Bruce Johnston is the founder of JH Ranch located in California near the Oregon border, which provides family fun adventures that strengthen bonds between parents and children. Last Thurs. he spoke at the Upper Room in Loomis to parents of tweens and teens. Johnston’s leadership philosophy features parent-child communication that comes from the heart of God (as the caretaker, protector and provider) and prepares children to come into their own relationship with the Lord so they can learn to steer their own ships in the sea of life free from undue influences.
Standing before a map of transition principles for raising children into responsible, confident adults, Johnston explains that in order for your child to be secure and find their purpose, they have to own their faith. “They have to see their faith modeled for them so they can make it their own,” he said. Hence, what you believe about your divine nature and the power of parenthood as primary teachers really matters.
Johnston offers parents insights about what it means to be a trainer. “To be an effective trainer, you must think like the person you are educating,” he said. “You have to come into their world.” He points out that when we encounter challenging children who test the limits of our patience, “our reactions can do more damage to our kids.”
For the modern parent dealing with a “smarty-pants” child…
In today’s hyper-connected world it is easy to believe you can simply “google” anything you think you need to know. So who needs a parent, teacher, coach or a benevolent deity to impart wisdom when you believe you know it all? This is what we may call a “smarty-pants syndrome”. And by the same token, parents cannot assume that because they were a teenager once that they know how their child’s life experiences today are informing them. In this regard, we are all learning executives.
Johnston’s tips for a dialogue that is a window into your child’s heart and mind:
Kids need to have a vision for their life. The vision for their life is more than grades, sports and a job. They need to find their purpose, which requires them to make their faith, their belief about their divine purpose and their passion a very real and practical path for their future. The good way to encourage this introspective thinking is to strengthen family bonds at home. By doing things as a family without devices and television; have conversations about the day. According to Johnston, “bright spot and dark spot conversations” can reveal what is happening and allow you as the parent to impart wisdom.
Engage intellect and will. According to Johnston, for tweens and teens the things they want typically fall into five freedoms: movies, money, malls, music and mates. Our job as parents is to help them understand the responsibility that comes with every freedom. Ask them what they want out of life? What is their aim and why? And when do they want to attain it?
Assume the Coach role: Offer your child assistance in going about the process of attaining their heart’s desire. When your child encounters sorrows and joys, share in those moments without judgment and opinions. “If your child’s heart is wounded, ask if your child if you can pray for him,” he said. “And for the really difficult conversations, take them to get an ice cream or on a drive. Always go for neutral territory,” he said.
Grace and consequences. Consequences from your house rules or natural outcomes for poor choices have their own punishment. Our anger is not necessary in addition, and in fact it can injure your child. “When we get angry, we crush their heart,” he said. Rather, stand by your child with the confidence that they can withstand the consequences and also stand corrected, by the grace of God.
To learn more about booking an event, go to: JH Ranch California
For learning more about building a family culture rooted in faith, go to: Fresh Start.