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.

Do You Use Labels To Make Yourself Right And Others Wrong?

Democrat. Republican. Gay. Straight. Single mom. Divorced Dad. Middle class. Celebrity. Millionaire. Extremist. Loser. Athlete. Nerd. Retiree. Smart. Stupid.

Labels – we use them everywhere. Most of the time we use them to separate ourselves from others – to create a “them” and an “us.” We are right, they are wrong. We are good, they are bad. If you are Christian you are right, if you are Muslim you are wrong. If you are straight you are normal, if you are trans or gay you are abnormal. If you follow the New England Patriots you are good, if you follow the Denver Broncos there is something wrong with you. Labels show how different we are from each other in ways that don’t matter – they distract us from seeing how we are similar in ways that do matter. Labels can create judgments.

We are people, not labels

Remember that behind every label is a human – a person looking to find his or her way in life, connecting to a life that matters, to be happy, successful and to love his or her life. From our basic human nature, we share many of the same wants and desires – success, love, socialization, support, connection, fun. Without the labels (and their corresponding judgments), we are better able to focus on the shared values instead of those that somehow separate us. With this awareness of our similarities, we become more open and accepting – to seeing the distinct value in others – instead of focusing on our differences. We realize that our success in life is in our collaboration, in our learning to see the greatness in others and to work to connect all of us to what is great in us. This is how we coexist in a world that needs all of our abilities to find our way and build a world that values all of our lives.

We know we are different – it is intentional. On a planet of 7 billion people, our uniqueness is the key to our finding our own way in the world – of connecting what is best in us to the places and opportunities in our world.

Assigning labels distracts us from seeing and connecting to what is best in each us – labels can make us feel like we don’t fit, don’t belong or that there is something wrong with us. Distracted from our greatness, we show up small to our world, our lives and relationships. We hide what we don’t want others to see – we want to be normal in their definition of normal, when in fact, normal, right and good is personal. We decide this for ourselves. My normal is not your normal. It is the labels that can keep us from discovering what is great in us – and bringing it to our world and accepting ourselves as normal, right and okay as we are. It is the labels that distract us from living who we really are and building our lives around what we do and love best.

Labels can destroy our self-esteem

One simple label delivered can make us second guess who we are. We spend much of our adult life undoing the labels we took on early in life. Stupid, non-athletic, gifted, fag, genius – made us think things about ourselves that came from the judgmental perceptions of others. They said it. We heard it. We believed it. As Don Miguel Ruiz shares in his book, The Four Agreements, “The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think and thereby to create the events in your life. You can speak. The world is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword, it has two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you. All the magic you possess is based on your word.”

What labels do you use with others – in the workplace, in life, in your political discussions, in your church, with your kids? How do these labels encourage and expand others’ view of themselves – or limit and demean them?

Babies don’t have labels – as they grow, we teach them labels. If we have been taught to use labels then we can learn to stop using labels. Simply remember how it feels to be labeled as something you felt were true or valuable for you, but that others didn’t agree with. How did this distract you from realizing and living your greatest abilities – your gifts? How did this make you rethink who you are and how you want life to be for you?

We are different – as it should be. Different isn’t bad – it’s just different. Difference creates opportunities. Learning to appreciate differences can be learned the way we learned to not value differences.

Fighting to be who you really are is a waste of energy. We should all use our energy to develop into the best version of ourselves, not to navigate around the labels and judgments from others. Look confidently in the mirror and commit to being the best version of yourself – ignore the labels. And if you find yourself labeling the world around you, notice it and commit to change.

Wisdom to help you be ready for life…

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.