Last week, in Part 2 of our series “3 Ways to Help Your Son Achieve Independence” we discussed the 1st and most important “E” factor which is Environment. We also talked about the 3 R’s that are crucial in creating an environment of learning and growth. In Part 3 of this series we will talk more in depth about the 2nd “E” factor, Engagement. Let’s begin by defining what engagement is. Websters dictionary defines engagement as follows: emotional involvement or commitment. Right now you’re probably thinking, “But I am emotionally involved and committed!” Take a deep breath… I know you’re emotionally involved and committed, you are in fact reading this post to try and help your son achieve independence… that sounds like someone who is emotionally involved and committed to me. Your level of engagement is not in question here… your son’s however is, so that’s where we’re going to start. So how do you get your son engaged? Let’s find out!
Engagement… what is it?
First off, we need to look at engagement as a process rather than a definition. I think we can both agree that if engagement was really as simple as just being emotionally involved and committed then things would be much different at home, right? Engagement is really a process, not simply a state of being and that’s the real difference. At Forte Strong we view engagement as a process, a process in which emotionally involved and committed people help facilitate learning and create new opportunities for growth. There’s no doubt you are emotionally involved and committed, but do you facilitate learning and create new opportunities for growth? If not, then I would argue that you’re not fully engaged in the process, which is ok… because you’re going to learn how right now!
*Engagement can be divided into 3 categories that are easy to remember and easy to implement. At Forte Strong we call these 3 categories the 3 C’s of Engagement.
The 3 C’s:
Community, Communication & Consistency
Have you heard the term “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well… it’s true. Is it possible for one person to do it on their own? Yes it is, but it’s a lot more work and the odds are stacked against you. It’s much harder to guide your son in the right direction when you are competing against the rest of the world! Engagement doesn’t just have to come from ONE source, so parents you don’t have to do this on your own. In fact, I would highly recommend you don’t do it on your own. The Lone Ranger might work well in the movies but it doesn’t work very well in the real world. It would be wise to include people you trust in the engagement process. It can be friends, mentors, extended family, neighbors, coaches, teachers, pastors, bishops, bosses and so on. Remember, you are fighting for you child’s time and attention and the older your child is… let’s say over 18 for example… the harder it will be to capture it and keep him engaged.
It’s a big world out there and parents, you have very little control over it. But don’t throw in the towel just yet, there is a place where you have a great deal of control and influence. Do you know what environment I speak of? If you read Part 2 in the “3 Ways to Help Your Son Achieve Independence” series than you know the answer. It’s your home! That’s exactly why creating a healthy environment within the home is #1 on our list. Outside the home is beyond your control and your scope of influence, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other channels of influence at your disposal. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. You have friends, mentors, extended family, neighbors, coaches, teachers, pastors, bishops, bosses and so on that may be willing to lend a hand. Do you know of any good role models in your family, at work, church, school or in the neighborhood that you trust? If so, try and get them involved. Your goal is to create opportunities for your son to learn and grow. A community of positive, responsible and trustworthy individuals can help make the job easier.
Note: You’re not trying to find a therapist, you’re trying to find healthy, responsible, trustworthy, well-balanced individuals who can help keep your son engaged or in other words, people who are emotionally involved and committed to help facilitate learning and create new opportunities for growth.
I cannot emphasize the importance of communication. Communicating effectively is so vital that without it, the battle is already over before it even begun. This battle is for your son’s time and attention and ultimately his future. Any military general will tell you, the fastest way to win a war is to take out the enemies communications and the same can be said at home. If communication doesn’t exist in the home than you’re fighting a battle that can’t be won. But wait! Before you start waiving a white flag, know that with a little guidance and some one-on-one coaching you can quickly turn this situation around for the better! At Forte Strong we help teach and coach parents how to communicate with their children in a way that creates positive change instead of resistance and resentment. Though we’ve learned that no communication can be debilitating, the inability to communicate effectively can be equally disastrous. However, I personally believe some communication, regardless of its effectiveness, is better than no communication. Though not optimum, arguments at the very least indicate both parties are trying to communicate at some level to solve a common problem. No communication on the other hand indicates a refusal to address the problem or acknowledge that it even exists. Communication is key in helping your son achieve independence, so learning how to communicate effectively is essential!
So how does one learn how to communicate effectively? The good news is that you don’t need to be a master of communication in order to use it effectively. By following these 3 basic steps you’ll begin to experience huge positive results in your life and make a huge impact on his. However, communication always involves more than one person, which is why adopting these 3 key areas will help you drastically improve your life, but it doesn’t mean you can force someone else to do the same. You can easily remember these 3 key areas by remembering the 3 T’s: Talk, Timing, and Trust.
Step 1: Talk This is by far the most important of the 3 because this is one parents often avoid because let’s face it, it can be uncomfortable at first. So what does talking mean? It means you start talking to your son on a daily basis… and that means practice, practice, practice. Talking doesn’t mean you are the one doing it, it only means that you are involved in the conversation. Talking involves both speaking and listening and they are both important.
Step 2: Timing Many parents get this one wrong because they forget to think about the other person first. If you find yourself repeatedly missing the mark on timing, go back to step 1: Talk and practice listening more than speaking. Great listeners are always better at timing than speakers because they are consistently in tune with how others are feeling and thinking and are therefore more adapt to know the best time to talk. Timing can often predict whether there’s an argument or a conversation. Trying to talk to someone while they are emotional is a bad idea, whether the emotional person is you or your son. Here are few examples of bad timing.
- Talking to someone while they are emotional.
- Talking to someone who is rushed for time (this could also be you). Don’t try to quickly jam a conversation in before heading out the door.
- Talking to someone when there’s distractions.
- Talking to someone when they just woke up or tired and sleepy, hungry, thirsty or feel ill.
- Talking to someone in the middle of them doing something important (whether or not you feel its important)
- Talking about something important over the phone, text or email.
- Talking to someone in a public place with lots of people around.
Step 3: Trust This is essential for any good, productive and positive communication to take place. Honesty and trust must first exist before any real and meaningful conversations take place. For mom’s, that means juicy details of the conversation are kept confidential between husband and wife and no one else, unless it is absolutely necessary. That means that sharing bits and pieces of the conversation with Aunt Edna and your best friends Janet and Kim is out of the question. Men are not as open and transparent about things as women are, which means you need to treat what is said as sacred. Your son is not going to tell you a thing if he can’t trust that you will treat what is said with respect. Though I believe it is good for son’s to have meaningful conversations with their Mother’s, I believe it’s far more beneficial to have a meaningful conversation with his Father.
It’s important that parents are consistent and firm in their message and their approach when trying to foster independence. Obviously this is not just a one time fix and you’re not going to see a marked improvement in just one day. It’s going to take some time and this is why consistency is so crucial. With over 13 years of experience I’ve come to understand that what separates parents who experience success from those who don’t is consistency. It just makes sense, parents who can be consistent experience the best results. I often compare this overlooked and under-appreciated attribute to running a long-distance marathon. Fact: Not everyone who runs a marathon ends up finishing it. This is largely due to a lack of consistency or pace.
If you are a runner you understand what I’m saying, if you’re not let me further explain. There are 3 types of marathon runners.
Runner #1: These runners walk the race and never end up finishing within the time limit (usually 6 hours). These runners represent parents who either don’t think there’s a problem or are not willing to put forth the effort to solve the problem.
Runner #2: These runners run the race too hard, don’t have the energy to keep going and eventually burn out. These runners represent parents who put forth a lot of effort, using an approach that doesn’t work and eventually burn out.
Runner #3: These runners have been coached or taught to pace themselves at a speed that is neither too slow nor too fast and finish the entire 26.2 miles. These runners represent parents who consistently use an approach that works with a large support network. Just remember this rhyme: Winners run their race at a healthy pace!
Now ask yourself, which runner are you? Most parents fall into the category of Runner #2… they invest a lot of time and energy using an approach that doesn’t work and are eventually left feeling burned out and hopeless. How do you prevent Burn Out? Simple! By implementing the first two “C’s” correctly! Step 1: Community! Remember, it takes a village to raise a child so recruit some extra help! It’s much easier to maintain consistency if you’re not carrying the full weight on your shoulders. Step 2: Communicate with your son and learn how to do it effectively! We’ve helped hundreds of parents that have been in your exact situation. If you’re committed to winning this race, which I know you are, please call us today and let us help you help your son.
A Quick Summary:
The 4 “E” factors that we’ve found to be the most effective in catapulting young men to independence is Environment, Engagement, Education, and Experience. We feel the 2nd most important factor out of the 4 is Engagement. We learned that Engagement is a process not simply a state of being: committed and emotionally involved. We further learned that the process of engagement is most effective when approached utilizing the 3 C’s: Community, Communication and Consistency.
Next week we will be learning about the 3rd ‘E’ factor that will help your son achieve independence… Education! So stay tuned!
A thank you to all our readers! We know there are a variety of different programs and approaches out there today for emerging adulthood and we sincerely appreciate parents like you who invest their time and energy toward improving themselves and their families. We hope you found this information to be both empowering and useful to help your son achieve independence. Please take a second to leave a comment below. Thank you!
About The Author
Brook Price dedicated himself to helping others early in his life. He grew up in Sunny Orange County California, then joined the Marine Corps at the age of 21 serving five and half years as a helicopter crew chief and then as chief accountant. His journey with this type of work began when he volunteered as a Young Marines Instructor during his time in the Marines, helping kids get off the street, improve their lives and develop as a leader. After his tour Brook left the Marines to pursue a career in experiential therapy by attending Southern Utah University where he majored in outdoor recreation with a minor in psychology.
Brook has seventeen years experience working for a variety of different therapeutic and transitional programs across the nation. His thirst for knowledge drove him to learn and study successful therapeutic models and programs across the country, most notably Outward Bound. Brook has experience working with therapeutic, residential, military, wilderness and transitional programs for adults and adolescents.
You can also find me on Google+