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Giving the Gift of Responsibility this Christmas Part 1 by Gregory Bland

Dec 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Parenting
change-in-a-jarGiving the Gift of Responsibility this Christmas Part 1 by Gregory Bland
“Dad, I was thinking that I’d like to make some money for Christmas gifts this year,” my 10 year old daughter stated one day in October. “What are you thinking?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t have enough money to buy the gifts I want to give this year, so I need to make some more money.  And Christmas is only 85 days away.”
I smiled to myself realizing I had an important decision to make.  “Do I dismiss this as a silly notion of a child,  give her some ideas to solve her dilemma myself, or do I coach her so she can come up with her own solutions?”
– Pause and Reflect for a moment –

As a parent, what could I do with this request?
In what ways could I respond to her?
How do you feel and how do you respond when your child (children) approach you with problems they are facing?

I could respond with “Hannah, how much do you need to spend? OK, here’s the money” and just give her the amount she needs.  I could strongly suggest that she make her own gifts because it would not be near as expensive, or I could reply,  “You’re just a kid, people don’t really expect you to buy them anything, so don’t worry about it.”

If I took this approach with her, what do you think that would do within her little heart and mind?
What would that speak to Hannah as an individual?

This now leads me to the second approach: I could respect Hannah’s individuality and “BIG” heart by honoring her desire to give to others during this Christmas season.  Realistically, it would not have the same meaning for Hannah if Lynn and I purchased gifts for her to give away, even if she did pick them out and write her name on the tag.  Hannah needs to do this on her own.

This is why Lynn and I have embraced coaching as a way to nurture and love our children.  While Hannah was concerned about Christmas gifts, I was focused on the opportunity to give her the gift of responsibility by patiently conversing about options she could come up with to solve this problem.

Observe what takes place within my daughter as I share the rest of our journey through this conversation.

I replied, “Hannah, you make Daddy proud, I love the fact that you are a very giving and considerate young lady.  That is a genuine gift from God which He will continue to impact people with.” She smiled sheepishly and I continued, “Ok, I think that this is a great idea for you, so what do you think you could do to make the money you need to buy these gifts?”  She brightened up, “Well, we could do a yard sale.” “That’s one idea, what else could you do?”  “Umm, well selling my pictures online hasn’t done a lot yet.” “Yes, that is true, we have not had any sales at all from the site we posted your pictures on.  So what else could you possibly do?”  PauseUmmm, I could make crafts to sell.” That’s a good idea, can you think of any other ideas?”  Longer pause “Hmmmm, I’m not sure, Dad.”

“Ok, that’s fine, you have some great ideas here, what would you really like to do?”  “Well the homeschoolers are doing a thing at the mall in November.  And if we make crafts we can sell them there to people in the mall.” “That’s a great idea.  So are you set on making some sort of craft then?”   “Yes, I think that’s a good idea, because the homeschoolers are already planning this thing in the mall, and I can have a table set up there with them.” “Ok then, let’s think crafts, what kind of crafts could you make?”  “I think others are doing some painting and baking things, but I am wondering, since I have already taken a lot of photos if can we use them somehow?” “What are you thinking?” “Well, we might be able to make calendars out of them and sell them to the people.” “Hmmm, that’s a good idea, what other ways could you use your photos?”  “Umm, we could also make some greeting cards and maybe even some bookmarks.” “Those are great ideas, is there anything else you can think of?”  -Pause. “No, I am not sure.” “OK, let’s take a look at your ideas, what are some things we’ll need to consider as we make this decision?”  “How much it will cost to make the stuff?” “Yes, very true, you want to be able to make money, not lose it in the process.  So what can you do to find out how much this will cost?”  “On our next date day, will you take me to the stores and price out the paper, and materials we will need?” “Of course I will, that sounds like a great date day to me.”

As a Pro-ActiveParentCoach I am employing the ‘could do, want to, will do’ process of decision making.  I asked Hannah to consider her “dilemma”, not having enough money for Christmas gifts, and generate possible options for earning money to buy the gifts she desires.  Through asking her questions, as opposed to telling her what she ‘could do,’ this allowed Hannah to utilize her own creativity and mature in her ability to generate options.  Additionally, these are her own ideas so she will tend to be more motivated toward carrying them out.   When Hannah has thought of several ideas, I move her to the ‘want to’ stage by asking, “You have some great ideas here, what would you really like to do?”  She zeros in on something she would like to do and commits to moving forward with it, to the ‘will do’ stage. This is an easy and natural process you can utilize in coaching your children through problem solving.

Putting it into practice within your own family:

Can you think of a specific “dilemma” your child is facing in which you would be willing to attempt the ‘could do, want to, will do’ process of decision making?
When will you commit to doing this?
As you employ this method, pay particular attention to what happens within your child and yourself throughout the process.  As you reflect consider the following.
(If this is a new process for you, realize that it may seem a little awkward at the beginning for both yourself and your child.  Try your best to keep them responsible for creating options, selecting one to follow, and then committing to it.)

What did you notice about your child as you refrained from offering solutions and instead asked them to create their own options?
How did they initially respond to this approach?
How would you describe your own feelings as you patiently waited for them to come up with options and then released control by giving them the opportunity to choose what they could do?
Finally, what did you notice happening within your child as you released responsibility in this way?

Giving the gift of responsibility has tremendous power, join us December 19th, as we re-visit Hannah and see the impact that ‘giving the gift of responsibility’ had upon her this Christmas season.

Until next time,
Your friend and Pro-ActiveParentCoach
Greg Bland

* Please feel free to comment, interact with and offer your insights in relation to giving the gift of responsibility to our children.

*Gregory and Lynn Bland currently reside in Nova Scotia, Canada and are actively coaching, writing and developing a course to train parents in Pro-ActiveParentCoaching.  Additionally they are providing interim pastoring for the Maritime District of the PAOC.  For more information check out Pro-ActiveParentCoaching or write to

Copyright 2009 Gregory Bland | Pro-ActiveParentCoaching | Nova Scotia | Canada |

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