Why it’s so important.
In my last post I talked about LOVE. This week I’m going to focus on the 4th fundamental in changing your son’s negative behavior: LEADERSHIP. Leadership is the last and most essential part of curbing your son’s bad behavior. Why? Because, just like dogs, people follow leaders.
The most important thing that we have to provide every day is that we are the pack leader, that we set the rules, the boundaries and the limitations, and then we love. Most people get a dog because they need somebody to love. So they are going after what they need, not what the dog needs. And that creates instability immediately and the dog sees the human as a soft energy. Dogs don’t follow the lovable leader or the spiritual leader; they follow the dominant one. -Cesar Milan
Of all the fundamentals, leadership has the tendency to be the most elusive and often difficult to put into action as a result of it’s perceived complexity. This is why leadership means so many different things to so many different people. But how does LEADERSHIP apply to parenting, specifically in relation to failure to launch syndrome or what’s being called the Peter Pan Syndrome? Let’s begin by covering a few things about leadership you may already know.
What You Already Know
We all know leadership is about doing the right thing for the right reasons even when it’s painful, scratch that… especially when it’s painful. Yet, human beings have a difficult time with pain and parents are no different. Parents who have a son or daughter who is struggling with failure to launch syndrome understand the gravity of the situation. They understand what’s at stake and they know all too well that their child’s future hinges on his or her ability to problem solve, push through obstacles and remain resilient in the face of life’s challenges. No matter how brilliant or talented your child may be, when the storms of life come and your child begins to falter, parents can lose sight of what’s most important. Some parents are instinctively aware that their son or daughter does not have the skills required to be successful without instruction and guidance and look to Forte Strong for help. Unfortunately, some parents find it too painful to watch their son wade through the hardship and adversity and as a result, step in at a crucial moment in their child’s transition to adulthood. Unfortunately, this type of rescuing only creates entitled, scared, unconfident and depressed children who are easily frustrated, easily broken, easily manipulated and easily distracted, most notably by drugs, sex or toys which includes gaming.
My heart really goes out to these parents. Why? Because these aren’t bad or incompetent parents, on the contrary, these parents are bright, educated and devoted mothers and fathers who want what is best for their children, but at some point they let worry and fear slowly control their actions. Before long these once capable parents become overly-protective and have a difficult time letting go, taking a step back and letting their child take on challenging tasks on their own without jumping in, rescuing and micromanaging their life. When you think of leadership… do you think of a hovering, rescuing and micromanaging parent? Of course not. So What’s the answer? What is a parent to do when there is so much going on and so much at stake? When there are so much to consider and so many variables? I can tell you from experience that overwhelming yourself with a ton of complicated or confusing opinions and filling your brain with more and more information is not always the answer. It would be wise to stop, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
In cases such as this, less is indeed more. The truth is, “you already know the answer.” The parents I talk to on a daily basis aren’t asking me for advice, though it might seem that way, they are asking for reassurance… there’s a big difference. A parent who needs advice is saying, “I don’t know what to do, please help.” A parent who needs reassurance is saying, “I know what I should do, I’m just scared.” For most parents, I say go with your natural instinct… go with your gut. Where parents usually go wrong is when they don’t stick to their gut long enough. It takes time, patience and an unwavering commitment to see things through… this is where LEADERSHIP is everything.
WHAT LEADERSHIP REALLY IS.
Leadership in it’s purest form is the power to INFLUENCE others… period. Leaders have a unique ability to influence how others think, how they feel and how they act. Let me ask you a question… if you were to rate how much influence you have over your child on a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being no influence and 5 is a lot of influence, what would it be? Most parents I talk to tell me 1, sometimes ZERO!! Why such a low score? Why do some parents have little to no influence with their children when many of these parents are successful doctors, lawyers, business owners, and teachers, yet they come to me frustrated, bewildered and downtrodden, wondering why they have no influence over their children.
If there’s no influence in the home and leadership = influence, then we can surmise that there is a lack of leadership in the home. Tough to swallow, I know, but don’t throw in the towel just yet, it gets better. I’ve been able to help parents just like you change their situation and turn things around quickly. In the end, leadership is the answer. The good news is that leadership is a skill and a skill can be learned and honed. So, if you want to start having some influence over your kids, keep reading.
WHAT LEADERSHIP ISN’T.
Instead of covering what steps you can take to become a good leader, I thought it might be easier if I explained the steps that make a bad leader. Strange approach I know, but sometimes the best way to discover what works is by first understanding what doesn’t work. With that said, let me introduce you to the 5 Steps leaders should avoid at all costs… parents included.
There are those who can’t admit they made a mistake and those who can’t stop admitting they made one. Neither approach creates influence. How you handle your mistakes is so important. Lean too far to one side or the other and you’ll quickly regret it. Most of us are painfully aware of our mistakes, parents included, yet too many try to hide them. Parents who can’t admit they’ve made a mistake give up their power while parents who admit to every single mistake do the same. Have you ever spent time around someone who thought they were perfect or went on and on about how they weren’t? Not fun. Leaders admit mistakes when it’s necessary… they don’t hide them nor do they showcase them.
Tip: Parents can use mistakes to their advantage by using them as an opportunity to teach their child a valuable lesson: how mature adults properly address mistakes. Leadership isn’t about avoiding mistakes, it’s about how we handle, react and respond to them when we do.
Step 2. Don’t let stress lead you to control others.
Parents can get desperate when the influence they once had with their children begins to wane or disappear. As a result, parents can resort to managing their son or daughter’s stuff as a form of influence or control, taking away their Xbox, Playstation, Wii, laptop, car, phone, TV or anything else that might give them some control over what seems a hopeless situation. What you need to know is that managing your child’s stuff doesn’t work; this approach only creates resistant, resentful or highly adaptable (not in a good way) children and that’s not the goal. The opposite end of the spectrum exists as well. When taking things away doesn’t work parents can resort to giving their children everything they want instead. I think you know the answer to this approach as well… giving your children everything as though they’re the center of your universe doesn’t work either. You need to find another way to influence your children without always turning to the carrot or the stick. If you want to gain influence, gain their trust first. You can do that by avoiding #3 on my list.
Ever been around someone who doesn’t follow through on what they said they would? Who makes promises they can’t keep… perhaps daily? Someone who says they’ll clean their room, do the dishes or promises to get a job but does not? Someone who cleverly disguises problems as something that exists outside their control? Who blames the weather, the economy, the government or possibly you for their unfortunate situation? Do you know someone like this personally? I’m assuming, yes. Question is, do you draw the line and hold him accountable or do you negotiate by giving him extra time… after all, one more day won’t hurt, right? But that day soon turns into weeks and those weeks turn into months and so on and so on. What’s lacking is leadership. Leaders hold others accountable for their actions or lack thereof. Leaders don’t bend the rules to suit themselves nor anyone else for that matter. They don’t negotiate every time someone has a problem or an issue about the house rules or the family structure. Leaders don’t concede or surrender to avoid conflict. They hold firm to their values and their principles such as honesty, trust, accountability, kindness, patience, respect and hardwork to name a few.
If you give only 80 percent leadership, your dog will give you 80 percent following. And the other 20 percent of the time he will run the show. If you give your dog any opportunity for him to lead you, he will take it.” – Cesar Milan
Step 4. Don’t kid yourself. Pretending things are OK doesn’t make them OK.
After years and years working with parents personally on a daily basis, I’ve come to learn one simple truth… parents have a limited amount of time, a limited amount of energy and as a result they often have a limited capacity to solve their child’s problems. Yet parents still continue to worry themselves to death with the limited amount of time, energy and capacity they do have by either overcomplicating the issue or even worse, ignoring it altogether. It’s no mystery as to why so many parents choose to turn a blind eye and go about their merry way… at least for a time. It’s the same reason why many of us don’t go to the dentist with a toothache until the pain is so unbearable that we have to. Why wait for the inevitable? Accept the situation for what it really is and then move to Step 5… look to the future.
Vision is one of the most important parts of being a leader. Vision means being able to see into the future. Being able to clearly understand what choices you can make today that will create a better future for you tomorrow, regardless of the hardship, discomfort or pain involved. Parents sometimes make choices based on how they feel at the moment, but is that the right choice for your family’s future? Leaders understand the inherent benefits that come from adversity and hardship. They understand that a bright future might mean a dark present… but only for a time. Ask yourself: Do you understand the costs and rewards attached to your present course?
Let me summarize. YES… you can do this Mom and Dad! The question isn’t about HOW you are going to do it, it’s WHEN you are going to do it. Let me ask you a question. “What’s your gut telling you right now?!” No, that’s not your stomach screaming for a Cheeseburger or a Starbucks frappuccino. That’s your GUT telling you something important. What’s it telling you? It might be time to STOP, take a STEP BACK and LOOK at the BIGGER picture. My advice… Go with your GUT.
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 of 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 both adults and adolescents.
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