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

kid watching porn

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 catching a kid watching porn.

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, “Time for the Talk” that I 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 and a kid watching porn is thus not allowed.

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 worry 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 mom’s stomachs, it doesn’t make sense to them.

I believe 9-12 year olds deserve to know all about reproductive anatomy and physiology, puberty, 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.

Open Communication 

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.

Expectations 

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.  However, always make sure you align your expectations 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.

Trusting Instincts

I went on 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. This is 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!

Instinct and Intuition 

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. 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. They 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

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

 

Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

Question of the Day: Stealing, sneaking and lying about it

sneaking“Thanks so much for the podcast! I am really enjoying you approach and using it with my kids has helped a lot. My almost 8 year old has been sneaking and lying for a couple of years now.

I used to keep candy around the house but stopped because she would steal it and keep it under her pillow or bring it to school.

She steals little toys from school, toys from her sister and friends, and I even found $40 in her nightstand that she stole from my wallet.

A couple of months ago she took our house keys without asking and lost them–she lied about it at first and then confessed. Nothing I do seems to help. 

When I confront her, I tell her to just ask for what she wants. She apologizes and seems remorseful — or maybe worried/scared because she is “in trouble”. I tell her that she’s down a bad path with this habit that could end up with shoplifting and juvenile hall (catastrophizing?). 

We have a bit of a personality clash because I am such a rule-follower. She is doing fantastic in school, her teachers rave about her but she does break rules sometimes. I am worried she will steal my jewelry next.

She does have a lot of jealousy over her younger sister and sometimes explodes if she feels that her sister is getting more attention. Please help!    Esther

Parent Education Answer:

I want you to take a look at the things your daughter is sneaking: candy, toys, money, keys. She is taking treasures. Things that other people VALUE.

Kids steal things that others value as a way to feel that value inside themselves. For whatever reason, your daughter doesn’t feel treasured and thinks that taking other treasures will help her get this emotion. 

The jealousy she has over her sister and the perception that she gets more attention all point to a feeling of unworthiness. 

When adults feel unworthy, they often find external ways to feel more valuable. We might go shopping for nice things, shrink ourselves down to conform to society’s definition of beauty, or try to make people like us.

Think about it like this: It’s the end of a rough day, you are just settling in to watch your Netflix show.

The thought, “I have ice cream in the freezer” comes to mind. You promised yourself you wouldn’t snack at night.

Then you see that you don’t like what the scale tells you. You want to eat healthy food. Most of the time you resist the urge but sometimes, you cave. You say to yourself, “I deserve it” “I earned it” and you indulge. 

It’s similar to what your daughter is doing. Most of the time, she resists the urge. Occasionally, especially when it’s been a particularly rough day, she gives in to the impulse. 

Your daughter is showing you that she doesn’t feel good enough as she is. It’s easy to treat lying, stealing and sneaking as a moral issue but this feels like an emotional issue to me. 

If it was a moral issue, she wouldn’t show remorse or try to hide it from you. She knows it’s wrong but she’s still looking for a solution to an internal problem. 

 

Life Coaching Answer: Handling the Sneaking Kid

I love that you caught yourself catastrophizing and futurizing and yes, in a case like this it is SO EASY to do. What makes it hard to address this as an emotional issue and try to fill our daughter up with love, is  because of what you are making it mean about her and you. Especially as a self described “rule follower” I can only imagine how awful this must be for you! 

Embarrassment is “I did something wrong”. Shame is “I am wrong. I’m a bad person.”

It sounds like you are making your daughters stealing mean something that is causing you shame. Nobody likes feeling shame so we do our best to run away from it. The funny thing about it is as soon as you shine a compassionate light on it, it goes away. It can only live in the dark, when we aren’t acknowledging it’s there. 

It’s easy to think: “My daughter is stealing & lying, she’s doing something wrong. She must be a bad person, therefore I must be a bad mother.” 

When we believe we aren’t doing it right, and feeling ashamed, we want to stay hidden. We don’t want to ask for help.

The Love Tank

The only way to get her to stop, is to address the root cause. We need to fill up her love tank so it overflows with self worth and value. She needs to know what a treasure she really is. 

I would start by taking her to a family therapist who works with children. For whatever reason, the love you’ve been giving her isn’t getting through. She can’t receive it. This is not a reflection on you, just a personality trait.

If she had an allergy, you would take her to an allergist. If she’s showing signs of poor emotional health, she needs a mental health counselor.

Kids are unique when they come into this world with their own paths. Sneaking doesn’t mean she isn’t a bad kid, but she is showing you that she needs inside help. 

Understanding the Love Language

The second thing I would do is to understand her love language. There are a handful of books written about this concept that people give and receive love in different ways. The 5 love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, affection.

You might be giving your daughter words of affirmation, telling her how much you love her, but it’s not getting through because it isn’t her love language.

Perhaps hers is gifts? Or quality time if she complains about sister getting more attention? Read the book and determine her top two love languages so you can fill up her love tank in ways that she is more likely to receive. 

The Urge Jar

The third thing I suggest is an urge jar. My life coaching teacher Brooke Castillo came up with this concept for her weight loss clients who were learning to resist an urge to overeat. I think this could work with your sneaking 8 year old.

Many teachers keep a marble jar on their desk and when kids behave, they put marbles in the jar. This works similarly only every time you resist an urge, you put a marble in a jar. There is something so satisfying about the clanking sound and watching it slowly fill up. 

My hunch is that there are many times when your daughter feels bad about herself and DOESN’T steal, sneak or lie. Let’s reward those times by putting a marble in the jar every time she resists the urge to take something!

You can tell her that the marbles are symbolic of how much love you have for her. When she fills up her marble jar, she gets a reward of some kind. 

 

Supermom Kryptonite – Motivation for Misbehavior

Not understanding a child’s MOTIVATION for misbehavior – such as sneaking – keeps us focused on the behavior. This is frustrating because nothing we try works because we aren’t addressing the root of the problem. 

When we can’t understand our child’s behavior, we start catastrophizing, futurizing, making it mean we aren’t doing enough or they are bad kids. 

The main motivations for misbehavior are:

  1. Excitement
  2. Revenge
  3. Display of Inadequacy
  4. Superiority
  5. Power
  6. Attention
  7. Peer Acceptance

When we know our child’s motivation, we can find ways to give them what they want, but on our own terms.

 

Supermom Power Boost: Finding shades of gray

Many of us think in black and white terms. Stealing is bad, Giving is good. Lying is bad, truth telling is good. I’m either a rule follower or a rule breaker. Often, this black & white thinking ends up biting us in the butt. Try and make room, in your mind and in your vocabulary, for shades of gray. 

We are all good moms, who occasionally say things we regret.

There are rules we like which we follow, and ignore ones we don’t. 

At times we can be generous at times, and selfish at other times. 

We are all kind people, who sometimes say mean things. 

Finding the shades of gray, gives you room to be an imperfect human who is also wonderful. 

Quote of the Day:

“Inside every child is an ’emotional tank’, waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, he will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior in children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank'”. Gary Chapman

perfectionistic teen

Perfectionistic Teen

Question of the Day: Perfectionistic Teen

This is about Jenny and her perfectionistic teen:

“Hi Torie, I recently started listening to your podcasts after finding Brooke Castillo from a friend.” 

(If you haven’t heard Brooke Castillo’s podcast, I highly recommend it. She is one of my life coaching teachers and her podcast is called The Life Coach School Podcast. If you’re looking for a new podcast to listen to check her out for sure.)

Jenny says, “I’m fairly new to this life coaching stuff, but I’ve seen huge changes in myself since listening and applying the principles you and Brooke teach. I find that I’m not sure how to help my children discover these amazing liberating principles. 

My oldest, who’s 13, is a lot like me (or who I was). He’s a total people-pleaser and major perfectionist. This sweet boy does everything he can to try and control everyone else’s happiness to his own detriment. I think he thinks that, if he’s perfect, I (or his teachers) will be happy.

When I try to give him suggestions or point this out he calls himself “dumb” and a “failure”. In fact, he is calling himself these things almost daily! Just today he said, “I’m so dumb why can’t everyone else see that?!” This is a constant issue for him. He would rather get a worse grade or not perform to his full ability, than to talk to his teachers or coaches and admit he doesn’t understand how to do something. How do I help this well-intentioned but out of control boy? He is literally destroying and hindering himself to make everyone else happy.”

perfectionistic teen

Parent Education Answer: Handling Your Perfectionistic Teen

Here are some parenting tips that you can implement to help your perfectionistic teen (or child no matter what age). 

  1. Celebrate mistakes – It’s a tricky one to do when you are a recovering perfectionist yourself, but it’s worthwhile. Go around the dinner table and ask everyone to share their biggest mistake. Whoever made the biggest faux pas gets the biggest dessert. Talk about your “failures” or embarrassing mistakes you made when you were his age. We can mess with his mind by viewing mistakes as a good thing. We make mistakes when we take a risk, push outside our comfort zone, and live life to the fullest and live as a human.

Right now, your son feels shame, when he even contemplates making a mistake. Shame can only live in the dark. When you bring it out into the light, laugh at it, own up to it, and celebrate it, it loses its power.


2. Two magic words
– Incorporate these magical two words into your vocabulary. “Oh Well” Using these words on a daily basis is one of the greatest ways you can help your child learn to go with the flow. “We’re late again. Oh well!” “I didn’t get my homework assignment in on time. Oh well!” “I was too scared to talk to the coach about getting more play time. Oh well!” “I’m trying to make everyone happy except for myself, Oh well.” Try it and notice how your muscles relax and the tension melts away. 

  1. Personality Puppet Show –  I like to tell kids that they have a personality puppet show going on in their brains. When your child is calm, grab a piece of paper, sit down with him, and draw pictures of your inner perfectionists. Together, create characters out of the voices in your heads that say, “You aren’t good enough.”

Does it sound like a male or female voice? Is it more of an animal or cartoon character? What kind of clothes does it wear? What kind of movements and facial expressions can you imagine? Really create a clear visual of this inner perfectionist. Draw a speech bubble over its head with the things it likes to say: “I’m dumb” “I’m stupid” “Whatever I do is never enough.” 

Ask Yourself

To begin with, ask yourselves: “Would I want to be friends with somebody who spoke to me that way?”  “Would I ever talk to somebody else like that?” If not, thank your inner perfectionists for trying to keep you safe, tell her, “Your opinion is noted, but not welcome.”  Feed her a snack and send her out for a walk. She or he will be back anytime you do something outside your comfort zone. Talking to authority figures sounds like a trigger for your son, so expect this inner perfectionist to show up every time he admits his imperfection. 

Perfectionistic Teen

As you write and talk about your inner perfectionists, you will remove the shame of it. When you can separate out this character from the other parts of you, it creates breathing space. You realize, “I am not my inner perfectionist.” “I am the one who can observe it.” 

Also, encourage your son (when he’s calm) to think of a time when he made a mistake and he didn’t beat himself up for it. I guarantee there was a time! Maybe he spilled some milk or forgot his jacket at a friend’s house. It can be very simple like he forgot to put the toilet seat down. Have him notice the voice that didn’t make a big deal about it. What did it say? It was probably something very easy going like, “Oh well!” or “No big deal”. Show him that he already has this voice in his head. Ask him which voice he would rather be friends with? Which voice does he respect more? 

Life Coaching Answer:

What gets in the way of being able to implement these strategies? Well, I’m sure you realize that your own in her perfectionist is going to get into the way. 

When you have a situation like Jenny has here with her perfectionistic teen, it’s not unusual for a mom to type into the search bar “How to help a perfectionistic teen”. What comes up, is a lot of articles that make you feel so bad about yourself that you are unable to help your son. 

You read an article with well-meaning advice like “It’s crucial to teach this to your children.” Your children are watching how you react to every situation.”  “Make sure you are modeling good behavior.” “Children need to know blah blah blah so don’t dismiss it because you need to demonstrate these skills….” 

It’s easy for a perfectionistic mom, worried about doing everything right, will read this and think, “I suck. His anxiety is all my fault. I totally screwed him up and I’m doing it all wrong.”

ARTICLES LIKE THIS IS WHY I STARTED THIS PODCAST

It’s true, that there are at least 20 different things that mom can do to help her son’s perfectionism. But listing 20 ways MOM needs to change, overnight, or else SHE is causing her son to be unhappy and stressed. Umm…NOT HELPFUL!

So what keeps us from helping our kids deal with their perfectionism? Our own perfectionism and a culture that feeds right into it. 

The best way for Jenny to help her son is to pay attention to her own emotions and keep doing what she’s doing, to tame her own inner perfectionist. Focusing on herself and her own growth, while staying away from media that make her feel like she isn’t already perfect as she is.

Working on Yourself

Work on yourself, in front of your son, in these 3 ways:

  1. Talk out loud about what your inner perfectionist saying. “I can hear my inner perfectionist getting mad about my being late. She is saying, ‘I should have left earlier.’ ‘I should have allowed more time.’ ‘I’m such an idiot.’ ‘They are going to be mad at me.’ I would never talk that way to anyone else. It’s super mean! So, I’m going to send my inner perfectionist to Starbucks and just say, ‘Oh well!'”
  2. Talk out loud about your emotions. Because your son is 13, I would start by modeling this yourself. Say, “I’m feeling embarrassed because I didn’t do everything perfectly. My cheeks are hot and I feel like crawling into a ball and hiding.”  Or, “I’m mad at myself because I said something dumb. I wish I could take it back. I feel tension in my shoulders and my fists are clenched.”

If he was younger, I would ask him where in his body he feels the emotion, what color is it, what it feels like, etc. Perfectionism is a kind of anxiety and anxiety is an avoidance of emotions. When you can learn to process emotions, there is no need for anxiety. 

  1. Love more, care less. This is something I work on in my Leading Your Teen Masterclass. 

First of all, love the person your kid is today, with flaws and imperfections, and care less about how he shows up in the world. Care less about his grades, whether he talks to coaches or teachers, but love him more, as the perfectly imperfect 13 year old he is.

It helps to know that, care, unchecked, can feel controlling. Love is expansive, compassionate and is just what a stressed out perfectionistic teen needs. Take the pressure off by accepting him just as he is today. 

Supermom Kryptonite – Suppressing our inner perfectionist. 

When we first realize we’ve got this voice in our heads that is mean and not helpful, our first instinct is to kick it to the curb and get rid of it. When we hear our kids saying, “I’m dumb” we want to jump in and shut that awful voice down! We tell them that of course they aren’t dumb and as you’ve learned, that doesn’t work. He gets annoyed that you don’t agree with his mean and limiting beliefs! 

The same is true for us. When we deny or suppress our inner critic, it creates tension, resistance, and “exploding doormat syndrome” where we explode at minor problems.

Instead, try turning the volume up on this mean, critical voice. When we turn the volume up and, create a character and personality associated with this voice, there is no resistance. It allows us to see it separately and not believe that everything this voice says is true. It also teaches us that if we can turn a voice up, we may also be able to turn it down. 

Supermom Power Boost – Queer Eye Netflix Show

If you are going to have a harsh inner critic, you’ll want to have a powerful inner cheerleader, too. We can be this for our children, but sometimes we need inspiration. I find the Fab 5 from the Queer Eye show on Netflix to be a great source of inspiration.

These 5 men help someone change without making them feel bad for being the way they are. The show offers life makeovers, but also love, kindness, and compassion. Watch this feel-good show for inspiration and ideas on how to support yourself and your kids, while being perfectly imperfect.

Whenever I’m feeling embarrassed or inadequate, I like to pretend the Fab 5 are talking to about me. “We love Torie, she’s gorgeous, look at her fabulous self, she’s so great”. It makes me smile every time. We all need our own cheerleading squad to help us cope with being imperfect in a perfectionistic world. 

Quote of the Day 

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” 

Carol S. Dweck www.mindsetonline.com 

How to get husband to help out

Question of the Day: Husband Help

“How can I get my husband to help out more? I feel like all the responsibility is on me. I make more money than my husband, I do more of the parenting, food prep, house cleaning, arranging child care, carpools, you name it, I’m doing it. When I’m not feeling pissy and resentful, I can notice that my husband helps with some things. But most of the time, I’m frustrated that the majority of the parenting burden weighs on my shoulders. What do I need to do to get my husband to step up and take on more responsibility?”     Diana

Parent Educator Answer: Getting Husband to Help

If you want your husband to help out more, try these 3 things:

  1. Be specific and straightforward. Make a list of what you’d like accomplished. Get rid of the idea that he should just know what to do. Set him up for success by asking him to do a specific task (like empty the dishwasher, as opposed to “help out more”).
  2. Respect his differences. His version of clean may not be the same as yours. That’s ok. He doesn’t “see the mess” the way you do and that’s fine. You’re different people. Allow him to do childcare or chores his way, even if it isn’t up to your standards. Micromanaging will only make him resist helping. 
  3. Show appreciation when he helps. I know it’s not fair, no one thanks you for cleaning the kitchen every day. But if you want your partner to pitch in, tell him how it feels to walk in the laundry room and see all the clothes folded neatly into piles. Express your gratitude at being able to kick your heels up at the end of the day and watch a TV show. Men like to solve problems and rescue. Reward the behavior you want to see more of with words of appreciation and kindness.husband help

 

Life Coaching Answer:

This is a classic scenario for a Supermom to find themselves in. 

Supermoms don’t tend to think of themselves as “super”, they just routinely and unconsciously put on their cape and take care of business. Supermoms do great in school: show them the hoops to jump through and they do it.

They are responsible and reliable and they get rewarded with external praise: good grades, professional accolades, etc. Fulfilling obligations is easy and it seems like the right thing to do. 

When we see our partners do things differently, drop the ball, parent imperfectly, forget things or behave inconsistently and we think, “I need to pick up the slack.”  It comes so easily to us and we are so invested in doing motherhood right, that we just do it. Before long, we feel like we are holding the world on shoulders, responsible for the lives and well being of many people. 

One of the things that bothers me is when I tell people that I’m a life coach for moms who are exhausted, overwhelmed, and resentful and they say, “So, like, every mom.” 

NO!!! These are not normal signs of motherhood!

These are signs of caregiver fatigue! Feeling guilty when you take time for yourself is not normal. It’s a sign you are out of balance!

I’m going to guess that you grew up in a culture that encouraged “fulfilling obligations” over “following your bliss”. Whether from parents, religion, schools or the media, you were raised with the idea that there is a ‘right way’ to do things.

Doing things right, fulfilling obligations and taking responsibility was praised and rewarded. You may have had an innate personality that wanted to follow the rules and be of service, but when 90% of your life feels obligatory, it’s time to re-evaluate your habitual way of doing things. 

Deviating from Culture and Norm

Deviating from culture is NOT EASY! We worry about what our parents will think, what co-workers and other moms will think, but mostly, we worry about what our own inner martyr will say when we kick up our heels to relax and start prioritizing our own “selfish” wants and desires. That inner martyr is mean, so we’d rather just keep working instead of listening to that mean inner voice. 

Deviating from an unhealthy culture is important. Slavery would still be legal if not for a few people who listened to their inner guidance. The culture, the laws, all said slavery was fine. This didn’t sit well with everybody.

Some people felt uncomfortable and they listened to this discomfort. Listening to negative emotions helps improve our culture.

Right now, anxiety and depression are at an all-time high amongst adolescents. There are many signs that our culture is unhealthy. The way to change it is to listen to the internal compass, rather than blindly obey the culture.

If you are like most of my clients, when your husband loads the dishwasher or offers to help arrange the carpool, your critical mind jumps into gear: “He’s not doing it right”, “It’s easier just to do it myself than explain it”, “Why can’t he just do it the way I want”. Because your brain is thinking, “There’s a right way and a wrong way” or “I have to do all the work” we get stuck on proving ourselves right. 

Even when you go to your husband crying with exhaustion, and he steps up by grocery shopping or taking the kids out to dinner, it still doesn’t feel like enough.

“Supermom does all the work”

The reason you want your husband to help out more is because of how you WANT to feel. This discomfort with the culture of “Supermom does all the work” isn’t sitting well with you. You want to feel free, valued, supported, and appreciated. 

Let’s imagine for a minute that you had a magic wand and you could make your husband do everything you wanted him to do. Can you picture that? He brings you coffee in bed, gets the kids dressed, fed and off to school, he cleans up the kitchen after feeding them a healthy breakfast. How do you imagine you would feel? 

Relaxed. Grateful. Appreciated. 

This is what you are really yearning for. You think you can only get it by having your husband help out with chores. But these feelings are coming from a thought in your head. What is the thought you would be thinking if you felt relaxed, grateful and appreciated?

This is so nice. I can do what I want. He really loves me. 

It’s these thoughts that will give you the feeling you are looking for, regardless of what your husband does or does not do. 

You release the burden of obligation by releasing the thoughts: “I have to do everything around here.” “It’s my responsibility” “I have to do it right” “I should do more, be more, etc.” 

Once you release these beliefs, you’ll be more fun to be around. Your husband can put on his SuperDAD cape, help out more, and have a wife who is grateful and appreciative of him. 

husband help

Supermom Kryptonite – Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias means we prove to ourselves what we already believe. When we believe we have to do all the work, we scan our environment looking for all the work that needs to be done, and all the things our husbands aren’t doing.

There are people who believe Trump is a good president and they can find evidence to prove their belief true. There are people who believe he is a terrible president, and they can find evidence to prove themselves correct. What we believe is SO IMPORTANT because it will determine what we experience.

Do you want to believe you do all the work? It might make you feel capable and responsible, but it won’t help your husband step up and contribute. Try believing “My husband likes to help.” This thought will make it easier for you to implement the strategies up above. “My husband appreciates everything I do” will help you feel supported and valued and give you the strength to keep going. 

 

Supermom Powerboost – Focus

Focus is very powerful. What we focus on, expands. 

If you focus on how much your husband isn’t doing around the house, you will feel mad and overburdened. 

Don’t let your culture choose what you focus on. The U.S. has a strong culture of fear. Every time you turn on the news, you collect evidence to prove we live in a scary place where lots of bad things happen, even though, we live in one of the safest countries, in the safest time in history.

Use your higher, more conscious brain to decide what you’d like more of and then choose to focus your attention on that.

Want to feel more loving? Focus on what you love about your husband.

Want more relaxation? Tell yourself there is nothing you HAVE to do right now and notice how it is always true.

Want to feel more appreciated? Write down a list of things you appreciate about yourself. Invite your family to add to the list. Imagine that your family is so grateful for everything you do and notice how it makes you feel better. 

Quote of the Day: “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” George Lucas