Bill Hendricks: Helping Your Unique Child Thrive
About the Guest
How’s your child different than every other? Rather than crank out a product, Bill Hendricks his sister Bev equip you to help your particular child thrive.
David: Before we get to today's program, this is David Robbins, President of FamilyLife®. I have with me my wife, Meg. We just wanted to take a moment and thank those of you, who are giving to FamilyLife, and helping this program go into truly hundreds of thousands of homes across the country every day.
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Bill: We could be here all day, talking about all the different forms of giftedness that there are. There are really as many forms of giftedness as there are people, because every single human being is uniquely designed by God. Giftedness is what you are born to do.
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: So if you could think of a moment, when we were raising our three boys, when you knew: “This is who they are…”/”This is how God made them…”—
Dave: —what moment comes to your mind for each boy?
Ann: Oh, each one.
Dave: Got to do it really quick. I wonder if they're same as me.
Ann: Okay; first one CJ is playing basketball, seven years old. I'm so into it and intense; and he stops in the middle of the basketball court, staring at the scoreboard.
Dave: —while the game’s going on. The ball is going back and forth by him.
Ann: He's all by himself, standing in the middle of the court, looking at the scoreboard. I'm yelling, “CJ, CJ, get down there; get down there.” I come from a long line of coaches and athletics—
Ann: —and all that, so I'm like, “What are you doing?!”
Dave: And I'm laughing; I'm the coach of this team. We’re 0 and 12. I called timeout, because I know exactly what he's doing. I knew—you know, it was apparent from day one—he is so into technology. He's looking at the scoreboard, thinking, “How does this work?”
Dave: And that's what he said.
Ann: And then he also said to you, at three years old, “Dad, when did your head start sucking your hair back in?” [Laughter]
Dave: Yes, he figured that whole thing.
Okay, that's—we’ve got to do this quick—I told you quick. So how about Austin? I got it—the pipe—when he asked for a pipe for his birthday. [Laughter]
Ann: I was going to say the cape when he was 16.
Dave: Same thing, yes. He wants a cape and a pipe for his birthday, because he's so artistic and into literature.
Ann: —into Lord of the Rings.
Dave: He just wanted to sit there with his pipe. He never smoked it; he just wanted to hold it in his hand and—
Bev: It was a prop.
Dave: Yes, exactly. And then, Cody.
Ann: All I remember about him is playing sports and bossing all of his friends around. [Laughter] What were you going to say?
Dave: I remember throwing a football to him when he was six or seven, on a beach,
30 yards away, over a kid's head. He dove and caught it. Somebody turned to me and said, “That kid’s going to play on Sundays.” And he did; he ended up in the NFL. But I mean, catching a ball, 30 yards away, in the air, you're like, “He's gifted. That's something you don't see every day.”
Ann: Why are we talking about this today?
Dave: I am so excited for today, and I'm excited for you [Ann].
Dave: And especially—I mean, I am, too; but you: this is your world—you love to see what God has put in a person, whether it's our kids or even a stranger,4—
Dave: —and draw out the giftedness and the unique design that God puts in each person. I mean, I can see you right now; you're so/you're smiling about this.
Ann: Well, we just had lunch with our guests. I could sit with them all day long, because they have such a wealth of information. They've also written a book; I think you're going to love this as adults, as coworkers and parents. Parents, this is going to be so important for you.
Dave: Yes; we’ve got Bill Hendricks and Bev Hendricks Godby—they’re brother and sister—in the studio with us. Welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Bill: Thanks for having us.
Dave: So you're sitting over there, smiling this whole time. What were you thinking?
Bev: I was thinking, “This is a kindred spirit over here.”
Bev: I mean, this is what I love to do. I can't imagine doing anything else. I kind of do it, whether I'm getting paid or not. [Laughter]
Bill: I was thinking how fortunate your sons are that you were paying attention. I find too many parents are not paying attention to what is happening right in front of them with what we call “the wonder of their child.”
Ann: —which goes along with the title of your book, So How Do I Parent THIS Child?—subtitled—Discovering the Wisdom and the Wonder of Who Your Child Was Meant to Be. What a great title.
Dave: Yes; and what we're talking about today is at the heart of who we are as a ministry—it’s: “How to develop disciples in our own home with our own kids,”—obviously, this book is about this. Answer that question: “So how do I parent this child?—where would you start?”
Bill: Well, you've got to start with, first of all, a conviction that that child has been handed to you by God.
The dominant model of parenting in our culture is the child is a product. In other words, you bring this baby home from the hospital, say—and now, your job as parents is to do certain things: parenting, socializing, educating, etc.—so that how this kid turns out at age 22/24. Of course, “turn out” is a very manufacturing sort of term—right?—how they turn out is a referendum on how well you did as parents.
The problem is the child is not a product; the child is a person. Believe it or not, God has already determined the personhood of that child/sovereignly gifted that child to be who they are. So right there, on the weighing table, is a little infant person. Your job as parents then is to bring that child home and to steward that infant person into the adult person that God intended them to be; that's really your task. You have to start by realizing parenting is really about the child, not about you.
Bev: Well, the other piece of that is that, not only are you invited into this, but you're there on purpose as well.
Ann: I was just thinking, as you said that, I feel like that's really important for parents to hear; because we can feel ill-equipped: we can compare ourselves to everyone else on Instagram; we can feel like we're not enough. And you're saying, “No; God has hand-selected you to be the parent of those children under your roof.” Whether they're biological kids, adopted kids, kids from a blended family, these are the kids that God has selected; and He's equipped you to do that.
Bev: Right. In a sense, this can only happen over time/a process. You're not going to find a book that tells you the parent you are, because you've never been one before; or the child that is, because that one has never been here either. In a way, that kind of invites you into this great mystery; but is on purpose: there's something leading this; this isn't you all by yourself doing this.
Dave: Well, it's also interesting that you said—because it's so often we think, as a parent, that we decide what we're trying to raise—that's where we start. In fact, we wrote a parenting book,—
Dave: —No Perfect Parents. We sort of said you need to know what bullseye or target you're shooting at.
But you're saying—and of course, that's important as well—but you're saying no; it's sort of determined by who God gave you/who God made this son or daughter to be; right?
Bill: That’s exactly right.
Bev: Absolutely. My dad used to say, “If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.”
Ann: Oh, that's who said it! Because I say that all the time, and I didn't know who the author was.
Bev: He may have co-opted it from someone, but he has said that a lot.
Ann: Okay, so when my dad—we have/there are four [children] in my family—and he said to all of us: “You guys are all going to be college coaches, and you're all going to be leaders.” Well, that was all well-intended; however, we were not leaders, not all of us.
Bev: I would have a quarter twist on that one.
Bev: After doing giftedness with people for 20 years, I would say with all humility, I think we all have leadership in us through the gifts; we lead with our gifts. If we understand that we enjoy being backstage—just getting all the costumes lined up/all the props ready for the performance—what happens if that didn't happen? It would be a failure. So your leadership is behind the scenes and, maybe, a little more subtle; that is so important.
Ann: That's a great way to look at it; he wasn't intending that.
Bev: He wasn't intending that.
Ann: But he was thinking, “I'm going to make you into this.”
Bev: —“make you”; absolutely.
Ann: And you're saying, “No; you've already been formed.”
Bill: And Ann, I don't think your dad was doing that in a benevolent way. He was doing it in terms of what made the most sense to him, given how he was wired,—
Bill: —which is how most of us tend to parent.
What we're saying in the book is you've got to resist that: your child is not you. So what makes perfect sense to you may not make sense at all for the child. Maybe this is a good place to throw in: “Well, what do we even mean by giftedness?” That's a term people throw around.
Dave: Yes, let's talk about it. What is it?
Bill: The simplest definition I can give you is: “Giftedness is what you are born to do; everybody is born to do something.”
- One person, you look, and you realize: “This person is born to solve a problem,”—never met a problem they didn't want to solve.
- Somebody else: they're born to understand something at a very deep level.
- Somebody else: they're born to gain a response from people and influence their behavior.
- Somebody else is born to see potential and then go make it happen.
I mean, we could be here all day, talking about all the different forms of giftedness that there are. There are really as many forms of giftedness as there are people, because every single human being is uniquely designed by God and placed here for a purpose.
Ann: That was so good. I think that's really important for us to understand and to grasp.
Bev: I want to differentiate giftedness from talents. I'm just thinking of a parent, who thinks, “Well, my kid is really good at athletics; that's their giftedness.” It's really not their giftedness; that's a talent that they have that has been put in—like singing or something like that—but giftedness is how you do what you do. It's like the shape of a tool or the design of a tool. If we know what that tool is designed to do, then we know how to use it well; so we don't use one tool for another.
Dave: That's an interesting clarification; because I would think a giftedness would be a talent, but it’s different.
Ann: Well, we said that about Cody being able to be great at sports.
Dave: But that was a talent, and the giftedness was more what you saw.
Bev: I would want to know: So somebody, what is it about being that athlete that really gets you going? Is it a competitiveness that you want to win?—or is it being on the team?—“I love to be part of this team.”
Bill: Giftedness involves, not simply ability, but also motivation.
Bev: Motivation: that’s what we're talking about.
Bill: So yes, you see your son in sports; and then you [ask], “What was satisfying to you about that?”
Bill: And you discover, as Bev said:
- for one person, it's the challenge of it;
- for somebody else, it's the team: “I love the team;”
- for somebody else, it's about “Well, I win; I'm the best on the team.”
You can have the same sport, but all kinds of different motivation.
Ann: And there's no wrong answer to that?—
Bill: There's no wrong answer.
Ann: —like the person says, “I just want to be the best.”
Bill: That’s exactly right.
Bev: That's actually one that was—
Ann: That’s okay?
Bev: Oh, yes; absolutely.
Bill: Absolutely. We don't place judgment/you can't place judgment on the core motivation. Now, let me be clear, every form of giftedness is inherently good. Every form of giftedness has what we call a potential dark side. So yes, certain forms of giftedness could predispose someone to be full of themselves and arrogant. Certain forms of giftedness could cause somebody, who loves to meet needs—to set things up to where everybody needs them—and they can't function on their own. Those are dark expressions of an inherently good gift.
Ann: Oh, that’s good.
Bev: So someone that wants to be the best can’t always be the best. They can, at certain things, and that's fine; but what happens if they get hurt and injured, and they can no longer be that athlete?—so that that's a real struggle for them. That would be the kind of thing that we might work with them on, like, “Where else could you use that as well?”
Ann: You're looking at those things.
Bev, go back to that hammer. You talk about Harry, the hammer, in the book, which was interesting. You guys explain that: What's that mean?”
Bev: Well, Harry, the hammer has never met a nail he didn't want to pound on; that's what he does. [Laughter] But we don't want to use him for something that takes another kind of a nuanced tool, like a knife, or something else that he would not be good at doing. And so therefore; if we try to make him/we do that—we could do that all day long, and he might get a little better at it—but he’d never love it. He doesn't get energy from doing that; he wants to pound a nail.
Bill: Well—and Harry, the hammer, is in a parable—where Harry, the hammer, is the equivalent, in a sense, of what your dad was trying to do in giving advice to you as his children: give advice based on what makes sense to me.
Harry, the hammer, has a son called Larry, the screwdriver. And Harry, the hammer, is determined that Larry, the screwdriver, is going to be just as good at driving nails as Harry, the hammer, is. But he never figures out that Larry, the screwdriver, wasn't born to drive nails; so he's not a very good nail driver, and he ends up fairly defeated.
If only Harry, the hammer, had said, “Wait a minute; my son is not designed to drive nails, but he is designed to drive screws. In fact, if I'll show him how to do that—and find somebody to mentor him in that, and give him every education in that—why he could be a world-class screwdriver.”
Dave: Now, how do you convince parents to make that paradigm shift? Because we said, earlier, a lot of parents are Harry, the hammer; and they want their son or daughter to be Harry, the hammer.
Bev: I think it's real important to point out that they're trying to give them the best of what they know that works in their head. They have a little kid, and they think, “I can do this; I can help them be their best.”
Bill: They’re very well-intentioned.
Bev: We see so many well-intentioned parents that are kind of doing damage, to be honest. Because what we see, when we hear the stories that people tell, are sometimes a person has been what we call scribbled on. There's something that wanted to be expressed, but couldn't be.
Ann: You talked about a cello player.
Ann: And a dad that was—what was the dad?—he was like a businessman, like a—
Bill: He was a lawyer—what I call a powerful man—he's in a high-power job. It’s like you could see it in his eyes—the disappointment over his son, who wanted to play the cello—and for the father, that's like, “Who would want to do that?”
Bev: Well, and “How are you going to make money at that?”—
Bill: “How are you going to make money?”
Bev: —because this guy is a day trader.
Bev: This is about: “We’ve got to do something here. That's not anything—I mean, if you want to do that on the side, that's one thing—but that's not a career.”
Dave: If I'm a parent, listening—and I realize, “Wow, I've sort of done that: I've sort of tried to make my son or daughter…”—how do I step back and then be able to see the giftedness?
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 Family Life Partners, who believe in our mission and give financially every month.
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Alright, now back to Dave and Ann with Bill and Bev.
Bev: We talk a lot about being curious and not critical; so when this happens—because you see something in the child that you don't affirm or recognize; it's not in you—and you're thinking, “Why are they doing that?” And you kind of want to stomp it out of them, but you don't really know what else to do—ask, “What is it you love about this?” Get curious. Find out—
Bill: “What is it the child loves about it?”
Bev: —what the child loves about it. Yes, let them tell you. Oftentimes, this comes up with teenage kids that are doing video games.
Ann: I was just going to say: “My kids playing video games for nine hours a day; how do I affirm this?”
Bev: Right; and the way that you affirm it is by being curious. You could walk in and say, “Hey, I want to learn this.” They'll laugh; they'll think that's hilarious that mom wants to actually do this. They don't mind because you're going to be terrible at it, and they'll beat you. [Laughter] So they have you sit down; they get you all hooked up and then they laugh.
But you also, now, are having a conversation with the child that you have not had a conversation with for hours. And oftentimes, it's just amazing. You actually get better at it; they may ask you to come play with them sometime. I mean, now you got something that you can understand what they love about it. And again, if you play with them, you're set up to say, “What is it you love so much about this? Is it doing this or this?”—boom—now you're using actual things from the game.
Bill: But the subtlety here is you're not looking at the game; you're looking at the child/the person. There's something about that activity that has engaged this person's energy, and it's that energy that you're trying to discover.
Bev: And that's what you care about.
Bill: That's what you care about, because that's in the person. And so again:
- It may be the challenge of the game.
- It may be the competition of the game.
- It may be the mental strategy of: “How do I get advantage over these other players?”
- It may be the teamwork that's involved in the game.
You don't know—until you observe, and let the child begin to both show you and, if possible, tell you—what is satisfying to them.
Giftedness expresses itself best when an individual person chooses the activity and how they're going to do it.
Ann: Even that, as a parent, that’s gold right there—to watch your kids—“What are they choosing to do?” “How are they playing?” “Do they want to play alone?”
Bill: You always should pay attention to the energy—
Dave: Yes, I was going to say, “Follow the energy.”
Bill: —follow the energy:—
Bev: Right; what we say, “Follow the energy.”
Bill: —“What grabs their attention?” “What holds their attention?”
Bev: And what you are affirming in them is home for them.
Ann: What do you mean?
Bev: What you are affirming in them is: “What they instinctively naturally do and who they be,” as we put it. And so you are affirming that by saying, “I care about that. Talk to me about that.” Like all of a sudden, now you have an entrance into their heart, where you didn't have that before.
Dave: And so, when you find that energy/power—curiosity—“How do you affirm that then as a parent? What do you do with that?”
Bill: Well, you celebrate it.
Bev: You ask about it; you show interest in it. Maybe if it's something—let's say they're a little younger, and you know it's something like art—you can say, “Hey, we could maybe get you some lessons on that. Would there be fun for you?”
But again, ask; don't assume. Because sometimes we've seen kids who, when they're older, they'll say, “Everything I ever said I wanted to do, my parents were like so much energy behind it; it wasn't mine anymore.” That's really something to watch out for.
Bill: I'll tell you one thing I encourage parents not to do is to give what amounts to a grade or score to everything that child does: “Oh, that's a beautiful picture”; well, now, we've set up a ranking, whether I've drawn a beautiful picture or not.
Much better to say: “What an interesting picture. I love the way you get lost in that activity when you draw pictures.”
Bev: —or “You better do great in that game today; I bet you will,”—instead of—“Have fun out there; I can't wait to watch you.”
Bill: Yes; “Give it your best.”
Ann: And you guys refer to this in your book—but Psalm 139 that we have all read so many times—but I think it's just good for our listeners to be reminded of how God made us and our kids. Because, in the Psalm, it says, “You made”—speaking of God—“You, God, made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous; how well I know it.”
What a good reminder—everything you're saying—points back to Scripture: that we have a loving, creative God that knit us together. And we, as parents, get to discover what that is in our kids.
Dave: I'm envisioning parents, after listening to this, stepping back, looking at their children—whatever age—and just sort of dropping their jaw and going, “Wow! Look at the wonder of who God made you to be.”
Bev: That's exactly what we want.
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, So How Do I Parent THIS Child?:Discovering the Wisdom and the Wonder of Who Your Child Was Meant to Be. You do 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. And while you're there, it’d really help if you'd rate and review us as well.
Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be talking, again, with Bill and Bev as they wrestle with the question of: “How do we let go of this idea that we, as parents, are entirely responsible for the outcome of our children's lives?” We may not admit to the fact that we ask that question, but we do; and they're going to talk about it. That's tomorrow. We 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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