Get Smart Boot Camp #4:

The Encouragement!

Last week we talked about I/Thou relationship with our kids.  Instead of seeing your teen or young adult (or anyone for that matter!) as an “It”…a label, a need…a project…a burden…an extension of your value…I laid down the challenge to be intentionally in I/Thou relationships with our kids.

It’s a small yet powerful shift.  When we live in this level of parenting, we see our kid/our partner as a beautiful, important other.  We listen differently because we seek to understand rather than be understood or get them to be quiet and just listen to you, for gosh sakes!  We can love without a single “but” between us.  I hope that you had moments, even glimpses, of what it means to be a parent who understands the Power of Thou.

This week combines all the other ideas I’ve shared over the month and pours them into one important event: The Encouragement.  I took this idea from John Trent’s The Blessing (, and changed a few things around so that any parent anywhere might take 10 minutes this month with each child (teens and young adults desperately need this!) and speak The Encouragementto them.

What is The Encouragement?

It’s a statement you write (honestly, it’s tempting to type it…but the power of personally written documents are priceless these days!) and then speak aloud with each child.  It starts and ends with a moment to connect (a hug, eye contact, holding their hand…it all depends on your comfort and their needs), and then they hear words that you want to share, starting with their value and then your dream for their future.

Let’s Write An Encouragement! 

  • State a positive, loving message to your teen. Include affirmations and appreciations for who they ARE (not for what they do!)

“We love you as our middle child.  You are the one who brings joy to this family with your humor and your kindness.  We love how you persevere, even when it’s really hard in school.  We can’t imagine our family without you.”

  •   Tell them they are valued and accepted in your family      and as your child.

“We value and appreciate who you are, and how you are becoming this amazing guy.  We are honored to have you as our son.  You are always part of us, no matter what it might feel like.  We love you deeply.”

  • Express the special future you dream for them.

“We know that you have dreams and talents for your future.  Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to be, but we want you to know who we dream you will be as a man.  We dream that you will be strong; strong enough to be vulnerable and kind to your family, your partner and those you work with.  We dream that you will be a man who has deep friendships and constant love. We dream that you will find …”

  • End with a Commitment

“This is an important year for you.  We know that last year was difficult, and we watched you grow as you struggled.  We are committed to asking about how you are first, before we ask if you did your chores or your homework.  We commit to listen when you ask if we can talk.  We commit to spending time with you, and giving you time with your friends this year.  We commit to love you, no matter what kind of day you are having.”


Get the picture?  The format is pretty straightforward.  But more importantly…the message is this:

  1. We love you. We see who you are.
  2. You are valued, accepted and loved.
  3. We have dreams for your future self. (Again, not for career, college, relationship goals, but for who they will become)
  4. We commit to supporting you this year and towards this future.

Even if this feels absolutely impossible because your prickly teen or openly hostile 20-something has never heard you talk like this, I guarantee they are dying of thirst to hear this from you!  And to read it to them might seem like overkill and awkward…YOU GET TO BE AWKWARD AND GENEROUS IN YOUR LOVE AND ATTUNEMENT WITH YOUR KID!

How do we actually pull this off?

This is the fun part!  Choose an hour and a place.  Ask your teen/young adult/any kid in your house to come with you.  You might want to go outside and bring dessert or cold drinks. You could go to their favorite coffee place, or breakfast!  It’s just you and them.

You might confess that this feels kind of weird, but you wanted them to have an amazing year this year…and that you were trying something new because they are worth it and sometimes it’s important to try a new way to love people in the family.

Sit next to them, and touch their shoulder, hold their hand, whatever you have always done as a family.  And then you read your Encouragement.  It might be awkward at the end of the reading, but be comfortable for a moment in the awkward.  Tell your teen you love them, and give them the paper (or card) you wrote.  And hug them!

Take a picture of your time together. Or just enjoy the ride back.  I promise that once you do this with one kid, the others are going to look forward to their turn!  (even if they say it’s weird…or bizarre…or they thought they were in trouble).  Be awkward and weird and unpredictable…that’s what love is sometimes!



Feeling like it’s too hard to do this with your teen or young adult? Maybe there has been so much pain and wounding within them, or between you, it’s hard to imagine going through this experience.  enCOURAGE Counseling provides a safe place for teens, young adults and their parents to heal relationships,  learn strategies for communication and care, as well as develop new ways of growing up. Please call or text today for a free 15-minute consultation 720-230-3076 or book an appointment under the Appointment section on the website.  I’d love to hear your story and find a unique way to provide therapy that will encourage your teen, strengthen their future, and heal your family.




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