Episode-920- Building Self Reliance in Our Children — 33 Comments

  1. I love this show already. I haven’t even listened to the whole thing but show notes tell me that this episode is right on.
    Thank you for doing this topic, Jack. I have a 2 yr old and want more than anything for her to self sufficient and strong.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Yes I was saying “duh.” Alot. But it occurred to me I haven’t sat down thought through and organized my kids current and future rules. or lack there of. thanks man. my kindergardener will thank you one day.

  3. I don’t have kids and never will, but this is an excellent episode on a very important issue that’s truly at the root of improving our collective future. Even as an uncle I hope to be able to project the ideals presented here into the way I connect with my nephews and nieces.

  4. Great show Jack. We have two little ones and are doing our best to raise little hybrids, kids that are close to the earth who can plant, farm, raise animals but who can also understand and access the technologies we have at our disposal. The goal is to raise balanced children who have strengths, knowledge and balance. Kids who can butcher a rabbit as well as build you a website or write code or to have an understanding in entrepreneurial business. Thanks for the show.

  5. I have 3 kids, and from the very beginning, we had 3 house rules. “No lying, no hurting, be respectful.” Every single issue that a family can have falls under at least one of these rules, and my kids could recite them by the time they were two (even though they may not have understood what it meant yet.)

    And regarding the idea that we should let our kids try, I can attest to the wisdom there. I’m legally blind, and I can’t imagine how helpless I’d be at this point if my parents hadn’t let me do for myself. Letting me do things for myself taught me how to work hard for what I wanted. It also taught me that I’m the only one who sets limits for me. Letting me be independent — not having someone do everything for me — showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to regardless of whether or not other people think I’m “supposed to”.

    As a quick example. My Dad is a YMCA scuba instructor. When I was a senior in high school, I decided that I wanted to get certified. He didn’t tell me, “No, you can’t do that ’cause you can’t see x, y, and z, and it’ll be too hard because …” He just said, “OK”, and we figured it all out as we went along. There were some challenges, but we worked around them because we were determined. We used our brains to think outside the box rather than expecting someone to make exceptions because I can’t see.

    Really great show, Jack. And you definitely gave me some good stuff to think about regarding chores and the financial side of things. That’s something that we’ve struggled with all along, and you’ve given me some good ideas. Thanks!

  6. I enjoyed the show as well. I couldn’t help myself of thinking of this through a permaculture and gardening mindset. You must cultivate an environment for the child to be successful. It may take a lot of work and input during the early stages in order to make them strong and independent for the future (sustainable). I think we often fail because we aren’t willing to expend the additional energy to get things working properly. We try short-cuts or skip steps and short change are children’s futures.

    Food for thought: How much time would you spend with your child if you knew you only had 6 months left with them? I know I have to re-evaluate my priorities from time to time.

  7. Best quote I have heard on this subject. Keeps it simple. “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child”.

  8. This is great stuff Jack! As a parent of 2 adult children (23 & 25) I am able to see what I did right and not so right. Your method is full of common sense, but sadly, there is nothing common about good sense in parenting these days. It’s been jokingly said that parents should be required to get a license to have kids. If only we could sit them down to listen to some sage advice, like Drivers Ed for parenting. Then maybe the pattern of crappy parenting can be broken. I appreciate your candor and honesty (a useful tool in parenting too).

  9. Jack,
    Great show. I’m nearing the end of parenting with girls 17 and 19. We hear folks (relatives especially) say your so lucky, your girls were so easy to raise. Luck nothing. It was hard word when they were very young. We were intense about respect and obedience when they were very young. The result was, they understood the authority structure well. They also knew they were loved very much. We never have had to deal with teenage rebellion and all the ugliness. As a school principal I have spoken often on child rearing, but usually focus on birth to 10. I have been asked many times about doing a presentation on teenage rebellion and I tell them I have nothing to offer. If you don’t win that authority/respect thing when they are young, you probably never will. Your problems are only going to get worse.

    At the same time. the relationships must be there. Unplug your kids from the stupid screen (permanently) and watch those relationships grow. Read together if you need entertainment.

    Lastly, kids need to know hard work. They need to work for their family and they also need to work for their stuff. So many students I deal with have no interest in getting a job or starting a lawn mowing route or such. Why should they. Mom buys them anything they want.

  10. Jack,

    Off topic FYI, but I just finished a book that gave a shout out to the survival podcast at the end. It was “77 Days In September”, by Ray Gorham. Didn’t know if you knew it or not. No mention of it in the Forum.
    Book was so-so, main character and other’s actions were not practical most of the time, but it was a book to give thought to.



  11. Jack, this may be the best podcast yet. I appreciate the fact that you were willing to share your personnal story, I relate to it alot. Todays topic really gets to the root of the problem. We all need to get our house in order before we try to do more with self-suffiency. It is great to have survival skills in this world, but day to day these basics will help more people with living a better life. The lessons taught today will be used more; sort of like the “you will eat 3x a day, how many gun fights have you been in” thought process. I will try to use a few of these basics to improve my 3 boys, ages 5,7, and 10. Thanks again, David

  12. “?When I ask you what you think about something, IDK isn’t an answer”
    Help! We are parents of introverted 16 yo son that never learned any communication skills. He will talk incessently about subjects that interest him, but when posed questions the answer is IDK, or he will find a way to relate it to zombies or rogue robots or some such nonsense. How do you get your kids to share hopes, dreams, and opinions?

    • @LP Johnson, the key is simply making kids understand what do you think has no wrong answers other than IDK and holding them accountable to giving an answer. WITH IN REASON, what do you think about quantum particle physics may actually be true when he says IDK. But most times people always think something, just make him say it. That said at his current age, PICK YOUR BATTLES WISELY.

      • The trick is getting this kid to stop seeing in black & white. He will not give an opinion unless he is fairly sure it is correct. Asking math problems are about the only thing I can get an answer on. He has a tough time with abstract thought, feelings, empathy, etc. *sigh* He is coming around, though.

    • LP, my knee jerk reaction to your dilema was, “take him camping or rough it for a couple of weeks. Give him time to breathe, appreciate, and see what’s around him. Good thing for anybody. TV, computer and computer games are are all enemies of families. Have hand, pull plug. That’s the short answer. I raised 8 children and have 18 grands, and 13 great grands. Kids need time without distractions, then check his diet, too. May seem irrelevant but maybe not.

      • I did fail to mention that he does have Asperger’s(diagnosed by 2 different psychologists, though not officially due to the only available resources for that label are special ed). He has been on a paleo diet since the first of the year, and he has been off dairy most of his life. He reads a lot of books, and Sherlock Holmes has been suggested to help him with reasoning and observation. To anyone reading: The diet has helped tremendously. I shouldn’t complain about his communication skills after seeing where we’ve been! It is very much like talking to a foreigner, I’m just waiting for the day it all clicks for him.

        • Jack, Thanks so much. I really appreciate your time today. You better believe I’m going to start asking if he cares! Then we may just have to drop the subject if he does not. He is terribly, terribly gifted, just getting him to operate within the expectations of the known universe is a trial. (He just passed geometry with a C+ without actually getting any of the answers wrong. He refused to show his work because it was a waste of time, paper, and pencil despite being told by his teacher that she would not give him credit without showing the work.) I know that he will make a tremendous contribution to an area of his interest someday, I guess I just have to let him navigate his own route from point A to point B.

        • @LP Johnson, wow sounds EXACTLY LIKE ME, the math I had to take I could get the answer in half the time of anyone else but found showing the work redundant, pointless and boring. So I took only the courses I had to so I could get out of high school. After Algebra 1 and Geometry I switched to Accounting classes for my math credits. It was a hell of a lot more interesting to me, money is something I care about, I don’t give a shit what X is unless it represents something I care about. I care even less about explaining to someone how to do it “their way” when I can look at the problem and see the answer “my way”. Flatly he isn’t going to care, you can’t make him, it won’t work.

          He will likely bounce around a few jobs in his 20s, find something he loves and at that point kick ass and take names with it. People observing him early on will say shit like “he is lazy” or “not really driven” a few years later he will be 20 years beyond most people in a common career path, likely one day he will be successful and totally on his own, um, ask me how I know.

        • @ txmom
          @ Modern Survival
          @ Ashaldaron
          Thank you all. My biggest concern is my son being able to function in “the real world.” This discussion had been more valuable than a year of counseling (nod your head and say “interesting”). I think I’ll relax & just leave him alone a little bit now. Thanks again!

        • @LP just remember that school is nothing like the “real world” nothing is less like the real world than school. No other place is a person supposed to allow themselves to be bullied, sit still for 8 hours a day, conform 100% to the status quo. The big objection to home schooling is always but what about when they have to go into the real world, my response is always so tell me what about public schooling is like the “real world”?

          The cafeteria when some kids must eat alone and some people are accepted at some tables and not others? Gym class where weaker kids are teased? School buses where kids that are different are tormented with no recourse? Who puts up with shit like that in the “real world”?

          Having worked for many companies and owned a few now I can confidently say I have never seen anyone treated in a work environment the way I saw them treated in school. If you work in my company and do just about any of the shit kids do in school your ass is fired and fired fast. School isn’t the real world, don’t believe that lie for a second. If you kid doesn’t give a shit about fitting in good, it will save him countless hours of conformity or misery for something that will one hundred percent cease to matter about five seconds after the final bell rings.

      • @LP Johnson

        As a child I am 100% sure I had Aspergers, let me tell you how grateful I am that at the time no one had yet defined it and developed any sort of “treatment” or “therapy” for it.

        People can’t believe that a guy like me, in the public eye, 10 years of corporate high level sales, public speaker, teacher, etc ever had Aspergers. I don’t even see it as a “condition” simply a label for really smart people that only give a shit about what they give a shit about. If it is indeed a “medical condition” as they claim now, I consider it a gift.

        • Let me add the following answer isn’t IDK and one I would almost always accept,

          “I don’t care”

          That said Matt never seemed to figure that loophole out. LOL

        • Aspergers, my oldest I’m sure has it, probably several of my kids (they are gifted), but it wasn’t really talked about when he was little either. He dismantled his crib before he could walk, found a knob in a drawer which matched his grandma’s missing tv knob and fixed it (18 months). Carried around a purse full of tools as he got older and preferred to bark than talk.
          First few years of school where really tough, teachers and principals called often. Not doing any harm, just all over the place and they thought he wasn’t learning. Not following the crowd, simply doing weird stuff. Homework was a nightmare for both of us, he could not focus on it. Loves to be outdoors.
          A good friend introduced him to origami, at which he quickly excelled and did throughout the school day. Now he stayed in his seat for the most part, and homework he could quickly do so he could build or create something that interested him.
          No therapy or diagnosis, talked to school, he was doing well, A’s maxed out IQ tests and they were suggesting I have him tested so he could be put on meds. Later in life he even had a job in silicon valley which suggested he get meds to slow down his thought process as it was hard for others to keep up.
          Math he did well, quickly got it out of the way to do important stuff like make dragons out of paper. Algebra 1 end of year test he turned in soon after papers passed out. Teacher upset that he was “blowing a grade” to get back to his “stupid paper folding”. Please check your work. No! Everything on that paper is correct. and it was.
          For him social skills had to be taught, things people pick up naturally weren’t natural to him. Took me a while to get the clue. I’d simply explain things once, and he’d get it, wish I’d realized sooner. I just assumed he acted like a dog because he wanted to, surely he realized it made him look weird to others. He had no idea. Kids no longer picked on him. He gained the respect of all around him. Body language is still hard for him to read.
          Just because people’s brains are wired differently doesn’t mean it has to be “fixed”. Not an expert in the field. I’m more of the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Each child is very unique, never a one size fits all.
          And he gets paid well today, Married with kids, wonderful dad and husband.
          Harder for his cousin, same age, (got baby shots same town, same age, same clinic) whose is diagnosed with Asperger’s, whose step-father didn’t understand, said he was faking it. The school put him in class with special needs kids until his mom insisted he go to regular classes. His memory of images, maps, graphs, etc is awesome, but doesn’t do well with text. Step dad kicked him out at 18 and he had no means of support, told him he only took him into his home because he was a package deal with his mom.
          Thanks Jack for being one of the good step dads.

      • @lp johnson Thanks. Help him learn there is often many different right answers, life will be easier for him.
        Having a verbal conversation was hard when my son was little. He had no desire to talk. Knew how. Didn’t care.
        I decided that a ugg and grunt and pointing at food when he wanted more was unacceptable. I got his attention, explained things. I told him that from now on he had to ask for seconds politely with words. (food motivated, his first word was eat) I’d put some of everything on his plate and if he wanted more, he’d have to ask with words. Next meal, he grunted and pointed for more. I simply explained again the rules. He left the table without asking for seconds. Next meal he politely asked for more.
        I wondered if he even knew how to count to 10 before starting school, he had no desire whatsoever for Sesame Street and other educational shows. Then one day we were sitting on some stairs and he said “Mom there are 12 steps (or however many there were) here.” I counted and he was right. I’d never heard him count before.
        Conversations were hard, but I learned by asking him questions about whatever he was making, etc. became our best talks. As he got older, and spent hours making stuff on the computer (dial up days), he enjoyed showing me his projects. Talking about his feelings is another story, much less open to share. Today he still loves to show me his projects, most of which is way over my head, but I ask what does it do, how is that better, etc. He loves to teach what he has learned, invented, etc. I even go online and watch some of the presentations he has done around the world. Most of it over my head, but gives me a better idea of what he is doing. I enjoy our conversations and I have learned much from him.
        Keeping track of stuff will always be a challenge for him, made college much harder. His wife helps him keep track of stuff, paying bills, keeping up with his schedule, etc.
        Routines help, freedom to create, free time outside, building stuff, helping others. And when asking to do something, just ask one thing at a time, not multiple directions unless written done.
        Each child is different, listen to your heart.

    • @LPJohnson,

      I figured I would offer another perspective. I don’t know anything about Asbergers or your specific situation, but your description of your son sounds a heck of a lot like me from 10 years ago. I was quiet as heck, shy, introverted, awkward around girls and most people. I was in my “goth phase”, and studied obscure information while sliding through school with a low C average. I couldn’t find my motivation for anything, especially school, and I saw everything in black and white. The zombies part made me smile, I think that still applies to me now.

      Now if you looked at me, you would never be able to connect the two people in your mind. I just celebrated my 9th wedding anniversary. I am the store manager for a retail sales organization. I lead a team of 7 people, and I interact with dozens of customers in a day. Mostly successfully. I still love zombies, and I still see the world in black and white. Wrong is wrong, and I won’t compromise on wrong. That makes me a great sales leader by the way, as if we are the problem, I admit it, and purge the issue.

      Ok, that wasn’t supposed to be so much about me, but I can’t figure out how to re-write it. My point is, it all changed when I got a job. I was a cashier at Wal Mart for 9 months as my first job. It was either learn to deal with people, or be miserable a lot. I adapted. Your son probably will too. There is something out there that will pull him out. For me it was a job, maybe for him too. Either way, my parents dealt with my crazy lovingly, and I thank them for laying the ground work of the man I grew up to be. I am sure you are doing fine.

  13. Jack,

    Great podcast! I’ve got two small kids. I’m amazed every day at the new things that my oldest (3) does. It really drives home the point that he is a person and not an accessory(like how so many people treat their kids) and I need to treat him like a real person, as you mentioned.

    It’s great to hear someone else talk about common sense parenting. I can’t stand these parents today who baby their kids and do everything for them. I think if more parents parented like their grandparents used to the world (or the US at least) would be a much different and better place.

  14. Another great show, Jack. Choosing principles to follow, makes it easier to tell what’s important to work on or let go. Easy for parents to nag their kids over nothing, because they themselves are not focused. Meals together, at the table, clean up together, etc. are great times for children to interact and be heard. “Let’s do something” is better than “do”something” when training small ones. Since children are adults in training, character building lessons are so important. Also, the best thing a dad can do for his children is to love and respect their mother, and visa versa. Too bad common sense is so uncommon.

  15. Jack, Thinking this is one of the most useful shows ever recorded…good for you. Refreshing to hear from all of those whom have done a good job rearing their children. Our country has great kids, if we instruct them, coach them, mentor them, and LOVE them. Everything else takes care of itself. A shout out to my great ones (ages, 4, 11, 15) also! The 4 year old little girl loves that new garden this year. The 11 year old loves squirrel hunting. And, that 15 year old son who called me the other night at 2am to ask me to pick him up, because some kids were trying drugs at a sleepover. Jack, Thanks for being instructional and inspiring at the same time! Mike

  16. On being responsible for their friends actions. Amazing how once they understand you will enforce that rule, they choose more wisely who they play with and what they get out, encourage their friends to pick up with them.

    One son, after he’d been driving a while and I started to let him give a few friends a ride. He came home one night, annoyed with his friends. They thought it was funny to put the car in reverse at stop lights, put their hands over his eyes while driving, etc. I grounded him on the spot from driving any friends for a while. (which he thanked me for) I explained his friends actions in the car are his responsibility, to pull over, not drive anywhere when they were acting that way, that he could kick them out of the car and call their parents to come pick them up. As a driver he is responsible for the safety of all, and if passengers endanger that safety they will no longer be passengers. He did tell them to stop and they just laughed and said they were just having a little fun, no harm done they said. I reminded him, him had the keys, he could turn off his engine, put on his emergency blinkers, etc. Once he could give friends rides again, those 2 never rode with him again, his choice.

    Another son in middle school (age 12-13) was caught telling his little sisters a joke very disrespectful to women. We had a talk, he learned it from his friends on the bus, how his friends said that was how to be cool. I told him to no longer sit with them or when they started such jokes to ask them to stop. And that since one boys parents weren’t home after school, he couldn’t hang out there after school (he told me they were driving a motorcycle inside one day ) but they could come over here once his 2 week ground was over as long as they follow rules.

    He was unhappy, but they are my friends, if I tell them not to tell those kinds of jokes, they’ll no longer be my friends ( I explained they weren’t really friends then), and start calling me names, that I’m no longer cool. He elected to sit elsewhere on the bus but wasn’t happy at first. A few weeks later he had new friends and was like why did I like hanging out with those guys. By this time things had gotten crazier in the one kid’s house after school (unsupervised) and several ended up in juvie, one boy caught another boy’s hair on fire, blew up a few mailboxes in the neighborhood, all in the name of being cool. I’d even had a talk with the one boy’s mother, whose house all this was going on. She talked quite a while, concerned as she had younger daughters at home too, and had a good idea how wild it was getting at her home, but at the end she was like: well I’m at work and can’t do anything about the situation, we’ll look into sending him into some kind of boot camp, but then I’ll have to spend money on a babysitter for his little sisters, I don’t want to do that, not sure how I’ll afford boot camp, maybe relatives can help…

  17. My friend Peggy and her husband were a good parenting TEAM. As soon as the kids were old enough they had jobs. The youngest had to bring the table service to the table and put it around. One night he forgot. Mom & dad hushed the older kids but pretty soon the little guy saw he had forgotten his job and because of that no one could eat supper. His job was very important. As soon as the kids could add & subtract they were given “checkbooks”. Half of their (earned) allowance went into savings, the rest into checking. If they wanted something, like books on book day at school, they had to write a check to the bank of Mom and get some $$, then balance their checkbooks. Christmas = 3 gifts per child. One gifts was a complete new outfit…shoes, socks, pants, shirt, underwear. The second was a gift of their choice within a certain dollar amount and the third was a surprise. Why 3? Because that’s how many baby Jesus got and if they tho’t they were better than Him then it was time for a looooooooooong talk. They complained because their friends got so much, but now realize the lesson was to really think HARD about what they would like to have. Dad taught them how to work on the car, carpentry, wiring and anything else he knew. Mom taught them to cook, mend their clothes, do their own laundry and they all had to learn to play an instrument. The rules were the rules and they all knew there were consequences if you broke them. The two older boys knew they were not to walk down the alley to go home from school but were talked into it by a new kid they had starting hanging around with. One day, their dad got off early from work and decided to take the family out for pizza. They drove to the school and waited for the boys but could not find them anywhere. They slowly drove home and then caught sight of them walking down the alley. They told them to get in the car, drove to the pizza place and parked near a window. The older boys were left in the car while the rest of the family enjoyed pizza (seated near the window where they parked to ensure the boys were safe). When they got home, mom told them that there was bologna and bread, she was not making their sandwiches and not to ever walk down the alley again. They didn’t. All four of these boys grew into successful men. I hope a lot of people hear Jack’s show today. I know I plan to send it out in an email to everyone I know. Keep up the great work Jack!!

  18. The ending here was really powerful to me. I truly believe that almost all teenagers (particularly boys) really want honest challenges. And for a challenge to be honest you have to have a chance to fail.

    I don;t have any kids o fmy own yet, but I am a volunteer for the Boy Scouts and I keep telling the other leaders it’s okay for the kids to fail at a task. That’s what we offer. Honest challenges that they can fail at but then pick up the pieces and try to succeed next time.

  19. Jack, sounds a bit like my family. My mother married a bad alcoholic after my father died when I was twelve. He threw me out of the house at 17. I’ve been on my own since. I’ve been pretty independent since then, guess that is why I listen. And in school, I was quite into Astronomy and was failed in a science project because my project listed Jupiter as having 13 moons and the textbooks at the time said 8 or 9 or something. This was the heady days of Pioneer 10 and 11, as well as Voyager 1 and 2…

    Thanks for being open and discussing what I think a lot of listeners have been through.

  20. Hi Jack,
    Good show today. I too have taken on two step children (from two different fathers), which is very challenging. You are 100% right about not talking down about the other parent to them. We have battled that from the other end quite a bit and has caused a lot of damage to the children. It was very rough for us for a while where everything in our household was bad to the my stepson. One example was our food was bad and only his dad’s food was good. This made it hard to get him to eat and he was 10 lbs under weight at age 5 already. At one point my stepson told me how honey (which we bought raw at the farmers market) was bad for him because of the sugar then a few minutes later told me how his dad took him to DQ for ice cream that weekend 🙂

    I will say as time goes on children figure out they are being used as a pawn to get back at the other person and unfortunately it gives them distrust of the parent who has not been honest to them. My stepson now has a strong opinion that his dad always lies to him, which is sad. When communicating with his dad his is very disrespectful and manipulative too.

    I am on the other side of custody with my other stepson. He is 12 and really struggling in life. He is very disrespectful and pretty much failing out of school. While no fan of school, he is getting caught up in the wrong crowd. He is also lies a lot to us and his father. That is the hardest thing to watch someone going down a bad road and not getting the opportunity to fix it because we only get a few days here and there with him.

    I’m also enjoying raising my own daughter who is 22 months old. We have been pushing her to try new things. We never use I can’t, always tell her she can do it, and give praise when she does it. She is so head strong now. All you hear is her walking around saying “I can do it” or “do it.” She also figures out problems herself. The funniest thing is my stepson who has been sheltered by his father (little snowflake as I call it); has no belief in himself, but because he is kind of jealous of her he is starting to do things himself in which the same praise is applied.