Teen alcohol party

Episode 45 – Teen stole alcohol and served it to her friends.

“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

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 party with alcohol to minors.

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.

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.

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 judgement 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 has 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?

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. 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 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.

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 facetiming 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.

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.

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

 

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

 

Episode 39: Playing Bigger with Sara Dean

Question of the Day: “How I make time for me when there are so many things to get done?”

There is so much good stuff in this episode, I couldn’t write it all down! Be sure to listen to this important conversation about…

Making time for Mom.

Moving the needle forward.

Listening to your higher self.

Using kids as an excuse to stay in your comfort zone.

Playing bigger in your life. 

Embracing discomfort.

Supermom Kryptonite: “Playing Small” or staying in your comfort zone.

Supermom Power Boost: Make a “Courage List”. Look back on your life and list all the times you were courageous.

Learn more about Sara Dean and the Shameless Mom Academy at ShamelessMom.com. 

Listen to her podcast or join the Shameless Mom Facebook Group

Nervous about the empty nest

Question of the Day: Empty Nest

“I feel so strange. My oldest just left for college, my youngest has started her junior year of high school. These are busy and exciting times but I’m nervous about the empty nest. I distracted myself with the busy-ness of college but deep down, I just don’t want to think about what’s next for ME. I’ve had the same job for ages and it’s fine. My marriage and my friendships are fine. My health is fine. Being a mom gave me purpose, adventure and community…..I loved it. But now what? I would like to be excited about the next season of life, but I don’t know how to get there.”  Amber

Are you nervous about the empty nest? Go to https://LifeCoachingforParents.com and schedule your free coaching call

Episode 35 – We are being brainwashed:

Do you remember being pregnant and setting up the nursery, folding cute little onesies and socks? The anticipation of this major life event was exciting! We didn’t know what was going to happen. There were risks involved with bringing that baby into the world and keeping it alive. Women gathered around to help us prepare and celebrate this milestone event. 

We were warned about the lack of sleep, the poopy diapers, the breastfeeding nightmares, but we didn’t care. We naively walked into this love-filled prison called parenting. 

And it sucked! 

And it was amazing! 

We laughed and we cried.

 Argued with our partners.

Lost old friends. We gained new ones.

Why did we think it was exciting instead of terrible? 

In a word….HYPE

The media images made it look soft and sweet, lovely and clean. We saw adorable babies and cute little clothes Darling pictures of pastel-coloured nurseries and beautiful pregnant women. 

The reality of being pregnant: nausea, swollen feet, stretch marks and peeing on oneself, never made it into these media images. 

New moms spend a lot of money and companies want to capture this market so they create a lot of media hype. But we got a lot of hype from friends and family, too. 

Everyone around us was excited for us. Telling us to savor the moments and enjoy it all.

Imagine for a minute there was just as much media hype about the empty nest. That every college brochure contained pictures of parents having the time of their lives. Sipping margaritas on the beach, hiking on beautiful mountain trails, enjoying outdoor concerts at wineries under sparkling lights.

Picture friends rallying around you, telling stories of how amazing their first year was. Jealous and excited for you to be saying goodbye to your college student. They agree it’s hard but plead with you to “savor every moment because it goes so fast.” They tell you, “You are going to do great” 

Friends and family shower you with gifts. These gifts don’t add clutter to your home (moms at this stage don’t need more things), these gifts are experiences: An Italian cooking class, a bioluminescent kayaking tour, a road trip to explore the national parks, an intuitive painting class. Your presents are all about fun, friends and freedom.

I think it’s time we start creating some HYPE around the empty nest. 

empty nest

If the dominant emotion about becoming a mom is LOVE. The dominant message about the empty nest would be FREEDOM.

The beautiful (and terrifying) thing about this stage of life is there ISN’T strong external pressure telling you what it should and shouldn’t look

like. Whatever your parents did during this transition, is probably what you expect to do. If you look around, you’ll probably notice many divorces happening in this stage. You’ll see people embracing long-forgotten passions, reinventing their careers, or taking up a hobby they always longed to try.

Just like a prisoner who is released from prison, freedom doesn’t always feel good. We find comfort in the familiar, rather than fully enjoying the freedom that comes with this stage of our life. 

When too much freedom feels scary, we start saying things that make us feel safe: I have to pay these college bills, I can’t do what I want, No one will do it with me. 

We settle back into our comfort zone, only without the love that filled it when our kids were younger. 

Supermom Kryptonite: Not Understanding The Cycle of Change

In order to embrace this season of life and make the most of it, it’s best to understand the cycle of change that Martha Beck teaches. She claims that change always happens in a predictable pattern.

Square 1 – Death and Rebirth

Mourning your old life and exploring your new one. This stage often feels terrible (and most of my clients come to me during this stage). We feel empty and aimless. We can’t go back, and yet our future isn’t clearly defined yet. It feels terrible but it doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. In fact, the mantra to help one through this transition stage is “I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s ok.”

This is your opportunity to choose a new identity. Without a lot of social pressures, you are free to tune inward and listen to what your heart really yearns for. Only if you follow this internal compass will you find happiness and excitement in this stage of your life.

Square 2 – Dreaming and Scheming

Once you have truly let go of your old identity and former life, and tuned inward to listen to your heart’s desire, you’ll start getting ideas for a life you are meant to live. You might see something on Facebook and think, “That looks fun” or you might get a picture of how you would redecorate your child’s bedroom. It starts as an image in your mind that lifts you up. 

When you give yourself permission to dream and scheme, these inner visions will slowly become clearer in your mind. Eventually, you will know which action steps to take. The mantra for this cycle is “There are no rules and that’s ok.”

Square 3 – The Hero’s Saga

This is where the rubber hits the road. You take your dream from imagination into reality. Eight times out of ten, things don’t go the way we planned so the mantra for this stage is “This is harder than I thought it was going to be and that’s ok.”

If your idea is to start a business, move out of state, start dating again after divorce, or train for a half marathon, this mantra will help you through. It’s called The Hero’s Saga because this is what Joseph Campbell identified as the “Hero’s Journey” that folk tales, movies and books are all about. The trials and tribulations of square 3 make for really good storytelling. 

Square 4 – The Promised Land

This is the stage where our dreams are finally coming true. The blood, sweat and tears of square 3 have mellowed out. You are now a runner. You are settled into your new job, home, or identity. There are minor tweeks and improvements but it’s generally easier to navigate.

The mantra for this stage is, “Nothing is changing and that’s ok.” Some people don’t like square 4 and will deliberately enter into square 1 (possibly in another area of their life) just to shake things up. Generally, though, this is where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

 

Supermom Power Boost: Finding a metaphor to represent your life

Today, I was walking through a garden with a big patch filled with pumpkin vines. It was full of bright pumpkin blossoms, big, sunshine yellow flowers, shining gloriously against the green vines. A few had started to close and on one, I noticed a small, little green pumpkin had started to grow. 

I thought to myself, we are like these blossoms, happy and settled in our roles as a mom to our kids. When they leave the house, it’s like the blossoms are closing. It feels sad, it feels like a death, we don’t even realize that we are meant to become pumpkins. 

These blossoms were never meant to permanently bloom. We were always meant to have a second stage of life, equally as important, lovely and exciting. Saying goodbye to raising children doesn’t have to be sad. You can be excited for this stage of life if you recognize how the cycle of change works and that being a pumpkin is just as good as being a flower. 

All you need is a little hype.

If you find yourself feeling stuck in an empty nest, and aren’t getting the feelings of community, adventure and purpose, then hiring a life coach is a great idea. If you have this longing, then you are meant to have it!

Going after your heart’s desire will make your life exciting for sure. Just like the pumpkins, we are meant for growth and transformation. When everything is “fine” it’s a sign that you’ve stopped growing. 

It sounds to me like you are perfectly set up for an exciting year. You just might need someone to help you across the scary parts to get to the amazing parts. 

Got some goals you’d like to set for yourself? Schedule your free strategy call https://LifeCoachingforParents.com

Quote of the Day: (paraphrased)

“Don’t fear loss so much that you abandon yourself in order to keep things stable. Losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing.” -Martha Beck