For those of you who are familiar with my work and have readmy other books, you know by now that I am a one-trick pony.This means that there is one central theme in all that I do. Thatcentral theme is personal responsibility. In my first book, ShutUp, Stop Whining & Get a Life: A Kick-Butt Approach to a BetterLife, I emphasized my theme in terms of personal development.In It's Called Work for a Reason! Your Success Is Your Own DamnFault, I exploited my message of personal responsibility in thearea of business. Then I used it again in You're Broke Because YouWant to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead in thearea of personal fi nance. I followed that up with The Idiot Factor:The 10 Ways We Sabotage Our Life, Money, and Business. In thatbook, I once more pound home the idea that you must take controlof every area of your life, stop blaming others for your problemsand be willing to do whatever it takes to create the life youwant. Four books with the central theme of personal responsibility.I am back again to harp on that theme, this time in thearea of parenting. Our society is a mess today and will only getworse because parents are not taking responsibility for teachingtheir kids the principles of how to lead successful, productivelives. That trend has to stop and stop now! My intention is toturn that cycle of destruction around in this book.
"I HAVE GREAT KIDS, LARRY. I DON'TNEED THIS BOOK."
I know you have great kids. All kids are great. And if you don'tbelieve it, just ask their parents. Rather than argue that point, Iam going to give in and just say all kids, in the beginning, aregreat kids. Kids come into this world as blank slates that you, theparent, get to write on. Whatever you write on that slate willdetermine whether your great kid will turn into a great adult orwhether he will become a leech on society. So while your kid isa "great kid," that isn't really the point, is it? The real point is toteach your kids to become the best adult version of themselvesthey can be.
IS THIS BOOK FOR YOU?
This book is for the parents who love their kids, want the bestfor them, and are willing to do whatever it takes to turn that kidinto a great adult. Maybe they just need a reminder of what's reallyimportant and that it's time to get back to basics. Or maybethey need a wake-up call so they can turn a bad situation around.Or maybe they need a kick in the pants to tell them they havebeen messing up and they need to get back in control of theirfamily.
This book is for the millions of hardworking parents withnormal situations and regular kids who want to raise these kidsto be responsible adults who will make a good living, be goodpeople who do the right thing and grow up to raise their owngood kids. It is for the single mom and the weekend dad and forthe parents who have solid marriages. It is for parents like thosewho are serious about raising responsible children.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM THE BOOK:
In this book I am going to cover exactly what has gone wrongwith parenting and the lack of it and why kids end up the waythey are and act the way they do. I am going to give you many examples of what I consider to be bad parenting and point outthe long-term effects that kind of parenting is having on our society.I am going to talk about what I believe we should teach ourkids so they will grow to be responsible adults. That is my onegoal for every parent: creating responsible, productive adults.
WHAT YOU CAN'T EXPECT FROM THE BOOK:
I am not going to deal with the people who should never havehad kids to begin with. We all know those folks are everywhere!They are on television being arrested for abuse and abandonment.They are running to the sperm bank or getting fertilitytreatments so they can have another eight kids when they can'tafford to take care of the six they already have. Some peopleshould not be allowed to reproduce. I am talking about peoplewho take no interest in their kids and who have no values worthyof passing on. That's all I am going to say about these worthlesswastes of skin. Kids are both a privilege and a responsibility.If you aren't ready for the responsibility, you shouldn't get toexperience the privilege of having them. And if you aren't readyfor the responsibility, try birth control or learn to keep it in yourpants.
I am also not going to deal with any of the extreme issuesthat many parents face, like raising children with mental or physicalchallenges, though most of the parenting principles I amaddressing here would apply to those kids as well. I know thatmany kids have very special needs that require special attention.I am also not addressing child abuse, whether it is sexual, physicalor mental. I don't have the expertise, the credentials or theinclination to write about that.
In fact, this isn't much of a how-to book at all. I am notgoing to talk about how to change diapers or how to get littleJimmy to drink his milk or brush his teeth. I am not going to tellyou how to get little Sally to clean up her room. I am not goingto hold your hand and pass out basic information about everyparenting issue you have already faced or will eventually face. I simply cannot address every situation you are ever going to comeup against, so don't expect me to. Besides, there are plenty ofbooks out there that will teach you all of that basic stuff betterthan I ever could.
Ultimately, how you teach your kids is always going to be upto you, because every kid is different and requires a unique, personalizedapproach. Plus, most parenting lessons can't be plannedin advance. Most lessons are taught on the fly as the situationoccurs. No true how-to can work in those circumstances.This is actually more of a what-to book. I am going to showyou what to teach your kids more than how to teach your kids. Inthe long run, it's what they know that is important. The methodyou use to get that information into their brains is up to you.
"WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO TEACHPARENTING, LARRY?"
That is a fair question since I am known as either a businessconsultant or a personal development guru or a financial coach.Yet that is exactly what gives me the right to talk about parenting.Besides, I am not really teaching parenting and we need toget that straight from the outset. I am teaching fiscal responsibility,discipline, consequences, goal setting, education, love,charity, ethics, how to work and how to have fun along withmany other principles of a productive life. These are the principlesthat I have taught in every one of my books thus far. Theseare the principles every person must learn and adhere to in orderto lead a successful, happy, financially secure life. These are the"what-to"s I just referred to. All I am doing in this book is offeringthe lessons I am best known for on a level where they canbe taught to children. I am not teaching parenting, I am teachinglife.
In every book I have written, I point to my personal experienceas my right to teach others what to do. I clearly point outwhat I have done wrong in my personal life, my business life, with my money, what consequences I experienced and what I didto overcome the mess I made. I teach the lessons that I learnedthe hard way. I also teach what I have learned from my readingand study on the subject.
This book is no different. I am going to cover what I didwrong as a parent and what I learned from my mistakes. And Iam going to cover what I did right as a parent and the influenceit had on my now adult sons. You will also get the benefit of theresearch I have done by studying the works of many of the world'sleading parenting experts.
But what most gives me the right to talk about parentingcomes down to just two reasons: Aaron Tyler Winget and PatrickMason Winget. Two responsible men who tell the truth, takeresponsibility, work hard, pay their bills and contribute to society.Anyone who can raise two good kids when there are so manyidiots roaming the streets has a thing or two to teach others.
I CAN'T FIX YOUR KID.
You may have purchased this book thinking I am going to teachyou the keys to fixing your kid. Sorry. This book is not aboutfixing your kid. First, I don't really believe your kid is broken;therefore he or she doesn't need to be fixed.
"What? But I want my kid fixed!" Too bad. That's not whatI'm here to do. I know your kid may be a mess, but it's not yourkid's fault that he is a mess. And believe me, I know there are alot of messed-up kids out there. But again, it's not their fault.The fault lies with the parents.
Therefore, this is not a fix-your-kid book. This is a fix-the-way-you-parent-your-kid book. When you fix the way you parent,your kid will get fixed. That's the sequence. I want to bevery clear so you won't be surprised: It's not about them; it'sabout you! Like I said a few pages back, if you want to fix yourkid's behavior, change your own behavior.
That is going to be your biggest obstacle in this whole process of raising responsible, productive kids: becoming a responsible,productive parent. And don't tell me you are a responsibleparent who has done everything right and you still havekids who are a mess. That's not how it works. Let me repeat abasic premise from all of my books:
Business gets better right after the people in the businessget better.
Sales get better right after salespeople get better.
Customer service improves right after the people who deliverthe customer service improve.
Employees get better right after their managers get better.
Wives get better right after their husbands get better.
Husbands get better right after their wives get better.
AND . . .
Kids get better right after their parents get better.
MEANING . . .
Everything in your life gets better right after YOU get betterand nothing in your life is ever going to get better until youget better.
This isn't going to be an easy process because it requires thatyou get better by taking a long, hard look at the way you areraising your kids. And you have to get better long before yourkids are ever going to get any better. If your kids are a mess, it'stime to take responsibility for it. Consider what you have donewrong as a parent and tell yourself that you are ready to dowhatever it takes to improve your skills so you will end up with a responsible, productive adult. Remember, your kids are yourown fault.
So let's get started. There is no time to waste!
A FEW WORDS OF WARNING:
I hate it when people tell me how great their kids are. Nothingmakes me want to puke quicker than someone who goes on andon about how cute their kid is or bores me with all of their kid'saccomplishments. Yuck! I bet you feel the same way. Here is myproblem: I can't explain how I believe you should parent yourkids without telling you how I parented my kids. I can't talkabout what to teach your kids unless I tell you what I taught myown kids. Therefore, you are going to hear quite a bit about myboys. Sorry. I am not going to go on and on about how greatthey were though, I promise. Because the fact is, they weren't allthat great. They were just kids. Some days, they were prettygood. Some days, I wanted to choke them out. Most days, theywere just kids. They are both men now and I'm proud of thekind of men they turned out to be. But trust me when I say theywere idiots a good part of the time growing up. I will do my bestto keep a good balance between describing the idiot kids theywere and the responsible adults they became so you won't wantto puke. But remember the most important thing to take awaywhen I talk about my sons is the lesson involved in the story.And I promise, there won't be a story unless there is a lesson.
I take a hard line on discipline. I believe lines should be drawn inthe sand in terms of acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior.When those lines are crossed, consequences must be imposed.Those consequences must be carried out whether you arebusy or preoccupied with other things, whether it is convenient, whether you feel good, and even when your heart isn't in it. Youdrew the line; it was agreed upon with your child and a deal is adeal. If you have a problem imposing consequences for unacceptablebehavior then you are going to hate this book.
I speak in generalizations. I make blanket statements that applyto most people in most situations. There are exceptions. I recognizethat. I am fully aware that there are few situations that thereare no exceptions for. So don't bother pointing the exceptionsout to me. I don't discount the fact that there are exceptions toevery point I make in this book. I just don't intend to deal withthem.
I quote a lot of statistics in this book. I don't footnote every statisticI use. That's not my style and it doesn't seem to be the styleof those who read my writings. I don't make stuff up. The statisticsquoted all came from reliable sources. If you want to findout where they came from, then I encourage you to do a littleresearch: Google them. You can find verification for every statisticin the book by investing just a few minutes of your time in aGoogle search.
MY PERSONAL REQUEST TO YOU.
You are not going to agree with everything I say in this book. Infact, I hope you don't agree with everything. If you did, youwouldn't be thinking on your own. I don't want blind followers,I want fully aware, engaged people to read my words and agreewhere they feel they should and disagree where something opposestheir own personal belief system. A good healthy disagreementmeans you are involved and thinking. Being involved and thinking critically is always a good thing whether you agreeor not.
My request to you is this: If you find something I say thatyou vehemently disagree with, move on. Go ahead and disagreewith me on that one idea and keep reading. Don't throw outeverything else that you might be okay with and be able to usesimply because I lose you on one point.
I once received a letter in response to something I said in mybook The Idiot Factor: The 10 Ways We Sabotage Our Life, Money,and Business. The guy told me he had to discount the contents ofthe entire book, even though he saw applications for a good bitof it in his own life, simply because he disagreed with a statementI made about bottled water. All I could think of was howsad that is. One line that had almost nothing to do with the overallmessage of the book caused this guy to abandon things heopenly admitted he needed to do.
Please don't do that with this book. Parenting is a touchy subject.Talking to people about their kids and pointing an accusatoryfi nger in the faces of the parents causes people's hackles to rise!All I ask is that you be open enough to find one thing in this bookyou can use to raise a better kid. One good idea is my goal for you.One idea so that at the end of the book, you can close it and havethe resolve to take action to improve the life of the person youbrought into this world and are in charge of. Deal? I hope so.Okay, that's it. Are you ready to get started raising betterkids? If so, get your pencil and keep reading.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
I am a huge believer in making books interactive. My books allinclude worksheets to fill out and this one is no exception. I wantyou to get out a pencil right now and go to work on the next fewpages before you even begin to read my suggestions on raisinggood kids. Please don't skip the exercises, as these will form thebasis for your entire approach to parenting.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.
If you want to build a house, you begin with the end in mind.You visualize the finished product and then create the plans tomake your vision come to fruition. You hire an architect, find abuilder and go to work. Your general contractor keeps closewatch on all the subcontractors to make sure they are doingtheir job and that the project stays on track. You put your timeand your energy and your money into the project to make surewhat you picture in your mind is what you actually end upwith.
That is exactly what parenting is about, too. You begin withthe end in mind. Only, in parenting, you are the architect, thebuilder and the general contractor. There are some subcontractorsin there, too. Those subcontractors are grandparents, family,friends, babysitters, teachers, coaches and others who willhave periodic and temporary responsibility for your child's developmentthroughout her life. As the general contractor youare in charge of those subcontractors to make sure they do theirjob and help you keep the overall project on track.
Imagine this: You decide you want to build a beautiful newhouse, so you go to the lumberyard and order a bunch of lumber,some pipes and wires, a cabinet and some doors, then throwin a toilet bowl, a sink and some lawn seed. Then you have all ofthat stuff delivered, piled up at your building site, and you sitlooking at it with no plan at all. Would you do that? Of coursenot. That would be stupid. But that is how most people parent.They parent without a plan. They have all this fun creating thebaby and then nine months later when the baby gets deliveredthey've got the diapers, the nursery, the bottles and the formula,but they don't have a plan to create the end product. They don'tknow what kind of adult they want to raise. Sure, they may saythings like, "He's going to be a doctor!" Or, "She could be presidentof the United States!" But do they have a plan to get themthere? Rarely.
Parents may spend a lot of time looking into the future and picturing the end product, but most haven't put a lot of timeinto figuring out what has to be done every single day to makesure it happens. It's not enough to just picture the end product;you also have to focus on the daily effort it takes to get there.
That is my approach in this section. I want you to begin withthe end in mind. I want you to think about what kind of adultyou would like to create. That is what parenting really is: creatingadults. I may have hooked you with the title, but I want tomake one thing clear to you right now: This book is not abouthow to stop raising irresponsible kids; it is about how to create aplan for raising smart adults. Few parents think far enoughthrough the process of parenting to understand that concept.
The subtitle of this book is A Guide for Raising Responsible,Productive Adults. I know some will say, "Didn't you mean to sayKids instead of Adults?" No, I meant adults. I don't believe youraise kids as much as you raise adults. If your children stayedkids forever I would have written about raising kids. But theydon't. Kids grow up and become adults.
You create the adults the rest of us will have to put up with.You typically have your children under your roof for eighteenyears and then they begin to make their own decisions and therest of us end up living with the consequences of those decisions.You have them for eighteen years as children, but the rest of theworld has them for about another sixty years as adults. Your fewyears at the beginning are what create the person they becomeafter you get them out of the house.
In order to figure out what those first eighteen years aregoing to entail for you as the parent, you must begin by lookingat the adult you want to create.
LET'S VISIT THE TIME MACHINE.
Stop thinking of your kid as he is today. Forget that he is a droolingten-month-old in his high chair throwing Cheerios. Instead,picture your kid at the ripe old age of thirty-five. What do youwant him to look like? What habits do you want him to have?
What lifestyle do you want him to embrace? How much moneywould you like for him to be earning? Do you want your kiddependent on you? Unable to make decisions? In debt? Still livingat home? Still going to school? Out of work? In a series ofbad relationships? Those are the questions you must ask yourselfbefore you even enter into the whole raising-a-child mode.Picture your kid at thirty-five and work backward.
Why do I want you to do this? I have seen way too manyparents looking at their thirty-five-year-old kid wishing they haddone things differently when their kid was little. Their thirty-five-year-old "child" is broke, unhappy, can't figure out how tobe in a relationship, may still live at home or is still dependent onthem. And those thirty-five-year-olds will go out there and passon the same faults when they have kids of their own.
If you are looking at a thirty-five-year-old disaster, face it,folks: It is too late. You have failed as a parent. You have failedyourself, your child and your child's children. You have failed society.And all of us will end up bearing the burden of your failure.Thanks! Think of that the next time you bump into athirty-five-year-old idiot; you should send his parents a thank younote because it's their fault.
HINDSIGHT IS 20/20.
You've heard that old saying. Twenty-twenty hindsight is finewhen you are thinking on Monday about how you shouldn'thave washed your car on Sunday because you heard it would rainand sure enough, it did. It's fine when you are looking back athow some investment didn't turn out to be your finest decision.
While the consequences may be serious, a bad investment normallyisn't a life-destroying issue. However, looking at yourthirty-five-year-old disaster of a human being and wishing youhad done things differently is not okay. Twenty-twenty hindsightdoesn't matter at that point. It's too late. You can't go backand re-raise your child. You have to have foresight when raisingyour kid. That's what I am trying to help you develop with this exercise: foresight. I want you to have the foresight to actuallydesign the thirty-five-year-old adult you want your child toeventually become.
Take the time right now, yes, right now, to fill out thesepages.
WHAT KIND OF ADULT DO YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO GROW UP TO BECOME?
WHAT INFORMATION WILL YOUR CHILD NEED TO KNOW TO BECOME THAT KIND OF AN ADULT?
WHAT HAVE YOU ALREADY TAUGHT YOUR CHILDTHAT WOULD LEAD HIM OR HER TOWARD BECOMING THAT KIND OF AN ADULT?
WHAT DO YOU STILL NEED TO TEACH YOUR CHILD?
Congratulations! You have just written your own book onhow to raise a productive, caring, smart, loving, responsible, welladjustedadult. Now that you have written yours, read mine.