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Quality of Life Perspectives: Matthew Coleman

The other day I was chatting with Matthew Coleman, a landscaping specialist from southern California.  He was helping us with some work and we got to chatting.


We started talking about parenting and before I knew it we started getting into one of those deep, fluid, interesting conversations.  The kind you wish you could do more of but find yourself not having the time for.  [In fact, I started to tell myself I didn’t have the time on a busy work day to chat – but thankfully I decided to chill and enjoy the rich experience presented to me.]


A minute into our conversation I realized some gems were forthcoming so I decided to record the conversation (with a phone video camera).  Below is a link to the conversation, in which Matthew shared his perspectives and practices around parenting.  CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO.










Here are some things that stood out from our conversation:

When I asked Matt what he thinks parents get wrong, he said, “I am constantly aware these days of how much parents over communicate their children’s shortcomings, whether they realize it or not.  Children are always going to have issues…”


I totally agreed with what he was saying, but the way he put it was such a powerful reminder of how unfair it is for imperfect parents to expect their children to be perfect.


At the same time, I feel that there are some situations in which it benefits children for the parents to be tough on them.  So I asked Matthew what he felt about being “critical” with children on select character type things.  Not the typical cases like being honest but rather things like properly greeting people (voice they can hear with eye contact), even for a shy child.  [For my oldest son, he struggles with this and I have made this one of a few select things to be tough on him about.  Although I struggle with whether I am leading in the right way.]


Matthew’s reply was, “Just like gardening, you shouldn’t put too many seeds in the ground.  To properly grow, you need to provide space.”


Tell me that line isn’t a great lesson for all of us.  It’s a perfect nugget on how parents can quickly improve the quality of their parenting.  When you find a teaching moment, plant the seed (communicate the life lesson) and then back off and give your child the time and space to work on it.


It’s Leadership 101 in many ways.  If you’re coaching an employee on something, you’re not going to be in their grill every week about the improvement item.  At the most, once a month you’ll discuss it with the person.  Our children, even at five-years-old, can fully comprehend what we are trying to coach them on.  Matt’s wisdom was a great reminder that we owe it to our children to give them space to work on things.


And of course they will respect us a lot more as parents if we lead them better.

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