Raising good kids is the toughest job in the world, raising good Catholics can be even more difficult. Parents struggle to do what is right in their own lives, let alone try to fight against all of the outside influences of poor role models and faithless friends. Alan Migilorato and Darryl Dziedzic gives us a new guide of tried and true steps to teach your teen to become a faithful leader in Failing Forward: Leadership Lessons for Catholic Teens Today. Let’s follow the COPEC method of formation leadership training.
Step 1: Present a challenge
Everyone loves a good challenge but no one likes the feeling of failure. This is why we hesitate to let our teens be challenged because we don’t want them to fail—so we either don’t allow them to be challenged or we do it for them so they get the credit even if they didn’t do the work (don’t say you never stayed up late writing their paper or finished their science project). Failure is an important life lesson to show them how bad it feels to fail, that life continues and drives them to work harder the next time.
Step 2: Let them do the work
When my kids complain about work and responsibilities we tell them we are raising adults, not kids. Our goal as parents is to “raise children to become stable, independent adults.” We provide the basics, but they must rely on us less and less when faced with and completing challenges. We need to stop telling kids how to do their work but can ask obsession questions, like why they made that choice or hindsight questions like, was waiting so long to finish that paper a good idea? No? Well hopefully they will no wait so long to complete the next assignment.
Step 3: Ask questions about decisions
This can be the most difficult in that it “forces the issue of confronting one’s feelings, attitudes, assumptions, behaviors, and judgments.” Your teen needs to feel heard and that their opinion is important to you. The challenge for parents is to ask the question, “What were you thinking?” with an attitude of curiosity and not judgement.
Step 4: Speak the truth, gentl
While parents like to ‘sugar coat’ bad news, or feel like all kids need participation trophies so they all feel like winners, this is not how real life treats adults. If their team loses, give specific praise for something they did well during the game, instead of the general “good game.” If they are up for it, give ways to improve for next time (my kids aren’t always ready to hear how to improve right away when they are in the middle of feeling upset about the loss). Remember, failure isn’t bad unless you don’t learn why you failed.
Step 5: Keep it up!
Learning how to be a successful leader isn’t a one and done learning experience. This needs to be repeated, over and over. Don’t give up on your child and fall back into old habits of doing it for them, instead keep up the good fight and mold them into good, strong leaders.
Failing Forward: Leadership Lessons for Catholic Teens Today by Alan Migliorato and Darryl Dziedzic is a wonderful step by step guide to developing your teens (and yourselves) into strong Catholic leaders. Using the COPEC method of formation leadership training, you will gain insight into the ways to train your teen to become the successful adult we want them to be. This guide will also give real life examples and parent stories of the struggles and successes in guiding teens to overcome any challenge, big or small.