Ken Rona on Shifting Parenting Style When Kids Start Grade School

In Chapter 5 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, digital media executive Ken Rona answers "How Has Your Parenting Approach Changed as Your Children Have Entered Elementary School?"  When kids start going to school, Rona realizes as a parent the need to share his children with the world.  He finds teaching his kids sharing and empathy are key grammar school skills and finds setting expectations a powerful motivator for his 7-year old daughter. 

Ken Rona is a Vice President at Turner Broadcasting, where he leads teams across advertising sales, big data software development and business strategy.  Rona earned a BA and MA in Political Science from Stony Brook University and a PhD in Behavioral Economics from Duke University. 


Erik Michielsen: How has your parenting approach changed as your children have entered elementary school?

Ken Rona: The insight that you have when your kids start going to school is that they’re not yours any more. They’re not solely yours. You share them. You know, the children need to be not just an effective--within the family, right? Not just be part of our family unit. But now they need to be kind of—they need to be in the world. 

So I think that there is—there is more kind of thinking about helping pointing out moments of where you can share, where you can empathize, right? And Charlotte actually does it quite naturally for the most part, except with her mother. But, you know, at school I think pretty naturally. So I think the other thing I think we’ve done is we’ve—we’re on Charlotte because she is actually in grammar school and Doyle is still in pre-K. 

For Charlotte, the expectations go up a bit. So—we expect her to do her homework. We expect her—she has opportunities to make money. Right? Both by doing schoolwork and by doing some other stuff. So she gets less for free. Right, so there’s a little more—there’s more expectation. She I think thinks it’s probably—if she was here, you’d say, Charlotte, how do you think about that? How do you feel about that? And she would say, it is not fair that I have to do something and Doyle doesn’t. And I think that’s exactly, when you talk about what’s the difference and Doyle is not in that stage. 

Doyle, I’m happy to—I’m happy to, you know, make good on the same things that—like if he’s willing to spend time doing math, which he does on the computer. I’m happy to pay him out at the same rate I pay Charlotte out but there are things that we will do for Doyle that we won’t do for Charlotte because like I said there needs to be expectations, like she’s—She’s 7 years old and I think it’s reasonable to ask her to do certain things. And in fact, l think we can probably ask her to do more than we are because she’s quite capable. I think she probably—she probably is coasting a little bit. But she gets asked to do enough stuff where she understands our expectations on her. And she treats my requests and her mother’s requests a bit differently. She’s probably more responsive to me initially, and now she’s become responsive to my wife—for my wife’s requests. 

Doyle is still a work in progress. Try to get him to brush—Try to get that boy to brush his teeth like you think you were—I mean—you know, I don’t really even have a parallel like you know you thought you were asking him to rip out his own toe nails, I mean it’s just—But, you know, we expect people—so for Charlotte, we expect her to take care of herself, we expect her to take care of her body, and she rises to that occasion. Doyle—Doyle still needs some help on it.