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!
As a clinical psychologist, I’ve worked with hundreds of children, adolescents, and parents over the last two decades. I have a front-row seat to some of the most disastrous parenting strategies, and in the last five years I’ve watched things go from bad to worse. I've seen parents who leave board meetings to deliver forgotten homework, and others who are not only writing their kids' college essays, but actually fabricating entire stories to appeal to the admissions department. I've also met many who are exhausting themselves to the point of physical illness just to make their kids “happy.”
The kids' parents? They’re not adjusted, resilient, or dedicated to hard work. They are depressed, anxious, maladjusted, fear-avoidant, withdrawn, and lacking in confidence. My concern is at an all-time high.
When Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena asked me to co-author our new book, 10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families, there wasn’t a single ounce of hesitation. We worked our asses off to make this a valuable guide for all parents, and I’m stoked with the final product. Here are five reasons why every parent needs to read this book.
1. Your Kids Are Waffling, and You’re Not Winning
The current condition of our youth right now is startling. Take a look at the numbers. One in four incoming college students has a diagnosable mental illness. Nearly 87% of this group feels overwhelmed by the work when they arrive on campus, and are unprepared for the rigor of their new setting. One in six U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 has a treatable mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. The comforts of today are far greater than they have ever been, and yet the mental health of our youth is declining. Interested in ensuring that your kid doesn't become a statistic? Yeah, so am I.
We want to prevent kids from waffling as much as possible, and we want parents to feel like they are winning. This book is carved from both life experience and clinical expertise. We wanted to provide strategies that made sense. It’s one thing to be told, for example, to set limits with your kids. It’s another to understand the psychology behind limit setting and to know what it looks like in real-life circumstances. The tools in this book are relatable and realistic. You will not only feel inspired to execute them, but well-equipped with know-how.
2. You’re Exhausted for All of the Wrong Reasons
I see this time and time again in my office: parents who show up completely exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, and overextended. Why? Not because they are putting in overtime at work or trying to build a business, but because they are obsessed with scheduling activities for their kids, entertaining their children to avoid meltdowns, and hustling to guarantee happiness. The problem here is that none of these are strategies that build resilience. Instead, they are avoidance tactics that grow spoiled, entitled, and underprepared children.
In 10 Rules for Resilience, Joe and I break down all the reasons why overparenting is a problem. We are on a mission to make you more efficient and effective parents, and that means weeding out all the B.S. that you think is helping your kiddo (but is really not). We address chasing perfectionism, operating to avoid shame, and the kind of comparative parenting that kills your mojo. It’s one thing to be exhausted because you’re climbing mountains with the kids; making fresh, nutritious meals; and setting firm boundaries. It’s another to be exhausted because you are chasing happiness and avoiding tantrums. You want to feel replenished, and we’ve got the formula.
3. The Pandemic Highlighted Insecurities in the Family
One of the most disturbing statistics to come out of the pandemic was the massive increase in self-harm behaviors and suicidal thoughts in children. I helped many parents navigate through the last year, and a common theme was a pervasive insecurity around how to parent during a crisis. It became clear to me that some parents flourish when the sun is shining, but when shit hits the fan, they don’t have a clue what to do.
If you know Joe De Sena, you know that he’s pretty damn good at manufacturing adversity. He’s created a global empire around it. In this book, we wanted to highlight the importance of being able to parent through all of life’s wild rides — the highs and the lows. Understanding why adversity matters, and how to row the family boat through the storm, is a key part of resiliency, and one that we explore in depth in the book. So when this happens again (yes — when, not if), you’ll feel way more equipped to navigate yourself and your kids through it.
4. You Want to Raise a Functioning and Self-Reliant Adult
Sounds simple, right? Apparently not. For the first time since the Great Depression, over half of all young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents. If you’re an economist, you may care about the impact this has on the economy, but we’re not. So what matters to us is why it’s happening, and how we stop it. One solution: Raise your kid to become more self-reliant and confident, so they feel secure in taking the leap from the nest. This book guides you through simple (though not easy) steps to raise a child who isn’t afraid to fail, understands discipline, and takes healthy risks.
One thing to note: If you think that kids moving home is a kid problem, you’re dead wrong. I’ve worked with lots of parents who are so enmeshed with their kids that they not only welcome their child back home, but actually create incentives to do so. Their own identity is completely wrapped up in being a parent, and their resilience to rebound in an empty nest is nonexistent. This may not be you, but if the idea of having your kids live at home is appealing, you may want to consider whether this is the healthiest thing for them and for you.
5. You Can’t Have Resilient Kids If You Aren’t a Resilient Parent
I see hypocrisy enter my office doors daily. Moms who want their daughters to have a healthy relationship with their body when they can’t stop criticizing their own in front of them. Fathers who want their sons to understand commitment, but haven’t followed through on a goal in years. Parents who push and push and push for their kids to understand that failure is OK, but only plaster the A+ papers on the fridge. Joe and I are both big on walking the walk. And when it comes to resilience, it’s no different.
If you want your kids to be able to rise up after a big fall, persevere when things don’t go their way, and raise their hand to do something hard instead of opting out, you have to learn how to do the same. Kids learn mostly by watching. I am constantly telling parents, "Your words will always pale in comparison to your actions. So talk in here all you want, but outside of these doors, you better be walking."
One especially important component of this book is that it focus on YOU, the parent, first. Lots of parenting books provide how-tos assuming that you’re someone who can execute them. I’ve struggled to find a book that reminds you that your parenting skills will only be as strong as your life skills, that teaches you that you have to be a better human before you can be a better parent. This is that book, and Joe is the perfect guide.