Generation Next Speaks: Insights on Fun, Family, and Finding Balance with Sloan Tompkins & Rohan Kissoon

Generation Next Speaks: Insights on Fun, Family, and Finding Balance with Sloan Tompkins & Rohan Kissoon

by Chris Tompkins | August 31, 2023

Sloan Tompkins, 17, and Rohan Kissoon, 18, draw on their shared experiences as teenagers coming of age during a pandemic to respond to some of the topics that we have covered in Season 3 of Shaping Our World. In this episode, we intentionally flip the script and hear what the co-valedictorians of the CEO Leadership Program at Muskoka Woods have to say about hot-button topics from social media and the negative news cycle to their feelings of helplessness, and everything in between.

Teens and tech

In response to Jenny Black and Bob Hutchins’ interview from earlier this season, when Bob said that kids need boundaries when it comes to their phones, Rohan agrees that he and his peers are generally on social media too much. But he’s quick to point out what he sees as the upside of social media.

“I feel like … I get a wider perspective of people’s lives that I wouldn’t have gotten from just the interactions I have in real life,” Rohan says. Likewise, Sloan admits that when she’s bored or uncomfortable in a social setting, her phone acts as a security blanket and she thinks that a lot of her peers use it in the same way. She reflects on the overnight trip they took to Algonquin Park during the CEO Leadership Program and says that leaving their phone behind really allowed them all to live in the moment.

“I’d find myself sitting with people that I normally wouldn’t really sit with and just having conversations … and laughing and getting to just talk about things that make us happy,” Sloan says. “I think that if phones were involved, the conversations would have dwindled.”

While both teens are aware of the pitfalls of social media, they want parents to realize that just telling their teens to get off their phones is frustrating. Sloan asserts that her parents, for instance, don’t always know what she’s doing on her phone. On top of using it to connect with her friends who live far away, Sloan says that nearly all of her school-related stuff is now on her phone.

“I check my email on my phone,” she says. “I honestly think it’s not the phone itself, it’s the apps that you’re on that need to be limited.”

Sloan explains that she thinks she uses TikTok too much and would be more receptive if her parents told her to limit her time on that app, specifically. Rohan agrees. They don’t get paper handouts at school anymore and instead everything is in the form of a pdf online. He would appreciate having a conversation with his parents about maybe limiting his time on TikTok but says,” I think parents need to understand that having your phone out doesn’t mean you’re doing crap.”

A changed world view

One podcast guest, Chloe Maxwell, credits her parents with helping her cope with the injustices of the world by demonstrating to her that she could make a difference in people’s lives — even as a kid. Both Rohan and Sloan admit that they are affected by the difficult-to-digest news cycle when it comes to things like climate change, war and mental health. Rohan references his and Sloan’s shared experience of building houses in the Dominican Republic last March Break with showing him that, like Chloe, he could make a difference on his own.

“The Dominican trip showed me that I can do little things that change people’s lives,” he says.

In talking about how the trip changed her view, Sloan says that despite having houses that were practically falling apart, the kids in the communities they toured had so much joy.

“It was just shining through,” she says. “I think that was so cool and reaffirming to me that even though there are issues, this is not the end. There’s hope for the future and you can still find joy and happiness even in tough times.”

The teen-parent relationship

Parenting experts and coaches, Ray Johnston, Alyson Schafer, and Elizabeth Bennett, all spoke about the importance of active listening and spending intentional time with our teens as a way to help combat anxiety and depression and to help kids develop into healthy adults. Alyson says a lot of parents are too managerial when they should be more relational and Elizabeth stresses the importance of having fun with our kids. Both Sloan and Rohan agree that a parent who sits down with their kid to really find out what’s going on in their lives and takes time to have fun rather than just having high expectations and giving orders, goes a long way in earning kids’ respect.

“Kids will be more open to listening to the rules and stuff that you have in place if they know that you care about them and they know that you’re not just there to parent them — that you’re there to have fun,” Sloan says. “I love just hanging out with my parents and going on drives.”

Likewise, Rohan appreciates the relationship he has with his parents, recognizing that he wants to have fun with them but that he also needs rules.

“It’s really important for parents to not be too strict, but also to not be too friendly,” Rohan says. “You have to find that balance and it’s really difficult. But it’s really beneficial towards your kids.”

For more on what Rohan and Sloan have to say about being a teenager today, listen to the full episode at the top of this post.

Visit our website to discover a variety of other guests that we’ve had on the show. Shaping Our World episodes are also available wherever you get podcasts.

Transcript

[00:00:12.420] – Speaker 4
Hey, everyone. I’m Chris Tompkins. Welcome to the Shaping Our World podcast. My goal is to invite you into a conversation that will leave you more confident in understanding and inspiring the young people in your life. Each episode, we talk with leading experts and offer relevant resources to dive deeper into the world of our.

[00:00:29.810] – Speaker 2
Youth today.

[00:00:30.820] – Speaker 4
For our show this time, we thought we’d flip the script and do something a little bit different and bring in a different expert. Today we’re going to talk to some teenagers themselves. If you listen to this show, you know that we often have doctors or authors or researchers or people that have professional designations that work with young people, work alongside them, help support them, work in schools, teachers, educators. Today we thought we’d listen to youth. See, so often we have conversations about young people, but today we thought we’d talk to them and listen to what they have.

[00:01:09.180] – Speaker 2
To say.

[00:01:09.770] – Speaker 4
About the world.

[00:01:10.540] – Speaker 2
Around them.

[00:01:11.510] – Speaker 4
To do that, we brought in two teenagers that I know. One of them I know really well. She’s my daughter. Sloan Tompkins is 17 years old and lives in Stouffville.

[00:01:20.890] – Speaker 2
Ontario, with us.

[00:01:22.210] – Speaker 4
Our.

[00:01:22.730] – Speaker 2
12-year-old golden doodle, Wrigley.

[00:01:25.470] – Speaker 4
She’s a student council vice-president and is also on the music council, attending these meetings in between playing the trumpet in all the school bands. Sloan has been attending Muskoka Woods since she was born, but as a guest since she was seven years old. And in 2022, she was the co-valedictorian of.

[00:01:44.110] – Speaker 2
The CEO Leadership Program here at camp.

[00:01:46.640] – Speaker 4
This summer, Sloan has had a “wild time” as a counselor for the youngest guests here at Muskoka Woods, our Wild section being campers that are six to eight years old. In her downtime, she loves listening to country music and watching college football with me. Rohan Kissoon is 18 years old and is about to make the exciting jump from his high school.

[00:02:11.220] – Speaker 2
In Mississauga to.

[00:02:12.150] – Speaker 4
Western University, where he’ll be studying health sciences. He stayed active in high school playing hockey and soccer, and he was on the.

[00:02:19.910] – Speaker 2
Athletic council.

[00:02:21.310] – Speaker 4
Rohan has been attending Muskoka Woods for four years and was the co-valedictorian of the CEO program in 2022, alongside Sloan. He’s spending his last summer before heading off to university in the fall, working with Sloan as a Wild counselor as well. When he’s not leading kids at camp, he loves going on walks.

[00:02:42.220] – Speaker 2
With his dog Cezar.

[00:02:43.260] – Speaker 4
And hitting up the McDonald’s.

[00:02:45.130] – Speaker 2
Drive through.

[00:02:45.600] – Speaker 4
For fries. I think you’re going to really enjoy listening to Sloan and Rohan talk about themselves, their generation, kids around them, and they dove pretty deep. It’s probably one of our longer episodes because they just kept talking about these topics. We’re going to dive into anxiety, having fun and relationships with parents. We’re going to talk about cell phones and social media. So I think you’re going to want to tune in and listen to this conversation today. So without further ado, let’s.

[00:03:15.000] – Speaker 2
Talk.

[00:03:15.520] – Speaker 4
To.

[00:03:15.780] – Speaker 2
Sloan and Rohan. It’s great to have both of you with us.

[00:03:26.500] – Speaker 1
Thank you.

[00:03:27.290] – Speaker 2
So our podcast is called Shaping Our World, and so we want to get to know you a little bit better. So why don’t we start with you, Rohan? What’s shaping your world today? What are some big influences in your life? Where do you spend your time? Help us get to know you a little bit.

[00:03:41.970] – Speaker 1
I think the biggest thing shaping my world over this last year especially was finishing high school and picking a major for university. That was a big thing going on in my life because I had two different choices. I wanted to either do health, science, or business. So trying to narrow it down was a big part of my life over the past year. But when I’m not a student, I enjoy going on walks with my dog. I love watching movies, and I enjoy being at camp too. Those are all big themes in my life.

[00:04:11.510] – Speaker 2
What’s one of your favourite movies?

[00:04:13.460] – Speaker 1
The Barbie Movie.

[00:04:14.850] – Speaker 2
The Barbie Movie. Okay, all right. We won’t dive too much into that. So, Sloan, what’s shaping your world today? What are some big influences in your life?

[00:04:24.340] – Speaker 3
Yeah, so similar to Rohan, but a little bit back in time. I’m actually going into grade 12. This whole year I’m thinking about what I want to do with my life and finishing up my classes, getting in a lot of time with my friends. Definitely, we’ll be taking time to focus on my studies, but also hang out with my friends. I’m involved in the music program at my school, so I’ll be wrapping up with all that stuff this year and just taking in my last few moments in my hometown before I go off to university next year.

[00:04:53.450] – Speaker 2
If you haven’t figured it out, Sloan is my daughter, and we are both excited to watch college football this.

[00:04:59.040] – Speaker 3
Season, right, sweetie? Yes. Right, Lady? Oh, yes.

[00:05:01.020] – Speaker 2
We got to plan another road trip somewhere. For sure. All right. You both did the CEO program at Muskoka Woods, and it’s a leadership program that really invested young people and their leadership. One of the reasons we pulled you both in is last year, you were valedictorians in the program, so clearly you embraced it and your fellow students recommended you to speak on behalf of them at graduation. We thought you’d be the best people to help us learn. What did you learn from a camp leadership program that is significant to you and helping you shape your world?

[00:05:37.270] – Speaker 1
I think for me, my biggest takeaway from the program was to be a leader, you don’t exactly have to be the most outspoken, the biggest extrovert. You can be quiet and you can be just caring. That’s a big part of being a leader as well that I didn’t really expect to be as big of a part as it was. Because in CEO, especially when I started out, I wasn’t really very outgoing. I was in my own shell a lot at the beginning. But I think what the program really helped me do was relieve my stress that I have about talking in front of people and that it reassured me that I don’t have to be the biggest voice in the room in order to get people’s attention. And I think once I learned that from the program, I really started to embrace what it’s teaching me because I became someone who might not be on center stage, but even just being in the sidelines and just listening to what people have to say and then using that to help a team out, I think that really ended up being why I learned so much, because I learned how to listen to people, and I’ve learned that’s how good leaders are made, just listening to people.

[00:06:51.500] – Speaker 1
That’s great.

[00:06:52.340] – Speaker 2
Hey, Sloan.

[00:06:53.220] – Speaker 3
Yeah, that was really good. I think it was also really cool to be placed in a camp environment because you had a lot of opportunity to take the learning we got from the amazing speakers that we had on a variety of different topics like communication and even ways to put healthy habits into your daily life, which was really helpful for me throughout the year, just practical tools to help you become a leader and stuff like that. We also had a lot of opportunity to practice that and let it shine through. We had time to plan programs, and every time we would do an activity, we would do these stones checks to see how our leadership was going and learn ways that we can improve. It really taught me like, yes, you can learn how to be a leader through all these workshops and listening to good teachers, but a lot of it is like on the job, hands-on. You have to learn from your mistakes. I think there was a lot of space that made us feel comfortable that we could make mistakes and learn from that. It was cool to work with a variety of different people with really cool ideas and really awesome passions to all combine together and see how everyone works differently.

[00:08:00.550] – Speaker 3
Like Rohan said, he’s like off to the side, but I was one of the leaders that was just out there, really energetic, ready to go. It was cool to see how even Rohan and I could balance our leadership and how you can work together and use everyone’s unique strengths to build a really cool team. I think it was nice for me to learn that and then go back to my hometown where I was the Vice President on student council and involved in a bunch of different school events and planning and stuff. Just learning how to balance those dynamics between my members of your team was really helpful to learn and CEO.

[00:08:33.820] – Speaker 2
Most of the guests on this podcast are adults who are helping to guide the lives of youth in some way. But today we’re flipping the script and we want to hear from you, young people, about some of the topics we discussed on the podcast already. We’re going to go back and we’re going to take a few key topics. The first one we’re going to talk about, which is a bit of a controversial, hot topic, particularly for adults. Adults, is around social media. We’ve talked a lot here about how we, as parents and adults, can help kids deal with the pressures of social media, from the impossible to live up to physical ideals that influencers achieve through filters, et cetera, to the fact that some apps are actually predatory in nature in that they really suck you in but give you very little back as a user. I’m thinking of an episode where we interviewed Jenny Black and Bob Hutchins, a therapist and psychologist, respectively, who specialize in technology and co-authored a book called Our Digital Soul: Collective anxiety, media trauma, and a Path Towards Recovery. In it, they talk about ways we can help kids thrive in our new digital reality.

[00:09:47.220] – Speaker 2
One point they make is that kids really need help setting boundaries around their technology use. Bob says they aren’t anti-technology, but pro-human, and argues that kids need to spend more time unplugged to move their bodies, spend time in nature, to be bored while standing in line to practice a hobby. Likewise, Jenny talks about the impact of doing something nice for another person in the real world as giving you an inside treat, which goes far further than the good feeling you get from receiving a like or a good comment on social media. There was this contrast between what you can experience in the real world and what you actually experience online. My question is for both of you, how do you feel about this as a young person who’ve grown up with technology and social media really around you your whole life? How’s your relationship with social media? Do you feel like you have a balance? Do you use it too much? When you hear parents are like, You’re always on your phone. Do you feel like you and your generation? Is that true? Do you ever feel burdened by your phone and the fact that you’re constantly connected?

[00:10:54.730] – Speaker 2
Do you wish you could get away from it, but maybe that’s not the world you live in? Do you wish you spent less time on your phone? What about Jenny’s point that doing something nice for someone in the real world as being more rewarding than getting validated on social media in the form of likes or personal comments? That was a lot of questions. Let’s just dive into these topics and we’ll go through. Rohan, what are some of your thoughts about these things? Tell us about your relationship with social media. And feel free to speak about yourself, but also speak for your friends and the people you know about too.

[00:11:26.160] – Speaker 1
I definitely can say that I think we do spend too much time on social media as a whole, regardless of if it’s negative or positive, the interactions you have online. I think as a whole, we definitely are spending too much time online. That being said, some of the things that I do online, I feel like being on social media, I get a wider perspective of people’s lives that I wouldn’t have gotten from just the interactions I have in real life. So that’s definitely helped me. But at the same time, I feel like sometimes I see standards online that I’ll just never meet, and it makes me feel bad about myself because I see how other people look or live their lives that are so much… Sometimes I feel like they’re better than me. And so when I see that so much on social media and then I look at myself, I feel bad about myself, even though their lives are completely different. It’s just unfair to compare myself. But one thing that really stuck out in that line was when they said we need to be bored in line. I don’t know why that stuck out to me so much, but I feel like when we’re on social media, we miss out on so many authentic moments.

[00:12:31.180] – Speaker 1
I think was Jenny’s point about giving people interactions in real life versus giving likes on social media. Why that’s more validating? I feel like it’s definitely more validating to get comments in person because I feel like if you go up to someone and you say something good about them to their face, that’s authentic. When you just like something on social media, it’s so easy to just leave a like and a comment and just keep scrolling. But for you to go out of your way to go up to someone, whether it’s a friend or and say, This is how I feel about you. You’re doing great. That’s real, in my opinion. I definitely agree with that point by Jenny.

[00:13:07.920] – Speaker 2
Just while we’re here, because that stuck out to me being bored in line, one of the things for me, I went through a season where I just took some of the social media off my phone. The reason I did was I just recognized I was standing there doing nothing. Without thinking, I just opened my phone and went to Instagram. I remember I was like, Why am I even doing that? I don’t need to learn or know anything, so I think we get that tension. For young people, I think that’s especially true. Social interactions are difficult, like being bored. We’re conscious, people are looking at us. What do you feel like… If you’re bored online, if you’re at Wonderland, you’re there with friends and whatever, and the temptation is to grab your phone and just see what’s going on, what are you missing out on? What might you gain if your generation, people like you, could put their phones away a littlebit more?

[00:14:01.070] – Speaker 1
I think we would gain just being able to just live. I feel like that’s a really general thing to say, but I feel like living in the moment is what we miss. There’s so many little things that happen from just standing in a line like there’s something funny, like you could see someone drop something or do a little trip and that’s funny and you just laugh at that, which whatever, but it’s funny. Or you can just see just looking around just how people live their lives and you can just reflect on yourself and talk with your friends like Wonderland. Going back to just that example, I feel like some of the funniest things is just laughing with your friends in line about complete nonsense. And you just miss out on that when you’re on your phone because it’s very individual being on your phone and you just take yourself out of the moment regardless of if the moment is boring or not. Yeah, it’s great.

[00:14:55.570] – Speaker 3
I find that a lot of the time, anytime I get bored or even if I feel uncomfortable in the social setting, I find I use my phone as my security blanket a lot, and I think other people do that as well. One of the things that I think back on when we were talking about living in the moment is the out trip that we went on in Algonquin and CEO. And this time we left our phones fully back at the place we were staying because obviously there’s no service, but also just to connect with people. I found myself like… We had a lot of free time in between our canoes and eating and stuff, and we would just be sitting around and a lot of people started playing spike ball. I’d find myself sitting with people that I normally wouldn’t really sit with and just having conversations about… It doesn’t have to be super meaningful conversations, just little things here and there, just like laughing and getting to talk about just things that make us happy. I’d find that if phones were involved, people would be on their phones more. Those conversations would dwindle out because of the presence of phones and the way that people use them as security blankets.

[00:15:59.980] – Speaker 3
I find that without our phones, you can have genuine conversations with people and just talk about the little things that Rohan said like, Oh, that person just tripped, or even being like, Oh, last time I was at Canada’s Wonderland, this happened. Anytime you just lose your phones, there’s nothing for you to do in those moments when you’re bored, waiting in line like we’ve been talking about. So it forces you to have those conversations with people. I also find that living in the moment, I find that when I go places like events or concerts or stuff like that, I’m always like, Oh, I need to get a photo of this. I need to have my phone out. I want to post this on Instagram. I need to make sure that I get a video, so I’ll remember it. I think sometimes that takes away from the experience as well. If you’re just focusing on filming all the songs that you want to sing at the concert and stuff like that, you’re losing out on having just living in the moment and soaking in the experience that you’re in. I think, yes, sometimes our phones can just be like security blankets or things that distract us from getting the most out of the situations and experiences that you’re in.

[00:17:08.790] – Speaker 2
I think it’s probably fair to say too, that it’s probably a balance of, I want to capture this moment, but then also our social media profiles are building our own brand. It’s going to be good that people know I’m at this concert and I want people to know that I like this song. That’s just normal human nature, right? There’s this tension of, yes, you want to capture it because it’s important, but also you guys have the pressure far more than my age, even though adults have it too in a different way. But to like, social media is you building your brand. For all of us as adults, for particularly young people, searching for belonging and where you belong is so important, and now social media is another way for you to find that place where you fit in and belong. But we’re able to now find the best photo and take out the one of the double chin or whatever and not post it if we don’t like it. It’s nice to hear.

[00:18:13.360] – Speaker 1
That.

[00:18:14.000] – Speaker 2
You guys can recognize that, but let me ask you a question, because you have the mic. And yes, you’re my daughter, so this is interesting. Yeah. If this is true, if you guys are on the same page as us, how do we talk to you about phone usage that is not problematic? Because you guys have probably, I know Sloan has for sure had this, Why are you on your phone? Get off your phone. And then all of a sudden it becomes this debate. There’s a lot of parents who are like, Oh, this is nice. Young people do realize all this. They’re just not in it. Help parents talk to their kids about phone usage. What would be the best way to enter that conversation? How can we bring you along and have meaningful conversations that are helpful rather than they just feel like we’re nagging all.

[00:19:03.110] – Speaker 3
The time? I think one thing that I sometimes get frustrated with my parents when they’re like, Oh, get off your phone, is you don’t always know what you’re doing on your phone. For instance, for me, because I have camp friends, a lot of them don’t live near me. So a lot of the time I am on my phone, I’m connecting with friends that maybe my friend, Sophia, that lives in Windsor, or my friends that are on vacation, stuff like that. I think it’s hard at times when parents see you on your phone and they’re just like, Oh, get off your phone. Get off your phone. Meanwhile, you don’t know what I’m doing. All my school stuff is now on my phone. I checked my email on my phone. There’s a lot of things that technology is really useful for, like we have chatted about. I think it’s honestly just not the phone itself, the apps that you’re on that need to be limited. I do think I use TikTok too much. And the thing with the attention span that we’ve been talking about is TikTok is 15-second videos, and it’s very easy to just go on a tangent of you watch 15 seconds, you scroll and keep going.

[00:20:04.120] – Speaker 3
And then all of a sudden, 30 minutes is passing. You’re like, Well, where is the time gone? So I think instead of taking it as like, Oh, you’re on your phone too much, it’s like, okay, you’re on your phone. But what are the things that are unhealthy that you’re doing on your phone? So maybe you scroll Instagram too much, maybe you need a limit on that, but Snapchat is okay because you’re talking to all of your friends from home. I think it’s less of like, Oh, you need to be off of your phone more. It’s just looking at the apps that have a negative impact or that could be used less because I think it’s different for everyone. But personally, I really like using my phone not a lot. But one of the main reasons I’m on my phone is I’m connecting with my friends who live in Australia or live far away that I wouldn’t get to talk to without my technology. I think taking a look at the apps is better than just the phone itself.

[00:20:55.860] – Speaker 2
That’s great. Have good conversations, don’t know what kids are on. One of the things that we talked about is about setting limits and boundaries for phones and parents being the ones that help do that. We at Muskoka Woods use a yonder pouch. You guys are familiar with that. And I just have a funny story. Parents are listening. It’s a neoprene case that locks the phones and kids have their phones at camp. They have to put them in the case and they’re opened and unlocked at a certain time. So yesterday I was literally driving my golf cart up and there was this pack of crew kids that are our oldest kids, like 15, 16 years old, and they were just hovered around the water station. I’m like, What is going on? There’s like 40 kids there. I drove my golf cart by and.

[00:21:38.560] – Speaker 4
One of the.

[00:21:39.110] – Speaker 2
Kids is waving me down and he’s pointing to the unlock box for the yonder. Everyone was waiting to get their phones unlocked and they were desperate to use them. I just was like, Oh, these kids haven’t been on their phones all after. Because we’re essentially using boundaries, right? How would you appreciate your parents talking with you about boundaries? Because sometimes we just say, These are the rules. You need to follow them. Sometimes kids feel like they don’t want rules at all. You should be trusted to navigate it yourself. If your mom or adults were saying, Let’s have boundaries, how would they have that conversation with you? What would be helpful?

[00:22:22.380] – Speaker 1
I think something to be helpful with is setting boundaries on certain things. Because like Cilon said, we use technology for everything. And I think especially since the pandemic and COVID, everything moved online. That wasn’t before. We don’t get printed out papers in school anymore. Everything is just PDFs online. So sometimes we need our phones for everything. So while I do agree, I do spend too much time on apps like TikTok and Instagram. I think instead of a general locking your phone away, you just need to have time restricts on apps like TikTok. You don’t need to TikTok three hours a day, but I spend three hours a day on TikTok. I think it would be a healthy conversation to have with my parents if you said, We need to start cutting back on time on TikTok or Instagram. But at the same time, you need your phone at all times, especially when I’m going to university, I’m going to need my iPad, my phone, all of that. I think there are healthy ways of going about setting boundaries. But I think parents need to understand that having your phone out doesn’t mean you’re doing crap.

[00:23:33.540] – Speaker 1
There are stuff that I’m doing that I need to do. I think just understanding that while we live in a technology age, I need my phone, but I don’t need everything on my phone. So cutting back on certain things I think would be a good conversation to have.

[00:23:48.940] – Speaker 2
It’s really helpful.

[00:23:50.450] – Speaker 3
Yeah, I also find that something helpful for both parents and us is turning on… Apple has a screen time, a screen usage awareness thing that you can turn on and it shows you your total amount of screen time plus the screen time you’re using per app. I think even turning that on as just parents are like, Oh, you’ve been on your phone so much that you could show them, Hey, I’ve been on iMessage or on FaceTime for two hours today, so I’m not always doing that. And it brings awareness as well because I think, like I talked about before, you get sucked in and time goes by really fast. If you’re just scrolling and scrolling, you might not know how much time you’re using on those apps. So setting up that screen time, I think sometimes it’s helpful for me even to realize, because sometimes your parents tell you, Oh, you’re doing this too much. And you’re like, No, I’m not. I don’t believe you. And then turning on that screen time, you’re like, Oh, whoa, I really have been on TikTok a lot. It can help both you and your parents see what really is impacting you and then from there setting boundaries.

[00:24:50.680] – Speaker 3
So just realizing what you need to not improve on, but what really is having a negative impact and maybe being overused too much and then setting boundaries from there and having an open conversation about it, not just like, Hey, you’re on your phone too much. These are the rules that we’re putting in place. But having a two-sided conversation where you can both hear each other out can make that less of like, You need to do this. You need to do that, and a negative impact from your parents and more of a conversation so that both sides feel like they’re walking away happy from the conversation.

[00:25:24.380] – Speaker 2
I’m hearing that young people know about technology, and it’s less helpful to just come in and say, Get off your phone. You’ve been on it too long. It’s more helpful to have conversations not just about how much time, but the type of time you’re spending, where you’re spending time. We wouldn’t know unless we ask, What are you doing on your phone so often? What do you need your phone for? When would be a good time for you to have it? When’s a good time for us to be in agreement? When you don’t need it and we can put it away? Or back to what you said, Sloan, talking about the apps, finding out screen time, and saying, Listen, we’re going to limit it to an hour of TikTok, so you’re just not on it the whole time. That’s what I’m hearing. That’s great. So helpful. We’ve gone half the podcast interview on the first question, but social media is really important. And social media also impacts our lives in that we have access to a lot of information and what’s going on in the world. I want to switch gears with you both here. So one of our guests, Chloe, Maxwell, who is the marketing and communication specialist at the humanitarian organization created by her family, Heart for Africa, says that what really helped her deal with all the hurt and misfortune she observed in the world was realizing that she could make a difference as an individual and even as a kid.

[00:26:48.070] – Speaker 2
Her parents helped her use her allowance to sponsor a little girl. She met once on one of her service trips, and she witnessed firsthand how she was helping to affect the change in one person’s life. Because of our world and the constant state of connectiveness that we’ve talked about on the show a lot, I feel like your generation is really aware of the injustices and hardships in the world, and it can feel overwhelming and hard to digest. Every news you’re hearing about this and that, and I know for me as an adult, it’s difficult. Let me start there. How do you think that the news cycle and maybe even situations you’ve observed in your own towns or schools affect you? The state of the world, is that a big deal for teenagers or is it just noise? Then I know both of you went on a service trip to build homes in the Dominican Republic. What’s your takeaway from that experience? Did it demonstrate to you, like Chloe, the impact that you, as one individual, can have? And if so, how does that realization affect your life and what you want to do your future endeavours?

[00:27:51.950] – Speaker 2
Why don’t we start first with, do you feel you’re being bombarded by messages? Are you feeling bad about the state of the world? Does that lead you to want to make a difference and fight injustices and stuff? And then we’ll talk about your personal experience.

[00:28:05.940] – Speaker 1
I think we are being bombarded with a lot of stuff, and I feel like that can be overwhelming because some news does affect us no matter where it happens in the world. But sometimes I hear news and it’s just like, This is scary, but this is happening overseas. What can I even do about this? But I feel like I have to do something, but this is a political issue that no 18-year-old is going to solve overnight. But I feel like sometimes if I don’t do something now, we’re all doomed. And especially sometimes hearing about climate change and all that stuff, I feel like that’s really scary because I hear all these articles saying we got seven years or irreversible damage can’t be fixed. I’m like, Seven years? I won’t even be out of school in seven years. And you’re telling me my life is over? It’s like, Why am I even going to school? I should pack my bags and sail the Seven Seas. Sometimes I feel like, yeah, we’re being bombarded with too much news, but sometimes it’s healthy to know. I think especially just going on the Dominican trip, it taught me how simple things have to be.

[00:29:14.200] – Speaker 1
Honestly, I went and I was like, Okay, we’re going to build a house. It’s going to be great, but is this actually going to change anything? I was so shocked that one person building a house. We didn’t just build houses in the Dominican. I remember we did a movie night in a little village, and we were watching a movie in Spanish. We were watching Puss in Boots in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish, okay? But I was sitting on this chair with just this boy sitting on my lap and we were eating popcorn. I didn’t understand a word in the movie, and this kid was just hugging me the entire time. It made me feel so reaffirmed that I’m actually doing something here. I didn’t just spend my March break to build a house that will just who knows what happens after. This person, I like to think it changed something. Even the people, this was a big deal for them to have this house built for them. I feel like that really changed my perspective on things. I actually do have an impact. Not all the news I have to just in one ear and out the other.

[00:30:20.670] – Speaker 1
Sometimes I can do little things that change people’s lives. I feel like the little line, one person can make a difference. I always felt like that was so cliché, and I was like, Okay, I roll. But it’s true. One person can make a difference. That’s what I learned on the Dominican trip.

[00:30:42.050] – Speaker 3
Yeah, I find like Rohan said, news is just like, it’s constantly like, This is bad. This is bad. All of the really bad things that are going on in the world. Like he said, climate change and the wars and mental health and all this stuff that’s like, having a really big impact on our world right now. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the negatives like, This sucks. We can’t do anything about it. But like Rohan said, our generation is very like, Here’s an issue. Let’s fight it. Let’s solve it, and gets things done, which is really cool. I think sometimes it’s just really hard to be bombarded by all of the really negative, scary images in the news, which I find news is just full on… I don’t like watching the news anymore. It is informative, but it’s a lot of negative stuff that just gets me down and stuff. I really like some good news. I’m thinking it’s John Krasinsky, right? He reports on the good things that are happening, and I think it’s good to, yes, we need to worry about the issues that are going on, but also focus on the joy that comes from it or the joy amongst it.

[00:31:53.220] – Speaker 3
I’m thinking back to the Dominican. We toured all these communities where these kids would be playing with sticks and rocks and they had houses that were practically falling apart. Even through that, they just had so much joy and it was just shining through. I think that was so cool and reaffirming to me that even though there’s issues like this is not the end, there’s hope for the future and you can still find joy and happiness amongst that. I just think it was really cool to see how the kids, even though they didn’t have much and their houses were run down and all these things, and it looks like it could be a situation where you’re like, This is the worst thing ever. This is the end. There’s no coming back from this. But these kids were just so happy and they just love their life. I think it was a good message to me that even with all this stuff going on in the world and it can seem like a lot and a big burden to carry, it’s not the end. There’s always a solution to the problems that are ahead, and we can still find joy through that as well.

[00:32:55.900] – Speaker 1
I think even going back to the bored and aligned topic, they live lives to us would be like, Oh, wow, they must be bored in a line all day. What do they do? They don’t have phones, they don’t have fancy things. But I remember seeing kids who made kites out of plastic bags having the time of their lives. They found such happiness and simple things. They found trash and they made it out of games that the whole village, every kid would play with. We can find so much happiness in simple things, but we need to be aware that there’s so much more to life than big, fancy things. That was another thing I really learned. You really don’t need big, fancy things to live a great life. Even though in our eyes, so many people when I said, Oh, I’m going to the Dominican, they’re like, The situation is so tough. These people, they suffer so much there. That’s what I was hearing. I was so scared. I’m like, Wow, what am I going to come into? Who am I going to meet? I met the nicest people ever who just everyone, Dominican, had smiles on their faces and they weren’t even faking it.

[00:34:01.760] – Speaker 1
They weren’t putting on a show because we were some fancy Canadian tourists. They were being authentic. I think what I said earlier, when you’re in a line at Wonderland and you’re just bored, you can have so many little authentic moments that you would miss out on if you were just on your phone. I think that’s another thing I learned in Dominican. They live such authentic lives.

[00:34:23.100] – Speaker 2
I love that because hearing what’s going on in the world, there are a lot of problems. This was an opportunity that you guys and other young people were able to step into. I’ve been to the Dominican. I’ve been to the neighborhood in which you served. And one thing that struck to me is the people there were so excited to see you come in and were so grateful for the help that you were bringing because their experiences, like white tourists go to the beaches and the hotels and the resorts, and they never come to even see the communities. Yet you guys as a group came in and literally built homes for two families, built them new homes and gave them something. But you also walked away with something maybe just as meaningful, which is a different perspective of life. I think it’s a great reminder that, yeah, there are a lot of problems in the world and we get bombarded with it. But if we do take action, even one person doing something small can not only start to bring some change, but maybe just as significantly bring some change in us. So it’s great to hear that.

[00:35:28.930] – Speaker 2
On that note, we’re talking about joy and excitement. I want to move to another big topic for young people, and that’s anxiety. So we’ve talked about this on the podcast. It comes up almost every episode that stats show that it’s at an all time high, particularly in young people since the pandemic. We had one guest on the podcast, Nora Vincent-Braun, who was a representative for Jack. Org, which is a mental health advocacy program for youth. Interestingly enough, she’s also a young person herself. From her perspective on the front lines, she said that prior to the pandemic, her peers were already impacted by increased stress and anxiety across the board, owing it to issues like climate change and heightened awareness of systemic racism and marginalization. Then when the pandemic hit, that anxiety became exacerbated by a sense of hopelessness. What do you think about Nora’s assessment of things? Are the issues like climate change and racism in the background causing anxiety in your experience? Or is anxiety more to do with the ever-present realities that they’re facing in their life? Have you noticed your friends and other people around you since the pandemic, maybe struggling with anxiety and depression more?

[00:36:45.380] – Speaker 2
Do you think that’s a real thing? What do you know and think about stress and anxiety and depression around your age group?

[00:36:54.760] – Speaker 1
I have gone through all of high school with the whole pandemic. I started high school without the pandemic, and I ended it without the pandemic. But all of in between there was this pandemic. And I did notice a big difference between how people were before it started. People were so much more… I found even in the first year of high school, people were one big friend group, and we were all such good friends. And then after when the pandemic hit, I don’t know, social media for me personally, it filled a void that I had. I just not know, it just comforted me in the right way. And then I just fell in doomscrolling and all this stuff was getting in my head and it changed the way I look at other people and myself. Even myself, when I got back into high school, I was a little more stressed to interact socially not only because there was so little of it during the pandemic, but also because I struggled with how I saw myself. And I think social media fed a lie in my head that I’m not good enough or I’m not the standard that some people are and that might not be enough for some people to handle.

[00:38:06.740] – Speaker 1
And even friend groups were so much more closed off and people were much more clicky. And I think it’s because when you found your friends who understood you, that was it. There’s no one else there for you. And I think that impacted a lot of relationships in high school. So even just ending high school, I feel like I have so much more experience, but I don’t know, can I do it? I don’t know. I just doubt myself so much now, and I feel like sometimes I’m not good enough and I don’t know what to do sometimes. I don’t know. It’s too overwhelming. Yeah.

[00:38:40.430] – Speaker 2
Sloan, can you talk a bit about what you see in your friend group at school? Are a lot of people struggling? I know you don’t have reference then before because you were coming into high school. You were a teenager when that hit. But what do you think about young people? Do you think a lot of people your age are struggling with anxiety and depression? Yes. And then what do you think from your perspective is the root cause of it? And maybe even when you get stressed or anxious, what are the causes of that?

[00:39:11.800] – Speaker 3
Yeah, I honestly think that a lot of my peers and classmates and stuff like anxiety is something that impacts, I don’t want to say all because that’s a generalization, but a majority of the teenagers nowadays that I interact with do experience some anxiety at some point, and I think it is a general issue. But I also find that anxiety is very individualized to the different people. I get anxious about some things that my friends don’t. My friends get anxious about things that I don’t like. For example, I get really anxious about my grades at school and I’m very much like I want to make a good impression on people and I care what others think about me. But then I have a friend who doesn’t care what others think about them, but they’re really worried about what their parents think about them. I think anxiety is something that everyone faces, not everyone, a lot of people face, but it’s very individualized to the type of person that you are and your experiences and your environment around you. I think that school is something that a lot of people that I’m around worry about, not just grades, but deadlines and what am I going to be when I grow up?

[00:40:21.650] – Speaker 3
A lot of my friends don’t really know what they want to do with their life. I find that one shared anxiety is on the future. What’s going to happen? We were talking about climate change and like, Oh, how am I ever going to afford a house when I grow up? What am I going to do with my life? Kind of the anxiousness of the future and the uncertainty of that because none of us would have ever seen the pandemic coming in our future. Then it hit and it just gave a perspective change of life can change really quick. I think a lot of my friends are really, especially in grade 12, stressed about the future and school, and a lot of people find it hard to fit in. I think that is because of social media, like Rohan talked about when we were all in the pandemic. All we had is our phones and the internet. A lot of the internet is positive, but it is negative in the terms of comparing yourself to others and everyone puts their perfect life on the internet. You’re only seeing a lot of people say this, like your highlight real and you’re not seeing what goes on behind the scenes.

[00:41:27.430] – Speaker 3
It’s really hard to be scrolling on the internet and be like, Wow, everyone has this perfect life and I just don’t feel that way about myself. I think that that creates a heightened awareness of yourself, creates you more self-conscious and self-aware of how you act and the things you have and the things you don’t have and the way you’re feeling and stuff like that. I feel like social media has been the background cause of anxiety, and it has caused people to be socially anxious or worried about how they’re coming across to other people. I just think that, yes, anxiety is a general issue, but it’s very individualized to the person in their environment as well. It’s not a general topic that you can just, if I have anxiety and you have anxiety, we feel the same things. It’s very different for everyone.

[00:42:12.440] – Speaker 2
We’ll start with you, Sloan, and then Rohan. I’ve got a lot of parents who are listening and are like, Oh, yeah, okay. They’re affirming that and listening to that. When parents or adults see kids that are stressed, we want to help, right? We want to try to fix stuff. What’s the best advice you could give adults if they have kids in their lives like you guys that are getting really anxious or stressed out? And maybe not clinically depressed, but just where anxiety is starting to become a more real thing, it might start impacting stuff in life, like whether people show up to things or whether they want to go out with their friends or when anxiety starts to change stuff, what can parents or caring adults do? Have you seen other good examples of even your teachers or other people that when they see you anxious and stressed out, can come alongside and help you?

[00:43:11.170] – Speaker 3
Yeah. I find that sometimes ways that people help is try to be like, Okay, how can we fix this? Yeah, you’re feeling anxious. What can we do to make that better? And while that is helpful, I also feel like it’s not undermining, but just negative in a way. Yes, I’m feeling anxious and yes, we need to fix that. But also it’s really helpful for me, at least when someone sits down next to me and it’s like, Okay, let’s chat about it. How are you feeling? Talking through it before going to an instant fix is really helpful to just help you and the other person gain perspective on how you’re feeling and rationalize it. I think sometimes I can get in my head a lot about certain things and overthink and make a bigger deal out of things that aren’t actually the biggest deal in the world. So I think instead of just being like, Hey, I see you’re stressed. Let’s fix it. How can we help you? How would you do this? How would you do that? It can be undermining and not helpful. You need to come alongside the person who’s anxious or stressed out or depressed or whatever, and just talk through it and let them be upset, not just be like, Okay, let’s just make you happy.

[00:44:22.780] – Speaker 3
Let’s make sure you’re not stressed. Let them sit in those feelings and just process it with them, which can help gain clarity and help you feel like you’re not alone. Because yes, when people come alongside you and say, Let’s make you feel better, they are helping you. But sometimes it can even make you feel more alone in the process because they’re not trying to help your feelings themselves. They’re trying to help the issues. I think what’s really helpful for me is when people come alongside me and say, Hey, I can see you’re struggling. Let’s chat about it. What’s going on? Tell me about the situations you’re in, and gain that perspective and clarity. Then from there, you can step forward towards issues because I think it’s way easier if you have a common understanding of what’s going on and not make assumptions and not just jump right to conclusions because people are allowed to be anxious and stressed and sit in their feelings for a little bit. I think just having that understanding is really key.

[00:45:17.400] – Speaker 2
Well, the listeners know that through some of the conversations over the episodes, if they’re listening for a while, they know that I’ve made that mistake far too many times with my own daughter who just shared. That’s why she was smiling at me while she was talking, because I want to fix stuff and I’m trying my best dear to listen more. But that’s really helpful and really insightful. Rohan, do you have anything to add to that as well?

[00:45:41.110] – Speaker 1
Yeah, I think for me, social media has made me aware of stuff that just doesn’t matter, things about myself that just doesn’t matter. And because of that, it’s causing such unnecessary anxiety about stuff. I think for parents and just even just anyone, any caring adult, just anyone, I think just doing little things matters a lot. I don’t know, if you’re just walking past someone like your kid and they’re wearing something, just say, Oh, you look good in that. Just say little things. Or even sometimes, especially in grade 12, this has happened so much, where I’d come home after writing a test and I just did bad and I just go home. I’m like, My mom asked, How did your test go today? I say, It didn’t go well. I feel like I did bad. And she goes, Did you study enough? I feel like sometimes that doesn’t sound like a big problem like, Oh, did you study enough? But for me, that’s like, Oh, man, did I study enough? Like anxiety caused from that. Because I feel like especially for our parents, we want our parents to think good of us, which is why just saying little things like, You look good, do this.

[00:46:45.410] – Speaker 1
Instead of saying, Did you study enough? Say like, It’s fine. One test doesn’t make a difference. That’s what I learned from just graduating high school. Really does not matter. I ended up going to a program I’m excited for Western Health Science. I did bad on tests. I made mistakes. I didn’t study enough sometimes, but I still made it. I wasn’t a perfect student, but I still ended up the same place I imagined myself as a perfect student. I think sometimes even parents, you must have anxiety about your kids. You want them to do the best, but one test won’t make a difference. But the stress that you cause your kids from one test, that can be a bigger deal than them actually doing bad on one test. I think sometimes saying, It’s okay. It won’t matter in the end. I’m sure we’ve all done bad on tests and we’ve all ended up somewhere great in our lives. I think just reaffirming that it’s okay, just little compliments here and there instead of grand gestures, because sometimes that makes you more aware that something’s wrong and something’s not going well. That can be helpful too.

[00:47:57.710] – Speaker 3
Yeah, I find like, totally agree with what Rohan said, but also countering that. Sometimes you don’t even have to flip. If someone’s like, Oh, I look really bad today, or I feel really bad about that test, sometimes it’s unhelpful to be like, Oh, well, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter. You did just one test. It doesn’t really matter. It undermines your feelings. I get really wrapped up in my grades, and I’ll get a grade that some people would consider amazing, and I won’t feel like it’s good. And sometimes when people are like, Oh, you shouldn’t even be upset about that grade. It doesn’t even matter. That is a really good grade. Yes, it’s like you’re trying to encourage me, but at the same time, it’s making me feel like I’m stupid for feeling the way that I am feeling. So sometimes even just being like, Yeah, that sucks. I’m really sorry you feel that way. That really does suck. And just leaving it at that sometimes is just nice to be like, Oh, they understand. They get it. I find one time when I was really stressed at home and I was being resistant to talking about it with my parents because talking about it made it more real and just overwhelmed me more.

[00:49:07.350] – Speaker 3
I came back from studying one day and my parents had fully cleaned my room and made my bed. Just little things like that just give you reassurance that, yeah, my family is here for me, even though they’re not in there helping directly, if that’s not what you want. Like little things here and they’re even buying your kid a coffee if you see they’re stressed and they don’t want to talk about it. Doing little things like Rohan said, just like, Hey, you look great today. Hey, here’s a coffee. I made your lunch for you last night. Do you want to go get some food on the way home? Little things like that. Even though you’re not assessing the issue head to head, front on, you are still making a difference just by being there and supporting your kid, even if it’s not through the specific issues they’re dealing with, just being like, I see you and I love you and I’m here for you. That’s just really helpful, even if it’s not talking about the issue itself, but just little things like that just make it better.

[00:50:02.880] – Speaker 2
This is a great segue into our next point because there are a number of our coaching experts, parenting experts, coaches, therapists, past guests like Ray Johnson, Allison Schaefer, Elizabeth Bennett, who stressed the importance of active listening and spending intentional time with you, our kids, as a way to help combat anxiety and depression and just really helping kids develop into healthy adults. Allison Schaefer says a lot of parents are too concerned with being managerial rather than relational, asking about whether or not you’ve done your homework rather than what you’re currently reading or why you’re enjoying it, for instance. The pastor and founder of Bayside Church, Ray Johnson, has a saying, rules without relationship lead to rebellion. He stresses that quality time doing something with your child that they like to do is the key. Likewise, family coach and retired principal Elizabeth Bennett, stresses the importance of having fun and says that the mistake a lot of parents make is assuming that their kids no longer want to hang out with them, even though through all of her experiences working with kids, she can’t think of any who would turn down the opportunity who would go to the drive-through for fries or an ice cream cone with their parents.

[00:51:22.700] – Speaker 2
I’m curious, and I know the pressure is on Sloan right now. I’m curious to know how do you feel about that? How important is hanging out with your parents to you? Do you feel like we take the time to really get to know you and importantly, have fun? What about your peers? Do you think that’s the norm? What do you think about all that?

[00:51:43.020] – Speaker 1
I think for me, I think parents are in an interesting situation because social media, I think, has made us super aware of when people are doing stuff wrong. I think a lot of kids unfairly assess their parents. Sometimes we feel like our parents are just too hard on us, this and that. I think parents, they have an interesting situation because they’re forced now to become the cool parents, or else they’re not good enough. You’re not a good enough parent if you’re not super cool. But I think simple things matter. Going to the drive-through? I love going to the drive-through. I love McDonald’s fries. That would make my whole day, and that would be such so special, even though it’s so little and I shouldn’t be doing it all the time, but I would love to do it. I would never turn down an opportunity, but I feel like, yeah, parents just need to be more open-minded now because you’re under the magnifying glass now. Unfortunately, people just pick apart each other unfairly all the time. And so if your kids feel like you’re not good enough, it’s not that. It’s just they’re struggling to assess how you are because social media, everything is perfect on there.

[00:53:01.940] – Speaker 1
Parents are perfect. And if they’re not, they’re picked apart like, Oh, you’re Karen, you’re this, you’re that. I feel like it’s either you have to be perfect or not, but you don’t have to be perfect. Simple things go such a long way. And I feel like spending little quality time and being authentic with your kids really matters a lot.

[00:53:19.840] – Speaker 3
Yeah, I find like I love the first part of it, the whole rules without relationship lead to rebellion. I think that is so true. A lot of times I find like I… I’m not just saying this because my dad’s on here, but I do have a really close relationship with both my parents, and I think that helps me gain respect for them. I was even talking like Rohan and I were talking with our counselors and CEO. We were really close with them and we love them so much and we love talking to them and hanging out with them. But any time they’d be like, Hey, you need to calm down, or like, Hey, you need to do this, we’d be like, Yeah, 100 %. I think if you need to build that connection in order for kids to respect you, if as a parent, you’re just like, all you do in a day is, Hey, good morning. Can you make sure you make your bed? Hey, can you do this for me? Hey, can you do that? Da da da da. Everything that you’re talking about with your kid is like nagging them about something or being only a parent, it can lead to your kids not really respecting you and not having that relationship.

[00:54:22.760] – Speaker 3
It needs to be the base of your parenting. Obviously, you’re a parent, so you need to make sure that your kids are safe and all those things. But parents having that relationship with their kids is a really good foundation for them to respect you more. Kids will be more open to listening to the rules and stuff that you have in place if they know that you care about them and they know that you’re not just there to parent them, that you’re there to have fun. I love just hanging out with my parents and going on drives. My parents are some of my best friends. I do feel that I’m really blessed to have great parents who understand that, but I do think some of my friends don’t have that opportunity. Some of my friends really don’t have a good relationship with their parents, and there’s just constant conflict, and they feel like they’re being bombarded with rules and parents don’t understand the position that teenagers are in and stuff. I do find that having that relationship and being able to be friends, but also have that strict like, Okay, I’m also your parent, so you do have to listen to me.

[00:55:28.280] – Speaker 3
Having that fun friendship would really help. I think some of my friends that do struggle with their relationship with their parents is because they come home and all their parents do is bombard them about getting school done and question them about like, Why are you so stressed all the time? Why are you hanging out with these people? They just feel constantly bombarded. With like we talked about having anxiety in your life and all that stuff, parents adding on that extra pressure is just so not helpful. If they’re there to just, like Rohan said, take you out to McDonald’s and stuff like that. It really helps little things go a long way and then can lead to having greater respect and a more mutual connection between the two parties.

[00:56:09.500] – Speaker 1
I think if you put too much pressure on an egg, it will crack. Then there’s no going back. I think even just looking at my relationship with my mom, I gone to university. It’s not by fluke. I had a mom who was very like, This is what you got to do. You got to be a good student. She had rules, but also I could still go out with my friends. I can still do this. I really appreciate the relationship I have because parents are not friends. It’s not the same thing. You can have a parent who you’re friends with, but they still got to have rules. They got to put the foot down. I think finding the balance between that is really important because it’s really important for parents to not be too strict, but also to not be too friendly because you got to find that balance and it’s really difficult. But it’s really beneficial towards your kids if you have a solid relationship.

[00:57:08.170] – Speaker 2
I thought it was a good analogy, moving away from the parents to talk about your CEO leaders, who they’re adults and there are rules, right? There are things you need to do. But they also invested in the relationship in a short period of time. You didn’t really know them super well, but they were very intentional in getting to know you guys and building that relationship. But then when they said, Go to bed, put your phones away, you can’t do that. Show up here. You were much more open to listening to them. I think you used the word respect. Yes. Laura and you talked about the cool parent. I think that’s the opposite. It’s like we just let our kids do whatever so that we think that they like us, right?

[00:57:54.990] – Speaker 2
I’ve found, and my experience working with young people, not parents, but youth leaders that do that, at the end of the day, kids actually don’t respect them. They like them and think they’re cool, but they don’t have a lot of respect for them. When it’s time to give advice or lay down the law or tell them they need to do something, they actually are less likely to listen to the cool people in their.

[00:58:21.070] – Speaker 3
Lives- Yes.

[00:58:22.050] – Speaker 2
For sure. -than the ones that have been friendly and showed that they cared but didn’t have… You said it well. I don’t have to be Sloan’s best friend. She is best friend, friends, but it’s different as a parent. I play a different role than her friends do, and I think that’s really important. And like you said, it’s doing the things that you guys like and entering into your world on your level to spend some time and be intentional. Because it’s also relationship building to say, Hey, you’re having a hard time with your homework. Can I sit down and help you? Do you need me to work through this? And if you get stressed and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, then I can walk away and that’s not a moment. But even in those things, it isn’t just the McDonald’s fries or other things. You can build intentional relationships just by listening and entering into each other’s lives.

[00:59:16.740] – Speaker 3
Yeah. I think it is a really hard balance to keep maintain because you can’t… It’s really hard. Parents, I salute you because if you’re too strict, then that can cause tension. But if you’re too friendly, then that can cause like, Oh, well, my parents don’t care, so I can just do whatever I want. So really finding that balance, I would say, is key. Even if your kid doesn’t want to hang out with you, if you say, Hey, let’s go to the movies, and your kid’s like, No, I’m not going to want to. I’d rather do this, it doesn’t mean, Oh, shoot, my kid hates me. My kid doesn’t want to hang out with me. It’s honestly the thought that counts. Even just knowing that your parents love you and care about you and are interested in your life and who your friends are and the things that you’re like, interested in, that goes a long way. Even if your kid is just like, Yeah, no, I’m not going to hang out with you today. It doesn’t mean your kid hates you. It just means even asking just goes a long way and really can create that mutual respect.

[01:00:13.170] – Speaker 3
You’re more accepting to feedback or rules or stuff like that that parents need to still do.

[01:00:20.980] – Speaker 2
We all know with development, there’s a time for independence too, right? There’s a season, Calone, where you were less wanting to hang around with your parents, too, right? Where you’re just like… And that’s a natural developmental process where you’re working out who you are in the world beyond your family unit, and you need to figure out who you are. But then there’s this cyclic time, I think, where if relationships are formed well on the terms in which you’re going through, then it can look different as time persists, right? But I also want to say like Sone said, if kids don’t want… There’s a whole season of life where you don’t really want to be around your parents. You don’t want to walk around them all. You want them to drop you two blocks away so that you’re not being seen dropped off by your parents, right? Ron, you were going to add to that?

[01:01:11.010] – Speaker 1
Yeah, I think parents need to find a balance between, yes, laying down the law, but also being able to have a relationship where your kids feel comfortable to talk to you about problems in their life and not hide it from you. I feel like having a relationship with your kids where they can be open about mistakes they’ve made without hiding it goes a long way because kids make mistakes. I’ve done wrong things in my life, but I’ve also felt comfortable enough to talk about them instead of hiding it. Because a lot of times when you hide an issue, your parents don’t find out. You get away with it, the issue grows and it can get out of control. And that’s like a lot what I see in school friends now. A lot of them, they have issues, they’ve made mistakes, but they got away with it, so just continue doing it. Just continue. Instead of talking out with your parents like, I did this, should I even be doing this? Was I wrong for this? Without being like, Yes, absolutely, you were wrong. Why would you do that? You’re a disappointment. Having a relationship where you can give your advice because you’ve lived so much longer than us, but we don’t want to be harked at.

[01:02:21.540] – Speaker 1
We don’t want to be comforted in our mistakes almost. Yeah.

[01:02:26.300] – Speaker 2
I saw a young adult post that they heard a story about their parents because that was their perspective. Like, Even if you’re drunk at a party, call us. We’ll come pick you up. And this person posted that they just found out now that once in high school, their friend got in trouble at a party and called the other, like their friend’s dad, and he went and picked them up and took them home. The friend never knew about it. That’s just how the dad was not just with his own kids, but other kids as well.

[01:02:59.210] – Speaker 3
Using that example, there’s a difference between like, Hey, I’m drunk at a party. I need you to pick me up, and then that dad coming to pick up the kid’s friend and then just dropping them off, taking care of them and saying nothing. There’s a difference between that and also being there and caring for them, obviously taking care, but also being like, Okay, let’s chat about this tomorrow or when you’re feeling better, and them being like, Hey, so you know that stuff, you shouldn’t be doing that. Not just going straight to don’t do that ever again, blah, blah, blah. Because strict parents, I always find strict parents cause sneaky kids, because if you’re more strict and you’re less allowing with these things. Kids, if a kid wants to go do stuff that they shouldn’t be doing just because you set all these rules in place, that doesn’t mean all of a sudden they just don’t want to go and do things that they shouldn’t. They’ll find ways around it. I do think that if, like Rohan said, if you’re more open to having a conversation about it and being able to come to your parents and be like, Hey, I made this mistake, or This is something that I’ve done, and not coming with harsh judgment from your parents back, but having a mix of like, Okay, I’m really glad you told me I’m here for you.

[01:04:15.090] – Speaker 3
I want to help you through this. But also that’s not okay. I think it’s a really hard balance like we’ve been talking about this whole time between friend and authority. But I think there is a way that you can combat issues with both sides. And yeah, thatsure. It just creates a healthy relationship where your kids are more likely to share things with you and come to you for issues and feel more cared for and respected by your parents as well.

[01:04:41.250] – Speaker 2
Well, there’s been so much good conversation. I wonder, just as we wrap up, we’ve tackled a bunch of topics and issues, and it’s been great. Thank you both for sharing your perspective and your insight into this. It’s been so helpful. I’m sure those parents are like, Can we call them up and ask questions? Because that would be helpful. But maybe just any last piece of advice or encouragement for parents who are listening to this who are like, I’m trying so hard to figure out the world my kids live in today and I don’t understand my kids. Any last pieces of advice you can think of that you’d want to share or just even encouragement?

[01:05:19.300] – Speaker 1
I think it’s definitely difficult in the day of age that we live in now. But a lot of time kids know they make mistakes. And so I think setting a relationship where your kids are comfortable with talking about their mistakes goes a long way or even just things they feel bad about. Like I said before, there’s so many things that we’re aware of now that we weren’t aware of before, and so that affects how we think about ourselves. I think having a relationship with your kids where they feel like they can talk about, even if it sounds so silly to you like, This isn’t something we worried back about in my day, now with social media, everything is under a magnifying glass. Things that you’ve probably never even thought of about yourself, your kids are eating away at theirselves because they’re thinking of that. I think being open to having conversations that may not make sense to you, but are a big part of your kid’s lives goes a long way.

[01:06:14.330] – Speaker 3
I think a lot for me is sometimes I find and my friends find that it’s hard for people to understand the things that you’re going through. Sometimes parents will make assumptions or they think they know what’s going on, but they really don’t. As a parent, honestly, I know you want to give advice and be that person for your kids, but sometimes just having a listening ear can go a long way. Just sit down, ask questions. Maybe you don’t know how social media is affecting your kid. Maybe you’re making assumptions that aren’t fully true. Just start asking questions like, Hey, what’s affecting you? Do you think social media has an impact? Rohan and I are a good understanding to help you realize what kids are dealing with. But like I said before, everything is an individualized process. So just sitting down and understanding what is going on in your own kid’s life and not even combating that with advice and like, Oh, here’s how we can help. Honestly, just sitting down and having a listening ear just can help you gain perspective on their situations, but also allow them to feel validated and comforted from you as a parent, I think can honestly go a long way and can help to create that awesome relationship and foster those really good conversations that can help both sides gain clarity and understanding of how each other are feeling.

[01:07:33.960] – Speaker 2
Well, thank you both for being on here. I think the interesting thing is that you got to hear some of the good stuff from Sloan. She wasn’t sharing all the mistakes that I’ve made along the way, so that would have been a whole other episode. I’m glad we didn’t have to go through that. But really appreciate both of you. It’s been a huge insight into what it means to be a youth, a young person today. And we’re really grateful you stopped by and spent your time. And so thanks for being with us. Thank you.

[01:08:00.940] – Speaker 3
Yeah, thank you.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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