For over 40 years, I’ve been trying to figure out my brother, Jon. Many adjectives have been used to describe him and it seems that he’s finally come up with the one that will stick—Driven.

Jon is two years younger than I am, so I’ve known him since the day he was born. We shared a bedroom until I was about 10 (a favorite activity in the room was jumping back and forth from one bed to the other, making sure not to fall into the alligator pit we imagined to be in between). Somewhere around middle school, I moved into the attic (a la Greg Brady, including the beaded doorway.)

We fought a lot, like most same-sex, close-in-age siblings, until our age gap seemed to disappear the first time Jon visited me when I was a college freshman (a weekend that included, among other things, a reprise of my high school days with a midnight, on-campus showing of Rocky Horror.)

We’ve been best friends ever since. We work together; we’ve raised our families in different towns, but only five minutes apart; and we spend a lot of time together socially.

Jon’s always been a creative type. He has come up with amazing schemes, plans, and gimmicks as far back as I can recall—from one-upping my lemonade stand with one that also sold cupcakes, to the seat-belt t-shirts he sold on the streets of Manhattan (more details on that another day), to convincing my parents that if they got us a dog he would take care of it (I know he’s not alone in having made that promise; it’s probably in the top 10 list of promises kids have made and broken.)

Jon and I have a younger sister, Sharon. That makes Jon the middle child, and there were countless times that I saw my parents shrug my shoulders in response to something Jon said or did, as they uttered the clichéd, yet seemingly perfect explanation: “Jon’s a middle child.” Jon has always marched to his own drummer.

One of my favorite examples of Jon’s uniqueness comes from our family’s trips to Bischoff’s, the legendary ice cream parlor in our hometown. When the waitress asked for our orders, it would always go something like this:

Dad: I’ll have Rum Raisin, with hot fudge.

Mom: One scoop of Butter Pecan.

Sharon: Chocolate Chip with chocolate sprinkles.

Me: A large bowl of Soft Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles.

Jon: What is your soup du jour?

Why am I writing about Jon today? Here’s the story:

Approximately 16 years ago, Jon and his wife, Michey, became parents to my beautiful niece, Rebecca. Rebecca was born with a 1 in 10,000,000 genetic-based autism disorder. To that point, Jon had always been driven to go after whatever he wanted in life. His earliest lessons in the value of persistence came from his childhood success in wearing down my parents on various requests to which they had initially said no. Many kids are highly adept at not giving up until they get what they want. Most, for some reason, eventually lose that incredible ability. Not Jon.

When I learned that Rebecca would need tireless advocacy in order to get the best possible care and education, I thought, “She certainly has the right parents.” Later, when Jon started the Drive for Rebecca to raise funds for autism education, awareness, and research; when Jon and his wife, Michey, worked night and day to help start REED Academy, a school for children with autism; and when Jon published The Special Needs Parent Handbook: Critical Strategies and Practical Advice to Help You Survive and Thrive (with all of the proceeds going to charity), I thought, “Rebecca was sent to these parents so that they could change the world, making it a better place for children and families affected by autism.”

Most recently, Jon has been driven to fight for an amazing opportunity for Rebecca. Researchers have developed a possible treatment for Rebecca’s condition and Rebecca was selected to participate in the clinical trial, which is going on right now. Jon had to fight to get Rebecca into the clinical trial, an amazing story which Jon has detailed in a sample chapter from his upcoming book, Driven.

Driven is going to be a great book. In it, Jon will share life lessons that can be applied to overcome virtually any obstacle, transforming problems into challenges to be solved. In order to raise funds for design, copy editing, proofreading, marketing, promotion and publication of the E-book and paperback version, Jon is running a Kickstarter campaign.

Please note that unlike all of Jon’s other endeavors around the issue of Rebecca and autism, this is not a charitable activity. That said, Jon will continue to be extremely active in fund-raising for autism and the success of Driven will serve to enhance Jon’s ability to undertake his charitable efforts.

Whether or not you might want to participate in this project, I strongly recommend that you check out the Kickstarter page, if for no other reasons than because it’s very funny (Kickstarter encourages the use of humor and Jon is one of the funniest people around) and the brief videos about the amazing avatar technology for the clinical trial are extremely cool.

9 Skills Kids Develop When Their Parents Say “No”

Most parents say no to their kids on a regular basis, but some don’t. Based on more than 47 years observing Jon “Driven” Singer, here are nine abilities kids will learn when their parents say “no”:

Drive—children who are given everything will not learn to be driven to work for what they want.

Negotiating skills—children who always hear “yes” will not learn how to negotiate, an important skill in personal and professional life.

The Art of Persuasion—the ability to persuade others to your point of view can be learned with practice and children who do not always hear “yes” will have a head-start in that important life skill.

Persistence—parents should sometimes give in to their children’s pleas, so their children can learn that with persistence they can change someone’s initial position. The best situations to give in on, of course, are ones that you don’t feel very strongly about. And when you do give in, let your kids know that they made a persuasive argument. Of course, kids will only have the opportunity to learn this skill is you say “no” first.

Assertiveness—children who always hear yes don’t learn that in the real world, if you don’t assert yourself, you often don’t get what you want, even if it’s something you deserve (e.g., courteous customer service or proper medical care, to name two.)

Delayed gratification—children who always hear “yes” will not learn to delay gratification, a crucial skill for a wide range of important, grown-up, self-control related activities ranging from money management to weight management.

Gratitude—children who always hear “yes” will be less likely to appreciate what they have. And because gratitude and appreciation are two of the most important skills and activities for a lifetime of happiness, these are priceless skills.

Resilience—children who always get what they want won’t learn to deal with disappointment and how to bounce back from setbacks.

Understanding the difference between wants and needs—children who never hear “no” will have a disadvantage when trying to manage their money because they will have trouble distinguishing between “wanting” and “needing” things.

What some other positives that coming from not always saying “yes” to your kids? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,

David

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