School does SO much for Nicole’s kids. They have figured out how to socialize and love learning. Starting preschool even helped one kid with potty training.
When did school become more than the three R’s? We have added so many responsibilities to the school day over the last century (physical ed, computers, foreign languages, science, college prep, sports, drama, music, etc.).
Nicole’s youngest asked her, “Why I gotta go to school?” Nicole’s answer, “TO LEARN!”
What is school really for? Is it still for teaching reading and math? Is it to learn to get along with others? Is school a place where their kids go so that parents have time to earn money? Does school help parents to ensure a “safe” future? Does that level of safety change when the need for a college degree becomes less necessary in the future?
How about teaching manners, to say “please” and “thank you” or how to “play nice with others”? Nicole’s kids’ preschool includes a Manners Class in their curriculum. She likes that school is reinforcing the values and the lessons that she and her husband teach at home.
Should schools teach the skills our kids will need to function as independent adults: how to change a tire, balance a checkbook, or fill out a tax form?
What do you think? Email us your thoughts at email@example.com
Robert believes that the future of work is going to require a new set of skills than we currently teach in school. Schools are finally considering how to teach “21st century skills” like cooperation, collaboration, and creativity. These are the exact “superpowers” that form the base of Robert’s practice as a Positive Psychologist.
In fact, Robert has created the design for a school that centers on these superpowers. He was inspired to find a way to focus on the student’s individual strengths rather than offering kids only what’s “on the menu.”
What is your responsibility as a parent? Are you the educational advocate? Where do you need help from school? Tune in to this episode of the ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast to learn how you can help your kids get good at life.
The older you are, the wiser you get.
Right? Maybe. Or maybe not.
When Nicole shared 32 lessons she learned in her first 32 years, it seemed to trigger some “grown ups.” Apparently a 32-year-old talking about life lessons incited her not-yet-fans to say, "You are so young. What could you know and who are you to teach me anything?"
On the heels of her widely-shared article and this feedback, Nicole posed these questions to Robert:
Can you be too old to learn a lesson?
Can you be too young to teach a lesson?
Robert repeated something he learned from his friend Jessi Sanfilippo: “It’s hard to be the teacher if you stopped being the student.”
In those parenting moments when we believe that we already know everything we need to know, it’s easy to believe that everything we know is "right." In fact, we can track most of our biggest worst-parent-ever moments to that time when we forgot that we are still learning. The culprit? That voice in your head (your inner critic) tweaking your fear that you are messing it all up.
There are lots of times on our parenthood journey when we find it hard to listen more than we talk. In those moments, we need to fight that inner critic, dance with our fear, so we can remember who is teaching whom.
As two imperfect parents, spouses, entrepreneurs and humans, Robert and Nicole love visiting the “Life Buffet” to fill our plates with the variety of knowledge-nuggets we collect from our local, extended, and virtual communities. We don’t know it all… but we know who does!
If you can see everyone within your family nucleus and outside of it as a person with ideas, no matter their age, gender, sexual preference, ethnic background, etc. you are ready to visit the Life Buffet.
Just like at the Golden Corral, you take what you find useful and leave the rest. At the Life Buffet, you can say, “no thanks!” Don't enjoy the whole nugget you are offered? Can't find a use for it? No problem, move on.
Unlike your local restaurant, at the Life Buffet, you can be courageous enough to offer something of your own and welcome anyone who wants to visit your table.
Check out this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast to learn how to deal with the critics that try to bring you down – and your inner critic that can hold you back. Robert and Nicole discuss how to break out and share your authentic self with the world, while remaining open-minded enough to connect with others.
Laughter may be the best tool a Positive Psychologist like Robert gets to use. He spends his days helping parents laugh more to create the welcoming family environment where kids feel comfortable being themselves. He helps teens interrupt their spiraling worry with a silly memory to “change the channel.”
Nicole admits that she probably needs laughter therapy, too. As the at-home parent of three “spirited” children, her days often feel like "riding a wave" that takes her "from intensity… to the brink of insanity… and then to serenity.” All three of her kids have so much personality that they are bursting at the seams!
She has learned to “surf that wave” the hard way. In public, it may be harder to deal with a spirited child but let’s face it: It's easier to lose your sh*t inside your own home!
It's hard for a parent to feel good when you are engaged in power struggles with your children and are having a hard time seeing them as more than a problem or nuisance.
How can parents learn to ride a strong-ass wave if they don't know how to surf? Should you fear the spirited child? Can you LOVE them just as much as their more demur siblings? Do you secretly, slightly loathe them (even if that’s embarrassing to admit)?
What if we view these challenging attributes from another perspective? Might a stubborn child with an "iron will" grow up to trust their intuition more than a people-pleaser? So is being stubborn a good thing or a bad thing? At some point Robert realized that he wanted strong-willed children who can grow up to trust their gut instincts.
In this episode of 'I Am the Worst Parent Ever' podcast, Robert and Nicole tackle the joys and “waves” of raising spirited children and how parents can learn to to laugh more even when little Johnny is bouncing off the walls
How do you condition yourself to be your own laugh therapist? Robert has a few suggestions. Check it out.
Nicole is NOT “the fun one” in her house and she’s only half embarrassed to admit it. Robert may not think of himself as the more jovial parent in his home, but he can tell you that his #dadjokes make his kids groan.
In most (definitely not all) households, dads get the pleasure and benefit of being the family’s joy-maker. So why are moms so serious?
Are we weighed down by the infamous ‘mental load’?
Is it fear of outside judgment?
Are we fueled by our innate or self-developed anxiety?
And what should moms do about it?
In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole discuss how both partners can bring their authentic personalities to the table. That way, their children get to view and feed at the full “life buffet.”
A family is like a machine. To work, it needs all its parts.
Sure, it would be great to be the fun one, to be able to play all the time, to lose ourselves in the moment with our loved ones. We admire parents who can put their expectations, worries, and fears aside with a presence of mind and a grateful heart.
BUT it’s also impressive to be the selfless one who will “take one for the team” even if we are a bit more rigid and schedule-driven.
Our children need both of us, the fun one and the not fun one. They will encounter both types of people outside of the home. One day you may be the fun one and the next day you won’t be. Nicole and Robert take solace in knowing that their roles may be fluid. But, guess what? Your children will always need you no matter what.
Where do you see your kids grow up? More often than not, it’s in the rear view of your messy, smelly, overly-kidified dad- or mom-mobile.
And, what is it that you see? So much time flippin' past. So much growth happening on the daily. They go from car seat to booster overnight and, soon enough, you’ll be handing your daughter the keys.
Milestones pass every day and new ones pop up in their place, mileage markers along the road from childhood to the teen years and beyond.
Babies don’t know what markers to reach for but eventually become acutely aware of our expectations for the milestones they should be passing. Tweens start to make their own predictions for what they want to achieve. You start giving up control over the course of their lives.
Before you know it, your teen is determined to meet his own milestones. And before they know it, he has teachers, bosses, co-workers, and romantic interests all providing their own list of milestones.
How do you adjust to the fact that your kids are growing up? How do you stay engaged as you shift from their driver to co-traveler? You can’t exit the car just because you aren’t driving. No matter what comes, you never feel prepared. It’s about putting in the work every day.
In this episode of ‘I Am The Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert and Nicole discuss life transitions and the emotions we work through.
Perfectionism -- Is it really your fault? Maybe you’re a perfectionist because you just have too many demands to handle. You don’t do enough to take care of yourself. Who could? You just don’t have the time to achieve “balance.”
Nicole admits that she could do more to balance out her perfectionism, like taking up mindfulness or learning to meditate. She looks to people like Robert as an example of someone who uses self-care including meditation to balance his perfectionistic tendencies. For Nicole to be as close to the "perfect" wife, mom, daughter, friend, business owner, etc. as she needs, she admits that she mostly operates in "fake it ‘til you make it" mode.
In this episode of 'I Am the Worst Parent Ever' podcast, Robert and Nicole talk about feeling like imposters themselves. Your lizard brain can get in your way as a parent, a spouse, an employee, etc. and faking it, is merely a way to push through your fear, take risks, and tell your lizard brain, "not today, buddy." The pressure can get insane.
You may be asking, what about "winging it" or "flying by the seat of your pants"? Is that the same as "faking it?" Not exactly…
Nicole has gone out on a limb with her article, “I Want You to Fake It.” When you pretend to have more energy than you do or to be kinder than you feel, faking it can actually make you more energetic or kind in the moment. Citing Alexander Spradlin’s Psychology Today article “Fake It ‘Til You Make It,” Nicole suggests that successful people hold a “strong belief in themselves that allows them to persist in the face of failure and to keep trying, no matter their level of fear.” These successful individuals “have an internal drive that tells them that they can succeed, that they have the ability to handle whatever comes their way.”
There's a difference between faking it and living a lie, and working towards self-improvement and betterment. Can you say with confidence "I believe I am capable of raising a human being"? How can you choose to become that parent?
Are you listening? Hello? Is this thing EVEN on?!
No one feels like they are being heard and, be it adult to adult, adult to child, or even spouse to spouse, we struggle just as much to listen to what others say.
Do we really have a “communication problem” plaguing society today?
On this episode of 'I am the Worst Parent Ever' podcast, Nicole contends that it's natural (maybe innate or developed) for the busy, stressed-out parent to immediately begin to problem solve when someone starts speaking. We flip into “fix it” mode. We get aggressive with our fast-paced thinking, searching desperately for a "problem" to solve. Some of us even create new problems!
We drive our “word vehicle” right into the other person’s lane, forcing them to stop or veer off the road. We leave them feeling utterly displaced. When we are in “fix it” mode, how do we stop OUR wheels from turning?
So what can you do?
What? Can't slow down?
Then merely decrease your brain and physical speed as much as reasonably possible.
Look your conversation partner in the eye. It's hard to ignore someone and their words when you are visibly and literal eye-to-eye engaged with them.
Listen (pun intended), listening is a balancing game. Try to mimic the listening behavior that you want to receive when you hold the verbal floor.
What do you say to the child that loves to dance, but is visibly exhausted by the end of a long week of practice?
What do you say to the child that wants to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch TV or play on their iPad?
Does running from activity to activity make them fussy and standoffish? Will they have enough physical and brain power to complete their homework?
You can’t ignore YOUR time and mental needs, either. Will running from activity to activity affect your work productivity or make you a constant grump?
Overscheduling CAN work for you, and it CAN work for your child.
Overscheduling can also be utterly detrimental to your mental state and piss your child off.
If you wonder whether you are overscheduling your children, here’s a little quiz:
I HAVE to push my children when they are young:
(a) to teach them a work ethic.
(b) to help them find passion and drive and encourage success later in life.
(c) to zap away any fun and interrupt their organic learning and growth.
(d) because it’s what everyone else is doing and I’m scared that I’m messing my kids up if I don’t expose them to everything NOW.
In this episode of 'I am the Worst Parent Ever' podcast, Robert shares why “ignoring sunk costs" can help you put these decisions into perspective. Imagine your daughter wants to quit after one half-tried day of Karate but you just dropped $100 for a month of lessons. Is this time to teach a lesson about “why we keep our commitments”? Are you driven by the prospect of throwing away your hard-earned $100? Or what is best for your child?
If you invest your time and energy (and money!) but the situation changes, ignoring sunk costs allows you to make the NEXT decision based on where you are NOW, not because you “owe” anything to some previous decision. Those costs are already sunk! Think hard about whose needs you serve when you decide whether or not to push your child.
Robert and Nicole admit to struggle to balance their desire to breed, raise, and develop well-rounded, experienced, driven children while still allowing them to develop their interests and sort out their passions organically.
What if we listened more and involved our kids in these decisions? What would happen if we flipped the script to follow their self-developed plan?
And then there’s the GUILT! Is there really a better and WORSE way to decide how to handle these situations with their children? Are you actually, truly, possibly THE WORST PARENT EVER? (hint: that’s the guilt talking)
Each child actually IS unique. How you operate your home and how busy or unbusy your family is up to you. It’s just about making decisions (on purpose when you can). You are being ENTIRELY appropriate.
When you push your children at a healthy level -- which is a different level for every child -- and you listen to your heart AND YOUR CHILD and work together through any daunting expectations, real or fabricated fears, you really ARE supporting their personal growth.
Now go out there and get busy (or don't). It's entirely up to you and your loved ones. These are big decisions but that’s why you’re getting paid the big bucks (haha). There is no wrong answer here if you are operating with everyone's best interest at heart.
We spend our days chasing it, running from it, and fearing it. Perfection.
We are driven to be flawless (how dare we attempt anything less?!) in how we present ourselves, how we treat others, how we raise our kids, and how we perform at work.
Ahh Perfection! The Holy Grail of parenting, marriage, and self.
It’s a crock! Perfection is a fudgin' fallacy.
NEWSFLASH: Perfection is unachievable and, when you do get close, you will discover that it's nothing worth writing home about. Being perfect actually makes you boring.
Has anyone ever told you how "perfect" your home looks? How you have the seemingly "perfect" marriage? And those kids of yours! Though I am sure you hear this much left often, they just behave so "perfectly" all of the time.
Parents who never mess up don't exist, but parents who show up, mess up, apologize, and show up AGAIN actually promote stability (and teach their children resilience) even when they feel they are contributing to the chaos.
When parents take the time to own their own mishaps, to explain moments of imperfection -- theirs, yours, or one in their immediate or extended environment -- we are laying down layers and layers in their foundation.
Second NEWSFLASH: the key is being well-rounded and being someone who wants to be better because they simply want to be better; not for fame, not for success, and not for recognition. And, maybe, just maybe, the most perfect of parents are the ones that are raising their children in that same light.
In this episode of 'I am the Worst Parent Ever' Podcast, Robert and Nicole ask if our perfectionist tendencies rub-off or get passed-down to our children? Is perfectionism a negative quality or the character trait of the successful? Listen in to be reminded that children are innately forgiving, but how they also imitate what is exemplified for them.
Marshall Swift’s simple declaration stopped me in my tracks. It was one of those slow-motion moments that hit extra-hard because I was feeling lower than low. "You should talk more. You have great ideas" was the knockout statement that I (Robert) received from my professor during my training in psychology. I admit that I was blindsided by this educator's comment. I really didn’t know what to make of it.
Have you ever received a compliment or encouragement that you couldn’t just brush off? (Robert is proud to share the full story in his recent TEDx talk, ‘Embrace Your Superpowers’)
How do you express how awesome your child is and how much faith you have in their brilliance? Sharing your pride or saying "I love you" is awesome, but it's overused and sometimes lacks luster. "Good job" is nice, but who wants to merely be doing "good"?
How would you tell your daughter (or son) that her words, perspective, feelings, and opinions really MATTER, that you believe that she has greatness to contribute to this world?
Try getting more curious. Ask questions. Then try, "You should talk more. You have great ideas." We cannot think of an expression that would be more effective.
When someone takes the time to go beyond surface-level kindness jargon, it makes a difference. You can make that person feel like they matter. You can be a huge motivator, and it can benefit you and the receiver of the encouraging remark.
For a very long time, as Robert shares in his TEDx talk, he hid his voice instead of finding it and using it, as so many of us did (or still do).
Nicole also talks about finding and using your voice. In fact, she wrote an article, ‘Dear Little Girl with the Smart Mouth,’ to encourage young girls and all children to learn and abide by 'smart mouth' rules such as spreading kindness, not hate or negativity, always speaking the truth, being mindful before you speak, never allowing yourself to be silenced by someone else’s voice and many others.
Ask yourself these questions (even when you are speaking with other adults):
Are you and your children on the same channel?
Are you listening as much as you are talking?
In this episode of the ‘I Am the Worst Parent Ever’ podcast, Robert suggests strategies for encouraging an engaged conversation partner, be it another adult or your pint-sized offspring.
Listen in to hear Robert’s and Nicole’s take on how and why adults must find and use their voice and how to raise children who know how to speak up, banter, and listen.
Is this podcast for you?
Have you ever said,