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In my associations with many parents, as well as in my own experience, there is a tendency to underestimate our children's intelligence and overestimate their experience. Consequently we make certain assumptions about what we thought they should already know, and we're disappointed when they don't act accordingly. These could range from the very pragmatic to the abstract, such as:
Cleaning their rooms
Cleaning up their messes
The value of work
Understanding that the decisions made today affect the future
The importance of respecting people's time
They are judged by their appearance regardless of whether it is right or wrong
Being respectful to others makes a big difference
The power to choose, etcetera
John Wooden was the men's basketball coach for UCLA, and in his tenure he won ten NCAA national championships. That is the highest number of men's basketball championships for any coach; the next closest is four. He was also voted the coach of the century for all of sports. One of the first things he would teach his players was how to properly put on their socks and tie their shoes. The players thought it was a childish exercise at first, but he would explain to his players that not putting on your socks and shoes properly could give you blisters, which could affect the quality of your play, and that could negatively affect the outcome of a game. All of his players were talented, and had been playing basketball for many years. Many of them would go on to play at the professional level, but he taught them the basics and expanded their vision of why these and other basics are so important.
Expanding your children's vision and understanding with patience means being more apt to teach, mentor, and coach, than to assume and judge. Ask your kids questions to check their level of understanding. Through asking questions you'll know what parts to skip and what to emphasize. There may be some things they know already, and you just need to do a quick review, but there's no shame in over communicating if they already understand. Don't you wish over communication would happen more often? When kids do something wrong, get in the mode of listening. Then when you have listened sufficiently so that you can hear glory and honor, you can lovingly teach and expand their vision and understanding instead of lecturing. Much like coach John Wooden explained how putting on shoes and socks correctly can affect the outcome of games, take the time to help your children make the important connections that will help them in their lives. Some connections are harder for them to make, because they have not had the same life experiences you have had. Imagine how uplifting it would be when we make mistakes, if someone would suspend judgment, would take the time to listen, and then expand our vision and understanding. We would feel affirmed, valued, and worthy of someone's time and attention to explain things to us.
What would add weight and drag, using the flight analogy, would be to assume, be impatient, and have a family member feel stupid. You may have even taught the same lesson before. That's okay. Learning requires repetition, and sometimes they, like us, may have taken a mental vacation when we should have been listening. So you may have taught them, but they may not have been listening at those critical moments. Keep teaching, pre-forgiven, and expanding their vision while being patient yourself.
Do Acts and Use Words of Kindness. In the allegory of the four seasons, we mentioned the idea that achievements stem from what we do and from what we say. One of the most important things we can do to lift our families is to use words with them that communicate affirmation, acceptance, and validation. Be quick to compliment. Be quick to point out your family member's character strengths when you see those strengths manifest. Let you family members know that you love them, appreciate them, and are proud of their right decisions. Affirm them as they live their lives down a path that will help them be their best selves.
Help Your Children Assemble Their Advisory Boards. Have you ever been concerned that your children may be spending time with the "wrong" crowd? In your time-management strategy include time to help your children assemble their advisory boards. Share what you have learned in assembling your own advisory board. Tell them what a difference it has made for you. Help them come up with the criteria for choosing members of their advisory boards. As you model for your children what it means to be divinative, to be pre-forgiving, to listen, to speak words of kindness and affirmation, and as you expand their vision with patience, you will strengthen your relationship with them. With a strong relationship your family members will be open to having you be part of their advisory boards and offering your input in assembling the remainder of their advisory boards.
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