Our Teens and Their Journey of Individuation, with Nadine Gaudin

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest is the Nadine Gaudin, Nadine is a positive discipline lead trainer and a teacher. She taught for 15 years and now does only positive discipline workshops. The most important part of her work is training teachers and positive discipline. She currently trains in public and private schools in the state of Geneva, Switzerland, in the region of France where she lives and in international or local schools around the world including Singapore, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Morocco, Portugal, the U.K., The Netherlands, Middle East.


She's been all over the place. She has worked to develop positive discipline in nearly 100 schools in the past 4 years. She works with students, teachers, principals and develops positive discipline in the workplace. Barnard, her husband and her 3 children who are 19, 17 and 15 help her deepen her understanding of positive discipline on a daily basis. HI Nadine, I am so honored that you agreed to be a part of the Parenting Teens with P.D. audio summit.


Nadine: I'm very honored to be here.


Casey: Can you tell the lady listeners a little bit about your experience with teens and positive discipline?


Nadine: So obviously, as you said, I have at home 3 teenagers 19, 17 and 15 so I have been experiencing the positive discipline with teens for quite a few years now and with the ones I have at home but I also do workshops in schools. Not only I train teachers but I also go into schools and do workshops for students. So I do workshops from kids to 11 years old up to 17, 18 years old. So I have groups of teens that I work with and that's also a lot of experience and fun to learn with them about positive discipline for teens.


Casey: Yeah will you tell me a little bit, when you go into schools and work with the students, are you basically, are you doing their social emotional character development lessons and things that we typically train teachers to do with their students?


Nadine: Yes but not only because sometimes I have groups of teens that are in high school and they're planning on becoming assist people in the schools or assist in old people's houses and for their work they're also learning how a Positive Discipline can help them. So for the high school students  I really also I've not only done activities for the students with them but I also do what we would do for adults.


Casey: OK, got it.


Nadine: For the younger ones, I do many activities for students but since I do it usually a 3 day workshop I also take times to practice with them and to do drawings that they're going to put in homes and things like that.  


Casey: Awesome, that's so neat. So you and I today are going to talk specifically about individuation and listeners will know that this is a theme that shows up over and over again in the summit, that our teens need to individuate, it's what they do, it's part of their development and Oh my gosh, it's so challenging for parents to let go and to be a witness, right, to it happening and so those of you that are listening, as we kind of go through the characteristics of individuation which is what this interview is going to be all about and you think to yourself "I know what individuation is," I'm really going to invite you to listen for something new or look for ways that you can understand the information deeper because I'm thrilled that this whole conversation is just about individuation. I think it's such an important topic and I think it's also often misunderstood by parents and can be such a place of power struggle. So with that, Nadine, talk a little bit about what individuation means to you.


Nadine: It's means a lot to me.


Casey: You're in it, we're in it, I mean, oh my gosh.


Nadine: It's, I have stories popping up in my head of what my children decide to do to individuate themselves. And you know, I have my older son who decided to wear only different socks every day, he has one red sock and one blue sock and that's, you know, the things that I'm like, "Why would you do that?"


Casey:  But I'll take that, I'll take that one every day. If that's as bad as it gets I think we're in the clear.


Nadine: So yeah, it means that but also I think it's about finding who they are, which they're craving for themselves and just you know, asking of who they are and what they like and you know what's their place in the world and what they want to become and you know, they're just kind of exploring all over to see who they are.


Casey: Yeah and what I'm noticing is, you know, for a little while it was "How can I be completely the opposite of you, Mom?"


Nadine: Yes and it happens once and a while and at the same time how, you know, I am the same as you as well, because I hear that and you know, in my children's, you know, when they talk with me, I can see sometimes they really are happy to be like me and like us for some of the things. But I think what is the hardest part of individuation for us parents is to know when to let go or not, you know, when like this crosses the line and we shouldn't let go.


Casey: Right, right and being a judge of that dance can be really tricky because there sometimes the individuation and there are ways of finding themselves or you know, it can spark some kind of internal triggers that maybe we didn't realize we were hanging on to for whatever reason from our lives and so to be able to determine "Is this something that, you know, isn't safe or is taking them in a scary direction or is this something that I just have a hang up about?" Right and to be able to-


Nadine: It puts us in front of our rigidity and our, you know, this is the way I think things should be but then we realized that's not the way life is for everyone, it's just me and since the beginning the children didn't question too much, you know, what we decided, kind of . But now it's like "Hey, mom, tlife is different in the world."


Casey: Yeah, I can have a different opinion than you.


Nadine: Exactly and I mean, it's not bad, you know, so many people live through this lens, so I'm like "Oh, yeah, that's true."


Casey: It's crazy we had a little bout of conspiracy theory where my daughter was really intrigued by conspiracy theories last year, one of which was the earth being flat. And she was, you know, and I don't know if she really believed it or if it was just so fun for her to just commit but we were like "What are you talking about?" "Oh mom, there's entire websites, there is a conference you can go to where all the people that believe this

and I'm just sitting here like, "No," you know and then she's irritated that we're not taking her seriously and I'm like "What is happening?" So yeah, there, we can find people to agree with us on just about anything, can't we?


Nadine: Yes.


Casey: So in the Positive Discipline for Teens book, the characteristics of individuation are laid out, so we're going to go through each of them and I know they're going to sound familiar but I'm just excited to tease them apart and the very first one we've already started with which is adolescents have a need to find out who they are and who they are, would you say, separate from the family, yeah?


Nadine: Yeah separate from the family and also who they are, I would say not only  separate but similar as well.


Casey: OK.


Nadine: For me I had to this big "Aha" it was a few months ago, I was in a school with high school students and we did this activity, you know, the quadrants of emotions, you know, when you have the wheel of emotion, when you have four emotions and you ask them to put words for each feeling.


Casey: The mad, sad, glad, scared.


Nadine: Yes.


Casey: OK.


Nadine: We did that and I said, you know, when we did the activity I said, "We all go through all these emotions. And this simple thing was like a big aha for them. They had no clue that everyone went through the same emotions. They thought it was only them but you know, they really found out who they are a little bit more by doing that, just by naming emotions, which is, was really surprising for me because I told them, I mean, we talk a lot about emotions, my children are really aware about emotions and what they're feeling, you know, but there I could see that that's really important thing that we can do to help them, you know, find out who they are, to know how they feel.


Casey: Well and for listeners, this activity is, you know, we make 4 quadrants and in each quadrant, one quadrant says mad and another says sad, another says glad and another says scared and then we ask kids or parents if were running a parenting class this is a great activity to do with parents as well but we ask kids what words are associated, what are other words for sad, what are other words for glad, what are other words for scared and mad and to kind of expand their vocabulary, right and their ability to determine, you know, what it is that's happening for them and I think that we as a, you know, that humans, this is a learned skill.


It isn't necessarily that we come out able to identify, "Well I feel mad but really I feel embarrassed or I feel ashamed." It's something that we have to be in conversation about and really teach our kids and so I love that you did that with them and I also want to pull out of what you said that idea that they're not the only ones that are feeling the feelings that they're having. This actually came up in my community when I was talking about doing this audio summit one of the parents said "How do we help them get through this intense time and really help them not only to know that everybody is feeling, you know, how you're feeling and it's temporary, the teen years are temporary, they're going to feel differently, you know, in 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 10 years.


But I think that, so yeah, so there is because and that was and at the same time, you know, when our kids are in moment of really deep emotional distress, you know, it isn't necessarily respectful, well, it isn't respectful to say "Oh, everybody feels like this." Like that's also not really useful in the moment.


Nadine: Yes.


Casey: What are your thoughts about that?


Nadine: No, it's true and you know, I noticed also that, you know, we have this tool in positive discipline which is called Validate Feelings and you know, we just name the feeling we see in the child but with teenagers that's a tool that I am very cautious about because I can see, like how, when you name the emotion it seems very intimate to them and you go too much into what they feel and that doesn't feel good for them so it's, you know, their privacy needs to be kept. I think it's more about talking about emotions when there is not a big issue or you know, I think it's easier to not talk about these emotion at the moment of the problem or ask them if they want to share, you know, but you know, it's, so we have to be very cautious about, you know, them feeling not too exposed.


Casey: Yeah, it's like  they're simultaneously saying "See me" and "How dare you see me?' It's a little challenging to be the parent of that but-


Nadine: What I found and what I think as a tool when, you know, we, you know, when they want to find out who they are is talking about them to them, like asking question "What do you like and what you think about that?" and you know, just asking questions without judgments about their lives, what they want, what they do, you know, just being generally interested in them and that helps them, I think, find out, you know, be more conscious, who they are, what they like, what they think.


Casey: So individuation also often looks like rebellion because teens are testing family values and I don't know if I said this already in the summit but as we kind of deep dived into individuation and the teen years last year, I remember picking up my Positive Discipline for Teenagers book and reading a passage that started with "Do kids that are raised with positive discipline rebel as a teenager?" and the response is "Yes, they do." They just don't, they just typically do it, like, right in your face, right in front of you versus being sneaky or going underground, that it's kind of more an out in the open experience which is absolutely how I experienced, how I've experienced this with my teen. And you know and it's powerful to really think about what does rebellion really mean, right? And is it again, back to the conversation of "I want to explore who I am different from you" or is it, you know "I have other issues going on and I'm looking for escape" or I'm looking, you know, if it's healthy rebellion versus unhealthy rebellion.


Nadine: And I think also that's a hard one to differentiate and we're not always very sure. Well, I am not, like with my older son, last year he started college in France. You all have to know that college in France is very cheap. So it's a maybe, you know, 100 euros a year, so $100  a year to pay for college.


Casey: Oh, that's nice.


Nadine: So if they lose a year, it's not such a big deal. So he started college and after 3 months he said to me "I am stopping. This is not what I really want to do. I don't want to do this type of studying." And so for me it was a bit of a rebellion but then I thought "Well, he's going to use that time to do something else and he's going to find a job or go, you know, learn a language abroad or something" and so he found a job really quickly and that he really liked and he liked it so much that after like 2 weeks of his job he said to me "Mom, I'm actually not going to study, I'm not going to go to university" and you must know that in my family education and very high education is very important, it's one of our family values, we have to go over a top 3000 books in the house so it's just like very important for us and I was like "Oh my God, this is the worst thing that can happen, really."


And even though, you know, I started to, you know, think about it and think "Well that's not the end of the world, so many people do that you know, not go to a university" and yet, you know, I could feel how how hard it was on me and how he was really questioning us by doing that. And you know, we talked about it with him and I said you know, "You're going to do whatever you want, it's your life, you know" and we had a few discussions about it and he finally, you know, we finally were more precise and he didn't know where to go and what to study, something he said that he likes, you know, going to social and humanitarian work, volunteer work and things like that but he didn't know of any schools doing that, so we actually found a school and now he's studying again, but it was for me, that time when he was, you know, deciding not to study was very difficult time. And I really, really felt the individuation strongly.


Casey: Yeah, well I mean-


Nadine: And it was tough to lead him without controlling him. Like, you know, to really let go and think, "OK, that's his choice, you know, he's going to do what he thinks. He's 18 years old" and you know, I will not, so I really forced myself, which was really hard because all I wanted to do is say "No, you're going to study no matter what."


Casey: Yeah, well, and I appreciate that story a lot because I think it really highlights those moments where we realize "Oh right, we actually don't have any control." I mean, in the  purest sense of that word and I know for me it's that and I think a lot of us can relate to that story, you know, whether it's a conversation about college or simply about grades and school work, I had a gal email me recently saying that she wanted some support motivating her daughter because her daughter had decided she wasn't going to go to college.


Instead she was going to get famous on YouTube and you know and how many kids are saying that right now to their families, a lot because there's this idea that that's such an easy thing to do and anyway, but at the end of the day, how we are in relationship with our kids in a way where we can stand side by side and kind of paint a picture, like and I have my arm out kind of like, you know, "Look, let's look at the world around us" and like, we were talking about with finding out who they are, asking those questions.


I love that you finally were able to drill down with him so that he was aware of, you know, "What's really interesting to me is social issues and humanities and I just, I'm not getting that where I'm at" and so to be able to be really clear and help them get really clear on what it is that's important to them to be able to then look for opportunities. I just think that that is so beautiful and I'm guessing took a lot of personal work for you because I also heard how important and I'm the same way, how important education is and to have one of your kids say "Yeah, you know, I think I'm good and so many people are good and you keep doing you and I'll do me," you know to, because I know for me that-


Nadine: He was saying, you know, "I'll study maybe in 5 or 10 years, it's OK, I don't need to study now." You know and I was like, you know, one part of me was thinking "Well, that's true, you know, now life is different than it's been, I mean, everything is changing and studying will not be the same and you can find, you know, you can, you will study all your life and it's not, you know, as it was before and at the same time I was saying "OK, so are you, you know, are you going to start studying, you know, like when you're going to want to have a family or things like that?" He was like, "Oh, I didn't think of that."


Casey: Right, right, right.  But it's true though, I mean, there are so many avenues now for education and to let go of the traditional model that we were raised with, you know, you move through school, which includes the college years, before you set out into the world and it's, yeah, I mean I could feel in my own body, like, I could feel in my belly that tightness around like "But this isn't how you're supposed to do it."


Oh, yes, individuation and then so the next little bit is the next characteristic of individuation is that adolescents are going through huge physical and emotional changes and I did a whole, I know, people listening to the summit heard me talk to Kelly Pfeiffer about emotional development and Marcilie Smith-Boyle about brain development. We didn't really, I haven't really talked much about the physical changes that are happening but that is happening. And they don't always know what's happening for them as it's happening and so the behavior can show up as really confrontational or defensive or you know, just all around challenging for parents. What's been your experience with the physical and emotional changes of adolescence?


Nadine: Oh, I see a lot of physical changes, of course, now all of my children have gone through almost you know, all,  like they have adult body. So it was quite interesting to see my older son, Timothy, his hair changed, he used to have, like, you know, not curly hair but you know waved and then he had hair kind of very, very curly, I don't know how you call that, I don't know that word in English but the really, really curly which was not, which was very different, frizzy, frizzy.


Casey: Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. He needed some hair product.


Nadine: It was quite a big change and then he made it grow and it was going up and up and now it's really long and it was down and it was all over, hair twice his head, you know, and he loves his hair, he's really happy with that. So that's the change that he's been through. What I've seen or saw in all of them, you know, is the pimples and the skin and  that's not easy, I think for them to deal with, it's a big challenge and you know and I can see how some children are more impacted by that than others. Some don't really care and some are really, really, there's one pimple and it's end of the world.


Casey: Right, it's like "I'm not leaving the house. I can't go. I can't." Yeah, we've, that's something we navigate over here, for sure, it's getting, I think, better as the reality sets in that, you know, if you ever want to leave the house, you're going to need to get over this" but I think that I think it's really easy for the adults to kind of roll, you know, metaphorically roll their eyes and be like "OK, yeah, teenagers have acne. We're still going to go and do this."


So in those moments, just really, what I've noticed is, you know, when I can relate and validate and then move forwards "and we're going to go to this family gathering" or "and we are going to go and do this thing" it helps much more so than just like "Oh, you know, everybody, it's not a big deal, it looks worse to you than everybody else." So again, it's kind of taking them seriously, which is respectful, isn't it? I think it's, that's something that gets in the way of a lot of people with their teenagers is, and in American culture in general, just the whole vibe of, you know, teenagers, they're so dramatic, they're so lazy, they're so this, they're so that, instead of seeing them as fellow human beings and treating them as such.


Nadine: Yes, yes.


Casey:  But the acne is tough.


Nadine: It is tough and I see also, like the body change for one of my sons, my second son, he grew and he's very, very tall now and  he has muscles and he really likes to work on his muscles and make them grow and you know, he does push ups every day and you know, he finds ways to improve his-


Casey: His muscle mass? Is he doing a lot of flexing?


Nadine: I don't know what is flexing but-


Casey: Yeah, yeah, like posing with the and making his muscles look big when he poses?


Nadine: Yeah exactly. In the pictures we have, you know, and he really likes that and actually, you know, which was really fun, last summer we were on vacation and every morning he was saying "Oh, this is an exercise time, everyone come with me" and so he made us, all of us, do all his exercises with him so we kind of embarked with him in his fun thing. Which was good for me because I don't do enough sports.


Casey: He's like your own personal trainer.


Nadine: Exactly and he was so good, he was really like, "No, mom you should do like this and this, that's better for your pack if you do this or that," so it was really, really fun actually to do it with him. And also what I see with my daughter, mostly, because it's a balance, like, you know, the clothes and looking at herself and the make up and you know, it takes a lot of time.


Casey: To get out of the house.


Nadine: Not to go to the house but I was a teenager who was not, I didn't, I wasn't too much into all of that, you know, clothes and makeup so it's really surprising for me and I really enjoy it and I think, the same as Theo with his body, you know, the way he does his push up, I go with her, I go with her, you know, go look at make up and actually I really enjoy it. I am thinking "Why didn't I do that when I was a teenager, this is so much fun!"


Casey: Oh my gosh, yeah, my 15 year old, almost 16 year old daughter, she helped me get eyebrows. She was, she worked on my eyebrows the other night and I was like never in my, I've never had, like, filled in my eyebrows or even really given much thought to my eyebrows. It is amazing to me and they're so good at putting the makeup on, it's not even so much the makeup, it's the skill, you know, I mean, I'm kind of like you as well, I didn't do a lot of primping, I mean, I did, you know, mascara and it was the eighty's too so  there was a lot of like, blue, really bad makeup but it's amazing to me and that's a place, I think, one of the many places where we get to let go and it's funny too because she's actually been, she's kind of on the other side of something where she looks back and says "Oh my gosh, I can't believe," well, she'll talk about last year when she went to the public school, you know, "I can't believe how much time in the morning I would take to put on makeup and how much makeup I would wear" and I'm like, "Oh!" It makes me so happy when she can look and be, like, I'm so different now, and I'm like, "Yes, yes!"


You know, and later on in the summit, just as a teaser for the listeners, I do have, because there is, you know, I think what we're talking about is really healthy relationships with body and image and there's a dark side to that as well and I actually have a conversation with Kristen Nasman later on in the summit about body image and about how, you know, we can see how our kids are can get vulnerable and slide into some eating disorders. I wonder if it's a cultural thing, just as, do you see a lot of teens with eating, does  eating disorder come up at all or much in France?


Nadine: Yeah, it does come up  but not many people talk about it but I think Maya's quite, with the people around her, her friends are quite healthy.


Casey:  Yeah.


Nadine: Yeah, she doesn't talk to me about, like, problems around that and  I was always very vigilant with her eating and how they eat and actually also, you know, I read, I think it's in Positive Discipline for Teenagers that no one ever died of eating junk food for a little while  and I think that also really helped me to let, you know. It's still hard because when I found, like, packs of cookies and candies in the rooms and I'm like, "No, don't eat in your room." And you know, I don't like them eating candy or junk food but they do still. But, you know, it passes I think. I'm hoping, because it hasn't passed for them yet but, Theo,  my second son, he's so worried about people's, he's like, I'm not eating, I'm not having any sugar. Wow.


Casey: OK.


Nadine: Let's do that.


Casey: So one of the next little quality of individuation is peer relationships taking  precedence over family relationships and I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because I feel like it comes up a lot in other interviews but really, you know, it's the conversation around just because they, well, and I wouldn't say just because they don't want to spend time with you because I am not, well, last year was a whole different kind of year for me with my teenager but I'm not necessarily, they definitely want to spend time with their peers and they're happy to have some family time as well. I don't know that that's always the case in every family but that's something we get to create, isn't it?


Nadine: I know it's not always the case and I know also I see some families where it's really hard in teenage years and then they go to college and they come back and it's much easier and they have a better relationship because it's also, you know, some  of them need privacy more and I guess, more autonomy and also, I think that's a lot about the judgments we give to them. I see that whenever I give too much judgement on what they do, you know, I just give, not my advice but you know, you know, I say what I think-


Casey: Your sage wisdom, Nadine, I mean, come on, why wouldn't they want to hear it?


Nadine: Why wouldn't they want to hear it?  

Casey: I'm like, come on, you won the ovarian lottery, kids, like.


Nadine: The workshops I do, people like my wisdom.


Casey: Yeah. Oh my God.


Nadine: Yes, so I think, I can see, the more I give judgment the less they want to spend time with me.


Casey: Yeah, Rowan gave me some feedback a while back and said, she said, "You make everything about you and you always have to be right." And I looked at her and I thought for a minute and I thought, I wonder, I bet if I ask the people I'm closest to if that was a fair assessment of me they might say yes. So I will take that feedback and work on that, thank you very much. Yeah and you mentioned that privacy, you know, their need for privacy and their need for personal power and autonomy. And while I feel like the privacy piece, especially, is one of those things that we know in our heads, that this is normal, this is important or maybe it's just me and it is so hard because I want to know everything. And it's scary, or it starts, it doesn't have to be scary but it's so easy for our minds to kind of take over and spin a tale of, you know, woe and craziness when we don't know what's happening for our kids.


Nadine: I think it's really hard to not know some of the things and we have something in our heads, well I do, I don't know if some people can relate but you know, the matter can go on and I can imagine the worst things. When there is nothing to imagine, really or you know, it's just, it's just teenagers. And really some times, you know, I saw my son come back, when I actually, I didn't see him come back but in the morning he didn't make it to his bed,.he fell asleep just in front of his bed after a big party where he drank, you know, and I was like, "Oh my God, this is the beginning of alcoholism," And like, luckily my husband is just helping me keep my feet on the ground. And he's like, "He's 19, come on."


Casey: RIght, right, when I think about what I was doing at 19, oh man.


Nadine: So so and since we know all the dangers and the problems that can happen and all of that I think it's really easy to get overstressed and try to control when there is no need for that.


Casey: Yeah, I think it it's one of those things where we hear all the worst case scenarios right in front of us through news and social media and so our brains immediately go there when our kids are doing the very typical developmental exploring and experimenting, Jane Weed-Pomerantz, our friend, was one of my interviews that has already come out in the summit and we talked about the continuum of substance use and that was really, I actually read through that whole continuum, it's in the Positive Discipline for Teens with my kids and you know, and the very first thing is, the majority of kids who experiment don't necessarily, don't become addicts that are dead in a ditch and yet when we have experiences like you have, how easy it is to immediately decide that, well, this is the beginning of that. And so I appreciate you sharing that story.


Nadine: And we can make it happen if we get too controlling.  


Casey: Yes I think that's so important.


Nadine: It could create a problem where there's not a problem, I think, stress too much about it and be fearful then we becoming discouraging to the children. And then, you know, they go into, they can go into problems because we are so discouraging to them.


Casey: Right, I'm reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, her new memoir and she's talking about her how her mom was, how she gave just enough praise for her kids to know that she appreciated and valued them but not so much that they felt like they had to continue to do that for her and she gave just enough criticism to kind of put, build a little fire underneath them to do better and for them to be able to assess their own situation without making it about their mom.


And I am reading about her mom and I'm thinking "Oh my gosh, her mom is like the ideal parent, right" and she talks about how she's really even keeled no matter what the kids brought home and yeah, because I have not necessarily been even keeled, however, I am very quick to take personal responsibility when it's necessary, when I have flown off the handle or I haven't shown up well for the kids, mostly because of fear creeping in and I think that's the thing about the privacy piece and them making mistakes is it doesn't.


So we're not saying and I think positive discipline gets misunderstood as, "Oh, you know, just let them be in their room 24/7 and have complete privacy and you know, allow them to make every mistake in the book and don't ever have a conversation about it," you know, that's not what we're at, this isn't permissive parenting. My guess is you had a conversation with your son, you know, after maybe, after the hangover was was finished but.


Nadine: Totally.


Casey: Right and then I'm guessing it also sounded like-


Nadine: It's an ongoing conversation that we have, It's like something we talk about often, you know, I check in with him on  how he's doing with, you know, drinking and how much and what he thinks but also, yeah, I think, like, for, you know, I was, some parent was asking me, like, "How do you do for the New Year's Eve party to control what your kids do?" And I was like, "Wow, this is a questionI never ask myself, I think it's an ongoing thing that we need to work on with them, you know, their autonomy and their power and their responsibility is, you know, we build it every day with what we do, you know."


I think you know, and also it's a lot about responsibilities and jobs and cores in the house as well and it's not because they're teenagers, they don't have to do that as well as younger ones and I think it gives them a lot of power and autonomy and my daughter, you know, she was saying to me "Mom, it's quite interesting because my friends, they don't do things because they're afraid they're going to be punished for it, you know, that their parents and me, when I don't do things, it's like, I know it's wrong and I know the consequence I'm going to be the one dealing with the consequences of what I do" and I think also, you know, it's about experiencing their mistakes and dealing with their mistakes and for their New Year's Eve, we were away and our older son Theo had a party in the house so it was the first time we left the house for a few days and he had a party.


Casey: Did you know he was going to have a party?


Nadine: He talked to us, we had planned everything and I said, you know, "You're free to use the house, we want the house the same as when we left, we want, you know, all of the, like, clean and everything"


Casey: Nothing broken.


Nadine: Nothing and well, if it's broken, you pay for it, you know.


Casey: Yeah, good point, good point.


Nadine: And we came back and oh my god, the house was cleaner than when we left them and you know, he had broke one thing and he said "OK, I'm going to pay for it, don't worry" You know, he was very and he said, "You know, I had to clean the floor 6 times." But he did it, you know and when we arrived it was clean, perfectly clean, so it's, I think it's it's really important to, for them to have their power and autonomy is all about their responsibility and what they need to do and you know also, like so we went on vacation for the New Year's Eve with some friends and we had our 2 younger children with friends of them and we had a house, we rented a house and we said, "We need to clean when we go." So, each had jobs, you know, each of them and they did it as well,  but they knew before, so if they were careful about not, you know, how they use the house.


Casey: And not being too messy.


Nadine: Yeah, yeah.


Casey: Well and I love, what I'm really hearing and I think this is one of the places that challenges me as a parent educator is when people come and they want a particular answer, like, what you said about that gal who asked "How do you keep them or how do you control what they do on New Year's" you know and those particular questions and there are so many layers, there are, you know, many layers, it's not one particular answer.


Nadine: And it's  what you have built that will make you feel safe, for that time, more than just deciding on one thing for one evening.


Casey: Right so and I  just appreciate that and for anyone that's listening that's feeling like, "Oh no, I mean, I haven't been doing this," there's no window that closes as far as when you can be intentional about giving your child experiences for contribution and personal responsibility, you know, the time is now, starting today is a great place to start and I think sometimes when we learn, you know, when we, especially the teen years when it starts to feel like "I've totally messed up and now here we are and there's nothing I can do about it," typically, what I've noticed is that the best place to start is simply in owning  anything that you've brought to the relationship, so if you have been really controlling, if you have been really critical or judgmental, right or if you have been withdrawn and checked out, you know, own that with your kids and let them know that you would like things to be different and that you are going to continue to learn and grow and here are some things that you're going to bring to the relationship to support all of you in shifting what's currently alive in the climate of your home, right. I mean.


Nadine: I had parents come to a workshop and her daughter was 24 years old and she said "Oh, I'm not coming for my daughter, I'm coming for my students" and after, like, the workshop she sent me an email and she said "Oh actually, you know what, I tried with my daughter and it's actually changing" and she actually, her daughter comes on the weekends sometimes and she just puts all her stuff, like, in the living room and she gets really annoyed with her daughter. She said, you know, it's actually changing the relationship, the way I feel with her, you know, I do kind of a family meeting, saying how we're going to deal with the weekends and how do we want things to be organized and she said it was just really, so, you know, you don't have to start when they're young, it's building from where you are and it can change, you know, and grow.


Casey: And I love that and I think that really speaks into what I love the most about Positive Discipline is it's really about not so much parents being in relationship with their children or adults and children, it's about humans in relationship with each other, so I mean, the same tools and strategies that we talk about can be applied in any relationship of our life and that's what I love and that really speaks into the dignity and respect piece, right, because you know, granted it might sound and sometimes my husband's been and tell me if you've experienced this where he's like, "Quit positive disciplining me." "I'm just validating your feelings, babe."


But you know, and there's also things like tone and way of being in intention and all of those things that come into play as well, I mean, I think it's really important to be authentic inside of the conversations that we have, whether it's with a 5 year old or a 15 year old or a 30 year old, you know, being authentic and real and not like, "Oh this is, you know, this is a strategy, I'm going to get what I want because I'm using these tools" like that's not necessarily going to be useful but if the goal is, you know, to be in deep conversation and deep relationships so that we are all moving forward in a healthy and loving way then, you know, Positive Discipline is the way to go and the teen years are really hard.


Nadine: And I think the important thing is to keep focused on the relationship, not forget the relationship. Just, you know, I think it's so important.


Casey: Yeah and the last 2 and then we're going to wrap it up here but the last 2 qualities of individuation, I don't think we need to spend much time on because everybody knows parents become an embarrassment to their teens somehow, they lose sight of just how cool we are, so I think for me the biggest piece of that is not to take it personally. Because I tend to.


Nadine: So do I.


Casey: But they'll realize how great we are again when they get out of the teen years and then teens seeing themselves as omnipotent and all knowing. Compassion, that's what I lean into, compassion and curiosity when they seem to know everything and I know nothing. How does that show up for you?


Nadine: Well, yeah, take it personally especially when you are doing, you think you are doing such a great job there as parents. It gives you a big humility slap in the face.


Casey: Yeah.


Nadine: You realize you're not doing such a great job. I mean, like, you know, we're all doing such a great job at the same time as not so it's more about yeah, just realizing, "Hey, we're old."


Casey: Yeah, we are.


Nadine: And that, you know, who we are is not, like, their age, which is normal, you know and it's not about us, totally not, I think and sometimes, you know, we can get good feedback and what should we do or not do to be helpful and not to embarrass them, you know, I often asked them "Did I embarrass you when I said that?" or you know, "When I did that"  you know, they actually respond to me either like, "No, it was fine," or, "Yeah, don't do it again."


Casey: Yeah, well and I think.


Nadine: The first time my daughter said, "No don't drop me in front of the school," I was like, "Oh my God, she's doing it to me."


Casey: I know, I like to roll down the window and say "I love you!" She just doesn't turn around. Yeah, I mean, it's, and like what you said, we can be doing a great job and they're still going to go through individuation, you know, individuation has to happen, it's developmentally appropriate, it's healthy. We want them to individuate while they're at home versus once they make it out into the world and there's less of a soft landing, right, and sometimes, you know, I know for me, my individuation definitely happened once I left home and things could have gone pretty sideways, fortunately they didn't but not because I wasn't doing crazy things.


So what I'm hearing you talk about is relationship, is being open. We didn't really talk much about this but really listening to our gut, especially when it comes to the pushback against our values. Or the, well yeah, like the pushback against our values, the rebellion, you know, I'm just going to encourage everyone that's listening to get really good at listening to your gut and knowing when, because letting go is so important and like, you said, Nadine, there is also room where we need to step in. And so getting ever better at that and I think our kids are really good and pretty forgiving, so if we, you know, think we're listening to our gut and we step in and they're like "No, I'm OK, back off," listen.


Nadine: And I think letting go is not also about, it's about not being over controlling but it's not about not talking about things or you know, not being there and not listening to them and not, you know, it's not about that, but it's really more about seeing what's our part in that, like what's our stuff we're dealing with?


Casey: Yes totally and I like to think of the visual of standing side by side with my teenager, looking at a situation versus face to face, you know, where it becomes me against you, instead it's side by side here and we both want the same thing which is, you know, for you to have a healthy productive life.


Nadine: Yes.


Casey: Hey well, is there anything else you'd like to share with the people that are listening, Nadine, about individuation or raising teenagers.


Nadine: Well I think it's a really important to go through with them and be along, you know, like you said, be on their side, you know, keep that relationship no matter what, I think that's really important. And I think that's also very, it's good mental health to go through that, you know, they need it and we need it, you know, I think it's it's also good for us, you know makes us grow.


Casey: Yeah, truth, truth, truth, truth there. Thank you so much, it's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thanks for your contribution. If there's anyone listening who want to get in touch with you where can they find you?


Nadine: Well they can find me on my website but it's a French website.


Casey: I'll put the link in the notes.


Nadine: and then you have my email if you want it.


Casey: OK perfect so listeners I'll put in Nadine's website and email into  the notes for this interview and you know, if you speak French then you'll be able to read all about everything on the website, right? I bet there's an English translation, Google. Google's good like that.


Nadine: Yeah, I haven't done a translation yet.


Casey: Well, it's okay. Thank you so much, it's so great to talk to you, my friend.


Nadine: You're welcome, thank you so much, it was an honor to be on your podcast.


Understanding Teen Brain Development, with Marcilie Smith Boyle

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest today is Marcilie Smith-Boyle. Marcilie coaches high achieving parents and professionals towards authentic success so they can live, work and parent with more peace, purpose and joy. A certified positive discipline parenting trainer and career and leadership coach, Marcilie leverages her previous 6 year consulting and marketing career to ensure her clients get return on their coaching investment.  Marcilie earned her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, B.A. from Dartmouth and CPPCC from the Coaches Training Institute. Her services include career transition coaching, leadership coaching and parenting coaching for individuals and groups as well as parenting with positive discipline classes and speaking events both in the San Francisco Bay Area and online. She loves living in Oakland, California and is mother to three children ages 18, 16 and 11. Hi Marcilie, welcome to the parenting teens with P.D. audio summit.


Marcilie: Thank you, I'm happy to be here.


Casey: Can you tell the listeners a little bit more about your experience with teens and positive discipline?


Marcilie: So sure as you just mentioned I have 2 teens and one tween so I'm really in the thick of it and have been for quite some time. So my oldest has just started his freshman year in college and I have a 16 year old working up the hours to get her driver's license and then I have an 11 year old who's in 6th grade. So lots of experience with positive discipline and also lots of experience failing at it and trying again. Ah yes, I'm sure we can all relate, yeah?


Casey: How long have you been doing positive discipline?


Marcilie: Since 2012. Actually in your introduction.


Casey: Did I say that out loud?


Marcilie: Say what?


Casey: How long? Sorry. In my introduction? Yes.


Marcilie: No, no, no in your introduction you said I had transitioned to coaching after 6 years in the business world but it's actually 16. So I did management consulting and I was in marketing at the Clark's company for 10 years before I made this transition in 2012. So I started in 2012 teaching positive discipline and coaching and I fell in love with it especially as I was doing my coaching certification and training within our Neuroleadership Institute at the same time and I saw so many parallels between great leadership in the home and great leadership in organizations it was very inspiring, so super committed to positive discipline and I apply it in all sorts of contexts.


Casey: Nice. I love the word leadership. Whether it's, I think, there are so many opportunities in life to step into leadership and I love the reframe that happens when we start to look at ourselves as leaders, whether we're talking to parents or classroom teachers, right, leadership and what that can look like, so thanks for that.


Marcilie: Yeah, that is what what it is.


Casey: Yeah and we're going to talk about brain development in this interview  and I'm so glad. I feel like the more, I know from my experience, speaking for myself, the more that I understand about the brain the more likely it becomes to shift to, the more likely I am able to shift out of taking things personally. What is your experience with learning about brain development?


Marcilie: Yes, I agree this has been definitely been the case for me when I understand anything about my kids better, it makes it easier for me to show up with compassion and not take it personally like you said. So an interesting quote from Francis Jensen, she's the author of The Teenage Brain, she says "Almost all teens apparent recklessness, rudeness and cluelessness is neurologically, psychologically and physiologically explainable.'


It's not entirely their fault, it's just really confusing because teens look so much like adults we often expect them to act that way too and the truth is also that a lot of teen brain research is new, it's relatively recent so this information really hasn't been available for very long. Casey: Yeah and as positive discipline trainers I think there's a lot of, I'm glad that you're bringing in other names I know, that many of us lean on the work of Dan Siegel, Dr. Dan Siegel and his work around the brain and something that I love about him and his super brainy science-y conversation is that he also pulls in mindfulness and personal growth and development into the conversation and that is something that I think is, you know, often, I think, people hold mindfulness over here and then brain science on the other end and really, those two things go together so well.


Marcilie: Right and that is something that's unique about Dan Siegel is that he has this, I don't know what you call it, consortium and organization at U.C.L.A. which is all about bringing the squishy stuff like empathy and compassion and bringing the science to that kind of squishy stuff, that's his whole area of expertise so he's a really great resource for understanding the science of what I call, you know, touchy feely stuff.


Casey: Yes, yes.


Marcilie: Because I love that.


Casey: Yes, me too. So let's start with the basics on the brain development stuff, especially for teens. Can you talk a little bit about what happens during the time before adolescence versus what happens during adolescence?


Marcilie: So sure and let me just say up front, I am not a neuroscientist, this is not my background but I have done a lot of reading and a lot of studying and coaching training in areas related to neuroscience so a lot of what I'm going to be saying to the end this interview is based on Brainstorm, the book by Daniel Siegel, The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain and also The Teenage Brain by Francis Jensen, she is a neuroscientist and raised two teenage boys by herself so those are my sources as well as the training I've gotten from the Neuroleadership Institute so with that as background, let me answer your question about brain development.


So with babies, babies are born with more neurons in their brains than they will ever have again, so we are maxed out at birth and that's why children are so capable of learning because they have so many neurons but it is experience that allows the neurons to connect and it's frequency of experience that makes those connections strong and solid and as we grow and age, the neurons that are not utilized get pruned.


They get cut and discarded, so to speak, so that the brain can become more efficient and focused. "Use it or lose it" is the term that Dan Siegel and other brain scientists will use, so if you focus on something, you practice it, you do it over and over again, you continue to focus on it, those connections in your brain get stronger and they stay, whereas things that you don't focus on or that you don't use, the brain's comes to the conclusion that "I don't need that, I need to get rid of it" and during adolescence, the brain goes through a kind of remodeling in two major ways.


One is that the pruning peaks during this period. So it's a time of life where the brain is looking around saying "I don't use that, I don't need that, get rid of it so that I can be more focused and efficient." So the overall number of neurons and the connections goes way down in adolescence and like I said, experience shapes which circuits will stay and which will go. This is one reason why I want my teens to get outside to do a sport, to play board games, even go to College Avenue and hang out with their friends rather than play League of Legends all day. Those connections are pretty strong already and Fortnight, right?


Casey: Yeah.


Marcilie: Yeah, so that's the 1st remodeling, kind of remodeling, that intense pruning. The second kind of remodeling in the teen brain that happens is that the brain is laying down myelin. Myelin is a sheath covering the membranes along interlinked neurons and this coding, this sheath allows neurons to communicate more quickly and in a more coordinated way.


So step one during adolescent brain remodeling is pruning of unneeded neural connections and neurons and step two is laying down myelin to make those connections quicker, more coordinated and more effective, like greased lightning. And these two changes help the brain become more integrated, left hemisphere integrated with right, higher brain communicated with lower and even brain communicating and integrating with the body and integration, the ultimate goal according to Dan Siegel, allows the brain to develop just thinking.


This is the ability to make good decisions and choices because we can see the big picture and we can tap into our own intuition and guide our decisions based on positive longer term values, things that are good for us long term, all these things help us reduce thinking and that's what integration allows us to have. A very handy skill.


Casey: Yeah.


Marcilie: Well and I love that there's a purpose to the way, I mean, of course there is, but it's fun to remember that there is purpose to the way that the teen brain develops and I've heard Dr Siegel say if it weren't for adolescents we never would have left the cave. As far as that, like, increase in thrill seeking and or not increase in thrill-seeking but that part of the brain developing quicker than risk assessment is perhaps what got us out of the cave.


Marcilie: Right and it's interesting too, there is research around all sorts of other mammals who have the same kind of brain remodelling during their adolescent years as well so there's something potentially evolutionary about these changes that allow the teen to leave the nest and do so successfully.


Casey: And in Brainstorm Dr Siegel talks about four qualities of mind that are set out by the brain changes of the teen years. One is novelty seeking, two is social engagement, three is increased emotional intensity and four, creative exploration. Now, some of this overlaps with the conversations that have come up in the summit about and that will come up in the summit around individuation but I would love to break these down a bit for listeners in a practical way. So let's start with novelty seeking, what exactly is novelty seeking?


Marcilie: So novelty seeking is searching for new stuff, new experiences, new adventures that one has never had before and due to the teens' unique wiring processes and brain composition, their brains crave new rewarding experiences more than adults do. So these new experiences and all experiences can be exhilarating and exciting and that's why the teen brain wants them. These kinds of experiences are rewards, you know, just like chocolate cake or video games or likes on Facebook or Instagram, new experiences give the brain a dopamine hit and it's rewarding. It feels great.


So since since healthy teens will ultimately leave the home, you know, these novel experiences are a good thing for them to crave because the home is something they know and leaving home is something they don't know, so having a healthy excitement for novel experiences is a good thing in that light.


Casey: Well and coupling this app with what Dan calls hyper-rationality around "probably everything will turn out fine" so I'm noticing your use of the word "healthy novelty-seeking" and wondering because we all think about, I mean, it's easy, that's kind of the typical teenage, you think about the teenager and they want to drive real fast and they take risks and there is a continuum on what is like healthy and normal and great brain development versus "No, don't do that, that is not what you should be doing right now."


Marcilie: Right, yeah, right, well and teens, teens, it's interesting too, you know, what you're just talking about this hyper rationality that is the concept that teens see the benefit of a potential situation but they don't fully measure or weigh the downsides and that's their brain, that's their brain that's having them disproportionately weigh the pros versus the cons.


And that has to do with dopamine as well. Dopamine is this special neurotransmitter that can both inhibit and excite. It's what gets released when, like I said, you think about getting something rewarding, having a novel experience or you actually do get that something rewarding or have that experience. So like when your kid makes it to level 10 in the video game, boom,  dopamine is released. When you even think about, like, if you're doing your homework and like, "Oh my gosh, when I'm done with this I'm going to be able to hit level 10 in my video game," even thinking about it releases dopamine for me so and it's interesting too because a lot of people will say "Well teens are like they have raging hormones."


Teens actually don't have more dopamine than adults, in fact, they have lower baseline levels but what they do have is different wiring connections that allow more dopamine to get released in response to an experience or the promise of an experience. So good things look really good and are especially enticing. So that's, it's magnetic, right, these novel experiences, driving fast, going to a party can be especially enticing but because their brain has them put more weight on the potential upsides due to hyperrationality, they don't see the downsides quite as much.


Casey: So how do we help them develop that skill? How do we help them? Well, so I mean, they learn through experience, right, so part of it is simply like, "Well, I made a mistake and hopefully it's, you know, not a life or death mistake, right?"


Marcilie: Right, well what I think one of the things that we have to recognize is that we can do what we can, we can provide the information, we can listen, we can be open to their experience and ask questions and help them examine or explore the downsides, help them become more aware of them but that's a, you know, there are limits to what we can do and part of it is that we just hope that we can create a relationship and some healthy values and limits so that they maximize their odds of not doing really dangerous risks. They're gonna take risks.


So how do we allow that to happen in a healthy way and I think it is all a lot about the relationship and dialogue and keeping that connection open, I mean, I actually like gave the teenage brain book, the chapter on pot and risk seeking to my teens and I asked them to read it.  Just, I want them to have the information, I just, you know, I just want you to have the information. How you use it is up to you but this is what I've got for you.


Casey: I think that's such a huge lesson. Oh my gosh and one that I keep learning over and over is that that illusion of control, as if, and that attachment outcome that we have and I'm recognizing, like, this is, we're on parallel journeys, we're not on the same road and that they get to navigate the road. We get to love them, you know, and cross our fingers and focus on relationship and offer information but ultimately, they're out there making decisions and then coupling that with the next bit, which is social engagement, you know, they want to be with their peers more and you know, starting to think about a room full of teenagers ready for some novelty seeking and you know, that's a little terrifying but-


Marcilie: Yeah.


Casey: Is it true that the more teens there are, the more chance of risky behavior?


Marcilie: Definitely true, this is backed up by research in experiments, for example, that measured how teens do when driving on a simulated automobile program when alone versus with friends. Risky behaviors increased significantly when they're with friends and I bet we all have our own personal examples, like, my own example when I was, like, a tween, my best friend who I just thought was amazing dared me to shoplift and had I been alone, never ever would I have done that but with her egging me on and then she did it too, first, I did it. Not proud of that moment and I know I would not have done that if she hadn't been there.


Casey: Oh yeah, I have that same story.


Marcilie: I bet we all had stories like that.


Casey: I was a little bit older but yeah. There's, I'm thinking about all the stupid things that I did. Did I ever do them alone? No.


Marcilie: Right. You could have because  there's all these other things that are happening in your brain too, novelty seeking and increased risk taking, you could have done it alone, too. I did some stupid stuff alone, I gotta say.


Casey: Yeah, maybe I am giving myself a little bit too much credit. And it's important. I mean and on the same note I think that we often put, like, risk taking into this "it's bad", you know, we think about all the bad risks, right. All the really scary things but it's an important part of development that our kids do step out of their comfort zone and having solid relationships with other teens, with their cohort, their friends, it supports them in making some of those big life moves, right?


Marcilie: Right and this is part of the evolutionary rationale for why these things are happening in the brain is because taking risks is, there's an upside to that, if they didn't take risks they wouldn't learn anything new and the teen brain is super primed for learning. If they didn't take risks they wouldn't try out for the play, they wouldn't come out as gay, they wouldn't tell someone that they need help and all those things have positives for sure and as for peer pressure, it's not always bad.


Now, I know myself I had some really, really great friends who were there for me when I needed them and helped me through some tough times and I know my daughter who's 11, she peer pressured her friend into doing cross country with her and the friend's mother was elated, she was super happy about that, so it is definitely not always bad and the peer network helps the child or the adolescent feel secure that they can make connections, that they do have a support system outside the home, making it easier for them again to chart an independent life.


Casey:Yeah and it's no wonder that we go grey when we're raising teenagers. Every day, I'm like, look I don't have to color my hair anymore because it looks like I have highlights. And yes, so is there anything else, what else is useful for parents to consider about social engagements and brain development?


Marcilie: Well, you know, I've had many parents come to me saying "I don't like who my kid is hanging out with, you know, this person is a bad influence and I want them out of my child's life" and what I say to that is there are some things that you can do but we really do, again, have limited control over who our friends associate with so I think the most important thing for parents to think about is our own relationship with our teen, our own social engagements because when that relationship is strong the more my teen feels connected to me, the more they feel understood and loved unconditionally by me, the more open they are to my influence, including my values and my boundaries and when our values are aligned and kids internalize those, then they tend to choose people to hang out with who have similar values.


So that's, I don't have evidence that that's true but I bet I could find some if I did and I also really love the idea that I get from Gordon Neufeld of bringing your kids' friends and even the parents of your kids' friends to your house for events, so like hosting a barbecue with your kid's friends and their parents or just having the kids' friends over at your house for, you know, cookies and milk or something so that the friends feel comfortable in your presence and you have a personal relationship with the friends as well.


Casey: Oh I love that. I love that. I definitely subscribe to that. It was interesting I was listening to a Facebook live with Rosalind Wiseman who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes A Mastermind in Wingmen and I really appreciate her work and she was talking about, which I thought was really powerful is, you know, we, because I'm very quick to invite my kids' friends over, you know, I love having conversations with them and she was pointing out that, you know, not every kid has someone at home who's, like, teaching them how to give a good handshake and look you in the eye and be in conversation with adults and this becomes a really lovely place where we get to be models for that for all teens, not just our own and to really check our judgment as well because you know, there's all sorts of little touch points that we all have, either consciously or unconsciously, about what we think about someone based on, you know, how they show up and those first impressions and so I really appreciated her pointing out, like, this is an opportunity for us to perhaps be an adult that is inviting them into that kind of experience so that they can then, you know, move forward from a place of experience, like, "Oh that's how you do it"


Marcilie: Yeah and that parent is not a dingbat all the time, you know, they actually have some interesting things to say, you know. One of my best lessons I ever learned was from my teenage friend's mom, so Jaylene Chandler, if you're listening, thank you for teaching me to take a compliment. Like in my family this did not happen and it was Jaylene who was just like, "Marcy, knock it off, you know, just say thank you." Like, God, that's a great point.


Casey: Yeah, I've had kids say "Wow!" you know, because, just because of topics of conversation around the dinner table. I've had friends of my kid say, "Gosh we don't talk about this stuff at my house and this is really cool." So I'm glad, I'm glad to be that person. So, OK, what about increased emotional intensity? I think all of the parents are listening going like "Uh, yeah, whoa, what is happening there, why, why, why?"


Marcilie: Right, yes. And yet this is another predictable way the teen brain manifests due to its development and remodeling. So the defensiveness, the blow ups, the running up stairs and slamming the door, all of this tends to happen with more frequency in the teenage years and there's a reason for that, too. So this has to do with the brain maturation.


So many of us may, I didn't know before I read the teenage brain, is that the brain matures back to front. So the back part of the brain, like on top of your neck, these are the oldest, most primitive parts. So it's the brain stem which controls automatic systems like reading and heart beating, the hippocampus, the amygdala, the emotional limbic centers of the brain, these parts mature first and so the fight or flight, all of that emotional stuff, that's very mature in the teen brain. The front of the brain though, behind the forehead, this is the part of the brain matures last.


And it's usually not complete until around 25 or so and this part of the brain, the frontal lobes and specifically the prefrontal cortex, is responsible for all sorts of fantastic skills like moral reasoning, empathy, creative problem solving, impulse control, balancing your emotions, all of these wonderful skills are in this frontal lobe part of the brain which in teens has not fully developed yet. In fact, it's only 80 percent of the way to maturity.


So the frontal lobes are the least mature and the least connected in adolescence compared with other brain regions and then so, they just don't have the same ability to manage emotions, to control impulses, to see various creative options in a situation or show empathy, all of these things are still getting connected and then, what, to make things worse, in addition to the not yet developed frontal lobe, study show that the teens amygdala, the reptile brain, the fight or flight instincts, this part of the brain is more active in adolescents than in children or adults. So this means that emotions can rise and explode more frequently and quickly and yet the frontal lobe which would tamp down or inhibit those explosions isn't fully developed so you get a double whammy in adolescence.


Casey: Oh yeah, I mean, as I'm listening to you speak I'm thinking about, again, something you said early on is we're looking at them and they look so much older and so the expectation is, like, we've already lived through the terrible twos, we've already lived through tantrums, why? What is happening right now, you should have, you know, "should" have more skills and yet what I'm hearing you say is they're getting there and just as they're getting there or closer, they're having this whole, I mean, I'm thinking of like the amygdala kind of swelling. Don't leave me behind! Don't forget about me I'm still here! And really, really kind of guiding them as we are like, "What is your problem, right?


Marcilie: and their problem is that their brain is taken over.


Casey: And I know that many people listening are familiar with brain in the palm of the hand but as a refresher, will you walk us through it?


Marcilie: Sure, so this comes from Daniel Siegel And Mary Hartsell in originally, I think, in the book Parenting from the Inside Out. Or maybe Whole Brain Child, it's in a number of their books and Dan's books including Brainstorm and it's just a way for people to see what's going on inside of their brain, a way to be aware of that by looking at your hand as a model of the brain. So I'll ask people to do this with us if you're willing, all listeners do this with us if you're willing, take your hand and make a fist and if you open up your fist and look at your hand or as your hand is in a fist, this is a handy model of your brain. So might your wrist is your wa-wa-wa, this is Dan Siegel's word, handy model.


Casey: Yes, so good.


Marcilie: So your wrist is your brain stem that connects your brain to your spinal cord and then if you open up your hand, your palm is your mid and lower brain, this is your limbic area and parts of the brain that I mentioned before, hippocampus and your amygdala, hippocampus stores a lot of those long term memories that get you triggered when you're not even conscious of them. The amygdala, like I said, fight or flight response and among other things, this is gross simplification but that's the midbrain. And folding your thumb over, that's part of the midbrain as well.


And then if you fold your fingernails over your thumb, your fingers over your thumb, your fingers represent the cortex, that's the outer layer of the brain, that's the part of the brain that evolved last and behind your fingernails is the prefrontal cortex, the prefrontal cortex is the part of the frontal lobe that has a lot of those executive functions I talked about before, emotional control, impulse control, creative problem solving, moral reasoning, empathy, all that good stuff and what happens and it also serves as you see if your fingernails, they touch your thumb and it's the inside of your hand, they are connecting, they integrate all of these parts of the brain together and what happens is when people get really angry or really frustrated or triggered, they flip their lid, now open up your fingernails, open up your four fingers and what do you see, what's exposed there?


Casey: The midbrain.


Marcilie: Yup. All the emotional center, the amygdala, reptile brain. And so in this state, when your lid is flipped, you've lost it, you're super angry or even just super tired, when you flip your lid, that's what's in control now, the emotional part of the brain and you literally don't have access to your fingernails, all the parts that help you be empathetic, creative, all of those good things that you need when you have a problem in front of you. Yeah, in fact, there's fascinating research by Matthew Lieberman and his wife Naomi, can't remember her last name that shows, oh no, this was actually research from The Complete Guide to Asperger Syndrome, I can remember that right now but in that book, they cite research that shows that when you're in a state, when an adult is experiencing anger, they lose up to 60 points of I.Q..


Casey: Wow


Marcilie: So the average adult I.Q. is about 100 so you get a lot dumber when your lid is flipped. Under when an adult is experiencing anxiety, they can lose up to 30 points of I.Q. So when your lid is flipped, you are literally dumber. So your number one priority when your lid is flipped or when your teen's lid is flipped is to do whatever you need to do to get back down, calm down. And that's sometimes hard to do. But that's very often when our lid is flipped, we are so angry that our teen has come home drunk that we lose it, right there in front of them and when we do that, because of me or neurons they might lose it too and it's very unlikely that anything productive is going to happen in a double lid flip situation.


Casey: Oh yeah because everyone's just mad and-


Marcilie: Well, they're dumber.


Casey: Yeah, they're dumber Oh my gosh and even as I'm like holding my fists so my thumbs and there my fingers are over my thumb and I'm thinking about what you said about was it the amygdala that is overactive in the, so I'm like literally, like that amygdala  is pushing against that prefrontal cortex so as to say like "Wait a minute, I got something to say right here"


Marcilie: Right.


Casey: And how quickly I'm guessing, I don't need to guess because I have a teenager. How quickly like everything is so fine until it's not right?


Marcilie: Right it can happen fast.


Casey: And I have to remind myself often that this is short term, like this lid flipping when they get moody or angsty, that they eventually will come out of it and really for me and I know others as well, it's about, "OK, they've flipped their lid again, I don't need to take this personally. I don't need to dig in right now to the fact that they slammed their door or they rolled their eyes or even that they said something, you know, that was unkind or hurtful in this moment. I just got to wait and let them work it out and then come back to 'Hey, so I noticed'."


Marcilie: And that can be really hard to do because in those moments as parents we think we need to do something now and fast and that isn't always the case and in fact, very often the best thing to do is not do.


Casey: And if our mirror neurons are working overtime and we flip, we don't always remember to back off and you know, I always, I like to remember, you know, I want to say too,  I think sometimes we lose it, we flip our lids, maybe we say one thing or maybe we head in that direction, it's never too late to catch yourself and decide "Ooh, you know what, I did start to talk but actually I'm going to, I'm going to walk away, I'm going to go take care of myself."


Marcilie: Yeah well I mean that sometimes I have to say, like, you wrote a great blog about the emotional freight train, you know, that I could really relate to which is like once you get on that freight train it is really, really hard to slow down. It's almost impossible to get off when it's rolling, so the trick for me when I can is to catch it before it starts speeding up, to catch it before I'm fully, fully flipped, recognize "Ooh, my mind lid is on 75 percent the way there, maybe now is the time to go sit in my own bedroom and journal for a bit."  Hard, hard to do.


Casey: Well and good news, I turned that blog into an entire book that will be available later this spring. Thanks for the promo opportunity.


Marcilie: Awesome, congratulations! I can't wait to read it. It was a great blog so I can't wait for the book.


Casey. Thank you. What would you say are some tips or tools for the parents and I think you've mentioned a couple but for working through our teens' emotional intensity?


Marcilie: Yeah, so, Francis Jensen, again, of the Teenage Brain has this advice, count to 10 and what she means by that is what we just said, like, pause. Stop yourself, resist the urge to moralize or speak or lecture or yell or whatever in that moment and when you count to 10, maybe what you can do, what she means is think through what you want to achieve.


Casey: Oh I love that.


Marcilie: And what you want to say before you say it and I'll ask this all the time to my clients, like, what did you want the outcome to be in the situation? What did you want? And they'll say "Well, I wanted my child to say sorry and pick up their toys."  "OK, if that's what you want, what's the most effective way to get that outcome?" You know and it usually isn't yelling or screaming or taking away their iPad. So thinking through what you want to achieve. what do you want to say and that may mean that you go away for awhile and you write down what I want to say. And maybe come back. So that that's a hard thing to do but it can make such a huge difference when you pause first, you then give yourself a chance or increase the odds that you're going to be helpful, rather than hurtful or reactive. You also increase the odds that you will model the kind of calm, creativity, maturity and compassion that you want your child to have in that moment.


Casey: And while it can be challenging, we can also practice, like, I just, I'm always telling parents and myself, like practice the pause when the stakes are low, like just make it, even when it's not some high intensity moment, you know, where are there opportunities to just simply practice that pause, right.


Marcilie: Yeah and to be to be a witness. It's OK to be a witness because when you're a witness you can just notice, maybe be more observant of what your child, what skills your child might be lacking and then maybe help them learn those in another time. I mean, I noticed once when my tween, she had a full-on temper tantrum, it was bizarre, she was like 12 years old, 12 years old, we hadn't packed her bag that she wanted on our way to Lake Tahoe, she wanted us to drive 3 hours back and get it and we weren't going to do it. She had a massive, full on temper tantrum, which I didn't understand at the time, but of course, now that I've read these books I do and but the only thing that my husband I could do at that moment was silent empathy, just be there with her with compassion in our face and let her have her feelings. And that's what we did and I think that that is something else that's hard for parents to do is just let your teenager have their feelings. Because eventually the feelings, they dissipate, they get smaller even if you do nothing.


Casey: Right and when one thing that has been useful for me, because it's really hard for me to "do nothing" is to visual, like you said, silent empathy is literally visualizing my energy pouring out of my body and wrapping my child up, like my daughter had a contrasting M.R.I. that she had to do recently and she worked herself up into an unbelievable frenzy just simply in the, just the unknown was too much. And I knew there was nothing that I could say mostly because I tried it and so it just became like all I really could do was like pour energy, like something I can't see, I don't really know if it's actually doing anything but it let me feel like I was in contribution to her, simply because I was pouring out my energetic empathy and imagining that she was being wrapped up in it and so if anyone out there has the-


Marcilie: That's a beautiful image.


Casey: Thank you.


Marcilie: And I'm sure just imagining and visualizing that helped you feel better.


Casey: Yes, exactly. It helped me let me let go of the idea that I had to have the perfect thing to say. And just let me be with her and let her feel me attuning to her, but yeah, wow, it's no easy thing when they are freaking out.


Marcilie: I love that, I'm totally going to try that.


Casey: Okay, good, thank you.And then finally the fourth of these qualities of the mind is creative exploration. So what does creative exploration mean and what can it look like during the teen years?


Marcilie: So as the frontal lobes develop, they open up more abstract and conceptual thinking for teens. Metacognition thinking about thinking, this was not available to them before the prefrontal cortex could wire more. So they start thinking, asking these big questions, "What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What really matters?" These are the kind of metacognition thoughts that teens begin to have and while this kind of thinking can make teens push away and rebel from parents in order to carve out their own path, it can also open up original, new ways of problem solving. Like Dan Siegel says if you couple this with novelty seeking and the increased reward drive, you can get some very creative out of the box thinking as a result. It's his opinion that it's this group of adolescents that is going to come up with the innovations that will save the world.


Casey: Yes if only we gave them the environment to focus in on that right. I want to talk about that too and he's like "You know, what? We should just scrap everything we're doing with middle school and simply give them a world problem and say 'You've got 3 years.'"


Marcilie: Yeah and that they come up with something amazing.


Casey: So thinking about their thinking, all of a sudden I'm thinking to myself, like, the question of "What were you thinking?" And they don't always have an answer to that, right? So I feel like the way that we come at, you know, with curiosity and help them recognize that, I mean, do they know that they can think about what they're thinking?


Marcilie: Actually I'm not sure they do but what we do see in brain scans is that they do have rational thinking, logical thinking, they are able to logic through situations but the problem is that they don't fully weigh the possible downsides because of that hyper rationality.


Casey: Yeah, logical is subjective.


Marcilie: Yeah, the girl who planned up a huge party at her friend's house, her friend happened to be the daughter of the headmaster of the school, she planned it, she knew the risk was that she could be expelled but just the draw of having a rocking good time and having legendary status for years to come about the one who planned a party right under the headmaster's nose was enough to have her propel forward even though she did think through the downsides.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, so how can parents best support their teens in continuing to develop that conceptual and abstract thinking.


Marcilie: So this is, this is about helping our kids be observers of themself, or witness to themselves thinking about how they're thinking and Dan Siegel recommends that we help our kids SIFT through their experiences, you know, he's a master at acronyms. Sift through, help them sift through their experiences so that they can make their own sense of them, when we can make sense of our own experiences that helps the brain become integrated. So this means focusing, when your child comes home drunk, for example, focusing on what's going on inside of your child instead of the behavior that you just cannot comprehend. So SIFT stands for S is sensations. So help your child notice their body sensations. So what did you feel in your body when you were drinking all this alcohol? How did that feel? Let them connect with that.


The I in SIFT stands for images. What images did you see in your mind? What did you hear as this was happening? The F is feelings, how did you feel as this was happening? How do you feel now? And their thoughts, that's the T in SIFT. What thoughts went through your mind as you were taking the fifth beer or whatever? As you were walking home tonight? And in this way, as we help them sift through their experiences, children then can become more aware of their own thoughts and feelings, their own experiences and to help to develop their own internal compass and in positive discipline this sounds like curiosity questions, right, a lot of curiosity questions helping the child explore the consequences of their decisions and that helps them develop that conceptual abstract meta-cognitive thinking.


Casey: Yeah, over time


Marcilie: Over time, exactly.


Casey: Right.


Marcilie: It's going to take a lot of mess up.


Casey: Yeah, and a lot of sifting.


Marcilie: Exactly.


Casey: What I think too about when we teach positive discipline, so anybody that's listened to has been through a live positive discipline class, we, you know, the activities, the processing of the activities really sounds like what are you feeling, what are you thinking, what are you deciding, so it's, we also recognize that and I'm just going to speak into this, like as adults, you know, many of us and coaches, we have a job because, you know, humans haven't necessarily developed this outside observer and so this is, you know, not just for our kids but also for us, right, for us, as we find ourselves like irate because here they are stumbling home drunk, what a great opportunity for us to do a little sifting, right, what a great opportunity for us to do some self-regulation, so you know we're talking about teens, but really we're talking about humans too.


Marcilie: Right, right and it is really a lot easier to show up for our teens as a safe place if we've done that sifting ourselves.


Casey: Yeah.


Marcilie: Which I, you know, I think is a lifelong process.


Casey: Oh yeah. Yeah, a lifelong process for sure and so messy, right, so messy. I just want to acknowledge that I could talk to you for like 5 more hours about this topic and that being said, is there anything else you want to share with listeners before we wrap this up?


Marcilie: So the the one thing I think, I've read so many books, the Teenage Brain, too, it scared me because it talks about how all of these changes in the brain makes it's so much easier for a teenager to become addicted to any sorts of things so I feel kind of scared when I read that kind of thing and I want to know "Well, what can I do?" And so I appreciated Dan Siegel's advice in his book Brainstorm, again, he said "If I had to summarize in one word all of the research on what kind of parenting helps create the best conditions for a child's adolescence growth and development it would be the term "presence". Presence.


So what does that mean? He says presence means being open to what is, being aware of what's happening as it's happening, attuning to the child's mind and inner world and being receptive and aware of your own triggers and fears. It means helping the child, this is his term, feel felt, that feeling you get when someone really understands you, really gets you, doesn't judge you and loves you no matter what. That's step one, help them feel felt first, before you move in to fixing mode and it's very hard for us with teenagers or anybody any age of child not to move into fixing mode. So that's what I want to leave myself and all of our listeners is that's a first step, help them feel felt, be present to their experience and frankly, and then we can turn to setting limits and boundaries based on this deep understanding, rather than based on fear and/or based on someone else's values, it's kind of like connection before correction in positive discipline. You know, that connection first, but we got to linger there longer for adolescents before we then can turn to the questions of "Well, what do you want to do next time? What should we do now?"


Casey: Thank you for that. Thank you so much for that. It's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thanks for contributing to the summit.


Marcilie: You're welcome, it's my honor to be here and it gave me an opportunity to refresh my understanding of the teen brain. I've got 3 of them so it's a win win, thank you.


Casey:  If there are parents listening who want to get in touch with you or follow your work where can they find?


Marcilie: My website is workingparenting.com, I've got a blog there and upcoming classes all the time or on Facebook you could find me at Coach Marcilie.


Casey: Awesome. Yay! Thank you so much.


Marcilie: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.


Supporting our Teens With Screens in the World

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today has requested to come on anonymously to protect the privacy of her children. She is an outstanding parent educator and trainer who speaks regularly to schools, parent, groups and teachers as a mother and certified positive discipline lead trainer her passions include bringing joy back into parenting and creating communities filled with dignity and respect. Drawing from a wealth of real life stories, she connects with her audience her warmth and compassion help create a trusted safe space for learning. Our guest has been teaching P.D. since 2001, providing thousands of adults with the tools to become more effective and joy filled in the demanding role of guiding the young, whether as a parent educator or a caregiver. Her training includes a certificate of professional studies and Adlerian psychology and her gifts include being observant compassionate and intuitive. She's grateful for her many mentors in her work, particularly her family. I am honored to be in conversation with her. She is a dear friend and mentor to me. Thank you so much for being part of the audio summit.


Guest:  I'm thrilled to be here thanks for having me.


Casey: Can you talk a bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Guest: Can I sum that up by saying, "Buckle up, buttercup?"


Casey: Yes, you can.


Guest: It's both a tremendous time, there are so many positives and so many great things about adolescents and for parents it often doesn't seem that way because there are so many fears about survival and safety and you know, here is this part of you that's going out into the world unfettered and you know, you just, you're losing the control that you have over this independent human being and that's the way it should be but it's really hard.


Casey: Was it you that said to me when they go out in the world it's like your heart has gone out in the world? Was that you?


Guest: Might have been. I've heard that. I have said that. It is, you know, they just kind of walk right out your body.


Casey: They do, oh my gosh. And so today we're going to-


Guest: It's also important to remember that they're, you know, my own beliefs, they are not yours to start with, you're stewards and that job is very, very personal and very difficult and we kind of forget around the boundaries and adolescence is a lot about reminding us of those boundaries.


Casey: Yeah, will you share, I'm going start with that, will you share a little bit what you like to talk about in your classes around boundaries and what it looks like as they grow through the ages and stages and how it looks in the teen years years?


Guest: Sure, you're talking about the fence thing.


Casey: Yeah.


Guest: So when our kids are born they need us for everything and we hold them tight and pretty much we hold the baby in our arms and we have our other arm extended and we can make a big circle as a boundary. It's like they're never very far from us in terms of their needs and our responses, they are very close and then they grow up and they start to toddle and they need more space and we have to push that fence out a little bit to give them room because without it they don't grow as well.


They don't discover what they're capable of, they don't become competent and as they grow, you know, then they're elementary school age and that fence has to get pushed a little farther away yet and there are still lots of rules and lots of things that, you know, help them, support them in their development but we keep expanding the field which they can play in and so that they have the opportunity to have life experience and learn more and then they're adolescents and by the time they're adolescents, you know, they're driving there that's more than a playfield, that fence is a way the heck out there and sometimes we can barely see it and and that, you know they have this really big arena to play and that works for a while and then you know, they're teenagers so that fence is a boundary that we impose and we think it's pretty secure but they come with ladders, shovels and wire cutters and that is actually part of adolescence.


That is appropriate for adolescents. It leads to mistakes. Mistakes can be opportunities to learn. We hope that they have, are lucky enough and have established values enough so that they don't do something that's irreversible. But that's that's the role of adolescents.




Casey:  What I appreciate about that visual is that the the ladder's and the shovels and the wire cutters are appropriate for them to be, appropriate tools for them to be using, like that is a part of the learning is the pushing up against, the knocking over, the testing of that boundary.


Guest: And often, you know, parents put fences where fences shouldn't be, so I mean, there's more than, one you have to kind of look from the many sides of it, you know, sometimes I don't think you should be able to do that and your kid needs prove to you, you know what, I am capable. Because we forget, sometimes we don't notice how much they've grown.


Casey: Right or fear shows up and kind of hinders our ability to see what they are capable of.


Guest: I would say that is very accurate. Fear shows up. I think that in adolescence, in particular, the fears just grow tremendously because because they have so much more independence because we can't protect them like we'd like to.


Casey: Right. And today we're going to talk about teens and screens, teens and their relationship with screens and this is so big and really this is the first generation to grow up with cell phones in their hands and I do some volunteer work in town with some elementary age kids and it is amazing to me how young the kids are who have cell phones in their pockets. It's like "Oh God, scary" and what I think isn't often highlighted enough is that we parents are the first generation of parents navigating what feels like this huge seemingly out of control challenge. So when you're out in the world working with parents what are you hearing from them around screen?


Guest: Actually, it might surprise you that I hear both sides of the story. I hear, "You know,  my kids are going to have to learn to navigate this. I want them to build the skills. Let's, you know, I'm not going to take screens away from them" and I hear, "Oh my goodness, you know, my kid's going to be addicted to screens and I'm terrified" but I hear kind of the whole gamut. I actually think that there are some great opportunities that this tech has  offered us and I think that that sometimes can get lost in the fear and having said that I think that it's really important to pay attention to the fears, to the dangers so that we can manage it and not kind of throw our hands up and say "Oh well, this is just what everybody is doing, you know." It's like, well, you know, as my mother used to say "If Sally jumped off a cliff, would you jump off the cliff too?" Different day.


So the challenge here is how do we manage that, those extremes, how how do we do that, you know, lots of ways and-


Casey: Well it's a messy, it's like so messy, like the extremes are almost easy, right, the extremes of like, "Well everybody's doing it. They're aware, they're around, we can't really enforce anything so have at it" versus, you know, "We're just going to have to go live off the grid." And be really controlling, right? Which, good luck with that, that's a really lovely, I try.


Guest: That's particularly hard in adolescence but I think, you know, this is a really hard challenge, one, every kid is different, every parent is different, every kid is triggering their parents' own stuff in ways that they probably don't even know, it just comes that way. The adolescent brain and that changes it's going through, you know, from the chemical changes to just the necessity of individuation and all of these things raise parents' fears and honestly, we don't have many problem solving resources when we're in fear and so we as parents when we get put in a place of not being as capable to manage the things that we need to be more capable of managing.


Casey: Yeah, tell me more about that, so tell me more about that.  Expand on that.


Guest: You know, I don't know if your listeners are very familiar with flipped lids but that's-


Casey: I'm going to say yes they are.


Guest: OK, so as we approach flipping our lid, as we get into more and more and more fear, the resources of our our body chemistry says we go more into survival mode, into "How do I protect" and as that happens our reasoning functions disconnect so they're less accessible. So as we're in more fear we have less reasoning ability. I mean, I'm sure that you've had a moment or two, I have with my child, where, you know, you're just like, "I can't talk right now because I'm going to only say things that are going to be hurtful not helpful."


Casey: Right, yeah, I've had, I think, maybe one or two.


Guest: Today.


Casey: Right?


Guest: Sorry.


Casey: Yes, true, yeah. Yeah, definitely.


Guest: I mean, I don't I want to make something that, you know, is a normal biological response and I think parents ifs we can be aware of that we can have a little bit more management of it and welcome to, I have a cat in the house.


Casey: Hi kitty. That's OK. That's good. Yes and I do love and this came up in another interview with Kelly Pfeiffer, actually, the whole personal growth and development and the awareness and mindfulness and recognizing you're in fear when you're in fear and the things that we can do for ourselves in that place I think it's a really rich conversation as well. Coming back to, so the screens, I love that you highlight that there are some really amazing opportunities for developing skills and growth that exist because of technology and there's the dark side, right and there's and I know, I think, it's you know, the audacity that I think, you know, for me to be, I think that we can really cover so much in like 45 minutes is hilarious because there's social media, there's video games which is have just come into our my family's world, thank you Fortnight. Right, porn, sexting and you know, and never ending texting it's, there's, where do we even start? I feel like so many of us just don't see what's coming with screens and things spin out of control before we know what's happening and then it's damage control.


Guest: Yeah.


Casey: What's your take on that?


Guest: Well, I feel like I've been to all those places.


Casey: You and me both.


Guest: I think really the place to start is with your values. So sit down with your parenting partner or with a good friend if you're parenting alone or just with yourself if you're comfortable with that and make a list "What are my values? What do I want for my kids? What skills? What do I want them to bring into the world?" and take a look at that list and and pay attention to which, some of those things might be your dreams rather than their dreams and it's nice to identify those and just put a little asterisk by them, but things like, you know, problem solving skills and and I want my child to be respectful.


I want my kids to have a sense of contributing to the community. I want, you know, those kinds of values. I want my child to have faith, whatever it is for you and your family, this is one of things I love about positive discipline because no matter what your values are, if you can maintain dignity and respect, this Adlerian approach is helpful for you and that's really, I think, a huge plus. And then take a look at how the screen time in any of its forms support or detract from those values and those are places that are opportunities to have conversations with your kids.


So have conversations with them, what are they doing online and this can be really tricky because how we have those conversations makes all the differences in the world, especially to adolescents who are kind of protective. They're individuating. They don't really want you in their stuff so we have to be curious. We can't be condemning. We've got to be able to get into their world or they're not going to share or they're not going to share honestly. So and then the other thing is take a really big look, a good inventory of your own screen use.


I have an example of this. So when my child was young, we didn't allow any television and this was years, decades ago so that was when smartphones weren't quite as big, smartphones weren't around in, you know, the late nineties and early 2000s. So we had rules around screen time but they were around television and we didn't have too much trouble enforcing them partly because there was some Waldorf schools involved and they supported that, so the school environment helped but what I noticed as my child became older and had more access to screens is that their attraction to screens wasn't television.


Now we used, you know, staying really limiting television time because it was my own personal belief that television tends to curb creativity, that when you read a book you have to interpret what you read and create a scene in your mind and television does that for you so what you're really getting is the director's or the producer's or the actor's view of the world rather than creating it in your own mind and I think that those are really good muscles to develop and so that was one of our family values.


And I work at home mostly and I do a lot of my work, my prep work on a computer and so my child saw me on a computer fair amount and when they became of the age of having more liberal use of screens, they had no interest in television but boy, were they interested in the computer. So I think that, you know, what we model really has has impact and it's a tough place for adults to say "If I'm going to me make sure that my kid plugs their phone in at 9 o'clock then I have to plug my phone in at 9 o'clock too."


Casey: Right or a conversation that I've recently had that I'm really recognizing I want my children to be thinking about is, you know, when we have to wait for something, whether it's in a doctor's office or we come down and breakfast isn't ready right away or whatever, that tendency to just reach for the phone.


Guest: Yeah.


Casey: And it exists in me too.


Guest: Oh yeah.


Casey: And so that's a great, that's a place that I've been purposely and intentionally looking at like, OK, I'm going and I know I'm going to have to sit and wait around at the doctors with my child and I keep my phone and it's not in my purse which is not and then I get to recognize like "Wow, this is not as easy as I make it out to be" like the tendency to want to pull it out and just scroll whatever is palpable.


Guest: Yeah and you know, when I was growing up when you sat in the doctor's office with your mom you had a conversation with your mom.


Casey:Yeah.


Guest: And I think that's uncomfortable for kids but also I want to recognize that if you,  that this is an example of a family value, you want to reflect, you want to have a chance to have some quiet in your mind and have an opportunity to reflect and these are real opportunities and we're being robbed of them. And that's a huge developmental skill. I think, the ability to be quiet with yourself and sort things out.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, definitely and so values, yes and guidelines and limits.


Guest: Yes. Yes but how do you create those guidelines and limits and you want me to talk about that now?


Casey:  Yeah, so I'm getting into like one of the tools that we have in positive discipline that if anyone is listening to the summit listens to the my podcast have heard me talk about agreements and routines and how there's a pretty specific model that positive discipline uses as far as co-creating agreements with our kids. So yeah, let's talk a little bit about that structure and that process.


Guest: So this making agreements process, I think, is one of the most valuable tools in adolescence, that and curiosity questions I think are, like, maybe my two favorite tools. Agreements look like, it's a, you know, basically a 4 step process. You start by acknowledging maybe that you have the problem and that you need their help with it and just ask, you know, "Can we sit down? Can I share with you what my problem is? Would you be willing to help me with it?" and they might be a little suspicious because that's fair because that's, you know, that's the developmental state that they're in and you just say "I'm noticing and you state your problem, as it is your problem, like 'I have a problem with your phone use because, you know, I'm not, I'm afraid that you're not going to develop these skills and I think that's really important in life and I realized that this is my problem and I'm wondering what we could do about it. Can you tell me how this is for you?'"


So you really need to stop after you tell them what the problem is for you, stop and really give them the opportunity to share their story about why they use the phone this much and you could get really, some really valid points which will really help you understand their world or you could get "You're right, Mom, I'm sorry. I'll just stop." And your job then is to pursue further and say, "You know, really, I didn't know that it was something that was so easy to stop. I thought that there was more value in it for you. Can you tell me about that?" or "I thought this and that" and then when kind of they share their side of the story, you share your side of the story and then you say so, "What do you think we could do to make this better for us for both of us?" And they might say "Well, it's not going to get better for me" saying, "Well, is there anything we can do to help this get better for me? What can I do? What can you do? What do you have some suggestions for me?" and then you just make a list, brainstorm all their suggestions and after they get 3 or 4 down, if you have one that you must add, you may add it.  


Actually, I think best if all the suggestions come from them but they, but there may be some that you have, oh and by the way, the first thing that they might say is "I don't know." Because it's risky to know at this point, right? One, they may not know but two, this can start, you know, you have to be really careful in this process, in your tone, in your genuine curiosity because any that that starts to slip away from earnest connection then it starts to feel like a set up to kids and I think that this is something as parents we get in our mind "I want this outcome" and we move towards that outcome without realizing how it appears through the lens of the adolescent. So that's what makes making agreements a difficult advanced technique, I think, that it's not the steps, it's managing ourselves through the steps.


Casey: Right and one of the things I noticed in that very first process when we talk about why it's a problem for us, something that I often do that I think allows, I mean, I don't know, I think it allows some space for them to realize, like, "OK, this is coming from a place of wanting to be helpful" is I always ask them what they notice about me, especially when it comes to screens, like, because they don't, you know, like my son who loves Fortnight and would play like every waking hour if that was what we did, you know, the problem isn't the Fortnight, the problem is that I'm on his case and so like, he gets to talk about "Well, you come in you don't give me any warning, I can't just pause the game, you know."


So I love what you said and getting into their world I think we make so many assumptions about them and about what they think and what they want and what they're moving towards that aren't always accurate. And so I just love that step of making agreements because we're gathering information and getting like our lenses, just kind of, you know, like when you're at the doctor's office, the eye doctor and they put all the different lenses on click, click, click, click, until finally it's like "Oh, now I can see better through your eyes" and then from that place we can work together towards a solution. I think it's such a beautiful piece and really distinctive to positive discipline.


Guest: And I think that it's important if we have a problem that needs to be solved and we're like "How am I going to solve this? What?" you know, we have that kind of energy about us. It's important for us to step back and move into "How can I get curious about this." Before we even start the process because if that process isn't done with really deep curiosity it can be less successful and that can be frustrating for every party. So, you know, and then once you get that list of brainstorm ideas, it's important to have them cross off any that don't work for them that they couldn't agree to and then for you to do the same, cross off any that, just say, you know, I can't do this because of this, this isn't going to work for me and if there's nothing left you've got more work to do. "Oops, I guess we've got more brainstorming to do."


If there are a few left, let them pick one and then try it for a few days or a week and pick a distinct time to check in about how is this working but also if you can, pick a distinct time to make sure the agreement is met, so you'll be off Fortnight after, you know, before 5:30 or you'll have 2 hours of fortnight a day or 30 minutes of fortnight a day or whatever it is for your family and then you're going to have to, you might have to develop some, so if it's 2 hours, how are we going to work this timer thing?" You know, because they can play without setting the timer so you're going to just tell me.


So the agreement is that you'll tell me when you're playing and we'll start the timer and then you tell me when we're done, we'll stop the timer, you know, whatever that is, so that afterwards, because the most important part of the agreement is the follow through afterwards and that follow through looks like an "I noticed" statement or in particular just what was our agreement.


Casey:Yeah.


Guest: When they haven't kept to that agreement and when they do keep to that agreement, even if you need to remind them by saying "What was our agreement?" you definitely say "Thank you for keeping our agreement," even if they storm off in a "You're the meanest mom in the world!" You know, you just stay calm. Staying call during adolescence maybe, you know, the superpower I want most.


Casey: Right, right, because I think we fool ourselves and I think we can fool ourselves into thinking that we've made this agreement and everybody agrees and great and there shouldn't be any pushback and don't give me any lip and da da da da da, right and then so all of a sudden we're mad again.


Guest: Let's dispel that belief right now, that is not the way it will go, right, eve. I mean, you know, maybe once but in general and that's one of the things that I think parents have inappropriate expectations. So, especially in adolescence, especially around screens, when you make an agreement you're going to have to remind them, expect that you're going to have to remind them nearly every time, you know, phone gets plugged in outside your bedroom at 9pm, at 9:15, "What's our agreement?" "OK, just a minute" at 9:18, "What's our agreement?" OK I'll put it in and then I'll just stand there until it's done.


Casey:  Are you spying on me? Have you come to my house? Are there hidden cameras?


Guest: Because at some point you want, you want to give them the opportunity to be successful on their own but you know, there's a reason we don't get 9 year olds driver's license, they don't have the reasoning, they don't have the height, they don't have the life experience to make the kind of snap decisions you have to make while you're driving a car. It's outside their capacity, their developmental capacity. Screens are that way for adolescents and even many adults, you know, here's a device that is created to ensnare our nervous system. It's created, I mean, this is the purpose is to create, "I want your attention because that is how I can create an economy around you."


Casey: Oof. It's brutal to look at it like that. It's so true, I'm in full agreement but oh my god. Guest: It's so true, and here we are giving 7 year olds smartphones and there's a big push to not give kids smartphones until they're 14, which I think is great but honestly, I don't know that they should have them even then, I mean I get it, I get it, I'll take 14 over 7 any day. But they're a device that invites so many dangers and not to say that they don't have value also, but the dangers we don't have a good handle on and we kind of refuse to acknowledge that and I don't know if that's because of the powers that be are so interested in commerce but I think it's something that parents are going to have to say "Hey wait a minute" because nobody else is going to.


Casey: Well and I think it's just like any boundaries, any boundary that we set, like, you know, the pushback and the push against and I mean, it's real and you know Juliet Asku came on my podcast one time to talk about toddlers and the word she used was relentless and I think the same word can be used with adolescents and teens, especially around teens, or especially around screens, because it's just that, you know, "One more minute" or the example you gave about putting the phone in the in the hallway. I feel like we create the agreement and it's always "Well, how about 9:15? Well, how about we start doing it at 9:30? Well, how about..." and there's never, like, you know, in my mind, I'm screaming "Just be glad with what it is" and you know, meanwhile, she's like, "Nobody has to do this, you're the only parent that makes their child put their phone away." Right, you know, and I'm like "I don't really care. Just don't argue"


Guest: And it's not true.


Casey: And it's not true, that's right.


Guest: But do you remember when you said that to your parents? "You're the only parent that makes me do this. I'm the only one who can't go."


Casey: and I remember sneaking, like we had to be off the phone by 9 o'clock every night and no one was allowed to call after 9 but I mean, I did plenty, I was plenty sneaky, right, and then to assume that somehow I would have teenagers that it would never cross their mind to you know take advantage and be sneaky, I mean, who am I right now? Yeah, it's so surprising.  Shocking.


Guest: I often had a little internal mantra try to call me down that said "What were you doing at this age?" OK, they're not doing that, they're OK.


Casey: That's a good point, that's a good point and you know, you talked about development and skills and early on that this technology there, it's not all a terrible thing, right and we in positive discipline were encouraged to keep "what are the skills they're learning?" in mind and when we think about agreements around screens and technology, no matter how often we're tweaking and playing and returning to, on one hand, it is, we create these agreements to limit their time on the screens but it's also about developing skills and tools that will support them as developing human beings in the world, so what are some of the skills that we can, you know, kind of pull out of that, the experience of being in the co-creation of creating agreements that are really powerful for development here.


Guest: Yeah, because I think this is one of the places where our parents can say "Gosh, you know, I am doing something that's appropriate for my child. I am doing good things." You know, some of those, there's a sense of responsibility, there's problem solving skills, there's communication skills, there's defending your position, there's negotiation, there's, I don't know how to say this, I'm just having a brain fart at the moment, excuse me, but you know, it's like, it's explaining your position so that the world can see from your perspective. Really, so perspective sharing.


There is commitment, there's responsibility, there's, you know, what's it like to, it's practice for what's it like to be in a long term relationship with somebody and have those relationship skills. It's so rich, it is so so rich and if parents can keep that in mind it can take maybe a little bit of the pain of that and it's just such a big effort on parents part, I mean, I think, I think there are some myths about parenting which is that if you do it right, things will be fine. Myth number one, one, there is no right, two, every kid is different and what we can do is really instill our values, it's really about instilling our values and doing the best we can with that.


Casey: Yeah. What were some of the challenges that you faced with screens when your children were home?


Guest: What did you say earlier? Porn, sexting-


Casey: Gaming.


Guest:  Exclusion. I think, what have I missed? I think that was, you know, I think we hit most of them and it's a real challenge. I'll share with you that, you know, one of my stories to share is that when my teen was I think 15 or 16 they broke a phone. And my policy, this isn't often other people's policies but my policy is if you want a smartphone you buy your smartphone and I'm not buying you a smartphone and they broke their phone and were kind of phone-less and kind of desperate and I had an old flip phone.


And so I gave it to them and they used it and I noticed that after they were using a flip phone that the plug in thing at night went a lot easier and I thought, "Oh, I'm so glad the smartphone thing is gone, you know, this flip phone is working really well" and then one morning when they were in the shower I needed something out of their room so I went in the room and got it and as I turned around and walked out of the room I noticed there was a smartphone in the bed. And I went expletive, expletive, expletive.


And I picked up the phone and I took a deep breath and I just walked into my office and started kind of going on with my day. And they came out of the shower and walked into the office and looked at me. And I just took a deep breath and I said "Anything you want to say?" and they said something that I won't repeat here but they did, they called themselves a bad name.


Casey: OK.


Guest: And I said "Well, it's not really what I was thinking but we are going to have to talk about this but this is not a good time. I'm too upset." It was all I could do to just kind of not either scream and yell or break down in a puddle crying, you know, and I had so much shame about being so stupid that I didn't know this was going on.


Casey: I think that's, I just want to pause you right there, I'm so grateful for you too for speaking that because I don't think that we realize that powerful experience of being fooled. Or whatever, those are the words that came to my mind, that the power, the hurt is really deep shame. So thank you.


Guest: And it's not just shame, I mean, there's this deep sense of hurt that, you know, that you think you're building a relationship where finally there's some trust, in a relationship where trust has been broken so frequently that you just don't even know what to do about it and you know you feel like, you know you feel like a loved one of an addict who's yet again betrayed you and or betrayed themselves. So it turns out that it took me 7 to 10 days to get calm enough to know that I would be in a space where we could have a conversation that was helpful and not hurtful and interestingly enough the conversation was actually delightful.


So, you know, sitting down, "How do you want to have this conversation? What do you want to talk about? You know, tell me how this happened. Where did you get this phone? Did your friend give it to you? Where did you get a smartphone?" and they got this kind of twinkle in their eye and I was like "Uh oh" and they said "It's your old Windows Phone" and I went "What? Because I looked at the phone and I did not recognize it" and they said "Well, I wiped Windows off of it, I installed Android and it became my phone. I took the SIM card out of the flip phone, I plugged the flip phone in every night and took it the school with me every day so you wouldn't know, right."


Casey: Very resourceful.


Guest: Exactly. I am still pissed about all this but I am also proud, right, you know? It's like, how can I have, I mean, I now have evidence that this child has resources, that they have problem solving skills, that they think to solve a problem, all that needs to happen in their life is for them to be motivated to do that in a way that is socially acceptable.


Casey: Right. That's the goal.


Guest: Right.


Casey: And I think that, screens are, you know, because of the fear factor and all the, all the bad, all the bad things, all the fear and the fear of the bad things and the possibilities, I think, screens also become the first thing that parents want to take away to teach a lesson and so I would love to talk a little bit about firmness and you and I have talked a lot about firmness and just in our own, for me, because this is definitely my learning and you know, we all kind of lean one way or the other trying to be both kind and firm.


And so what does it look like to be firm around screens and your expectations while like that messiness of staying away from imposing consequences and punishments, although maybe I'm misusing the language here but I'd love to kind of tease that apart because I mean, talk to 10 people on the street and "What would you do?" and they would take screen away.


Guest: Yeah, yeah, I'm not, I don't think that taking the screen away is necessarily a bad thing but I think how it's done is pretty critical. I think that the number one tool is relentless follow through. And honestly, it's really, really difficult because there's so many opportunities for them to squeak through a crack.


And we can't work as, we can't find all the cracks as parents and so I think that's really challenging but most importantly that if you're going to be firm in any relationship, before you can be firm you have to have a relationship, you have to have a sense of connection. This is particularly hard during adolescence because of development. They're busy trying to say "I am not you. I'm not you. I'm not you."  And they are not us and we need to be told that and-


Casey: Good, because I hear that all the time from my teenager, those exact words.


Guest: I'm not you, I'm not you.


Casey: I know.


Guest: And then they go away to college and come home for a break and say "I'm turning more into you every day." While you do everything you can to suppress the smile. And they are their own individual, you know, they are their own person, which is not to say, yeah, anyhow. So your question was "What do we do about, how do we stay firm on this?" So when a rule or an agreement is broken or when there is no rule and one needs to be established, the first thing is there needs to be a connection and it just needs to, you know,that agreement making process is that first step is really about connection, "Tell me what it's like for you." And connection can look like, like instead, tone is everything, right, so instead of saying "I notice you didn't take out the garbage"


Casey: Yeah, my eyebrows are way high up right now like, "mhmmm."


Guest: You don't really have authentic, even though it's an "I notice" statement, it doesn't really have that sense of connection. It doesn't have curiosity in it and you might say "I notice you're really busy on your phone right now." And that is the invitation for the next statement which says, "I'm aware that there's a chore that hasn't been done, how, what's your plan for that?"  So, with screens it's not really different in terms of concept, it's, "I notice you're really busy on that screen. I'm aware that we have a time limit in this house, how would you like to follow that agreement? What's that going to look like today?" And when they get upset and I think this is part of it for parents, when they get upset, listen, stay calm, "OK and we have an agreement. OK, I bet that's really disappointing and we have an agreement" and I have a cat that's just jumped on me, I hope he doesn't step on the mic.


Casey: Can I throw a couple scenarios at you and you can kind of help tease apart response because I think these are typical things that maybe a parent would say "Well, no more screens" and I think that, well, I'm just going to kind of play with it. So, like, you know a lot of-


Guest: Before you do that, one answer to instead of no more screens is like, "I recognize this is really, really difficult for you. And it's difficult for all of us and sometimes it's outside of our capacity-


Casey: Yes.


Guest: You could find a way to do this now or I could do it for you, which would you prefer?" Depending on, some kids will say "God, please do it for me, I can't do it." And they'll be mad but they'll because of that question asked and others will just say "OK, I'll do it right now." Right? It's temperament.


Casey: Just because I think that there, you know, like you had said, the responsibility that we are handing over to our children is often inappropriate. So like, for example, a lot of the gaming right now comes with this social aspect and the kids, they have their headphones in and they've got their mics and every once in a while I get to be, I get to hear the conversations that are happening, which is, really, I'd rather not hear but you know, if so my child, one of the things that he was doing is he would drop into these games and pretend that he didn't know, that he was new and didn't know how to play and then he would proceed to get people to helping him out and then he'd take them all out and I was like "You know, that's just, I'm not really comfortable with that."


You know and that's a kind of like, pretty tame but except for the, what's the experience of someone else, you know, how would you feel to be fooled and there's other things that show up around how people are treating each other and so, you know, I think it's a lot to ask kids to drop into this experience where they can't see each other, they don't know each other or maybe they do but it's that whole bravery behind a screen-


Guest: And the anonymity.


Casey: Yes and the anonymity and then it becomes, so I can see I'm actually answering my own question, so I can see in that situation where there could be an opportunity to talk about, "You know, I really know that you really like playing this game and I noticed that you're just having a really hard time being kind to the other people and I'm just wondering if maybe we wait for a little bit."


Guest: And if you take this back to other family values, there's a value of honesty.


Casey: Yeah.


Guest: Right and-


Casey: Kindness.


Guest: Kindness and honesty and who do you want to be as a human being and here you can hide behind a screen and get away with it but how does that make you feel in your soul? And that's not a question they will like you asking, right, because anyone with a conscience has an answer to that.


Casey: Right.


Guest: So you know and you know Karma's a-


Casey: A bitch, you can say it, it's allowed.


Guest: So I think that it is, you know, here's an example of what I think, you know, you can use this tool to really exemplify and teach your family values.


Casey:  Yeah. What about porn?


Guest: Oh my goodness.


Casey: Right. I had Amy on, Amy Lang on the podcast and something that she says often is it's harder for kids to to not see porn than it was for us to find it.


Guest: Oh yeah, oh yeah, absolutely and you know, when you come home and discover your 9 year old and this was 10 years ago, has been exposed to porn and is curious, I mean, you know, some kids are curious and some kids are horrified and so how do you satisfy that curiosity in an appropriate way, in a safe way and you know what about porn? The answer to me is education, education, education, education.


As a kid in every scenario, I used to play a game in the car where I'd throw out a word that I would think that they would have, they wouldn't know what it was and it was an education for me because I finally found one word sex-related, gender, sexuality related that they didn't know and you can guess I tried all the obvious ones first and that word was drag queen.


Casey: Drag queen for the win.


Guest: And to this day I don't know if they were just kind of, you know-


Casey: Humoring you.


Guest: Yeah, humoring me. But you know, so it's an opportunity.


Casey: It is an opportunity.


Guest: You know, if you as a parent are really uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality with your kid find a way to get comfortable or find a partner or friend who is. And I totally promote Amy, Amy teaches people how to do this and is a great resource. And I agree with Amy that we should start this education when they enter school because they're going to learn it from their peers if they don't learn it from you and there are certainly developmental levels of doing that but sometimes your kids guide that developmental level. I was a kid. I was a mom who said "You know when, as soon as they're curious, I want to, I cannot wait to have these conversations" and then I discovered that they'd already learned everything from porn.


Casey: Well yeah and so that's a place where I think a lot of us-


Guest: And to say they learned everything is a stretch of a statement because what they learned was not what I would have taught but that led to really deep conversations about respect, what are you watching, how does it feel in your body, what does it feel like when you see this, why would anyone ever do that, I'm not going to get explicit here but it was an explicit conversation, do you notice this, what's the expression on her face, what's expression on his face, does that look like a good experience? And the different conversations about what's the difference between having sex in an intimate relationship and porn and my biggest concern about porn has been, you got me started, Casey-


Casey: I know, here we go-


Guest: that kids are learning about relationships through porn and porn is not about relationships and that distinction and so kids, you know, go into their first sexual relationships thinking that's what they should do-


Casey: or expect and that's what the other person is going to want to do-


Guest: That's what the other person is going to do and I think this is harmful to our souls. I think this is a deeply, deep tragedy and if we don't talk to our kids about it they could be victims of it. You know, I have a friend who went off to college, you know, that's one of those kids who you kind of wish every kid would be, you know, just really successful at everything and really kind and really innocent and really a strong sense of her values and  there aren't many of those, I think, that's not, I don't think that's normal, I just want to say, that I had a conversation with her mom about this and she looked at when she says "Oh my gosh, I have to tell a kid about this because she's not going to know" and it was one of the best lessons that they both had before going to college, which is, you know, by the way, this might be what boys expect because this is what they see and you don't have to be a part of that.


Casey: Right, yeah and I think it's the conversation for our girls, it's a conversation for our boys.


Guest: Definitely a conversation for boys


Casey: You know and then as far as like coming back to that firmness piece, I know that when it's come up in our house, I try to, you know, we, there's the, you know, there's monitoring software which there's a million work arounds, right.


Guest: So let me just tell you that I'm not a good person to talk to about monitoring software. Because my experience was that I had to monitor the software so much that it wasn't worth the effort because there were so many work arounds that didn't work anyhow and did do you know about these portals that you go to the site and then nothing is tracked, I mean, it's like, it's not secure at all. Sorry. They're called things like MathTutorforCollege.com.


Casey: Oh yeah.


Guest: You know, things like that and you think, "Oh look at" you look at the browser history, you know, where they're going then you go to that site and you go "What the?'


Casey: Yeah, well I think what we ultimately want and what I've had conversations about with my kids is, you know, everything you just asked "How does it feel to, you know, to see? What do you notice?" and then like, even, the hit, right and it could be looking at porn, it could be eating a giant bag of candy, whatever that hit is that says "Ooh, yeah, I want to do that right now" and then we're kind of stuck on that, like ,I think the skill that we get to nurture and help our kids really recognize as a skill and nurture in themselves is that ability to say "Oh, I'm in that headspace where I'm kind of stuck on this thing and I know after this thing I'm going to feel really crappy or I'm going to feel however I'm going to feel" and then to make, you know, to help them in decision making which I get is very advanced for the adolescent brain.


Guest: Yeah, I was going to say I'm not sure the adolescent brain is very capable of that. It's not to say it can't happen.


Casey: Right but we can have conversations about it.


Guest: Absolutely because we always have conversations that are the foundation of the training that they get when their brain comes.

Casey: Yeah and I think that's a lot more helpful than "We're just going to shut down all screens" because, I mean.


Guest: And I think the time to shut down the screen is when I see that you just can't do this for yourself.


Casey: Right.


Guest: One of the agreements we had around phones was, you know, these are the agreements we have and we'll approach if the agreements get broken we'll figure out what the solutions are and I took the phone more than once, without saying "That's it, I've had it, I get your phone" but was saying "How you want to solve this? Do you need me to take your phone away?" And the first time I did that I said, "OK, so when you're ready to follow the rules just ask for your phone back, you can have it back" and it was months before that happened.


Casey: Yeah.


Guest: What I don't know is whether there was another phone somewhere.


Casey: She's like "haha"


Guest: I mean, I don't know.


Casey: Well I think that's such, I think, I really want to highlight that difference, that distinction between "That's it, you're done, give me your phone," you know and "Wow, this is really challenging for you to navigate so let's take a break and when we can figure out a solution that works for both of us we can come back to it."


Guest: And I think, Casey, part of the problem is generational. I grew up in a very authoritarian household. I did what my parents said because if I didn't it was life threatening, at least I believed it was life threatening and we're used to saying "I say it, you do it."  I grew up in that environment and so there's a huge shift to kids, you know, we had the civil rights movement, we've had the women's movement, we've had all these things that have shift us to more equality and kids are breathing equality in the air because it's there and so when we say "Because I Said So" they look at us like "Who do you think you are?" Right? "I'm their parent." "Yeah. So?" So I think that's really hard for us as parents to make that adjustment. There are new rules and it doesn't mean we shouldn't have rules, it means that our means of enforcing them have to come from a level playing ground rather than "I am superior to you and you have to do it because you're inferior."


Casey: Right. That's powerful.


Guest: And it's difficult, it's a hard shift.


Casey: Right, yeah, I want everyone to hear that, like the whole point of the summit is to highlight the messiness and just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's, the, you know, that you're not doing the job that you're meant to be doing, right. So for people that are listening who recognize that screens are out of control or perhaps they have been less firm than than they could have been around creating agreements and guidelines, what are some baby steps that they can take with their teens who maybe have had the experience of really no boundaries? Where do they start? Or where might they start?


Guest: Yeah, I think yes there's a lot of answers. The first one that comes to mind is to sit down and have a conversation and say "You know, my job as a parent is, what are your values? You know. I am hoping to raise you in a way so that you can go out into the world and be successful emotionally, relationship-wise, work-wise, support yourself, contribute in a way that you feel good about you and that you have happiness. That involves, you know, teaching you how to do laundry, that involves teaching you how to cook, that involves teaching you this and that and so forth and I'm concerned about the social media use and I get that everybody does it but here are some thoughts.


When you go to work what is your employer going to be looking for? What skills is he going to be looking for and how are you developing those and some of them you can develop online but a lot of them need to be developed through direct contact face to face with people and this is one of the interferences I think of screens is that we think we're connecting through a screen and we are to a certain extent but the quality is clearly different? You know, I'm in a workplace, let's say I'm working in retail and I've got a mad customer, how do I deal with that? How do I develop those skills?


This is one of my biggest concerns about screens today for adolescents is that in their back pocket they have instant escapism, so if something goes wrong and I don't want to deal with it, I can pull up my screen and start scrolling. I can go play a game and get an addictive hit that gives me some epinephrine that feels better, I can go so many places where I can escape the reality of my current discomfort. The question is how do I come back and solve it? That life skill is huge and that's something that screens are interfering with and I think it's one of the reasons we have such an increase in anxiety and depression in adolescence.


Casey: Oh yeah.


Guest: Because we aren't learning how to manage our own emotions. Our emotional proficiency, fluency is, I.Q., is dropping through the basement. And my challenge, my heartbreak is in trying to talk to teens about this, they don't want to talk to adults. I mean, this is the challenge. Some will but this is the challenge of adolescence. I need to get help from my peers, not from my adults because that's what adolescence is about, it's about finding your tribe and everyone's doing it and I have deep, deep fears about what this means for our society.


Casey: Well I have a little glimmer of hope, my sister in law teaches high school English and she told me recently that it's become retro, like, cool to be unavailable via screen.


Guest: Yeah, that's lovely.


Casey: So she did say that they'd she was noticing more kids and I mean, I don't know how widespread it is and how long it lasted but that the kids, you know, it kind of became the cool thing was instead of to be immediately available all the time, you know, making people wait a little bit.


Guest: And there are more and more schools that are taking phones out of the classroom, you know and I think that's a really healthy. When my kid was in middle school, the boys were all on porn in the class all day long, under their desks.


Casey: Well if they put down today, it's like put down the vape pen long enough to get the porn out and you know, then you're really talking. Sorry I'm laughing, it's not funny but.


Guest: It's not funny. I think in terms of baby steps, the first thing is really create conversations, create connections because without that you can't get anywhere. I mean, you have to have that connected, that kind connected basis before you can move into firmness. Otherwise your firmness, through the lens of a teenager looks like you're just telling me what to do, you're an ass, you're, you know, you don't know me, you all those things, filters that they can put over your good intent and honestly, they're not always wrong in that in terms of we get so scared the way that we come at that really looks like that. So that's worth noting. The other thing is Screenagers, go see it, you know, go see it with your kids.


Casey: It's so good. Love that movie.


Guest: It's so good and subscribe to Delaney's Tech Talk Tuesdays, which is just great topics and every week there's a question "How can you create this conversation with your family so that the whole family becomes tech literate around screens?"


Casey: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned that. Yes, yes, yes and that is, you know, for a lot of us older parents, we are, you know, our literacy around technology looks completely different than the literacy kids have. I mean I have all kinds of technology skills but they are antiquated and ancient as far as the kids are concerned.


Casey: Yeah and there's so much-


Guest: And it changes so rapidly and you know, like I said, keep in mind, this technology is created to ensnare your nervous system. It's there to get your attention and our attention is a commodity. We have to value it more.


Casey: Yeah, ooh I love that, yes, absolutely.


Guest: We're giving it away without much thought. I think of it a little bit like being on a diet and you feel bad so what do you do? You go binge eat. Right? It's like we're doing the same thing that contributes to the problem we solved and I think we're doing it with screens too, it's really troublesome.


Casey: I'm going to have to have you back. See, it's not so hard talking to me. Thank you so much is such a privilege to be in conversation about this, there's so much more to tease apart and hopefully we'll get to do that again but thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.


Guest: And thank you it was delightful.


Casey: Yay!


Staying Connected During the Journey of Adolescence, with Dodie Blomberg

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers. Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest today is Dodie Blomberg. Dodie is the mother of 2 young adults, a 23 year old son and a 20 year old daughter. She taught 5th grade for 12 years in Tempe, Arizona, has been using positive discipline since 1995 and has been a positive discipline lead trainer for the past 14 years. For the past 2 years Dodie has had the honor of presenting in Barcelona, Spain, Paris, France, many cities in China and many cities in the United States and she is still, this was a note that she wanted me to include, she is still working through the adolescent years with her 2 adult children. Dodie is my friend as well and Dodie, I'm so glad that you are a part of the Parenting Teens with P.D. audio summit.


Dodie: Hi Casey, so excited to be here with you.


Casey: Can you talk a little bit about your experience with the parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Dodie: Oh, big sigh. Well, I mean the truth is for me, positive discipline is most of my foundation in my relationships and and it's been said that all problems are relationship problems and thus I keep leaning into my PD tools and skills often. So I was chatting with you earlier about my young adults and really, their early high school years were fairly easy, which no one wants to hear that but they really were. My biggest challenges were when my daughter was 17 and she's 20 now and my son actually right now and he's 23, so it's been quite an interesting ride for me.


Casey: Yeah, and this interview in particular we're going to talk about staying connected and relationship and connection has come up in all the interviews so far and I'm sure it will continue to come up because really, that's the foundation. I mean, like you said before I hit record, we were just talking about how during our challenging times with our kids, you know, relationship is, managing to keep relationship intact but there's still that fear of "Is this enough? Like, I do have this but.." But we can really only be influential to our kids if there is a relationship that's holding us together, yeah?


Dodie: Yes and fear can get in the way.


Casey: Yeah, true that.


Dodie: So my biggest challenge with my daughter was when she was a senior in high school and let me give you a little background, the year she was a senior my husband I were getting divorced. He moved to another state so my daughter and I are in the house by ourselves. My hunch is she's struggling a lot but not sharing and about 8 weeks before the end of school she lets me know she's failing 2 classes. Yeah and she's never failed a class, I mean, just a bright girl and and so I thought "I'm going to use my P.D. tools", right, I mean, so we made an agreement, made an agreement about these classes, this is good, I know how to make agreements, let's lean into that. So we made agreements, that's all good, a week later I check in, yeah, she didn't follow through on her agreement. So I'm frustrated. So we sit down again, make more agreements. I had to go out of town for the weekend so but we made good solid agreements and I come back from out of town and guess what?


Caey: She threw a raging party.


Dodie: Yes. No, not even. That would have been interesting. That would have been a whole other layer, right? Yeah, again, she doesn't follow through with her agreements and now I'm feeling there's so much going on for me, she's down to 6 weeks now. Can she even graduate with all the things she's missing and Casey, this is another piece too, like my ego was on the line, so I don't know if you felt this too, like, here I am this lead trainer of the Positive Discipline Association and my daughter is not going to graduate high school, like, so that added a whole other layer of fear going on for me and I could feel it, like, ugh, it was just huge, right.


Casey: Can I stop you for a second?  Like, so when stuff like that, because that totally lands for me, I remember literally saying to my daughter, "Do you know what I do for a living? This looks really bad for me."  I mean, in jest but not really and then it's like that feeling, you know, you have a hard time with your kids, I mean, it just, like, it infiltrates trips to the grocery store or sitting down to watch a show or writing someone a letter,I don't know, like, it's just constantly this talk about fear, this worry, this tension, that's with us like 24/7.


Dodie: Yeah, it was so big I could hardly manage myself, like, really. Plenty of moments I went in my bedroom and cried and had to come out and apologize and I had to go back in and cry again and come out and apologize and what I had to wrap my head around is this was not about me and I had to go to the place that she wouldn't graduate, like, I had to take myself all the way there, like, alright, bottom line, she doesn't walk with their friends, doesn't graduate, worst case scenario, what happens? You know, it wasn't that bad, right, like, what, she goes to summer school, right?


She'll get through high school somehow some way, she may not walk with her friends and once I went to that place all the way on the other side, like in my head and saw that I still love her, she's still OK, you know, she's still fine that then we could sit down and really solve this issue and so what it ended up happening, which was so powerful, I'd gone out of town, she picks me up at the airport we're drive and I say "So, how's your work?" She bursts into tears on the  freeway as she's driving, which freaked me out, too, right.


All of a sudden it comes clean, here I thought she was purposely not following through, and Casey, the truth was she felt like it was not possible, like there was so much work to do, it was not even possible. Yes! And when I grasped that she had all that fear too, I was right in her shoes with her so I'm bawling on the freeway too until I'm like,  "I think we need to stop crying till we get home, you know."


Casey: Let's pull over.


Dodie:  Yeah, so like that moment when we got home, like, we just had this big cry session, like I could feel her fear which I hadn't felt before that. And once she came clean with all of that I could like be there for her, does that make sense?  But she was afraid to go there, you know what I mean?


Casey: Yeah, so what do you think, yes, all of it,  actually, it takes me, it's amazing it's like this crazy tangled kind of whirlwind and then it and finally it's like and I feel like the whirlwind is, can also be one of the things that I kind of, to visualize what was happening for me last year when we were having some hard times was it was like my daughter, my teenager was brick by brick building this wall and great my phone's ringing. Sorry if you could hear that, everyone, life is happening.


And so and then it was like the bricks would keep getting laid and I kept reaching out and same kind of thing, right, whether it's an agreement or just trying to connect, you know, but the bricks kept getting higher and higher until something would happen, whether it would be and really it was her kind of finding a crack in the wall and in our experience it wasn't, I mean, grades and school kind of fell apart of but she managed that pretty well, it was some other kinds of risky behaviors that she would either come clean about or I would find out about and it was like this gift because it would create a crack in the wall that she could then step through and come back to me and connect with me and show her vulnerability, like you're talking about your daughter, you know, being willing to be really vulnerable and open up but man, when they're teenagers, it's so much easier when they're like right there on your lap and "Mommy hold me"


Dodie: And scoop them up and hug them, right?


Casey: Yes.


Dodie: And you know the other thing for me before her, you know, she, at that moment where she opened up and shared, I was so scared and I was really a practicing staying connected and talking in problem so I was doing everything I knew how to do and it felt like nothing was working and I started to think maybe I just need to be really harsh on her, maybe I need to take her cell phone away, maybe I need to sit down like, "Wait, no! No, I don't believe in those things but maybe I need to" because I was scared, like, yes, so there was a battle going on inside me too and I just kept having to trust that staying connected was the biggest, most important thing, even if I couldn't see anything happening on the surface, right?


Casey: Oh I think that's so powerful, Dodie and I hope that everyone that's listening is, I'm guessing that the people that are listening are really relating to that experience, right, of "Well, I know what my heart's telling me" but then, you know, if it's maybe our head or it's just popular culture or it's our in-laws or whoever it is, whatever it is, our own experience of being, you know, parented can show up and it's that fear and that should I, you know, maybe, I can remember feeling like, you know, I mean, I'm not laughing but that shaken baby syndrome, like, is there a shaken teenager thing because I just wanted to like whack, whack, whack, like "Get a hold of yourself!"


You know, I mean, I know that wouldn't really be useful but I could feel that energy of like, what it is the block here? What is going on and it's scary and it is easy, you know, I appreciate you talking about really coming to, "OK, what's worst case scenario? She doesn't walk with her friends, like, life goes on, you know, and in my experience with my daughter opting, basically, opting out of the traditional high school experience, I'm realizing part of what was hard for me was that I had a fantastic high school experience and I got to really recognize that on one hand, the more people I meet that is not their story, like, so yeah, how lucky was I? But also it's such a small piece of the larger tapestry of life and she is really declaring what she needs in a way that I never, I didn't even, I wasn't even tuned into.


Dodie: And that you'd given her this opportunity.


Casey: Yeah, worst case scenario she doesn't go to prom, like, what? Like, who cares?  


Dodie: Not so bad. We can manage through that as a family, right?


Casey: And so and I just, I really want to use this conversation to highlight that the philosophy of Positive Discipline comes from the work of Alfred Adler and for all of us that teach positive discipline, you know, we highlight this because it's the foundation for all of the tools that we talk about and the lens that we see the world out of and it's super different than you and I, you know, battling with this, like, do I need to take something away? Do I need to ground them? Like that is behaviorist theory, that's behavior motivated by punishment and rewards, instead Adler's work, right, really found that human behavior is connected to our sense of belonging and significance, can you talk a little bit about that and give a little bit more background on that.


Dodie: Yeah and here's the other thing for me, too, as I've been practicing this work with my kids since they were little, so with purposeful effort and with lots of mistakes, I've been helping them grow their belonging and their significance in our family, in the neighborhood and their life and and belonging has to deal with feeling connected to a group, right, so it could be your family, it could be the school, it could be Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, it could be your church, I mean there's lots of groups kids can feel belonging in right and then significance has to do with them feeling capable and responsible so that's why we give kids jobs and opportunities to help out in the family so they feel capable, right, and we let them problem solve as much as possible.


Another thing is personal power and autonomy, when we let our kids use their power. So when they're little we let them have choices, you can do A or you can do B. So they start to feel their power and independence, we let them get dressed by themselves when they're little, social and life skills, so like I had known, like, with purposeful effort I've been trying to help my kids grow these things and so even though we were struggling through some things, like down deep I know they have these skills and tools and they have a viewpoint on themselves and the world that will serve them well ,even if it looks really messy right now, does that make sense? Or if it doesn't match my viewpoint for them, kind of like your daughter not going to prom, like that doesn't match your picture of what it should look like. And it doesn't make it wrong.


Casey: Right.


Dodie: It's just a different way. You know, so the other thing that I'm kind of struggling with right now, which sounds ridiculous, maybe doesn't sound ridiculous, is my son is 23. He graduated from college a year ago with a business degree. He's a smarty pants kind of kid, like, I stopped winning at chess at the 2nd grade, when he was in the 2nd grade, like, he's just a smarty pants kind of kid. And yeah, all A's, highest level academic kind of thing, that's just how he shows up in the world and so he graduated from college, didn't have a job and he move back in with the which at the time was great, like I'm single right now, my house is too big and empty, so yeah, move in.


So again, how to make agreements and all of those things and he got two part time jobs which was great, one in his field and one was just a job, well, then he quit one so then he just had a part time job and the other time he was playing poker. Now, the truth is he's pretty good at poker, he studies it, he has a coach, like, he really digs the competition of poker. Well, a few weeks ago he quit his other job. He now wants to do poker full time.


Casey: Sorry, I am laughing.


Dodie: No, I get it. This does not match my perception of my view and it doesn't make it wrong, it's just another way and again, how do I keep my ego out of the way and really, how, there's not many moments in life we can, I think, that we can really try a new venture or a new way because we're caught in responsibility and at 23 right now, it's the perfect time for him to try something new, something different and and how to keep my ego out of the way, you know.


Casey: Yeah, I love that and he has a business degree to fall back on so, you know, it's going to be OK and I love this conversation because how easy would it be to not realize that ego is driving and to be so caught up in "How could you? Why are you? All the money we spent on college? All of your-" I mean, like, I mean, I can think of 100 things to say versus, and then what does that do to relationship, like how excited is he to be home with you, right and spend time with you, you know, and I think that that's so important for me and other parents to remember, like, you know, there is very little we have a control over and you know, our kids and who they decide they want to be in the world is theirs, you know, it's really theirs and I think that when we can transfer that energy effectively, like really, I had this experience recently.


I might have talked about it on another interview so listeners, if I did, yeah, you get to hear it twice but recently we had a little nicotine flare up in the family and I really handed it, and for the first time ever I realized, like, you know what, my child's, my teenager's journey with nicotine gets to be hers, like, theirs, you know, and I really and then I was able to say that to her in a way that it wasn't about manipulating, it wasn't about power/dominance or intimidation, it was really just like "Hey, listen, you know ,I can interfere and interrupt and intervene when it becomes, when my awareness is that this is happening but this is yours and you really get to decide if you want this lifelong situation that, you know, that you've watched both your parents struggle with and navigate and  it was like this big, it was like, I literally felt like I was handing something over to her, like, "You get to be in charge of this, you know, and there's responsibility there" and of course I took the bait and I will continue to, it's not like I'm like "Just smoke outside" but you know, but it really felt like, "Hey, you know, this is yours and I love you and I can't control whether or not you decide to become a nicotine addict, you know."


Dodie: Like another piece with that for me is my ego with what the rest of the family thinks, right, so they're all over, "What are you doing now?" "Well, I'm playing poker" and they all look at me like, "Mom, is this really, like?" and the same with your daughter and smoking when the whole family hears, like, "Oh yeah, you're a good mom" and again, they're going to have their stories, they're going to think whatever they're going to want to think and I think the truth is, my hunch is he's pretty darn good at poker, you know, he even says as he's leaving, like, "Mom, I'm going to work." Like that's how he's looking at this. I need to put some hours at this today I haven't, you know, we had family in and I haven't played for 3 days because we're celebrating my dad's 80th birthday so Cole was around the whole time and yeah, I haven't put in hours lately, I need to go put some hours in at work." Quotes, right, so he is looking at it as a job, not as recreation and so I got respect for that too.


Casey: Yeah, well and I feel, with my story that, you know, my kind of energetic handing over really allowed her to consider, really for the first time consider "What do I want most?" and then it stopped being about "Ugh. My mom is so annoying. She totally busted me" or whatever, right and it really became like this, "What do you want most?" you know and I feel like she finally, well the time was alright but she, it was an opportunity for her to feel that the weight of that responsibility.


And we are talking about relationship, right and the conversations that you're having with your son, the conversations I'm having with my daughter would land very differently if they're, with a different kind of, you know, if relationship isn't something that, you know, we've really paid attention to and worked on and I know that a lot of people that are listening right now, you know, there might be people listening who think, "Yeah, exactly" so that is the missing piece, that's the place where, you know, especially with our struggling teens that's, you know, often and I'm sure you can speak to this with clients and parents that you work with, you know, we'll often send them to "What does the relationship look like right now with your child?" and really helping them to understand and to trust that without the relationship piece, you know, the challenge, you know, we talk about the tip of iceberg, the iceberg metaphor, without that relationship piece that tip of the iceberg, you know, we can do all sorts of things that we think are going to manipulate our kids into, you know, "doing the right thing" but it's always going to be short term or underground or it'll go underground or you know, if the relationship isn't there.


Dodie: Yeah it's to manage myself through all of that, like, to keep my ego out of it, to have faith in that, to keep showing up with my heart open instead of closed and scared. It takes a lot of energy and repetition and purposeful effort to do that, at least for me it has.


Casey: Yeah, you know, you and me both, yeah definitely.


Dodie: Well, you know the other thing I want to add too, is that those few months with my daughter, the struggle, I mean, the struggle was real is, she is two, almost three years out from that now and she is in her 3rd year in college and we have this really easy relationship right now and I want to attribute it to the way I managed myself through that senior year in high school. I kept showing up. I kept being as respectful as I possibly could and when I wasn't I apologized and I tried again and just kept showing up, connected, loving, trusting even if I had to go in my bedroom and cry and then come back out and try again, you know.


Case: Yes, so what was the outcome? She's in college so she managed to graduate was she able to pull it together and walk with her peers?


Dodie: She totally was. One of the things she had to decide, because she had a job at the time, is one of that big huge conversation we had that last time was she decided that she needed to take 2 weeks off her work and she didn't want to because then she had to tell her boss what was going on, which in that ego driven too, right? And she decided she needed to do that, so she drove over to work and talked to her boss and told her the scoop and of course, her boss gave her 2 weeks off and then she had to go talk to her math teacher and the math teacher was so kind. She went every day at lunch and spent an hour with the math teacher and then she and I sat down and dug through economics as a team to get that done, I typed because I'm a much faster typer than her and she told me everything that needed to be typed and just for speed sake and I think just us leaning in and me showing up as best as I could, it was far from perfect, yes, she made it through, she made it, she walked.


Casey: Well and let's just highlight all of the powerful life skills that she got to practice, you know, talking to her boss and talking to her teachers and the work ethic, and teh responsibility that she took, I mean, that is amazing and I want to come back to ego because you and I kind of, I mean, I know for me, I'm guessing for you to throw out ego, like, we know everybody knows what that means so can we, because I think it is so powerful to understand the way that our ego gets in the way and but let's just assume, we're going to just assume that you listeners might be like "What exactly is ego?" because I think that popular culture it's like "Oh, if you have a big ego, you're kind of full of yourself" but that's not the kind of ego that we're talking about right here. So will you kind of tease apart what you mean when you're referencing ego, what is ego mean to you?


Dodie: Well, I like to think I'm pretty humble but down deep, I have high expectations for myself and the people around me and I am a lead trainer for the Positive Discipline Association and I'm trying to grow good humans on the planet and this is what I do for a living and this just sounds terrible but the truth is, if my children don't end up successful, however that means, whatever success means, maybe then I'm not successful so it has to do with my own success, like maybe being tangled up with my own children with their success and my success and they're really two separate things and what does success mean, like, really, success doesn't have to be a big house and tons of money? Like, at least I don't think it is. I think success, I want my kids to be happy, love what they do, make enough money that they're comfortable, again ,whatever that is. But I think in this world it's easy to get tangled up with stuff and how things look and the appearance of things.


Casey: Yeah and when I when I think about ego, I think of ego as that "You should just" voice, that inner voice of the inner critic often is ego that comparisonitis that shows up is ego. Yeah, tying our performance to our children's performance is ego and I think that in my, especially the last, like, 5 or 6 years where I've really dove headfirst into personal growth and development, it's really been learning to grow my observer of ego, like, being able to hear the voice of "Oh my gosh, clearly, you know, this is the end of the line for her" and "Oh my gosh, what does this mean?" and whatever's happening and then I get to kind of energetically step a couple paces, you know, to the right and look and look at the conversation that I'm having with myself and really question, like, is this true? And so yeah, right, there, I don't think ego conversation is ever very useful although, while helpful, although it can be, it is absolutely a place where we get to, for me I have to bring in a lot of humor because I'm like, "Really? Guess what, Casey? You are not the center of the universe so maybe you should just take a step back here, girl."


Dodie: And you know, mine gets triggered when I get scared.


Casey: Yeah.


Dodie: You know, and trying to look like I'm all that and I'm not. I'm just a human on the planet giving it my best shot, that's just the truth of the matter and sometimes my best shot is good enough and sometimes my best shot is not good enough, it's just not.


Casey: And I feel like it's when we have toddlers and we're out in the world and when we have teenagers and we're out in the world, it's like those two parts of the parenting journey, I know it shows up everywhere, but it feels like it's like hyper, hyper ego shows up, when, you know, you're out in the world and your toddler is just doing their toddler thing, which is not always picture perfect, right or your teenager is, you know, like my sweet Rowan deciding to dye her hair jet black, you know, my family's like "Uh, what's going on?" It's like, "Yeah, so it's kind of a long story but we're all good over here," you know and oh man, yeah, so anyway, I just wanted to do a little side conversation about egos, so we're all on the same page.


Dodie: Well and I also find for myself that the more honest I am about what's really going on, the less my ego or that gremlin can pop up and create trouble for me, so I feel like the Positive Discipline trainings I've been doing the last 2 and 3 years I'm really honest with people about what's going on for me in my life and just because you do positive discipline work and you practice it does not mean your life's going to be crazy smooth, it's not, like it gets rough and bumpy and for me, the gift as I have some tools to lean on.


You know, one lovely example is when I was going through that struggle with my daughter, I was teaching a parenting class at the time. It was only a 3 week series and I think I was on week 2 or something or maybe week 3 and I had everyone pair up with someone in the class and  just share what tool they were going to practice that week and it was an odd number of parents, so I paired up with a parent and I told him like "I don't know what tool to use" so I told her what was going on with my daughter and like, "I really, I don't know what tool, I'm just feeling helpless right now" and this mom who had only taken 3 positive discipline classes just looks at me and says "Dodie, maybe she needs more hugs." And it was the most beautiful moment, like, "Yeah, I totally can do that, it won't solve the problem but it will help us stay connected, like maybe that's just one piece I need to put in my pocket and give her more hugs" and I find when I'm more honest with the parents that I'm working with about what's going on for me, they can give me tools and skills and they know they're not alone in the struggle too.


Casey: Yeah, well and it's that, and I love that, I think that's why you and I connect so well, Dodie is because we just naturally, I think, are really authentic in who we are and that was absolutely a saving grace for me through the the gauntlet of darkness, through last years. I did have a small group, like, I had 2 or 3 moms friends of mine that I had known a long time who also had teenagers who were also, you know, doing their teenage thing that were on my speed dial and it was just, you know, "Let me tell you about this" and you know, what I loved about those friends was that there was always a moment where after I was able to kind of process it was like, "Now let me tell you about what's going on with me and my kid" and it was like "Oh, OK, we're having these parallel experiences because this is adolescence."


Like the flavor of the details might be different but as far as you know, the typical brain development, the typical emotional development, you know, time lines are a little different, like, you mentioned senior year, for us it's been freshman year, who knows what senior year will hold. My fingers are crossed. But like, just being able to talk to other parents that way was like, that's when I got to release the tension in my body and come to that place of "I'm not alone" because it can feel so isolating. Right, it could feel so isolating.


Dodie: You know, I think the other piece too, is I can zoom in too close to the problem and I find if I pull myself back and look at the few things that are going right there's sometimes plenty going right but I'm not noticing it, like, even if I go back to that time, she was showing up at school consistently, she was going to work consistently, she was respectful at home, like, there were so many pieces that were right. There were just a few pieces that weren't right and to notice those, too.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, I think for me it was that my child was talking to me. Right and that was a lifeline for me because that's exactly what you're saying like "Well." You know, even though there were plenty of nights where the last thing she wanted to do was talk to me, you know, there were enough instances where it was like, "OK, she's talking to me, she's being vulnerable with me" and that was a lifeline. I felt connected even as she was going through this stuff and I think that was, you know, that's really why I wanted to do this summit is that, you know, I think there's this myth that if you just figure out the best way to parent that somehow you just don't have a lot of challenges and the reality is the challenges are going to be there and-


Dodie: Totally.


Casey: Yeah, they're going to be there, it is messy and the messiness is not an indicator of you, the parent, doing a bad job, right, it's just how it is, it's relentless.


Dodie:  Here's the difference though I think is, so, my daughter had a problem and I could have been on the opposite side of the problem, like, blaming, "Yeah, you're not doing this and you're not doing that" and what positive discipline helps me do is come around the problem, sit next to her and we can view the problem together like, "That is a big problem, how are we going to solve it? What can I do to support?" Like, together we look at the problem instead of being on opposing sides and my fear wanted to take me to the opposing side badly because I was so scared.


Casey: Well and coming back to the idea that there might be people listening who are like, yeah, this is all well and good and relationship is not so strong. In the Positive Discipline for Teens book there is a really powerful list of tips for, you know, taking those baby steps and creating connection with our teens and and you know, sometimes the biggest baby step you can take, it's not even what you say, it's simply being mean or I mean, I love, one of my favorite things to do is to walk into either of my kids' room and just sit down and say nothing. "What are you doing in here?" they say. I say, "I just want to hang out, you know, and it's just that presence, right, so I want to share the list, but I also want listeners to take responsibility for hearing the list and thinking "No" to catching themselves when they think "That won't work for me" and shifting into "How can I make this useful in my home?" OK? We're going to put that out there.


So the first thing on the list is getting into our teens shoes and empathizing. I think a lot of us come at our teenagers with "I know, because I've been a teenager."


Dodie: And it was hard when we were teenagers too. It was hard.


Casey: It was!


Dodie: It's hard now what with all the technology.


Casey: Yeah and we weren't them. You know, yes, I was a teenager and like, the temperament difference between my daughter and I is crazy, so for me to be like "I know how you feel" is just really disrespectful because I can't, I don't, you know, I don't know anxiety. I don't know. I don't know the levels of worry and stress that she experiences because I really truly, I've never been an anxious person. I'm go with the flow, you know, at my core. So really, being willing to listen and I love that visual that you just gave Dodie of sitting side by side and looking at a challenge versus having it between and that whole "Why don't you just?" What tips do you have around getting into your teens shoes and empathizing? What does that sound like for you?


Dodie: Well, you know, for just for me, with my personality, it's easy for me to get into people's shoes, so I even think about my son who's 23 and he's trying to figure out his life, I remember being that age and and it's a challenge and this is crazy, I guess, you have so many directions you can go, so many it's almost unlimited is what makes it so hard too and having to just choose one, it's almost too big having to choose one.


Casey: Yeah.


Dodie: So really just trying to sit in their shoes or sit near them and view from from their viewpoint I can see why it's challenging for him, you know.


Casey: One of the things that came up recently with my daughter, you know, she's doing online school and she's doing well and there's a lot of things that are going well and there is a certain level of loneliness. And we were talking about it and she got upset about it and I said "Yeah" and I just kind of took the opportunity to say "It's kind of crazy that you can have all of these things that are working while also having this piece that still feels a little, you know, or not a little, that still feels really hard, you know, and that both of those things can exist." So that was my of move towards empathizing with her too and I think that was really helpful to her to kind of see it in that but that things can you can be both doing well and challenged at the same time.


Dodie: Completely agree. Even as an adult.


Casey: Yeah, totally, totally. Other things on the list, listening and being curious. Right, I mean, zip it.


Dodie: Harder than it looks, right? Shutting up is so difficult sometimes.


Casey: Yeah, yeah and I think too that it's that ego, right, that's like wanting to convince them other, it's hard to hear that they're having a hard time and we want to talk them out of it and it comes from a good place but don't do that because it's not usable, just listen. Just listen and stop worrying about what other people think, right and you mentioned that with, you know, talking about family like "Oh yeah, what are you doing for work?" "Playing poker."  "Okay."


Dodie: Yeah.


Casey: Number 4 on the list is replacing humiliation with encouragement. So, gosh, you know when I see the word humiliation I think "But I never humiliate my kids" and but when we really kind of look at what that means, what are some like, what is that? How does humiliation show up on the parenting journey? Maybe, because it's kind of sneaky.


Dodie: You know, I'm thinking right now my son's room is a mess and I'll walk in there and say "Your room is a mess!" That's not very encouraging, right,


Casey: Right, or even the "How could you do that?" You know.


Dodie: It's so easy.


Casey: It's so easy, it's so easy and then shifting into what, so what would encouragement sound like with a messy room?


Dodie: I don't know, can you help me with this one? This is not one of my strengths.


Casey: "What do you need?" Right? "What do you need?"


Dodie: "Can I get you a shovel?" No, that would not be encouraging. That's not encouraging.


Casey: "Let me clean your room for you" also not what falls under encouragement. Right, but if they're having, you know, but it could sound like, you know, you must, maybe not with the room, we could play with the room, "So you must be having a really hard time finding things. Tell me about it. Tell me about what's going on with your room." From a really neutral place, right, which maybe the room isn't the easiest place to stay neutral. I know for me I get a little freaky. Making sure the message of love gets through. What does that mean to you, Dodie? Making sure the message of love gets through.


Dodie: Here is a simple and I hope it comes across as sweet as I think it is. So, my son is 23, he's 6 foot 3, I think, he's a tall boy and yeah, he's a tall one and every now and then, he's living with me right now, so every now and then I'll go in his room in the morning and just lay across him and chat with him and put my body weight across, like, just like think, "How many more years will I get that, just connect with my boy, rub his head, say good morning, kiss his face," like I would have done when he was, well I wouldn't lay on him if  he was a toddler but, you know, just that sweet connection and wanting him to know how much I really, really love him even though he's this big old grownup, you know.


Casey: That makes me think of that book, you know, the book.


Dodie: I Love You For Always.


Casey: Yes! I love you forever, I love you for always. I love that. That gives me hope too because man, I just, my boy is a super snuggler and he's only 13 but he's already taller than me and I love that he's stil lets me wrap. He comes and wraps his arms around me and so yeah, I love that. Inviting our teens into focusing on solutions, so remembering that "How are we going to solve this problem? How can we solve this? Do you need support with this?" That's a very different come from them, you know, "What are you going to do about this?"


Dodie: But we can also flip that too when we're struggling. We can say "So this is what I'm struggling with, do you have any suggestions on how I solve it?" Let them know that we could use some support sometimes too and they're good problem solvers. "What do you think?"


Casey: Yeah.


Dodie: "What do you think would be a way to approach this?"


Casey:Beautiful.


Dodie: Yeah.


Casey: Yeah and making respectful agreements, which I actually dig into with my, one of my interviews on the summit. And it's funny because my, so at my house there were agreements growing up but they sounded like "You will have at least a 3.0 to to drive your car."


Dodie: Yeah.


Casey: Right and it's this "We've made an agreement", right and so in positive discipline agreements are respectful because they're co-created, right?


Dodie: Ideally, I think is I have an idea of what I want the agreement to be and I talk it through and draw forth from my kids and hopefully they'll come up with one that's pretty close to what I'm aiming for and if it isn't, it's close enough or they're willing to follow through with it. You know, not me making it.


Casey: Right and part of the power of it is we return to it and so if we feel a little bit like "I don't really know if this is going to be so useful" we get to, it gets to play out and we get to be proven wrong sometimes.


Dodie: Yeah.


Casey: You know, which I love that, you know.


Dodie: And it's OK to revisit.


Casey: Yeah, it really is. How important would you say self care and having a life is for parents of teenagers?


Dodie: I think it's really big because it's easy, it's easy for me not to focus on my stuff, just to notice everybody else's stuff, that's not happening, that's not happening and the busier I am and the more and focusing on my own life and my own career and my own stuff, the less energy I have to put on their stuff and really, long term, they need to focus on their stuff.


Casey: Yeah.


Dodie: You know, keep an eye on it, peek at it but I shouldn't be obsessing over it. It's their job to take care of their stuff.


Casey: Thank you for that permission.


Dodie: Yeah.


Casey: Yeah. It's such a privilege to be in conversation with you Dodie.


Dodie: I know, I love you bunches, Casey. It's so fun.


Casey: If there are parents who are listening who want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?


Dodie: Well, my website is DodieBlomberg.com And that would be the easiest way and I'm in Mesa, Arizona.


Casey: Wonderful. Thank you so much for your contribution to the summit.


Dodie: You are so welcome, Casey and I'm excited to hear the other summit podcasts too because I know you've chatted with some other amazing lead trainers and people and I just get to keep continuing to learn from all of them and from you.


Casey: Yeah, all of us, all of us get to keep on learnin'.


Dodie: Yeah.


Body Image Issues, Eating Disorders, and our Teens with Kristin Nasman

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest is Kristin Nasman. Kristin is a certified positive discipline trainer parent coach and has her masters degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington. She teaches parenting classes and teacher workshops on solution-focused discipline. She's an instructor at Bellevue College in the parent education department where she teaches parents of preschoolers in the creative development lab class along with positive discipline courses. Prior to coming to Bellevue college, she worked at Seattle Central Community College where she was a parent instructor in the toddler program and a co-op preschool. Kristin works one on one with parents to help them create the families they dream of. Teaching has always been a part of Kristin's life, from working as a tennis pro during and after college, teaching elementary school and working as a supervisor and mentor of student teachers at the UW in their teacher education program. Kristin was born and grew up in the Seattle area and her biggest learning has come from raising her own 3 teen kids.


Hi Kristin, thank you so much for being part of the Parenting Teens with P.D. Audio Summit.


Kirstin: Hi, Casey,  I am so excited to be here today, so thank you for having me.


Casey: Yay, can you tell the listeners a little bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Kristin: Well, as you know, we've talked about this before, it's been quite the journey. So, you know, what I think is that I had this vision when I started positive discipline, it was about 8 years ago so my kids weren't super young, my youngest was quite young but that I would be able to prevent everything from happening that I didn't want to have happen and I thought that the teen years were going to be, I'll have it all handled, I'll know exactly what to do and those other people are going to have the problems, not me and you know what? It's been a journey.


It's been a rollercoaster journey but I have to say that when things hit, I feel like I'm able to navigate my way back quickly and I'm able to have a lot of self-awareness about what's happening and what I need to do to get things back on track, so I guess, you said one time, it was funny, I think we were having a conversation one time about how you felt like you're wearing fraud lights at the top of your head, you know, I felt like that many times because it's kind of public. This is what I do and this is the struggle I'm having and so it's not always been easy but you know, I think that positive discipline has helped me get through a lot that might not have gone as well as it has.


Casey: Yeah, I love that you mentioned that awareness piece, that leaning back into awareness and it's funny when I'm working with parents and they come back and they say " Oh man, you know, I really screwed up and this is how I responded to this challenge" and I always say like, "Hey, I am celebrating the fact that you know that you could have handled that better because that is, you know, that's a big, that's like the first big step is recognizing that there are better ways, or more helpful, useful ways of navigating what is, like, childhood."


Kristin: Absolutely.


Casey: So thank you for that. I love that piece about awareness. So, Kristin, today you and I are going to talk about body image and eating disorders which is a really hard conversation and a very important conversation and you have some firsthand knowledge around this so, will you talk a little bit about your story and then what the current statistics are for eating disorders?


Kristin: Sure, so my daughter is 15 now and about a little over 2 years ago I started noticing some things changing and she wasn't eating her lunch and seemed to not be hungry very often and she was having some headaches and tired a lot, cold a lot and I didn't really know what this was, we kind of went to the doctor and you know, I just was like thinking, she's going to that typical teen dieting kind of thing and so I wasn't too worried about it. It was actually my older daughter who went out to lunch with her and noticed that she was not eating the way that she normally did and she was more aware about eating disorders than I was and she actually told my daughter's therapist and the therapist said to me "I don't do eating disorders, you need to find somebody else, it's that complicated." And so we did and about a year later, even going through with some specialists that were trained in eating disorders, my daughter at the age of 14 which is a very typical age, developed a very bad case of anorexia even while going to experts.


It is such a devastating disease and illness. It's a mental and physical illness and so we rode that roller coaster train for almost a year in treatment and we're heading up on a year of recovery and that's been amazing and she's doing really, really well and I'm really happy to be able to speak out about this because I think that awareness and learning about some of the signs can help people get treatment and help a lot earlier and that is the number one recovery tool is really being able to catch it early.


Casey:Yeah, what are the statistics? What are, what's currently happening in the world of eating disorders?


Kristin: Yes. So eating disorders, there's disordered eating and eating disorders and unfortunately, our culture, I think we were not even so aware of it how ubiquitous it is in our culture but disordered eating is really just using food in kind of a way, it might be for emotional eating or maybe over concern about our diet or about what we're eating and it's about the "bad" and the "good" and I should say the "I should" and "I shouldn'ts" and the diets and you know, all of this and we think about it, that's pretty much how it is, that is culturally how we are.


And so an eating disorder is sort of that idea on steroids. It's like everything in your body and mind are all about food and it's about, it takes over, it really takes over your mind and so that's kind of the distinction between an eating disorder and disordered eating and so while disordered eating is affecting probably over half of the girls and I'm not just speaking to girls, here, I'm speaking to all people. Boys are really affected by this as well, about 30 percent of patients are males and that's very surprising but it's increasing as well. So about, you know, the statistics are all different depending on who you ask and what year it is but probably about 6 percent of young people will get an eating disorder. And then I think about 20 million at some point their life Americans are going to have an eating disorder. It's quite widespread.


Casey: Well and you mentioned before we, you know, in your story that you shared  and before I hit record that somebody came to your daughter's school and talked about the signs and that often we don't know what it is that we're looking at, do we? Like just the unawareness parent-wise of what is happening and so, you know, we kind of brushed it off as not a big deal. So what are, what should we be looking at, what is happening because it's hard, it's hard to know, you know, I mean sometimes they're in a mood and they don't want to eat and, OK, that's fine and then I feel like there's so much, it's a continuum, right, it's a spectrum so how do we know what we're looking at? What was, what did you start to see after you got more information around eating disorders and warning signs?


Kristin: Right, so you know, I think you're right, it is kind of a spectrum and disordered eating can turn into an eating disorder, it doesn't always. But you know, what are some of the signs that I see? You know, my signs were very different from what somebody else might see and so it's very tricky actually to determine if there's a problem and I think that parents need to recognize that, listen to their gut, if you have a sense that something's not quite right or that it's just not the way it should be or it's not the way that it used to be and something doesn't quite feel right, parents know you know your children and listen to your gut because that is the best indicator, I think, of knowing whether you need to pursue something, even over pediatricians.


Sometimes, you know, the knowledge around what an eating disorder looks like and can be is a very slippery slope and sometimes I've heard of people getting passed off as well, let's just, you know, wait it out, that kind of thing and you know, ignoring it and so or not being aware of the signs. So as far as what some things you might look for, you know, dieting, the number one cause of eating disorders starts with dieting. It's often a trigger that starts it and it's not actually known exactly what it is that triggers it. It can be a confluence of a lot of different factors. It can be genetic factors that can lead to it. It can be anxiety. That's often a precursor. Most all people eating disorders have anxiety. And it can be, you know, it can be family history of that so and then the whole culture around body image is just such a huge thing that that is promoting eating disorders but the number one thing, I think, you can look at is dieting. That is a big precursor to an eating disorder.


So maybe that or social withdrawal. If you've noticed that your child is just not interested in even eating with their peers that is a big sign. Limiting their intake of foods, even things that they might used to have liked or feel like, "Gee, they've cut out a whole food group, they're no longer eating dairy or they become vegetarian," that's a big sign, they don't want to eat any more meat or they're eating very clean, so that's a tough one to really handle because you might be thinking "Oh that's so great," then all of a sudden they stop eating their junk food and now they just want to eat clean food, no fats, no meats, no, so that is a really huge sign of, and there's many different types of eating disorders as well.


So, again, these are these, you may see some of these signs or several of them and that's why it's a little bit tricky to actually to diagnose this. You might see food rituals, like cutting up the food extremely small or chewing excessively or separating all the food out on the plate. You know, body checking, constantly talking about body or body weight, clothing, clothing sizes, talking about, you know, figures of other people and really honing in on  what other girls and people are looking like in the magazines or on T.V. So sort of an over, you know, an over concentration on body image. A real fear of weight gain might be a sign.


Casey: So, oh my gosh. It makes my whole body go like "Oh God." I mean it and I appreciate that you keep saying, like, that's why this is so slippery.


Kristin: it is slippery and you know, too and then there's other things, like the whole thing about teens wanting secrecy or kind of privacy at that age, that's really a typical teen development task and at the same time, that's also something that protects the eating disorder. So eating in secret, not wanting you to come into the room, you know, the things that you don't want to pry because you don't, you want to, you know, you want to honor their privacy is actually something that can keep the disorder alive. You know, not wanting to talk about things. That kind of thing and especially, I think, you know, going to the bathroom after meals is a huge sign, that was one that, you know, pretty obvious but that one is, you know, a pretty obvious sign.


Casey: So but but gosh, I keep finding myself like "Yeah, but, don't you like, isn't it good to poop after you eat?" You know, like, I'm like "Wow", you know, just, I think that just illustrates how complicated it all is and it's interesting too because I can feel my fear triggers being poked at just listening to you and so again that spectrum, that continuum and listening to the gut, I really appreciate that you said that and so, you know, is this something that we can kind of, you know, we've talked I've talked on the summit, I talk in the podcast, we talk about this in positive discipline that iceberg metaphor, so if eating disorder, and you said there were many, like, I'm thinking specifically of anorexic, bulimic, what else is there? Overeating?


Kristin: Yeah, so I think now, I mean, it kind of depends what the D.S.M. manual says, but I think that that they've actually identified like 9 different types of eating disorder. They aren't all under the D.S.M. 5 manual but they all range from like orthorexia, which would be one many people haven't heard of but that's extreme clean eating and so on the surface it might look like an athlete who trains really hard and works really hard and then they want to eat really clean but it becomes where they become ritualized around it.


Casey: Obsessed.


Kristin: Obsessed and there's rules and can'ts and shouldn'ts. So it's not just this where, "I feel like eating something" it's like, "No I can't do it until like maybe 3 o'clock. I can only have this for breakfast. I can only have this for lunch" and it might be a very small amount of food and then there's a lot of guilt around food so that might be like orthorexia where that would show up. On the surface it might look really good, the parent might be really pleased at the beginning but underneath the iceberg, right, there's all this all this other stuff happening.


Casey: Right.


Kristin: For guys, you know, it comes up as body image. And their whole thing is, in fact, the spokesperson now is, he was a former Mariners and he's now become a spokesperson for NEDA because he went really obsessive. It's often people who can be very perfectionistic end up with eating disorders, very high achievers and very sensitive kind of super feeler type of people. And so, that would be something where for guys, they would, you know, really be obsessed about their muscles showing, and so they would want to lose weight and they might want to work out in order to kind of get that 6 pack look. So that might be something that would show up for males.


Then there's some where it's just about taste and texture and maybe they've had experiences with some trauma around choking before and so they just will, just do not want to eat and that's a different type and then there's there's all different variations of the bulimia and anorexia and binge and purge disorder and so there's a lot of different variations and each one of them is a little bit different and can, but they don't really know why, what triggers, there's usually a kind of a confluence of aligning of the stars that show up. And it's a little bit, you know, like I said, hereditary, could be but the cultural factors are so important about what's happening and stress or trauma those kinds of things could be underlying as well.


Casey: Well and I'm just thinking about, you know, everything we talk about in PD around power struggles, right and especially in the younger years, the books that we've read or share with parents, you know, around pottying, eating and sleeping, you can't make them do it, right and so, as you know, now we're looking at teenagers and I know in my own experience I've had plenty of conversations and places where I need to just back off and not be so micromanaging around food. And you know, so like, I'm thinking to myself is that, you know, how, I mean, God, Kristin? Right, it's a place that's ripe for power struggle, anyway, right.


Kristin: Absolutely.


Casey: Because we want them to eat vegetables and, you know, we want them to eat their lunch because "Gosh darn it, I went to the store and I bought you good food, you know, so I don't understand how you don't want to eat it, right?" Where it's like not even about what's happening for them. It's this power struggle or fear creeps in and then it becomes, you know, and I'm guessing, is there this underlying control conversation for people who struggle with eating disorders, am I?


Kristin: Yeah, actually that's one of the reasons that an eating disorder can start and what can kind of be underneath is the anxiety is often so profound that feeling like you can control something like food gives them a sense of control and that can be another place that and so as a parent, yes, it's extremely difficult because even I try and you know, I try not to be controlling about food and I, actually, my daughter always had great eating habits. We never had battles over food which is interesting. We never did. It was actually my best little eater, she would like lots of different things and even when she was hungry and had very good intuitive eating so it's actually interesting that they didn't start when she was young or anything.


So this whole control thing and you're right about that whole idea of flipping your lid, like I didn't even know what it was to feel like I was flipping my lid until this situation. You know, watching your child lose weight and know that food is the answer to not be able to say to eat your food in a way that, it was, it's very hard. It took so much self-control and that's one of the things that I have learned as a parent, as an educator, about this is, about learning to step back and detach from that sense of control. I mean, it's extremely, I mean, the one thing you want to do is what you really can't do.


Casey: Yeah, yeah and so, oh my gosh, right and so then, so has your daughter, you know, because I'm thinking, you know, one of the things that I invite parents into when they are getting that gut instinct is to just go in for some really transparent, authentic, curious conversation so, you know, when we go to our kids and you can speak from your experience or what you've learned and say, you know, I'm really concerned about, you know, what's going on with you, and food, can you tell me a little bit about it. Did you find that your daughter was wanting to talk or was this something that was off limits, like what did you, what was your experience and what are, what's the typical, is this a secret thing? I mean, I know it is a secret thing but I imagine having that like secret world of obsession around food and body feels really lonely and so having an opening might be something that teens would want to step into or is it too scary?


Kristin: I think, you know, you're absolutely right and I love the way that you are holding that kind of curiosity and kind of, "let's talk about this" because you were saying before, you want to, you want to fix it, I want to fix it, I want to, I know what you need, here, just eat this, you know but the thing is once somebody has gone into an eating disorder, they actually do isolate themselves and they don't want to talk to anybody. So although my daughter was going to a therapist, she was making no progress because she was not willing.


The eating disorder wants to take over the person. It takes over their mind and their body, their actions, it's not something they can change, it's so powerful, it's an addiction. And so really all the tools that I knew from positive discipline. once she was in her disorder, it was like they didn't work. Now that she's in recovery, I'm finding that the positive discipline tools of encouragement and listening and the validation and the being able to stay calm are what's really helping her to recover and to, you know, it's really helping.


In the disorder I was so frustrated because the things that I knew just didn't seem to do it and you know, but, that being said, I think that had I used tools, I mean, had I not been more self-aware, I could have made it worse, definitely.


Casey: So are there early, I mean, I feel like we've talked about a lot but are there early indicators that our kids might be moving in the direction of an eating disorder?


Kristin: You know, um, yes and I think that those things that we mentioned before are real good indicators. However, I think, you know this, this isn't just for parents of teens, especially not just of girls, yeah, I mean, that this body image distortion starts about the age of around 6.


Casey: That's sad.


Kristin: I think between the ages of 6 and 12 about 50 percent of kids are concerned about their body weight already and so I think that, you know, the prevention piece that I would really want to see happen is that we're talking to our young girls, first of all, about social media and about images and about the messaging that's out there and that we help them to be critical thinkers of that media, about who are they trying to sell it to and you know, what are they trying to promote here and about how these girls are really oftentimes, you know, they are airbrushed, you know, to be perfect and so that helping them to be discriminating consumers early on I think is really important.


And then, you know, recognizing the signs that, you know, no, we're not going to be dieting here, these things early on about making food groups smaller, I mean, there is some bit of just this recognition and of helping kids to have good eating habits early on, eating with them and again, I think with parents, the modeling is so powerful, what we are saying as parents, Casey, what we're showing them, I mean, disordered eating is throughout our culture, it is just, it's everywhere and I really had to take a look at myself and what it was I doing and thinking about food and about diet and about my body.


I mean, here I am, you know, a middle age women in my body is changing and so I was noticing a big change in my body I was probably talking about that out loud which, for somebody who is, you know, on a slippery slope that can be a trigger. Right and you know done that so I think you know we can watch ourselves and we can also be observant of what's happening with our kids and their meals and really just starting to notice and be paying attention if something is shifting and then again, that gut feeling, is there something maybe not quite right here.


Casey: Yeah.


Kristin: Most kids are not going to slip into an eating disorder but you know, with our culture I think, today, anxiety is increasing and we've got the social media pressures and you know, I think that we're going to see more of it, unfortunately.


Casey: Yeah, I have this great list that I pulled off of the National Eating Disorder Association website and anyone who's listening, I'll make sure that the link to this is available in the write up of this interview but I'd love to just go through it and kind of look at it through a positive discipline lens, can we do that? Are you up for it?


Kristin: Yes.


Casey: OK, so the very first thing on this list is the invitation to appreciate all that your body can do and I love this, I feel like it fits in really nicely with our encouragement model because it's less of, you know, checking ourselves when we are making those kind of blanket, I mean, praise, I guess, like, "You're so cute, you're so pretty" and instead, you know, as the parents but also encouraging our kids to do the same, we can be appreciating like "Wow, you're so, you know, look at what you did, you're so strong, you were able to, you know, do whatever they were able to do." And inviting them to, yeah and celebrate like "Wow, you just ran a mile, that's not easy to go and your body was able to do it."


And again, listeners, encouragement is really a lot more process oriented and I think that when we're looking at it through this context, it's a lot more descriptive than just "Hey your butt looks great." Which I can't imagine any parent saying to their child but, you know ,there's different ways that we can, that we even just, "Hey, you look great" you know, like, really, I mean not becoming obsessed ourselves but looking at the ways that we're using language with our kids.


Kristin: Yeah I think that being really intentional about that is really important, I mean, I'm thinking about this comment here, you know, appreciating all your body can do and really thinking about, you know, that gratitude that we can have for a body that works. Not how our body looks but how a body works, that it gets us somewhere, that we can run somewhere, that we can feel the air on our skin, you know, these kinds of things that we often bypass in lieu of looking good, right, so.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, definitely and the second thing on the list is "Keep a top 10 list of things you like about yourself." I, you know, when I read that I was thinking about how we'll often encourage parents to talk about mistakes at the dinner table. Or when we do family meetings, we will do compliment circles and there's always an invitation to compliment everyone at the table including ourselves. I think that this often, this is something that kind of fits in with that that top 10 list of things you like about yourself and I love that it also says "read your list often". We can all do this, right.


Kristin: Yes and, you know, that reminds me that self-esteem is kind of a core part of this whole of an eating disorder, low self-esteem and so I love this about helping kids to acknowledge themselves. They often can't see what other people see when they have this disorder and so, you know, starting that kind of thing as a prevention tool when kids are, like, younger.


Casey: Yeah and I think that even the grownups who we might not have any, well we might have some disordered eating and thinking about the whole 30 that I just did with my husband, I felt really good about it, Kristin, now I'm like "Oh God, why did I make such a big deal?" But you know, I think that it's interesting too to talk to people about how they receive how they receive compliments, you know, even just this morning I was talking to my trainer who has, you know, been through chemo and is this fighter, she's this amazing human and she said that she ran into somebody and they told her that she inspired them and I felt so uncomfortable and I just said to her like, wow, what would it be like to just allow somebody to feel inspired by you and to receive that, instead of like "No, no, no," you know, we're so quick to push things away, so I really like this top ten list of things, this invitation and permission to have 10 things that you like about yourself, right.


Kristin: That's right and I think, you know, teens can be real tough on themselves. So, you know, they do need to kind of, but again, it's an authentic encouragement, really, it's not the superficial, the physical things, it's about who they are and I think focusing on that is a great prevention tool.


Casey: Yeah and I think that has come up a lot in these conversations, Kristin, is that, and like I wonder, I'm curious because for me, when I speak about authenticity, it's kind of second nature. I don't know how else to be and I have to take a step back and realize that not everybody, that's not the story for everybody so, you know, if you're out there and you're listening and you're thinking like "Wow, I really, this is speaking to me and I'm going to up my authenticity" and it feels uncomfortable or it feel like, especially considering our teens have such great B.S. radars, you know, if we come at this with this big agenda, I'm going to build up your self-esteem or I'm going to expand your thinking about yourself and that's what I'm coming in to do, they're going to feel that under the surface agenda and just, you know, be in real conversation and they're just, they're humans, they're fellow humans, right, we can be in real conversation with them.


Kristin: Yeah, you know, Casey, I think that's a really important thing because, you know, just being able to listen to a teenager, they say things sometimes, as you know, that just sort of rattle you and you know, my lid wants to get flipped and I want to fix or I want to problem solve it or I want to say, you know, "No, that's not right" or you know, "You shouldn't think that way" and all of that is so disturbing of these young girls and they don't want to be fixed, they don't want to have the problem solved, they just want somebody to listen without judgment and listen with curiosity.


Casey: They all do, that's for sure, that it is for sure and you know, for some of us that is a lifelong struggle, how to listen without judgment, I think. So what a great opportunity having teenagers is to practice that for sure.


Kristin: Yeah, I actually do this-


Casey: Because we know. We know all the answers.


Kristin: But you know, I also realized and learned that I think-


Casey: Right, we know how you feel. Oh my gosh, they hate that. That's exactly the experience that I've had especially, you know, as I've been really open about my own daughter's navigating anxiety, specifically but also depression and I mean, I have never, that has never been an issue for me and so to be able to be with her and support her and love her through it, not make her feel like she's, you know, less than or that there's something wrong with her, that's really, because not, you know, it doesn't always show up in my language. It might, you know, it's sometimes, it's more of a hidden message that I'm delivering and so really recognizing I don't know and being, like, surrendering to that and and being with her inside of her experience and letting her teach me, you know, has been really powerful, really powerful.


Kristin: Right.


Casey: Another thing on your, on this list, that I really love is the invitation to look at yourself as a whole person and the little, you know, write up is, when you see yourself in the mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts, see yourself as you want others to see you, as a whole person. What do you think about that?


Kristin: Well and that's exactly opposite of what happens in an eating disorder. They only see their physical body and it's very, you know, it's warped, obviously, body dysmorphia, they can't even see anything, they don't see the body the way that you see their body so I think, you know ,focusing on the whole person is so important. You know, because girls are getting messages everywhere social networking, on movies, the magazines, the television that tell them that thinness is the most important thing and so we have to counteract those messages they're getting everywhere.


Casey: Yeah.


Kristin: They're inundated with it and so we have to step up as parents and really focus on them as whole people.


Casey: Yeah, well, I'm thinking too of my own experience because I know when I get out and I know right where my eyes always go.


Kristin: Yeah.


Casey: Yeah, my little area, always right to the belly and really practicing pulling back from that is a practice. So do you think, if, you know, do you think that it is because I'm loving this, I really like this list, I like it for me, as well as for, you know, teens for the person that's that's needing this support. Can we use this as a talking, like as an opening, would you think that this would this list would be a good tool as it's kind of a neutral opening to conversation?


Kristin: Yeah and I think regular conversations around this are really important because that recognition, you know, having this ongoing conversations I don't think, I don't think that we can stress that enough, is just having that open dialogue and the open dialogue again comes from that being curious and not being judgemental and so they feel that from, I think, from parents, kids are more likely to open up and talk to them about these kinds of issues.


Casey: Yeah, I really like that you said frequent. I think that sometimes, just like some of the other conversations that are important to be having around sex and other risky behavior, like short and sweet and frequent, like we have to come back to it and I think that it, I mean, I'm guessing that listeners can even hear in my voice in this conversation how uncomfortable, you know, this conversation is and and I think that sometimes we humans, we want to believe that everything's OK and so there's a little bit of of head in the sand. So full permission, everybody, and like, you know, I mean, some people will say "Oh well, we talk about safe sex then all the kids want to have sex" you know, versus, and I'm wondering, is there any kind of conversation around, like, well if you talk about food and body then it's just going to promote more of a obsession around food and body but I'm guessing that's not true.


Kristin: I don't think so, right, I think, you know, again in positive discipline we talk a lot about modeling and you know, what are we, what, how do we view our own bodies as parents, how do we view our food, is it something that is our is to give us nutrition to get us through the day or are we obsessed with it, are we having our own issues with it? So I think it's important to start looking inside of ourselves and finding out, you know, what's there and what are our kids seeing? What messages are we giving? Because we can talk about them but if we're not modeling that then they're getting two messages.


Casey: That just exists in so many domains, doesn't it?


Kristin: It does and it's really, I've become so aware, it's hard to even go to a social event where food doesn't come up and it's a negative thing, you know, "I shouldn't eat this, oh it's so good but it's just so naughty for me" or you know like that kind of talk, it's really, one woman I know, she's from another country and she said, she commented on it that we don't how these conversations, we sit down and we might enjoy a pastry in the afternoon and nobody's feeling guilty about it and that's, you know, the kind of intuitive eating that we want to be after but we're really on the wrong track in this country as far as using food as serving so many other purposes and it's such a negative thing and it's proven that diets don't work so, you know, we need to just move our whole attitude and viewpoint towards food in a whole different direction.


Casey: And so if there are people listening right now who are thinking that, are feeling as though they have teens that that might be in the throes of eating disorder, what are some steps that they could take? What are some what are first steps for them to be taking to follow that gut hit that they're getting as they listen to us talk?


Kristin: Well, the one great thing about eating disorder treatment is that it's so much better today than it used to be, they're learning so much more about this illness and that real help is there. It might not be in your local community if you don't live near a big city, you may have to, you know, you may have to seek out somebody that's very specialized and good but the treatment is really good and the recovery rate, especially for people who catch it early, that is one of the the best things you can do is actually catch it early because it hasn't had as much time to take hold, is the recovery is very possible and so I would say to seek out information, go to the NEDA website, National Eating Disorder Association.


They have an excellent website that covers all of this and more and they do a screening tool on there and you can find out if there is a problem or where you kind of fit on that spectrum, that Eating Recovery Center is a great tool or place to go for resources information, their website they have a you can call and you can talk to a person online and they'll help you, somebody who's a specialist, to determine where you are and I would highly recommend, it's non-threatening, I would highly recommend anybody who just concerns about it or questions or feels that gut feeling a little bit, like, because again, catching it early is the first and best prevention tool.


Casey: And now are these surveys, like I can fill it out for my child, like what I'm seeing for my child or are these surveys that we would encourage our teens to fill out for themselves or both?


Kristin: You know, when I called I spoke with a person and it was me that called and then then it did look as if that we needed to get more support and so we did then go in and in person I think for the  first thing is just to go to the websites and find out information, give them a call. Don't wait.


Casey: Yeah and it's a very user friendly website and so everybody that's listening and wants to check it out, don't be intimidated by that. It has, I mean, so much, so much information, really supportive and easy to consume. So, Kristin, do you have any last thoughts about body image, eating disorder before we close out? I mean other than the 5 extra hours that we could talk about this.


Kristin: I know, just touching the iceberg here, you know, just that, Casey, is this is such a devastating disease, it really can affect whole families for years on and it's a very, very serious illness. It's not something to wait on, it's not something to ignore, it's something that if you see a sign, know that some, there's a reason, again, under that iceberg there is something else going on and we don't want to just let the "Well, this too shall pass," that is not helpful in this case.


Typically I would say that for other things but in this case, I would say that's an indication that, you know, it doesn't mean that there's an eating disorder, it just means that there might be needing to be some attention paid to it and educate yourself, I think, having the education is power, that knowledge is power.


Casey: Thank you so much for coming on and contributing to the summit.


Kristin: Thank you so much.


Casey: I appreciate you. If there's parents listening who would like to get in touch with you, where could they find you?


Kristin: Right now at my email, so it's kristinnasman@hotmail.com.


Casey: Great, I'll make sure there's a link to that in the write up of the interview and I just really appreciate you. Thank you so much.


Kirstin: Thank you.


The Birds & Bees for Parents of Teens: Dating, Relating and Waiting (or not), with Amy Lang


Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest today is my friend and colleague Amy Lang. Amy is a sexual health educator and has been for over 20 years. She teaches parents of all beliefs how to talk with kids of any age about the birds and the bees. She is the author of the books Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Date Relate or Wait and Birds and Bees and Your Kids: A Guide to Sharing Your Beliefs About Sexuality, Love and Relationships.


Amy is also a trained positive discipline educator and is raising a teenage son with her partner in Seattle, Washington. Hi, Amy! Thanks so much for being a part of the summit.


Amy: I'm super excited to help everyone to out with this really exciting and fun and important part of life.


Casey: I'm so glad you exist.


Amy: Thank you.


Casey: So, as you know, the reason behind this summit is to have really real conversations about the messiness of raising teenagers and the topic we get to dig into today is full of messiness or at least, in the heads of the adults, right?


Amy: Absolutely.


Casey: Birds and bees for parents of teens. Talk to me about why you are passionate about this conversation.


Amy: I'm passionate about it because I was a teenager once and I made a lot of mistakes and I believe that if I had had help and support and information I maybe would have made some different decisions and my mission is to help every child grow up to be a whole healthy, happy adult and I think that the missing piece to helping our kids in this way is actually empowering them with information and values about sexuality, love and relationships.


Casey: So what's the general consensus out there when it comes to teens and sex, what are you hearing from most parents?


Amy: Everyone would love it if people would, kids would wait until they are in their mid to late twenties before they start having sex and relationships, mostly because of brain development and you know, sadly, we're not going to get our way.


Casey: Yeah, right and then how and how does that general population that you work with, how do they feel about not getting their way?


Amy: They're OK with it because once, I think, once parents realize that, like you said it, like, that the real problem isn't with our kids, it's usually with us and our expectations and our hopes and our dreams and then, of course, our personal experience learning about sexuality in those first relationships, dating as a teenager, that really influences our, what we come to the party with when it comes to talking to kids about sexuality.


Casey: Yeah, do you hear different things from parents of boys than you do from parents of girls?


Amy: That's a really good question. I do hear different things. Parents of boys are really worried that their boys will be aggressive and be disrespectful and try to coerce girls and you know, you know, potentially be accused of sexual assault and so that is very real and very much up for parents of boys and for parents of girls, it's all the usual stuff that we've been, parents of girls have always worried about that they'll be having sex without protection, that they'll be taken advantage of, that they will make stupid decisions, that they'll have terrible partners, that, you know, all those things.


Casey: It's so interesting having one of of each. Yes, yes, exactly that's exactly, those are exactly the feelings and thoughts that I have, as well as others but that totally, it's so interesting the lens that we look out of when we're thinking about our boys or thinking about our girls and there's so many layers here and so much fear on the parents' side. Do you talk to the teens? How are the teens feeling about sex these days?


Amy: Well, I don't really talk to, I don't work with teenagers directly. I do work with one and he's 17, a senior in high school and he came out of my vagina. So I talked to him some and I'm watching what's happening and what we know now, just from studies and so one just came out is that people, kids are waiting longer before they have sex and they're having less sex, so good news! Yay! I mean, for parents, right, how we really, you know, want our kids to wait until they're, you know, late twenties.


That, that's kind of good news and then it's also bad news, which means that that teenagers are not getting out there and learning how to be in a relationship because a lot of dating is about learning how to function in a romantic relationship and I think that as parents, you know, it's our responsibility to engage in conversations with our teens and so I asked Mylo, you know, how's it going and who's dating who? What's up with that? What do you think of their relationship?


And he'll talk to me about that and I had a really moment of super mommy proudness especially as a sex educator, he was at a party and was talking to a girl and it was Halloween and the girl had painted her face and it was amazing, apparently, she looked great but then was wearing regular clothes and she was there with her girlfriend, her romantic girlfriend and her girlfriend said to her, this young woman that Milo was talking to, said to her "You look terrible. Why aren't you wearing a costume, you look really poor. You look terrible, like, why did you do that?" and was really mean to her and Milo told me that he said to her "Hey, that's verbal abuse, you should break up with her, like, that's not OK for your girlfriend to talk to you like that," and then the reason this whole conversation came up is because Milo got a text from this girl he was talking to and she said "I broke up with my girlfriend."


Casey: Go, Milo!


Amy: I know and then I said "Did you know her?" and he said "No" so it was like "Yay! Apple falling not so far from the tree" because I'm the queen of giving unsolicited advice.


Casey: I've seen you in action.


Amy: I know.


Casey: I've been the receiver, so thank you.


Amy: Yes and it can be good and it can be sort of horrid. Anyways, so I think that what's happening for teenagers right now is that they are so stuck in their snapchatting and Instagram and a very rare now texting and even rarer phone calling, that they are not learning very well how to have a romantic relationship so there's lots of flirting going on and there's some, you know, flashing around of private parts and sexually kind of sexual kind of images happening and it's really easy to flirt when you can't see the other person. It's really easy to say something sexual when you can't see the other person.


Casey: Oh god.


Amy: Breathe. Everybody take a deep breath.


Casey: Take a deep breath.


Amy: Yeah. So that's one thing that they're missing out on and I mean, we all remember how awkward it was, right, to be around someone you had a crush on and or someone had a crush on you and that's that dance between like "Oh does he like me, does she like me? Do I like them? Do they like me?" like that sort of, what am I'm trying to think of, like, that sort of cautiously stepping in is now so not such a big deal because they can just do this with text.


Casey: Yeah or even, so I'm proud of my boy too, you know, he's only in 7th grade but he's had a couple little girlfriends and it's been important to him to, you know, "Ask them out," whatever that means in 7th grade, in person with his, like, face to face, as well as breaking up and yeah and I'm just like and you know, it's like, "Yes! I drilled it into him!" you know and then there is this very other experience happening in my house where, you know, it's actually, you know, he takes pride in that she takes, I'm not sure if taking pride is the right word, but there is definitely like "Woohoo, look what I get to avoid because I'm just having conversations via snapchat, you know" and it's like the kids, they just want to go meet someone at the movies and they've never even heard the kid's voice, you know, and it's like "Whoa! Wow!" On one hand, it's very much like, please, let's, yes, absolutely meeting people in real life and make sure that mom and dad get to meet them so we can see that they're not some creepy 45 year old or whatever.


Amy: Right, right.


Casey: But, like, yes, I always am celebrating the real life experiences because it feels like their worlds are just shrinking into this text, whether it's, you know, Snapchat or Instagram, you know, social media exchange and so I don't know, it's and I love that we're talking about relationship and dating because it's not always just the conversation about sexual intercourse.


Amy: Right.


Casey: And how important it is to talk about the rest of it that they're really getting robbed of.


Amy: I think, I mean, I agree with you and you know, it's sad to me and it's worrisome to me because I want my child to have social skills and you know, we live, you and I live in Seattle and if you've been downtown, you know, there are adult people who are walking around staring at their phones and they don't interact with each other, everyone gets on an elevator, everyone's staring at their phone. They can't not be on their phones and it makes it really hard to meet people and to chat and to have, you know, to have friendships if you can, if you have to have this device in front of you and I think that for, you know, families in general, that if we practice talking to our kids and are modeling healthy phone behaviors, that help our kids and when we're willing to, you know, acknowledge the fact that maybe we're on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest a little too much and change our behavior, our kids see that and I know we've all been in a restaurant and we watched Dad on the phone, mom on the phone, 2 year old with an iPad, 9 year old with a smartphone, right? We've all seen that and so they don't know how to do social intercourse.


Casey: Right. Social intercourse.


Amy: I know.


Casey: Is that a real phrase?


Amy: Sure, why not?


Casey: I like it.


Amy: I mean it's, I mean most of sex and relationships have to do with talking.


Casey: Yes.


Amy: And we don't, you know, if you think about, you know, I've been married for 25 years so I don't have the greatest perspective but back in the day, a whole lot of the time I spent with my boyfriends was more being out and doing stuff and kind of conversations and getting to know them and it wasn't doing the deed, right.


Casey: Right and isn't it funny, I mean, maybe it's just me but this is a really important point to me because in my mind, I very easily, you know, when there have been romantic relationships going on with my older child, the idea that she's going to be alone with any boy, my head immediately goes to doing the deed.


Amy: Yeah. Always.


Casey: So useful.


Amy: I know. Let's be kind and firm. No, no, firmness.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, please keep the firm in your pants.


Amy: Right.


Casey: What is up with, so, you know, we're old and we read the news and it's like "Oh, the hookup culture" and you know and kids are, you know, they might not be having as much sex but the oral sex is off the charts or whatever, I mean, I'm kind of just pulling these out of my ass but what is hookup culture and is it something that is prevalent with teenagers right now?


Amy: I think that hookup culture is more prevalent with kids who are probably over the age of 19 and out of high school there and I haven't done any research-research so I'm also pulling things out of my ass a little bit.


Casey: Just having a conversation.


Amy: It's good that we are talking about asses because we need to talk about them. So the hookup culture, basically hooking up means you're just having casual sex with somebody and with teenagers, yes, that's definitely happening but it's not as prevalent as it is with older older, older people, so, like I said, over, in college, 18, 19 and it's been normalized. Kids talk about it. They see it. They know people who do it and you know, like kids always do, they kind of idolize people who are older than them. So if they have a cousin or older sibling that's hooking up, they might be really more interested in doing that than they would if they didn't know somebody who was doing that. So that's what hook up culture is and just everybody hold onto your hats but, you know, high schoolers are on Tinder.


Casey: Oh God.


Amy: I know.


Casey: Is that allowed?


Amy: No, because they lie, right.


Casey: Damn them.


Amy: I know, damn it and one of Milo's friends-


Casey: That's terrifying. That is terrifying.


Amy: Sorry, I know, they're such morons, bless their stupid hearts. They are, I mean, they're like, you know, all that brain development stuff where they don't do any if/then thinking and so one of Milo's friends met his girlfriend on Tinder and fortunately she is his same age and she's pretty lovely, Milo says he likes her and so it's very common for kids to be on Tinder, teenagers to be on Tinder.


Casey: Very common.


Amy: Well, maybe not very common, but it's common, it's happening.


Casey: It's happening.


Amy: And you know, like you said, the person they could be talking to could be a 35 year old woman. And it's, you know, they're probably not and the other thing that our youngins are savvy about is that sort of thing, like, am I being, is someone, is this person for real? Does this feel off to me? Why don't they have a picture of themselves? And, you know, most of our kids know not to connect to someone they met on the line like in real life, you know, but some kids think it's fine and then they do and that's a problem. But if your kiddo's trying to meet someone and they know generally what they look like and they're like arriving at the Starbucks or wherever and they see them and they see that they're much older, there's a really high chance that they'll bail.


Casey: Oh god.


Amy: I know, I know. I was really surprised because Tinder's for hooking up when you're older, not for, you know, juniors and seniors in high school.


Casey: No. Oh. So, OK, so these things are happening and I mean, like I said, thank God for you and the work you do because you work, you help us, you help us have the conversations that we need to be having with our kids, with our teens, right and I think and let's just all acknowledge that we want to control everything and you know, whether it's when, how, with who, first, many sexual experiences, like, we would love to control it all or maybe we don't but we just know that we don't want our kids to get hurt, right. We want them to be safe both emotionally and physically. Nobody wants to be a grandma too soon.


Amy: Right.


Casey: Like what are some tips that you have for parents of teenagers that, to help them with both educating our kids on staying safe, while also, like, letting, you know, I mean, look at, see look what's happening to me right now, I can't even spit it out.


Amy: Yeah, yeah, I know what you're saying, I understand.


Casey: I'm also saying, like, I don't really want you to have sex but-


Amy: if you do-


Casey: If you do, here's how to stay safe because my guess is because I know that argument's out there like "Oh, you're just telling them to have sex if you give them condoms."


Amy: Yeah and that's just not true. So what we know is that kids who are very highly sex educated, so they know all the things about what goes where, they know all the correct names for their junk, they know, you know, what all the things are, including hard stuff, rape, abortions, sexual assault, when they know all the birth control methods, when they have free and easy access to condoms, which, in Amy's world, every teenager, both boys and girls should have, every parent should have condoms available to your kids because, as one of my friend's mom used to say, you can get more than a baby.


Casey: True that.


Amy: Oh yeah. So this idea that we're going to be putting ideas in our kids' heads is just false logic because, sorry, the idea is already there, their bodies are saying, "Hey, let's get busy" and unfortunately, their brains are not like our brains, theoretically, that are fully developed and we have some, you know, we're able to control our emotions, we're able to do if/then thinking most of the time. So here their bodies saying "Let's get busy," here their brain saying, "Cool! Fine! It'll be OK" and for a child or a teenager that doesn't know basically everything including your personal values they are at risk for getting pregnant, getting STI's. The lack of information is really what causes the problems. If they're well informed or they're not well informed, they all have some kind of sex by about age 17, so oral, anal or are vaginal and I know, sorry, I told her we were going to talk asses. I did it.


Casey: It's OK, I'll put this interview kind of later on in the summit. This won't be the first one.


Amy: Here we are number 7 out of, you know, 8. Because I get that this is hard stuff and seems back ass words to, like, say, "Hey, here are condoms, hey, expect to use birth control. Hey, sex should feel really great to your body," like, saying all that feels like granting permission, it just isn't. They don't see that as being given permission and part of the way to avoid that permission giving is just saying, straight up, "I hope that you wait until X, Y and Z before you have sex with someone, before you you know start fooling around it in a serious way, like all these things should be in place, you should have condoms, you should be in a safe place, you should have, sorry I'm hitting my mic because I'm gesturing, you can't see me gesturing but I'm big in gestures.


Casey: I just feel it. I feel the gestures.


Amy: So they have condoms in a safe place so if there are heterosexual having birth control and making sure everyone agrees, which is called consent. And making sure like that the relationship has been, you know, pretty well established and that you trust your partner and you can talk about this and if you can't, like if kids can't, if the teenagers can't talk to their partner about say, just say, birth control then they shouldn't be having sex.


Casey: Right and that is really easy for us to say, right, so how can we, and it's a big ask, especially, like, we were just talking about in a culture where the kids aren't having a lot of face to face conversations, so how can we, because I think that's so important, right there, is if you can't talk about the possibility of having sex and birth control and being safe with your boyfriend or girlfriend then you're not ready to be having sex with your boyfriend or your girlfriend? So, like, what are some ways that you would suggest that parents can support their kids and I get, like, one thing is just start having conversation with them, right and then as they look at you, like, are you kidding me? That's awkward, you know, what are some other things that we can do or say that really helps the land that? What's the magic, do you have a magic wand?  


Amy: I don't have a magic wand. The safest thing to do is assume that your kids are going to have sex around age 17, just assume that's going to happen and then what you want to, you know, really the sex talk should start when kids are 5 and then go all the way through, so that's one thing, if you have younger kids, get on it. Because then it becomes a normal part of their family life, they have some things really well adjusted and integrated into their thought processes so by the time they're in puberty, like, I love what your son is doing, he asks them out in person and he breaks up in person, that's because of you. You did that.


Casey: He even make sure he makes sure it's a Friday if he breaks up with them so that they don't have to come to school the next day devastated that he's broken up with them. So his ego is just fine.

Amy: Glad to hear that. Yes, so that's exactly it, so when you're consistent with these conversations and you talk about, you know, what's right and what's wrong in relationship and ask questions like, you know, "Wow, how would you feel if that happened to you?" One of the sneaky ways you can talk to your kids about this stuff is to ask them what's going on with their friends and what do they think about that. They will talk to you a little bit more as opposed to say "So, are you ready to date? What makes you think you're ready to date?" and they'll be like "Oh my god, stop talking to me" but if you use these other ways of entering in, like using their friends, speaking of friends, we're watching, Milo's 17, we're watching Friends with him as a family and we talk about all the shenanigans and stuff that goes on, there's tons of relationship stuff, it's super sexist, there's a bunch of homophobic comments, like, it's just ripe with potential, you know, conversation starters.


Casey: Oh, I love that.


Amy: And you know, Milo's on to us, so he knows when we're having a little sex talk-y moment, or relationship talk-y moment but he doesn't really care.


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: He doesn't really care.


Casey: Yeah, and I think, you know, I think probably on some level it's, I mean, it's, I don't know why, what I think is really funny is the new, all the new Netflix shows that are geared towards teens, are like, so hardcore diverse, like the cast is not just, there's no token anything, it's like half the cast is gay and a good solid third is white, everybody else is everything else under the sun and I think, I wonder, I mean, I don't know, I love that. I think it's, like, that becoming normal is, you know, hopefully something that's really going to serve us, will serve us as a society and a culture and but also what I'm hearing you say is that you have, you have a really good relationship with Milo, you know and I know guessing there's probably people listening and this is a theme that's come up in every single conversation that I've had on the summit and I, because of course in positive discipline, like, that's one of the foundations, that's, you know, kind of the the main pillar is, you know, the relationship that we, that we nurture with our kids is really the place where we have any kind of influence.


Amy: Right, yeah, go ahead.


Casey: And well, yeah and so just highlighting that and reminding anyone who's listening like, "Oh yeah as if my kid would talk to me," right, if you're finding that these kinds of conversations are challenging and that there isn't, doesn't feel like there's an opening, just start working on relationship in general.


Amy: Absolutely and that's what I was going to say is that the reason I think I have such a close relationship with Milo is because of positive discipline, like you and I found positive discipline at the same time, right?


Casey: We did.


Amy:  I know.


Casey: It was so fun.


Amy: We did our training together, it was super fun. We were thrilled-


Casey: And we loved each other.


Amy: Yes, and still do and so because I found positive discipline when Milo was about 5, I think, I was already kind of parenting that way and but I didn't have the words and so, you know, his whole life, when he makes a mistake he doesn't get punished, right and so he knows he can make mistakes at this and trust me when I tell you he's been making mistakes in the last, you know, year-


Casey: That's always good to hear.


Amy: And so he doesn't get punished, he has consequences, he did something, he texted something not so great to a girl and we found out and-


Casey: But you're the sex educator.


Amy: You know, I cross my fingers and you know, I try to like chain him to our house but it just doesn't work and so he said something, kind of, it was inappropriate, it was not a great thing that he said to this girl and we found out and he, you know, we talked about that and his consequence was that he had to watch all of Dr. Ford's for testimony. Because Kerry was great, my husband, he was like "This is where Bro Culture starts.This is what that looks like and this is absolutely not OK and, you know, your mom is going to like click you in the forehead and you know, do any number of things that are terrible, maybe just a little hot wax torture drip torture." Anyway, I was really pissed and Kerry was great and Kerry is one who said, you know, "a consequence of this is that you need to watch Dr Ford's testimony because you need to know what where this can lead and what it looks like and also how to not be that guy."


Casey: Yeah, well, God, I mean talk about using the outside world as a teaching opportunity. It feels like there's so much to support us in raising kids that aren't douchebags. Oh I know you hate that word, sorry.


Amy: I do hate that but asswipe, assholes, asswipes, yes.


Casey:  And yeah, I mean that is powerful and that is current and that is real. I mean, well, I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of all of the craziness.


Amy: Yeah, we don't need to go down the rabbit hole of that.


Casey: But I do want to say, I do want to say that, kind of bringing it back to this conversation, you know, yes we would all love that they wait as long as possible, that would be glorious and I know that there's parents listening who are like "OK, great, I know my child is, actually, my teenager is sexually active" so what are some things to be thinking about as a parent of teens who are already, who they know are already engaging in sexual behavior.


Amy: First of all, if you have a daughter, she's needs to be on birth control and I personally believe that every girl should be put on some kind of hormonal birth control when they're 16. Again, it does not give them permission to have sex but what it does do is it regulates their periods, if they get a Mirena IUD it stops their periods altogether, same with implants.


Mirena IUDs and implants are the most effective forms of birth control and they can, you know, if they can put them in and kind of forget about them, you know, for 3 to 5 years and or birth control pills or you know, diaphragms and cervical caps don't work very well but and they're awkward as I can attest to. And you know, that is paramount for girls' sexual health and now I know it's controversy and I know people are weird about, sorry, judgy, but they are comfortable with the idea of giving girls hormones for a variety of reasons but pretty much all the studies show that it doesn't impact their overall sexual health and it's safer because a pregnant 16 year old is not OK.


That's hard on their bodies, it's hard on their hearts, it's hard on their minds and just making it super clear, like, if your child is sexually active anyway, that birth control, the birth control, birth control, birth control and you know, one of the reasons why I'm so hot on the implants and the IUD is that you can't forget to take your IUD and it doesn't work for everyone and the other good news is that when it comes to taking pills there are 8 million different kinds now.


We know so much more about what works and how much to, you know, hormone levels and all that that there's something out there for everyone and as a parent, you know, when it's time for your kids to go to the doctor, you should not be in the room with them at all. You step out you know at about, I think we stepped out at, I left him with his pediatrician alone when he switched started middle school, I mean, I would be in the beginning but then I would go out and now last, I think we started in 9th grade, he just talked to the doc on his own.


Casey: Yeah, our pediatrician kicks me out. She's like, "OK, now is the portion of the appointment where you leave." I really want to stand with my ear to the door.


Amy: No kidding. No kidding.


Casey: I don't.


Amy: No kidding, no kidding, I feel the same way but I also want Milo to have a relationship with this doctor and be open with this doctor because they know they can't talk to me, like, they can't, it's illegal, they can't divulge what they've talk about with our child and so establishing, so basically birth control, birth control, birth control, if you know your child is dating, sex is on the table.


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: Sex is on the table and it's oral or anal sex, too, right so you need to talk about that and you know for boys and for girls condoms, condoms, condoms and because you don't want, you know, there's an uptick in HIV among heterosexual people, granted they're usually drug using and stuff like that, but that's-


Casey: It's real.


Amy: We were doing way better, it's real and so you know, you know, when you and I were coming of age as it were-


Casey: Yeah, that's what my mom, that my mom said to me when I was because it was the eighties and you know, AIDS was just, you know, exploding and she said, "When I was your age we worried about getting pregnant and now you have to worry about death" That was my sex talk.


Amy: Nice.


Casey: I was like "Whoa!"


Amy: Crazy pants.  


Casey: Can't really come to you, OK.


Amy: Okay, never mind, because I'll just die here.


Casey: My bad.


Amy:  Die of embarrassment and you know and then the really, really, really important thing about talking with teenagers, there's two really important things, first of all just talk about everything, you don't need to screen, you don't need to be careful around them, you just need to be open and talk about all the things and then the focus of your conversations with them should be around healthy relationships and what that looks like, you need to be modeling healthy relationships, you need to be really focusing on those aspects of relating to someone that are so important to having a healthy relationship.


Casey: OK, okay, we can do it, everyone we can do it. It's messy.


Amy: You can.


Casey: It's messy and we get to keep it together. Right? We the adults.


Amy: Yeah or we don't, or you don't keep it together, like you find out your son has been, you know, having sex and you're like "What the, what the, what the," and you freak out on them, as we all know from positive discipline, it's perfectly fine to say "Oh my god, I just completely flipped my lid, I'm super sorry, let's try this again" and you know, one of the phrases that I use a lot with parents when they're like stumbling across their kid watching porn, finding their, you know, 5 year old playing with his tally whacker, like, it's that and you freak out, the thing I have them say is "Oh my goodness, I am so sorry I freaked out. I was so surprised to see you touching your clitoris, when you told me you were having sex. So, I'm calmer now, let's chat about this" or "I just need to think about what I want to say and going away and coming back."


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: And that teaches kids that it's OK to freak out as long, you know and you can get yourself under control.



Casey: Yeah but we have to be having the conversations with our kids. It's just, it's not a choice everyone.


Amy: No, it is not a choice, it is not a choice and sometimes parents say to me "Well, my kid" you know, I actually just got an email from someone, who's like my 13 year old daughter whenever I try to talk to her about sex she starts singing to avoid talking to me" and you know that super common and it's because, you know, they don't want to talk about this because part of it's because it's gross to them, as they get older it's less gross and it's just awkward and embarrassing and parents will use their child awkwardness or embarrassment or singing as an excuse not to talk to them. "They're not ready, they're not interested, they don't need to know" and it's just not true.


Casey: Yeah, what would you say that our kids need most from us during this time?


Amy: I think what they need most from us is for us to, trust me when I tell you I really am challenged by this myself, is us to change the way we communicate with our teenagers from that top-down, like I'm the boss of you kind of conversation to more of a peer to peer style of communication. So, for example, well, I'm not the best example of this because if you said to me, for example, and this is not true about Casey, if you said, "Hey, I am having an affair." And I wouldn't say, I would say, "Oh my god, what's going on?" right and I would be a little surprised but I would just say "You know, what's going on? Tell me about it?" and you would have communication with me. If my son said, "Hey, I'm sleeping, turns out I am having sex with 2 people," for example, he is not, as far as I know. I might say that I would say "What the", well I would say "What the f" and instead if I was able to say "Ha. Sounds complicated, what do you want to tell me about that?"


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: Yeah and so changing our tone, just in general, and just practice on the non-sexual stuff. So they come home from school "How was your day?" and they'll say whatever they say or nothing and just keeping your tone at like a peer, it's like, I don't even know if tone is the right word but just, like, your communication style should feel peer to peer.


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: And should look peer to peer but we all know it is not peer to peer.


Casey: Right. Well, what I'm pulling out of it is like it's neutral, neutral and like really pure curiosity. Versus "don't" you know, even and I love that you just said practice on the non-sexual conversation. So I know one of the things that shows up is "How was your day?" "Meh". You know, "Did anything fun happen?" "No"  and I want to be like, "Really? Come on," you know and I probe in there and it's all judgment, right and it's all like, you're not giving me what I want in this conversation that there's all sorts of messages that show up even when I'm not actually really stating the messages.


So the idea that we can receive what they're offering in a way that's just kind of "Hmm..." hold it in neutral and hold it in curiosity I think is such a powerful practice for as they get older and you know, some of you that are listening, you might have, you know, preteens thinking that you're getting ahead of the game here hopefully you've listened to the end.


Amy: Right. Hi?


Casey: Hi.


Amy: Hi, I'm the closer.


Casey: It'll be okay.


Amy: Close to closer.


Casey: But you know, I mean, it's messy and like, this has come up in a couple different interviews to like the messiness is not an indication that you're doing anything wrong, right, the messiness is the teen years.


Amy: Just part of it.


Casey: Yeah it's just part of it. So being available, being open, being able to hold whatever it is that your teen is bringing to you whether it's, you know, experimenting with drugs or, you know, experimenting with any variety of sexual activity, you know, being able to be with them, right, in that so that they know they have you, that you can handle it. That's what I've learned from you know over all the years that I've known you, Amy, is like you want your kids to know that you can handle whatever it is that they're going to bring.


Amy: Yeah, yeah. There's two things we haven't talked about so I think we should talk about them really quickly.


Casey: Okay, tell me. Way to take the lead.


Amy: So the first thing is, yes, sorry, I just was like "Oh, no, we've got to talk about this" so a couple things, so the first thing is this, our kids are really comfortable with different gender people being different genders, different sexualities, difference sexual attraction, this does not appear to faze them very much, so if your child, I mean, there's are rampant, I don't want to call it an infection, girls, 14 year old girls are announcing to their families and sometimes to the grocery store checker that they're bi. This is super common and or they're saying they're asexual or they're pansexual. Someone who's asexual is not interested in sex at all, someone's who's pansexual doesn't care the gender, doesn't care, you know, what parts the person has, they're just attracted to the person's insides and so our kids really get this, not every, not everybody but where we live for sure.


Casey: Well, where you live in Seattle. Well, I mean, I'm a little bit out in the country.


Amy: Right and my guess is thanks to the interwebs-


Casey: True, true, true, true.


Amy: Kids are more open to different kinds of sexuality, it doesn't faze them so much if someone's gay or bi or whatever, they don't really think about that very much so there's that and then there's the gender piece and where kids are saying, you know, I'm not binary, which means that they don't really land in either gender camp, there are kids who are you know experimenting with acting like, looking like the other gender. Or a combination of genders and their gender is very fluid and as a parent, if your child is something other than straight and cis-gender, which means essentially that they are how they feel their identity and how they look matches their private parts. If there are some, if they're queer and your job as a parent is to just accept them for who they are, show up in a way that is connecting, that is kind, that is open that's curious and do your freak out on your own time. Do your freak out on your own time.


Casey: I'm so glad you brought this, thank you.


Amy: Yeah, so really important. So I would just say, in general, expect some, you know, secret. Expect that your kid might, say, tell you that they're gay or bi whatever or they might show up, you know, your son might show up in a skirt at some point and it may freak you out. There's a lot of value issues around this and the more you know about it the better you'll do but the bottom line is you have to keep your cool.


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: And so the other thing that we did not talk about that we have to talk about is porn.


Casey: Porn. It did  come up in a different interview but  we can talk about it, come on. I think I even referenced you.


Amy: I'll give it quick and dirty. So, your kids have seen porn. They've see it unless you live in a lot cabin in the middle of Montana, in the middle of a field and have no cell access and no access to the Internet, they have seen pornography. Most kids, when they see it, they look at it and they're like "OK, I'm done" and some kids look at it and use it a lot. The problem with young people using it, using pornography or being exposed consistently to pornography is that they think that that's what sex is and porn starts in the middle, real sex starts with holding hands, right? So they can get into this thought pattern that this is what sex is, it's also stimulating so they'll masturbate to it and you know, some kids have a real problem with porn over use.


Most kids don't and you need to be ready and you need to, like, the first thing you should do when you're done listening to this is to say "Hey, by the way," and talk about porn. And give them some ideas of what to do if they see it and just say, you know, "If you've been looking at it and you're feeling weird about it, please let me know because I want to make sure you're OK, you feel okay and you're healthy." But my personal belief is that people, children, adolescents should not be looking at porn because it sets them up for really unrealistic expectations. Really unrealistic expectations.


Casey: Yeah well and I think, I love that you're bringing this up and that it's come up and we had another interview and we talked about screens and a variety of things around screens and porn was one of the topics and I think this is so important, you know, and for our boys and our girls and being willing to talk about it, again, being willing to talk about it and I think, also, you know, when it is our kids coming to us saying, "Hey I've been looking at this," you know, like you said, you know. Perhaps you freak out but then you get to come back and say "Sorry about me freaking out, I was surprised to have you say that" and you know, my approach is always "Tell me more about that", especially when I don't know what to say. I'm like, "Tell me more about that."


Amy: That's the best time buyer ever. "Tell me more."


Casey: And typically they're like,  "OK" And then the next thought is "Where is the sand so I can stick my head in it?"


Amy: Yes.


Casey: No, not really but sometimes.


Amy: Buy yes.


Casey: But then it becomes, you know, like, "Well, what's going, you know, what," I mean, without giving too much away, like, there's conversations around, so, you know, "You think about it and then you want to look at it and so how are you going to help yourself? You know, what are some things that are going to help you stay away from it?" Because I've heard you say also it's easier for them to look at porn than it was for us to find it. Like, I remember, I remember slumber parties where the Playboy channel was on but everything was wriggly, it was when we didn't get that channel.


Amy: They can access it at any time.


Casey: At any time.


Amy: At any time, anywhere, at any moment of the day.


Casey: Yeah.


Amy: And which means which leads me to this last thing which is every device your kid can access the internet on needs to have monitoring software on it, monitoring software is not spying, I just had a friend, talked to a friend about this who basically is refusing to put monitoring software on her 14 year old daughter's tablet because she won't like it. Which, yeah, they don't like it but as adolescents, my philosophy is that by the time the kids in the ninth grade, the monitoring software is still there but it's wide open, they can go anywhere they want and they know that you can see what websites they're looking at and so if you see them looking at porn sites, pornhub or something regularly then you can say, "Hey, I noticed this, let's talk about it." And you can block the sites and you can also just block pornography, sometimes that blocks sites that aren't pornographic but it's because sometimes there's some kind of content that makes them think it is and it's a conversation opener. It's safer for your kids and you know, you do not want to be the parent who gets a phone call from school that your kid was looking at porn on their phone and showed another kid.


Casey: Oh no.


Amy: Oh.


Casey: You do not want to be that parent.


Amy: No, it is really not fun and it's mortifying and so if you won't, if that doesn't like, I, parents don't believe me and they're like "Oh, not my kid, not my kid."  And I'm sorry, yes, your kid.Yes your kid and so it's better to be safe upfront than it is to try to rein them back in. Letting leash out is way easier than trying to haul it back in, you know, like, if you've ever fished, it's so much easier to cast than it is to bring the fish in.


Casey: Yeah. So there was like 4 different topics inside of this 45 minute conversation that we could have talked for hours on so you'll be coming back to the podcast, for sure.


Amy: Yeah, I know, it's been a little while.


Casey: It is always a privilege to spend time with you and be in conversation with you, Amy. I adore you. Will you please tell the listeners where they can find you and all of your glorious resourceful work?


Amy: Yes, my website is birdsandbeesandkids.com and I've got tons of resources, there are books suggestions and also a link to my podcast which is called Just Say This and it's a Q and A podcast. What you do is just call up my phone number it's 206-925-1522 and leave me a voicemail with your question and or funny sex talk story and then I'll answer it on the show and so that's, right now, my passion project, I'm really excited about it and I think it'll be really helpful to parents because we need a place to get these kinds of questions answered and I think parents are a little embarrassed but they don't know what to say or how to say it and that's what Just Say This is all about.


Casey: So everyone who's listening who's also thinking "Oh my gosh, what about this question?" and "What about this question?" There you go, Amy just gave you the number to call and and Amy you also have, I love your newsletter.


Amy: Oh, thank you.


Casey: I love your newsletter so get on to Amy's site and sign up for the newsletter, she sends out the perfect scripts, just to give you a little bit more of what you need to head in the direction that is useful to your kids around starting these conversations and I've also heard you say "short and frequent."


Amy: Yes, short and sweet.


Casey: Woohoo. Thank you so much for being in contribution here, I love you.


Amy: Yay, thanks, me too.


Supporting our Teens with Navigating Transitions and Friendships, with Hilary Diouf

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is Hilary Diouf. She is a mother of a teenager and a pre-teen, as a social care worker she has 20 years of experience working with young people and families experiencing difficult situations. She has worked in Ireland, Switzerland and now lives in Canada where she brings her sensitivity of cultural differences to her work with caregivers.


Hillary believes that mistakes are wonderful opportunities for learning and she has had a learning-rich parenting journey herself, you and me both. She uses the knowledge and skills gained through her work with children with behavioral challenges, differently abled people and refugee families and in schools to help caregivers feel capable and confident in finding solutions to challenges they may face. Hi, Hilary, thank you so much for being a part of this parenting summit.


Hilary: Hi Casey and thank you for inviting me. I love the work that you're doing and you know, spreading the tools for a more peaceful world and have for sure, I'm in the messy business of of parenting teens myself so-


Casey: Oh yeah, yeah, well, can you talk a little bit about your experience with parenting in the teen years with positive discipline.


Hilary: Sure, well, Casey, it all started right back when my son was newborn. I think after 3 days I was an exhausted parent despite the fact that I had been qualified as a child care worker and from then I was really looking for skills and tools to help me keep connected through the years and a lot of the skills and tools I came across were very helpful at the time but they seemed to expire as the kids got older they seemed to not be relevant anymore, the kids outgrew them and when it came to positive discipline, I just knew, you know, these were skills that I could keep going back to and tools I could keep using for life and not just with my kids up at the early ages but especially during the the challenging teen years and you know, I also use them in my relationship with my husband, my sisters and friends so, yeah, I'm really glad to have found positive discipline when I did. It's never too late.


Casey: No, it's not and it's funny, I think I mentioned this already in another interview, but you know, we call positive discipline a parenting approach but really, it's a humaning approach, right, it's about human relationships and I really appreciate that about it because why would we want to treat our children any different than we would treat any adults in our lives, right? Like that dignity and respect that exists and positive discipline I think is just so powerful.


Hilary: That's absolutely right, it's the mutual respect.


Casey: Yeah, so we're going to talk about navigating big transitions with our teens, specifically around peers and social groups, we might meander here a little bit here and there in our conversation. You have had some firsthand experience of big transitions, will you share a little bit about that?


Hilary: I sure have, Casey, so not something that we were expecting to do, but as my eldest turned into teen, 13 and we decided to off and move continents from Switzerland across the Atlantic into Canada. So that was a year and a half ago now. So we basically changed schools, neighborhoods, language, culture, the whole works. Yeah, challenging time but we survived it and I think we're better for it.


Casey: I love that we get to talk about this because I am in, our family is considering a move and I have a 13 year old who is not at all happy about it. And so it's really interesting. My 15 year old is like ready to go today, my son not so much and it's been an interesting experience to notice how I, the feelings that are coming up for me. You know, on one hand I feel really strongly about the possibility of a new community. We're not moving continents or even States but it's a significant move and it's coupled with, like, "Oh gosh, what if it's, what if it's the wrong thing to do for him?" and "What if, you know, what if he can't make any friends and what if this is the time of his life that years from now he speaks into like, 'Well, this is when everything started getting really terrible was that move'." Right and so it's been fascinating and I'm just wondering, in your experience, how was that for you as the parent knowing that one, yes, kids are resilient and they're going to be fine and but then living through and I don't know how your kids responded to the move, but living with them, just saying, "I don't want to move, this is so stupid" and really the panic, like the underlying panic that you can feel that energy from your kids.


Hilary: I can so relate to that, Casey. Really, when you mentioned there that, you know, when the kids look back and wonder is this the point in their lives when, you know, their world got turned upside down and I felt, you know, I felt a lot of that. I felt a lot of pressure to make the right choice.


And I kind of forgot that, you know, I'm allowed to make mistakes but I'm also responsible for making the best choices that I can make with the information that I have and that I will always put the interest of my family, you know, first and foremost and sometimes it's hard, you know, you probably know as as well as your listeners know, there's a great phrase in positive discipline that mistakes are marvelous opportunities for learning and I live by that but here I was, making a choice, this is not a mistake that I was about to make but actually a choice that will impact my kids and will, you know, cause them some stress and disturbance and things like that.


So I was very caught up in guilt and fear about how this was going to impact on the kids and part of that I was transmitting to the kids, you know, my own concerns and worries about how I was going to impact them was actually impacting how they were seeing this transition and so I really had to be gentle with myself and say, "Look, if I feel that this is the best thing long term for the family then this is in our best interest and we, you know, we can step into that in the confidence that some things will go well, sometimes we will make mistakes but I'm doing the best I can right now with what I have."


And I know our move was a move of continents, a family move but you know, I also work with a lot of people who are are making the choice that for their families best interest a separation is what is best and that's challenging because again, you're making the choice and you're wondering about the impact on you kids and on the other flipside of that is other families are choosing to blend together with new families and new siblings and a new parent and so these are all choices and you know, I think it's so much easier to make mistakes and learn from them than to actually make choices and allow yourself that room to be doing the best that you can and to acknowledge that you won't always get it right but you will certainly be doing your best at the time.


Casey: Yes and when I can lift up and out of my fear and my guilt and look at, I like to say, like, look at it from a 10,000 foot view, look at the bigger picture, I see, you know, I am, I mean, my little guy, he has a magnetic personality. I mean, I know that he'll do just fine, right and I really start to see that this is really short term discomfort for him.


Hilary: Yes, yes, yes.


Casey: And how it's fascinating, when you think about that and how often I think, because it's like, I mean, I can even feel it in my body right now, just talking about it, just like a little butterfly in my tummy and just that tension in my shoulders and my chest, just like, "ugh" right because we don't want them to be uncomfortable. And it's normal not to want them to be uncomfortable and we know in our heads that discomfort is absolutely the birthplace of resiliency and thinking back to my own experience of changing schools every single go was a new awesome group of friends and I know that everybody's going to be just fine. It's just really fascinating to be, you know, in it versus looking at it.  And I think one of the things that you'll have to share what you, how you supported your kids but you know, it's it's interesting when he gets frustrated and talks about how stupid this idea is, you know, my instinct is to be like, "Let me tell you all the reasons why it would be a better community for us, right, like let me convince you" and that was going nowhere and so what I've started to do is say, "I bet that it feels really crazy to think about a whole new group of friends and you really love your school, it's a brand new building" (which doesn't help our cause) but, you know, just kind of validating that what he's feeling is really normal, that's been helpful for him. What were some of the things you did with your kids?


Casey: Well, it's funny that you mention that, Casey. I did start off with the convincing, you know, giving all of the reasons why I believe that it was going to be a great move for all of us and all of the wonderful things that were going to be available to us there that weren't available to us where we were living and at the end of my very long list and I was so proud of myself that I had written everything and you know, and investigated it, my son just had one simple answer. He said, "But my best friend won't be there" and my heart sank for him and I just, you know, I didn't have an answer for that other than "I know. I'm there with you. I hear you and it's true. You are going to be experiencing some losses."


And you know, sitting with that sadness and listening to those feelings and as hard as it was for me, because as I said, I was dealing with a kind of guilt in my own brain that I was bringing this on, so I needed to know I was doing the best I could so that I could really sit there and listen to him and not take on his struggle but support him in his struggle with the losses that were going to be there and as parents, I think we often feel like we want to protect our kids, you know, we we don't want them to feel the discomfort that you said, results in resiliency but, you know, when our kids are small and they're learning to walk and they're getting bumps and bruises and we say, you know, "It's a part of life. It's a natural part of life and change, that's one thing that we're guaranteed in life." I've had a few moments in my life when I've had the opportunity to change or to stay the same. And I've always, you know, when you think about it, I can't not change.


You can't keep things the same, even if you do stay in the same town, in the same school who's to stop other kids from moving on and moving out or your best friend, neighbors from, you know, buying a new house somewhere new. Change is something that we need to accompany our children in doing, rather than trying to hold back from, so especially in today's world, Casey, where the rate of change just seems to be getting faster and faster and you know, more people are moving further for studies which is something our teens are going to be facing in a few years' time, even if they do stay, you know, in the same elementary schools, middle schools and high schools as their friends. They needs to face change sooner rather than later and having faith, as you said, that they can cope with change and that they will, even if they haven't experienced a big change before, that this is their opportunity to grow those muscles of resilience and adaptability that are so necessary in today's world.


Casey: And a theme that's come up in some of the interviews that I've done for the summit is, you know, specific around the teen years is the individuation process and how, you know, as kids move into adolescence they, you know, they pull away from the family unit and they really move towards peers but also what's happening is they are trying things on, discovering who they are and inside of that, even sometimes it isn't even a big move, sometimes it's simply, you know, a peer group, you know, going from middle school, down here it's middle school to high school and friendships can evolve, peer groups can change. I've definitely seen this with my daughter.


And sometimes they're the instigators of that change, right, sometimes they're the ones that, you know, kind of either outgrow or, you know, find different priorities then the group of kids maybe that had been their core group and and things shift, right, and then, when we look through the lens of belonging and significance which is, you know, the basis of positive discipline and Adlerian theory, how do you feel like, what's been your experience around how that, and not so much the change like, these were my friends and now these are my friends, but that time in the middle, right, what do you say about belonging and significance when it comes to that time in the middle where maybe moving away from one group, not really sure moving towards what group but that kind of place of "Ahh!" For a better word.


Hilary: Exactly. And what's kind of funny, in our own experience, I did move with the kids when they were 3 and one before and because, you know, with family that was their center of their universe it didn't, you know, there was some impact on them. We changed language at that point so, yeah, it was a little bit of a struggle but they looked to us as their parents to be their, you know, their rock. We were their world. But this time, clearly, when you're moving, you know, a teen or teen is moving and changing schools or countries or whatever and they're more looking to their friends, their world is outside the home as well as inside the home and for us, there was a kind of pause in that process where we did get to be the four of us again, we did get to feel that sense of belonging and connection because we were going through this transition together and so it pulled in for a little short while. You know, we were each other's world. We did need to come to each other, that's where things like family meetings and rituals and traditions and really knowing where you belong and internally your own.


I love Jason Mraz's song, 93 Million Miles where he says, you know, your home is inside of you, so actually coming back, you know, at the cusp of these teenage years to actually frittering out, you know, my home is inside of me and my own resilience and my own adaptability and my relationship and my connection with my, you know, my immediate family is a strength on which we can draw and then, you know, as you said, Casey, the individuation process, moving schools or, you know, moving towns or whatever, it's like jumping from a small pond into a big pond.


Like, there is a lot of amazing opportunities to connect with new interests or to develop interests that you didn't have before, to be meeting new people that you choose to be with rather than you've just kind of fallen into each other's paths and so you've created a group and you're actually, you know, openly choosing, you know, what style you like, what music you like, you know, the hobbies and pastimes you like, so for us that was a great opportunity to actually say, you know, "I'm not a child anymore, I am a teen and you know, I have choices and I'm going to be looking to, you know, find places where I connect with other people who like the same things" so it actually, you know, and it helped not to be going blindly into the teen years with the same ole, same ole but actually to say "I have choices around where I want to be and who I want to be with, what I like to do."


Casey: I love that you, I love the part of your story around your family, you know, because you were going through this big transition together, you know, kind of pulled in and strengthened that family unit and it reminded me of a metaphor from the book Untangled and, if anyone is a listener of the podcast who's listening, they've heard me talk about this book Lisa Demoore wrote it and it's a book about teenage girls and one of the metaphors that she uses that I just love is she talks about the swimming pool and that the parents are the structure, we are the pool and the water represents the worlds and our girls but, I would say our teens, right, for this purpose, you know they want to be out in the world swimming around and then they want to come and hold on to the side and take a breather and connect and then, when they're ready to go back out in the world, sometimes it's a little bit of a kick off, so, yeah they can feel like "Ugh."


Hilary: We get splashed.


Casey: Yeah, we get splashed a little bit but I, you know, I just and lately a phrase that's been coming up for me as well in these years you know, my daughter is almost 16 and you know, that the time is, I'm finally feeling like, wow, time is limited here and I'm so grateful for everything that she has navigated thus far because she has had the soft landing that is her family and I just think that regardless of what the current challenge that, when I think about people that are listening and I let you know too that there have been some requests around "Please talk about, you know, navigating relationships with peers and changing friendships" and you know, when we think about our own experience, there are so many places for our kids, you know, to come back to that soft landing and to know, especially in the context of belonging and significance, and I think you highlighted this with your story, when they feel that solid place at home, it's only going to serve them as they're out in the hallways of high school or whatever, you know, out in the world and you know, either navigating a friend turning away from them or them choosing into a different relationship. And, you know, there is no, we can't fix that for them. We just get to support them and love them and I think listening is a big piece here with our kids. It's so hard to watch them hurt. It's so hard when they can't make sense of what's happening with their peers and gosh, we are just full of advice and zip it!


Hilary: Yeah.


Casey: You know, it's really the opportunity to listen. They don't want to hear "Oh, when I was your age or you're going to have so many friends or this is such a small time of your life", all of which, full transparency, I have said out loud to my child. It's not useful.


Hilary: Yes, it isn't useful. You know it kind of reminds me of when I when I feel or worry or concern, I usually tend to, as we know in positive discipline, it's, you know, firm and kind at the same time but when you, you know, when you spark up my fear I'm going to go one way or the other, I'm going to struggle to get the two together. So sometimes we can want to go the firm side of things and want to try and control things so that the outcome is assured. We don't want our kids to be falling in with the wrong friends. We don't want them to be having no friends. We want the exact right number of friends and the exact right friends for them and we can feel like, you know, if we have some element of control in it then the outcome is likely to be better.


Well, the one that this big move has taught me is that I don't have any control because, whereas before I would have known families in the neighborhood and have had background on the kids that were coming to the home and you know, when you know kids from from small you tend to get to know their family and things like that whereas here, I'm out of the picture so the only thing that I can do is get behind my kid.


The only thing I can do is make sure that we're having the conversations about how we feel with those friends, how those friends make us feel, you know, encouraging them to bring the friend over so that, you know, they can create quality time or facilitating that relationship by giving them, you know, rides or or whatever and. you know, there is a level of of trust that has to come from your child's judgment, because I have no idea who these people are.


So the communication and the connection and the openness, you know, with positive discipline the thing that attracted me to it was it's what your child does when you're not around that's what we're working towards. So when we can, you know, connect with our kids, when we can listen to what they're doing and as you said, Casey, you know, not tell them what they should be doing or I'm a really good one for that, actually, you know.


Casey: I knew I liked you.


Hilary:  I have it all sorted out in 5 minutes-


Casey: I mean, yeah.


Hilary: and I'll  tell you what you could have or should have done.


Casey: It's really a gift, don't you think?


Hilary: Oh Gosh, I could have saved myself some heartache if I only listened to my own advice. You know, backing up and trusting that we, you know, we've given our kids the strength to believe in themselves, the strength to question things, I've listened to lots of your talks before and you know, you often come around to saying, well, acknowledging when we've made mistakes and repairing those mistakes and then our kids feel in a better position to come to us and say "Hey, I made a mistake or I misjudged or I'm not comfortable with it and I'm figuring my way out from that" so having that level of openness with our kids in the hopes that they feel that they can be open with us so we can really get behind them and their choices and trust that they can learn from their mistakes because they've gotten this far.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, I really appreciate that trust piece too because, you know, I'm thinking specifically of a couple moms that I have worked with that are part of the community and I and, you know, and back to that it's difficult to be witness when our teens are navigating, you know, either the loss of a friendship or the loss of a peer group or, you know, for whatever reason it's that kind of "on the outs" place and I think that the energy that we bring and kind of going back to what you said at the very beginning around the energy that you brought around the move, I think, even when we're sitting and listening to our teenagers or you know and by listening, I mean listening to what they're saying or simply listening with our bodies to their bodies, like sometimes listening is just a presence.


Because, you know, if we're being fully transparent and honest, our kids aren't necessarily always saying "Oh, let me share exactly what's happening with you right now." Because it's for whatever reasons, you know, even, I mean, I have great relationships with my kids and they don't always want to spill the beans so sometimes it's being with them and being present and I think when we come with that energy of "I fully believe that you're going to be OK," not the words, so everybody that's listening, not saying it out loud, but really believing that, I think there is, there are some unspoken messaging that happens for our kids and that's really big because I think the other the flip side of that is "Oh gosh. What's going on with your friends? Are you OK?" and there's this sense of panic coming from the parent which only fuels and engages that like, "Oh gosh, am I going to be OK? Am I going to live through this?" for our kids so the energy that we bring this matter so much as well.


Hilary: Totally, Casey and to add to that I would say, you know, kids see what we do and not what we say. So when you say you are OK, when, you know, when we are going through a transition at the same time as our kids, as in the case of, you know, a move or a separation, working on that I'm OK part, like I, being, you know, disclosing that your own sadness or your own apprehension or what you're going to miss, the stages of grief, you know, acknowledging those for ourselves and for others and then, you know, making sure that we are OK because often if the whole family is transitioning at the same time, we put all our focus onto the kids and that they're going to be OK and sometimes the parents are clearly not OK.


And the kids are going to look to us to model well, you know, how are you dealing with this? What strategies are you putting in place to reestablish yourself, to settle yourself, to, you know, to help yourself over this transition so I can't emphasize enough, because I made the error that I got fully focused on how my kids were going to transition, that second place was how I was going to transition and I forgot totally that I am the model.


I am the way that they can see how people are transitioning and you know, the strategies that they put into place, so looking after ourselves and being open about our own processes or in the past, if our kid is transitioning and we're not, like, where we experienced that before and how what helped us through it, you know, if they're open to us sharing that with then that's wonderful but even if they're not, just acknowledging some of the ways that we behaved or we responded when we were faced with a transition can help us to realize that the way of responding to it, there are multiple ways so that maybe this behavior or a completely different, what would seem unattached behavior is linked in its core to this transition or the struggle they're having or the, you know, the difficult time that they're having and to be and to recognize that and you know, give a little grace for for those periods but when I mean grace, something that was surprising to me recently, Jane Nelson was saying that in belonging and significance which are the two human needs, that significance is really important, knowing that you have something to contribute and you know, being asked to contribute that is really important for our sense of wellbeing.


So when our kids are going through the struggling, painful times, I have a tendency to lean back into kind. And my version of kind sometimes looks like doing things for my kids that they're capable of doing for themselves and the message that they're getting there from me subconsciously is "I don't think you can handle all of this. I don't think that you're capable of doing everything that you're able to hang on to your norm, the things you do every day and deal with this so I'm pitying you and I'm going to go easy on you" whereas something builds their strength and as you mentioned, their resilience if you say, "No, I know you've got this" and I'm going to maintain the other things that you've already got so, whereas I would take on more tasks or be more lenient or let them more time, for sure I was empathetic, but I quickly learned that having them focus in on what they can already do, and what they are already capable of doing, in the case of a move it's like giving them more responsibility and giving them more tasks and you know, including them in the decision making or you know, discussing even just our strategies, like how as a family are we going to get through this, you know, and still be talking to each other.


Casey: Yeah, because I'm a crazy person in airport, I can't even imagine combining the move with a plane ride.


Hilary: Oh, you know, we thought we really had it worked out until we had like 48 clothes hangers in a suitcase and realized, you know, what are we doing? You know, the kids really learned that they were very, very capable and because they were part of the journey and processing the steps and that feeling of being capable can translate to well, you know, "I'm capable of joining you, I'm capable of integrating into a new school, you know, I have skills and abilities that maybe the soccer team or the swim team or whatever are going to appreciate me bringing." And it helps them to feel their own sense of self worth. It might feel counterintuitive because when the going gets tough, parents often get easier. I do. And I just need to remind myself that, "You know what, you got this, I believe in you, you are capable and even if it is just doing the dishes, it's like, you're still standing and you're still doing the dishes, even though things are tough, you're still, you've still got this, you know."


Casey: Yeah, so your kids are good, they've got their friends.


Hilary: Yes, well, it is a year and a half later, so I still think we're transitioning because my son has just moved from middle school to high school, so it's like "Oh boy, another transition" but you know, you've got this.


Casey: Yeah.


Hilary: You do have this, it takes time, it takes feeling those feelings and working through them. But you've got this in the long term and I have, you know, I have friends in so many countries and speak so many different languages because of the changes and the moves that I made. My life is so much richer for it that, you know, when I changed my attitude from one of "Oh my God, what am I doing to my kids?" to "Look, this is an opportunity and even if I wanted to, I can't pause the world, I can't stop changes from happening so I'm better off helping you to roll with them and build a strength and adaptability that are lifelong skills" and plus having, you know, in our case, several countries we can visit.


Casey: Right? You have places to stay.


Hilary: We have places to stay and people to meet and yet they're growing and learning new things in their new environment here and we're OK.


Casey: I love it, I love it. That's really useful. This is a, side note, I didn't realize how useful this conversation would be to me personally considering what we're coming up towards next summer, so thanks for that.


Hilary: You're so welcome.


Casey: And it's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, Hillary, I'm so glad you were a yes to the summit, thank you so much.


Hilary: Well, thank you for making time for me, I really hope that that you and whatever you decide to do for your family and all the listeners out there, whatever transitions or changes, the opportunities that come your way, you know, yes, you can do it and you will be richer for it, even if we make mistakes, you know, we can, we can roll with life. Life is good.


Casey: So if anyone's listening right now that would like to get in touch with you would you have a website or anything that people can check out to see more of what you're doing in the world?


Hilary: Well, I'm still transitioning myself, like I said. I focus more on the kids than myself but I'm working, there's a website called ByPeacefulWaters.ca and I am working with families helping, particularly separated and blending families but also just any kind of parent, because even if we're transitioning from childhood to teenage years we're ready to go to roll with all of the changes so that's where you can find me for now, but yeah.


Casey: Beautiful.


Hilary: I'm in a bigger pond, looking forward to all that I will be exploring and experiencing here.


Casey: Yay, well, I will make sure that that is available to listeners and just thank so much.


Hilary: Thank you, Casey. Have a good one.


Reframing our Thinking about School and Schooling, with Cathy Kawakami

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is my friend Cathy Kawakami. Cathy is a lead trainer with the Positive Discipline Association and the owner of Middle Ground Parenting based in San Jose, California. She is passionate about sharing positive relationship building skills with schools, families and communities. She has over 10 years of experience offering professional development parent training and specializes in early childhood and parent participation in schools. Hi, Cathy, thanks so much for being part of the summit.  


Cathy: Hi Casey, thanks for having me.


Casey: Can you tell the listeners a little bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years?


Cathy: Sure, I am currently a mother of a 15 year old daughter and an 18 year old daughter, my oldest just turned 18 which has been a whole world of change for us, kind of, and just realization getting to the end of the teen years, but not the end of the parenting years.


Casey: Right.


Cathy: Yes, so, it's, you know, been a journey, I've been fortunate to have found Positive Discipline, you know, early on in my parenting years but it is really paying off in how our relationship is with our daughters now teenagers, for sure.


Casey: So is your oldest a senior?


Cathy: She is, she will be going through the college application stage right now and just. kind of a little bit in that waiting zone so, you know, a lot of the stuff is still very fresh for me, you know, about her schooling and things like is, you know, we're seeing that going to come to its arc as far as the college thing goes.


Cathy:And then your youngest daughter, she, what is a senior in high school now.


Casey: The oldest and the youngest is.


Cathy: My youngest is a freshman.


Casey: Got it. OK.


Cathy: So high schoolers.


Casey: Right, oh man, so when I talk to parents of teens in the Joyful Courage Community, one of the things that comes up and that came up when they I told them about "Hey, I want to do this summit and I want to highlight what the biggest, you know, kind of touch points are for you, school shows up" and there was a lot. It wasn't just, like, homework, it was, like, what you're going through college prep and you know, the traditional model and structure of school versus more alternative settings, the pressure around performance, when to step in, when to let it go and there's just, there's so much ground to cover, right, there are so many different things that show up for parents around school and I think you and I both have, I mean, I'm still, you know, my daughter's only in 10th grade but you and I have both had some similar paths as far as like "Oh this isn't a fit. OK. We'll go the nontraditional route a little bit, here, right?"


Cathy: Yes, both my daughters, you know, even though they're both in high school, they go to two different schools because it was really about finding that right fit and I think you know, personally, as a parent, we have actually had to try a lot of different situations for my older daughter that did, you know, those challenges that we experience when she first got into high school in her freshman year and it was not a good fit immediately. And we had to try another school that didn't work out and then when we got to the thirrd school that was a great fit and has been fine since, but we learned from that experience so when it came time for my younger daughter to go to high school, you know, we had a lot more knowledge, fortunately, that we were able to use to really hone in on what would be the right choice for her and really having that conversation with her. A lot of time her older sister was definitely able to help share some of the things that did not work for her so that I think my younger daughter was definitely able to make more informed decisions and we were all able to work together toward, you know, what our actual was for education.


Casey: Yeah, right and that's, I think, so key, right, what's the actual goal?


Cathy: Yes, I think that is, you know, because sometimes when you're going from the junior high to high school transition they don't totally know and I have my ideas, a lot of my ideas were based on my past experience so it really had to transfer though, you know, what is life like for teenagers now and what is school like?


Casey: Yeah and what do they want?


Cathy: Right.


Casey: Yeah, I mean, that is big for me because when I and I, you know, it's definitely something I've bumped up against and I've talked about it on the podcast and a little bit in other conversations on the summit that, you know, I had this fairytale high school experience I was just, I mean, I'm still really close friends with, you know, a lot of people from high school and we just had the best time and it was totally positive and so I want, I noticed like this longing, I want my kids to have this, like, fantastic high school experience and you know, slogging through freshman year that clearly was not happening and it wasn't really even something that she, it wasn't top of mind for her and so to be able to kind of release and say and she actually demanded, you know, this is not the environment, this is not the experience, I want something different and her conviction was so supportive, which I didn't realize at the time, but in looking back, because I was, like, "What?"


I mean, we were talking before I hit record and I know there's about, you know, there's places in the country where there's not a lot of choice around educational environments, you and I both are on the West Coast and pretty liberal areas where people are doing all sorts of things for education but even then I was like "What? This isn't how it's supposed to look. You're just what?" And letting go of that.


Cathy: It's scary, right?


Casey: Yes, it was like, "Oh my god!" So being able, you know, like, what I'm hearing you say is really opening yourself up to one, is this, really knowing our kids and I think, you know, with our oldest kids it's a process of really getting to know them at a deeper level than we already do because, you know, you just think things are not going to be as hard as they turn out to be.


Cathy: Well, I think it's getting to know them better and I think it's also them getting in touch with themselves a lot better, because during the teenage years, I mean, sometimes they're just a big ball of I don't know and stress and anxiety and they're sometimes even afraid to verbalize what's going on in their heads and sometimes as a parent you're just kind of taking stabs in the dark about what you think will be right for them, but you know for me the fear part of it that I think I really had to work through and not avoid is allowing her to make the mistakes and genuinely figure out "Oh no, this is, I thought I wanted this but this is not what I wanted" but to not be standing there going "I told you so, you should have listened to me."


Casey: Or "You chose this and now you've got to follow through till the end."


Cathy: Exactly, you can't do that because they don't know any more and it's just that actual experience of doing it, giving it a try and then reflecting and saying "No, I don't think this is what I thought it was going to be."  And being a soft landing place, right, have to be that soft landing place to be like "OK, that's OK. You know, there's lots of other options and to just let go of the fact that, you know, in my mind education and what I really really wanted for her is just to be a lifelong learner and I really had to let go and make sure that I wasn't letting actual school get in the way of her education because there is just too much to learn out there in the world and you know, kids and teens today, they are not restricted in the way I was restricted when I was growing up.


Like, you know, education, that only happens in a school and they didn't have the Internet. Now, you know, the kids have access to so much more information, the real key is that they know how to learn and they know how to evaluate information and that they take ownership of their own education, their own learning because those skills will hold them on for life, right, becoming that lifelong learner and it's not like they need to learn it all now, which is a lot of pressure off parents, you know, it's like "Oh no, we only have 12 years, you know, they've only got through 12th grade, they've got to shove all that information in so they can get to college," which is just another 4 or 5 years and then, you know, that's it, all the information they have is in those schooling years, but that's not true anymore. You go back and when you find you don't know something, there are ways to go back and get the education you need and search out different answers and explore different things. So lifelong learning is really what I wanted for my kids to be able to do.


Casey: Well and it's so funny, when you think about, like, I'm 45 years old and I, you know, what I know now versus what I knew fresh out of college? It's like, "Oh yeah" and yet we still, there's this old paradigm, right, there's this old idea, that we're just kind of, it's hard to shake off that you know this 12 years is this key, you know, make it or break it. It's so big and it's, you know, this is something that I've said, you know, this is such a significant time and it's such a non-significant time when you look at the timeline of, you know, life, that 4 years of high school, it's so small.


Cathy: Yes.


Casey: And there are some pretty big impactful things that can, you know, there's, you know, I always hate, I hear my dad's voice all the time, "Well, Casey, we just want" and I've said it to my daughter "We just want you to have as many doors open as possible as you move, you know, on to the next thing" which I get that and our technique of supporting them with that kind of is not always super supportive, right.


So let's talk a little bit about that, like there is this idea, even though we know, or many of us, I think, recognize that how much learning happens outside of the classroom, that the traditional model is very outdated and yet here we send them off and here they go so often into this traditional model of grades and being assessed on their performance and again, we want them, we come from the place of just wanting them to have a good life, wanting them to have opportunity and when we focus on those grades and performance, which is really all we get back from schools, what are the messages that start to show up? Maybe that we don't mean to be giving but that start to show up for kids from their parents around grades and performance?


Cathy: I think we really need to start changing the conversation about kind of opportunities and the pressure because, you know, for a long time our conversation, I mean, you know, we've worked with parents for a long time, offering parenting courses and things like that and the talk is around pressure. It's too much pressure and yet as parents we're kind of pushing those pressures when it comes to this thought about "I have to give them as many opportunities as possible."


Let's start changing the conversation to curiosity and curiosity about, you know, what are the more realistic opportunities they want, because every opportunity under the sun is just overwhelming and not really necessary, because at any given moment kids have interests, right, they have things that they want to explore at that moment and focusing more on individual kids and their emergent kind of learning, what they're interested in at the moment and know that there's value in learning how to learn anything.


Which is different than kind of, "You have to do good at everything," you know, that's the 'inch deep but a mile wide', but that's not as good as in depth learning and if kids are allowed to explore deeply things they are directly interested in, it improves their motivation, their self efficacies, being able to go deeply into that and that part of it, that part of the learning is what is transferable to something else that might later help them. I mean, you know, as far as what they're learning.


Casey: Oh my gosh, Cathy thank you for that reframe.


Cathy: Yeah.


Casey: That was really great, my daughter is also probably going to thank you for that reframe. Because you're totally right, like, I mean it makes sense to me, sitting here right now. Like, of course I want all the opportunities to be available for my kids but right, like they're not going to Harvard.


Cathy: Yes but my daughters told me that, one of the things I just noticed going through this college application process that I am just on the tail end of right now is that, you know, that the schools that when we started investigating that she really wanted to go to for herself were not the schools that I was pressure, pressure, pressuring for to have that opportunity and when I started looking deeper at it I'm like, you know what? You're absolutely, right, it makes no sense for you to apply to this school because A, you have no interest in going there, it's doesn't have anything you want, it's not even the right environment for you, so why are we pushing to make this an opportunity when that's not what you want or need.


Casey: Yeah. I'm like kind of dumbfounded right now. It's so simple and it's been, like, right in front of me and yet I think there's so much conditioning, right, that comes up for us parents. This is absolutely one of those places where I was raised in a family where education was absolutely valued which, you know, great. There's nothing wrong with valuing education but there was definitely personal value tied to performance and personal value tied to, you know, where you went to college and you know, fortunately for me as a teenager I was like "Meh, I''m going to U of A," you know, like, I want to go party, like what's going on? So yeah, but that is, it's like a release. It's like a relief for me to and permission for my kids to yes, like encouraging them, I want them to have interests, I want them to care deeply about learning about what's interesting to them and so yes, thank you for that.


Cathy: And, you know, there are so many amazing schools out there and you know, for me, part of the parental pressure too was "How the heck can I afford this?" Because, you know, that kind of comes into play too but when you really, really start going out there and looking at the different schools and you know, one of the things my daughter learned from her transition from middle school to high school was and this is one of those things where I had to let her make mistakes, because she went to a very small K-8 middle school and in her mind, she wanted a big high school, big experience, you know, I think she thought it was going to be like High School Musical but it was not.


Casey: If only. If only. Oh my gosh I wish it was High School Musical.


Cathy: So, you know, she got into, we said, "OK, if you want to go to a big high school, you know, go for it" and she got there and realized "Wow!" there's, it did not feel connected to her. Her teachers barely knew her name and she was, like, getting lost in the crowd and that's where she immediately clicked in and said "You know what? This is not for me. I think I do better when people know me and I have a small group of close friends and I could build relationships with my teachers."


So when we were able to make that switch, you know, that was a big, big learning there that when it came time to look for colleges, we immediately crossed off any giant college, you know, off our list or, you know, more small liberal arts colleges that kind of went with what she wanted to study, and we focused more on the environment because environment plays a huge role in kind of your whole feeling about school and where you are and your ability to feel safe so that you can learn.


Casey: Totally.


Cathy: And, you know, her feelings about "Do you want to go far away from home? Do you want to be close to home or just somewhere kind of in the middle?" which is what she ended up choosing to apply to but those kind of conversations were so much more helpful in really thinking about college, because it's not just about the school, the name, you know, what, you know, status, things like that. It's much more about "How are you going to operate once  you're there.


Casey: Yeah and schools give out grades.


Cathy: They do, yes and that is one of the things too. So in my children, because I've always had them in alternative schools, they did not receive grades in K through 8 and you know, that was something that I was really pushing for as far as I really just wanted to focus on them and their learning.


My daughter and I, it's interesting, because I just talked to her last night to just really have her reflect with me a little bit on what that meant for her. Once she got into high school and both of them get grades now, right, in high school, what that has meant for them. They both like it now because it keeps them, it gives them feedback on kind of where they are but as long as the grades are kept in perspective of, you know, it's not subjective. It's just more "Did you turn this in? Did you get, you know, these numbers right?" and it makes sense. I think a lot of grading in schools can get out of whack just from the kind of mindset we put around it as as far what teachers are actually grading off.


Casey: Right, right, like, your assignment is late so you get a 0 but that 0 doesn't reflect what you know about the content.


Cathy: Exactly and you're grading on if they just, you know, it was like an all or nothing, there's no room for any flexibility in there on how they did it, what they attempted that should be able to just tell you if they got it all wrong, they turned it in but they got it wrong, that in the teaching there has to be something to go back and help them learn it because that was the point in the first place.


Casey: Right.


Cathy: Not about the grade, but in a lot of schools it kind of gets a little stuck there and it becomes this whole discouraging thing for students as well. So really, the way grades are given and the purpose of them, I think that's something for parents to look at as well when they're trying to support their child in school. What does a grade mean and is the teacher working with you? Is it about the learning?  


Casey: Yeah, it's interesting, you know, all through, I mean, the kids in elementary up here, they get numbers, right, whatever and then middle school were like "real grades" and but both my kids through elementary and middle well, Ian's only halfway through middle school but there, they've just, it's always been, you know, all fours, all A's, like, I very, you know and I'm thinking, you know, I'm so, I just totally let go, like, it's just fine, they can do how they need to do and you know, because I came from this really hyper family around G.P.A. and grades and like my car was tied to my G.P.A. in high school, so of course I had to have a 3.0 So guess what I got?


Cathy: Okay.


Casey: A 3.0 and I figured out, like, well 2 C's counteracted by 2 A's, there you go, 3.0. So, you know, what was the learning there?


Cathy: Gaming the system.


Casey: Yeah, totally, which hey, resourceful. Lifeskill. But then as, you know, high school rolled around and grades started to shift, I really had the opportunity to recognize how much of my conditioning existed and like, "Oh my gosh, yes, there is this, like, what is this C?" You know, and I'm hearing you, like, It is, what do they know? Like, right now my daughter's struggling with Algebra 2, which she's in online school and elected to learn Algebra 2 in that kind of forum, like, of course, oh my gosh, to not be able to walk up to a teacher and have a conversation and sit down together and look at the same piece of paper? Anyway.


Cathy: Yeah.


Casey: You know and so we have conversations, you know, and what I say to her is how, you know, "Do you feel like you understand the content because this is an indication to me and this is just getting me curious, when it's a C, it just makes me curious to if you understand. I just want to know that you understand." So it's feels really slippery, like even as I'm saying it out loud, I'm like "Oh God" I mean, how do we both back up, how do we back off? How do we back off, Cathy, while also encouraging them to get straight A's? Like. Just kidding, just kidding.


Cathy: Maybe the question is-


Casey: Yes, reframe.


Cathy: What help do you need to learn this concept?


Casey: Yeah.


Cathy: What would help you, maybe it's, you know and for sure for me in math, that was not my strongest suit, so there became a time very early on where I couldn't help my kids with math because I didn't get it and there were many new ways that they're learning it now. But since I couldn't be the most helpful one there, I asked my kids, what do you need? What would help you to get this concept?


Maybe it's, you know, finding an extra tutor, maybe it's setting up, you know, an online school which both of my kids did at certain times as well, it was finding an online resource that they could go to that just really broke it apart for them and opening them up to, you know, other avenues where they can go to get help and that became a strategy, that became one of their strategies on "It's not that I'm getting a C in this and it's just really hard for me, instead of focusing on that, where, like, that's just where you are, what do you need to get to the next step and being open to exploring anything that could help you get that and sometimes it was literally just time. It was like they just did not have the capability to get that at this moment. They had to let it rest a little bit so the C was just  a representative of where they were then, that doesn't mean that's where they are always going to be.


Casey: Yeah and you know, I'm just, of course, thinking about my own experience and so one of the things that Rowan said was, she e-mailed, you know, I encourager her to just email her teacher and let her teacher know that she was aware of where she was at and you know and ask for help, right and I'm, as I'm thinking, like, that's way more important to me, her being willing to advocate for herself and you know, ask for help and the follow through, like, I'm not really getting this, like, when I think, when I project into the future when one day she has a job and perhaps one of her tasks is something that she just is missing information on or whatever, for her to be willing to say "Oof, what's going on here, I'm going to need to ask for some help around this or a reframe." I think that that's a really important skill that they only learn if they get to practice it.


Cathy: Yes and collaboration, I mean, if you look at, you know, some of the more progressive schools and the way they teach, it's a lot more hands on, a lot more project based and a lot of collaboration in how they do things and you know that collaboration to be done online or in person, you know, all those different mixes of how they do it but it involves more of a showing what you know and contributing because when you work together with somebody else and have that, you know, that back and forth going on, you learn from them and they learn from you and it becomes an synergistic.


Like, you're actually amping up your learning versus what you could do alone in your own bubble. And so that collaboration skill is just one of the one of the big skills that kids are going to need to learn and so valuing that in how your kids are progressing, I think, is is another way that parents can really just look at the big picture.


They need to step back sometimes and look at the whole big picture of what people learn because that was really a hard skill for my daughter, both of them, to learn because they were definitely more in the shy and quiet side but having that smaller environment where they felt safe enough to go to other adults or to approach their teachers, that systemic practice of doing that, it paid off later on.  It did and is still paying now and that was something they have to work through and they could do it pretty well as teenagers.


Casey: This is such a useful conversation both for me personally but also, I know that people are listening and taking notes here and I think that, you know, I just want to acknowledge that it is a tall order, everyone who's listening, I fully recognize that it is not so, it's not easy but it's important to have this mindset shift. Right and I just want to acknowledge that everything we've been raised with, right and that conditioning is still going to exist, it's still going to rear its head, it's still going to kind of tap on our shoulders and we get to come back to "Well, wait a minute, right, what is the, what is that, what is the long term goal, what it is that I want most for my kids and what is it that my kids want most?" Right, so we can recognize when it's like "Oh God, I am not excited by this report card."


Cathy: I think parents need to really, and I think parents today can really start thinking about the skills that they themselves are using in their adult lives, so their working world or whatever kind of skills that they need now and see that bigger picture and to also recognize that schools and education, it has been, it's kind of a hard thing to shift around, however-


Casey; Slow institution.


Cathy: Yes, however, as a person who, you know, I do a lot of training with schools, most of my positive discipline work is working with schools and schools in a lot of different places and the good news is I see, I do see major shifts and I see opportunities, I see new things cropping up that are, you know, taking all of these things we've been talking about into account. I think the challenge for parents is to not be afraid to try something new. Because it's really that fear, because what starts to set in in your mind is, "This is one of those things I can't take a chance on? This is too important".


And it's fear that I'm going to go the safe route, when in fact that's what makes school and education so hard to shift. It's not that there's not opportunities out there, it's that people are afraid to have that appropriate risk taking, that try it and give it a chance and see what fits for your child.


Casey: Yeah. That was definitely has been my experience the last 4 months when we started online, I was like "What is this?" And she was struggling and it was, well it was the learning curve, first of all on the technology but also this realization, like, this is kind of a lonely route in, you know, there were tears and it was like, "How long are we going to give it?" and you know and now there's rhythm, I mean, she's still like "Meh, school" but there's a rhythm, it's, I feel 100 percent confident today, the beginning of December, this was the right move for her and that feels great.


Cathy: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, my kids, like I said, we tried the all online school, and we tried the all in class school and then we even found a hybrid, a hybrid that's kind of more individualized learning that uses online school but you're actually in a school. So all of these different things exist and you know, if you find out and it's not even that it is or isn't working but if at some point you just want to shift, know that there are options out there and don't be afraid to try them.


Casey: And everyone that's in the states that's listening, K12 is the online school program that we're using and it's a national program and then each state has their own kind of, I don't know if they call them districts or whatever, but F Y I. So curiosity, which you've already mentioned and relationship, those two things have definitely, are definitely rising to the surface in this summit as themes, right.


Cathy: Yes.


Casey: In all the interviews and you know, I think that it's kind of chicken and the egg, right, especially when it comes to grades, whatever, performance, now I'm like "Don't say grades." But you know, like, if we're going to be curious with our kids, if we're going to ask questions, like, you know, "Tell me about what's happening in Algebra 2 or you know, where do you need support, where, you know, what are you learning?"


Whatever our questions are, it's a very different conversation with kids that we, with our teens who are feeling of a solid sense of connection, who are feeling like it's an environment of non judgment, who are feeling safe to really express what's happening for them, it's a different conversation when you're having this conversation with a teenager who's already discouraged inside of the relationship, inside of the home, so can we just talk a little bit because I know there's people listening who, like, who are like, yeah, I mean, we, I could go and ask my teen what's happening and they're just, they just keep shutting me out.


So what are some ideas or some really practical things that we can share with parents who are really at the beginning of this journey, not so much the beginning of the journey, like their kids are 13 but really recognizing that under the surface of, you know, performance and grades and whatever involvement in the school environment is this deeper relationship situation happening? What's a baby step that they could take to start nurturing the environment so that they can be having these curious conversations with their kids?


Cathy: It's a really hard balance for teenagers because, you know, they do go through this period where they just really need a lot of privacy as well and so I know, as a parent, you know, I went through this and sort of I'm still going through this frustrating stage where they just really don't want to share with me and they find all my questions irritating.


Casey: You too?


Cathy: I get really short answers and kind of eye rolls and things like that. That is part of life of raising a teenager, and they do, it doesn't mean they're not hearing us, doesn't mean they're not listening, but it just sometimes means they just don't really want to have a long conversation about this. So I take a lot of things into account when I do this. I think about the times at which they are most likely to talk to me and I make sure my timing is right. For me, that is the car. I have to say I get the, they sometimes throw these hard random questions to me when they're sitting in the back of the car and we don't have eye contact and there's music playing and it's kind of like they know that I have to pay attention to my driving so I'm going to give them the short kind of answer that they need and they can ask questions and get an answer but it's not to be too much of an answer.


Casey: Right.


Cathy: So it's more of a surface question but we do have it for a length of time sometimes so I think timing is important when adults ask questions. I also think that, you know, sometimes it's just about paying attention to what they're actually doing. So for me, I have also tried to step back a little more. I'm curious more in my own head than I am about having a conversation so what that might mean is I am having, you know, I pay attention when they show me what they know.


Which means that sometimes my daughter might come to me and have a question or want to show me something that's like a video she's done to show, a lot of times when they do their final project they have a number of different ways they show what they learned and sometimes it's a piece of art, sometimes it's a video, sometimes as they put together our point and when I just get the opportunity to watch the final product, right.


I could see all the steps and think about all the things that went into producing that and making that and when she does that enough, which again, it comes kind of rarely, not all the steps along the way, but when she's willing to share something that she felt proud of when she was finally done, I have to just stand back, admire that journey and also say, "You know, wow, I can see you put a lot of hard work into this," you know, no judgment, no blame, no "hey, could you improve this" or "hey, you can make that a little better." It's just stop, shut up and just admire the journey that they went to when they're willing to share something.


Casey: Oh, that's huge. I remember being a teenager and my dad would read my essays and you know, back in the day when you hand wrote everything and he would literally go through and be like,"You should change this" on my paper-


Cathy: With red marker?


Casey: Oh yeah, and finally, I remember I would do two or two and finally I was like, "Dad, I am not going to show this to you. I am turning it in as it is, like back off, man."


Cathy: Yes!


Casey: And I think that that's so valuable what you just said because process is so important and one of the things that I'm seeing too is the way that my kids are, the way that my teenagers are responding to feedback, however that feedback looks, you know, my son is in 7th grade but he's in 9th grade, he's in algebra and it's hard and there's homework and he's so irritated by it all, because it's, you know, I mean, I don't know what this says about the schools but this is the first time anything's been very challenging for him and he just gets all up in his head and I'm like "Hey, babe, this is high school math, like this is how it feels to be really challenged and pushed."


And so any time he sits down and spends a significant amount of time doing homework without, like, falling apart about it I celebrate and same with, you know, my daughter as far as like getting the feedback and struggling in a class but having this really, like, connected, it just doesn't send her over the edge and that is exciting to me, is that she can navigate and not like, not in a way where it's "Oh, I don't really care," right, it's really like, "Yeah, darn it, you know, I could have done better or I'm not really getting this and it's not like "I am bad at this," which we've been there and and it's like, that's growth.


Cathy: And it's not about me because, you know, there's that tendency for me, I want to jump in, I want to fix it, I want to rescue and I need to step back and allow them to go through that process because that is the learning, right? Learning is hard, it is challenging. And so I have to fight my own urge and realisation that, you know, at this stage of the game, this adolescence and teen years, that's not what they need for me anymore.


Casey: Yeah.


Cathy: They need something different, they need me to stand back and not, especially the "Oh, you know, fix this or trying to improve it." I have to value that process.


Casey: Yeah.


Cathy: It is hard.


Casey: And I think it's all like, I feel like we've come now full circle, right, because this question of "So when do we step in, when do we step out?" and I think it's a really awesome place for parents to pause and think, which, let's be honest, not all of us are very good at this.


Cathy: Right.


Casey: Pause and think, "Why am I? What is this urge to step in here? What is it? Where is it coming from? Is it that old that mentality of I just want all these doors to stay open? I just want good evaluation, I just," like what is the drive?


Cathy: Or am I parenting in public?


Casey: Right!


Cathy:  Am I worried about what everyone else will say about me or my kid or if I can't brag about my kid.


Casey: Oh my god, I had to just throw that out the window last year. I say, if you make me, you help me to be a very good parenting coach, so thank you.


Cathy: That's right.


Casey: To speak from all the experiences. Yeah, absolutely and I, you know, I'm guessing there are pockets in the world where that, you know, how does my child's accomplishments reflect on me are more heavy than other pockets of the country?


Cathy: Yes and I definitely, I've gone to a lot of different places and that is actually something to take into account is kind of the culture and then we talk about environment earlier. There are some counties at which those grades are actually kind of a life and death importance in that there are so few higher educational opportunities that only the very few can get into like a college or university and it is all dependent on grades and test scores so there is a lot more pressure, simply because there are not so many opportunities available. When we talk about here in the U.S., you know, there are a lot more opportunities available, that doesn't always hold true for other places.


Casey: Right and stress is toxic.


Cathy: Yes. It is toxic and it is, it's just, again, going for that long term, what we want in the long term because all this pressure for any of us, I think, as adults when we go back and look at the pressure that we felt during those high school years and it's not even just the pressure or the grades but, I mean, all that social anxiety stuff that I know that was a real one for me.


Casey: Yeah.


Cathy: Yeah, that I just did not feel comfortable or safe throughout most of high school and it was hard for me to find, you know, an outlet. Fortunately, I played sports a lot so that helped me with that but there's just, school has change and as adults kind of working with our own children, we have to recognize where those changes have taken place and again, focus on our long term goal.


Casey: So I'm thinking about, I have, like, the parents that I work with, the parents in the community in my ear right now and it's so funny because I'm being pulled to totally "Yeah but" right now and  I get it but it's like, you know, the whole purpose of the summit is I want to offer some really practical, because I think that, you know, we were talking before, I don't feel like there's a lot of really whole, like, holistic resources for parents of teens because it just feels crazy, kind of par for the course, it's like having toddlers and you know, I know that there is that, "yeah, but how do I, you know, when they just don't care about homework or they just don't care" or like, even as I say that out loud, Kathy, I'm thinking to myself that "it's not a homework issue."


Cathy: Right. You know, here's what it is.


Casey: We think it is, we think it is, right? Iceberg. We think it's a homework issue. We think it's a motivation issue but where is the shift?


Cathy: Where is the conversation shift? I think what has helped me, and it probably started when, maybe started for me with my kids about 14, 15 and it's still kind of ongoing, is helping them, be that coach, that person that they can collaborate with to start to visualize their future and what is it that they want and sometimes my question is just so, you know, like, what's your plan to support yourself, you know, once you get done with high school?


Because part of it is, I could also decide what I wanted to do and part of my way of encouraging college and that ongoing education to make sure that we kind of live up to my family values and this is what my parents did for me too is, you know, you don't have to go to college if that's not for you, however, if you're going to keep living in the house, there will be some rent to pay and some food to pay for and so you know, what's your plan? What's your plan there as far as how you're going to support yourself and contribute here, you know? We're here to support you and you have to be doing something to figure out what your next steps are to operate on your own, to be out of the house, to be independent.


I can understand if that's not school, we hope it is because that's something that we value, however we're open to your ideas and you know, I'm going to have faith and trust you that you're going to explore different paths. Doing that early is helpful so that you can start to figure out what's going to work for you, but know that that is kind of how I'm going to have some boundaries around it as well. It's not going to be a never ending live at home and be rent free. That's not how it's going to work here.


Casey: Yeah, I so appreciate that curiosity and it reminds me of one of the other conversations that I had, I can't remember, there's been a lot now but where, you know, we have this challenge, writing "problem" or "challenge" and there's the visual of here I am, the parent and across from me is the child and in the middle is this challenge and how that feels versus sitting side by side and that's what I'm, that's what's coming to mind as I hear you in this conversation and kind of both of us, like, looking at this challenge and it's not about the dynamic between parent and child, it's more about, like, it's just, it's, I don't even, like, what are the words I'm looking for, it's just like, it's collaboration and it's support and it's unconditional love but it's also like, "Here's what we're looking at."


Cathy: Yeah, kind of like the copilot scenario, right, flames are flying over, we're looking around this whole mountain thing that we've got to get through, it's like "What's your plan? What's your plan?"


Casey: I plan not to crash into the mountain.


Cathy: We need to know what each other is going to do, we're not going to abandon each other but you've got to have a vision on it and think about it.


Casey: Yeah, so I'm looking at the time and I'm thinking, there's so much more, is there anything else that you would like to share on this topic, Cathy that didn't come up?


Cathy: You know, I think the teen years and really parenting and school stuff through the teen years, you have to always look at these as an opportunity. It's an opportunity just have kind of some new challenges to work through with your kids. I mean, parents, when I work with parents of preschoolers and then, you know, young children and adolescents, like, you know, there's always something to go through through the years.


It's been like this rollercoaster, right, of ups and downs and I think the good thing about having a teenager is that, you know, she's really focused on that relationship piece. Having a teenager where they can are making a lot of their own choices and you're starting to let go a little bit more, there is a beauty to it to be able to see it all kind of coming together, it really is and I have to say my relationship with my daughters as they become older has been one where I've had the opportunity to practice a lot of trust with them and you know, we're just, we're, you know, it's not perfect but I know I'm not experiencing some of the kind of really, really difficult stuff where that sometimes happens when I didn't have that foundation of relationship. So I think at any point when you can start to make sure you focus on that, that goes a long long way to all of this stuff.


Casey: And I just want to say, because relationship has come up in just about every interview, well, every interview is and this is directly to you that are listening, is also, check yourself when you are attached to what that relationship looks like because if you are holding relationship as being your teenagers want to tell you everything and share their darkest emotions and deepest, you know, then you're going to start to judge the relationship that you do have. To me, relationship is "Can we be really authentic with each other? Can we, you know, is this, is this a surface thing or is this something where we're really willing to be vulnerable and willing to connect? And it doesn't always look like, you know, an all the time constant thing. I mean, I don't know if I'm doing justice with what I'm trying to point out right now.


Cathy: I think you hit it on the head in that it does shift over time. And it can't be a totally interdependent kind of thing because that's also more on the enabling side, it has to be more of an empowering relationship.


Casey: And some of us just have temperaments that are not necessarily, that don't look like, you know, I think that, yeah, this is probably a whole other interview that I should do but you know, like, temperament shows up here too and because I'm thinking specifically of some lovely mothers that I've worked with who are raising teenage boys and it's like, it feels really challenging to get them to open up and be connected and all those things, I think there's girls too that are like this, so I just want to throw out some encouragement to parents, like, recognize when you are attached to what relationship looks like and just really celebrate any time that you know that that opening shows up and I loved what you said about timing and just take advantage of those moments and celebrate. Celebrate when they arrived for you. So great to be in conversation with you, Cathy.


Cathy: I really had fun being here, Casey, and talking to you and I hope this has been helpful to everybody.


Casey: Oh yeah. If there are parents listening who would like to get in touch with you where can they can they find you?


Cathy: I'm based in San Jose, California. You can look for me at Middlegroundparenting.com, that's my website. I offer classes for parents and work with a lot of schools and offer a lot of early childhood education training as well, so, look me up.


Casey: Great, thank you so much!


Cathy: Thank you, Casey.


Anxiety, Depression and our Teens, with Noha Alshugairi

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is Noha Alshugairi. Noha is currently a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Newport Beach, California. In addition she is a positive discipline lead trainer. Noha strongly believes that a nurturing, empowering adult-child relationship is at the core of a strong community. She has become an advocate of parenting classes and teacher trainings focused on connection and encouragement. While her philosophy is grounded in Islam, she has found in positive discipline a practical down to earth method to teach this philosophy. Since becoming a P.D. trainer in 2008. She facilitated several school wide trainings and conducted many parenting workshops. Hi, Noha,  I am thrilled to have you on the parenting teens with P.D. audio summit.


Noha:  Hi, Casey, it is such an honor and a privilege to be working with you in this segment. I'm very, very grateful because I think it's so important. Thank you.


Casey: Yes, can you tell the listeners about your experiencing with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Noha:  When I was reading your question the first thing that came to my mind was that positive discipline actually saved my life during the teen years. I had started implementing P.D. principles but not as PD but more of like Adlerian Principles which is the core foundation of positive discipline earlier, with my kids, so when it came to the teen years I discovered, to my really, you know, utmost pleasure and delight, that the teen years were not as difficult for me as it was for other parents around me. It's a blessing and I really give credit to my shift in focus and parenting from a focus of control and focus of "I am the one who has to fix everything and what I do, I'm going to mold them and I'm going to shape them, it's all up to me 100 percent."


But after being introduced to the Adlerian principles I was able to shift to a really seeing my kids as their own individual beings and that they have their own personal journeys and they are not necessarily, you know, going to think or feel or behave exactly the way I want them to and that was extremely helpful for me and such a relief for me while they were going through their teen years to accept different things from them and not, you know, panic or not think of myself as having failed or haven't done, you know, my job so I'm very, very grateful to having shifted before they hit the teen years and implemented some foundational pieces before hitting the teen years. It really saved me, saved our family I think. And ultimately, it actually established the core foundation and the core connection between me and my children, which empowered me to later on dealing with more difficulties that, after all, you know, after the teen years.


Casey:  What's coming up for me as I listen to you is the difference between the experience that our teens have of the teen years but then our experience of their experience. So what I'm hearing you speak into, it just reminds me how there's the challenges and you know, the mischief and the behaviors that show up when our kids are teenagers but then there's also our response to that and how, what I'm hearing you say is, positive discipline and Adlerian philosophy really supported you in your experience of their experience.


Noha: 100 percent and not only that, if I can add a piece to that and also because my response, if you will, was more intentional and was more responsible and was more tamed then the mischief that usually happens or we we say happens a lot in the teen years, actually it wasn't a lot because they were able to receive from me that I see them as their own individual persons and that they have a right to different opinions and behaviors and so on and then we were able to work and collaborate together on something that, you know, maybe would not be 100 percent what I want but it would be more of a compromise between me and them.


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: It's really, it's really a beautiful experience and my co-author Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine in the book the Positive Parenting in the Muslim Home she, her her kids right now are teenagers so she's going through this phase right now and she is experiencing also, because of the shift, that she has also gone through this really beautiful synergy that's going on in the household right now because of all that foundation that was established earlier and I just want to say here, because sometimes when people listen to me or when Munira speak like this then they go like, "Oh, we haven't established this foundation, is it too late for us right now?" and I always say, "It's never ever too late at all."


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: One has to begin with where they are at and just focus on moving forward and being hopeful.


Casey: Yeah, yes, thank you for that. The topic that we're going to talk about today is mental health and specifically anxiety and depression in our teens and I reached out to you, just a little back story for everybody that's listening, I reached out to Noha earlier this fall and shared about the podcast that I released where I discussed navigating my own daughter's anxiety and depression and you just shared such a thoughtful response with me and really encouraged me that you would be an excellent guest for this particular interview and as I talked and really dove into my own parents of teenagers community and asked, you know, what would be useful, what are some topics that you'd like to hear discussed on this audio summit, anxiety and depression came up.


Also when I released that show, I think it was in September or October of 2018, the response I got from people who just really came out of nowhere saying "This is my story, you're sharing my story, thank you so much" so there, you know, when you look in the news, and you hear everywhere that teen, you know, depression and anxiety is on the rise. So I'm really excited to tease this apart with you but before we dive in, can you share a little bit about your own personal experience with navigating mental health with your own kids.


Noha: Absolutely, so, I mean, as you introduced me to your guest I am a marriage and family therapist so sometimes people assume that people who are experts, supposedly experts, in quotation marks, OK, in an area that nothing wrong happens in their lives pertaining to their expertise. Everything is going to be perfect in their life pertaining to their expertise and that's not the case. And it's very simply because we're actually very complex human beings, so we really, really don't have, we have some control but not, you know, all control, anyway so what happened was my youngest, who's in her teen years, was really a high achiever, I mean, beyond high achiever in her school. And she was this vibrant and passionate, you know, young woman who was always zealous about her projects and doing things and so and so and she got accepted into Stanford which was a big deal in her university, especially nowadays, and I am going to emphasize this because the culture we're living in now and this is influencing the uptick in depression and so it's across all demographics, across all age groups but especially in young people.


So there is a huge competition going on within the high schoolers, you know, world about, you know, which school you're going to go to and where are you going to be accepted and majors and so on. So anyway, it was a big deal that she was accepted to Stanford. She was, I think, one of only two from all of her high school accepted into Stanford. Anyway, very happy, excited, we worked out the plan on how we're going to cover the expenses because Stanford, as you know, is very expensive. So she's off to college, she's very excited, happy, starting a new phase and so on.


And then I started noticing in my conversations with her, you know, some, what shall I say, some disappointment in herself in terms of, like, she started beginning to compare herself to her peers and noticing that they are doing much more than she's doing and they're able to handle it. She's not able to like they are and she's wondering why isn't she able to do that, you know? I didn't really take it very seriously because I was like "OK, this is normal, it's a transition. She's moving from one, you know, environment to other and so on" The red flag for me was that she did not overcome this transition. She actually continued for the next two years to struggle with the feeling of feeling overwhelmed, lack of concentration sometimes, her sleeping patterns began to change.


She would, you know, oversleep in the morning and she would miss, you know, her first lectures and so on and so slowly I started saying, you know, "I think, you know, darling, you really need to go and do some some therapy" and she's like, "No, no, I can manage it and I'm OK." You know, I did not push because it's something she has to do. I cannot force her to go to therapy. Ultimately. I think, one time she was visiting us for spring break and she broke down and she started crying and she's saying "Mom, I'm not feeling very good. I'm just, I just don't feel good" and that's when we, you know, we looked online we found the psychiatrist and I booked an appointment for her and she goes back to college.


So she sees the psychiatrist I think at least the semester but the next semester, she's still not feeling good and then one day, she calls me and just my gut feeling, and I'm going to emphasize this for all parents, we parents have gut feelings and we need, we really, really need to trust them because we are the parents and there is something we can't explain by logic, really, you cannot explain logically but you just feel it. So my gut feeling and I have no idea how I said it or why, I said, "Darling, I think you need to come home." So this is in the middle of the semester. This is not, you know, like, you know, we have vacation or anything and I was flabbergasted that she responded, "Yes, I think I need to come home" and the next day she came back home immediately and we were, I was thinking she was coming for a week, you know, just to get her grounding and then she's going back to school. It was, you know, in the beginning of the semester. It was February, I remember. Anyway so she comes and then she says, "Mom, I think I need to drop out of school."


So I just, I didn't get angry, did not get upset. I, my action was, "I'm actually actually very proud of you that you are recognizing what you need to do to take care of yourself and I'm very grateful that you are taking care of yourself, meaning coming back to your home base." To me, it was a huge compliment that she found her grounding in our house. You know and and that's what you do too. She dropped out of school. She did not go back to school until now. So now, it's been, I think, maybe 3-4 years, I don't remember exactly but then what we did is she came back, you know, I gave her a few, couple of weeks to just unwind, figure herself so on and then we said, "You know, you really need to be productive, so you need to work so you can support yourself."


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: And I want to emphasize this point, I'm sure she didn't like that but she understood because of the foundation that we had established early on in terms of like, you need to be responsible for your life. So it wasn't a shock for her when we said "You need to work." It was something that is, you know, the same thing she heard before in her life. So this is important because sometimes, some parents when kids are struggling with depression and anxiety then they say, "OK, now, we know need to actually get them off and we don't need to ask them for anything" and that's the worst thing we can do.


Casey: Right.


Noha: So she is a productive human being. Right now she is working to support herself. She has not decided to go back to, I personally, as a parent, I'm waiting for the day that she calls me and says "Mom I decided to go back to school" because I think it, to me, education is very important but she, for us, she's not in that particular vision right now, which is fine.


Casey: Right.


Noha: As long as she is responsible for herself, I'm perfectly fine.


Casey: Noha, thank you so much for sharing that. I mean, I feel like parts of that story gave me kind of this pressure in my chest and little tears in my eyes because I mean, all I can think of is what a gift, you know, back to that conversation about your response, you know and recognizing, you know, what she needed and letting go of, you know, I'm thinking about my own experience as a teen and a college student and this idea of "Well, you have to finish, like, you have to do this" and the flip side is "You're ruining your life" and to not put any kind, which I don't believe, and but there was this expectation of, you know, no matter what is happening, you, you just have to finish this one, this "one thing" and so like and you had said in your, you know, at the very beginning about their personal journeys and I'm really hearing the way that you could recognize, there's, you know, there's the journey that you're on as the parent but there's, you know, it is separate from your daughter's journey and she's going to, you know, she's going to figure it out.


Noha: Exactly and I think it brings a lot of solace and relief for parents when they can actually conceptualize that separation and see it and believe in it. It's, I think, it's a very fundamental for our ability to empower our children, to be influential in their lives, to be able to guide them, you know, and help them and support them.


Casey: Yeah and it really allows for the message of, you know, we can say, we can use the language of, you know, "your life is yours and your decisions affect your life," we can use that language and I think parents do and how are we actually in action around that because when we're all hung up on, you know, "Why are you doing that?" and I think that there's some mixed messaging that shows up for parents too in their action versus what they're saying and I'm even, like, thinking to myself about, you know, my own, you know, that my own messiness around that, so I really appreciate that and when we were exchanging emails a few months ago, you mentioned, I loved your response, by the way, you mentioned two social changes that you believe are influencing the increased rate of depression and anxiety in youth and you know and this is inside the context, under the umbrella of just, like, culture in general right now, that is playing such a huge role but even beyond that or inside of that, that there's, you know, this phenomenon of parents who love and protect their children from life from a very young age, so there's that factor and then this social narrative that is focused on happiness.


So we're going to start first with the first one. So can you tease apart what you mean by parents who love and protect their children from life at a very, from a very young age, what does that mean to you?


Noha: OK, so I think the first time I was introduced to this concept was actually reading a book by Jane Nelson and Cheryl Erwin that actually is titled Parents Who Love Too Much and I don't think it's in print right now.


Casey: I think I have a copy of that maybe I'll read it too.


Noha: Yeah, so I just, I just really loved how they framed it, that and it's very important to frame it and I always say the sentence that parents love their children too much and sometimes this love can harm rather than actually empower and you know and you know, create a pathway of growth. It actually can suffocate and smother children and I'm seeing this nowadays and it's part of the cultural thing that we're experiencing right now and there's so many factors, it's very complicated but we'll just maybe touch on some.


So for example, my own opinion is that helicopter parenting is basically parents who love too much and they are smothering their children, they're not allowing them to do things on their own, to the degree that in the last, you know, few years, we started hearing about colleges establishing positions just to deal with the parents. Whereas before, it used to be the young man or the young woman they would handle their own college application on their own, they will communicate with the college, they knew that this was their responsibility but now with the helicopter parenting that's going on right now, you have parents who are actually interjecting and actually taking on that role, which leaves these young people believing that they are incapable, that they cannot do things, they cannot survive on their own and they need their parents or someone else there to actually be there all the time.


So this is one, you know, one kind of piece. The other piece is it's all about love. I think it has to do with living a life of ease and I'm not talking here about being rich or poor but I'm talking about our life in general is, especially in the US, is concerned, relatively speaking, an easy life. I mean, we're not struggling, for example to get water from the well or we're not worrying about electricity being cut, it's a life of ease so there is lots of, if you will, time on our hands as parents that we feel we have to dedicate to our children, meaning we're going to do more stuff for our children than we need to just because we have time and we're not worrying about, you know, other major, major things. That's one piece.


Another piece and I am praying no one will misunderstand me when I say this, there is a push in the last, you know, I would say 10-15 year, towards what people are calling attachment parenting. And attachment theory by itself is an extremely critical and foundational piece of psychology and counseling, so there is no questioning the understanding that every child needs to have a secure attachment to a caregiver. My issue is, with the over extension of that theory so that it becomes more of the helicopter parenting that we're seeing, they misunderstand it, misapply it and it means, in some situations, that the parent is just there all the time. And that's what, where, I feel that the smothering and the suffocation is happening and the child doesn't believe in his or her own abilities to stand in their own feet and it starts early, it begins very early.


So for me, the very clear example comes with, for example, sleep training. This sleep training is a big issue.


Casey: It is, oh my gosh,it makes me feel squirmy just talking about it.


Noha: Yes, so people who come from the attachment parenting perspective, they are completely against sleep training, completely and because what they say is "This is trauma for the child, we shouldn't allow the child to cry" and I want to emphasize that attachment theory does not say that. Attachment theory says the child is going to experience distress, and the goal is not to eliminate all distress but the goal in attachment theory is that the child will feel secure enough that most of the time and that the emphasis is on most, most of the time, he will be supported and he will be nurtured but there will be situations when the child will be on his own or her own and they will survive on his own or her own and they will learn that they are actually capable. So that's why the sleep training is an issue of contention.


Casey: Yeah, and it seems like, I mean, our conversation isn't about sleep training but I do want to say this, it seems like there's the, you know, when the conversation is around sleep training that there's, it's very either or.


Noha: Yeah.


Casey: There's no crying, you know or you know, just put in the earplugs, pour a glass of wine, go to the other side of the house and let them cry for as long as they need to before they pass out and then there is all this space in the middle.


Noha: Yes.


Casey: That is lost because people are hanging on to those extremes, right, so and I appreciate what you're saying about attachment parenting because I think, as my understanding of attachment has grown over the years, because I was, you know, when my kids were babies I loved my Dr Sears book, that was my first introduction to attachment parenting, I was a baby wearer, I was a co-sleeper, I was a nurser on demand and it was exhausting.


And I don't necessarily, I mean there would definitely be places where I would do things differently but I think at the core I am, I, you know, I am, I know that those things were useful to my kids and it's super personal, right, and as I learned about what attachment really is, it helps me get understand better, you know, the why's of babywearing, the why's of, you know, why I was choosing to nurse the way that I nursed or to sleep the way that worked for our family and it became less like "OK." You know, I think there's that extreme of child focused versus parents focused and there's again, it's, there's two ends of the spectrum and a lot of space in the middle around what works for for both humans.


Noha: Well said, especially this piece about child centred and parent centred. So, the one in the middle where we can, this is a big piece of positive discipline, the mutual respect piece, which is, "I'm going to respect my need as a parent and the needs of the situation. I'm also going to respect the needs of my child." So the balance between the two is critical and this is what is lost in, unfortunately, in parents who love and protect from an early age, because they are so child focused that they lose sight and let me say their child focused on the moment, they're not thinking long term, which is another positive discipline big piece, which is "What's the long term ramifications of what I'm doing right now in this moment?"


So, if me, by loving and protecting too much from my young age, I'm not empowering my child to believe in his or her abilities to face life, they're actually creating a very fragile young adult who will have a hard time dealing with life.


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: And unfortunately, I think this attitude toward leaning toward child centered parenting has led to the uptick, I think, and not all of it but some of it, to the uptick in the depression, anxiety that we're seeing in young people.


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: Because what is depression and anxiety? It's ultimately the difficulty in emotional regulation.


Casey: Right.


Noha: And to be able to do emotional regulation, children need to face distress. I'm not talking about abuse and trauma, this is not what I'm talking about, just so no one will misunderstand me but like, simple distresses of life, like going to school without homework and mom deciding "I'm not going to bring homework to your school. You will have to face your teacher" or going to school without lunch or are crying because mom is in the bathroom, for example.


Casey: She will come out.


Noha: She will come out, you know.


Casey: I love that. I think  that's so important. We get that, you know, what I recently said is, like, discomfort, that feeling of discomfort is and nervousness or worry is where resiliency is birthed and practiced and I like to think about resiliency as a muscle.


Noha: Yes.


Casey: Right and that has to be worked out to be a muscle that is useful. So what about, what about the societal narrative that's focused on happiness, what do you mean by that?


Noha: So, you know, different eras have their own different cultural messages. So, for example, during the Depression, the 1920s in the US, I mean the cultural narrative was not on being happy. It was on being, you know, we need to survive, we need to, you know, to persevere, we need to do our best, you know, but now, again, I'm going to bring again because we live a life of ease. And it's not about rich and poor, again. We, the cultural narrative is, you know, let's just be happy, you know, we have a right to be happy and I'm not saying nobody has a right to be happy but the just emphasis on happiness and everything that's attached to it because then we, how do we, what does happiness mean, right?


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: So the way we're presenting it right now, unfortunately, in our culture right now, it's attached to for example, for young people going to VIP school and getting a degree from there, OK, having a, you know, having a good degree. It's also having a lot of followers on social media, OK, you become very important and you are contributing if you have this account that everyone is, you know, into. Happiness is about following, you know, fashion designs and fashion trends and I'm cool and having the latest, you know, iPhone or the latest gadget so there isn't a lot of talk about just being authentic and real and down to earth and real and so the impact of social media on this narrative is big.


I'm going to also mention something else which is, in the nineties there was a shift in the medical field and I know this just because my husband is a doctor, it was the ship physician. So there was a shift in the medical field towards "We shouldn't allow patients to be, to experienced pain." So they implemented certain strategies so when patients come into the hospital, they will ask them rate your pain and if their pain as high then they immediately have to give them pain medications and that was the seed of the opioid epidemic that we have right now.


Casey: Yup.


Noha:  Everything is connected.


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: Everything is connected. So when, in the nineties, they're talking like the patient shouldn't feel any pain and I'm not talking, again, I don't want people to misunderstand me, but like the overdoing of things results in actually problems, so like, we're not allowed the body, we're not going to allow the body to produce its own endorphins to fight the pain, we are going to give pain killers and again, talking back to the muscle that you were talking about, when we do that, then there is no muscle that is, you know, being developed, no muscle to, you know, deal with pain and you end up with people and we've seen it, it's happening, people who can't really face pain and that's why we end up with this epidemic and now in the medical field, they're actually going back and changing their strategies, so they're being much more strict about dispensing pain medication, just because of the epidemic we ended up with.


So I see the two parallel, whether in psychology, in terms of like focusing on happiness that is not real, or in the medical field where we're focusing on not, you know, dealing or facing with pain. I see them as the same. It's all about pain, avoiding emotional pain or avoiding, you know, physical pain.


Casey: And do you think there's, like, you know because as I'm listening I feel like too there's this value placed on different emotions, right, like happy, there is a high value to "My kids are happy," right and it kind of eliminates or ignores the fact that the human experience is a kaleidoscope of emotions.


Noha: Yes.


Casey: And so I've actually been called out by my daughter.


Noha: Interesting.


Casey: Yeah, like, you just want me to be happy all the time. And I'm like, "Oh, thank you for that" and I think that that is, you know, I think it's one, for my own personal experience really important to listen and to hear what she's saying and to do my own soul searching and recognize, you know, versus "What are you talking about? That's not true." You know, like, we can get defensive because we are humans, even if we're moms and dads, so recognizing when defensiveness shows up, letting it go and really hearing from them what they're experiencing of us and getting curious about that but-


Noha: Beautiful and if I may add one more piece to this too.


Casey: Yes.


Noha: Also in the eighties, there was this self-esteem movement which was, we're just going to, you know, build the self-esteem of our children by giving them praise.


Casey: Everybody gets a medal.


Noha: Exactly and everybody is told "Oh, you're good, you're good" I mean and P.D. we distinguish between praise and encouragement which is a huge shift in dynamic and paradigm so part of the self-esteem movement, not part of it, but another parallel thing that I'm recognizing that happened and in the US, also, we emphasize a lot of emotions and we emphasize introducing our children to different emotions, however I don't think we do enough in terms of training our children or teaching our children that their emotions are their own responsibility. It doesn't mean we're going to abandon them, no, we're going to be next to them supporting them and so on, but fixing or changing their emotions is on them, it's not on us adults and I think this big piece is really lost in translation and we need to bring it into focus and emphasize it to everybody.


Casey: Yeah, well and I think it speaks into the parent's resiliency, right, because it's so uncomfortable when our kids are having a hard time that it's, you know, it's "easier" to swoop in to help them feel better and then we feel better, so we, and there's no doubt that everyone that's listening, you know, that the assumption here is we all deeply love our kids.


Noha: Absolutely.


Casey: So we do things in the name of love, though, that are not necessarily as helpful as we  think think they are.


Noha: Unfortunately and I think with awareness and this is another view, which is a beautiful piece of PD is recognizing the long term lens.


Casey: Yeah.


Noha: I know that with more awareness parents will understand, just like what happened with me, honestly, you know, before doing the parenting class I had no clue, I wasn't aware and then, oh my god, a light bulb, you know, lit in my mind and then I shifted in how I did things and it's beautiful, amazing.


Casey: So I know that people are listening right now that are hearing all of this and probably thinking "OK, this is great background, thank you for helping me understand where I'm coming from or you know the societal impacts and the history" and they're sitting with "But now I have a teen who's exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety, what should I do?" Right, so now all of those things, "OK and here I am in my household navigating this." Where would you, like, what's a first place to start?


Noha: Definitely the gut feeling thing that we talked about. I'm going to really, really emphasize this. So if there is like a nagging, small tiny voice within you is saying to yourself "Something isn't right" I would really not dismiss it, I would actually sit down and tell my teenager, "I am not sure what's going on, I just feel that there is something wrong going on and ideally want you to know that I love you and I want to help you" and I would even suggest, you know, if that gut feeling is there that I would say to my teen, "We need to go and see a counsellor. It  doesn't mean anything is wrong with you but it just means I want to make sure you have all the help and the resources that, you know, you will need to handle what it is going on."




I mean, sometimes, you know, our teenagers, when we tell them we just feel something isn't right, they actually open up and talk. Sometimes.


Casey: Righ.


Noha: Sometimes they don't.


Casey: And they might open up and talk and say, you know "I'm OK, I'm just dealing with some stuff", you know, I think that's important to emphasize too because I know in my own experience that I can very easily go into panic mode. It's my own personal life work.


Noha: As a parent you will go into panic mode.


Casey: Right and so perhaps there are, you know, and the teen years I was just actually working on, I'm having a whole conversation about brain development during this summit and you know, part of the experience of teenagers is, some you know, some moodiness. There's the stress and anxiety that is normal.


Noha: Normal.


Casey: Or even, you know, motivating to some extent.


Noha: It's true.


Casey: And then there's like, what we're talking about here, where it's like, "OK. This is beyond you and me and we're going to look for some help."


Noha: Yes and I think one key to distinguish between normal and maybe now we're moving into more serious issues is the timeframe. So normal would be something like "Oh, it happens," like, for example, for depression, like it's less than 2 weeks. OK, it's not persistent, it's not every day.


Casey: OK.


Noha: This would be normal, OK. If we're going into an area where it's happening every day and we're seeing multiple symptoms that, you know, indicate depression and they're happening every day and it's been, you know, 2 weeks and also impairment of function. This is very important whenever we're talking about mental health. It's a key diagnostic factor, is there an impairment of function and the function will depend on the age, for example, of the person. So is there an impairment of function at work or at home and social, you know, social circles at school. There has to be some kind of impairment of function in order for us to say "OK, something serious is happening here."


Casey: So is that like, withdrawing from peers.


Noha: For example.


Casey: OK.


Noha: For example because that is not normal for a teenager.


Casey: Right.


Noha: So that would be impairment in social settings, for example.


Case: OK.


Noha: Or it could be that we're beginning to miss school, in addition to also symptoms, other symptoms and for depression specifically, the two key ones are in nagging persistent feelings of sadness and loss of pleasure and in addition to a strong feeling of guilt and worthlessness. This is so and this is, I'm talking about the major depressive episodes, because under the depression we have, like, I think 8 different conditions and they vary in their severity so there are some that are not as severe as the one I'm describing right now. But this is, you know, what you mentioned in terms of, like, there is normal depression or normal anxiety that is part of everyday life that everybody experiences and that's why maybe visiting a therapist, a counsellor, a psychologist, the psychiatrist will tease out "Is this normal or is not normal" so if we go back to the gut feeling, if the gut feeling of the parents is saying "Something is not right," I would just encourage the parent just please go and take some, you know, action.


Casey: So when I was in in the depths of this with my daughter and I remember the first time I said "Hey, you know why don't we go out and I make you an appointment with a counselor" and she looked at me like I was crazy. She said, she said, "No way, not doing that" and the good news was, even though there was a lot going on with her that she wasn't sharing with me, I still experienced a thread of connection with her, even as it was so hard and like, I mean, you know, it was really, really rough there for awhile and then finally, you know and I would bring it up and I would bring it up and she would say no, and it's funny, Noha, I don't know if you ever had this experience with your kids but there are times when I think to myself, so, let me play this out in my mind. Would I be willing to literally drag you to the car and strap you in, like, and then of course the answer is "No, no I wouldn't" and so, as I'm sure people are listening, when our kids are very resistant or reluctant to for that initial intake, what are some, how do you, I mean, for me, I just kept asking and-


Noha: Yes, yeah.


Casey: And then she did finally said, "Yeah, OK." We only made about 4 sessions and she said "You know, I think I'm good," which was like, "Okay." And then for us it was finding a different modality. For us it was, you know, I go see a Reiki energy worker and that is my choice of therapy and it's actually been really useful for Rowan so.


Noha: So you're trying different things.


Casey; Yes.


Noha: I mean, that's key, that's really key, trying different things and I'm going to also emphasize, find a different therapist because-


Casey: Yes.


Noha: I was at the other day, someone called me and like "How do I know which therapist to choose?" and I responded, I said, it's not about what degree they have, it's not about what credentials and what it is about your comfort and your willingness to be open with the person. So that's why you need to go in the room with this therapist, try it, experience it, if it doesn't work out for you, there's nothing wrong with that, just you need to go and try another therapist until you find someone that you click with, because this is part of the complexity of humanity, these are things you cannot explain by logic, it's felt and therapy works. Success in therapy is dependent on the relationship.


Casey: Yes.


Noha: Much more than what technique or what theory is the therapist using. So I second what you're saying when our teens are resisting, we just have to keep mentioning, "OK, I'm seeing that you're really struggling right now. I, you know, I'm going to mention again but I think it's important that we go to counselling." They say yes, they say no, we drop it, after, you know, a bit, we mention it again. So we keep mentioning it because, as you said, we're not going to be able to drag them, they're teenagers right now.


Casey: One of the other things that I remember saying a lot is, you know, I'm counting the red flags, you know, that was something I would say, I would be explicit in my own experience of what she was going through. So I'm seeing this and I'm seeing this and I'm seeing this, I just wanting you to know that as these red flags show up, you know, we are going to move towards finding support, right and just so, being and I think that, as I say that, also, you know, putting into light her experience for her. Oh yeah, those kind of are.  Even though she's the one that's feeling the way she's feeling, helping her lift up and out of it and seeing it from, with perspective, like, "Oh yeah, that is happening and that is happening and that is happening and maybe we should"


Noha: Yes.


Casey: Maybe this is a good idea.


Noha: What you just said is so important, Casey, because our teenagers are still maturing, their brains are still developing, I mean, according to some studies their brains do not fully mature, if we can use the word mature until after 25 years of age. So they're still in the process of developing connections, especially in the prefrontal cortex, and so yes they need to mirror back to them what we are seeing because it will resonate with them because they're experiencing it, but they didn't put a name to it and without really naming it and without being aware of it, then they can't do anything about it because it's in their unconscious.


So this step of you mirroring that, counting the red flags, mentioning them to her and it's not about trying to convince her, if she says "No, I'm not, you know, doing this or that" We don't need to go into argument, we're just going to say, "OK, this was simply my observation." So no need to-


Casey: Right and well that leads me right into, so you had shared with me a few thoughts that I thought were so powerful and I just want to highlight them here, which, and the very first one is you said "Know that it's not your job to fix the Depression or the anxiety. This is the job of the young person, your job is to invite them to seek therapy, be supportive, stop nagging." Noted. "And empower the teen to face life"


Noha: Yes.


Casey: Again, I'm thinking "Oh but it's so uncomfortable for me to not want to fix it."


Noha: Yes, yes and especially as parents and especially, I'll add one more thing, especially because we know what can be done to fix the situation. OK, it's not like we don't know the solution. We know the solution. We're going to go to therapy, we're going to go do exercise, we're going to eat healthy food, we know all that, but because it is their own personal journey and they are the ones who need to, you know, they are the ones who are responsible for for their life. We need to also respect, that we need to let go without abandoning them, I'm emphasizing this, it's not about abandoning them.


Casey: Right and I'm also thinking of the flip side, yes, we know what would help, but also we know, like, the worst case scenario.


Noha: Interesting. Yeah.


Casey: And I think that percolates into our consciousness and then we're really messed up because we're like, you know, immediately dead in a ditch.


Noha: No, you're right, especially with the uptick in suicide rates, I mean, it's just so sad. Especially also some celebrities who have committed suicide in 2018 it just brings the whole issue to the forefront and you're right, it's very scary but one thing that definitely we can do is to maintain that connection even though when they are disconnecting from us. Like your teen is living with you at home, so there is opportunities for connection, even though I know they tend to isolate because this is one thing that happens, especially with depression is individuals, they become recluse, don't want to deal with anyone, so just using whatever moments are there in the day so we can connect, like giving a hug without saying anything. Just, I don't know, just you, know making sure when they're sitting eating breakfast we sit, for example, next to them and you know, say something about our day or whatever, just to try and connect on so many different levels it's so important.


I know when my daughter was in college she would go days missing in action. And I made it a point, I will call and leave a message and I would leave a voice message because it was important for me that I would let her hear my voice. So I would leave voice messages, even though she's not going to respond to, I knew that, but that wasn't the goal.


Casey: I like that.


Noha: Yeah, maintaining that connection even when they're not connecting is very powerful.


Casey: Letting go of the attachment to how they respond, I think is another piece of lifelong journey for those of us that are parents. So the other, one of the other things you mentioned was inviting our kids to engage in new activities. I love that you said that and I'm, you know and I feel like this has kind of been, for me, any time my kids have shown interest in something I get really excited and I think they found their thing and then they're like "Nah, I'm good, let me try something else and what's been really fun, just in the last few months, has been watching my daughter pick up instruments again and play and ask for different things "Hey can I get some water colors?"


Noha: Whoah.

asey: Yeah and it's been so and again, back to attachment, right, I get to let go of, "Oh, maybe painting's her thing or maybe this" and I just get to hold awesome, you know, for however long she's exploring this.


Noha: Exactly, exactly.


Casey: And it's just been really exciting to also, you know, see her experience different outlets beyond snapchat, Instagram, the outlets that I know aren't necessarily giving back to her.


Noha: Yes, yes.


Casey: So I really appreciate that too.


Noha: I love that piece because teens, as part of their development and maturation, they need to experience different things, so not to be hung up on the idea it needs to be permanent, that it's OK for them to try something and then drop it. Beautiful, beautiful invitation for parents. It's so powerful. Thank you, Casey.


Casey: Yeah, well, thank you. One of the other things was "Don't do for your teen what he or she can do for themselves. Expect them to take care of themselves and their lives" and you talked about that in sharing about your daughter as well. I think we see them down, we see them struggling and we don't, you know, there's this idea that expecting them to have responsibility is somehow adding to the weight.


Noha: Yes, when actually it's the opposite, to pull them out of anxiety and depression they need to see themselves as capable and doing something, doing something that has actually and like, I know it sounds like very silly, but for example, like, doing their laundry, like, there is a sense of achievement or I'm going to use, or accomplishment when someone does a task and it actually ends. And we're not getting that sense from being digital. Like Facebook is always going on. Instagram is always going on.


You don't reach a point of like, "OK, the task is done." So that loss of, like, "I accomplished something is actually, I think, adding to the existential angst that our teens are going through and I really believe the piece is also contributing to the uptick in depression and anxiety. . Unfortunately, I'm not, I am not an enemy of social media. I think it has brought so many beautiful things into our lives, it has brought so many connections in our lives. At the same time, it has brought a lot of anguish because there are no limits now.


So for example when a tragedy would happen, for example, a tragedy would happen somewhere in the world, OK, everybody in the whole world now immediately knows about it, versus, and instantaneously, and you see the pictures and you see the videos. Versus, before, it used to be, like, you would read about it in the newspaper and you would see some pictures but not, so now we are right now bombarded by endless news.


Casey: News and opinion. We don't have to go down that rabbit hole, but I mean, yeah. I love that idea around a task with it an end point. And then the final thing that you mentioned and I think this is so important and I want every listener, if you're doing your own task right now while listening to stop and really hear this, which is "stop trying to convince your teen that somehow they have, their thinking is wrong." And talk a little bit about what you mean, because this is, I actually spoke about, I took, I spoke a little bit about this in my podcast that I did about, you know, my own daughter and how the naturopath that we had gone to really called me out. Because it makes sense to say "Well, can't you see how this logic isn't logical?" And it wasn't, it's not useful so you say, you know, listen and ask what can you do, how can you change the situation, what do you want, so again, I'm feeling that like handing over of responsibility.


Noha: Yes, yes, it's very important because our teens are going through their own perceptions and their own beliefs about the world and they need to discover it for their own and we don't know when it's going to happen, when an idea that makes sense to you is going to make sense to them, you know, if ever. Maybe it's not never going to make sense to them-


Casey: No, don't say that.


Noha: It depends, yeah, so but the idea is what happens is when we're trying to really go into logic to convince them that their idea is wrong or their thinking is faulty, is we end up shifting from just being with them to being against them. And then the emotions come up and then the connection is lost. So, for me, I think it's more important for the parents to focus on the connection and I don't mean by that being permissive and just not expecting them to carry their weight, that's not what I mean.


Casey: Oh yeah, just talked a lot about that the difference there in some of the other interviews so listeners, make sure to listen to all the interviews.


Noha: Yeah, so but I'm talking about just being with them where where they're at. And that's what the therapist, by the way, does, when I have a client, I don't sit and you know, start, you know, shooting down all of their arguments. I stay with them, I listen to them, I sometimes ask questions back, when they respond to the question they start seeing, maybe shifting or start seeing things differently. So, yes, just being and listening and asking the questions that you mentioned, "How can I help? What can I do to help you and support you?" and "I love you" is much more powerful.


Casey: Noha, I could talk for two more hours with you. There's so much and I recognize there are so many layers to this. It's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thank you for your contribution to this summit.


Noha: Thank you.


Casey: Yeah, if there are parents listening who want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?


Noha: So I have a website, it's called sakinacounselling.com, so there is a contact, you know, if anyone wanted to contact me.


Casey: Perfect. Great, thank you so much.


Noha: Good luck, Casey, and thank you for taking the time and the effort to put the summit. I'm very excited to listen to it once it's out there in the world.


Motivating our Teens to be in Contribution, with Jody Malterre

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest today is Jody Malterre. Jody enjoys having many roles, helping families and kids as a positive discipline trainer, she works with both parents and teachers. Additionally she lives in the Montessori world where she is a teacher trainer at Westminster College. Much of her work blends these two practices together. Her firsthand experience working with teens comes from her two daughters who are currently 19 and 17. Recently she began working at a student run high school in Boise, Idaho where her daughter attends, which sounds completely fascinating, we're going to talk about this, gives her the courage to branch out into the world of offering classes for parents of teens.


Hi, Jody, I'm thrilled to have you on the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit.


Jody: Hey there, Casey, great to be here.


Casey: Can you tell the listeners a little bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with P.D.?


Jody: I sure can and actually I could go back 25 years to when I took my first positive discipline course from my mother-in-law, so you can imagine what that was like and how awesome it was to come in to this marriage, this new marriage of mine with that kind of support not long before I had kids.


So, it was great because, really, positive discipline has been in our family life, you know, from day one and even Day 0, I guess you could say and it's got me through. I don't know what I would have done without positive discipline as the guide. So the other thing is, you know, imagine what it was like raising kids young and now teens as well with a mother-in-law who's a positive discipline trainer. So Day one, I was awfully nervous too about getting it all wrong, right? Yes and she was an Adlerian counsellor, so of course I felt under the lens but in reality, she has been my number one advocate and encourager, which is great.


Casey: Yay! Well I love that your work has been an intersection of positive discipline and the Montessori model of teaching and learning, both of those programs are really steeped in the idea that children can and do learn to feel and be capable when we set up their learning environments in a way that allows them to lean into their life skills and I think that includes both social emotional life skills as well as practical life skills and as a teacher on a college campus, where do you see the biggest gaps in life skills with the students that you work with?


Jody: Yeah, it's kind of a unique position because actually at that college level, most of them are at the graduate level which already helps. I'm not working with 18 year olds. I'm working with, you know, a lot of people in their thirties so they do get it a little more but honestly, what's great about Montessori is that there's already a natural buyin and we really do want to see the child holistically and so the work in Montessori kind of leans into positive discipline and that's an easy sell.


Casey: I love that, I just did a workshop at the local Montessori and it's like "Oh, you're already drinking the Kool-Aid, perfect."


Jody: They are, no doubt! But I definitely really have to really work at the message of bringing that empowerment message of belonging and significance into the classroom and letting that be sort of our compass first and then academics second and when teachers embrace that their classrooms run so much better.


Casey: Yeah, for sure, I'm seeing that at the middle school, public middle school level too.


Jody: Yes.


Casey: Tell me about the high school, the student run high school that your daughter goes to.


Jody: It's just unreal, it's called One Stone, it's in Boise here and we have a fantastic advisory committee from people all over the country that just want to kind of disrupt this traditional model and give students more of a voice and honestly, when you give them a voice and you give them a lot of respect and dignity, they speak great things. So these kids are doing amazing things at the school and the board is made up of two thirds kids so they have the bigger voice in the room when it comes to making decisions. My daughter's on the board and it's just been fascinating to watch the school emerge over the last 3 years.


Casey: Yeah, I mean, that's creating a learning environment on fire, right?


Jody: Absolutely and you know, today, they get it too because today I went in for a short while and they're doing a big parent presentation tonight and nerves are a little high, anxiety's a little high about trying to get it all done and what did they do for the first, and I'm not kidding you, I know, you'll love this, Casey, they turned out every light and they said every screen in this room in this big room, every screen must be off and we're going to do a guided meditation for an entire hour.


Casey: No way.


Jody: I'm not kidding and about half the kids, there they were on the floor doing their thing, other kids were in the back that needed to do other things but they're just always sort of reaching out to figure out what do these kids need and then they give it to them and it's so great.


Casey: So great.  So, OK, that's kind of the utopia experience, right, the rest of us live in the traditional model. What do you think, so when we're talking about practical life skills, which is kind of what you and I are going to tease apart today around contribution and how to invite kids into participation and in the home, what do you think gets in the way of parents inviting their teens into this developmental process of practical life skills?


Jody: Yeah, parents aren't going to like this but you know what I think? It's our words. Every time we open our mouths we probably are getting in the way of a learning experience.


Casey: That's so true. Thinking of me in that statement.


Jody: Oh my gosh and I'm probably like the most verbose person in my family and I do not practice what I preach near to the extent that I need to. But we just, you know, if we could just back off and let Mother Nature do her job, our lives would be so much easier but we get in their business way too much in our words just womp-womp-womp so yeah, we need to we need to lean in and be heard at times but I think if our words coming out aren't about like taking time for training, and around, really words about listening, or words around getting in their world, I think probably they're not doing a whole lot of purpose, you know, as far as developing a student voice in a student's sense of belonging and value in the family.


Casey: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I'm just thinking the word naggy keeps showing up and it's, but I mean, oh my gosh, we so want our kids to see the world through our lens, like, look at your floor.


Jody: Yes.


Casey: Look at your, look at your clothes, right and so it's right and I think that we, and I appreciate you saying that, we all do a better job of practicing what we preach, 100 percent over here well and we, you know, something that I talk about when I'm doing workshops with parents of younger kids and I think it is still relevant with parents of teens is we forget that they aren't looking at the world I.E. their pile of laundry or their messy room or the sink or whatever, through our lens.


Jody: No they're not.


Casey: And so "Oh my gosh, why can't you just?" or "Why is this such a problem?" or "You never"  but they're not seeing through my 45 year old mother of 2, this is what my day's been like, you know, lens and then I take it personally when they're like "What?".


Jody: So true. Turns out maybe they don't care about the dishwasher being empty or not.


Casey: And that is not the same as not caring about me.


Jody: Right.


Casey: That's why it's so easy to get so hung up, it's like, "You don't respect me, clearly or you would do your laundry."


Jody: No kidding and then we end up piggybacking because the issues arise, the laundry, the dishwasher or whatever and then when we have to nag and remind about it and then they're are snarky next thing you know we're arguing about the fact that they're snarky, you know, and then we've piggybacked all over. And then we wonder why they don't want to be home as much or our goals don't quite align, you know, and so I get it.


Casey: Yeah and I think this is that place where natural consequences can be so powerful and just to be clear, for listeners, because the word consequences is loaded, right, and so what I am referring to when I say 'natural consequences' is what happens when we adults stay out of the way and stay quiet? For example, alright, if we've laid out the expectation that our teens will take care of their own laundry and we've given them an opportunity to learn how to do it, right and then they don't do it at the appointed time or day or whatever, they won't have any clean clothes, that's a natural consequence.


Jody: That's right and natural consequences mean we do nothing and we let mother nature do all the work so the moment we open our mouths it's going to be perceived as a lecturer, a nag, a scold, a dig, whatever and we just completely took away that experience for them to have learned as a natural consequence, you know, that cause effect thing in life, in the moment we get in the middle of that cause effect, it's punishment, you know. It's really not a natural consequence anymore, so I would really encourage parents, we have to, pause, think about, instead of reacting, think about whether response is actually needed or could I live with saying nothing? If I really, really have to say something, how about try it with one word and I think where parents fall short is we sort of have the sense that if it's a consequence there's supposed to be, maybe, a little suffering involved and in reality, you know, that gets in the way of learning. How about a little empathy? It's OK to go "Yeah, I'm kind of bummed about it, too. I really would have liked to have, you know, such and such with you, whatever the thing that isn't going to happen, so I think we can still show can be empathetic, use way fewer words-


Casey: Yes.


Jody: And say, "Hey, what's your plan for next time?"


Casey: Right, so not say, well, it's a natural consequence. I think there's so many ways that we can sabotage the experience so that the focus goes from "Darn, now I don't have any clean clothes to wear and I'm really uncomfortable with that and let me think about what I can do" to "God, my mom is such a bitch, right?"


Jody: Oh, kitty, that's right. We just really like to hear ourselves talk and somehow we probably have the sense that "I've been a good parent if I lean into every experience." And, you know, maybe not so much.


Casey: Yeah and our teens don't learn to be responsible, and let's just talk about responsibility because you and I are both positive discipline facilitators, we both, I'm sure, start our classes and our workshops with the 2 lists and the 2 lists, for listeners who haven't been through positive discipline are, what are the current challenges that you're facing in your house, spoiler alert:it's always the same list, by the way and then the second list is what are the life skills that you are hoping that your adult child post-25, your adult child has learned to embody? And responsibility always shows up on that 2nd list and they don't learn responsibility unless we give them opportunities to stretch into responsibilities, right?


Jody: it's so true and you know what? I think what's great about positive discipline models, we're always kind of evolving into improving and what's, you know, you saw that this summer when we were in San Diego at the Positive Discipline Think Tank is that we need a 3rd list which is "and if this is what we want what to kids need from us in order to get them there?" and that suddenly put a whole different lens on "Oh, so maybe nagging is not going to get me where I want them to be" and I found lately a lot of parents are really resonating with that third list, right and what was so funny is just last weekend was Positive Discipline in the workplace and guess what, Casey, the list is same there when you look at the challenges for employees and responsibilities on there. So what do they need? I think they need us to first of all see that they're really busy.


I mean, our kids are busier than I ever was when I was in high school and I, as a parent, I watch that and it's really tempting to kind of help them too much because I see how busy they are, I almost feel sorry for them, they're getting all these, you know, these grades and they're doing these great things that I think sometimes I'm really tempted to do too much and it's tricky to find that balance. I think a really good example that's changed around that responsibility would be great so, you know, when I was in school, I'm few years older than you but probably close enough, you know, our report cards came home couple times a year and if there was another issue maybe the teacher contacted our parents and that was that but now we've got these online portals, right?


Casey: Oh my gosh, too much information, in my opinion.


Jody: Yes and I remember my daughter, my older daughter, one time said, we have this thing we call Power School and she says something about "Well, you could look it up on Powerschool" and I said "Well, I don't have the login for that" and she was like, "Mom, why don't you have a login?" I said, "Because you are my login. I do not want to log in and meddle in what is your responsibility, you know?" Yeah, so I think parents have to kind of decide what, really, can I give to them and if I can't give it to them, then don't give it to them, you know, and if I can and then you fully, you've got to go all in or all out, right?


Casey: Yes and I think the conversation, and I love that you're bringing up this power schools, we have it, it's called Family Access here in Washington or at least in our district and I was recently in a conversation with a gal and she was talking about how she has to she, you know, and this is middle school which, I think, Middle School is this really interesting when I'm finding, gosh, talk about a great learning opportunity, especially for natural consequences and feeling discouraged or just some overall discomfort by our kids, but also in our role but anyway, I was talking to this gal and she said "Well, if I don't check and stay top of it, my son, he falls behind," and I said "Oh," I said, "Maybe he knows you're going to check so he's just waiting for that. He's become dependent on that extra push from you."  She wasn't really, she was like "No, I do not think that's the case." I was like, "OK, let it go."


But when we think about, you know, and I did a whole interview, listeners, on school and schooling and I talked with Kathy Kochikame me for length about, you know, grades and just kind of the traditional model, so I won't get into that, but this opportunity for us to allow our kids to feel the weight of responsibility is so powerful and I mean and I think that in our quest to, you know, we want them to have all the opportunities and I think it's in the name of love, yes, but we get in the way for such deep learning when the rescue net is so high that they don't have to go in and fix their mistakes because mom has been on Power Schools and knows exactly what's going on and does her doing at home and so there isn't that opportunity for, you know, our kids to have to go and say "Hey teacher, I'm behind, what can I do?" or "Here's my plan" or "I'm looking for a solution" or whatever because we swoop in and save the day.


Jody: That's right. That's why I ended up telling my daughter, I said, "You're my login and I want to log in with you every day. I want to have a conversation" and I think another way we get in the way of these learning experiences is the way we talk at kids with "Did you/ didn't you, are you/aren't you can you/can't you?" you know, these questions that are naggy and dead end questions that do not invite logging in with our kids, you know, so let's get rid of those and let's get into questions that are a lot more interesting for me too? And for them, right?


Casey: So what are some examples?


Jody: Yeah, so, "Hey, let's, you know, let's check in about some of the books, the reading at school maybe we'd like to read them too, you know, what do you find interesting about this literature" or "Hey, you know, talking about these classes that they're in, are you finding that you have anything to contribute in the dialogue in class?" You know, "What do you think about this instructor of yours?" and you know, just open ended questions that are, in this case, school login but heck let's not talk about school with our kids, let's talk about life, right?


Casey: Yeah, well, I'm like and yeah, so let's shift that a little bit so there's responsibilities that they get to, that they have the opportunity of experiencing in the school environment and let's talk about what about at home, because I know a lot of the community that I lead, you know, when I reached out and said, "What are some things you want to hear on this audio summit? What are some of the things you're struggling with?" A lot of people came back and said responsibilities at home, chores and contributions and being a part of the overall keeping the house together piece.


Jody: Yeah, you know and we, my husband and I, we teach some classes together, actually and this is definitely his forte around, isn't that great that we can do that?


Casey: Yeah, so great.


Jody: Our poor kids though, right? What an intense family.


Casey: One day, one day you'll get a call, "Thank you, mom." That's what I'm holding out for.


Jody: Yeah, I'm not holding out for that any time soon but so one of the classes we teach is around money and what we call family work and making sure first of all, we've got to separate that. You know, money is about teaching money management and how to balance budgets and and such, work, family work, we never called it chores, we called it contributions as you said or family work-


Casey: That's what we call it too.


Jody: That's around how you learn a work ethic and how you learn what it means to hold a family household together, right, so the thing about work is, that's funny, I was running this question by my daughter last night, it was fun, to get her 19 year old perspective. And she said she wanted me to tell you is that "Hey let's make sure that nothing is off the table as far as the work and what the parents can do." In other words, "Hey, if this is all the stuff that needs to happen in the family, it shouldn't be like, 'Oh and these are the parent jobs and those are the kid jobs'" Because the kids get the crappy jobs, right, the dishwashers and the trash, the pet and all that.


Casey: Oh my gosh, those are so the easy jobs.


Jody: I know, I would take those jobs any day. So, you know, like our 17 year old, for a year and a half now she's been the grocery shopper of the family which, that's kind of a big job and of course, I want to get my airline miles so I don't want to have to, like, you know, turn over cash to every week so what does that mean? We had to go get her, I can't believe I'm saying this, but we had to get her credit card, you know, the family credit card so that I can get my miles and she can run the errand to do the grocery shopping and it was never like "No, no, no, that's a mom job or that's a dad job." In our family all the jobs were up for grabs and everybody had to grab a job.


Casey: That's so great. I have to share, one of the things that I've done that has helped too is if it's a Saturday or Sunday and it's like, OK, it's time to buckle down and get some stuff done is I make a list and then I write next to each job 5 minutes, 10 minutes, so I kind of estimate how long each one will take and then I invite everyone to, you know, depending on what it is, it's like, pick 30 minutes worth of jobs. That I think triggers something in my kids, like, "Oh, this isn't going to take forever." I mean, it is dependent on the user, right, but but it also is, like, you can pick one thing that's the big thing, you know, or you can pick a couple little things, I don't care, I'm not attached, I just know all of this needs to get done and everybody gets to contribute.


Jody: Right.


Casey: But I love that, I mean, my daughter's going to be driving next month and the thought of sending her to the grocery store makes me so happy.


Jody: Oh, well, you know, my husband and I initially were both, we both like grocery shop, weird little bumps but now, I love it but I do find that if it's not on the list it is not getting bought so no longer can I browse the aisles and take a little of this and a little to that.


Casey: You're probably saving money.


Jody: But here is the thing too, is that I feel like when we talk about work, we end up talking about A.K.A. chores, right, it's all about, like, housework and while that needs to get done, if we're talking about, you know, kids having kind of meaningful contribution, I don't think they're going to find a lot of meaning around cleaning the toilet, even though they know it needs to get done.


So we need to look at what are their skill sets and what do they contribute uniquely to the family. You know, my daughter is really into politics so, you know, she's gone now but if she was, I could go back in time, I think I would call her our, you know, political correspondent keeping us up to date on which protests to attend and perhaps, you know, the current events of the day, you know, maybe somebody can be in charge of car maintenance and just kind of having a log and keeping track and you know, maybe someone loves to run errands and they can run errands. Maybe somebody, in fact, one of our daughters was I taught her how to use Quickbooks very young and she included every single receipt, every single one and kept track where every penny in the family was going and whether-


Casey: Oh my gosh, do you know these are my jobs? And these are all the jobs that make me crazy that you are telling me that I could be training my children to do.


Jody: You could. Absolutely. Let's do this. I'll send ,y daughter over to train you.


Casey: Yes. Well, what about like this and I really appreciate that I love the expansion just of the mindset around what it means to be in contribution, thank you for that and there are still are those things that are kind of mundane, you know, toilet cleaning, bed making, rooms, like, what I would love to know, especially considering that you're like 2nd generation raising 3rd generation on on P.D. what has been your mindset around something like the kids cleaning their rooms?


Jody: Ah, the room. You know, we backed off on the rooms, let the rooms be the rooms,  but, see there was this interesting piece around, OK, but if we, I don't really care what you do with your stuff, but I do care resale value of this house, right, so I do want the carpets cleaned, I want the bathroom cleaned, otherwise you end up with these water marks that never come off and then rings in the toilet and all that so we had such a funny arrangement, so this is the deal we said, we have somebody that actually, we were fortunate to have somebody come clean our house on Thursday.


So we said, "OK, on Thursday morning if you put everything on your bed, I don't care about your sheets, that's you but the carpet in the bathroom, if the carpets vacuumable and the bathroom is cleanable that's all I care about, the rest is on you. If it's all in your bed, she's going to clean your room." If it's not on your bed then the agreement was that they would clean their room, clean it enough to the bathroom and the vacuum by Sunday night. I didn't have to say a word, just it either got done or it didn't but by Sunday night, we literally figured out how many years, your listeners are going to laugh, how many more years they were to live at home and divided that by weeks and we figured out what it would cost to redo the carpet in that room and we came out to a monetary value that by Sunday night if you didn't clean your room, no problem, we'll just go online and make a little transfer into the replace the carpet fund when you move out and no argument, no words, no nothing. It either happened or it didn't, a transaction occurred or it didn't. And it worked.


Casey: And is that something that you and the girls created, like did you guys figure that out?


Jody: Yes.


Casey: Love it, so it wasn't like, "Listen" which I know it wasn't, but this is how it's going to be, it was puzzling it out, using curiosity, sounds really logical and neutral.


Jody: Yep, yeah, yeah and that's the thing is we make these unrelated things, if you don't clean your room you don't get screen time or something that's totally unrelated and you learn nothing from that, right?


Casey: Well, yeah and rooms, having been a daughter of a mother who I adore and is a freak about, like, O.C.D. about clean and so yeah, I could tell you horror stories about how that was for me. It's interesting how quickly that conditioning, not to the extent of actual diagnosis of O.C.D.  on my part but definitely, in the early years, realizing that that anxiety had been passed on to me and it took a while to let go of the rooms and man, what a difference it made when I just said "This is your space." My daughter actually likes having a clean room so it gets, I'm very hands off there. My son, you know, we, part of the, you know, it is part of a screen agreement because it's more about the screen and not abusing that time than it is anything else but he decided here's the things that will be done before I log into Fortnight and one of the things was, I think it's on the weekends he has to tidy up his room. So that's how we've, and again, together created the agreement together.


Jody: Yeah, it has to be together and then, you know, it's funny. I did this class this last week and you know, it's positive discipline in the workplace and I was so fortunate that our 17 year old who's on the board at her school says "Hey I think I could get a lot out of this" so she attends it with us and I happen to teach a parenting class to parents of teens Monday night when we returned and I ran a few things by her, some new activities and one of the credit of Dina Amser, was around accountability questions and I said "So, at least from a teen perspective, how do you really feel about this accountability, you know when it's something like this, like, what are you going to do, when will you do it and how will I know that it's been done?" and she says, "I don't mind those questions as long as you ask them you get the answers and then you back off because, you know, as soon as you don't, we do all power struggle and or we meddle and nag and again we ruin the opportunity to learn the way, you know, most of the world operates in terms of the workplace, what are you going to do and how am I going to know it gets done? It's a really reasonable conversation, right, so, you know, that was her message is tell parents they kind of have to back off, trust, right.


Casey: And I think that's, right...  Yeah, because as I heard you list those questions I thought about the 4th question that is the one that pulls the rug out which is-


Jody: And what happens if you don't.


Casey: Yes and it's so interesting because whenever a teach about making agreements to parents of any age kids, that is always where they get stuck, it's like, well, what about when they don't do it and it's like, "Wow," I mean the natural consequence is we revisit this agreement and figure out what it is where we haven't come into alignment and we tweak it and play with it and then we give it another week or, you know, depending on the age of the kid, right and it is a mindset shift to consider that an actual, like, in the purest sense of the word, cause and effect, this is a consequence is I'm not going anywhere, like, this is right, this agreement is happening and how, what it looks like on the inside we get to puzzle out together. We get to create the Win Win together.


Jody: yes and I'm terrible about asking that 4th question, my husband's wonderful about asking and-


Casey: Right, well he had the mom.


Jody: I know but for me and this is what I told the parents, I said I'm going to give you 3 questions, I said there's a 4th question, it's invisible, you aren't going to see it on the screen and I'll talk about it in a minute but if you go to the 3rd list which is what are these teens need from us, they do need to feel trusted and respected and dignified and all of that, so I feel like that 4th question is very important and what happens if it doesn't but I don't start there, I don't mind a little failure first and then we can read this and say, "Wait a minute, this is about your word, you know, I don't want to always be second guessing that you're not going to do it." So we go to that 4th question maybe after a little failure unless it's high stakes failure, then we throw it in, you know, early but yeah, my husband and I, he leans a little stricter, I'm a little more permissive, we have a pretty good average. But I don't think that 4th question is out of the question for anybody at any time, I just don't like to start there, for me, personally.


Casey: Well and do you think that, you know, when you find that, so, OK, actually, before I say that, I know that there's, I'm absolutely positive that there are people listening right now thinking, "OK, yeah, whatever, Casey and Jody, they're making it sound so easy but my kid refuses to contribute, he doesn't respond, she doesn't want to do anything." And that, I want to say to all of you that are listening who are feeling that, like, I feel you, I see you out there and I know how deeply discouraged you must feel in this moment because that is so discouraging when we feel like "yeah but", when we're stuck in the "yeah but" it's hard to trust, it's hard to believe that there is a different way to think about, go about, inviting our teens into contribution. What would you say to those parents about how they can begin to support themselves and their teens and turning that, beginning to turn that discouragement around?


Jody: OK, I have two points. The first is we've got to recognize that the very issues that we feel most strongly about, whether it's good grades or a clean room or laundry must be done on the weekends ,whatever it may be, whatever we feel strongly about, that basically is a button and we need to own that and the stronger you feel about it, the bigger the button is and it is their job to kind of push our buttons, that's called finding the boundary, right, so we have to kind of own what buttons do we need, you know, are we OK getting pushed because that does invite, the second point I'm going to make is kind of the power around this, the power struggle that we can get in, which, let's own that we as adults are making power quite, for lack of better word, pretty sexy out there, right? I mean, we really like being right.


We model that well. So I think we need to let kids be right too, you know, when they're pushing back you can say "Well, I really see why you feel that way, you know, gosh you make some great points and you know, I love you more than I love your clean room so maybe we need to revisit our priorities and find ones that we can get behind together" and you know, really kind of let the kids feel felt in their teenage world and you know, be a little more playful and a little more humorous and a little more real with them and let go of this being right so much. That for me, that shift might take time, you're not going to win this overnight, they've got to see if we're for real but over time, I think we loosen not our values but we loosen our rightness it gives a little more space for more conversation.


Casey: Yeah, I think that that's one of those places where we move from the traditional authoritarian model where parents are the boss into that authoritative model which is positive discipline, where, and it's based in, you know, Adlerian theory which we are going to talk about in a second where we have, like, a more equal horizontal relationships which doesn't mean we don't have leaders, but it does mean that everybody is equally worthy of dignity and respect and that's what I'm hearing when you say "OK, so I'm hearing you out and I'm hearing that this is where you're at and I'm curious here" or "How can we find a win win?" or I think that that is so, and the conversation around always wanted to be right just totally resonates for me and yeah, and then are, yeah, anyways, so talking about Adlerian theory which has come up in the summit and I did a whole interview with Aisha Pope about Adlerian theory and the idea that human behavior is movement in the direction of belonging and significance.


That's how I say it, if you say it differently feel free to share but being in contribution and being connected to the family, really, that is, you know, those can be rooted in belonging and significance and they both play this important role in our children's skill development. Can you talk a little bit more about how what we're talking about is connected to that belonging and significance piece?


Jody: Yes and you know, recently I saw Dr. Jane Nelson do an activity differentiating between belonging and significance because we tend to really, we throw those together all the time in the P.D. world, positive discipline world, right and this activity helps us differentiate that really the belonging is the love piece but with love does not come automatically a sense of contribution and significance and tell you in a meaningful way, right, so this activity is around we give belonging to our love and we give significance to responsibility and contribution.


Casey: Mhmm. Love it.


Jody: Yeah, but see what in the Adlerian theory that's all about, you know, gemeinschaftsgefuhl which makes me smart throwing that big word down but-


Casey: I know. It's German.


Jody: We all throw down, but it's a social interest piece, right, it's showing the interest in the interest of others and when we pause, and we take out the nagging, and we take out the did you/didn't you, can you/can't you, are you/aren't you, that sort of are these questions that check them off our list for the day and we get in and get in the interest of them and the interest around you're making some good points or boy, you feel really strongly about this, we're modeling for them what that social interest means.


And that gives a little space for them to reciprocate, hopefully, right and it does take some time but when they have a strong social interest in the family, the social interest piece that's so critical to mental health and our kids, we're getting them out of being consumers because I mean, kids are consumers, right, they consume screen time, they consume money, food,  time, everything. I think that really modeling for them this this Adlerian, this basic foundational piece around social interest gets them being more of a producer and I think we need to give them opportunity to move in that direction.


Casey: And so, just to kind of tease apart social interest even a little bit more, when you're saying social interests, it's really about their connection, like their, what I want to say is like, this family only functions because of the, it functions as a whole because of the individuals.


Jody: Yes, that they're needed which is hard, it's hard for kids to feel needed but I I love, Betty Lou Bittner's work around the 4 C's, which is, hey, we need to give kids this sense of feeling like we're connected with them and that they're capable, and that they count, they really matter, right and then finally, we give them the courage, the courage to make mistakes and learn from those and those four C's are like, they're like Vitamin C, right? They need those four C's like they need any other nutrients and so how we approach them, we have to be asking ourselves, in this conversation about, am I going to give them a little dose of one of these C's or am I going to leave them a little deficient?


Casey: Right, because there can be, it can feel like opposing pulls.


Jody: Yes.


Casey: Right, there is that we want them to take more responsibility and we want, like we can kind of look at it as we either, you know, come down on them until they get responsible or we let everything go so that we can be in relationship with them.


Jody: There's a nice happy medium, isn't there?


Casey: Yeah, definitely but I think that, especially, you know, I don't know that everyone listening is super fluent in positive discipline and I think, you know, a lot of times popular culture really doesn't do us many favors here either because it's kind of, it's easy to fall into those two things being polar opposites instead of, or either or, versus the both and and when I'm listening from you is being in relationship, being connected to our kids, the four C's that you just mentioned, the invitation into puzzling things out together, actually nurtures the soil, nurtures the environment so that it's a much smaller step for our kids to step into responsibility and flexibility and ease and all the things that we want, right.


Jody: Yeah, you know and being, you know, in positive discipline, we always say, being kind and firm at the same time and for people that are, you know, out there, really familiar with what that sounds like, I think sometimes we hear the word kind and we're supposed to turn a blind eye, you know, kindness isn't blindness, but what really helped me was to always come back to "What are the needs of the situation, right, the needs of the situation" so, you know, then that ends up sounding like, "Hey, sounds like you really have a need to be out later than normal, a lot is going on tonight and I have a need for worry free evening of good sleep. How can we put our heads together and both get our needs met?" So that is being firm and it's also helping to develop the social interest piece, like, hey, I want to sleep and I don't want to sit at home and worry and you want to be out, what's the solution and we want problem solvers and yet we want to tell him what to do all the time, right? So lets let them problem solve, right? That's a crazy idea well.


Casey: Yeah, well and circling back to the parent that is feeling that discouragement, I think that many people have heard me talk about the iceberg metaphor, I'm sure that you talk about it when you teach your classes and really, if you're finding yourself with a teenager who's kind of fallen into that discouraged place and is hard to engage with, you know, instead of the question being how can I get them to contribute? Really, I think it's an invitation to even go back a little further and say how am I nurturing relationship with this child? Like, where can I own some of my shit because chances are you've brought something, we all bring it, so where can you own your stuff and where can you start to build that bridge into relationship. Do you have anything that you, to give to that parent because I know that that parent is listening?


Jody: Yes, well, I, first, I can give this parent a little encouragement because we don't have to get it right every time. I was recently attending a workshop with Jim Bitter, who's a great Adlerian mentor of mine and he says that in Adlerian counseling, which sometimes I feel like a counselor to my kid all the time, right ,but he says that really, it's the technique as a counselor is only about 8 percent and the relationship is 37 percent. I don't know what the rest of it is but I do the math and that's only 45 percent so I have to get it right 8 percent of the time and work on the relationship 37, that's only 45 percent so it sounds like me, I only, I can screw up half the time and I'm going to be OK. So how can I not screw up? Let's get into stop trying to defend and be right, stop trying to fix and explain, ask for their advice.


Casey: Yes.


Jody: Maybe ask, you know, their feelings about certain things and say, "Hey, can I be helpful? How can I help you through this?" And open up dialogue to questions and model your own mistakes, model your do overs. "Whoah, I'm really working on this and I don't think I like the way that came out. I love you a lot more than what my words just said. Can I have a do over?" and kids want a relationship with us even if they act like they don't, they do and the longer we can stay influential in their life past the age 10, like we get to 10 and our influence really starts to drop. Any year post 10 gives us about 8 to 10 percent more likelihood that their risky behavior will be less or they'll recover sooner.


Casey: Yeah.


Jody: So let's make sure that that relationship comes first so that we can stay influenced enough that when the peer influence sort of trumps ours that they'll come back to us.


Casey: Yes.


Jody: We need to be somebody that's worth coming back to, right?


Casey: I love that, yeah, the soft landing, right?


Jody: Oh yes.


Casey: So great.


Jody: The great white light so they can always find us.


Casey: Yes, strobe light. I am here! I am here! Oh so great. Thank you so much, Jody, for your contribution and being a part of this summit. I so appreciate chatting with you.


Jody: You make it so easy, Casey, it was lovely.


Casey: Yay, if there are any parents that are listening who would like to get in touch with you where can they find you?


Jody: Well, you can find me on my website parentteachercoach.com


Casey: Great. Anywhere else?


Jody: Well, I guess you could email me.


Casey: OK.


Jody: jody@parentteachercoach.com


Casey: Great.


Jody: And of course on the positive discipline website as a trainer, I think I'm the only trainer in Idaho, so come find me in Idaho.


Casey: Awesome. OK, well, thank you so much for being a part of this.


Jody: Thanks, Casey, have a good one.


Promoting Shared Power While Negotiating Curfews with Teens, with Izumi Takase

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is Izumi Takasi, oh my gosh, did I do it, did I say it right? I feel like I did not.


Izumi: No, you did.


Casey: Izumi lives in Geneva, Switzerland and is a certified positive discipline educator and trainer for parents. She was certified in 2014 and she's the founder of I Positive Link. Izumi is also trained in positive discipline for early childhood settings and P.D. in the workplace. She has extensive experience in the corporate sector and is also a career coach, Izumi is the mother of a 16 year old son and her current family system is blended multicultural and multilingual. Hi, Izumi, thank you so much for being a part of the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit.


Izumi: Hi, thank you for inviting me. I'm very excited to share my life a little bit with you.


Casey: Yah, me too, can you tell the listeners a bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Izumi: Well, of course, I mean, sure, I discovered that positive discipline when my son was about 11, going on 12. Just to give a little background information, I was a single mother until my son was 3 and then I remarried my second husband today and so my son grew up with with the foster father, his father is very present but abroad so he's got a bit of a complicated life in the sense that he's got 4 or 5 languages in the family because his stepmother is now Greek and-


Casey: Oh my gosh.


Izumi: and so he's sort of juggling between 5 languages, English, French, Japanese, Dutch, Danish and Greek.


Casey: Oh my gosh. Makes me feel very boring, but go on.


Izumi:  Yeah, you know it depends, until he got 12 it was OK and then suddenly it at all when sort of upside down pear shaped and I really didn't know what was happening so I got a little lost. So of course, when you have a sort of pre-teen starting to go against you and not listening to you and not doing the stuff he was be doing and so on, well, I got a little angrier and angrier and angrier and when I started yelling my current husband came to me and said "You know, I think you have to find another way because this isn't going to work out" and when you hear this from your second husband, you sort of listen, right, so I decided to listen then I went to hunt for a book and I fell on Jane Nelson and Lott's Positive Discipline for Teenagers, read it through, I found some very interesting tools and in fact, I'm a professional trainer and I was also quite impressed with what was written so I decided to go further and do some workshops which I did in Switzerland, there was one trainer, I followed it in French, was even more impressed and today, I'm sort of ongoing my journey in positive discipline. So to, in a nutshell I'm living positive with my teenager every day, he's my testing ground, so is my husband, so is my former husband so I'm pretty much into it, to be honest.


Casey: Yeah, I know, I say and this something that I've said on my podcast before, we call it parenting but really it's humaning, right, like all the tools are human relationship tools but packaged as a parenting program, I love that. So one of the metaphors in straight out of the P.D. for teens book that I really love is the pilot and copilot and I'm just going to read a little bit about it real quick so listeners get the reference.


So teens today want to be pilots of their own life planes, they want their parents to love them support them and accept them but leave them alone to pursue their lives, except for when they want something. Sometimes teens act as if they want to kick their parents off their planes, many parents want to pilot their teen's life planes, they are scared that if they to turn over the controls to their teens they will get into trouble, get hurt or fail, maybe even die.


With this fear in mind they often become ineffective parents and invite more rebellion with their over controlling ways. You can remain on the life plane of your teenager as a copilot if you learn the positive discipline skills of a kind and firm parent, being available for support and guidance when necessary, while encouraging your teen to be a skilled and responsible pilot and like any copilot, there may be moments where you get to fly the plane but they are rare.


I think what I love about this metaphor is that it really illustrates that this time of life is a dance with our teens: show up, back off and then show up and then back off and we, it feels, my experience has been that we really take turns leading. So, when you hear this metaphor, what does it mean to you?


Izumi: Well, for me it's really about trust and having faith in your child to be able to pilot and you just need to stand behind and watch and let it go when the child asks us to let go but just, you know, the problem is that it's most of the time so when you're not used to it, it's quite scary if you see this airplane just crashing down and then you can't let go any more, so that's the biggest challenge, especially when you, well, my son is a single child so it's a child which I'd waited very long to have with all the IVFs and medical help I could get so you can imagine that it was, it's a very special child for me and I don't even have a second chance so it's either this one or not and yeah, I think it's like a dance but it's not. It's like watching your child dance and you're just watching. So, it's not a slow, it's not a tango, you're not touching the child, really and that's how I feel, for sure.


Casey: Well and I appreciate that you use the word trust and I think that just like in what I read, like that fear, you know and I'm hearing that with you, with the single child, I think all of us, you know there's the gift of having our own teenage experience but you know, it's also not always working in our favor because we do know what can happen. We do, are hyper aware of risks and I think inside of that we forget that we have to practice trusting our kids for them to learn how it feels to be trustworthy.


Izumi: And the good news is, the more I trusted my child, the more he trusted me.


Casey:  I love that.


Izumi: And that was a very big lesson for me.


Casey: Oof, that's a good one. I think all of us want our kids to do the right thing when we're looking, right and we have all these years prior to the teen years where most of the time we're with them. And we want, when they're out in the world we want them to show up well and be responsible and you know, follow through and do what they say they're going to do. I think one of the places that many parents get into power struggles and this is the topic that we're really talking about is around curfew.


Izumi: Absolutely.


Casey: And coming home when they say they're going to come. Will you share a little bit of your story around the messiness of holding the boundary of curfew with your 16 year old?


Izumi: Oh yeah, that's always a still a big struggle because they really want to go further and further. Well, let me, just a few days ago, one of the, what happened, I can tell you a few stories but this is the most recent one. He was supposed to come home at midnight, that's his time during weekends and I realize that it was 1 o'clock in the morning, he still wasn't home. So you can imagine the state I was in.


Casey: Yes.


Izumi: I called on his mobile and he did fortunately, well, first my text was a "Where are you?" you know, not even a hello or nothing, just "Where are you?" And he didn't answer, so I called and he took the call and he said " Oh, mom, I'm so sorry. I was eating with friends, we had such a good time. I totally forgot about what time it was." So, of course, I was very upset so I said, "Well, you come home right now," He said "Yeah, I'm on my way and I'm in the tram, I'm on my way, I'll be home in 15 minutes." And in fact, the next day I had to get up quite early for work so that kept me up, of course, at night and I was waiting, I was fuming in my bed.


Casey: I can imagine.


Izumi: Thinking how am I going to get him back, you know, and then my husband saw me, he said "Izumi, I think, don't jump on him when he comes back, just let him sleep and talk about it the next day" and I said, "Oh god, you know. How am I going to do that?" I was so angry but I did. I didn't sleep much but I did and the next day I was up anyways before him so I was off to work and when I came back home I was a bit more calm and of course had time to think about it and to get a bit more rational so I sort of picked up one of the P.D., positive discipline tools which is really finding a solution and talking about it instead of just being in a punishing mood, which you love to do on the spot but it doesn't work, you know, it doesn't work.


Casey: Yeah.


Izumi: That's what we did and I said, "Well, Luka, do you want to talk about what happened yesterday?" and he sort of looked at me very sheepishly because he knew that was coming up.


Casey: Yeah.


Izumi: And he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, mom, I really did forget the time" and I said, "Well, you know, do you realize that I had to get up early in the morning and I was very tired because I could not go to bed and I was upset" and he apologized and he said, "Yeah, I know, I'm sorry," and I said, "So what are you going to do about it next time and what will you do next time if you, when you forget or when you're with your friends and you're excited?" and he said, "Well, I'll make sure I'll put an alarm" and I say, "That's a good idea" or "I'll call you before," because, you know, one thing I was upset was that I had to call you know I had to call him before he called me and I didn't like that as well as and this is scary moment for me, for parents as well, so he said, "Yeah, Mom, I'll call you. I didn't want to wake you up, I didn't know where you were sleeping, no excuses," so and I think that was great because the week after, he was out again, you know, as all teenagers they they go a lot and he text me almost every half an hour before 11. It was amazing. "Hi mom, I'm on my way. Hi Mom I'm on the tram."


Casey: And I think that really speaks into, like, what I heard you say, you know, the tool of creating, you know, solution, looking for solutions because ultimately, yes, the problem was that all the things that you mentioned, he was late, he didn't call, you were worried and I think it's so easy for us to immediately move into "You're grounded" or "Next time the curfew's 11" but really, what was missing, which I think you beautifully illustrated in that story, was how are you going, like, the assumption I think when we look for punishments or you know, we can call them consequences, really, we're talking about punishments and I think what we assume is that our kids know how to navigate the situation, we just need to offer something that is this threat of pain, right and they'll do better but really, what I'm hearing you talk about is like, what's going to help you to remember what time it is, to check in with me, like, what's going to help you do the things instead of this assumption that, "Oh, you'll do them, because if not this terrible thing's going to happen" whether you're grounded or your curfew gets, you know, earlier and I think that that is so important and what a wise husband you have to have told you not to talk to him until the next morning, right? Like, that is a gift for both of you.


Izumi: I think it's from his own experience. You know, we all learn from our mistakes and this is, I think this is for me, it was really something learning about mistakes and he made, my son made a mistake and he acknowledged it and he found a solution for next time, I think this is all about making mistakes an opportunity to learn which is also Jane Nelson's-


Casey: Right.


Izumi: Or, no, it was Dryker I think who said that? That's, I think, so important.


Casey: Yeah and thinking about the approaches we can take, you know, in positive discipline we talk about enabling versus empowering our kids, right and no time is like the teen years for giving ever more empowerment to our kids and I feel like that fear piece shows up and really gets in the way and when we talk about enabling, it's getting in the way of our teens and their life experience so that they don't feel capable, whereas empowering is getting out of the way, being a guide, right, so having the conversations around solutions while they navigate what showing up for them, encouraging and giving them a hand when they need it right and I think that key is, what do we want most for our kids?


As you were talking to your son, ultimately, you know, what did you have in mind that you wanted most for him? Of course, we want them to be safe. But what I heard was you talk really about, you know, giving him the skills to kind of stay present to, you know, time and and who's depending on him and you know, bigger, I think it's such a gift any time we can support our teenagers in recognizing that they are a part of the universe not the center.


Izumi: Yeah, yeah and I have another example because I mean, for teens it's difficult to trust them sometimes because they are so hormonal, especially boys. But on the other hand, I realize more and more how much you can trust them. They have much more sense than we think.


Casey:  They don't actually want to be dead in a ditch.


Izumi: No, no, for sure, they are survivors. In the olden times they had a lot more to do as they were already young adults, you know, and remember in the Middle Ages they went hunting with their dads and did much more dangerous things than we do now, so another example was a curfew concerning a bunch of, you know, teenagers have put a lot of importance to friends and being with them and being part of them and what I really struggled for a while was when he could see, he wanted to stay longer out because his friends could. And that was a real big struggle and one example was when they decided to go to a concert, which is a kind of a music festival from 6 pm to 3 am in the morning and it's just in the suburbs of Geneva and it's rap music and all of those kind of things and he wanted to stay with us friends until one or two am. And of course, that was completely out of the question because he was only 15 even though it was friends were 16. So for 2 weeks he was coming back every day saying "Mom, why not? Why not?"


Casey: Oh my gosh this is so familiar.


Izumi:  I was almost blue, you know, by saying no. At one point he started, of course, using his friends and as friends' parents, "Yeah but they're saying yes" so I sort of created a whatsapp group with all the with the 5 other parents to make sure that we were aligned and they more or less all agree that midnight or 1am was really latest and one of the parent even agreed to go and get them to the concert, so except one parent, yeah, the problem is the ticket was a gift to my son from a stepfather or his father who, they were separated, so I can't have no say to that so I said, "Well, I'm sorry but that, you know, we, I don't know what to say, I mean, I think it's for you to decide what you think is best and so that was OK."


But he nevertheless came back almost every day and at one point I said, "OK, I have to find another solution because this is not working, just saying no, it's not working." So I sort of thought for a few nights, evenings to think about what I could do and in fact, I decided to offer him a choice. So a choice means giving two options but two options which could work out for me as well as for him, right, so it's not that easy to find.


So it took me a while to think about it and I came up with a solution which was one thing was course that he comes about midnight with a parent who's going to get them, the second option was, I said, "Listen, if you find an adult, a young adult it could be, who's ready to be with you, all of you boys until 1 am or 1:30 am and take you back home to the door then I'm OK. And we discussed that with the other parents and they said OK as well.


So I said "If you find the other adult to be with you and I want to see the person, I want to know the person and I know everything." So he said, "OK" and that was about a week before the concert date so I could see him texting to all his buddies, brothers, cousins, he has a cousin that was 20 and at the end, he didn't find anybody. So he came back and said, "Mom, it was too late, there's no tickets left, it's not fair."  I said, "What was our deal?" And finally, they did come home at midnight and what was interesting was that they admitted that they were very tired.


Casey: Rap music takes a lot out of you. It's aggressive. I love that, I love that and you know, I, you know, my daughter recently, she also loves rap and wants to go to all the shows in Seattle which is about 40, typically it's about 45 minutes from where we live and I took her to a show last year. That was really interesting and I stayed, it was fascinating, with her girlfriend and then a couple months ago I did a similar thing. I have a good friend who has a daughter who's 20 and I said "Hey, you know, why don't I see if she wants to go with you?" and I felt a lot better about the whole experience knowing that she had someone who was a little bit older looking out for her, who was also cool and fun to hang out with, you know, but I appreciate that and I think what I also want to highlight is they are relentless, right.


I think that a lot of the emotion, I know, for me and others is when we've set the boundary and then they're like, "yeah but", "yeah but", "yeah but" it is, it's challenging. I mean, of course they're going to push, of course they're going to say "yeah but yeah but yeah but" and we get, this is really where our work shows up, right, where we get to be in that kind and firm body, grounded and rooted and not create a new challenge of "Why can't you just take no for an answer," you know and get all spun out in that direction. I really appreciate what you shared about "OK" and oh my gosh, everyone, like, we can reach out to other parents.


Izumi: Yeah, that's it, because we really need to get our act together as well because they were really using it.


Casey: Yeah, of course.


Izumi: They will find any way to get at it.


Casey: Yeah and that's not a, yes, that's not a bad character trait, like, that's resourcefulness, right?


Izumi: Absolutely. Absolutely.


Casey: Man.


Izumi: Absolutely. So I really believe that it's important to stand firm on what we decide.


Casey: Yeah.


Izumi: Whilst acknowledging their feelings, you know, because I remember when I wanted to stay out my mother said "No, you have to be home," I remember that feeling, so I sort of remember that, you know.


Casey: Well and talk a little bit about freedom with responsibility, right, because I think it's bad, this kind and firm, right, there's structure and flexibility, there's freedom and responsibility, so often Positive Discipline is misunderstood as being a permissive style, which it is not and I really want all of you listeners who are listening right now to hear this, it is not a conversation about letting our kids do whatever they want and that they'll magically learn from their mistakes. We, the parent, we're there, we're assessing who they are being, we're looking at where our relationship is with our child and what they're showing us along the way. Right?


Izumi: Absolutely.


Casey: So it's, so it's not, you know, I think that, God, it's just so, even as I listen to our, you know, as we're talking, I'm hearing, like, the traditional parenting voice saying "But yeah, yeah, but what do we do to them?" You know, it's so hard to let go of the idea that we have to, well, it's not even letting go that we have to do something because what I heard your firmness was, "Here's the possibility, right? And here's what you have to choose between and when that 2nd option of the older person didn't pan out, it's 'you come home at this time'" and so I'm wondering and I'm hearing, like, the listener voice, like, "Well, yeah, but what if they wouldn't have come home at that time?"


Izumi: And that could have happened, of course.


Casey: And that could happen and it probably, well and it did happen, I mean your first example is an example of the one happening and you know, it's just like when they're younger and we talk about bedtime routines or we talk about making agreements and we revisit it and when it's not useful, we play with it and come up with a solution that's a win win for both. I think it doesn't stop happening like that as they're teenagers and I often, when I work with parents, you know, the consequence is we come back together and we look together at what's happening which, you know, not all kids are like "Oh yeah, let's sit down and have a conversation about curfews that is a win win," right?


I mean that in and of itself is a consequence but it's, you know, consequence I think in the purest sense of the word, not necessarily a "they have to feel the pain" but they get to hold a responsibility, right and isn't that what we want? I have not had much experience with curfews yet. A little bit here and there, it's mostly been like, "OK, you're going to go to the movies, this is when it will get out, this is when I expect you home." I know that it's coming in my future. But what are some factors that we can take into consideration, that we should take into consideration when discussing curfews with our teens?


Izumi: Well, for me, I've incorporated that subject in the family meetings. Because it did happen once or twice when he came home later than what I would have liked him or what we agreed on so we put that on the agenda, meaning that every time he's going on, that's usually weekends when he's with friends, I say "What time do you plan to go?" Especially when they have birthdays and "What time do you plan to come home?" and he said "Well, what time do you want me to come home?" He's very clever.


Well, it's a usual thing, I say well, if you're with friends and a parent is taking you home and the birthday party is at your friend's place then, you know, we can always discuss about that. So we do talk about it, we find solutions. I'm not completely rigid as it was not midnight every Saturday or Sunday or anything like that, I really try to think and we talk together, what the situation is and what's the best for everybody and in fact, that makes it very easy because so far, since we've started doing this, he hasn't, well, he's made mistakes but it's more like mistakes is not sort of doing it on purpose, at least, that's how I see it.


So whenever he, when he forgets, he really forgets, he's so excited or whatever and so we found another way and so it doesn't work out the first time, that's a complete illusion. I mean, I don't know since he's age 11 how many times we've discussed about curfews and how many times we had to fine tune every time. It's a tedious process but it works. You just need to be patient and admit that, you know, it just doesn't work every time, you know, immediately. And I'm a very impatient person so that was a very big learning for me.


Casey: I think that's really important to highlight. I mean, you know, here you and I are as positive discipline trainers and educators and there's no, like, I mean my people who listen to me a lot know I am all transparency and it's messy, it's messy and we have emotions, right, like, we want what's best for our kids, absolutely, we want them to be safe, we want to know that they're safe, I don't know, I can't speak for you, Izumi, but I know, for me, like, sometimes my desire to know kind of translates into control which is not at all useful. My teenager is teaching me that over and over again and it's, you know, it's ongoing, it's not, it's OK, here's the boundary, you know, this will be what it looks like till you're 18 or out of the house.


And I remember being a teenager and my curfew was set and I remember it getting like, I guess it was my junior year, really, where I would go out on the weekends and I think it was maybe midnight my junior year and then my senior year became 12:30 and it was just this arbitrary half hour for each year of high school and there wasn't, it wasn't a collaborative conversation, it didn't depend on what I was doing and I always, no matter what, made sure that I was out until those final minutes and then sometimes I would come home and then I'd just sneak right out again.


And often got caught and then got grounded and I was real quick to, I remember in those years, it wasn't about safety for me in my teen brain, it wasn't about safety, it wasn't about being respectful to my parents, it was about, it was about blaming them. It was like, if they just let me stay out later, if they were just more easygoing with curfew, meanwhile I was driving really late and drunk, perhaps sometimes under the influence, doing all sorts of things that I am not going to share with the general public.


And so I think that this, like, what I'm really hearing is that conversation and that relationship, right and that I feel like there's all sorts of messages that aren't being spoken when we talk about discussing curfews the way that you're sharing, right the messages around you are capable of keeping yourself safe, you know, and we trust you and you're going to learn from mistakes and we love you no matter what and your value isn't based in if you stay within these rules. Like, you're valued unconditionally. And so I really appreciate that/


Izumi: I'm aware that whatever we do, whatever I try, my son will take certain risks, that's part of life and I think we all did and I know and on the other hand, I remember as well that with regards, for instance, drugs and so forth, my parents said, "Well, you know, I'm sure you going to try smoking something and this and that but one thing I really would like you to avoid are hard drugs because that's dangerous" and I remember that, I do remember that and I just hope that we get to talk openly about certain things and that when he's in trouble and it could happen, maybe it's not his fault but he could get into trouble that he'll be able to come to us and say "Listen, I made a mistake, something happened and I need your help" and then we're there to help.


I think the worst case is when teenagers stop talking to you and that was my biggest fear when I started before doing positive discipline was that, suddenly I felt he stopped talking to me.


Casey: Yeah and I am with you.


Izumi: That's terrible.


Casey: Yeah I am with you. I was talking about this in another interview during the summit but we are really open in conversation around here and I recently said, because we've had some nicotine show up and some marijuana and you know, we live in a state in the United States where it's legal and for adults so it's this really crazy time where when I was a teenager smoking pot it was like really big deal.


And now it's like the vibe of it doesn't feel like it's such a big deal and I wonder about that but I did say to the kids, I said, "You know, it's one thing, you know, when if, you know, to me when, you know, weed shows up and we have the conversation and I take it and but you need to know that if I was coming across pills or anything harder than that we would be having a very different conversation" and the kids were actually, especially my daughter, my son's just kind of wide eyed and curious at this point but Rowan, you know, really was like "Oh yeah."


She gets that and so, you know, and at the end of the day, they are out in the world making decisions and we can cross our fingers and hope but I think them knowing that they have that, they can call and say "I'm in big trouble and I need you" and that we'll show up for them is huge and when I say show up for them, not rescue them, not coddle them but really be there for them in a way that helps them to move forward, right, that empowers instead of enables, oh my gosh.


Izumi: In Europe we have huge problems with alcohol because alcohol is legal as of 16, they can drink beer at 16 years old.


Casey: Oh my gosh.


Izumi: So whenever he goes to a birthday party, I know there is going to be beer, I know there's going to be a wine, I know there's going to be alcohol.


Casey: That is a whole. Yeah. Holy Cow. You know, now I want to just dive right into that rabbit hole but I have the outline, Izumi, I mean, how do you actually, I'm going to go there, so it's a legal right and in the States it's not legal but that doesn't mean that the kids aren't doing it. So what are the conversations like?


Izumi: We talk a lot about alcohol because I have a friend who is a pediatrician or a doctor at the University Hospital in Geneva and he says the biggest issue with teens is alcohol. They come in in a coma and you know they drank so much and so fast that it goes into their brain and they lose consciousness and it's so dangerous and he sees it, like, lots of them per week. And that's, for me, the biggest issue.


They also sell what they call alcopops, which are alcohol mixed already with soft drinks so you can drink them very quickly, you don't feel the alcohol but it's about 5 percent, it's like beer and they just drink that like water, binge drinking they call it and so  of course, that's something which I'm very scared of and with my son, we speak about that whenever he goes out I said, "Do you know, was there beer?" and he says, "Yeah, there was beer." "Was there wine?" "Yeah, there was wine," he tells me the truth and I said, "So what do you do?" and he says, "Well, I'm 16 so I did drink a little bit of beer, but to be honest I'm not too keen on it." It's true that when he comes home, I don't smell it, I don't see it, so I asked, "So how about other people?" " Well, there are some others who drink a bit more but I'm not interested." So, okay.


Casey: Hallelujah. My curiosity is, something that we were watching, a movie, I don't know, I feel like I told the story recently but we were watching a movie and there were jello shots in the movie and the kids were like "What is that?" and I'm like, "Well, they're these little bits of Jell-O that basically have a shot of alcohol in them and they are, you know, they taste good and they go down smooth and let me tell you, if you're ever at a party and there's jello shots, you just be sure you don't have more than one every hour or 90 minutes because they go down fast and you can get really sick. And all sorts of things can happen."


But I think you know, like, recognizing too, that we have to kind of, which feels so backwards, but we have to also, I believe that when we're in conversation and relationship the way that you and I are with our kids and I'm guessing most, many of the listeners as well, we get to have conversations like, what does it look like to pace yourself, right? What does it look like, you know, what is the difference between hard alcohol and beer and pacing and what and what do you want most and how do you want to show up and those are hard conversations to have, right, because in the back of the mind, sometimes it's like am I condoning something here? Am I making this something that's OK with me?


So I think it's also really important to, you know, to say well, this is what we value, this is what we like and you're out in the world and this is what a lot of kids do, so let's talk about it. Have you ever had conversations about, like, this what it looks like to drink responsibly?


Izumi: We did, of course, I mean, it's probably alcohol is for me the biggest issue because it's so available.


Casey: Yeah, 16, wow. So can we talk a little bit, because all of our kids are, you know, they all have mobile phones, cell phones and there's all sorts of ways to track them. What are your thoughts about that?


Izumi: Well, of course he has a mobile phone, since he's 13. I think I gave him his first mobile phone when he was 13. I really resisted until then but after it was not possible anymore. I don't track track my son. I don't. I've never looked at his phone and I don't think I'll ever do it and I don't want to do it either. But that's personal, that's a real personal choice. I decided to trust him.


And I told him, so we had that discussion as well. I said "You know, I know you know that some of your friends' parents look every week, or they look, they read all their messages, I know that and I asked him, so what do you think about it?" and he said, "Well, I wouldn't like that." I said, "Well, I wouldn't like that myself, either so I'm not going to do that to you. I trust you but you know, let's talk about some of the dangers and some of the, you know, devices that we can use or not use and so forth" and that's how we discussed about it.


Casey: What about having, because I know, you know, the location tracker just knowing where they are, do you ever? Because I do have that and I mean, it's slippery for me because my daughter is sharp as a whip. She's like, "Mom." I mean, she has, I don't look at it hardly ever but every once in awhile if I can't get a hold of her I'm like "Where is she?" you know, where is she? And if I check and their locations off and she's like "What? Like, come on, you know, where am I going to be?" and then it's like well, what if something... so we kind of joke around with the location piece and she typically isn't really out in the world too much so but yeah, I know that there is an extreme, right, like, there's, like you're sharing about your friends' parents son's friends. Your son's friends parents who are checking everything and all the time and sometimes too much information is too much information.


Izumi: There's also, I was talking to another parent the other day and we really laughed about it, she's really very worried about her daughter and you know, very much what we call the helicopter mother and she admits it, that's OK. You know, we talk about it and in fact she does it so much that the daughter said "Look I'm fed up of you always asking where I am, here's a tracker, have a look and you could look as much as you want."


Casey: Smart girl.


Izumi: It was very funny so, you know, kids are very reasonable, you know.


Casey; Yeah, they are and I think that a lot of times parents of teens that I work with get caught up in the question of "Am I being too permissive? Am I being too strict?" And they can feel paralyzed by wanting to do everything, like, right. As if there is this, like, this glorious right thing. How do you support parents that are in that question.


Izumi: Well, I give positive discipline parenting classes and I often, of course, get that question and it's true that being kind and firm is a very difficult thing to do I feel that the more you practice, the better you get but it's very, it's tricky and it's not always easy, especially when you have emotions, as you say, to deal with. What I tell them is that, well, if they haven't done any parenting classes or any other parenting class, I think it's always useful to do it because you learn and you do get useful tools that you can use. I also feel that I always tell them that there is always a solution to the problem with the teen and you have to do it with the teen. We tend to do it for them or tell them what to do.


Casey: Yeah. And the relationships. Yes, say that again, we usual do it, so the difference is-


Izumi: For them.


Casey: For them or to them, right?


Izumi: To them, yes.


Casey: Yeah.


Izumi: And then I tell them you have to do it with the teen, you have to decide and find a solution to problems with the teen, you have to talk with them.


Casey: Yeah.


Izumi: And so ask lots of curiosity questions, you know, really, I was very, you know, when my son stopped talking to me I was dying to find out what was happening in his head. In fact, the only way I could do it was to, you know, I'd tell him talk me, talk to me but he would, of course, not talk to me.


Casey: Right, so let's talk briefly about that, as we come to the end here, because I'm guessing that some people have found their way to this summit because they are in that place with their teenager, where they've stopped talking to them or maybe, you know, for whatever reason they're feeling that distress and when we talk about creating solutions with our teens, what really creates that opportunity is having a strong foundation with our teens because if we've, if our style has been really aggressive and firm and talking at and then all of a sudden we say, "Hey, let's find a solution that works for both of us," you know, a lot of teens feel like that's a trap, right?


That might be their experience if the trust isn't there, if the relationship isn't there or if the knowing that my parent respects me and trusts me and my capability if that isn't there, then trying to have these conversations is really challenging and discouraging, right? Because the parent just feels like, well, like I can just see that arms in the air, like, I guess this isn't going to work for me and I feel like I just really want to say right now, if that is your experience and Izumi, I'll let you speak into this too, if that is your experience then the most powerful thing you can do is just simply start connecting with them and getting to know them and who they are today.


Izumi: And it takes time because you're changing your way of communicating and of course, they get a bit suspicious at first and it's like for me, I always have this image of taming an animal that you don't know, you've lost and you know, who you have to gain trust again. It doesn't happen from day one to day two, it takes time.


Casey: Yeah, it does.


Izumi: And it's true it's sometimes discouraging and sometimes I felt pretty discourage and I think, "Gosh this is not working, he's still not talking to me" and then something happens. So I think you really have to to trust yourself and say, you know, to yourself "I really want to get close to my child, what can I do to help my child? What kind of questions can I ask that he talks to me?"


And listen to them a lot because, you know, parents talk a lot to their kids but I think one trick is to let them talk and explain what they feel without any judgment, you know, really what we call active listening. I think that's quite key and what's really amazing is that today we have a really wonderful relationship. And I truly believe that when a child feels belonging to the family, to the community or to school or school friends they don't need to find that elsewhere and they will tell you about it and what's happening in their minds.


Casey: Yeah, beautiful.


Izumi: So yeah, I think, it takes time but it's also very short moment, teenager, times are very short, you know it's about four or five years, so they do grow. So says some of my friends with bigger children.


Casey: Yeah. Izumi, it's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thank you so much for contributing to the summit.


Izumi: Thank you.


Casey: If parents are listening and want to get in touch with you or the parents who are listening where can they find you?


Izumi: In Geneva, Switzerland or in Europe. I have a website Ipositivelinc, so it's a little I like Izumi and positive and link and otherwise if you're around in Switzerland, Geneva, you're welcome to contact me.


Casey: Are you on social media? Do you have a Facebook page or anything?


Izumi: Yes, I have a Facebook page and I have a website and I'm on LInkedin as well under my name.


Casey: OK, great, well, thank you so much.


Izumi: Thank you.


Using Curiosity in Supporting our Teens with Thinking Through Risky Behavior, with Jane Weed-Pomeranz

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.


My guest today is Jane Weed Pomerantz and Jane was trained by Jane Nelson, the founder of positive discipline 22 years ago and is now one of 35 lead trainers internationally. She fulfills a positive discipline certification training for parent educators caregivers and therapists as well as teachers, school staff and administrators. She also conducts training for medical professionals at health clinics and has talked classes inside detention facilities for parenting in recovery from trauma. She has four grown children and a 2 year old granddaughter. Married to retired firefighter, she continues activism for a just, sustainable and better future for the planet. Jane, I'm so excited to have you, welcome to the Summit.


Jane: Thank you so much, Casey, it's really an honor to be here.


Casey: Can you tell the listeners a little bit more about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline?


Jane: Well, it may be no surprise to your listeners but in reality, it's an adventure that is defined by each individual. We have 4 kids and each one of them presented us with different challenges and a different, you know, timing and pace and intensity in their own journey. So I always think that every person needs to go through their own version of the teenage wilderness. And we can make it a whole lot better or we can make it a whole lot worse depending upon how we respond and you don't know how long it's going to be or when it sets in. It's really very individual.


Casey: It sure is. I've had my own. We're in the wilderness over here, that's for sure, but it's been actually really lovely lately so I will say that.


Jane; Yeah.


Casey: I mean, it's an ebb and a flow, right? Or a pendulum swing as I like to think about it.


Jane: Sure and there are calm moments and there are insights but I think overall there really has to be a sense of empathy because it's perplexing to us but it is panicky to a lot of the teens that are going through it. They don't have the, that's why it's the wilderness because it's the unexpected and there is certain compass points and skills and tools that are very helpful. Navigating that unknown.


Casey: Yeah and today we're going to talk about a tool that I love and how to use it in a way that allows our kids to really think through their choices and to consider the consequences of risky behavior and that tool is curiosity. So, first start with sharing what does curiosity as a parenting tool mean to you.


Jane: Well it's actually one of my favorites because it requires that I let go of my own assumptions and expectations and really melt. It's all about the relationship, right, so it's not going to be a technique that you can really, you can begin to use any time but for teens it's best of all if you've established a relationship over the years prior to being in that in that mix. Having said that, I would say there is never too late to start being curious about someone else, it will enhance the relationship.


I think about the two different kinds of curiosity, the questions that we talk with in positive discipline and that is the motivational and then the conversational curiosity and they're different and they also serve different functions.


Casey: Well and I love what you say about relationships because teens have such a good bullshit radar.


Jane:  Yeah, yeah.


Casey: And if we just swoop in thinking "Oh, if I ask the right question" or that, as if it's a language thing-


Jane: Yeah.


Casey: right. And remembering when you feel like, gosh, you know, just the people that are listening trying on and you can be trying a new tool and it feels and you know, it feels like it falls flat, I often will say "Well, let's take a look at relationship. What's going on inside of your relationship because that's such a foundational piece?" I think for so much of the positive, for all the positive discipline tools, is being connected to the teen and I also talk about, you know, the difference between language, right, whether it's motivational or conversational curiosity questions and we'll kind of tease those two apart in a minute, between, so there's language and then there's really, like, the embodiment of curiosity, right and tell me about letting go of an agenda, like, I know what I want your answer to be so here's my question, you know, and there's an expectation that there's also a right answer so it's really, like, shedding which is not always, you know, not easy but shedding that agenda, shedding that judgment that already exists, that can often already exist and I think energetically really pushes our teens away from stepping into that conversation.


Jane: Yeah, you're right. They are so aware. They're hyper aware, really, in many areas about what people are saying to them and there's already the tension established by the power relationships with parents and teens or kids so it really is in integrity to use curiosity in all the time but certainly use it genuinely, you know, because they can read when it when it's just manipulation.


Casey: Talk a little bit about, you know ,differentiate between those, motivational, the motivational curiosity versus the conversational.


Jane: Well, you know, this is again, establishing the relationship and having a context in which you are, let's take motivational questions first. Motivational questions really do require that there has been some conversation about expectations or what needs to be done to achieve completion on a particular task, then they are motivational. So it's a kind of a reminder. You know, "What will you need for the time after school?" is a question that gets a child to start thinking about what's happening after school and then, of course, what they will need so you, you may know that they need to pack their uniform and have a snack but in fact, you're wanting them to start thinking that through.


It's so valuable for people to start managing their own schedules and be thinking about what is needed, making lists in their heads, following through to pack, so motivational questions do require that there is some forethought about a task or a chore or something like that and then it's it's the asking versus telling.


Telling really does, you know, what we're doing is telling kids what to think but what we want, ask them so that they know how to think. And that takes practice, it takes practice all the time and so of course, earlier the better but that, so that the motivational questions can be very quick and it is, it's very simple and then the child is the one that's or the teen is the one that is now in the accountability and responsibility seat.


Casey: Versus just bumping up against "My parent is always is telling me what to do, screw them, I'll do what I want."


Jane: Right. They're getting ready and when you ask instead, it really does honor and respect them as capable.


Casey: Yeah. I love that and what about conversational curiosity? What does that sound like?


Jane: Conversational curiosity is really, it's not about steering or guiding at all, it's about finding out what is the thinking, what is the image or the imagination of what's going on in the other person. So it's really, I love conversational curiosity questions in that how it really builds a relationship because it builds understanding, you may not always agree, and again, when you're really truly using conversational curiosity questions, be curious, be mindful of your breathing and your mouth that's shut, you know. I always, in my classes, talk about you know you can say anything you want after you've asked the question as long as your lips don't part. Because when people ask something and then answer it themselves it's very disrespectful. It's obviously not really curious. So when you ask a question, you really do need to, you know, you can make very small, you know, like, "Mmm. Mhmmm. Awww."


That kind of stuff but it really is about listening for understanding and, like I said, if you don't, if something is said that you are upset about, you might just say, you know, "I'm not sure I understand that or agree with it, I'm going to have to sit with that for a little bit, can we talk more later?" So that you keep that door open for future conversations because kids will shut down quicker than lickety split if they feel like they didn't give the right answer and you don't really care.


Casey: Yeah, or if you are in judgment, I think that's one of the ones over at my house where that shuts people down definitely.


Jane: Yeah, yeah, I, so we, I avoid "Why?" because I really think, I know myself well enough to know that when I'm asked why it feels like I have to justify and defend. But if you can start conversational curiosity questions with "Tell me, what is your thinking about" and then having, would it feel that blank in, "Tell me what you're thinking about" or "How do you see this?" So, it's what and how questions, maybe when and where but it really is informational. Having an agenda.


Casey: I think that's so important something that comes up a lot with clients for me is the how quick we are to assume that we know, we, being the parents, like, we just assume we know why they do the things they do and we know, "Well, they just want attention" and they just want this or they're just and then, you know, it's, we get into the spiral that we, you know, it's just continuing to foster a level of disconnection and what I love about curiosity is we get to let go of that and instead hear from the source because that's the other thing, it's like, "Ugh, I'm stuck, you know, I can't figure out how to support my child" and part of that is the expert on your child is right in front of you, it's your child, so why not ask some questions to broaden the perspective that you have and I heard you say listen for understanding and then it's just the opportunity for new possibilities just extends because we have a better understanding of what they're going through so yeah, the power of curiosity is so cool.


Jane: You also bring up a very important point in and it's true of adults as well that we often don't know, we don't realize that we are the experts of ourselves, we often don't know what our position on thinking on particular things might be, so they are the ones that know themselves the best, they may not thought through things as they often are and by listening with a really open heart and without a time clock, you know, it could take 5 minutes or it could take 15 minutes. Listening, just listening without interruption can really be a gift to someone to be able to think things through and find their own internal wisdom.


Casey: Yeah, beautiful. Can you share a story when you used curiosity to support your teen?


Jane: Yeah, I sure can and one of the things is that it might sound a little motivational but really, I remember back to the moment and feeling very curious about his knowledge and the situation is that my third son was 17 years old and I think we were, I was in the backyard gardening and he, I heard him coming through, coming outside, he just grabbed his car keys and was outside and said "Mom, I'm going to go chill with some friends" and I said, "Oh, great," you know and usually it's "Drive careful" or you know, "When will you be back?" but I I heard his word "chill", I'm going to "chill" with friends and I knew that that was code for getting some beer and drinking.


I knew he'd grabbed his car keys and I thought, "Ha! I wonder if he's thought this through" and so I said, "So, have you ever been pulled over by a police officer "and he said "No, no" and so I thought "Oh, now what am I going to do?" and I thought, "Well, you know, what would that be like?" and you know, he hesitated for a minute, obviously he picked up that I was not angry or had a motive or anything like that but he kind of thought, you know, "Well, I guess. I guess I could see their lights or hear sirens and know that I better pull over, you know." and I said, "Oh yeah, that's happened to me before, you know, how do you determine where to pull over?"


He said, "I guess I'd look for a place that would be safe, you know, away from from pedestrians or a lot of traffic." I said "That's a good idea, yeah, yeah" and then I thought, "Do you know which window they come to because I can't remember, it's been a long time since I've been pulled over" and he said, "You know, I don't know. I'm thinking that they were going to want to talk to the driver but they may not want to be in traffic." I said, "Yeah, they might come to the passenger side. I don't know," he said, "Well, I don't know."  I said, "What do you have to do? Do you remember, do they tell you in Driver's Ed what you have to do when an officer comes along?" and he says, "What we do, we roll down the window and you've told me, the registration is in the glove compartment." "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm glad that I've told you and that you remember it" and I said "So what else does, what else do they do?" and he said, "Well they ask for my license" and I saw him tap his back pocket, so he was checking that he had it.


And then I said "And if you've been drinking what they do?" and he thought about it, he said, "I guess they could do a field sobriety test" and I said "Have your friends talked with you about that, you know, what that's about? What that's like these days?' and he said "Well, I hear that, you know, they make you get out of the car" and he sort of imitated, "They make you touch your nose and walk on a line," and I said, "Yeah, I think they did something like that back in my day too," and he said, "But, you know, now they have breathalyzer." "Oh that's right they do," I said, "So what happens if they decide to take you in, what happens to the car?" and he thought for a minute, he goes, "You know, I don't know. I'm wonder maybe, they maybe, I guess they have it towed," and I said, "Yeah, I guess maybe they do have it towed" and I said, "I guess you get one phone call" and he said, "Yeah, yeah, I think I get a call" and then he turned around and he went over to the picnic table and he threw his keys down and he said "You know, I think I'll ride my bike." And I said, "Oh, OK, that's probably a really good choice" and I stopped to myself from giving him some sort of lecture about, you know, you're can be pulled over by a cop for driving under the influence on a bicycle too, I didn't do that.


But I was incredibly relieved that he was willing to have a conversation and not have any tension involved and actually think things through and leave his keys, that was, that was really cool and I will always be grateful for my ability to take some time and be non-inflammatory on that particular subject. He went on to become on an ambulance crew, an E.M.T. for 7 years. Being a 1st responder and having a good 1st responders as a dad, he kind of followed up on that and he is now graduating from medical school and he's almost thirty.


Casey: That's amazing and I really, what I appreciate about that story, Jane, is that I feel like, you know, when our kids become teenagers and the whole concept of, you know, mistakes being opportunities to learn, we talk a lot about in our classes and with our clients, you know, and in our head we get that and in our hearts when our kids are teenagers and they're making choices like drinking or experimenting with substances, or right now, you know, all of us with kids in high school right now, like, the vaping situation feels so beyond the adult's control and it's just, you know, it's so difficult, it can feel because fear shows up.


Jane: Yeah.


Casey:  And the extreme of "dead in a ditch," you know, it's just, at least in my experience, it's always just kind of lurking right there. You know and that can really get in the way of having really powerful conversations, like you had with your son, where so he was led, I think in our email exchange you use the word shepherded, thank you, shepherded him.


Jane: In some ways, that's why there's a kind of an, it bleeds over into motivational. And I think if he had had experience being pulled over by a police officer that that would have been a very, perhaps a very different conversation to have had, to just listen to what that was like and then I was thinking, if he did have that to share, my challenge was going to be to really be opening and encouraging for him to share his feelings because when you're talking about boys, they often don't like to reveal feelings, that vulnerability is scary for them.


Casey: Right.


Jane: But I would, if he had ever been pulled over by a police officer I was hoping that I could have him talk about what that was like, whether he was really afraid, whether he was embarrassed or whatever it was, I was hoping that she could be honest with me and so I really was maintaining a lot of curiosity to know his experience. Now, he was our child that tested us most with video games, as well. He became an idiot, as some people say. It was an addiction, it was clear to us that it was an addiction and I think that there's some some overlap with vaping, though, this is a chemical addiction, right, and maybe his chemistry in the brain that is surging, you know, pleasant sensations that, in terms of video gaming, but so we talked a lot about addiction and what's that like, and could you just give it up and walk away and I think that those are really important discussions for parents to have with their kids.


Even if their kids have not contemplated it or really tried to try on and understand what addiction feels like in terms of the pull, the temptation and the lack of self-control, what that would be like but by just having the open conversation without the  loaded agenda can plant the seeds for kids to actually think about that at a time when there's not any parental pressure or you know, maybe they're taking a shower or they're riding the bus or there hanging out or you know, in a store somewhere having some, you know, coffee with friends, they can actually you know mull the question over without it being loaded with judgment and condemnation.


They can actually think "Wait a second, what do I want? What would happen to have to have that and be looking for money through the bottom of my drawer to go find the next, you know, buy the pen or whatever. And I know that it's something that not easy to talk about, it took me many years to give up my cigarette habit which was started at age 16 and formally left at age 24 but still battled with it into my thirties. So I think that, you know, talking from your own experience can also help but you have to ask the child "Would you be willing to hear how this was for me?" And if they say "No, not really," then you have to honor that and again, you've just planted a seed, it's not like there's urgency but they can always say, "Well, what was that like?" you know, some other time and then you.


Casey: Yeah. Well and talking about substance use, I feel like there isn't a lot of information about the messy middle. I feel like it's abstain or addiction, like those two extreme really are held up as, you know, kind, as where parents go-


Jane: That where they go.


Casey: Yeah, that's where they go and understandably and there's so much in the middle and something that I love about the Positive Discipline for Teens book is the section that lays out the continuum of youth. And I actually sat down with my two kids and read that entire section to them, pausing to ask questions and to hear what they thought and what they were seeing out in the world and what were their opinions. And from, straight from the book is the sentence that I really appreciate, especially because fear, you know, that power of fear shows up, is that there is no indication that if someone starts at one end of the continuum that they will automatically continue to the other end, right, and I think that so powerful for parents to consider and we hold "But what if?"


Jane: Yeah.


Casey: Right and that "What if", it sure can cloud our thinking and then I think that's when we get into the telling, we won't do this and if you do this this is what will happen to you and da da da da da, meanwhile our kids no longer can ask us questions and no longer feel like we're a safe place to explore and it becomes an underground.


Jane: Yeah, when you lose your influence then you're really in trouble. It's really, it's hard to get that back and there's a very sweet story in The Parent Positive Discipline for Parenting in Recovery book where Jane Nelson talks about the efforts in her own life, you know, she had 6 kids, has  6 kids and one of her teenage, when one of her kids was in his teens, he became involved with drugs and she was, at the time, she was working a lot with implementing positive discipline and she freaked out and decided that, you know, "Forget this stuff about trying to, you know, to understand their point of view or whatever, this is absolutely unacceptable" and she put that old parent hood back on and went after her son and berated him and lectured him and tried to control his every movement and timing and "I'll pick you up and I'll drop you off."


As if he was a chess piece all over again and he did go underground with it and pulled away, so he was around less, she had less observation or conversation time with him, she realized that she had totally blown it by getting completely controlling and so she approached him and apologized and said "I was coming from a place of great fear and loss and it was the wrong thing to do, it didn't honor your feelings or thoughts about this and so I want you to know," and this is, again, that whole being aware of what you will do, not what you will make children do.


And so she had done some self exploration and she decided that she would tell her son and she did, that he was making adult decisions now by choosing to do this and that she would have to, at some point left him go ahead and make these decisions but she wanted him to know that if he was arrested and put in jail that she would visit him but she would not bail him out and it was an adult decision that he was making and that it would have consequences that he would be wise to be thinking about. So she said I will not bail you out and if you would like some help right now to explore leaving drugs or not using them anymore, I'm happy to take a look at treatment programs with you.


So that was a huge milestone for her in realizing that you really cannot control someone and the influence you have is oh so important and now, you know, to be seeing that as a sacred space, not to lose that influence and it is absolutely scary and there is a continuum so that's very helpful for parents to give them some confidence to know that they can be along that continuum.


Another time where Jane Nelson was here in Santa Cruz, there was a forum about 400 people were there and one woman in Questions and Answers section got up and said, "How can I inoculate my child from doing drugs?" And Jane Nelson said "Well, we're finding, what the research is showing us that people are going to experiment no matter their ages, they are going to have peer pressure and they're going to experiment, the children, or the young people that have very low self-esteem or sense of selves or sense of future and their power to reach their goals, if they did lack those things they are likely to be the ones that get caught in the trajectory towards addiction and the people that have high self-esteem, self-awareness, are communicative, know themselves, self-aware, have goals and are self-assured, those are the people that might experiment but are likely to move on because they have the whole world out there for them. So I thought that was a pretty good answer because there is no right or wrong, good or bad, right or wrong, it's is the continuum and it's the relationship.


Casey: Yeah, well, I really appreciate that influence piece and that story about Jane and her son because I have a story of my own that my daughter has given me permission to share about going back to vaping and I recently, about a month ago, came to find out that she did, in fact, have a vape, we'd already dealt with this one time and it showed up again and I went in, like, I just had the, at first, I, you know, once she handed it over, I just, I had to walk out so I recognized that the best thing to do was to just, like, get myself together because I was really surprised that it was still a part of her, it was still something that she was doing and I am also a recovering nicotine addict, I am still struggling with it, so, you know, everything inside me is like I want to save you from this. And something, I just, all of a sudden I kind of realized, you know, we are on parallel journeys. We, you know, for right now, she's still at home and we get to be in this tight quarter together and I get to be a support for her in a way that's really intimate but ultimately, she is the one that decides if she will navigate nicotine addiction.


Like, it was just like, "Oh, it was one of those moments of 'Oh, I don't have to be in charge of this" and I will interfere and intervene and interrupt when it come into my consciousness, when I know that it's happening and it's in the house, you know, and so I went and I shared this with her and that really felt like, I really felt like I handed the responsibility back to her, like, "You are ultimately the one that gets to decide this. You know, and whether or not you figure out how to get yourself another vape and all that stuff," I mean, that's her but, you know, it's just, it felt really profound just to come from this place of, "Wow, you know what? You, this is your journey, this is your future self, not my future self, you know, and what is that like?" Like you said earlier, like, "What is it that you want the most, what's your vision for yourself?" and letting her sit with that, granted I did take the vape, obviously, I was this close, but you know, I think there's something really powerful, it felt really powerful-


Jane: To both be firm by taking the vape but also saying, "Hey, you know, ultimately this is your decision and I certainly hope you'll think this one through," so, and the thing is, what is your sense for from her about this?


Casey: I mean it feels like she can take it or leave it, I mean, the jury's still out, right, she's only 15. There's still a lot a of a time left as we move through the gauntlet of the teen years but I hope, you know, I mean and she's watched her dad struggle with nicotine and and we talk, I mean we're very open in the conversations around drugs and alcohol and nicotine and risky behavior and they know a lot of our stories and they're curious and they want, you know, they have a lot of questions and they have a lot of curiosity and we're really open to, you know, to having the conversation and I think that, you know, part of me sometimes I think like "Oh God, is this creating an environment that feel more like, it's like, if you give them birth control they're going to have sex." Well, its our openness to conversation and curiosity creating an environment that makes it easier for them to consider experimenting or I don't know? I'm kind of caught up in that.


Jane: Yeah, I fear that we, with our heads in the sand, we create a lot of mischief out there because then we are reactive, then we're reactive when it does happen and we are, we're not helping them learn how to navigate the questions out there because if we're guides on the side, we have to also realize that the influences that they see from very early years, are all of those things which lead up to this particular moment, whether it's a movie we've seen, whether it's T.V., whether it's-


Casey: Oh yeah, everywhere.


Jane:  Older siblings, friends or you know, on the bus they overhear people talking about it, kids are absorbing things immensely early on so we are teasing, we're really fooling ourselves if we think that they are not already very, very aware of all of these things and just exploring it, having conversations that are really truly built around curiosity can really help them think ahead.  Now she has dabbled with vape, you know, and now she's going to be thinking about well, "Gee, the response from my parent was one of curiosity and support and some empathy and also, like, sharing with me their own stories, so, wow, that's a lot think about" and now she has, that is sort of a path or a blueprint to think about the other choices that she's going to have before her, knowing that it's her responsibility to take care of herself.


She would be thinking about, you know, "Who is this person and why do they want me to do that? It's in my best interest. What are the long  term implications?" I mean, it's a set of skills that our kids need to have and it's I think ideal if we can enter in at less dangerous or risky place with those things that we notice earlier on in the 10, 11, 12, 13 year old time for them to think about later but we find our entry whenever it is.


Casey: Right, right. And sometimes it's entry by fire.


Jane: Yeah.


Casey: I mean, I'm sure that there are people listening to this conversation who are recognizing the value of the conversation coming up into the teen years but what about, you know, when people who are listening, who are thinking, like, this is, we're in it right now, like, this isn't a before conversation, like, it's happening and they really fear for their kids and I think it's that tease apart of "Is this something and this is the thing, right, like do we need to think about an intervention, is this rehab or is this social use?"


Or like I told, I remember saying to my daughter last year, like, "OK when you start to become a really bad after school special, you know, like, we're having these conversations and you're being really honest with me with what you're doing and I am also know that I am also you know keeping track and looking for the red flag for me to realize, like, something bigger than what I can do here is happening and I will look for support and look for help for you." And I think it's really hard to walk that path of just, like, "Really? Come on," versus "Oh shit, this is something that we need to get more help with," and when you, and what comes up for you when I talk about that fine line.


Jane: So many people are in that, like, "Oh my god, what is happening? I didn't have any idea." They're taken blindsided by it and first thing I want to encourage those parents to do is to do some self care so that they can be as even keeled and centered as possible so are they eating well, are they sleeping well, are they taking time for balancing things in their lives because all of that is also modeling what we want our kids to be able to do, so instead of numbing out on drugs when they feel overwhelmed or stressed, that they do yoga and eat well instead, right?  


So, I hope parents will start to realize that they are such an important model and leader for whatever happens after that, that they need to do self care and then, who, it's not just what is your child doing, where is your child at a certain given time, who are they with, it's more of a question is who is your child? Who is your teenager? What gives them excitement in life? What are their interests? What are their burdens and those kinds of questions, for parents, it's different than if, you know, when they were 8 years old, it's very different than, when they're 16 or 15.


And so it's an opportunity to get to know their teen in a new way and that's the value of the curiosity, of the curiosity questions and it is tone of voice. If you're coming into a conversation and you have, as they would say, loaded for bear, I mean, you are, it's "What were you thinking?" That's great to be a conversation stopper. So that's self care about being really ready to be open to what you hear and then asking it in a way that, you know, tell me what you're thinking is on this" and if they're not ready, you can always say "I feel the need to know better what you're thinking is on this and I may not agree with it but I'm really going to be working hard to to hear and understand what you're thinking and when you are ready to share, would you be willing to let me know?" To ust plant the seeds for and I know that there's, if there is some disengagement and distance between teens and parents and in the teenage brain and the need for the individuation and privacy and becoming their own person can still be countered with "Hey, let's have lunch out somewhere once a week, just hang with each other," you know, just some way to let them know that you really matter and that's kind of interesting.


Our son, this one that gave us so much interesting challenges over time, I asked him in his early twenties, I said "Remember all those times when we tried negotiating with you about who you'd computer games, we tried to sit next to you and understand the computer games and we tried to, you know, look at the materials you were dealing with, all those different things we tried, the timing" and he goes, "Oh yeah, I remember." I said, "Did anything we did work?" and he thought for maybe 3 seconds and he said, "Nope but I knew you cared about me." So I think that, I do, yeah, that we care about them so deeply and how we show it, by showing up, is also really critical. We can blow it. We can make mistakes but when we can say, "Oops, I got, I got swept away, I was not being as respectful as I should have been and I apologize," you know, so when we can really model the way we want to be and show up for them, they can remember that, even if we didn't do it skillfully.


Casey: Yeah, and well, I'm hearing you say there's room for us to own our behavior, right, "So when I came in here like a freight train and barking orders and I was afraid and I felt like I needed to control you and that wasn't helpful to you, it wasn't helpful to me and I just want to own that." I think there's a lot to clean up if it's a new step, if it's a step into a new way of being in relationship with our kids sometimes.


Some of us, those of us in the micromanagement support group, we have, we, you know, there's and I did this a lot with my kids, less now, less so now than I had to in the past but there was, you know, there's room for us to say "Wow, I really, I was really unhelpful earlier" or "I was hurtful earlier." And then let, you know, letting them say, "Yeah, yeah you were," and not, "Well, if you just would have you know done X, Y, Z, then I wouldn't had to," you know, letting that go and really listening and then, I love what you said, like, wanting, "I just want to understand and I might not agree with it but I really want to understand" and I'm guessing the kids that are having the hardest time with the substances, I'm imagining that the opening, like, there's this, I mean, as I say it I am feeling, experiencing the softness and this tenderness and so this is such a powerful bridge, a bridge back to relationship, it almost makes me a little teary, you know.


Jane: Yeah.


Casey: Oh man, parenting teenagers and they're all different, right? I mean it would be lovely if it was "Just say this and you will live through the teen years with no problems," you know, but that's not what it is.


Jane: No, it isn't.


Casey: and I'm really. Go ahead.


Jane: We just, there's no magic wand here, it is actually how we embody in spirit our sense of they matter so much to us and we are in relationships and so parents need to think it's all of those things about actually thinking about what are the strengths of your teen here, how to care, I mean, we really need to recognize that sometimes we dwell on the negative and the shortcomings and the weaknesses and then we create that reality and what we do is actually re-work our own thought process about "Wow!" noticing what they do bring, the skills they do have, the efforts they do make and then we can create that reality and that's going to help our teen not be so tough on themselves as well.


Casey: Yeah and I can list out a million adults that probably wish that at some point in their young life that somebody had supported them in not being so tough on themselves, right, because we just grow into grown ups that, you know, are perfectionists, or just really stuck in and you know, in life happening to us versus for us, so it's such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thank you so much for your time.


Jane: You're very welcome.


Casey: If there are parents that are listening who would like to get in touch with you is there, where is the best place to find you?


Jane: Well I-


Casey: Or hear about the Santa Cruz, share about the nonprofit that you have.


Jane: Yeah, we have a nonprofit on the central coast of California called Positive Discipline Community Resources and so that website is, of course, www.pdcrcc.org  And the C.C. is central coast.


Casey: Okay, and can they find you through that?


Jane:  Yes, they can find me through that and they can, all of our programs and we have extensive tips sheets for different things that parents are engaged with with their kids that are both in English and Spanish. And then I'm janeweedpomerantz@gmail.com.


Casey: Awesome. Thank you so much.


Jane: Thank you so much for you what you're doing, I think this is going to be a fabulous summit.


Private Logic, Social Interest, and Raising Humans that Make a Difference, with Aisha Pope

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is Aisha Pope. Aisha is a licensed clinical social worker who has been a working in the San Diego area for nearly 15 years. Aisha has provided therapeutic services in a variety of settings, she has taught parent training courses to foster parents entering into specialized foster care with severely at risk youth and teaches positive discipline parenting classes and positive discipline for parenting through divorce. Aisha is warm and empathetic but direct and candid, I have firsthand experience with those qualities.


She specializes in helping people make radical and sustainable changes in their personal lives, relationships, parenting, teaching, work and other areas. She takes a nonjudgmental solution focused approach to helping clients set goals and reach them. She works with individuals, couples, families, groups, schools and companies. Aisha has experience with and welcomes clients from diverse populations including various ethnic identities, religions, family constellations and LGBTQ communities. She is passionate about working with trauma, divorce, parenting, custody discussion, child welfare relationship discord, infertility, anxiety, depression and so much more. Hi, Aisha, thank you for being part of the parenting teens with P.D. audio summit.


Aisha: Hi Casey, thank you so much for having me.


Casey: So good.


Aisha: I'm excited to be here and also super nervous so you hold my hand.




Casey: I got your hand, girl. I'm so glad that you're here. Can you tell the people that are listening a little bit about your experience with teens and positive discipline?


Aisha: So I'm a mama to a very newly minted teen, he's only been a teen for about two months now, my son is 13 and he's an awesome little guy. My daughter is only 5 but she thinks she's a teen so I feel like I have experience  there. I have worked with kids and families pretty much my entire adult life since I've been in social services which started in college around 19 or so as I was working with, I was working with battered women in a shelter. I've been doing positive discipline now for about 10 years so when I learned positive discipline, as you know, and all of us who've done some positive discipline know,  it kind of impacts and permeates your life and your world and your community so regardless of what type of work I'm doing, it comes out in that work. I help parents a lot, you know, we're working with them on focusing on solutions and moving away from punishment, helping them learn how to connect with their kids, getting into their kids' world, connecting with their own inner child which helps them have compassion for their kids at times. Helping them learn to listen to their kids, helping them understand that kids deserve and need respect just like adults do and figuring out how to do that, helping them to empower and encourage their teenagers and even their little kids and helping them to  make space for their kids to contribute and have responsibilities in the world.


Casey: I love all of that and you know, it's funny, when I'm talking to parents I say "You know, we call it parenting, we call it a parenting program but really it's a humaning program, it's like being in relationship with other humans.


Aisha: Yeah, yeah.


Casey: And I love it when people come in and say "Oh my gosh, I use this with my husband" or "I use this at work" it's like yes, yes. Human relationship skills.


Aisha: Agreed.


Casey: So today we are going to dig a little bit deeper into the theory behind positive discipline. I think that this is what sets, you know, in a world where there's this huge umbrella called Positive Parenting, positive discipline to me is set apart from that because it's really founded in this theory, this Adlerian theory and I think that when we start to understand a little bit more, we're not going to go too deep, listeners, neither Aisha nor I are complete Adlerian experts, OK, we're just going to own that from the beginning.


Aisha: No and we know some people, we both know some people really well who are mentors and leaders and teachers who we dearly love and respect, who are absolute experts at this.


Casey: Right and if they're listening, we love you.


Aisha: We love you.


Casey: You can tell us later all the ways that we make. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, right?


Aisha:  Absolutely.


Casey:  So Adlerian theory, it does come up with other guests in the summit, we talk a little bit about it but I really want to take some time to highlight that specifically around and we're going to get to it in a little bit, around social interests and private logic, so listeners that's what you're in for, right and it's really, the reason is, it becomes really useful in understanding behavior from this lens, especially in the teen years when it's really challenging to understand what the hell is going on with your teenager. So, yeah and when I, and one of the pieces around Adlerian theory is, well, actually, back up, I would love to hear from you, Aisha, when you share about Adlerian theory, what is it that you share with parents about what it is and why it's helpful to consider on the parenting journey?


Aisha: So I'm a social worker by training and by trade, if you know anything about social workers and the kind of work we do and how we can it dig in and get into the trenches and and you know, really meet people where they are and look at communities and systems and that sort of thing, I feel like Adler was supposed to be my guru and I didn't meet him until after, you know, I was trained in social work but I felt like I found a home. Adlerian therapy is an approach that's humanistic and goal oriented, it emphasizes that people are striving for a sense of superiority and connection with others and they contribute to society and contributions to society are hallmarks of mental health. Adler was a community guy so he was the first psychologist that started looking at, you know, how do our systems work, how does that our healthcare system work, you know, early 1900s before people were talking about these things.


He was focused on preventing problems, you know, in addition to solving them, he was focused on things like the social determinants of health which are which are big things that we talk about now that people were talking about that kind of stuff back there, back then, so I look at Adlerian theory in some buckets. So there's the social justice and systemic thinking piece of it where he says all people are equally worthy of dignity and respect, again, we're talking about a white guy in the 1900s saying that everybody is equal. He doesn't have to say things like that but he did say that and believed it and he talked about community feeling or social interest which I know we're going to talk about later. He talked about wholism, the idea that people are more than just the sum of their parts and the parts work together to create, you know, who a person is.


He talked about looking at our systems and fixing our systems as a way to help the people within the system thrive, whether the system is health care or household but when the whole system works well together, the individuals in the system can work a little bit better together. He talked about relationships and how important those are, that people don't develop in isolation and relationships are the primary learning environment, especially for little people. He talked about belonging and significance, which I'm sure anybody who's been listening to the summit has heard about, talked about connection to people, he talked about how we don't just behave for the purpose of behaving, all behavior has a purpose and that purpose is communication of something. That fears have a belief behind them, we'll talk a little bit about private logic later.


What else? He talked about this concept of encouragement and that we're not doing well it's usually because we're discouraged and to help us do better we figure out ways to encourage ourselves and each other. And he talked about discipline, when we get to the Adlerian principles around discipline, it's basically about teaching, that that the purpose of providing any discipline is to help person learn and grow, not to hurt them or to have to pay for mistakes. That's how I bucket it out.


Casey: Yeah, I really appreciate that and I think that it's so interesting and there's so many layers, right, I mean, there's entire colleges that are dedicated to Adler and his work so we're not going to pretend that in this 40 minutes we're going to get it all.


Aisha: Or in the 10 years that I've been trying, right?


Casey: Right, but you know, it's really powerful to me that, you know, that his work brought him to this place because it just makes so much sense. I know that when I went through my training in positive discipline and you know, you get the 20 minute little introduction to Adlerian theory and even just that conversation around behavior being purposeful, disciplining to teach and that we're striving for a sense of connection and knowing that we matter, that was a huge mindset shift and I was so great, it was like, "Oh great! I, so, that fits so much better in my mind than the contrasting idea, especially in the parenting realm, where it's well, behavior is simply whatever we motivate it to be through consequences and rewards, which listeners that is, that's the behaviorist theory and that's what a lot of us grew up with and so shifting into something different can be, there can be a lot of freedom there and it also, what we find, I think a lot of us, when we make that decision, OK, I'm going to, I'm going to look through this lens is the old lens doesn't necessarily go anywhere, right and so sometimes it can be tricky to make that full shift and my hope is that this entire summit is something in its wholeness that really supports parents in making that shift and coming back to the idea of belonging and significance.


Aisha: Before you go through that, I want to say, first of all that, that I so agree with you about making that shift and that it doesn't just go away because you learn something new. I knew about rewards and consequences and, you know, reinforcement and all that stuff since I was old enough to be rewarded and consequenced and it just seemed like the way to be and you go to school and this is what you learn and you read parenting books in  eighties and nineties and this is what you learn and I've been doing positive discipline and trying to follow Adlerian theory for less time than I did any of that other stuff as a child or as an adult and when I get stressed, my mind goes to those places that are easier, you know, those places I've been before, that I'm used to. They're not easier because they're easier, they're easier because I'm used to them and my mind still goes there, even after they're familiar, exactly, so and my mind still goes there even though I want to be a different way. I hope for the most part my actions follow the practices that I want them to but in the moment when I'm upset, my thoughts often very quickly go to rewards and punishment and consequences. So even after you learn something new, muscle memory might try to drag you back to what you used to know.


Casey: Yeah, oh it definitely will and I think, when we're talking, when the conversation is teenagers, you know, and we can see the, well, what we think is the end of the tunnel, ha ha, joke's on us. And so everything becomes such high stakes and I think, you know, something that I've been talking a lot about is, you know, rewards and punishments,  rewards and consequences, they are tools. They are tools in the tool box and so the goal then becomes "How can I fill my tool box so many other tools that these fall towards the bottom." So that when I am stressed and I can teach myself over time and even when we get it wrong and we grab for those familiar, when we're stressed, grab for those familiar tools, being able to, I actually said out loud to my kids, like, 'Clearly I'm out of tools because I want to tell you, I want to threaten you right now, like, do you, do we need to go there, you know?' and being really transparent with my kids has also been helpful in supporting me and in engaging in the style that I want even when it's hard to do.


So this belonging and significance piece, right and even some of, like, what you said around we want to move towards, I think, I read something recently where Adlerian theory is movement away from feeling less than and then I heard you say and movement towards feeling that superiority and I'm guessing, because I always, I have a funny thing with the word superiority, and so superiority is doesn't necessarily mean I'm superior to you as much as it means I'm a superior version of myself is that, am I getting that right?


Aisha: That's it as I understand it and the movement toward superiority is to combat feelings of inferiority.


Casey: Got it. And so I'm thinking and I always appreciate this when in my workshops and and classes when parents are like "If my child ultimately wants these feelings of connection and significance then why are they being such freaks? Why are they acting like that?" So let's kind of tease apart and together, right, how to expand our thinking around how they're making meaning about being connected because a lot of what they're doing seems to be pulling away.


Aisha: Yeah, and pushing.


Casey: Yeah, pulling away and pushing. Which is not making me feel like "Oh yeah, I want to be connected to you."


Aisha: I understand, I get it and I agree. I think that by the time our kids are doing behaviors that look like pulling away or pushing us away, they're are already feeling disconnected, you know, so and not feeling super confident about their ability to connect and so the pushing away might be a protective piece, you know. We are extremely powerful, essentially, and relationship motivated as humans and when our relationships don't feel right, we get discouraged and that shows up in our behavior.


When our relationships are not good, even, not just us, not just our kids, if your primary relationships aren't feeling good, it's hard to go to work and be successful. It's hard to be nice to the lady at the grocery store, it's hard to let somebody cut in front of you in traffic when the people who I'm most connected to feel disconnected from me, I just don't do life very well and our kids, our teenagers or at this point, you know, the stage, the Erikson stages, they're at the point where they're trying to individuate, that's what adolescents do, identity versus role confusion, that's what it's called, so they're individuating, they're developing a sense of self.


They're saying "I am an independent human aside from you, mom and dad and I'm going into a part of my life that's really hard. I just noticed for the first time that my ears are kind of big and you know who else noticed? Everybody. Everybody noticed my ears are kind of big, you know and I have hormones happening in my body and they don't feel good all the time and and my friends are, it's not like everybody in the class is friends anymore and now, you have to like pick a group and that sort of thing and I don't know where I want to be. So at the time where I kind of need you most, biology is telling me I need to kind of let you go, you know and insecurities are popping up and I'm self-conscious about things and I really, really don't want to need you, because needing you says something about me that I don't that, I don't want to communicate right now," you know. So just trying to being compassionate for kids and how much is going on in their little lives, you know, these days.


Casey: Wow, they're still babies.


Aisha: I know, I mean your 13 year old might be grown, but mine, however, is a baby.


Casey: Well my 13 year old is my baby. Because I have an almost 16 year old and so yeah and then there's one's a boy and one's a girl and I really appreciate what you're saying and what I'm hearing too is that our kids don't necessarily say to us "Hey, listen, I'm feeling really disconnected and that hurts so I might be kind of a jerk to you" but that's where it's coming from. No, they just pull away and do their thing and scoul.  


Aisha: We don't do that as adults half the time, maybe more than half the time we don't do that as adults. They have not made sense of this. They don't really understand that they're feeling disconnected, you know, they're acting on that feeling of disconnection, they don't understand it. If we do, that would be helpful and they may not, they may not want to have a conversation with us about whether or not they're feeling disconnected but we can use strategies that help them feel more connected to us that might be helpful even if we're not, even if we haven't been able yet to have a direct conversation about why this may be happening for them.


Casey: Yeah, well I love that, Aisha, I want you to expand on that because I think that we/me, when that feeling arises and I was just on another in another interview with our colleague Noha and we were talking about anxiety and depression and how, you know, it's really disrespectful for us to show up and swoop in and think that we can fix everything for our kids and I know that in my head and I also know that when my kids are having a hard time I want to know what's going on. And so I'm right there, like, "What's going on abe, this is what I'm noticing and what do you need?" and they're, you know, like "I need you to get away from me,"


Aisha: Yeah.


Casey: Right and so I would love for you to expand a little bit on, you know, ways of connecting that are supportive to our kids, right and those baby steps, those stepping stones towards building that bridge of connection.


Aisha: I think what you just said about, you know, going to your kids and saying "This is what I notice and are you okay and do you want to talk about it?" I think that's OK and I think that's where we start, I think we just need to recognize if that's not a strategy that's helpful in that moment for that child that we need to backup a little bit. Sometimes it's as simple as "Do you need a hug?" Or "You look like you've got a lot going on and I can see you don't want to talk about it but when you're ready, I'm really here for you and if I'm not the person, is there somebody else that you could talk to? I want to make sure that you're getting the help that you need." I like to say that we need to resource our kids but not rescue them.


Casey: I like that.


Aisha: They're going to have feelings and the feelings are going to be hard sometimes and they have to go through them ,we had to go through them, that's how they they develop their muscles. And our job is to support them through it in ways that they actually perceive as supportive. So I know what I perceive as supportive, I know that I think you need me to wipe your nose, I know that that would be helpful to you, your nose would be clean, I would know it was done well. But what they want is for you to hand them the tissue, you know?


Casey: Well and I think there's something to be said, also, for us as the receivers when they are able, like my daughter is really pretty good at letting me know, mostly she lets me know when I'm doing something that is not what she needs. And I get to-


Aisha: It's easier to notice.


Casey: Yes it is and we  have developed the, you know, we've nurtured the soil so that she knows that that's something that it's useful to her and it's my learning edge, right, like I am I am a Words of Affirmation love language girl, I am a physical touch love language girl, and I've even said that to her, I was like, "Well, you know, words of affirmation are my love language," and she looks at me completely deadpan and it's like "Well, that's not my love language,"


Aisha: Right.


Casey: And I'm like, "Right," you know or she'll, you know, just recently was having a bad afternoon and I was like, what's going on and she looks at me again, she's perfected the deadpan look and she says "I don't want to talk about it." So my work then becomes respecting that, which I am going to be super transparent and say that that is easier said than done because I want to get right up in there, it's, you know, "Let's process, let me know what's going on, I've got great advice" and not useful.


Aisha: That's not what she wants or needs in that moment. You know, a friend of mine, I'm going to shout out to my friend Rachel who is a positive discipline-


Casey: Hi Rachel.


Aisha: Hi Rachel. She told me that when she was, we were talking about helping parents see what their kids need, we have these deep philosophical conversations, so we were talking about and she said "You know, my dad used to say to me when we were in softball, oh it was baseball, I don't know whatever sport you have with the bat, her dad who was coaching would say, "What's the best way to throw a ball?" and all the kids would chime in with their ideas of what's the best way to throw a ball and her dad would say "The best way to throw a ball is the way your partner can catch it."


Casey: Oh I love that. That's brilliant.  Good job, Rachel's Dad.


Aisha:  Yeah, shout out to Rachel's Dad out there somewhere  too and I was like, that is really very true. So I have all of these wonderful ideas about what should happen and these, you know, I'm a therapist, I have great techniques, you know. But if it's not working for my kid, it's not working. The best way to throw a ball is the way my kid can catch it.


Casey: Yes, yes, yes, I love that. I am going to write that down somewhere.  So I love the quote and Rudolph Dryker is just, shout out to Dryker, still, would you say he was an apprentice of Alfred Adler? Would that be correct? Would you think that? He definitely was into Adlerian theory, worked under him, maybe was an apprentice. I don't know.


Aisha: I'm going to go ahead and let you own that so, yes.


Casey: I should really be corrected at some point and he wrote a book called Children The Challenge, like he did his own work as well, one of his quotes that all of us PD people love is "A misbehaving child is a discouraged child." I would also say "A misbehaving parent is a discouraged parent, human, we can add all sorts of things in there for child." So talk a little bit now about how being discouraged and  I think we've gone there a little bit but I know you have more to add about how discouragement can manifest into "bad behavior."


Aisha: So, you know, in positive discipline we talk about the mistaken goals of misbehavior and there are four them, so the first one is attention. So kids who are who are discouraged and choose the goal of attention, they have this feeling or belief that they only belong if they're able to keep other people busy with them, so you might see this kind of kid whining and they just can't, have you ever seen that kid who just drops the for and they just cannot reach it, they need your help, I cannot reach this fork, help me you got to help me. The kid who's like, it's homework time, they're like "Help me Mom, help me God, help me, why don't you help me, you never help me, please help me!" you know and they feel like you can only, you know, they're only important in this world, and they can only be seen if we're keeping you busy, they're keeping us busy with them and then there's power. So those kids in their discouragement they believe that they can only belong when they're the boss. So those are the kids that are going to be a little bit more defiant and argumentative, they may just refuse to do things or boss other people around. And revenge, that's one of our favorites, those are the kids-


Casey: I'm intimately familiar with this behavioral goal.


Aisha: Yeah yeah. So those are the kids who feel really hurt, they feel really hurt and they're, in their discouragement the solution to their feelings of hurt is to hurt back. So those are the kids who you might see destroying property, they might do some self destructive behaviors, you know, like smoking or drugs or staying out late partially because that stuff helps them feel good and connected to somebody but also partially because they know that it's going to be really upsetting to the people that care about them.


And then the deepest level of discouragement comes for those kiddos who fall into the last category, assumed inadequacy. And this is going to look really hopeless and helpless, when you look at a kid who is who is in that phase of inadequacy, their belief in their discouragement is that they don't belong so why even try. So these are kids that you're going to see that are going to look really depressed and the kids that are going to withdraw and kids that just basically look like they've given up.


So the behaviors, you know, in our positive discipline classes, we usually pick one behavior. I like to use the homework behavior and use that behavior across all of the different mistaken goals so you can see how the behavior may look the same, as a therapist I gets calls saying, "I'm just having a hard time with getting my kid to do their homework or whatever" but I have a lot more questions about why we're having a hard time or what that looks like, because you have the one kid who has, you know, assumed inadequacy who just really can't do it because they feel stupid and so they're not willing to try, the other kid who is tired of being bossed around and they're taking a stand, the other kid who could do it but really wants some attention so they're going to bug you to do it with them, or you know, or the other kid who's not willing to try for you because they don't feel like you've tried for them, you know, with revenge and so getting into some understanding because you have this behavior, this behavior looks the same and the parents are going to call and say "My kid's refusing to do their homework and-"


Casey: What can I do to them?  


Aisha:  Yeah.


Casey: And I love this example too because it's so perfect for the iceberg metaphor, right, because the homework's the tip of iceberg.


Aisha: Absolutely.


Casey: And it's those mistaken ideas about how I connect, do I can connect, belonging, that are under the surface there.


Aisha: Absolutely. So that's what it looks like, you know, you have these, you know, underlying feelings or thoughts about how to belong and how to connect in your discouragement and then that that comes out in behavioral ways, like I said, your  attention-seeking kid's going to be a bit whiny, your power kid's going to be a bit defiant.


Casey: Do you feel like kids, like I'm always thinking to myself, even as I was listening to you, can kids migrate? Do you find that kids migrate amongst those mistaken goals or do you think that kids like have their typical, like, they have their own brand? I know that when I came to positive discipline my kids were really little and power struggles and revenge were, I feel like that's where I danced with my oldest who was at the time like 4. What do you think about that? Do you think that they kind of migrate?


Aisha: So I have heard different things from those experts we spoke of that we both very much respect. So I don't want to get this wrong.


Casey: OK, well we're not, maybe yeah, that's, we're just having a discussion.


Aisha: Yeah, so I do think that they can migrate. I think that they can migrate certainly throughout their lifespan and or their childhood span. I think that sometimes it goes in order, like, you know the attention seeking kid who's not getting their needs met through attention might migrate to power, it might migrates to revenge and then might eventually give up. I don't think that, I think that once you get to the to the level of discouragement that leads to revenge being kind of a primary way of being or inadequacy being prevalent for you, I don't think that those kids kind of move back and forth but I could see kids moving back and forth between power and revenge, attention and power, or maybe with different caregivers, you know, I work a lot with divorced families and in a relationship where you're feeling more secure I could see attention being the mistaken goal you might go to in a relationship where you feel more insecure, you might go to go to revenge.


Casey: I just want to point out to people that are listening and noticing Aisha's language about that it's mistaken goals we call them because it's a person's mistaken idea about how to come to that sense of belonging and significance. So it's kind of this like skewed vision, right and I have, I mean, I just find it so interesting, I feel like we have seasons. Like I can tell, okay, you know I'm doing a lot of nagging and I'm, nobody wants to help out, and I can step back and realize like "OK, I've been, I have been pretty darned demanding lately" and once I own that with my kids and say "Gosh, I wonder if it's hard to, I wonder if it's been hard to be around me because I am thinking I've been pretty demanding of you guys" and they are just like, "Ugh, yes, it's so annoying" and I get to recognize, like, "OK, we've been in this power struggle, I can own my piece about it" and then we, it's like we start again. Right, or it can sound like, "You know what? I'm feeling just really disconnected from, you know, and you know, this particular situation happened and that I felt really hurt by that and I'm wondering if you are hurting and I'm wondering what's going on with you and if you're feeling some hurt" and again, back to the beginning of our conversation, they will either be interested in having the conversation or not. So as we move towards it I know something that's useful for me is to just recognize this might be a series of short conversations.


Aisha: Short being the secret there.


Casey:  Yeah, yeah, hell, listen to yourself there, Casey. But I think it's just, it's just,you know and there's a lot to unpack here, listeners so there's just a little bit but you can definitely find more information about mistaken goals in all of the positive discipline books highlight this definitely because it is so powerful and one thing, one way that I try and make sense of this is to remember that our teens and humans in general are always filtering. This is the way I make sense of it, I don't know what Adler would think, but I think of it as we are always filtering our experience through our own lens, right and our lens is developed over time through experiences and relationships that we have and we're always asking, maybe not front of mind but the concepts of "Do I belong? Do I matter?" are kind of always this overarching piece for us and then we're collecting data along the way that ultimately influences our decision making, right? Can you talk a little bit about and this is kind of how I make sense of what private logic is, how do you make sense of Adler's phrase private logic?




Aisha: I think I understand it the same way that you do, essentially, it's the meaning we make of the experiences that we have, so we perceive something through our senses, we see something, we hear something and we basically decided what that means and that decision is based on a lot of different factors. So how I feel in any given moment is certainly going to explain or influence how I, how I explain a current experience. Your temperament and your predominant mood, how you usually are, experiences that you've had in the past and if this current situation looks like a previous situation, I'm likely to interpret it the same way that I did the last situation. Whatever your personal sensitivities and strengths and insecurities are, your view of yourself, your view of others, your view of the world and what you see as what you need to do to survive or thrive in that world and all these things make up our world view.


So two kids walk into the same cafeteria and see a group of other kids laughing and one kid who is feeling really secure, who's feeling really strong, who got an A on a math test this morning and heard a rumor that she made the cheer squad is not going to look at those kids and say "Those kids are laughing at me", you know, that kid's going to say "Oh, somebody over there must have told a funny joke," that's her private logic. May or may not be true, that private logic probably serves her. But there's no accuracy to that. She has no idea whether or not that's what happened but another kid walks into the room and that kid bombed that math test this morning and found out last night that she wasn't going to get the part in the school play and has been bullied in the past so she when she walks into the same cafeteria and here's a group of kids laughing, she's going to say to herself, "They're laughing at me because they know I didn't get the part," you know. Neither one of these kids is right. Or they might be right but we don't know that they're right. So our private logic is the stories that we tell ourselves to explain our experiences.


Casey: Yeah, which is so fascinating to me and I, you know, that's something that in the coaching realm is always so interesting because I talk a lot about and it's similar to what we do in positive discipline where we ask in life classes, if any of you listeners have been to a life class, you know that there's those 3 questions right, what are you feeling ,what are you thinking, what are you deciding or what are you thinking, what are you feeling, what are you deciding.


Depending on who you are and who trained you, you ask those questions in that order and I think it's so interesting when we start to connect how we feel to what we ultimately decide about ourselves about the situation because you know, and even, even thinking about events that are coming up, right? So, my daughter recently had to get a contrasting M.R.I. and had to have a shot in her wrist and she was freaking out and because of the unknown, right, like she didn't know how bad it was going to hurt, what was it going to feel like, what was it going to be like and so, you know, we had this conversation about, well you can spend the next 10 days thinking that it's going to be the worst experience of your life and then it is or it isn't or you can spend the next 10 days thinking, "Oh this is going to be annoying and I'm not really excited about it but whatever I'm going to live through it" and either it will or it won't be the most annoying thing of your life, either way, you're going to have this experience but you can decide the experience of the lead up to the experience, you know, and anyway, I just think that that is so fascinating and such a fun place to play because there's so much personal power there, influence over what you're living through. That's a little side note on private logic.


Aisha: That was good.


Casey: Thank you, thank you. That's what the experts say.


Aisha: Yes.


Casey: Sometimes, sometimes our teens develop a sense of not belonging and not mattering, like that second team right that was walking in the room and you know, and in response, can get into some mischief, just in their own quest to navigate their experience, you know, sometimes they are and we're going to talk more about this in interviews with other colleagues of ours but they'll get into some mischief and so what are some things and even as we talk about mistaken goals and everything, what are some things that parents can do that interrupts that mindset around belonging, that the mistaken ideas of belonging and significance, how can we come back to help our kids come back to or at least support them in the journey to coming back to a healthy sense of belonging and mattering? What do you think? What are some of your ideas?


Aisha: You know, I think, first and foremost, being sensitive and compassionate to the emotional life of the teenager, I say that because I love the emotional life of the toddler, so the emotional life of the teenager being sensitive to where kids are and being understanding that as these behaviors are happening when they're individuating and when they're pushing you away, that this is a developmental milestone that they're going to and to do our best not to take it personally I think is helpful and might help to talk to people with children older than yours who can remind you that this phase passes. In terms of our regulation of ourselves, I think that's really important.


I think spending time with our kids, which we all say that we need to spend time with our kids and life is busy and our kids don't always want to spend time with us but starting a routine of family meetings and a family meal a few times a week at least. So that so that there's these opportunities outside of conflict for us to have conversations, so that when there is a conflict or when there is a problem our kids are more likely to talk to us. I think that's really important and I think it's more important, really important, to listen more than we talk and to manage our own emotions when our kids are talking to us so that we're not freaking them out and to balance the managing of our own emotions with being honest.


So I'm not going to pretend I'm not upset. I'm just not want to freak out and when I say "Oh my gosh, I'm so worried right now. I'm so worried, I'm trying not to freak out on you," and if I can be honest about how I'm actually feeling without, you know, going to level 10 and having my kid say "OK well that was a fail," you know.


Casey: Yeah, I think totally and I think they have such good bullshit radars too.


Aisha: They do, they actually do.


Casey: You know, they're not likely to respect that.


Aisha: Let me tell you, we are old and we're not cool. We're not.


Casey: I hate that, Aisha, come on.


Aisha: We're totally not cool, like-


Casey: They don't realize yet that we are.


Aisha: Put your glasses back on, put your slang away and be yourself when you're talking to your kid because they are into this. They are not into us pretending that we know. Ask, you know and learn from them. They are experts in teenage life, we are not anymore. Give them room to make mistakes. Understand that our kids have different priorities than we do and that they don't always see a bigger picture. As insightful as you think you were when you were 16, you weren't, you really weren't, I promise you weren't.


Casey: No.


Aisha:  And if you were, then you're not them so it doesn't matter.


Casey: I didn't get insightful until I had kids and most of my insight was "I don't know anything."


Aisha: I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm doing. I think building good habits around helping kids to feel like they belong and knowing what a good belonging feels like starts with sharing the responsibilities in the home, giving our kids opportunities to contribute and then thanking them, showing gratitude when they do contribute, so that this place, our place, our home always feels like a place where they belong and even when the rest of the world feels really harsh, there's this one place that I can go to, even though my mom is super annoying and she's not cool and she's got that last year slang going on, at least I'm safe here and I belong here, you know.


Casey: Totally.


Aisha: So that's important, don't minimize their feelings when they feel disconnected or left out. "She's stupid anyway!" That's not helpful, I feel bad that this person doesn't want to play with me or doesn't want to hang out with me, don't tell me that I shouldn't feel that way, right, you know and I think we, in our in our efforts to rescue and help them feel better, we do a lot of that.


Give your kids opportunity to be involved in groups that support your family values and interests. So whether that be, whether your family has some political interest and leanings and you want to get your kids involved in that way, whether the church, whether your family is really involved in sports or whatever it is, get your kids involved in places and opportunities for them to be connected socially and contributing socially and they will have, in their social groups, their personal social groups, some problematic interactions but these other groups are safety nets for them, these other groups remind them that they are competent socially, that they are, that somewhere they do matter and if this particular social group isn't the place at this time and I'm going to feel sad about that, I'm not going to lie, but this is a part of it, you know, and a part of our kids only connections in our own and there are only options to the monitor only places to go who are in there in their same age social groups, they're going to spend a lot of time feeling bad, you know. So are there other places they can be connected so that when these aren't working as well, they realize that the world is a little bit bigger than their clique.


Casey: Oh, I love that and that's really powerful and I really appreciate what you were saying, what I was hearing you say was just how powerful it is, I mean, no matter what age our kids are, but especially when they're teenagers, to be your authentic self.


Aisha: Yeah.


Casey: Right and I think that it's also really powerful to be really transparent about, "Hey, you know, what this is your first time being a teenager, this is my first time being a parent of a teenager and it's really hard to know what to do in some of these situations" and yeah.


Aisha: Yeah, I think it's really important for us to talk openly with our kids about the hard stuff and to be genuine and say "This is awkward. It's awkward for me too. I don't even know how to bring this up," you know, so they don't feel incompetent for not knowing how to have this conversation. You know, be genuine, be authentic, this is hard. This is really.


Casey: So let's talk a little bit. Oh, did you have one more? Did you have something else more?


Aisha: I did. I wanted to say I think it's important and our kids are most of the time not going to like this, but I love, I am a social worker, I love community so knowing my, knowing my kids' friends and knowing their parents is really important to me, really important. And I think that if that becomes a kind of staple in your family, that we know each other we communicate well with the friends of your peers if you're going out with somebody and that person is driving a car to pick you up, they're going to come in and say hi and have a soda and then you guys leave, you know, and then when they get home they're going to text you and you're going to let me know they got home safely.


Casey: Yeah, I appreciate that too. You know, it's funny, we had a situation last year where there was a boy in the picture and I just kept saying "Have him over. I'd love to meet him. Oh, you want to go out? OK, well we need to get to know this kid and he never would come and it was, last year was really hard over here and then this year we had a, it's funny, it's like, my, you know, it was super annoying to my daughter last year that this was our thing, like, we just got it, we got it, we get to meet him, we get to know that you're safe with an upstanding human. And she just was so irritated by the whole thing and this year we had a conversation a few months ago about it with another kid that it was like, "Yeah, bring him over" and like we're easy, we were easy and sorry, but we are cool. OK we're not, you know what, it's OK but we are. People loving me.


Aisha: It's okay that we're not cool, I think you and I are slightly exceptions to that rule.


Casey: I'm thinking that.


Aisha: But most of the rest of you guys-


Casey: Sorry.


Aisha: Maybe not so much.


Casey: Just try to be like us but you know, I mean, like, I get along really well with my kids' friends. I'm annoying to my kids but their friends love me. Anyway, she, I feel like there were some like "Oh!" some dots connected around if I want to go hang out with someone and they're not willing to come and hang out with my parents, how much do I really want to hang out with that person, right? So we'll see how it continues to go, we're still pretty early in the journey but I saw some dots connected there and I was like "OK, thank god." But I really appreciate that. So let's talk a little bit about everybody's favorite word in positive discipline, gemeinschaftsgefühl, which is a German word with a lot of letters and it took me a long time in practicing to be able to say it. Also known as social interests, another term created by Adler. So, for you and we've mentioned social interests a little bit here and there in this conversation, what is it, how do you break it down for people?


Aisha: Yeah Adler talks about social interest gemeinschaftsgefühl, I just thought I'd say that one time fast, as social interest or I've heard it also said as community feeling and its people feeling an interest in being connected with other people and interest in the well being of other people and that in general we're healthiest when we're socially interested in making connections and contributing. It includes things like participating in things with other people, making efforts to contribute to the greater good of whatever your community, household, family, whatever it is, school is, lending a hand to other people, showing respect, showing empathy and doing things that encourage other people.


Casey: So and right now there's a lot of conversation, I think this is so real and relevant, well, I mean, Adler was so ahead of his time.


Aisha: Right?


Casey: And right now, I mean thinking about the conversations that are currently happening around being an upstander, being an advocate, you know, so many voices are rising to the surface that have historically not been heard or not given the platform to be heard, being an ally is a conversation that are happening, we're seeing women speaking out more about their experiences, the black lives matter movement, the immigration rights groups, the LGBTQ community demanding equal rights and all the other marginalized groups, native groups, plus all the places, it's not even like all of these separate things but all the places that are, where these groups are intersecting, right, like female oriented, you know, women of color who have been marginalized and so how does social interest align with advocacy and allyship and the conversations that are currently alive?


Aisha: I mean, I think I see social interest as the feed into allyship and advocacy, you know, we talked him in the very beginning, as I was saying, the summary as I see it, that Adler says that all people are equally worthy of dignity and respect and if we buy into that premise, I buy into that purpose, that we buy into that premise, you're pretty much automatically an ally to some extent with people, with allyship, as I see it, being the idea that a person is worthy of dignity and respect, that I mean that agree with all of your choices but I honor your right to have some and to be treated with respect despite your choices and that I commit to treating you that way. Advocacy seems to take it to another level where it's beyond just how I feel or what I think and me saying that it's not OK, It's not OK for only me to treat you with respect but I want to make room for other people to treat you with respect too and I have a voice that those other people might hear and I'm willing to use that, you know, to help elevate you and to make room for your voice. So that's how I see it and that sounds exactly like social interests to me, that sounds like fixing systems so that our people can do better inside of that system.


Casey: Yeah and I want to acknowledge too as I sit here, right, I am a middle class white woman, loads of privilege and I know that one of the places where I've been trying to be really conscious is where I can not talk, where I can pull back to allow space for somebody else, plus I'm like the first one to raise my hand anyway personality wise, so that's always useful to everyone recognizing to where my privileges and where I can either use my voice, like you said, use my voice or step back and give space for someone else.


And you know, it's just fascinating to me that this is the context and the conversation that our teens are growing up with, I actually was telling you before we recorded that I want to share with the listeners right now that one of our colleagues was like, you know, I think the teenagers really have this down, like, this isn't a thing for them and I would push back a little bit and just say I think demographics matter, I think that there's definitely more progressive things happening in different areas than perhaps the teeny tiny town that I live in but maybe not.


And I'm guessing that when we're talking about, well, it seems like the grownups are having the hardest time and specifically the white grownups, right, because conversations around privilege and bias can get so convoluted or we allow them to get convoluted so I just wanted to bring this, even as uncomfortable it is as it is for me, even in this moment bringing this up, it's like OK, one, we get to get over ourselves.


White people, we got to get over ourselves because just because we're making space for historically marginalized groups to get more recognition and opportunity doesn't take away from our recognition and opportunity, you know, there's this idea that well, if I'm, you know, allow, what is the idea, it's just like, "Oh, if I give you more space then somehow I am, there's less than, right, for me" and really, it's actually a mindset of abundance that there's enough for everyone. Sometimes we just need to shut our mouths and get over it and really create the space that should have been created all along for everyone. And being uncomfortable is not a pass, you know, right, this is what we say to our kids, right, like, "Oh yeah, this is hard, this is uncomfortable and you still get to do it." So, I guess this is my P.S.A. right now to the white people that are listening.


Aisha: I am not a white middle class lady.


Casey: Aisha, you are beautiful woman of color and I appreciate so much that I am looking at you while I'm saying all of this. But yeah, those of you that are in any kind of place of privilege, being uncomfortable is not a pass for having conversations with your kids about race, about gender, about privilege, about social class, what do you want to say to parents and about parents supporting their youth in this arena, Aisha, because you, again, are a woman of color, so you might have a different yet similar but yeah?


Aisha: So, I'm in San Diego and I think our youth here, you know, we're a big city, I think our youth here do have this down, I think our youth here, we have kids right now in this in this time who do really, really hurtful things to each other and then we have on the opposite end of the spectrum, kids who really, really work to elevate themselves and each other, you know, in this time that we're living in right now and I want to first acknowledge that being an ally and being an advocate is an incredible act of bravery. It's really hard work and it's an incredible act of bravery and it's a scary thing to do so I want to acknowledge for parents that allowing your kid or supporting your kid in being an advocate or an ally is a scary thing for you to do because you have to be worried about your kid and their safety.


If they have to advocate for something or be an ally for something or people especially, if they're advocating or being an ally for someone, it's because that person is somehow in danger and so when your kid speaks up for that person, that incredible act of bravery on your child's part can be incredibly scary for you because your kids putting themselves in the line of fire and that's, it's that scary, that's really scary and so I get that and you kind of got a cool kid there if they're willing to stand up for another human being that way.


If it's important to you that your child be an ally, it's important that your family talk about how you do that safely, you know, and how you advocate safely, what are the proper forums to do that, what risks are you willing to take and how can I support you in taking those risks safely?


If it's important to you that your child be an advocate or an ally, model, you be an advocate or an ally, talk in your family about what your family values are, what are your family politics, what do you support, who do you support, if your child differs from you in that, have that conversation as well, you know, there's lots of advocacy going on among lots of different groups right now and I see a lot of parents bringing their kids out to those, in those forums and talking about it and kids have opinions on these things. I think conversations about family values are extremely important but even unrelated to particular movements that are going on at any given time, because we have lots of movements in our lifetime.


Involving your kids in community service and this idea, this attitude that there are people who don't have what we have and they deserve to have some things and we can do something to help with that and if we can then we should, you know. I remember my son was 2 and a half years old or so, we were doing Meals on Wheels, going out to some elderly folks and delivering them meals and those folks were so delighted with this little 2 year old that was running around their house and so we would deliver the meal, then we would get stuck in a conversation and that felt great but then it felt great for my son, you know, so if there are ways that we can get our kids giving back to other people, whether they're young kids or teens that's going to to push them in the direction of being advocates and allies.




But yes, like I said I think the important part is that we acknowledge that when we are protecting our kids from being allies, it's not because we don't believe in the causes usually, it's because we are scared for them but we want to keep them safe. So let's put that out there, be transparent about it and figure out how to how to do it safely.


Casey: Yes and if you don't know there is this really amazing thing called Google, I'm sure can Google it, right? I think that's a great conversation, like, OK, you're hearing from your kid that they want to take a stand in one thing or another or go to a rally or or whatever it is they want to do, OK, great, I want you to be safe can we look together, let's look all of this up and figure it out together and come up with a plan so that you can do this and be safe.


Well thank you, thank you so much, see look, we talked about Adler, we didn't have to be experts, I think it was good. It's such a privilege  to be in conversation with you, Aisha.


Aisha: Always, Casey, always. It's, I love being around you, no joke. And you see, I was so nervous.


Casey: I told you, I told you. Thank you so much for the time and the willingness to come on and be in contribution.


Aisha: Thank you, thanks for the opportunity.


Casey: If there are parents listening who want to get in touch with you where can they find you?


Aisha: You can find me online at  www.rootsandwingsconsulting.com or you can email me at I guess aisha@contactraw.com


Casey: All right, perfect, thank you.


Aisha: Thank you.


Deepening our Understanding of the Emotional Lives of Teens, with Kelly Pfeiffer

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


My guest today is Kelly Pfieffer. Kelly is a positive discipline lead trainer who trains parent educators and currently serves on the Positive Discipline Association Board of Directors. One of her favorite topics to teach parent educators is social emotional development, birth through age 18. She and her husband John blended a family when their children were ages 12, 13, 15 and 15. Now those children are all college graduates and Kelly has lots to share with us about her experience of raising 4 teenagers in the same house.


Hi, Kelly thank you so much for being part of the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit.


Kelly: Thanks, Casey, I'm glad to be here and share my experience.


Casey: Yay, can you tell the listeners a bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with P.D.?


Kelly: Well, I have to take a big breath first. Even looking back on it, wow. When my kids became teenagers and I was blending my family with my husband's teenagers, I had tons of positive discipline training and it was still so hard. It was so hard to blend the family. It was so hard to transition into the teen years with my own children and wow, it was just super, super, super challenging and so I that's what I'm, one of the things I want your listeners to know, that I had much experience teaching social emotional development teaching parents, still teaching positive discipline and still it was, it was so challenging, I couldn't even believe.


Casey: Yeah and that's what we were, before I hit record, you know, that conversation around it is messy and it's challenging and that is not a reflection of how good or bad you're doing as a parent, it's just hard.


Kelly: Yeah and I think parents are hard on themselves anyway and then, when it comes to the teen years and we feel like "OK, we've been doing all this work here, hoping that the teen years would be slightly less rocky than we've seen other parents doing and it just doesn't turn out to be that way for the most part.


Casey: And today we're going to talk about emotional development of teenagers and I'm really excited about this conversation, myself having a newly turned 13 year old son and a nearly 16 year old daughter, the topic is really near and dear to me. And before we dig into it, can you define for us what is meant, what you mean by emotional development, what does this mean?


Kelly: Well, when I teach this topic, I talk about nature versus nurture. And so nature is how our D.N.A. has programmed humans to develop over time, so if we think about physical development, we see how that changes and evolves over time. First kids crawl and then they walk, we see what that looks like. Well, there's something going on emotionally and socially as well that's in our D.N.A. and there are stages that happen just like physical development but we just can't see it. It's not as obvious on the outside but there are definitely predictable stages that are happening for emotional development as well.


Casey: Can you give us the brief history of emotional development that happens in those first 12 years prior to the teen years?


Kelly: Well, for those people who are familiar with Erikson stages, that's kind of a staple or just the groundwork that Erickson did, we keep building on and we see that there's a lot of things that he noticed when he studied development that we still find true today when we study the brain. So the first year of life, the first 18 months is about trust versus mistrust. We need to build up this strong, close knit relationship with our children and then the very next stage that, well, let me go back. First, children are completely dependent on us at that stage but then very soon and even at the end of that stage of trust is autonomy and that's where this stage of autonomy means that children want to manage themselves, they want to start doing that, they want to do as much for themselves as possible and be as independent as possible here. Toddler saying "me do it" that is exactly what's going on with autonomy and then children learn they can say "No" because they learn that they can have a different opinion than their parent has and so they say "No." All that is typical development and then the preschool stage, oh gosh, I don't know what I was going to explain here so let me just pull that out. Let's see-


Casey: Isn't that initiative?


Kelly: It is, thank you, initiative.


Casey:  You're welcome.


Kelly: And so initiative is building on that autonomy even more. So trust is about being with someone else a lot, autonomy is "Oh, I can do some things by myself and manage some of myself" so it's sleeping, eating, toileting are the big tasks there and then in the preschools stage children kind of go out and explore with the world. First they were trying to manage themselves, now they're exploring out in the world to manage the world and they like to create things and build sculptures of blocks and art supplies, so they're learning outside of themselves a lot in this stage. And they move into elementary school years, where, do you remember what Erikson called that stage?


Casey: Is it industry? I know, it's okay. Is it industry?


Kelly: Thank you. I do this all the time and usually have my powerpoint slides up there.  So in the elementary school years children want to feel capable at school but also in their primary relationships with friends and so this is when they're really developing those social skills and friendship skills with friends as well some people teach this, it just has to do with doing well in school but it's also in other relationships outside of the family. And then in the teen years-


Casey: Yeah, what happened? What is happening?


Kelly: It's like it's that autonomy again but in such a big way, it's like "Now, I'm breaking totally away from my family to show that I can be my own person."


Casey: Yeah.


Kelly: I can be a different person than you. I don't have to think the same things that you do and so in the Positive Discipline for Teens, the authors talk about individuation. So that's what teens are doing, they're showing that they are individuals that used to be a part of your family and they still are, but now they're showing that they can be whoever they want to be no matter what their family of origin is.


Casey: They sure can. They sure can so emotional development is happening no matter what, right? It's part of our D.N.A.


Kelly: You know, we don't get to choose and push that button or not choose or, you know, launch or-


Casey: Right.


Kelly: Or cancel, it just, it's going to happen, it's programmed in the D.N.A. to do that.


Casey: And so then the role of parents, right and how we respond can really influence what emotional development looks like.


Kelly: It does, in fact, Eriksson said the environment has a huge effect on how children will progress through their stages.


Casey: Yeah, whew, no pressure. But pressure.


Kelly: So there's nature, if I want to go back to that nature versus nurture, there's this nature and how we're designed to develop over time and then there's the nurture factor. So there's these 2 things working together.


Casey: Yeah. So I had my own experience of navigating some heavy, I would say, emotional development when my daughter was in 9th grade last year and it felt really, as the parent experiencing her, it felt really scary. It felt like she was really committed to her, well, we we coined it, we talk, we just say "teen angst." You know, she was in a hole and it didn't, my experience, and I've shared this with her, excuse me and have permission to speak into it.


My experience was she was in a hole but really didn't seem to have any desire to stand up and see out to see that there was life outside of the hole. From my perspective, again, she had decided that she didn't belong in our family, she actually said as much, you know, "I don't want to be a part of this family." It was really hard not to stay at the surface level of that and take that really personally. Is this, you know, was this kind of behavior, would you say, part of her developmental journey?


Kelly: I think, yes, because part of that journey is questioning where we came from and questioning our family of origin and saying do we want to be like them? Do I want to be like my family? Do I want to believe something different about all kinds of things, about my eating habits and about religious beliefs, about whether I even recycle or not? What likely when my teenagers rebel and say that "I'm not going to recycle anymore." I mean it can be the mundane to something really serious but the message is "I don't have to do what, you know, the way, that these ways or these things that you taught me to do all the years. I don't really have to do it like this. I have a choice and do I want to do things the way that you have taught me to?"


Casey: Yeah and so then being the responsive parent, right, it's really challenging when they're bumping up against things that we value, like, you know, like spiritual beliefs, religion or recycling or whatever, it starts to feel like a personal rejection, right or a personal attack. So how do you support parents who might be in that place of "Well, but these are my values, what am I supposed to do here?"


Kelly: Yes, so it hurts a lot. You and I both know that.


Casey: Yes, we do.


Kelly: It hurts a lot and what I tried to do was to not take it personally and say "This is part of their journey. And also, this is not who they will be later once they have matured to adulthood or even a young adult. This is not who they are, this is a journey that they are on and this is part of their journey to try out other things."


Casey: Yeah, yeah and interestingly, my daughter was adamant at the end of the school year last year about not returning to the local high school and I was weary of this. She wanted to do online school. I have mentioned this in other interviews, I, of course, was like "What? I don't even know what that is" and it felt very like "This isn't how you do this, you know, this isn't what it looks like" and I, in the end, let her take that lead and enrolled her in online school and I have to say the shift in environment has supported her in so many ways and it was really hard to trust that it was the right move but four months in everything is different with her and I wonder how often might we parents let the idea that "Well, I'm the adult, I know what's best, I've been a teen, I know what you need" or even, "This is how it should look," get in the way of trusting our teens to know what it is that they want.


Kelly: That's about the hardest part of raising teen years that there is.


Casey: Yeah, yeah and so do you have any wisdom that you can share with all of us so  that we could get better at just trusting them and even, you know, even as I say that, like, you know, we all know, I think it's common knowledge, that, you know, teenagers want to try on a lot of different identities or, or, I don't know if identity is the right word or not but they want to try and you know, there as they figure out who they are they have to try on some different things and see how it feels.


Kelly: Exactly, it's like that dramatic play they did when they were preschoolers. Today, I'm a firefighter and tomorrow I'm a ballerina and what do I want to be? It's that same process but it's just a lot bigger, scarier and has longer, kind of, like long term consequences sometimes for them to try on those roles.


Casey: Right, because it's hard to remember that "OK, this is a trying on, this isn't forever and then in the trying on, when our response is "What are you doing? You can't do that. That's ridiculous," or whatever kind of judgments come up when we are not in our best parenting minds then their choices aren't necessarily coming from them as much as it's a choice that's anti-parent.


Kelly: Could be, yes.


Casey: Yeah, yeah.


Kelly: This reminds me of a conversation I had with the counsellor about cutting behavior and she said "Nowadays we consider cutting can be a normal exploratory experience" and I said " Wait, what? What cutting your body, are you serious?" She's like, "Yes, if they're just trying it out, that's typical development."


Casey: Oh my Gosh.


Kelly: They start doing it habitually, that's when we get concerned and wonder about what the purpose is and that kind of thing so she said "Kids may try throwing up" and bulimia just to see what it's like. If they just threw up one or two times or even for a week and decided it wasn't for them, that's still typical development.


Casey: Oh wow.


Kelly:  And I teach theory and I'm like, really and then actually, I thought about it a little, I thought "Well, you know, that really fits my definition of trying out roles and seeing what things are like" but oh, that just, like, it didn't sound that way at first, like are you serious? No, throwing up on purpose is bad but yeah, I've got to get over that.


Casey: Well and I think when I hear you talk about that and I think of the other risky behavior that comes up, right, whether it's experimenting with drugs or alcohol or you know, I think about when we have a really strong relationship with our kids that can support us in kind of looking, taking a look at what's happening and being able to differentiate between "OK Is this an explorer move or is this something where we need to get some help", right. I think that when we are in relationship with our kids in a way that allows us to even pose that question to them that's open and conversational and let's talk about this, I think that's where, that's a tool that really allows for, I don't know, it just, it's like, it stops being, like, all about us having to figure everything out and more of a partnership with our teenager around "OK, so I'm seeing this and I'm wondering where are you at here? Is this something that we need to get more help with?"


Kelly: Yeah and like realizing that there's exploratory things and then there's things, there's habits or behaviors that we might want to be concerned about and then that's one step and then having that conversation is so messy as well because people don't always want to admit what they're doing or they don't want to let us into the world because they're in that stage individuation where they're purposely keeping things from you just to show themselves and prove to themselves and to you that they don't have to share everything with their parents.


Casey: It's really hard for a micromanager like me, Kelly, I got to be honest.


Kelly: I remember, there was one time when we, when I could, I did not sleep for 2 solid nights about an issue with my teenage child. I could not sleep. I just could not get to sleep and I thought, well, I'll be so sleep deprived from losing sleep the first night that I'll just fall asleep at 6 pm the next night but I didn't sleep the second night either.


Casey: I can feel it. I feel my belly, I know, like, it's like this muscle memory of going back because I had a couple nights like that last year for sure and a question that's come up in my parent groups that my parents of teens community is around anger, right, anger is an emotion, yes?


Kelly: It is a pretty common one.


Casey: Yeah and  is there a time with our teenagers, it's definitely felt like the answer was yes last year for me with my daughter, is there a time in development where anger is seemingly always at the surface and how can we get better at not being so reactive? Oh my gosh.


Kelly: Yeah. I mean, teens are going, their brains are going through such big changes and so there are several factors I talk about that kind of just really add more fuel to the fire of anger in the teen years and number one, their brains are just reorganizing in a big way and I'm sure somebody's going to talk about that in your series with Daniel Siegel's Brainstorm book. There's all this rearranging and rewiring of the brain going on and then secondly, that emotional part of the brain, the Limbic system, is much more developed and much more hyper sensitive then that thinking part of the brain.


And so we can just look at a child, you know, teenager like we're a little bit annoyed and their brain might read that as "My parent hates me or my parent is so disgusted by me" and so they tend to overreact because that emotional part of their brain is so sensitive. And then they've got all these sexual urges, you know, from all those sexual hormones going on and then they think "Am I normal? Did I just do something stupid in front of that boy that I like?" and there's just so much pressure, so many new things, so many body changes, brain changes, it's overwhelming for them. So no wonder they're grumpy and irritable all the time.


Casey: Yeah, well and I think it's really interesting too, like the limbic system being farther along than the logic, we'll call it the logic system so and I just want to kind of tease out a part so the ability to feel, right, the experience of emotion and feeling comes on real strong but then the ability to make sense of those emotions is still in development. Is that another way to say what you just said? and so maybe they're not making meaning that's necessarily useful, I don't know if useful is the right word, accurate?


Kelly: Yes, because they can't seem to look at it through that "Watch it" lens very often, it's all through the lens of emotion and they're just hyper focused on themselves and where this pimple is and if there's another one. Yeah, yeah and Dan, in his book says that thinking brain does not mature fully until, what is it, 25-26 years old?


Casey: Yeah, spoiler, spoiler alert everyone.


Kelly: Oh, Is that in another later.


Casey: No, no, I just mean, in general, like, we think the teen years are over when they reach 20, right? No, not so much. There's still more development to be had and you know, another thing here too is that I want to highlight is, and listeners of my podcast have heard me talk about or anyone who's taken positive discipline classes from any of us, hear about the iceberg metaphor and I, just, some of the things that you're talking about like, "I'm breaking out or I was goofy in front of that person that I like or whatever, my parents are acting weird"


So, those are all under the surface not things that we can see and I think you know, in my own experience, I remember, you know, like or remember like it's currently happening, my daughter has to go in for an M.R.I. for her wrist and they're doing a, they're putting some dye in her wrist so they can see it and she's real nervous about this shot. So, you know, it's been, it's been a little, she kind of ebbs and flows and so it gets really tense around the house and she's snappy and short and it's really easy to want to be like "Hey, you know, quit acting like that" or "Don't treat people like that" or to kind of focus, zero in on her snappiness but when I remember and can say like "You're pretty nervous about this procedure on Friday, aren't you?"


It's like her whole body can release and she can say "Yeah, I am" and then it just, it's so much, it's so useful to remember that there's all these things going on under the surface and what we think about it, right, like "Oh, you have one zit that nobody can even see but you, it's not a big deal" or "I'm sure that kids didn't notice that you tripped on your way into the building, it's not a big deal" the more that we can just kind of say, "I see you and I see you in the emotion around this" and not put any judgment on it or not try to talk them out of it, I notice that whatever that tip of the iceberg behavior, whether it's snappiness or your irritability, like it takes care of it for, somewhat, for a while until the next thing but what I'm really hearing in this conversation is just, as the parent, to really remember that there's a lot going on and to get curious under the surface of the behavior less than what's at the tip, even though, you know, we definitely want to intervene in and get curious about what we're seeing but there's so much that we're not seeing.


Kelly: Yes and I also like to use that straw that broke the camel's back metaphor as well because there's, if you would think of all those different straws as all the different stressors in the kid's life and then, it was just the one last straw, the only one you know about possibly, and there's so much more going on than just what is happening in that moment.


Casey: I like that. So, like, having a sibling walk too close to them and maybe bump their chair was the final thing and their issue isn't really with the sibling, it's all these other things that they manage to hold in and keep together until that final thing.


Kelly: Yes.


Casey: Yeah. And of course this all leads me back to, you know, our work as the parent, quit taking it personally. I, like, my daughter's really good at reminding me "It's not about you" and man, it's hard and just like Jane Nelson says, "Kids do better when they feel better" and I think parents get so caught up in their teens emotional experience that backing off or looking for ways that support them and feeling better feels counterintuitive, right, especially when the outward display of emotion is experienced as hurtful by the parent and we get into the "We can't let them get away with that" mentality.


Kelly: Right and I like to use that idea of those crisis moments are not teachable moments. That's not when you can teach your teenager something or your teenager can learn something. We wish, we all wish it would work that way but it just doesn't.


Casey: Yeah and yeah, gosh isn't that, and that I think goes for all of our relationships. So what are some openings, like, when you think about in your experience or working with clients who have kids that maybe are in the throes of their very normal development of their normal emotional development and they're, you know, they are a bit irritable and maybe lashing out a little bit in a variety of ways, what do you suggest as a baby step for parents to kind of, to be supportive. What does support look like?


Kelly: Well, sometimes support looks like walking away, actually, especially if you feel like you're going to be mouthy back with your teen. Sometimes walking away and taking a break for yourself is support for you and support for your teen at the same time.


Casey: Yeah.


Kelly: And when we do feel hurt, I think it's OK to, I mean, it's OK, we'll hurt, but sometimes we just have to keep that to ourselves at that, especially at the moment and then later, when there's a time to talk when everyone's calm and you can say, "That really hurt my feelings", go back later to talk about it but in the moment, man, it just goes nowhere and if you are a parent of a teenager, I know you've been there. Try to think, "OK, I can get through to my teen and let them clearly see that what they're doing is just respectable," you know, if you're coming at it from that angle, then it just doesn't go well.


Casey: Yeah and there is that, in positive discipline we talk about making amends, right and owning our own mischief, owning our own behavior as the parent and just from my own experience, my daughter is never ready to hear my, to make it right when I'm ready and there have been times where that's, you know, when I'm not being as thoughtful as I can be where, you know, I'll go in there and I'll launch right into it and "I'm sorry" and because and that's for me, it's to release my own emotion around how I treated her and she's told me, you know, I think it's finally getting, like, sinking in for me, you know, "You come in and I'm not ready."


Kelly: Yeah, people have to be ready.


Casey: Yeah and so asking permission as has become something that's really important in my relationship with my sometimes angsty teenager is to just simply say "Hey can we talk about this? Or "Are you ready to talk about this?" or "This is something that we are going to talk about, let me know when you're ready."


Kelly: Yeah and I'm glad you brought that up there because we have to model what it looks like to apologize to expect them to ever do that, so doing that model is important and doing it with the timing that is good for them, it's not going to work if they're not ready.


Casey: Yeah and you know, we don't get to decide what their timing is.


Kelly: Nope.


Casey: Although we can hold the expectation that when we make a mistake we make it right with the people and that's definitely something that we've held in our family and but it still requires sometimes some prompting and I think that's, I don't want to give any kind of illusion, like, you know, there aren't some prompting, there isn't resistance, that it's easy breezy over here because it's not and sometimes I'm the one that's getting it wrong. And it's deep work and what you just said, which reminded me, you said something about being able to oh, oh, oh when something feels hurtful, right, we as the adult humans, we get to also do some exploring in, you know, what is it about this behavior that's hurtful to me and maybe even do some tracing back asked because we all have different triggers, right, I mean, I talked to some parents and you know, messy rooms are not a big deal to them at all but you know, they don't want to, but disrespect is a really big deal whereas, hey, I can kind of roll with the disrespect and get that they are in the process of practicing and learning what that really means but, you know, for whatever reason messy rooms makes me blow my top. So we all have our triggers and I think that, you know, I say that parenting is a lifelong personal growth and development workshop if we want it to be, if we're for open to that and I think this is one of those places where it's really useful to get curious around what is it about this particular behavior that feels so hurtful to me and is it really about my kid?


Kelly: Oh yeah, I'm glad you brought that up it. Reminds me of a day when I was just sobbing because I thought I had lost the connection with my daughter. She completely doesn't care what I think, the way she acted feels so hurtful and I remember I was in the laundry room doing laundry, for some reason when I'm doing something mundane then I can have some headspace for what's going on with me and I thought she just doesn't want me to teach her anything, she won't listen to me. Then I thought, Byron Katie, he says, just reverse stuff sometimes to see how that sounds-


Casey: Yes.


Kelly:  and I thought, well maybe she's here to teach me something, maybe could it possibly be that I'm the one that can learn from this, instead of thinking she is supposed to be the one learning.


Casey: Yes, yes, I had Laurie Underwiser on the summit as well and we were talking before I hit record about just personalities and she gave me a great mantra to use, just in any relationship when that kind of, I don't know, it's not resistance but it's that judgment and that "Why can't they just" but she says a mantra of hers that she's used is "Bless them and change me" right and so I really appreciate that because I do see, I absolutely see our kids as teachers and Byron Katie's work, I mean, anybody that's listening just google her because it's really powerful work but yeah, the turnaround. Right, she won't listen to me. I won't listen to her, is that true?


What can I take from that? What can I learn? And I think often in parenting there's that conversation around "Oh, they hold up a mirror" and I think some people see interpret that as "Oh, they act like us. They show us how we act" but I think it's really they're highlighting the places where we get to continue to grow and develop and I know that I'm someone, I take things deeply personal, I'm a pleaser and my teenage daughter is taking me to the Olympics of how to learn not to take things personally and how to let go of what other people think of me i.e. her and to really just own my own experience and to go inward a lot of the time when I want to be like "But wait, but wait, you're making me feel sad" or "You're making me" you know, even inside of the great relationship that we have, I get to do so much learning. It's so messy and awesome and powerful and scary and all of it all at once.


Kelly: And I'm glad you are bringing some of these this last bit up because it is such an opportunity for us as parents to learn more about ourselves when we're parenting our teens and nobody really thinks of it that way, I know I didn't.


Casey: Yeah, well, I mean, otherwise it's just like we're going crazy.


Kelly: Oh yeah.


Casey: The alternative is not so fun for me so on that note, right, so there's the self care and the soul care and the emotional care parents give to themselves, right, which I would say, I'm guessing you would say, it's really important.


Kelly: Yeah just to get through it all.


Casey:  Yeah, we, our marriage counsellor said to my husband and I, you two need to get a life. That's so important for the teen, living through the teen years is having your own life or you're hyper focused on them.


Kelly: That was going to be my next thing was exactly that, "Casey, get a life, find out what you like to do now." It's hard to let go, in order to do that, there's a little process to work through because we feel guilty sometimes when we're having fun when it doesn't have to do with their children, like I'm supposed to be supporting this child 100 percent of the time but in the teen years it doesn't work well if we approach it like that.


Casey: Right, especially considering we want them to fly the coop.


Kelly: Yeah.


Casey: So thank you so much, Kelly, for coming on and it's such a privilege to be in conversation with you.


Kelly: Well thanks for having me. Gosh, I'm just looking back on those years when my kids were teens and wishing I could have let go more but we are all where we are.


Casey: Yeah.


Kelly:  And we can't let go completely, which is not what I'm suggesting anyway, but it's, we have to let go in baby steps.


Casey: Yeah. Yeah well and yes, maybe we'll do a podcast about that because now all of a sudden I have a 100 more questions for you, but I'll just save that for the podcast.


Kelly: Yeah, I feel like we barely touched the surface on emotional development.


Casey: Yeah but we'll come back, we'll be sure to come back in conversation about around that. So if parents are listening right now and want to get in touch with you where are the places that you are where people can find you?


Kelly: Well I am going to direct them to some interesting places because my website is being redone right now so I'd really have a good place, a good landing place but I am at on Twitter is where I actually connect with people on Twitter in surprising ways. And Instagram.


Casey: Great and are you Kelly Pfeiffer or are you, who are you in those places?


Kelly: On Twitter I am @gointeractivekp


Casey: I'll make sure the link is in the notes.  


Kelly: OK And then on Instagram, I am @thinkitthroughparenting, let me verify that for you, just a second. Let me get my cell phone out here. It's funny how I'm not used to, you know, I just go and do my stuff, I'm like "Oh, you want to get in touch with me? How do we do that?" OK Instagram.


Casey: I think you're gointeractive.


Kelly: Well, I have, see now I have my other business teaching because I have trained trainers how to train effectively so that's @gointeractive.


Casey: Got it.


Kelly: One  that I have, one that's just for parenting because it's @thinkitthroughparenting and that's where out on Instagram where I share parenting and the  the gointeractive on Instagram is where I share training tips and training workshops.


Casey: Well, I'm guessing that some of the listeners of the summit will, I'm guessing there will probably be some parent trainers and educators that are listening in too so those will be useful. Thank you so much for sharing time with me today.


Kelly: You are welcome Casey, thanks so much for doing this because doing this work, doing this summit because parents really need a place to go, they are looking for, just all kinds of, they ask questions or looking for validation that they're not screwing up their children and it's nice to have you out in the world in their ear talking to them.


Casey: Awww, thanks.


Finding Kindness and Firmness During the Teen Years, with Lori Onderwyzer

Casey: Welcome to the Parenting Teens with Positive Discipline audio summit, I am your host, Casey O'Roarty, certified positive discipline trainer, coach and founder of Joyful Courage. This audio summit is designed to dig into the principles of holding the foundation of positive discipline while navigating the very real and messy experience of being a guide for our teenagers.


Special thank you to Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott, authors of Positive Discipline for Teenagers and the Positive Discipline Association whose mission it is to create a peaceful world by teaching Adlerian social and emotional life skills for respectful relationships. All the guests you will hear on this audio summit have extensive knowledge in positive discipline and have or are currently raising teenagers themselves. Thank you for listening and be sure to join us in the Joyful Courage Parents of Teens Facebook group for more discussion about this particular interview.  


And I'm super excited about this interview my friend Lori Onderwyzer is on today. She is a certified positive discipline lead trainer, certificated teacher, educational consultant and mother with 30 years of learning and experience. She truly lives and models the positive discipline principles she teaches. Her passion is to help adults guide young people to become confident, capable, resourceful, resilient and contributing members of their community and isn't that what we all want?


Lori works with students, teachers, counselors, administrators and parents in providing workshops, doing professional development coaching and classes in addition to providing staff development trainings, Lori has presented at numerous educational professional conferences in the U.S., Canada, China and Europe. Lori also continues to build a thriving parent education and coaching practice.


In this work she is particularly focused on helping families create more joyful and connected lives, yay, through continued coaching she helps parents discover and develop balanced styles that promote a sense of belonging and significance for all family members, which in turn helps to inspire confidence, mutual respect and self-discipline.  


Lori's a member of the Positive Discipline Association and has a special ability to create a safe and nurturing environment where people feel comfortable to take risks. I know this firsthand as Lori was one of my trainers as I came up in positive discipline, she's been a friend and mentor to me for years. I am positive she was my camp counselor at some point in my youth although we can't quite figure out when that could have possibly been. I adore her and I'm honored she's taking time to talk with me today. Hi Lori, thanks for coming on and being part of the summit.


Lori: Hi Casey, I'm so excited. I'm so excited.


Casey: I know, me too, me too. Can you, I know I just said a lot about you, but can you tell the listeners a bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline? Because your girls are, are they all the way on the other side of teen years?


Lori: Oh my gosh, I'll just tell you that I consider now, with one of my mentors also, Dan Siegel, I'm now considering this teen years thing to be more an adolescent thing, like going through the middle 20 years and I do have one, my older daughter's 22 soon to be 23 and my younger daughter graduated from college and my younger is a sophomore and she's 19, so I'm in the mix.


Casey: You are.


Lori: Well, every day from far away.


Casey: Right, which I think, guessing is a different kind of experience, no less. I mean, it just has a different flavor, right, than having them at home with you?


Lori:  Yeah, yeah and I have to say, oh my gosh, the excitement of the holidays last week and them both coming home and us all being so, you know, so excited to be back together and I have to tell you, one of the first nights that we went out to dinner together and my daughter said "Let's do compliments and appreciations!"


Casey: Oh, that's the dream. That's the dream, that's so awesome.


Lori: It was so dreamy, we we were like at the end of it, we were like, "Bliss family!" It's really, you know, it pays off. If it really pays off.


Casey: And now were they are asking for compliments and appreciation circles all the way through their teen years or what?


Lori: No, no, no, they were just, you know, I have to say like, of course, they grew up with, you know, family meetings and so every now and then, it wasn't family meeting time but we, the one time we always made sure when they were still home and going to high school and team practices and play practice and all that was, 9 pm Dinner.


Casey: Wow, yeah.


Lori: That I love to say because really if we all wanted to have dinner together it was really around 9 pm and it was just, like, this cherished time where there were no cell phones on the table and we were just all there together and you know, from a history of having had family meetings and compliments appreciations they loved them, they really grew up with them and they love them so much that it would spontaneously erupt because they just thought it was so, you know, we would just all feel so happy afterwards and everybody would feel appreciated, and they would feel felt as we like to say and so we hadn't seen each other for several months, I was, you know, in Asia, dad was at home, they were both down in the Southern California studying and working and just this first time we were all back together and there they were right back to, "Alright, compliments and appreciations, who's going first?"


Casey:  Dreams. Well, one of the pillars of positive discipline and what we're going to kind of dissect today is parenting with both kindness and firmness and how I break it down and I know other trainers do is we're really talking about it in terms of mutual respect, respecting the teen is the kindness piece, respecting yourself in the situation, being the firmness piece, tell me how you talk about this in the context of parenting teens with the people that you work with, this kindness and firmness and the key word right is "and."


Lori: Yeah, "and" capital letters, boom, boom, underlined, exclamation points. Yeah, so, you know, a couple of things, one, I really have moved into really wanting to be transparent and clear that kindness means connection and support. It doesn't just mean being nice because I think that's, like, a big place, you know, being nice or giving kids what they want, that's what I think of when I think of kindness.


I really think about being super connected to who they are and where they are and supporting them where they want to grow, not where we want them to grow necessarily, I mean we may have our you know thoughts, feelings, decisions, desires. And yet also just super dooper respecting what it is they want for themselves and standing behind them and encouraging them to check that out as deeply as possible because they  just have this amazing experience right now to be able to do that. And they need a lot of support to do it, you know, they have a lot of these days even more than I think maybe in some ways than when we were, when I was a teen because you and I were teens at different times. They have some big challenges right now. And so I think they can and I think it's tough for us parents because it's coming out in the open and we learned to deal with it in a different way and so being really open to hearing their experience which is different than ours, different, it's a new world, already a new world.


Casey: Yeah and when I hear you say, we're going to get into this I think a little later, but even when you say being open to hearing their experience, you know, when I think about being a teenager I had my experiences that were of a different flavor, I mean, I still went through individuation and everything but I wasn't talking to my parents about my experience and so that is like "Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, wow." So then there's the firmness piece, right, there is that connected and continue I love that you said 'feeling felt' earlier around the compliment circles and I think that that's a piece of of being connected to our teens as well.


Lori: Yeah, right, so I'm going to just say, like, it for me it does move right into firmness, OK, because I think, like, I grew up in the seventy's and so it unfortunately was a time, I mean, number one, I had some unskilled parents because they were super young when they had me, they were even younger than my daughter today. And who I couldn't imagine having a kid right now.


And they didn't have the benefits of a lot of the stuff that we've learned about brain science and about connection and all that kind of stuff and so and it was like this huge opening for women where there was divorce and finding themselves and so as a result I feel like a really big piece of my story is I got really lost in that mix. I got kind of, my sister and I both got left behind a little and as a result very, very early on in my teen years I had made my own personal mission was that other kids were not going to feel what I had felt. And saying that, I think a lot of other parents had some level of that mission as well, which in a way is how we have found ourselves and I want to say this is a worldwide phenomenon not just the US, that we have found ourselves in this place of tending to move towards too much permissiveness.


And I think that's bad, bad, bad and I hate to be so drastic about it but I'll say that I grew up with one parent who was super permissive because she didn't know any better and one parent who was super authoritarian because he also didn't know any better and then at the mere age of 12 when they split up, nobody wanted to be the hard core person so there was just permissiveness really and that was super challenging for me and I, while when I was young and as a teen, it was coolest thing in the world, you know, like I had these really cool parents and they weren't really watching out for me, they didn't watch my schoolwork as closely as possible, you know, just all kinds of things like that and my parents were doing cool things but it really left me, for a long time, untethered, afraid, without guidance, without direction, without focus in a certain sort of way.


So I did some work for myself and found an area where I could find a lot more firmness for myself. And found that that firmness, you know, I always thought of myself as this free spirited person. But it was too crazy and when I found this firmness piece for myself, all of a sudden I felt like "Oh, there's boundaries, there's places where we stop" and it created this level of freedom for me because I found like "Oh, I can go this far and that's far enough" and I can live within these spaces and then I have freedom there.


Casey: Yeah, I am thinking of that phrase that sometimes we use that freedom within structure, so it was for you, the structure wasn't created by your family system, it was something that you later created, were able to develop for yourself because you sought out your own personal growth.


Lori: Totally, 100 percent,100 percent. So in that, and let me just say that the tricky and most joyful part of parenting I think has been the raising, you know, the raising of myself at the same time I'm raising my children. So, I really consider myself a lifelong learner and I'm constantly learning and growing and changing and in finding that freedom within structure I really felt like "Wow this is going to be powerful for my kids", you know, like and you know I live in Oakland slash Berkeley, also known as Erkly, California, so it's very permissive around here, very permissive, and you know, progressive and whenever you say progressive and we haven't quite moved we haven't quite moved into the firmness piece there either as much as possible, so my kids would definitely describe me as a very strict, firm parent. And I kind of jokingly take pride when I'm teaching classes and coaching other parents that I was probably the strictest parent there was amongst my teenager's friends and I want to say that in all those years my kids were never punished and we never had consequences.


Casey: Yes, so paint that picture because I think that's where people get really stuck and where they swing into permissive is because we think of firmness as or even like the word strict as being this threatening punishment, you know, laying down the law, like, even as I'm saying this my shoulders are coming up and face is getting all scrunched up but you're talking about firmness, I'm guessing it didn't look like that, because you're talking firmness with that connection.


Lori: So my kids would still tell you I was firm and I am firm. My husband would tell you that and any of the people that I work with would tell you that but I have to tell you, Casey, that I was a really permissive person, I was a really what I think of as kind of mushy, easily bendable, moldable person and I wouldn't say that about myself today, even though I would say I'm quite flexible. So what that looks like is, well, once you keep connection and support in the picture, my kids and I, my teenagers and I were always in conversation,  always in conversation about everything. There was just an outrageous number of curiosity questions, like, "So what are you thinking about that? And what's your idea about that and how could you get help from that teacher and what do you want to do to ask for a letter of recommendation?" and then, you know, like.


Casey: Yeah and where I'm hearing firmness in that is the unspoken message which is "This is yours to do."


Lori: Yeah, yeah, there are high expectations, there were definitely high expectations in our household, you know, like, I have high expectations. And I'm totally willing to give over the power to them. I'm not going to tell you how to do it, I'm not going to do it for you. This is your responsibility. I've already been through high school and college. I already have a career. I hope these are going to be things you're going to want for yourself and let me know if you need any help.


Casey: And you know, it's, we recently, a couple weeks ago, my daughter who's a sophomore in high school had a friend come and spend the night and we all went out to dinner and we started talking about, we talk a lot, we talk about everything, as I'm sure I'm hearing you, like, yes, schoolwork but also, you know, drugs and alcohol and tobacco and sex, all the things, right, we just, it's on the table, it's open for business, let's talk about it all the time and it seems like they want to talk.


I mean, it's right there in their face so much and so we were having a conversation about vaping, which is, your girls might be, well, I mean, it's not like, it's not a college and you know, this really open conversation and people that listen to the podcast know that we've had some incidents at home. and yeah and you know, something my daughter's friend said was, "I think it is so cool that you are so open to talk about this stuff because we don't talk about this at our house."


Now, granted and so this new kind of experience that I had with the most recent bust was, like, hey, like a really energetic letting go, connecting and saying "Ultimately you get to decide what your relationship with nicotine is going to be throughout your life and I will interrupt and interfere and intervene when it comes, you know, when it comes in to my experience, you know, of you here at the house," you know and it really, like, it wasn't and for the first time it felt like it wasn't just lip service, like I was truly saying, like, we have parallel journeys but ultimately this is yours, you get to decide. I can't, no matter what I do what threats, what punishments, what, you know, how hard and loud I yell, whatever, she ultimately gets to decide, right and I will take away what I find and dispose as I need to but, you know, so that, I think, sometimes, you know, firmness can also get, I think, you know, it's that relationship piece that really matters to the firmness as far as, like, firmness being something that's effective in supporting and guiding our kids.


Lori: Yeah, yeah, you know, there was an incident I had with my younger daughter in high school and they wanted to go watch the sunset from the cliffs in Berkeley and it's kind of this funky little spot and I was like, "Well, tell me more about it" and there's all these friends and they want to watch the sunset and I was like, "Yeah, I'm totally cool with you guys going up and watching the sunset so what's the plan afterward?" and they want to hang out up there and I was like, "Really, Claire, honey, I'm good with you staying there for like a half an hour after sunset, see how much the colors of the sky change and have this really beautiful experience and I'm not comfortable with you guys just hanging out up there in the dark in your cars." Like, nothing good is going to come of that, you know, like, come on.


Casey: I'm not an idiot.


Lori: Yeah, exactly and she was so cool with that. She just had like such a good mature adult conversation with me about it and I said "So you either need to call me or uber home, or maybe some of your friends will leave with you" because there was a whole bunch of them going and she came back to me the next day and she was like, her friends wanted to know, "Why do you even talk to your mom about this stuff?" And she was just like, "Well, I guess that's the kind of relationship my mom and I have."


One of the things is I'm so transparent with them about like, number one, I love them more than anything in the whole wide world, I mean they are my heart, my soul, my everything. I just adore my girls. And I care about them so much and I know that they're going to experiment with different things and I'm fine with that and really quite frankly I'm actually even in some ways a little happy they do some experimentation at home before they leave for college because at least they have some adult guidance, you know, because it's going to happen at college and so I want them to, you know, know that they can rely on me and no questions asked, you know, if they get in trouble, like, that kind of stuff.


And they also know, I mean, I have had extensive conversations about dopamine in the brain and you know, I know you're going to experiment, can you hold off as long as possible because your brain is doing serious development right now, it's doing hard core work, you know, milanations, you know, like all these things of like your dopamine receptors and your pleasure centers are going nuts right now and if you, this is when they were younger, you know, if you can hold off as long as possible and let your brain develop as much as possible, I know you're going to do this occasionally and keep these kinds of things in mind and then like in my family we had some other, you know, there's and many families there's others issues.


There can be mental health issues, there can be addiction issues and so those are super important to talk to kids about and be really clear and be like, I'm not telling you this to scare you and you should know addiction is, there's evidence that addiction is hereditary, so it just means, doesn't mean you can't ever do it but it does mean keep your eye on it, you know and mental health can be triggered by certain drugs, you know, or mental health, mental illness and those are things you need to be aware of, like you're a young adult and so also in my mind, always keeping really solid that there prefrontal cortex hasn't been fully developed, they don't totally understand, you know, causal thinking in a very deep, long term way and so I really feel like that's my job, like, I do understand that kind of stuff and I am developed and I have to help educate them. I have to make them aware of those things because I can't count on the school doing it, their friends doing it, their whatever and that's my responsibility and my job as a parent, I really believe, is not to be their friend but I really, I bristle when people say to me, like, "I want to be friends with my kid."


It's like, when you're raising your kids, you are their mother or their father or their whatever you call yourself as a guardian. When you're raising them they have their friends and you should also have your friends and then you're, you know, I always tell my kids, my relationship, I'm your mother, you know, one of my daughters says " Mom, you're my best friend" and I say "No, I'm your best mom" and I really think that's important for us not to mush up those lines. And when we can raise our kids like that then we can become best friends with our kids because now I can say my relationship with both of my kids is a very deep close friendship along with being a parent. And I don't, you know, like when they say "Oh mom, you can tell me your stuff." I'm like, you guys, like, that's my job to take care of, I'll find my support systems for that, you don't need to take on whatever my, we all have issues our whole life long, if we're really honest. So like for me, I have my people who are my go to and I have my positive discipline like world wide community and you know, I have my close friends and I have different things and my have my husband and I have a big, fat support system, friendship system and I want that for them also and they should also know, like, I'm their mom and I'll always be there for them and I have to say, you know, Casey, the really great thing is not only has it been, I think, good for them, you know, even though they weren't always happy about it, but it has really helped me to grow up. I've grown up as they grew up.


Casey: Oh gosh.


Lori: And that's crazy.


Casey: Well and I, you know, what I'm really hearing too is, and I want to kind of tease apart that conversation, so we're talking about relationship, we're talking about connection and then feeling felt. And that's not being a friend, it's different, it's a different relationship than being a friend and what I heard you just say is, like, you know, in friendship we exchange our support of each other, right and so when that becomes unhealthy with our children, it it is, you know, part of that is like we don't need to share our stuff with them and I'm so, I'm curious because one of the things that I know has been really helpful for me as I grow and develop as a parent is my lovely children teach me and I am practicing something new, I do let them know, you know, "This is something that's really challenging for me and i get triggered and this is what I'm working on," so that's really different than "Here is what's going on in my relationship with your dad, what we're talking about in marriage therapy, you know, so it's all, you know, on one hand, right, because I feel like it's really useful and important to be transparent in our personal work when it comes to, "Hey, I'm trying, I'm working on showing up better for you and other people in my life." You know, because like you said, lifelong learners, it's, you know, they are, they too will be hopefully on the path of personal growth and development.


Lori: And so yeah, you know, I just want to say one thing about that is that, like, I couldn't agree more that transparency with our kids, like, my kids know about my relationship with my parents growing up, you know, and my kids have a great relationship with their grandparents and here's the other thing is that, like, I can talk to them about all these different things and I have a good relationship with my parents now and it does not come because we met halfway, it really comes because I changed, my parents are who they are.  And their amounts of change have come in the results of my change.


You know, I spent years as a teenager, twenty's, thirty's trying to convince them to be more worldly, to be more introspective, reflective etc and so on but that never happened and I beat my head against that wall for so long and I even tell my kids, I beat my head against that wall. I'm like, you can go ahead and beat your head against that wall when you get frustrated with them about the same things or not or you can be like "Oh yeah they're in their seventies that's who they are" and I can take what I want and leave the rest, like, I can just like live and let them live how they live, you know, and create my own inner the thing about firmness, OK, is one of the biggest, most important part of our parenting journey is to be a good model and when I say that, I mean, good models in making mistakes.


You know and how do we recover from our mistakes. I mean, like, I always joke with any parents I work with like, I still sometimes lose it occasionally and yell at my kids, you know, and I look at my part and I go back and I apologize for what I did, not because of the fight but what my behavior was, what did I do that I owe an amends for and that's yeah, I think, I really do believe in being open and showing our faults and what we're learning from it and you know and I have to say, you know, raising two young women and being a woman, I really like, for a lot of years really battled between "Should I be a stay at home mom, and available, the way my mom wasn't or should I be a working mom and be a role model of a working mom" and you know sometimes, somehow the amazing thing is I've been lucky enough to be able to do both.


And now, like, that they are flying their nest, they're watching me in my business even and when I say my business, my work, my world work where I go in different places in the world, my contribution to the world. They're watching me as a woman in the world, in the glass ceiling, in the me too time, in the, you know, like in the way of like, you know, we have this thing, like, when you go for a job interview, pretend you're a boy.


And there's a lot of different and there's a lot of different things that come from that and a lot of that has to do with firmness work, like, has to do with me holding a bar for them, not that they have to jump over the bar but like reminding them "Hey, wait a second, that's kind of girly talk, that's kind of like "Oh I'm not sure I know enough Spanish for that job" but like, "No, I speak Spanish" and if they don't think you speak good enough Spanish then they can decide but you don't have to decide yourself out of that job.


Casey: Yeah, like, even as I listen to you, I'm imagining again, bringing it into the body, I do a lot of work with my clients around evoking ways of being in the body and when I think about that, you know, what you're sharing with your girls and that experience and that firmness, it's really that coming into, standing inside of who we are in that conviction of, this is me, I am this offer and there's a sturdiness to the body. And conviction is really the word that comes up.


Lori: 100 percent, 100 percent and in fact, I really love that embodiment work also and I think that's why, since we're talking about kindness and firmness, I think the activity we had in positive discipline of think tree is so powerful. It's just, it's so powerful to do in classes but it's also so powerful to teach people to do that, just to state, you know, like Amy Cuddy does it for, you know, the interview thing, the superhero poses which is on a TED talk but I really believe if we can think tree and put ourselves in front of a mirror and really ground our feet into the ground, you know, really imagine roots growing deep into the ground and from the waist down, you know, really being firm in our body and making that part of our body a tree trunk. And really having that basis of firmness there and then from the waist up being more flexible and flowy and that part being the kindness, the flexibility piece and putting that out, that really, I just really believe that helps us to do both and instead of the swinging back and forth between, you know, out of guilt.


Casey: Yeah, both and, because it's so, the models that we have or are so either/or right and  I love, you know, I think it's, this is a great time to talk about, you know, bigger vision, like, what's the ultimate, having a vision for what we want most, right and the Positive Discipline for Teen books, the kind and firm parenting is stated as being more interested in the long term results and goals than the immediate short term fixes and I think we get into the short term fix mindset with our teenagers, especially when we're afraid.


Lori:  Exactly.


Casey: Yeah that fear kind of, it's like for me it like, comes up through my legs and up through my torso and then right out my mouth. And it's really, like, how can I, so it's shifting away from that idea of "How do I keep them from doing that again?" into "What do they need to navigate the challenges and the situations that are showing up in their life right now?"


Lori: Absolutely, you know, Casey I don't know If this is really appropriate or what but I have to make the plug for Dan Siegel Brainstorm.


Casey: Do it, yeah.


Lori:  And I just think, like, it's imperative, like, by the time your kid is 10 years old, you should read that book because just-


Casey: and then read it again when they're 15.


Lori: Well, I mean, I think you should read it every year, every year but starting it, you know, if you have if you have a 10 year old start now and if you have a 14 year old start now and if you have a 20 year old start now because I just think it's so brilliant to think about the truth about what's happening in the brain, not the old folklore, oh hormones, oh this, you know, like, maybe that's a little piece of it, but just that the two main things I just want to say is just there's so much development and change happening in the brain but I love also this, two concepts, one is this idea that this is the generation of our future, these kids and I remember this about myself, these are the kids who haven't been through the system so many times to see what works and what doesn't work and so perhaps they're going to have the new, I mean we're seeing this all the time, but they're going to have the new fix on some of our age old problems, you know, I hate the word problems, challenges. And that it's that really, who are we to think we already know it all, you know.


Casey: And you know, results are in, clearly.


Lori: That's just too arrogant, you know what I mean, it's like we know,  we definitely have more experience there's no doubt about that, we definitely have a ton to bring to the table, there's no doubt about that, I'm so behind that and it's imperative for us to keep that brain, oh gosh, what's that word, I'll just use flexibility, for lack of, malleability, whatever that word is. For us to be really open minded to the fact that our kids have the innovative ideas, that they're not being crazy and out of control, no, they have that, you know that, intense novelty, you know, novelty seeking and need for creative expression and social engagement and you know, all that kind of stuff, that's building them and preparing them to take on the future and we have to just be careful not to get in the way of that part just to keep them and not to overly keep them safe. I just want to really be clear about that, that's not, that's never my goal. That's why I say, "Look, I know you're going to do these things and I do want you to make some of these mistakes before you go to college, you know and I want you home at midnight." And I know, like, it's a funny one because Jane says "It doesn't matter what time your kids come home" and I just, you know, I just have to say, since I was one of those teens who grew up in the seventies, I was the bad girl.


Casey: Yeah, me too, nothing good happens after midnight or all the fun stuff. Now, I'm just kidding.


Lori: Nothing good happens after midnight and for all these girls who are, you know, just for girls and boys really, who are like the whole Me too and everything, that's just when crazy stuff goes down, you know and so, like I used say to my kids, you know, "If you're going to sleep at so and so's house tonight and her curfew's later,  even if you sleep at her house you still need to be home by midnight, so you should make sure that's cool with them too." Because, yeah, I just, I just believe like if you say it, mean it, if you mean it, follow through and-


Casey: My gosh, I so have more questions and I'm looking at the time, like, so-


Lori: Yeah, let me just tell you one little thing.


Casey: Yes, do it, do it, do it.


Lori:  I asked my kids "What do you think, what do you guys think about the firmness thing" and they were like, "Mom, you were pretty firm," like that was what, that was like the kind of thing they came back and then like 10 minutes later, separately, I got a text from both of that was like "I think it was good." One said, "I think it was good" and the other one said "Thank you."


Casey: Yeah, well it's interesting because last year, in my experience, in freshman year there was pushback around every single guideline, whether it was co-created or not it was just how, it was just angsty and there was a lot of stuff going on and this year as we've made some changes, it's, I feel like, I think, I mean I know that individuation is still in progress but I feel like we did a deep dive last year and she's come out the other side and she's so much more easygoing. And I think that there is an opportunity for us to trust, even as we're saying how important relationship is, how important connection is, we also get to trust that their discomfort and their feelings about the structures we put into place, that they can navigate that. We don't need to get mad at them, about them feeling like "I kind of hate my curfew, it's so annoying that you're so strict." Right?


And so I talk a lot about the parenting journey as this internal experience for parents, more about how we be than what we do, even as what we do is important and as P.D. trainers we share this often in our classes, it's how we be and it's amazing how quickly parents go from "Well, yeah, yeah, yeah, but what do I do?" And I just say, you know, "If your parenting journey hasn't challenged you in your own personal growth by the time your children are teenagers, you have you no choice.


Well, you have a choice but really, I'm saying, like, now is the time. Do it for your children." So what are some steps and you shared about, you know, about your, some of the things that you did to kind of create your own firmness and self-discipline as an adult, what are some steps that you encourage parents to take in developing themselves so that they can get better at that both/and of kindness and firmness with their teenagers?


Lori: But let me first just say one thing and what I'm talking about, it's not like "This is easy, I know how to do it."


Casey: We are all learners.


Lori: there are times I've held boundaries and walked along and thought to myself, in my own head, "Oh my God, this is the end of our relationship. This is going to be the break. This is where they're going to hate me. This is the end of our close relationship" and I just had to have faith and walk through it and then like, it's been fine, you know what I mean? Like, sometimes I am scared to death and I think "Oh my God, I've made a mistake" and so that's, I just want to say that. It is often very uncomfortable, very uncomfortable especially if you have a partner who's like "Oh my god, you're being such a hard nose" and I'd be like "OK, like, I support you, you support me."


So that I would say one big thing is to be really in communication with, if you have a partner who's co-raising with you, to really be in communication without the kids around and even if you can't agree, which sometimes we did not agree, like, to never argue in front of the kids about parenting and if we, you know, I would say sometimes like that we don't disagree in front of the kids about the parenting stuff and we would talk about it in private and sometimes he would ask me to support him in something and what I had to say in a conversation was, "Listen, I will walk out. I will not participate in the conversation so that I don't have to go against what you're saying, but I will not participate. I will not enforce something that you want to do that I don't believe in. I'll stay out of it and I'll have faith that my kids have enough resilience or they will build resilience to deal with something that maybe is unfair because that's the truth of the world."


They're going to have teachers who suck, they're going to have bosses who suck and they have to suck it up sometimes, you know, it's not like it's going to all be P.D. happy world. No, so but I also don't have to go again and I believe this is one of the ways that I model firmness is that I'll respect you and what you want to do but I'm not going to go along with it if it's not something that I believe in. So that's certainly one clear goal.


Casey:  Yeah.


Lori: I think sometimes the place to start if people can be really present with themselves is to think about one way to be firm with their own personal boundaries, they have to start with themselves, they can't start with their kids. So to find your own one, even just one area where you can create a boundary for yourself and at the same time compassion for yourself, not beat yourself up if you are not perfect, if you make a mistake. So I think the practice has to happen, like, it can happen simultaneously but I don't ever think that we can expect that we can do something to or for our kids or to for or with our kids for them that we're not willing to do to for and with ourselves first. I think that's really key, really key.


Casey: Yeah.


Lori: And then I would say my third, my last thing is like, stay in contact with the community, don't do it alone.


Casey: Yes.


Lori: Like when my daughter at 15 was going to parties with kids who are older and said "Mom, I think I want to try alcohol" and I was like, "What? Don't ask me about that."


Casey: Where's the sand?  I'm going to stick my head in it, right? Like, why are you a normal teenager?


Lori: Exactly and all the sudden I was like "Shit, I gotta go get some advice, I don't even know what to say about this. I don't want her to drink at 15 but I don't want to be like, 'No you can't drink' right?" So I really reached out to several people who I really respect who had kids who are older than my kids and took in some ideas that other people had and then really sat with what, you know, and when I say sat, I mean meditated on. What resonated with me and how could I take what they said and make it mine? And really came up with a kind of what I think was a brilliant answer to that question. And yeah so just reaching out, not feeling like I have to do this on my own or I have to know everything.


Yeah, like to be willing to look for a tool, an idea, a concept, a spiritual solution and faith in my child, you know, empowering encouragement. And how, you know, being empowered by my community so I think those are probably the biggest things that have, I mean I did not come into positive discipline firm, let me just say that, I was a mush tot. Yeah, so I would say over these years I have really been able to thankfully, gratefully, you know, little by slow, develop my firmness and live with it and live with the consequences of it. It's OK that they don't always agree with me, it's okay. You know, it's okay that I may be like "Whoah, that was a little too much like my dad." You know, like, let me bounce back a little bit and let me apologize to them for going a little too far because I did that sometimes too, you know.


Casey: And I just love, what I'm really present to right now, Lori is the reason that I wanted to create this audio summit is because parenting teenagers is bigger than some formulaic blog post that is "Oh just do this." It's so messy and nuanced and we make mistakes and they make mistakes and like yours, I love, I'm so grateful that you mentioned, like, this is, you know, I did walk away from some of those guidelines feeling like, "Well that's it, you know, relationship over" or owning it when you kind of lost your shit. I just, I so appreciate that because it's just, it's this human, we are emotional beings in relationship with other emotional beings who have even more limited skills than we have and we have limited skills if we're not actively trying to grow and so it's just been such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thank you so much for your contribution.


Lori: Oh, me too.


Casey: I know, we can talk for another 2 hours.


Lori: Are we done already?


Casey: I know, I'm wrapping it up now, Lori.


Lori: OK let's do it again another day. I know we've been trying to do this for like 4 years.


Casey: Yeah, yeah it's happening.


Lori: Let's do it again.


Casey:  So but one last question, if there are parents that are listening who want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?


Lori: OK, you're going to, this is kind of a crazy thing, I'm just going to give you my e-mail address.


Casey: All right, great.


Lori: OK, which is the last part of my last name wyzercpda@gmail.com


Casey: Great.


Lori: And I just want to say as much as for 10 years I've tried to make a website, I am always too busy working with people to do that.


Casey: It's all good.


Lori: So that's, I just want to say, that's where my passion is so don't be afraid that I don't have a website, it's because I get so much referral business I've never really needed a website and I love to talk to people.


Casey: Well, listeners, you're going to you're going to get the transcription of this conversation and Lori's email will be there so you can get in touch with her. Thank you so much for being here.


Lori:  Thank you Casey. Thanks for doing this all the time, this such a great service for parents. I love it. I love my camper.