Finding Kindness and Firmness During the Teen Years, with Lori Onderwyzer

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

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

And I'm super excited about this interview my friend Lori Onderwyzer is on today. She is a certified positive discipline lead trainer, certificated teacher, educational consultant and mother with 30 years of learning and experience. She truly lives and models the positive discipline principles she teaches. Her passion is to help adults guide young people to become confident, capable, resourceful, resilient and contributing members of their community and isn't that what we all want?

Lori works with students, teachers, counselors, administrators and parents in providing workshops, doing professional development coaching and classes in addition to providing staff development trainings, Lori has presented at numerous educational professional conferences in the U.S., Canada, China and Europe. Lori also continues to build a thriving parent education and coaching practice.

In this work she is particularly focused on helping families create more joyful and connected lives, yay, through continued coaching she helps parents discover and develop balanced styles that promote a sense of belonging and significance for all family members, which in turn helps to inspire confidence, mutual respect and self-discipline.  

Lori's a member of the Positive Discipline Association and has a special ability to create a safe and nurturing environment where people feel comfortable to take risks. I know this firsthand as Lori was one of my trainers as I came up in positive discipline, she's been a friend and mentor to me for years. I am positive she was my camp counselor at some point in my youth although we can't quite figure out when that could have possibly been. I adore her and I'm honored she's taking time to talk with me today. Hi Lori, thanks for coming on and being part of the summit.

Lori: Hi Casey, I'm so excited. I'm so excited.

Casey: I know, me too, me too. Can you, I know I just said a lot about you, but can you tell the listeners a bit about your experience with parenting through the teen years with positive discipline? Because your girls are, are they all the way on the other side of teen years?

Lori: Oh my gosh, I'll just tell you that I consider now, with one of my mentors also, Dan Siegel, I'm now considering this teen years thing to be more an adolescent thing, like going through the middle 20 years and I do have one, my older daughter's 22 soon to be 23 and my younger daughter graduated from college and my younger is a sophomore and she's 19, so I'm in the mix.

Casey: You are.

Lori: Well, every day from far away.

Casey: Right, which I think, guessing is a different kind of experience, no less. I mean, it just has a different flavor, right, than having them at home with you?

Lori:  Yeah, yeah and I have to say, oh my gosh, the excitement of the holidays last week and them both coming home and us all being so, you know, so excited to be back together and I have to tell you, one of the first nights that we went out to dinner together and my daughter said "Let's do compliments and appreciations!"

Casey: Oh, that's the dream. That's the dream, that's so awesome.

Lori: It was so dreamy, we we were like at the end of it, we were like, "Bliss family!" It's really, you know, it pays off. If it really pays off.

Casey: And now were they are asking for compliments and appreciation circles all the way through their teen years or what?

Lori: No, no, no, they were just, you know, I have to say like, of course, they grew up with, you know, family meetings and so every now and then, it wasn't family meeting time but we, the one time we always made sure when they were still home and going to high school and team practices and play practice and all that was, 9 pm Dinner.

Casey: Wow, yeah.

Lori: That I love to say because really if we all wanted to have dinner together it was really around 9 pm and it was just, like, this cherished time where there were no cell phones on the table and we were just all there together and you know, from a history of having had family meetings and compliments appreciations they loved them, they really grew up with them and they love them so much that it would spontaneously erupt because they just thought it was so, you know, we would just all feel so happy afterwards and everybody would feel appreciated, and they would feel felt as we like to say and so we hadn't seen each other for several months, I was, you know, in Asia, dad was at home, they were both down in the Southern California studying and working and just this first time we were all back together and there they were right back to, "Alright, compliments and appreciations, who's going first?"

Casey:  Dreams. Well, one of the pillars of positive discipline and what we're going to kind of dissect today is parenting with both kindness and firmness and how I break it down and I know other trainers do is we're really talking about it in terms of mutual respect, respecting the teen is the kindness piece, respecting yourself in the situation, being the firmness piece, tell me how you talk about this in the context of parenting teens with the people that you work with, this kindness and firmness and the key word right is "and."

Lori: Yeah, "and" capital letters, boom, boom, underlined, exclamation points. Yeah, so, you know, a couple of things, one, I really have moved into really wanting to be transparent and clear that kindness means connection and support. It doesn't just mean being nice because I think that's, like, a big place, you know, being nice or giving kids what they want, that's what I think of when I think of kindness.

I really think about being super connected to who they are and where they are and supporting them where they want to grow, not where we want them to grow necessarily, I mean we may have our you know thoughts, feelings, decisions, desires. And yet also just super dooper respecting what it is they want for themselves and standing behind them and encouraging them to check that out as deeply as possible because they  just have this amazing experience right now to be able to do that. And they need a lot of support to do it, you know, they have a lot of these days even more than I think maybe in some ways than when we were, when I was a teen because you and I were teens at different times. They have some big challenges right now. And so I think they can and I think it's tough for us parents because it's coming out in the open and we learned to deal with it in a different way and so being really open to hearing their experience which is different than ours, different, it's a new world, already a new world.

Casey: Yeah and when I hear you say, we're going to get into this I think a little later, but even when you say being open to hearing their experience, you know, when I think about being a teenager I had my experiences that were of a different flavor, I mean, I still went through individuation and everything but I wasn't talking to my parents about my experience and so that is like "Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, wow." So then there's the firmness piece, right, there is that connected and continue I love that you said 'feeling felt' earlier around the compliment circles and I think that that's a piece of of being connected to our teens as well.

Lori: Yeah, right, so I'm going to just say, like, it for me it does move right into firmness, OK, because I think, like, I grew up in the seventy's and so it unfortunately was a time, I mean, number one, I had some unskilled parents because they were super young when they had me, they were even younger than my daughter today. And who I couldn't imagine having a kid right now.

And they didn't have the benefits of a lot of the stuff that we've learned about brain science and about connection and all that kind of stuff and so and it was like this huge opening for women where there was divorce and finding themselves and so as a result I feel like a really big piece of my story is I got really lost in that mix. I got kind of, my sister and I both got left behind a little and as a result very, very early on in my teen years I had made my own personal mission was that other kids were not going to feel what I had felt. And saying that, I think a lot of other parents had some level of that mission as well, which in a way is how we have found ourselves and I want to say this is a worldwide phenomenon not just the US, that we have found ourselves in this place of tending to move towards too much permissiveness.

And I think that's bad, bad, bad and I hate to be so drastic about it but I'll say that I grew up with one parent who was super permissive because she didn't know any better and one parent who was super authoritarian because he also didn't know any better and then at the mere age of 12 when they split up, nobody wanted to be the hard core person so there was just permissiveness really and that was super challenging for me and I, while when I was young and as a teen, it was coolest thing in the world, you know, like I had these really cool parents and they weren't really watching out for me, they didn't watch my schoolwork as closely as possible, you know, just all kinds of things like that and my parents were doing cool things but it really left me, for a long time, untethered, afraid, without guidance, without direction, without focus in a certain sort of way.

So I did some work for myself and found an area where I could find a lot more firmness for myself. And found that that firmness, you know, I always thought of myself as this free spirited person. But it was too crazy and when I found this firmness piece for myself, all of a sudden I felt like "Oh, there's boundaries, there's places where we stop" and it created this level of freedom for me because I found like "Oh, I can go this far and that's far enough" and I can live within these spaces and then I have freedom there.

Casey: Yeah, I am thinking of that phrase that sometimes we use that freedom within structure, so it was for you, the structure wasn't created by your family system, it was something that you later created, were able to develop for yourself because you sought out your own personal growth.

Lori: Totally, 100 percent,100 percent. So in that, and let me just say that the tricky and most joyful part of parenting I think has been the raising, you know, the raising of myself at the same time I'm raising my children. So, I really consider myself a lifelong learner and I'm constantly learning and growing and changing and in finding that freedom within structure I really felt like "Wow this is going to be powerful for my kids", you know, like and you know I live in Oakland slash Berkeley, also known as Erkly, California, so it's very permissive around here, very permissive, and you know, progressive and whenever you say progressive and we haven't quite moved we haven't quite moved into the firmness piece there either as much as possible, so my kids would definitely describe me as a very strict, firm parent. And I kind of jokingly take pride when I'm teaching classes and coaching other parents that I was probably the strictest parent there was amongst my teenager's friends and I want to say that in all those years my kids were never punished and we never had consequences.

Casey: Yes, so paint that picture because I think that's where people get really stuck and where they swing into permissive is because we think of firmness as or even like the word strict as being this threatening punishment, you know, laying down the law, like, even as I'm saying this my shoulders are coming up and face is getting all scrunched up but you're talking about firmness, I'm guessing it didn't look like that, because you're talking firmness with that connection.

Lori: So my kids would still tell you I was firm and I am firm. My husband would tell you that and any of the people that I work with would tell you that but I have to tell you, Casey, that I was a really permissive person, I was a really what I think of as kind of mushy, easily bendable, moldable person and I wouldn't say that about myself today, even though I would say I'm quite flexible. So what that looks like is, well, once you keep connection and support in the picture, my kids and I, my teenagers and I were always in conversation,  always in conversation about everything. There was just an outrageous number of curiosity questions, like, "So what are you thinking about that? And what's your idea about that and how could you get help from that teacher and what do you want to do to ask for a letter of recommendation?" and then, you know, like.

Casey: Yeah and where I'm hearing firmness in that is the unspoken message which is "This is yours to do."

Lori: Yeah, yeah, there are high expectations, there were definitely high expectations in our household, you know, like, I have high expectations. And I'm totally willing to give over the power to them. I'm not going to tell you how to do it, I'm not going to do it for you. This is your responsibility. I've already been through high school and college. I already have a career. I hope these are going to be things you're going to want for yourself and let me know if you need any help.

Casey: And you know, it's, we recently, a couple weeks ago, my daughter who's a sophomore in high school had a friend come and spend the night and we all went out to dinner and we started talking about, we talk a lot, we talk about everything, as I'm sure I'm hearing you, like, yes, schoolwork but also, you know, drugs and alcohol and tobacco and sex, all the things, right, we just, it's on the table, it's open for business, let's talk about it all the time and it seems like they want to talk.

I mean, it's right there in their face so much and so we were having a conversation about vaping, which is, your girls might be, well, I mean, it's not like, it's not a college and you know, this really open conversation and people that listen to the podcast know that we've had some incidents at home. and yeah and you know, something my daughter's friend said was, "I think it is so cool that you are so open to talk about this stuff because we don't talk about this at our house."

Now, granted and so this new kind of experience that I had with the most recent bust was, like, hey, like a really energetic letting go, connecting and saying "Ultimately you get to decide what your relationship with nicotine is going to be throughout your life and I will interrupt and interfere and intervene when it comes, you know, when it comes in to my experience, you know, of you here at the house," you know and it really, like, it wasn't and for the first time it felt like it wasn't just lip service, like I was truly saying, like, we have parallel journeys but ultimately this is yours, you get to decide. I can't, no matter what I do what threats, what punishments, what, you know, how hard and loud I yell, whatever, she ultimately gets to decide, right and I will take away what I find and dispose as I need to but, you know, so that, I think, sometimes, you know, firmness can also get, I think, you know, it's that relationship piece that really matters to the firmness as far as, like, firmness being something that's effective in supporting and guiding our kids.

Lori: Yeah, yeah, you know, there was an incident I had with my younger daughter in high school and they wanted to go watch the sunset from the cliffs in Berkeley and it's kind of this funky little spot and I was like, "Well, tell me more about it" and there's all these friends and they want to watch the sunset and I was like, "Yeah, I'm totally cool with you guys going up and watching the sunset so what's the plan afterward?" and they want to hang out up there and I was like, "Really, Claire, honey, I'm good with you staying there for like a half an hour after sunset, see how much the colors of the sky change and have this really beautiful experience and I'm not comfortable with you guys just hanging out up there in the dark in your cars." Like, nothing good is going to come of that, you know, like, come on.

Casey: I'm not an idiot.

Lori: Yeah, exactly and she was so cool with that. She just had like such a good mature adult conversation with me about it and I said "So you either need to call me or uber home, or maybe some of your friends will leave with you" because there was a whole bunch of them going and she came back to me the next day and she was like, her friends wanted to know, "Why do you even talk to your mom about this stuff?" And she was just like, "Well, I guess that's the kind of relationship my mom and I have."

One of the things is I'm so transparent with them about like, number one, I love them more than anything in the whole wide world, I mean they are my heart, my soul, my everything. I just adore my girls. And I care about them so much and I know that they're going to experiment with different things and I'm fine with that and really quite frankly I'm actually even in some ways a little happy they do some experimentation at home before they leave for college because at least they have some adult guidance, you know, because it's going to happen at college and so I want them to, you know, know that they can rely on me and no questions asked, you know, if they get in trouble, like, that kind of stuff.

And they also know, I mean, I have had extensive conversations about dopamine in the brain and you know, I know you're going to experiment, can you hold off as long as possible because your brain is doing serious development right now, it's doing hard core work, you know, milanations, you know, like all these things of like your dopamine receptors and your pleasure centers are going nuts right now and if you, this is when they were younger, you know, if you can hold off as long as possible and let your brain develop as much as possible, I know you're going to do this occasionally and keep these kinds of things in mind and then like in my family we had some other, you know, there's and many families there's others issues.

There can be mental health issues, there can be addiction issues and so those are super important to talk to kids about and be really clear and be like, I'm not telling you this to scare you and you should know addiction is, there's evidence that addiction is hereditary, so it just means, doesn't mean you can't ever do it but it does mean keep your eye on it, you know and mental health can be triggered by certain drugs, you know, or mental health, mental illness and those are things you need to be aware of, like you're a young adult and so also in my mind, always keeping really solid that there prefrontal cortex hasn't been fully developed, they don't totally understand, you know, causal thinking in a very deep, long term way and so I really feel like that's my job, like, I do understand that kind of stuff and I am developed and I have to help educate them. I have to make them aware of those things because I can't count on the school doing it, their friends doing it, their whatever and that's my responsibility and my job as a parent, I really believe, is not to be their friend but I really, I bristle when people say to me, like, "I want to be friends with my kid."

It's like, when you're raising your kids, you are their mother or their father or their whatever you call yourself as a guardian. When you're raising them they have their friends and you should also have your friends and then you're, you know, I always tell my kids, my relationship, I'm your mother, you know, one of my daughters says " Mom, you're my best friend" and I say "No, I'm your best mom" and I really think that's important for us not to mush up those lines. And when we can raise our kids like that then we can become best friends with our kids because now I can say my relationship with both of my kids is a very deep close friendship along with being a parent. And I don't, you know, like when they say "Oh mom, you can tell me your stuff." I'm like, you guys, like, that's my job to take care of, I'll find my support systems for that, you don't need to take on whatever my, we all have issues our whole life long, if we're really honest. So like for me, I have my people who are my go to and I have my positive discipline like world wide community and you know, I have my close friends and I have different things and my have my husband and I have a big, fat support system, friendship system and I want that for them also and they should also know, like, I'm their mom and I'll always be there for them and I have to say, you know, Casey, the really great thing is not only has it been, I think, good for them, you know, even though they weren't always happy about it, but it has really helped me to grow up. I've grown up as they grew up.

Casey: Oh gosh.

Lori: And that's crazy.

Casey: Well and I, you know, what I'm really hearing too is, and I want to kind of tease apart that conversation, so we're talking about relationship, we're talking about connection and then feeling felt. And that's not being a friend, it's different, it's a different relationship than being a friend and what I heard you just say is, like, you know, in friendship we exchange our support of each other, right and so when that becomes unhealthy with our children, it it is, you know, part of that is like we don't need to share our stuff with them and I'm so, I'm curious because one of the things that I know has been really helpful for me as I grow and develop as a parent is my lovely children teach me and I am practicing something new, I do let them know, you know, "This is something that's really challenging for me and i get triggered and this is what I'm working on," so that's really different than "Here is what's going on in my relationship with your dad, what we're talking about in marriage therapy, you know, so it's all, you know, on one hand, right, because I feel like it's really useful and important to be transparent in our personal work when it comes to, "Hey, I'm trying, I'm working on showing up better for you and other people in my life." You know, because like you said, lifelong learners, it's, you know, they are, they too will be hopefully on the path of personal growth and development.

Lori: And so yeah, you know, I just want to say one thing about that is that, like, I couldn't agree more that transparency with our kids, like, my kids know about my relationship with my parents growing up, you know, and my kids have a great relationship with their grandparents and here's the other thing is that, like, I can talk to them about all these different things and I have a good relationship with my parents now and it does not come because we met halfway, it really comes because I changed, my parents are who they are.  And their amounts of change have come in the results of my change.

You know, I spent years as a teenager, twenty's, thirty's trying to convince them to be more worldly, to be more introspective, reflective etc and so on but that never happened and I beat my head against that wall for so long and I even tell my kids, I beat my head against that wall. I'm like, you can go ahead and beat your head against that wall when you get frustrated with them about the same things or not or you can be like "Oh yeah they're in their seventies that's who they are" and I can take what I want and leave the rest, like, I can just like live and let them live how they live, you know, and create my own inner the thing about firmness, OK, is one of the biggest, most important part of our parenting journey is to be a good model and when I say that, I mean, good models in making mistakes.

You know and how do we recover from our mistakes. I mean, like, I always joke with any parents I work with like, I still sometimes lose it occasionally and yell at my kids, you know, and I look at my part and I go back and I apologize for what I did, not because of the fight but what my behavior was, what did I do that I owe an amends for and that's yeah, I think, I really do believe in being open and showing our faults and what we're learning from it and you know and I have to say, you know, raising two young women and being a woman, I really like, for a lot of years really battled between "Should I be a stay at home mom, and available, the way my mom wasn't or should I be a working mom and be a role model of a working mom" and you know sometimes, somehow the amazing thing is I've been lucky enough to be able to do both.

And now, like, that they are flying their nest, they're watching me in my business even and when I say my business, my work, my world work where I go in different places in the world, my contribution to the world. They're watching me as a woman in the world, in the glass ceiling, in the me too time, in the, you know, like in the way of like, you know, we have this thing, like, when you go for a job interview, pretend you're a boy.

And there's a lot of different and there's a lot of different things that come from that and a lot of that has to do with firmness work, like, has to do with me holding a bar for them, not that they have to jump over the bar but like reminding them "Hey, wait a second, that's kind of girly talk, that's kind of like "Oh I'm not sure I know enough Spanish for that job" but like, "No, I speak Spanish" and if they don't think you speak good enough Spanish then they can decide but you don't have to decide yourself out of that job.

Casey: Yeah, like, even as I listen to you, I'm imagining again, bringing it into the body, I do a lot of work with my clients around evoking ways of being in the body and when I think about that, you know, what you're sharing with your girls and that experience and that firmness, it's really that coming into, standing inside of who we are in that conviction of, this is me, I am this offer and there's a sturdiness to the body. And conviction is really the word that comes up.

Lori: 100 percent, 100 percent and in fact, I really love that embodiment work also and I think that's why, since we're talking about kindness and firmness, I think the activity we had in positive discipline of think tree is so powerful. It's just, it's so powerful to do in classes but it's also so powerful to teach people to do that, just to state, you know, like Amy Cuddy does it for, you know, the interview thing, the superhero poses which is on a TED talk but I really believe if we can think tree and put ourselves in front of a mirror and really ground our feet into the ground, you know, really imagine roots growing deep into the ground and from the waist down, you know, really being firm in our body and making that part of our body a tree trunk. And really having that basis of firmness there and then from the waist up being more flexible and flowy and that part being the kindness, the flexibility piece and putting that out, that really, I just really believe that helps us to do both and instead of the swinging back and forth between, you know, out of guilt.

Casey: Yeah, both and, because it's so, the models that we have or are so either/or right and  I love, you know, I think it's, this is a great time to talk about, you know, bigger vision, like, what's the ultimate, having a vision for what we want most, right and the Positive Discipline for Teen books, the kind and firm parenting is stated as being more interested in the long term results and goals than the immediate short term fixes and I think we get into the short term fix mindset with our teenagers, especially when we're afraid.

Lori:  Exactly.

Casey: Yeah that fear kind of, it's like for me it like, comes up through my legs and up through my torso and then right out my mouth. And it's really, like, how can I, so it's shifting away from that idea of "How do I keep them from doing that again?" into "What do they need to navigate the challenges and the situations that are showing up in their life right now?"

Lori: Absolutely, you know, Casey I don't know If this is really appropriate or what but I have to make the plug for Dan Siegel Brainstorm.

Casey: Do it, yeah.

Lori:  And I just think, like, it's imperative, like, by the time your kid is 10 years old, you should read that book because just-

Casey: and then read it again when they're 15.

Lori: Well, I mean, I think you should read it every year, every year but starting it, you know, if you have if you have a 10 year old start now and if you have a 14 year old start now and if you have a 20 year old start now because I just think it's so brilliant to think about the truth about what's happening in the brain, not the old folklore, oh hormones, oh this, you know, like, maybe that's a little piece of it, but just that the two main things I just want to say is just there's so much development and change happening in the brain but I love also this, two concepts, one is this idea that this is the generation of our future, these kids and I remember this about myself, these are the kids who haven't been through the system so many times to see what works and what doesn't work and so perhaps they're going to have the new, I mean we're seeing this all the time, but they're going to have the new fix on some of our age old problems, you know, I hate the word problems, challenges. And that it's that really, who are we to think we already know it all, you know.

Casey: And you know, results are in, clearly.

Lori: That's just too arrogant, you know what I mean, it's like we know,  we definitely have more experience there's no doubt about that, we definitely have a ton to bring to the table, there's no doubt about that, I'm so behind that and it's imperative for us to keep that brain, oh gosh, what's that word, I'll just use flexibility, for lack of, malleability, whatever that word is. For us to be really open minded to the fact that our kids have the innovative ideas, that they're not being crazy and out of control, no, they have that, you know that, intense novelty, you know, novelty seeking and need for creative expression and social engagement and you know, all that kind of stuff, that's building them and preparing them to take on the future and we have to just be careful not to get in the way of that part just to keep them and not to overly keep them safe. I just want to really be clear about that, that's not, that's never my goal. That's why I say, "Look, I know you're going to do these things and I do want you to make some of these mistakes before you go to college, you know and I want you home at midnight." And I know, like, it's a funny one because Jane says "It doesn't matter what time your kids come home" and I just, you know, I just have to say, since I was one of those teens who grew up in the seventies, I was the bad girl.

Casey: Yeah, me too, nothing good happens after midnight or all the fun stuff. Now, I'm just kidding.

Lori: Nothing good happens after midnight and for all these girls who are, you know, just for girls and boys really, who are like the whole Me too and everything, that's just when crazy stuff goes down, you know and so, like I used say to my kids, you know, "If you're going to sleep at so and so's house tonight and her curfew's later,  even if you sleep at her house you still need to be home by midnight, so you should make sure that's cool with them too." Because, yeah, I just, I just believe like if you say it, mean it, if you mean it, follow through and-

Casey: My gosh, I so have more questions and I'm looking at the time, like, so-

Lori: Yeah, let me just tell you one little thing.

Casey: Yes, do it, do it, do it.

Lori:  I asked my kids "What do you think, what do you guys think about the firmness thing" and they were like, "Mom, you were pretty firm," like that was what, that was like the kind of thing they came back and then like 10 minutes later, separately, I got a text from both of that was like "I think it was good." One said, "I think it was good" and the other one said "Thank you."

Casey: Yeah, well it's interesting because last year, in my experience, in freshman year there was pushback around every single guideline, whether it was co-created or not it was just how, it was just angsty and there was a lot of stuff going on and this year as we've made some changes, it's, I feel like, I think, I mean I know that individuation is still in progress but I feel like we did a deep dive last year and she's come out the other side and she's so much more easygoing. And I think that there is an opportunity for us to trust, even as we're saying how important relationship is, how important connection is, we also get to trust that their discomfort and their feelings about the structures we put into place, that they can navigate that. We don't need to get mad at them, about them feeling like "I kind of hate my curfew, it's so annoying that you're so strict." Right?

And so I talk a lot about the parenting journey as this internal experience for parents, more about how we be than what we do, even as what we do is important and as P.D. trainers we share this often in our classes, it's how we be and it's amazing how quickly parents go from "Well, yeah, yeah, yeah, but what do I do?" And I just say, you know, "If your parenting journey hasn't challenged you in your own personal growth by the time your children are teenagers, you have you no choice.

Well, you have a choice but really, I'm saying, like, now is the time. Do it for your children." So what are some steps and you shared about, you know, about your, some of the things that you did to kind of create your own firmness and self-discipline as an adult, what are some steps that you encourage parents to take in developing themselves so that they can get better at that both/and of kindness and firmness with their teenagers?

Lori: But let me first just say one thing and what I'm talking about, it's not like "This is easy, I know how to do it."

Casey: We are all learners.

Lori: there are times I've held boundaries and walked along and thought to myself, in my own head, "Oh my God, this is the end of our relationship. This is going to be the break. This is where they're going to hate me. This is the end of our close relationship" and I just had to have faith and walk through it and then like, it's been fine, you know what I mean? Like, sometimes I am scared to death and I think "Oh my God, I've made a mistake" and so that's, I just want to say that. It is often very uncomfortable, very uncomfortable especially if you have a partner who's like "Oh my god, you're being such a hard nose" and I'd be like "OK, like, I support you, you support me."

So that I would say one big thing is to be really in communication with, if you have a partner who's co-raising with you, to really be in communication without the kids around and even if you can't agree, which sometimes we did not agree, like, to never argue in front of the kids about parenting and if we, you know, I would say sometimes like that we don't disagree in front of the kids about the parenting stuff and we would talk about it in private and sometimes he would ask me to support him in something and what I had to say in a conversation was, "Listen, I will walk out. I will not participate in the conversation so that I don't have to go against what you're saying, but I will not participate. I will not enforce something that you want to do that I don't believe in. I'll stay out of it and I'll have faith that my kids have enough resilience or they will build resilience to deal with something that maybe is unfair because that's the truth of the world."

They're going to have teachers who suck, they're going to have bosses who suck and they have to suck it up sometimes, you know, it's not like it's going to all be P.D. happy world. No, so but I also don't have to go again and I believe this is one of the ways that I model firmness is that I'll respect you and what you want to do but I'm not going to go along with it if it's not something that I believe in. So that's certainly one clear goal.

Casey:  Yeah.

Lori: I think sometimes the place to start if people can be really present with themselves is to think about one way to be firm with their own personal boundaries, they have to start with themselves, they can't start with their kids. So to find your own one, even just one area where you can create a boundary for yourself and at the same time compassion for yourself, not beat yourself up if you are not perfect, if you make a mistake. So I think the practice has to happen, like, it can happen simultaneously but I don't ever think that we can expect that we can do something to or for our kids or to for or with our kids for them that we're not willing to do to for and with ourselves first. I think that's really key, really key.

Casey: Yeah.

Lori: And then I would say my third, my last thing is like, stay in contact with the community, don't do it alone.

Casey: Yes.

Lori: Like when my daughter at 15 was going to parties with kids who are older and said "Mom, I think I want to try alcohol" and I was like, "What? Don't ask me about that."

Casey: Where's the sand?  I'm going to stick my head in it, right? Like, why are you a normal teenager?

Lori: Exactly and all the sudden I was like "Shit, I gotta go get some advice, I don't even know what to say about this. I don't want her to drink at 15 but I don't want to be like, 'No you can't drink' right?" So I really reached out to several people who I really respect who had kids who are older than my kids and took in some ideas that other people had and then really sat with what, you know, and when I say sat, I mean meditated on. What resonated with me and how could I take what they said and make it mine? And really came up with a kind of what I think was a brilliant answer to that question. And yeah so just reaching out, not feeling like I have to do this on my own or I have to know everything.

Yeah, like to be willing to look for a tool, an idea, a concept, a spiritual solution and faith in my child, you know, empowering encouragement. And how, you know, being empowered by my community so I think those are probably the biggest things that have, I mean I did not come into positive discipline firm, let me just say that, I was a mush tot. Yeah, so I would say over these years I have really been able to thankfully, gratefully, you know, little by slow, develop my firmness and live with it and live with the consequences of it. It's OK that they don't always agree with me, it's okay. You know, it's okay that I may be like "Whoah, that was a little too much like my dad." You know, like, let me bounce back a little bit and let me apologize to them for going a little too far because I did that sometimes too, you know.

Casey: And I just love, what I'm really present to right now, Lori is the reason that I wanted to create this audio summit is because parenting teenagers is bigger than some formulaic blog post that is "Oh just do this." It's so messy and nuanced and we make mistakes and they make mistakes and like yours, I love, I'm so grateful that you mentioned, like, this is, you know, I did walk away from some of those guidelines feeling like, "Well that's it, you know, relationship over" or owning it when you kind of lost your shit. I just, I so appreciate that because it's just, it's this human, we are emotional beings in relationship with other emotional beings who have even more limited skills than we have and we have limited skills if we're not actively trying to grow and so it's just been such a privilege to be in conversation with you, thank you so much for your contribution.

Lori: Oh, me too.

Casey: I know, we can talk for another 2 hours.

Lori: Are we done already?

Casey: I know, I'm wrapping it up now, Lori.

Lori: OK let's do it again another day. I know we've been trying to do this for like 4 years.

Casey: Yeah, yeah it's happening.

Lori: Let's do it again.

Casey:  So but one last question, if there are parents that are listening who want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?

Lori: OK, you're going to, this is kind of a crazy thing, I'm just going to give you my e-mail address.

Casey: All right, great.

Lori: OK, which is the last part of my last name

Casey: Great.

Lori: And I just want to say as much as for 10 years I've tried to make a website, I am always too busy working with people to do that.

Casey: It's all good.

Lori: So that's, I just want to say, that's where my passion is so don't be afraid that I don't have a website, it's because I get so much referral business I've never really needed a website and I love to talk to people.

Casey: Well, listeners, you're going to you're going to get the transcription of this conversation and Lori's email will be there so you can get in touch with her. Thank you so much for being here.

Lori:  Thank you Casey. Thanks for doing this all the time, this such a great service for parents. I love it. I love my camper.