Bob: A lot of young people think that the key to learning to accept adult responsibilities is to become independent of mom and dad. Josh Burnette says that’s the wrong way to be thinking about entering into adulthood.
Josh: The one thing I would say to someone about to enter the real world is: “Your parents are your parents. I’ve never talked to anybody, who said: ‘I’m so glad that I cut them off. I’m so glad I stopped talking to my parents.’” That might be a case, here and there—an exception—but I’ve talked to a whole lot of kids, who have a lot of regret about not fostering or cultivating any type of relationship with their parents.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 21st. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I’m Bob Lepine. There’s a right way and a wrong way for parents and children to help that child’s transition into adulthood work out well. We’ll talk about it today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m still kind of hung up on this #Adulting thing. I’m just looking through these—here’s a woman, who says, “Honestly just counting down until I get my new vacuum on Wednesday, #Adulting.” [Laughter] I mean, when you’re excited that the new vacuum is going to arrive next Wednesday, you’re in the adult phase at that point.
And here’s: “First student loan payment; checkmark, #Adulting,” “When you order your kitchen appliances and you get excited to start using your new toys, #Adulting.” There is a whole generation that’s kind of embracing the fact that “You’re growing up”; and there is some excitement to growing up; isn’t there?
Dave: Yes; and I would say there is also a whole generation—and I was part of the generation—younger, that needs to grow up. I didn’t know what growing up looked like.
I was, a couple years ago, preaching on a Sunday morning. My message was all about men stepping up to be men. My assistant knows what I’m preaching on—sends me this text—I’m not kidding. I get this while I’m on stage—it comes up on my iPad®—it says: “Sitting at a restaurant with my husband Andy, next to two young single guys. One is advising the other how to break up with someone. The one guy wasn’t going to do anything—just stop calling her. His buddy said: ‘Be a man. Send her a text!’” [Laughter] She says, “No lie; unbelievable!” They literally overheard that—like, “Oh my gosh!”
Bob: A part of knowing how to be an adult is knowing how to have relationships that are healthy relationships.
Ann: And that may not come naturally. Having raised three sons, I had to coach and teach them.
Dave: She had to coach me. She’s being nice. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, I don’t think it comes naturally for any of us—not just guys, who may be a little less relationally connected than most women are—but all of us are clumsy when it comes to relationships; don’t you think?
Ann: I totally agree. That’s why I think we need to be taught to know how to do that.
Bob: It’s one of the subjects that you guys address; and by “you guys,” I mean our guests, who are joining us again on FamilyLife Today, Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty. Guys, welcome back.
Josh: Thanks for having us back.
Bob: You have written a book on the subject of adulting—it’s called Adulting 101. Relationships is one of those issues that you tackle.
Josh, you are working with employees at the Chick-fil-A® that you are an owner/operator of. I’m not imagining that, in that environment, you’re giving a whole lot of relationship counsel—maybe this is what’s going on in the slow times at 3:30—although, it’s never slow; there’s always a line in the drive-thru at 3:30 at Chick-fil-A.
Josh: That’s the goal. [Laughter]
Bob: Pete you’re working with high school and college-age students. I’m guessing that there may be a whole lot of conversation around relationships. This is something that high school and college kids are still trying to figure out, as we all did when we were in high school and college; right?
Pete: That age thinks about this once to twice a day, at least—or more—like once or twice a second. They’re thinking about relationships—and not just relationships with someone they are interested in or with the opposite sex—but relationships with their family/relationships with their friends.
Again, social media has—it claims to be connecting. There is an element that is connecting us to other people; but for the most part, most of the young people that Josh and I get to interact with, we have seen—over the last 10 or 15 years—are less socially-aware. They are not as good in person; they are not as good at interviews, because they’ve just had less in-person interaction.
Dave: Yes; I mean, they have spent their lives looking at a screen. I’ve done it too. It means we look here, and we don’t look here [at other person’s eyes]. And a relationship is—I’m doing it right now—I’m looking at you guys, and it can get uncomfortable; and it’s hard.
You’re coming alongside of them, giving them wisdom for life and about relationships. I love some of the stuff in there—from dating; you have sexual relationships; you have work relationships.
Talk about this: “What do you think the number-one thing a young person needs to know, when you sit down and they say, ‘Help me with my relationship with my parents,’—what would you say?”
Pete: Dave, the first thing that came to mind for me: “As I got older, my dad got wiser. [Laughter] As I got older, my mom became a genius.”
When I was in high school, or even middle school, I didn’t understand the world; we don’t understand our parents. There’s something that happens—a lot of teenagers go temporarily insane. [Laughter] I did; most of my friends did. It happens where—I would say to a mom or dad, now, that a lot of relationships that are very tough in those teenage years into, maybe, the early 20s, I think—I’ve gotten to see, over the last 20 years of working with young people/25 years, really—is a lot of those come back around to be very sweet—not without work, not without love, not without initiative.
But the one thing I would say to someone about to enter the real world is: “Your parents are your parents. I’ve never talked to anybody, who said: ‘You know, I’m so glad that I cut them off. I’m so glad I stopped talking to my parents,’—that might be a case, here or there—an exception—but I have talked to a lot of kids, who have a lot of regret about not really fostering or cultivating any type of relationship with their parents.” I would say: “Wherever you are on that relationship spectrum—of you guys are really tight, or maybe you’re not or you haven’t spoken—I think most people don’t regret a reaching out and having a relationship with their parents. I think it’s just a matter of time and of reaching out.”
Bob: You’re right; certainly, there are situations where there are harsh, abusive relationships with parents, where somebody says, “I am better off because that got severed”; but for the most part, if a young person—I’m thinking about my relationship with God—there are times when I don’t understand why the path I’m on is the path that God has chosen for me. I wonder, and I question, and I protest; and yet, if I pull back and go: “Okay; God’s wise. God loves me. God has my best interest at heart. I don’t see everything that He sees. Maybe He sees some things I don’t see; maybe I just need to learn how to be comfortable with this for a season.”
The same thing is true for a teenager or a college student—if they can pull back and go: “Okay; my parents love me. I’m confident that they do really have my best at heart—that they care about me—and maybe they know a few things about life, just through having lived longer. They may not be as hip as I am, with all of the current stuff that’s going on, but maybe they know a few things about life that I don’t know. Maybe I can trust their judgement, even though I chafe against it right now.”
I mean, all kids chafe against restrictions their parents put on them. But if we help you kids know—and I think, as parents, we can tell our kids: “Look, I love you desperately,” and “I want the best for you, and that’s why I’m putting these restrictions. I know you don’t like them; but you just have to know I think this is best, and I’m doing this with your best interests at heart,” and “I’m sorry it makes you sad, but that’s where we are going to be with this.” They may still go away angry and chafing; but at least, they’ve heard that in the back of their head. They can go, “Okay; I think Mom and Dad really believe me, but I still wish I could go do what I want to do”; right?
Dave: Yes; I would even add—I heard you guys say it: “Ask questions,” “Listen to your parents,”—it goes the other way as well.
Ann: That’s right.
Dave: I think I saw research recently—number-one complaint about teenagers about their parents, is: “They just don’t listen.” I looked at that; and I’m going to go, “They’re exactly right.” When we ask, as a parent—I know there are a lot of parents listening right now—man, we engage, just like Bob said: “Here’s my rule; here’s where I’m laying down. Now, let me hear what you think of that. Let’s dialogue,”—there’s relationship building; and your modeling and teaching your child how to do relationships, well, when it gets hard.
Bob: I think a lot of parents never make the jump—or don’t make the jump early enough or well—from being what I call a cop, to being a coach; and then, eventually, becoming a consultant.
Ann: That’s a good point.
Bob: So they are still trying to be a cop with their kids when their kids are in college. That does not work with a college kid—for a mom to try to be a cop. She’s got to pull back and go: “That’s not my job anymore. My job now is to be coach and consultant.” It’s back to what we’ve talked about earlier—they are going to make some bad choices; and you’ve got to recognize God is in control of that, and He is protecting them; and they’ll learn from their bad choices.
Dave: When Ann and I started dating, her dad was my high school baseball coach; so I knew him. In fact, funny story—he barred me from ever dating his daughter. [Laughter]
Ann: —because Dave had such a bad reputation.
Bob: —because he knew you! [Laughter]
Dave: I don’t know what he’s talking about. I literally snuck around, and we started dating; and I won, eventually, the whole thing.
Here’s the amazing thing—when he became my father-in-law—and I didn’t really have a dad, growing up—so he’s really becoming my dad. I remember saying to him, first year of marriage: “Dick, you actually listen to me. You ask me my opinion; and you, actually, don’t tell me I’m wrong. You go with my opinion. What is up?” I remember asking, because I had never really had an adult do that.
I’ll never forget it—it was a model, now, for what I wanted to be, as a dad, later—he said: “Oh, we’re adult to adult now.” “What are you talking about?” He goes: “Parent-child is over. You’re a man; I’m a man. I’m going to treat you like a man—we’re adult to adult.” He goes: “That’s what you got to do, at some stage—you’ve got to pick that age and say, ‘I’m no longer going to [relate as] the parent-child,’—although you always are—‘It’s going to be adult to adult.’” I thought, “What a great model”; because he was actually listening to me. Nobody had ever done that at that age.
Ann: I think my dad, too—it was interesting because I had two brothers—and at the age of 16—and most people won’t agree with this—but my dad had my brothers call him “Dick”—his name—because he said, “I will always be your dad, but now you are my peer.”
As parents, let’s say we have a teenager that’s not really talking a lot. We’re asking a lot of questions, but we are getting [grunting sounds]—you know, they are just grunting. Do you have any tips of what parents could do? We’ve talked about what kids can do; we’ve talked about parents asking questions; anything else that you guys think, “This would be really helpful for that teen that is just kind of outside, doing their own thing”? How would you encourage moms or dads?
Pete: I think every teenager is excited about something, so it’s tapping into what drives their passion and then asking questions around that. If you ask questions that you hope to know the answers to, or you want to have an agenda at the end of it—that’s, oftentimes, why that dialogue is going to die. But if you ask questions that really engage them around the topic they care about, I think that’s a much healthier and happier dialogue.
Ann: That’s good.
Pete: And also, it’s much more an art than a science, you know, as far as getting to know. Every kid is different/every college student is different, like Josh said. I do think there are some things that activate people—some of that is stepping back and looking.
I would say the other thing that comes to mind—I’ve seen great moms and dads that have helped unlock their children, when they’ve gotten withdrawn, or quiet, or rebellious—or fill in the blank—is they start to dream for their son or daughter.
Ann: Oh! What do you mean by that?
Pete: No one dreams for people anymore. It’s kind of you want to develop—you just kind of get them to [where] they aren’t totally messing up, making these—you have soft fails or you’re not making life-altering decisions that have terrible consequences.
Part of that takes cultivation of knowing who that child is and what that child is excited about/what they’re good at. I’m not talking about dreaming, necessarily, for a career. One of my mentors would always say, “We hold a crown above peoples’ heads, and we help them grow up into it.” I think some moms and dads really do have a hope for their child—maybe they’ve never shared it—or they don’t know—they, maybe, haven’t thought about, “Who do I want this child to become?”—not, necessarily, what career track, but—“Who/who do I want them to be?” If we become the right person, we’ll do the right things.
I think a lot of times—like what Dave said—it’s just listening. I’m surprised, even just on my own, listening is such a rare skill. The people that like to talk—you know, I’m half Italian—is that they don’t listen very well. If you came to my family party on Thanksgiving, you can’t get a word in edgewise. This radio program would not work. [Laughter]
But I think listening and just showing up—depending on how long that’s been—where you’ve felt like there’s been a break in the relationship, it might take some time. It might not be able to be solved one good dinner or one—like Josh said—maybe finding out what they are excited about. Taking a step of faith—maybe making an overture of something—some experience, or tickets to something, or a concert, or something—as far as a first step. But if it’s been that way for a while, it might take a while before—you know, relationships take time.
Bob: You know, we’ve kind of locked onto the parent/child relationship as we are talking about relationships. But when we’re talking about young people, who are learning how to be adults, what’s the difference between how a child does relationships and how an adult does relationships? And how can we help our children become more adult in their ability to relate? I think listening is a good part of the glue in all of that, but what is the difference between the way kids do relationships and the way grownups do relationships?
Josh: There’s not much in a normal relationship; but in a healthy relationship, I think it moves from a me-focus to a you-focus. This, again, plays out all the time in the workforce. People that do the worst in leadership are the ones who are there to be served; and the ones that we see progress through the ranks, and do very well, and the team enjoys engaging with them are the ones that are there to say, “How do I make this job easier for the people that, technically, report to me?” For me, that’s really a huge one.
Bob: “Adulting is…”—a big part is learning to take your eyes off you as the center of the universe and recognize: “I’m here in an ecosystem that involves other people,” and “I need to be a contributor to that rather than it just being all about me”; right?
Josh: A number of years ago perhaps, I had the best employee that had ever worked for me over the last seven years—worked for me at that time. She was stupendous; she was the best person on the floor/knew all the operations; could hire well; and do all these things for the operation—but no one liked her. Despite being the most high-capacity, smartest person in the entire store for us, ultimately, we had to let her go; because she could not figure out the relational component to what she had to do. People that were less qualified and not the best at their job, moved past her and kept their jobs, even. She was not able to, because of this relational component.
Dave: It’s pretty interesting—in your book, you get into the—and it’s what Bob was asking: “The adult way to do relationship is E.Q. —understanding people/reading people.” You put that in your book—
Bob: E.Q.: That’s emotional intelligence—somebody’s emotional quotient; right?
Dave: Yes, which is one of the greatest gifts. It’s something you can learn; right?—to just not—it’s not about me; it’s about looking you in the eye and trying to understand, and listen, and see “What’s really going on in your life?”
Here’s what’s really interesting—I didn’t know this until maybe a decade ago—that the most famous passage in the Bible about love—you’ve heard it at every wedding; which one is it?
Bob: First Corinthians 13; right?
Dave: Yes! I knew you knew it—the Love Chapter; right? [Laughter] It’s really interesting when you study what Paul is doing there—it’s Adulting 101—it’s really interesting. In fact, at the end of that, he says in verse 11, in Chapter 13—he says: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
Here’s the context that most people don’t know. When he’s saying, “Love is patient, love is kind; it’s not self-seeking,” earlier in the chapter—when you study to see what’s going on in that church—division. In fact, he says they are like children doing relationships—they couldn’t get along. He says, “Let me show you what adult love looks like.” It’s almost a scolding of the church to say: “You guys don’t get this. You are acting like little kids. Adult 101—let me show you: love is patient, love is kind…” I mean, it’s the most beautiful thing you ever read. But it’s just what you guys are saying—like, “It’s not about me—it’s not a self-seeking love; it’s a self-giving love.”
So let me ask you this. You said there’s the four core when you’re looking for an employee that you’re trying to hire. I mean, when you mentioned that earlier, that is an adulting grow-up moment, where you are saying, “This is what a person does and how they act when they do relationships well.” Share that.
Josh: Whenever we are engaging a potential new hire, we are looking for four elements in addition to the answers of their questions; but: “Are they creating eye contact with the people around them?”
Bob: Alright; hang on. “If you want to apply for a Chick-fil-A job, get your pencil out right now! Eye contract is number one.”
Ann: Every wife is thinking: “Oh, my gosh! I want my husband to do this!”
Bob: —“to treat me like a Chick-fil-A [employee] and to say, ‘My pleasure,’ anytime I ask for something.”
Ann: Yes!! This is paradise! [Laughter]
Josh: Husbands, come work for Chick-fil-A!!—stat.
Bob: Eye contact is number one.
Josh: Sharing a smile: “Can they smile and break down the barriers with the guests?” “Can they speak with any measure of enthusiasm?” Or do they sound like they can’t be there at all—deadpan. “Then, can they stay connected?”—what does that look like? Are they able to continue to engage with the guest after the order’s complete? Do they have a genuine, pro-active caring approach to the people that they engage with, or do they not? Those are the core four that Chick-fil-A looks for in potential new-hires.
Ann: —in a husband. Oh! I mean—
Bob: We laugh about that; but honestly—
Bob: —think about that in marriage.
Bob: If you’re maintaining eye contact in communication, and you’re smiling, and there is some genuine enthusiasm, and then you stay connected—I mean, a lot of marriages would do better if they had this going on; wouldn’t they?
Ann: I bet I’ve had hundreds of women say to me, “If my husband would just look me in the eye and act as if he’s interested in what I’m saying—
Dave: She’s said that to me. [Laughter] Trust me; it isn’t hundreds of women—that was code for my husband.
Ann: —“and to put down a device; you know. ‘Hey, look at me over here!’”
But I love those principles.
Bob: Okay; we’ve gotten off of adulting with Ann’s passion for it; but here’s the point—we’re talking about what you said, Dave—the difference between how kids do relationships—where it’s selfish; it’s about me, where I’m childish, where I want all the attention and everything to come one way—and the way grown-ups have to learn how to do it, which is to be patient, and kind, and not self-serving—all of the things that are listed there in 1 Corinthians 13.
As parents, we’ve got to help our kids know how to develop these kinds of healthy relationships with the opposite sex, with same sex, in the workplace—wherever it is. You’ve got to be better at relationships. You cover that in one section of the book, Adulting 101. It’s just a good reminder for us, as parents, that we need to be providing some guidance for our kids as they transition into adulthood.
We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. This is a book you could read through with a high school student/even a college student. Or a book that you could share with a young adult, who would benefit from going through these subjects. Again, the title of the book, Adulting 101: #Wisdom4Life, by Josh Burnette and Pete Hardesty. You can go, online, to order a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get your copy. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com—the number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. Ask for your copy of Adulting 101; or order it from us, online.
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Now, the President of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, is here with us again today. He’s been paying attention as we’ve been talking about these adulting themes. David, welcome back.
David: Thanks, Bob. You know, as Josh shared those four core competencies that he looks for in an employee, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fourth one for myself. I mean, life is busy; and the question for me is: “Do I stay connected and present in conversations, especially with my kids? [Laughter] Do I delight in my kids when they are rambling in excitement and stringing together sentences, with no breath, to keep the floor so the other kids don’t join in?”
Bob: Okay; let’s be honest, though. It’s hard to stay connected when they’re talking.
David: But often, I don’t, Bob!—that’s the point! [Laughter[ They’re pouring their heart out—usually about something, frankly, I don’t care about much—but they’re longing for connection and availability from their father, just as I long for connection with my heavenly Father.
One of the things that makes Jesus so compelling in the gospels is His relational focus. He listened. He was fully present, and He connected with people, and He consistently responded in grace and truth. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have the Spirit empowering you to be able to do the same with your family.
Bob: That’s a great reminder. Thank you.
Now, tomorrow, we are going to continue the conversation about adulting and talk about something that’s pretty critical; and that is financial management. Do our kids, as they enter into adulthood, know how to manage their money?—how to avoid debt?—how to pay their bills? We’re going to talk about all of that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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