Our November Ho‘ohana; When Parenting Works

Grand, glorious November, filled with grace and generous abundance; we are so grateful you have arrived!

I am not very original with my Ho‘ohana for November. (Ho‘ohana is our monthly theme, and my work’s intention.) I am not very creative, and feel no need to be. In fact, I will steadfastly resist any urge for newness, and will firmly quiet my muse should she feel particularly rambunctious and defiant.

Yes, my muse is indeed a she, and not given to quiet moments when I need her to be.

“We are very much alike.”

The value I celebrate this month is always the same one. In my mind, it is the right one, and the only one. It belongs to November, and November belongs to it.

I bow my head gratefully and humbly to the wisdom of the season, and throw my arms wide open to welcome in appreciation, gratitude, and living in thankfulness for all the elements which make our lives so precious. This is the month for our Hawaiian value called Mahalo.


Thank you, as a way of living.

Live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious.

With Mahalo, we give thanks for every element that enriches our lives by living in thankfulness for them. We relish them. We celebrate them joyously. Mahalo is the value that gives us an attitude of gratitude, and the pleasure of awe and wonder.

Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness. People need to hear it from you: “Mahalo nui loa” thank you very much.

—Managing with Aloha, Chapter 16

However this month,

“However? Did you say ‘however?’”

“Shush, please don’t interrupt Ms. Muse.”

This month, I am willing to focus in a slightly updated way. I would like to suggest that we come together in our community’s thankfulness with something in particular; with stories of how the parenting we may have received has shaped us into the people we are, and why we are grateful. I believe that we are in great need of good parenting today, and I am confident we can share some terrrific examples we can learn from and duplicate.



“Yes, hmmm. Just hmmm.”

“Hmm… I think the phrase wicked smile must have been first used to describe the delightfully calculating expression on the face of a writer’s muse.”

“You’d best continue. Everyone is waiting for you.”

My muse has had quite a bit of competition lately.

Though he was not the first to lay down the gauntlet with me on this subject, Thomas L. Friedman and his book, The World is Flat will not leave my consciousness, and I have been taking up his banner for a few months now in particular to this:

“No discussion of compassionate flatism would be complete without also discussing the need for improved parenting. Helping individuals adapt to a flat world is not only the job of governments and companies. It is also the job of parents. They too need to know in what world their kids are growing up, and what it will take for them to thrive. In short, we need a new generation of parents ready to administer tough love: There comes a time when you’ve got to put away the Game Boys, turn off the television, shut off the iPod, and get your kids down to work.

The sense of entitlement, the sense that because we once dominated global commerce and geopolitics —and Olympic baseketball— we always will, the sense that delayed gratification is a punishment worse than a spanking, the sense that our kids have to be swaddled in cotton wool so that nothing bad or disappointing or stressful ever happens to them at school, is quite simply a growing cancer on American society.”

“Compassionate flatism” is what Friedman calls his suggestions for moving us from a culture of lifetime employment to lifetime employability so we can maintain American competitiveness in a dramatically changing economic and global climate. (I first mentioned The World is Flat in this post.)

As a parent I must say, guilty as charged. If there was an annual prize for spoiling your kids rotten, I’d need a trophy case for my collection of winnings. In the last few months though, I’ve had an attitude of “It’s never too late to begin anew”” and have indeed gone the tough love route with my son and daughter on a few things.

As you can imagine, they do not care for Thomas L. Friedman.

Parenting well is difficult
, as anyone who is one knows. The tugging of our hearts often does trump reason, and we parents give in when we know we shouldn’t. We think we love too much, but we may actually allow our actions taken to love too little.

Ouch. Yes, I know, I don’t like thinking about it either. Those very logical, very right thoughts of, “they will thank me for this in the long run” are just not compelling enough to cement our willpower. We waver. We hesitate. We cave. Friedman is right, we are horrible at delayed gratification too, no matter how much we believe that tough love works.

Someone else has been competing with my muse; Starbucker
. Back in September, Terry introduced us to Brother George. He reminded me that there are those brave teachers who will do some of the parenting we may not be doing. Remember this?

“Brother George kept ratcheting up the pressure by piling on more and more homework and “pop quizzes” (not to mention putting folks on the spot in the classroom, very Kingsfield-like), and topped it off by saying that this Mid-Term was going to be a rude awakening for a lot of people. The thing that struck me about all this was that this was the first class in my scholastic career where I was being treated as a responsible adult, and in a very ‘business-like’ manner. This approach certainly was effective ”“ he never failed to get all of our rapt attention in class.”

Starbucker opened the floodgates to our memories of those teachers who didn’t go soft on us, and guess what we all said about them? That we were exceptionally thankful and grateful. That we’d been blessed to have them. That years later, in thinking about the habits they helped shape in us, like focus, diligence, self-discipline, and sacrifice, we weren’t scarred, battered and bruised. On the contrary, we were profoundly appreciative. They helped us be better.

These stories, your stories, are inspiring to me. Judging from what Starbucker started, I would say that they were inspiring to you too.

I am thinking that MORE inspiring stories of what worked well, would help spur us on to greater action as parents, coaches, mentors, managers and leaders.

Therefore, this month, I ask you to keep your stories coming. Would you share your stories of great parenting with us? I’m giving my muse the month off, and asking you to take her place.

Inspire me, and inspire each other, with the stories of how your parents did a great job in preparing you for this world we live in.

Tell them how much you appreciate that they didn’t go soft on you, and that they kept at it, working hard on their parenting.

Say thank you to them for believing in you, and for being willing to take whatever you may have dished out when you resisted and grumpily scowled at them, rolled your eyes to the sky, or said they were being mean.

Tell them, and tell us, how you turned out so well, prepared for this brave new world we’re in, and why it was because of their influence on you. Influence you would not have traded for anything.

Say mahalo.

Write something up for us, and email me if you’d like an invite to be one of my guest authors posting your story right here this month.  If you had contributed to Joyful Jubilant Learning 2006, your guest author access to Talking Story has not been changed and is still active. Save something in drafts, tell me when you’re ready, and I’ll program the publishing. You can comment instead, or you can write it up for your own blog: the attitude of gratitude in November is big enough for all of us!

My own mom and dad shared a bounty of tough-love lessons with me, and I will tell you about some of them in the days to come. I wish I could say I followed their great example more than I did, but the truth is that I got lucky. Both of my children are making their way through our explosively changing world with smarts, tenaciousness, resilience, and their own expressions of charm and grace. They haven’t arrived where they want to yet, but I have no doubt they will.

They are 19 and 22, and I also fully realize that my role in parenting them is far, far from over. And for that fresh new chance I get every day, I also think, and say, mahalo.

As you have come to expect from me, I will also write about how good (and not so good) parenting affects the workplace, and how Managing with Aloha may have to step in to fill the void. Managing adults at work who are responsible for delivering the performance they are paid to deliver is a piece of cake next to the really hard stuff called parenting, right? You would think so”

November, you have an uncanny way of arriving at precisely the right time.  Just when we need you. Mahalo.

Let’s talk story, shall we?

Oh yes, let’s. I can save my vacation for December.

I figured you’d say that. Pull up a chair and help me write.

If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first weekday of each month to our email subscribers (You can learn more, and subscribe here). Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month.


  1. says

    Rosa, your post has made me look at my tribute to Brother George in yet another way – from the perspective of how this teacher did, in some way, function as a “parent”. Since I chose to go to college 1,200 miles away from home, in a lot of respects Brother George was a surrogate parent for me. The fortunate thing was that my father was just as strong of an influence, so Brother George didn’t have to be a replacement parent. I look forward to the other postings you will inspire this month Rosa, and Mahalo to you for the mention of my post.

  2. says

    Aloha Terry, there have been so many times during my children’s lives that I’ve been reminded of the adage, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I am very grateful for the adults who have been there for my son and daughter when they were needed for guidance, and for a firmer hand than I could give.
    I’ve learned to be okay with those times I was nearby too, and just not chosen to guide them because there was another mentor they preferred at the time. Their choices have been good ones, and I feel good that we did teach them to be wise in that regard, trusting carefully, and listening well, but then making their own decisions. Those “others” in their lives have not been surrogates; they’ve been partners worthy of my respect and profound appreciation.
    I hope we can get you to share more of your stories this month Terry! You are very good at bringing the best out of the rest of us!

  3. says

    Parenting is difficult, especially when it comes to “tough love”. I think back to my own mother and her many lessons of tough love and I can only say that I am a lucky kid because my mother is the greatest mom I know.
    When it came to discipline, she never hit me or even spanked me. Instead, she was very judicious with her love and tone of her voice. She also would seize the opportunity to teach and coach when I did something wrong. No matter what the misdemeanor was, in the end, my mom and I would always have the same conversation. It usually went like this….
    Mom (in a calm and even tone): “What did you do wrong?”
    Me (in a nervous tone having to look at the mother in the eye): “I took a cookie without asking.”
    Mom (same calm tone): “What were you suppose to do?”
    Me (a bit more nervous): “Ask first and if you say no then don’t do it.”
    Mom (same tone): “Why are you suppose to ask first?”
    Me (really getting antsy and nervous): “Because if I eat the cookie then I will ruin my dinner and it was disrespectful.”
    Mom (same tone still!): “So then why did you do it?”
    Me: “I don’t (start crying here) knoooowwwww.”
    Mom (same tone): ” Ok, go up to your room and think about what you did. Next time you do this I will have to punish you. I love you. Now go.”
    In the end, I never did the same thing twice. Really! I did alot of things for the first time, but never twice. Why? Because I knew what I should do, why I should do it and I never wanted to see what “Punish you” looked like.
    Thank you Mom for treating as a thinking, rational human. Thank you mom for never dehumanizing me. Thank you mom for believing I could make better choices and I could be the best person I could be. I hope I never prove you wrong.

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing this tribute to your mom Toni; for me this may be the most telling part of the gifts your mom gave you; “I did alot of things for the first time” for she raised you to understand that the consequence you could count on most from her was learning.

  5. John Keoni Monte says

    ALOHA to ALL – the 11th month…has at it’s ho’ohana core: appreciation – gratitude – living in thankfulness – Mahalo – a time of year that, this time, is all wrapped around Parenting.
    After reading, I reclined into quiet and waited…then, a sudden urge showed up – so I followed…and it lead me to picking up the phone and calling Rosa on Big Island! Wasn’t sure why…but at the same time, did know that if she answered the call…I would find out ‘the why’ part. (Hawaiian kine thing).
    And so…the conversation to be – became about the shake, rattle and roll of a couple of Sundays ago. That little voice inside told me: keep quiet, listen…so I did.
    I am a Native Hawaiian – Born in East L.A.; being raised Hawaiian partially meant a different set of processes than what was being utilized here. One is the ability to listen, absorb, then forget about it for right now! Then lift up, go do something else. You see…it is a ‘time thing’ and my Ancestors were very unjustly labeled as existing in ‘Hawaiian Time’ aka ‘always late’. I would like to state right here, right now: It is not that Hawaiians were intentionally or accidentally always running behind and ending up late…in fact, Hawaiians arrive at the exact and proper time! And we always know when that time is! I cannot teach you this, but I can show you…and then it is up to each person to discover the intuition on this and the how and why as it applies only to themselves.
    So, it was my ‘time’ to call Rosa. She brought it on and fully, in detail, described what she went through; what her home went through, and the products that live there, got to play a part as well. She included what the aina (land) experienced…and correctly, identified actual damage items and what the implications from those are and how all of that feels. Rosa carefully described the magnitude of both of the shakers…and matched up all possible after effects. Like a ‘responsibility for your actions’ list, if you will. I brought up the report that the epicenter of the jolt, originated, they think about 20 MILES DEEP! They being ‘seismologists’, who are baffled never being able to go that deep to know how deep. This meant to me – and confirmed for me – that the ‘originator’ of the quake was not your normal or regular earthen plate simply shifting to work the kinks out…No, this has much more juice on it than ‘simple’.
    What is showing up for me is the notion that a ‘connection’ of some kind – one that is intertwined with everything we are, including November. Keep in mind, there is ‘A LADY’ who on a regular basis crawls around the bottom of Kilauea??? But that’s another story, sort of…Well,in the few minutes of time we shared – Rosa shared a full spectrum thesis…and again, it was time to wait.
    We human beings have a wonderful tool in our kit called ‘imagination’ that allows us to expand on just about anything…so, I decided to take the ‘full spectrum’ language and slim and trim sentences down to a one word association…and then I could write each word on the wall – then step back, take a look, and have it all morph into a ‘theme’. Hang in there, I know I am taking the long road to bring us to the short cut…but I told you, being raised Hawaiian is a different set of processes!
    Upon arising this morning the word game began…let’s see, here is the spoken (actually written)words: Eleventh month, Mahalo, grand, generous, abundance, grace, grateful,my work’s intention – my life’s intention, rambunctious, defyingly defiant, she, value, celebrate, belongs to it- and it belongs to, humble and wisdom, arms open wide, elements, makes our lives so precious, awe and wonder, joy and pleasure, soften, richness, fullness, come together, need – all help us ‘Manage…’
    Allow me to add: my written – but prior to today, unspoken elements from my ‘talk story’ with Rosa 48 hours ago: different process, ability, listen, absorb, lift up, timing, unjust label, arrive, exact, proper, teach you – show you – discover, applies, brought it on, fully, home, play, damage, responsibility, actions, report, jolt, baffled, shifting, work the kinks out, simple, showing up, connection, tool, imagination.
    Then it hit me…hit me just how ‘right on’ Rosa consistently is each month…November no exception. Everything spoken, written and heard points to, or could point to – PARENTING…and When It Works.
    Within the matrix of the theme Rosa chose is the earthquake of two Sundays ago. The land (aina) of Hawaii is alive – just like you and me. We had parents, some of us are parents – and in today’s world of events, we often find ourselves stomping our feet and managing that which belongs to us and what we are responsible for – that’s PARENTING.
    Whatever or whoever is 20 miles deep off Big Island…might of been the aina’s (land’s) PARENT – who had much to Say that Sunday morning! And ‘She’ stomped her feet, she scolded, and she warned; while providing a little reminder (demonstration) of what could happen ‘if’… You could surmise and Say, she was ‘Managing (her child) With Aloha’. And what perfect timing – heading into November.
    Ah hah…this is where the ‘Mahalo’ fits 100%, as it should. Today we live in warp 10,000 – we get so busy and caught up, we miss things. Easy to do, but a dangerous habit. And Parenting is in need of Parenting today! A call to action, a renewal of get real. A JOLT, to get our children’s attention?
    I worked in mainstream media for 15+ years…and as the horror stories poured in daily – we would read them, and be absolutely stunned! The very first question in our newsroom minds was: “Where are the Parents???” This shouldn’t be happening.
    Rosa is right! We should include ‘Mahalo’. We should be both lists above – with a very deep quiet humbleness, gratefulness, and understanding not to let things or children go too far…It’s all PARENTING.
    The aina (land) needs support and foundation…so the land depends on Mother Nature…We Parents depend on the land, to provide us a space to grow food so we survive, our Children depend on their Parents for almost everything…it and we, are all ‘Connected’…so we better take time this Thanksgiving season – to reconnect, to fix broken links, mend broken fences and fields. Lets remind ourselves to take action sooner on vital issues and perform regular maintenance on Parenting that works..so it keeps working…so we do not have to get another demonstration from one of our very ancient, blessed, loving, caring Sunday morning Parents – who wishes us only Aloha…which we need to Manage.
    Mahalo Rosa…for who you are and to that part of you that knows. “I ulu no ka lala i ke Kumu” = The branches grow because of the Trunk!
    John Keoni ‘War and Peace’ Monte

  6. says

    I am in awe John, mahalo for writing your mana‘o here in generosity for our community. I have read your message a few times now, then sitting back, and taking it in, I am again humbled by what simple connections made can do when we follow our instincts. I will continue to read this often, and drink in the spirit of your aloha shared.
    Ua ola loko I ke aloha.
    (Aloha provides life from within)

  7. says

    I appreciate the foucs on parenting.
    I am currently parenting 3 teenagers, a son age 17 and twins (a boy and girl) age 15.
    I am so indebted to my parents, Gen and Jack, for their love and the gifts they gave me.
    My mother gave me the gift of empathy by always being willing to sit down and understand me even when I had an imaginary playmate (half bear/half person) at 4 years of age named Jampy. She would even set a place at the table when I thought he might come over for supper.
    My father gave me the gift of thinking. He always made us find support for our ideas and taught us how important it was to read.
    Dad taught me how to live a line I often site which I think was by Jacob Needham: It is good to have an open mind but not so open that your brains full out.
    Even though mom and dad are no longer alive they will live on forever in my heart and mind. They gave me the proverbial roots and wings to be grounded while also flying into my own role as a parent of 3 fantastic teenagers.

  8. says

    Wonderful David! Thank you so much for sharing this tribute to your parents with us! When we consider those parenting distinctions which have long stayed with us, despite how they were so seemingly small at the time, we understand more vividly how our everyday words and gestures affect those we now take our turn at parenting.

  9. says

    Pearl it is so wonderful to hear from you again! And thank you for the recommendation; I clicked into the site and got completely enamored with it. A half hour flew by as I started to read what’s there, and I subscribed so I can go back for more – you are quite the perceptive matchmaker!