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.


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

Outlier Parenting Series…Sherri and Isabella Rose Taylor

16 year old fashion and art phenom Isabella Rose Taylor is the product of two incredibly supportive parents. I met Isabella five years ago when she was a budding fashion designer and artist when her parents hired my PR agency to introduce this incredibly talented young girl to the media world.  From the moment I met Isabella, I knew she was so special and I was so impressed with how her parents were already managing her career – from gallery openings, to runway shows, to selling her clothes to a major department store, the sky was the limit for Isabella and it continues to be as her art continues to evolve as her entrepreneurialism thrives.

So how did the Taylor’s guide their Outlier child toward success?  Listen in to our latest interview with her mom Sherri Taylor and check out her interview below.

Below is Sherri’s Q&A:

Q. What talent did you notice in Isabella when she was really young?
A. We discovered Bella’s artistic ability at age three.

Q. How did you help cultivate that talent?
A. Both my husband and I cultivated her talent for art by encouraging her to pursue her passion, helping her find art supplies that she wanted to experiment with and just getting out of her way so to speak.

Q. Did your child ever tell you that they didn’t want to pursue that passion anymore? What did you do?
A. I think her passion for being creative has morphed into different things over the years. She enjoys art, fashion and product design as well as entrepreneurship. As a parent, I encouraged her in whatever her current endeavor may be because ultimately we want our children to be happy.

Q. What is Bella doing now to pursue what she loves and continue to get proficient at it?

A. I think if I have to place an age on proficiency in art I would say when she started selling her art through a national gallery as well as her fashion designs to large retailers, both at age 11.

Q. What has been your approach to raising your child?
A. I am probably a mix of cheerleader and an outlier. Isabella has not had a traditional education in order to accommodate her academically as well as allowing more time to pursue art and fashion.

Q. What do you admire most in your child?
A. I admire her humble nature.

Q. What would you have done differently in your own career now that you are a parent with kids on the verge of making their own decisions about their professional life?
A. That is a hard question to answer but I feel that taking more risks in what I was interested in doing. I would have also preferred a more unconventional educational upbringing.

To find out more about Isabella Rose Taylor, you can visit her website at www.isabellarosetaylor.com.

My Outlier Parenting Story…Beth & Rebecca Drew

When I first started Role Mommy more than 12 years ago, my kids were little. At the time, my daughter was seven and my son was four and all I wanted to do was figure out how I was going to climb the corporate ladder and pursue my dreams while raising a family. During that time, I did figure out how to advance in my career all while staying active in my kids’ lives. As they got older, I started to discover what my kids loved and what they were really good at. And then I read Outliers.

If you haven’t read this fantastic guidebook by Malcolm Gladwell on some of the most iconic success stories in history – from the Beatles to Bill Gates, then make sure it’s on your January 2018 reading list. The key takeaway that I got from Outliers was the 10,000 hours expert theory. According to Gladwell, it takes at least 10,000 hours for someone to be an expert in anything. So just imagine – if your child decided at age 5 that they wanted to be a prima ballerina and they really loved taking all those dance lessons, you could technically guide them toward their dream. I’m not saying to torture your child – you need to listen to them when they’re getting burnt out and don’t want to keep going but if you have a kid that lives and breathes their art, their magic, their music or even their Legos, you have the power to unlock their dreams.

With Outlier Parenting, we will feature parents who have listened to their kids and guided them toward realizing their dreams. I’m going to start first with my daughter Becca Drew.

While I never intended to raise an artist, little did I know that that her middle name would determine her fate.

When she was in elementary school, her art teacher told us how impressed he was with her work and thought she could really do something special with her talents. While we were proud of her at the time, she didn’t have any interest in taking art classes outside of school, so we didn’t push her.

When she enrolled in middle school, Becca started to show an interest in fashion design and thankfully, one of my commuting buddies shared an amazing tip that helped put the 10,000 hours theory in motion. It turns out that FIT offers classes for middle and high schoolers where they can attend class on the weekends and learn everything from fashion design to draping, to sewing and sneaker design, photography and more. We enrolled our daughter in her first FIT class in 8th grade and after she was admitted into a Visual Arts program at her high school in New Rochelle, she continued taking the fashion classes through her Junior year.

Along the way, Becca met a wedding dress designer named Henry Roth and when she shared that she wanted to be a wedding dress designer (she actually shared one of her drawings with him), he instantly took a liking to her and invited her to a trunk show he and his sister were hosting at Kleinfelds. Becca was over the moon and helped the pair sell four dresses that day. In fact, she now has decided that one day she’d love to do an internship at Kleinfelds but back to the story.

Throughout high school, Becca took several challenging art classes including an AP sculpture class where she designed a dress made entirely out of condoms. Her concentration for her pieces was on feminism in all aspects of a woman’s life and the dress was a piece focusing on date rape culture – no matter what you wear, no still means no.

Fast forward the following year where we were touring college campuses and Becca had decided that she wanted to attend a University with an amazing art program and the moment we toured the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, she was sold. A few months later, Becca presented her portfolio to the director of admissions and the rest was history. She made it into the school and is now thriving as a first year freshman. Next year, she’ll be starting a joint degree where she’ll be pursuing her BFA with a degree in entrepreneurship from the Fox School of Business. This program just kicked off at the University and we’re thrilled that Becca is going to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, when Becca and her friends started to commit to their schools, she decided to start designing commitment day sneakers which featured the logo and mascots of the schools her friends were attending. When she shared her Temple University shoes with the director of admissions, she instantly fell in love with them and connected her to the head of the tour guide program who wanted her to design sneakers for the Temple Owl tour guides. We knew we had to get a license to design several pairs of sneakers, so I helped her research how to do it and after speaking with a licensing agent and an attorney, I managed to connect with the licensing company for Temple and after several months, they recently granted her a crafters license where she will be designing up to 20 pairs of shoes this year for incoming freshman, alumni or current students. The name of Becca’s Instagram is simple:  @BeccaDrewIt.

Becca meets with the business development director at the University when she returns from break. I’m super proud of what she’s accomplished so far and cannot wait to see what the future holds as she continues to pursue her 10,000 hours.



Introducing…Outlier Parenting!

Introducing a new offering at Role Mommy – Outlier Parenting. If you are interested in hearing more about how to raise successful kids with my 10,000 hours approach to parenting, then join me as we share what parents are doing to help guide their kids towards a successful future where they truly get to do what they love!



I Want My Daughter to Become Wonder Woman and Not a Disney Princess

Me, circa 1986 on the day my parents dropped me off at college.

Now that my daughter is away at college, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my own days back in school. At the time, I started UMASS when I was only 16 years old. I had a serious boyfriend and my ultimate dream was to pursue musical theater and become a star on Broadway. I had performed since age two in talent shows, original productions and musicals and there was just something about performing that made me light up. At the time, I thought it was my calling but when I started to face rejection, I decided I wasn’t good enough and veered off in another direction.

Another reason why I didn’t go for it or even try out for Summer Stock during those years was because I had a serious boyfriend. We had met when I was in high school and he actually fell for me because he saw me perform on stage. We met my junior year, broke up for several months when I was a senior and got back together right before I went back to college.

I spent the next four years pining for that boyfriend. Spoke to him nearly every night on the phone, costing myself hundreds of dollars a month in phone bills which I paid myself after getting a part time job. I even decided to pursue a 15 credit internship at home in New York City just so I could be with him and not away at school. That internship eventually led to my first job in PR and my career veered off in a direction I never expected or wanted to pursue.

By the time I graduated college and decided to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at NYU, that serious boyfriend decided he couldn’t move forward with the relationship and broke up with me. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I couldn’t believe I had spent four years of my life dedicating myself to him – when he became jealous of my role in a musical theater performance of “Grease,” I decided to stop auditioning for those on campus shows. I made life choices at that critical time in my life because I thought he was “The One.” But guess what, he wasn’t and honestly, I’m really lucky that we didn’t wind up together – especially since he said he never wanted his wife to work and expected her to watch his kids while he worked. The woman he did marry, who happened to be a lawyer when they met, quit her job when they had kids. So I guess he wasn’t lying when he shared his philosophy on where a woman belongs once you start having kids.

When my daughter started dating someone in her senior year who was a close friend, I was happy for her but deep down, I wanted to ensure that when she started college, they would break up and remain friends. She did agree with me and while it was hard and at times devastating to break off the relationship, she did it and is now on her own at college. While I have no idea whether she will meet someone while she’s there or find her true love after she graduates, I’m so happy that she is being given the chance to live her life on her terms without anyone second guessing her intelligence, her talents or her decisions. College is difficult enough without throwing in a relationship with someone who may not share your ultimate goals. The ideal partner in life will build you up, support you, shower you with love, laughter and will make you feel secure. I was lucky enough to find that person and together we have supported one another as we’ve pursued our ultimate goals.

While I never did go back to going after that long ago Broadway dream, I have had the chance to perform from time to time and know that at some point in my life, I’ll be doing it again. For now, I’m focused on ensuring my kids are set up for success – giving them the chance to figure out what makes them tick and what makes them happy so they can ultimately pursue what they love no matter what that might be. Don’t get me wrong – having a boyfriend or a girlfriend is great – but so does becoming the person you’re destined to be. Do I hope she gets to live happily ever after like every fairytale we’ve ever read together? Of course, but first I want her to be Wonder Woman – be fierce, take on the world and make her mark.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. Love will come when the time is right, but find yourself first and everything else will fall into place.

College Road Trip…The Official Freshman Drop Off with Ford

It’s been eight days since we officially dropped our daughter off at college and as a Freshman parent newbie, I have to say, there are definitely things I would do differently after seeing other kids arrive with their parents.  As our daughter was packing for school and I was busy shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Harmon and Home Goods, the pile of items we were planning to transport to Philadelphia was enormous.  So much so that we quickly realized there was no way we were going to able to fit everything into our small SUV.

But thanks to Ford, which had generously offered me the chance to try out their 2018 Ford Explorer, we managed to fit everything into their SUV.  The 7 seater white SUV which was tricked out with tons of technology and a dual sunroof, arrived the afternoon before we hit the road – giving us the chance to start putting all of our daughter’s belongings into the trunk as if it was an elaborate puzzle. What I really loved about the car was that the third row folds under electronically – expanding the size of the trunk which also opens and closes with the press of a button. We managed to fit all of her clothes which had been stuffed in huge duffel bags that we had previously used for sleep-away camp.  I had also read on the popular college parents blog Grown & Flown that I should buy large plastic Ikea bags to pack more of her things in the car so I of course bought about 6 bags and stuffed as much as I could inside.  Take a look…

Thankfully, the SUV had a back up camera so even though we couldn’t see out the back window, we were safe because we were able to see what was behind us.  I also loved that the car beeps if you are too close to a car next to you — which totally helps when you’re parking. Another favorite tech option is a light that appears on the side view mirrors which warns you not to change lanes if a car is too close to you. And if you’ve been driving too long, it will ask prompt you with a message to consider taking a break!

While I couldn’t see my family as we drove toward Philadelphia, I still managed to find some room for my legs in the comfy leather seats. One of my favorite options in the second row was the USB charger and plug that’s conveniently placed in the middle console. That came in handy when my son decided to finish his summer homework on the way back from a trip to the Hamptons later that weekend. But I digress…


We made it to Temple University and unloaded the SUV within 5 minutes and then my husband went to park the car so that we could load everything into the dorm and before we knew it, she was moved in.

Even though I think we moved half our house into her dorm room – which incidentally is nicer than most city apartments I’ve seen–they have a view of Philadelphia from their windows-I still found myself feverishly ordering more items that were shipped to her dorm from Amazon Prime Target, Dormify and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Lesson learned – you don’t necessarily have to take everything with you on the first day, thanks to modern technology, even if it arrives a few days later, it’s still totally fine.  Take a look at how her room looks now…it’s so awesome it was even featured on the Dormify Instagram page!

move in day done right 👌 // rg @beccadreww

A post shared by dormify (@dormify) on

Once we drove back home, we took the Explorer for another road trip – this time a weekend visit to my parent’s house in the Hamptons and on this adventure, we brought our son and our dog Santana, who happens to love driving in the car with us. We made sure to put her dog bed on the floor and covered her seat with a blanket and she obediently took her seat and watched out the window until we arrived at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.


From Philly to New Ro and now to Southampton. Road tripping with @Ford #FordExplorer and @santanafuentes

A post shared by RoleMommy (@bethfeldman) on

Over the weekend, we managed to squeeze six of us in the car, visited a winery, hit the town of Southhampton for ice cream, shopped and before we knew we it, we were back on the road…

Since we have to turn our car back into the dealer within the next few months, I have to say, that I totally loved the Ford Explorer.  I may opt for an even smaller SUV but was so grateful to be able to take our daughter to college in one car!  Thanks so much to the team at Ford for your generosity…I am officially a Ford fan!

Disclosure:  The Ford Motor Company provided a Ford Explorer for our family to test drive for our college road trip and weekend adventure.  All opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own!