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.



Space for Our Spirit

ImageWhen we pursue our best; strive for success, maximize our potential, we almost always obsess on challenging our minds and training our bodies.  We invest in the education and training for our children’s mind and body.   But when it comes to our soul, the spirit of our children, we relegate experiences to religious activity that fit in on special occasion.  It’s not a topic of discussion.  We marginalize spirituality for a million reasons.

But why?

There’s no denying that we are mind, body AND spirit. In fact, the essence of who we are… is spiritual. How can we push the core of who we are to the fringe of what we care about?

What if we peel off religious constructs, recognize the soul within us and our children and discover and connect with the Spirit that is throughout the universe? What if we bring our mind, body and soul into balance intersecting physical health, mental development and spiritual well-being?

Stilling your soul in the presence of the majestic, quieting the mind amidst beauty, savoring the detail of the extraordinary, being swept away surrounded in powerful music, consuming the delectable, becoming absorbed in the sweet spot where your strengths and passion meet or dissolving in the presence of another’s loving touch, nurture your mind, body and soul in transcendence that connects your soul to something beyond yourself; moments of Sabbath. When you hesitate long enough to push everything else aside becoming lost in these moments, you strengthen and define the identity of your core while mystically connecting your soul to it’s place and purpose in the universe.  Genuinely desiring a connection of what’s within, to what’s much greater without nurtures the spirit.

These are moments of transcendence that are invaluable for your brain, body, and spirit. These moments are essential to the well-being of everyone in your family. So, pursuing our best means taking daily and weekly Sabbaths, from minutes during a day, to setting aside space each week that’s good for our soul; removing the clatter surrounding the family, calming the noise in the center of us and reaching for the extraordinary that’s beyond ourselves.  Leading your children in nurturing their spirit, connecting with what’s beyond themselves in simple, quiet, yet extraordinary moments, cares for your whole child.

Parents:  Nurture the spirit as much as the mind and body.


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.  









What Parents Can Learn: Richard Sherman”s NFC Showoff

ImageOne game. One brilliant play.  One moment of athletic glory.  One player.  One question.  One answer.  One iceberg that sunk a Seahawk.

If you missed the final seconds of the NFC playoff game, you missed a lot.  After a fantastic contest between 49’s and the Seahawks, the final Superbowl contender would be determined and that decision would come down to the final play of the game.  The 49’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, threw a pass to their best receiver, Michael Crabtree.  In a feat of pure athletic precision, Richard Sherman immaculately intervened, tipping the ball, ending the 49’s last chance of possession and scoring a winning touchdown.  Moments of glory and defeat caused united moans and cheers across a nation of living rooms.  It was fabulous athletic drama and everything we love about competition.

But then the cameras remained on Richard Sherman.  One player, who put together his natural talent and a well-rehersed, routine play at the most crucial moment of an extraordinary event, had the spotlight on him.  

Instead of having a spotlight shine on his incredible professional skill, the spotlight revealed what was beneath his surface.

Instead of a celebration of team or even his individual conquest, Sherman directed a universal choking sign gesture towards Kaepernick and the 49er players, then ran to Michael Crabtree to mockingly shake his hand as if to say, “Thank you very much for giving me the great opportunity to use your lack of talent for my personal glorification”.  It could be argued that Sherman was reacting in the heat of the moment, but enough time drfted allowing the adrenaline to subside before the interview that magnified what had already been witnessed.  “Well, I’m the best corner in the game.  When you try me with a receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you even talk about me.”  then in a much later defense of his post play self-adulation, “I’m a competitor.  I don’t like people saying negative things about me and running their mouth, but I’m the best in the league.”  

Sherman didn’t back down later either. He apologized to Andrews, then proceeded to call Crabtree “mediocre,” emphasizing each syllable.  “I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver that’s what happens.”

 What he didn’t want to go unnoticed, he succeeded in overshadowing.  The media, the social media are not talking about his incredibly athletic and talented play.  Instead he brought on a barage of people saying negative things about him because of how he was running HIS mouth.

It is sad.  What could have been glorious has been so tarnished.  A would-be hero has become a villain.  Maybe Richard Sherman didn’t have anyone warn him about icebergs.  Maybe he didn’t heed the warnings.

What can parents learn from Richard Sherman?  

We can’t ever overestimate the strength of our child’s skill and underestimate the power of what’s below the surface in defining who they are and the level of succeess they’ll achieve.

Ten percent of an iceberg is seen.  90% of it is under the surface.  What’s below the surface both supports what’s seen above and is most dangerous in sinking a ship.   Our children’s natural talent and skill, the 10%, is what everyone first sees, but it’s the 90% parents need to ensure is guided well.  A child’s character will define them long after their athletic pursuits are over.  Parents, let the coach develop your child’s physical core strength while you coach their character core strength that will support all their success.

Coach your child to be self-centered, not self-aggrandizing: 

  • “Your performance will speak for you.  Speak humbly, perform arrogantly.”  Keep the priority on their own performance, how it was a result of the training they’re investing, the natural God-given-can’t-take-credit-for talent they have, and the people around them that they couldn’t have achieved anything without, and the bigger-than-them team goals.  Their actions should flow from the inside, their center, out.
  • “Do what’s right no matter what is happening around you.”  Remind your child that even in the heat of battle, they must make the wise choice to do and say what’s respectful and honoring of the contest and the competitors.  Don’t allow smack, trash-talking.  “You do not climb higher by puliing down others.”

Parents.  Remember.  Your child will reflect your character.  Demonstrate good judgement, wise choices, common sense as you stay centered on your performance as your child’s model.


















Our house, among other things, is an Olympic house.  From the opening ceremonies, to the extinguishing of the flame, our television is on and we join the world in being a part of the Olympic Movement.  We’ve always gravitated to the Olympic spirit that calls on the youth of the world to come together, experience the variety of games and entertaining challenges, the intensity of competition, the effort, the struggle, the refusal to give up, the exhileration of pushing past all prior personal or team boundaries and become the best each competitor can become.  Call us corny, but we