A Special Tribute to Alex Schachter

After a tragic week that affected one of my dearest friends, I wanted to take the time to reflect on a very special life lost during the Parkland shooting. During his funeral which was attended by over 1200 family members, friends and members of the community, I was incredibly moved by the stories that were shared by family and close friends of 14 year old Alex Schachter. What I discovered was that this very sweet boy was so good, so kind, so silly and so talented. His aunt and uncle talked about his love of movies and food – especially fruit snacks, granola bars and ice cream. His grandpa reflected on how his grandson called him up one day to ask him what instrument he played when he was kid. When his grandfather told him he played the trombone, Alex decided to follow in his footsteps and with hard work and lots of practice, eventually landed a spot on the Stoneman Douglas Marching Band. This year, the band became the #1 Marching Band in the state of Florida and Alex was thrilled.

Alex’s brothers and sisters talked about his love of movies, his obsession watching 1000 episodes of his favorite TV show and the way he’d make silly Pterodactyl noises chasing his sisters around the house. He practiced his trombone for hours, played ball with his friends and embraced life as a fun loving teen.

Alex’s friends shared their personal memories about their friend who always looked out for them and remained in close contact even when one of his buddies moved away. One of his friends wrote an incredibly moving poem about Alex and another shared how he planned to memorialize Alex by engraving his name on his shoes.

Alex’s dad shared stories of a competitive kid who loved to play basketball, travel with his family, visit with grandparents and extended family throughout the country and attend camp in Florida and on the east coast where he made even more lasting friendships. Despite a seemingly normal childhood, Alex also experienced loss in his life when his mom passed away when he was just a few years old. Soon after, my very dear friend, who had recently lost her husband, met Alex’s dad and they fell in love. My friend knew the heartbreak his family was going through and helped raise Alex and his older brother along with her two young daughters. Together, this very special family spent countless hours surrounded by family and friends and focused on the things that made their kids happy. They were and will always be role models to their children, family, friends and their entire community.

As they begin a very painful chapter in their life, the Schachter family is determined to keep Alex’s memory alive by supporting and celebrating the things he loved – from music, to his favorite smoothies to basketball. In fact, just yesterday, their local smoothie shop started selling Alex Smoothies in his memory. The family recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the students of the Stoneman Douglas Marching Band as well as provide necessary funds towards increased security at the high school.

At a CNN Town Hall event this week, Alex’s dad Max read a poem that his son had written for a literary fair called “Life is Like a Roller Coaster.” Alex loved roller coasters and I’m sure never imagined this prophetic poem would be his last, but it has left an impact on his family, friends, community and now, the world.

Alex Schachter was the personification of a child who was doing what he loved surrounded by people who loved him more than life itself. If there were more kids like Alex on this planet, the world would absolutely be a much better, happier and safer place. Rest in peace sweet Alex. May your memory and your spirit be an eternal blessing.

If you would like to make a donation to the Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund to support music education and increased safety in schools, please donate now to the GoFundMe page that was launched in Alex’s memory.

10 Ways to Raise an Outlier

When it comes to parenting our kids, my husband and I take two different approaches. While my husband is definitely more strict with my kids, I’m the one who typically gives in because I just want to make sure that they’re happy. Over the years, my husband and I have made a formidable pair. He keeps them on track with their grades and I’m the cheerleader on the sidelines encouraging them to try their best and not be afraid to fail.

Honestly, I think that’s the only way to raise a successful kid. They need to have someone in their life who is strict because they care about them and know they are capable of achieving great things while the other parent is there to provide them with the tools, advice and guidance to get there.

I started to become fascinated with the concept of raising Outlier kids after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller Outliers. The premise behind Gladwell’s Outlier theory is that it takes at least 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. Once you have logged those 10,000 hours, then you too can effortlessly achieve success in your chosen passion or profession. When my kids were little and starting to share the things they enjoyed, I became attune not only to doing the things they loved, but finding ways to cultivate their talent and their enthusiasm for it. Over the years, my daughter enrolled in high school fashion classes at FIT while my son took magic lessons with a professional magician. To me, fueling their passion was a no brainer and over the years, my daughter’s hard work paid off when she was accepted into a university with a prestigious art program. Nothing comes easy, but here are a 10 tips to raising an Outlier kid:

  1. Find their Passion. When your child is around five years old, start signing them up for 1-2 things that they might enjoy – whether it’s sports, performance or art.
  2. Watch for the Signs. Within 2-3 years you will start to see what your child is starting to excel in.  If they love what they are doing, foster that love. Sign up for classes, clinics or just spend time with them doing the things they love.
  3. Let your child quit. If they complain of a stomach ache every single week that they are supposed to attend swim practice they probably don’t want to do it. The kid who races to their favorite class or sport is doing what they love. The kid who feigns a tummy ache needs to find a new passion.
  4. Encourage your kids to volunteer. It’s important to raise a child who is respectful, humble and grateful. You may be giving them everything they have ever asked for but they need to know that there are people who are less fortunate than them and as a result, they should share what they love with others. Whether it’s working at an animal shelter, volunteering at a nursing home (my son will be performing magic there), or participating in a school initiative like Habitat for Humanity, kids should learn the importance of volunteering and the impact it can make on the lives of other.
  5. Get a job. Do not let your child have everything they want. They need to learn that they have to earn things in life too. By the time they turn 15, it’s time to go to work. Sure you can get a job doing what you love – whether it’s working at a retail job, lifeguarding in the summer or being a hostess at a restaurant, kids today need to know that nothing is free and getting a job is the way to start building a successful future.
  6. Travel Every Single Year. My father-in-law always says, “You can’t put a price on a good time,” and he’s absolutely right. There is nothing better than making priceless memories every single year with your kids when you take a family vacation. It could be a quick road trip, a daycation, a cruise, a theme park visit or a beach adventure, no matter what, expose your kids to all kinds of experiences and cultures. The more you do, the more they will thank you for it when they’re older.
  7. Let them fail. As much as we hate to see our kids get rejected, you have to let it happen. And once they do fail, make sure they get back up, dust themselves off and continue if they want to. Sometimes when you fail a lot at the same thing, it’s a sign you may need to change course, but if you fail the first time, you just need to be there for your child and encourage them to try again, chart a new course and learn from their experiences so the next time around, they can be successful.
  8. Be there to Listen. Sometimes they just want to tell you how they feel if they are struggling academically or socially. Don’t lecture, listen.
  9. Ask Questions. They may not tell you how they feel and you’re going to have to act like an investigative journalist to find out what’s going on in their head. And don’t give up when they give you one word answers. You can sometimes get them to talk while they are doing the things they love.
  10. Tell them You Love Them. Every single day. Without fail. Even if you’ve had a fight. Say I love you, hug them and make sure that no matter what, you will always be there for them.


Get Your Kids to Talk to You with a Brand New Series from Role Mommy

Lately, there’s been a lot of crazy and scary stuff going on in my neighborhood. In the last month, a teenager was stabbed to death and another teen, who was jumped by a gang in a pizza place, retaliated by stabbing a classmate the next day at school. Our entire community is on high alert and the news of these events have hit the local and national news. Parents in and around my neighborhood are now talking about why they’d never send their kids to the high school while others are planning their exit strategy.  There are also parents like me who are trying our best to defend our schools but know that necessary changes need to be made immediately to protect our kids and weed out the perpetrators.

After hearing different sides of the story in a variety of Facebook groups where parents have insulted one another for offering opposing and sometimes polarizing views on the situation, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My plan…to find out what was going on by getting on the inside. And how did I do that? Simple, by talking to my kid and his friends in our SUV.

Hence the name of this new series which will probably become a podcast, “Talk in the SUV.” Here at Talk in the SUV, you’ll hear the latest goings on among teens. Or at least the latest goings on that they feel comfortable sharing. There will be no embarrassing of these kids in any way shape or form. No personal information about minors will be released either. Just stories about a mom getting intel on things they want me to know about while I piece together the rest of the story as best I can.

So let’s start with episode one. I’ll call it THE MICROWAVES

On the Monday after the latest stabbing incident, we learned that our kids would be attending an assembly where the principal of the school would be speaking to them about what transpired over the last few weeks and what security measures have been put in place to protect them and punish kids who were up to no good.

The moment my son and his friends entered the SUV, I asked them how the assembly went. And here’s what transpired.

“We’re getting microwaves. And maybe a food court next year.”

“What did you say?” I asked, not fully comprehending what microwaves had to do with removing weapons from the school.

“Now that we can’t leave the school, they are going to have microwaves in the cafeteria so we can heat up our food,” my son added.

So the takeaway from two weeks of violent activity in and around our school was that the kids would be rewarded with microwaves and potentially a food court in 2019.

I kept probing because as parents, you have to probe or else you’ll get nowhere fast.

“Were there other things that they shared at the assembly?”

“Oh yeah. You can’t wander the halls after the bell rings.”

“If you’re late to school (after 10:30) you can only enter through the front door of the Embassy.”

“We can’t leave campus and we can’t go outside during school either.”

“Kids will be suspended if they break the rules.”

And there you have it. They may have led with microwaves, but my ninja warrior mom interrogation skills worked like a charm.

Stay tuned for the next edition of “Talk in the SUV.” Pick up is on Monday, so there’s no telling what I could find out next…

Life Coaching for your Kids

Listen in to our latest episode of Outlier Parenting when we tackle the topic of Life Coaching for kids with counselor and psychotherapist Brooke Jean.

Brooke is a mom, psychotherapist, life and leadership coach who talks about the importance of providing life coaching for kids to help them pursue their passion, deal with school and social pressures and achieve their goals. Brooke has also been a life coach to her own son who is a budding musician who you can follow on Instagram at @camden_johnson_music.

Understanding both the small business and corporate structures, Brooke thrives on coaching business owners/ their teams to elevate leadership while building healthy team culture. She enjoys yoga, dance, laughter, live music and being in nature with loved ones. For more information go to: http://www.BrookeJeanllc.com