The Secret to Moving a Kid From Languishing to Leading (Part 2)


How do you foster actual maturity in a virtual world?

Yesterday, I laid out the reasons why our culture today is creating kids who grow older but often fail to grow up. When they finish school, they often fear entering the adult world. Adolescence has been pleasurable and predictable. They’ve learned to navigate their way through Facebook, texting, recitals and video games. But somehow this didn’t get them ready for what’s coming. So what’s the secret to moving kids from languishing to leading?

I believe we must slowly move them toward authentic responsibility. Yesterday I suggested that what we’ve done with our kids up till now is given them artificial responsibility. They’ve had a simulator of real life, made up of screens, but no real “make or break you” responsibilities. I compared it to going to a local gym to workout, but only looking at the weight machines, not actually lifting the weights. I believe we must help them begin lifting lighter weights, then move them to heavier weights, just like we do in a gym. You must learn to bench press 75 lbs. before you’re ready for 200 lbs. Leadership only develops as responsibility is passed.

When I wrote the book, Artificial Maturity, I included dozens of ideas on how to do this. Let me offer a few ideas below, then if you want more, you can grab the book here:

1. In order to teach them how to treat the opposite sex…

One family required their sons to take mom out on a date before they were allowed to date a girl in high school. They rolled their eyes as first, but each one actually did it. They took mom out, opened the car door for her, bought her dinner, got her flowers, you name it. Once they had “passed this test” they got to date a peer.

2. In order to raise their emotional intelligence…

Some families had their kids host a party—for adults. Mom and dad planned a party for their friends but the kids (ages 11 and 14) greeted them at the door, took their coat, offered them a drink, introduced them to others, etc. This built an ability to converse with grown-ups and get comfortable as they soon took jobs.

3. In order to get a taste for how expensive life is…

One mom had each of her kids sit with her at the computer as she paid the bills each month. Each child got their own time, helping figure the invoice amount and then help pay that expense on-line. Even though it wasn’t their money, they began to see the large amounts required to cover the car, heating and air, phone, cable, etc.

4. In order to expand their vision beyond themselves…

Another family was noticing how self-absorbed their kids were, so they decided to travel overseas, where they could help build a hospital wing and serve children with diseases there. Once they visited, each family member took on their part of the project—raising money, writing notes and using their creativity to meet needs.

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