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.

The 5 Best Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

This week marks 4 years since my dad passed away. Though we have long accepted his passing and have moved on with our lives, I am reminded of the lessons the significant people in our lives share with us. So as my family and I specifically remember Dad this week, I share his remarkable wisdom – guidance that helped 6 kids in a big Italian family find their way, own their lives and make their impact in the world. May his wisdom inspire you to be the guides and coaches for your kids – and to come up with your life lessons that you pass on to help your kids find their way in our wild and wonderful world.

Dad’s Best Life Lessons

  1. Know who you are and be true to it – no matter what. You are each born with intrinsic greatness – gifts – that are unique to you. You should avidly discover and live these gifts – and be proud of what makes you, you. Learn to listen to and trust your own voice more than the voices of others. Stand for what you believe. Be courageous. And always allow others to be true to who they are.
  1. Find some way of doing what you do best everyday, and work to get better at it. Build your work and life around what you are good at and passionate about. Always keep learning, studying and improving. Stay connected to what is going on in your world so you can find your best place to have your greatest impact. The world needs you to be great, not average.
  1. Love each day. You don’t get this day back so treasure it. Love it. Share it. Respect it. Be really present. Live in each moment. Make memories. Accept what comes your way – don’t complain – just make the most of what you get.
  1. Think more of others than yourself. Be there for others – first. Service to others matters. See what you can do to help, inspire, inform, educate or support. Find someone who needs what you do best and share it – openly, gladly and selflessly. You do your best work when you help others do their best work.
  1. Make everything you touch better. Improve everything you touch; make every relationship you are part of better. Find the good everywhere; be the source of good everywhere. Be optimistic, encouraging and supportive. Don’t just talk about being better – do it.

Be someone’s hero

Dad was truly our hero. We found out he was also a hero to so many others as we heard comment after comment in the receiving line at his wake. He was a powerful force for good behind the scenes – no fanfare – no headlines – no spotlight. He didn’t (just) talk about these lessons – he lived them – openly, honestly, humbly and consistently. His life’s values were excellence, integrity, resilience and service. These are now our values.

There are people that come into our lives who share what they know – and our lives become better because of it. They are our heroes, mentors, coaches, teachers and philosophers. They are our leaders, motivators and confidence builders. Sometimes they even show up as our dad.

So how are you sharing great life wisdom with the people in your life? How are you helping your family show up each day – to be really present – to make life an event, and change things for the better in the process? Be your kid’s hero this week by what you say, how you live and what you inspire.

No Way Out – How to Overcome Challenges in Life with Ria Story, RFL021

Inspirational speaker and author Ria Story joins Jay to share how she overcame significant life challenges, to inspire others to be resilient and use what life sends them to grow and be their best.

Overcome Challenges – Episode Overview

Sometimes life feels too big. The things we are given seem insurmountable – how can we see the other side, never mind get to the other side? We have heard a lot of people share the phrase, “it gets better” – and indeed it can. But it takes work to change our perspective as we go through what life sends us to be able to make it through to the other side. Resilience – tenacity – “stick-to-itiveness” – are attributes of those who show up to life and play with whatever it sends them. I love this quote I just heard: “I never lose – either I win or I learn.”

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on life’s tough stuff – its challenges. My intention is that we learn how to develop inner resilience to handle everything life sends – the good And the challenging to learn how to deal with life on its terms and show up on the other side wiser, happier and more connected to who they are.

Meet our guest Ria Story

Overcoming Challenges with Ria StoryRia Story is an author, motivational speaker and leadership coach. She has profound things to share with those going through personal challenges and tragedies, and how to move through and past them – how to leave the victim status in the rear-view mirror. Find her compelling story in her books, Ria’s Story: From Ashes to Beauty and A.C.H.I.E.V.E. You can see all the remarkable things about Ria, her work, strength, resilience and ways she helps others rebound at the following links:

Guest Links:

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. Life sends what life sends – our success in life is our attitude about what happens. Every life experience, no matter how tragic it is or it is perceived to be, contains a lesson. Managing our attitude allows us to learn from every experience. Remember this quote from Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
  2. Tough times are part of the formula of life. When negative things happen, we can feel and act like a victim. As we stay in this space, the feeling of victim gets deeper and more profound. The moment that we see and take ownership of our feelings and attitudes about what is going on in our lives is the moment we start to move past our blocks and to heal.
  3. Parents – be aware of what events and challenges are affecting your kids. How can you show up to support your kids without either adding to the challenge or trying to take the challenge from them. Assess to find ways to support your kids as they work with you or with outside help to better understand the challenge and the ways to navigate around or through it.
  4. Parents – how are you creating the life challenge for you kids? How are your decisions adding more challenge to their days? As you tune in to you and your behaviors, what can you change to address a challenge you are creating, to either reduce it or help your kids deal with it?
  5. Resilience is what it takes to get up when life knocks us down. Help your kids develop their tenacity and resilience by helping them solve their own challenges to see how strong and capable they are when life gets tough.

Some question for parents:

  1. How can you help your kids see how tough and strong they are when confronted with challenges in life?
  2. How can you be a safe and sane voice in a noisy, distracting and challenging world?
  3. How are your behaviors creating challenges for your kids? What should you do about them?
  4. What is your attitude about challenges in your life – do you remain positive and learn/grow from them or do they take you down? How is your approach impacting your kids?

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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 your approach to dealing with the challenges in your life. Do you lose your cool, or do you intentionally maintain a can-do, resilient attitude?
  2.    Stop and Notice how your kids deal with their challenges. What ways can you help them be more successful with their challenges without solving them for them?
  3.    Stop and Notice if you are creating challenges in your kids’ lives. What can you change right now to minimize the challenge?
  4.    Stop and Notice when your kids successfully deal with big events or challenges. How can you draw attention to their success to help them feel validated and courageous?

Life isn’t easy – ever. However, what makes it more difficult is our inability to learn how to deal with it – that wes should maintain instead a positive and optimistic outlook regardless of the event. Remember this quote from Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So, choose to see the benefit in every challenge and share this with your kids – it will be how they will learn to weather any storm that life sends.

Suggested Resource

Ria’s Story: From Ashes to Beauty by Ria Story

Overcoming Challenges with Ria StoryFrom Ashes To Beauty is the unforgettable story and inspirational memoir of a young woman who was sexually abused by her father and rejected by her mother. Determined to not only survive, but also thrive, Ria shares how she was able to overcome the odds and find hope and healing to achieve an abundant life. She shares leadership principles that she applied to find professional success and personal significance, and how she was able to find the courage to share her story to give hope to others around the world.