Asking the Right Question in Relationships

Image courtesy of 89studio at

Image courtesy of 89studio at

I am working on a member survey for one of my favorite nonprofits and it has occurred to me that many times, whether in our jobs or our lives, we are asking the wrong question.

Why do we do that?

Is it fear of the answer, or is it a failure to think it through and determine what information we are truly seeking? Continue reading

Parental Abuse


Angry BoyThere is not a clear-cut management parallel in this post. Punishment and abuse of children are in the news lately, and this is a completely different, but related slant on the issue.

Recently I was in a supermarket, rolling cart peacefully down the frozen food aisle when I witnessed something disturbing.

A young mother was pushing a cart full of groceries with her son in the seat of the cart, facing her. Evidently, the young man either took exception to something she decided to buy or to something he wanted and she decided not to buy.

As I walked near them, he started to beat her.

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Using Your Parental Toolbelt

Child with toolbeltWhen I started this blog, I was systematically listing the parallels I perceive between parenting and management. They are many and varied, but after talking with a young mother of two the other day, I thought this one was definitely worth re-visiting. This is basic advice I would give any couple, new parents or parents to be.

In every job, there are a few basic tools.

As a title insurance escrow officer, I made it my business to make the closing an educational process. In the 80’s that was a rather risky thing to do, because I was closing adjustable rate mortgages with steep initial buy downs that lacked caps on the negative amortization. Those things eventually changed, but it did not change the fact that even when the government enacted 125% caps on negative amortization and 1 or 2% caps per year on how much the payment could adjust; buyers were still going to be in for a payment shock. I explained that their payment could go up hundreds of dollars between one year and the next, exclusive of what taxes did independently of their mortgage. They were still blinded by house lust and signed away. We all know what happened a few years later when interest rates went higher than we had ever seen them go before.

What does this have to do with parenting, you ask? Here’s what I learned that I took home with me. “Invest in the hard stuff up front and the way will be easier later.”

Well, that sounds pretty darned obvious, doesn’t it? But it isn’t easy. Just as it isn’t easy to save up a down payment large enough to avoid paying extra for mortgage insurance or interest buy downs, or picking a house that isn’t your dream home because it is the one you can really afford with only one income; it isn’t easy to do the hard stuff up front with your kids.


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The Emotional Construct Concept

Emotional IntelligenceParenting is a tightrope walking, high-wire aerial act, and there is rarely a net to catch you if you fall. Small errors are recoverable, but big ones will send you flailing and failing all the way down. Scary? You bet! But there are some things you can do from the beginning that will give you some sticky glue on your feet and a trampoline to catch you.

My friend Hjalmar and I talked about this the other day as I exercised and he encouraged. (He is an awesome personal trainer!) I shared with him the “emotional construct” theory and practice that my husband and I developed over the years.

We don’t claim credit for this concept. It comes from the knowledge we gained from “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” by Faber and Mazlish. We just took it a little further.

The emotional construct is made when you are not emotional, and so you need to do it long before you need it. This requires some foresight and communication between you and your partner, but it is well worth the effort. Emotional Intelligence is something that children acquire over time, and you can role model it by using the emotional construct.

Think about the most emotional battles you had with your parents as you were growing up. Often, they were only battles because you felt strongly about something and your parents had not made their expectations crystal clear. In that scenario, emotions will ignite and something that should be simple can become a battleground.

Here is an example. Let’s say your child is completing his driver’s ed course and about to get his permit. In his mind, once that card is in his hand, the keys to your car should land there, too. This may not be what you are thinking at all. His emotions will be running high, and if you are not prepared when he assumes he should be able to drive your car, yours may kick into high gear as well. As Gary Larson wrote in his great cartoons, “Trouble Brewing.” Continue reading