Spartan founder Joe De Sena's latest book, 10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families, is a foolproof guide to parenting from a position of resilience. The goal? Prepare your children for ANYTHING. Click here to learn more about the book and place your pre-order today!
Last year when I was a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast, he asked me which of the projects on my plate was the most exciting. My brain quickly evaluated each awesome endeavor, but I easily landed on kids.
The pandemic and subsequent nationwide shutdown highlighted lots that we need to work on as a country. Our immune systems were attacked, and we needed to build up our physical health. Our mental reserves were depleted, and we needed to make mindset and resilience a priority. Our businesses were in jeopardy, and we needed to diversify our portfolios and get cash on hand. But one lesson stood out above the rest — the toll that it took on kids and the struggle that parents encountered trying to figure it all out.
For many parents, the struggle wasn’t just figuring out what to do with their kids when schools shut down, but also trying to navigate their now-bored, anxious, and fearful children. I received phone calls from a bunch of them asking, "Joe, how do we get through this?" They acknowledged that their kids didn’t have the kind of resilience needed to weather this storm and wanted to hot-wire grit and perseverance ASAP. Sorry, but you can’t hack your way into resilience. Like anything else, you’ve got to do the work.
Learning How to Do the Work
It became clear to me that this was an emergency (and a different one from what the mainstream media was reporting). Everyone kept asking, "When will schools be safe? How can we protect our children? How do we ensure safety?" I was focused on something else: How do we build more resilient kids who can withstand it when s*** hits the fan? And further, how do we equip parents with a new set of parenting guidelines so that they can do the same?
And so, I took to the page. Dr. Lara Pence, our Chief Mind Doc at Spartan and a clinical psychologist, had already proposed an idea about a parenting book about two years earlier, and we had a few chapters ironed out, but 2020 propelled us exponentially. We went to work. We wrote and we wrote and we wrote. Dr. L is a mom herself, and she also has the clinical credentials to back up everything that I was thinking. She added the in-the-trenches perspective that I didn’t necessarily have. We wrote about resilience, parenting hurdles, where kids get stuck, and how to get through when the going gets tough. We wanted the book to be a field guide for the family — how everyone can build mental toughness and resilience.
But we both agree that if parents are ever going to get good at parenting with resilience in mind, they need to build their own individual resilience. You can’t teach your kids to eat well if you eat like s***. You can’t ask your kids to be active if you’re lazy. And you can’t expect your kids to build resilience if you’re not doing the same. So this book is about giving you the tools to develop the character traits of a resilient human, so you can parent through that same lens.
Weathering Future Storms Together
I’ve got mixed feelings when it comes to the future. We weathered a seriously s***ty storm in 2020 and we are coming out of it. Masks are being stored away, people are getting back together again, and toilet paper is back on the shelves. Hallelujah. But here’s the truth: This will happen again. It may not be in the form of a pandemic, a school lockdown, or a mask mandate, but our resilience is bound to be tested in the future. It always is. When that happens, I want to be able to not only weather the storm, but rebound and respond like a warrior. And I want the same for my kids.
I realize that when it comes to the way that I parent, I am an outlier. Few are getting their kids up at 5 a.m. for workouts and demanding that math and Mandarin be completed before any screen time. Many are giving screen time out as if it’s a birthright, over-scheduling their kids so that they avoid judgment from other parents, and abandoning essential activities like free play, outside time, and chores.
I’m sick and tired of hearing parents complain that their kids aren’t doing this or aren’t doing that when they have the power to change it! It’s hard to parent with mental toughness as the priority. Before my parents died, they both said the same thing: With your kids, you will often have to choose either the hard way or the easy way. I learned that you should almost always choose the hard way. Your kids will unquestionably become better adults.
I don’t think there is a more important job than being a parent. If you parent right, you are setting up your kids to make their mark on the world. This helps everyone. We need kids to be creative, bold, and courageous NOW, because these traits will then become part of who they are as adults. We have to parent in the present, but with their future in mind. This book will set both you and your family up to do hard things, persevere in the face of adversity, and live a values-driven life together.