The Importance of Mission

“Our own life has to be our message.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, terrible tragedy that it was, also ended up bringing to the fore something positive that is sorely lacking in many of today’s young people: a mission. Although I wish it weren’t mass shootings that were the reason, the way students around the world rallied around the cause of “no more school shootings” couldn’t have been a better demonstration of how kids are brought to life around a mission. Read more

What Dreams Are Made of

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I talk about making dreams come true a lot. That sounds so…frivolous, so hokey—so why do I keep saying it?

Because it is so important to kids’—and adults’—mental health, that’s why. Read more

Are We Having Fun…Ever?

One thing I ask parents frequently is how much fun their family has. The reply is often that their child loves their organized athletics, or music, or whatever afterschool activity that their child does, and that is fun for their child.

It is true that some children love those activities. But some children don’t. They do them out of a sense of duty. They do it because their parents make them. Or they do them because it has been impressed on them, either consciously or unconsciously, that they have to do it to get into college—for their résumé, in other words. And many of them never tell their parents that they would rather not do them, or do them quite so much. When you have Outcome Fever, it becomes very hard for your kids to be honest with you.

But even if your child loves their extracurricular activity, that is different from plain fun. Unlike organized activities, fun has no responsibilities, such as practicing, attached. Most importantly, the fun I’m talking about has no outcomes attached. Read more

Raising Kids in the Digital Age Program for Parents: June 11 in Newton

Please join me for a free program on Raising Kids in the Digital Age!

Sunday, June 11, from 3–5pm at Stone L’Oven Pizza, 1649 Beacon Street, Newton, Massachusetts.

Enjoy some wonderful live music while you gain knowledge, share exasperation and joy, discuss the challenges, and acquire support and understanding for the journey of being a parent today.

Interspersing thought-provoking music, lecture, and group discussion, I explain how to lessen the scrapes and bruises involved in parenting in the “Digital Age.” You will leave with some tips for how to safely prepare your kids for a fulfilling and independent life, as well as some tools for you to shed stress, feel empowered, and connect with yourself and your family. See the full flier below.

Questions? Feel free to contact me or use the form below.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Jeff Levin Coaching Raising Kids in the Digital Age program June 11

Hand-Me-Down Vows

The definition of a vow is a “solemn promise,” which implies a conscious decision. Yet what I have found in my work is the unconscious also makes vows, often destructive ones. Uncovering these unconscious vows and then breaking them can be hard going, but it is possible and can be incredibly healing. Read more

Curriculum of Confidence Assembly

I am offering a new assembly this year for high school students. Appropriate for both public and private school settings, my Curriculum of Confidence program empowers students to take control of their own futures.

Here is the flyer that describes the program.

It sounds ambitious, but really the premise is simple: It’s about Voice and Choice. Read more

The Beauty of Mindless Tasks

For some reason I don’t understand, many kids today are not ever asked to do housework. They are never asked to do a dish, vacuum, do laundry, mow the lawn, or any household chores. Perhaps parents think their children are too busy to waste time on mundane tasks? I would argue that these mindless tasks are anything but mundane. Read more

Secret Life of Kids Program on May 17

I will be facilitating a panel of experts for a program at the Concord (N.H.) High School Auditorium on Tuesday, May 17, from 6-8pm. Sponsored by the Concord Hospital Center for Health Promotion, the program is free, and all are welcome.

The program will be covering a lot of the material that appeared in my latest blog post.

Here is the program flyer, which has more information.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, and I hope to see you there.

Kids Are Not OK

One thing I am called upon to do often is decode kids. A great thing about being a life coach who does home visits is I get to meet the entire family and see how they relate to each other. Not surprisingly, many parents struggle to communicate with their teenagers and 20-somethings, and I get called in to decode. Often the parents are surprised, or even shocked, to hear how their kids are really feeling.

Although many kids may seem OK or even to be doing well to their parents, they really aren’t OK. They’re digitized, anxious, addicted to gizmos, aren’t resilient, and don’t know how to push themselves outside of school and sports. They are supremely focused on goals and ambitions to the exclusion of their dreams and simple joy. They achieve, yet they often feel completely powerless. They appear to be successful, yet so many are sad.

I am not the only person who is reporting this: most of the professionals with whom I talk—pediatricians, teachers, coaches, school administrators, and some worried parents—are all seeing the same things.

Why is this happening? Part of this is cultural. We, the Analog Generation, knew that if we worked reasonably hard in school and stayed out of major trouble, we’d be fine. The messages we received, both consciously and unconsciously, from the adults in our lives went along these lines:

“The world’s a good, fun safe place.”

“You can trust most adults.”

“The people in Washington probably know what they’re doing.”

“The earth will last forever.”

“Your parents have some issues, but basically they’re there for you.”

“You can and should respect your teachers and coaches, and they’re really looking out for you.”

The Digital Kids don’t enjoy that kind of reassurance. We all know the messages that are swirling around them at all times: ISIS, global warming. A “media” that reports the news sensationally in great detail 24/7 and promulgates fear. There’s a fractured political system that has forgotten about respect and compromise and seems oblivious to the people it’s supposed to serve. It’s everyone being on their smartphones all of the time (making Einstein, who said, “I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots.” very prescient, indeed), trying to use communication devices as connection devices, which doesn’t work.

A noted psychiatrist, D.W. Winnicott, coined the term holding environment for that positive, safe, predictable environment parents create in their home for a baby. Well, the cultural holding environment, in a scant generation, has begun to radically tear.

And because of all of this, many parents are afraid—so afraid—in their efforts to protect their children from all of these awful things, they have neglected to prepare them for adulthood. They haven’t allowed their kids to be kids. Many of these children might have every material gadget possible, but they rarely get to play outside. They are hardly, if ever, allowed to go out on their own, get into trouble, get out of trouble, find out who they are as individuals. They have not been allowed to fail or face consequences. To take risks. To have fun with their friends in unstructured, unsupervised play. And the result is stressed-out, anxious, sad kids.

These kids hold a secret kept even from themselves: They do not feel in control of their lives, do not enjoy contentment, and do not experience excitement about the whole of living.

Most of their parents aren’t in on this secret and, in fact, don’t have a clue how their children really feel. We’re raising a generation of kids who are using devices, Snapchat, sex, work, working out, stress, drugs, alcohol, and achievement to feel alive. Kids who don’t know how to truly connect.

There are a lot of things parents can do to improve this situation, and that is a big part of my work with kids and families. But it isn’t easy, as it means bucking some trends. It means making a conscious decision to NOT keep up with the Joneses. It means changing things up with your kids, and, as you know, change is not easy or immediate, and you will be met with resistance. But when you see that big grin on your child’s face when she or he realizes that life is about the journey as much, if not more, than the destination, and you are sharing their joy, maybe for the first time in ages, it will feel great.

In addition to my direct work with families, I have a program on this subject for both large and small groups of parents. It’s appropriate for PTAs, libraries, religious organizations, businesses (I do a lunchtime program), or even just a group of friends who are interested in these issues. Please contact me for details.

 

 

The Media is Catching on to The Bombardment

If you have ever talked with me about kids, you know about The Bombardment, because I bring it up all of the time. The Bombardment is my term for the amalgam of the cultural and societal issues that have changed kids and parenting over the last 20 years or so. The Bombardment has caused a number of challenges for parents, but, more particularly, kids. The challenges are serious: they have caused increases in suicides, opiate use, failure to launch, crippling anxiety…these are just a few examples, and so many times, parents don’t have a clue about the secret lives that their children live every day. Much of my work addresses these challenges. Read more