Balancing Act: Managing ADHD and Parenting With Peter Shankman
Balancing Act: Managing ADHD and Parenting With Peter Shankman
On this episode of Dads with Daughters, host Christopher Lewis invites entrepreneur and author Peter Shankman to discuss their experiences as fathers raising daughters. They start off by sharing relatable stories about dealing with slime during the pandemic and the challenges of explaining divorce to their young daughters. Peter emphasizes the importance of being present for his daughter and finding balance in his life through managing his ADHD. Peter shares his personal journey with ADHD, discovering it as an adult and developing coping mechanisms to navigate the condition. He believes that medication is not always necessary for success and suggests exploring alternative coping mechanisms. As the author of "The Boy with the Faster Brain," he aims to help kids with ADHD feel less misunderstood and prevent them from experiencing shame in the long run. The conversation also delves into the concept of neurodiversity and the beauty of thinking differently. They discuss the importance of understanding and embracing neurodiverse needs, highlighting what children are good at, and finding ways for them to have fun while learning. The episode concludes with a heartwarming story about a spontaneous trip to a water park that the speaker and his daughter will cherish forever. Join Christopher Lewis and his guests for inspiring conversations and practical advice on raising strong, independent daughters every week on Dads with Daughters. If you've enjoyed today's episode of the Dads With Daughters podcast, we invite you to check out the . The Fatherhood Insider is the essential resource for any dad that wants to be the best dad that he can be. We know that no child comes with an instruction manual, and most are figuring it out as they go along. The Fatherhood Insider is full of valuable resources and information that will up your game on fatherhood. Through our extensive course library, interactive forum, step-by-step roadmaps, and more you will engage and learn with experts but more importantly with dads like you. So check it out today! TRANSCRIPT Christopher Lewis [00:00:06]: Welcome to dads with daughters. In this show, we spotlight dads resources and more to help you be the best dad you can be. Christopher Lewis [00:00:17]: Hey everyone, this is Chris. And welcome back to the Dads with Daughters podcast, where we bring you guests to be active participants in your daughters lives, raising them to be strong, independent women. Really excited to be back with you again this week. As always, we're on a journey together in looking at ways in which we can best raise our daughters to be those strong, independent women that we want them to be and to be able to be successful in their own journeys as individuals. And every week I have the pleasure of being able to bring you different dads that are doing it different ways, dads that you can learn from and be able to get different ideas from, different experiences from, because every father fathers in a little bit different way. And that's great because we don't have to be the same type of dads, but we can learn from each other and be better fathers in the end. And that's what this show is all about. Today. We got a great guest with us. Peter Shankman is with us. And Peter is a I'm just going to say he's a multi entrepreneur. He has done many different things in his career that has led him down the pipeline of being very successful in what he does. But most recently, he has become a author, a kids author, I'm going to say, because he has a brand new book called The Boy with the Faster Brain. And it's a little bit of, I'm going to say a little biographical in a way, in the sense of talking about his own experience and finding out that he had ADHD and what that journey was like for him. But also it's a book to allow for other kids and parents to be able to explore that in a little bit different way. So we're going to be talking about that as well. He also is a father of a daughter. He has a ten year old daughter and we'll be talking about that as well. Peter, thanks so much for being here today. Peter Shankman [00:02:07]: My pleasure. My dog obviously says hello as well. Christopher Lewis [00:02:10]: Well, I love being able to talk to different dads, and what I would love to do first and foremost is turn the clock back in time. I said you have a ten year old daughter, so I want to go back to that first moment, that first moment when you found out that you were going to be a father to a daughter. What was going through your head? Peter Shankman [00:02:26]: It's actually a really funny story. When I first found out, when my wife called me, most dads, they find out they're going to be a dad in some special way, the wife does something sweet, they put a little onesie inside the dinner table or something. I'm coming back from a meeting in Washington, DC. I'm on the Metro, heading over to Union Station to get an Amtrak back to New York, and my phone rings, and I see it's my wife, and I'm like, hey, honey, what's up? Because I'm pregnant. Okay, well, I turn around to, like, the 14 guys on the subway. I'm like, should I get them cigars? How does this work? So, yeah, that was how I found out in that amazing and overwhelming way. And of course, when we found out it was a girl, I was sitting in her my wife's office. She was at work. She's like, they're going to call us soon. I'm sitting there, I wanted a girl. I don't know why, but I wanted a girl. And so I was really excited. I was going to be this great girl dad, and I like to think I've kind of lived up to that. We have a lot of fun. She is a daredevil to an extent. Like, her dad haven't taken her Skydiving yet, but I know that's on the I'm sure that's on the list the second she and is 18. Christopher Lewis [00:03:20]: So one of the things that I hear from a lot of dads is that in becoming a father, there's fears, but there's also some fear going into raising daughters. And I guess for you, what was your biggest fear in raising a daughter. Peter Shankman [00:03:34]: Who'S going to be like me? I think there's a ton of fear, but my fears weren't the norm. I didn't have that whole, oh, I'm going to get a shotgun, and she can't date. That's not my thing. I wanted to get hurt. The only way you learn is if you get hurt, right? At least in my experience. My fear is that she was going to be she's a very sensitive kid. She cares about everything. We live in New York City, homeless capital of the world. I live two blocks west of Times Square, and so when COVID hit, it just decimated our area because all the homeless population in New York City was moved into a five block radius around my apartment because all the hotels here were turned into homeless facilities, which is fine, but they weren't made into homeless facilities with services. They were just made into places for people to stay. And that was a huge problem because you can't take 9000 people, put them in a five block radius and not give them services. And so it was tough. I had her explain to my daughter at age seven, the, no, honey, he's not dead. The needle sticking out of his arm means he has a problem, but he's getting help. It was tough. So she's very sensitive, and she cares that she wants to solve the world's problems. And sometimes, as much of a bitch as it is, you need to explain, honey, you can't solve all the world. Not all the world's problems can be solved at this moment. On the walk to the corner store and we've had countless talks about that, about what we can do to help homelessness. So we volunteer and we work at a soup kitchen. We're on the Hell's Kitchen litter brigade, and we built a dog park in an empty space overlooking Port Authority under the bus bridges. That this empty area. So we do things. But I call her Warrior Princess, and I love that she's as sensitive as she is. She will change the world, but I want her to live her life and not have to solve every single problem that the world throws at her. There has to be a middle ground there because unfortunately, she definitely got my sensitivity. Christopher Lewis [00:05:21]: I mentioned you've got your hands in a lot of different things. You've had that for many years and you have been a multi entrepreneur in many different ways and been successful in many different ways, but you have been busy. So talk to me about balance and how you have been able to balance being that serial entrepreneur as well as being able to be present and engaged with your daughter as you've raised her. Peter Shankman [00:05:51]: So my balance for me comes from my ADHD. There are certain things I have to do in my life to make sure that I can live the life I want in the way I want it and be the dad I want, I think, for lack of better word. So what does that mean? My day starts around 430 every morning with exercise. If I am not exercise, I am not the best person I could be. And so for me, I was up at 430 this morning. I was on the peloton. I got my couple of hours in. That's my definition of balance because I'm on that bike before she wakes up. And so when I get off the bike, I take a shower, I wake her up and I'm present. Right. The dopamine, the serotonin, the adrenaline that I receive from that ride gives me that balance, lets me be the best dad I could be, the best person I could be, the best entrepreneur I could be, best parent I could be, the best son I could be, best boyfriend I could be. So it has to start with that. From there, there are other things I'm able to do. I take her on as many business trips as I can. I'm speaking in January, I just landed the confirmation yesterday. I'm speaking in Greece at a keynote in January. And part of the contract, they have to fly me and my daughter out. So Florida school for a few days, we're going to Greece, things like that. So last summer we went to Michigan. I had to give a keynote at McIntyre Island. We spent an extra couple of days trips and around the island and Michigan, things like that. So for me it's sort of figuring out how to do that and where to go and what to do and making sure that as busy as I am, she's included and understands it. She doesn't just see me at a computer doing busy work. She understands. Today daddy's speaking. Tomorrow daddy's going on TV. Everything makes sense. It's a circle. Christopher Lewis [00:07:25]: So being a father is not always an easy thing. There are highs, there are lows, there are ups and downs. I mean, it's a roller coaster of a ride at times. What's been the hardest part for you as a father to a daughter? Peter Shankman [00:07:39]: Wiping slime off every conceivable surface in my house. We discovered slime during the pandemic, and it doesn't fucking end. It just never ends. There's always more slime to be made. But no, if that was the worst thing, I'd be thrilled. I think the hardest thing. I've had to answer the question several times, why aren't you and Mommy married anymore? We get divorced when she was three, and so for the first couple of years, anytime I did anything that didn't involve her, there was jealousy and there was a fear that I was going to leave, when in fact, nothing could be obviously further from the truth. I'm constantly here. It's gotten easier. So I think that the hardest thing for me as a girl. Dad hasn't really hit yet. I think it's going to come as she gets older. There have been a couple of times where I've seen her. Her teachers have told me that, yeah, she's very active, she has tons of friends, but sometimes she just prefers to sit by herself at the playground and read or make her own games up. And that doesn't really bother me so much because I was a loner, too. There's a big difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think she understands that already. That's the case. She's doing better than me. At the end of the day, I think the goal is I just want her to be happy, and I know that's going to come with some sadness, but I'm okay with that because you have to have that balance. Christopher Lewis [00:08:49]: You talked about that you try to make memories with your daughter that probably at age 18, you're going to be taking her Skydiving. There's been other experiences. What's been the most memorable experience that you and your daughter have been able to share together? Peter Shankman [00:09:01]: Here's a classic ADHD moment. Last summer in late July, early August, we were bored one night, and I tell her, she's not allowed to be bored. Even the inside of your mind goes on forever. It's endless. You cannot be bored. There's always something to do. So she's like, Daddy, I have nothing to do. I'm like, all right, let's search something. Let's look something up online. What do you want to look up online? Let's look up the biggest water slides in the world. Great. So we sit down in front of the computer and we start looking up the biggest lives of the world. And would you believe one of the top ten water parks in the world is in Tenerife. So I'm like, would you believe one of the largest water parks in the world is in this small little island to African called Tenerife? We should go there. She didn't say that, I did. And so I look at her calendar, I'm like, yeah, you have like, three more weeks of summer camp, and you have like, ten days between summer camp. Yeah. Let's go to tenerife. And so we booked a flight like that night, right? And I pity god, I pity whoever this kid marries. This kid, god, this kid better be rich, because it's not even about money for me. I just have billions of miles because of how much I travel for work. But yeah, she's going to want to go somewhere. She better make no, actually, screw that. She better make a lot of money. She better be able to do this because the funniest line she ever said to me was once she goes, how come Mommy, when Mommy and I get on a plane, when Daddy and I going to play me sit in the front, and when Mommy and I get on, play me sit the back? I don't know. You have to talk to mom about that. I can't really sorry escape and avoid that one. But no, what it comes down to is that ADHD brain kicks in. We went Tenerife, spent four days sliding down these amazing waters. I had a blast. And it was just this, what a wonderful way to end fourth grade or end third grade, fourth grade. And those are the kind of things that I want her to remember for the rest of her life. And I want to do with her these just random, spur of the moment, let's go somewhere and have fun trips. There are times for the other side of the coin, too. Her mom is taking her to Paris at the end of August, and they've been planning this for over a year and a half, and I think it's wonderful, right? They have their schedule. They know exactly what they're going to do every day. They're going to do this this day and this, this day and sit here. That's great. And I love that. And there's definitely a place in the world for that. My idea of travel is, okay, we're here, let's figure it out, right? And so if she has the best of both those worlds, I think that's amazing. Christopher Lewis [00:11:09]: Now, I mentioned at the beginning of the show that one of the reasons that we're talking today is you've got a brand new book, and this isn't your first book, but it is your first children's book that you have written called The Boy With the Faster Brain. And you've talked about ADHD in the past, but more on the business side of things. And you also have had a number of other books out there in talking about business customer service and influencing and things like that. Talk to me about the genesis of this new book and what made you decide that you wanted to move into writing a book for kids. Peter Shankman [00:11:48]: I wrote this book because I don't want any kid to have to grow up feeling as broken as I felt. I had a pretty rough childhood, and that doesn't mean I grew up in a van down by the river. It doesn't mean that my parents weren't totally supportive. They were. My problem was that I grew up in New York City, in the public school system, in the where ADHD didn't exist. What existed was, sit down, you're disrupting the class disease. And I had that very, very bad. And so every day, every single day, I would come home with a note from the teachers about the fact that I was disruptive, that I couldn't sit still, that I was causing trouble for the other students, that I was being a disruptive influence. The irony, of course, is that I was being disruptive because every time I felt like I couldn't focus, I would crack a joke. And what winds up happening when you crack a joke is the class laughs and you get a dopamine hit, which would allow me to focus. So, ironically, I was getting in trouble because I was trying to focus, but I wasn't told, hey, your brain thinks different. Your brain is different. Let's figure out better ways for you. I wasn't told that. I was told you're being difficult and there's something wrong with you. And when you spend the first 18 years of your life hearing that, you spend the next 30 trying to unlearn the fact that you're broke. If I can help kids who are five, six, seven years old today learn at that age that they're not broken, that they're gifted, then they won't have to spend the next 30 years of their lives in therapy like I had. And they're not going to assume that every good thing that they do is actually just a fluke and they haven't had any of their true success at all. Waffles. Shut up. They won't assume they've had any real success in their life at all. I assume that everything I've done every day today is the day that The New York Times writes a story about what a fraud I am. And every day when they don't do it, it's obviously because I'm not important enough for The New York Times to write a story. This goes on every single day. So if I can help a child understand that having a different brain is actually a good thing, and I can stop them from going down the shame spiral for the next 30 years, then it's worth every single thing. And it was a fun book to write in typically ADHD fashion. I had people from the day I launched faster than normal. I had people say, oh my God, just do a kids book and ADHD. I said, yeah, I should. It took five years to do it, and then I wrote it in 2 hours. And when I wrote it, I found this amazing illustrator out of Brazil and she did all the illustrations, and the book was Live in a Month. And so it's one of those things where I really, really believe that children with neurodiverse brains are going to save us all. Nothing new has ever come from anyone with a normal brain. And that doesn't mean there's not a place in the world for normal brains. There are. But if you want creative, I just gave a talk last month to Morgan Stanley 80,000 employees about neurodiversity because they finally are at the point where they understand that neurodiversity is something that should be celebrated and something that can improve your company and improve your bottom line. So now I'm getting calls from Adobe, from Google to go in and talk about this stuff. And that's my goal, is to help expand that conversation. Companies are finally spending more on mental health. I'm speaking to schools all about this, and the boy with the faster brain, like I said, was really written for those kids. I remember I spoke to a school in Wayne, New Jersey, a couple of months ago, and this kid comes up to me the end of the talk, and I'm going to cry because I can't talk about this crying. Kid comes up to me fifth grader, his eyes were down the entire time, sitting on the floor. He wasn't really looking. And he comes up to me, the end, his eyes are still down. He goes, I just want to thank you have never read a book about someone like me before. And I just gave him like the biggest hug. That's what I want to do. And if this book does that even in slightest, then I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Christopher Lewis [00:15:13]: You talk about the importance of...