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CEOs in Training: How to Set Your Kids Up for Success

“CEOs in training: how to set your kids up for success” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:

Someone asked me what it is to be a working mom. The said they imagined it as going home from the office, cooking, and picking up the dirty underwear. That could be one reality. But it isn’t mine. I am a hard-working mom, a CEO, a wife, and a mother of four. For me, family is team.

I realized this is less about parenting than an early business lesson. Parents can support their kids by being open to partnership—and that can set kids up for lifelong success. Here’s what I mean:

Yesterday, I was out with two of my kids. My 15-year-old was at home with my 9-year-old. She called me and said ‘Mom, Justin got sick. He threw up. He was eating some yogurt that was super sweet…and he just got sick.’ I asked her, ‘What did you do?’ She said she sat him down, had him sip water slowly, and cleaned up the mess as best she could. My initial reaction as a parent was “Omg! I don’t want her dealing with that.” And then I recognized that she’d done roughly everything I would have done. Was it perfect? No. But she knew what to do.

In that moment, I felt proud. I also imagined her looking for her first job. The young people who do well are the ones who take initiative, who jump in and get it done, who know how to work as a team and look out for others.

She can do all that.

And she can do it, because I let her.

Parents come to me and say, “What does it take for a kid to get an internship?” They’re just now figuring out at 18-years-old that kids need something to differentiate themselves. Your kids are strong and smart and capable, just like mine. At what point can they pick up the dirty underwear? How much responsibility can they take on?

While I could choose to do everything myself, I live a life in which I am lucky to have help. Someone helps me do my laundry. I use babysitters. I also ask my kids to pitch in—and their contribution is necessary for their growth and the workability of our team. If I were to give advice to other working parents, for me, it would really come down to three things:

Think: what can you today to enable your children to be better citizens? Does that picking up their laundry off the floor? Does that mean having them take dishes from table to the sink? Those are great first steps.

Ease up on yourself. As parents, don’t think you have to work and manage everything for the kids. You’ve got smart kids. Enable them to show you how smart they are. With my 9 year-old, it’s his responsibility on Friday to show me his finished homework for the week; we go over it on the weekend, and we talk about it. It’s not my responsibility to go into his backpack and find it. It’s entirely his responsibility. Imagine when the day when he’ll go to his boss and say, ‘This is what I’ve done!’ By stepping back, you’re actually teaching your kids to show you the things they’re most proud of. And they don’t even know that’s what they’re prepping for.

Give them choices—and let them live up to them. As an example, I think about my 15-year-old. She takes the bus into the city every morning. She wakes herself up, gets ready, and gets herself to school. She accept that because it was her choice to travel 45 minutes to a school in the city, and it’s her responsibility to make sure she can get there. Has it worked? In a year and a half, I haven’t had to wake her up even once.

-Kara

Kara Goldin is Founder and CEO of Hint Water, the fastest-growing flavored water brand in the United States. Kara started Hint when she couldn’t find a healthy water that tasted great without questionable additives like sweeteners. Hint Water has 0 calories, 0 sugar, and 0 diet sweeteners in a can be purchased online at www.drinkhint.com in a variety of flavors including Blackberry and Watermelon, in both still and sparkling.