Eps 390: SOLO SHOW – 3 myths of tough love and what teens actually need

Episode 390

Parents are often drawn to “do something” when their kids are making mistakes – but tough love (and by tough love I mean punitive consequences and punishment – taking things away, grounding our kids, isolation, yelling, blaming, silent treatments) doesn’t typically deliver what you may intend for it to deliver.

There is another way to frame it, another way to think about what our teens need to thrive into young adulthood.

Listen in as I tease it apart during today’s solo show!

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Takeaways from the show

  • Parenting adolescents is hard
  • Giving our kids room to roam as they grow
  • What we forget
  • Why we lean into tough love
  • The mistaken idea that tough love teaches our teens a lesson
  • The myth that tough love is how we let them know we are serious
  • The idea that touch love prepares our teens for the real world
  • What teens actually need
  • The power of self awareness and practice
  • Why our teens need to feel accepted and encouraged
  • Supporting our teens with critical thinking and confidence

Today Joyful Courage is all about saying the unpopular thing. It’s not being silent for fear of what others may think. It’s stating my truth.

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teens, kids, mistakes, tough, parents, kiddos, self awareness, adolescent, learn, move, wobble, develop, love, solo, giving, critical thinking, behaviour, grow, capable, tweens
Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hello, Welcome back. Welcome to the joyful courage podcast, a place for inspiration and transformation as we work to keep it together. While parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people. And when we can focus on our own growth and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already, I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead. It's routable. Also mama to a 20 year old daughter and a 17 year old son, I am walking right beside you on the path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it really real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is a solo show and I'm confident that what I share will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please please pass the link around snap the screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together, we can make an even bigger impact on families around the globe. If you're feeling extra special, you can rate and review us over in Apple podcasts. I'm so glad that you're here. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:30
Hey, everybody. Hi. Welcome. Welcome to a Thursday solo show. I'm so glad that you are here. Yay. And thank you for all the love I've been getting. In the apple podcast app, you have an opportunity to rate and review the show. And I've been hearing from a lot of you in there. And I just appreciate all the feedback that you're giving. It's just really lovely. Anytime I get to hear about how the show is supporting you, it is just amazing for me, so thank you. Yeah, we are here to talk about parenting adolescents, right? Parenting adolescents parenting teens and tweens. It's hard. It's so hard, no doubt. Remember when they were babies, and then toddlers and then preschoolers and we would just slowly give them ever more room to roam and explore the world. Remember, when they became school age and got to roam even more maybe out into the neighbourhood, different parts of the neighbourhood? And then, yeah, now their tweens and teens, and they are ready to go to town. Right? For real. They want to head to the movies with their friends to the mall downtown. They're asking to explore the world and they do not want you to tag along, do they? They get even older and they learn to drive and then the area of exploration expands even further. And it's hard to let go, isn't it? It's hard to let go. It's also hard to remember that we have been actually letting go this whole time in small ways since the beginning. We forget that we have been encouraging our kiddos every step of the way and working hard to support them in developing their autonomy and independence. We forget, like that's been the whole point the whole purpose. Because what happens is it feels like overnight, our kids say, you know, peace out. And we're like, Whoa, where are you going? Who you go with? How long are you going to be when you're going to be back? Right? We get scared of that independence and that autonomy. We've readily accepted and celebrated their mistakes thus far, right? We've looked for the lessons and the learning as they've grown. We kept in mind that they have limited skills that they're, you know, learning from their mistakes. We have spent time in the past, redirecting and correcting and being curious. But yeah, then they hit the teen years and Oh, boy. Like I said we forget. We forget that they will continue to learn through mistakes, that they still need to be redirected and corrected with kindness and connection we forget sometimes to be curious.

Casey O'Roarty 04:46
And it makes sense. They're huge. They're big. They're articulate, right, they're pushing back. And we realise that there isn't room for two of us in the room. driver's seat. And taking the passenger seat feels really unfamiliar with our kiddos, right? We've been in the driver's seat for so long or at least, that's how we've perceived our experience. And then they hit adolescence. And they're actually like, Guess what, I'm sitting in the driver's seat, right. And as parents, sometimes we aren't so sure we trust where the vehicle is headed, that we trust that they can avoid potholes, or learn from hitting the curb, right or even even take accountability. When they bump another driver, right, we just aren't sure we're scared. And we try to take the wheel, only to find that our teen, her teens have a much firmer grip on that wheel. And they will actually yank it the other way. If we try too hard to take over. So yeah, it's tough. It's tough out there, you guys, I get it. And it makes sense that this is a time when we lean into those older, conditioned, tough love practices with our growing kids are scared and feel like we have no control. We see them making mistakes. And we want to make sure that they really get that those mistakes are not to be made. So by tough love, what I mean is punitive consequences and punishment, taking things away, grounding our kids, isolating them yelling at them blaming, giving silent treatment, sometimes tough love is passive aggressive, you know what I'm talking about? Right? You know what I'm talking about? On today's solo show, I'm going to break down some tough love myths, and offer up what teens actually need instead. That's my plan for today. So buckle up, I hope you're into it. Let's go. The first myth that I'm going to tease apart is the idea that tough love teaches teens a lesson. We say they need to know what they're doing isn't okay. The mistaken idea here is that our teens know what to do, what choices to make, that they just aren't properly motivated to make the right choice. Parents with this mindset forget or don't understand the complexity, that is teen decision making. Also, the idea that tough love will teach them a lesson assumes that your teen has all the tools he or she needs to navigate the complexities of their social group. And that the threat of getting into trouble by their parents is greater than the allure of the risky decision that they might be considering making. Was that your experience as a teen, it also assumes that our teens don't already know what they're doing isn't okay with us, they know where they wouldn't be trained to hide it. When we come on strong With the tough love lesson, we miss the opportunity to understand our kids world better. And to get more clear on why they're making the choices that they're making. So that's the first myth. The first myth is that tough love somehow teaches the lesson we want our kids to learn. Myth number two is that you have to use tough love to let your kids know that you are serious. Like if you aren't super mad, and lay down some really intense consequences, that your teen won't know that you care that you're concerned and that their behaviour is scaring you. Again, they know they don't need you to pile your anger and disappointment on to how they're already feeling about themselves. Your teens don't interpret your anger and disappointment as you being serious. They internalise it as them not being good enough for you. They chalk it up as evidence that you don't get it that they can't trust you. And they pull further away. Right so we're not actually sending the message we think we're sending with tough love. Myth number three is that tough love prepares our teens for the real world. This one. I love this one. While it is actually true, that if you don't show up to work, you get fired. And if you don't do the work, you don't get paid. It's also true that when you break laws, you often get punished. Yes, all of that is true. And our teens are not adults. No matter how many times we say it, school is not the same as having a job. It's just not. And we forget that people are making mistakes and poor decisions all the time in the real world. And in fact, this is often where innovation is born through trial and error and learning from our failures.

Casey O'Roarty 10:28
Right, the real world is a place for freedom and creativity, out of the box thinking and yes, risk taking. It's a place that offers endless opportunities to grow through what you go through, to screw up and to get help. Tough Love is not what our kids need for thriving in the real world. So what do they need? What do they need? If they don't need that? What do they need? Well, I'm going to share with you, I'm going to break some things down. And you might want to take some notes, because there's going to be some good nuggets here. So the first thing that teens need, is self awareness, and practice. Yeah, I know. I know, you know, this. teens need self awareness, they need to learn how to reflect and connect the dots between their decisions and the quality of life, they are creating the goals they are wanting to achieve, right, they need to develop self awareness. Our teens need to know that they have the power and control to respond to their worlds in a way that moves them closer to what they want. Or they have power and control to respond to their world in a way that moves them further away from what they want. Right? teens don't develop self awareness through listening to you tell them what they shouldn't, shouldn't do. Instead, they develop self awareness through the experience of being an observer of themselves, of learning how to be an observer of themselves, when we can take our emotions and our opinions out of the picture, and hold up a mirror that is judgement free to our teens, they can start to learn to be with the outcomes of their choices and decisions of their behaviour in a new way. Right? And it takes tonnes of practice for them. And for us. For them, the practice is being with the emotional experience of their mistakes. Right? It's way easier if the pattern has been they do something wrong, and we get super pissed and lay down a consequence. It's way easier for our kids to just think of us as jerks and assholes because of how we're treating them than it is for them to sit with the idea. Oh man, I really screwed up. Oh, man, there's actually no one to blame for this outcome than me. Right? That's way harder to sit with than my parents such a drag, they're totally freaking out. Right? I don't want to take any accountability for my action. I don't want to sit in big discomfort when I can just project on to how annoying my parents are. Right? When we can hold up a mirror that is judgement free for our teens, they can learn to be with the outcomes of their choices in a new way. For us, the practice is to maintain neutrality, right for us, the practice is to calm down our own nervous system, self regulate and be neutral and judgement free and help them see their experience versus giving them only our response to their choices and decision in their experience. It isn't easy, but it is possible. And so so very important as they develop into young adults. The second thing our teens need to thrive as young adults and into their life is acceptance and encouragement. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. The fact that all of our kids can walk is an indicator that none of us told them it wasn't okay to fall. And I realised as I say that I'm making an assumption that all of you that are listening have kids that are are able bodied. Right? So if your child spends their time in a wheelchair or not able to walk, I'm going to let you stretch into what skills do they have, that are indicators of you. Not telling them it wasn't okay to make mistakes. Right? them walking is an indicator that you didn't tell them, it wasn't okay to fall, they fell so many times to work out the balance of being on their feet. It's the same during adolescence, they have to fall, they have to learn to be in the wobble, to hang on when they lose their balance and to be encouraged to try again. They need to feel accepted, even when they're in that wobble. This is a part of growth and learning. Like I've already mentioned, we don't hold out on accepting them until they get the grades or score the points or make all the right moves. They need to feel accepted and encouraged throughout their process of figuring out life and their role in it. So the energetic language, the messages that we want to make sure they hear that are received, I don't love this behaviour. But I sure do love you. I have faith that you can move through this. I love you on the hardest days, as well as the ones that we celebrate. I'm not going anywhere. Right? These are the messages. These are the messages that we want to land. Acceptance and encouragement is what they need, especially when they're making mistakes and struggling, right? This is when they need it the most. And it's the one it's the hardest to give, right? That's the screwy thing. But it is the fuel that will move them along, grow them up. Acceptance and encouragement is the environment that will allow your kiddo to find their feet, and to take chances and to thrive. Right.

Casey O'Roarty 17:17
And finally, what our teens need most to thrive as young adults and beyond more than tough love is critical thinking and confidence. Similar to self awareness, critical thinking skills come when we parents get out of the way and lean into curiosity and deep reflective listening. Peg yo Maris said the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. So when I think about that, quote, I love that, quote, the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. It's not about filling them up with surfacey praise like, Oh, you're so great. You're so special. You're so smart. You did it the right way. Even I'm proud of you. I can even get a little slippery. It's not about that. Instead, what our teens need are the critical questions that we are asking them when we're leaning into curiosity. We want those to be their inner voice. Questions like? Is this a good idea? How might it turn out? Am I okay with that? How am I going to feel about this tomorrow? Will this decision move me closer to my goals? Or farther away? Might this be hurtful to myself or someone else? What am I not considering right now? Is there something I need to take ownership of? What can I do differently next time to get a different outcome? Now, the only way these questions are going to pop up in your teenager's mind is if they hear them asked, right high reps. These are the questions we get to bring to them as they make mistakes as they make decisions as they make choices. And, you know, we don't have to only ask these questions when things are going sideways or feel like are a little bit off track. We could also be asking them when things seem to be going well. I remember I did the brave new world mini summit a couple years ago and I had a conversation with Jessica Leahy. And I love we were talking about school and grades. And she wrote the book The Gift of Failure which I highly recommend. And she talked about how important it is when your kiddo comes home and says I got a D or I got an A to ask them. Oh, what did you do to get that grade? Right What did you do to get that? And would you do anything different next time? Right neutral questions, neutral questions, and useful questions, whether our kids are succeeding and exceeding their expectations, our expectations, or if they're in the wobble, right. The question is the thing that we want to stick in their brain, we want to grow that neurotransmitter so that eventually they're going to move out, maybe go to college, maybe get a job, they're going to move out. And we want them as they navigate the world, to have an inner voice. That is critical, critical meaning like critical thinking, not critical, like criticism, the better their critical thinking, and the more practice they have with it, the more confident they're going to feel. And then teen and young person with confidence, that confidence, it opens doors, it attracts people to them. When we do more asking from a neutral place and less telling, with judgement and criticism, we're sending a very clear message to our kids. And the message is we believe in you, we believe that you're capable, right, and when they feel believed in, right, when they get the message that healthy adults around them believe that they're capable, that opens the door to them, embracing that embodying that and feeling capable themselves. Right? Not only that, when our kids are confident, when they have that critical thinking, they're much less likely to be victims, or targets. Of the bad people out there. Right. They're strong, they're capable. They're paving the way, they're paving their way into the world, we get to celebrate them, we get to celebrate them. So there you go. Tough Love doesn't do what we think it'll do. It only gets in the way of our relationship with our kids. And it sends them underground with their behaviour, which means there's no one to process their mistakes with. And the only way they're going to learn from their mistakes, is to have someone to process it with be that person. What they really need, again, is to develop self awareness, through practice. They need acceptance and encouragement from us. And they need to develop critical thinking, and confidence. All of these things will increase the likelihood that your adolescent will grow into a capable, cooperative, young adult. And isn't that what we want? Isn't that what we want? I know right now, as this podcast goes live, well, at least over here on the West Coast. June is the month where our kids are finishing the school year. If they're juniors or seniors here in the states are going to prom, their senior seniors that are graduating. It's an exciting, exciting time. Right. It's an exciting time. And it's an opportunity for us to look at our kiddos and say you did it. You did it. And I'm so excited to see what you're going to do through the summer. And what you're going to create next year, be their cheerleader, be there encourage her, right don't be their judge. Don't be their jury. Let them develop their own inner guidance system so that they can carry on and they see the possibilities of what they can create in their life. All right. I love you listeners. I appreciate you checking all this out. And I hope that you took away some good nuggets from today's show. Come find me on social media, or shoot me an email with any feedback or thoughts. I will see you next week. Peace

Casey O'Roarty 24:03
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you so much to my spreadable partners, Julieta and Alana as well as Danielle and Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there and helping it to sound so good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay better connected at B sprout double.com. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview and I will be back solo with you next Thursday. Have a great day.

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