Archives For Parenting


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There has been a slow shift going on over the last forty years in how we lead our young people in America. I actually think I am seeing this shift happening all over the world. Adults view the educating and raising of children differently, and it’s affected our work with young kids as well as young adults.


We used to pride ourselves on giving kids whatever they needed.

Now, parents pride themselves on giving kids whatever they want.


We used to offer school rewards when our students put out excellent effort.

Now we reward everyone, because we don’t want anyone left out.


We used to say to kids: “You can do whatever you want; go figure it out.”

Now we say: “You can do whatever you want, and I will make sure it happens.”


We used to give kids an allowance for doing chores around the house.

Today, we give kids money regardless of any contribution they make.


We used to allow kids substantial playtime outside to exercise and make up games.

Now, we structure their days with practices and playtime is in front of a screen.


We used to let our kids fail and lose, but would help them learn lessons from it.

Today, we refuse to let our kids fail. We don’t want to damage their self-esteem.


We used to see nearly every teen work at a job; it was the only way they’d have money.

Today, most teens don’t work yet somehow find the money for items they want.


We used to affirm young people for outstanding behavior, performance or character.

Today, we praise young people for effortless and even basic behavior.


We used to learn about values and how life works over dinner with our family.

Today, kids may learn about life, values, and even sex from school, since there’s no time for dinner together at home.


Yesterday, when a student got in trouble in school, they also got in trouble when they returned home. Parents took sides with the school rules.

Today, when a student gets in trouble in school, the parent sides with their child and the teacher or administrator now gets in trouble.


This may just explain much of what we see in our culture today.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Over the last several months, I have spoken to more parents, teachers and coaches than I have students. It seems adults are still trying to figure out this digital generation of kids. I get asked great questions in these events that I am blogging about this week.

One question comes up repeatedly—and I want to write about it here.


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Question: How can my son or daughter live with the paradoxes in their life? One minute, they seem so confident, almost cocky, and the next, they seem anxious and even fearful. I realize this can be due to the circumstances at the moment—but I see this far too often. Can you explain it?

Answer: Sometimes I see kids project a “false confidence” as a facade. It covers their insecurity. There is actually a phenomenon occurring in adolescents today that psychologists refer to as: “high arrogance, low self-esteem.” It’s common among Generation iY who grew up feeling so confident with the world at their fingertips, discovering new sites on-line, texting and tweeting, receiving parent’s affirmation, perusing data portals.

It all sounds good, but it can create an arrogant attitude in a student as if they know more than parents and teachers. (In some cases, they actually do).  However, in time, the student somehow intuitively or sub-consciously recognizes that their knowledge is hollow. Except in rare cases, it has only entertained them but not produced anything real. This can lead to quiet suspicions that they may not have what it takes to be an adult. At times they live with a quiet worry that they don’t even have what it takes in college or with friends.

In one week’s time, I met with two individuals, both parents of teenagers. The first was a father of a seventeen-year old daughter. She had been a stellar example of everything a dad would want in a child: she made A’s, she was a cheerleader, she had lots of friends, and she’d launched a campus club that recycled aluminum cans. Something was wrong, however, according to her father. His daughter became depressed. Her confidence took on a mean-spirit. After seeing a counselor, all three concluded it was the high arrogance, low self-esteem syndrome.

The second person I met was a mother of a freshman in college. Her boy was a typical computer geek, who loved everything technology had to offer. He was smart, and somehow figured out how to “win” at anything he tried to do. But he, too, was a victim of this same condition. He is acutely self-aware and told his mom he felt it was the confidence he’d experienced on-line with computers, but the eerie, nagging feeling that was not was good enough “off line.” He felt the need to project his self-worth. To brag. To over-compensate in whatever activity he set out to do. When I met with him, he and I agreed the best way to describe his situation was: high arrogance, low self-esteem.

This is why parents and teachers must be models of emotional and spiritual health, as we lead them. When we are emotionally secure, we demonstrate humility and show no need to project our worth. Certainly, teens are still figuring out who they are and may do bizarre things as they pursue that discovery. Help them explore but also help them be authentic. The word authentic comes from the same root as: to author. It means to write your own story, not copy someone else. We must help remove the need for them to be anything but their true selves, with the normal hesitations and anxiousness that comes with adolescence.

What do you think about this issue? Leave a comment.





For creative solutions to solve this problem, pick up your copy of  Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

I am blogging all week about the best questions I receive from parents, faculty, coaches and employers…about students today. It’s always a great dialogue. Here is another below:


Question: It seems like I am running into more and more tweens and teens who say they plan to experiment not only with sex, but with genders. They are not sure which gender they prefer to marry or to engage in sexual activity. It’s a bit frightening—how do I counsel my kid? I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I wonder if this is just a fad today where kids are exploring new things. What do you think?

Answer: This issue is coming up more and more today. Let me begin by saying I am not a psychologist; I am a leadership trainer for the next generation. And, I am just one voice. However, with this in mind, let me respond.

To be honest, I believe some teens are simply playing into the cultural norm to “experiment” with sexual partners. However, there are other factors that aid this sexual confusion.

For instance, for several years now, scientists have known about chemicals, like BPA, that are in our plastics and our water. When BPA enters the human body, it mimics estrogen, the female hormone. This is impacting both girls and boys in Generation iY, born since 1990.  Girls are moving into puberty faster than ever before, as early as eight years old, instead of twelve or thirteen. And boys are seeing a drop in testosterone levels in their body. According to Dr. Leonard Sax, M.D. and PhD in Psychology, boy’s testosterone levels are half of what they were in their grandparent’s day.

I wonder if part of the reason for kid’s sexual confusion is the chemicals they’ve ingested. BPA will obviously affect kids differently, based on their natural levels of estrogen and testosterone. But culture and home environment (on the outside) as well as chemicals inside of them can impact their perspective and sex drive.

Consequently, we must handle this experimentation with grace and mercy. Keep talking about the issue with these tweens and teens. We believe what’s key to their sense of identity is to help them identify their God-given gifts and play to them. This actually builds strong self-esteem. In response, perhaps some of the inward need to experiment with their identity can be reduced if many of their emotional needs are met through the affirmation that comes through employing their gifts and strengths. This seemingly unrelated issued may lead to healthy choices. It’s just a thought. Remember, I am no psychologist. Just a leadership trainer for the next generation.

What do you think? How do you respond when you see students struggle with this issue? Leave a comment.





Learn more about the challenges facing Generation iY.

Are Video Games Bad?

March 5, 2013 — 15 Comments

Part of what I do at Growing Leaders is travel and train. I speak to parents, teachers and coaches, as well as students. Some of the greatest Q and A times surface in these events. It seems adults are still trying to figure out this digital generation of kids. Imagine that. I am blogging about some of the most common questions I get this week. Today’s is a big one.


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Question: Are video games bad for kids? How do I get my son to stop gaming and play outside? Or, should I let him play these games, since he’s staying out of trouble? Am I making too big a deal of this? Where do I draw the line?

Answer: Personally, I am not against video games. Certainly, there are some games that contain negative content, such as Grand Theft Auto and Halo, which I think should be avoided. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think it’s helpful to spend hours a day simulating theft and murder.

Apart from the content of the games, however, I think it’s helpful to initiate open and honest conversations with our kids about this issue. It’s likely they’ll have a different perspective than you do. They’ve grown up playing video games their whole life. It’s normal to them. What they may not know is—gaming has now been proven to foster asthma (from the sedentary posture) and near- sightedness (from hours in front of a screen).

In addition, all the legitimate research I’ve uncovered tells me the more time they spend playing video games, the poorer the student does in school. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Further, the average male teen spends 13.5 hours a week in front of a video game. It’s been shown to reduce their skills at interacting with the workaday world. Stanford University will no longer take “gamers” into their med school, because it requires faculty to do too much extra work to prepare them to operate on a real, three dimensional human being. That’s a bit scary to me.

So what do we do?

As I mentioned above, start conversations about the issue. Don’t be judgmental but show your son or daughter the research. (You can find it on-line, or in my book, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.)  I did this with my son, and later asked him what he thought. (I decided not to lay down a hard and fast rule but invite him to draw his own conclusion.) I was encouraged to hear him say, “Dad, I think I’m gonna cut back on the video games.”

If you set boundaries and limit the hours your kids play video games each week, come up with alternatives. Plan activities for them to replace the video game hours with exciting and engaging things for them to do. (Here’s a thought: get them outside exercising a bit.) The key is balance. Video games are not going away any time soon, and kids are going to enjoy them during their childhood. The balance is—we must help them find creative alternatives that will develop them as people and engage their minds as well as video games do. Is it really possible? You bet. I remember having plenty to do as a kid before video games ever came around. It can be done.

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment.





For more ideas to engage the next generation, pick up a copy of Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.


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Over the last several months, I have spoken to more parents, teachers and coaches than I have students. It seems adults are still trying to figure out this digital generation of kids. Imagine that. I get asked great questions in these events that I plan to blog about this week. The question below came from a woman who is both a mother and a teacher:

Question: My sixteen-year-old daughter is an EXCELLENT “texter”.  I am fighting her weekly to do something as old fashioned as CALLING someone in place of texting.  I am concerned that she will grow up without social skills that she will need in a day-to-day life in work and social gatherings.  I know times have changed, but are my concerns valid?  We as a culture these days, try to expose our kids to all kinds of extra curricular activities from a very early age. I would hate for teens today to miss out on the art of face-to-face talking.

Answer: For whatever it’s worth—I share your concern. I’m certain it feels old fashioned to students for us to want them to know how to actually converse, face to face, but I don’t think the need for this skill will go away soon. Employers I talk to want team members that have good emotional intelligence, which includes social skills. My good friend, Tom Thomas, owns a company called Cardinal Advisors. He spends much of his time working with NCAA programs, helping student athletes learn manners and social skills. He is in demand, working with over 400 schools, and helping students prepare for interviews and jobs. He is teaching a lost art.

Texting is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is—it allows us to communicate immediately through a screen. The curse? We get lazy with our relational skills.

So, what’s a parent or teacher to do?

First, talk to your students about it. If they are ten-years-old or older, they should be able to understand the rationale behind learning people skills. Many teens avoid phone calls because they don’t want to put in the effort of a conversation. Let them know how valuable this skill will be as an adult.

Second, create opportunities for your kids to interact in a social setting, with people older and younger than they are. For instance, throw a party and have your kids host the adults who attend. Have them greet guests, take their coat, offer something to drink and ask how their day was. These are simple but profound skills that make them more marketable.

Third, set boundaries for your student’s cell phone use. Let them know when texting is OK and when phone calls are appropriate. One parent refused to let their son break up with his girlfriend through a text and made him do it in a face-to-face conversation. That’s good parenting in my book. Conflict should never be resolved (as a rule) through texting or email. Those tools are for information not emotion. I believe adults should model and teach these social skills to the next generation.




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