sometime out of nothing. She did not have the luxury of running to the store to get what was needed for dinner. She pieced this with that and I was full and well nourished. This quality, problem solving, has been lost. I am witnessing an up and coming generation who are sometimes paralyzed when all of the pieces do not fall in place.

My parental peers appear to be too concerned with making sure that their kids have everything that they did not have (#Stuff), that they are forgetting to pass along the characteristics that got them to this point.

This evolution of parenting has created a generation of 20 somethings who are waiting at the bus stops of opportunity wondering when their ride will come, instead of doing what is necessary to prepare or create an opportunity for themselves.

This evolution of parenting has created a generation of 20 somethings who are waiting at the bus stops of opportunity wondering when their ride will come, instead of doing what is necessary to prepare or create an opportunity for themselves. To reverse this trend, parents, we have to act now by allowing our children to suffer, go without, and earn their keep. We had to work to get everything, now we give them everything and they do not have to work.

Problem solving is having the ability to identify that there is actually a problem. Some of them do not even realize that they are lost and losing!!! I know it is tempting to jump in quick when we see that our children are on a path to destruction. I agree. I will be tempted to do the same thing. That is what a parent is supposed to do. What I am asking is that you include them in the process. If you resolved it and they never understand that they were in danger, the possible consequences of their actions, the steps you took to resolve it, why you took those steps, and how to actually resolved it…how do you expect them to resolve it in the future.

Please teach your kids how to problem solve while they are young, if not, they will expect you to solve their problems when they are old.

Steps of Problem Solving

  1. Identify the Problem: Your child must have a morale compass of what is right or wrong (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord). At the tender age of 8, my son knows the 10 commandments and holds us all accountable for breaking any one of them. He also respects authority. Authority is not always a person in leadership. For example, one day we were out shopping and we were about to walk into a store. He stopped outside and we walked it. I turned around and he was outside the store. I went out and told him to come in, but he was eating a bag of chips. He said, “daddy, the sign says no food or drinks in the store, so I had to finish before I came in.”
  2. Think it Through: Do not be so quick to solve their problems, no matter how small. Ask them questions and wait on the answer. There are times when I ask a question and it may take him 5 mins to respond, but I do not let him off the hook. “I do not know” is not an acceptable answer in my household. You have a brain, use it!!! I have a couple questions that I often ask when he does not know what to say; 1) What would you do if you did know (this is a good one when they try to sneak that infamous question in “IDK)? 2) What do you think should happen? 3) What would you like to happen? Then just wait. I will sometimes say, “Still waiting…?” Be patient, eventually the wait time will get shorter if they know you will not give in. If they get stuck, brainstorm with them by providing suggestions (but not right away). Eventually, they will come up with ideas on their own.
  3. Consider the consequences: As a kid, this is what kept me out of trouble. I loved my privileges. Anything that I did that was going too take them away, I avoided (or prayed I would not get caught…LOL). I was no angel, but I always thought “If this, then that”….If I do this, that could happen. When they present a solution, throw a “What If?” back at them. The “What if” is the possible consequence to their solution. Then let them decide if they want to take the chance. Continue this until they make a final decision. Remember…all consequences are not bad.
  4. Walk along side them: After they make a decision, support them in it. As adults, we know that sometimes we have great intentions, but our delivery or how we do something spoils it all. Help them understand the importance of doing things decently and in order so that it does not make matters worse. You may have to model it for them and have them watch you a couple times , while you explain “why” you did what you did. Then, they can do it and you watch, continue to provide coaching along the way. Eventually, they will be able to do it on their own.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe problem solving is the single greatest attribute that a parent can teach their child. You will not always be around to guide them. However, they should be able to remember how you modeled the way. Parents are also battling a society that has evolved into a at-your-finger-tips-you-do-not-have-to-think-or-use-your-brain society. My wife witnessed kids at the community center that because of cell phones and tablets do not know how to tell time on a analog clock.

Subtle, but I think we must pay attention and adjust or our children could be walking around life lost with a map that they can’t read, because their GPS ran out of batteries and their phone died asking us…”wht time u say dat bus comin?”

Advertisements