Children and Awareness

Melissa and JJ discuss how their children and growing up as a child creates self awareness.

August 4, 2020
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Melissa Albers  00:00
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years. Today, we are talking about children and self awareness. And as we often do, JJ and I spend about two minutes before we start recording the podcast to sort of discuss what's the big thing that we want to talk about today? And And is there any specific goal in that big topic that we want to make sure we get across or is there are there specific questions we can leave people with And today, we had a really interesting conversation about children and self awareness. And we decided that it would be really interesting to tell you about that. transparently instead of trying to sound like we had all that and a bag of chips ready for the discussion.

JJ Parker  01:08
It's really interesting about this topic is like we didn't really know where to start, right? There's lots of there's a lot of entry points into the discussion around children and self awareness. And we didn't, we didn't know exactly how to approach it.

Melissa Albers  01:25
Right. And it sounds like your your dogs are also very much interested in the dialogue. Everybody just ignore that we're real people, too. We have kids and dogs were messy.

JJ Parker  01:38
It's true. There's probably a really juicy rabbit out there.

Melissa Albers  01:45
So just to frame the conversation. I have been married to my husband for 26 years and we have two children that are 21 and 22 years old. And JJ, you've been married to me And you have three children, your youngest is 10. And your oldest is 15.

JJ Parker  02:05
Yeah, well turn 15 in a couple days. So I got a 10 year old, a 13 year old and a 15 year old.

Melissa Albers  02:10
Yeah. So what's so cool about this conversation is, we can really come from a lot of different perspectives. In addition to our family structures, two of jjs children are adopted from Guatemala.

JJ Parker  02:27
The older two are from Guatemala.

Melissa Albers  02:29
Yeah. So as we were talking about this, you know, the general question that I started wondering about is a child's own self awareness. And I came from the belief that oftentimes children are way more aware than adults and and they naturally will align with their awareness without any fanfare. They don't get emotionally bumped Hold up about it, they don't. And the reason I came from that is because my grandmother was a minister and she spent a lot of time with me when I was young, sort of going into much deeper things than most than most little kids have exposure to a lot of deeper conversations about all sorts of things like that. And I remember when my grandmother became aged, and she was very, very sick One day, my oldest son Mitchell was three. And my daughter, Megan was a year and a half, and I was sitting on the corner cushion of our couch. By myself, crying, I was so scared that something was gonna happen to my grandma, and I didn't know what to do and I was so emotional. And Mitchell at three years old, he had a nook in his mouth, pacifier and he was caring. his blanket that he called the blue, and he walked up to me and without saying anything, just looked at my face for a minute. And then you walked away. And then he came back with his favorite stuffed animal. And he tucked the stuffed animal in my arm. And he wrapped his blue blanket around my legs. And never said one word. He never said a word. And then he just walked away. And I remember

JJ Parker  04:35
really like he could, you could tell he could say yes,

Melissa Albers  04:38
yeah, yeah. Yeah. And not only could he tell that I was upset what I always remember thinking was, wow, he doesn't he isn't really talking a whole lot yet. It's like a lot of Oh, what's up with a pacifier in his mouth. And yet here he was looking at me he assessed the situation in his own mind. He decided what was happening in the situation. And then he empathetically made decisions to try to support me in that situation without even understanding the why, what was happening, nothing, it didn't matter. It didn't matter to him. And over the years there's been so many examples that I have learned from both he and my daughter Megan, who are both very intuitive kids. I've been embarrassed many times actually, by how I have responded to something and then how later they respond to it in a much more self aware self aware sort of experience and and so as we started to have conversations, you know, although I have also had a lot of other children in my life that have had a hard time have a hard about had hard times, you know, And, and maybe didn't have the same experiences as my children had growing up or how they were born or anything else like that. And so it got me wondering, does do children have different self awareness right out of the gate? Or not? I'd be curious what your thoughts are.

JJ Parker  06:24
That's a really good. It's a really good question. Because, you know, when you think about it, US adults, you know, we've got a lot of experiences and different things that have happened and a lot of times we overthink things. I don't know if you've noticed.

Melissa Albers  06:46
The other day. I said, hang on a minute. I need to overthink this.

JJ Parker  06:53
And I think that overthinking, definitely gets in the way of our self awareness. Right and Actually, I mean listening, you know, to sort of our deeper selves, and so it kind of kind of mask a lot of that a lot of that awareness. Whereas, you know, you can see in kids that that often they don't they don't have that filter, they don't have that, that that part of their brain developed yet. That logical filter that's, that's turning all those feelings, you know, those feelings come up as adults try to run them through the like filter. Yeah, yeah, before they come out and run it through the overthink filter. Whereas kids come up and write out their mouth, right? Which is awesome.

Melissa Albers  07:41
It is awesome. It is awesome. Exactly right. Because a lot of times, socially or as a parent word, we don't really find that Oh, no, that doesn't run through that lens. Well, so that's wrong. Like we're automatically labeling it even though we're trying to encourage them to not have a filter sometimes right? Or Yeah. Yeah, have a socially acceptable filter.

JJ Parker  08:04
Yeah. My 10 year old, it's her birthday. And the other day she, she comes, she's kind of sad. She goes, Well, I don't. I don't I don't want to grow up and, and I don't want to grow up and be an adult. And it's like, why why would you have to just because you're getting older doesn't mean you need to might grow up in some of the ways adults grow up all right? You're innocent way. Oh, yeah. To me. I took that as like, like, No, please don't ever grow up, keep this wide eyed, curious view of the world.

Melissa Albers  08:46
Right. Right, right. It's interesting though, because as you're talking about filters, you know, what we consider socially normal filters what we consider, you know, jaded adult filter There's things that we we as grown ups want our kids to say or not say, We want our kids to be or not be a certain way. We want our kids to do things or not do things that we will find, okay? And not embarrassing or not. Not to say that we don't want to be called out, we don't want to be called out. And isn't that interesting? Because, I mean, that's just being honest. Right? We're all like that. And, and yet, and yet, we're trying to teach our kids how to have a totally different relationship with themselves. And yet, here's where we are you, you go ahead. And I mean, you go ahead and have this relationship with you. And you'd be open and honest. And you say whatever's on your mind. You have all these things, but Oh, but but don't. Don't get in trouble.

JJ Parker  09:51
Don't do it. Do it in this very specific way.

Melissa Albers  09:55
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

JJ Parker  10:00
Yeah, the language I've heard around parenting that really highlights that is is I mean, I've said it I've, I've heard hear other people say it is like, when they say their kids, like, Don't embarrass me or you're embarrassing me, right? Like, yes. That's a language that is about the parents not about the kid. You know, that's about their ego. And that's rather, you know,

Melissa Albers  10:30
yeah, that's right.

JJ Parker  10:31
So looking out for that kind of language, you know, not judging it. Just recognize is is pretty interesting. I was gonna share a story about one, the opposite. Oh, yeah.

Melissa Albers  10:49
Well, I was realizing I was just realizing and I want but I want to say something before you tell your story because I just realized that leading the podcast with a very warm Arm sweet story, while true, is also not representative of many, many families experiences and certainly not representative of all of my family experiences. And so I really want to be sensitive to the fact that I think parenting is really hard. And I've spent I remember one time coming home from a parent teacher conference and standing in my pantry crying, or my child was one in first grade, by the way, first grade, and I was putting so much pressure on myself that I was standing in the pantry crying because this child had gotten feedback that wasn't favorable. So before you tell your story, I want to say that we are all coming from different places, as families and as parents and and there are so many times when we don't know how to handle situations and children can be, we just feel overwhelmed. just overwhelmed. And so I want to be very mindful of that, as you tell your story because I think your story is extremely powerful.

JJ Parker  12:20
Well, so, you know, obviously, just to put a time context around whenever whenever conversation I was here the George Floyd murder happened in Minneapolis like last week, right. And there's been, you know, the riot variety and and test civil uprising and everything. And so, so that happened on a Thursday, and my 13 year old was sleeping over at his buddy's house. Mm hmm. Right. Friday I, you know, I call them because he's still over there. Teenagers like her. Yeah, middle school kids like spend like, the whole weekend otherwise Yes,

Melissa Albers  13:11
exactly. Our most employee call them most importantly, any place not at home, sorry.

JJ Parker  13:21
And I said, Hey, buddy, I, you know, I want you to come home for dinner. We're all gonna have dinner together as a family. Um, because, you know, something really big happened yesterday, and I want us to talk about it. Right. I was like, Did you hear what happened? He goes, Oh, yeah, that guy got killed. I'm like, yep. And, and it's a really it's a it's a really important issue for our family. Right? And he goes, Oh, why is it an issue for our family? Huh? I was like, well, Bundy because, you know, there's a lot of racial things that, you know, we're exposed with it and that for our family, that's a big deal. Yeah. And he goes, why? I go, buddy, cuz you're not white, and you're gonna have to deal with this, like probably your whole life. And he goes, Oh,

Unknown Speaker  14:26
oh, yeah.

JJ Parker  14:28
Like he hadn't realized it like he's living, you know, like his bubble, right? That racial stuff isn't an issue hasn't really experienced it. And he kind of forgot or he wasn't aware of it. But

Melissa Albers  14:48
I have a question, dude. Do you think that he forgot, or do you think that he just takes it for granted that it doesn't matter? Like how did you feel

JJ Parker  15:00
I felt like he forgot. But, you know, it also could be a non issue for him, right?

Melissa Albers  15:07
That's what I'm getting at. I just wonder I it's

JJ Parker  15:10
unfair. Um, and either way, either way, you know, it's interesting to think about his contact strike like, because he's not experiencing maybe these different external events and, and he doesn't have this other perspective at all, you know? Um, so I thought that was really interesting like that he he wasn't really connecting right you know his history and and the world's context and everything it was all just kind of oblivious to and obviously that's a big issue. It's a big world event. Yeah, maybe we don't expect yeah 10 year olds totally connect all those dots. Right,

Melissa Albers  16:00
right, exactly, exactly. And there must be a lot of pressure for you to provide all sorts of things right like to provide a safe environment for him to talk about that as he becomes more and more aware. And I bet I bet you have a tremendous amount of personal I just know you, you must have a lot of feelings about what do we need to say be and do for our children so that they can come here communicate their feelings so that they can live in a world that is easiest as possible for them or easier for them? And I don't think any of us know exactly, especially given the current situation in Minneapolis and are in in the world. I don't think any of us actually have the answers on that. How to do that.

JJ Parker  17:01
Yeah, I I agree. I know it's it's a it's interesting because it eco. For us we have to we have to do our best to parent unexperienced that my wife and I've never really had the experience right. Yeah, that would be so hard

JJ Parker  17:22
It will likely experience things that we we just haven't. So how you know parenting it that's really tough. Oh my god totally parenting that. And of course you just want to protect these kids forever. Yeah, I know. You know, I know that keeping them in their bubble is not in the long run the best thing for them right so we have to start bringing up these topics and and, and but we don't want to make them scared of the world either. Right? Yeah. Yeah, cuz I mean, I truly believe That, like the universe is, is generally good. Right? The good prevail in the universe. So I don't want to make them fearful of the of where they are the very existence. Right. Right. Right. But they have to be aware of that stuff. You know, not everything is perfect.

Melissa Albers  18:26
Yeah, it is such a fine line, isn't it? And I think that as a society, we're having more and more of these conversations right now, which actually is pretty good timing, for your for just bite by, you know, for your family and these discussions. And I just sit here and I think to myself, like, we don't have the answers, like even you and me having this conversation and we're going to put this out into the world and there's a certain amount of trepidation like, we don't want to say the wrong thing. We don't want to say anything that would hurt. someone's feelings or cause a ruckus. Because we are well intended and, and yet we don't know the answers to things. And with our and then we have the added responsibility of trying to help our kids and here we don't have the answers and we're also trying to help someone who is younger, less developed hasn't had as much social experience had doesn't have the maturity to think or be or do a certain way. Right. So there is this added pressure and I you know, like, for me, though, I'd be interested in what you think about this, JJ but like, for me, I feel like I will never, or I will never intentionally, I will never intentionally try to say we have to do this. We have to be that we have to go and blah, blah, blah, fill in the blanks. What I want to really intentionally be is more and more aware of my own thoughts and feelings more and more aware of how I am, so that I can help myself. Learn, be open, and then use myself as an example. Like, as an example, these are the things that I really want to be better at. You know, like, I want to be better at being able to talk to my kids about things that are scaring me. I want to be better about helping my kids learn more about the history of our world, I want our I want my kids to be better than me. And I think they, to be honest, I think they already are. You know, I think that they already are and so for me, it's just fostering an environment in our home that our children can learn from the environment and then make their own choices and decisions as they become more and more mature. But I'd be interested in what your thoughts are about that.

JJ Parker  21:05
A couple things like first, you know, with big, real cultural things like, like, racism and big problems we need to tackle as a society, right. The first thing is like, I want to make sure we're keeping good communication open. We're talking about it, right? Yeah, I think like, I actually like told. Even my company like everyone at my company, like, like, this is an issue. And I want to make sure we are still talking about after this news cycles over, right? Yeah. Yeah, like, like things that we find important. We need to keep working on all the time even when the spotlights not on them. Then so obviously for our family, you know, we will talk about it all the way forever. And then, in talking about is one thing, right? Like, we have a cognitive logical discussion about, yeah, but they're good and bad in the right and wrongs and the values of all of that, but I'm really having both my wife me and my wife and the kids dig into like, Okay, how does this discussion make you feel which parts of it are for you? Right? Yeah. Um, and I, and really lean into that, you know, I was having a discussion with with one of my buddies the other day. We, uh, we ended up playing tennis once a week, but we play tennis only like half the time and we chat.

Melissa Albers  23:00

JJ Parker  23:02
And he was talking about a book he was reading called white fragility. And I, and he was, he was expressing to me how parts of this book made him very, very uncomfortable. Right? And how he, you know, said, Hey, I could have just stopped reading this book, but the parts that were making me uncomfortable, I knew I needed to lean into and really explore why I was having that feeling. Right. And I think if we can raise kids who who aren't have, who lean in to those uncomfortable feelings and not run away from them, right? I think right. There is probably the most important parenting thing, at least for me is, is uh, Hey, kids, you know You guys are gonna have these feelings, it's gonna be uncomfortable. Um, but but lean into it, explore it, because if you just ignore it and run away all sorts of bad side effects are gonna happen.

Melissa Albers  24:13
Well, it just perpetuates what's already been. Yeah, I love that. And I and I think too, like, I know this has been a kind of uncomfortable conversation for us to have, in a way just because it's so it's so important to us. Our children are the most important things to us in the world. And, and I think in some ways, it is a little uncomfortable to have this conversation and I'll say that but the other thing I think is very uplifting about this conversation is our awareness of where we are our awareness about what our intentions are, you know, we are intending to do good and be good and we intend to show our children ways of being that they can take an ad to and and explore and be better and go out into the world. And I think that that happens, because we're creating conditions and circumstances in our own house, that they see that that's the norm. You know that that's the norm to try to be like that. And also, to see that we aren't being highly egocentric about it, you know, we're not slamming our fists on the table and saying, This is the only way that you're ever going to get there. We're not taking a hard line stand. That causes resistance. We're simply saying, gosh, we're, we're actually doing our best. We don't really know all the answers, but We sure hope that you take all the best parts of these conversations and you own them yourself. Like We sure hope, and we're trying to do that every day. And I think that is a very I think that is something that I feel very proud of.

Unknown Speaker  25:55
For myself, that's awesome. Yeah.

JJ Parker  25:59
I think I think this is this is a great topic, you know, and it would be I think we should we should have like a Facebook Live or a discussion. Oh right, you know with other parents about this because I, I would say that we were talking about how triggers and different events help us in our self awareness journey because they give us opportunities.

Melissa Albers  26:31
Right, some bigger than other every day.

JJ Parker  26:34
My kids give me all sorts of opportunities every day to me.

Melissa Albers  26:40
I know my I know damn

JJ Parker  26:41
bad, right? Oh,

Melissa Albers  26:43
my son is going to listen to this. And we've always said that Mitchell is a button pusher and figuratively and literally he get in the car when he's little and every dash button would get pushed, push, push, push, push, push, but Mitchell also knows all of my triggers and he doesn't even have to in the day. He can lean over and use one finger and hit a trigger of mine and just laugh and sit back. So I think I'm with ya.

JJ Parker  27:11
So you're thanking him for all the opportunity of grow?

Melissa Albers  27:14
Yeah. Yeah, we haven't talked about my beautiful daughter at all today, but I'm sure we will sometime and I know she's probably listening to this going, yep. Mitchell. I, she used to say to me, and she used to say, Alright, here's what I do. She's the second child and she said, My childish my childhood strategy was always to watch Mitchell and do the opposite. Oh, but she was still good at pushing my triggers do once in a while. Anyway, thanks so much, JJ. I really appreciate the conversation. I know it wasn't an easy one, but I think it's such a beneficial and useful conversation.

JJ Parker  28:02
Yeah, I agree. Like I said, I think God, I think the world would be much better if we leaned into uncomfortable conversations instead of Yeah. What's the other way? Yeah,

Melissa Albers  28:12
me too. Take care. See you next time.

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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