“Our kids don’t need the burden of our happiness on top of theirs.”
As every parent will attest, it’s so easy to sublimate one’s self care for the interest of a child’s needs – it’s basically programmed into our DNA.
Intellectually we understand you can’t truly take care of another unless you attend to your own well-being first. But this idea runs counter to every parental instinct, making it very difficult to practice this important principle. It feels selfish. But our selfless intentions, albeit good, can lead us astray. Not only do they undermine our well-being, they’re not in our kids’ interest either — because an unhappy parent does not a happy child make.
This is a solid solid life lesson, whether you have children or not.
So let’s talk about it. While the vast majority of parenting advice focuses on raising happy children, today’s conversation flips the lens to concentrate on the radical, almost verboten subject of how to be a happier parent.
To walk us through this hornet’s nest is KJ Dell’Antonia, a former New York Times reporter who wrote and edited the Motherlode blog from 2011-2016 and was a contributing editor to the Well Family section from 2016-2017.
In addition, KJ co-hosts the #AmWriting podcast with parenting expert Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure (and former amazing podcast guest) and recently authored the new, aptly titled book How To Be A Happier Parent, a delightfully instructive, solution-packed, and research-backed primer aimed at helping parents find more happiness and joy in their day to day lives.
This is a very fun conversation loaded with practical advice and easy-to-implement take-aways for the parents among us. But even if you don’t have children, there is plenty of wisdom here to mine. The principles discussed are applicable to all, irrespective of your child-rearing status.
Because more than anything, this is a discourse on a crucial aspect of happiness we all share: self-care.
Specific topics covered include how we can all do more by doing less (something I really need to work on).
We discuss the problem spots that cause parents the most grief, with very small and doable steps to create a family life that serves as a pleasurable refuge rather than another stress point.
We talk about the importance of promoting self-sovereignty in ourselves and our children so they mature into happy, independent self-regulators.
And it’s a conversation about what family is really all about: not just churning out great kids on a success trajectory, but joy.
It was a joy spending time with KJ. My hope is that you feel the same and leave this conversation with ample fuel to better the quality of your life and family.
For the visually inclined you can watch it all go down here: bit.ly/richandkj
Peace + Plants,
Portraits by Reece Robinson
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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Check out KJ’s new book: How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute*
Background, Context & Reference:
- Connect With KJ: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn
- Listen to KJ’s Podcast: #AmWriting with Jess & KJ with RRP guest Jessica Lahey
- Medium: Articles by KJ Dell’Antonia
- mindbodygreen: Why Protecting Your Family’s Downtime Makes Kids & Parents Happier by KJ Dell’Antonia
- mindbodygreen: How Mindfulness Can Help You Respond — Not React — When Your Kids Drive You Nuts by KJ Dell’Antonia
- TIME: Two New Books to Help You Accept That No Parent Is Perfect by Belinda Luscombe
- The New York Times: Motherlode: Adventures in Parenting | Posts published by Kj Dell’Antonia
- The New York Times: A Sibling Fight Survival Guide by KJ Dell’Antonia
- The New York Times: On Chores and Life Lessons – Readers discuss their value to children, or a lack thereof
- CNN: Why extracurriculars make parents miserable by Elissa Strauss
- Forbes: How Remote Work Made This NY Times Columnist’s Career Possible by Whitney Johnson
- Forbes: 5 Ways To Feed Your Family Well by Megy Karydes
- Chicago Tribune: A radical notion: Parents’ happiness matters (maybe even more than their kids’) by Heidi Stevens
- The Washington Post: Why parents should try to be happy, even when their child isn’t by KJ Dell’Antonia
- The Washington Post: Am I an awful parent for not trying to engage my teen in conversation in the car? by Meghan Leahey
- The Washington Post: The Washington Post: I’m a free-range parent. My toddler’s concussion changed everything by Gail Cornwall
- The Star: How to be a happier parent by Brandi Weikle
- Dallas News: KJ Dell’Antonia: I did not love my adopted child
- Path Forward: Interview with KJ Dell’Antonia: Newsflash! Parenting Can Be Fun by Tami Forman
- NPR: Morning Edition: To Raise Confident, Independent Kids, Some Parents Are Trying To ‘Let Grow’ with Deena Prichep (AUDIO)
- Book: Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence*
- Book: Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood*
Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:
- Jessica Lahey: N.Y. Times / Atlantic writer & author of The Gift of Failure*, co-host of #AmWriting with Jess & KJ and podcast guest
- Susan David, PhD: award-winning Psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life* and podcast guest
- Gretchen Rubin: host of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, NYT bestselling author and podcast guest
Lisa Damour, PhD: psychologist, best-selling author, monthly New York Times columnist, and regular contributor to CBS News
Dr. Rick Hanson: psychologist and New York Times best-selling author
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #282: Jessica Lahey On The Gift Of Failure
- RRP #356: Susan David, Ph.D On The Power Of Emotional Agility & Why Discomfort Is The Price Of Admission To A Meaningful Life
- RRP #317: Where Do You Thrive? Gretchen Rubin On Playing To Your Strengths & Building Better Habits
- RRP #116: Why Every Kid Is One Caring Adult Away From Being A Success Story (Part 1)
- RRP #281: Adam Braun on Lightning Moments, Reimagining Education & Blazing A Life of Purpose
- RRP #332: Guru Singh On Building Emotional Infrastructure, New Educational Modalities & The Impact Of Diet Beyond The Physical
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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