This interactive discussion with O’Connor Professional Group covers the following topics:
- Parenting trends — the benefits and challenges of raising productive young adults
- Pressures on young adults: stress, social media and substances
- Entitlement: what it means and how to prevent it
- Tips for setting reasonable expectations and promoting resiliency
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Stacy Allred - Welcome. We are really excited to have each of you with us today. And we are in for a real treat. Today, we are joined by Arden O'Connor and Diana Clark, who together are part of O'Connor Professional Group. But let me, I want to tell a quick story about how this webinar came to be, and then I'll introduce each of our wonderful guest speakers, Arden and Diana. Last year, our team attended a conference at the Family Firm Institute, and Diana and Arden presented on this same topic of entitlement and resilience. And it was so good that our team said our advisors need to hear this. And so we brought Diana and Arden and they did a webinar for our advisors. And that was so good that our advisors said, our clients really need to hear this. And so we were just delighted to welcome Arden and Diana back again for a topic that's really important, and yet not often do we go deep enough into this topic of entitlement and then what we stand against and resilience what we stand for and some actionable path of how to get there. So with that, Arden is the founder of O'Connor Professional Group. They address the needs of families and individuals struggling with a wide array of behavioral health issues. And her passion is really around navigating the system to create positive outcomes. And she brings a lot of experience to this. She went to Harvard, both undergrad and graduate school with an MBA. And she's very, very involved in the community, lots of different community volunteer organizations and professional groups. Diana is the chief of clinical operations for O'Connor professional group. Diana super power is she's a recognized force in clear speech, logic and loving acceptance. And she's helped thousands of families develop healthy boundaries, not easy to do, manage expectations and develop plans for families. And Diana is a former practicing attorney, and 20 years ago went and got a graduate degree in psychology. So great experience coming to you today. So the way we've organized this, is we're going to, I want to introduce quickly this idea of a perfect system.
That every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. So if we are dealing with entitlement, right, there were a lot of factors that went in to get this. And so for instance, one day I got a call from grandma who said that of my twenty-something grandkids, two of the seven are working and the others are not working. And so they had created the perfect system to get the results it gets. So if you break down what all those factors were, the good news is, is that in this system, it's a dynamic system, you can look at the lever points to say, okay, what factor do I want to pull on to get a different result if that's what I want. So as we talk through all of this today, I want you to be thinking about maybe system one is where I get the results of entitlement, and system two is where I've created the perfect system to get the results of resilience. And think about the different levers in that system. Right? And so let's take a quick look at the spectrum of wellbeing. We know that of the population, right? When you peel back the layer of the onion, what we hear from our families is what they really want is flourishing. Flourishing families made up of flourishing individuals. And when you look at this, most of us are in moderate mental health, about 17% in flourishing, and then we have languishing. And right now, especially during the pandemic, there's been, we have a lot of the population struggling with mental disorder. And so this whole thing is we're going to start to look at what can we do to move towards flourishing, wherever we are on the spectrum. And with that, we will get into the crux of our content. So we've organized this around four sections. The first one is understanding entitlement. Diana will lead us there, Arden, we'll talk to it about entitlements impact Diana on family responses, and then Arden we'll come back in on bolstering resilience. All in service to our theme of moving through this, to create the perfect system to raise resilience adult. So Diana entitlement is more prevalent today than it ever has been before in previous generations. Can you share with us a little bit about why that is?
Diana Clark - Absolutely, and thank you, Stacy. It was interesting as I was watching that loop of quotes go by and they were so powerful, and so right on that I thought I don't even need to do a presentation anymore because they basically said it all. The basic premise is what we have in a system is the kid on the couch, in this New Yorker Cartoon saying, "Hey, I need $286 for a ski trip by tomorrow. Oh, and I also need new skis, and say, while you're in the kitchen can you bring me a root beer with ice and a straw?" And, well, we don't want to create that kid. So many of us are doing that. We are so concerned in this era about what our kids are feeling and whether they are in fact happy and joyful that we are absolutely forgetting in some ways the other corollary of the job, which is we need to make sure they can function. So this somehow shifted in this last 50 to 60 years prior to the last half of the 20th century, parents were really insulated by the belief that it was up to the kids to prove their worth to the parent. Not the other way around. You never heard mothers and fathers asking their kids in the same way you would now, are you happy? Am I a good mom? It just wasn't that kind of conversation. Am I meeting your needs? I was in the grocery store the other day and listening to a mom and her very young daughter, and they were having a really sweet time and I wasn't judging it. And then she asked her daughter something like, "Is this meeting your needs for today?" And I was like, how does that daughter know what her needs are for today? Why would you even ask in that moment? So what this quote by Coleman is saying is that being a good parent today and being sensitive to our kids in ways that were unheard of in prior generations, and while they definitely can promote closeness and peace in some ways. It also sets parents up to feel guilty, diminished, less than in the race to be a perfect parent. So when we think about entitlement, I don't want us to think this is absolutely an issue about money. This is not about money. Entitlement comes in all demographics and socioeconomic groups. It is an individual's projected expectation that the world or the person sitting across the table from them will favor, rescue and reward them without any obligation or corollary responsibility on their part. In fact, it becomes a one-way street. And at its best, we can see these kids looking very confident in situations, at its worst, it appears really narcissistic.
We note in treatment settings that people with entitlement issues are actually generating the ire of the treatment professionals and their fellow residents, so they're not having the group experience they might otherwise have without that particular issue. So we talk about teenagers being entitled. We have to look at the adults in the room too. We can't just say this resulted without the systemic issue that Stacy was discussing earlier in the introduction. So what's the difference between self-esteem and entitlement? People with entitlement in normal ranges base their expectations on their experience. If they've always done well in school, they expect to do well in school because they know how to do well in school. They don't expect to do well in school because they are, you know, Odysseus, they expect it because they earned it. Psychologists believe that entitlement expectations of special treatment are really masking that inferiority and anxiety of not really having the skillset they know they need in this life. So then we did another element of that system that Stacy was talking about was the self-esteem movement. And this isn't just parents, this was, this was pediatricians, this went on everywhere. And it was all about boosting self esteem. And as part of that, we were started to praise kids for absolutely everything. When my son would use a napkin, I would lean across the table and I would say, thank you for such good manners. And my husband would roll his eyes, and he's like, are we going to have a parade too? He is of a different generation of parenting. In the 1950s, something like 12% of teens agreed with the following statement, I'm important, by the late 1980s, 80% agree. That's a huge difference. It is no longer asked, not what you can do, it is asked for what you get. So, and then again, we have this praise thing and the research is showing that it isn't benign. Overpraising kids actually results in them becoming less confident and risk averse because they become reliant on the praise. So Gail Saltz at the Child Mind Institute has this great quote, where she says, what builds confidence in kids is overcoming a hurdle, overcoming hardship, overcoming struggle, persevering, and seeing results. So as a parent, you're better off praising that thing that has more to do with qualities of managing something difficult than letting our kids know that just about everything they do is a perfect story. So I learned this in part the hard way.
Granted I'd been teaching it when this photo was taken, but I still hadn't been practicing it. I was the classic practice, what you preach mom. So I was called into my son's teacher's office and basically she wagged her finger at me with a full finger wag said, "You are doing too much. Your son is a mess. He's entitled," first time I heard this, is was about 15 years ago when the word was starting to move into the real lexicon of people's conversation, "he's entitled, he believes things should be brought to him. He doesn't persevere during tasks that are difficult. And this isn't his fault." So when I got done crying, I said, okay, I vow, I will do it different. I will be better. I will allow him to struggle. I will allow hardship. And then I was tested. The very next day on the way to school, my son from the backseat pipes up and says, "I forgot my sneakers and it's gym day. You need to go get them." Not will you go get them, you need to go get them. And the hair on the back of my neck stood on its end and I said, "No, your sneakers were next to your backpack, you forgot them, you can make it through the day without them." And he said, "What do you mean make it through the day without them? I am a klutz. I have gym. I'm going to wind up being bullied and it's going to be your fault." And I was just like trying to keep it together, because those tactics worked in the past. He is uncoordinated. There was a chance in one in a million and he was going to be bullied for wearing his snow boots. But I shoot him out the door and I made it at home and I waited for the phone to ring. I waited all day for the bad mommy police to call saying your son's having a difficult day and it's your fault. They call didn't come. And at the end of the day, he came home. And I greeted him at the door, like a puppy, greets its master. And I said, "How was your day?" And he said, "Fine, what's to eat?" So I learned two things, number one, that they make it through the day even when you think it's a hardship. And number two, parents sometimes have a much worse time than the kids do in the events of struggle. It isn't the kids who are having the hard time about their struggle, it's the parents. So a few weeks later, this picture comes in the mail and I was like, oh my God, there he sits in the front row with his snow boots on. The teacher put him there deliberately, I didn't know it was class picture day. So I have photographic proof of the day I set a new standard in our house. And I have wavered over time and I've come and I've gone with my boundaries, but I do have a picture.
So when we're looking at these things, do I intervene? Do I leap in, do I make them more comfortable? Is this struggle harmful to them? Here are the questions I ask. When my son now at 20 calls me up and tells me he needs something, I ask myself, okay, whose problem is it? If he needs a new backpack, the operative word is he, not me. He's quite capable of solving it. So the problem is his. Who grows if I could do all this research on backpacks, certainly not him. He might appreciate the backpack when it arrives, but he's not going to learn anything about buying a big purchase or buying something. What problem will he be deprived of if I solve the problem? A whole host of things he will be deprived of. research skills, money, skills, budgeting, tastes, developing his own sense of taste. And what will you gain if I stay out of it a whole heck of a lot. And he will also gain a mother who is not interfering. So talk to mothers, you talk to parents, you talk to dads, what are we all looking for? Happy, productive, kids who have the capacity to love or emotionally resilient, have empathy, exhibit generosity for the less fortunate, have the capacity to cope with the struggles of life. But entitlement interferes with that.
Stacy - What a fabulous example, Diana of the systems and the factors in the system to make small tweaks for big impacts. Thank you. So Arden moving onto the next section, the impact of entitlement. You like to say that affluence is not a buffer to entitlement. Can you share more about what you've found in your experience of the impact?
Arden O’Connor - Sure. My story is going after Diana, so I'm excited to present, but always nervous to follow. She tells very good stories. So you know what we know, I think many people on this call can relate to the idea that people presume that if you have money, that you have very few problems. I mean, I think there's been numerous songs out there. There have been movies made about this. And what we have learned is that affluence is actually not a buffer, it's certainly not a buffer to entitlement, in fact, many people think it can be correlated, but as Diana suggests, it's not only affluent children who exhibit traits of being entitled. But affluence is also not a buffer towards things like behavioral, health challenges, substance use, depression, anxiety. And in fact, there's been some really interesting research and work done by Madeline Levine who wrote a great book, it was a couple of decades old, "The Price of Privilege." But she talks about the higher prevalence, in fact of affluent teens, experiencing depression, substance use, and anxiety. And I think given the complexities of life as they exist in the competitive world we live in, it's not for our practitioners in our group. It's not necessarily a surprise that affluence while in many ways affords people enormous opportunities, parents and children alike. It also complicates the world. And at sometimes I think for young people, the idea that the world is your oyster and you can potentially do anything, can be very daunting. Particularly if those, before you have achieved great heights of success and you feel that the same is going to be passed on to you. Those same expectations are going to be things that you're responsible for delivering on. So I love Malcolm Gladwell's work, both this book and a couple of others that he's written. And he talks a lot about this perception that money makes parenting easier, but only up to a point. And the study that he talks about in his book is sort of a certain amount of money. And the amount of money actually from my estimation sounds very modest.
They have done studies to suggest that at $75,000 families don't necessarily or individuals don't necessarily experience increased happiness. That up to that amount, we are so focused as humans on survival, particularly here in the US where the cost of living is higher, and getting food on the table and getting our basic needs met that happiness as we increase on the income scheme it goes up up to that marker. So if we think about families that are way past that marker in terms of their annual income, it doesn't necessarily correlate with higher degrees of happiness. You know, and I mentioned in the last slide, issues around affluence not being a buffer for depression or anxiety, what we do see with families who are way on the bottom of the end of that curve is that they often, first can't believe that a child in their family system who's had the advantages that anybody could dream of could be experiencing unhappiness. There can be just blatant denial about why that exists. But if in fact they do accept it, I think the hope is that they're going to be able to cure it because they have these enormous resources that can hire the best doctors. We just actually have been working on a case in the last week of a gentleman with a psychiatric issue. The family has probably engaged, I would guess five to seven of the top experts around the country related to this particular issue. And this gentleman has been through testing of probably four of the top clinics in the country for medical reasons just to rule out any additional comorbidities. On the one hand we can say, wow, that's great, we got a huge diagnostic picture. On the other hand, you've got now five experts who are going to probably give two or three different theories. So now we're overwhelmed with information and there's not necessarily an action plan attached to it that's getting this young man, not only the care he needs, but into a lifestyle of more sustainable recovery. Diana, I know you're passionate on this issue, I just wanted to turn it over to you to see if there was any story or anecdote that you wanted to add.
Diana - So I was thinking, I raised my son in his younger years in a pretty rural area and his vision of what rich was, and what we all think of as rich is really different. But we were driving around and he said, they're really rich. And I looked at the house and I thought, what was? And I said, "Why do you say that?" And he said, "because their driveway was paved." We had spent all of this time and energy with a perfect gravel driveway, but he saw paved. And I think sometimes we all look to our kids, are they making, what are they perceiving that we are placing value on? And not just that, but you know, the choice of schools, the choice of consultants, the choice of all of these things makes incredibly increased anxiety in kids with all of those choices.
Arden - Thank you. So this gets to the issue of substance use and entitlement. And I think entitlement in it of itself, I think could be a frustration for parents to manage. It can be embarrassing in situations where somebody says something that's that reflects poorly, or if the parent assumes it reflects poorly on their style. I can think very fondly of my nephews who are adorable, but my parents were raised in that more old-school mentality. What we got for breakfast was what we got, there wasn't a lot of debate. My nephews now often have three or four private chef orders coming from the kitchen and they get one thing and they decide they don't like it, and then they're served a second bag and there's no complaints from the parents. And so, this is sort of a silly anecdote and we giggle about it as a family. The trouble is if somebody has that sort of mentality and then you combine it later in life with substance use, there's a much more difficult road ahead. My youngest brother struggled with an opiate addiction for many years. And what I can say, he wound up in a very serious legal situation in California. Our family hired an east coast attorney who then vetted an attorney in California to make sure we had the right legal team. We came up with a strategy where we would pay privately for a facility that he would be in, and not only dealt with addiction, but he had had a brain injury due to a ski accident that he had actually, while he was high. And you wouldn't necessarily have noticed it to him, but he, my parents were basically trying to figure out a way for him to avoid a very serious jail sentence in California. The short end of the story is that we were able to get the plan adopted by the court who was happy to have an alternative that my family would pay for privately. So my brother did not go to a medium security prison for five to seven years. And in many ways, I don't, you know, when you go back to Diana's decision tree, I wouldn't have made a different choice, but the message we certainly sent, and that started way before that moment in court was we can get you out of any situation. You can do anything you want in this family just because you're born into it, we'll make sure you're protected and your dreams are honored. And that was a dangerous message for him to have.
What we know is entitlement is damaging over the long term, and that we do see people who have been raised with this attitude of entitlement leading to longer term issues around disappointment, anger, and negativity. I will say, anecdotally, I've seen this a lot in family businesses where you have a family member who hasn't necessarily pursued a career out of the context of the family business. They may be very bright and creative in certain ways, that they want to be respected in a certain, they want a certain position that maybe they're not necessarily ready for. And when they don't succeed in that position and they are criticized by non family member employees, or they're put on some type of performance plan, their ego actually takes a dive. And Diana mentioned all the quotes in the beginning, which I thought were beautiful. I mean, one of the most vivid cases I have is of a client we worked with who was in his mid forties. He did struggle with a substance use issue. He was part of his dad's family business. When the father finally determined it wasn't working in the family business, he paid his competitors a salary for his son. So his son was guaranteed a job that the dad, unbeknownst to the son in his forties, the dad was paying his salary at his competitors. So all the son learned is, his performance was enough to snuff, but he was not held to any standards because he had this sort of engineered system. And on the one hand, I can respect what the father was trying to do. His intentions were in the right place. He was trying to make his son feel like he had a sense of self worth and he had a job. The unfortunate part is he wasn't held to any particular standards. And eventually when that runs out and or that individual finds out what happens, it actually has a tremendously devastating effect on the ego because the young person or the older person in this instance, knows that their parents have no confidence that they can actually achieve things on their own. So the cost of entitlement, lacking coping skills, expecting immediate gratification, having a victims mentality, I think the most pronounced one on this slide is actually a lack of purpose. I really do believe for, we all know whether it's through philosophy quotes or whether it's just through our own human experience that we need a reason to get up every day. Even with some of our most impaired clients who are really in the middle of a psychotic episode or a depressive episode, we will say, yes, you need to get to your treatment, but you also need a reason to be out of bed before 10:00 a.m. on most days, and you need something that feels like it's a, you're going to a place and contributing to the world.
One of the best lessons we learned in my brother's journey was that the moment she had to become financially independent, he actually was required to work at a factory. And for years, my father had thought I got to pay for him to get back in college. We were all obsessed with him getting his four-year degree. Finally, my dad said he just needs to stay in recovery if he needs to figure this out on his own. He finally worked in this factory where he could make a sustainable wage. And he looked around after about eight months and said, I don't want this to be my full-time career. And he took the steps necessary to get back into school. It was a very different situation than my father trying to over-manage and having my brother kind of repeat this pattern of behavior that you see on this slide. So what do we know for kids who remain or adults? We keep using it, I think the assumption for most people is that this impacts people from the 15 to 25 year old range. I will never forget the call we received from an attorney who said, I'm about to pull my hair out. I'm a trustee on a case. This individual has never worked, they're going through their savings. They can barely get groceries for themselves. They can't get to any appointments, somebody has to pick them up and drive them. And I'm asking all these questions at the end, I said, okay, so how old is this person just so I know when we match them with a case manager and the answer was 52. I remember thinking, wow, this is quite an example of somebody who doesn't have those protective factors. No problem solving skills. A lack of an ability to remain autonomous and independent. And really again, none of that sense of I have meaning I have a sense of purpose in this world. Stacy, you're on mute.
Stacy - Sorry, I couldn't find that unmute button. Arden, that really resonates with what we're seeing too, is that traditionally in families when there's issues, a lot of times with the rising gen, it all centers back to this lack of purpose and what a bolstering factor when families help, family members develop their purpose at each life stage. So I want to go, we have some good questions coming in, and I'm encouraging everyone, I'm going to stop for questions and answer so please keep them coming. But let me take this one that really builds on what you're saying. And this is around about a son in his thirties who does not want to work or stay in one place. And right now is living off of family money, a small process in some unemployment which just ran out. And the question is how can we, what are the interventions to do to kind of set the different boundaries and with wealth being present, right? There's some awareness of an inheritance down the line eventually. And kind of thinking that it might be a very big inherit, expecting this inheritance and just wanting to be supportive instead of, kind of making it on his own. This is a tough question. What advice do you have for our listener here around putting in some interventions?
Diana - So I can speak a little bit to that. I think first of all, if in fact he's living on a small trust and nobody is supplementing that trust with his travels or his stay, then he's learning something because he has to budget, okay? That said, if he has a credit card of mom or dad's for either emergencies and doesn't have to save them or call or acknowledge that he is having difficulties, I would say no more credit cards. I would probably make him or allow him not even make him, allow him to experience the fullness of his existence now. And then I might even say, you know, we are going to be doing more estate planning. And in that estate planning, we're going to be measuring your functioning in these years. So that if you don't seem to be doing very well now we're going to have things in a tighter trust than we might otherwise. So that those would be my interventions. Arden, do you have any thoughts?
Arden - So I think it very similarly, I mean obviously financially, whatever can be done to not increase the expectations. I do think having, what we have seen with some families is the person has a pretty limited amount to actual cash, but then is engaged in all sorts of other wonderful lifestyle behaviors that they're doing. I do also think having a very candid conversation, one of the things I think that's tough about the estate planning process is if the individual isn't aware that it's coming, it doesn't know your intentions, that they can perceive, they can be living a life that is going to come to a halt faster than they imagined. I mean, obviously, and First Republic certainly can help you with this, by making sure you have the right trustees present and the right controls in place over the long-term with the trust. But I think it all we care about you, we want to see you live the most productive and fulfilling life that you can. I don't, you may say that you are fulfilled, we don't see sort of progress towards milestones. How can we help you get there and asking, is there a way to get somebody to a place where they find some sense of purpose? We have a fair amount of clients where full-time work is not going to be required. And that when we talk about a sense of purpose, we wouldn't necessarily define it that way. But we would say having a place where someone goes and develops their own sense of identity, that is outside of what the resources that the family is providing is a healthy. And so figuring out a way, whether it's hiring some type of life coach, there's a myriad of ways to solve this. There are books, there's all sorts of, different movies and resources that we'd be happy to provide. But starting that conversation earlier. And sometimes you won't get any traction with it, and frankly, just letting the small amount of funds die down to the point that somebody is forced is the only alternative so.
Diana - I also work with a trust that came to me, they have a 26 year old beneficiary who's going to come into a whole lot of money at 30. And so they came to me and said, is nowhere prepared for that kind of money in his decision-making, in the way he gives away money and the way he is used by other people for money that he currently is getting, what happens at 30? And I said, and we talked about it and the essence is, we're building a runway right now. It decision by decision, we are now allowing him to experience all of the lessons that come at 26 so that at 30, he isn't having a rude awakening. That's the goal.
Stacy - If I could add one quick thing here and then we'd better move on to the next section. We could spend a lot of time on this. It's such a great question and such a kind of a moment that matters. I want to go back very quickly to something Arden said about purpose and there's research out of Amy Wisniewski and Jane Dutton did some research around people will view their work is either a job, a career or a calling. And so can you configure out kind of like the golden ticket is if you can figure out right, what that calling is. Then it's this intrinsic motivation. And then what's the path to get there and kind of supporting that path. But if I have a job and I'm there for the paycheck, that's really hard to, you know, unless I have the driver of necessity, right? And with a lot of these families, with these healthy boundaries, they are, even though I'm not working, it may be that I'm living a very frugal lifestyle, Diana, to your point, right? A career, I have some prestige, some upward mobility, and then a calling it's like, it takes all my signature strengths I have impact on others. And so I have had, where we've had the best success it's where we've been able to like ask enough questions and provide the scaffolding for the rising gen family members to develop their calling and move from there. So I love it. We've got a lot more questions coming in. I'm going to take more questions at the end of the next section. So let's move on to the third section and Diana, I'll move back over to you.
Diana - So what's going on with the family? Nobody to have somebody who sits at the dining room table and says with their arms crossed, "I don't like this, I want something else." Nobody at the moment of birth, when they're counting those five fingers on that hand, or looking at those little toes says, "I want to raise a spoiled human." Okay? So, but how do we get here? And how do we get here is we adjust inch by inch, we started adjusting what's normal. We started adjusting what's acceptable. We adjust what could be considered functioning. And we adjust the parameters of the relationship. And the best way I know how to describe this is a story that came after an article, that Newsweek came out with in the 1990s that said, "If you are single and you are a woman, and you're over 30, your odds of finding a man were less than getting killed by a terrorist." And it raised such a fervor in my single women's community who were all over 30 at that time, that it was a very upsetting. I went to visit my brother who loves to rib me and had a heyday with this. And that night we sat down to watch Saturday Night Live, and they of course, had to do a riff on this. And it was this dating game of this beautiful woman picking from these three Saturday Night Live guys, picking their noses or scratching their bottoms. And the name of the dating game was, "You've Got To Lower Your Standards." And that's in part what happens in families. We don't lower them all at once, we lower them by degrees. The person who doesn't excuse themselves from the dinner table and leaves their plates sitting there. They might've had a test set night. We might've said, well, this night I'll let it go. And then it goes on another night, but it builds in small decision after small decision. So, and then we get into this whole thing. If they've played, is sitting at a table and they're off playing a video game in the other room, who's doing the dishes? who is clearing the table? I guarantee you, it is somebody else. They aren't sitting there until the morning. So and the less that person does, the more than another person does. And the more they do becomes the new normal for them. And the lesser standard becomes the new normal for the other. So what, as they under function, as they under function they start becoming less and less confident. Because if all you can rely on yourself for is to make yourself comfortable and somebody else is taking care of all the other things in life, you're not growing very fast or very far in your resilience strategies.
So what happens is is that when our children, when our loved ones appear, I'm going to use the word fragile because there's now some studies on anti-fragility and there's a new movement about this, but when we see our kids seeming fragile, we start engaging in behavior. Unless we're conscious of our own need to make them comfortable so that we aren't uncomfortable, we are going to engage in a system of behavior that I call protecting. Some people call it enabling, I don't like that word. It feels like that teacher wagging at me. But what protecting really is is that in the context of behavioral health issues, let's use substance use or something else gambling, the identified patient is denied experiencing the consequences of their behavior over and over and over again. And while there might be seeking to protect one thing like family, like their future, like an illusion in the community, like maybe their own issues as parents, what they're ultimately protecting is the status quo. And if the status quo is unhealthy, we are not doing what we are setting out to do. So I love this story by Shell and Silverstein, I think. And I'm going to pass this over to Stacy who really brought it back to my attention about the boy who loves the tree. So take it away.
Stacy - Thank you, Diana. And by the way, we're getting a lot of questions coming in. So after this section, I wanted look at a few things around younger children. I want to ask a question about a teenager that likes Tik Tok I have that issue in my home as well, and kind of social media. And then these, again, in that last section, I know our listeners with young kids are especially, are asking for this, these kinds of resilience factors and the ages to start. So know that we'll get to some of these. So very quickly, think back to your kind of childhood memories about reading this story about a boy who loves a tree, forgiving tree. And it's a story about a boy who loves a tree, visits the tree repeatedly takes her apples, sells them for personal profit, removes her branches so he can build a house, chops down her trunk so he can build a boat and sail away. And then in the end the tree who was so generous has nothing but a stem. Was the the tree really generous? Well, it was something beyond generosity. It was self sacrifice. And the generosity clearly got way too out of balance. And the taking got way too out of balance. So Adam Grant has kind of made this story, brought it up in a new way. And it's a really good example of extremes. And I love extremes because design thinking teaches us that we can learn so much from extremes. So think about the boy who takes and takes and takes. And he does it in this perfect system, right? The tree that facilitated that. And then in the end, so if you, this is a good story to read with kids, right? And then to talk about what factors would have to change so that the tree had apples and sustainability, a big theme of our time to continue to give apples indefinitely. And so I think using that as a metaphor and having dialogue with kids is, I love teaching kind of some of these things through children's literature. So there's one idea. So Diana, that ties into kind of the elements of being overly generous. And as you kind of talk about this slide, can you also kind of work in the question we have from one of our listeners around... because I think these, it fits in nicely here.
You could work it in is around a teenage daughter who feels entitled, idolizes social media, stars like the Kardashians, and likes Tik Tok videos. So the question is should add what should the restrictions to social media sites be like, or will it restricting it make things worse? And they've discussed it a lot, but you know, there's a concern that these sites entitle, enable entitlement issues, maybe even kind of promote some of the societal work that you were talking about.
Diana - So as somebody who absolutely doesn't have social media, I am less the person to talk to this, except that I did an interview with a clinician who specializes in media issues and the developing brain. And her one piece of advice when she was sort of through chuckling with a question very similar to that one when she said, "I don't know how we really, really prevent social media." She said, "But one thing that we have made a rule in our house is no screens at the dinner table, no screens until you've been awake a certain amount of time and only one screen at a time." And I realized that I watched TV with my phone and I was looking at that, and I thought I am setting a terrible example in all kinds of ways about my screen use, let alone the social media. So Arden take it on-
Arden - I'll jump in here. I'm not a huge, I know what Tik Tok is, I use it mostly to watch dog videos, but that is not the purpose that most young people are using it today. My best friend named her daughter after me, and she was mortified when I was showing her my Tik Tok feed by little friend Arden because she thought how lame. I think it gets back actually to Stacy's point. I have never found that, I think having general rules about technology, having more, back to basics it's family day, once a month, once a week, whatever your kids can tolerate, we go to a hike and there's no technology. I think all those things are really important. And even thinking about it as you take vacations, are there ways to go to places where technology, I went to Africa with my mom and as much as I want it to be on my phone, it was not going to happen. So I think kind of bringing a generation that's highly reliant on technology, into experiences where they're forced to get rid of it. But I think Stacy brought up the point about children's literature, whether it's movies that you watch, books that you read, there are some very, to use sort of an old lady word, like hip books that are about powerful female leaders. When I think about the Kardashians, I applaud them in certain ways because they have figured a way to do nothing and make a huge living off of it. But I'm not sure they are the role models for the future generation, but Michelle Obama, for instance, might be for your family. Or maybe other female leaders that you look in the same vein. And I think celebrating those through watching films together and discussing it just as a counterpoint and you don't have to say, well, look how much better this person is versus the social media influencer who's making money this way, but really celebrating females. My mom has a coffee table book, which is literally just a series of three page summaries of very powerful women. It's just a way to think about presenting alternatives. And some of that also could be introducing children to leaders in your own network. You know, do you know somebody who owns a business? Could you go visit that business, someone in fashion?
I do think I learned a lot growing up by just being exposed to different people at different careers. And that helped shape, I wasn't quite as prone to listening to my peers about idolizing some rock star, because I had seen so many other ways in the world to make a difference. The last thing I'll say, and not to put too much pressure on you, Diana, cause I love this side, but we are getting a lot of questions in the chat around how do we promote resilience? So not just how do we prevent entitlement, but I think if we want to get to, I think some of those things just given the time it might be helpful to the audience, right? Yeah.
Stacy - Diana, let's let you take it from here and go as quick as you can. And then I'll pipe back in, in about eight minutes.
Diana - Okay. So addressing entitlement and promoting resilience are often intersecting, okay? So if we have a young person and I'm talking really young, a toddler who is emotionally undone, our job right then is not necessarily to buy them the lollipop that they're becoming undone about it is more to take, help them learn how to become regulated. We often say to kids, "I love this one," "calm down!" While we're in the midst of misregulated motion. How are we modeling calm down. It is our job at that point to model it. So when we're setting boundaries, just make them reasonable, specific enforceable, and logically related to the goal. When you have a meltdown in the grocery store, you will not be getting a lollipop. It's specific, it's reasonable, it's enforceable because you're not buying the lollipop. And it's logically related to the goal of promoting delayed gratification. It is and good behavior, frankly. I think that one of the things that I see over and over is that our parents, my parents' generation really was intent on raising adults who they wanted to be around. And that did not mean ungrateful, that did not mean arrogant. They had a set of what they wanted. And so they were going to not over function so that they didn't get that. That was really as much of anything as I noticed. So antidotes for entitlement, foster resiliency, we're going to talk about that gratitude. Gratitude goes a long way. Neuro chemically, neuro wiring, humility and a growth mindset. And the growth mindset is someday this will be good for me. Someday the thing I learned in this discomfort will benefit me because I will get a skill. I don't like it today, but the mindset that someday it will be good for me is critical. So, okay, Stacy.
Stacy - Okay. You can keep going. Arden do you want to go into some of the characteristics of resilience?
Arden - Sure. So I think many of us know resilience. If you haven't learned it, I'm sure COVID helped to inform it. And I will say it's a time where we can really see those people who have the capacity to operate in uncertainty and not getting what they want and the timeline they want. If we've seen that those people were able to pivot during this pandemic faring much better than those people who are not able to. So if we think about what can parents do to better foster resilience, I think a lot of it we've throughout the context it's presentations. But allowing things, allowing small failures to happen. So Diana mentioned her sons one at school, but there's a million versions that families can abide by. I think the other one that comes up for me a lot when I see families that have really struggled in our practice is allowing someone to be uncomfortable, and a lot of times I think part of the reason entitlement happens is it's easier to be the parent who eventually gives the child the lollipop. It is easier to let the girl go to the prom even though she broke curfew because you don't want to deal with a moody teenager in your home. So sometimes it requires parents making sacrifices and sort of gritting their teeth and actually allowing the person to not experience something despite any hyperbolic statements you hear. I'm going to be the only one I always am amazed at the dramatic language that our clients use and even personal friends children's use. I do think certainly crisis as a mode of opportunity, if you have a child that is experiencing, and prices could be something small, they got kicked off a team, they got accused of cheating, I mean, not cheating, maybe not that small, but we're not necessarily talking about in the hospital prices. It could be small opportunities for learning and talking again about values of what's going to be enforced. I think really taking decisive actions as a parent, Diana talked a lot about modeling behaviors, you know, when we've seen splitting within parents. So parents were not on the same page and we're coming at it for two different ways, I think is really damaging to kids. If you could be parents who say this is going to be our plan and you can model, this is what we've decided to do. And if afterwards there was a consequence discussing that in a really open, vulnerable way with children.
I think that can be a really good modeling of like we got through it, even though we made a choice that wasn't great. I think sharing stories in your own family system of things you've tried and being willing to try things as a parent that you're not going to succeed at. I made a terrible athlete. I was mocked by my high school swimming coach because my brother was so much better than me, and I still stayed on the swim team for four years. And my parents, if I said, I really don't want to go to practice, they didn't say, well, yeah, you do so well in so many other things, then you can skip it because they knew that wasn't going to enforce the value they needed. They didn't also then critique me for screwing up the race because they knew I was working to the most of my capacity. So I think being thoughtful about, what you're rewarding and what you're not doing, I would say overall, there are some great books about raising kids who have become productive adults. And one of the things that built fosters, a lot of resilience is allowing kids to have an identity that's separate from their family to a develop a talent that gets externally recognized. And it can be small. One of the questions I saw in the chat which I love is is there an age that it's too late? No, I think entitlement can be reversed with the right tools. I think what we know is that if you're going to do it the later you are the harder the pattern is to reverse. And I think that you have to really think about if you're asking someone to not be entitled, what behaviors are you promoting and incenting? So we know parents who have said, if you can save this much, we will double match it towards this specific goal. You really thinking about what, how do you get someone to have some "skin in the game" so that they are as invested as you as parents to achieving the same goal? I went through, and very quickly there, because I'm conscious of time. Diana, do you want to say something about this quote so we can then turn it back to Stacy.
Diana - I do, this is my favorite quote of all time. So I can't let Arden steal it. "We must let them encounter," what "life on their own terms and cannot save them from suffering any more than we can save ourselves from ours." And here's the line I love, "suffering is the anvil on which character's forged, and where they learn empathy and compassion." And isn't that really what flourishing looks like? Thank you.
Stacy - Beautiful, beautiful. Diana and Arden that was amazing. We have three minutes left and we're going to take all three of them. So I want to just give a few kind of quick ideas and then Diana, I'm going to let you pick one question from the chat to end with that you think you can kind of cover. Some of these we need a lot more time to cover. There's so many good questions. I would say, you know, to support, we need the driver of necessity. It's the solution to so many things. So think about those kinds of healthy boundaries. Think about what the trap, think about that upside down U-curve. The trap of getting extra money where now you can meet not just your needs, but your wants is it makes it easier to use money to sooth than smooth. Really think about those decisions carefully. In our experience, particularly with kids in their twenties, you want to be less generous with financial distributions. You want to really tie things gifts to a specific purpose. And I love this framing of these are resilience building opportunities. So don't, is I'm tempted to kind of come in and over-function, so one of my three kids can under function, I have to remind myself of that balance of that under over-function that's such a big one. And not taking away the resilience or strength building opportunity. And I'll leave one last idea, This is one of my favorites. And I learned this from positive psychologists, Talvin Shahar that you also build resilience by watching movies or reading stories of resilient characters. So for instance, I took my kids to see the movie "Hidden Figures," right? Resilience women. So that' an ongoing thing of... Watch those movies, the "Rudy's," the et cetera. And with that, Diana, why don't you answer one question and then Arden will give the last word to you.
Diana - Okay. I would like to answer the book question. What book do we recommend? And my favorite book about child-rearing and I read them all because I had a difficult child was called "Raising Children" by an anthropologist named Lancy, L-A-N-C-Y. And he went all over the world looking at indigenous cultures, modern cultures, and called out the best wisdom internationally about the way we can help our kids learn how to be functional, starting pretty much from birth.
Stacy - Thank you. And Arden what would you leave us with?
Arden- So the last thing I'll leave you with is when you hear, I'm thinking particularly of young people who say, but it's not fair, this is my life a bit. The biggest thing I heard both growing up from my brother and from our clients is, "Dad is trying to control my life. It's not fair, it's not fair." And I always used to say to him, "yeah, if you want to be able to do nothing and watch TV all day and smoke marijuana, you should be able to do it." And he said, "Yes, I agree." And I said, "right, then shouldn't have to pay for it because why do you get to tell him what to do with this money?" And that sort of stopped the conversation. And I've done that trick with a longer discussion intro to many of our clients. And it does put things in perspective for young adults, I think who kind of want it both ways. So there's lots of great questions in here. If we can be helpful at any point, don't hesitate to reach out. And thank you Stacy so much for having us and the team at First Republic for making this such an easy experience.
Stacy - Well, thank you both. I have to go back to where we started. You could see why when Diana and Arden presented at Family Firm Institute, we wanted our advisors to hear this and our advisors wanted you all to hear this. It's such an important topic and look, this isn't easy. But the nice thing about the perfect systems is there's lots of different levers. So you have a lot of different choices, with a nice kind of domino effect to get the result that you want on your preferred outcome. So with that, we just thank you so much for your time and attention. And on behalf of the whole First Republic team, just with gratitude and wishing everyone a great rest of the afternoon and the best of luck on this journey. Please let us know if we can be helpful. Thanks so much.
Arden - Thank you all.
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