009: Making Peace with Your Parents | Roz Chast | ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’

By Maya Mathias | Artists

Yes, your Daddy & Mommy issues ARE important to your leadership.

We all like to think that we’ve long escaped the shadow side of the relationships we have with our parents.  And yet, come holiday season, we can find ourselves reverting to our teenager or young child selves in the presence of our parents.  I should know.  I’ve done it for years.

As I explain in this episode of the Executive Book Club podcast, my relationship with my single parent is a work in progress.  What I didn’t mention on the show is how blessed I am that my parent is as invested as I am in cultivating a healthy and whole bond.  Getting to this point hasn’t been easy…there were (and still are!) embarrassing emotion-laden moments on both sides…but the rewards are oh-so-sweet.

What does all this have to do with the way we lead our teams and organizations?

Whether we realize it or not, we can end up leading the way we parent, or have been parented.  In this episode, I start to tease apart the many threads that bind us to our parents, and help you begin the journey toward making peace with who your parents are and how you can choose to relate to them as they age.  Saying goodbye is rarely easy, and when it comes to the often-messy relationship we have with our parents, partaking in the long goodbye before their passing is wrought with financial, emotional and psychological landmines.

Roz Chast, author of this show’s featured book ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’, navigates this tricky terrain of the long goodbye with wit, sensitivity and love.  And tending to her parents well into their nineties offers us a glimpse into what that journey may hold for us and our own parents.

What’s more, this #1 New York Times Bestseller and 2014 National Book Award Finalist explores this often a painful phase in our lives via the delightful art form for which she is famous – cartoons.  Finally, a book with colorful pictures(!) that we can laugh and cry over as we think about what our parents mean to us.

As always, I end the episode with a practical takeaway exercise for you to reimagine your relationship with your parents.  Starting. Right. Now.

(Footnote: In case you’re not familiar with it, the show’s featured song is ‘The Living Years’ by Mike and The Mechanics)


If you have favorite books or authors you’d like to hear about on the show, especially if you’ve been meaning to read that certain book and just haven’t gotten around to it, then let me know right here.

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Till next time, remember to live well and lead large.

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About the Author

Maya Mathias helps her clients lead with the strategic mind of a scientist, the resilient heart of a warrior and the inventive soul of an artist. Read more about Maya here.