14 Parenting Styles That Won’t Get Your Kids Ready For Life

How did you learn to be a parent? And how do you know when your parenting is helping to create a wise and capable future adult and when it is getting in the way?

Having spent years working with parents, I see some repeating parenting styles – some productive, many unproductive. I use the labels of productive and unproductive as they relate to the impact on the kids, not on how parents view themselves. In other words, productive parenting styles encourage kids to discover who they are, learn about their talents, passions and values, get clear about what opportunities in work, school and life fit them, learn to accept, value and treasure who they authentically are all while building a trusting and loving lifetime relationship with the parent. Unproductive styles don’t support this self-discovery process or don’t intentionally work to create the parent-child bond. See if you notice yourself in any of these parenting styles and whether how you parent is helping or stopping your kids from getting ready for their great and amazing lives.

Unproductive parenting styles

Lawnmower parent – You are ready to mow anyone down who gets in the way of your kids’ achievement, success or happiness.

Helicopter (or training wheel) parent – You constantly hovering over your kids, involved in all of their decisions, choices and directions; you assist them on everything – homework, activities, life skills because you don’t trust them or you don’t trust the world.

Blackhawk parent – You come to all situations with guns blazing and demanding action – you take control of your kids’ situations, challenges and obstacles.

Fairytale parent – You only sees the good in your kids – you are not realistic about their abilities, interests or behaviors.

Google parent – You have the answer for everything; you act as a definitive source about everything – you never let your kids discover, learn or try things on their own.

Cinderella parent – You allow yourself to be treated like the hired help; you jump and respond to the whims and wishes of your kids as if they were royalty.

Tiffany parent – You are convinced that giving gifts equals love; you are uncontrolled in the material gifts given to a point where your kids have little or no concept of value.

Thunderstorm parent – You always find some fault with your kids – you are the constant negative voice reminding them what is wrong, not good or is disappointing about them.

Crystal Ball parent – You are ready to tell your kids how to live, who to be, what life and work should be like, what will make them happy – and on and on.

Drill Sargent parent – You take control, bark orders, demand, confront and challenge; your child has no ability to have a perspective or a voice in their own life or direction.

Pageant parent – You constantly make everything a competition or a comparison – you use words like worst, best, richer, nicer, smarter, better; you always talk about winners and losers and constantly compare your kids to others (positive or negative).

Secret agent parent – You are always checking up on your kids – their social media, friends, grades, homework, looking in their drawers, searching their phone or computer – you are not good at giving or allowing privacy in the home.

Prosecutor parent – You drill your kids with questions – there are no boundaries on the type or amount of questions. You want to know everything and in great detail.

Parrot Parent – You constantly repeat what your parents or other parents/parenting sources say as your way of parenting – whether meaningful or not to your kids.

We all have traces of these – but are any of these your “go-to” parenting style? These styles, though mostly motivated by fear, take away some important authenticity, independence and clarity from your kids. Our kids can’t be ready for life if our parenting does all their thinking and living for them or doesn’t share a meaningful and realistic view of the world with them.

Let’s shift to more productive parenting styles. These styles are more motivated by helping their kids discover and be who they really are, not who they need them to be. These parenting styles believe that the greatest way for a child to be happy is to be authentic, aware and supported in learning how to make meaningful choices in today’s world. You’ll notice there are far fewer of these parenting styles because each style is so much more expansive.

Productive parenting styles

Improv parent – You show up, accept what is going on and use what you know in the moment to choose the best response for this situation and this child; you don’t use parenting scripts or apply a one-size-fits-all parenting to all situations and all kids.

Coaching parent – You regularly use questions to get your kids thinking and owning their choices, decisions and directions; you ask more than tell and you listen carefully to the responses. You help your kids discover, create and own their solutions.

Zen parent – You tune in, are present and manage your emotions; you can separate your child from his or her actions to address behaviors and still maintain affection for each child.

Professor parent – You encourage your kids to constantly learn – you introduce them to their world, ideas and opportunities. You like to discuss new things and share ideas to help them understand their world.

Internship parent – You encourage and support your kids to go out to the world and try new things to discover and develop their abilities and interests, and to find what matters most to them.

Realize that your parenting style tells a lot about what you believe and know about yourself. The clearer you are of your own abilities, the more confidently you can show up to your parenting, the more significantly you can focus a loving and guiding approach instead of one marked by fear or control. Be the guide from the side, not the sage on the stage.

Our kids need to be leaders of their own lives. Though we as parents know a lot more than our kids, they however, know more about themselves than we ever will. Including them, encouraging them, coaching them and guiding them helps them tap into their own minds to see what unique abilities they came packaged with that will help them not only find their way in life, but determine how to succeed, be happy and be responsible in life. This is how they become the leaders of their own lives become ready for their great and amazing lives.

Don’t Do More FOR Your Kids, Do More WITH Your Kids

Face it, and the studies prove it, we overparent our kids. We tell more than ask, direct more than discuss and control more than guide. Maybe it is our scary world that makes us this way (we feel we have to keep our kids safe). Maybe we are just like our parents who were convinced they knew what was best for us that we had yet to realize. Regardless, we are creating a generation of future adults who haven’t learn to think, do and be on their own.

The more we tell, direct and control, the less opportunity our kids have to tap into their own thinking – to start to take their brains for spin to see what they came packaged with (talents, abilities, interests) and how to use it in today’s world. They get acquainted with what they are good at, passionate about and what matters to them the more they are brought into conversations and discussions about life. It is in these moments that they learn – not in the moments of hearing information delivered at them in a one-sided communication event from a parent.

We Can’t Make Our Kids Lives Easy or Great

I know we love our kids and that can’t help but show up in trying to do more FOR them – to make their lives easy and great. But no life is easy and greatness in life comes from each of us discovering who we are and living what is true for us, instead of living to the plans of a parent or another. Doing more FOR our kids doesn’t help them show up and own their lives, know how to do life and show up big to their choices. Doing more WITH our kids creates the opportunity for us to ride along more in life with them, translate what they see in our world, and ask them what their thoughts, feelings and ideas are about what they see. We turn into their coaches, guides and sounding boards. We stop managing their lives and help them to do this work for themselves.

I hear more and more parents share that they are disconnected from their kids – that getting their teens to communicate with them is a challenge. Is it a challenge because much of the time the only communication they know or anticipate from you are directions and instructions, rather than open-ended questions to engage, hear perspectives, gather information and get acquainted with who their kids really are.

Many parents feel that the more they do for their kids, the more they are loved. From my perspective, the way to really show our kids how much we love them is to engage with them – to value the moments with them – to do more WITH them.

Do More WITH Your Kids

See, the more we do more WITH our kids, the more time we spend with them. In these moments, we ask questions, share perspectives, translate the world for them, and start to see what makes them different, unique and amazing. We become their guides, helping them make sense of themselves and their world so they can someday soon, do the all-important matching of where in today’s world do they really fit.

As we make the time to be present with our kids – to do more with them – we connect with them. Couple this with learning to ask more questions and our encounters with our kids become the way we help them navigate life – to find their unique way and for them to own the process of discovering, developing and living who they really are instead of who they have been instructed to be.

Some questions for you:

  1. In your mind, what does it take to be a good parent?
  2. Look at your parenting behavior – do you do more FOR your kids, or WITH your kids?
  3. What challenge with your kids could you address by spending more interested and intentional time with them?
  4. How are you helping your kids learn to understand their world so they can work to find their place in it?

Our kids are amazing, talented and unique – and most of them have no idea about these attributes. Our time with them and our intentional questions help them discover this information about themselves – so they then can learn to build their work and lives around what they do and love best. This happens best when we do more WITH them than FOR them.

Be Adaptable – The Key To Success In A Changing World

Life throws things in our way – roadblocks. We start something only to find that we can’t seem to achieve it, connect with it, finish it, make money from it, stay in relationship with it – have things go the way we want. The way to thrive – and to be ready for life – is to learn to ask ourselves this question in these situations: What is another way to do, view or consider this?

Our go-to, default response isn’t always the best one or the one that works. But when many of us meet an obstacle, we back down, quit, give up or just say “why bother?”

Be adaptable

I teach a youth leadership program. Some of the students wanted to host a particular event as part of their required community service project at a local venue. The venue manager said no to their idea and the students were ready to quit the program.

A colleague friend of mine was interested in getting a new idea implemented in his workplace. He was convinced it would make the difference he wanted to make to improve a process that directly affected customers. He brought the idea to his manager who said no to the idea. He called me to vent and to say, “why bother?”

All that has happened in these situations is that they bumped into a block – a challenge or an obstacle. How committed are we to our plan, idea or thought if at the first encounter of an obstacle or that someone says no, we drop it and give up?

They say that challenges and obstacles are life’s greatest learning situations – not when things go our way – but when things don’t go our way. These force us to rethink and reconsider. These force us to be resilient and adaptable.

Challenges test our resolve

How committed and passionate we are about an idea, a project or even a relationship influences the energy we bring to it? This is the reason we always talk about passions when we talk about abilities. Someone may have the abilities to do something but without the fuel – the passion – an obstacle can shut them down. The more passionate and committed they are, the more adaptable, resilient and tenacious they become.

To build your adaptability muscle, consider the following:

  1. Check in on your motives. How badly do you want this? See the value and impact of what you are doing to find the energy and resilience to keep pushing forward. If you don’t really believe in what you are doing, every obstacle will be enough to shut you down. If it truly doesn’t matter, let it go. If it truly does matter, keep pushing for it.
  2. Have a plan B. Life just doesn’t always go as planned; we know this but yet we still are disappointed when things don’t go our way. Go into your situations knowing you many need to shift to another plan or direction so have one in mind. By creating a plan B, you are also expanding your understanding of your situation to be able to see greater opportunities.
  3. Find an adaptability mentor. Who inspires you not to give in, but rather to keep going, find a way and be resilient? Whose life story or circumstances show you that we all have the ability of dealing with what life sends us. Use their story and success to stay focused, get back up and find another way.

To be ready for life requires that you be flexible, resilient and adaptable. These are “got to have” abilities to be part of a changing and dynamic world. If one road is blocked, don’t give up – simply tap into your inner genius to find another way.


How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex, with Dr Glenn Miya – RFL041

How to Talk To Your Kids About Sex – Episode Overview

The Internet and technology has brought many of the more adult issues right to our kids – even though they aren’t adults. They don’t have the ability, in many cases, how to understand, process or deal with some of the information they connect with – sex, drugs, relationships, social media. As I regularly state, a critical role of our job as parents is to walk with and translate for our kids, the information they get from our world. We can’t protect them constantly, but we can guide them to be prepared and wise when they do encounter things that are challenging or have the potential to disrupt their life and health or adversely influence their choices.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on getting our kids ready for life. My intention is to encourage meaningful conversations with our kids about sex and other things they will encounter in life – before they encounter them – the things that can be confusing, dangerous and difficult for them to understand without our guidance, support and coaching.

Meet our guest Dr. Glenn Miya

How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex With Glenn MiyaDr. Glenn Miya, is a parent and board certified physician as well as a radio host, producer, writer, and speaker on current topics in the world of medicine and wellness. His philosophy to staying well is simple.

“Start with the three fundamentals of health:  proper diet, proper exercise, and proper rest. Years of gymnastics and martial arts taught me that.”

He has been featured by PBS, NPR, CBS radio, and many other new shows and publications.

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. Sex is everywhere – on television, movies, phones, the Internet. Most parents don’t talk about it in a way that relates to their values – so that when their kids encounter it, they know how to place it in a meaningful and healthy way in life.We can help our kids by walking with them and helping them understand and interpret the information they get from their world – to place it wisely – particularly about sex.
  2. Our kids need to understand the mechanics of sex (how bodies work) before they can begin to understand it emotionally. Talk to your kids early (toddlers) about bodies. It helps them see them as natural and normal – before they start to see them sensationalized.
  3. Our discomfort with talking to our kids about sex will direct them to learn about it from the internet, friends and the outside world. This doesn’t ensure that our kids develop a healthy understanding of it for their lives.
  4. We are connection beings. We are modeling and teaching our values about sex and sexuality with our kids from their first moments. Everything about having and raising kids is about connection.
  5. Look for the teachable moments to bring up or deal with issues about sex, health and other meaningful topics. Many times an event, site, word, television show, etc will get your child asking or wondering. This is a teachable moment – tune in to it – don’t miss it.
  6. Most kids overestimate what they know about sex; most parents underestimate what their kids know about sex.
  7. Talking about the mechanics of sex (early education for our kids) is part 1. The more important part is talking about the flood of emotions (feelings) that go along with sex. A solid foundation helps parents talk and deal with the emotions and feelings that come with our maturing kids around dating, sex and relationships.
  8. When we tune in and really pay attention to our kids (and ask them a lot of questions), we discover what they know and think about big issues like sex. We can then assess where they are with things and determine how we can best support and respond – particularly as they get older.
  9. Kids today are more connected with each other because of their constant social media connections. This encourages greater emotional relationships, sooner. Parents need to be aware that many relationships that we see our kids in as virtual (and not emotional), they see as real (and very emotional). This affects how they react.
  10. Sex is part of life. It is important for us to help our kids appreciate, value and trust their feelings and to understand and respect their bodies – and the bodies of others.
  11. Examine your own values and attitudes about sex. This is where most of the embarrassment about sex comes from. Rethink it and assess what needs to change to help you help your kids be wiser about themselves and the way they connect to sex in their lives.

Questions for parents

  1. How are you regularly talking about sex and tough issues with your kids?
  2. What concern or fear do you have in talking to your kids about sex?
  3. How could you involve your pediatrician or physician in preparing to have these meaningful conversations?
  4. What changes do you need to make in your own understanding of sex and being a sexual/connection being that will improve your life?

Tweet this:

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1.    Stop and Notice how you talk to your kids about sex. What are your fears and how will you overcome them?
  2.    Stop and Notice what your kids currently know and think about sex? How can you have a discussion to find this out to determine how to help them develop a healthy and wise understanding of it in their lives?
  3.    Stop and Notice whether you take advantage of the teachable moments to help your kids understand sexuality, sexual behavior and their sexuality. How will you be more tuned in and watching for the times to help them learn from teachable moments?
  4.    Stop and Notice how you are helping your kids stay sane and grounded in a world that has a lot of distractions around sex. How can you help your kids understand this in their world and not be a victim to it?

Sex – it’s everywhere. Our kids see it all the time. Many times we have no idea what they know about it – and whether what they know is healthy, accurate and will help them be ready for life. As parents, we need to own these big conversations even if they make us uncomfortable. Our kids need us to help them develop their understanding of all of what their life shares with them. This way they will be wise and informed in the decisions they make at any point in their lives.

Suggested Resource:

A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About Sex  – by Dr Kevin Leman and Kathy Flores Bell

A resource to talk to your kids about sexParents Often Imagine Their Kids to be Nonsexual Until Their Wedding Night The truth of the matter is that we’re sexual from day one. What are you going to communicate to your kids about this, knowing that they are sexual creatures today? Your kids need you to talk with them about sex. No one else will do. They’ve been discovering their sexuality since the day they were born, but they need you to help them deal with the changes and challenges of puberty. Those conversations that are so vital for your children’s health and happiness don’t have to be difficult if you’re prepared. A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids about Sex helps you build a strong, trust-filled relationship with your son or daughter to prepare you for the intimate talks you need to have when “the changes” hit. And because every child grows in a unique way, this book tells you what to teach but lets you determine when. Inside this book are the tools you need to help your kids not only understand their growing bodies, but also cope with the temptations and social pressures that go with them. Practical, expert, and down-to-earth, A Chicken’s Guide is a powerful resource not only for moms and dads, but also for pastors, counselors, and anyone with a heart for kids.


Help Your Kids Learn How To Dream

Our dreams inspire our imaginations – and our imaginations are the key to constantly improving our lives and our world. As Neville states, “By imagination we have the power to be anything we desire to be.” Dream to imagine, consider and create.

Think of the imagination that shows in the music of Mozart and Beethoven, in the art of Van Gogh and Renoir, in the technology of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, in the philanthropy of Bill Gates and, in the culinary creations of Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. They dreamt, imagined and created. We can do the same.

When given the freedom to dream, we dream in areas that matter most to us. Couple our greatest interests and passions along with our abilities and we are able to move dreams and imaginations into reality. We have what it takes to constantly imagine and improve all that we touch. This is how we create our world and how our kids will create theirs – with both of us remembering it is our responsibility to keep improving our world.

Make dreaming practical

One of the activities I had my class of college entrepreneurship students do was to stop and notice a success, need or challenge about their world on their way to each of my classes. Then once noticed and shared with the class, there are to consider – or dream and to imagine–  some way to make it better. Encouraging them to dream activates their greatest abilities – they dream from their strengths. Big things become possible.

When we ask our kids to stop and notice their world – then dream about what they would want it to be – we invite them to consider what is possible. If we can dream it, we can imagine it. If we can imagine it, we can find a way to create it. As they learn this, they see that they can use it in any situation they experience in life. Dreaming opens the door to big results – to living a life they want and love. Permission to dream is something all parents should give their kids.

How to help your kids dream

Dream with them. Our kids learn more by watching than by listening, so dream with them. Invent and imagine what you want for your life, work, family and relationships. Share your dreams. Share why they are important to you. Invite them in. Not only does this help them learn how to dream, but it builds a powerful personal relationship with them by sharing what is important and personal to you.

Ask a lot of questions. Most parents tell more than they ask – we think it is our job to direct our kids instead of to guide them. When we shift to asking more than telling, we activate their thinking, their creativity and their ability to dream. By asking what they think about something, and inviting them to dream up a way that a challenge goes away or a problem gets solved helps them build their dreaming muscle. Practice makes perfect.

I am sure we have all heard at one moment in our lives that we need get our heads out of the clouds (dreaming) and get your feet on the ground (be practical). Both can survive together. Dream and imagine the direction, goal or objective, then be practical in your plan to achieve it. Teaching this to our kids early can fill their lives with possibilities. By inspiring them to dream and imagine, think of how much larger you have helped to create their worlds. What a gift from a parent…

United We Parent – How to Create A Strong Parenting Team, With Hogan Hilling – RFL034

United We Parent – How to Create A Strong Parenting Team – Episode Overview

You know, even parents who live in the same household don’t always support each other in their parenting. Add to this the fact that about half of all marriages end in divorce and creating a united supportive parenting team, where half of parents don’t live together, has less of a chance of happening. I remember as my ex-wife and I were going through our divorce, we received training in how to unite more in our love and care of our kids and focus less on our differences. And to remember that our kids would be so much better served and be more ready for life if we were able to unite, support each other in our parenting and work together for their benefit. We certainly did that and became both better parents and better people in the process.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on uniting in our parenting. My intention is to show that the more parents work together and support each other in their parenting, them better the results for our kids – the more we can get them ready for life.

Meet our guest Hogan Hilling

Hogan Hilling on what makes a great parenting teamHogan Hilling is a parent, nationally recognized author of eight published parenting books and the Dads Behaving DADLY book series. Hilling has appeared on Oprah and ABC’s The Story of Fathers and Sons documentary. Passionate about parenting and focused on uniting moms and dads in their parenting, Hogan is the Founder of the DADLY Rally – a high-energy rally celebrating dads and their important role in parenting. Hogan lives in Southern California.

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. There is more criticism and judgment than support of parents – both in and out of the house. The best way to create an environment that can get your kids ready for life is to create a parenting team – a partnership – committed to the same goals, allowing for different ways to achieve the goals.
  2. The greatest reason for the lack of unity in parenting is a lack of clear and authentic personal connection between parents. For the team to be created, parents need to increase their communication, connection and interest in each other – to allow what is best in each parent to surface, and for parents to discuss how they want to parent, guide and support their kids. Without a clear, shared vision, parents are unable to create a united parenting approach.
  3. Parents parent best when they connect to what is best in them. Many judgments come from one parent expecting the other parent to act in the conventional dad or conventional mom way. Modern parents tap into and use their best abilities as either the mom or the dad – and the other parent sees and supports each parent being their best.
  4. Make an agreement to support each other in your parenting – NO MATTER WHAT. Disagreements about parenting approaches and methods should not be discussed in front of the kids.
  5. Be supportive and watch for what each parent does right. We are more tuned in to being critics instead of raving fans.
  6. Creating a team approach is critical in all parenting, but it takes more effort and focus when the parents are not in the same house. Parallel parenting is when the rules in effect at one household are in effect at the other. This creates a saner and more balanced environment for the kids. Though parents may no longer get along – resulting in a relationship breakup/divorce – work to make your kids the focus of your parenting – and keep your personal issues about the other parent to yourself. Kids internalize what they hear and see in the interactions between parents.
  7. Divorce is a flashpoint for keeping a sane and consistent environment for kids. Commit to keeping the kids out of the conflict, commit to working together when it comes to raising the kids, commit to creating consistent living arrangements or life rules between households (parallel parenting). Put the child’s interests first. Saying negative things about the other partner or spouse is hurtful and challenging for kids, and creates future emotional challenges.

The Dadly Rallyparenting team dadly rally logo

Hogan Hilling is the founder of the Dadly Rally – a high-energy and educational rally celebrating and appreciating the role of dads in parenting. The first of many Dadly Rallies will be hosted on July 16, 2016 in Los Angeles. Once the Dadly Rallies are underway, watch for the Amazing Mom Rallies. Find out more information including registering to attend the one-day event at

Some question for parents:

  1. Do you feel united in the way you currently parent your kids?
  2. Do you act as a united team in your parenting your kids?
  3. What greatness and strong parenting attributes do you see in yourself and in the other parent?
  4. How often do you and the other parent discuss or talk about what is working and not working in your current parenting?

Tweet this:

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1.    Stop and Notice how united you are as parents. Do you support and encourage each other in your parenting or are you judgmental and critical?
  2.    Stop and Notice how your parenting is affecting your kids. Are you unified and consistent in your parenting or do your kids know how to play each of you?
  3.    Stop and Notice how united you are as parents in a divorce situation. Do you work unselfishly for the benefit of the kids, or do you let your relationship issues impact your ability to create a stable and consistent parenting approach?

Parenting is a team sport. Learning to see the greatness and abilities in each of the parents can help you become more supportive of each other. From this place, an improved conversation can happen about how to parent – so that kids receive the best parenting possible. You are their guides, support and coaches to get them ready for life. A united team approach to parenting improves the quality of this process

Suggested Resource:

The Dadly Way – 10 Steps to More Active Fathering and More Active Parenting – by Josh Misner and Hogan Hilling

The dadly way parenting teamIt is time for fathers to become more mindful in our approach to families, so that we might carve out the best possible future for our children, as well as their children. To do so, we must parent with presence, on purpose, today. From dealing with the ego, to calling for an end to the parenting wars, from learning how fatherhood has evolved, to knowing where it is heading, and from learning to listen deeply, to becoming more mindful parents, The Dadly Way provides a meaningful look at modern fatherhood.

Creating Stability In Periods of Family Change, with Nancy Fagan – RFL033

Creating Stability in Periods of Family Change – Episode Overview

The statistics share that about half of marriages end in divorce. Many other families are affected by business travel, military deployment or even parent incarceration – all can upset the stability and pulse of the household. How do you create an environment to get your kids ready for life when things around you are changing? And, how do you work together to provide consistent, loving support for your kids when your emotions are challenged by life’s situations? Big questions that need answers to help us help our kids progress successfully to adulthood.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on families interrupted by change or distance. My intention is to share some great information to help those in this situation create a constant, stable environment that has all parties unified in their parenting to stay focused on helping their kids get ready for life.

Meet our guest Nancy Fagan

Nancy Fagan is the CEO of Fairy Good Heart LLC.™ She provides parenting tools and resources to help parents and children thrive in times of separation due to divorce, military deployment, business travel, mental health issues, addictions, prison or foster care. She is a nationally recognized divorce and family relationship expert, a contributing writer for the Huffington Post, and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Romance, Desirable Men: How to Find Them and Fables of Fairy Good Heart: Divorce—A Parent’s Love Lasts Forever.

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  • There are two types of situations that separate families
    1. Physical separation:
      1. Kids starting school, camp, daycare, school event – events that take the kids away from the parents that can be anxiety-causing.
      2. Business travel – parents who leave for work like truck drivers, merchant marines, military deployment – where work keeps parents away from family.
      3. Life changes – divorce, illness, incarceration, financial pressures, immigration – intentional or unintentional events that separate kids and parents.
    2. Emotional separation:
      1. Where parents are emotionally unavailable due to illness, addiction, depression, attending to another child (special needs).
      2. Where parents are emotionally unavailable due to technology (phone, Facebook, television), always work focused, preoccupation with status or money, personally disinterested in kids (step kids, etc).

Both types of separations create instability at home. Some are more extreme. The first way to address this to be able to create a stable and consistent environment for your kids is to NOTICE – to see which of these situations is affecting which of your kids (all kids are different and respond differently to separations). Being observant is critical to noticing when things are unstable and affecting the development of the kids.

  • Dealing with family change as parents
    • Remember you are affected by some of the situations affecting the family: divorce, separation, illness, depression, addiction, etc). Focusing on what you need to stay sane and calm is critical to being able to provide a stable environment for your kids.
    • Know and watch your triggers in stressful situations – like a parent dealing with running the household while another parent travels, is deployed, is incarcerated, etc. What help can you get with the daily tasks and what ways do you make time for your own mental health?
    • Sometimes a tough current situation can be solved by seeing the longer view – that what is a struggle today is getting you or the family ready for better, saner, calmer times ahead can help parents deal with the stress of separation or change – this could include job relocation, going to school while working and parenting, jobs with significant travel, military deployment, etc.
  • Dealing with family change affecting the kids
    • Tune in and pay attention to when the kids are feeling any kind of physical or emotional separation – be aware and responsive.
    • Identify what is causing the separation response and create a plan right away with the child. This could be a parent that is always on the computer or phone and needs to create times in the day to be available. It could be a parent that works away from the area and is around only on weekends, and makes a more significant effort to make more time with the kids on the weekend.
  • Divorce is a flashpoint for keeping a sane and consistent environment for kids. Commit to keeping the kids out of the conflict, commit to working together when it comes to raising the kids, commit to creating consistent living arrangements or life rules between households (parallel parenting). Put the child’s interests first. Saying negative things about the other partner or spouse is hurtful and challenging for kids, and creates future emotional challenges.
  • Tune in, be observant, really listen and pay attention to what is happening, change what you can change, be intentional in your response to keep or provide some sort of balance, develop your support system to stay resilient as you handle or deal with the change.

Some question for parents:

  1. Are you a distracted parent (for any reason) – unavailable to your kids?
  2. What do you do to close the distance gap if you are separated from your kids for any intentional or unintentional reason?
  3. How are you keeping your kids first if you are in a divorce or adversarial situation with a spouse?
  4. Do you take into account the impact on the family and kids as you make life decisions and choices?

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Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice how you are a distracted parent – what ways do you get locked into your world and miss critical signals from, or time and connection with your kids?
  2. Stop and Notice if your family is dealing with a physical separation. What can you do to make it easier and more stable for the kids?
  3. Stop and Notice if any of your kids are dealing with any emotional separations. What can you or any member in the family do to help in this situation?
  4. Stop and Notice how you treat your ex-spouse or partner – knowing that your kids can be affected by any mean or hurtful behavior. How can you focus on the kids and unite with your ex to make their lives as stable as they can be?

Life does come at us fast. As parents, we need to be tuned in and watching how this fast world is affecting our kids. The more observant we become, the more information we have to decide what to do to help smooth out some of life’s rough spots – to give our kids a stable, consistent and loving environment to grow up in. How we start them out influences how they move through life.

Suggested Resource:

The Five Love Languages – The Secret to Love That Lasts
– by Gary Chapman

family change resourceFalling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge! How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life

In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.

The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful. Updated to reflect the complexities of relationships today, this new edition reveals intrinsic truths and applies relevant, actionable wisdom in ways that work.

Includes a His and Hers Personal Profile assessment so you can discover your love language and that of your loved one.

Sometimes The Best Thing A Parent Can Say Is Nothing

Parents tell. It’s what we do. We have been on the planet longer than our kids so we think we know what they need and how they need it. Over-parenting – our parents did this. Their parents did this. It’s easy to see why it still happens.

And I’ll agree that there are times when telling is important. These include keeping our kids safe, developing a sense of right/wrong and values, and giving them some grounding in beliefs. We are their first line of defense, solution and encouragement – at least when they are young.

But as they grow I am more of an advocate of the mantra: stop telling, start asking. Asking engages our kids – it gets them involved in thinking about their perspectives, ideas, thoughts and values. It helps them become aware of what abilities they have – the tools they will rely on to make it through life.

Telling and over-parenting doesn’t help your kids

A critique of many educators is that parents tell and do too much for their kids. Over-parenting creates kids who are unable to solve, assess and think for themselves – their “superparents” swoop in to help them with homework, activities, decisions and most other things. We don’t do our kids any favors by trying to eliminate all the strife and challenge from their lives. We do a better service by training them how to solve what the world sends them – to tap into their abilities, use their brain and figure things out.

Sometimes our kids need us to say nothing

I think there is one more level of improved parenting. What if the best thing we could say as parents were nothing – to let our kids sort through the information all by themselves instead of with our continual guidance, commentary and input? Great that we move from telling to asking, but what if sometimes we just stopped all the talk to give them the attentive space, encouraging them with our presence and supportive body language, to let them work on their challenges on their own to develop resilience and awareness of their own success abilities.

See, many times our kids just need uninterrupted time to sort through their ideas – to listen to their own voice – to keep working uninterrupted in order to get it on their own. As parents, we seem either be uncomfortable watching them struggle or are not good with the quiet and we jump in to help them. Too much helping can make a problem for them in the future – they don’t learn how to stick with something, figure it out and rely on themselves. They can always request help, the way we can always say, “Give it another couple of minutes and see what you come up with.”

Sometimes being a great parent is letting them work through things and remaining quiet. We don’t have all the answers – or their answers. When we create the space for them to solve things on their own, they quickly learn that they are capable and do not need to default to parental aid. They don’t see this as an option if we always are guiding, commenting or telling them what to do.

What a gift we give our kids when we learn how to shift from telling to asking, and from asking to staying quiet – to allow them as they grow to handle the things in their lives. Sure, it takes time to decide which response is right. But I have learned that whatever your default behavior (most likely it is to tell), try to ask and try to just stay quiet. Notice it. Try it. See what happens. You will see your kids discover their talents and use them to build their confidence. This is what it takes to get them ready for life.

How To Love Your Kids, Even When They Drive You Crazy

Raising kids is easily one of the toughest – and best – jobs. Few other roles can make us cry with appreciation and shriek with aggravation in the same two minutes. Parenting is like a Dickens novel – it can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times. But what if there were something we could focus on in those tougher times that remind us how to be passionate about parenting and still love our kids?

In talking with thousands of parents over the past many years, I think I can summarize their collective perspective in how to still love our kids even when they drive us crazy. Try to remember these 3 things as you look into their eyes and want to shake your head in disappointment, frustration or anger. Hopefully these will help you stay focused on the power, value and benefits of being a parent.

  1. Our kids are a work in process. No matter the age, these beings are figuring out how to be human in our world. Our process of learning is one of trial and error. We try things – some work out, some don’t. Sometimes it looks like a wonderfully behaved kid as you stop to chat with a neighbor, or a kid in meltdown mode in the cereal or cookie aisle at the grocery store (and this isn’t just when kids are little…). We learn how to be in our world based on the feedback we get. We are always learning because there are always new situations. It happens to us; it happens to us. How can seeing that your child is a work in process, help you not be disappointed when things with them aren’t perfect
  1. Our kids have amazing and unique potential that is our job to help them discover and develop it. Our kids are unique – even those in the same family. No two of us are alike – that means they each will have something unique and amazing about them. They each will be good at and love some things and not others. They will each have potential that doesn’t look like any other. Some will be great in math, others will soar in technology. Some will love animals and others will want to live in the mountains, or paint, or build a business, or give tattoos, or act. Some will want to travel and others will want to live next door. Each is different and their uniqueness is their guidepost to finding their way in today’s world of choices. Our greatest role is to help them see what is amazing about them and help them learn how to build their lives around what they do best and are most interested in. They then can soar, fly and become the greatest versions of themselves, without regard to who we want them to be. How can you remember that your role is to help your child discover, develop and live what is best in him, and to use it to find his way in today’s world?
  1. Our kids teach us as much as we teach them. Don’t see this as a one-sided relationship; our kids have so much to share back with us. Tune in to what they say, do and notice – they are great at reminding us what we forgot. As we became adults, we lost a lot of the love of life – of showing up and living full out, of appreciating the little things, of noticing the important things. We learned to fit in instead of to stand out. They can remind us of what matters in life, because our world has changed our priorities for us. They can help us return to ourselves in the way that we can help them find their way in our world. Seems a great partnership. What do you regularly learn from your kids?

When your kids are challenging, stop and notice them. Look at their potential. Look at how they are still evolving. And look at what they have to teach you. In that moment, you can shift from the worst of times to the best of times.

What an amazing role we have to help another human being discover, develop and live who they really are. With such a great mission, why would you expect it wouldn’t have any challenges? Keep your cool and remember you are helping another amazing being find their way, even when they drive you crazy.

Energize Your Kids With Family Adventures, With Larry Hagner – RFL10

Family Adventures Episode Overview

In this episode, Larry Hagner, founder of The Good Dad Project, joins Jay to share how parents can activate, engage, energize and connect with their kids by creating family adventures.

As always, consider leaving a review for us on iTunes. Here is the link for instructions.

How do you make the most of family time?

Commit to adding family adventures to your days and weeks.

Adventures don’t have to be extravagant – they just need to be something out of the ordinary. This is important for a couple of reasons:

  1.    Adventures keep things interesting – it changes things up and gets rid of the boredom.
  2.    Adventures introduce us and our kids to new and different things – we expand our world.

Attention and Intention

Each week at Ready4Life we focus on attention and intention. So for this show our attention is on how to make time for family this summer and our intention is that we use that time to create family adventures.

Meet My Guest Larry Hagner

Larry Hagner and his boys getting ready for more family adventuresIn this episode we connect with the adventure-maker himself, Larry Hagner. Larry is a passionate father of three boys and the creator of The Good Dad Project. As a father who travels for work, he is committed to making the days and moments of life special for his family – and has some great ideas on how to make life interesting and an adventure.

How to connect to Larry Hagner:

Episode’s Takeaways

Daily adventures

  1. Start small – do things out of the ordinary. Image new things to do with the regular things – for example, rethink dinner. What new thing can you eat, where could you eat, who could be involved in preparing it, what could you read about so you can tell stories about it as you eat together?
  2. Ask good questions. What new and fun things happened in the day? What was the greatest thing you heard today? What was the funniest thing you saw today? In addition to getting everyone included, it helps everyone expand what they notice. This gets them good at watching for places to have adventures.

Weekly adventures

Involve everyone in thinking about how to make each day more exciting.

  1. Identify great things in the area and go do them.
  2. Change things up one day a week in something like bed times, bedtime process, dinner, breakfast, etc.
  3. Make a commitment to be outside more during the summer – and make the outside time a family event – Frisbee, kickball, family walks, etc.

Once a year adventures

  1. Larry shared that he takes each of his kids on a special one-on-one adventure each year. They discuss where to go, what to do and then they document it with tons of pictures. It can be near or far based on time and resources. Just make it different, one-on-one and exciting.

To have adventures in life, you have to go create them. Use the collective genius of your family to think up ways of adding more excitement and adventure to all of the places in your life. Expanding your world is how to Get Your Kids Ready For Life.

The Dad's Edge Course On Family AdventuresGreat Offer From Larry

Larry offered a special 30% discount off his new Dad’s Edge online course. Click here to see the course. This link has the discount already applied. Get the $27 course for $19 for being a Get Your Kids Ready For Life listener.

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice 3 things that would be great adventures for your family. Why? How could you make them happen?
  2. Stop and Notice what makes life exciting and adventuresome to you? What are two things you could do in the next month to build more adventure into your life?


Suggested Resources

Teen Life – Great website that has powerful and meaningful information for teens and parents. Here is their mission:

Our mission is to make it simple for teens (along with their parents and educators) to develop a meaningful personal experience portfolio, no matter the makeup of their individual interests, talents and resources.

Check out their site and stay connected to their blogs. They write great, practical and meaningful things that teens and parents need to know.

15 Free Apps to Help With College Prep

As the title shares, here is a link worthy of your time. The apps range from finding colleges, learning about the culture at colleges, to arranging your visits at college campuses. Great one for both parents and students to review together.