054: Helping Our Kids Learn from Their Mistakes: A Conversation with Mom and New York Times Best-selling Author Jessica Lahey

Welcome!

To listen, scroll down to the bottom of this post and press the triangular “play” button.

About this episode:

Several years ago, today’s guest wrote what was for me an earth-IMG_1927shattering piece in the Atlantic Monthly (read it here). Jessica Lahey’s article discusses an experience she had as a middle school teacher, where she realized a student had plagiarized, called the student’s mom to discuss the failing grade the student would be getting – and the mom said “you can’t fail her… I wrote that paper for her, she has too much on her plate and couldn’t do it herself.”

My guest’s article talks about how, when your mom writes your papers, you are robbed of the experience. It’s one way in which you are not learning how to fall down – by writing a bad paper – and get back up again.

Fast forward to summer 2015, when I heard Jess on the wonderful podcast The Good Life Project, discussing both the article and her new book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. Last December, I attended Jessica’s live presentation about The Gift of Failure, and she graciously offered to come on the podcast; today’s episode is the conversation we had a week or so later, and it’s a great one!

To read more about our conversation, click here to this episode’s notes page at weturnedoutokay.com.

During our 3D-bookshot-wo-borderconversation, I share that, as a parent, I tried really hard to make sure everything was perfect for my kids when they were little.

I ask Jess: why do we parents do this? She laughs – the sympathetic laugh of a woman who has been in my shoes – and talks about how we want what’s best for them, and we also want that jolt of oxytocin that comes with being depended upon… And then shares about how she moved from encouraging this kind of dependence to seeing her relationship with her kids blossom when she started encouraging their autonomy rather than their dependence upon her.

Highlights from our conversation include:

1) the work of Carol Dweck, a researcher who focuses on the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset; believe me, we want to encourage a growth mindset, the one in which our kids look upon challenges as fun and setbacks as learning experiences instead of a reason to give up

2) the relationship between these three words: autonomy, competence, and connection; one of the major themes in The Gift of Failure, Jess illustrates that as parents, our job is to foster these three traits in our children, they are the key to a good life

3) how to give our kids the gift of failure, without feeling like failures ourselves; there’s a real mind shift that must take place to go from “oh – let me do that for you” to “hey, great job – you worked really hard and did that for yourself!”

Overall, I love our conversation because it’s clear that Jessica Lahey sees both sides of this coin, understands this from the perspective of a parent who doesn’t let her children fall down and figure out how to get back up. In her book, her live presentations, and in this interview she provides a roadmap to give our kids the gift of failure – and understand what a true gift it is.

September 2016:

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051: Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is All About Healing and Forgiveness

joelsoloradioWhen today’s guest was five years old, he fell off a railway bridge and landed on hard ground 30 feet down. He spent weeks in a coma, and years healing; at the time a doctor wrote into his chart “don’t expect Joel to lead a normal life.”

Well, that statement certainly turned out to be true! Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is living a downright extraordinary life, getting a degree in counseling psychology and then combining that with his background in radio to cohost – along with his wife, dentist and business guru Dr. Pei Kang – the ReLaunch podcast. Joel’s written an Amazon bestseller, Finding Your Voice, and he and Pei work together as entrepreneurs, podcasting and coaching.

Joel graciously agreed to come on We Turned Out Okay a few weeks previously, spent the morning of our interview at the emergency room for treatment of a busted elbow, and still came through with our chat. Talk about going above and beyond!

Our conversation ranged from Joel and Pei’s two golden retrievers, retired therapy dogs, to some great advice to help us help our kids through tough situations.

Click here to continue reading the show notes for episode 48!

At the time of Joel’s fall from the railway bridge, his parents were separated, and not in the best position to support each other. They found a way through, though, and support sometimes came from the most unexpected places: Joel’s mom was studying to become a nurse, and her classmates convinced the administration that she should be able to substitute written work for some of her clinical work, so that she could care for Joel and still get her degree.

Joel’s accident and subsequent experiences with getting better, relearning to walk and overcoming balance problems influenced him in one profound way:

“It sucked” going through it, he tells. But going through those sucky things and coming out the other side taught him patience and persistence, key qualities to getting what you want out of life!

Joel learned not just to get through problems, but to understand that setbacks have something to teach us, a core idea in Finding Your Voice. As we talk about the book – which I’m currently halfway through and loving immensely – other childhood experiences come up, especially concerning the abusive boyfriend Joel’s mom lived with during his younger years. Joel shares that recently he’s forgiven both his mom and the abusive boyfriend for their actions when he was a child, and how that’s helped him, Joel, be able to move past the events of his childhood.

While not one himself, Joel has two pieces of wonderful advice for us parents:

1) when our children are going through something tough, whether physical or mental, be there for them… we must give kids our time

2) as parents, it’s our job to help our kids find their own voices; it’s not about what we want for them or how we want them to live their lives, it’s about what they want for themselves

We’ll talk about the best ways to do that – to help our young kids’ true voices come out – in Thursday’s Your Child Explained, episode 49!

049: Parents ARE Leaders: A (Revisited) Conversation with Dr. Bob Nolley of The Labrador Leadership Podcast

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I’m planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today I’m so happy to bring you my conversation with college professor and leadership expert Dr. Bob Nolley, who helped me be a better parent by thinking of myself as a leader with his podcast Labrador Leadership.

Click here to read the notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com!

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Maybe not, but as parents, the decisions we make every day – resolving conflicts, allocating money, making decisions that involve our kids – call us out as leaders whether we think of it that way or not.

I used to think of leaders only in a public or corporate sense; the president’s a leader. Heads of corporations are leaders, but certainly not me! Dr. Bob Nolley’s Labrador Leadership Podcast completely changed my views on leadership when I first heard him in January 2015, helping me realize that to lead has much more to do with our hearts than the size of the group we lead.

Listen for:

  • the Big Rocks exercise (Dr. Stephen Covey’s idea) to help you figure out what’s most important to you
  • how to make a list that will help you relax while also getting done what needs to be done
  • two examples of leaders in unusual places: one runs a quick-oil-change shop in Richmond, Virginia, and the other is Dr. Bob’s cohost on Labrador Leadership
  • conflict resolution and the art of apologizing

if you take only one thing away from today’s episode, I hope it is this: you are a leader! Thinking of yourself that way will help you both support the people in your life you care about most, and enjoy the life that you share with those people more.

048: How Do We Learn What We Need To Know? A (Revisited) Conversation with Dad and Author Daniel Wolff

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I’m planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today, to start your new year off right, I know you’re going to love listening to award-winning author Daniel Wolff, who wrote one of my all-time favorite parenting books: How Lincoln Learned To Read. In fact, I loved this book so much that it is one of the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old School Parents (which you can get by clicking here.) During our conversation, Daniel shares one of the most valuable pieces of advice for parents that I’ve ever heard.

Click here to read this post’s notes at weturnedoutokay.com!

Today’s guest Daniel Wolff has, among many other things, produced a documentary about Hurricane Katrina, been nominated for a Grammy, and written 10 books on all different subjects including the one that we spend most of our time discussing today, How Lincoln Learned To Read. Written in 2009, this book is a go-to for me whenever I need to make big decisions about about the boys’ upbringing; because Mr. Wolff tells the stories of the childhoods of many prominent Americans throughout history, I learn something different from each one. Plus, a great read that’s fun, interesting, historical – and makes me feel a little smarter each time I pull it off the shelf.

During today’s’s show, listen for:

  • the importance of fun in education; all these years later, we may think of Ben Franklin as old and stodgy, but almost right from the moment he could read, Franklin was quite the mischief maker
  • how author and scientist Rachel Carson’s girlhood, during which she stayed home often from school to play and walk in the woods, helped her grow up into the advocate for national environmental change she became
  • a great piece of parenting advice – my guest shares that decisions became much easier for him when he to “think like a grandparent”

Key Links:

Daniel Wolff’s author page at Four Way Books; here is his new book, The Names of Birds

How Lincoln Learned To Read, a great read that has helped me be a better parent

Amazing poet-for-children-of-all-ages Shel Silverstein

If you take just one thing away from today’s show, I hope it is this: we parents must play a crucial role in helping our children understand about fighting hard for what they want to become; there will always be someone around to knock an idea down, or discourage our kids… for them to truly succeed in life, we must be their true support.

045: Can’t Do This Alone: Getting The Support You Need with Mom and Career Professional Carey Andersen

If you’re listening to this the day this episode drops, it’s three days before Christmas… in many parents’ lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that’s how you’re feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.

I met today’s guest during Hub Week, Boston’s first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who’s been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.

The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today’s guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.

We talk about some really cool stuff! Here’s a sampling:

1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying “I don’t have enough time to play” – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade

2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn’t look sick, they still might need help

3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small

My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.

042: Miss Conduct – Boston Globe Magazine’s Advice Columnist Robin Abrahams – Is My Guest Today!

Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct
Robin Abrahams, a.k.a. Boston Globe advice columnist Miss Conduct

It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don’t finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.

When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation 🙂

Highlights include:

1) Robin’s most favorite question she’s ever been asked – and why

2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld

3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I’m heeding this advice and it’s really helping me enjoy the season

I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!