This article is based on episode #27 of A Bridge To Wholeness podcast. You can listen to the episode on iTunes, Stitcher, and on our website.
Jennifer Crisp: Kevin Ryan-Young has taken on the challenge of parents and children and their relationships. I know there’s a lot of books out there, and there’s a lot of parenting skills, and we see a lot on social media, but I really like approach to family relationships and business and how you balance those, especially for people who are in business for themselves and they have children.
And I know that for you, you really do believe that the way that children are empowered to be themselves has to happen through good parenting, through the parents, and then really making sure that both parents and children have tools that they can utilize and integrate into their business for the parents and for the children as well, so that they really have a balance, that they get to spend quality time together, and we’re really going to delve into that today.
Here’s one of my first questions. Of course, it’s a broad one, but I think it’ll really get the topic going, is what are some of the issues that you really see children and parents grappling with in today’s world?
Kevin Ryan-Young: I think one of the biggest things is that there are many books on parenting, but they’re not necessarily the right books. Parents, they only know what they’ve experienced, so they’re trying to raise their children in some cases the way they were raised, which is not what’s working for this generation.
When I was growing up, it was during the time when children were seen, not heard. As a child, I would sit in a room. I’d have lots of ideas about things. I might even know the right answer about something, but it wasn’t my place to express that. I would simply just sit there, look cute.
Jennifer Crisp: Yes, and also, I don’t know about you, but we had the children’s table and the parents’ table. Not for regular dinners, but when you had company. You were relegated sometimes to the children’s table because the adults had their conversation and then the children just, whatever happened at the children’s table happened. It’s all about food fights and things like that. I do remember those days very well, and so what is different now, because gosh, do we even have meals together?
Kevin Ryan-Young: Well yeah, that’s one thing, and I think because we don’t have meals together like we used to. I think in some cases there’s been some good that’s come from that, it’s now that the children’s table conversation, so that will happen more like the adult table conversations. And I think that time when we didn’t eat together and everyone was off watching TV or on their computers or on their phones sort of equalized the conversation.
I was with extended family this weekend and one of, I think he’s 14, came up to a table of adults and said, “I want to have a political conversation. I want to talk about abortion and abortion rights and what’s going on.” And he came to the table and stimulated this awesome conversation.
All of these things that we’ve seen as distractions and changes, I think there’s also a good side to them. With kids on their phones, on their computers, it’s annoying, let’s just put that out there first, but in many cases, they’re extending their knowledge. I’ve watched movies with my daughter, who is now 13, and she’ll be doing something on her phone during a movie. Do you want to watch this or not? She’s like, “Yeah, I’m just looking up an actor” or “I’m looking up a location” or “I’m looking up something I remember about the story.”
And for parents to be able to just sort of let go of what it was like for us and let them teach us something new, I think that’s another big challenge that’s happening with some families, it’s letting the kids teach you.
Jennifer Crisp: Wow. I didn’t really think about it that way. So what you were saying in the beginning was that we as parents oftentimes utilize the same parenting techniques that we were subjected to when we were growing up, but now, because we do have so much technology involved in children’s lives at a very early age, that they really can teach us something, that it’s not all bad, that having a phone and a computer and the TVs, it’s not all bad, but to really bring something into it that allows a different perspective from parenting.
And so how do you do that? Because I’ve been to a restaurant I know with my husband and I just noticed slightly at the table, and we saw this family of four and they were all on their phones and nobody was talking to each other, they weren’t even looking at each other. I was like, how do you take your family out to eat and nobody conversing? Fo for me, I was looking at that going, wow, this is really a sad day because everybody was on their phones, parents and the kids, but maybe they had already decided that that’s what they were going to do.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Right. And maybe they’re all working on something together. It’s like, they were going to find out all this information about one subject and went… Well, this is a way that I would suggest parents use that, the kid not being able to put down the phone, is coming up with some sort of game around it that involves everyone, so in that-
Jennifer Crisp: So again a suggestion for that, what do you mean by that?
Kevin Ryan-Young: In that case, if it’s a family at a restaurant, maybe before the meal comes, they’re all looking up information on one topic. And then once the food arrives, they’re going to talk about it.
Jennifer Crisp: Okay. So that’s when the families go down? And then that’s when they have a conversation?
Kevin Ryan-Young: Yes.
Jennifer Crisp: So instead of approaching it like, okay, put your phone away. Why do you have your phone at the dinner table? You shouldn’t be doing that. But to actually incorporate it in a way that is central around something that’s beneficial for everyone at the table?
And then to make rules about, okay, but now it’s fine, yes to put it down.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Right. Because that distraction is not going away, it’s just going to get… there’s going to be more than just phones. There’s going to be more information on the phone so we might as well figure out how to use it.
Jennifer Crisp: Wow. That’s a really, really good idea because I know that when my grandchildren come here, now they’re pretty good because the parents have always been that way with us at the dinner table. But I imagined as they get older that’s going to become more challenging. They’re young right now, so they’re only like six and seven years old, so it’s not that big of a deal to get them to do that. But as I get older, that could be a real conversation around that.
Wow I really like that. That’s a great idea actually, that’s a very good idea. How about other things that you think entrepreneurs really need to be aware of or may have children?
Kevin Ryan-Young: Making sure that your child is aware of your business and getting them involved in whatever capacity they can be, so you’re not separating work from family. That used to be the way to do things, but it’s not anymore. How can you work from home and say you’re working and not being part of the family at that time? It just doesn’t make any sense.
Jennifer Crisp: Right. Because we do have a lot of people who work from home, even if they’re not entrepreneurs, even if they’re working for a corporation. Because I know my daughter… One of my daughters in law does work most of the time from home and she works for a very large company, and she was able to at lunch time because she had someone watching the baby while she works, she’s able to spend some time, some good quality time with the baby while… Even though she’s at home, which of course is a great situation.
But what else? When you say incorporate them in ways that’s beneficial, it really is changing your whole mindset around this isn’t it? This is not a big deal for parents, isn’t it?
Kevin Ryan-Young: It is and it’s only going to make that child’s future better, make our world better because they’ll have had some experience, some insight into today’s world, what needs to be fixed, what’s not working, what is working. And then when it’s handed over to them, they can make it work. One of the things that when I’m working with someone, I would say that, “Whatever you’re doing in your business, those values need to be the same as your family values and your personal values.”
You can’t be at home and be green and worried about the environment and then have a job, selling old cars that are going to… or whatever it is that’s against what-
Jennifer Crisp: Right. Against what you value, exactly. Wow. This is a really big shift.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Because one of the things that happens with parents is they’re at work and they’re thinking about their kids or they’re at home thinking about work and then they’re just not present. But if your work is connected, has the same values, then there’s no distraction because it’s all the same thing, it’s all your life.
Jennifer Crisp: This is really interesting because we often talk about leaving work and then coming home, but I really do… I think what you’re saying is we don’t really have that… especially for entrepreneurs, we don’t really have that separation like we used to because 20, 30, 40 years ago people left their homes, they went to a place of work, they left that place, and they came home, so it really was a very separate environment.
And when you were at work, you were at work and you did not speak to your family, you didn’t have conversations, you didn’t do check ins, but you are right, this is really, really changed. I think what I’m getting from you is that the integration is really the solution to a lot of things that then allow us to have a better relationship with her kids instead of trying to keep everything quiet and away from them, so just bring it into them.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Yes. There was back then when you work 9:00 to 5:00, when 5:00 came, you were done. But then as phones and email came in, you could go home and still be working.
So having to deal with that first of all and figuring out how to make that work in your family, but people didn’t, they would just take the calls or just to answer emails. There was something else I was going to say and it just disappeared, it’ll be back.
Jennifer Crisp: It’ll be back. But I remember the days when… So when I worked at the hospital which was back in the early 2000s, I remember my nurse manager… Do you remember… Some people are not going to know what this is, but do you remember the BlackBerries?
Okay, so we have a BlackBerry, which was really a precursor to the iPhone and it was basically a calendar and people could beep you all the time and basically you had to respond to it all the time. Like hey, I want you at work at this time, hey, this is going on, et cetera. She had only her BlackBerry, then she had a cellphone. And then she would go home and of course at that time, the year 2000, people still had house phones, most people had house phones.
So this poor woman would be on constant call 24/7, it’s like she never had a break. But then I noticed that as a culture, we really frowned on that and was like, you can’t get away from it. You’re on vacation, and like you said [inaudible 00:17:07] people are still working. They go on vacation, they’re still working. But now we’re so used to it that it’s… Is there ever a separation? Is there ever a time when you’re not going to have to have that going on at the same time, or is this something now that we’re just… it is just part of who we are.
Kevin Ryan-Young: It’s there, it’s not going away. It’s not even getting used to it, it’s using it to our advantage.
Jennifer Crisp: Okay. So when you go on vacation with your family, what does that look like? Are you still then maybe doing a little bit of business or do you put everything away or what would you recommend?
Kevin Ryan-Young: It depends what the family decides. There are some times if there’s specific work that needs to be done, it’s like, okay so I’m going to be working from 10:00 to 12:00, and the rest of the time I’m yours. And that’s something we do, we go every year, we visit some friends in Canada and we’re there for week to 10 days and sometimes there’s work that needs to be done, so it gets scheduled in the morning before everybody is up and active. Get it done and say, okay, 10:00 I’m done with working and we’re going to go do something or-
Jennifer Crisp: Okay. And then that way it’s not like you’re just doing it without any consultation with your family because I picked that up right away.
You said, “It’s what the family decides to do.” And this is what I think the message that you’re really trying to get across here is that this is all about family. If you take your business, especially as an entrepreneur is not just about your business, it is about the family as well.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Correct.
Jennifer Crisp: Wow. So with that is… I would think requires some good communication skills. And also some self discipline around that.
Kevin Ryan-Young: And good listening skills.
Jennifer Crisp: Okay. So give me an example of that. So if your daughter… if you’re saying to your daughter, look, I’m going to have to do some work from like say 8:00 to 10:00 et cetera, but something comes up and you have the plans, what do you do about that? And you know that they’re going to be delayed maybe an hour or whatever, how do you handle that situation? Or what would you recommend?
Kevin Ryan-Young: This just happened, which is why I’m laughing. There’s still communication, there still… When we were leaving… We left New York on Friday to go visit my parents for the weekend. I told her we would pick her up at a certain time. There were things that ended up happening that pushed that time back, but we were in communication, whether she was able to receive the communication at that time or not because she was in school, but we did communicate, this is the new time.
And even though we got there, time had changed, yes she was a little upset. We also gave her the time to sort of express how she felt and then talk about how can we do this better next time.
Jennifer Crisp: Wow. So you are… this goes back to the beginning of our conversation when you said, “When I was a kid, I basically was seen and not heard. My job was just to be cute.”
But what you’re saying is, no, this is where children really learn not only good communication skills, but to really become empowered so they can really express themselves. Whoa. We got a lot of work to do.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Yes. And some of it’s easy work, it’s just simply listening. I’m sure when you have an issue with your phone and your grandchildren come over, they can fix it for you.
You just hand them the phone and it’s fixed.
Jennifer Crisp: Yeah, they do. I don’t know what was wrong or… you know obviously something’s not working, and they go, “Here, grandmum.” And they just… and it’s done.
Kevin Ryan-Young: And that’s the thing, we have to… even as business owners, we have to be open to learning something new from either our employees or our children. It’s simply saying… With my daughter, I know it’s been… She’s on the phone and it’s been, “Okay, so what are you doing on the phone and what is that game? So teach me the game.” And then we can play together. Many months ago she was doing Duolingo, and it’s like, “So let’s have a contest in Duolingo and see who can go the furthest.”
Of course, she’s stopped and it’s months, months later and I’m still going. So I let that little interaction turn into something much bigger for me. I’m learning a new language, whatever she has stopped doing, but I got something out of that. So it’s just… That’s when I say be a good listener. It’s just being open to receiving information from and what would be considered an unlikely source.
Jennifer Crisp: So we are really looking at a very more open way of parenting because this does require a real change in thinking, that is for sure. I know that when you’re a parent it’s different because you have to make sure your kids are safe and that they do learn the rules, et cetera. When you’re a grandparent, there’s a lot more freedom. Yay. Because you really do have the opportunity, you do have the opportunity to listen more, which I think is really amazing because I’m always fascinated with the amount of knowledge that my grandchildren know. I’m completely fascinated by that.
And a lot of this is because they are way ahead of the curve compared to where I was at their age because we have so much more information available to them, and ways of communication that just didn’t exist when we were kids. And I think as adults, it probably is really more challenging for us I guess in a way than it is for them.
You have SunBridge Coaching, so how do you work? Do you work with families or do you work one on one with kids or the parents or how do you do that?
Kevin Ryan-Young: I work with the parents. Just a little backstory. I kind of got into this work because of my daughter. When she was five… she just started first grade, and she and I were out shopping, and I’d gone up and down this aisle multiple times and she stopped in the middle of the aisle and it’s like, “Papa, you’re not being proactive.”
Jennifer Crisp: Little five year old.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Correct. There are some parents that would react one way about that in some other way, and I just looked at her and I was like, “Where did you learn that?” Because it was clear she picked that up from somewhere, and she was explaining to me that they just started this program in school where the students… this was in elementary school, they were learning The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
Habit number one is, be proactive. And she was able to go through all the habits and it’s like, okay, this is great, but the parents of your classmates don’t know this is happening and their parents could be replanting in another way. So I went to school the next Monday I was like, “So what’s going on?” And they explained the program to me and I was like, “Okay, that’s great, but parents need to know.” So after a few things happened, it actually fell in my lap to introduced this to parents, this program and the seven habits and start training them so that they could communicate on the same level as their children.
Watching how those relationships changed over the years, so that was… She’s 13 now. There’s some parents that I still see. And to see how the relationships have changed and grown and how they interact with each other and the success that they’ve had because of this, it’s awesome. So through all of that, I ended up developing SunBridge Coaching. So my work is getting the parents to sort of get into a position where they can just let their kids be and empower them to be that and to have communication so that everyone is just trustful. It’s about building a lot of trust and communication.
Jennifer Crisp: Well, this has been so fascinating because I really do think that we do really need to do more listening. And when I think about, Papa you’re not being proactive coming out of a five year old and they know what it means, and that it’s sent you on this venture, and now look where you are, it’s amazing to me. It’s amazing. And they really do come up with the most profound statements, kids do. And I really think that we do need to learn to listen and not just have them be quiet and cute because it doesn’t serve us and it doesn’t serve them and it doesn’t serve the world.
Kevin Ryan-Young: That is correct.
Jennifer Crisp: Well, this has been really, really fascinating. I’m going to be even more tuned into my grandkids now. But one thing I have to say, one of the beauties of being a grandparent is you get to laugh a lot more. So I now laugh a lot when my grandchildren are around because they do say the most profound things that I’m always amazed. Sometimes I’m just like, “Whoa, what?” But anyway, communication and listening seems to be I think the two biggest words here today and giving space for both parent and child. So how can we get in touch with you if we’re interested in working with you because parents that might be interested in exploring this avenue of really creating more space and listening ability with kids.
Kevin Ryan-Young: Yeah, it’s great. I have a website. You can go to my website, which is www.sunbridgecoaching.com. On there, there’s a little form you can fill out, the Contact Me page, and we will talk.
Jennifer Crisp: Okay. And is there anything that you have to offer the listeners?
Kevin Ryan-Young: I do. So I consider life to be a game because it’s just easier that way. And I have a challenge that I’ve developed, and it’s five challenges to playing the game of life, the family addition. There’s also a business edition, but oddly enough they’re very similar.
You can download that at www.sunbridgecoaching.com/five-challenges.
Jennifer Crisp: Oh Wow. Okay. That’s fun. Have you played this with your kids?
Kevin Ryan-Young: Yeah, we’ve done them. So there’s five little easy things that you can do with your family, so whether it’s… there’s a communications challenge just about listening, being able to be… Actually, it’s based on habit of the seven habits, so it’s seek first to understand and then to be understood. And the game might be, we’re just going to talk and figure out what the other person is talking about. It could be as simple as that. So these are just things you can do at the dinner table. Some of them are a little long, there’s five of them and it’s just to get the conversation, trust, communications started.
Jennifer Crisp: Well, thank you so much for being on today.
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