157: How to find your village

For the first time, in this episode I bow out and and let listeners Jenny and Emma take over, who wanted to share how they’ve been supporting each other over the last few months.

 

They started from pretty different points: Emma wasn’t having parenting struggles, but often over-communicated with her husband and he would stonewall in response, agreeing to whatever she asked so she would stop talking. Then he would resist later, and she couldn’t understand why…because he had agreed, right?

 

Jenny’s sleep had been disturbed by her child for more than four years…she was exhausted, and had no idea how to deal with her rage-filled kindergartener who would hit her whenever he was upset.

 

Neither of them had much confidence that being on a Zoom call together for 40 minutes a week would help them.

 

Emma and her husband now communicate in a way that meets both of their needs, and can navigate the challenges that come up with their preschooler.

 

Jenny is sleeping! And she has learned how deep listening and true empathy help her son to feel really heard…and incidents that used to lead to 45 minute meltdowns that would disrupt the rest of the day are now over in 10 minutes, and are actually connecting for them.

 

Jenny and Emma did all this with a bit of information from me…but mostly by being fully present for each other in a small ‘village’ of parents, inside the slightly larger village of the Parenting Membership.

 

If you want help to break down the changes you want to make into tiny manageable steps and be held (gently!) accountable for taking them (or adjusting course if needed…), we’d love to have you join the three of us plus a group of likeminded parents in the membership.

 

Get the information you need and the support to actually implement it, all in what members call “the least judgmental corner of the internet.”

 

Click the image below to learn more and sign up!

Jump to highlights:

(01:00) Jenny and Emma came up with the idea to record an episode for the podcast to talk about how their parenting has changed over the last year.

(01:55) Emma wasn’t having major problems, but wanted to be prepared for the challenges that may happen down the road.

(02:36) Jenny was struggling because she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in 4 ½ years…and now prioritizes herself through the support of Emma and the members of the ACTion group.

(03:55) An open Invitation to join the Parenting Membership.

(04:45) Because Emma is a high achiever, she imagined parenthood to be a breeze.

(06:57) Jenny believed that if you are prepared and serene, and you bring this calm energy to your pregnancy, you will have an easy child.

(08:24) The lack of understanding of our values is what causes us to be conflicted about becoming parents.

(12:00) Our child’s big feelings are their way of letting us know that they are not okay.

(14:30) It’s great to have a community who we can trust, and who will support and respect our values

(16:30) The ACTion group conversation once a week gives parents a foundation to parent more intentionally

(18:26) Emma used the problem-solving method to find a solution for her child’s resistance during nail cutting by trying to hypothesize her child’s feelings.

(20:17) Needs can be met when you remove the ‘shoulds.’

(25:31) Jenny’s parenting has been a lot less tense over the past year and a half, which was a wonderful surprise.

(30:48) Jenny saw big changes when she used a deep listening technique with her son during an episode of intense anger and frustration, which ended the episode much more quickly than usual!

(37:25) It’s life-changing to see a profound change in our children and ourselves when both of our needs are fulfilled.

 

Transcript
Emma:

Hi, I'm Emma, and I'm listening from the UK we all want our children to lead fulfilled lives. But we're surrounded by conflicting information and clickbait headlines that leave us wondering what to do as parents. The Your Parenting Mojo podcast distills scientific research on parenting and child development into tools parents can actually use every day in their real lives with their real children. If you'd like to be notified when new episodes are released, and get a free infographic on the 13 reasons your child isn't listening to you, and what to do about each one, just head on over to your parentingmojo.com/subscribe. And pretty soon, you're going to get tired of hearing my voice read this intro. So come and record one yourself at your parentingmojo.com/record the intro.

Jen Lumanlan:

Hello, and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo Podcast. Today we're going to do something I've never done before in 150+ episodes of the show, which is that apart from this introduction, I'm not in the show at all. Two listeners, Jenny and Emma reached out to ask if they could record an episode about how their experience in parenting has shifted over the last year or so. And I gave a very cautious acceptance not really having much of an idea of what they wanted to discuss. I've interacted with each of them but not together. And I don't know much about their relationship. And I have to say it's a bit strange to say their names together because my full name is Jenny and my sister's name is Emma. So this is like a different Jenny and Emma show. And then when I listened to the recording of their conversation, I realized how close they've grown over the last year, they both happen to be in the parenting membership. And they're in the same ACTion group, which is a group of up to five parents who meet with an experienced peer leader. And I think that many parents think that that experience isn't really going to be very useful, especially when they're already pretty sick of being on Zoom calls. Jenny and Emma were in very different places in parenting, when they joined the membership, Emma's son was still pretty young. And she and her husband thought, well, we're not really having any problems now. So should we actually spend money on this. And they eventually decided to do it because they wanted to be prepared for challenges that happen down the road. And then challenges did go up. And they felt prepared for them because they'd already been practicing the tools. And when it turned out that some of their big challenges were actually in communication between Emma and her husband, because he was agreeing to do things he didn't really want to do just so she would stop explaining, we had a consult where we were able to identify some of those issues so they could really see what each other's needs were and how to communicate to meet each other's needs. I've seen them both on coaching calls since that consult, but I hadn't talked with them about that specific issue. And I had no idea until I heard this recording how transformational that experience had been. And Jenny sort of came into the membership with her hair on fire because she basically hadn't had a full night of sleep in over four years. And she had very specific ideas about what parenting was going to look like. And it was actually being in that group with Emma and the other parents that gave her permission in a way to prioritize yourself and take the actions that she needed to get sleep on the right track, which freed up her energy for other things, which sounds so incredibly simple, but she hadn't been able to actually do it without that extra support. Jenny tells us about a tool that she learned in the membership called Radical listening, and how such a simple yet profound practice has shifted how her child is able to be in their relationship. And the side benefit is that his big expressions of anger that used to take 45 minutes to work through and really interrupt their day are now over and done within 10 minutes. And they move on with the rest of their day. And now Jenny and Emma have grown so close, they're invested in each other's success. And they know they can show up in tears and looking at a complete wreck and know they won't be judged and they can share their successes and know it won't be a competition about who's doing better than whom because they care about each other so much, Emma certainly and probably Jenny to figure that most of the value they were going to get in the membership would be in the materials that I produce. And yes, they've certainly learned things from that that have helped them. But it's both humbling and wonderful for me to see how they've actually become skilled at using these ideas because of what they've learned from each other. If you'd like to really feel like part of a village and get this kind of support in your own parenting journey, the parenting memberships open for enrollment right now until midnight Pacific this coming Wednesday, May 25. sliding scale pricing is available and so is a money back guarantee. You can find more information at your parentingmojo.com/parentingmembership. And now let's hear from Jenny and Emma themselves.

Jenny:

I'm Jenny and I grew up in the US but now live in Europe with my husband and we have a six year old son.

Emma:

I'm Emma and I have a nearly three year old and I live in the UK

Jenny:

Super. I do have some questions just to help kick things off. So I’m going to start byasking you Emma, what were your expectations of parenthood before becoming a parent? And then once you got there, what was the reality?

Jenny:

I think I expected parenting to be a lot easier as an overachiever in life, I sort of thought well, if I do enough learning in life about it beforehand, then I'll just breeze into it. It'll be a breeze but it would be something more straightforward then it actually is, I'm a teacher by training. So I felt that having the experience with children would be beneficial. I think it has been in some way. But it's been quite a journey actually separating the way that I want to interact with my child from how I've been trained as a teacher, because a school is a very specific setup where the needs are not necessarily looking at the child. And it's not the focus isn't the relationship between the adults and the children, about the academic achievements of the children, as I've been a parent for longer, I have realized that my values don't necessarily align that closely with the goals of the school system. And so my parenting has diverged quite a lot from that as well.

Jenny:

And parenting is at the end of it really all about relationships, right. And that's a very different goal. If you're looking to nurture a relationship versus trying to get a room full of 20 students to learn the same thing.

Emma:

Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a big shock for us as well, my husband's a teacher as well. And I think he has a similar feeling that he thought it was just something that it'd be hard, but we'd be okay. And he sort of said before that his white male privilege, he sort of thought, Well, yeah, there's been lots of things in life that people say hard, but it's been okay. And then parenting sort of hit him in the face, like, oh, no, wait, wait, those things are easy because of my privilege. This is just hard.

Emma:

Universally hard.

Emma:

Yeah. How about you?

Jenny:

A lot of what you just said feels familiar to me, although my background is really different. I was in the corporate worlds in finance, and my upbringing, and and my work experience, it was definitely this feeling of like, if you work hard enough, you're going to be able to achieve anything. And of course, that applies to parenting too. And for me, I have a track record of when things get busy, and the workload increases, I just sleep less and I barrel through and like depend on my stamina. And that set me up for a very unhealthy start with my child. I thought that if you are prepared and you are serene, and you kind of bring this calm energy to your pregnancy, then you're gonna have quote, unquote, easy child, and that an easy child is desirable. There was a lot of talk within my family circle about that, because there have been some easy kids and some not easy kids and all this value wrapped up with having an easy baby. And then my kid arrived and didn't sleep through the night for four and a half years, and was definitely not what I would qualify as the typical easy child. And there was a lot of shame for me in that like, oh, gosh, I must not have been calm enough or secure in my own approach to mothering or whatever it is. And yeah, I just I kind of set myself up for a fall with all of these ideas I had about parenting and and the reality is so different. I also just assumed that it being the 21st century, like, of course, we're going to be smashing gender norms in our family. And that very quickly fell absolutely down when my son was nursing and only wanted me and I ended up doing all the night feeds and all the night stuff. And like just getting to the point where I was so exhausted, I couldn't even articulate my frustration with that situation or do anything about it. So yeah, it was a pretty big wake up call once my son was here.

Emma:

Yeah, I think that was me as well. I don't think I understood my values, and how much they conflicted on becoming a parent, because, you know, similarly, as a staunch feminist in the workplace, I had certain ideas about how I thought things would play out, you know, I thought I'd be back at work.

Jenny:

Yeah.

Emma:

Everything that I used to be that life wouldn't have much changed. And actually, the reality is that didn't work for us is a difficult thing, coming to terms with how much your identity has had to shift and realizing that actually, your order of priorities might be different to what you previously thought.

Jenny:

Absolutely. I don't know if you had some of this too. But I also absolutely thought that I would be back to some sort of work within months, and just the total lack of sleep and constant nursing, put an end to that thought really quickly. And I found myself actually grappling with some inner misogyny and like lots of this kind of work and productivity above everything else training in me. Like I'd be out at the playground with the carriage with my son sitting like, Am I allowed to be here? Shouldn't I be in an office earning money? This feels really weird. feeling like I was playing hooky from life by with my child and things like we gotten to this very stereotypical situation where my husband has become the main breadwinner and for a while I couldn't work but then I was working just part time and me really thinking of it in terms of the financial side of things, valuing his time valuing his sleep and feeling like the work that I did do the sleep that I got, none of it was as important As him and having a lot of anger about that, but that wasn't what he was saying. That's not how he was acting. But it was always an internal process within me that felt like, Okay, now that I'm just a mother, I'm worthless, which I could see and I could feel that it was not a productive thought to be having. But I couldn't stop it for a while, like I was just kind of seeing it rise up in me and realizing that, oh, gosh, what does this say about my beliefs about women about caretaking about my own mother, it took me a long time to kind of get through just the negative feelings about it to someplace that I could think about it more objectively and change my perspective a bit. But that was also something I never expected to have to confront in the role of parent.

Emma:

How long was that going on? Before you join the membership, what triggered it or

Jenny:

it was something that I was dealing with for quite a lot of the time and it was compounded, I think also just by exhaustion, but that's not what triggered me joining the membership, I came to the membership relatively late, my son had just started kindergarten. And we were going through an acute phase of big feelings. I had another mother warned me that when my child goes to kindergarten, like the first couple months, you're not going to recognize your kid, because it's such a big transition for them, they're going to come home and just have horrendous behavior, because it's just how they process and she said, but like, just hang in there. And after a couple of months, it's all going to even out. We were four or five months in, it was just getting more and more intense. My son would come home at lunch time every day. And I felt like the smallest thing would set him off, he would color outside the lines. And there would be an explosion of anger pointed at me. Sometimes he would get physical, it would take us like a half an hour, 40 minutes, 45 minutes to get through, like where he could get past the anger. And we could reconnect and be okay, for half an hour an hour until the next thing would set him off. And it was like this every day. And I knew enough from the parenting content that I'd read about or listened to that emotions and big behavior like that. It's communication. It's your child letting you know that they're not okay. And I got that with my head. But even though I wouldn't show it to my son, I was really struggling not to feel angry back at him. Anger is a really tough emotion for me. Historically, I have never felt it. And suddenly I was feeling it every day, but swallowing it. And it was friggin exhausting. And yeah, I was trying different things. But nothing was really working. And yeah, just all this swallowing of my own emotion and all this frustration and all like seeing him struggle and being in so much emotional discomfort that was going on along with me also having some personal issues. I was kind of having a bit of a burnout at the same period. So I was basically a mess when I joined the parenting membership, how about you?

Emma:

Ah, my story was quite different. So our little was still quite young. He was now 18 months-ish, and we were about a year into lockdown. I mean, obviously, it hadn't been a full lockdown for the entire time. But we sort of got used to this idea of things being remote. And I think if it weren't for that, I wouldn't have taken the membership. So seriously, I wouldn't have really thought an online course was for me, but dabbled with a couple of other non parenting related courses that I've actually really enjoyed online in that bubble of being away from everyone else. And it made me think that actually, I could get a lot of value from something online. Yeah. So we weren't having any particular problems at the time. There were a couple little things I think, like cutting nails was not

Jenny:

I remember that. We talked about that a lot in the first month.

Emma:

Yeah, it was not always easy. But it wasn't a huge deal. I was just not 100% happy with how I was doing it. It wasn't a huge deal. Yeah, we did the setting loving limits workshop. And that kind of sold it to me. I got a lot of value from that and felt that actually, I could get a lot more from it. And we had conversation with my husband about, well, we're not having problems yet; should we just wait another year and join the membership then, and we just kind of decided if we're going to join anyway, we might as well get ahead of the curve. And I'm really glad we did. Because in the past year, there's been so much value I've gained from it. So many things that have happened, that one's gone through a lot of changes. And I say a lot of dramatic things. The big thing was starting childcare and I relate a lot to your story. Not the same, but it was a lot of difficulties and a lot to work through. Thankfully, we got through that. And I'm so grateful for the group. As you guys were just my support through all of that. And I continue to be there so great having people that I trust, even if we are parenting in slightly different ways that we have complete respect for each other and we're just able to hold space for each other and hear each other and there's so much value in that whenever I talk to people in real life. It's very difficult to find people that don't immediately want to jump in with, oh, this is what you should do without any consideration of why there's a problem. I think having a group of people who are familiar with problem solving and identifying needs just means no one does that. And you actually get to process things and actually work out what the root of the difficulties that you're having. And therefore, actually find some solutions that might work. Rather than just get, I don't know if it's the same for you. But I find when I talk to people, and they just go, oh, you should do this, I just get aggravated. And I ended up just not wanting to talk about these people, because it just winds me up more, because I feel like I'm not being heard.

Jenny:

What you're saying is making me think of so many different things, if I can kind of try to tie it all together. But this, for me has been one place where I was really doubtful about the parenting membership and has been just such a gift. Because yeah, go into the parenting membership. And they talk about this ACTion group thing, where you're gonna get on yet another zoom call with a bunch of people that you've never met before, and like, oh, gosh, is it gonna just be this total time waste. And this has been our experience, I assume it's probably like this for other people too. But I think because everyone in our group is so committed to parenting in a more intentional way, and has been learning these sorts of tools, like the problem solving type of conversation, where you are looking for the bigger story before finding solutions that gives us tools as parents, but it also gives us tools as the group that we are where we can hold space for each other so much differently, and the level of intimacy and support. And yeah, just being held in such a compassionate and genuinely supportive way, within our ACTion Group has been something I never would have expected. We talk once a week, and the bunch of you are a lifeline for me like that one conversation per week gives me a foundation for the rest of my week to do things more intentionally. Yeah, it's just so valuable to me. And that's been such a wonderful surprise coming out of the membership.

Emma:

I don't know about you. But it wasn't something that I think I'd probably seen when I signed up that it was something that was available. And I knew I was going to sign up to one. But it wasn't something that I thought: Oh, that's the thing that I'm going to gain from it. I think when I joined the membership I I was expecting oh, I'm gonna get all this information and sort of structure as to how to put it into practice, because I've been listening to the podcast since I was pregnant. So I'd been listening to a lot of materials and been trying to put it into practice and successfully with some of it. But the structure of the membership of having you know, this month, you're going to do this this month, you're going to do this that appealed to me of it being more step by step rather than a mishmash of here is all of the information on parenting, which is what I was doing. So that's what I thought I was gonna get from it. But then actually the ACTion group has been the bit there's that extra piece of the puzzle between here's the information to focus on. But actually there are other things going on in my life that I might want to focus on as well. And it helps sort of mash those all together, because we're all looking at the same content. But then it helps you to apply it to what's actually going on now because you can talk about what's going on for you

Jenny:

Can you give an example of someplace where the things you were learning did help you in a situation with your son?

Emma:

Well I think nail cutting we've also already mentioned that I think when we first came to trying to problem solve with it wasn't actually a huge problem. The thing that I didn't like about it was the way that we were getting the nail cutting done was by it felt like bribery with like screen time. And I use the problem solving method, which is the first module but it was quite difficult because he's so young. So I tried drawing pictures with it. And that didn't really work. And actually what I found worked in the end was me just going through that process but without him and trying to sort of hypothesize what he was doing and what was going on for him. And I realized that actually what was difficult for him was he was pulling away he was finding the cutting uncomfortable. So we went through a few iterations of trying different things to try and cutting off to being in the bath and stuff. But actually, it wasn't just the discomfort; it was also the fact that he was associating the nail scissors with discomfort. So even if it wasn't actually going to be uncomfortable, he already didn't like that. So we ended up on a solution which wouldn't work for most people I imagine. But we still do it and we've been doing it for months now where we do still have some screen time and I file his nails while we're watching something the difference is it's something that it doesn't feel like what I was doing before was I was putting something on the TV and then pausing it whenever he pulled away and then pressing play again when was willing to let me cut his nails whereas now it's that's just our sort of distraction and entertainment while I do something that actually is fine. I mean, it takes a long time because I'm filing his nail rather than cutting them and I really wouldn't work for most people but it's actually a bit of downtime in our day and I don't really mind programs that he watches I find interesting anyway, like I said, if you've come across a Number Blocks and yeah, I find them interesting, so I don't mind watching them with It.

Jenny:

I think this is something that I'm still kind of coming to grips with and starting to benefit more from this sort of technique with the parenting membership and with the problem solving conversation, having come into parenting with all these shoulds how you should do it, this is the right way, this is what I want to do and everything how prescriptive it is and how limiting it can be. And when you start to look at it not from this kind of external perspective of this is what you should do, like screen time, or no screen time, or sugar or no sugar, or whatever the parenting question is you move away from the shoulds. And look at the needs of the people involved, it starts opening up possibilities that you might not have otherwise thought of, and really the creative ways to get everybody's needs met. And like we struggle a lot with sleep, we have struggled a lot with sleep. And I was, as I said, coming into the parenting membership, absolutely exhausted, had not slept through the night in like four and a half years and was not even knowing how exhausted I was any more. But there was this feeling that I had that like you put your child to bed, they sleep. And then you go off and have your evening as an adult with your husband, right? And, and like or have your downtime. And I was so stuck in that idea or like I would work at night, I would get work done that I would take an hour and a half for my son to fall asleep. And then I would come out of his room at like 10 o'clock and would get all riled up because this is my time and then I wouldn't fall asleep till one o'clock or two o'clock. And then he'd come at three and like, oh my gosh, it was ridiculous. And it's not something that I did necessarily with my son, but looking at it like what if I take the shoulds out? Are there changes I can make that will set me up that I have a better chance of getting more sleep and the membership and especially the ACTion group helped me with that so much in the beginning, because I was too tired to even think. And I knew like okay, let's let's work on sleep. And it was simple things like cutting off my phone time because yeah, scrolling on Facebook felt like leisure, but it was actually, like, exhausting emotionally because we were in the middle of the elections in the States. And so it was just stress and doom scrolling and not sleeping. And so yeah, cutting off my screen time getting ready when my son gets ready for bed so that if when I inevitably fall asleep, because he takes so long to put to bed and like I'm lying next to him so he can sleep and I'll fall asleep, then when I get up and go to my bed, I don't get woken up because I still have to go brush my teeth, just things like that. Whereas if no, you know what, I'm going to prioritize my sleep. There is no should, if perfectly all right, if I go to bed at nine, because my son's waking up at three, so then that means I will get like six solid hours of sleep, which was so much better than what had been happening. But I'd been so fixated on that ‘should.’ And so we are with the problem solving approach, I think it really helps to open things up that alternatives can be found in the shoulds can be sidestepped in a really effective way and yeah, needs can actually get met. And that for me was one of the first things I did with the parenting membership that has been transformational, just getting decent sleep. But I had not been able to put anything in place prior to the membership to make it happen. And it was really with our group's loving encouragement and accountability, that I could make it happen.

Emma:

I just want to say as well on the problem solving because I think it seems so simple. It's so simple. But it's so profound. I've had so much success with my husband with the problem solving. And I think partly because my little one is still so little think he's only just getting to the stage where I'm starting to be able to actually engage him in the problem solving process rather than just hypothesizing. But with my husband, this is more than just problem solving. This is with that whole membership that the second module we had on parenting as a team, and we were talking about it the other day, actually, when we joined the membership, he was really skeptical, and he was supportive, because it was something that I wanted to do, and that he could see it was really important to me, but he didn't think we're gonna get much value from it. But when we did the second module, we're on a group coaching call and had a bit of a conversation with Jen about about our communication on hot topics, basically, and sort of saw the pattern that he was stonewalling because he just didn't want to go there and sort of agreed to whatever but actually just wasn't engaging with the process and just wanted the conversation to end. Whereas because I felt like it wasn't resolved, I'd then keep prodding and prodding and prodding, and we'd just get nowhere and make things worse. So there were certain hot topics that were just really tense about, I want to say most conversations, we had really great communication with them. So it didn't seem like a huge deal. But actually tackling that and then being able to use the problem solving methods to kind of hear each other better and slow those conversations down understanding how each other's feeling and what we actually need from a certain situation and really being able to hear each other rather than hearing what we think the other person saying over the past year has completely changed the way that we communicate around emotive topics like that and I don't really feel like we have the same avoidance of topics we might have avoidance at certain times really tired and it's just not the right time but that's fine. It's not only sort of, we're not going to get to these topics, and it's something we're still working on. But that has been the most profound change. And not something that I thought I was signing up for a really, really happy benefit. That's not separate from parenting. Obviously, that's something that is great for our partnership, and then our relationship that in turn is then great for our son, because he's then seeing that model. So hopefully, he'll learn how to do that without us even having to actively teach it because he'll see us doing it. I just wanted to say that's been such a profound thing.

Jenny:

I had to have noticed much less tension and resentment on my part. Yeah, like I had mentioned before, I had kind of all of these negative internal emotions coming up and like feeling like things were not fair and the division of labor in the household and things like that. I don't want to put this on my husband at all, because he is super supportive. He is super kind, but I was so exhausted, and so lacking capacity, but also lacking the tools to articulate and advocate for myself, and to do it in a productive way. Because I would have swallowed it all down, swallow it all down and just be like, no, no, it's fine, and build up ahead of steam and kind of explode, but not in a way that we could have a productive conversation. And then the cycle would start again, where I would just be like, no, no, it's fine. And start building up that head of steam until it would come out again, because I didn't feel like my needs were valid. And so being able to take the charge out of the situations by saying like, Oh, you know, this is about resources, we only have so much resources to go around. His needs are valid. But so our mind, let's talk about it in a less charged way where we are focusing on solutions that work for everybody just made it possible for me to come into these conversations with so much less tension. And then yeah, we are on each other's side. And we could meet each other more effectively, and everything feels lighter. And that too was huge, unexpected benefit for me just being able to apply these techniques, not only with my child, but in this broader context, specifically, my husband as well. He's not as involved with a parenting membership. But I did ask him like a week or two ago, like do you notice a difference between me from a year and a half ago? And me now? And yeah, he absolutely does. And it's been a wonderful surprise coming out of this.

Emma:

That's such a nice thing to hear.

Jenny:

Such a nice thing to experience.

Jenny:

To bring it back a little to the membership. I feel like the structure of this parenting membership is I don't know if it's unique. But for me, it feels special, because it's something that's happening in community. And it's something that's happening over time. So we get a new module every month. And like I said, you and I have been in it for over a year now. And for me, I know, I find that the fact that it's ongoing is really helpful. But what's that experience for you like Emme? What does it mean to you?

Emma:

there's so much to dismantle in the culture that we've grown up in and the society that we've spent our whole lives living in, that doesn't align with my values, that's so hard to do, it just is ongoing work. So I think having that continuous support is so valuable. And like you say, having new material each month, there's so many more things that I can see it to come, you know, we've scratched the surface so far of how I want to change things, how I want to improve things to just live the best family life that we can. So I think that's what it means to me is it’s never going to end really, this work. So being part of the membership helps keep focus on that. I think having that external trigger of this is what's happening this month, and having those weekly meetings to sort of remind you to keep focused on something because for me, this is one of the most important things I've ever done is being a parent, and probably the most important thing that I ever do. I want to do it as well as I can. I think the big shift from when I was first a parent to now is understanding that I get to define what that means. Like going back to what you were saying about the shoulds, it's not someone else saying you should do this, you should do that. And that's what being the best parent and having the you know, the best family life you can. It's having that intentionality about what is the best family lifestyle for us. What does being the best parent mean for me? And yeah, having that opportunity to keep working in community with that, I think makes so much difference and makes it so much more manageable, especially because it's not the norm. It's not what you see around you day to day and it's not easy sometimes going against the shoulds. So having that support is just so helpful. Yeah, how about for you, you're in this for the long haul?

Jenny:

Yeah. Definitely, I still feel everything you just shared and I still get amazed at like things that sometimes will come out of my mouth in moments where I'm less conscious about it like being protective of my son or just saying something. It's a throwaway comment that I've heard you know, on television or seen other parents using wait a second, that's not how I want to parent but it's modeled so widely that it's in us whether we mean to use it or not, I fully agree with what you said about the dismantling of this programming being something that is ongoing. And for me, as I said, if I'm not thinking about it, it's so easy to fall back on those cultural norms without even noticing it sometimes. And so having the membership helped me keep more clear about my goals. And as you so beautifully put, like having it be on your own terms, and based on your own values is super helpful. One thing that's been really striking for me, we do also revisit content. Because of the benefit of having ample time to look at this stuff, I'm able to understand these techniques and these ideas much more deeply. I can give an example just with the situation I was sharing about my son, his big emotions coming home from kindergarten, I did start to meet him differently, using what I was learning, there's this technique that I found out about through the parenting membership that I will tell everybody about, called deep listening, I know you've heard me bring it up once or twice, which is all about being able to listen to somebody with real presence. And without an agenda and acting as though there's no place you'd rather be embodying also that intention of there's no place else I'd rather be but just listening to what you have to say, don't have anything that I'm going to come back and try to force on you in response. And so last year, I started using that with my son when he would have these moments of intense anger and frustration. And I found that that really helped us to get through that the initial emotion much more quickly. And I think because I wasn't meeting him with my own anger, I wasn't meeting him with my own resistance to do a mental shift. I wasn't sitting in my own anger and swallowing it down. I was like, no, no, let me use this as a chance to get curious and really listen to him, he could move through those big emotions much more quickly, and often would get to the other side, and there'd be tears. So like, underneath the anger was always sadness. And so that already was a big shift, because it was going from 45 minutes of being in this firm stress and anger and everything to like 10 minutes. And that felt like huge progress. But when I first learned about the problem solving conversations, I got it intellectually, but I've just in the past month, really, really gotten it on a heart level. And one of the first principles of this structure is that you are checking in with your emotions and checking in with the other person's emotions before you do anything. And I have a dynamic with my son where he wants something a certain way. And he will come to me and say, make this specific thing. And sometimes that involves bending the laws of physics and time. And I'll say no, and he gets really angry. And sometimes it's things they can do. So I'm like, okay, he's come to me with a need of request, let me meet this need by conjuring up this perfect craft that he's requested, or whatever it is. And it always feels like kind of his high pressure situation, because if I get it right, he's going to be good. And if not, there's going to be more of these big feelings. And this is a dynamic that we've been having come up on again and again for a long time now. And I was always thinking about his requests as needs. And when I recently was looking again, at problem solving connect conversations, I thought, wait a second, what if it's not actually a need here? Can I try and show up a bit differently. And I'd revisited the material, I was thinking about it a lot. When we had this instance, where he had built a pillowfort on the couch and had agreed with my husband that we will not clean it up at bedtime. We're going to leave it so you can play with it the next day. And then at some point during the night, when my son and I were both asleep, my husband had fallen asleep on the couch on the pillow fort. So when we got up the next morning, things were not exactly as they had been. And he came to me, he said, Mama put it back exactly the way it was. He was really angry. And it had been one of those days where there had been already, like a few instances of big emotions. And I was starting to get a little agitated with it. And I could feel myself coming to him first with solutions. Like, you know, you don't know how the pillow fort had been. I don't know how the pillow fort was. So why don't we just start fresh, he was not having it. He was getting more angry, and I could feel my own temperature rising. Like okay, no, let me stop and do this differently. I'm going to apply what I learned. And it said to him, I'm feeling frustrated. I'm gonna take a second and breathe. And I put my hand on my heart. This is something I've been practicing with him at bed time during our quiet time just breathed like breathing deep into my heart just for a few seconds breathing, trying to regulate myself and just create a little bit of space and he was quiet and then he was gearing up again. And after that moment. He said “Papa slept on my fort and he broke it” and I had just a little bit more space and a little bit more perception because of having taken that pause and I could hear a little crack of emotion underneath the anger and a light bulb went off for me. I said oh gosh. Like, this is not a problem to fix. This is a loss to grieve. And spontaneously, this wasn't calculated, but I just reflected back to him: “You really loved that fort and Papa fell asleep on it and he broke it,” just feeling his sadness and his little face crumpled. And he just burst into tears for like two minutes crying so, so hard. And then he finished and he crawled over the pillows and melted into my arms, then it was fine. He moved on, there was nothing to fix. And all this time, I have been seeing these sort of instances and seeing like, okay, now I need to fix it, I need to make it better for him. And all he needed was the emotion acknowledged. And like I said, a year ago, when I first learned about problem solving, I thought, okay, like feelings first before you problem solve means, okay, you're angry about this, but like, let's talk about all these ideas I have for how we can make it better. And as we've revisited it, I got this deeper sense of practicing it with my son that he just needs acknowledgement. And I get it. Like if I am distraught, and my husband comes at me with solutions, I get angry and frustrated, like at him, it's such a human need just to have this acknowledgement and like this meeting and this compassion, and I didn't get it. But I I'm starting to now.

Emma:

I think that goes back to what we're saying that we need as well, and that we get from our group is that need to be heard to be validated. Naturally, you know, it's not that it's about trying to get rid of bad emotions. That's not the aim. But that is what happens when your need is met. And so often the need is just to be heard to be validated. When that's happened, then it melts away and you move on. I think that's so profound, recognizing that in, in our children and in ourselves,

36:38

Yeah

Emma:

It's amazing. It such a lovely story

Jenny:

It was a really lovely moment. And I never ever yeah, would have gotten there. I think without this work that I've been doing, I just I can't emphasize enough how much learning and able to shift with your help.

Emma:

And you've seen such a profound change in him right from a year ago, as you've said, that there's been a profound change in you. But there's been a profound change in your son as well.

Jenny:

For sure. I mean, we still absolutely have our moments. And there's a lot of areas that we have work to do. But like after we had this moment, the other week, there was such emotional relief. I think that he everything was easy, breezy for days, like things that I normally would have lost what's coming, he's gonna get upset about this or about sad about that, like, no, like, it's fine. It's fine that that didn't work out or it's okay that the store doesn't have this thing that I want. He just had so much more ease about him. And I think like I also I have, I've been doing the work and his anger when it does come up, because it still does come up, does not hit the way it did. Like I can see it in such a bigger context. So I feel like the shift for my son has been big and profound. I feel like the shift for me has been seismic and huge and life changing.

Emma:

Who wouldn't want that?

Jenny:

Yeah, I think on that note, is there anything else that you want to share before we wrap up?

Emma:

I feel complete.

Jenny:

Me too. Thanks so much for chatting with me. And I am excited that I get to see you again on our weekly call very soon.

Emma:

Yes. Me too

Jenny:

Love you.

Emma:

Bye

Jenny:

Bye

Jen Lumanlan:his because you're not one of:Emma:

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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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