18 Summers, with Jim Sheils
You only have 18 summers with your kids. How will you make them count? Today, we’re talking with Jim Sheils of 18 Summers and author of The Family Boardroom. We’re digging into how you—the entrepreneur, business owner, and busy parent—can deepen your relationship with your child.
So, if you want to create lifelong connections, trust, bonding, respect, and experiences in your family… tune in now!
Table of contents
The Origins of 18 Summers
[1:00] “Basically, there was a study done that the average person will spend… almost 85 percent of all the quality time they have with their children by the end of the 18th summer. Which starts to make sense, you know, because the time minimizes when they’re moving out and becoming adults and possibly not living near you. So it’s saying try to make the most of those 18, because [then] they’ll want to come back for more.”
This flies in the face of common entrepreneurial advice that you should put your head down and focus solely on your business for 5 years. Supposedly, after that, you should have all the time in the world. However, Jim feels that this is the wrong way to approach business and family culture. Because if you don’t make the most of those first 18 summers of your children’s lives, you’ll lose out on future opportunities to be with them.
[13:35] “When you think about it, they turn 18 [and] they can go off to college, join the military, go out on their own. They’re out of high school. I don’t know about you, but my 19-year-old doesn’t hang out as much with me. Although we hang out, he doesn’t hang out with me as much as my 5-year-old.”
The Power of 18 Summers
[14:20] “It causes a positive urgency.”
This is the power of the “18 summers” mindset. Of course, you’re going to have more time with your kids than that. However, those first 18 years are pivotal to your relationship with your children. Those years are formative for them and are the foundation of your relationship. Despite the time you have after they turn 18, you’ll never have more time than you do while they’re still in the school system.
Spending time with your children and making memories while they’re young will lay the groundwork for how the future goes.
[14:38] “Here’s what I know [from] working in this over a decade: you do those first 18 years right… the odds of your child [wanting] you to be a part of their life as an adult go up dramatically. [If] you’re missing, you’re not there, you’ve just been kind of a distant, disciplinarian, ATM machine that wasn’t part of the family life, the odds go down.”
The One-to-One Principle
[17:05] “If you want to have a really strong family and those dynamics of deeper relationships, you have to separate the parts to strengthen the whole. And that is what we call the one-to-one principle. One-on-one time. One-on-one time puts the magnifying glass on that individual relationship, takes away sibling rivalry, gives full attention. It is an absolute potent, potent relationship builder that’s rarely practiced.”
This, Jim shares, is the secret to building strong relationships. Yet when you build a family, having one-on-one time can seem inefficient—you’ve got so many people to bond with and seemingly little time. But it doesn’t take much, it just has to be intentional. This is something you should do with your spouse, your siblings, your kids, and your in-laws. Your kids should have one-on-one time with each other.
This can take work, and it is so worth it in the grand scheme of things. You have to schedule and plan this time and prioritize it to ensure that it happens. And there should be balance so that all children feel like there is equal attention and care.
If you feel like things are disconnected, stale, or fraught in your household, schedule one-on-one time. That which gets scheduled gets done. To make it easier, do it on a rhythm. Do date nights on the same night every week. Plan something with each of your children once a quarter.
You Must Be Present
Part of being intentional is also being 100% present in the moments that you spend with your family in one-on-one time. For Jim, that means no phones. What seems like an insignificant divide can actually be a barrier to your time with your loved ones.
[31:31] “If we’re always on our phones, how do our children know that they’re most important? Or our spouse? And if we’re always seeming to be dragged into that useless text or email—and maybe it’s not useless, I understand you’re working hard—but if they have something really important to talk to you about, do you think that’s going to invite them out to talk about it? Or is it going to continue to hold it in?”
If you’re going to spend time with your loved ones, spend time with them. Make it about bonding and building your relationships. Don’t allow those walls to go up because you’re not fully invested in that time with your family.
Say the Unspoken
[37:00] “On these days, or on these date nights with my wife, I’ve learned to say the unspoken. And what I’ve learned for a lot of our relationships, they’re missing a genuine compliment or a sincere apology.”
In Jim’s opinion, one of the best things you can do when you spend time with your family is to lower your guard and be vulnerable. It’s opposite to how most of us move through the world, and yet it’s necessary to create meaningful relationships with your spouse and kids. It makes the person you’re spending time with see you as more human, and it makes them feel seen, appreciated, and connected to you.
[39:20] “Although providing for our families is a huge honor and nobility, I think, it doesn’t give us immunity. It doesn’t give us the immunity of manners and respect. And I’ve watched a lot of parents roll over their children saying, ‘I don’t need to apologize, I’m working too hard.’ And let me tell you, that only lasts so long, and when it starts to come out towards the end of that 18th summer where they’re like, ‘I don’t need to put up with this… anymore.’ “
If you want to have a healthy connection with your kids, you’ve got to model respect TO them by being genuine in your apologies and compliments. And be generous with them. Your kids learn to respect you in the long term by the respect you show them.
[40:03] “The guard comes down, the relationship builds up.”
Connect with Jim Sheils
- Instagram: @18summerstribe
- The Family Board Meeting book
About Jim Sheils
When YPO, EO, Harvard University, and other world-class organizations want to help their people to succeed at home, they call on Jim Sheils.
There’s a reason people call him Crazy Glue for families.
In keynote presentations, workshops, team events, or private consulting, Jim has helped hundreds of the top entrepreneurs and thought leaders around the world focus and implement where it really counts, at home.
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