Agile parenting and empowering our children for accumulating small successes

Bruce Feiler: Agile programming — for your family

And here’s the worst news of all. Our children sense we’re out of control. Ellen Galinsky of the Families and Work Institute asked 1,000 children, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” The parents predicted the kids would say, spending more time with them. They were wrong. The kids’ number one wish? That their parents be less tired and less stressed.

So how can we change this dynamic? Are there concrete things we can do to reduce stress, draw our family closer, and generally prepare our children to enter the world?

I spent the last few years trying to answer that question, traveling around, meeting families, talking to scholars, experts ranging from elite peace negotiators to Warren Buffett’s bankers to the Green Berets. I was trying to figure out, what do happy families do right and what can I learn from them to make my family happier?

Great advice from Feiler: (lessons for parenting and many other things)

  1. Adapt all the time.
  2. Empower your children.
  3. Tell your story.

“What does learning a lot feel like, Dad?”

Driving PJ, my eight-year old, to school this morning, I asked, “Peanut, how’s school?”

“School’s great, Dad. I love school.”

“Are you learning a lot?”

[Long pause]

“What does learning a lot feel like, Dad?”

That question has stuck with me all day! If you feel so inclined, I’d love to read how you might respond to such a question.

Nothing like crowd-sourcing my parenting!

Breaking Bread – edu180atl: bo adams 9.5.12

“Okay, I’ll act it out. You guess the G-word.” I raised my arm above my head and made my hand a mouth.


“That’s an E-word.”


“Yes! Whose turn is it now?”

Breakfast is my new favorite time during the workweek. Dinner is a close second. For years, as a school administrator, I advised parents to eat as many family meals together as possible during the workweek. Folks like Ned Hallowell, Dan Kindlon, and Wendy Mogel have written about the close correlation between number of family meals and good children. Yet, I must admit that as a school administrator I ate only 3-5 meals a workweek with my wife and two sons, ages 7 and 5. All of these meals were dinners.

For breakfast, I usually ate a banana and a Clif Bar while I traveled to work or as I started my first meeting. Most mornings, I would kiss my family goodbye as they were still wiping sleep from their eyes.

Now, we eat breakfast together everyday. Since starting a new chapter in my educational career, I have doubled the frequency of family meals during the workweek. We’re growing into stronger sharers of stories, values, and play. This morning, we played a game to help Jackson, my kindergartener, with his G-words.

Identity is fascinating. Years ago, during a conference, we had to make a list of ten words that described our identities. Then, we had to strip away all but two. One of my words that survived was “Dad.”

I’m grateful to have heard my own advice…finally.


Bo Adams (@boadams1) is a learner, husband, and dad. He strives for school transformation and serves as Director of Educational Innovation at Unboundary.

[This post was originally published as “edu180atl: bo adams 9.5.12“]