Bill Hendricks: Your Child is Different. Here’s Why it Matters
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Beverly Hendricks GodbyBEV GODBY is a senior associate and change management coach at The Giftedness Center in Dallas, Texas. She focuses on graduating students and women who are navigating challenging life transitions. She feels called to the role of an educator, teaching others about giftedness to help them find fulfilling lives. She serves as a consultant to schools and nonprofit organizations, and speaks and writes often on these topics. Bev holds degrees from Wheaton College and The University of Texas at Dallas...more
Bill HendricksBill Hendricks is President of The Giftedness Center, which grew out of a consulting practice he founded in 1985. For the last twenty years, he has been helping people make critical life and career decisions based on their giftedness. Bill attended St. Mark's School of Texas and holds degrees from Harvard University, Boston University, and Dallas Theological Seminary. He is the author or coauthor of twenty-two books, including The Person Called YOU: Why You're Here, Why You Matter & What...more
Are you producing a product or parenting a person? Bill Hendricks and Bev Hendricks Godby help you craft an individualized approach for your unique child.
Bill Hendricks: Your Child is Different. Here’s Why it Matters
Bill: The child has a certain way, which means a certain bent, by virtue of how God’s designed them. And the child is trying to express that bent: go in that way. You train that child up according to their bent so that, when they’re older, they will live into that bent.
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!
Dave: If I give you a season of parenting—I’ll give you one word—you give me your first thought.
Ann: Okay; go.
Dave: The baby stage.
Ann: Tired. [Laughter]
Dave: Grade school.
Dave: Middle school.
Ann: Um, questions.
Ann: Love; loved it!
Dave: High school.
Ann: Loved it.
Ann: Oh, sad; they’re gone.
Dave: And now, adults.
Dave: Oh, how about this: grandkids.
Dave: Yes; we just spent four days—five days/six days—with four of our grandkids.
Ann: Yes, and let me just add: I could have had so many more words. Each one of those phases is beautiful, and brilliant, and incredibly hard!—
Ann: —all at the same time!
Bev: But when you said, “fun,” during the teenage years—
Bev: —I knew you had boys.
Ann: Is that pretty true of parents with teenage boys?
Bev: That’s pretty tough with girls—
Bev: —just saying.
Ann: What would your word have been?
And you’ve already heard—yes.
Dave: Oh, alright! Let me, by the way, tell you who just jumped in here [Laughter]: Bev Hendricks Godby is with us, with her brother, Bill Hendricks, who wrote a book called So How Do I Parent THIS Child? We actually talked about it yesterday—it’s fabulous—what you’ve written in this book.
Dave: And just you helping to coach us how to see the giftedness, in not just our kids, but in every person.
Welcome back to Day Two of FamilyLife Today.
Bev: Thank you.
Bill: Thank you.
Dave: I mean, obviously, you know, we’re talking about our own kids; but as you think about your kids, and even the different stages that we just talked about, anything come to your mind when you’re thinking of, you know, from babyhood all the way up to adulthood?
Ann: And let me add: Bev and Bill both have three daughters, each.
Bev: Three daughters; right. But there’s a difference in the dad and the mom—I’m sorry, but there is—of girls.
Ann: Oh, okay!
Bev: Because the monument in the backyard is for the dad; you know? [Laughter] The father was perfect, and they love him to pieces.
Ann: That’s from the girls’ perspective; yes.
Bev: Yes; but it’s hard, when they get into those teenage years, and they’re being their own person. Someone did tell me—and I’m holding on to it, that it may be true—is the stronger you are, as a mom, the more they have to react to you; because they have to be who they are. Then, one day, they’ll come back, when they have their own children. That kind of is proving true. I’m with you on “amazing,” with the grandkids.
Ann: I have a friend with three daughters, and we raised our kids at the same time. She would say those exact same words; whereas, I was delighting in these teenage years with boys; it was so fun! She was like/it was a wrestling for her a little bit more.
Bev: Yes; absolutely.
Ann: And now, her girls are all adults; and they really have all just come back. She is the hero; and there’s a monument for her, at this point, as well as the dad.
Bill, what was it like for you? And let’s say, too, you’ve had a unique experience; because you lost your wife—the mother of your three girls— when they were how old?
Bill: Right. Yes; my first wife passed away when they were 15, 13, and 8. It was right at that stage there, where Bev’s talking about—at least, for the two older ones, where they were entering that contentious period—but because their mother was ill, they dialed it back, I think, as much as they could.
Then she passed; and now, it’s my job to raise them. Girls don’t seem to do that with daddies; you know? And so we didn’t have those knock-down, drag-out fights in my house.
Dave: So talk about/I mean, you direct the Global Center for Giftedness, which is seeing the wonders; you know, seeing the giftedness in your children and others. We spent a whole day talking about how to parent that way. You talk in your book about: “As a parent, you’re a steward.
Dave: “You’ve been given a stewardship.” What do you mean by that?
Bill: Well, first of all, you don’t own these children; you don’t own this child. That child belongs to God; because God made that child, and then, for mysteries I don’t understand, handed it over to you or to me.
You’ve been given a trust. Stewardship means that you take that trust. You want to ultimately hand that trust back to the person, who gave it to you. It’s a very utilitarian term/transactional term—but with a Return on Investment—which means that trust has a certain potential of what God purposed into that individual/that person.
God wants to see that person thrive, and flourish, and make a contribution to the world. The best way that happens is that you, as a parent, help that child begin to wake up to who they are, which really means, in large part, their giftedness, that which God has given them by which to cause the world and its people to flourish. You celebrate that; and you help them celebrate those strengths and begin to lean into them, so that, by the time they leave at 18, or whenever, they’ve got a sense of confidence about their strengths and who they are; they’ve got a sense of direction about how they can contribute to the world.
Ann: And we play a vital part in this with our kids: of seeing, as you said yesterday, where they find their energy/—
Ann: —their passion. Those are things we should be observing.
I love the story you told about your dad and a teacher. Talk about Miss Noe [spelling uncertain].
Bev: When he told this story, he totally lit up!
Ann: And let us say, your dad is Howard Hendricks. A lot of our listeners probably know that he was a seminary professor at Dallas Theological Seminary; many of us have known [him].
Bill: Well, he was gifted to the task of teaching. If you look in the dictionary under “teacher,” you would find his name; because he was born to teach. He loved it.
Bev: And he said, “I live to teach.”
Bev: This was a great story for me, because he was in his 57th year of seminary at that point. Just starting, I was asked to speak to a group of teachers. The topic I was supposed to give: “How do we make this just not another year?”
I remember the look on his face, of puzzlement almost, when I said that to him. He said, “Oh, my goodness; no year is ever like any other year. I mean, these guys—they are all different—and they have all new questions.” He just came even alive in that moment.
He told me the story of Miss Noe; because he had a teacher, Miss Simkins, in/I think it was fifth grade. She hated him; and he hated her, just equally. He was the worst kid in the room; he did everything that you’re not supposed to do. He said, “I knew every corner in that room; I had stood in them,”—[Laughter]—a terrible year. The kids loved him—he’d get everybody going—everyone would be throwing spit wads and stuff like that. She knew exactly who it was, so he was always in trouble. He said, “And then, I got released from jail,”—summer came—and he’s having a great time.
But then, he has to come back. He said, “I’m in sixth grade; and I’m thinking, ‘Here we go!’” He walks in to his sixth-grade teacher’s [classroom]. She calls roll. She gets to
“Howard Hendricks”; and she said, “Oh, I’ve heard of you.” He goes, “Here we go; here we go.” And she said, “I don’t believe a word of it!” She said, “I think you’re exactly who we need in this room this year.”
He just was floored; he thought, “Well, this won’t last.” But it did! He said, “I became like her favorite person. I would do anything for this woman!” He said, “We were lined up in the hall one day.” Miss Simkins walked by and gave him this really dirty look; and then [he] said something to her, I’m sure, that was derogatory. He heard [Miss Noe] say, “Oh, no; he is my best student; he’s a model student.” The lady was just/and he said, “I was just nasty enough that I turned around and just shot her a look”; you know? [Laughter]
Ann: Well, talk about that, based on our discussion yesterday.
Bev: Well, you’d think, “How could this be giftedness?”
Bev: He’s so bad in one room and so good in the other; but you see, his giftedness was about getting a response. Miss Simkins would not give him anything but a negative response; and he was like, “Okay, bring it on!” He’s getting a positive response from all his classmates; they think he is everything! And so that’s what he does.
The next year, Miss Noe had somehow—I wish she was still living—I would love to ask her: “What did you see in him?” Because she saw something in him and thought, “I can turn that around.” She said: “Here’s who you are/here’s who I believe you are.” And he lived up to it.
Dave: So how does that work as a parent—
Dave: —if you’ve got a son or daughter that’s sort of acting out for whatever reason—
Bev: Right; that’s a good question.
Bill: It’s a cautionary tale from many standpoints, not the least, of which is to channel the giftedness in a positive direction instead of shaming it.
Dave: Yes, which is often the parents’ first response.
Ann: Well, you guys, we just talked yesterday; I’m thinking we were talking about video games. I was recollecting how many times I walked into the room, when our son was playing video games: I said, “This is the biggest waste of time!
Ann: “You’re going to amount to nothing if you do this all day!” Then, I’m like, “Oh, I really did that wrong.” [Laughter]
Bev: We say: “Develop a positive language for what it is that they do/what it is that they love to do or inclined toward.”
I say this with a lot of regret; but one of my twins was very, very quiet. I used to refer to it as “slow to warm up,” which is kind of negative. If I had only been able to say, “She takes the time she needs to feel comfortable,”—now, I’ve described her in a positive way—and I have really affirmed: “She knows the time she needs in order to feel comfortable.”
Those are the kinds of things—a child with a lot of power, for instance, packed into them can get a lot of nicknames that are not positive—it doesn’t feel positive when they’re completely blowing through your house, and they’re on their 15th tantrum for today. But there is something about that power that has been packed into that little body that they can’t handle yet—they don’t know how—and so to channel it into some alternative thing.
My oldest grandson has a lot of energy! I remember watching him one time, and I thought, “This house is going to explode! [Laughter] It is!” I said, “Sweetie, you’re going to have to go out and run around the block.” I said, “We just need that right now; because I don’t think, really, the house can take any more.”
Ann: “The house is going to explode.”
Bev: Yes; and he went out. He said, “Okay, Nona!” He went out, and he ran all the way around the block. He came back, and he goes, “Do I need to go around again?” I said, “Yes, I think we need that!” [Laughter] You know, he loved it!
Ann: We have a son, who was very much like that, growing up—lots of energy; a leader—he would cry; he would yell. I think the first time he preached at our church, he was 19. He was doing all those things on the stage.
Ann: He’s crying; he’s passionate; he’s yelling. I had tears in my eyes. I turned to Dave, and I’m like, “It all makes sense now!”
Bill: “It all makes sense.”
Bev: There you go!
Ann: And that’s what you’re saying:—
Ann: —“We’re looking,” “We’re discovering,” “We’re watching.”
Dave: In a sense—and I think I remember reading this in your book—Proverbs 22:6:—
Dave: —“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.” That has often been taught in a very different way than what—
Dave: You’re describing it right there; explain that.
Bill: Well, the verse—if you get it through the Hebrew—the idea is opening of the child’s way. The child has a certain way, which means a certain bent, by virtue of how God’s designed them. And the child is trying to express that bent; go in that way. You train that child up according to their bent so that, when they’re older, they will live into that bent. It's really almost like a farmer, who’s got a plant or a tree, that they’re trying to, slowly, over time, groom to be what it was meant to flourish so that it will bear the fruit that it was meant to bear.
Ann: Bill, talk about making a cake at five years old. I was kind of fascinated by this, actually.
Dave: She actually read it out loud to me when she read that in—
Ann: I did. [Laughter] I was like, “What in the world?!”
Bev: May I say that the editor of the book did not believe this was a true story.
Ann: Me too!
Bill: She said, “No five-year-old could do this.”
Bev: Yes; “No one’s going to believe that.”
I will tell you: that he did do this; okay?
Ann: I said the same thing to Dave, like, “How is this possible?”
Ann: Go ahead, Bill. Tell us about it.
Bill: The story is that, when I was five, my mom was going out one day. I was going to be home for the afternoon. I didn’t want to be bored; so I said, “Is there something I can do while you’re gone?” And I had been watching mom cook since I was born, so I actually already knew my way around the kitchen—
Ann: —at five years old.
Bill: —for a five-year-old, yes. She said, “Well, your dad’s having his birthday party tonight. We need to make an angel food cake, so why don’t you mix it up and put it in the oven?” “Sounds good.” She leaves—
Ann: Okay, Bill. You’re five, which means you’re reading.
Bill: I guess! Anyway—[Laughter]
Bev: —he was; we were—both of us.
Bill: I go out to the kitchen. I pull down my mom’s Mother’s Home Companion Cookbook, and I look up angel food cake. I get the eggs out, and the flour out, and I separate the whites and beat them up. I mix all the stuff together, put it in the pan, put it in the oven. You know, when the time’s up, I pull it out. In those days, we had Coke® bottles; and you’d put the pan on top of the Coke bottle and let it cool.
My mom comes home; and I’m back in my room, playing. About three minutes, after coming home, she comes into my room, going, “Billy, how did you make this cake?!” She’s holding a box of Duncan Hines angel food cake mix, which had apparently been in the cupboard; and I just didn’t notice it. To me, in retrospect, we looked at that as kind of an example of my own giftedness, trying to express itself—
Bev: But it’s important to say that he didn’t grow up to be a baker.
Bill: —it happened at an early age. Yes; I didn’t grow up to be a baker.
Ann: But what was it in him that could do it? What was the gift? What do you think, Bev?
Bev: Be in control; be in charge. [Laughter] He was going to do it.
Ann: So he has responsibility. He’s like, “I’m…”
Bill: “I’ll do it my way.”
Bev: Well, yes; but it was an idea that he had in his head, and he was going to make it happen. He is very good at doing that, and he’ll own it and kind of figure out how to do it. He doesn’t ask a lot of questions; he’s very independent in terms of how he works. He didn’t ask anybody; he just did that.
Ann: I’m just going to say, I’ve made an angel food cake!
Bev: Yes! They’re not easy.
Ann: They’re not easy, because you have to whip those egg whites to the point where they’re stiff. Almost nobody would know that unless they had baked for a while.
Bill: Well, in retrospect, I would point out that this was in the days before electric beaters too.
Ann: Oh! You did the hand-beater!
Bill: I think so; yes, I must have.
Ann: That’s amazing.
Bev: And we don’t really remember how it turned out either; I’m just saying. [Laughter]
Dave: Well, it’s interesting—
Bill: I’m sure it was the best cake ever.
Ann: —ever made!
Dave: It had to be incredible! I mean, you listen to that story, and you think you would become Wolfgang Puck!
Dave: But it wasn’t about that; right?
Dave: It was part of it, but it was bigger than that.
Bill: The giftedness is not in the activity; it’s in the person.
Bill: So you can do a wide variety of activities, many of which bear no relationship whatsoever to each other; and yet, when you look at: “What’s driving that behavior?”, you find a very consistent pattern.
Bev: Which is why, when we tell parents to observe—which is really about being mindful and aware of what kids are choosing to do, and what they love to do/what they prefer to do—that is what you’re paying attention to. But don’t make conclusions about that. Just observe it; take note of it. It’s a great idea—if it’s an unusual thing—to write it down; because it will probably occur again. And then you can, over time—they’ll have more language and more ways to help you—see what that giftedness could be about.
Dave: Now, what happens to a child when the parent sort of judges it, or shames it, or critiques it? It could be a simple comment like, “Oh, that’s a stupid thing to waste your time doing,”—you know, when you’re making the observation. You make the judgment that it’s: “Not what I like,”—or you know—“They’re not becoming what I thought they would,”—you judge it or you shame it—what happens to that child?
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 minute; but first, I wanted to let you know about how you, as one family, can make a difference. There is a community of heroes, really, called FamilyLife Partners, who believe in our mission and give financially every month. Thanks to some of those generous champions, who have come alongside us as a ministry, right now, if you sign up to give monthly, you not only receive all the benefits of our Partner program, but your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, for the next 12 months to help families strengthen their relationship with God and each other.
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Now, back to Dave and Ann with Bill and Bev.
Dave: Now, what happens to a child when the parent sort of judges it, or shames it, or critiques it? It could be a simple comment, like, “Oh, that’s a stupid thing to waste your time doing.”
Bill: Nothing good. I’ll give you the illustration: there’s a kind of giftedness we see of a person, who wants to be part of a team: “Whatever we’re going to do, I want to do it together. We’re going to join hands here and collaborate”; right?
This little boy, who’s “make the team,” is born into the family of a very rugged, self-made, individualist father; okay?—you know—“Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!” Well, you can almost see the train wreck that’s about ready to happen; right? Because who’s team does this kid want to join more than anybody else’s—right?—Daddy’s.
Bill: So he keeps coming up to kind of join up with Daddy. Daddy, with the best of intentions, says, “Son, you’ve got to do it on your own. You’re never going to get anywhere in this world unless you can do it on your own. Nobody’s going to help you; you’ve got to make your own way.” And he keeps pushing the kid away.
Well, you know, that cycle happens several hundred thousand times by the time the kid’s 20. I mean, it’s like an annuity for a psychologist; right? I mean, because the kid always thinks, “Wow! I’m never going to be the man my dad is.”
Ann: “I’m a failure,” even.
Bill: “I’m a failure!” And the truth is: “No! You’re not going to be the man your dad is, because you were made to be somebody quite different.” But he has a sense of shame about that. He cannot not do that behavior, because that’s who he is. But now, every time he wants to team up with people: “There’s something wrong with me. Why can’t I just do it on my own?”
Dave: What would you say to the parent?—because I’m sitting here, thinking, “I’ve done that a few times.”
Bill: Sure! We all have.
Bev: We all have.
Dave: —maybe way more than I even know. What do you say to the parent, who realizes, “I blew it in some areas with my son or daughter. What do I do? How do I rectify that, or can I?”
Bev: You go, and you ask for forgiveness.
Bill: You own it.
Bev: You help them see that: “I am the person in power, and I can ask for forgiveness. I can come to you and say, ‘I did this really badly.’” And kids will forgive you if you love them. They know they are being loved; and they will readily, almost, forgive you. They may not get over it quite as fast; but I think for you, not only to say it to them, but then live that out and go a different direction with them.
Ann: I think it’s never too late for our kids too.
Bev: It is never too late; I think parents need to hear that.
Dave: Have you had to do that?
Dave: Either one of you?—
Dave: —say you’re sorry and ask forgiveness?
Bill: —to say, “I just didn’t recognize it;”—you know—“and I did the wrong thing there.”
Bill: This gets into an important layer for parents. Before you can help your child discover their giftedness, you really ought to start working on discovering your own giftedness; because if you don’t, at some point, your kid’s going to go, “Wow! Thanks for helping me discover my giftedness, Dad! By the way, what’s yours?” And you don’t want to say, “Uhhhh,”—
Dave: “I have no idea!”
Ann: I think that’s really important for parents.
Bill: Because if you understand your own giftedness:
(A) You have a framework of: “Here’s what’s going to affect my own parenting.”
(B) You also have a basis of comparison and contrast: “Wow, my child does things really differently than I do; and it’s okay.”
Bill: It’s a beautiful thing; yes.
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 thatat 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.”
Now, if you know anyone who needs to hear today’s conversation, you can share it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re there, it would really help us out if you would rate and review us.
You know, God cares much more about our fruitfulness than our success, our finances, or what job we’re doing. Tomorrow, Dave and Ann are going to be wrestling through that idea with Bill Hendricks and Bev Hendricks Godby, along with the important realization that you can’t parent kids toward their giftedness if you haven’t discovered your own. That’s coming up tomorrow. We hope you can join us.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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