There Is No Silver Bullet

Parents, Is There A Silver Bullet?

Seth Godin, best-selling author and highly in-demand speaker, wrote recently about “The one thing that will change everything.” As baseball fans are apt to say, “he hit it outta’ the park!

Godin wrote:

That introduction you need.
The capital that your organization is trying to raise.
The breakthrough in what you’re building…
Have you noticed that as soon as you get that one thing, everything doesn’t change? In fact, the only thing that changes is that you realize that you don’t need that one thing as much as you thought you did.
Most likely, this speech, or that inspection or this review won’t materially change things overnight.
Companies that raise hundreds of millions of dollars don’t seem to have an effortless time in changing user behavior, and well-connected agents still have trouble selling that next script.
It turns out that nothing will change everything for the better (emp. added). It works better to focus on each step instead of being distracted by a promised secret exit.

We are constantly looking for “the one thing that will change everything.” We want the “silver bullet.” We want it to be easy. We want it to be painless. We want it NOW! We want instant parenting, mature, patient, and self-disciplined children. We want it without effort, with little thought, and immediately! It may be the ten steps, or the twelve steps, or the three secrets, or the silver bullet. The reality is that Godin is correct. Humanly speaking, nothing, no ONE thing, will change everything in our lives or the lives of our children. Change, for us and them, normally comes, incremental, slowly, over time, by way of changing our habits of mind and life.

Change is always occurring. Life is never static. The question is, are we either changing for the better or worse? So, it will be with our children. Are the habits of thought and life being inescapably built into them leading to a confident, mature, principled adult or not?

Godin’s emphasis of change occurring when we “focus on each step” echoes the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4: 22-24, where he uses the metaphor of changing clothes: “Put off (and) put on…” Change occurs over time as we self-consciously focus upon our one habit of life and/or thought and then just as self-consciously seek to replace (and practice) it with the better ones.

Training young children to establish good habits of life and thought is far easier the younger they are. It becomes more and more difficult as they (and we) grow older. The “put off and put on” pattern of change, is far easier to do, to make a habit, the earlier we start and if implement it with consistency. Which is to say that the greater challenge in training (discipling) young children is not the child but the adults who influence them.

Pogo once observed, “we have met the enemy and he is us.” I am convinced that we adults create far more problems for the young children we are seeking to train, by our own inconsistencies, excuse making, and bad example than any other factor.

For example, demanding one standard of behavior from our child that we don’t demand of ourselves. When we demand attitudes of our child that we do not demonstrate to them, like requiring patience and kindness from them when we get angry at the drop of a hat and express that anger by bombarding them with angry, unkind words. Requiring diligence and faithfulness in their lives when our life is characterized by procrastination, and little or no self-discipline or requiring forgiveness when we hold grudges.

Focusing on reality, rather than casting about for “the secret” to raising you child, is vital. The reality is that our children need parents who look at themselves, their children, and the world around them clearly, with mature eyes of honest discernment. Our children need grownups that are ruthlessly honest with themselves, about themselves, and their children. Our children need grownups that are ruthlessly in pursuit and application of truth not “the silver bullet.”

Perry Coghlan is Co-founder of Spring Hill Academy, in Spring Hill, TN. He is husband to Patsy for almost 47 years, father of six, and grandfather to twenty-nine, and great grandfather to three. He can be reached at

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