Are you raising children? Or are you preparing adults?

I’ve had an incredible week!

For the last full week, I reached out to our KIVU Gap Year parents and asked a few questions about our program.

  1. Why did you choose a Gap Year
  2. What have been the biggest surprises you’ve noticed on the Gap Year
  3. What have been the biggest struggles you’ve encountered
  4. What would you tell your community of friends about the KIVU Gap Year

And the answers have been nothing short of AMAZING.

I believe anyone who heads an organization has to take time to know what their clients are thinking, what they’re feeling, and how they perceive the product they receive.  If we don’t take time to serve others, then what are we really doing in business?  And the question is paramount for those of us who are in the people business.

I’ve had some of the most real conversations this week with parents who are truly trying to figure out how to prepare their kids for the real world.  They struggle with the imposing pressure of sending their students to a tier 1 University versus allowing their students to travel the world and grow up.

I’ve written copious amounts of notes that will change some of the things we’re doing internally, but as I survey the answers I’m seeing a consistent theme:  You have to let your kid be who they are.

Some parents focus on safety, or communication, or scheduling; but ALL of the parents I’ve talked to have said something about allowing your kids to grow up and be adults.  This is what I’ve found.

1.  The KIVU Gap Year is allowing my student to grow up fast

One of the parents I talked to told me the stories of her extended family.  She has several nephews and nieces older than her kid, and she told the stories of University life.  Some of them lasted a semester, and some of the them actually graduated with a degree.  But all of them were struggling in life.  They didn’t know how to engage with people.  They had a limited knowledge of how to operate in the “real world.” And it sounded like most of them were struggling to find work even though they were University Graduates.

Amazingly, her student had the opportunity of a lifetime in Washington D.C. this semester.  She met a man involved in a federal agency who connected her to an internship overseas.  She took initiative.  She followed up.  She acted professional.  And now she’s on course to develop a long network list of people interested in her field of interest.

“Andy, you guys gave my daughter the ‘know how.’  Before The Gap year she would have never been able to do what she’s doing now.  I can’t thank you enough for allowing my girl to grow up and be the adult God made her to be.”

2.  The Happiness Equation is Broken

Another parent told me of their affluent community and the pressure to be “Happy.”

“In our town parents think they have to Get their kids in the best High School + Get their kids in the best University + Get their kids a job that pays a lot of money = Happiness. But it doesn’t take more than a walk down the street to point to the mansions filled with depression, addiction, abuse, and unhappiness.  If you tell parents one thing, tell them they need to be about preparing adults and stop raising children.”

I don’t know how many employers I talk to who report child-like behavior on the job.  New hires checking their cell phones every 5-10 minutes, demanding vacations, or threatening to leave if something doesn’t go their way.

We have a happiness equation problem in our culture today.  Learning how to work, how to conduct yourself in a professional setting, and how to work for a common goal is often lost because of self centered goals.

3.  They weren’t my kids to begin with

One of the most interesting interviews I had was with a mother who told me, “Andy, my kids were never mine.  They were a gift for a short time, and it’s my job to coach, mentor, and provide opportunities for them to be who they want to be.”

And that’s the real key to raising adults, isn’t it?  We have to see our kids as loaners.  They’re all on loan for a short time so we can usher them into adulthood.  The hardest part is living in a space with enough self awareness that we can let them go.

Another mom said, “Parents just have to go through the process of letting go.  It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.  What kind of service am I doing them if I text them at all hours, or check on them to do their homework, or even set up their job interviews for them?  They’ve got to own their lives, and sometimes the only way to do that is to let them explore.  They’ll succeed sometimes.  They’ll fail sometimes.  But they’ll be who they need to be.”

Overall, I guess I learned so much this week on how to approach my own kids.

They need to own a lot more than I’m letting them own.

Sometimes they’ll fail.
Sometimes they’ll succeed.
But it’s my job to set them up for opportunities and let them be who they were made to be.

So my question to you today is this:  Are you raising kids?  Or are you preparing the little ones in your house to be well healed adults?

Let me know what you think

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