kids

How to raise resilient children, according to one of Australia's most successful women.

The thing about raising kids is that you don’t know if you’ve done a good job or not until they’re 25-plus and living their own lives.

Before then we’re just playing a guessing game and hoping we are making the right choices for them.

That’s why it’s so fascinating to talk to parents of grown children who are independent and resilient and ask them about how they were raised.

Not only is Naomi Simson the founder of the mega-successful experiences website RedBalloon, she’s also a judge on TV show Shark Tank and an empty-nester, having raised two children who have now moved to Melbourne for universtiy.

When it comes to the question of how to raise independent children, she certainly has some amazing wisdom to share.

Simson says the key to raising children like hers is to just say “no” to everything they want you to do for them.

Obviously there’s more to it than that, but let’s start there.

RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson explains how she raised independent, resilient children.

She says she never focused on having happy children because happiness is merely one of the many states of human emotion.

“What I want is resilient children who are respectful, responsible and are on their own journey,” she told Holly Wainwright on Mamamia podcast I Don’t Know How She Does It.

“They know they will experience challenges. It’s how they pick themselves up that will make the difference and they will experience happiness but it’s not the end game. So my job is just to give them their value set and their work ethic so they can get a sense of accomplishment and achievement.”

“So, how did I support them in that? Pretty much by just saying “no” to everything they asked me to do for them.”

Simson left the corporate world to start her own business because she wanted more flexibility at the same time as working on her profesional life.

“Also while I love and adore my children, I think they’re really cute, and I did want to spend more time with them, it wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do. I just didn’t want to lose my sense of self.”

Naomi Simson started RedBalloon in 2001 and was CEO of the company until 2011.

Initially based at home, her two then-young children helped out by blowing up countless red balloons ready to be attached to the ‘experiences’ that would be sent out.

It must have been fun at first, having their mum at home every day but Simson says eventually as the business grew and took over their home they were more than ready for her to move the business out.

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Naomi Simson and her children, stepchildren and fur baby. Image: Instagram, Naomi Simson

"You could never find fridge space and I think that was a thing that actually tipped it over and the kids were like, actually it's really great you want to be with us but could you leave because we wouldn't mind a toy room."

An empty-nester now, Simson has two children and two step-children all of whom have ended up in Melbourne.

Her daughter is studying mathematics at the University of Melbourne and her son is studying international finance at RMIT university. "Both of them chose to move away from home and be independent for university. I don't know where they got their independence from. I've got no idea," she said, reflecting back on her tough-love parenting style.

Simson says as well as saying "no" as often as possible and demostrating to her children a good work ethic, she also made sure she was available to spend time with them when it mattered the most.

She had someone to help with the practical things like cooking and cleaning but made sure to join them for meals, do bathtime and read bedtime stories, before getting back to work and often falling asleep herself on the keyboard before, stumbling to bed at 11 or 12pm. Then she'd get up at 5.30 the next morning and do it all again.

And at the end of the day, Simson says no parent will every do the job perfectly and we'll always be blamed for something by our kids.

"So it's just about priorities of what will they remember and you know, just remember parents are always damaging their children and they'll probably be in therapy. It will always be their parents.

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"We're responsible for it so we may as well give them something worth saying."

Listen to the full episode of Mamamia podcast I Don't Know How She Does It with host Holly Wainwright and RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson.

Photographer Danielle Guenther published a series of photos on the reality of parenting called Best Case Scenario. SCROLL THROUGH the gallery to see some of her brilliant photos and visit her website to see more of her work.

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