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.

5 Great Questions You Should Ask Your Kids

Parents tell – it’s what they do. That is until they stop doing it.

For so many of us, we think our job as parents is to tell our kids how to be in life – what to believe, what to do, how to live and on and on. For some reason we think we have our kids’ answers in how they should show up to their world.

The only person who has a perspective about what makes a great, happy, successful and responsible life is ourselves – me for me, you for you, your kids for your kids. Our greatest job as a parent is to help our kids figure this out so that when they decide to move past high school, they have sorted this out and have some clarity on how to meet their world and be happy, successful and responsible in it.

Telling Is Not Asking

If you tell, tell, tell – you don’t help your child, then teen, then young adult – learn how to process, think through the options and choose wisely for who they are. If instead, you ask, ask, ask, you create the environment for your kids to think about and share their thoughts, talents, passions and interests. You both become more aware of what is different, unique and amazing about each of your kids. They gather this information as they sort through their answers to your questions.

Your kids need this information to identify where in today’s world they fit – what career, job, focus and work needs what they do and love best. You need this information in order to know how to help each kid develop into his/her greatest self and find his/her unique way.

The starting point to helping our kids tune in to who they are is to get good at asking more than telling (I like to think that parents tell and coaches ask – so become more like a coach). Here are 5 great (coaching) questions to help get your kids to talk to you, and in the process, help them start to think about themselves and through the events of their lives to discover and develop the clarity to find out who they are and what they want to do in life.

5 Great Questions To Ask Your Kids

  1. What are 3 things people applaud you for?
  2. What was the last thing that didn’t work out the way you wanted – what could you have done instead?
  3. I see that you are struggling with this – what is something that has worked in a previous situation like this that could help you out now? Or, what’s another way to look at this?
  4. If you could spend part (all) of today doing what you love, what would you do?
  5. What do you think is the greatest or most amazing thing about you? How did you discover it and how do you feel knowing this?

You can see that there are thousands of other questions that are in line with these information-gathering and thought-provoking questions. The idea is to get them thinking and talking. So much less of this happens if you come at them with only directions and instructions – you do all their thinking for them.

As our kids age, they need to take their unique and amazing brains out for a spin. Asking questions is the greatest way for them to discover what great abilities they came packaged with (they didn’t get an owner’s manual so you have to help them discover this by helping them see it). The more you ask, the more they think. The more they think, the more information they discover about who they are and what in today’s world fits them. If you do their thinking for them, when it is their turn to show up to the world, they will not know how to make good decisions to be happy, successful and responsible in life.


To Find Your Way In Life, Think Like An Entrepreneur, with Matt Miller – RFL037

To Find Your Way In Life, Think Like An Entrepreneur – Episode Overview

There is a great quote by Buckminster Fuller. He asks, “What is it on this planet that needs doing that I know something about that probably won’t happen unless I take responsibility for it?” So as we guide, support and spend time with our kids, how are we helping them discover what they know about and love doing? Then, how can we help them learn to tune in to their world to see the needs and opportunities to do what they do best? For some it will be starting a family business. Some will find their career of a lifetime and others will focus on improving some aspect of the world. What matters most is that they connect their greatest joy and abilities with a need they identify in their world.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on work and careers. My intention is to help parents help their kids learn to think like entrepreneurs – always watching for opportunities to do and use what they do best to be successful and happy in life.

Meet our guest Matt Miller

Matt Miller on Think Like An EntrepreneurMatt Miller, a previous Air Force pilot, is the President and Founder of School Spirit Vending, a family run business started in 2007 that combines vending and school fundraising. A committed entrepreneur and passionate dad determined to help his kids discover and find their unique way in the world, he integrates his kids in the business to show up successful, professional and making a difference in life.

IMPORTANT! Download Matt’s ebook, Live Your Dreams: The Top 10 Reasons Why You Need to Own A Vending Business.

Find out more about Matt and School Spirit Vending’s franchising program, a way for busy professionals and their families to develop secondary income while raising millions of dollars for education at

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. Learning to tune in to our world – to really see what is in front of us is the key to finding our unique way in life. We can’t see opportunities to do what we do best and to be our best selves if we aren’t good at gathering and assessing information.
  2. Teach your kids to pay attention to the details – to use all of their senses to get good at gathering information about their world. Our world constantly sends us information – just what we need to invent opportunities.
  3. Life gives us information about ourselves – we didn’t get an owners manual. We try things out to find out how they fit – what we rock at and what we stink at. Tuning in to our world is how we try things out and get to know who we really are.
  4. What does the world tell you about you? What environments get you excited and activate your passions – these are signals to you. It is the world saying – do this, land here, try this out. It is the same for your kids.
  5. Each of us has the ability to think like an entrepreneur – to use what we know our ourselves and our world to find opportunities – for work, school and life. It is a skill we all can learn and one we will have to help our kids learn (there are not learning it in school).
  6. Know yourself to know your own voice. This gives you clarity about what is right in today’s world for you – it will help you to not wander in life – but to be intentional in choosing what fits you best.
  7. Help your kids discover their inner voice – what abilities do they shine with? How can you help them see how to apply these abilities in today’s world?
  8. Homeschooling can provide kids the ability to pursue their gifts, passions and interests – instead of following an existing established school curriculum. Many schools just push students through the system instead of helping them discover and connect to what is unique and amazing in them. Having a voice in how you help your kids discover and experience their world can expand their awareness and opportunities. (See podcast 14 – Living and Loving Life Your Way – with a family that chose to home school their kids on the road as they sold their house and travel the country seeing everything together).
  9. Right in front of you is a brilliant idea – one that could help you find your way in life (good-fit career or life direction) or to start a business that addresses a need, challenge or opportunity. Remember the Buckminster Fuller quote, “What is it on the planet that needs doing that you know something about that probably won’t happen unless you take responsibility for it?” Learn to think this way and teach your kids to think this way.

Some question for parents:

  1. What would be different if you had known more about yourself years ago –and how can you make knowing themselves a priority for your kids?
  2. What opportunities do you regularly see that need you to take some action on?
  3. How can you help your kids tune in more intentionally to their world – to help them be more connected to the information their world shares with them to help them make better and wiser work and life choices?
  4. What can you do together with your kids to create opportunities – and is there a potential business idea that could involve the entire family?

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:

  •    Stop and Notice what you are good at and passionate about. How can you connect these to applications in your world?
  •    Stop and Notice what your kids are good at and passionate about. How can you help them learn how to connect these to applications in their world?
  •    Stop and Notice the places for business opportunities – the places for you and your family to work on something together.
  •    Stop and Notice how your kids’ school is helping them or not helping them discover, develop and live their unique abilities. How can you step in and have a more active role in this?

Right in front of each of us, all the time, are opportunities. Not all opportunities are for us – so we must know ourselves and our unique abilities (and help our kids know themselves and their unique abilities) to be able to use them to find or create the opportunities that fit them. Tune in. Stop and Notice. Pay attention – then assess what the world is sharing with you. These are life skills – be sure your kids have them.

Suggested Resource:

The 4 Essentials of Entrepreneurial Thinking – What Successful People Didn’t Learn In School by Cliff Michaels

Think Like An Entrepreneur - 4 EssentialsIn The 4 Essentials of Entrepreneurial Thinking, Cliff Michaels takes us on an inspirational journey while capturing the passion and wisdom of extraordinary people. On the cutting edge of life and business strategies for over 20 years, Cliff not only shares his triumphs and tribulations as an entrepreneur, he unleashes a fun system of timeless lessons anyone can follow. Drawing on classic mentors from da Vinci, Edison, and Mozart, to modern moguls like Jobs, Oprah, and Branson, Cliff suggests we all benefit from a real-world MBA – your Master’s in Basic Abilities. This fast-paced book raises the bar for learning success principles.

Apply For College Successfully – What You Need To Know, with Gareth Fowles – RFL029

Apply For College Successfully – What You Need To Know – Episode Overview

For many, going to college is a big part of getting ready for life. Though we feel that getting the college degree to is the key to a better job, or to getting the training needed for a career that both appeals to and fits us, most students or parents don’t know how to choose a major, a school or how to apply for college successfully. This shows up in these statistics:

  •      46% of students who start college, never finish.
  •      On average, 4-year degree takes just under 6 years to complete.
  •      Average student loan debt at graduation is $28k

There are so many decisions that have to be made wisely to choose a college that FITS – that allows your kids to be who they are – and prepares them for a specific career or educational outcome. So, 3 questions:

  1.    How do students create a list of meaningful colleges to apply to?
  2.    What do college admissions offices want to see from or about the student?
  3.    What things should your high school students be doing now to become better or more attractive admissions candidates?

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on college, as a component of being ready for life. College isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, then my intention is to share what college admissions departments want and expect from the applicant, so you can guide and support your kids to better prepare to be accepted to the college of their choice.

Meet our guest Gareth Fowles

Gareth Fowles on how to Apply For College SuccessfullyGareth Fowles is the vice president for enrollment management at Lynn University. A native of S Africa, Gareth has degrees from both Lynn University and Vanderbilt University. His focus is on both student recruiting and retention and actively supports a college environment that allows students to realize their full potential.

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. The greatest help to decide whether to go to college, and then which college, is to know yourself – your talents, passions, values and interests and to know your world – the opportunities that need what you do best. This introduces you to career and job good-fit opportunities in your world. Then you can identify which majors would prepare you for this direction – and then which colleges belong on your application list.
  2. The college preparation and application process is really a four-year process:
    1. Freshman in high school. Start to discover your talents and interests. Investigate careers that appeal. Start to read about colleges, majors and college cultures. Start a broad list of colleges. Pay attention to courses, grades and performance.
    2. Sophomore in high school. Start to define interests and criteria you want in a college. Spend time on college websites. Start to narrow down a list of possible locations, including assessing cost. Choose your high school courses that align to your interest and future career intentions. Pay attention to courses, grades and performance.
    3. Junior in high school. Create a more defined list worthy of college visits – virtual or live. Work to creating a final application list with 3 – 8 college choices. Prepare a list of questions to ask on campus. Identify areas to see or review. Participate in some classes. At high school, focus on grades and taking courses that prepare you for your intended direction.
    4. Senior in high school. Prepare and send applications to final list. Scout all financial aid or scholarship opportunities. Stay in touch with college admissions departments. Finish off year strong.
  3. Most students apply to too many colleges – average is 8 or fewer. With too many colleges on the list, a student will be unable to do the right due diligence to assess the college’s fit. With clarity, 3- 5 is a reasonable amount to have on your final application list.
  4. Choose your college based on its ability to prepare you for where you want to be and what you want to be doing after college.
  5. When considering colleges – in addition to selecting for academics – consider culture, graduation rate, college specialties, ability to study abroad, athletics, student teacher ratio, talent of professors, geography (including urban and a college), faith/beliefs, activities, clubs, alignment with values, etc.  Though the student’s world will dramatically expand once on campus, doing self and career exploration work before the student arrives will help him choose more wisely. Assess whether the college is one that will let the student be who they really are.
  6. Have your student do his own application, essays and have his own voice in all interviews, campus visits and applications. Parents should be collaboratively involved (review, guide and assist), but students must do the work. An admissions team can see through an application completed by someone other than the student. This also encourages our students be independent thinkers and learners
  7. A high school GPA is a better indicator of success than a standardized test. There are now over 850 test-optional colleges – where standardized tests ACT or SAT scores are not required.

Some question for parents:

  1. How can you help your student discover his talents, passions, values and interests?
  2. How can you start a conversation about what careers fit your student – and which fields or directions appeal?
  3. How can you be collaboratively involved in the college investigation, application and admissions process, and not step in and do the work for your student?
  4. How can you help your student develop great study habits in high school to help them perform consistently well – this is the greatest factor in getting in to a college of their choice.

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 what your kids are good at and passionate about. How can this help you help them think about future career directions and the role of college?
  2. Stop and Notice your student’s feeling about college – is it needed for his future career focus? Does he have any interest in having college be part of his future?
  3. Stop and Notice which colleges get your student’s attention. What culture, environment, and other aspects seem to matter to your student?
  4. Stop and Notice how much of the college preparation and application process you are doing for your student. Be sure this is his work to do.

College is a big decision – and therefore it needs an effective planning and preparation process to decide wisely. Stay focused on who the student is and what he wants for life after college to give you guidance about which college, major and environment may serve him best. Be there to support and guide but remember this is his college, career and life, and he is best when he learns how to own it.

Suggested Resource:

Apply to college successfully with this resource: Where You Go - Frank BruniWhere You Go is Not Who You’ll Be – An Antidote To The College Admissions Mania  By Frank Bruni

Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no.

That belief is wrong. It’s cruel. And in WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE, Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.

Bruni, a bestselling author and a columnist for the New York Times, shows that the Ivy League has no monopoly on corner offices, governors’ mansions, or the most prestigious academic and scientific grants. Through statistics, surveys, and the stories of hugely successful people who didn’t attend the most exclusive schools, he demonstrates that many kinds of colleges-large public universities, tiny hideaways in the hinterlands-serve as ideal springboards. And he illuminates how to make the most of them. What matters in the end are a student’s efforts in and out of the classroom, not the gleam of his or her diploma.

Where you go isn’t who you’ll be. Americans need to hear that-and this indispensable manifesto says it with eloquence and respect for the real promise of higher education.



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.

Find Your Song, Sing it Loud

What in today’s world gets your attention? What are your passions, interests and dreams? When you know these, part of the world lights up for you. This is important information – information that helps your find your place in today’s wild world.

It is up to you to determine what in life fits you. And when you find it, do it well. This is what it means to find your song – then sing your song and sing it loud.

So how do you find your song and sing it loud?

Stop and notice what gets your attention. Stop and notice what gets you excited. This is your world talking to you. Then, investigate what opportunities you find in those areas.

Here are 2 examples:

  1. Let’s say you love art. You like to spend your time creating it, seeing it, talking about it; art is for you. How can you build art into your life? What careers need your focus on art (design, creation, type of media)? Remember that organizations need designers for products, marketing, IT, facilities – there is art everywhere.
  1. Let’s say you love connecting with people. You crave social events, find great enjoyment talking to everyone and learn a lot about people when you meet them. How can you build social connections in your life? What careers need your social connection expertise? Remember that any role that connects with people such as HR, marketing, event planning, health services including rehab and physical therapy, etc – could be for you.

To find your song, stop and notice what lights up for you. Then, pay attention to the places that connect you to this passion or interest; they will allow you to connect with something that matters to you. From that place you can seek out opportunities that also align to your abilities and talents.

And when you find what matters most to you, show up big to it. After all, it’s your thing so showing up big should be easy for you.

A word of caution:

The world around you likes to tell you what your song should be. It is critical that you discover it for you to find which song is really yours. You’ll sing off key if you are busy singing someone else’s song (aka living someone else’s life).

Take the time and get the guidance to be clear about what is your song. Find it. Then sing it loud.