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.
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?
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,"
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,"
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Casey: All right, perfect, thank you.
Aisha: Thank you.