This conversation with best-selling New York Times author and Ted talk speaker Julie Lythcott-Haims was over two years in the making and yet came just at the right time.
Author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success and Real American: A Memoir, Julie’s interested in the human experience and writes non-fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry with the aim of helping humans thrive.
She has a JD from Harvard Law School, an MFA in writing from California College of the Arts and holds her BA in American Studies from Stanford University, where she later returned to serve as Dean of Freshman and Undergraduate Advising, among other roles. She currently lives in Silicon Valley with her partner of more than thirty years, her two teenagers, and her mother.
Born to an African-American father and a British mother, Julie moved often in her childhood from Nigeria to New York to Wisconsin to Washington D.C., where her father was part of the Carter Administration, and then back to Wisconsin again. Along the way, she struggled to find her identity as a bi-racial woman who faced stereotypes and micro-aggressions about her blackness that sent her on a journey from self-loathing to self-love, something she reflects on with powerful honesty in her memoir.
Themes of self-exploration, self-sufficiency and service weave thread through this incredibly enriching conversation with Julie. We discuss her healing journey with her mother and how that impacts how she parents her children today. Julie shares the lessons that she learned about how to successfully raise adults from her years as the Dean at Stanford and extensive research that informs her best-selling book and popular Ted talk on the subject.
She reveals the way that she has daringly made career pivots that others thought were crazy, what’s next on the horizon for her, and how she may even create her own radio show one day. And, we talk candidly about her journey to embracing self-care, about her commitment to her partner of over thirty years, and to the impact on her body and sexuality of moving toward menopause.
I was struck by Julie’s continued evolution in her own awareness, and her commitment to personal growth and to pursuing her own purposeful path, parallels evident in the wisdom she holds for us about how to raise our children to be healthy adults. Finally, I’m inspired by her bold challenge to us, to look at how stereotypes and biases about black people show up in ourselves, and to do the conscious work of taking them apart.
This conversation is a powerful one that has already begun to shift my awareness. I look forward to hearing what Julie’s life lessons, wisdom, and revelations shift for you when you listen.
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What happens when our egos impact our parenting and the power of realizing that we are not our kids; they’re not a mini-me, a pet, a trophy or a bonsai tree. They are their own person.
What Julie’s experience as a Stanford Dean taught her about how to raise adults, including the two most essential things she learned kids need: to do chores and to be loved.
How a commitment to life-long learning inspired Julie to make daring career pivots, from attorney to school administrator to writer.
The three more books that Julie knows she has inside of her.
Julie’s own evolution in her understanding of what self-care means and the ways that she invests in herself today.
The practices Julie has committed to with her husband to keep their thirty plus year connection strong.
The impact of peri-menopause and menopause in how we feel in our bodies and on our libido in particular, and my commitment to focus a future episode on this subject.
The importance of becoming aware of the stereotypes we hold about black people and Julie’s challenge to us to consciously undo them.
Tamara Sobomehin, chasing the human dream, working to unleash the brilliance and potential of people by cultivating a culture of positive creation supported by the foundation of effective human and technical systems. Dedicated in honor of Tamara’s mother Paula Denise Lacy.
Street Code Academy – The organization Tamara runs with her husband Tunde.
Recharge Ravenswood – The website to learn more about Tamara’s campaign for Ravenswood City School Board.
Team Esface – The exceptional basketball program, founded by the Sobomehin brothers, that Ryan participated in and where we first met Tamara and her family.
For this week’s challenge, I encourage you to read Julie’s powerful memoir, The Real American, to explore the impact of stereotypes about black people on her life experience. Then, follow Julie’s invitation to notice when stereotypes about black people kick in for us. She says, “If you’re not loving black people, ask yourself why? Be interested in that. Black people are humans worthy of love, compassion and care like anybody else is. If you notice a stereotype kicks in when you see a black person, see if you can immediately say to yourself – what would I do if this was a white person? Or a person of any race other than black? When a stereotype pops up, name it and tell yourself I’m discarding it. Try interacting with that person as if they were your own brother, sister, grandmother, father, friend or family.” It’s our job to acknowledge the impact of stereotypes and biases and undo it.
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