The Need for Parent Coaching

Last year I began a new initiative in my church which developed into a form of parent coaching. It is very loosely based on Karl Bastian’s VIP strategy, which can be found in the Leadership Lab 4, Partnering with Parents. This post suggests one possible scenario which can lead a family toward participating in parent coaching. Although it is fictitious and the names are not meant to represent any real person, I believe it is a plausible situation.  In future posts I will explore in more detail the possible opportunities of parent coaching, as well as potential pitfalls.

Overcoming Spiritual Apathy in Parents at Home

“Hurry up, kids! We’re gonna be late for church!” Dale yelled up the stairs. It was like this every Sunday. He sighed, looked at his watch, and then turned his attention back to the computer. On the screen, his Facebook page flickered as he scrolled through the previous night’s messages. He managed to resist the temptation to try various applications. He was not interested in games such as Farmville. Sandy, his wife, played them. However, he did feel compelled to check for friend requests and private messages.

Two new friend requests appeared: one from an old high school acquaintance he barely remembered, and another from a fellow church member. Oh, he thought. That isn’t just a church member. That’s the children’s pastor. Interesting. He accepted them both and smiled. Three hundred friends. Secretly, he reveled in having so many on his list. Four new fan page suggestions were also waiting. They can keep waiting for now, he thought. But, the Facebook live feed sure does show a hilarious chain of conversations taking place. He scrolled through them quickly, losing himself in the–

Suddenly, he realized he had forgotten the time. Five minutes passed; no, ten actually. Where are those kids? He swiveled in his office chair and found them staring at him curiously. “What?” He asked.

“Mom said to say she would be waiting in the car,” replied Cassie, his oldest at ten years old. She turned and led five year-old Lacey out the door just as the car horn honked, startling him. But he sat there for a moment. Although he felt he had done nothing obviously sinful in the view of his family, he knew something was amiss. It was a gnawing feeling. He felt the tug of social networking even now. He watched as the door closed behind his two daughters. He remembered he had not yet even spoken with Sandy this morning. He realized he had not really spoken much to his girls either for the last couple of weeks. It was like their lives were passing him by. It was going to be a long drive to church.

Dale logged off the internet and shut down his computer. Exiting the house, he locked the front door. He walked toward the car. Sandy sat in the driver’s seat. Oh boy.

Sandy watched Dale walk toward the car. She fumed inwardly, but forced a smile. She did not want to fight again in front of the girls, especially on the way to church. She felt that she and Dale had a good marriage, if a little misdirected at times. This was one of those times. Married twelve years, they had weathered many marital storms. They always seemed to figure out a way to get through it. But Sandy knew something was not quite right.  Dale spent too much time at the computer, especially on Facebook. Sandy ignored the prompting she felt which suggested the same was true for her. She sighed, thinking, we are just both so very busy, and it makes it hard to spend quality time together, much less with our children.

While Sandy drove the SUV to church, the girls chattered in the back of the vehicle about clothes, music and the brand new Disney movie they both wanted to see. Cassie blurted out, “Mom? Dad? When do I get to be on Facebook?” Lacey piped up, “I wanna be on, too! When do I get to?” Cassie shushed her, saying she was too young. Then they began arguing. The miles scrolled by outside. Dale and Sandy looked at each other. Guilt. Their daughters were following their example.  Normally, they were reasonably well-behaved. But both parents shared a knowing look, recognizing that something was very wrong.

As they found a parking spot in the church parking lot, they quickly gathered their Bibles and walked the girls to the children’s ministry wing. It was a slightly larger than average church, numbering approximately one hundred fifty Sunday morning attendees. Dave, the children’s pastor, greeted them at the check-in table with a smile and wave. He clapped Dale on the shoulder and said, “Hey, thanks for accepting my friend request on Facebook. I am here for you if you ever need anything.

Dale and Sandy shared a glance. She ushered the girls over to the coat rack while Dale motioned Dave to come closer. “Actually,” Dale began, “there is something that maybe you can help with.”

Dave nodded and smiled, waiting for Dale to continue.

Dale shifted awkwardly. He was used to being in control of situations. An account executive for a high-powered financial firm, Dale now felt out of his element. But he forged ahead, “I guess what I am asking for is help with our girls. They are growing up too quickly, wanting things that are beyond their years.” Dave felt a bit guilty passing the burden of responsibility on to the girls.  But I’m not really doing that, am I? I am just trying to explain that the world has a hold on them and I’m not sure how to fix it. The pang in his conscience wouldn’t go away.

Inwardly, Dave sighed. Dale is accustomed to being in control of situations. I’ve observed this trait in Dale as we have gotten to know each other over the past year. So, Dave offered a beginning solution. “Dale,” he began. “Let’s take some time to talk about this when it is not quite as busy as it is now, with all the other kids coming and church about to begin. I am starting a new thing with parents which I call V.I.P., for Very Intentional Parenting. It is sort of loosely based on something a friend of mine does. Think of it as a conversation like we are having now. Yet, we do it weekly for ten weeks. It can be via email, Facebook, the phone and in person. Whatever works for you and Sandy. That way we can really apply our effort and work together on what God is asking of you. What do you think?”

Dale knew what God was asking of him. Well, he thought he did. And it scared him. He did not like being out-of-control.  By that time Sandy had returned. “I think it is a good idea,” she suggested. “Don’t you, honey?” He knew that look. He missed it. He wanted to do the right thing.

“Yes, of course,” Dale replied. “Sign us up.”

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4 thoughts on “The Need for Parent Coaching

  1. Great post! I think that’s exactly the sort of thing that happens with parents in the church. A little thing here, a little thing there… and pretty soon, they are really concerned about the direction their family/marriage is headed. I am really interested in this V.I.P program.. you can do it via email/facebook, anything? I think that would be a GREAT program for our church. We’ve thought about starting a parenting Sunday School class, but I’m not sure about the interest level– but something like this V.I.P program… might be a great thing to consider. Can you send me some details?

  2. Thank you, Lindsey! Here are a couple of links for you to consider. First, you can purchase the original Kidology Partnering with Parents learning lab at the link I provided in the original post. It is very reasonably priced. It has been a game-changer for me. I highly recommend it.

    Second, you may go to http://www.viparents.wordpress.com to look at the blog/online brochure I set up for parents in my church. I will be modifying it soon to make it more simple, but you will get a better idea of what I am talking about. In essence, I set a few guidelines in how parents and I relate, but they help set the agenda in terms of what they sense God is requiring them to work on in their families. Hope that helps!

  3. This vignette must be certainly be culled from someone’s real life experiences, because if it was not it certainly has the ring of circumstances and experiences that are true to life. Being caught up in the allure of social networking on the computer and being distracted by it is very prevalent today. Some people’s “computer” is working on old cars, and the social network that is connected with doing so. It’s any number of things or nothing in particular. It’s a matter of focus and priorities, and you really drove that point home with this slice-of-life illustration.

    There are several poignant things happening within the piece, and they all bear diligent consideration by parents of children, but most especially by Christian parents of children whose imperative responsibility it is to lead their offspring to Jesus and foster godly habits in their maturation progress. In my mind one of the most telling and influential ways that parents can do that is by living as the kind of example they want their kids to see while pouring themselves into their children’s lives as they grow.

    Seeing the imaginary parents in this piece arrive at a point where this notion is made real for them, and workable biblical solutions presented propitiously within the supportive arms of church fellowship where other parents share similar struggles is very appealing, and much like family itself.

    Well done.

    Peace,
    David

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