In this episode of The Best We Could – a Parenting Manual for Our Kids, we are speaking directing to our children. It is a message to our kids regarding guiding principles.
On today’s episode I am going to be talking about who I am. I have been hesitant to share much about myself because I don’t want to give you, the listener’s, a bias. Although, we are human and we want to connect. Many people have expressed interest in knowing who I am. I do think it’s important that you know a little bit more about me.
For starters, I started this podcast so my kids would have a manual. They will know how they were parented and know what their default setting. I didn’t have that. Because I didn’t have that, I had to spend a lot of time figuring it out.
[00:00:27] – Our simple guiding principles
[00:01:17] – Voluntary relationships, your parents are the only relationship you didn’t choose.
[00:02:37] – We want you to be well socialized
[00:06:07] – The difference in compliance and commitment
[00:07:37] – Discussing acceptable behaviors preemptively
[00:12:11] – Building commitment
[00:15:43] – Focusing on alignment with the big picture
[00:17:20] – Universals: What’s good for you is good for me
Quotes from the Episode:
- “Our goal in raising you up, is to make it so that other adults are going to find you
enjoyable to be around.” [00:02:22]
- “It is better to negotiate those things prior to being in the situation.” [00:08:29]
- “Compliance is valuable, especially in the short term and especially for, novel
situations. But relying on compliance is like only eating candy bars because while it will
get the job done in the moment, there are longterm consequences of relying only on
- “It's possible to go through life avoiding getting in trouble, so to speak, but never
actually accomplishing anything because your focus has been you, your compass has
been pointed to compliance rather than commitment.” [00:14:16]
I want you to understand that your mother and I thought long and hard about this we have, obviously we want you to be successful in life. We want you to be happy in life. But before all of that, we as parents decided. That we needed to have some very simple principles that we could focus on that comes before any of that stuff about where do you potentially want to go to school? What do you want to be in life? What do you want to become in order to get to that? That's later on in the game. We have a couple of inputs that we filtered all of our interactions with you through. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, since our relationship with you is the only non voluntary relationship that you will have in your life, we ask ourself as parents, how will this action or a decision that we make stand to impact our relationship, our parent-child relationship with you both now at the point of making a decision and also into the future.
So think about this for a second. All of the other relationships in your life will be voluntary. All of your friends, you can choose to be friends with them or not to be friends with them. Your coworkers, you can choose to leave and get another job, but your parents are the only relationship in life that you didn't choose.
We kind of chose you. You didn't choose us. So our goal is to make it so that if you did have a choice, let's say in a hypothetical world, kids. That you had the choice to choose any parent that you would choose us at any point throughout your development and even into your adulthood. And that's kind of challenging because as you know, sometimes you get frustrated.
Sometimes we get frustrated, but we're coming at this from a set of principles that we think we'll make. Well, number one, we're explaining what we're doing as, as we do it, and then we're creating this recording for you to even help understand a little bit more with that. So in addition to that, our goal in, in, in raising you up, is to make it so that other adults are going to find you enjoyable to be around a worded another way.
That when you kid show up, other adults don't generally cringe. And the reason for this is we want you to be well socialized. We want other people to enjoy when you are around because this is going to influence the set of years and also potential mentors that you'll have as you grow up and get older.
And culture really has a huge influence. On who you'll become as an adult or, or can have a huge influence on that. So what does that mean in terms of our general interactions with you? Well, outside of safety, you know this, we don't use force or intimidation with you to influence your behavior or to make up for a lack of cognitive ability in you as developing children.
So basically to translate that, what that means is that I can't do anything to you that I wouldn't want you to do to me when I'm old and infirm and have dementia or whatever when I'm in my dotage, you know? So that presents a challenge because a lot of times we might get frustrated and we might want to shout.
Somebody might want to use their body for something. And I have to ask myself, is this how I would want to be treated if I am an a memory care facility? And the answer is, of course, no. So what does this generally mean? This means no hitting, no yelling, no use of force, no use of aggression to get you to do something that we want you to do.
Now, let's make a distinction here. You might ask, what about safety? Well, there have been instances I think you may remember some of these or in a parking lot or something like that, and you may have had your arm grabbed because there was danger or there was a, a situation where you were about to fall and you were scooped up and maybe knocked down as a result of almost falling off the chair.
For instance. That is not force for the purpose of getting your compliance. That's literally saving you from falling. And so there's a, there's a huge distinction there because as you kids know, we, we wrestle a lot in this house. And somebody might look at that from the outside and they might say, wow, there, you know, they're there, they're whooping on each other and.
Except for the fact that everybody's laughing and everybody's having a good time with it, and we all know what our limits are and we are not afraid to say, Hey, let's, let's stop with that. The the point here is we're not using force four compliance. We're not using force from a position of fear as parents.
We're not using force to instill fear into you. To get you to comply with what it is that we want you to do. So we have the horseplay, we have the wrestling, and we enjoy that. And if somebody looked, they might say, wow, they're really, like I said, they're really whipping on each other, but we're not doing it out of a place of to instill fear or to get compliance.
And so while we're talking about that, let's talk about the difference between. Compliance and commitment because what we're ultimately trying to do, and I realize that raising up small kids, sometimes you really just do need compliance, need you to do what I say right now. We can explain it later as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, you know, listen to me now, believe me later, right?
So. That's where we are at certain points in time where it you kids just need to listen. That's it, and then we'll explain it later on. A lot of times that will have to do with safety, but yeah, one of the things that we do here as, as you kids know, is anytime we go into a situation, we will discuss our rules prior to actually being in that situation.
So we don't try to negotiate when we're actually at a place. We talk about. What we're going to be doing beforehand. So let's say we go into a place where there's going to be a lot of traffic or where a busy parking lot, for instance, before we get in the car, we discuss the environment that we're going to be going to, and this is, this happens every time we go to the airport.
We talk about . How this is different from our normal day to day and how we need to be focused on paying attention and listening because it is a new and novel environment and there are some dangers with that. So then we talk about what the acceptable rules are and what the acceptable behavior is in that environment.
There's no running and there is no running around in that environment because it's potentially dangerous. Well, we don't try and do is wait until we get to the airport, wait until somebody starts running and then say, no running here because it's too dangerous. We try and preempt these things so that way when we parked the car at the airport, right before we get out, we say, all right, we're at the airport.
What are the rules for the airport? And then the kids recite the rules. You guys recite the rules for the airport. And then everybody has a good experience with that or a better experience with that. Obviously it does not work perfectly all the time because nothing works perfectly all the time, but what we have found is that it is better to negotiate those things prior to being in the situation.
Then waiting and hoping that everything works out perfectly once we finally get there, because there's just too much stimulation going on in that environment. And so. Let's talk about commitment and compliance with you guys. So compliance is do what I say, and maybe I'll explain it and maybe I won't.
I just want you to perform this behavior and act this way, and if you don't, then I'm not going to be happy with that. That's, that's compliance. I just want you to do this. I don't care. Just. Basically sit down and shut up. it could be that, it could be something else. Now, I'm not saying that from a, from a position of that's what I want you to do.
But just giving you kind of, Oh gosh, this is, this is challenging kids, because, you know, we try and explain things. But you guys know that sometimes we just need you to listen, especially when we're in a new or novel situation or, or especially when we're pressed for time because we don't always have the opportunity to explain things.
What I want you children to know and to realize is that we as parents try and focus on building commitment. Anytime we can versus merely compliance. Compliance is valuable, especially in the short term and especially for, novel situations. But relying on compliance is like only eating candy bars because while it will get the job done in the moment, there are longterm consequences of relying only on compliance.
Yeah. If we use, let's say that, for example, we use, physical consequences for you guys. well, I am getting older. Your mother's getting older and you kids are getting stronger. You're getting faster, you're getting bigger. There would come a time if we physical consequences with you where you would be stronger and faster.
Than us. And that would be for us because we're a little bit older parents, right about the time when you become a teenager and I'm, you know, declining a little bit. I mean, obviously we still go to the gym. We're still very active, but that, that is not a good plan for a variety of reasons.
Nevermind. Like. It's, it's, it's not right, because that's not how I would want you to treat me, when, when I'm older and we here, but basically it's reinforcing to you, Hey, you know what? if I'm bigger and stronger than I win, and that's, that's not, that's not what we want to build. If it was not from a physical perspective, but if it was from a verbal intimidation perspective, Once again, that is not something that we want to build for the longterm because longterm it may be, it may be easier to get your compliance in line at the store. But what I want to build and what we want to build as a family is we want to build commitment with you because commitment. Can work in the short term, and it can also work in the longterm.
There will be no longterm consequences of building commitment in you kids as opposed to building short term term compliance that comes with a longterm tale of consequences. So, let me give you an example of this. from, from my life. So when I was a kid, there were certain people that, certain, certain adults, they weren't, they weren't in my family actually, they were more at school, in, in the young grades.
Cause I went to a, to a religious school and would not recommend that. But anyway, they used a compliance was, was the order of the day. And so. I only acted out of fear with them. Mmm. And what happened was, is that shaped my behavior later on as an adult. And it also did not serve me, in my career or just as, as being a functional adult.
And I had to go back and I had to fix those behaviors because I was not focused on doing the right thing. I was focused on. Not getting in trouble. And that is a huge knock on effect of focusing on compliance rather than commitment because not getting in trouble with the, the, the sort of the head headmasters or whatever.
you could focus on not doing the wrong thing. And never actually do the right thing and not get in trouble, but not actually accomplish anything. And so that's one thing that I want to focus on with you understanding is that it's possible to go through life avoiding getting in trouble, so to speak, but never actually accomplishing anything because your, your focus.
Has been you, your compass has been pointed to compliance rather than commitment. So, your mom and I, one of our things that we go through with ourselves, we have kind of a, I don't want to say it's a checklist because it's certainly not a checklist, but we ask ourselves, when we're interacting with you, we say.
Is my next action with this kid? Is it going to build or erode? Commitment is, is the very next thing out of my mouth when I'm speaking to you. Going to build or decrease your commitment. Okay? And what ends up happening is we end up, instead of. nitpicking on a variety of different things. We end up focusing on the big picture and then asking, okay, are we in line with this big picture?
what can we ignore here? Okay, let's not be focused on complying with rules that, that may be arbitrary or may not work for this particular situation. But let's focus on alignment with a big picture here. And what has happened is a lot of times, you kids will actually come back and correct us.
So for example, I'll get, we'll go back to the airport example. We have the rule of no running in the airport. We have, we have but it's, it's more than a rule of no running in the airport. The w w what we are focused on is having a safe trip where nobody gets lost. And so what will ultimately happen is, is that we've all agreed to this general set of principles for operating in the airport, and you kids will come back and you'll say, Oh, Hey, daddy, you weren't supposed to go off with us without telling us where you went at the airport.
I'll say, you know, you're absolutely right. I apologize for that. I went over to that ticket counter to check on something real quick. And I should have told you before I went and did that. And you're absolutely right to point that out. So when I was growing up, if a child, if I as a child, challenged one of those authority figures, especially, in the, in the, in the school example.
In a similar way saying, Hey, you know, the rule is nobody's supposed to go off. And they would not have, they would not have come at it from the perspective of understanding. They would have come at it from the perspective of, well, that rule doesn't apply to me. And so another big thing that we try and focus on in our family is, universals.
Where what's good for you is good for me. And if it's not, then we explain why as opposed to because I said so. Okay. That is, kids have, have not heard that very much because what we try and do. Is we try to explain things as much as we possibly can. We try not to default to the, because I said so because I said so.
unfortunately, I think really comes down to . It, it, it erodes commitment and it really galvanizes compliance. It's the example of, I have more positional authority than you. And so I don't owe you an answer. Now, sometimes that may be true, as we've explained before. Sometimes when it comes to safety, you just have to listen and that's it.
We'll try to explain after, but if we can't, we can't. That's not what the focus is. The focus is in terms of building you as children longterm with commitment rather than. Compliance. So I hope that this helps to give a little bit of foundation for where we're coming from and also give you some understanding about number one, this is hard to do.
Like the easy thing to do is eat that candy bar. The easy thing to do is say, because I said so the easy thing to do is to focus on, just do it. Do it because I said so because I'm the adult. Just. Be quiet, sit down, shut up, and, Hmm. Get in the car. Right. and I've wanted to say that many times, but I realized that, that that's not going to, that's not going to help you build the skills that you need to be, successful adults.
So. I will explain more as, as this develops. I hope that this has been useful for you kids whenever you listen to this in the future. And that is going to conclude this episode.