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?"


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 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.