What Do Your Kids Really Need From You?

What do your kids really need from you? Is it to have a nice house and a day full of activities? Is it to have healthy food and holiday celebrations? Is it to have regular vacations and nice clothes? Is it to have new technology and spending money? This is what today’s world tells us “good parents’ do for their kids.

Let me offer some ideas in a new direction:

  • One-on-one time with each child at least once a month.
  • A willingness to listen, talk through things and ask great questions.
  • Guidance in how to sort through the options in today’s world for those that fit each child.
  • A willingness to learn who each child is and the patience and support to let them be who they are.
  • Be really interested in them as people – what they think, like, are good at and what matters to them.

I like to share with my parent audiences that a parent’s role is to guide, support and coach their kids into discovering, developing and living who they really are. That what our kids need most from us is for us to pay attention to learn who they are so we can translate and interpret the world to help them make sense of how to connect to the places in their world that need what they do and love best. Sure, they need food and a roof over their heads. But even more, they they need someone who is vested in their success in life – who is committed to helping them see what is unique, amazing and different about them and to appreciate and value it to define what success in life means to them and how to achieve it.

A world filled with stuff

As we fill our kids’ worlds with stuff, we create distance between us – the things get in the way. If a child has so many great things to play with, the objects become the attention, not time with family and parents. What if you intentionally limited the “physical generosity” (gifts) for your kids in favor of more “attention generosity” – more intentional and mindful time with your kids? What might you find out about them? How might they better connect with you? How might you use this time to help them really get ready for life?

Many times we have to stop listening to our loud and pushy world that tells us that spending on our kids is how we show our kids we love them. We are conditioned. They are conditioned. All that really happens is we get further from each other and fill our landfills with stuff.

What do kids really need from their parents?

Focused attention. Focused interest. Focused care. In these moments, two heads and hearts can connect – trust is built, relationships are established and guidance can be provided.

Check in on how you “love” your kids. Do you love them with things or do you love them with “you?” When you look back in 10 or 15 years, you will see that all they ever really wanted was time with you.

To See A Genius, Look In The Mirror

You are a genius. No, I am not talking about your IQ. And I am not talking about whether you work for Apple.

You are a genius because you are amazing, talented, inspiring and extraordinary. You are all these things. Me too. Maybe we haven’t figured out how to live them yet, but we are these things. Knowing this empowers us to make the effort to discover what genius we came packaged with so we can be ready for life – so we can choose to live life in a way that makes a difference to ourselves and our world.

What makes you a genius?

No genius is brilliant at everything – every genius is average at some things and is utterly amazing at others. To discover what makes you a genius requires you to be open to try new things, investigate and have the courage to see yourself and the world differently. By tuning in to who you are, you start to see the elements of genius you came packaged with. By developing the courage to be authentic, you gain access to your genius. But the decks are stacked against you; you are guided and encouraged to hide or cover up your genius.

You are taught in school to see things in the same way – the grass is green, the sky is blue and the sun is yellow; there is something wrong with you if you see shapes, colors or textures others don’t. You learn facts about the past to guide you how to think about the future. You sit in rows and memorize facts instead of following your passions, thinking independently and seeing your uniqueness as valuable and important. Your genius gets trained out of you – you learn to blend – you learn groupthink. It is easier to educate everyone in one way than to encourage each of us to see the world in our own unique and genius way.

We need our genius to be ready for life

Your genius is your guidance and fuel to live life in a way that matters – to tap into what is best in you and to use that best to build a great life and a better world. When you allow your unique genius to come forward, be developed and flourish, you expand what you see, think about and consider. This is how you can invent new and amazing things. This is how you can solve chronic or challenging problems. This is how you can find ways to change the world for the better. This is how you figure out who you are and how to show up to a life in a way that really matters.

So, what gets you ready for life? Discovering, developing and living your genius – your unique abilities.

And, what stops you? The loud voices around you that don’t see your genius or don’t consider your version of genius valuable.

Work hard to know your genius. Trust it and let it guide your decisions. And, the next time you look at someone, tune in to their ‘genius’ – their unique and amazing abilities. Get good at seeing and encouraging their genius – to allow them to be the best versions of themselves.

Be proud of your genius. See it as an amazing and remarkable part of your. Value it for how it makes you different. Value it for how it helps you find your way in a noisy and cluttered world. Value it because it lest you be the best version of you. Discover, developing and living your genius is how to be ready for life.

How To Help Your Family Manage Their Holiday Expectations

We waited at the top of the stairs. All six of us – 4 boys, 2 girls – trying our best to wait patiently, giddy with excitement, waiting until we got the nod from four parents that we could descend to the downstairs to see what Santa had left us. The first one up would wake up the others – we all bounded out of bed to take our places at the top of the stairs, peering over the railing at the filled stockings, tied to the banister, finding the one with our name and dreaming about what could be in it. We knew great food was in store, grandparents were coming and everything about the house felt different; it felt special; it felt better.

Holidays. Excitement. Expectations.

Holidays are amazing. They interrupt the routine of our days to do things in a new and special way. They bring people together on purpose. They remind us to focus on others, be grateful, see the larger picture and remember that every life has reasons to celebrate. Regardless of your tradition, holidays are fuel for the soul – to activate something larger in us and to change who we are from the inside out. This truly has nothing to do with what Santa may leave under the tree.

Our world is busy creating holiday expectations for all of us – particularly our kids. They constantly remind them that a great holiday is one filled with gifts – nice gifts – lots of gifts – the right gifts – perfect gifts. I remember one Christmas watching my kids open up way too many gifts, only to break out in panic sweat thinking about having bought way more than we could afford. We fell into the myth that their holiday would be happier if we bought them things – a lot of things. Sure, they do like getting things – me too. But that isn’t what the holiday is about. How might we need to rethink the holidays and what can we do to help manage our kids and our expectations?

Some ideas to consider:

1. Make time to talk about the holidays. Have a family meeting. Get everyone present. Turn off technology. Make it happen – no excuses.
2. Define why you celebrate. Understanding why you celebrate in your tradition gives context to how you can celebrate. Talk about the value, virtues and behaviors of the holiday. These give rise to your family traditions and set the expectations clearly about the value of the holidays – you know, “the reason for the season.” With younger kids or teens, deal head on with the constant consumerism and marketing about gifts. Define what is true for your family.
3. How you celebrate. Get input from everyone to know what will make their celebration special – and in line with why you celebrate. I find this helps kids shift from “getting” to “giving,” from “self-focused” to more “other-focused.” Loving the holidays doesn’t have to mean big presents – that is what others have told us can or must happen. You decide what and how it is for you.

We can all get so excited about the holidays that we create extreme expectations. Then, because the expectations are so significant, if the holiday under delivers, we get sad, angry or disappointed. Knowing this can happen, proactively set up reasonable expectations that align to your family’s values and traditions. Talk about them. Deal with them up front. Get input from everyone. Increase the communication.

Focusing our kids on the purpose and value of any holiday – and to the power of celebration – creates more meaningful and reasonable expectations that can build wonderful holiday memories instead of lead to holiday disappointments.

The Best Holiday Gifts Don’t Cost Any Money

They’re back – the holidays. From mid to November to early January, many traditions celebrate. Most of these traditions include some form of gift-giving. How amazing it is to share something meaningful with another to appreciate and celebrate who they are to you and their role in your life. This can make this a most wonderful time of the year – a message that much of the music of the season shares with us.

But with the extreme commercialism that has come to define this season, it is easy to lose sight of the real reason for all of the traditions that celebrate at this time of year. This is a great topic to bring up to the family – to help our kids learn how to decide what giving from the heart means. How we celebrate is entirely our choice – we have the ability to remove or add things to ensure our celebrations are as we want them to be.

Though we have that choice, we can get overwhelmed and intimidated by the commercial voices that tell us how to celebrate the holidays. Don’t give in. Decide early, before the season is fully on you, how you want your celebrations to be. Decide as a family.

Rethinking the “gift”

I regularly see frantic gift-buyers rushing through stores with names of people to buy for. This focus on tangible gifts comes from our national media and commercial marketing that has us believe that lovely diamonds, new cars, electronics and gift cards are the best way to share how you feel about others. Though it activates our economy, what is its true place our celebrations? Gifts are truly gifts when they share something of us in a meaningful way with another.

So, before you buy one more thing, consider the following gift ideas:

  • Give the gift of time. Though we may be physically present, the pace of life can frequently make us mentally absent. Make time to fully show up in your relationships. Not only increase your contact – phone and face-to-face – but be more involved and interested in your relationships. Plan events together and really show up. Making time and being present for someone feels amazing. Who needs your gift of time?
  • Give the gift of friendship. Redefine what being a friend means to you and show up this way to your relationships. Value them more. Be more involved. Share more. Connect at a deeper level. Say what you feel. Who needs your gift of friendship?
  • Give the gift of patience. Manage your comments, opinions and tone. No two of us see the world in the same way so our responses to similar situations will likely be different. Not right or wrong – just different. We don’t have to agree. We just allow others to be who they are and to have the patience not to force them to see things always from our perspective. With our aging parents and our developing teens, patience can work miracles. The great thing about giving patience is that it generally gives you a great gift in return. Who needs your gift of patience?
  • Give the gift of forgiveness. Use this time of year to settle an old disagreement, right an old wrong and be the bigger person. Celebrate a renewed friendship or relationship that had felt the effects of ego, emotions and misunderstandings. Forgiving is a gift we give to others because we know they are human and sometimes humans get things wrong. And again, maybe by giving the gift of forgiveness, you may get it back. Who needs your gift of forgiveness?
  • Give the gift of acceptance. Life isn’t easy – we are each trying to find our way. What if we were more accepting of others as they define their lives, values, interests and directions? The gift of acceptance is one of the best and most powerful. I received this gift from my grandfather. When I came out, he called to find out how he could learn more about what being gay meant to me so he could support me; he accepted me. That was years ago. I remember this gift every day. Who needs your gift of acceptance?

Rethink your holidays; transform them from commercial events into powerful celebrations of people and relationships. We are on this planet together to learn from each other and to participate together in the wonders of our world. Celebrations are a way to bring us together to help us learn more, connect better and build a stronger sense of community.

What does your gift say about you?

We have been trained that a nicely wrapped present means “I love you.” But spending time, being more forgiving, accepting, patient, friendly and present are more powerful ways of saying that message more authentically – they just get less marketing dollars. Remember this: as you give these, you are changed. You become more present, more loving, more forgiving and more patient. They benefit, you benefit. That is what true celebration is.

This year, instead of letting things say ‘I love you,’ let your voice, heart, time and commitment say it instead. Share this message with your kids to help them redefine what gift-giving means. Wrap all of your “gifts” with a hug. The best holiday gifts don’t cost any money.