Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Getting paid to do nothing

Why your job as a parent is to be a gardener, not a carpenter. And how accepting your child for who they are can lead to a deeper relationship.

This morning I read an article about Shoji Morimoto, a 37 year old man from Japan with an interesting job.

Shoji hires himself out to people, who meet up with him just to hang out. Almost like a "friend to hire".

He charges about a $100 for a session, and then just hangs out with you for a couple of hours, just doing whatever. He might go to the movies with his clients, go to a restaurant, or even just hang out at home, talking.

Shoji says that he used to think that there was nothing he was good at, so he decided that he needed a job where he could do nothing. So now people hire him to do nothing. And he says it is the best job he has ever had.

I loved this story, because it is such a good example of how truly accepting yourself can lead to happiness. Instead of trying to become good at something he didn't enjoy, Shoji embraced his idea of being good at nothing, and used that to create happiness for himself and for his clients.

This concept is not just true for ourselves, but also for our children.

Often we have this idea in our heads of how our children should be. Then, instead of accepting who they are, we try to "mold" them into the person we think they should be.

However, this often leads to frustration - for ourselves, and for our children.

When I interviewed Dr Jean Clinton (a clinical child psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences professor and the author of Love Builds Brains) for my book "How To Get Kids To Listen", she used the metaphor of seeing yourself as a gardener, rather than a carpenter:

It starts from a place of respecting the child as competent and capable and that we are shepherding them. More like gardeners than carpenters.

It's not that we want a particular outcome that's fixed, but rather we want to be the nurturer, the creator of the condition so that thriving happens. So, back to your question. The most important thing is to observe and be respectful and build relationships and connections with kids.

Dr Jean Clinton

The key is to start focusing on helping your child become who they are, instead of trying to force them to become who you think they should be.

In my interview with Dr Jean, she also shares why your love is a “super nutrient” for your child’s brain, and what it really means when your child is not cooperating with you.

You can find the full interview with Dr Jean Clinton - What it really means when your child is not cooperating - here.