March 30, 2023
I first discovered Jon and Missy Butcher when my wife and I went through one of the most transformational life re-invention and life purpose processes we have ever embarked upon…
It was called Lifebook and was designed by Jon and Missy.
Later, Jon himself joined me for the podcast episode “Lifebook: The Most Transformative Process I’ve Ever Discovered For Crystal-Clear Clarity, Purpose & Direction In Life.” I now think of my Lifebook as me, in a book (you can actually read my entire Lifebook here).
In other words, if I were to, God forbid, get hit by a bus tomorrow, someone would be able to hand my children my Lifebook and say, “Here. Here is your Dad, in a book. This is everything he stands for, believes in, and values, and everything he would have wanted to teach you about life” (you can actually read my entire Lifebook here)…
My Lifebook now holds a precious place on the mantle above the fireplace in our home and has even been integrated into our family trust. As you can imagine, I’m very proud of and excited about this discovery, and so I interviewed Jon, a man who Chicago Magazine once dubbed as “the guy with the most perfect life.”
Along with his wonderful wife Missy, Jon is a serial entrepreneur and the creator of Lifebook, an extraordinary system that has helped thousands transform their lives from ordinary to living masterpieces. Jon and Missy have learned how to defy aging, experience long-lasting love, redefine education, and build the perfect living environment (trust me, I’ve been to their home and it is a complete dream house). Drawing from deeply personal experiences, Jon and Missy, along with their partner, Joe Polish, also founded the Artists For Addicts project. Its mission is to change the global conversation surrounding addiction from one of judgment to one of compassion.
Today, Jon is back, but he’s back to talk parenting – along with his wife Missy – and if you have children in your life, know someone with children, or plan to have children, this walkthrough of Jon and Missy’s radical parenting process is a can’t-miss. That’s why I also featured Jon and Missy in my new, just-released book Boundless Parenting, in which you can learn more about the Butchers’ parenting along with many other highly impactful parents.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Jon and Missy Butcher and their kids…07:17
- Boundless Parenting by Ben Greenfield
- Ben and Jessa spent a lot of time with Jon and Missy in Tallinn, Estonia for the Lifebook experience
- Jon and Missy answering questions on parenting
- 4 kids, 4 grandkids
- Jess and Pat
- Proud of their parenting and homeschooling
- Designed very customized curriculums for their kids
- Took what Jon and Missy did and brought it to the next level
- Customized program for their kids
- A lot of the parents in the Boundless Parenting book emphasize nature immersion
- Animal husbandry
- Hygiene hypothesis
- Jordan and Ashley
- An entrepreneur
- 2 failed careers – rap music and marijuana grower
- He combined them into one super successful career
- Cooking, mastered a few areas of cooking
- Ben’s kids’ GoGreenfields
- At the end of the day, the most important thing is that kids are happy
- There is no one right strategy for everybody in any area of life
- Hard work and independence
- Podcast with Rich Christiansen:
-The unique elements of Jon and Missy’s parenting approach?…21:50
- Everything about their parenting approach was unique
- Developed respectful disregard for how others live
- The Lifebook methodology
- The 12 categories of life examined deeply
- School only teaches one or two
- Traveled the world with kids
- Lived in 12 countries
- Kids understand what they have
- Learning must be enjoyable
-How kids can develop roots and a sense of home if they’re traveling a lot…25:22
- Traveled for 4-5 months, the rest of the year at school
- Made friends at home and in every other country
- Pulling kids out of school for months
- Meeting the principal and explaining their lifestyle
- Primary school was helpful
- Secondary school was a problem
- Stopped schooling
- Kids are best friends with Patrick and Laurie Gentempo’s children
- Podcast with Patrick and Laurie Gentempo:
-Jon and Missy’s thoughts on university education…32:32
- College is important for certain professions like law and medicine
- Not useful for artists
- We are the ones in charge of our children, not the government, not the teachers
- By junior high did not do formal school
- Have the courage to do what you want and believe
- Classical education is not taught anymore in universities
- The Lifebook process in the previous podcast with the Butchers:
-Jon and Missy’s proudest moment as parents…39:09
- There are a lot of them, but one is pivotal
- Jade was having trouble in 2nd grade
- Was behind in everything
- Found out that Jade is severely dyslexic
- Dyslexics usually overcompensate; intelligent people that learn differently
- Dyslexia is a learning difference
- Missy studied the condition for a year
- Took kids out of school and went on a 6-month trip to SE Asia
- Organized Jade’s art exhibition in Chicago
- Kids must develop their skills and passions
- River’s Bubbles NFT
- Connection to the world is the last step
- Building a sustainable farm
- Kids should not worry about a roof over their heads and food on their plate
- Shouldn’t compromise their passions because of money
-How the Butchers find time for themselves and 1-on-1 time with their kids…48:54
- Always stopped work at 5 and start family time
- Family night
- Overnight date once a week
- 1-on-1 time with kids
- At 16, solo trips of their choice with a kid
- Jordan picked Bangkok
- Jade picked Seoul and Amsterdam
- Justin still has to take a trip
- Struggles with making time for yourself
- Getting up early
- One takes care of kids, the other takes time for themselves
- Friends taking kids for the weekend or longer
- Get creative and do all things with your kids
- Ben’s strategy
- Self-care is important
- Working out with kids
- Independence is the number 1 job of a parent
- Kids should be functional and autonomous in the parent’s absence
- Rite of passage – just Justin
- Vision quest with Manex Ibar when he was 14
- Went into the mountains for 4 days with no food
- Ben’s sons had a rite of passage at Tim Corcoran’s Twin Eagles Wilderness School
- Podcast on vision quests with Tim Corcoran:
- Podcast with Tim Corcoran and Jeannine Tidwell:
-Whether Jon and Missy have any non-negotiable rules…1:00:17
- No non-negotiable rules, but certain values
- 3 values carved in stone
- Freedom – freedom to operate in any way you choose; your life is yours, own it
- Self-responsibility – take responsibility for the choices you make
- Love or mutual respect – treat the people around you with love and respect, always
- Clear rules simplify everything
-What would be the Butchers’ message on a billboard to other parents?…1:04:28
- There is no right strategy for everyone
- “We never put our stuff on other people as universal truth”
- Everyone needs to find what works for them
- It’s the example that you set, the way you live your life, the way you talk and behave on a normal day, it’s the way you treat your children
- To your children, you are their world, you are their example
- It does not matter what you say, it matters what you do
- “The most important thing when it comes to parenting is to be the best person you can be, to have the best relationship you can have as a mom and dad, and to set a shining example for what living as a successful human being on this earth looks like.”
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32 Questions For Boundless Parenting
The following questions were posed to Jon and Missy Butcher, and the many other wise parents interviewed for my new book, Boundless Parenting.
- How many children do you have, how old are they, what is their profession or passion, and why, in particular, are you proud of them?
- Are there any elements of your parenting approach that you would consider to be particularly unique?
- What books, systems, models, or resources do you rely heavily upon or consider to be indispensable in your own parenting?
- What traditions, habits, routines, or rituals are most important, memorable, or formative for your family?
- What rites of passage or significant moments of maturation to adolescence or adulthood have your children experienced, if any?
- Who do you look up to as parenting mentors?
- What have you taught your children about raising their own children?
- Do you have any philosophies or strategies for educating your children outside of traditional school, such as homeschooling, unschooling, self-directed education, or other alternatives, creative, or “outside-the-box” forms of education?
- What has been your proudest moment as a parent, and why?
- What do you wish you had known before first becoming a parent?
- Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome as a parent? If so, how have you coped with that?
- How have you achieved a balance between mentoring and passing on wisdom without “living vicariously” through your children?
- Have you ever faced any big parenting decisions that kept you awake at night worrying or that you feared you would mess up?
- What do you regret, if anything, from your experience as a parent?
- What is the biggest mistake you have made as a parent?
- What, if anything, from your parenting experience would you go back and change or improve?
- If you had multiple children, what did you think was right at the time with one child that you then went back and changed with the next child or future children?
- Have you ever sensed or feared that your children would grow up too different or weird as a result of any “outside-the-box” parenting approaches you used? If so, how did you deal with that?
- Have you ever differed from your spouse on parenting principles, techniques, or approaches? If so, how did you manage that?
- Warning: This question is long but important: As a parent, have you ever felt conflicted about wanting to share a book, teaching, resource, or method with your children as a means of impacting their future success, but feared that it might “overload” them, especially at their age? If so, how did you balance bestowing this valuable knowledge to your child without causing them to worry too much about adult concerns? How did you decide when to just “let a kid be a kid” versus nudging them towards responsible adulthood and the attainment of valuable wisdom?
- How have you balanced being a present, engaged parent while preserving your own identity, taking time for your own self-care, tending to your career, or pursuing other interests that did not include your children?
- How have you engaged in one-on-one time or created space for dedicated time with your child, especially if you have more than one child?
- If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, what strategies have you found most helpful for maintaining and building your relationship with them?
- If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, do you often miss them, fear for them, or think of them? If so, how have you coped with any loneliness or desire for their presence?
- Do you have non-negotiable rules for your children?
- How have you disciplined your children, if at all?
- How have you helped your child to establish responsibly, moderated, or conscientious consumption or use of books, media, entertainment, screen time, and social media? This is not my favorite question because the focus on “limiting screen time” seems a bit blown out of proportion these days and I think causes kids to get obsessed with the “forbidden fruit” of screen time, but it seems to be on the minds of many parents today, so I’d be remiss not to include it.
- Have you emphasized or encouraged any health, fitness, or healthy eating principles with your children? If so, what has seemed to work well?
- If your child or children could inscribe anything on your gravestone, what would you hope that they would write? What would you most want them to remember about you?
- What do you most want to be remembered for as a parent?
- What do you think your child or children would say is their fondest memory of being raised by you?
- What message for parents would you put on a billboard?
Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.
Resources from this episode:
– Jon and Missy Butcher:
– Other Resources:
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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Jon, Missy, or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!