SUMMARY: Our children do not just one type of engagement from their dad; they may need a variety of different kinds of engagement based on the moment, challenges, and the needs of the child. In this Resolute Podcast, Vince Miller interviews Greg Bourgond, founder of Heart of a Warrior Ministries on the hurdle of engaging with our kids.
Vince: This is resolute, and the Resolute Podcast, where we make men better. I am Vince Miller, your host. And today we’re in a series entitled, “Strategic Fathering.” Today we are discussing the topic of situational engagement.
Welcome back to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us We exist to make men better. For more information on our program for small groups of men, you’ve got to go to beresolute.org. We have numerous great tools for men on our website. We want to be your men’s content provider for any small group that you lead or participate in. We have beautifully laid out small group videos and handbooks for participants. You’ve got to check it out. Go there today, beresolute.org. And now guys, let’s dive in.
We are joined again today by Doctor Greg Bourgond. He is president and founder of Heart of the Warrior Ministries. He has served over ten years in the defense industry, and commercial business, as well as 18 years in various ministry positions. He serves as a consultant and teacher in the areas of leadership formation and personal spiritual development. And we are excited to have him join us on this topic of strategic fathering.
Greg, welcome back to the show one more time. We are so excited to have you with us. One of the books that you wrote was entitled, “Papa’s blessing,” okay? And this self-titled book, “Papa’s blessing,” was named after the title that your grandchildren gave you. Because what you’re doing in the book is you’re telling us the importance of a father passing on the blessing to their children, and to their grandchildren. Something that happened in Biblical times, which often doesn’t happen in our culture today. Now you teach us the importance of this, but while you’re teaching us the importance of these blessings – you’re also teaching us situational engagement, or situational engagement styles. Tell the listeners today why you chose this approach or this style to talk about strategic fathering.
Greg: I guess you could phrase it “situational engagement.” Because sometimes we’re called to be a sage on the stage with our children, and sometimes just simply a guy by the side. And knowing what to be under, in what circumstances is important. So you can be a director, you can be a coach, you can be a supporter, or you can be an observer. And it all depends on the readiness of your children – which has to do with their competence and confidence in whatever task you assign them.
For instance – two weeks ago I’m training my grandson how to cut the lawn because we’ll be leaving for Ireland and he’s – his job is to take care of the lawn. Since he’s never done it before, I needed to be a director. I director tells him exactly what needs to be done, and how to do it. Because he didn’t have confidence, and he didn’t have competence yet. So the next time he cut the lawn – and I was there – I decided to go ahead and move to coach.
Which means that “Well, here’s some changes you need to make. And I see that you put your own design on the lawn, that’s a good thing son.” And but I’m still being a sage on this stage, “Hey, you forgot to do this over here. This needs to be done as well.” But you’re going to have your own way of doing it. And so I move to coach. So he was gaining a little more confidence, but he still lacked the competence.
So as we move along, let’s – let’s extend this out into the future here. As he starts to gain, and he’s growing in his confidence and his competence. The next time you cut the lawn is this Thursday. And so I’m going to let him do it, and just watch him. And as he gains in that confidence initially, and that competence – then I move to a guide by the side, where I’m supporting him in that endeavor – and making only minor corrections.
And then when he’s fully confident, or is approaching full confidence and competence – I let him be, and I only interject myself when necessary as an adviser or a supporter. So you move from director to coach to supporter and to observer. You see, my – my contention is that we’re – God isn’t calling us to be thermometers that merely registers the temperature of our environment in our homes. He’s expecting us to be thermostats that control it. Sometimes, frankly – we need to heat things up. Sometimes we need to cool them down.
So being a strategic father – using these 4 engagement patterns, and knowing how to use them over time – will help you to be a strategic father, and help you to guide your children to the place where they have competence and confidence.
Vince: Okay so I’m thinking about myself as a father right now, and of course with these words that you’re using – such as director, coach, supporter, observer. I almost feel like you’re suggesting that there’s kind of stages of our engagement. There’s times and levels of our engagement. There’s ways and patterns in how we do that. And we need some flexibility in our life as a strategic father. That I need to be open to a changing, moving dynamic all the time. There isn’t one right way to do this thing.
Vince: And because there’s not one right way to do this thing, I am going to have to figure out how to be some kind of a strategic father on the fly sometimes.
Vince: And being strategic means being susceptible to change.
Greg: Yeah, and it’s not as complex as it may initially sound. Because once you start practicing it, it’s going to become second nature to you. If you take the time as a strategic father to observe your children – how they respond to certain crises how they deal, how they make decisions. What entertains, and the friends they hang around with. And you’re observing that. You’re going to know when they reach levels of competence and confidence at various stages, and when to shift your style. Because all of us, frankly are – one of these styles is a default for us. We’re either a director all the time–
The worst thing you can do to a child, for instance – let’s say that Kieran really learns how to cut the lawn well. That the next time he cuts it, I go out there, and I’m a director, and say, “Well here’s how you need to cut it son, this is what you need to do.” That’s going to discourage him. I need to be hands off. On the other hand, if I just simply said to him – without him ever having, never having done it before, “Hey go in the garage, light out the lawnmower, cut the lawn for me.” That’s moving all the way to an observer, when I should’ve been a director. And so knowing– And it, it takes a little time and practicing this, because you have a default – you’ve got to resist on occasion.
Vince: That’s good.
Greg: And sometimes you have to move in the opposite direction because then we have experienced a broken relationship as they get older. Or failed a course in school or something. And they’ve forgotten how to do what you taught them to do. So sometimes you need to go in the opposite direction. Find that level of competence and confidence, and adjust your fathering style to that competence and confidence.
Vince: Okay so I’m sitting here thinking to myself, “Greg, I wish I would’ve met you 19 years ago.” Because, I’ve got to tell you – the one thing that I have learned for certain, is that there’s phases of parenting and they’re – and that every one of my children are different. And you are so right. We do have a default mechanism. For some of the guys out there, they love to direct, and that’s their one methodology.
Greg: Yeah, yeah.
Vince: And how they engage with their children. And how wrong they are to not be flexible and sometimes become the coach or the supporter. And there are other guys – parents out there that are just kind of the supporter, cheerleader. That never get in, get in the game and direct, right?
Greg: Right, yeah.
Vince: And so, what I hear you saying is – that we don’t need to be frustrated about the changes and the environments of change and our children’s life. We as a strategic father need to strategically adapt.
Greg: Yeah, it’s like being a chameleon leader. You change the color of your engagement based on the environment you’re in.
Greg: And it’s learning how to do that and be flexible. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on what you feel is absolutely necessary to do. It means that you’re adopting a style–
Greg: That’s going to be best for those you’re leading. Now this – this is not only true in a family, Vince–
Greg: This is true in how you conduct a project team. How you work with volunteers. It means that – simply this – you do have to be observant of the people you’re working with or the children that you have in terms of how – their personality temperament, what they do to solve problems. It’s just being observant. And then that gives you the ability to determine when to shift, given a certain task or a certain competence that you’re asking them to achieve.
Vince: Okay so here’s the challenge for me now as a father. At least this is how I’m hearing it from you. Is that it’s got to create some thinking, some time and energy. When I leave and set down my work for the day, I come home and put on my fathering hat, okay? Let’s just say we ever take that off, which we don’t. But we put on my fathering hat. I sometimes am walking into an environment where I’ve got to be sharp. I can’t just expect things to be the way that I want them to be. I’ve got to put on my fathering hat, and be ready for the situations that come my way. And I’ve got to be as sharp as I am when I go to work.
Greg: Well we’re calling scripture to be leaders in our home. And that’s the responsibility and the obligation we have. But I’m here to tell you – there are times when I should’ve been a supporter when I’ve been a director. But I knew, because I’ve been practicing this for a long time – where I made the mistake. And it doesn’t take me 5 seconds to go back to my, my grandson and say, “You know what? I engaged you wrongly, son. You really do know how to do this. And I was giving you direction on how to get it done. And I should’ve let you do it the way that you were taught to do it, and not have interfered – so I apologize. So it– Cut yourself some slack.
Greg: You’re not going to be perfect at this. But learning it well and practicing it will lead you towards that. And you’ll have less times to say that you’re sorry.
Greg: And more time to say, “Well yeah, that’s this situation, so I need to shift my style on how I engage my child.”
Vince: Yeah, you know– I love that you confessed that maybe you default to the director mode. I probably default to the coach mode. And then fail at times to really take strong direction of my own. Or maybe support, when I need to do that. And so I can definitely hear you. And it’s probably the voice of action for the guys listening today – would be to say, “Look guys, figure out which one you are, and which one’s you’re not. And try to figure out how you can strategically father – to the point that you engage with your family and your children in a way that’s appropriate to them, and in the moment.”
Vince: So here are your 4 styles again, Greg. They’re director, coach, supporter, observer. Guys, maybe today you need to identify which you are and which you aren’t. And as you walk in your home, figure out how you can adapt – so that you can lead from a higher level and strategically parent your kids. Well Greg, thank you again for being with us.
Greg: Oh you’re welcome, it’s good to be here.
Vince: Well that’s the show. Thanks again for listening. Gentlemen – as we close, I want to remind you that none of this would be possible without you. Your prayers, your financial support and your encouragement keep us going. Therefore, we would be honored to have you consider a monthly donation to Resolute. Even a small gift each month, makes a huge difference for men around the country. Just head to our website, beresolute.org. Click the word “store,” on the menu bar, and then select the word, “donation.” All gifts to this organization are tax deductible.
And as usual, I want you to know, I hope you enjoy this podcast – but please know that the time that we spend together is worthless unless you act on it. So do something today by getting off the bench and into the game. And I will see you right back here next time on another edition of the Resolute Podcast.