Caught kid watching porn

Episode 46 – Caught kid watching porn

“Dear Torie, I am so upset. I just walked in on my 9 year old son. He was looking at our lap top and shut it as soon as I came in the room. I asked him what he was looking at and he said “nothing”. When I looked up the browsing history it was very clear he was watching porn. Not just any porn either, but 3-way super inappropriate born. I am so upset that this is first introduction to understanding what sex is. I know he will never be able to un-see the images he saw. How am I supposed to tell him about how sex is a special thing that happens between two people who really love each other? I want him to have a healthy sexual attitude but am mortified that this was his introduction to it. I feel like his innocence has been ruined.”     Tama

Parent Educator Answer:

I have been teaching classes on how to talk to kids about sex since the 1990’s. It’s amazing how much has changed around this topic when sex itself has not changed at all.

The frequency with which kids seeing online porn is probably the most significant and disturbing change to have occurred. Sometimes, kids seek it out, sometimes they stumble upon it by accident, other times friends share it with them. Either way, it can be hard for a parent to know what to say and how to handle it.

In this situation, there are a few points I suggest you address with your 9 year old son.

1. Acknowledge his curiosity.

When our kids ask us questions we don’t know the answer to, it’s pretty easy for them to “Google it” or “Ask Siri”. “What’s the capitol of Bulgaria?” “Ask Alexa”. “What’s the weather going to be like on vacation? “Look it up”. So it’s no surprise when kids hear something about sex at recess, they take to the internet to find the answer. We know he was the one searching out sexual content because of the search history.

Letting your son know that it’s really normal at age 9 to be curious about the human body (especially the opposite sex) and how it works would help put him at ease. Tell him it would have been ok for him to come to you with his questions and that you are going to buy him some books with factual, age-appropriate information and answer any questions he might have. The message you want to communicate is there is nothing wrong with being curious about sex.

I have an online sex education class called “Time for the Talk” that is designed for parents to watch with their 9-12 year old son or daughter. You can purchase this class at www.TimeforTheTalk.com and also receive a list of books I recommend for different ages.

2. Make a house rule about porn.

Tell your child that there is something called pornography that he stumbled upon, that is different than what real people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. “Media sex” is fake. It’s designed to be shocking and exaggerated as a way to make money. It is very different than the kind of sex real people have who are in intimate relationship with one another.

Let him know that it is against the law to show pornography to a minor.

You can tell your child,

“Allowing pornography to be viewed in our house by you or any other minor is punishable under federal law. Therefore, your Dad and I will not allow pornography to be viewed in our house. We understand that you can find all sorts of inappropriate content online and we hope you will make good decisions going forward. If we find out that you have been watching it here (or with friends), we will further restrict your internet access in order to keep you safe.” 

 

3. Tell him to follow his instincts.

Instincts are designed to keep us safe. Tell him,

“When I walked into the room, you immediately jumped up and shut the computer. These were your instincts telling you that what you were watching was not appropriate. If it had been something interesting in a healthy way or funny in a healthy way, you would have said, “Mom, come here, you gotta see this!” Instead you shut it down like it was on fire and ran away as fast as you could. Your higher self knew you shouldn’t have been watching this and I want to encourage you to learn to listen to these instincts.”

 

Life Coaching Answer:

 

What gets in our way from being able to have this conversation? Nerves! It’s uncomfortable to talk about these subjects when we didn’t get great modeling from our parents! Most of us didn’t have an example set for us that we want to emulate, nor did we have the issue of online porn to contend with. If we had seen our parents handle it a way that felt comfortable, it would be much easier for us to know what to do.

Many parents get worried about doing it wrong. We don’t know what to say or how to say it, so we end up just saying nothing at all. We get afraid that we will make it worse or cause our kid to react in an awkward way. It’s this fear that keeps us giving our kids the information they need to navigate this modern world.

Sex education at age 9 is mostly about science, health and respect for the body.

Kids are smart, they know food goes into stomachs and gets pooped out. When we tell them babies grow in moms stomachs, it doesn’t make sense to them. I believe 9-12 year olds deserve to know all about reproductive anatomy and physiology, puberty, and how babies are made, in a way that helps them appreciate and respect the human body for how magnificent it is. Even if your child hasn’t started puberty yet themselves, their friends may be and they will want to make sense of the changes that are happening around them.

If your kid hears other kids talking at a sleepover, you want him to come home and ask YOU, not google, for more information. You want your child to be able to hear gossip and think, “I don’t need to listen to you, my parents already told me what I need to know. I’ve got books and all the information I need at home.” 

Rather than trying to have the perfect conversation at the perfect time, aim for authentic instead. It’s ok to say to your kids “My parents didn’t talk to me about sex or online porn so I might get nervous or embarrassed. Hang in there with me while I fumble over my words. It’s important to me that you know the truth, even if I’m a bit cringy.”

There will come a time in the future when we want our children to have an intimate, possibly embarrassing conversation with their partner. We want our kids to be capable of discussing things like birth control, monogamy, and condoms with their future partners. When we model for them, feeling embarrassed and saying it anyway, we teach them the importance of intimate relationships. With today’s culture of online porn and casual “hook ups”, it’s great for kids to experience the benefit of emotionally intimate relationships, starting with these important but embarrassing conversations with parents.

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Expecting your teen to misbehave

Do you want your teens to watch porn, have sex, drink and do drugs?

There is one sure fire way to get your kids to do these frowned upon activities and I see parents doing it all the time. All you have to think and say is, “I know they are going to do it anyways,”

When parents have this belief, “I know they are going to do it anyway.” They subconsciously send the message to their kids, that “this is what you are SUPPOSED to do.” In education we have this saying, “Children rise to your expectations”. When a parent expects their child to drink, experiment with drugs, have sex or watch porn, that’s exactly what happens. This expectation keeps parents from giving information about the risks and consequences, or advising them not to do it. It also doesn’t give room for the teens opinion to come into play. He might be scared or disinterested but feel like he is doing it wrong if he doesn’t live up to his parent’s expectations.

It may be that you want your child to fit in and be popular and you think that’s the only way it’s going to happen. Figure out how you WANT your teen to behave and start expecting that behavior. Do you want your child to be tempted but make healthy choices instead? Tell him you expect him to do that. Do you want your child to have friends and romantic partners that have her best interest at heart? Tell her you expect her to find that.

Expect your child to listen and obey your rules around online porn. If he doesn’t, then take extra precautions and limit his access to technology, but always make sure your expectations are aligned with what you hope to see.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Teaching your kids about instincts and intuition

 

We are born with instincts designed to help us keep us safe. An instinct is a physiological response in the body. When a giant spider surprisingly lands in your hair, you jump, scream and flail. Nobody taught you to do this, it’s just an instinctual reaction.

Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Or, a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why.
Over time both of these senses evolve, picking up more information about what is normal and what isn’t.

I like to find examples of listening to instincts and intuition that don’t scare kids.

I went to vacation on the French Island of Martinique. It was a tropical paradise: warm and beautiful with crystal clear waters. As soon as I stepped into the warm sunshine, my instincts had me take off my long sleeved shirt and walk to the water in my bikini.

Once in the water, I realized many of the other women were swimming and sunbathing with their tops off. One of these women came up and started talking to me. I felt so uncomfortable! My intuitive alarm bells were going off telling me this was not normal! It was a physical feeling in the body of “uh oh” “weird” “wrong” but my brain told me to ignore it, look into her eyes and be polite.

After two days of seeing women without tops on, it felt totally normal to me. No more alarm bells going off, my intuition wasn’t telling me something was wrong.

Your son’s intuition was telling him that what he was watching was wrong. Pointing that out to him will help him learn to trust himself and his gut, keeping him safe in the future. If he was continually exposed to online porn, like I was with the boobies, the alarm bells would stop going off and he would lose this sensitivity to knowing right from wrong.

Teaching your kids to trust their instincts and intuition can be a huge energy boost for mom because you realize it’s not all up to YOU to keep your kids safe. They have a built in mechanism designed for this purpose and are WAY better at listening to it than adults are!

When I was a new mom, I hated the words instincts and intuition. “Trust your gut” or “Listen to your maternal instincts” were so annoying because I had so much fear, anxiety and worry swimming around my brain that I couldn’t access the physical sensations in my body. Kids are much more connected with their bodies and haven’t developed the social skills to talk themselves out of what they know to be true.

Look for opportunities when your child listens to his intuition and point it out to him. Help him get familiar with this built in ability he has. Kids will often use words like “weird” “wrong” “funny” “uh-oh” or “cringy” to describe the feeling that something is off and their instincts have picked up on it.

Quote of the Day:

You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.”
Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Teen alcohol party

Our topic for this podcast: teen alcohol party

Episode 45 – Dealing with a teen alcohol party

“Last night was Halloween and my daughter (age 16, straight A, athlete, good kid) invited some friends over for a Halloween party in the basement. There were about 10 teens, boys and girls, hanging out, playing party games, watching Stranger Things. My husband and I were home and keeping a distant eye on them. We heard happy sounds coming from the basement.

One of the parents must have pulled up to our house and texted “I’m here” because two kids came upstairs and said goodbye as they walked out the front door. They reeked of alcohol as they walked past! I ran downstairs and found the kids had snuck one of our bottles of liquor and mixed it with their sodas! They had all been drinking! It was a school night! One girl even drove herself so I had to drive her home, leaving her car at our house. I’m so livid I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know what to say to my daughter, to the other parents who trusted me to supervise their kids! My husband doesn’t think it’s a big deal. He says it’s totally normal, and I’m sure it is, but for some reason that is not helping me. I want to do the right thing but I don’t know what that is.”
-Ashley

teen alcohol party
Group Of Teenagers Drinking Alcohol In Bedroom

Parent Educator Answer:

I’m sorry that you feel duped by your daughter and grateful nothing bad happened as a result of your unintentional Halloween party. As I’m sure you are aware there could have been some pretty dire consequences from hosting a teen alcohol party.

It sounds like a good time was had, no one was puking or getting in trouble. I can’t tell from your question if the other parents are aware that drinking occurred but it sounds like knowing what to say to them, as well as your daughter, is what you’d like help with.

Your daughter needs to experience consequences for her actions but since nothing bad actually happened, you’ll want to impose some consequences of your own.

My parent educator answer is for you and your husband to sit down with your daughter when everyone is calm and talk to her using these four steps.

Step 1 – Calmly and clearly explain the problem:

Give your daughter some factual information why an alcohol party for teens is not allowed.

It is against the law to serve alcohol to minors. The reason the drinking age is 21 is that the brain is in an active growing period during the teen years. Whatever substance you introduce during this time can cause the brain to form around it, building a dependency. Around 25, the frontal lobes of the brain are fully formed and therefore is a better age to introduce any mind-altering substance.

Explain that an alcohol party for teens have more serious consequences.

If one of your friends had driven home intoxicated, they could have lost their license, been arrested, paid a fine, hurt or killed someone else or themselves. The consequences of your simple act of stealing and drinking alcohol could have been tragic. It is also possible that your Dad and I could have been arrested, sued, pay fines, and have this incident permanently on our criminal record.

When people drink alcohol, they are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors. It impairs judgment and leads to making poor decisions.

 

Step 2 – Explain the real and current problem.

Continue talking to her about the current problem and listen to her side of the story.

We are very grateful none of those things have happened. So the biggest problem facing us today is that we lost trust in you. Trust is something that takes a long time to build but can be lost in an instant. Even if you apologize and say you will never do this again, we can’t trust that. You will need to earn back our trust by showing us, through actions over time, that you are telling the truth.

We would like to understand what was going through your head last night. What motivated this action? What were you thinking and feeling? Please tell us your side of the story so we can get a clearer picture from your perspective.

 

Step 3 – Impose Consequences

You can ask her what consequences she thinks would be appropriate or decide on some yourself. Just make sure you and your husband are on the same page.

We would like you to write a letter of apology to the parents of each friend who was at our house on Halloween. You don’t need to say they were drinking, as you really don’t know. Just let them know that alcohol was served and you now understand how serious the consequences of this could have been. They trusted you to be a positive influence on their teen and you violated that trust. Your Dad and I will also be calling the parents to let them know what has happened.

The liquor cabinet will remain locked from now on and you won’t be allowed to attend or host parties for the remainder of the school year.

Depending on your daughter’s version of the story, you may want to restrict access to certain people or revoke driving privileges, things like that.

 

Step 4 – Follow through

Make sure you follow through on the consequences you impose or she will learn you don’t mean what you say. You want to trust her again. Model that for her by showing her what trust looks like: meaning what you say and saying what you mean.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

Before you can do ANY of that, you need to give yourself some much needed TLC and compassion. You’ve got a whole bunch of negative emotions spinning around: anger, fear and the big daddy of all sucky emotions….shame.

Anger is a quick and easy default emotion for most of us. In its healthiest form, it’s a signal that an injustice has taken place. Your daughter violated your trust and that sucks.

Fear is future thinking. Worrying about what could have gone wrong, what the other parents are thinking about you and your daughter.

Worrying about things you don’t have control over. You can apologize and inform the other parents, but then you can let it go.

Fear and worry are a waste of energy and don’t serve anyone.

Shame is the emotion we all dread feeling. Nobody likes feeling shame but we all have it so it’s worth getting to know it. The way I think about it, embarrassment means “I did something wrong”, shame means “I am wrong. Something is wrong with me. I’m a bad person.”

Resisting it and running away from shame, will make it last forever. If you can allow it, say hello, and confess it to a compassionate witness, it will go away.

Just because shame is common, doesn’t mean it needs to stay. Shame is an emotion that is coming from a thought in your mind. Your daughter snuck alcohol and served to her friends, this doesn’t make you a bad person.

But my hunch is you thinking some pretty bad things about yourself: “The other parents are going to think I’m a bad person” “The other parents won’t trust me with their kids.” “I’m untrustworthy and irresponsible.” Something that is coming from a perfectionistic part of your brain that says “I’m either a good person or a bad person”.

Your husband doesn’t share this black and white thinking. He’s not worried about what other people will think and he doesn’t see it as a mark against his character.

He might be mad that she violated his trust but he’s not making it mean that HE has done anything wrong.

It’s very common for parents to enmesh with their kids and feel shame when their child does something wrong.

Your daughter made a mistake, but you didn’t.

When you recognize that you didn’t do anything wrong, you are a good person and worthy of trust, then it will be much easier to problem solve this situation with your daughter.

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Shame

According to the dictionary, “Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”

What this means is that shame, this horribly toxic emotion, comes from our beliefs about ourselves, that we are disgraceful and not worthy of compassion. When it sits in us unnoticed, it causes us to act desperately.

The reason I presume Ashley is spiraling in shame is because of her level of desperation. Shame causes us to act desperately, craving acceptance because we are unable to give any to ourselves.

The most self-destructive behaviors: addiction, violence, bullying, eating disorders, all have an element of shame to them.

If Ashley was to try and talk to her daughter, and the other parents, from shame, it would not come out the way she wanted it to. When we act from negative emotion, we get a negative result.

The good news is that shame can only live in the dark. Once we shine a compassionate light on it, it cannot survive. Telling your story to a compassionate witness, as Ashley did by writing this question, will help her find compassion for herself. When she can feel like a loving, caring mom, despite her daughter’s alcohol party, she will find the courage to have the necessary conversations from a calm and peaceful place.

Supermom Power Boost: Understanding your shame spiral

There are days when you just feel HORRIBLE for no reason. You get mad at your husband, you complain to your sister, you vent with a girl friend and you take it out on the kids, but it doesn’t go away. You keep beating the same drum, looking to feel better. Chances are you are in a shame spiral.
A shame spiral is continually thinking negative thoughts about yourself that isolate you from others. “I’m not worthy” “I’m not good enough” “I’m a bad person”. Complaining and blaming is our attempt to connect, looking for forgiveness and acceptance.

Understanding how you act when you are in a shame spiral will boost your energy next time you find yourself in one. Sometimes, just putting a name on something makes a crazy, out of control emotion feel manageable.

How do you act when you are in a shame spiral?

Mine is a two part response: First, I get mad and blame everyone around me for making me feel bad. Then, once I realize I’m in a shame spiral, I call people that I know love me and ask them to tell me why they like me and why I’m a good person.

Shame is a natural human emotion (and a sign that you are not a sociopath) so it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. When we can understand how we act in a shame spiral, and what to do to makes us feel better, we can bring it out of the dark (where it controls us) and move into compassion. When we have empathy and compassion for ourselves, it’s easier to act courageously and in ways that we are proud of.

Quote of the Day:

“If you put shame in a petri dish, there are three ingredients it needs to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” Brene Brown

What if you don’t like your kid?

Our topic for this episode: do you have an annoying pre-teen?

Episode 44: Annoying Pre-Teen: What if you don’t like your kid?

“My daughter is a pre-teen, and already immersed in puberty and the mood swings and irritability that goes with it. Getting her to do anything is a battle: homework, chores, coming to the table to eat, putting her device away, going to bed, you name it. It takes every ounce of patience I have to get through the week with her. By the time the weekend rolls around, I. AM. DONE.

This weekend, as my husband is heading out the door, he says to me: “Don’t let her sit on her phone and watch Youtube all day. Find something fun the two of you can do together.”

It sounds like a great idea. I used to love being around her and would like nothing more than to have something fun we both enjoy doing. The problem is, she doesn’t like doing anything I like and when I try, it becomes another battle. She complains, argues, insults, and criticizes everything I do. I would not want to spend time with anyone who treats me this way. Yes, I love my daughter, but she treats me like the enemy.

I feel so guilty, but I really don’t like my being around my pre-teen right now.”

 

Parent Educator Answer:

From a parent educator’s perspective, nothing has gone wrong here. The situation you are describing is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Pre-teens are supposed to start separating from their parents, especially their moms. Mother-daughter identities get enmeshed with each other. We feel proud when our child excels, we feel happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad.

Does your child ever get embarrassed by your behavior?

“OMG Mom, you are not going to wear that.”
“Don’t you dare dance or sing in the car, EVER.”

Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s behavior?

“Don’t talk to your friend like that! She was trying to be nice.”

“Your grandma is coming over so please be on your best behavior and for God’s sake, clean up your mess before she arrives!”

These are signs of enmeshment, where our ego identifies with our child’s behavior and vice versa.

Understanding Your Teen

Teens and tweens will criticize, insult, argue and reject our ideas as a way to individuate. It’s a sign that your daughter is ready to see herself as different, unique and competent. Through bickering, girls can affirm that they are separate individuals from their mom with their own tastes, personalities and preferences.

It is developmentally normal for pre-teens to reject family activities or parental ideas of fun, (unless a friend can come along with them). When they reject our suggestions of fun things to do, it’s as though they are saying “I’m not a baby anymore”.

Child development experts suggest holding tight to participation in family activities such as holiday dinners with grandparents, going to church, chores and other family rituals. Let them complain and argue all they want but hold tight to these things.

They may start to seem like an annoying pre-teen. You cannot make your child be nice or enjoy spending time with you.

Instead, encourage them to develop a “group identity” separate from you. Many tweens will do this naturally by adopting a best friend or tight group where they dress alike, talk alike and do everything together.

These days, group identity can take place online. Following certain YouTubers or face-timing with friends helps the tween feel safe while learning to stand on her own. Tweens benefit from a transitional bridge between being one with their family and feeling confident enough to be independent.

When we see our kids rejecting our ideas of fun to sit on their phones all day, we see it as a terrible waste of time. But when kids play online games, Facetime, YouTube, Netflix, vsco, and tic toc, it’s really more about understanding the culture of their peers, identifying as someone who is socially “in the know”, and exploring interests separate from mom.

annoying pre-teen

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from viewing this as normal tween behavior instead of an annoying pre-teen?

The circumstance you described is completely neutral. But it doesn’t feel neutral because of what you are making it mean.

You feel guilty so you must be making it mean something like, “Something is wrong with me”, “I’m a bad mom”. “If I were nice, I would like her.” “I should want to be around her.” or “She shouldn’t want to be on her phone all day.”

Notice how you feel when you think these when you start looking at them as an annoying pre-teen? Guilty. Awful. Heavy.

How do you parent when you feel terrible? You suck it up. Try harder. Get annoyed with yourself and her.

When we feel guilty and annoyed, we tend to parent inconsistently and have trouble sticking to rules around phone time and family obligations.

What is the result of parenting this way? You feel like a terrible parent. This reinforces your belief that you are doing it wrong and you are a terrible person.

Changing Your Perspective

In order to see your daughter’s behavior as normal and a sign of healthy social development instead of an annoying pre-teen, you’d have to give up the belief that you are bad and wrong.

Sometimes we hold onto beliefs like “I’m bad” or “I’m not a nice person” as a way to motivate ourselves to be better.

It’s like this: “At my core, I’m bad and mean. I need to remind myself of this in order to motivate myself to be nice.”

This might work for a little while but the long term effect of this is exhaustion and irritability.

You don’t like being around someone who complains, criticizes, argues and insults you, SO WHAT?

Let’s imagine for a minute that you didn’t think this was a problem. If you believed that you were a good person, and felt neutral about your daughter’s behavior, what do you think you might do?

You certainly wouldn’t let your husband’s parting comment bother you. You’d probably leave her alone, which it sounds like is what she’s wanting. You might drop her at a friend’s house and enjoy your own company, guilt-free.

If you believed, at your core, that you were a kind and loving mother. You would look for ways to prove yourself right. This might involve paying attention to your own needs. Spending time with people who uplift you instead of insult you. It might mean cooking her food or buying her a gift or whatever felt kind and loving to you.

Believing we are kind and loving, makes us act kind and loving. No guilt. No drama. Just unconditional love. Where your pre-teen can say or do anything and it doesn’t take you away from feeling loving.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Motivating yourself out of negative emotion

Many of us use negative emotion to motivate ourselves to do something. We think telling ourselves “I’m a bad person” will make us act nice.

We used this in school: We’d tell ourselves we’re going to flunk a class to motivate us to study for a test.

For instance, if we want to lose weight so we tell ourselves how fat and lazy we are in order to motivate us to exercise. We think this will make us go to the gym and eat healthily, and it might once or twice, but over time it just makes us feel bad about ourselves.

Even if we do lose weight, we don’t feel any better because we are still thinking mean things about ourselves. What’s the point of losing weight if you feel terrible either way?

Motivating yourself with negative emotions will give you a negative result. Telling yourself, “I’m going to flunk if I don’t study” might get you a good grade but it will increase your stress and make you dislike school.

Believing, “I’m a bad person if I don’t like spending time with my ornery pre-teen” might motivate you to make an effort and do things together, but leave you feeling guilty and resentful.

When we motivate ourselves out of positive emotion, it’s easy to keep going. We don’t get burned out or resentful because feeling good is its own reward.

 

Supermom Powerboost: Liking your own child.

Of course, we all want to like our own children. But sometimes the best way for us to do this is to not be around them so much.

When my son was 13, I used to think maybe there was a reason families would send their 13-year-olds off to apprentice for an uncle.

I would love to send my daughter to be a live-in nanny for another family so she can be more appreciative of what she has and learn some skills.

My husband pointed out that I always talked about having another baby when we were away from our children for the weekend. Apparently, I never mentioned at the end of an exhausting day!

What thoughts can you think about living with an ornery teen, that help you feel like a kind and loving mom? I would start with “I love her, but I don’t enjoy this phase and that’s ok.” or “I’m not supposed to like this behavior.”

How much time can you spend with your child and still think kind thoughts? It may be easier to like her when you aren’t spending so much time together. Certainly it’s easier to like her when you aren’t telling yourself that she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, and you shouldn’t be feeling what your feeling.

You don’t want to convince yourself something is true if you don’t believe it. If you say, “I love this phase of her life” and that feels like a lie, it will not work. We want to think something that feels true and gives us a softening feeling in the body. “I don’t like her and that’s ok” “I’m prioritizing my emotional well being over her screen time, and that’s ok.” “I’m a good, but imperfect mother.”

 

Quote of the Day:

“‘It is what it is’ This means we parent our children as our children are, not as we might wish them to be.” Dr. Shafali Tsaberry

I know what I want but I can’t afford it

Episode for the Week: Money Worries

Today’s question comes up a lot.. See if this has ever happened to you

You get some time away, to take a break and feel like yourself again.

OR

You have a free discovery coaching call with me and get excited about your potential and possibilities for your future. 

You get a glimpse of what life could be like with a little more balance or a little more fun and an idea of how great life could be if you felt more like you. 

Has this ever happened to you? I hope you aren’t so entrenched that you haven’t experienced this.

It feels so exciting; so freeing, that it scares us. 

The thought of so much positive change happening in such a short period of time is overwhelming. Every time we leave our comfort zone, even for something we want, fear comes along for the ride. 

But fear is sneaky, it sounds like this:

“The kids need me. I don’t have time. I could never do that. My husband wouldn’t like it. What would people think? There’s too much to do.”

And the most common of all the excuses is today’s question: 

Question of the Day: “What if you figure out what you want but you can’t afford it?”

The belief “I can’t afford it” is so prolific that it seems silly to question it. It feels true for many Americans, regardless of how much money is in their bank accounts. Just living in America puts us in the top 5% of wealth, not to mention the many potential opportunities to increase our wealth, that it seems crazy so many of us share money worries.

Parent Education Answer: 

There is a parent education answer to the question, “What if you figure out what you want but you can’t afford it?” 

You never want to send the “I can’t afford it message” to your kids. It’s a thought that makes us feel like a helpless victim. Take a look at what the thought “I can’t afford it” creates. When you think this thought, notice how you feel.

Thinking of money worries and believing the thought “I can’t afford what I want” creates a heavy, weighed down feeling in your body. It’s like putting shackles around your ankles.

It keeps you stuck in one place. When you think this thought, there’s no imagination, no exploring alternate possibilities, no believing in your ability to create more money.  It just keeps you where you have been. 

 

money worries

 

Instead, teach your kids that everything is a trade-off. “We can afford anything we want, it’s just a matter of priorities.” Talk to your kids about the value of things. 

We decided to put our kids in private school, so we moved into a smaller home in a less desirable neighborhood. Our family values experiences more than things, and our gift giving reflects that.

Instead of party favors at birthday parties, I sent the kids home with memories of fun games and activities. I skip name brand clothes unless I find them at Ross for half price, but we pay extra for super high speed internet. 

The message to send kids about money is that everything is a trade off and to align your spending with the things you value the most. 

 

Life Coaching Answer:

The thought, “I can’t afford it” is really about fear. When we think about doing something good for ourselves, something that could create positive change in our life, we get scared. It’s a natural reaction. Our minds perceive change as scary, even if it’s a good change. “I can’t afford it” is a socially acceptable way to say, “I’m nervous”.

Let’s say you take your child to the hospital for an asthma attack. They say the treatment costs $1800. Would you need to think about it? Would you say “I want to pay but I can’t afford that” or “let me talk it over with my husband?”

No, the asthma treatment is of such a high value that you would spend the money, then later figure out how to pay for it. If I said you had to come up with an extra $10,000 in 2020 or your children would perish, you would figure it out! You would get creative, you might throw morals out the window, but you would get it done. 

Spending is always about values and priorities.

Can you see any benefit on holding on to a belief that makes you feel trapped and keeps you from noticing possibilities? 

The truth shall set you free so any thought that makes you feel weighed down and trapped is not a true one. 

Handling Money Worries

We spend money on gym memberships, mani/pedis, hair, and clothes. We’ll spend money on private schools or tutors, club sports, extra curricular activities and SAT prep classes.

We always have a choice on where we spend money and what we think is worth going into debt for. We justify our spending based on what we SEE other people spending money on, but the most valuable things to spend money on are things you can’t see. 

Many families take kids to Disneyland because they want to make them happy. They think seeing happy kids will make them feel like they are doing a good job.

The truth is, our ability to feel happy and satisfied in our job as mom does not come from our kids. It comes from the thoughts inside our own heads.

If you put your ability to feel happy into the hands of your kids’ trip to Disneyland, as soon as they melt down, cry, and fight with their siblings, you are going to get super annoyed. You spent so much money trying to feel happy, just to have ripped away at the first temper tantrum.

When you take responsibility for your own happiness and satisfaction, then it doesn’t matter how your kids behave. You get to feel the way you want to feel whether you are at Disneyland, at home, or dragging your kids through Target.

Life coaching is the best place to spend money because you learn the meta-skill of how to be happy any time you want. You can save so much money buying things that only bring you temporary pleasure. 

You can spend $20,000 remodeling your kitchen, then, 6 months later, start complaining about the bathroom needing to be redone. The new kitchen doesn’t bring you long lasting happiness because that comes from your thoughts.

If your brain is trained to look for problems to solve, you will just find more problems. It’s the state of mind we get stuck in that keeps us from getting the feeling of satisfaction and joy we crave.

That new toy you bought your kid only provided a week’s worth of peace for you. Wouldn’t you like to learn how to feel peaceful anytime you want? 

You loved your new car when you first got it, but one year later all you can think about is how messy it is and how much driving around you have to do.

Spending money on your mental and emotional well being is one of the BEST things to spend money on if you want long-lasting happiness and peace. 

Most of us agree that taking care of our bodies is a good idea. We can see the value of joining a gym, eating healthy foods, moisturizing, taking vitamins, and getting massages or facials, but what’s the point of having your body in top shape if your mind and emotions can’t appreciate it? 

Can you imagine who you would be without the thought “I can’t afford it?” If this thought was completely unavailable to you, how different would you feel? 

You still have the same amount of income and outflow, but your thought is “I can spend money on the things I value most” or “I always have enough for the things that are important to me.” or “There are many ways to make more money.” These are the beliefs we want to pass to our kids and it starts with believing them yourself.

If you could think these thoughts, how do you imagine you might feel? 

Open? Hopeful? Creative? 

What actions steps might you take if you are feeling hopeful and creative?  You might cancel memberships to things you aren’t using. You may say no more easily when your son asks for something, but say yes to something special for YOU. You’ll start scanning your budget to see how aligned your spending is with the things you value most. You might ask for a raise or start a side hustle, just because you want your money to be aligned with your values. 

 

Today’s Supermom Kryptonite: Thinking that the way things have been is the way they will be in the future.

Look around you right now. What do you see? I see a laptop, a sofa, a coffee mug, a box of tissues. Everything you see began in someone’s imagination. If we want to create something new, we first need to see it in our imagination. The thought “I can’t afford it” blocks our ability to use our imaginations to create what we want. 

If you grew up hearing “We can’t afford it” then it’s an easy thing to repeat, but it costs you the ability to step out of that way of thinking and create a new reality. Just because things have always been a certain way, does not mean they will always be. Change can happen on a dime, at any time. You just have to want it. 

 

Supermom Power Boost: Get Creative! 

There are 100 ways to get what you want. I have a friend who said, “If I ever came into extra cash, I would sign up for this writer’s retreat and workshop.” Two months later, her old company liquidated stock options and (surprise!) extra cash came in the mail and her writing career began. If she hadn’t used her imagination FIRST to think about what she wanted, she very easily could have gotten that check, used it to pay bills, and not used it to create an exciting future aligned with her values.

 

To set loose your creativity and use your imagination to create what you want, try this exercise: Pick one thing that you would LOVE to spend money on. Something that feels very aligned with your values and your heart’s desire. Make sure it feels fun and slightly indulgent. Got it? 

 

Estimate how much you think it will cost. Now list 20 different ways you can make that much extra money. 

Let’s say you want to sign up for my 12 week Supermom is Getting Tired Coaching Program because you want to feel better. You are tired of being cranky all the time and you want to show your kids how to take responsibility for your own happiness and create a life you love. The cost of the program is $1668. 

Let’s say you promised your husband you would make up that much more money in 2020 to pay for it. You could…

  1. Become a door dash driver
  2. Ask for a raise or promotion
  3. Offer to drive other kids around for a fee.
  4. Sell stuff on ebay or letgo
  5. Sell jewelry on etsy 
  6. Bake cakes for birthdays.
  7. Advertise on social media for your favorite businesses.
  8. Rent a room in your house on Airbnb
  9. Take in an exchange student
  10. Turn off your electricity and live by candlelight
  11. Trade your car in for a cheaper hybrid.
  12. Barter services with hairdressers, handymen, friends. 
  13. Become a dog walker or dog sitter

 

Quote of the Day: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” Benjamin Franklin

Constantly nagging and repeating myself

Episode 42 – Constantly nagging and repeating myself

“I feel like I’m constantly nagging my kids to do things. Hang up your jacket, put your clothes in the hamper, clear your plate, turn off the xbox and do your homework — It’s like I only have two channels: the “nagging, frustrated, annoying mom” channel and the “leave me alone, I just can’t deal anymore channel.” I am so tired of repeating myself, but it’s the only way to get them to do anything. I’m certain there is a THIRD channel, and it feels like everyone else has found it except for me. How can I get them to this magical place where they do what they are told without constantly nagging and repeating myself?”

Danielle

Parent Education Answer:

This is BY FAR the most common complaint I hear from moms asking to join the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook group. So you are certainly not alone in this dilemma. I’m sorry to say there is no magical place, but you are right in thinking there is a THIRD channel.

Why do so many moms hate repeating themselves? There is nothing inherently wrong with this act. We might say “I love you” every day and that doesn’t bother us. We repeat ourselves when we say “excuse me” “please” and “thank you”.

The reason it bothers moms to repeat themselves is because of the energy we are rooted in when we do it. It’s the same nagging, reminding energy that makes us not like ourselves. Our kids don’t want to be around us when we are acting this way, but neither do we.

When we nag, repeat, and remind, it’s coming from a place of defeat. It’s as if we’ve already lost.

The kids didn’t do their homework like they were supposed to, so we are rooted in failure. They failed, which means I failed. We repeat ourselves: “Stop goofing off and do your homework.” “Quit talking it’s time to focus.” “You are running out of time.” When you communicate from this energy, everyone feels like a loser.

Sometimes we are jumping the gun and assuming ahead of time that they will fail. “Don’t forget to feed the dog.” “Remember to brush your teeth before bed.” “You’ve got a big test tomorrow, you better take your book out.”

These future reminders PRESUME they won’t do it. You don’t trust them. When we communicate this way, we are subconsciously sending the message that they need you or they can’t do it on their own.

Kids like to feel capable and competent so they will either
Believe us, and not do things unless we remind them.
Reject us, ignore us, and rebel against us.

Nagging actually teaches kids to NOT listen.

The Third Channel: Because Nagging Isn’t Working

The “third channel” is the calm, confident channel. Believing your child WILL listen the first time, and following that up with action.
The moms that participated in my Confident Kid Challenge were also stuck in the ‘nagging to get anything done’ cycle. Listen to how they pulled themselves out:

Sara: Yesterday my daughter was reading a book and never heard me say (about a dozen times) that it was time to leave for piano lessons…so she got left at home. It took her 30 minutes to realize we’d left. She was a hot mess of emotion and “why didn’t you tell me! You could’ve shaken me to get my attention!” I wasn’t emotional about it, other than to express sincere empathy that it wasn’t fun leaving her and that we missed having her there. Today she’s come each and every time it’s been time to go somewhere.

Jontue: My kids were making a huge mess in the living room and were told if they made a mess they would have to clean it up (including vacuuming) themselves. Well, they continued to make a mess. Afterward they threw a fit and cried about having to clean it up. I wanted to take the vacuum from them and clean it up (faster and easier), but I let them struggle through it. It took them about 3 times as long as it should, but they did it. I also discovered that my kids can vacuum (who knew?).

How do you get out of the cycle of you nagging and reminding your kids?

  • Allow them to experience negative emotions.
  • Follow through on natural consequences.
  • Allow them to struggle
  • Let them make their own decisions.

That third channel you are looking for is calm, clear, and confident. You become rooted in the energy of trust, believing your child will learn lessons from this experience.

Popular career advice is to make yourself indispensable to your employer: work so that your company depends on your skills, talents and expertise.

With parenting, our job is to do the opposite. We need to make ourselves dispensable, non-essential. One step at a time we reduce our role in our child’s life. We learn to love more but do less and care less. The goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of a job, and into unconditional love.

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way of doing these four things for the benefit of our kids?

WE DON’T WANT TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.

Watching your child struggle or feel sad is HARD!

Somehow we got the mixed message in our culture that “doing everything right” is more important than raising independent adults. We want our kids to become more responsible without us having to do the hard work of watching them suffer and struggle.

Letting go of control is hard for many of us Supermoms, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I love the warm and fuzzy cuddles as much as anybody. I would be very happy if the whole world could live in blissful harmony. But when I see the research about how detrimental it is to the psychological well being of our kids to coddle and try to prevent them from having negative experiences, it motivates me.

It’s hard to feel happy while watching kids experience the negative consequences of their actions or inactions, but you can feel PROUD of yourself. We’re proud when we do things that are hard to do.

You can also feel compassionate and purposeful. These emotions can keep you in your calm, confident energy.

 

Supermom Kryptonite: Empathy Dials

Close your eyes and imagine two dials are in front of you. Both dials are labeled 1 – 10. The first dial has the word ME on it. Notice what number the dial is pointed to. The second dial has the word OTHERS on it. What number is this pointed to.

If your ME dial is turned way up, and your OTHER dial turned down, you are going to struggle to put yourself in other people’s shoes. It will be hard for you to feel compassion and understanding for what your kids might be experiencing.

You may find yourself frequently irritated and annoyed by your kids. They might say you are mean, that you don’t understand them and they try to avoid you. If so, see if you can turn your “ME” dial down, and your “OTHER” dial up inside your imagination.

If your OTHER dial is high and your ME dial is low, you will feel exhausted. It will be hard to hold your kids accountable and allow them to experience negative emotions. You may feel lost and overwhelmed with a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

People might tell you that you are “too nice” and that you should “let go” more often. If I ask you how you are doing, and you tell me how your kids are doing, your “ME” dial is too low. In your mind’s eye, see how high you can get this dial to go up, and simultaneously turn down the “OTHER” dial.

Supermom Power Boost – Invisible problems require invisible solutions.

Just because we cannot see something does not mean the problem isn’t real. When a kid sees monsters under the bed, what helps her feel safe is “monster go away” spray that she keeps in a spray bottle near her bed.

“Over-empathy” is an invisible problem. Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

You can’t see how much empathy a mom has for the kids, but you sure can see the consequences of it: fatigue, overwhelm, a decrease in life satisfaction. Moms who have their “OTHER” dial up too high struggle to parent with calm confidence and to follow through with natural consequences. When you learn how to turn your ME dial up and your OTHER dial down, you reconnect with your dreams and desires. You get a break from responsible caretaker and start feeling ALIVE in your life again.

Sometimes we all we need to do is to learn to use our imagination to create what we want.

 

Quote: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Goethe

nagging and reminding

 

Letting go of homework hassles

Episode #41  How to stop hovering and let go of homework hassles?

Here is our question of the week about a mom struggling with her kid’s homework hassles.

“I know I shouldn’t be managing my children’s homework so closely but I can’t seem to let go. If I don’t stay on top of them, check in, nag and remind them, they won’t do it! I would rather hover over them than deal with the Sunday night freak out when they realized they didn’t do it. In the past when I tried, my daughter panics and yells, “You should have reminded me! This all your fault!” How do I get out of this cycle of over-managing my children’s homework?”

Anonymous

Parent Education Answer:

The first step to breaking out of a cycle is to recognize you are in one and that both you and your child are perpetuating it. This is the very important first step and you’ve already accomplished it.

Next, you’ll want to take a look at WHY you want to change this pattern. If your reason for wanting to stop micro managing is because “You’re supposed to”, it won’t be compelling enough.

One research study showed that parents who judge their own self worth by their children’s achievement report more sadness and diminished contentment with life in general. Another shows the more time a mom spends caring for children, the more troubled her marriage becomes.

For many Supermoms, even saying, “I want to change because I don’t like feeling this way” or “I value my marriage” isn’t enough. We want to know our child will benefit from us changing our behavior. We love to do things that are good for our kids!

Four reasons why letting go and trusting your kids to make mistakes is good for them:

  • A 2016 study from Florida State University found parents who tell kids when to eat, sleep, and exercise, are more likely to raise kids with health problems. When they turn into adults and mom stops reminding them, they are less likely to care for their bodies.

 

  • Psychologists at the University of Washington studied more than 200 kids and their moms for 3 years. And found that when a child already had pretty good judgement and self-control, too much guidance and not enough independence raised the risk of them feeling anxious and depressed.

 

  • A 2014 study from the University of Colorado found that adults who grew up with helicopter parents are less likely to possess the mental control and motivation they need to succeed. Over-parented kids aren’t used to tolerating discomfort. Their parents shielded them from pain and prevented them from dealing with hardship. In addition, they are used to immediate gratification.

 

  • MANY studies found that college students whose parents hovered were more likely to take medication for anxiety and depression. When a parent tries to prevent their child from experiencing negative emotions, it robs them of the ability to regulate their own emotions, leading to less life satisfaction.

Not only is letting go control of your child’s homework appropriate, it will alleviate your burdens, making you more relaxed and fun to be around. It can improve your marriage and give your kids the mental and emotional skills they need to function successfully and happily in this world.

Managing Homework Hassles

homework hassles

Now that you know WHY it’s important to let go and allow your kids to manage their own homework, let’s look at HOW.

The four steps when it comes to delegating to kids:

First, I do it for you.
Then I do it with you.
Then I watch you do it.
You do it independently.

Is it time to let go and let him figure it out on his own?  Maybe he’s only 6 and not ready for that.

If you’ve been pulling the homework packet out of the backpack, laying it on the table with a sharpened pencil, and telling him what to do and how to do it, maybe it’s time to move to step two. Encourage your child to take out his own work, decide what to do first, and ask for help when he needs it.

If you are already doing this, move to step 3. Be in the room with him, but do your own thing. Cook dinner or work on your own projects rather than your child’s work. If he truly gets stuck, you are there to help but not to correct. Make sure he knows it’s ok to turn in work that is wrong or incomplete to avoid perfectionism.

Schools have systems in place for incomplete homework. Sometimes all it takes to motivate your kid is not getting a sticker on a chart or having to miss out on recess to finish their assignment.

I remember my son coming home from first grade and saying,

“You’ll be proud of me Mommy.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I got my star moved from green to yellow.”

“Why would I be proud of you getting a warning?”

“For the experience of it!”

I had taken a class on how to help bright, perfectionistic kids and celebrating mistakes was a tool I had been working on.

 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in our way from being this chill parent raising independent kids and celebrating mistakes?

Fear of doing it wrong. We put so much stock in being like everyone else, EVEN WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT WRONG!

When we look around the park, everyone else is following their kid around, with  outstretched arms ready to catch them from falling or prevent them from stealing toys and eating sand.

We get together with other moms and talk about our worries. Who is going to be the one mom that says, “Everything is great, I have nothing to worry about”?

We go on social media and see everyone posting their teenager’s victories and we think, my kid doesn’t have a 4.4 GPA, I must be doing it wrong.

Homework Hassles and Overparenting

Here’s a story that happened to my neighbor. He let his daughters (age 12 & 13) ride their bikes on the trail near our home. It was their first time and he drove to different points along the trail and honked and waved as they rode by.

Ten minutes later, he pulls into his driveway and the police are at his door. They got a report that a man in a white van was harassing two girls on the bike path.

Peer pressure is a powerful force and when everyone else is over-parenting, it feels like the right thing to do, even when it clearly isn’t.

The other thing that gets in our way is we think our child’s emotional outburst is a sign that we are doing it wrong.

My Own Story

I remember when I was a freaked out, perfectionistic new mom, trying to do everything right for my newborn. I read that you shouldn’t allow visitors for the first two months because of the babies sensitive immune system. The problem is, friends wanted to come visit and my extroverted self was going CRAZY being home all day.

So I called my brother-in-law the doctor and he said, “Ideally (which is what I was striving for) you want your baby to not get sick at all in the first two years of life so as not to compromise his immune system, then get him as sick as possible between the years of 3-5 in order to build his immune system.”

The Lesson

I think emotions work similarly. Jump to the rescue every time your baby cries in those first few months of life. After that, encourage them to experience the full range of human emotions as often as possible.

Let them fight with toddlers over toys, don’t help them when they can’t master a skill. Allow them to experience a skinned knee, the frustration of not being able to open their cheese stick, and the feeling of being left out by their older sibling.

I encourage you, for the sake of your kid’s mental health, to be the mom whose kid gets a 3.0.

Be proud of NOT showing up to every performance and every game.

Brag about sending your 9-year-old to sleep away camp on his own.

Celebrate your child’s misfortunes, broken hearts and bruised egos.

Being able to experience the full range of our emotions is what makes us feel fully ALIVE. Knowing you can manage your own life, relationships and emotions gives you a sense of personal sovereignty and competence that is irreplaceable.

 

Kryptonite: over-stimulation

I’m writing this in a gym with loud music blaring, florescent lights glaring, 20 balls flying around the gym in multiple directions, listening to four different conversations going on around me, sitting on a hard wooden bench with fans blowing the smell of teenage sweat around me.

Our world is too. damn. stimulating.

Even in our homes, we’ve got T.V. ’s flashing lights and sounds at high speeds. Our phones are buzzing with notifications, calling to us with flashing lights and the allure of escaping into a game or someone else’s facebook-perfect life.

The amount of mental stimulation we are experiencing today is unprecedented. Between hovering moms and kid’s fears that they aren’t measuring up to Instagram-perfect lives, the rates of anxiety in ourselves, as well as our kids, are skyrocketing.

Our brains are not designed to take in so much stimulation. We are left with racing thoughts, worrying and trying to control our external world as a way to calm our inner world.

Too much stimulation is one thing that secretly drains our energy so finding ways to reduce input can really help.

 

Power Boost – Take a break from modern living

Brainstorm ideas with your family to think of fun ways to reduce stimulation. Threatening to take away TV’s, cell phones and video games can make it feel like a punishment. Kids and teens benefit SO MUCH from a break from all the stimulation. Here are some ideas to help you feel like a human again.
Fake a power outage and play charades by candlelight
Sleep in a tent in the backyard
Go to the beach
Take a picnic lunch and fly a kite
Find a cozy spot to curl up and read books as a family
Play a board game by a fireplace
Play a party game outside.
Get crafty and artistic
Play a musical instrument

Got more? Post them on the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook Page and share your ideas to create a more relaxed, less anxious home life.

 

Quote of the Day:

 

“Why did parenting change from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life, which means they’re not prepared to live life on their own?”― Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

Rules for Dating Daughters

Episode 40: Rules for Dating Daughters

Dear Torie, 

My 14 year old girl (she is our oldest) is a freshman. She has been talking to a boy, who seems very nice and respectful, for over a month. They are in a big group of friends together. I need help with boundaries. They now want to meet downtown and hang out. I was fine with them hanging out in a big group but now I feel more nervous about them getting together by themselves.

Is this anywhere on your blog or podcast?  I searched and did not find anything.

Thank you so much!!!!

Andrea

rules for dating daughters

 

Parent Education Answer:

Before we talk about rules for dating daughters, let’s clarify the difference between rules, values, and boundaries. They are often used interchangeably in parenting (I think, because some of us don’t like the idea of giving rules to our kids) so I will differentiate. 

Boundaries

Boundaries are decisions you make inside your own head to protect yourself. I have a personal boundary (an agreement I’ve made with myself) that, if someone yells at me, I will walk away and remove myself.

Yelling feels like a personal attack. I don’t like it. I’m not telling anyone what to do. People can yell as much as they want, it’s just I remove myself every time someone yells at me.

You’ll often hear people demand that someone else respect your boundary. It’s not anyone else’s job to respect your boundary, it’s your own. 

If I have a boundary that I don’t work on Sundays, and my boss calls me to ask a quick question, it’s my job to respect my boundary and not reply until Monday.

Setting a boundary is deciding what action step you will take.

Andrea says she needs help with boundaries but I think what she’s looking for are rules and values.

Rules

Rules are established by an authority figure and/or agreed upon by a group. They can be written or unwritten.

I have rules for my house that hold true for anyone that enters. No name calling. No hitting or hurting. Get yourself up in the morning. Whoever does laundry gets to keep the cash they find in the dryer. You must wear clothes to the dinner table.

Rules are very clear. Kids like rules (as long as there aren’t too many of them) because they like to know what’s expected of them. Kids like to be able to blame their parents’ rules if they feel like they are getting into a situation they aren’t ready for. “My Dad said if he finds me vaping, he’ll take my phone away.” or “I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend until I’m 16.”

Parents might even notice kids making up rules that they never actually said: “I have to get straight A’s” or “My dad will kill me if I cut class.” 

As adults, we recognize that the world is nuanced and situational, but kids tend to think more in black and white. Find some rules that you can stick to with CONVICTION and follow 100%. Do not make rules that you cannot keep or your kids will learn to disregard your authority. 

Some rules parents set

“Cheat on your test, lose video game privileges for the year.” 

“Always keep your location turned on on your phone.”

“If I ever see you text and drive, you will lose car privileges for the month.”

“Be home by 11:00”

“No sex until you are at least 18” 

“No alcohol will be served to a minor in my house, ever.”

Same goes for rules for dating daughters. Short. Easy. Clear.

If you find your rules aren’t working, you can change them. Don’t feel like you are locking yourself in forever.

If Andrea’s daughter is wanting to hang out downtown with a boy, the most relevant rules might be “don’t shoplift” or “keep your phone and location services on”.

If you feel strongly that your daughter shouldn’t be alone in public with a boy, you could make it a rule, but it’s pretty unrealistic. You could have a rule that your teen isn’t allowed to be alone in her bedroom with a boy with the door closed. That rule would be easier to uphold.

Values

I think what really needs attention here is VALUES.

Values are something you hold as important to you. Values change over time and differ from person to person. When you were 14, your highest value may have been being popular. Now, as a mom, it might be keeping your children safe. 

I think what’s happening is Andrea doesn’t know what her values are around her daughter’s dating. This is all new to her, and she is unsure about what to communicate to her daughter about her expectations.

We expect our kids to uphold our values.

If you are a member of the Mormon church living in Provo, Utah, you don’t have to wonder what to say. The expectations around dating are very clear and shared by the culture around you.

Communicating the rules for dating daughters

If this isn’t your situation, you might struggle to really know what your values are especially for rules for dating daughters. Many modern-day parents don’t share the same values their siblings, neighbors, even their own parents.

When there is no clear culture around us, we’ve got to do a little work to figure out what are values are. 

The most dominant culture our kids are exposed to today is social media and whatever youtube channels they watch. If we don’t talk to them about OUR values, the media is more than willing to share ITS values with your children. 

It’s worth taking the time to figure out what your values are around romance and dating and communicate them to your teens. 

  1. Talk to your partner in parenting and ask, “When do we think our kid should have sex for the first time?” It’s hard to communicate a clear message if you and your partner can’t agree on what your values are. 
  2. Communicate your values and expectations to your teenager. 
  3. Ask your kid questions about THEIR values and expectations:
  • -When is the right age to have a boyfriend? 
  • -What is the right age to have sex for the first time?
  • -What are you hearing that feels inappropriate to you? 
  • -Has anyone broken your trust? How do you know if can trust someone? 
  • -What does hooking up mean? What are your values around relationships? 

 

Life Coaching Answer: 

What gets in our way from communicating values and expectations to your teens about dating and romantic relationships? Good, old-fashioned fear. 

Fear of something bad happening.

Or the fear of letting go of control.

Fear of our child experiencing negative emotions.

Perhaps the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing as a parent.

Then there is the fear of uncertainty.

Maybe the fear of regret.

When we try to communicate our values and expectations from a place of fear, it doesn’t come out the way we want it to. We start putting our worries onto our kids. Because our worries usually involve past personal regret and/or a catastrophic future, rather than a current reality, our kids dismiss us and think we are crazy. 

I think Andrea’s instincts here are pretty good. I think she knows better than to talk to her daughter from this nervous energy. Better to calm down her fears on her own first and get clear on the message she wants to communicate. 

The best way to move past fear is to talk it out, or write down exactly what you are afraid will happen.

Are your past teenage experiences coming into the picture? Are you afraid of what other people will think? Do you think you won’t be able to handle it if your daughter gets hurt? Are you afraid you will be a grandma before you are ready?

Questions to ask yourself before talking to your teen

What do I want my daughter to think about herself and her ability to navigate healthy romantic relationships? 

 

When I talk to her about my values and expectations, how do I want my daughter to feel?

 

What do I want her to do differently as a result of our conversation?

If you can communicate openly with your teen in this relaxed, not fearful way, she will learn that you are a valuable resource and open to helping her navigate the exciting and complex world of dating.

Supermom Kryptonite: Our own past 

You would be amazed at how much past hurts can come back to haunt us. When your kids grow into the same age you were when you experienced something traumatic, suddenly life feels overwhelming.

Whether it was a friendship betrayal, parental divorce, sexual abuse, or a broken heart, any unresolved issue from your past can rear its ugly head and make parenting our kids so much harder. 

Telling your story to a compassionate witness is step number one. If you don’t have a partner or friend who can just listen, stay neutral, and offer compassion, hire a therapist.

You just need to tell the story of what happened to someone compassionate. If you’ve done that once and you think it’s still got a grip on you, try life coaching. 

What happens in these past events is that we pick up a belief that we carry forward into our future. “People aren’t trustworthy.” “If I had tried harder and been better, my Dad wouldn’t have left.” “Every time I love someone, they leave me.” “I can’t handle being hurt again.” 

It’s these beliefs that we need to dig up, question, and then decide whether we want to hold on or let them go. 

Supermom Powerboost: A thought download

A thought download is something I’ve been doing since I was 14 and first started writing in a journal.

One of my life coaching teachers, Brooke Castillo, coined this phrase where you take out a piece of paper, or a keyboard, and write down every crazy thought that goes through your brain. 

This helps us in many ways. 

First, it gets our thoughts out of our heads and onto paper which immediately gives us relief.

Second, it helps us separate out from our thoughts, and shift to being a more neutral observer of our own thoughts. This is the benefit of mediation: being able to have thoughts but not attach to them. 

When you read back over your thought download, you might notice your thoughts are dramatic, black and white, mean, or not even true. When they are out of your head and onto paper, it makes it easier to access the logical part of our brains that questions.

Is it really true that I am a loser? 100% of the time? That just because I yelled at my kids means I’m ruining them forever?

The third benefit of a thought download is it shifts you into the part of your brain that can logically question and analyze the value of these thoughts. This makes it easier to re-frame them and deliberately choose thoughts that give you the feeling and result you want. 

The Takeaway: Setting the Rules for Dating Daughters

Communication is the key here. Being able to take it apart and knowing the rules we want to communicate starts with knowing the values and boundaries we want to set.

Quote – “First love is a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity.” George Bernard Shaw