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Preparing for adulthood is more than making good grades. When I was growing up, you might have thought world peace hinged on my report card! I hated and dreaded report card day! Back then the report card was made from manila card stock. It had my name on the front. On the inside were grades, attendance, conduct and a place for parents’ signature.
On more than one occasion, I both changed my report card and signed my mothers’ name. It wasn’t hard to change an “F” to a “B” and I simply practiced writing mothers’ name until it looked authentic.
Did I get caught? Sometimes. But our guidance counselor at school was a close neighbor. When he would call me in to discuss my transgressions, he would ask, “Mike, do you want to tell your mother or do you want me to?” Usually I would tell him I knew how busy he was and how important his time was and I’d tell her myself. Did I go home and tell her? No. Just put off facing the truth a few more hours or days.
I am not discounting the importance of an education. But what happens when a student graduates? Where is the report card or system of measurement?
I would suggest a broader approach to preparing a child for the challenges they will surely face in adult hood. I would also suggest a parental approach much like coaching.
A good coach provides skill assessment and training. A good coach takes a long term perspective to develop team respect and responsibility. A good coach provides encouragement and seeks to build trust. A good coach helps players in the following areas:
Sense of competence - that is confidence and faith in one’s self both intellectually and socially while learning to be led by the Spirit of God. (Phil. 4:13)
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Through Him is the key focus of this verse.
Manage emotions - the ability to identify what emotions are communicating. What am I feeling? Why do I feel this way? What are my choices? (Proverbs 4:23)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
What comes out of the heart reveals what has been put into the heart.
Develop autonomy - moving from dependence to interdependence in relationship with parents and other adults. The goal is a mature, responsible, productive adult. (1 Co. 3:11)
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
Children are raised to stay or to go.
Establish identity - discover who God made them to be. (2 Co. 5:17)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Interpersonal relationship skills - develop committed relationships and lasting friendships. A moving from self-focused to other-focused. (Luke 10:27)
“He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind, and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Sense of purpose - ability to set and work toward goals in a practical and realistic way. To know a direction for life while seeking God’s wisdom and guidance. (Proverbs 16:1-3)
“To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord come the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”
Sense of integrity - consistency in all areas of life between the Bible, their belief system and their behavior. (James 1:22-25).
“Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what is says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.”
When our son was growing up, he simply wasn’t motived “to do his best” in his school work. As we reviewed his report card I began thanking him for his efforts in the subject areas that were easiest for him. Then we would talk about the subject areas that needed more effort. But then I would remind him that we were working on somethings that weren’t on the report card.
We wanted him to know that God would help him remain calm and remember what he had studied, if he studied and if he ask God for help. We wanted his faith in God and his practical application of faith to increase through experience.
We wanted him to develop skills allowing him to recognize, be honest about, and process emotions in a healthy way.
We wanted him to know we believed God was preparing and moving him toward a time when he would not need us. Also, we knew God was at work making him a man who would be successful in life and relationships.
We wanted him to know it was ok and desirable for him to be the person God made him to be. We constantly reinforced his identity as a child of God.
We helped him develop discernment skills to choose who he should allow close enough to influence him. Not judging other people, but observing whether or not the other person was on the same path in life he was on. We wanted him to find and make friends at church rather than at school.
We wanted him to have a greater purpose than having fun and staying out of trouble. We wanted him to find his place in God’s Kingdom and live his life within the passion and giftedness God placed in his life.
We wanted him to know telling the truth was always worth the price. We believed being honest with God, with himself and with others was a priority.
Did we accomplish all these things while he was still at home? No, because these developmental components of maturing are live long.
In our counseling ministry, we encourage each parent to read, think about and decide which developmental components are strengths in their life, their spouse and in life of their children.
Hope Family Counseling/Ministries provides resources and counseling to help with reconciliation and equipping for every season of life.
As a faith based nonprofit, we continue to provide our services on a donation basis.
We invite you to contact us, partner with us in prayer and support!