Senta Greene is a change-maker. As founder and CEO of Full Circle Consulting Systems, an international consulting firm that specializes in the science of child and adolescent development, transformational leadership and community and family engagement, she is passionate about strengthening families and improving outcomes for children. I spoke with Greene about how she and her husband, Russell, are raising their three children – one, a major league baseball phenom – to become caring, well-rounded citizens.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from Indianapolis, Indiana, but grew up in many places, from West Hollywood to South Central Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley. I met my husband, Russell, in high school. We’ve been married 24 years and reside about 30 minutes outside of L.A. in Stevenson Ranch.
You and Russell are parents to Hunter, 19, Libriti, 13, and Ethan, 7. What’s your parenting style?
It is loving but firm, kind, yet clear. We stay in constant communication and set boundaries with love and expectations. I believe parenting is a choice. It takes continuous, conscientious effort to guide children in their growth and development. They look to us for signals about how to act and behave. It is our responsibility to model, guide and teach them.
Do you parent your children differently?
Yes, because they are individuals with different strengths, needs, learning styles, personalities and desires. We parent them where they are and honor the special gifts they bring to the family. Our love for all three, however, is universal and unwavering.
Is there a proper way to discipline children?
Discipline should happen for children through positive guidance from caring adults who teach with messages of love that support understanding and accountability versus shame and disgrace. Parents often think the words they use to make their child listen or be responsive need to be expressed with a harsh tone. Words can uplift or destroy a child. Most will comply, but they are responding out of fear, not out of respect. It’s crucial to set boundaries, teach and model what is OK and not OK, and articulate the ‘why’ behind decisions. When children understand the why, they are more accountable and more emotionally balanced. Any time we discipline our children, their identity and sense of self is at stake. A strong sense of self, human behavior, thoughts and actions leads to life skills they can practice whether it’s at school, baseball practice or when they enter the “real world.”
Your son Hunter was selected No. 2 pick by the Cincinnati Reds at the 2017 MLB draft when he was 17. How did you prepare him for this extraordinary opportunity?
We’ve raised Hunter to have a strong relationship with God first and to know that wherever he is and whatever he is going through, whether it is problematic days or dealing with negative people and situations, he has that relationship and can think to himself, “What would God do?” We made sure he stayed in good standing academically to increase his value as a draft prospect, stressed the importance of remaining healthy, and the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol.
We were realistic about Hunter’s strengths and weaknesses early and had him play “up” in age against older players. We also had him play against the best competition locally, nationally and internationally. Addressing and working on his abilities early and exposing him to elite players is the reason many considered him to be well-rounded in his interactions with diverse groups of people.
Your daughter, Libriti, battled leukemia. How did you remain strong? And what is your youngest son, Ethan, interested in?
Libriti’s diagnosis and hospitalization was devastating because she faced a 10-13 percent life expectancy rate. Faith, positive thinking, finding humor in the smallest things, the love and prayers of family and friends, and maintaining (as much as possible) our family routine is what kept us strong. Libriti is an incredible young lady. Her current dream is to become a lawyer and fight against social injustices. Ethan is a tinkerer. He loves Legos, remote-control cars, reading, soccer and video games.
How do you and Russell nurture your children’s talents?
When they show interest in something, we offer whatever is needed – from our time and financial support to the best resources and opportunities – to maximize their potential. We also encourage them to set goals and create vision boards as a visual reminder of their dreams and the steps it will take to actualize them.
Why was it important to teach your children to give back?
Everyone is equipped with greatness, and that greatness is not merely what we accomplish, it’s also what we do for others. Giving back teaches kids empathy, kindness and to be good human beings. We taught our children that adversity can happen to anyone, including us, and that it is right to be compassionate. We encouraged them to initiate their own community drives, and we work alongside them to demonstrate how easy it is to give back if you’re genuine about it. One of our favorite quotes is by [Dodger great] Jackie Robinson: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”