Here is a great book review by a good friend of mine. I wonder if we shouldn’t be looking more to parenthood and children (maybe especially teens) for some lessons on how to deal with the Bright Young Things in our companies.
Raising Adults
By Jim Hancock
Summary by Mark Tittley
Buy it at or
Jim suggests that while there are no secrets, keys or steps to effective parenting, instead we could do a lot of good in our parenting if we made a commitment to do nothing for the next 30 days – particular stop doing the following six things (and replace these activities with positive ones):
1. Hijacking -> Explore
2. Fixing -> Collaborate
3. Bossing -> Partner
4. Demanding -> Affirm
5. Shaming -> Respect
6. Taming -> Encourage

These are not techniques to trick kids with – they are relational habits that grow from personal and interpersonal skills.
1. Hijacking – Explore
Hijacking begins with the belief that I know you better than you know yourself. It assumes that kids will make the wrong decisions, or at least different decision to what an adult would make, and that those decision will be wrong. “Do you have your jacket?” is Hijacking because it implies that the kid is not able to remember to take lunch money and that they are doomed to starve without our intervention. Mostly we mean well when we do this – as we are trying to head off negative consequences – but the underlying messages that we send is that the person is helpless without us and that they are not capable of following through on anything. Hijacking fosters dependence instead of encouraging intelligent independence. As long as the hijacker looks after details for the person then they maintain control in all areas of development.
Exploring is a better habit. Explorers assume nothing – they see information that only the child can provide but probably will not volunteer unless asked. A good question is one that you do not have the answer to! So instead of asking, “Do you have your jacket?” the explorer asks: “Do you have everything you need for your day? What does the weather look like today?” As the child thinks through the day in advance they will run a diagnostic to prepare for the day. They start to engage in intelligent processing! The child will respond to good questions with thoughtful responses. The benefits of exploring rather than hijacking are: (1) Asking good questions and listening carefully to the answers will help you to discover the weak spots in your child’s skill set. (2) When you take your child seriously enough to ask questions you can’t already answer, you prepare them to let you in on a whole lot of deeper stuff – the basis for a deep, lasting relationship with your child. (3) Your child will not automatically expert that all adults are out to make them look stupid – she will not assume the worst from other adults.
* Why do we engage in so much hijacking as adults?
* Can you think of three questions to ask your child that you do not already know the answer to?
* Can you identify an area where your child may be resisting you because of hijacking?
* What is hindering you from becoming an explorer with your children?
2. Fixing – Collaborate
Not wanting our children to experience pain, many of us rescue them from the consequences of their failures and wrongdoing. Sometimes we fix out of guilt because we are disengaged. If we decide to not bail our kids out, they may be surprised, even angry and hurt but they will begin to stop expecting you to fix things. What kids need is honesty, accountability and decisive action.
The Collaborator imagines a time when they won’t be on hand to fix things or a circumstance too complicated to be simply fixed. The Collaborator begins with questions designed to find out what the child knows. In fact, this works in both positive and negative learning experiences. There are three key questions for the Collaborator: What – “What do you think happened?” “Please tell me about it” or “What stands out for you from that experience.” Why – Why do you think it happened?” Now they are ready to make sense of the experience. How – How do you think you could repeat this success or avoid this failure.” Now they can take strategic action to repeat success or avoid failure. Once the child has learnt this process they will be able to take over the process themselves. These questions are centered on the child not the adults; they are questions for which the adults does not already have the answer; and they allow room for development in the child as they are not yes or no questions.
* Are you a fixer? Why?
* The next time your child is in trouble use the three questions to help them process the situation
* Can you use the three questions in other contexts?
3. Bossing – Partner
Nobody likes to be around bossy people – they know how to do everything better than anyone else and they are impatient with those who do things differently. Even when they ask questions it is more like a statement in the form of a question.
The opposite of bossing is Partnering – a partner asks for help when she needs it, seeks insight from others, make room for differences in style and does not make a big deal of things that don’t really matter. A Boss turns into a Partner when they realise that they way is not the only way. Asking for help, and really meaning it spells the end of bossing. Partnering is more energising and inviting than bossing. Partners place more value on people than on precision – they don’t destroy the moment of interaction because of something that is “done wrong”. There is a place for the pursuit of perfection – but not in human relationships! The next time we find ourselves freaking out over a details that in the grand scheme of things is less than nothing, try being your own Collaborator: What just happened here? What did I say and do in front of my child? What message did I think they got from me? Why did I send that message? Why did that seem so important to me just then? How do I want to proceed from here? What do I want to communicate in the next 30 seconds? How do I want to handle myself the next time something like this comes up? When I partner, my child becomes a participant rather than just an observer. When I partner, my child learns new skills that prepare them for the future. When I partner I free up time to focus on other important things.
* How do you feel about bossy people?
* If you are prone to bossing, when are you most likely to do so? Why do you think that is?
* What could keep you from partnering instead of bossing?
4. Demanding – Affirm
Demanding adults routinely criticise children for not being more adult. Their expectations are too high for children to live us to. High standards are okay, as long as they are appropriate to the person. Kids want to learn and grow because learning and growth are stimulating and fun – but learning is retarded in an overly demanding environment where failure is not tolerated. If failure is not acceptable, trial and error are thrown out as a learning strategy and kids resort to compliance, docile repetition, and playing it safe. There is a better way!
Affirming looks at behaviour or a process and responds with a constructive, concrete endorsement: “You did that well, I admire your work. Congratulations on a job well done.” Affirming how a child performs is not linked to whether are nice, pretty smart or good! Affirmation begins with honouring excellence and continues with inviting interaction. Affirmation looks at an action and offers soberly generous appreciation. We must avoid praising things that kids have no control over – like the colour of their eyes or hair.
* Can you identify ways in which you’re tempted to demand the wrong things from a child in your life? What contributes to that temptation?
* Think of some areas in which you might legitimately affirm your child. What is keeping you from doing it?
5. Shaming – Respect
Nobody knows anything that they did not learn. It is wrong for adults to humiliate children because the youngsters haven’t learned adult things. Shaming is a context in which the interrogative form does not necessarily indicate an honest question. The words, “What were you thinking!?” can be asked in a tone that conveys a message so humiliating that the person on the receiving end, if he responds at all , can only respond in one way: “I don’t know.” Shaming fails to make a distinction between guilt and shame: Guilt is the appropriate blush that says that something is wrong and that I should make it right. Shame is a deeper blush that says that I am something wrong and I can never be made right. Shame is a lie!!!
People who show respect listen to people who take ideas seriously, they provide training and responsibility. It is not empty handed acceptance of any and all behaviour. It grows from the acknowledgement that all of us are in process. We have learned everything we know so far including the fact that we have quite a bit more to learn. Respect knows that what is obvious to one person may not be obvious to someone else and that’s an acceptable place to begin the conversation. Shaming is a monolog while respect is a dialog.
* Have you ever been shamed? How do you feel about it?
* How do you feel about people who respect you?
6. Taming – Encourage
Our culture today is guilty of taming children to the point that they have no more dreams to pursue. They grow up believing that market forces they have no control over control all their destinies. Do we believe that our son can grow up to be the president of our country?
Instead of taming our children’s aspirations, why not encourage them? The verb encourage means “to put courage in”. The Bible says we are to encourage each other to love and good deeds. There is so much that discourages our children – that takes courage out of them. Everyone we meet is either a fueler or a drainer. Drainers take because they have nothing to give, while fuelers give because they tanks are full and they are generous with the surplus. To recognise the influence of individuals in our lives takes reflection on three simple diagnostic questions: (1) When he leaves, am I usually fuelled or drained? (2) What does he do that fuels or drains me? (3) In light of this, how should I manage my interaction with her? If we can learn to recognise how I am drained or fuelled, I can learn to fuel people in my life!
* Do you know what it feels like to have significant people try to tame your aspirations?
* Who are the consistent drainers in your life?
* Who are the consistent fuelers?

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