A Message to Your Kids: You Are Just Right As You Are

Our world speaks at us. It tells us what is valuable, what success looks like, what to believe, what to drive, how to live and on and on… With so many “directives” coming at us, how do we help our kids discover, develop and live who they really are?

We do it by helping them realize that they are just right as they are and that they should listen more to their own internal voice than the voices of others.

One of our greatest roles as a parent is to help our kids discover who they really are, and to accept it and be proud of it. It may show up as a passion for animals or technology, music or helping others. It may show up in an ability to write poetry, run a company, connect with others or solve complicated engineering challenges. It may show up as being gay, black, an immigrant, special needs or just different. We are who we are and that is just fine. The sooner we help our kids accept this, the sooner they will stop trying to be something they are not and spend more of their time and energy delivering their certain special “something” to their lives and our world.

Each of us is different for a reason

Our differences are to help us deal with whatever life sends us. We all have abilities that when used, can deliver something special to the moments of our lives – and for the benefit of all of us. We can self-realize with the support of our parents and families to be who we are born to be – to figure it out, accept it and to live it boldly and unapologetically.

Many times we are more concerned with what it looks like to have a son or daughter who embraces his/her uniqueness. Instead of supporting them to be the best version of their unique selves, we pressured them to change, comply and blend. Be like the others. Go and do what they do. Study where they study. Work where the work. Make your parents proud by acting like others or by living to the standards that others set.

Here is the question

Why is it more important to raise unhappy kids who are encouraged to look and act like others than to focus on helping each kid become happy and successful by living a life that makes sense for who they really are?

I spent most of my life all twisted and fearful as the gay kid in my big Italian family. So much effort went into trying to to pretend to be “normal” or hide that it took me so many more years to discover and develop my greatest abilities and connect myself to a career and a life that really fit me. With the distraction and effort of trying to be someone or something I wasn’t, so much of my life was spent looking over my shoulder – not moving forward – not living into my greatest abilities and using them to make a profound difference in my world and life. Pretending and hiding shortchanges our lives and our world.

You are just right as you are

Help your kids accept and be who they really are and embrace what makes them different and unique. They will be better able to live lives that they love and to deliver to the world those things that only they can deliver. Remember, they certainly can’t deliver something great when being an average copy instead of a truly amazing original.

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.

How To Help Your Kids (and You) Embrace Your Uniqueness, with Jay Forte – RFL039

Jay goes solo in this episode and shares two of his classic long poems – stories to help us learn how to teach our kids to embrace their uniqueness and live who they really are.

How To Help Your Kids (and You) Embrace Your Uniqueness  – Episode Overview

Discovering and living who we really are is difficult. Partly we didn’t get an owners manual to help us define our talents, passions and values – and we certainly didn’t get one for our kids. So welcome to the greatest challenge and opportunity in parenting – guiding and coaching our kids to discover, develop and live who they really are – to discover and live their uniqueness. By doing this we help our kids tap into their inner greatness – their inner talents, strengths, passions and interests. Aware of and confident in these, our kids (and ourselves) have the information we need to look through today’s world to identify the places that need what we do and love best. This is how to help our kids find their way in our wild world.

I thought I would do something completely different in this show. Instead of sharing parenting experts and their perspectives, I thought I would share with you two things I have written that help us see that to help our kids we need to be (and to teach them to be) aware, creative and resilient – to see what makes them unique and to value and treasure it instead of wanting to downplay it.

In this episode, I read two of my long form poems. These aren’t normal poems – they are poems in the style of Dr Seuss – a longer, rhyming poem with a message and moral. The moral in each is to discover, value and live who you really are, without regard to what others say. I find these are a great way to help you have this important conversation with you kids because they live in a loud, push and “blend-in” world – a world that values them more when they look and act like others than when they be true to who they are and be authentic.

So here is what I hope happens.

I hope you listen to both poems and their stories and messages move you. And then I hope you listen to them with your kids.

The goal is to expand our awareness that our kids are just perfect as they are – that each is unique and will be happiest and most successful in life when we help each discover and become who they really are. Fight the urge to plan out your kids’ lives. Instead, walk with them to help them translate what they see and experience in their days to know how to find what fits them in life. This is a process – it isn’t done once and its over. But the starting point is discover what is different, amazing and awesome about ourselves, then tuning in to our world to find ways to bring our unique and personal best to all we do.

Poem #1 Be Who You Are and Live What You Believe

It is the story of Michael, someone who sees the world different from his family. They at first try to make him act more like his siblings, until he realizes and helps them understand that his way of seeing the world has great value for him and for them. [ Listen @ 00:06:55]

Poem #2 You’re Great and You’re Awesome, Just As You Are

TGZ_Box_4This is the story of Trent, someone who was born into a town that dictates how people are to look. During the poem he discovers that his value and worth are not in how he looks, but in who he is down deep. He then shares what he learns to change others. [ Listen @ 00:15:45]  Download this poem

I hope you resonate with message in both of the poems – and poems are just one way I like to share some of my thoughts.

I remember hearing from my parents when we were kids that we each came packaged with all the right stuff to have a most amazing life. It is our responsibility to discover what we came packaged with and to use it to build lives that matter and lives that let us use our greatest abilities and gifts in order to make our difference in our world.

There is a great reason why we are all so different – so that we each can find our unique place and do what it is we do best. If we were all the same or if we all just blend into doing what everyone else does, our world would be pretty boring.

So there is room for those who want to repair engines, write poetry, design buildings, understand earthquakes, teach children, run businesses, study the stars or the oceans, coach people through their challenges or the other thousands of ways to do what you do best in our world.

How will you be your kid’s guide – to help him or her see who they are, what they rock at, what they love and what opportunities in their world fit them? This, from my view is the greatest things we can do for our kids and is the purpose of our parenting.

Help your kids be confident in who they are – be authentic and true. Remember, you are great and awesome just as you are and so are they.

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About Jay Forte

Jay Forte on UniquenessJay is a business and motivational speaker, certified CEO, family and leadership coach, author, adjunct college professor and nationally ranked Thought Leader. He provides talent, strength-based and mindfulness tools to help people discover, develop and live what is best in them to achieve exceptional personal and professional results.

He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World. His new books, Improvisational Parenting and The Rhodium Rule are due out in 2016/17.

He is the host of the weekly podcast for parents, Get Your Kids Ready for Life; he blogs and writes for many national sites and is routinely on telesummits, radio and television shows talking about personal and professional potential, purpose and performance.

When not teaching, coaching CEOs, helping today’s parents help get their kids ready for life, or helping people seek out or create great life opportunities, he writes, gardens and cooks (as any good Italian) in Ft Lauderdale, FL.

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 authentic you are. Do you know what makes you unique and amazing and use it to guide your decisions? Or, do you see that you blend with others instead of standing out?
  2. Stop and Notice how you are helping your kids discover who they really are. What makes each of your kids different and amazing? How are you helping them develop this instead of downplay it?
  3. Stop and Notice if you are directing your kids’ life choices. How can you give your kids more of a voice in their directions and paths? How can you encourage them to learn more about themselves and support them to be who they really are?
  4. Stop and Notice how you talk to your kids about who they are. Consider using the poems in this podcast as a way to start a conversation about being authentic, true and honest – for both of you.

We are born just right – but many times we see that things our kids are born with don’t fit our definition of what we want for them. Giving our kids the guidance and support to discover and develop what is best in them creates greater and more meaningful options for our kids in life. They can then show up happier and more successful when they are connected to areas that they are good at and passionate about. As the expression goes – be an amazing original, not an average copy. Help your kids live who they really are – after all they are great and awesome, just as they are.