Raising Resilient Kids - SE3EP11 - Jeff Nelligan

Today, we welcome Jeff Nelligan, a father of three boys, a renowned commentator in American parenting, and the author of “Four Lessons from My Three Sons – How You Can Raise Resilient Kids.” Jeff’s journey through parenting and his insights into the rebound from pandemic lockdowns are not just compelling, they’re essential for today’s parents. As a public affairs executive with a rich background in politics and law, and as an Army veteran and individual of Polynesian descent, Jeff brings a wealth of diverse experiences to our conversation. Let's dive into the wisdom he has to offer.

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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 (00:01.162)Welcome to another episode of 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 insights and practical guidance for navigating life as modern parents. Today, we welcome Jeff Nelligan, a father of three boys, a renowned commentator in American parenting and author of the book Four Lessons from My Three Sons, How You Can Raise Resilient Kids
Now Jeff's journey through parenting and his insights into the rebound from pandemic lockdowns are not just compelling but they're essential for today's parents. As a public affairs executive with a rich background in politics and law and as an army veteran and individual of Polynesian descent, Jeff brings a wealth of diverse experiences to our conversation. So let's dive in to the wisdom that Jeff has to offer.

Jamie (00:00.79)Jeff, welcome to the show. Please share with our listeners what you do and what you are passionate about.
Jeff Nelligan (00:06.203)Certainly, Jamie. First of all, thank you again for having me on. It's really a privilege to be speaking with you. And before I say anything, I have to say, I love your two sentences about this show. Parents who are concerned about their kids falling behind socially, educationally. And what I loved about it is at the end you said, and what might happen in their future careers. That says it all. I think every parent has that concern.
Even in a non-digital age, but certainly now. And I'll preface it by saying I had those same concerns when my sons were very young children. So it's right on with that. Name is Jeff Nelligan. I live in Washington, D.C. and I'm the parent of three sons. All three are military officers, two naval, one army. That's in the U.S. Armed Forces. And I also work for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C. and I'm a parenting author who decided to take pen to paper after the last one left for college about five years ago.
Jamie (01:16.258)Fantastic. And let's talk a little bit about the book. The book is called Four Lessons from My Three Sons, How You Can Raise Resilient Kids. And for those who haven't guessed, this podcast today is really a lot about resilience and parenting. So your book focuses on resilience in children. So maybe let's start off by explaining what resilience means to you and why it's vital for today's youth.
Jeff Nelligan (01:38.471)Certainly, I think, well, the idea of resilience is, it's the ability for a kid to get back up after hitting an obstacle or a setback. And you and I are adults, and we hit obstacles and setbacks every day. So do kids. And as adults, we've learned pretty much how to overcome them. For kids, it's a daily.
situation. There's always an obstacle. There's always a setback, even in the areas that you delineated in your wonderful write-up of the show. In school, in athletics, in the environment, the world at large, and every kid is going to hit those. The idea is the sooner and the more effective they are getting over the first one, the easier it's going to be later on.
Jamie (02:34.91)Yeah, yeah, well said. This, you've got a concept of dad's sayings. It seems to be somewhat central to your approach. Can you share maybe a few of these sayings and maybe the significance of those sayings in the life of your family?
Jeff Nelligan (02:47.187)Sure, in raising kids, you know, kids, you want them to be, you know, upright and decent and good-natured, but you just can't tell them that. Kids, you can say, you can throw a lot of platitudes at kids, you know, you need to do the right thing. That never works because kids can see through that platitude stuff pretty fast. The better way I thought was to do it was to take them out in that real world, whether it be in...
Sydney or Adelaide or Brisbane or Washington DC or New York City, show them the real world and how people interact with each other in different places and different environments. Then point out the good, the bad, and the inspirational and make it in a hard-ass sense that these are the things you should be and these are the things you shouldn't be. Instead of the platitudes, it became...
Jeff Nelligan (03:47.747)a person, an adult opening a door for a senior or engaging, you know, other shy parents in conversation with just an easygoing nature. You know, you compliment it. You pointed out, you said, that's the right thing. You got to keep that in your mind. If you see a kid who's being a jerk to other kids or to adults, I would say, don't be like that jerk. And these different environments gave way to all.
the values that we hold dear. You know, if you're going to start something, you need to follow through and complete it. So if you were mowing a lawn, for example, you picked up all the grass because it wasn't done until the place looked neat. And if you were, let's say, out in a big, massive shopping mall, the first thing I told them to do was read the crowd. That is, get a sense of who's hot, who's not.
and what you're about to walk into and how you might handle certain situations that would arise.
Jamie (04:51.742)Yeah, yeah, very true, very true. So your book is described as tough and hard and fast. Is that how you describe yourself as a parent?
Jeff Nelligan (05:00.5)Tough, yes, I guess I would. There was no political correctness in our family. We called them as we saw them. For example, one of the basic senses, the sense of decency was whenever we had to be somewhere, we got there five minutes early. Because an old drill sergeant, when I was in the army, said, if you're five minutes early, you're late.
And this stuck with me from being a young man all the way through to today. That shows respect. It gets you prepared for what's about to happen. It shows a kind of a sense of responsibility. And of course we would yell that everywhere we went, athletic events, play dates, you know, different kinds of things for the school. When we got there and people started showing up late, the kids would use the corollary that I taught them for my old drill sergeant.
If you're late, you're wrong. And they would say this out loud all the time. And that's not exactly, you know, as I say, politically correct or a nuance, but it got them thinking that what they were doing was correct. And when people didn't do it, it was showing that sign of disrespect.
Jamie (06:19.314)Yeah, it's a great way to teach in that respect that help grow great citizens of the next generation. Look, my favorite story there is, and I can't remember who shared it with me, like it was many, many years ago about this old guy and somebody turned up late to a meeting and he had this sort of conversation with the guy that was late and says, you know what, you can steal my car, I don't care. You can steal my possessions.
But when you're late, you're stealing time. And that's something I can't get back. It's fantastic. And then that's the thing that stuck with me about being late and being respectful of people's time. And, you know.
Jeff Nelligan (06:50.567)So that's good.
If so...
Jeff Nelligan (06:57.827)Oh, yes. That's exactly right. I mean, it's kind of, it's the same corollary of ideas. When someone's late, you know, sometimes at my job when people are late, you know, it becomes endemic and you think you're more important than the 10 people sitting in this room. And you're not.
Jamie (07:23.182)Do you think your experience with the army has influenced your parenting style?
Jeff Nelligan (07:27.995)I think, you know, I mean, I went into the Army for a reason, just as my kids went to service for a reason. I had already kind of adhered to those values. I loved the personal discipline that it required, the camaraderie of being in a group of guys and sometimes females to accomplish something. And also, and that's why the Army and the military is a lot like athletics here in the States. It's the adversity.
And that goes back to the resilience question you asked earlier. There's constant adversity in those kind of endeavors. You're winning or you're losing. And something will come up out of nowhere and provide a real hurdle. And instead of panicking or folding like a $3 suitcase, you learn to find a way through it or around it. So I think those values are very similar. I think it's...
One of the reasons my kids' early exposure in sports and then came to a very high level for one of them actually in rugby here in America, being on a national championship team and a first team All-American was the same thing that they had in athletics. They liked as they went into the service.
Jamie (08:49.802)Yeah, yeah. So back to resilience for a second here. How can parents encourage resilience in their children without pressuring them? Sometimes I talk to parents and they feel like they're nagging or pressuring or, you know, is there a practical tip maybe from the book that you can share to help parents encourage resilience in kids? And I know that's a broad question, Jeff, but, you know, over to you.
Jeff Nelligan (09:10.547)Sure.
Jeff Nelligan (09:15.099)The biggest thing is never bail them out. If they're in a scene, you can't enable them. In this country, there's too much enabling of kids. There's too much trophy for participation culture. There's too much of this drive for equity. So the competition is completely muted. I always with my sons, if they got in a bind, you get out of it. I can't be there.
Let me tell you, and I would say this to them, even as they grew in years, you think this is tough. Wait till you get into the real world. Wait till you're 18 or 24, and there's some really, it's a saga. So you need to get over them now. And I constantly put them to the test. I mean, one of the things I say in the book is, I take them to a mall and the eldest is seven and the youngest is four.
And I'd take a wallet out and give them each three to $5 bills and say, go get change. I'll be right here. It's not a race, but you need to come back to me with change for this dollar, for this $5 bill. And the first time it happened, you know, of course they were petrified. And I said, there's, there's no negotiating. And that's a pair parenthetically. The minute you start negotiating with kids, you're doomed. Uh, but I said, go get the change and goodness knows they would.
They came back after each one. One didn't come back for 20 minutes, and he had 20 quarters or something like that. You think they have dollar bills. But the idea was we did this over and over again in bigger malls, and then I said, okay, Junior, you're eight years old. You're gonna go into this restaurant. Here's 50 bucks. You're gonna take our orders, memorize them, go up to the counter, get everything, and bring it back to the car. Eight years old. When we went to airports at 10.
I'd give one kid all the information and say, okay, go get our boarding passes. We'll be right here. At that point, there's no, oh, I can't do that. It's I'm going to do it because I've done this kind of routine so many times in the past. I have the confidence to do it.
Jamie (11:29.086)Yeah, yeah, I love that notion of not bailing them out. You know, I've got a granddaughter, she's two years old, and we get to, we're fortunate enough to be able to spend every Thursday with her and take her down to the park. And it's really interesting watching young parents, and I'm not suggesting they're right or wrong here. I don't wanna make a judgment, but you know, to some extent, I'm human, right? And you do judge people, but you know, like, you see this parent running around like,
Jeff Nelligan (11:40.168)Wow.
Jeff Nelligan (11:49.939)Yeah, I hear you.
Jamie (11:58.742)the kids trying to climb the ladder and I'll go and lift them to the tops. Like let them climb the ladder. You know, the kids having a little altercation with another child over who's going to go down the slide, that parent goes and removes them from that situation. Like how are they supposed to build those interpersonal skills, those negotiation skills if we're removing them from those situations and shielding them from those situations. And you know, I'm not saying I'm a perfect parent. I'm far from it.
Jeff Nelligan (12:15.921)Right!
Jamie (12:26.818)But I think this next generation's in for a bit of trouble.
Jeff Nelligan (12:30.631)Oh, you know, and we can sit here, Jamie, like, you know, snarky old guys walked both ways to school in the snow uphill. But the stats will bear you out. I mean, I look at this stuff on a daily basis. If you've got 42% of kids between the ages of 18 and 24 living at home, you have a problem. If 37% of that age group is overweight or obese, you have a problem.
If the idea that, you know, half of that group has had a major depressive episode within the last year, you have a problem. So we can say this at our age, and I'm far older than you, but the numbers are always there to bear it out. So, and I want to go back to what you said. You said, you know, you don't judge people. And I get that. I mean, you have a pretty...
kind, soft way of approach. And that's why I like it, because mine's not, and I wish it was more soft. However, around with my kids, in every situation, we were constantly judging, because that's how human beings thrive on a day-to-day basis. They judge. In fact, the people listening to us right now are judging me and they're judging you. You never get away from it. And if you can point out the really good, the gracious,
the positive things that people do, ultimately you'll have that kind of kid because they're gonna be used to that kind of soundtrack in their mind.
Jamie (14:04.31)You know, you said something interesting earlier, Jeff, you know, when we start to negotiate with kids, we're doomed. And there'll be parents listening to that sort of going, that's not true. And I hear it in restaurants, you know, parents negotiating with other kids. If you sit down for five more minutes, we'll give you this. It's like, my dad just said, sit down or get knocked down, you know, like you had two choices, and I'm not saying that's right. Like, so to the listeners out there, I'm just being curious. I'm asking questions. So when you say
Jeff Nelligan (14:09.203)Ha ha.
Jeff Nelligan (14:25.426)Oh yeah!
Jamie (14:33.91)when we negotiate with kids we're doomed. What does that mean to you?
Jeff Nelligan (14:35.407)Yeah. Well, let me put some nuance on it. And I think you put up the great example. If you're with a kid somewhere and you know, if you do these three things, you'll get ice cream. Well, that's telling the kid that they shouldn't, that decent regular behavior has to be bought. And man, you, that's a slippery slope because if you're doing it at four, what, what is it at eight? You know,
You're eight years old and you say, well, if you're just quiet for five minutes, you'll get an hour more on your cell phone tonight. The thing is, and this may sound tough to you, Jamie, but I've always thought, and this is when even when I was a young dad, and I didn't know all the answers, I made mistakes, for goodness sakes, you know, everyone, no one's perfect. The job of a parent in life.
is not to build a relationship with a child. It's to prepare that kid for that real world that is out there every day. You're already a parent. You already have that authority. So you've got to prepare that child. It's not so much about being on the good side of your kid or being your kid's friend. I was never my kid's friend. I was their dad. And so I had many, many deeper things that we'll ever have.
rather than being just a friend. So I use that way of getting around the judging part or as you say, just brought up the negotiation part.
Jamie (16:13.098)Yeah, and that's interesting you say that. So, you know, being your dad, you got other deeper things. And many parents today, in some ways we see them trying to become a friend, to have these friend-like experiences and exchanges and, you know, experiences, I suppose is the word. But you said, by being a father, you're not missing out on that stuff. You know, you, yeah.
Jeff Nelligan (16:39.599)That's precisely it. I mean, the relationship between a dad and a mom and a kid is fundamental. It's been replicated about 10,000 years, billions of times. The idea that you need a friend, that your friend needs to be your kid, meaning there's a back and forth. And there's not a back and forth with a 35-year-old man and a five-year-old kid. There just isn't. And unless the kid is a genius or a prodigy,
or is finished college already and I don't think that's going to happen. And that's what I mean. It's not building that relationship with the child. You already have that by being their father or their mother. What your job is, is to make that kid have a relationship, a good one, with the rest of the world.
Jamie (17:25.918)Love that, love that. That's exactly what we're trying to do as parents. Going back a sec, you said something about the importance of physical health in a child's overall wellbeing. Let's talk about that.
Jeff Nelligan (17:37.447)I'll tell you, Jamie, to see that in your write-up, nutrition is the word you used. Oh my goodness, I wish you were over here banging on every American parent. The idea of health, the idea of nutrition, the idea of exercise, the idea of the open air, and I will tell you, it goes right to the heart of your title, the digital age.
is that you get kids often out of and removed completely from that digital age because that's the number one. That is the number one culprit for unhealthy kids and nutrition at the same time, exercise and what they eat. With the idea that kids should spend, for example, in this country, eight hours and 49 minutes a day on a cell phone is unbelievable. That's more time than they sleep.
But that's the average from kids between 11 and 18. That doesn't include schoolwork. So the digital age that you place in your title is something that is a pitched battle that parents should have with their child.
Jamie (18:51.426)Yeah. So here's an interesting one. How do you think parenting in the digital age differs then from when, I'll say when we were growing up and when we didn't have access to these devices, you know, my mom used to lock me up at the backyard, just literally locked the back door and just say, go to do something, you know. And these days, I mean, you know, I'm a victim too. Like my son is upstairs gaming on his device and it's very difficult to find that balance for some parents, myself included. So how do you think parenting?
Jeff Nelligan (19:08.221)Yeah!
Jeff Nelligan (19:13.938)EHH
Jamie (19:20.774)know differs today in the digital age to what it was then or is it the same? Are we still using the same principles?
Jeff Nelligan (19:28.155)No, we're not. And I can tell you early on, iPhone came out in 2007. You know, the big websites started to make their entrance around 1996, 1997, where you were getting hundreds of thousands and millions of hits to a single site. What's changed is the more that those kids have a device in their hand, the less they are paying attention to the world.
The thinking is all done for them. There's not an emotion or anything else that they just can't take off of a screen and it becomes an addiction. And like I said, eight hours and 49 minutes is pretty much an addiction. Average boy in this country, between the ages of 12 and 18, if you took them all, averages two hours and 45 minutes of gaming every day. That's absurd. That's...
insanity. The minute you can take that out of their hand for good means they have to go think for themselves. They have to either go outside or they have to pick up a book, which is work. Reading is work. Or they have to involve themselves, this is obviously the best scenario, with other kids. If they don't do any of those three things, then you get involved. Here you said it, behavioral and as well as nutrition. You get into those problems.
Jamie (20:44.801)Yeah.
Jamie (20:56.834)Yeah, exactly right. Living a sedentary life. You said we've got to sort of remove that device from the equation. What do you say to the critics though? There'll be critics out there saying, but that's where they get this. This is how kids of today's generation are getting their social interaction, which I'm not saying I believe that for one minute, but there is some element of that where they're gaming and talking with friends online and the big manufacturers of this social and gaming technology would have us believe, you know.
the warning on the labels that we're helping kids become more connected. What do you say to those critics?
Jeff Nelligan (21:34.555)I have maybe a very blunt, hard-ass response to that because I've heard that so many times. If you're not sitting across from somebody talking to them, you're not connected. Period. It's very simple. The idea that a screen and a microphone is actually a good substitute.
for walking shoulder to shoulder with a friend or being on a field or sitting in a downstairs basement, throwing wads of paper at one another is a fantasy. So I know that sounds probably pretty harsh. That's the way I look at it. My kids didn't have an iPhone until they were at the end of 11th grade. And then I said, whoever comes home with the most charge in their phone gets five bucks. So that means they hardly ever used it.
We had one hour of video games every week that they could only use on a Saturday. And of course, Saturdays, they were at everything, athletic events, other things with the school. So they rarely got that. So we cut it off. And they would say to me, well, Jimmy and Betty have phones. And I would say, this is in ninth grade. And I'd say, let's celebrate Jimmy and Betty. Good for them. You're not.
There was no negotiation. I got them in 11th grade because I wanted to know where they were. It was kind of almost a surveillance device. Also, if they got some, you know, the heat was on, they could get to us. Even today, all three of them, they're not even on social media. I mean, they're older guys, but they got over that possible allure and none of them use it. And I don't think they're that-
You know, that fought bad off for not being on them. They're pretty successful young men.
Jamie (23:34.426)Yeah, yeah, that's incredible. And it's difficult for some once you're connected, it's like an umbilical cord, the whole system is designed to keep us scrolling and the key metric is how long can we get this consumer to spend on this device or on this platform? It's crazy.
Jeff Nelligan (23:53.343)Exactly. And, of course, it also, because of the anonymous nature of platforms, because of the way you can step back from it, the meanness factor, particularly for girls, and it's documented in this country, the meanness factor, the vitriol, the hatred, and the sewer, I'll say it again, you know, the sewer, the vulgarity of the internet in some quarters.
is again just it's appalling and it's better a kid doesn't have access to anything than has the chance of access to stuff like that.
Jamie (24:32.93)Yeah, look, there's the parents are going to disagree and switch off the podcast, but there is a valid argument for censorship, you know, like to protect our kids and, you know, those critics will say, well, it's about freedom of expression. We can do and say what we want. And, you know, there's a fine line there somewhere, but I certainly agree there's stuff that they're seeing that kids shouldn't see.
Jeff Nelligan (24:37.026)Oh, sure.
Jeff Nelligan (24:54.403)Right, and can I say something else too, Jamie? If your kids, again, maybe they're gonna turn it off now. If your kid's on a phone eight hours and 49 minutes a day, where the hell are you?
Jeff Nelligan (25:08.175)You know, where's the parent in all this? Again, they're turning it off right now, I feel badly. But you know, this is the kind of parenting that I pursued and guys that I know just like me pursued. And the validation is our kids came out, you know, you emerged from all this is pretty upstanding, you know, solid guys. And so the validation is there. But I understand
Jamie (25:16.077)Yeah
Jeff Nelligan (25:37.979)some parents find all of this just a tad, you know, queasy.
Jamie (25:43.326)Yep, yeah, totally get it, totally get it. Now some parents I speak with, Jeff, they say they find it hard to communicate with their kids. What advice do you have for these parents?
Jeff Nelligan (25:54.257)Oh, I-
Every parent at some point finds it hard to communicate with their kids. I mean, I did. There were times where, you know, it was really tough. And it's because of the ages they go through and the fact they think their mom or dad is a jerk or a geek. The one thing that I did is I set up early on – we had this routine. I'm a big believer in routine because once a kid gets in a routine, it's very hard to break them out of it.
I met with each kid, we would, you know, I'm not met. When I say met, when I say formally, every kid during the course of two months, we'd go on a Saturday morning to the high school football field about 8.30 in the morning and just sit on the bleachers. And it was the routine of, okay, the week in review, you know, kind of thing. What happened this week? What was good? What was bad? You know, let's shoot the breeze. The great thing about it was there was no one around
The mornings were pretty quiet and the kid would just open up. So if you got a kid doing this at five years old, yeah, there's going to be times when he doesn't have much to say or he's mad or something. But then he knows it takes two weeks, you're going to be with the old man again and he would come around. So keeping up that kind of line of communication, you could outlast the times when, you know, it was tough to talk to him. When they'd get mad at me or mad at...
their mom mad at their peers. You know, again, no kid gets a free ride. Those are the obstacles we were talking about earlier in the podcast.
Jamie (27:35.498)Yeah, that's interesting you say that. Ambition, I want to talk a bit about. So you know, you're very much about raising confident, ambitious kids. The book talks about this as well. How did you create competition amongst your sons? Or did you create competition? How did you get them to have the drive that ultimately led them to where they are today?
Jeff Nelligan (27:57.603)You know, that's a tough one. Again, I know every parent wrestles with that. Even parents who don't think they do want their kids to succeed at something. And I'll tell you, Jamie, I'm kind of old school. Well, I'm very old school, as you can tell. Uh, I always, I have this old school, old fashioned belief that every kid out there, no matter who he is, can be good at one thing and really good. And they just got to find it.
with my sons and I know you brought the competition thing up at the end of your kind of explanation of the show and your work, the increasingly competitive school environment and just environment in general. There's two things that I believe went into competition. Number one,
I just asked them to do their best and I didn't embarrass them when they didn't. But I early kind of got a sense of what they were going to be good at. One was math. One was, two of them were at lacrosse and the third kid was pretty good at lacrosse too. So we pushed this and we got them around kids that were just as good as them, mostly kids who were better. And they got that confidence from sports.
which flows over into every aspect of their life, including most importantly, the classroom. And at the same time, we sent them to schools where every kid in the room was probably smarter than them, meaning they had to reach a ceiling. They never had to hit a floor. They always had to reach a ceiling just to survive. And again, the third thing, the third reason in terms of ambition and that confidence is, if you teach the resilience early,
There's nothing they think they cannot do. Nothing. Perfect example, my kid, when he went to college his first year, they didn't take walk-ons on the football team. And so he was not to be daunted. So he walked literally across the field to the rugby team where they were having tryouts and he'd never played. And he's a pretty athletic kid and he's big. And so he made the rugby team as a walk-on as a freshman.
Jeff Nelligan (30:14.331)Now this is at the United States Military Academy, West Point. So we're not talking about, you know, a small little school out in the middle of nowhere. But he just had that engine in him and that whole lived history of getting over these tough, tough things when he was a young kid. His fifth year, fifth year or fifth grade, he was completely picked on because he had glasses. But he got over that instead of, you know, caving in.
By the time the season finished, by the time his career finished in college, West Point won the national college championship for rugby and he was first team all-American in C2A for the, in four years he had turned it around. That's what I call ambition, but it never would have happened if maybe like, for example, he'd been treated pretty well at fifth grade or he hadn't had these two brothers pounded on them all the time. So that ambition.
Jamie (31:07.368)Thank you.
Jeff Nelligan (31:10.907)is a byproduct of all those times you can get over those adversity, adversities or these instances of adversity, and then have that pleasure at the end to say, I did that. I'm ready for the next thing.
Jamie (31:24.583)We've got to let our kids have some challenge.
Jeff Nelligan (31:26.339)Yes.
Jamie (31:29.598)And that's really what it comes down to, you know, for those parents who are playing in the park with their two year old kids, like let them fall down the slide, let them, you know, let them get pushed by that other kid. And they're forming a view on life. They're forming a view on how to interact with others. They're forming a view on adversity and how to approach adversities like, hold on. I just, you know, like some of these kids just being removed from these situations. Like that's the life lesson. That's what we're teaching these kids. So, yeah, we've got to let kids have some challenge.
Jeff Nelligan (31:36.989)You bet.
Oh yeah.
Jeff Nelligan (31:59.011)Right? And that's, again, that's the harsh message. Like the other ones we've kind of had throughout the podcast is it's going to hurt. You know, parents are going to see their kids fail or they're going to get their kids picked, picked on, or they're not going to do well. You can't rush up and solve it. Let the kid take the pain and live from it. And then, you know, move on.
Jamie (32:24.862)Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well said. We're gonna have to start to wrap up soon. I'm really enjoying this conversation, Jeff. You say that success in anything follows the resilient kid in your book. Success in anything follows resilient kids. So how do you suggest parents measure the success of their resilience building efforts? Now, this is a really tough question. I looked at this and thought, can you even ask a question like this? How can you measure the impact of what you're doing in trying to raise resilient kids?
Jeff Nelligan (32:33.725)Yes.
Jeff Nelligan (32:53.299)I'll tell you how you can, because the kid is eminently satisfied. He or she, you know, is trying to do their best. The kid is good-natured, that is loose and easygoing and completely at ease with strangers or longtime friends. The kid carries himself or herself with just that confidence that they...
can do what they want to do. That is the resilient kid. Not everybody's gonna be first team all American rugby. And not everyone's gonna be a, you know, chief engineering officer on a guided missile destroyer, okay? But my kids also aren't math brains. They're not surgeons. They're not electrical engineers. They're not working for Goldman Sachs in the finance department, okay? Every kid hit their stride in a certain thing.
And all throughout that time, they were pretty happy and, as I said before, satisfied and, above all, just confident. Confident around people and confident about whatever situations they were in. So, when parents, you know, a successful kid and resilience, success has been measured by just being number one in the class. My kids were never number one in the class ever. They didn't have the brain power for it.
And I don't think even if they did, they would have strived for that. They wanted something else. So every parent can have that kid. And if this, if that parent can find that one thing or those two things that kid is good at, and then develop that personality, that is just a winning personality, man, that's a successful kid. That's a, that's a kid that a parent is at 18 or 14 or 28 and says, I've raised a son or a daughter that is just.
Jamie (34:41.206)Yeah.
Jeff Nelligan (34:50.155)on top of the world in terms of the way they feel about themselves and the way they are seen by others.
Jamie (34:58.078)Yeah, yeah, well said. Thanks for sharing that, Jeff. Now, a lighthearted question that we like to ask all of our guests as we wrap up today's podcast is time machine. We gave you a time machine and you could go back to your 15 or 12 year old self. What is Jeff senior saying to you, Jeff Jr. What's one piece of advice that you give yourself?
Jeff Nelligan (35:20.144)Uh...
Don't be impatient. I was always too impatient, and I missed so much stuff when I was growing up. And I only started to find out that I'd missed it by the time I got out of college. And it was just impatience that was my own fault. It didn't affect my rise in my career, which was politics. It didn't affect the schools I went to. I mean, I was pretty much a C student anyway, so being patient wouldn't have got me A's.
But I was just too impatient. And by being impatient, I probably wasn't the happy-go-lucky guy that I kind of evolved into when I realized this near the middle of college and at the end, and then, of course, in my chosen career politics. That was the biggest mistake. Boy, that's something I have never been asked, but I knew exactly how to answer it. Isn't that weird?
Jamie (36:15.946)It certainly is. And it's great advice. One day I'm going to assemble a book with everyone's advice, because I ask everyone the same question. And there's always a tremendously different answer, which is a big learning for me now. Four lessons from my three sons, how you can raise resilient kids. Where do we find it? And so for those who are resonating with your message today, how can they get their hands on the book?
Jeff Nelligan (36:36.879)You bet. They can get it on Amazon and make sure that they purchase a second edition and then go to my website, I'm also on Instagram at Nelligan underscore books and on Facebook at Jeff Nelligan books.
Jamie (36:56.75)Fantastic. We'll post those in the show notes. Jeff Nelligan, thank you so much for your time, your generosity and wonderful insights today. And thanks for joining us.
Jeff Nelligan (36:58.759)Thank you.
Jeff Nelligan (37:05.307)Hey, thanks Jamie, a pleasure.
Jamie (37:08.418)Thank you so much. We'll see you again soon.
Jeff Nelligan (37:09.722)Okay.

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
This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academy ...