New Episode! Why Kids Won't Wear Coats with Sara Kostelnik
Feb. 7, 2023

Raising Kids Who Care with Susy Lee

Please join me for my fabulous discussion with this week’s guest, Susy Lee. 

Susy, a mother of two, is an international prize-winning author of ”Raising Kids Who Care: Practical conversations for exploring stuff that matters together.” Susy majored in psychology and has a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her passion is helping families to build a strong family culture around communication and contribution. 

Susy discusses how important it is to “parent with intention.” She provides simple activities that we can all utilize with our families, which focus on raising kids that are; caring, compassionate, kind, and ethical. 

You won’t want to miss it. 


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Raising Kids Who Care by Susy Lee 

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Hi, and welcome to Real Life Momz I'm your host Lisa Foster, and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about connecting moms through real parenting conversations. I believe that moms have so much insight and knowledge, and together we are powerful. On this podcast, we give moms a voice to tell their stories and share their expertise and resources through real conversations. And this week, we are joined by Susy Lee, a mother of two caring sons, an international prize-winning author of Raising Kids Who Care, practical Conversations for Exploring Stuff that Matters. 

Together. She majored in psychology and has a master's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Susy lives to help families build a strong culture of communication and contribution. And this week, we are discussing how to raise kids that are caring, kind, ethical, and just incredible human beings. 

Hi Susy. Welcome to Real Life Momz. Today we are discussing how to raise our kids to be kind, ethical, and caring, I know you wrote a book called Raising Kids Who Care. So thank you so much for being here today, and I can't wait to dive into this topic with you. 

Thanks so much, Lisa, for having me. I'm very excited to be talking to moms. It's, it's such a privilege, and it's so hard being a mom. Um, but it's, you know, the best thing I've ever done. So I love it that we are talking about this.

Yes and ditto for me too. So hard, but the best thing I've done, <laugh>. So maybe just talk a little bit about yourself and kind of what actually inspired you to write, Raising Kids Who Care. 

So many things. I was a child of divorce. Um, my parents got divorced way back before it was common, I guess. And so it was a big deal and, um, and our family was, you know, a bit all over the place for quite a while. And I think when I had kids, it was really important to me that I was intentional and, I guess, did a better job that I wasn't just gonna rest on my laurels and do whatever my parents did. So I've always really thought about, okay, what is it that I want to do with my kids? 

How do I wanna raise them? Whereas my husband, who, you know, was very happy with him, his upbringing, he's like, oh, what do you have to worry about that for? Just, you know, this is easy. And so how big arguments were over, you know, but I read this in a book, and he's like, oh, well. 

But I did quite a bit of, um, teaching, and I guess the thing was that kids really just blow me away. They are so much wiser and so much more able to think about big issues than I guess we realized in the, you know, the tumble of life where, you know, we, we are busy thinking about, you know, the getting their shoes on and getting them out to school and how many vegetables they've had for dinner that we forget about asking them what they think about big, important things, or we have this idea that we have to protect them. 

But when I got to hear from kids, I thought, oh, actually, they're pretty cool <laugh>. And when I started running some workshops, um, with development organizations that I worked for, for whole families at once and saw the interaction of parents and kids when they were, they would, you know, I would, I would run these sort of simulation games where they'd pretend they were in a slum village and they had to work really hard to, you know, protect themselves from the floods or whatever. 

Um, seeing parents be amazed in the debriefing when the kids were showing such wisdom and generosity and compassion and, and realizing, oh, they didn't know that about their kids. I dunno about you, but I think I'm always a couple of developmental stages behind with my kids, cuz they're my babies, right? 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. And I think we, we wanna protect it, just like you said, we wanna protect them and help them, but gosh, there's so much more capable they are. I agree. 

And I think when I'm working for organizations that are, that are helping kids all around the world and finding out what kids are doing, you know, there are kids in Nepal who are devising and, and running these street theaters to raise the issue of child marriage and that this is a problem. And there are kids in countries in Africa who are going around teaching the villages about how to get clean water and, you know like kids are doing wild things. 

And I think, you know, if you watch the news every night, you just get overwhelmed by all the bad things that are happening in the world. But there are so many great things happening, and I think it's really important that we give our kids an opportunity, to respond to problems in the world. I guess my short answer to your question is mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what I would really like to see is a whole generation of kids that see a problem in the world and think, oh, I can do something about that. 

Rather than, oh no, I'm depressed and anxious and worried about the future of the world, and I just wanna watch Netflix. 

Well, that is my household. I feel like <laugh>. So you just nailed it. I mean, everyone is like anxious, uh, about the world and, and, and I think somehow, I don't know if it's Americans, um, more so you're over in Australia, so maybe you can tell me, and you've been around the world, but I feel like we see stuff, you know, and we're just, instead of saying, what can I do to make this better? Or what can we do to solve this problem? Even as adults, we kind of like to run and hide. 

Yeah. I think, uh, you know, our sort of brains are really only evolved to manage a hundred or 150 people like the size of a village, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> And still in some places, places people live in a little village, and they know everybody. So if something bad happens, you know, Mrs. Jones's house catches fire, we can all in the village physically go and help. We can take her a casserole; we can give her some, you know, blankets; we can fix her roof, whatever. But now we know every bad thing that happens in the world, and our brains just can't cope with it. 

Hmm. And so here's, here's my one tip for this. Either don't watch the news or when you've, or whenever you see something bad on the news, watch for the people who are helping. 

I know, I've heard that. Yes. There are always people that are helping. 

It's so cool when you just make that little bit of a shift, and it's, I think it's really good for us to do that. 

Yes, for sure. And I, it brings up memories of 911 for me, cuz I was a New York at the time of 911. I'm a New Yorker, even though I'm not there anymore. Um, and that was one thing I swear like you would just see in the midst of like, even weeks after, it was like all these police and firemen and you know, just all these people helping, even people that like, uh, the city is a pretty tough place, right? <laugh>. I mean, you can walk along a road and never look anyone in the eye. 

And right after that, it was amazing how people were holding doors for you that never did before in New York. And, just the change and there. Yeah, exactly. There were so many people trying to help other people. It was, it was incredible. 

I felt like that even watching from all around the other side of the world in Australia; I could see that that was happening to you and that you are really holding up the people that were helping us was wonderful. 

Yeah. Yeah. So yes, you're right. Um, I also try not to watch the <laugh> the news though. <laugh>. So my husband, on the other hand, is different. And my kids, you know, they are very, um, influenced by the news. It does scare them quite a bit. Um, so that is something we have to look at. I was thinking of just as I was getting on to talk to you, you know, it's interesting, I was thinking of a parent conference that I had, um, just at my daughter's school when she was in middle school. And it was interesting; I met with a teacher, and they said to me, oh, you know, your daughter is an amazing human being. 

And I was like, oh my God. Like here I am at a conference. Like, okay, how's she doing grades? You know, like what, that's the things we think about, right? Like when they go to school, we think about the performance, and here's this teacher that took the time to actually not even tell me about her performance, but you know, just how nurturing she is to the other kids and how she's always willing to help. And I just walked out of there, and I was like, why do we, why don't we talk about that more in just school? 

Like, why isn't that more of a thing that when I go to a conference, it's really, really about who my kid is versus, Yeah what they're getting? 

Because, you know, it doesn't matter how smart your kid is, how high they can jump, or fast they can run. If they don't know how to have really great relationships in their life, if they don't feel loved and are loving, then you know, they're not gonna be truly happy. Isn't that the thing that really fills us out? So Harvard University did this really great study where they asked a heap of parents what was it that they really wanted for their children. 

What were the main things they wanted? And 96% of them said that raising caring, you know, ethical, good citizens was, was absolutely crucial to them, which sounds great, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But then they did a really clever thing. They asked the children of those parents, what do you think your parents want for you? And it wasn't the same, 80% of those kids, 10,000 of them, said, 

Our parents want us to be successful, and they want us to be happy. Wow. So there's a real disconnect going on there. And the thing that also worries me is that there's a lot of study done now about happiness. What makes us happy? And the world is telling us that if we buy more stuff, if we have the right clothes, if, if, you know, um, if we get enough money, that will be happy, but it's not true. There's, you know, there's plenty of research that says beyond a level of survival, more money does not make you happy. 

The things that make you happy are caring for others, being generous, are being grateful. You know, the things that <laugh>, that the parents are saying they want, but are not necessarily getting through to the kids. Which to me, you know, something we better be a bit more intentional about. 

Exactly. Why do you think there is a disconnect? What do you think is happening between the parents like wanting this and the children just not seeing it? 


<laugh> life really 

Hectic and busy. And I think a lot of it is to do with, you know, our materialistic culture that, um, we all need to, you know, both parents are working hard and give everything to their kids. But research says what kids want is time with their parents is less stressed. Parents, the kids don't really want the stuff, but, but the most highly paid psychologists are paid by the advertising industry and they are starting younger and younger to turn our kids into little consumers. 

And I think that's, that's one of the things, the busyness, the technology that's sort of sending us all into different directions. Um, and just, you know, know, you have to be really intentional about this stuff. And if you are overwhelmed just with daily life, it's, it's hard. But if you're saying as a parent that this is the most important thing, then let's give it the same amount of attention that, and spend a little bit of time on that as well, which is, you know, what I'm trying to do, I guess is make that easy for parents with my book. 

Yeah. That would be helpful. Because you know, you see it, right? Like you see it like, you are so busy, like, I'm a working mom, right? I've been working since my kids were young. And you try to <laugh>, you try to get this survival stuff in alone, right? Meaning like food on the table, kids out the door, you know, whatever it is. And there's very little left. And I think what happens is they kind of stop even asking for that time. 

What I reckon is a great thing to do is to start building a culture of communication when the kids are really young so that by the time they're sort of teenagers and running about, they're like, oh, in our family, you know, every week we, we talk about stuff. And so that they'll, they know then to, to bring in the hard stuff to you. But, you know, you can't wait until you know hard stuff happens. And then, oh, we should have talked about this stuff. I, I'll spare you two whole years of, a master's degree <laugh> in, um, in peace and conflict studies. 

Um, of all those essays and all that reading, whether we are talking interpersonally or internationally, all the theories about peace and conflict are the same. Cause internationally is just people as well. The only thing that we have to help us resolve conflict, the, the skill that has got us as humans to, to do as well as we have is just communication. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's it. We are really good at it. We are really good at communicating and cooperating. And so really early on, if we are, are building a really positive creative, curious environment in our family where we all listen to each other and we, um, we talk about things, then that's kind of easy enough. If we just talk about the effect of consumers and with kids, suddenly, we've empowered them, to be resilient against it. 

If we talk in our families about the effect that technology's having on us, then oh, suddenly, our kids can step back and be a bit more resilient. You know, that's all they tr you know when we go into therapy, that's all they're trying to do is helping us step back and look at things rather than just being in it and reacting to it. Do you know what I mean? 

Yeah, totally. That's so important. I mean, that conversation, um, between just between your family and just that time to really talk about things, it's almost like we get to empower them when they're in different situations. I love that. So you, you wrote this book, uh, raising Kids That Care. What were the biggest, like, fundamental things that you found that parents need to do? Uh, the conversation is obviously one of 'em. Um, but what are some of the other ones 

That really is a fundamental one. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but also being, being aware of things ourselves. Um, and the way I've, I guess I've tried to help is to give a structured conversation for each of the, you know, the different issues that are, you know, the stuff that matters in life with a bit of stimulation, a bit of, you know, like the research from Harvard or like, there's research about, um, the effect of technology. Now we are all a bit worried about what it's doing to our kids, and it is making them anxious. 

But there's nuanced research that's starting to say if kids have a good relationship with their parents and if they are using technology in a proactive way to connect with friends, then it, it doesn't have a bad effect on them. But if they don't have a close relationship with their family and they're just using it social media to just scroll and look at everybody else and compare themselves, then that can be harmful. So just, you know, that little snippet of information, imagine if you then sit down as a family, read that together, or better still, even the kids you know, lead the conversation so that it's not just parents, you know, talking down to kids, then suddenly you are, you are all in a better position to think about, oh, is there a better way that we could be doing this? 

I feel like our culture just bowls us along if we don't have time to stop and reflect about what we are doing. 

I love how you said using the phone, because obviously, I have teens, my kids are on their phones, but using their phones to connect with friends cuz that there is like such a connection that they can like to sit and talk, they do homework together. It's like this adorable connection, right? But there is a bigger part of it that scrolling and comparing is awful. I mean, it's very hurtful now. I've never actually sat with my kids and said, let's talk about this. 

Right? Let's, how do you feel? What do you think you should do? You know, I could see that you're not, um, really happy right now. What were you doing before? Or you were scrolling and comparing like, could we be doing something different? Or, or are you saying having the child actually start that conversation even and, and, and, and talk to the parents about it too? Not just coming from the parents. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can see that shifts the dynamic, right? Because Yeah, no, teenagers are, Oh yeah, mom, dad raving on about something again. But if we are open enough to, you know, and humble enough to be willing to learn from them or to, to let them teach us or, or just basically say, okay, let's talk about this together. It's a; it's a much more open and um, safe place to have a conversation 

That makes sense. Yeah. Because we're not telling them things. We're not just, you know, spewing out things. We're allowing them to say things that we can learn from, and they have a lot to say. That's what I'm learning. 


Even more so, as obviously, my kids are older but even younger, I mean, they'll come up with things that are just so smart and so creative. And sometimes, like, if I'm feeling bad about something, they'll say something, and I'm like, you're so right. Like why am I harping on this? They're like that; this is a mistake, mom; you just made a mistake. Yeah. That's a big deal. You know, like they put things in such simple perspective sometimes cuz they can step back and see. 

And I always just you know, it always hits me really hard to say, oh my gosh. Like these are human beings <laugh> that have such amazing minds that we have to make sure we're allowing that to grow too. And and that they are feeling heard and seen as well. 

Absolutely. That's, that's exactly what I'm <laugh> I'm, I guess I'm passionate about, you know, we have two ears and one mouth, but we don't always use them in proportion. No <laugh> about you. But I have boys, and they won't talk unless we give them space. And, when they do that, I agree with you. They're so wise, and you know, there's, there's another NASA study about creativity and they, they developed this whole way to measure creativity, and they used it from kids as young as two all the way, you know, through to elderly people and what they, what age do you reckon was peak genius of creativity? 

I feel like it's young. I feel like it's like five or three. What do you think? 

Exactly. Yeah, you're exactly right. It's all downhill after that <laugh>. So, so we need our kids. We need to learn from them. We know now in, you know, you can Google anything; you don't need to memorize stuff anymore. What the world needs is creativity. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so we need to be open to learning from our kids cuz they can help us with that. Uh, my kids are amazing lateral thinkers. There was once we were driving somewhere, and I was, I was in a, a car with like six of them. They were just, just older than teenagers, maybe just young adults. 

And, I was getting lift with them. So I was just kind of in the back listening to them talk. And it was quite a long drive, and they were asking each other these sort of hypothetical questions, and it was absolutely fascinating. Um, what, what they'll do. 

Yes, I, there is nothing better for parents. I'm just saying this out there when your kids are in the backseat, uh, and you are driving them around, they're, they don't think you're listening. Yeah. And all those natural conversations that are coming out. Ugh. But those are just precious, precious conversations, precious moments. And you're right, there are so many thoughtful things that are coming out between them. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I do also wanna say with the boys, like you said, like how they need space, you know, and giving them that space; they'll have a lot more to say. 

And I think what happens with boys, at least from my perspective, is that we tend to jump in a little too soon. Um, cause, Right. Cuz nobody wants to sit in awkward silence. Right. So you're always trying to fill the gap. But I would say, especially with boys, like, you know, ask a question and wait because they're gonna fill awkward too. They're gonna wanna fill the gap, uh, because they don't wanna sit there in silence either. And then all of a sudden war comes out, you know, that they allow them to talk and not jump in, I think is so important for boys. 

Oh, I really learned that the hard way. I'm a talker. And if it's, you know, if I'm in a situation where it's, there's an awkward silence, I'll just start talking. And it took me ages to realize that my boys have taken after their dad, and they're really good listeners, and they will never interrupt. And so I just keep talking, and as soon as I shut up, oh, then they talk mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I'm really having to learn to just let there be quiet. Yeah. 

Yeah. Yeah. It's a hard one. Especially, I mean, I think moms, we do like to talk; girls like to talk, right? Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it's interesting. So from your kind of parenting experience and knowing what, you know, what do you think was the most impactful thing that you did to raise your kids to have these qualities of caring and kindness and being ethical? 

Yeah, that's a good question because they most powerful thing that we can do is role model. Um, and so that's the hard one. So I would say we need to be intentional ourselves but let our kids know about it. The way that I did that, I guess I have always, um, cared about helping other people. Um, partly through the church, partly through the aid and development organizations that I've was working for. 

I've been and seen people that are, you know, are living in really difficult circumstances. And I've never hidden that from my boys. I think letting them know that there are problems in the world but giving them an opportunity, to participate has been the most impactful thing. So, for example, I was, um, teaching a bunch of elementary age kids, um, and my boys were in there as well about children that I'd seen overseas and trying to, trying to get them to see that, you know, people, people don't always live the same as we do. 

And I was letting them know about some of the concerns that that, you know, there's a village that they didn't have enough water. And I was telling 'em about some kids that were helping out. Anyway, my kids came home, my sons came home that afternoon and said that they had met up at lunchtime and they had decided that they wanted to raise $5,000, to help with, you know, whatever the project was that we were talking about. And this was not; this was my least proud mother moment in my head. I thought, oh my goodness, they can't do that. 

That's too hard. Right? 

<laugh> mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>. And, you know, it's my whole job is to encourage people to be generous. And anyway, yeah. So I, and they said, I said, well, how, how do you wanna do that? And they said, oh, we wanna just do odd jobs at home. And I thought, oh no, you know, let's just little boys. What are they gonna do? And it was nearly Christmas. And so I said to them, oh, well, maybe you could write a letter to, you know, your friends and family that would give you Christmas presents and say, this year instead of giving me a present, could you give me something from, we have this, um, the organizational workforce had this like a gift catalog. 

So instead of giving a present, you could give someone a goat, and someone overseas that really needed that goat would get the goat. Or have you heard of those things? 

No, no, I haven't heard of that. Yeah. To get 


Oh yeah, that sounds amazing. 

Yeah. Um, so, and they're all sorts of things you could, you know, give someone a primary school education or a village Well, or you could buy someone a toilet. You know the most important thing for helping people in, in developing countries is, you know, good sanitation. Yeah. Give them a chicken, you know, little things like this. Anyway, so the $5,000 was if you bought one of everything in this gift catalog, it, it was $5,000. So, they wrote these letters, and their family was more generous to them at Christmas than they ever had been before. 

And for the next three years, my boys didn't have birthday presents or Christmas presents other than what came out of this catalog. Wow. And it absolutely blew me away. But what I learned from that was, it was like the, I couldn't think of it as this dance of parenthood. 

I had let them know that there was a problem in the world. They had come to me with a, creative idea and a passion, and a willingness. They, I had help, had to help them facilitate how they could, you know, meet this wild idealistic goal that they had. I was in more generous to them for the next three years than I'd ever been before. And, you know, encouraging them. But they encouraged me and reminded me of my idealism because they met their goal. Mm-hmm. I didn't think that they could do it. 

And so they've grown up to be people who see the problem in the world and know that they can do something about it. And you know, in the course of my work, I've seen, it's not just my boys. I've seen so many kids like this. I actually did a survey for the book. 

I know a whole bunch of young adults who are social workers or working for development organizations. So, you know, I've known them almost their whole lives, and I know they're really caring people. And I'd written a survey for parents to ask them, you know, what issues were, what did they do to raise kids who care and what problems did they have and how did they overcome them? And all that's in the book. But I selected these sort of 20 or 30 young adults that I knew were caring people and said, and gave them a survey as well and said, well what was it that your parents did that helped you to become such caring people? 

And that's in the book as well. And it's absolutely fascinating reading to hear young adults giving you as a parent this golden advice. And they said things like, take them with you when you volunteer at a soup kitchen, or you volunteer at to do anything and listen to them. And really it was, it is the best thing actually about the book was the answers from these young adults. 

So basically that we should be kind of showing them do, like doing it, doing these volunteer work or helping somebody and having them be a part or come along. It's almost like a come along with me to do this type of work. So they kind of grow up learning that by watching it. Is that, is that what they were saying? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. 

Exactly. And yeah, exactly. Cuz often, we do these things but forget to include our kids in them or think they're too young; they won't understand. But kids understand way more than we think. There's more research, too, about volunteering. Teenagers who volunteer are healthier and happier, have better mental health is, you know, there are really great reasons to do it. 

Yeah. And I mean, I think, is it the Dai Lama or someone says like, really one of the keys to happiness is like serving others, you know, like ta like helping others. That actually brings so much joy in. Um, so I could see why volunteering and those things can, like, kind of teach a child that as well as an adult. 

And that the joy that they would get, the the warmth that they would get, you know, is this intrinsic internal motivation. Mm. That will help to make them resilient against things like, you know, technology as well. 

Oh, I love that so much. I love that so much. So what in your book or just in life, it can be from anywhere <laugh>, what are mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like simple things that, are there simple activities or things that you recommend, to encourage these behaviors that parents can do? 

I've kind of got 40 conversations in the book that cover four big areas of life. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And some are just conversations; some are kind of activities that you can do with kids. Like, for example, go around your whole house with a bunch of different colored stickers, and you have to put a sticker on the things that, you know, if, if the house caught on the fire um, or if you had to suddenly, you know, flee, flee quickly, what are the absolute most precious things that you would take? And then, you know, and walk around with a cardboard box and, you know, another sticker on the things that actually you, you think you should give away, or you don't need anymore. 

Or someone else would, you know, would appreciate more. You know. And then have a conversation about, well, have we got too much stuff, and what things do we really need? And if I'm a mom and I'm going around putting stickers, I'm gonna put stickers on my kids. Right. <laugh>. And then you get to have a conversation about, oh yeah, you know, my video games are not the most important things. My,, dog and my cat are the most important things. And it, just that intentionality that just, you know, helps remind us, helps reset us to think about what, what things are important. 

I was just thinking, cuz I, you know, occasionally we, you know, get rid of toys, or they grow out of clothes, we do a lot of donating our stuff. Right. And I'm just thinking like, oh, what an amazing opportunity to do something like that. Like instead of it's just because you've grown out of it or, you know, you don't play with that anymore. You know, like actually going around and saying, okay, what do I love about the things I have? What are things I don't really use? And then, like, who could use these things? Like maybe make it even in, into a bigger process than just like mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>, oh, you grew outta your clothes. Show me the stuff that you don't wear anymore. <laugh>, I'm gonna put it in a bag and donate it. Like, I could be saying, Hey, come with me to donate this. I could be saying, oh, do you, you know, if you don't need it, maybe another child does. How would you feel if somebody else really would like that? You know? Like I can make it into so much more. We can make it into so much more than just that one task of saying, oh, you grew outta your clothes, lemme just take it and let's 

Go. Or even at Christmas time, okay, we're gonna give each other presents, but I'd like you, you know, why don't you think about wrapping a present for a child who, you know, whose maybe parents can't afford to give them presents this year. Kids love doing that, but you, our job is just to give them that opportunity 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Just to give them opportunities and then let them grow into those. Yeah. Yeah. 

Another great idea is to help them think about life is not just about me. <laugh> and having fun life is about what we can contribute to the world. So one of the conversations sort of steps you through at this activity of, um, kind of draw like, you know, a Venn diagram where you have, imagine you have three big circles in one circle. Um, you just have to brainstorm what are the things, that you are really good at that you know that you just seem to have this inherent skill. 

You are, you know, you're great at music, or you run and jump fast, or you're great at math or whatever. And then you have another circle, and it's all the things you really love doing. You know, maybe you really love your, pets, or maybe you really love babysitting or also whatever it is. 

And then you have another circle of what does the world need? You know, what does my community around me? What are some of the needs? And then you try and find is, is there any way that those circles overlap because, you know, that really sweet spot is in the middle where your gifts and talents, you know, your things you love doing, overlap with things that the world needs. And it's just, again, it's another kind of creative brainstorming activity to just get that idea into our kids' heads that maybe we are here for a purpose. 

You know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, maybe there's something, you know, a life is about contributing to the world. I think ancient, um, societies, you know, even up until a couple of generations ago, really understood that life was about building our character and being, you know, good citizens. And somehow, we've let that go, and it's all about me, me, me now mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but that make us happy. Oh, 

I love that so much because I think like we, not only do we miss it, in showing our kids, I think we miss it as adults too. You know, our, as our purpose and, and we do get really sucked into this Mimi me attitude and to be able to sit with your family and figure out your purpose. I mean, I can, I can only imagine if I knew what my purpose was, <laugh> when I was, or, or the things I really clearly enjoyed. 

I feel like, I feel like I'm just discovering that now that I'm like 50, you know, <laugh> and it, and it, and it really is very uplifting. Like you just feel so much lighter when you kind of really know yourself on that deep, deep level. And I can only imagine if that is a gift that our kids could have, how much less they would compare each other, how much less judgment there would be, how much less of a lot of things because they would feel so stable in themselves and grounded. 

Yeah. See, you really get it. This is not rocket science. And you know, I'm sure all the mums listening get it as well. You're just like, oh, that's right. It's just like, we just need to be reminded every now and then, 

Right? We get it, but we're not doing it because because we are stuck into the runaround. Go to work, come home, feed the kids, you know, do whatever it is like getting by. We're stuck in the getting by <laugh>. 


Yeah, yeah. And not really. So what do you recommend for that? Okay, so we have these amazing, some really nice tools that you're telling us. Um, but what do you recommend for actually getting out of the rushing around and creating the time? I think that's the hardest thing for parents so that they can connect with their kids. 

Yeah. Well, I guess I guess something has to give, doesn't it? Um, some people have been doing the conversations in my book when they've gone away on holiday, on a road trip or something, and it's just this opportunity, you know, to just stop and, and reassess. Maybe some other families have, like, Friday night is family night, and we are gonna, we are gonna do a conversation, then we, we just have to make space. There is space, but we often are filling it with Netflix or downtime because we are so exhausted. 

It's, it, I really think it's just a matter of stopping and reassessing and thinking about, okay, are we running around like mad things, doing all the right things, or do we need to do less? And, and it, that's hard because, you know, there's so many cultural pressures on us to be like everybody else. So I think what I'm suggesting is a little bit countercultural for our busy western society, but it's not countercultural for the rest of the world. 

It's not countercultural for the way humans have lived. Um, so it's not impossible. Does that make sense? 

I totally am eating it up. I'll be honest <laugh> what you're saying because it's so true. First of all, reassessing, I think, you know, with the new year that just was right here, you know, we're in Jan end of January. Um, I feel like that is such a time that you do reassess. I mean, I even was reassessing, like, do I need to subs unsubscribe myself to all these emails? Right? Like just clearing, clearing the clutter. And I think you're right. There is time that can be made if we really reassess what we're doing. 

For instance, I decided not to watch TV during the week. I, I am somebody who could literally sit in front of that Netflix and just get sucked in, and then because I'm tired and then like a whole night goes by, nobody. Like I don't even know what happened to anybody. 

Right? Yeah. But it's so true. Giving up just TV during the week but watching it on the weekends allows me to have so much more time, and that was just a reassessment of my day-to-day. Cuz I knew I was taking on some more things, and I had to, you know, get rid of or lessen other things. And I think we also saw that with the, you know, when the pandemic hit here at least, um, a lot we did a lot less and how Yeah. Yeah. And how many people enjoyed that Right. 

And how much we got out of that. Yeah. 

That's, uh, I actually think that good can come that, that we all had to do a reassess and, you know, suddenly parents can work from home more and you know, can be around for their kids a bit more. It's like, whoa. That's, nobody ever imagined that that could be a thing. <laugh>. 

No. And my son today, as he came home from school, he goes, oh, is dad home? I said, yeah, he's home. And he goes, I love it when dad's home. Like, you know, that I can come home and he's home cuz he is working from home now. Yeah. You know, so it's like, it is, it's really a nice little shift, uh, uh, a switch. And, I think going back to your point, we can do less. We just have to reassess. 

Another activity that I put in the book is a family mission statement. <laugh>, you know, everybody knows you in a business, you have to have a mission statement and all that. And sometimes we have a personal mission statement, but imagine, you know, getting out the butcher's paper and sitting around, there's a family and saying, now you know, there are a million things we could care about, but that's overwhelming. Let's think about, you know, if just everybody in the world did one little thing to help the world, wouldn't that be fantastic? Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if, if, what is it that our little family really loves? 

What is it that our family really cares about, and what can we, what little thing can we do? Um, and so, you know, actually deciding as a family to do something, and yeah. Literally changing the world one family at a time mm-hmm. <affirmative> how that the psychologists have looked at whole civilizations and they look back at whatever was the dominant child-rearing practice of, of a particular society. They could predict what that society would be like in a generation's time. 

You know, it's obvious there's some societies where, you know, you're not a real man unless you're beating your wife and kids and you know, <laugh> and suddenly, oh, a generation later that society is very violent, right? Obviously mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>. Yeah. 

But the opposite is true. You know, prevention is better than cure. If we have, if we decide that we're gonna have a whole generation where we are gonna raise kids who care, imagine the society that we are gonna have in a generation's time. That's pretty exciting. Right? 

It's so exciting. 

All it takes is for us to just raise our kids to think actually what's gonna make you happy in this life is carrying out other people. Let's figure out how to do that. 

Oh, I love that. I love that. Um, so where can listeners find your book? 

It's, it's up on Amazon. It's on, you know, all the online book places. Um, it's on Barnes and Noble. I have a website that people can get it from that, you know, I can post it if you're in Australia, but otherwise, you can order it from any good bookshop or you can order it online. No problem. 

Great. Yes. And Amazon is so awesome, right? Because it can, 

It's so easy. 

It's, it's a little too easy, but it's easy, and it's everywhere. Right. And if you could tell parents kind of one takeaway from like our conversation,, what would you let them know? 

The most important skill that I think our kids would benefit from is listening skills. Um, it, we take it, it's something we take for granted, but when somebody listens to me when I'm feeling bad or happy or mad or sad or glad when they take the time to listen and show that they're interested in me, I feel so loved. It's such a gift. 

So if I can help my kids learn how to listen because it is a skill and it's often forgotten, then they are always gonna have good friends because they're gonna be good friends themselves, and they're always gonna have good relationships. So I think that is absolutely the most important place to stop. 

Hmm. That is beautiful and so on point. Yes. It's a skill that I think like I said, I think people tend to talk <laugh> but have a hard time listening. It is true. And when we do that, we learn so much about each other and our family and our kids. So yeah, I love that. 

A few of my friends, uh, when I first did the book, my friends are, are older, like me, have young adult kids, and I was like, oh, I need some people to try out these conversations. And so they were, you know, my friends were doing the conversations with their young adult kids and coming back to me and saying, I learned things about my kids. I had no idea. <laugh> and, you know, so any age, talk to your kids, listen to your kids. It's, 

Yeah. Yes. Any 

Have as humans? 

Yes. Yes. Any age, any age. Older kids, teenagers, young kids. I mean other, it's, yes, just listening to their stories, it's, you find out so much, and I think we're, I, I know I do this, I think we're all like, ready to jump in and, and help and save and, and do all those things. But I think just, you know, pulling up a chair and sitting down and listening, I mean, the world can open 

Up. Beautifully said; I can't wait, um, to, to practice all this stuff that I now know, or the wisdom I've gained from <laugh>, you know, after parenting, um, with my little baby granddaughter 

<laugh> Well that, yes, round two, you can, you can use all these amazing skills that you learned, you know, throughout your parenting and also learned writing that book. So That's amazing. Well, thank you for being part of Real Life Momz this is so important, you know, teaching our kids to be caring and just good human beings and how they can be, you know, a bigger part of their community, a bigger part of the world, and how we can continue to help each other out. 

Thanks so much, Lisa. 

Thank you for listening to this episode. This was truly an inspiring conversation about how capable our kids are and how important it is to parent with intention so that we can raise kind, caring kids that will make a positive change in the world to come. 

Susy LeeProfile Photo

Susy Lee


Susy is the international prize-winning author of ‘Raising Kids Who Care: Practical conversations for exploring stuff that matters, together. Susy lives to help families build a strong culture of communication and contribution.

An eternal student, Susy majored in psychology and has a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her eclectic career twirls around the twin themes of social justice and children, including state and national education and consultancy roles with children and families, international aid and development, and advocacy.

Susy has taught all ages from Grade 1 to University, and runs conference workshops for parents and families. She lives a bike ride from the beach in Sydney, Australia, dances whenever music plays, and has raised two caring sons with her husband Brian.