Contributed by Wayne Chan
Dr Tim Elmore, Founder and President of Growing Leaders Inc, gave these couples a two-hour crash course on 19 November at the Success Resource Centre on what he calls Generation iY.
A term coined by Dr Elmore — stemming from the impact of iTunes, iPhones, iPods and the fact that life for today’s youth is pretty much about “me, myself and I” — Generation iY presents a unique paradox to parents today.
Sheltered yet pressured, visionary yet vacillating, high achievement-oriented yet high maintenance, social yet isolated by technology — Dr Elmore detailed a list of contradictory characteristics in Generation iY to help give an idea of what parents today are up against.
Dr Elmore says children today are confused, and live in their own unreal “High School Musical” world where they shun responsibility and put off growing up.
Research throws up various reasons for this phenomenon that cause children, like the lost boys in Peter Pan’s Neverland, to never want to grow up. Video games, the media, damaging parenting styles, outdated teaching methods that fail to engage, growing social affluence and liberation, and even chemical contaminants in food are apparently to blame.
So what can parents do to unplug their children from this virtual world, and lead them into adulthood and maturity?
Step 1: Understand how to connect with this generation
Children today are very well connected and exposed to a plethora of ideas through various media. Everyday, they deal with information overload and are offered a variety of choices on who and what to believe or follow. To connect with their children, parents must understand the media platforms that their children interface with and the sort of content they are exposed to.
Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter are just some simple examples of places parents can start to discover the digital world young people live in today.
Children today are increasingly image-driven (especially with the advent of phone cameras) and very curious about the world around them. Parents need to find new engaging ways to connect to their children amid the increasing buzz of external influences.
Step 2: Understand that every child can be a leader
According to Dr Elmore, there are three different leadership styles that your little leader at home can be defined by.
a) Drivers — Strong-willed and with their own ideas, drivers are good at executing tasks and doing things but need to learn diplomatic skills.
b) Diplomats — Loving harmony, diplomats are well loved by people and are natural leaders but need persuasion to take up leadership. But when they do lead, they can put their innate relational skills to good use.
c) Dreamers — Born visionaries, dreamers are imaginative. To get dreamers to be leaders, you need to present them with options and engage their creativity.
Step 3: Find time in your day to mentor your child
There are four junctures in a given day that parents can use to coach their kids, and four corresponding roles that parents can play:
a) Meal time — Help your child to “unpack” and make sense of the day’s events at the meal table. Your role is teacher.
b) Travel time — A good time to help them interpret the world through God’s eyes, while riding in a car. Your role is friend.
c) Bed time — Make sure your child’s heart is right before he goes to sleep at night. Your role is counselor.
d) Morning time — Motivate your kid, right at the start of the day, a fine time to reinforce right attitudes. Your role is coach.
With these simple tips, Dr Elmore hopes that all parents out there will be better equipped to grow their children into mature, responsible and godly adults that are ready and willing to make the world a better place.
Whether they’ll become the next Mother Theresa or Adolf Hitler, Dr Elmore says your children are likely to be in a position of leadership in the future.
So what kind of leader do you want your child to be? That, dear mothers and fathers out there, remains almost entirely up to you.