Problem Child

2014-12-21 17.38.03There are three phrases that I pay attention to when they enter my mind..

  • If only…
  • I wish…
  • …not like me

All three are used when I’m trying to get the world¬†to fit into a preconceived notion of what I deserve.

That notion is “more like me.”



A story!

I was watching¬†my daughter’s Christmas¬†recital and thinking 40 years (!)¬†back to my preschool¬†recital.

I was remembering sitting in my grandmother’s car after I had RUINED the recital by¬†singing out of tune.

Smiling inwards at the child I was… a¬†parent¬†leans over to my wife and says, “I can’t figure him out, he’s nothing like me.”


Later, I say to my wife,

There’s nothing wrong with that kid.¬†

Imagine living in a house where everyone thinks that there is something wrong with you and you can’t understand what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it.

Thankfully, that wasn’t my childhood. However, it is the living situation of many kids that are seen as “problems.”

It’s also how I’ve spent most my adult life – clueless on the sources of my effect on other people.

Whether we are talking about kids, or other people, we do everyone a favor if we remember that nothing is being done to us. Most the time, we’re observing a temporary situation that will work itself out.

Christmas vacation can be tough – remember that they will be back at school, grown up and in charge of us (!) soon enough.

Kids and School

christmas_2014I was at a Hanukkah party and the hostess asked me how my daughter was doing at school.

My off-the-cuff answer made a lot of sense…

She’s having fun and is motivated to learn. So I’ve decided to let it roll¬†for a few years and see how she sorts herself out.

Strictly speaking, that’s not 100% accurate.

We’ve hired a tutor to help her for a couple hours on Saturdays and, despite her objections, she learns¬†Spanish twice a week after school.

However, I¬†can’t muster¬†much enthusiasm for worrying about the details.

I don’t believe they matter.


After a particularly tough Saturday morning, I was walking around in the forest, trying unsuccessfully to settle myself down.

When highly agitated, I deepen/slow my breathing and consider the big picture.

If my role isn’t to worry then what is it?

What lies at the root of parenting failure?

What actions clearly make things worse?

Abandonment and retaliation

It struck me that the opposite of these actions – resilience and persistence – make excellent partners with my daughter’s core traits¬†(joy and motivation).

So rather than putting pressure on her to worry about the details. I should put pressure on myself to demonstrate resilience and persistence. These are the two traits that my mother-in-law personifies and her daughter turned out fantastic.

Drive insight inwards.

Be the brand.