Today, we have a remarkable guest who brings a wealth of knowledge in the area of raising teens, daughters in particular. So if you often find yourself frustrated, second-guessing, or anxious as a teen parent, chances are you're not alone. Our guest today, Nadine Rajeh is here to share her wisdom on guiding high-performing teens through the unique challenges of the digital age. Nadine is an international speaker, an award-winning author, an engineer with over sixteen years of experience, and a mother of four. Nadine integrates her diverse expertise into helping teens level up their social and leadership skills, build resilience, and lead joyful, balanced lives while pursuing their goals in a tech-savvy world. She champions parents who want their teens to reach their highest potential. Connect with Nadine: https://www.parentingbrilliant.com/ Sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding, Maths and STEM Academy | www.skillsamurai.com.au
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Speaker 1 (00:08): Welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.
Jamie (00:01.11) Welcome to Parenting in the Digital Age, the podcast where we delve into the unique challenges and opportunities of raising children in today's fast-paced, tech-driven world. Each episode features conversations with experts and thought leaders who provide actionable guidance and insights for navigating life as modern parents. Today we have a remarkable guest who brings a wealth of knowledge in the area of raising teens, daughters in particular. So if you often find yourself frustrated, second-guessing, or anxious as a teen parent, chances are you are not alone. Our guest today, Nadine Rajeh, is here to share her wisdom on guiding high-performance teens through the unique challenges of the digital age. Nadine is an international speaker, an award-winning author, an engineer with over 16 years of experience, and a mother of four. Nadine integrates her diverse experience in helping teens level up their social and leadership skills, build resilience and lead a joyful, balanced life while pursuing their goals in this tech-savvy world. She also champions parents who want their teens to reach their highest potential. Jamie (00:00.957) Nadine, welcome to the show. Please share with our listeners in your own words what you do and what you are passionate about. Nadine Rajeh (00:08.334) Yeah, thank you for having me first of all, and thanks to everyone who is listening. So I am a coach and a mentor for teens and I've recently launched a new program for high-achieving teen girls in particular because I think that sometimes these kids get missed out. You know, there's a lot of... noise out there about teens who are rebels who talk back and who have lots of issues. But our high achievers, our good kids as they call them, sometimes get missed out but they do go through their own challenges as well. That was an intro to what I'm doing currently. I usually start with letting people know who I am and where I come from. So if that's okay, maybe I'll talk about that now. Yeah, so I always start by saying that I'm originally from Lebanon. So I was born and grew up in the Middle East. And today I'm with my family in New Zealand. Jamie (01:13.833) That's wonderful. Thanks Nadine. Nadine Rajeh (01:34.562) big journey. And I was a high achiever myself as a teen and as a young adult. And I know that a lot of issues that didn't go well during my teenage years really came back and haunted me in my adult years. So there was a very big lesson learned that I sort of want to Nadine Rajeh (02:04.526) to avoid the suffering and the pain that causes it. And so I grew up in a small village in the Lebanese mountains. And growing up, we didn't have lots of electricity. Our country had lots of civil wars and political unrest. So I had a dream of building large substations, you know, and you know, providing electricity for the whole country. So that's why I went into electrical engineering at the university. And I was one of the few girls who graduated in my class at the time. But I... owe it now to my parents, you know, who really invested in me and who treated me like an eldest son growing up. And this passion inside me sort of gave me enough motivation to continue and to chase a career in engineering. And at the same time, I'm also into writing and creative art. So like I have so much, I juggle lots of things. I also like children and I'm a mom of four. So I wanted to have everything, you know, as a young woman growing up. And I sort of really tried to, you know, to aim for, to aim high. One of the big things though that I didn't really take care of was my own self-care. And I ended up being burnt out a few years ago. And that sort of really woke me up, telling me that my unhealthy habits that really started when I was a teen, you know, this pushing and this achieving and this stressing and anxiety, really ended up... Nadine Rajeh (04:19.466) you know, the toll came back later when my physical body couldn't take it anymore. And I sort of collapsed in back pain and like I had to just take a pause from everything. And that was my wake-up call. I realized that there are some basic self-care habits that I need to apply. And they are really tied into this feeling of self-worth, you know. really treating yourself with enough self-worth knowing that your worth does not depend on your achievements. And that's what I think a lot of those high-achieving teens struggled with is that they put so much weight on their Nadine Rajeh (05:19.174) low self-worth and that's where trouble starts to happen. And I tell parents maybe on the outside everything is going great, you know, their grades in school are going great, so like everybody tells you that oh your kid is so well behaved and they are really fantastic but I really tell parents to look closely and see whether their teen is happy. You know, are they really happy? What are they going through? Are they stressing so much over exams? Are they compromising sleep so that they can, you know, study? So there are a lot of things to look out for. Jamie (06:12.965) Yeah, that's interesting because that's actually one of my first questions is to kind of unpack some of that Nadine and you know, you're 100% correct. It's often those kids that are doing well that are the ones that get missed and we don't often, you know, I guess check in with them enough, I think as parents sometimes or as educators. So what are some of the signs that parents should watch out for, you know, to identify if their teen is struggling with the pressures of high performance in academics or even extracurricular activities. Nadine Rajeh (06:45.694) Yes, so the first sign that comes is really their physical health. Like you need to see their patterns. Do they wake up energetic or it takes them so much time to get out of bed? Do they just the way they show up, do they have black pockets around their eyes? Do you feel that they are sort of, you know, excited when they go through their day? And again, it's their way of being, like, are they showing up happy? Are they smiling? Are they taking enough time to have small conversations with you? Or are they always busy, stressed out, rushing from one task to another? And I know it can be hard these days because we do have a lot of things going on in life. And our kids also have lots of extracurricular activities. And so you have to be very present to at home and just take in what's going on. Like you have to empty yourself from your own stresses and from... your own thoughts, what's going on in your mind, and actually be present with them to catch these signs. And it might be worth talking about, I call them hidden challenges, because if you're not present enough, you'll not be able to see them until things escalate so much. And usually the way things escalate is, usually they have a drop in their grades maybe or they have a big fight with their friends or sometimes you know god forbid you get a message that they've done something way out of character or they've gotten into an accident so it's really yeah it is really tricky so let me talk about these three Nadine Rajeh (09:04.374) challenges. I've taken the top three. I talk more about them in my book, Parenting Brilliant. So if anyone wants to learn more about this, there's more info in my book. But I think the top three challenges are stress and anxiety due to high expectations, fitting in while standing out. That's a big one for high achievers. They do want to fit in, but they're at the same time standing out. And the third one is internalization and secrecy. They don't usually talk about what's going on and they, um, they, they're the sort who want to figure it on, figure it out on their own. And they don't go for others for help. So, um, I'll start with the first one, stress and then. and anxiety due to high expectations. And these high expectations are usually high expectations they set on themselves. Even if you tell them, don't worry, your grades are fine. You don't need to get it all right in all subjects, but they still have a lot of high expectations on themselves. And that... always comes back to their own sense of self-worth. If they feel that their worth is depending on their achievements, then they will always be under stress and anxiety to achieve. This usually comes into lack of balance in their life. Maybe they have They give more attention to academics or more attention to their sports or whatever skills they're skilled at. And they don't pay attention to other things like maybe friendships, socials, or maybe family time. That's a big one, like they're too busy for family. And in some other cases, it's actually physical self-care. Like they don't do any if they're so focused on academics. Nadine Rajeh (11:21.674) they don't do any sports or they spend so much time sitting down studying in front of the screen. And another concept here is perfectionism where they do want to get everything perfect and they go through it again and again and again to the point that they're just so stressed out. It's a really It's a loop that keeps them trapped. And the third aspect here is unhealthy competition, where they are so driven, but it comes, it reaches a really unhealthy level where it's competition at all costs. Even there, you know, they, they deprive themselves from sleep and they just, you know, push, push. And what I tell parents here is that you need to really sit down with your teens and help them figure out their why. Why do they want this high achievement? Help them set clear visions for themselves and help them define what success really means. Ask them what does success look like to you? Is it all about? grades? Is it all about academics? Ask them questions like what do you think a successful person in life has and let them get curious about it. Again, don't project your own insecurities and fears on them. I've seen it in a lot of families where the parents are really projecting their own ideas of success on their kids, you know, telling them, oh, you will not succeed unless you're an engineer or a doctor, that's it. These are your career choices, you'll not succeed unless you choose these. So, you know, you gotta focus now on your studies, you gotta get that scholarship, you... And yeah, I really advise parents to stay away from that. You can always advise them and, you know, give them your guidance. Nadine Rajeh (13:42.178) based on your experience and what you've seen in life, but do not really force them and tell them, oh, this is it, this is black and white. And again, you really need to develop, help them develop this habit of self-value, let them know that they are loved, that you appreciate them, that you will love them, no matter what, it really doesn't depend on what they achieve. you have to provide that sort of loving caring atmosphere at home and tell them that it's okay to make mistakes like they will still belong at home you will still love them no matter what yeah Jamie (14:22.105) That's incredibly insightful and some good feedback there as well. You talked earlier about, you know, some of those warning signs and how parents need to be more present. And as a parent for myself, that's not always easy. You know, you've got the stresses of every day and work and podcasting and bills and mortgages and all this stuff going on around you that sometimes you forget to be present. So what advice do you have for parents? to help them get out of their own head and to be more observant for some of these signs and just to be more present. Nadine Rajeh (14:59.894) Yeah, well, the first one is you really get to put some effort into it. It's not gonna happen by itself. And you have to take time to really pause and reflect on how life is going. And you have to intentionally set time aside for, you know, special time to spend with your kids. It will not happen by itself. That's what I'm telling. everyone. Life will continue to be fast. We will always be busy. If we don't really pause and give it attention, it won't happen. The next thing is to have these regularly, you know, special time regularly. The more your kids become used to them, it sort of becomes a habit and then it's easy for everyone to go with it. And you'll be surprised once it becomes regular. If you miss one time, your kids will really say, oh, but what about our special time? They will start asking you for it. And you got to keep trying. You know, you have to ask not twice or thrice, like keep trying. It usually takes more than 20 times with teens. You have to keep asking them. Never give up. And I think it was author Maggie Dent who gave the metaphor of you as a parent must be the lighthouse. You know, you have to keep your light always shining. Your kids are on sailboats, you know, exploring the ocean and they don't want to Sometimes they won't distance away from you. They are learning their independence, but you have to keep your light shining so that they know that you are available for them always. And I always advise parents to read one book. It's called the Love Languages of Children by I think it was Ross Campbell, if I'm not mistaken. It just, Nadine Rajeh (17:23.65) tells you that sometimes it's not enough that you tell your kids you love them. Some kids need other ways, maybe it's physical touch, you know, lots of hugs, maybe it's love notes, you know, leaving them notes, sometimes it's gifts, sometimes it's appreciation notes. So that book really gives you ideas on how to get around the, you know, not talking barrier. Sometimes, okay, we do tell our kids that we love them, but okay, you face a wall. So there are lots of other ways to, you know, constantly show them that you're there for them and that you care about them. Jamie (18:06.809) That's wonderful. I love the remark you made earlier about we need to sit down as parents and ask our kids, you know, curious questions about their vision, about what success looks like, about what happiness looks like, because that's something that we're not trained to do. There's no textbook for this stuff for parents. And I don't know that many schools or many educators teach this sort of thing, but one thing I learned, I think it's a Tony Robbins thing, You know, happiness is about where your life conditions meet your blueprint, you know, what your view of happiness is. And when they're out, then there's unhappiness and there's dissatisfaction. And you've either got to adjust your blueprint of what happiness looks like, or adjust your life conditions so that the two are aligned. And it's very much mentally, happiness is very much up here first. And I think it's so important for parents to sit down. and ask those questions. And even if we don't get the answer, as you said, you're not gonna get the answer first time around, but just keep having those questions. What does happiness look like to you? And what goals have you got this week or this month? And even if they're small goals, it's a great thing to encourage. Let's switch parts for a minute. In the digital age, and this is, I guess, the theme of the podcast overall, how can parents strike a balance between allowing their teens to explore technology? while ensuring they've got a healthy relationship with screens. What's your view on this? Nadine Rajeh (19:33.898) Yeah, so technology is not going away. Like everybody knows that. And you know, with the rise of AI and everything, we are going into something new that no one knows how it looks like. But certainly, it's not going away. There's going to be more things even depending on it. From my own experience in the engineering field, a lot of engineering is being taken to AI and it is something that we can't just bury our head in the sand and say it's going to be alright. Now I think that the most important thing we need to focus on is connection to, you know, this real connection between human beings. build a really strong relationship between you and your children, that's called connection. If you can teach them how to build strong connections with other people, their friends, their extended family, their community, their neighbors, that connection is really what's going to make all the difference between how we deal with AI. Because Teens are not stupid. They know that talking with a real human being is way different than talking to technology. And I know lots of teens get really attached to their devices because they are actually using them to talk to their friends. So it's that connection that they are craving. It's not really the device. They are craving the connection to their friends. And if you can set conditions where that connection is real, is happening in real time, instead of over online, instead of online, then that's the way forward. So if you can invite their friends over, instead of chatting online, have a... Nadine Rajeh (21:57.282) a friend party, let them meet up in parks or in community centers. This sort of face-to-face connection is really important. I also don't have yet another answer except that, because once your teens really know the value of real connection once they've got a taste of it, they will know that it's authentic. Yeah, yeah. Jamie (22:31.965) And I think there's a real and present danger at the minute of this next generation coming through without a lot of human connection. Like I say, even things like extracurricular activities are good to get them out of the house and away from that one-on-one screen environment into finding their tribe and finding other human connections and friends and those circles. Take your kids camping, invite their friends, whatever it takes. It doesn't have to cost something. Nadine Rajeh (22:57.642) Yes. Jamie (23:00.997) But I truly agree with you there, Nadine, that the human connection is one of the best ways to, I guess, help kids achieve that balance outside of getting immersed in screens, because you're right, that screen addiction is largely based on the connections they've got within that environment, that social connection. But here's the thing, how can parents... How can parents foster an open and honest communication with their teenagers about their digital experiences? Like so online, things may be happening that are making their kid uncomfortable or anxious or overwhelmed. And they may not be willing to share that with their parents. So how do we, as parents, have those, or approach those conversations? Do we have family meetings? Like what's your view on this or advice? Nadine Rajeh (23:45.406) So open conversations are really important between you and your kids. And when I... you have to be willing as a parent to, you know, have these sensitive talks. Even if you feel triggered, even if you feel uncomfortable yourself, sometimes you have to set these triggers aside in order to, you know, to talk openly. And... Let them be organic. I'm not too big on family meetings because I feel when you say family meeting it's always something wrong has happened. At least that's my experience from my own kids. The more the conversations are organic and casual and just throughout the day, the more I feel they would feel safe in having them. Nadine Rajeh (24:46.391) And when you talk to your teens, really set your agendas aside for a little bit and just actively listen to what they have to say. Don't jump in with the thoughts that you're having and give your advice. Just stand back, let them talk. And when they're not talking, you can always ask, what else? Jamie (25:05.757) That's hard, that's so hard. Nadine Rajeh (25:13.222) And what else? What else? And sometimes maybe allow that silence between you. I see a lot of parents, you know, wanting to talk, but sometimes we just need to sit in silence with each other. You know, the silence can speak for itself. And You have to be in that loving energy, acceptance, energy of love, acceptance and compassion. You just let yourself be in that energy and you sit with them. You don't have to talk, you don't have to do anything, you don't even have to hug or pat their back or anything. You just come with that energy and sit around them and they will pick up on that energy. They will feel you. So you have to set aside. Again, that's very important. If you're worried, if you're stressed out as a parent and you come with all your stresses, it won't work. You have to really come to that place of inner calmness, centeredness, grounded, really grounded, you know, knowing that... Nadine Rajeh (26:28.794) It's hard because a lot of parents find it hard to let go. They feel overwhelmed, they feel very worried, and they feel as if it's urgent, as if time is passing. But what's really going on, really come into that grounded place where you believe that everything is perfect as it is right now, that you and your... kids were really meant to have this experience, you know, as parent child in this lifetime, it was meant. And why? Because both you can provide the best experience for your child and your child is also providing you feedback on yourself. Like you're a match made in heaven, you know, it's a miracle that you get to really enjoy this parent-child relationship at the moment, and come into appreciation of this miracle, and then come into this calm centered space. And if you again find it really hard to come to that space, maybe you have some work to do on yourself, you know, some inner work to do. maybe try yoga or meditation or you know whatever suits you so that you can really come back to that grounded calm space. Jamie (28:04.725) Great advice Nadine, let's change paths again. Talk about leadership skills in kids and the importance of helping our teens build leadership skills because you know, you can have all the academic success in the world but without that leadership skills, perhaps their view of success may not be manifested. So in your experience, what are some effective ways parents can help their teens develop strong leadership skills? Nadine Rajeh (28:30.734) So again, I always come back to the habit of self-value. They really need to value themselves to see that they are worthy and capable, regardless of the achievements. We also have to teach them that they have to be flexible, that mistakes are normal, that mistakes are just another path to learning. The other big habit that I maybe I talk more about it in my book is called self-management and it's about managing your thoughts, your emotions as well as your energy, you know your physical energy and it's about teaching them really the skills and the habits for proper self-management. If they don't know that, for example, let's take emotional intelligence, for example, if they don't have self-awareness, like if they can't really name the emotion that they're going through, they don't understand it, then how can you expect them to really manage their emotions? We have to tell them, okay, that this... this emotion right now for example is anger you're feeling it in your body how does it feel in your body do you feel it a tightness in your stomach or is it like a tightness in your throat how you're feeling anger right now and um the more we teach them about self-awareness the more they'll be able to catch to catch it um another big part of selfly of leadership is self-advocacy. You know, when they need to know when they should ask for help, instead of really letting things pass by and not asking. So they need to know what their weaknesses are, what their strengths are, they need to assess where they're at and Nadine Rajeh (30:46.974) If they need help in a certain area or if they don't know what to do, they also need to have that sort of confidence to go and ask for help. That's really important. Yeah. Jamie (31:02.069) Yeah, that's some wonderful advice there. One thing I wanna share in terms of helping kids build leadership is I'm a part of Rotary International, a wonderful organization that has a major community impact all over the world, but Rotary has some really interesting. offshoots, particularly for teens and older teens like Rotoract and Interact, these local organisations that teens can join to become actively involved in the community, to take on community projects, to develop those soft skills and form wonderful, you know, friendships and relationships. There's also wonderful access to free leadership training as well. Nadine Rajeh (31:28.462) Thank you. Jamie (31:45.105) But there's nothing more impactful than going out and serving your community and teaching our kids this skill early. So if I can encourage parents to you know, whatever you have used on Rotary, it's not just for old people and having Rotary meetings, like just take a fresh look and Google it and dig a bit deeper and you'll find there are some wonderful youth initiatives there and they're all funded and wonderful places for teens to grow and develop that, you know, face to face human connection and get that balance in life. Now, we've covered a lot of ground here, and I've got so many questions still to ask, but we're gonna run out of time. We might need to follow up podcast Nadine because you've been very insightful, and I really appreciate your time and generosity. So before we start to wrap up, let's tell our listeners a little bit about your book. Nadine Rajeh (32:35.822) Yeah, so my book came out last May and it got to the Amazon bestseller. I'm really glad. So it's meant for moms raising high achieving teen daughters in particular. And I focused just on girls because you know our boys need a whole different story these days. But for girls in particular and I really focus on that self-value piece. And I talk about a lot of social constructs that our girls are exposed to. And one of them is the sister wound. Now, I'm not sure if parents are aware of that. That one is based on, you know, comparison between girls especially, and it's unhealthy comparison. which leads to a lot of shaming and our girls feeling that they have to live up to that image, which is often fake. And the book shows you, it gives you really step by step, it is a blueprint, it's a step by step blueprint on how you can really create a space for your daughter to thrive. And in my book I talk about you as the mom and your daughter, as well as the habits and the village, the community that you need to surround your daughter with. Jamie (34:16.669) That's wonderful and a unique viewpoint on parenting as well. So I think many of our listeners will go out and seek that book out. I'm sure it's available on Amazon, as you mentioned. Anywhere else they should seek it out. Nadine Rajeh (34:31.23) Yes, it's available on Amazon and on my website parentingbrilliant.com. Jamie (34:36.925) parentinggrizzly.com. And in closing, tell us a little bit about your, like you've got a course as well. So the parent reads the book and really connects with it and wants to dig deeper and work on themselves or their relationship with their daughter perhaps. What is this program about? Nadine Rajeh (34:53.262) So I'm offering, I call it a workshop. It can be done in three VIP days or I can extend it out over three weeks or whatever is flexible to the family. But what I do in that workshop is I actually take the teachings in the book and I help you and your daughter. So it's a workshop for the mother and the daughter together. It's like an immersive experience for you to live this connection and learn the basic concepts in the book as well as put them into action. So I have a few exercises for you to do together and I really help you come up with an implementation plan. Because I know it's really easy to read a book and you know take in all that knowledge. The hard bit is actually implementing it and sticking with the implementation so that it becomes a new way of being. And so I've just come up with this workshop just to help you get into the implementation bit. It's also a very loving experience where you get to spend more time with your daughter, just a special time. Jamie (36:19.893) That's really important, I'm glad you've done that. I'll read a book, that's great, I should really do that. And then as soon as I close the book, I'm caught in the whirlwind of family, busyness, work, and everything else that's going on around us and that thought gets forgotten, you know, sometimes minutes after, if not days after. So having a partner walk alongside you and be able to help you implement those things that are so vital for creating flourishing relationships and family values and the family unit, I suppose. So I'm glad you've done that. I hope it's very successful for you. parentingbrilliant.com is at the website again. Okay, we'll post that in the show notes as well. But Nadine, look, thank you so much for your time, generosity, your insights and knowledge for sharing that with our listeners. And... Nadine Rajeh (36:53.07) Thank you. Yes. Jamie (37:08.537) you and hope we cross paths again soon. Nadine Rajeh (37:08.758) Yeah, thank you, thank you. Bye, bye. Jamie (37:12.885) Cheers, bye for now.
If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids. Skill Samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit www.skillsamurai.com.au. This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academywww.skillsamurai.com.au
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