Hey, Welcome to the, What Could Go Right? podcast. I am Erik Orton. I'm Emily Orton.
And here we talk about personal growth, family connection, and raising adult kids. We do not
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and so if this is helpful to you and you want to help another parent, somebody else that you care
about that's raising adult kids, we'd love for them to... we'd love to connect with them here and
be a part of this conversation that we're having. So, okay. So, today we're going to talk about,
yeah, the kids on the front side of launching. Like as they're preparing to cross that threshold.
And there's so many different feelings around it. They're excited. They're anxious. How do we
0:55 Not Coddling
handle that? And I just want to start by telling that today I went and picked up our daughter Lily
(who's 15) from her girl's camp. She was gone for a few days. And Lily has Down syndrome. I'll just
say that right now. So she operates at a little bit younger but in very many ways he's just like
any other 15-year-old girl. And she had a great time at camp. And I got this message from one of
her leaders that said, 'I really love how you guys don't coddle her. And let her just run safely with
us. It was such a benefit to all of us to have her here!!!!' Like four exclamation points. And it is
no matter what the situation is with your child, it can be very tempting to coddle. And that is,
you know, it makes you feel better but it can make them feel not trusted. And I
have really appreciated every time someone gives me a reminder that
she can do it. She can handle it. If she can't handle it there will be other support that will
come in but don't decide in advance that it's not something she can handle. Let her
give it a try. And so it was a great week for her. It was a great week for us. And it was a
great week for everybody because we just let her go. Like, you know, what if there's an
issue? They'll call us. I don't need to go with her. And I think the only call we got was
she called to say, checking on us. To make sure that we were okay. Yeah. She's like, How you guys
doing? How's everybody doing at home? All right. Well, I gotta go. We're making dinner, now.'
I didn't even send her phone with her so she just had to connect with who was there. Hey, and in
case you're listening to this on the podcast I just want you to know we're outside. So if you
hear trees swishing in the breeze and wind chimes, we wish you were here. We wish you were here. It's
a beautiful summer day. And we don't have some sound effects artist in the background and making
it extra extra dreamy for us. So, okay. So, yeah. We got Lily back. It was a great week for her.
3:03 How did you feel when you first moved out?
It made us think of a conversation that I had with Eli a few months ago. He is on the cusp
of getting his driver's license. He's 17 and a half. And because we raised him in New York City
where most kids don't learn how to drive, or you can't legally get your license, until you're 18
he's just now getting there. And he's doing great. But a few months ago we were driving and he and I
were going out to the rock gym, rock climbing gym one night and I let him drive so he can get his
hours in. And he says to me at one point he says, 'Dad how did you feel when you first moved out of
the house?' And he's never asked me a question like that before. And I said, 'Well that's a
great question.' I said, 'I remember because I went away to college and I had been on trips and
stuff before then but I'd never lived away from home before my freshman year of college. And I
went across the country. And this was in the 90s early 1990s so there wasn't email. There wasn't
texting or even cell phones.' There were like SAT phones – satellite phones. Yeah for CEOs.
If I were a CEO I would have had one but I was a college freshman. So I said, 'I was, honestly, I
was a little bit scared. And I was a little lonely because the campus was very overwhelming there was
you know like 20 times more people in this college campus than were in my high school. And I didn't
really know anybody. My sister went to the same school but she lived on the other side of town
and I didn't have a way to reach her for all the reasons that I just explained.' Neither of you had
cars. 'And neither of us had cars. Anyway and so I would talk to my family once a week.' And I'm
explaining all this to Eli and I can sort of see him in the in the dark of night driving down the
4:55 Questions we ask our teens/young adults to prep for adulting
road I can see his eyes welling up a little bit. And I said, "How are you feeling about moving
on?' He said, 'Well, I'm feeling a little scared, too.' And I said, 'Well, you know, what are you
scared about?' And he started to tell me all the things that he didn't know how to do. He didn't
know how to pay bills. He didn't know how to file for taxes. He didn't know how to (this one killed
me) he says he didn't know how to drain or snake a a sink drain. He didn't know how to snake a sink
drain or a toilet, for that matter. And little things like that. Like just around the house
chores. Like he knows how to cook. And he knows how to do his own laundry. But here these were
some areas where he was like, Am I ready to be a grown-up? And I think he was saying like, 'Hey, I
want to be ready for life and I don't feel ready.' And so I was like, Those are all good things to
know how to do and I think wanting to learning how to do them is going to be a real benefit to you.
And we talked some more as we were driving. And I said, 'What if we make a list of all the things
that you want to learn how to do and then we'll just start chipping away at it?' And I said,
'Chances are you'll move out of the house before you know all the things because, guess what? I'm
still learning a lot every day, every week, every year. And there's still more that I don't know how
to do.' And that conversation was really important I think because it was him taking ownership and
control of his life in a way that I had never seen. And if you've ever seen Kung Fu Panda
6:29 The Noodle Dream i.e. seeking independence
you'll know why we call this moment (which has come for each of our kids so far) we call this
The Noodle Dream. This is The Noodle Dream because in in Kung Fu Panda. Yeah, tell the story. The
Kung Fu Panda is being raised by this bird and they run this noodle shop together. And then
the bird, who's his adopted father who runs the noodle shop, had a dream that
one day he would run a noodle shop. And the panda just works there for a while until...
he's hoping that one day this Panda will also have a dream of running a noodle shop and he'll
want to to carry on the tradition. And that isn't really what his dream is but when the kids come
up with this thing where they like realize, 'Oh I want to drive the bus in my own life.
And I want to make these decisions. And I want to learn these skills so that I can take care
of myself and then help others' and that would fall under the category of The Noodle Dream.
Alright. Okay. So, Eli had The Noodle Dream, as we say, and he wanted to take control of
his life. And so I think we can really facilitate these kinds of conversations by first of all being
open to them and not being scared by them. Because as parents a lot of times we'll say things like,
'You'll be fine.' We can gloss it over like, you'll be fine. Or Hey. Or we can foist it on
them – 'You don't know how to do this. You don't have. You don't know how to change a tire. You
don't know how to, you know, make your bed. You don't know how to...' And we can really,
you know, we can throw a lot at them. And we can instill fear in them. Or we can shame them into
feeling like, 'You're not ready for life.' And unfortunately that most of the time doesn't
have the effect of helping them feel a desire or motivated to get ready for life. They're like,
'Well life's going to be too scary.' We have done with our kids. We have
actually... Let me back up. I have been wanting –in my position, in my relationship as the mother–
to help prepare our kids for life. And so I have downloaded or purchased various other people's
lists of what a humans should know to be ready for adulthood. And I found that those actually weren't
useful at all. And what was the most useful was saying to my kids, 'What are you excited about
being an adult? What are you scared about being an adult?' And I have initiated those conversations
you know with the first three kids. And then they'll say, I don't. You know, I'm excited
about this .And that. Oh, yeah. That's going to be so great. It'll be awesome. So many awesome
things about being an adult.' And then, 'But I don't know how to do this. I'm worried here.
I feel like this is a weak area.' And great. You know what? Most of the time I can be like,
'Oh, well, you have a smartphone so you won't need to worry about that. Or like let's figure it out.
Or there's YouTube.' Or whatever the answers might be. It will be specific to their questions. And it
opens that conversation. And they can continue it or we can continue it over time. In this case,
it was really beautiful that in that quiet just like driving-down-the-road-together moment,
Eli brought it up. And you were able to go through some of his questions. And he made a list of
these-are-the-things-I-want-to-learn-how-to-do. And he's super motivated to figure them out
because those are the areas that he's most concerned about. We can always chime in with a,
'You may want to consider' or, 'You may not, you may not want to consider that.' You know,
well, I'll throw out there one more conversation. I did. Did you get a chance to say what you're going
10:11 What are you WONDERING about?
to say? Yeah, thanks. Okay. So today we're here with our daughter Alison, who is
getting married in a month, and we're sitting (Emily was off going to get Lily). We'd come
home from camp and I'm talking to our daughter Alison. And I just said to her, in the course of
shooting the breeze, I said, 'Hey, so what are you wondering about right now?'
And I didn't have anything in particular in mind and she was actually just getting ready to go on
a hike with some friends. And she said, "You, like I have like 10 minutes and you're asking
me what am I wondering about?' So I said we can pick this up later but here's... And her answers
are not material. What I think is important is I used to ask, What are you worrying about? And
I think that that's still a reasonable question but I realized that by saying because, you know,
or What are you excited about? If you hang out with Emily and me long enough you're going to
hear the phrase "turning worry into wonder." And so the last thing I want to do is to put more
worry or fear into my kid's lives but I'm happy to ask them, What are you wondering about? And
so former me probably would have said, What are you worried about? Because I'm like, oh,
she's probably got some stress. She's got some things that she's scared of because she's about
to go into this new chapter of her life. Turns out she's really excited and happy and she's actually
not really worried about anything. But asking her, What are you wondering about? You know,
she raised a couple of topics that are going to be fun to keep discussing. And so I think if we
can be attentive to how we say things to our kids and how we say things to ourselves,
for that matter. And I've started to say to myself, What am I wondering about? rather than,
What am I worrying about? I end up covering the same topics usually but in a much more positive
way and that goes for me talking to myself and also with our kids. So those are just a few, you
know, there's a few conversations that we've had recently with our kids that have helped as they
bridge –and you know they're each in different stages– but bridging this gap from being teenagers
at home with us to out living in the world on their own. So I would say my takeaways are:
Be careful not to coddle. Don't coddle. Trusting our kids and then opening these
conversations with them. And saying like, What are you looking forward to? And maybe. instead
of my question, What are you scared about? What are you wondering about? That actually puts them
in a position of strength and dignity. Where you aren't like, 'I'm sure you're scared,' and they
have to admit they're scared. You can just like, 'What do you have questions about? What do you
12:38 Relaxed, Spacious, Gracious
want to know more about?' So that's better. Then just staying open keeping it relaxed,
keeping it positive, and maybe treating yourself to that same gracious spacious way of,
you know, considering what's on your mind and what's next for you. So thanks for joining us.
Yeah, hopefully as you ask these questions you will get lots of positive answers to, What could
go right? If you try this out... and we love, again, for you to subscribe, rate, review, share this
13:10 Try this at home!
with your friends. Share what you're learning. Try this at home and let us know how it goes. I'll add
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