Raising Able (…not Cain)

Raising Able (…not Cain)

empowered-kid-520x346You are not raising kids. You are raising adults. You’re raising a friend and spouse, business partner or employee, your grandchild’s parents and neighbors. There’s a thought. No pressure.

What kind of adult are you raising? Keeping the end in mind could help us redirect our parenting mindset. We can choose to interact with our kids so they become successful, able adults.

Imagine a husband, or a coworker…who is unable:

To fix a problem
Avoid risk
Crumbles under stress
Makes excuses or blames
Is incompetent
Is not responsible, detailed or willing to work through challenge
Overly dramatic and passive aggressive
Sees criticism, suggestions, or denial as personal attacks.
Unable to resolve conflict…
Cannot adapt or overcome obstacles

Actually, the best way to ensure your kids struggle and fail as an adult, is to keep them from experiencing any of those things as they’re growing up. In our zeal to be good parents, we work hard to shield and rescue our children from anything that is challenging, disappointing, uncomfortable or unhappy.  We protect them from anything that is painful or hurts.

In doing so, we disable them. They are not enabled to succeed.

If you want your children to be successful, then enable them to gain strength in the required traits from the beginning.

Let them know what they are able to do. Let them enjoy doing what’s appropriate and theirs to own. Let them become responsible and make choices, developing their own preferences. Let them resolve issues that belong to them; situations either they find themselves involved or consequences of choices they have made. Weigh in and provide insight, but let them make choices on things that aren’t permanent or life altering. Let them define a strong individual identity.  Let them do what they are able to do.

Let them know they are able to take risks. Encourage them to experiment and stretch a little further than is comfortable and safe. Let them experience “safe fails” under your roof where they can find guidance in thinking through the results and managing the consequences in a way that propels them to learn how to make a better decision and move forward positively. Let them laugh at mistakes and feel the rush of accomplishment.  Let them understand how to adjust and move forward.

Let them know they are able to handle future situations. As you have kept a growth mindset that is a perpetual learning cycle, your child will become capable of managing themselves and just about any situation they may face as an adult. They become confident…

Problem solvers
Risk takers
Successful…adults. They become achievers, influencers, innovators, game-changers, leaders and shapers of the next generation.

Tough parents raise strong kids.



Parent Playbook: Early Childhood Building Blocks


When the kids were little, we didn’t have two nickles to rub together.  We thought it was important for the kids to be home with a parent so, I left my career, sucked it up and we lived tight and simple.  The payoff turned out to be pretty cool.  The kids didn’t have technology, we didn’t and still have never had other than antennae tv, we had basic backyard play equipment, liked to play, get out for adventures and try new things.  There were lots of times the kids were on their own to do what kids know best, how to play, and times they would be thrown into whatever we parents were into doing.  So, they would run, climb, swing, dig, hit, dance, lift, pull up, roll, jump, throw… on their own.  And we took them hiking, biking, skating, sledding, swimming… from the time they were infants.  I wanted to expose them to anything and everything I could.  When he had opportunities to try things, we did.  If we could only watch, we watched.

In 2000, Cierra played happily on the living room floor.  Most days, we had PBS on in the morning for background interest, but during that summer, we watched the summer Olympic Games.  She was 4 years old.  As many events would be shown, we’d both casually glance at something of interest while doing other things.  I noticed though that C would stop and sit on her knees close to the screen whenever swimming came on.  I’d shake my head not getting how a preschooler could be captured by something that wasn’t “pretty” or a game or anything other than little stick figures going back and forth in a blue rectangle, but she was glued every time.  On the third day of swimming competition, parked in the same spot, there was a defining moment in her life.  At 4, she pointed at the screen, turned to look at me and said, “I’m going to do that Mommy”.  It was one of those moments that get frozen in time because there was something about it that meant something.  I could have ignored that moment.  I could have said we couldn’t afford to do anything.  I could have thought she was only a preschooler and blown off what she said.  But we didn’t.

Since she didn’t even know how to swim, I thought we should get her to a pool.  I didn’t have any ambition of her becoming an Olympian, I just thought we should let her try swimming and see if she liked it.  It made sense for all the kids to be safe around water, so there was no reason not to make this happen.  We went to the local YMCA.  I haven’t been able to keep her out of the water since.

Rick Powell fell in love with kayaking at 3 years old.  He went to the Beijing Games. Shaun White’s family took him snowboarding when he was 5.  He was obsessed with it at 6.  He’s defined competitive snowboarding.  Michael Phelps began swimming at 7 because his older sisters swam, he became the greatest Olympian of all time.  Peyton Manning played football in the yard with his dad and brothers when he was a kid and just went to the Superbowl for the third time. 

Giving children the time, space and permission to play everyday is one of the greatest gifts we can give them for it is through play children learn to develop their social, emotional, mental and physical skills- David Kittner @youthfitnessguy

Goal:  Build a base wide and strong enough to support future success.

  • Take your time and have fun with your kids.  Be Adventurous and PLAY!
  • Recognize that development is a PROCESS. Growth is incremental.  Praise their character, not outcome.
  • Use common sense, good judgment and balance
  • Love, respect and encouragement should always be present along with developmentally appropriate guidance, high expectations and standards.  At this age, everything is just being introduced so go easy.  Say, “Have fun”, “I’m glad you’re being brave and trying something new”, “What did you like about playing?”  “I love you.  It’s fun to watch you find out what makes you, the best you!”

Pre-school years

Clarity:  expose your kids to as many great experiences as you can provide them:  physical, intellectual, creative…

  • Don’t over-protect them, but allow them to try anything they might be interested in trying.  You never know… btw..being dirty, sweaty and getting bruised and cut once in awhile is definitely okay.  
  • Make it normal to try new things and develop their internal compass about whether they like something or not.
  • The wider their activity and experiences, the wider their opportunity and greater strength for success will be.
  • Expose them to fresh, whole foods from the beginning.  Nutrition is fuel for an athlete and it tastes so much better! 

 The greater the variety, the stronger their athletic base will become: 

  • Coordination
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Agility
  • Hand/eye, body awareness
  • Basic skills like running, jumping, throwing…

 Early Elementary:  Add instructional opportunities:

 So they learn to be:  

  • Centered:  help them focus on their internal compass by asking questions about what they think, feel, what they learned, how they’d do something differently…
  • Coachable: make it normal to listen, to evaluate and apply suggestions for improvement without being overly emotional.
  • Commited:  don’t let them quit when something is hard, uncomfortable or they don’t succeed right away.  Say, “I know it’s not easy, but you’ll get better and might get it if you try again”.
  • Composed:  focus on the process of learning, be objective, not emotional, talk about their effort, attitude, and actions not outcomes or their person.
  • Competitive:  encourage them to “compete” against themselves and to improve each time they try something.  Praise their effort to win and resilience when they don’t.

 Game play:  find places for them to play games with others.

  • Rules
  • Turns
  • Playing enjoyably with others 

 Sportsmanship: introduce team sports and competing in contests.

  • Me vs. We:  help them see when something is about them doing what’s best for them, and when they need to do what’s best for the team.
  • Introduce them to winning and losing, playing to win, learning in defeat

If your child becomes crazy in love with one thing…

If they are ridiculously natural at it…

Don’t lose your head.  It’s still really, really, really, important to build a wide and strong base that will support future success.  









Raising an Olympian? The Smart Guide to Parenting Any Kid to an Elite Level

ImageThe Games of the XXII Olympiad are approaching.  I overheard a daughter ask her father, while watching national level athletes, if she could ever go to the Olympics.  As families watch the Olympics, that question will be asked in countless living rooms.  My daughter watched the summer games and pointed at the screen when she was 4 years old and said, “I’m going to do that someday, Mommy”.  It happens.  As some of those kids show passion and natural talent, parents may find themselves actually having future Olympians or other elite level athletes.  In other cases, parents put their child on the fast track to success hoping to manufacture one.  So, what’s the smart way to raise a child to an elite level of anything?  No matter what, you want to handle your child well so they can become all they dream of becoming.

< P = Z x C5 x E

1.  Perspective:  Begin with the end in mind.

  • Have clarity.  Be intentional.  Make decisions with the big picture in front of you.
  • Decide to raise a champion:  one who is capable and prepared to achieve much, not just a single goal, but continuously achieve whatever they decide to accomplish.
  • Dream big.  Start within your child; their center. Explore and fuel your child’s interests.  Identify and strengthen their natural talents, surround them with what they need, encourage them to see how far they can go.  Maximize their potential.
  • Life is bigger than any one goal.  While working towards making dreams reality, life happens.  It will go on whether the goal is achieved or not.  Be invested in the long-haul.  

2.  Plan:  Enjoy the ride.

  • Love your child.  The one you have.  Guard your relationship, their heart and soul over any aspiration anyone has for them.
  • Focus on developing the whole person.  It will serve them well to develop the mind, heart, and body of a champion.  Don’t overestimate talent and underestimate character in determining success.
  • Balance:  Allow your kids to explore, to risk, to try.  Let them be challenged, struggle, fail.  Don’t make it easy and don’t rescue them every time.  Have high standards and expectations.  Be neither too demanding, nor too permissive.  Reward the effort to learn, adjust, move forward.  Embrace the process not only the destination.
  • Expect surprises.  It’s best to do things well; to help your child lay a wide, firm foundation that will not only support specific goals, but will serve them in pursuing wide range of achievement.  Don’t rush the process, but pace through each course of development.    Wrenches, twists, and road blocks may cause the best laid plans to be redesigned and new goals set, but if the foundation is in place, the movement will continue forward. 

This begins a 6 part series of posts that will help you be a guardian over the right physical, mental and spiritual foundation being built into your child so that they can become the best they can be.  It’s what has to be in place for a child to move into elite levels of athletics or anything at a distinguished level.

I’ll be sharing my knowledge and experience as well as expertise from teachers, child development experts, sports psychologists, D1 university and club coaches and trainers to give you a simple, boiled down and practical grid of what’s important, both physically and mentally/spiritually to put into place during the elementary, middle school, and high school years to ensure success both in achieving great things, but also in life.

With rising champions in our house, we’re excited to watch the next winter Games in Sochi.  It’ll be on 24/7 in our house.  Looking forward to Rio 2016.  Go Team USA!



Publik House Discourse: Tiger Mom’s Controversial New Book


Do you think it’s possible to engage in productive civil discourse on a controversial topic?


Instead of throwing stones as so many impulsively do; discuss and debate, reason and consider?  It seems in our era of “tolerance”, once again we immediately attack the person who presents information that makes anyone uncomfortable or paints an unflattering portrait of real behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs.  We cast stones at the likes of Phil Robertson for stating tenants of his faith and personal preference before we even consider what he was saying, why and engage in reason about what we personally believe and why.  We call them bigot, racist, conservatives…and we walk away from their carcass after stoning and kicking them to near death. We jump on a bandwagon to stifle certain lines of thought.  I wonder why.  Are our own beliefs so insecure and threatened we can’t consider an opposing thought without getting a surge of adrenaline that leads us to fight or flight?


I’m anxious to read, learn and consider Amy Chua’s points in her new book, “The Triple Package”.  It takes a look at cultural groups and compares the commonalities among groups that are “successful” and those who are perennial “failures”.  I’m anxious to see if the three traits she’s identified as those necessary for success are the same as those I’ve found in parents who raise champions.  The language may be different, but I’m wondering if the core traits are the same.  I’m not afraid to read and reason, debate intelligently with my own beliefs, gain more knowledge that supports or refutes her conclusions.  I encourage you to do the same on topics you are passionate about.


….would LOVE intelligent debate on the topic of:


Whether there are, in fact, character traits that determine a person or group’s level of “success” (defined by outcomes of income level, occupational status, test schools etc, not the process of maximizing individual potential)?


Are there, in fact, cultural groups that generally value and develop those character traits in their children than others in comparison to other groups that either don’t hold the same values or invest energy in developing or holding high expectations of them?


< P = Z ⋄ C5 ⋄ E  I believe there are 5 Character Traits that are common in those who imagineer a big life, maximize their potential, and accomplish amazing things that benefit all.


In order to comment:



Debate the “thought”…the idea..


Do not express opinion about the person expressing the controversial thought.


Be intelligent.  Unless you really have some genuine knowledge on which to base your personal thought or opinion, hold your conclusion until you’ve gained some facts or considered the information others present.


What are your thoughts?


To those who imagineer a big life…and their moms..

Moms (and dads) of champions, of those who maximize their potential and achieve huge accomplishments….

are the ones who quietly drive the miles, make a ridiculous number of healthy meals, wash countless loads of laundry, cry when their kids struggle, lift them up when they hurt, cheer loudest when they need encouragement, work 3…4… jobs to pay for training…

because they choose to match the investment made by their child.

They cannot force passion.
They cannot manufacture talent.
They let the athlete be the athlete.
They let the coach, coach.

They can simply love and believe in their child’s potential.
They ensure their child has the best environment to thrive and a home that’s a sanctuary for rest and relief.
They’re the greatest comforter and cheerleader.
They are always present.

That is the role of mom.
(and dad).

Thanks P & G. Thanks. There are many moms out here.

Resolutions: Good Things Gone Bad

ImageMy body is screaming to stop the madness of holiday indulgence.  While crazy tasty, the concoction of Christmas hor d’oeuvres, massive meals, chocolatinis, cookies and treats has made my system reach it’s processing limit and my derriere hit epic proportions.  Like many well-intendeds, it was time to start my resolution to lose the weight I’ve gained since Thanksgiving.  I had enough, so I launched into resolve two days ago, December 28, after yet another huge dinner…of Christmas dinner leftovers.  After happily skipping off to sleep anticipating a wonderful new day of health, I woke, felt my stomach eating the other side and growling loudly and instantly reached for the homemade Biscotti on the counter to dip into my morning coffee.  I had made it three full hours.  Yeah.  Technically I have until January 2 to begin, right?!

Resolutions are good things.  But the wheels inevitably fall off and thus they go bad.  Quickly.

The typical pattern is the same.  We are energized by the fresh start, the new beginning.  We cast off feelings of failure and disappointment and pain associated with the year behind us and we’re anxious to make the new year better.  We make our list of goals for the new year and may even post them on the refrigerator:  get fit, stop drinking, be nice, etc…  Week 1, we begin with vigor, week 2 our normal routine kicks in and we struggle against the rut we’ve created but keep trying.  Week 3, we’ve failed so often, we give it a few fleeting final attempts, and by week 4, it’s DOA.  It’s an accomplishment to have made it that long.  The intent was good.

Maybe we just need to change the method.

Maybe instead of listing goals that often focus on ceasing negative habits, we focus on ONE WORD for the entire year.  Maybe we determine a core character trait that we keep in front of us, make choices that lean into that character, and grow the entire year.  Maybe if we chose a positive trait, something we work to become, we’d find ourselves actually accomplishing many of the things on our initial lists, but achieve them because we’re gaining the character needed to do so.

Champions have common threads of character they pinpoint as essential to achieving pursuits.

  1. What goals would you like to achieve this year?
  2. What character traits must you put into gear to accomplish each?  (Discipline, creativity, determination, perseverance, focus…pick the word with the shade of meaning that will propel you forward this year.)
  3. Choose ONE word from the pile that resonates the most or would be the strongest catalyst for accomplishing most. 
  4. Create a bulletin board or use the fridge door.  Have an area for each family member.  Write your ONE WORD creatively and put it in view.  Add pictures or any illustrations of what developing that trait will help you accomplish.  This becomes your goal board.
  5. You can go a step further:  Keep a small notebook on your early morning workspace.  Write your ONE WORD and what  it will help you accomplish specifically each particular day.  At the end of the day, write the positives of the day:  small accomplishments to big things you appreciated.  This is a great practice that keeps your head in a positive, productive space.

I’m still musing on my word for this year.  In the past, I’ve chosen: whole, confidence, forward, new 

Daughter 1’s word:  RELENTLESS

Daughter 2’s word: FOCUS

What’s your ONE WORD?  Reply and let us know!

The original idea for One Word came from http://www.myoneword.org.  








Tails of the Herd: The Day I Realized I was following the Asses in Front of Me

Unknown-1I remember waking up one day and feeling pretty much like Simba hanging on that limb for dear life, hoping to survive the stampede of the wildebeast herd.  Simba was out romping as children do, when the herd rushed around him and swept him up.  He starting running, remember the scene?, desperately trying to keep up, not to be run over or stomped to death.  God knows where he would’ve ended up if he just kept running.  He knew he had to either keep up or get out of the crush or it wouldn’t end well.  That was a smart move.

There was that moment for me.  I grew up, romping happily.  I followed the rules.  Did what I was told.  Listened to the “big” important people around me.  I washed behind my ears, got good grades, came home 15 minutes before curfew.  I went to college, got a job, a house, kids…

and then I began repeating the circle of life and guiding my children to do exactly the same.

Until I looked up and realized I was following the tail of the one ahead of me and I asked myself why I had my head up somebody elses…rumpus.

It all started when I had no idea where I was in life or how I got there.  I had just been blindly following those before me and expecting to end up in the land of everyone’s adolescent dreams when we slowed at the end.

It doesn’t work that way.  You end up where the stampede carries you, unless you find that limb and climb out of the fray until the masses rush by.  By that point, though, you’re so lost and far from home, it’ll take an act of god to find your way back or start over.  I wished I had seen it coming and never gotten swept up in the herd.

Their destination became my destination. I chased after whatever the leader of the herd was chasing and so on back to where I was.  Their course, mine.  It wasn’t planned and wasn’t all bad.  It was just a life of default.

So, I made a conscious decision to get out.

This meant I had to figure out where I was and where I wanted to go instead.

It seemed like most everybody was racing ahead to something great.  They were rushing towards “success”.  I think that’s what we thought we were doing.

Fame and fortune.  Prizes and reward.  Glitter and tinsel.

Power.  Control over life, people, circumstances.

Applause.  Attention.  Approval.

The path of least resistance.  Aka:  comfort, leisure and ease.


It didn’t seem like the means mattered quite so much as long as it ended in “success”.

The issue was that I wasn’t arriving anywhere close to where I expected.  It didn’t seem others around me were arriving there either.  I knew I was off course and I was rapidly ushering my kids to end up in the same place.

That’s when it became clear that I wanted to go someplace different and take my kids with me.  I still wanted to be “successful”.  I just wanted to define what that meant.  I wanted clarity.

After a lot of thinking, looking at the others still running and where they were ending up, studying those who were actually achieving big things, getting advanced education in giftedness, and analyzing some more, I set a new course.

The clarity changed everything.  It changed how I saw each day, filtered decisions, how I guided and encouraged my children, and even how I viewed myself, them, our endeavors and futures.  It freed us.

The funny thing is, that in breaking away from the masses, gaining clarity on where we now intended to go (and how we’d get there), we’ve been carried further than we ever expected.  The view has been MUCH better too.

Here’s a topic of convo for the table or car (of course you have to begin having convo’s with your significant/kids about all kinds of topics so it’s not bizarro that you’re suddenly having a thoughtful conversation with them).  Think of all the common destinations people have and any words that define what success is to them or others.  If you want, put the words on individual scraps of paper or cards.  Then play “Would You Rather”  Put two cards together and ask:  Would you rather have xx or yy?  Maybe it’ll sound like, “Would you rather be rich or famous?”  Then leave the “winner” and replace the “loser” card with a new word. “Would you rather be famous or have total control and freedom over your life?”  Play again and again until there’s a final card that trumps all the others.  There winds up being good discussion about the pros and cons of each.

Our winner became:  maximizing our individual potential.  < P

It was the beginning of discovering the formula.  We discovered the product:  < P = Z ⋄ C5 ⋄ E

We’ve elaborated a little on that since:  maximizing our potential in a way that brings valuable contribution to everyone around us.

Where you are heading and why?

Determine your destination.