WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

September 29, 2014

The Beneficial WordFood of “NO”

At an all day Diversity & Inclusion Program last week, I met a lovely woman who was having a challenge with her sixteen year old daughter. As their speaker, I was on an hour break, and she  asked me for my thoughts since she knew I was an equestrian. She  wanted to know whether she should buy her daughter  a $50k show horse.

As you can guess, it was far more complex than this. This woman, a secretary, is married to a mechanic. The daughter, who is a fine competitor, has worked her way up in the very elite world of show jumping. She also wants to attend Baylor University. She also hangs out with an elite crowd of rich girls her age for whom a $50k horse is a drop in the bucket.

When pressed, this young mother admitted that the daughter, who, to her credit, had worked hard at the barns to earn her way up til now. But she was starting to make comments about their pedestrian transportation compared to the Beamers and Caddies that her friends drove.

Internally I smiled, and remembered that my dad, at best, earned about $20k a year when I was growing up, and I got a “salary” of $5.25 a week, from which I had to pay for all my horse related goodies. He shouldered the vet bills, shoeing, all costs I couldn’t bear. But I worked from the time I was four years old on my dad’s farm, and from that, learned what money could and couldn’t buy.

We had a good heart to heart about boundaries and limitations, and the toxic nature of the rich crowd this young woman was now hanging out with. At sixteen, there’s no telling where her whims would take her next. My suggestion was to offer her the horse OR Baylor, or suggest that she take on some jobs so that she can pay for one or the other. Otherwise her working class family could well end up with a very expensive horse, a huge college bill  and a daughter off with another new passion. It’s just that age.

We love our kids and want them to do well. But setting realistic boundaries and requiring them to earn what they have forces them to understand how much $50,000 really is. That’s one heck of a lot of money. Not to her friends. And while that may embarrass this sixteen year old, it does require her to take ownership of her real conditions, and not demand that her parents to pay for a lifestyle that is wholly unrealistic. Many competitors have had to patch their breeches to keep going. If that causes her shame, let her work, and bask in the pride that such hard work brings. In this case, “No” is WordFood of the highest kind. It feeds the fire of self sufficiency, of making the kinds of hard choices that come to all of us later in life.  For her rich friends, such material hard choices don’t exist.

This may not seem like such a gift to a kid of sixteen. After all her effort to get where she is as an equestrian, it may feel like a setback. But this is life and it’s full of evaluations and choices.  If we always get what we want, then when we get one of life’s first big NOs we truly aren’t prepared. And as parents, it’s our job to help our young ones learn to deal with disappointments. It’s called character building.

In a case like this, NO has a lot to do with love your child enough, and trusting your gut enough, to do what’s right for the long haul.

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