How We Can Prepare Differently Wired Children for an Uncharted Future

gender nonconformity kids

Wondering about how to best prepare our children for the future? That’s the focus of this episode featuring educator, social worker, and mother of two differently wired children Stephanie Malia Krauss. Through her experiences teaching and running a school, Stephanie realized that getting young people to graduate does not always mean they are ready for life. Today she works at the intersection of education, human services, and workforce development and she is also the author of the new book, Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World.

You might think this is just another book about launching, but I promise you it’s more than that. Stephanie understands that today’s kids are growing up in the midst of rapid change and that the most in-demand jobs and skills of today may be obsolete by the time our youngest become adults.

In our conversation, Stephanie lays out the main factors shaping today’s kids (and both the alarming and the optimistic trends she’s seeing), explains the four “life currencies” that will be essential to prepare our children for the future workforce, and shares her insights on why and how differently wired kids will lead the way into the future


About Stephanie Krauss

Stephanie Malia Krauss is a mom, educator, and social worker. Her debut book, Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World, was published in March 2021. Stephanie is the owner and principal of First Quarter Strategies, a senior advisor to Jobs for the Future, and a staff consultant for the Youth Transition Funders Group.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How Stephanie went from teacher to social worker to author of Making It
  • The defining factor that makes today’s kids different from generations past
  • Why Stephanie prefaced everything in her book with the importance of prioritizing kids’ mental health
  • The two alarming things and one hopeful thing that Stephanie has noticed about the next generation
  • What factors are shaping the future employment and why differently wired kids are especially well-suited for tomorrow’s challenges
  • The four “Life Currencies” that will be necessary to prepare today’s children for the future
  • Why the old model of “success” is outdated and unfair
  • Stephanie’s advice for parents as we begin to emerge from the pandemic


Resources mentioned on how to prepare today’s children for the future

  • Email Stephanie or reach out on social media to request a free signed bookplate. Just let her know that you heard about Making It from this interview! (Please include your address, too!)


Episode Transcript


Stephanie Krauss: 00:00
Lots of the old jobs will go away. Lots of new jobs will be created. But overwhelmingly the things that will make our kids most employable are tapping into like their fundamental humanity as both like caring people and creative people. And then having that resilience which all of our kids do, I think, to be able to to work hard through challenge and change because things will be challenging and they will be changing.

Debbie Reber 00:32
Welcome to Tilt Parenting a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber. My guest today is educator, social worker and mother of two differently wired children Stephanie Malia Krauss, through her experiences teaching and running a school Stephanie realize that getting young people to graduation does not always mean they are ready for life. Today, she works at the intersection of education, Human Services and workforce development. And as a part of that work has recently published the new book, making it what today’s kids need for tomorrow’s world. You might think this is just another book about launching. But I promise you it is more than that. Stephanie understands that today’s kids are growing up in the midst of rapid change, and that the most in demand jobs and skills of today may be obsolete by the time our youngest become adults. In our conversation today, Stephanie lays out the main factors shaping today’s kids and both the alarming and the optimistic trends she’s seeing. She also explains before life currencies that will be essential for tomorrow’s workforce, and shares her insights on why and how differently wired kids will lead the way into the future. I thought this was a fascinating conversation. I hope you find it interesting and useful. Before I get to that, if you’re new to tilde parenting and found this podcast while searching for resources to support you on your journey of parenting, a neurodivergent child, be sure to check out my book differently wired in differently wired I share my best practices and practical advice for supporting not just our kids, but ourselves through this journey. And if you’re looking to make some quick positive shifts in your day to day life, you can sign up for my free differently wired seven day challenge. Every day for one week, you’ll get a short daily video highlighting one actionable thing you can do right away to impact the way you think, feel and act in relation to your child. You’ll also get a download of a mini workbook and access to a private Facebook group. And again, that’s totally free. Just go to sign up. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Stephanie. Hello, Stephanie. Welcome to the podcast.

Stephanie Krauss 03:02
Hey, Debbie, it’s really a pleasure to be with you today.

Debbie Reber 03:05
I got your book, I devoured it. I thought it was so fascinating. So I’m really looking forward to this conversation. But before we get into all of that, can you take a few minutes and just introduce yourself, tell us about what you do in the world. And you know, your focus. And I always love to know people’s personal why for the work that they’re doing in the world too.

Stephanie Krauss 03:28
I love to you know, this is so fun. For me, I was telling you when we were prepping for the conversation that I’m a part of the community here I’ve been a longtime listener of the podcast, and it has become a tool for my husband and I to communicate, I would say we’re trying to raise and two differently wired boys. So I am a mom, first and foremost have two kids who are 10 and eight as they try to make it through this crazy changing world. And my background is split across education and social work. So I think it might be important for listeners know before we jump in that I started out with my own very non traditional education and childhood journey, but ultimately ended up as a classroom teacher. And from there left to get a social work degree. So I really was conflicted, where I loved teaching and saw all of the other things that were happening in the mines in the households that the kids that were in my classroom, and I had no skills or tools to really help them. And so as a social worker really got to dig in to some of the issues that you cover on the podcast, whether it’s mental health or thinking about social and economic and emotional development and growth ended. Becoming a school leader. So I ran a school for youth who were over age and under President, these were 17 to 21 year olds on the technical college campus who are super far behind, but wanted to finish school. And I’ve spent now the last eight years working nationally with a number of different nonprofits, and organizations thinking about not only education and social work and how kids develop, but also the workforce and higher education, and thinking about the life that they’re moving into when they hit adulthood.

Debbie Reber 05:35
Such an interesting lens that you’re coming to this work from. And there’s something about your book, and I and I actually want you to tell us genuinely what your book is about. But you know, as I was reading it, it felt so different from what I expected. And so your book is called Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. And I think when I read that, I’m like, Oh, this is a book about, you know, launching, and it was so much more than that. It was super interesting. And it went in directions I wasn’t really expecting and which is why I after I finished reading, I’m like, I gotta bring you on the show. So can you take a few minutes and tell us about this book, kind of what your vision for was and what readers could expect in it?

Stephanie Krauss 06:20
Well, I’ll tell you what my vision wasn’t, I did not think I was going to be finishing this book in the middle of a pandemic. And so that has been a freely I mean, horrible, stressful stretching experience for all of us. But one of the things that was so interesting about wrapping up this book, in the pandemic, is that the whole point of it was to say, today’s kids are different, you know, you really coined this idea of being differently wired. And what we’re seeing is that all kids are in in ways that are really shaped by their environments and experiences. profoundly different than than us because of how and when they’re growing up. And I talked about them being both disruption and digital natives, which, you know, we can dig into a little bit more, but that the world is also changing, just as quickly and as much as it feels like so you know, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I can feel how fast everything is changing. And it’s overwhelming, and it’s overloading and there’s a lot of research and data to just back up that it actually is happening faster and more than it has in history. And so, you know, when the pandemic hit it kind of typified what I was saying in that like our kids, their whole lives have been really bookended by these major crises that have rocked us. And yet, they’re these defining milestone moments, whether it’s COVID. Other economic recessions like the Great Recession, even being born in the days after 911. You know, just what that has meant. And so the purpose of the book was really thinking back to when I was on the front lines of education and youth development, what I needed to know when I was working with kids, and then thinking as a parent, what I need to know raising these kids in this moment, and trying to get an updated picture of both the science and the research on Who are these kids? What is this world? What is this changing workplace? And then what actually do they need to get by? I think one of the pieces, Debbie that’s a little bit different about making it is that I wanted to give a super accurate picture. And I think as a mom of have differently wired kids and thinking about the listeners on the show, they’ll appreciate it. Like I actually wanted to name that things are hard, that there are some really big challenges that we as parents are facing that educators and coaches and counselors are facing, and that our kids are growing up inside of, and really kind of illuminate a more accurate roadmap of what it takes to be ready to navigate life not necessarily thrive. That’s not this book, I’ve got a lot of opinions on what it takes to thrive. But this is more around like, how do you just navigate all of the things and how do you keep learning and eventually get to good work and good opportunities in adulthood?

Debbie Reber 09:31
Yeah, I in reading it, you do talk about COVID. And yeah, as a reader as well, she had to be really responsive. Knowing when this book came out, and I bet you were editing to the last moment before it went to press. But that I feel added so much to the book because it feels as if you know you you really understand you know, the the world in which these kids are growing up and you make such a powerful case for them. how different they are going to be because of what they’re growing up inside of you said their childhood experiences and ever evolving environments or wiring them to learn, work and operate in new ways. And you do say that all kids are wired differently. Could you talk a little bit more about what you mean by that?

Stephanie Krauss 10:18
Yeah, absolutely. So it’s a little bit of brain science here. But we’ll try to keep it feeling super understandable. So what we know is that there are two periods of time in the kid’s life when the brain changes the most one. One is what we know all of us as parents the early years, right? So babies and toddlers and those major milestones that we’re looking at and watching for. But what a lot of parents don’t realize, and the science on this is just emerging is that the tween teen space, the brains are developing just as much. And so from the onset of puberty, all the way into the mid 20s, that front part of the brain that’s responsible for a lot of things that our kids and listeners on the show struggle with executive functioning, so the organizing the planning, the self regulation, thinking about emotions, they are really being sort of tweaked and free tweaked by whatever’s happening around them. So the environment and then these experiences. And each of those environments and experiences are kind of coaching and counseling the brain and body on Okay, we respond this way, because this will keep us alive, or this will keep us well, or this will keep us protected. And so, you know, take the example of my boys, I definitely am like a mom that worries, but I see such pronounced anxiety and fear and sort of reluctance on the part of my kids. Because, you know, the world feels like a scary place. It is a world where you can go to school, and there can be shootings, it’s a World War, there can be racial uprisings. It’s a world where pandemics can hit and pull you out of school. And so they’ve got these messages happening, you know, from the news from the amount of information from their own lived experience that say, things are pretty precarious and volatile. And so what’s interesting about that is that there are also these digital natives, these techies, and that they are privy to, like incredible inventions and innovation. And so I don’t, I don’t know how your son is, but like, my boys are both like super creative and innovative, but also a little bit reluctant. And one of the things that has happened across this generation in terms of this, like changed wiring, is when you think about all of the like research on millennials, or what we heard about millennials sort of flitting from place to place and being super optimistic and wanting to go after causes this group coming up, so you’ve got like Generation Z, or, you know, I’m kind of thinking about them as COVID kids. They just want stability and security. And so they’re super innovative, incredibly creative, you know, diversifying group of kids across all kinds of levels, gender, sexuality, racially, you know, economically, but they’ve seen so much disruption in their young lives that they also just like, want to know that it’s going to be okay, that they’re going to have a job, family is going to be all right. And we can’t really promise them that environmentally, or economically. But I think we can, especially as parents, give that to them socially and at the family level. So that’s one example of kind of how this is playing out on a large scale.

Debbie Reber 13:56
Well, one of the things that you write about upfront is the importance of prioritizing kids mental health, you made it clear that this is kind of the foundation almost where we need to begin. Can you say a little bit about that? Why you want to include that as a preface to everything that you shared? After that point?

Stephanie Krauss 14:16
Yeah, I’m, I’m so I’m so worried about this, Debbie, just like in general. So after I finished the first draft of the book, and this was right before the pandemic, I had this kind of like crisis of writer faith. And I called my brother who had been a radio producer and a reporter. And I said, Mark, I don’t know what to do. And you I’m sure you’ve read the story. It’s right in the introduction. I said, You know, I set out to write this book about education and preparation, like what do kids need to know and be able to do in this rapidly changing world and future and I feel like I should have written a book on mental health like every single person And I’m talking to whether it’s a pediatrician or professor or teacher or parent or an employer has taken the interview opportunity to lament the mental health issues that they’re seeing in their students or their clients or their, you know, the kids who are coming into their, their practice for the doctors. And it was super overwhelming. I mean, I talked to a cousin who’s a school psychologist, pre COVID. And she was doing two to five suicide assessments for kids as young as eight years old every week. And then I talked to a counselor just last week, and in their school district in Arizona, they had, they have been having two to five actual suicides or suicide attempts every week. And so there’s this shift. And I think that it’s so strange to me, we think about body health, and the brain is a part of the body. And we have to be attending to cognitive mental health, just as much as physical health. I think that the pandemic sort of picked up on anything that kids may have been predisposed to, and just amplified or accelerated mental health concerns or issues. You know, I’m not sure about the other listeners or even for you and your household thinking about some of the sharing that you’ve done on on other episodes. But one of the things that is actually has caused me hope so in our family, we’ve got all kinds of mental health issues, physical health issues that we’re grappling with, and we saw a new and different things this past year and a half. And they were some of them are scary. And though, the one thing that sort of gives me encourages me as a mom is I think, God, if my 10 year old, can develop some of these tips and tricks to support his mental health now, then he won’t be 23 or 25. And on his own, thinking that he’s crazy, or thinking that you know, something terribly wrong, is happening with him, I actually think that we’re shifting into a time when most kids are going to struggle with mental health issues. And the reality is, and this is why when in the introduction, if a young person is in crisis, from a mental health perspective, like learning in work, just go out the window. And that has to take priority that is absolutely the oxygen mask.

Debbie Reber 17:43
Well, so I love the way that you talked about that some of these kids may have been predisposed to things or that you know, the pandemic has really amplified, maybe qualities or predispositions that our kids may have had that makes so much sense to me. And I love your optimistic view that these kids are our learning skills now, certainly, that I didn’t learn to I was in my late 20s, for sure. And in terms of emotional regulation, or just cognitive behavioral therapy and all of these things. So I’m just wondering be and and then I want to get into the book, but just to finish this piece on mental health. What else do you see kids kind of bringing with them as they grow up? You said they’re going to be craving more stability, which makes total sense. And but they’re, we’re hopefully going to move into young adulthood with these skills and a better understanding of how to attend to their own mental health. I’m wondering if there any other kind of residual effects of the mental health crisis that our kids are experiencing right now?

Stephanie Krauss 18:48
Down the road? And absolutely, okay, so I’m going to try to give you like, two things that are a little bit scary as parents for us to just attend to and no, and then one thing I’ll go back to being the optimist one thing that we can be hopeful about. So you know, we’re seeing anxiety and depression just skyrocket in really significant ways. And, and also, I think bleeding over to a real uptick in obsessive compulsive disorder, so OCD other you know, compulsions, I think for our kids who are on spectrums in terms of thinking about like attention and hyperactivity, the way that the environment is structured right now, and being in this kind of crisis reactive so think about pandemic schooling like it was perpetual crisis, schooling and changing routine and changing structure. That all of those things kind of feed the beast. It makes everything harder, or being on tech longer, or tech that wasn’t fully developed. For with the with like Kids development in mind. So one thing that just watch for is anxiety and depression. I think if your kids haven’t experienced that before, to also do some, like, early education for yourself that anxiety, for instance, can sometimes look like anger. And as a mom in the heat of the moment, like that’s very hard for me to remember, like it is angry. Are you actually anxious? Or are you actually scared about something? And so that would be one thing to really pay attention to. And again, to sort of look at like those sneaky manifestations of like, what it can look like. So is my kid more tired than normal? Are they more irritable than normal? How is their sleep, that kind of thing. The second is probably like, a full topic for a full other show. But understanding that the technology that our kids spent a lot of time on was not designed with their development and health and well being in mind. It was designed for usership. Well, they come on, well, they come on more well, they come on more often. And that we know that a lot of not even just the games, but the apps and the notifications are lighting up parts of the brain that are so connected to addiction, or the feel good chemicals, I say in the book. And like, although I sort of suspected it, it’s still terrified me, that the link between sort of what I call like a dopamine thing, what happens in the brain, when kids are on these, some of these apps, some of the video game components, getting the notifications is actually as strong as a crack addiction and feeling that like desire for crack. And so I think any family that has a predisposition to addiction, which my family is that family, you just need to be aware of it. And there’s a there’s a great new book, I know I think a colleague of both of ours, and Jess Leahy, the addiction inoculation and really just having this long view of what are the things in our history, I’ve recently started mapping sort of three generations back of like, what is the history of mental health issues, because you know, this, this is kind of like the flu of the early 19 hundred’s like we’ve got new stimuli that are that could be triggering new and different things and knowing our history. So I mentioned those are the two terrifying things. So anxiety, depression, and then thinking about sort of predisposition to addiction. I think the the place where I’m super hopeful, is around like issues and interest that our kids are going to develop, because all of this is affecting them so deeply. So I actually see this generation of young people, including so many of the young people who are kids of listeners of this podcast who’ve been impacted by, you know, autoimmune issues by attention issues by learning disabilities that like this is a group of kids primed for activism, primed for advocacy, to really take up causes, because they have affected and shaped their lives so profoundly. So one of the things that I’m just like, amazed by and really hopeful about is how this generation will actually go on to be incredible change makers.

Debbie Reber 23:36
Yes to that. I love that. And I you know, that certainly echoes the conversations that I’ve had with my, you know, son who’s now 16, almost 17, you know, that there is this strong sense of, Wow, you guys really screwed up here. And our entire generation is going to navigate things differently because of it. And it is fascinating, and I and I love that idea of a bunch of change makers moving into, to not fix things, but to get on with their important work and, and have the wherewithal to just kind of move forward. So that’s exciting to think about. Let’s talk about your book. You talked about this initially, in the beginning of our conversation, you mentioned the creativity and you talk about that in the book, what you call the creative class, the rise of this creative class and that employers are going to want to find workers who think outside the box who express curiosity who show a knack for problem solving. So of course, as I’m reading that, I’m like, that’s our kids. That is differently wired kids, you know, they are the natural disruptors. So can you say more about that? Why are those qualities going to be so important for employers in the future?

Stephanie Krauss 24:59
Oh my god, that That is our kids, right like this is. So now I’m like fully claiming my optimist see like in the future of work. And in this changing future, I actually think that our kids are really primed to be, you know, they will struggle and they will be okay. Like it will be a tension of surviving and thriving at the same time. So this gets back a little bit to why I wrote the book. So when I was running a school, and when I was in the classroom, I had literally like, no idea about the workforce, and what was happening in the labor market, or even where to look. And I definitely didn’t know anything about technology. I’m a little bit of a Luddite. And then I like, left the classroom and the education frontlines and running a school and suddenly was catapulted into all these conversations about technology and what was changing and what jobs would be available and what jobs were becoming obsolete and outdated. And that was a part of the message that’s, you know, pretty strong in the book is updating our understanding of like, where the robots are, and where the machines are taking over and what kids will need as tomorrow’s workers. So that just kind of set a foundational understanding for listeners, one of the things that was really sort of profoundly changed my parenting. And in writing, the book was coming to learn that for our kids, if they have the right resources, and supports, because of advances in medicine and science, and sort of where we are, as a society, with exception to some crisis, they should, as a rule live to be as old as 100. So you’re looking at the possibility of our, our boys, our kids having a 100 year life, which means an 80 year work life. And it was so like literally a whole lifetime of work, and a lifetime of work during when, like what’s happening during that time. And one big thing that’s happening during the time is a changing role of technology, doing a lot of different jobs. And that’s everything from machine technology to like, the robots, artificial intelligence. And the the most important thing to know here before it gets a little bit complicated is that if something is rote, or predictable, or patterned, it can be done by tack. Now that’s different for for anybody who’s got a kid who’s on the spectrum, autism, Asperger’s, this is different than picking up on patterns, or seeing patterns in in different ways or different kinds. This is actually like, predictable, same thing all the time. And so you do see technology, taking up a lot of that. And that’s everything from you know, who’s working on the factory floor, but also things like accounting, or even like diagnosing some conditions and health care. And so what employers need, and what the workforce is looking for, are actually two pieces. One is like, fundamentally human creative craftsmen, workers, you know, people who bring that uniquely human touch to their work. And so this is a moment for the artists and the creatives and the craftsmen. And then the other side is moving from an idea of like, Oh, that’s white collar work, or blue collar work to thinking about durable and resilient work. And the most durable work actually, like lives in what some folks are calling the carry economy, like taking care of each other. But also, you know, the things that require, again, a human touch. So that could be politics, that could be being an executive, being a teacher, being a nurse those types of pieces. So when you think about preparing our kids, for this potentially, at your work life, you should know or we should be thinking about, lots of the old jobs will go away, lots of new jobs will be created. But overwhelmingly the things that will make our kids most employable are tapping into like their fundamental humanity as both like caring people and creative people. And then having that resilience which all of our kids do, I think, to be able to work hard through challenge and change because things will be challenging and they will be changing.

Debbie Reber 29:49
So fascinating. And I have so many questions that are not on my sheet of questions here now. So I’m going to go back to the sheet and maybe we’ll have to do another follow up. conversation. But I would I want to make sure that we get to some of the key concepts in your book as well you outlined for what you refer to as life currencies, the four things that will be necessary for today’s kids to make it in tomorrow’s world. So could you take a few minutes? And just tell us briefly what those four currencies are? Yeah, absolutely. So,

Stephanie Krauss 30:22
you know, one of the big pieces I wanted to have readers understand, and that I want your listeners to understand is that as kids are going through school, very often, the goal is like college and career readiness, let’s get them to graduation, and then get them into college, and then get them a good job. And make sure that they know what they want to be when they grow up. And that operates from this, like very flawed, and now super outdated contract, where we think that like success in the US is measured by going through high school, getting a diploma, getting into college, getting a four year degree, knowing what you want to be when you grow up getting jobs, better jobs, better pay promotions, and then like saving money, and eventually retiring with money in the bank and leaving your kids well off. And the problem is that like that model, that contract never worked for everyone, mostly worked for the white and wealthy. But now it’s just actually like, not the way that the world works at all. And so what actually happens is that when young people enter into either life after high school, or for kids who who don’t graduate, they just transition into adulthood. Really, what it looks like is they go into this big, super convoluted confusing opportunity marketplace, where they’re going to have to keep coming back. So think about this, like a big farmers market. But instead of fruits and vegetables, and jewelry, people are selling learning opportunities, get the certificate, take this class, enroll in this degree program, or job opportunities. And I wanted to give a really clear picture that like first off this market is like not a fair marketplace. Everything has a cost. And it’s not always what we think it is. So in school, for instance, the focus is like get a kid the degree or get them skills, and they’ll be okay. But actually, and I’m sure you could think about this from your own work life. And it’s just getting more like this every day. It really matters who you know, and it really matters how much money you have. And so the four currencies, the way that kids purchase opportunity, purchase learning opportunities, and work opportunities in the states and arguably in other places to is by showing what they know, and can do. So these are competencies, what skills do they have? credentials, they still really matter, like most employers and bosses will only consider your resume. If you do have a credential. We know that young people who have a degree are more likely to get looked at for the job and get hired for the job. But the people who get promoted and who get better opportunities, or better paying opportunities are actually folks who know the right people. And so social connections really matter to who you know, and who knows you. And then cash. And we don’t talk about cash very much. But like, look at the past year and a half like it’s hugely important how much financial resource you have, and the relationship between what cash you have and how much you can learn or work. And there’s big research on the fact that scarcity, financial scarcity actually limits a kid’s ability to learn and work. So these four currencies, competency, competencies, credentials, connections, and cash are all things that can be learned or earned, also inherited. So some kids are born with incredible connections, for instance, or cash in the bank. I think one of the things that’s really powerful for our kids, for listeners to your show, is that if you if you struggle to get one of them, you can actually build on the others. So if you’re really struggling to get that credential, but you can meet the right people or have incredible skill for the job that you want. As long as those other two can spike. The credential is less important, still important, but less so they kind of work together, if that makes sense.

Debbie Reber 34:43
Yeah, yeah, I really appreciated just again, these are things that I hadn’t thought of and this way and you really do bring these concepts to life through examples and anecdotes you actually in the chat You’re on cash. You talk about Sarah. She’s a young adult who is autistic. And it was just really an interesting look at the difference having financial resources can make in someone’s life do you? Can you take a minute to tell us about why you really wanted to include that? That example in the book? Absolutely.

Stephanie Krauss 35:19
So Sarah’s story is so powerful to me. I worked with her sister. And when I started writing the book, her sister said, like, I’ve got to tell you about, I have to tell you about Sarah. And so Sarah was very generous in sharing her own story. And, and I included it in your kind of strangely in the cash chapter instead of somewhere else. And the reason why was that Sara and her family grew up in New York State right outside of the city, in a town that had very few resources, and financial at her family level. So her family could not afford that this sort of health care and counseling, special camps, no special opportunities or accommodations at Sarah needed. And her school was super deeply underfunded. And so they didn’t have an abundance of social worker counseling or special education resources either. And so as a result, like Sarah was just labeled, sort of an off kid, and then a troubled kid, and then a bad kid. And eventually someone said, Oh, she must have ODD. And so she really struggled in school for so many years. And then eventually, her mom who you know, as often as the case was the most powerful advocate actually got a job in the school district to be able to keep a better eye on Sarah, and was able to start driving her very far to get some counseling. And they realize that Sarah actually had Asperger’s and had been misdiagnosed, but by this point, she was she was your son’s he was Asher’s age. And there was a lot of struggle on you know, what, what could it have looked like if she had had specific resources and accommodation as a kid with Asperger’s versus troubled bad kid, or, you know, a kid with attention issues. And the reason why the story was profound is because a, it actually is not a different story than a lot of young people that we hear from in the disability community or who have attention issues. In fact, it’s, it’s very common, but what’s uncommon is that she lived so close to New York City. And during the time she was growing up during a time where suddenly employers like Goldman Sachs were talking about neurodivergence as this, like highly employable, sought after skill, because the brains are wired differently. And they’ll see problems differently. And they’ll uncover things differently. And they’ll make the work environment so much richer. And so it was the disparity for me that really stood out that Sara, in a in a family that struggled financially, in a community that struggled financially lacked the resources and services and support, she needed to even get a good start, let alone to like succeed in school and get good jobs throughout. But if you would put her in an affluent community and an affluent family in the middle of New York City, I could imagine same girl, same body, same brain, same wiring, actually having this like very lucrative position at Goldman Sachs, and just really stood out for me in terms of how hard it is, you know, I’ll bring this home super fast. Like my, one of my children struggles with OCD. And we learned very early on how important it was to get a therapist who was specifically trained, you mentioned earlier in cognitive behavioral therapy, and who really understood OCD. And in our state, you have our health insurance only covers a specialist in the state. So we couldn’t go across state lines, even though we we live very close to a different state. And there was literally only one person, a single individual was trained in childhood OCD that we could see. And thank God, he had room on his docket, and thank God, he was a good fit for my kid. And thank God, my husband and I are both social workers and were able to like, go through the insane amount of phone calls and negotiations to get to see him because he wasn’t a part of our plan. I just bring up both of those pieces to say that like cash matters, resources matter to get our kids the services and supports they need. And yet, when those things are there, there’s like an abundance of potential and opportunity.

Debbie Reber 39:59
Well, thank you for sharing that, yeah, these are concepts that I just haven’t seen put together in this way. And it was very insightful, very thought provoking, and really empowering, I think, for readers to have a true understanding of the things that we can be thinking about where we should, and can be putting our efforts. You know, the whole third part of the book is about currencies and building currencies, and characteristics that will support our kids, we don’t have time to go into all of those today. But, you know, it’s everything from the ability to regulate and engage with others have the ability to solve problems and make decisions, it was just very empowering to really understand what those things are. And then to think about how can we actually work on those things and build those things in our kids. So as a way to wrap up, before we hit record we were talking about, we’re about to go into summer, as we’re recording this, and then into some maybe semblance of a normal school year in the fall. And so I’m just wondering if you have any advice, based on your expertise and your lens for, you know, how we can support our kids as we move into this next phase and the the pandemic and we re enter life?

Stephanie Krauss 41:22
Yeah, absolutely. And I will accept advice from any of your listeners, too. I think we’re all grappling with like, Okay, what is life gonna look like moving forward? So here’s my take, you know, I’m so grateful that you brought up in, in both the, the, you know, that first part of the book is kind of laying the groundwork for Who are these kids? How are they different? How is the world different? And then, what are the currencies and then what, what for us, as adults do we need to be doing to help to help our kids. And what is remarkable to me, is how many of those strategies are intuitive and free and easy. And so there’s a lot of conversation right now, you know, as we’re recording, for some schools, it’s their last week of school for others, they’ve got a couple more to go around learning loss. And I don’t want to go there, because you know, everybody has lost out on a number of opportunities. But what we can focus on this summer, and moving forward is actually recognizing that some of those extras, family time, social time, some of the extracurriculars enrichment opportunities are actually super essential for our kids. And those are really where I would love to see us putting our time and attention. And so as parents, I think our goal as a parent is not college and career readiness. Our goal is we want our kids to have a great life, like we want them to be okay. And we want them to have a good life. And so every single decision should be measured against that. So if your kid is struggling right now, from a mental health perspective, to what you can do prioritize that, even if that means everybody else is going back out to that super over-scheduled life, and you’re going to do it more slowly, or maybe not do it at all. Or everybody’s talking about learning loss, and you feel tempted to Oh, should I do tutoring. But you also know that your kid needs that social space of going back to a particular camp or Summer Program, or even family member’s house where they feel really connected, really known really, like they belong. And so that would be my recommendation that every decision we make, every investment we make in time and money for our kids this summer, and moving forward, should have health and healing as a priority. And this sort of long and livable life idea as the goal. So we’re focusing on our kids well being, and we’re also focusing on their well becoming, and trying to keep that central as best we can.

Debbie Reber 44:13
Why wonderful note to end this conversation on I love that well becoming I’ve never heard that before. And I am right there with you in terms of the focus, and a lovely reminder. So thank you for that. And before we say goodbye, please share with us where listeners can engage with you where they can check out your book making it which again, listeners, I hope this conversation has been thought provoking for you. The book is such a good read, and I highly recommend it. But let listeners know how they can connect with you.

Stephanie Krauss 44:48
Thanks, Debbie. Yeah, you know, I would love that I would love if folks reached out. And because you’re my people like I’m in the thick of it. I am parenting these kids right along with you. I’m listening to Debbie’s podcast right along with you. And so again, the book is Making It: What Today’s Kids Need for Tomorrow’s World. And it’s available wherever you want to get your books at. Or if you’re an audio listener, and you’ve got all the ball, you can get it that way too. And then I am on Twitter, @Stephanie_Malia, and my family and I have just started an Instagram account, tracking our own journey that you can find me on to that’s at wonder_and_wayfinding. My website is And that’s a good way to get in touch if you want to reach out.

Debbie Reber 45:44
Thank you so much. And listeners, I’ll have links to all of that in the show notes pages. And now I’m going to add you on Instagram because I’m super curious about that. But thank you, thank you so much. Thank you for the work that you do in the world. Thank you for being part of this community. I love talking with members of the club. On the podcast, it’s always such a rich conversation. And I just really appreciate everything that you share today.

Stephanie Krauss 46:11
Thanks, Debbie. Well, I appreciate everything that you do. And being a part of this community. It’s such a pleasure to be able to come on and share this stuff with with listeners.

Debbie Reber 46:23
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