Siblings Competing For Love – Living With Kids

peace2When my family is tired, our filters come down and the raw emotion flows freely.

With six, three and two year olds under the same roof it can get crazy at times.

Here are three simple techniques we use to give the kids the comfort they need and maintain our sanity.

#1 – the one-on-one play date

You’ve probably noticed that little people can struggle to play with more than one person at a time.

For play dates, and PARENT dates, we aim for one-on-one activity. This is particularly useful for the relationship between my wife and my oldest daughter. They do things together, they acknowledge that they are together and my daughter gets to choose the activity.

The conversation might go…

L: It’s not fair, you’re always spending time with the baby.

M: Well Sweetie, remember that Tuesday afternoon is YOUR day. We will be swimming together and going out to dinner where you want.

This technique won’t solve every issue but it will cut them in half, while making you feel better about your allocation of time.

#2 – is it true?

A family member screaming “you’re not giving me what I need” is an extremely effective, and painful, appeal.

Adult children, and parents of adult children, can continue to use this tactic.

As a parent, understand that the child is programmed to make the appeal and you’re programmed to feel pain.

It’s nothing personal.

But is it true?

The pain is coming from a sense that I’m not doing what I should. So I ask myself, am I giving my child what she needs? Usually, I am.

If not then am I able to give my child more? Some times things get worse (for me AND my child) as I give more of myself.

Is my child correctly identifying her issue? Most meltdowns are an appeal for love and understanding. They have very little to do with my child’s current obsession and can be overcome with a hug, recognition or the passage of time.

#3 – failure is an option

As I wrote in A Necessary Failure – the relentless demands of our children are designed to break both of us down. It’s an essential part of growing up.

Remember to hold onto the good times.

Here’s a picture of my children not fighting. It happens more often than I think!peaceOur minds have a habit of remembering pain more than serenity.

 

The Do-Something Investment

Ax_snow1I saw that Clinton’s son-in-law took some big losses at his hedge fund by making bets on Greece. People are speculating that the Clinton family lost a lot of money in the deal.

While the scale might be different, I see this error in every family that I get to know.

We err by making an investment to help someone “do something.”

Some examples from my own investment history:

  • I’m self-employed and have often been tempted to buy myself an office so I can have a place to do something
  • I’ve offered to back friends in start-ups so they can have the funds to create a business and do something
  • I backed myself in a low-return business, where I didn’t understand the market, so I could have something to do
  • I guaranteed the debt of a friend’s business so he could borrow additional money for his start-up
  • I purchased a property so a friend could have a job acting as my property manager

To limit the damage, I have two questions that I ask.

First: What is the purpose of my family balance sheet?

  • Maintain independence and dignity of elders
  • Educate the kids
  • Share experiences with each other
  • Produce a growing stream of cash flow to fund my future living expenses
  • Support a feeling of security and freedom of occupation

You might have a different list. I’d encourage you to write your list down because the checklist might help prevent expensive errors.

Second: How well have I done with predicting my life on a ten-year prospective basis?

While my life has been rewarding, it’s path has been unpredictable on a ten-year rolling basis.

The unpredictability of life means there is value in maintaining a straight-forward balance sheet that isn’t concentrated in any individual, geography or company.

Put plainly, I’m nearly certain to continue to get the future wrong – especially when I try to predict my family’s needs, desires, location…

+++

Let’s say an investment can get past those two questions.

It is time to keep it real.

#1 – Are we backing the best members of our team?

The best people don’t need the help of connected parties.

Because…

There is plenty of money available for good people with good ideas.

Therefore, by definition, most family investments are focused on the weakest members of the team.

Don’t do it.

#2 – Can we afford to lose our maximum exposure immediately?

Concentration kills.

If you can’t afford to lose your full exposure, immediately, then don’t do it.

+++

If you’re struggling to say “no” then

  1. say “yes” to spending time to help raise funding from a third party
  2. lease instead of buy
  3. focus on enjoying each other’s company, rather than investing together
  4. make an introduction to an expert in the industry to facilitate a working apprenticeship
  5. pay for expert instruction

These options have had a great rate of return in my life.

The Body You Want

When my wife was a teenager, she really wanted curves.

coach_monsyThings worked out.

My teenage desires were different, but common. I wanted to be jacked.

gordo_crunchThat worked out too.

By the time we both got exactly what we wanted, we wanted something else.

We wanted to be whippet skinny so we could run fast.

We wanted to look like tall, but ripped, 14-year-olds!

G_WhipThat worked out, again.

I spent twenty-five years only to get right back where I started.

I noticed that there is an enduring feeling of my body being slightly unsatisfactory.

Once I noticed this pattern with my body, I saw it elsewhere.

Personal safety, other people’s driving, my house, my finances, my life situation… In many situations, there is a slight feeling of unsatisfactory.

I’m always striving to attain satisfaction that’s is just-out-of-reach.

As a young man, I might have seen striving as a good thing. My drive for improvement, my competitive urges, a desire for self-improvement… we have lots of names for the feeling.

Some cultures call it misery.

See what it feels like for you.

++

When I work with others, we use a simple technique.

  • Write down what will make you satisfied.
  • Write down what will make you less afraid.
  • Write down what will make you feel secure.

Out of your list, choose one thing and work towards it.

Work slowly, pay attention, write things down.

Give yourself at least 1,000 days.

Ten years might be better.

You might get there quicker.

With my body, I didn’t start to notice my pattern until I’d been at it for twenty-five years!

With finances, I was lucky, I saw my pattern after a decade, took a leave of absence and enjoyed my first retirement.

++

The fact that the lesson took a long time was helpful.

Good things happen slowly.

It’s tempting to short cut the process via cosmetic surgery, performance enhancing drugs, or cutting corners (fraud, tax evasion, deception).

Short-cuts rarely work because we fail to notice the slightly unsatisfactory feeling is following us everywhere,

My victories didn’t work, either. My successes left me wanting more and the feeling followed me around.

++

So I tried enjoying myself…

Pleasure can temporarily mask the unsatisfactory feeling and many use drugs, alcohol, fatigue and other techniques.

The trouble is… the associated hangovers are increasingly unsatisfactory as I age.

What to do?

If you can see the unsatisfactory nature of things then you might ask “who’s not satisfied?”

Once I could see the “unsatisfied person” it was easier for me to decide he wasn’t going to run the show.

At least, some of the time.

😉

Better Than Expected

tea_partyLast week, a speedy age-group athlete asked me why I hadn’t been racing much.

I’ve been thinking about my answer. What was said, and what was unsaid.

Here’s what I said,

“You have to remember that I was far better than I expected to be.”

The peace I feel with regard to sport is something that I didn’t expect.

Part of the serenity comes from the experience of giving my absolute best for many years.

Another part is understanding what was required to exceed my expectations, and realizing that’s not advisable.

I have been thinking about my attitude of “better than expected” for YEARS.

I’ve noticed it is spreading into other areas of my life.

  • My marriage… better than expected
  • My kids… better than expected
  • My day… better than expected
  • My life situation… better than expected
  • My health… better than expected

Some of my serenity can be traced to a long-term campaign to jettison anything that stresses me. However, living with preschoolers is stressful and they don’t seem to be spilling into the rest of my experience anymore.

++

What was unsaid was the insanity of spending time, and a lot of money, reinforcing the worst aspects of my personality.

What do I mean?

At the edge, I discovered narcissism, sociopathy, isolation and a disregard for long-term health.

In addition to endurance competition, I have the potential to be very good at all of the above!

These attributes are everywhere in society. However, they are easily seen in people at the pinnacle of their fields (even narrow niches). Indeed, many champion athletes would see these traits as necessary, and desirable.

As a true believer, it was extremely valuable to lock onto athletics. It strengthened much of what’s good in me. It’s one of many paradoxes in my life.

I’ll end by paraphrasing a coach of mine…

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone is to give them the confidence to leave.

…and life has been far better than expected!

🙂