Bill Hendricks: How to Parent This Unique Child
About the Guest
To raise your unique child, recognize your particular wiring. Bill Hendricks & his sister Bev explore how to parent through the lens of your giftedness.
Bill Hendricks: How to Parent This Unique Child
Bill: One of the most important reasons for parents to discover their own giftedness: they need their personal experience for themselves of waking up to the fact that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. If I’m awake and alive to that, it gives me much more hope, as well as much more strength, to get into the life of my child with confidence that there’s a beautiful, awesome, amazing person here that I get the privilege to help them discover who that is.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
One of my favorite things that we did as a family is have good dinners together.
Dave: I thought you were going to say, “…play football.”
Dave: “…go to football games.”
Ann: That was probably yours, which was awesome; but mine was sitting around the table, having conversation.
Dave: Oh, yes; you loved this.
Ann: Okay; do you remember any of the conversations?
Dave: Yes; I mean, you talk about giftedness: one of your gifts is asking questions that draw out the soul of a person.
Ann: You’re so nice.
Dave: You don’t like small talk; you’re like, “Let’s go somewhere with this conversation.”
Ann: One of the questions I asked—and I thought, “Oh, I wish I would have asked this when they were younger,”—was I asked them at the dinner table: “Tell me what you think about most of the time.” Now, they were teenagers; so I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to know everything.”
But it was fascinating to me, because our oldest son said something I never expected; do you remember this?
Dave: Yes,I do.
Ann: He said, “I think about, probably 90 percent of the time, how things work.” I’m like, “What?! That has never come to my mind, ever.”
Bev: This is the IT kid?
Dave: This is our firstborn son, and that was his gift. He is wired to understand how things work.
By the way, you’re listening to Bev Hendricks Godby in the studio with her brother, Bill, who wrote a book called So How Do I Parent THIS Child?
Right away, we’ve already talked about, for a couple of days, about how you two study giftedness. You even have a center for giftedness to help people understand their giftedness.
When you get into a conversation like this, Bev, this is what you guys do—right?—you and Bill?
Bill: —every day.
Dave: Every day, you sort of like lean into: help people understand who they are?
Bev: I would like to think about: “Every day, I get to sit on the holy ground of another person, and hear what makes them unique, and “How did God put them together in this world?”
Ann: That’s kind of what makes it holy ground—
Dave: You two are kindred spirits by the way. [Laughter]
Ann: I know. [Laughter] I know.
Bev: It does.
Ann: —because we are talking about that we are made in God’s image.
Ann: This Creator has made each of us, and our kids, and our friends/our family uniquely.
Bill, how would you describe—your subtitle is Discovering the Wisdom and the Wonder of Who Your Child Was Meant to Be. You talk a lot about giftedness; define what that is for us again.
Bill: Again, giftedness in its simplest term is: “What you’re born to do”; okay? Everybody’s born to do something. “Giftedness is a combination of an ability that is a real ability, like you actually can do it, but also motivation that drives that behavior. They’ve got to come together. You can’t have motivation with no ability.”
We discovered—every person—there is a set of behaviors with that’s exactly what’s happening. Your son, for example: “I want to figure out how things work.” Then he goes and figures out how things work, and he’s good at it. He does that again, and again, and again—which says it’s motivated behavior; he never tires of it—in fact, the more he does it, the more he wants to do it; because it’s always so interesting.
Ann: That’s exactly who he is. It’s funny; because we always thought, “It’s going to be so interesting to see who he marries, if he gets married.” The first time we were having dinner—he’s very tactile—so we’re having dinner with his girlfriend; they’d been dating a while. Our family—and he’s tactile; so he’s touching his plate/his straw—he’s playing with it. Then he starts to play with her straw.
Our younger son says, “Robin, what did you think the first time you went out to eat with CJ?” He’s thinking/this younger brother is thinking, “Do you think this is the weirdest guy?”
Ann: She said, “I looked at him and I thought, ‘He’s the most fascinating person I’ve ever met in my life.’”
Bill: Way to go.
Bev: That’s sweet.
Ann: Wouldn’t it be great if we could see each other like that?—“How fascinating.”
Bill: That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Bev: That’s exactly why we do what we do.
Bill: We get to do that.
Ann: Don’t you all want to go to this institute? I want to go and learn everything.
But as parents, we’re trying to discover that in our kids. Do we need to discover that in ourselves first?
Bill: Absolutely, absolutely.
Bev: Sometimes, we put parents, side by side, after they’ve both gone through this.
Bill: —husband and wife.
Bev: —husband and wife. And we look at the areas of relative compliment and the areas of relative challenge: “These are going to be challenging, because you’re coming at really two completely different angles on this,” “These will be things that you guys will just love doing together.”
But what so many couples have told me is: “This is the first time that the differences have been put in a positive way so that I can understand: ‘This is the door I need to go in if I want her to pay attention,’ or ‘…to bless him.’”
Ann: Bill, give us an example of what that looks like, practically.
Bill: —for a couple?
Bill: The classic one is the partner, who’s goal-oriented and always has a plan: “Set the goal, get a plan, work through the plan, check off the goal”; and they’re married to somebody, who’s very conceptual. That person wants to deal in this area of concepts, and they see a concept up here of European history; so they go and kind of hang out with that for a while. Then is becomes Italian cooking and they kind of hang out with that for a while; and then they get interested in some art form, from some backwater part of the world that we’ve never heard of and get into that. They kind of go on what we call a conceptual odyssey.
Their partner’s looking at them, going, “You’re not going to get anywhere; you don’t have any goals.” The answer is: “They’re not trying to get anywhere”; that’s not what they’re about. They’re on this odyssey/this conceptual odyssey of exploring the world and just finding out what’s out there.
Meanwhile, the conceptual partner looks at the goal-oriented person, going, “What a boring life that would be, like waking up every morning, already knowing what you’re going to do. Just take me out and shoot me now.” [Laughter]
Ann: What they need to be saying is: “You’re the most fascinating person…”
Bev: Right—“and let me help you plan a trip to do that, so we’ll go do that together. I’ll go with the way you’re saying you want to go, but I will make the trip up and plan it out for you.”
Bill: “And when I get there, I want you to build a fire on the beach—
Bev: “—you to teach me—
Bill: “—and tell me the story of this ruins that we have just looked at.”
Dave: Yes, and what I hear you saying—that takes a lot of maturity and humility to be able to look at your spouse, or even a friend, that’s so different—because we live in a culture, even if you go on social media, we attack each other’s differences.
Bev: That usually doesn’t happen in the first session; let’s put it that way. [Laughter]
Dave: It takes a while for you to—I mean, when Ann and I got married—every couple has their thing—but she loved that I was laid back; I loved that she got things done. Six months later, I couldn’t stand it.
Bill: —until you’re laid back, and she’s getting things done. You’re going,—
Bev: —“I couldn’t stand it”; exactly.
Dave: Yes! I could not celebrate it.
Bev: It’s a little bit of an indictment.
Dave: Yes; it’s like, “Settle down; relax.”
Bev: “Settle down; calm down.”
Bill: This is why parents should start with discovering their own giftedness; because you are going to parent out of the lens of your own giftedness; just as you will be [with] a spouse, through the lens of your own giftedness. You cannot not do it that way. You are born to live life a certain way. You will live into the roles of your life through that lens of your giftedness. It helps to have some insight as to what that is so that you can do it well when you need to be doing it well.
Also, you understand, when your child does thing differently than you—which may irritate you, or disappoint you, or surprise you; or otherwise, make you think, “Huh, this person’s not doing it like I would do,”—it’s human nature, when we get to that point, we go, “What’s wrong with you?”;right? The answer is: “Bill, there’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just not you. Wake up!”
Ann: I have so many examples of how I did this wrong; I’m just listing them all in my head. One of them was when our older son, I asked him to shovel the driveway in Michigan. It could be up to a foot deep. I thought, as my personality has this bent toward: “That’s good hard work. Get out there and shovel that; that’s what you need to do.”
I go outside; he hasn’t even started. He’s been out there two hours. I’m thinking, “What is he doing?” He’s up in the attic, looking for this little snow blower that he’s going to fix in order to snow blow this foot-deep snow. Of course, I’m like, “It’s not going to work! That’s the dumbest thing. You’re just being lazy.
Ann: You’re being lazy; you don’t want to do it the hard way,” which was my way. Instead he was thinking, “I’m going to make this thing work.”
Dave: And he did,—
Ann: He did!
Bev: —which really was harder. [Laughter]
Ann: —harder, but he found life.
Bill: Harder before it got easier.
Bev: But for him, that’s joy.
Ann: I think, for teenagers, we get especially frustrated; because we feel them pulling away. So talk about: “How do we even begin when we may not even like who they seem to be right now?”
Shelby: You’re listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Bill Hendricks and Bev Hendricks Godby on FamilyLife Today. We’ll hear their response in just a second; but first, I wanted to let you know about how you, as one family, can make a difference.
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Alright; now, back to Dave and Ann with Bill and Bev.
Bev: Ideally, you don’t want to start in adolescence, trying to like your child.
Dave: Good point. [Laughter]
Bev: That’s not the most optimal time to do that. [Laughter] I feel like we lose the magic of childhood so quickly. When we first find out that we’re having a baby/when we first have them, it’s just all joy and “Oh, this is amazing.” So quickly, it just kind of flattens out.
I would really encourage parents, wherever you are, try to get back into the joy. Receive the gift/unwrap the gift. It’s right in front of you; it’s happening. But it’s like you can delight in that gift, if you choose to, and figure out: “What’s right with this child? That’s my mission today: ‘What is right with this child in front of me?’” And they’ll help you out with that, because they cannot not be this person.
Ann: We just celebrated our oldest granddaughter’s birthday. She was with us in Orlando. She went—because she loves the idea of becoming a surfer, because she watched the Bethany Hamilton movie—what’s it called?
Dave: —Soul Surfer.
Ann: —Soul surfer. She would always play like she had one arm, because Bethany had her arm bitten off by a shark—which, I’m thinking, “Why does she like this?”—and she wants to be a surfer. We celebrated her birthday. Everyone in the family—she has four kids in their family—everyone spoke what they loved about Olive and what they thought she was good at.
Bill: That’s beautiful.
Ann: It was interesting—wasn’t it Dave?—to watch her face light up.
Dave: In light of this conversation with Bill and Bev, I hear that conversation differently than when I was there a couple of days ago. Because what almost all of us said to Olive at that dinner table, which was awesome—it was at T-Rex Restaurant at Disney Springs, so there’s reptiles everywhere—but almost all of us said: “You are brave. You try hard things, and you don’t quit, even getting on a surf board at seven years old.” She’s done that in several areas of her life—and that’s what Bethany did—she’s an overcomer.
Dave: It should have been the end of her surfing career; she overcame. I’m sure that’s why Olive, whether she actually becomes a surfer or not, she loves the giftedness that’s in Bethany that says, “I can overcome.”
Bev: What you just described is what they call grit and resilience, which they’re saying now is the best possible thing for a child to have. It’s wonderful that you can affirm that in her rather than her successfulness. Because God’s all about our fruitfulness, not our success. We live in a society that very much affirms success.
We work with a fair amount of parents, who have children with disabilities: “How do they receive giftedness; how did they figure that out?”
One story is in the book that we actually tell about a mother that I knew personally and her little girl, who’s now 34. But sometimes, it’s not the story that you might want. But to be able to really believe that all of our children are God’s goodness to us—believing that—that there is something good in this child and on purpose is really so humbling to believe. But these people teach us about our own children. Bethany Hamilton’s mother probably could write a book on that as well.
Dave: I do want to ask this though real quick. If you’re a parent, and you’ve got a teenager that’s sort of acting out, and you’ve seen this pattern, what would you say to the parent is the best way to try and recapture this child becoming who God made him to be? Would you say, ‘Start affirming their giftedness’? Is that that critical?”
Bev: Definitely; and I can speak to this personally, because I had a daughter who was very oppositional during teenage years. It was almost like having a borderline kid in the house all of a sudden, which, of course, they say that age group sometimes looks real borderline—like it’s: “I hate you,”/“Don’t leave me,” kind of thing.
I don’t think I handled it well. I’m guessing there’s a lot of parents, that are listening, that are in that place, and thinking, “I’m not handling this really well.” I think to be able to step back and think, “I’m the adult, and what I want to communicate is exactly what Ann was reading out of Psalm 139: ‘You are beautifully and wonderfully made/marvelously made.’ How do I recapture that?” And thinking, “I’m missing this in my own son,” or “…daughter.”
“How to be intentional about that?”—go back to paying attention, again, just like you did when they were young.
Bill: Ann, one of the most important reasons for parents to discover their own giftedness, and we talk about how to do that in the book, they need their personal experience for themselves of waking up to the fact that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s very difficult to help my teenaged son or daughter, that’s really driving me nuts, if I’ve never personally experienced that for even me. I’m trying to help them somehow wake up to something that is still kind of a foreign category to me.
I need to go back to that core essential/what I call: “The good truth about who we are”; okay? Goodness knows, we all have bad truth about ourselves: our pathologies, our sins, our weaknesses, our train wrecks. Most people are very much in touch with that. What they’re not in touch with is what we call “The good truth about who they are.” The giftedness is very much a part of that good truth: to wake up to the best of who God has made them to be.
If I’m awake and alive to that, it gives me much more hope, as well as much more strength, to get into the life of my child with confidence that: “You know what? There’s a beautiful, awesome, amazing person here that I get the privilege to help them discover who that is.”
- Maybe it’s about going/watching them do what they love to do, like when they’re out on a field, playing soccer or whatever, and you’re in the audience. Maybe you don’t even go as much—but they don’t even want you to go, they say—but you show up anyway, just because you want to be there.
- Or maybe you write something to them instead of just speaking words.
- Sometimes, you have to be/go in another door.
And the more that you’re paying attention to them, and what opens their heart, the better you are at doing that.
Ann: I remember, when one of our sons—we were a lot alike, actually; we both can be pretty intense, and we would butt heads a little bit—so I remember saying to him, “I feel like I’m bugging you. I feel like you’re irritated by me, and so I’d really like…” I said, “I think I’m pushing all your buttons, because I get my feelings hurt; and then we just kind of collide.” I said, “I’d really love us to go out to lunch, maybe every other Sunday, just to reconnect.”
He’s kind of rolling his eyes a little bit, which again, hurt my feelings. But it was such a good time; it gave me time to pray/gave me time to really watch what he was good at. As parents, we can start getting into a rhythm of seeing the negatives and griping, complaining, critiquing.
In that lunch, by God’s grace, I could speak the greatness that I saw in him—like from the time he was little, I—some people would say he is bossy—and I think we need to be careful—
Bev: —of the words that you use.
Bill: That’s a negative label.
Bill: He likes to tell people what they should do.
Ann: Yes; he would be out on the trampoline. All of his friends would come in and say: “Cody needs a drink,” “Cody, needs a sweatshirt.” And I said, “Where’s Cody?” He said, “Cody just told us to do it.” [Laughter]
I said to him: “It’s amazing the influence you have over your friends, like when you say things, people will do it. That’s the gift of leadership.” For me to call out the greatness that I saw in him, it bonded us. I saw his spirit would open up a little bit more, and it would reconnect our hearts. Then, by a couple of weeks more, we needed to do it again.
Have you guys found that that’s important?
Bev: The one person that they want to affirm them is mom and dad—that’s the two people that they really want—they want to be seen, and known, and heard by those people.
Bill: But you also in that, not only affirmed him, but you made him responsible: “Son, you have a leadership gift.” You called that out and you described it. By doing that, you not only affirmed “Yes, you have a leadership gift,” [but] it put him on notice: “Huh, when I tell people to do things, they actually do it. I need to pay attention to that; I’m responsible. What if I tell them to do the wrong thing?”
Ann: Oh, yes.
Bev: But you saved the sermon; that was so great. [Laughter] If you had tried to make that into a teachable moment, you could have just detonated the whole thing. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes, I would just add—being Ann’s husband and watching her with me and with our boys—I’m not exaggerating—every room we walk into, whether it could be the lobby of a hotel, she will find somebody—see their giftedness, walk over to them—I’ve watched it a thousand times—and say, “Man, you’re really good; I’ve just watched you do this…” It’s so interesting to watch this—she’s like a magnet—they’re drawn to her. Nobody else matters.
Bev: She’s a giftedness whisperer.
Dave: She saw it.
Bill: Think about it: she’s doing for them what their parents probably never did.
Bev: Yes, absolutely.
Dave: Just saying that, I want to say to Ann: “What a great gift.”
But that’s our calling that you [Bill and Bev] have helped us identify over the last couple of days. That’s what we’re supposed to do, as parents,—
Ann: —and believers.
Dave: —with our children; but even, as a Christ-follower, with anyone. We should be the light—
Bev: —with other people.
Dave: —to be able to be the voice of God, saying, “I created you beautifully.” We get to say that to somebody: “You are God’s workmanship—poema—God’s poem/God’s masterpiece.”
If we could look in the mirror, and believe that ourselves, then we’d be able to communicate that to our kids and others.
Bev: Absolutely; and I think, sometimes, this is the best way to take the things we did not get, and make it into a positive, and think, “I would never want anyone else to feel that way; let me be this in a positive way for someone.” It’s like God can use that brokenness to make you flourish in that way.
Ann: That’s good.
Dave: You have helped a lot of people.
Dave: Thank you very much, Bill and Bev for being here.
Bill: Thank you for inviting us to be a part.
Bev: Thank you. We loved every minute of it.
Shelby: That’s Dave and Ann Wilson talking with Bill Hendricks and Bev Hendricks Godby on FamilyLife Today. You can get a copy of Bill and Bev’s book at FamilyLifeToday.com. It’s called So How Do I Parent THIS Child?: Discovering the Wisdom and the Wonder of Who Your Child Was Meant to Be. Again, you can find that at FamilyLifeToday.com or by calling 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life and then the word, “TODAY.”
If you know anyone who needs to hear today’s conversation, you can share it from wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, it’d really help us out if you’d rate and review us.
Tomorrow, we’re going to hear from our very own Dave Wilson about having a plan for our kids, and asking ourselves the question: “What am I launching my child towards?” Those kinds of questions about the future shape the way we parent today. I hope you can join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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