Book Recommendation – The Awakened Family

I’ve written before about transitions in parenting. And still, as my boys are turning a corner from kids to young adults, it’s been fascinating watching them develop their own interests and desires. All of a sudden they are making their own meals, decisions, and developing habits outside my direct control.

Their growth is so rapid that I worry sometimes that I’m not growing and adapting quickly enough to continue to meet their needs and give them space to contribute to the family as a whole.

As the boys grow and change, the entire family will turn a corner. All of a sudden we have four opinionated, confident, divergent, and independent people living together. It makes me wonder why we put labels on periods in our lives like “kid” and “young adult.” Will their ideas about our family carry less weight over the next ten years because their parents pay the bills? I’m not sure I want to live with two people for the next ten years who contribute to the family out of a sense of compliance. I don’t want to come home to “employees” either.

So that corner I mentioned will either be dangerously sharp with multiple switchbacks or intentionally smooth with a few bumps over the next decade. It’s coming either way.

I may be rambling, and that’s because I read an exceptional book recently that sparked much thought in how I want to be intentional and be sure I’m growing as a person as much as the boys are these next ten years. And even more important, that as a family we are growing into an ensemble rather than expecting the boys to conform to repeating our experiences and expectations.

I can’t recommend The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabari enough for families with young people moving from single to double digits. It will make you think about the role you play in your children’s behavior. It’s humbling to read at times, but if you can remove your ego for a moment, it helps you realize the control you truly own. The punchline though is that the control lies only with your reactions. We can’t change our kids. We can change our own reactions to what they do or say, but that is the end of our locus of control. After reading this book, I believe understanding that limit will give the kids more space to evolve rather than spending their time trying to predict my reactions to their actions. It will be a work in practice.

Family life is beautiful and complex, and I would love to hear other ideas in the comments from folks on making that transition from living with truly dependent young children, to living with young people who need agency and partnership.

Thanks for reading.

Inch and Miles – Book Recommendation

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I was just out of high school when I read my first John Wooden book. His simple beginnings and the clarity he provides through his Pyramid of Success consistently stick with me more than any other definition of success.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”

-Coach John Wooden

His work continues to circle back into my life at important times and the latest instance was last week teaching third graders at Anderson Mill Elementary. The campus has an apprenticeship program where various professionals come in to work with the class while their teachers collaborate on upcoming lessons and assessments. Over the last four years, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing Wooden’s message through his children’s book Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success.

When Lincoln and Harrison were born we read the poems to them each evening before bed and each block on the pyramid serves as an effective benchmark to refer to when we are working on skills, like self-control, determination, or cooperation.

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I can’t recommend this book enough as a foundational bedrock to help our kids discover that success isn’t having trophies or toys, but rather trying to be the best you can be!

Patience, FOF, FOMO, And A 9-Year-Old

My oldest son turned the corner to 18 recently. Nine years old seems so young, but considering the blur that was the last nine, it’s hard to believe the next will be any different. Should I be doing more? Less? Am I more worried about failing or not doing everything I can? Fear of Failure (FOF) or Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?

I look at him and can’t imagine loving anyone any deeper. He is me. I want so much for him. I see a game plan and at the same time, I recognize that even at nine he is he. Even now, it’s not my game plan. It’s his. The goal can’t be to give him the same experiences and thoughts I had as a kid. It’s not to turn him into a better version of myself.

I thought I was closer to figuring him out, and now we’re turning a new corner. Now the choice is to either lean in and allow this corner help build positive momentum and embrace the ambiguity the next nine years are sure to bring. Or we can resist and allow the corner to take longer and pull us apart.

He came to mind while recently listening to this Dharma talk from Jack Kornfield. He was sharing about the perfection of patience. Helping us to think about the growth of others and ways we can approach them with the same patience we yearn for ourselves. And of course, if you have ever listened to more than a few minutes from Jack you came out the other end better for it.

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He shared the parable: Frog and Toad Together: The Garden, by Arnold Lobel.

Toad learns how hard, but necessary it is to leave seeds alone if you want them to grow. You can’t yell, poke, and prod at seeds and expect them to grow of course. Make sure they have good soil, water, and sunlight. Beyond that, our interventions may get in the way rather than help. Maybe doing less is better. But how do we reconcile doing less with our insatiable thirst for more? Our need to do something in order to feel better about ourselves. When do interventions get in the way of personal development? It seems that so often our FOF leads to over-intervention. I fall prey to this need to intervene both at work and at home. At some point, our interventions turn selfish. At some point, are we intervening to make ourselves feel better that we did everything we possibly could rather than giving the other person the time and space to grow?

Perhaps it’s this need to act that elevates our FOF and FOMO and in the end often a feeling of discontent. Tara Brach and Jack recently forced me to confront both. Thank you so much. Tara has been my companion through many life passages and I encourage you to find a quiet hour sometime soon to listen to any of her talks or read her books.

Her recent talk on this topic is below, and the podcast is here.

Is it Fear of Failure and Fear of Missing Out? A fear of failure as a father and fear of missing out as a father and human. I think it’s both and neither. The older I get the more I realize it is everything at the same time.

Perhaps this struggle with FOF and FOMO is something new he and I can bond around. I see both in his eyes as he struggles with turning the corner from kid to pre-teen at the same time I’m working through the passage from my third to fourth decade. I’m not sure anything is more useful to help him learn over the next nine years than the ability to recognize these two emotions. Recognizing the anxiety these two emotions creates and cultivating the ability to work within it will carry much more weight and continue to pay dividends long after GPA or class ranks are long forgotten.

Thanks for listening.