Archives For Parenting

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.


photo credit: camerondaigle via photopin cc

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.


photo credit: smcgee via photopin cc

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.


photo credit: Stephan Geyer via photopin cc

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.




For more about this topic, check out quizzes and articles at:

In the last episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast, we interviewed Dan Pink, author of A Whole New MindDrive, and To Sell is Human. In today’s episode, we discuss the benefits of taking a gap year.


Click to Listen


Subscribe via iTunes

Episode Summary

Gap Year – A year of time between high school and college where exploration, experimentation and work experience is gained.


Three Biggest Things that Happened for Tim’s Kids Working at Growing Leaders

1. They traveled

  • They went on trips.
  • Travel is an education in itself.

2. They did lots of assessing of themselves

  • Some were literal assessments.
  • They were able to evaluate and reflect as they worked.

3. They got good old-fashioned work experience

  • They worked and realized it’s not easy.

Six Benefits of a Gap Year

1. Gives them time to clarify their identity.

  • Often students move from one pressurized environment (high-school) to another (college) and don’t have time to think or reflect.
  • They are often consumed with “What’s my major?”, “How many credit hours?” and forgot to cement their identity.
  • 40% of college students today end up changing their major multiple times because they are wandering and searching for their identity.
  • A gap year allows them time to become.

2. Enables them to develop their emotional intelligence.

  • Success in college is 25% EQ and 75% IQ.
  • Success in the real world is 75% EQ and 25% IQ.
  • EQ is rarely taught or developed by sitting in a classroom.
  • This gap year allows them to develop EQ before entering into the classroom.

3. Helps them choose a college that actually fits.

  • It is better to choose a college that fits each student rather than choosing based on peers.
  • This time allows for assessment (pro/con list) to choose a college wisely.
  • A gap year helps each student identify their next step (college, work, etc)

4. Equips them to find and stick to their strength zone.

  • In this working gap year, they are not just taking literal assessments, but assessing themselves through a job (hands-on projects, phone calls, co-worker interactions, etc).
  • These day-to-day assessments allow them to identify certain strengths.

5. Teaches them to find mentors.

  • Many of the people they meet during a gap year will become their mentors.
  • These meetings and conversations with mentors furnish insights to the career and the life that they desire.

6. Gives them a place to mature.

  • Today, kids take longer to grow up because they are over-exposed to information and under-exposed to real life experiences.
  • Many university deans are now saying that “26 is the new 18”
  • A gap-year gives them the real life experience they need to mature.

Practical Application to Institute a Gap Year

  • If you have a business/organization where you can employ kids in a gap year, try it out with 1 student.
  • If you are a parent, help your kid find these gap years.
  • If you are a student, apply for internships and apprenticeships.


1. Growing Leaders Internship – We are currently accepting applications for our internship. Click here to find out more information.

2. National Leadership Forum – Sign up today at This year’s theme is Marching Off the Map: Charting the Course for the Next Decade of Student Development.

3. Check out Growing Leaders. If you’re new to the podcast or blog, visit our website to learn more about the resources Growing Leaders offers to equip those who lead the next generation.

What topic would you like for us to address on the next episode of the Growing Leaders Podcast? Leave a comment below. 

hbjFor additional ideas on leading students through life’s transitions, pick up a copy of Habitudes for the Journey.

Click here to order today.