How to prepare your child for the REAL world
November 27, 2023
In Episode 88, Sara and Kyle, LPCs, discuss what it takes to prepare kids to be successful adults. Do kids need to be toughened up so they don’t wilt under the pressure or does it make it more challenging for them in adulthood? We also discuss the soft skills children need to learn to help them face life’s ups and downs.
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Episode 88 Transcript:
Hello and welcome to Episode 88 of The Art of Raising Humans. I'm Kyle.
And I'm Sara. And first I want to say I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Yes. You know, this episode should be dropping Sarathe Monday after Thanksgiving, so I hope all the families had a great break, really enjoyed being together, had a lot of great memories with kids. Great food.
Great fun, right? All that kind of stuff.
Some good memories. And we want to welcome all the new listeners. Many, many new listeners have come to listen to the podcast. Yeah, we're really excited about that. Yeah, so it's really fun to see some of that work that we've been doing really get out among the world. The hours in the closet talking.
Literally in the closet. So for all the new listeners, we are in a master closet and in our master bedroom. And we just put this together because we really want to help families. So, man, some of you have commented and reached out to us through Facebook Messenger or through comments on the podcast itself. Some of you emailed us and it's been really, really encouraging to read those comments. It has. We do and we read them and we share them and we're excited and love connecting with everyone.
And it's really a way we design the podcast, you know? I mean, even the podcast topic we're gonna talk today, it came up through the comments, through Facebook and TikTok and Instagram, all that stuff, and even people messaging us. So if you have a topic that you're interested in hearing, send us a message.
Reach out to us. We're watching. We're reading the comments. And I want to encourage, if you're following us, I don't know what platform you might be following us. If you aren't, get on with us on all three. We'd love to have you join us on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook. Right now, Facebook's the one that's seemed to have grown the most lately. But we'd love you to join us on all those because it's more and more families that we can hopefully help be able to just equip them and encourage them to be the parents they're wanting to be. Yeah. So, first of all, I want to hit the topic.
So we'll hit that real quick. Basically, the topic today is going to be preparing your child for the real world. But before we dive into that topic, I would love for you to definitely rate this podcast. Many of you have said, hey, this is five stars.
This is 10 out of 10. But what really helps, if you're on Spotify or Apple, any of those, to go and rate the podcast, share the podcast, comment on it. That really helps us move up in the rankings when it comes to other parenting stuff and more people can find us and we can help more people. But let's dive into the topic, Penny. So, preparing your child for the real world. Yeah. I chose that topic, Sara, because many people over the past several weeks, when they were watching some of our content, kept saying, especially when I was apologizing, I was trying to repair, they're saying this isn't going to prepare their kid for the real world. Yeah. Yeah. And I think we heard that a lot.
And I think we can relate to that question. We definitely had a time. We took a lot of great things from our parents and we're really grateful for them. Love them. And we've added some other tools and switched out some tools a little bit more parenting. And so whenever you do something like that, you think, well, this is different than how I was raised. And is this going to work out? I mean, I want to make sure my child's going to be successful, going to be this, you know, be able to go out into the world and be adult. And we asked that exact question. Totally. So, well, what did they mean when they say, is this going to prepare our child for the real world or this won't prepare them for the real world?
I think a great bit of it is when your child goes into the workplace, the workplace can be rough. You've got your boss, you've got co-workers.
So that's one part of it. Can they handle this stuff? It's a dog-eat-dog world, right? Right. I mean, at least sometimes. And the betrayals that happen, the conflicts, the trying to, you know, get ahead or all of those things, even and then relationships, friendships, all the pieces in life, getting a house, whatever it might be. There's going to be stuff that's hard that they're going to have to face. And overcome. Yeah. Yeah. So will my kid have the strength, have the courage, have the know-how, have the resiliency, have the character, all the things that they're going to need to face what can sometimes be a really tough world? Yeah. And so that's kind of what they're implying with this.
This won't help your kid be ready for the real world. They need to be tough enough to face these hard circumstances. Is that what you hear them saying? Yeah. So it's kind of like it looks really, really gentle. And if we're gentle with them, then they're a little flower that's going to get smashed when they have to face not the gentle parent, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And I think you and I felt that, right? When you and I were changing some of our parenting stuff, especially because you naturally lean more towards nurturing and gentleness than I do, you know? And I kind of like, I think a lot of dads who might be listening to this, we kind of maybe pride ourselves on being tough and being strong.
I mean, you know, I don't even like getting sick. Like getting sick to me feels weak. And like, I don't want to go into the doctor. I'll do it. But there's still some of that in me. It's kind of ridiculous. But yes, there's still some of that in me.
But yeah, but it's still there. And so I know when I would see you, instead of like getting bigger when the kids' emotions would get big, I saw you as being weak. I saw that as being like, like, how are we helping this kid? When somebody, someday they need to know that they can't talk like this.
They need to know. Because otherwise, if we don't do that, there's going to be a boss that does it. There's going to be. So all of those kind of thoughts. They'll get fired if they talk to someone like this. Or if they don't, you know, the boss tells them to do something and they talk back or whatever it might be. There's a whole list of things that go through your head as parents. And I was thinking this at two years old. I'm like, if this two year old thinks they can do that, you know, they're going to have an unsuccessful future, you know, because they've got to learn how the real world is. Right. Right. And so I think there was fear, especially because you and I had no models.
We had nobody doing this approach at that time that we knew, except for some of the experts who had been teaching us. Right. And so we didn't know what their kids were like. It's new. The brain research that's fueling a lot of this, a lot of the research and what they've done with these longitudinal studies is just it's new. We just now got this.
So so there isn't this. Well, for 300 years, thousands of years, parents have been doing this. But then we started reading some cool books like Dr.
Gottman, who's typically a marriage guy. He has a really good book on the research called Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children. And his book, he does do these longitudinal studies. He does. He does follow kids who are being raised in homes, what he calls more emotion coaching homes and then other homes where they're doing typical kind of punitive based approaches, more behavior based rather than motion based.
And he sees the positive outcome. So books like that really helped us. Also, knowing cool people like Dr. Markham and getting to talk to her about her experience with her kids and all that stuff and how they've grown up into adults. And and we met some others. And now there are literally hundreds of longitudinal studies that go back decades of time. And now there's quite a bit of research. If you want to look it up, it's it's out there now that. So I would encourage any listener right now to just take a moment and think when you hear that, like, is my approach, whatever approach you're using, is this preparing them for the real world?
I'm sure you've thought that. So what what does that mean? You know, I just think for a moment, what does it mean to prepare your kid for the real world? What what does that look like? What what kind of world are we preparing them for? So so I know, Sara, as we were worried about that and we started thinking, we dived into this and saw, OK, now we start getting some confidence. Oh, wait, it was starting to shift our mind to really what are the skills they need for the real world? You know, our focus turned away from, well, they need to be tough. They need to know that when somebody yells at them, that they they don't fall apart and cry, you know, whatever those kind of things are, that when life hits them, they'll hit back. You know, they won't just like you said, wilt like a flower or melt like a snowflake, all these kind of thoughts popping in your head, you know, so we we are my goal. You know, I won't speak for you.
My goal was I wanted a kid who was tough, who could overcome things. Now, I didn't at the time know the word was resiliency. You know, I didn't know that's really what I wanted was a kid who was resilient. And when you looked at what it takes to kind of develop a person's resilience, it isn't beating them over the head. It isn't yelling at them. It isn't that.
That's not what it creates. Resilient kid, you know. So that was just one skill of many that I started saying, wait, we need to switch.
I need to be very specific. What are the skills that I really want to teach? And is this other punitive approach really teaching those skills? So when you think about it, Sara, when you're saying I want to raise a kid who's prepared for the real world, what do you think about what does prepare them for the real world? Well, I actually, too, I got really curious about this when I became involved with Dr. Chan-Hellman and his study on hope and won't go down that trail. But there's a lot of interesting things out there about people with high hope and what it means for them. And so if you look, if you won't talk about that, but people with really high hope.
We do have a podcast on that. We do. We do. The whole podcast.
It's even bigger. Back in the early days. So I think it's in the first ten. Yeah. But there's one. There's even so much more to say about it and new research is coming out all the time.
But I thought, wow, that's pretty neat. A person with really, really high hope has been shown to overcome a lot of things, be able to overcome things, get around things, re-goal and, you know, create a great life for themselves just to really make it tiny. And so that gave me even more curiosity about resiliency. And and that's how I start kind of going down that trail. And so you think what what's going to I saw people go through really hard things.
And what what helps them? What helps them be successful in life? And I thought of things like resiliency, being a really big one, character, being another one. Things that where you are able to voice, you know, be be authentic and be able to share, be vulnerable. Yeah. Yeah. Assertive. Yeah. Yeah. That's that's the word I was sure. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I can see you spinning. Yeah. Yeah. Like, OK, what's that other word?
What's that other word? Not aggressive, but assertive. And be able to, you know, be able to stand up, but with also this strength, not force and have boundaries. Yeah. Those are just some immediately that come to my mind. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Integrity. Yeah. Well, and then I think back to the quotes.
I love this quote. I've shared it with a few people who commented on on the different social media sites. But this quote by LR Notes that I think kind of sums up for us what what kind of changed the focus. And she says here, it's not our job to toughen our children up, to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who make the world a little less cruel and heartless. And I just really thought that that quote really summed up the shift that we wanted to make in our.
Yeah, before I did, before my focus was. And I think I think many people, rightly so, who are commenting are saying, hey, the world is cruel, hard and heartless, and you cannot send kids out there who every little thing goes wrong.
They just wilt before that. Right. And I would say I agree.
Yeah, I completely agree. I don't I don't want our kids to do that. I want our kids to be able to stand up for themselves. I want our kids to be able to speak their mind. I want them to know themselves. Right. But when you look at what really helps people get there, you start to study things like the soft skills and the hard skills that are proven throughout. I mean, like they've been studying this for many, many decades now. Many experts are not going to go into depth of these things. Many people, if you want to look those up, there's many great writers on the hard skills and soft skills. You know, basically the hard skills being, you know, if I could sum it up there, it's basically just the knowledge you need to be able to do that particular job or or thing you're doing so that the soft skills are different.
You know, the soft skills are things that include like critical thinking, problem solving, attention to detail, communication, ownership, leadership, interpersonal skills, teamwork, grit, curiosity. You know, these are the soft skills. Anybody can go to school being part of a team and, yeah, collaborating.
Well, even like when you bring that up. So that's why so many school projects, as annoying as they can be, they want you to work on a team to build soft skills. Yeah, because they know, teachers know, professors know. Yeah. Part of getting along in this world and making this world less cruel and heartless. Not sure they're always teaching the skills, but they're giving them at least an opportunity to slam a bunch of kids together and say, do a group project and like, hopefully you figure it out. That's right. That's true. There's probably not a lot of coaching in that. I mean, I mean, there's probably there's probably some that do and some that's true. But all throughout school, you're constantly being tasked by getting in a group and you're supposed to work together and they could just have all those kids do it individually and they could all just get the hard skills, which is the knowledge of the thing they're trying to do.
But the ability to work as a team, it's a lot harder. And I bet many listeners who are listening now find that very difficult. It's not even I'm a very outgoing talking to person. I didn't always enjoy being put in a team. It was kind of like, let me do my own thing. And for those who are familiar, if you were just just look up all this stuff, but the difference between your IQ and your EQ, you know, we get we hear a lot about IQ and that's your level of intelligence. But they're finding that you can have a great IQ, but it's the EQ that gets you really far in life that helps you, so to speak, climb up the ranks and things like that. You need those that EQ, which is those soft skills. So that's another thing. If you want to be looking something up. Yeah. And so those soft skills became more of our focus. Right. So, of course, we're teaching other things.
How how to like hard skills would be how to apply for a job, how to do that particular work. The kids do things like they mow the lawn or they do the dishes.
These are all hard skills. But how to work together as siblings, that soft skills, how to be able to talk with other people, other adults. Those are things that we model on purpose. Right. How to emotionally regulate, how to have self-control, how to be able, like you said, have healthy boundaries. I put down here, Sara, I think both leading and following.
Yes, that's a real important one. Right. Like like it isn't just to raise kids who just follow all the time. I actually don't think it's good to have kids who just do whatever other people say to do. I want them to think for themselves, but I also want them to know there is a time to just go do the thing that was said to actually be able to sit in a moment and think, which one do I need to do right now?
What is this moment calling for? Yeah. And sometimes it might be I need to step and be a leader. Sometimes I might be right now.
I just need to step back. Yeah. I need to allow that this person lead. I need to step aside even if I can. We want them to advocate for themselves. We also want them to be flexible, you know, to be able to go with the flow. Sometimes they don't always have to have their way.
That's not good. Adapt to a situation. Yeah. And so so as we started doing this, I began to see the depth of what people like Dr.
Becky Bailey, Dr. Markham, Siegel, all these people are talking about is when you look at the brain, like what, quote unquote, preparing them from the real world in a sense of let's demand they do stuff, let's yell at them, let's punish them, let's ground them, this kind of stuff. It actually causes the kid to go back to a part in their brain where they're just trying to protect themselves, you know, and the skill they're really learning is just how to survive. Yeah. And I don't want to raise kids to run. Yes. To whatever it takes. Fight, run. We talked about this in the past, but fight, flight, freeze or even fawn or surrender kind of thing. Those aren't they already have those skills like they don't I don't actually need to give them those. That's part of their natural brain chemistry to do that. To survive.
And when we come across and think preparing for the real world is just to get them better at those, we miss the opportunities to help them be able to thrive in their life rather than just survive their life. Yeah. And no doubt I do want them to survive, but I don't want them to think that's the end goal.
The end goal is to thrive. Right. And so so that's why I love the emphasis when we're helping our kids on focusing on self-discipline, you know, rather than punishment, we're focusing on teaching them how to be self-disciplined, how to control themselves rather than be controlled by others. Yes. Having that internal thing that says, wait, what is going on in this moment?
What am I thinking and feeling? What are my impulses, that self-control, looking at their options, having some foresight into what what's going to happen next if I do this and what's going to happen next if I do that and have it be something that comes inside of them instead of just, well, if I do that, I'm going to get in trouble. Yeah. Yeah. So I'll do this because I want to avoid the trouble. Yeah. Not because I see the value and I'm looking at that decision and deciding where I want to go. Yeah. It's even as you're saying that, sir, I'm thinking of because in our families, like I said, we're taking the good that they gave us, but also there were some skills that weren't given to us. Like, for instance, when bosses were mean or did cross boundaries or stuff like that, sometimes there was this because it's used to you're used to the authority figure always putting it on you to change. And so you would just naturally just take it upon like I did something wrong or I or or you point at them and just say they did something wrong.
It's either this like either them or me. One of us is the problem, right? Instead of teaching the kid to be able to do what you just said, but be self-aware, you know, self-reflect. What role did I play in this conflict with my boss? And do I want to continue working for this boss? Maybe it's something I could grow from. Right. And we really want kids who can who can do that, who can think through that, who can talk through that. And sometimes it might be the best to quit that job. Yeah. Sometimes it might be the best to continue working that job and actually learn how to deal with that conflict with that boss. Right. But it's not a one cut answer.
It's really about them reflecting upon what what is best for them and then getting wisdom from from their parents or their friends and then making the best thoughtful decision in that moment. Yeah. Being it kind of reminds me of being able to have the presence of mind and to have that emotional regulation in a moment to to to be able to do all of those skills, you know, and to bring yourself back to that part of your brain to go, OK, this is a rough spot right now.
What are my options? What do I want to do? Who am I in this moment? And I think you can only not react. Once again, you can only do that when you feel safe and loved in relationships with those around you. If you don't, for instance, if I didn't have a support group, a support community. Right. And my boss gets mad at me and treats me like really bad.
But that's the only job I think I can do. I think that's the only I need to have this job. I'm so like if I lose this job, I'm completely alone and I'm destitute, then I'm not going to be able to thrive in that.
I'm only going to try to survive, you know. And instead, what I think you and I've done throughout our careers, there's been some bosses we've had that were great. There was some bosses we have that aren't. And I guess I'll share a story about even how my dad taught me this one time.
So I'm just thinking this. I was working at a place called Homeland and Homeland was a grocery store. And there was a time where I was working there.
I was only 16. It was my first real job.
And I liked it. It was OK.
I mean, I was bagging groceries. Sometimes I got to do the video department. I really enjoyed it. But the point was, it was one day I showed up and they had me scheduled till midnight. And my dad said, yeah, you're not going to work till midnight. You know, that's not something you're going to do on a school night. And the manager, when I went and spoke to her, she was unbending on this. She did. She thought everybody needed to do that. And so she said, if you don't work till midnight, then you'll just need to.
That'll be your last day. You'll need to quit. So I told my dad that and my dad, without anger, he just said, OK, well, that would be your last day. So when it comes to 10 o'clock, I would encourage you just to take off your work apron. I had your name tag handed to the boss. Thank them for allowing you to work there. But tell them that you're not working till midnight and this is your last day. And that was a moment, Sara, where I really thought, oh, OK, this is a different skill because because to be to be honest with you, I didn't feel like I could always do that with my parents. You know, I couldn't just said, you know, I don't think I want to do that.
You know it. But in that moment, my dad was saying, no, you need to be able to assert yourself this way. You know, if you just do that, then they're likely to continue asking you to work till midnight more often. You know, that's the kind of conclusion. So there I learned that's what we're thriving in the real world can look like. It is you saying I don't actually need this job. You know, I enjoy working here, but if I'm if I'm asked to do things that I think are unhealthy or not, not not good for my age at this time to work till midnight, be tired next day, then I'm going to say I'm not going to do that job. And once again, my dad modeled gratitude about how to thank them. It wasn't like yell at them or be mean to them. And so that's just another example of I think that's preparing our kids for the real world, right? How to know themselves, how to assert themselves and how to how to be able to know others and be able to communicate with them their needs and wants.
I think, too, that I love that example. And and I think when I think of people saying and where I've thought this or people have said it or, you know, we've discussed it before, when we think that it's almost that we have to yell at our kids so they're prepared for a boss to yell at them or if we don't, if we're gentle with them, they won't be ready for someone who does yell at them. And I think there was this the switch in my mind where I thought, actually, I want to treat them a certain way and I want to model communication with them that's healthy and that does the things we've just discussed. Sure. You know, that's that's respectful and has boundaries and has being assertive instead of aggressive and things like that. I want to do that here because they inevitably will come in contact with someone who doesn't do that out there. And I want something to go off in their head that goes, what? Exactly. What is happening here? And I don't want them to think, oh, this is what I'm supposed to accept. Yep. So I want to do something different in my home.
And they may be surprised when that happens out in the other in the world, in the real world. When people treat them cruelly. Right. Right. But they will know that this isn't the way I want my life. This isn't how I want to be treated or this isn't how I deserve to be treated. And this isn't how I want to treat other people. And I can go make the world and I can go find people and I can go in that direction versus just I've got to put up with this because this is just how it is. And I and what we find, though, is actually in being in an environment that is healthy, doesn't make it so kids can't handle an unhealthy environment if they ever need to be in one for whatever reason for a time that they actually have strength and this thing inside of them and a support system and all those things that help them be in that hard situation and still thrive and come out OK. Yeah. Yeah. It's not that we've beaten you down enough so you can handle being beaten down by somebody else.
You are loved while here and then you're able to handle the hard moments out there because of that. Yeah. Well, what a cool message there is we're coming up on, you know, in America and stuff.
There's this Christmas season coming up. Right. And we've done daylight savings time and it's getting darker earlier. Right. So and what you're saying, I'm thinking of, yeah, the world is dark. There's a lot of darkness out there. So we want our homes to be filled with light. Right. So they they know what it's like to to see light. I mean, we don't want to just make our houses darker, too. And with the Christmas thing, a lot of things we do in America is people put a Christmas lights, you know.
So I love even that tradition that we've done of like, yeah, it's going to get darker, but, you know, we're going to do we're going to put like cool lights outside to make even the darkness look cool with these lights. And I kind of so in kind of wrapping it up, I want to ask our listeners to be thinking and I'd love for you to comment or or as we do some real, you know, follow us on the social media sites or we'll try to like piece these out in some real and creative ways. But I'd love for you to share what you think it takes to prepare your kid for the real world. And this is how I would sum it up, Sara, as I wrote down, I said, we want our children to bring more health, joy and goodness into the world. They are not going in to the world with their eyes closed. They have their eyes wide open and they are looking at how to create a better world to live in. So I think that's our hope and dream for our kids. Right. And I know it's a challenge and I know at times there will be hurt that comes when you come in hoping that people will want to have that same light or that same whatever you're bringing.
And sometimes that's going to hurt. But I do think that's part of life and being able to bring something better into it. OK, so we'd love to hear your thoughts. And once again, we hope your Thanksgiving time went well and we look forward to meeting again on the podcast in a couple of weeks.
Thank you for listening. In our podcast today, we're going to talk about what it takes to prepare your kid for the real world.