Teachable Moments with Children

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink….but you can salt his oats.”   Orrin Woodward

lead a human to knowledge

There’s a Leadershift happening in our country and I’m so thankful we have the LIFE business to help us with the transition.

How many of you have come across a situation in life where you know the right thing to do, yet you don’t do it? For whatever reason we as humans have an innate ability to “know” a lot of great things but often times never apply that knowledge at the appropriate time.  But when we do, the results are spectacular.

I love my children.  They provide so much joy and happiness and so many  “teachable moments,” as LIFE founder Orrin Woodward calls them.

Recently, my 14 year old son was playing a basketball game for his Christian home-school team- The Saints.  The game wasn’t very close as Adam’s team outmatched their opponents, winning by a large margin.  I could tell something was happening on the court as I heard one of the opposing players say to his coach,”Tell #5 that he better shut-up.”  Sounded like a little “trash-talking” was going on.  My son is number#31, so I felt a bit relieved that “my boy” wasn’t causing all the fuss.  Yet, I was concerned because these boys were playing on a Christian home-school team and they should be playing to represent Jesus Christ.

As the game progressed I could visibly see the opposing players getting more frustrated as one of the players “leaned a shoulder” into my son as he walked by him.  It was the kind of action that inferred, “Watch out, you want to fight?”

After the game, the opposing coach came over and detailed how our boys were taunting and trash-talking their players.   I could see why his players would be offended, but it was nothing super serious though.  After all, it’s the heat of the game and it’s nothing like we see professional athletes do on TV.    

Not a big deal right?  Not so.  The situation was a big deal to me because these boys are supposed to represent the core of great sportsmanship, self-control, and grace.  They play for a Christian basketball team called the “Saints” for crying-out-loud.  In the locker room I shared with our boys what the opposing coach said, shared my thoughts, and presumed that was the end of it.   Until my son told me he was “one of the boys.”  Geesh.

Needless to say, I was disappointed in his behavior.  We’ve had many discussions over the years regarding good sportsmanship, encouraging others, leading by example, playing above the referees, and so on.

What was done was done and it was time to move on and I prayed it wouldn’t happen again.  I also prayed for another opportunity to play that team and a chance for Adam to make things right with the players and coaches that he offended.

The opportunity came the other day.  A few days before the game, I seized the chance for a “teachable moment” and encouraged Adam to find the player and coach and apologize.  Adam knew the right thing to do but completely rejected the idea because his pride was in the way (You can lead a horse to water…).  He wanted to protect his ego and not look stupid, rather than develop his character and integrity and do the right thing by attempting to fix the relationship

I tried not to press the issue because I wanted this to be his struggle and victory.  I didn’t hear anything from Adam until we were on the way to the game and he decided he was going to apologize.  I could see this wasn’t easy for him as he sat quietly not listening to the typical pre-game music.  I complimented him on his decision but raised the bar by asking, “What about the coach?”  Adam  threw his head back into the seat saying, “Awe Dad!”  The rest of the car ride was deafeningly silent.

During the warm-up I watched the scene unfold.  Adam went up to the player he offended and apologized.  Then he found the opposing coach and did the same thing.  Both player and coach acted quite surprised.  There was a little buzz on their side as athletes and coaches pointed at Adam, smiling as the message of his apology spread throughout their team.  I knew after that Adam had earned a victory no matter what the final score would be.

The game ended with our boys having another lopsided victory.  Yet, there was a different feeling during the game.  One of sportsmanship, hard playing and healthy competition.  After the game I went up to the opposing coach and apologized for my responsibility in Adam’s behavior.  He smiled and told me how he brought his team together before the game and let them know,  “They apologized, It’s all OK now.”  The coach released them of their anger and resentment  diffusing what could have blown-up into something regrettable.

It was a proud moment for Dad to see his son think and act like a leader at such a young age.  Adam showed me what true wisdom (information applied) and humility look like in real life.  Adam was given the right information, thought about it, and acted appropriately which provided a great teachable moment to share with others.

Pride is a huge problem that plagues our culture and prevents us from acting appropriately with the right information.  I’m so thankful the LIFE business helps families and individuals navigate the prideful waters of life.  LIFE is self-directed education that helps teach individuals to identify problems and find solutions.  It teaches us how to think and apply.  I’m not sure how that scenario would’ve played out without the LIFE business, but I do know it gave me the skills to lead the horse to water and help him drink.   Join the movement and experience your own life victories.

Matt Mielke

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19 Responses to Teachable Moments with Children

  1. Josh Meinel says:

    Way to go Adam! I love hearing stories like this. It’s exciting to see that the leaders in the LIFE business are living and applying these principles in all areas of their lives!

    Thanks Matt!

  2. Loved this story when you told it at the open. Wish I would have had that type of humility at his age. I was known to stick a knee out or drop a shoulder into someone out of frustration. You and Michelle are teaching your kids life lessons they will never forget!

  3. Jim Carlson says:

    Hey Matt, thank you for sharing this story. The thing that sticks out most to me is that it sounds like Adam was the only one who apologized, but his entire team was forgiven because of his actions.

  4. rascal4life says:

    Thanks for writing this story down, Matt! I heard you tell it last Tuesday, and it was a great reminder to read it again. We’re responsible to instill these values in our children from day one. If they mess up, it’s our responsibility, too. Thanks for sharing how a parent can help resolve things like that! Jeff and I appreciate the example you and Michelle set for us. Thanks for holding the bar high!

    ~Jen Ulrich

  5. Dave Hall says:

    Matt, I heard you share this story with great passion at a LIFE event and could feel the pride that you felt as a dad. I’m just so blessed to have you as a friend and mentor. Thank you for all your encouragement!

  6. Lori says:

    I appreciate this story, thanks so much for sharing. It was great to hear it “live” too!

  7. Lisa Mangold says:

    Thanks Matt for sharing this. Your article gives us material to share with our three teens (and other families) so that we can have the same teachable moments. We can learn through our own experience and we can learn through other people’s experience. Adam’s decision will have ripple effects beyond that game as many other families prepare for the “leadershift” that is needed!


  8. Greg Streuly says:

    Great Story! Thanks for holding the line with you kids. As a high school teacher I see many parents that tried to hold the line, but years of media and “the modern world” have beat them into defeated parenting. I don’t write “lazy parenting” because, for many, it was just the fact that they were overwhelmed by the gigantic wave negative the world pushed on them. Luckily we have men and women, like the LIFE PC men and women, who are fighting the good fight and inspiring others to do so.

  9. joshbayless says:

    Hey Matt! Thanks for leading in this situation and guiding your son to the right decision. I am so honored to know you and your family. It is quite a blessing to watch leaders grow up in the tender care of other leaders.

  10. Robin S. says:

    Hat’s off and a big kudos to your son! With God’s help he can do all things….even the tough things and he had to do a tough thing…. but the right thing. Hat’s off and kudos to you and Michelle your willingness and courage to seek new information through the LIFE business and learn how to parent and tenderly raise a future leader who will make wiser choices in the future. It is so great that all your children now know that even if they have bad judgement and make mistakes in life,they have a mom and dad who love them so much they can guide their young thinking and steer them in the right direction…even if it’s difficult! Is “Tough” his middle name too???? LOL

  11. Larry Wieberdink says:

    Thanks Matt for sharing your passion to set things on an upward spiral rather than on a downward slide. As Zig Ziglar says you cannot take the second step until you take the first. Keep the banner high, continue to lead the charge, and lead us onward.

    Larry G. Wieberdink

  12. Kristina Meinel says:

    Wow Adam!! You are growing by leaps and bounds. That sounds like a really tough situation and you made a great decision and followed through. Thanks for being a great example to me.

  13. Wow! Matt I really want to congratulate Adam. That is not very often seen in today’s culture, but he has an amazing example at home 🙂 I have seen yours and Michelle’s leadership and servant attitude. It’s no wonder your son has character and integrity. The LIFE business is equipping families with the right information to create a society and future society of leaders like you , Michelle, and your son Adam. Thank you for your example Matt.
    God Bless

  14. Jim Gerend says:

    Way to go Adam! That takes courage and I bet you felt pretty darn good afterwards. Thanks for sharing Matt.

  15. Miriam says:

    Humility goes such a long way! Thanks to Adam as well for setting the much needed example in his generation!

  16. AdamRossman says:

    Hey Matt, thanks for sharing 🙂

    I LOVE that picture. So funny!

  17. Julie Wingate says:

    Matt, you and Michelle are great parents. God’s gifts are showing brightly through your family. I know how tough it must of been for Adam to apologize. The courage this shows is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  18. customphotography says:

    Way to go Adam! From a parent of future athletes perspective, what got my attention was identifying the behavior and going a step farther to correct it. So many people would just say, “that’s the way it is in sports…that’s being competitive.” We recently attended a Milwaukee Wave soccer game. I listened to the fans and watched the athletes with a completle paradigm shift. Amazing! Even some great teachable moments. Thanks, Matt, for sharing.

  19. Eric Schilling says:

    Truly a product of a leadership education!

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