Eps 398: SOLO – The difference between enabling vs empowering our teens

Episode 398

This week my solo show teases apart empowering vs enabling parenting and really asks listeners to sit with the question of which type of parenting they have been stepping into.

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Takeaways from the show

  • Why we slide into enabling
  • The dark side of enabling our teens
  • The difference between supporting and enabling
  • What empowering parenting behaviors are
  • The gifts our kids receive when we lean into empowering them
  • How to consider and make sense of pushback
  • A more expansive view on chores for older teens

Today Joyful Courage means trusting that empowering our teens is enough. Trusting that I can let go of the outdated idea that I need to be tough, that I need to be strict, and instead I can lean into connection and love. Over and over again.

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parents, teens, enabling, empowering, kids, developing, chores, confident, skills, behaviour, podcast, question, capable, work, abandoning, support, hard, practice, listen, relationship
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 a 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. Hi, everybody solo show. I am excited to hang out with you today. Thank you for tuning in. I recently, actually last week, I put out a call to the joyful courage community through my email list to shoot me some questions that I could speak to for a summer q&a that I'm going to be sharing. Many of you wrote in and I noticed a common theme. So I got a lot of questions with a lot of layers. And there was something that was slightly the same in all of them. And this theme is something that I am in question about all the time in my own parenting. So no shade on this theme. It's something that comes up a lot for my clients and my listeners. And what I noticed with parents who commit to positive discipline, positive parenting, this kind of relationship centred child centre style of being with our kids, and a lot of us come to this work because perhaps we don't want to be as harsh as our parents were or manipulative or emotionally, you know, you know how it was, or is punitive. We want to make sure that we have a strong connection to our kids and really get, we really understand that relationship matters. There is for sure for most of us historical baggage that we are lugging around, that's influencing how we're feeling about ourselves and our kids, especially I feel like during the teen years, and I'm so grateful to live in a time where the resources that we have are aplenty, for those of us that want to parent in a more, you know, relationship brain centred approach. I am positive that I'm not the only person you follow. There's probably some other fabulous people out there. Well, there are other fabulous people out there with messages that align with what we all want in our hearts. And some of them have even been on this podcast. What I find is hardest about this style of parenting. Again, positive discipline positive parenting, conscious parenting, what is hard about it is the application and the integration of the principles. And so what this can look like is parents doing too much for their kids and then wondering why their teens behaviour is so shitty parents getting in the way of natural consequences and wondering why their kids don't appreciate all the effort that they're putting in for them. Parents keeping quiet about important issues and concerns because they fear their kid being mad at them and ruining that relationship. The result of this is that parents are enabling their teens rather than empowering them. So teens, this is the theme that I saw in a lot of the questions that I got teens with enabling parents feel deeply discouraged. They often rebel, or develop an unhealthy dependence on adults which leaves them feeling incapable or unable to deal with the natural disappointments of life. They get used to mom or dad, you know, swooping in and fixing everything or cleaning things up looking the other way to pretend everything's fine, when clearly it isn't to avoid confrontation or offer up these broad threats for will You know, next time you're going to be in trouble, and then they never follow through on the threats. So yeah, enabling enabling parents, they rescue, they over protect, and they're trying to over control when parents bail our teens out, make excuses for them lie to keep them from facing the consequences. This is all enabling, this is all enabling behaviour from parents, when parents take on the job of waking their teens up in the morning, doing all their laundry, cooking all their food we're enabling, I would also add bribery to the list to me bribery is, hey, if you do this thing, then you'll get this thing. And then we get really pissed when the thing, right, the thing that we've offered up doesn't get, or the thing that we want them to do doesn't get done, because our team has decided that the thing we dangled in front of them isn't worth the effort of the thing we want them to do. Does that sound familiar to anybody? So yeah, parents get themselves into trouble thinking they are trying to be helpful, and then are confused and angry that their teens carry on with the behaviour that we find so challenging, right? Doesn't that make sense to you? It's like, I've done so much for you. I totally bailed you out. Why aren't you more appreciative? Right, I totally took care of all the things so you could get enough time to do your homework or whatever, right? Like, we do all these things. And then they still don't follow through on what they say they're going to do. And then we feel resentful, because we've done all these things that they don't appreciate. So I had a long Instagram chat with a mom about this just the other day, she's been listening to the podcast and appreciate the content. It was really nice to connect with her. And she finally landed on this question, what is the difference between being supportive and enabling? And this is a great question. Right? This is a great question. And I think it's the slippery slope. It's the slippery slope. I've been talking about enabling I think you get the picture there. And maybe you're thinking well isn't waking them up to get to school on time supportive, isn't making them a lunch or getting their laundry clean for them is not supportive. So enabling is doing for your kids, what they could be doing for themselves, and often comes from a place of fear, worry, guilt, or shame. And the subtle message that we are sending to our teens, when we engage in these enabling behaviours is that we don't trust that they are capable of handling their own life experiences. I know, that's brutal, right? Like, obviously, we would never say that out loud. But our behaviour sends a message, the way that we swoop in, sends a message. And if you're identifying with any of those enabling behaviours, I just want you to take a deep breath. I know that everything you do for your kiddo comes from a place of deep love and a desire for them to have a good life. But hear me hear me, you are robbing them, of developing the skills they need to create that good life for themselves. Right? Again, I know what you do comes from a place of love. But you are taking away their practice, in developing the tools and the skills that they need for them to create that good life for themselves. So being supportive. On the other hand, it isn't doing for our kids. Instead, it is empowering them to do for themselves. Support equals empowerment. We are supporting our kids when we are empowering them. If we are not empowering them. It is not supportive. Support our teens when we empower them to practice life skills, to problem solve, to fix their mistakes, for supporting our teens when we have faith in them, and trust that they can do hard things.

Casey O'Roarty 09:15
And notice, I didn't say trust that they can do hard things perfectly. Because not many of us can claim that right? But they can do hard things. They can be in the wobble. They can slog through the muck and figure it out. Empowering parenting behaviours that have been discussed at length here on the show and are highlighted in positive discipline for parents of teens. the book by Jane Nelson and Lynn Lott include one listening and giving emotional support and validation without fixing or discounting their experience to teaching life skills three working on agreements through family meetings, or the joint problem solving process. assess for letting go without abandoning five deciding what you will do with dignity and respect six, sharing what you think, how you feel, and what you want without lecturing moralising, insisting on agreement, or demanding satisfaction. Those are all empowering behaviours. We are not abandoning our kids, when we don't rescue, fix, and save the day. We are standing next to them. And we are giving them the message that we believe in them, and we trust them. And we know that they're capable of navigating what is hard and life. Right. That's it. And now listen, I'm guessing maybe you or somebody else is sitting in this question of well, okay, yeah, but what about when that doesn't work? Right. I love this question. This question is an invitation for me as a coach and facilitator to bring the conversation back around to you, and what it is that you want most? Do you want compliance and obedience and to know that you have control over your teen? If that's where you're sitting, you're gonna be disappointed a lot of the time. Because, yeah, empowering our kids to have a voice to believe in themselves to be confident, does not look like compliance, obedience, and being controlled by you. Right? We aren't raising robots. So let's go deeper. What do you want most, when I ask parents that, here's what I get. I want my child to be responsible. I want them to be confident, I want them to be accountable, kind, resourceful, resilient, I want them to be caring content, self regulated, self reliance, courageous, creative, right? They make this incredible list, incredible list of life skills that we want our teens to learn to embody, right over time. And this is long term, like we look in the long term, right, because no teenager is all of those things all of the time, or even some of the time. These are skills that are in development through the teen years. And through the lifetime. Really, I mean, there's lots of adults that are lacking in some of those skills and characteristics and qualities that I just mentioned, empowering our teens, is the foundation of long term parenting. And I'm just going to assume that you, as a listener of this show that you're in it for the long term, you're in it for the long haul, you get that the short term stuff is not useful, or it's useful for the short term. And that really, you want to be raising cooperative, collaborative, respectful, young adults, right, who are going to be our neighbours, or leaders or coworkers, you're in it for the long haul. When we point our compass, right in the direction of empowering our teens, we find that they discover their own resilience, and the ability to cope when the going gets tough. When we empower our teens, we hold space for them to develop their courage to go after and create the life they want. I love that. And you know, I have a 20 year old and you guys, you've been with me through it all. I think I started this podcast in 2015. And at that point, yeah, my daughter was 13. So you all have been through her entire teenage experience granite 20, still an adolescent. She's been on the show, she's talked about her struggles, we've been through the gauntlet of all the things. And I kept my compass pointing towards empowerment. imperfectly, didn't always get it right. But that was where I was looking always in that direction of her. Feeling empowered, feeling capable, feeling courageous. And guess what's happening, man, she is going after and creating the life that she wants. She is living on her own. She is employed. She is in college, she is making friends. She is seeking out relationship. She is going grocery shopping and cooking your own food, and she is creating the life that she wants. She has a vision. And I gotta tell you five years ago, four years ago, three years ago, it was hard. It was hard to know. It was hard to know what was gonna happen with that one. It was scary, actually, and I had to have a lot of faith and trust in the process. Yeah. We empower them. We hold space for them to develop their courage and go after and create the life that They want when we enable them, we take away that opportunity. Right. And this is something that's really important. You know, something that's been reiterated the last couple of shows, our teens know us, they're used to us and our inconsistencies and our enabling ways they know us. And that's where the comfort zone is for them because it is familiar. Even if it isn't helpful and discouraging. It is familiar, right? It is familiar, how we show up is familiar and human experience is always going after comfort and familiarity. So keep that in mind. As you shift into a more empowering and less enabling parenting style. Your kids might just be like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, what is happening? What is happening? Right? They might look at you with the, you know, WTF written all over their face, they might even just say it out loud, they have benefited in a lot of ways from your enabling, right, and taking it away, maybe a shock to their system, expect that. Don't take it personally, you know, don't let them pushing back against you moving into a more empowering less enabling mindset. Don't let that be an indicator that you're doing the wrong thing. Don't be afraid that you have ruined your relationship, if they get mad, that you aren't going to wake them up in the morning anymore. And it's going to be up to them to get to wherever they need to go on time. They can do it. They need the space to do it. And they might need you know, just like when they learned how to walk, they might need to fall down a bunch of times before they get it right. So yeah, expect the push back. It's okay, you can live through it. And don't expect perfection. Just because you are working towards empowering your team doesn't mean they're going to be perfect, right? They're still learning skills. We're working towards giving our teens more space to be responsible, not perfect, okay. They are learning new skills, we're giving them room to make mistakes, and use them as opportunities for growth. And here's a little sidebar, if you have issues with mistakes and perfectionism, and you have a really hard time when everything doesn't go your way or by your agenda. Go see your therapist, don't work this out on your teenager, don't work it out on them go and see someone for help, right to work out those issues. Because we have to give our kids space to have ideas and to problem solve and to flail around a little bit. The work is to trust and have faith that they are capable of learning the skills they need to survive and thrive. And we're not throwing them out to the wolves saying peace out good luck with adolescence, right? We're not doing that we're not abandoning them. We're showing up we're validating, we're letting them know we're available if they need help, of course, we're just not going to do it for them. Because they're too capable. That's our job

Casey O'Roarty 18:16
right there, one to five years out of living on their own. Right, they gotta practice. Obviously, it's gonna look different practising for a 13 year old than a 17 or 18 year old, but you get my point, right? Life is messy. You know that. And if you have a teenager right now, then you're either solidly middle aged, or you're creeping your way towards that you have dealt with some shit, I'm positive of that life is messy. It's important that you give your kid out enough room to feel the mess, while also providing some scaffolding for them. And by the way, through all of this, you get to practice being in your confident authority. If at any point you've been listening, and are hearing me say that having faith and trusting your team is capable means that they get to do whatever they want. Hold up. That is not what I'm saying. This is not permissive. We're gonna go back to intention. Right back to our attention. What do we want most? What do we want them to be developing? Right? We need to be in our confident authority here, people. And one place where this gets wobbly. So I'm gonna use an example. Chores this came up in that chat I had with the mom the other day, and many moms. This is a place for Strife for a lot of families with teens, mine included. And one thing that can happen is that they don't do chores and it's so annoying to deal with, that we stopped dealing with. Right? We're just like, fine. It's too hard to get you to help out. So I'm just not going to expect that anymore. And I'm going to be pissed about it and resentful, right? Okay. And I'm here to say, it's really important that our kids help out around the house. And here's why. One, it develops practical life skills that they need, they need to practice taking care of stuff, right? And to chores, contributions, gives them the opportunity to be on the team to be in contribution to the family. So don't give up here. And when I talk to parents, often, it will be said, Listen, my kid has had the same chores for a million years, they know what to do and when to do it. They just don't do it. And I'm so tired of fighting about it. And then they get into some judgement around their kid if they would only they're just so they always they never right. So here's what your inner confident authority, right, but energetic, inner confident authority, here's what it gets to hold. Here's what it gets told. Chores are something that's expected to give you practice for life, and to give you an opportunity to be in contribution to the family. And I think we need to change things up. Let's make a list of things you could do to help out and see what you'd like to do for the next couple of weeks. Do you know what young adults need to learn to do they need to know how to go grocery shopping, how to pay bills and budget, how to cook. Yes, how to do housework, but also how to change their oil and tend to their car. 10 years of emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash shouldn't be the extent of the life skill development that our kids get. So change it up. Right treat your teenager like the young adult they're eventually going to grow into and really think about the life skills that are important for them to be practising and learning and think about it out loud. Right? Talk to them about it. And when they roll their eyes or push back again. Breathe into that competent authority. So when I did that, hear you I'll do it with me. I take an inhale. And I pull my spine long, my shoulders back my heart open, right? I get into a dignified posture. Right? I get into a dignified posture, I feel my feet on the floor. I feel grounded. Right, I feel grounded, I feel sure of myself. Right? Yeah, I get that you don't really want to do any of this. And it's important that you practice these things. What's it going to be this week? Right? So you're validating, you're connecting with them? Yes, it's a drag, and you're holding the firmness of we're doing this. So you get to decide, you get to decide what it can look like. When we can find our competent authority, we become a different kind of invitation for our teenagers, does that make sense? We create a different kind of energy. It's not controlling drill sergeant. It's not like crazy dictator. It's not about intimidating or power over. It's an invitation to collaborate. Right. And sometimes, I will say this, sometimes there is a lot of hurt in the dynamic between parent and teen. So as you work towards embodying your confident authority, and empowering your team really working on pulling back on the doing for them so that they have the space to do for themselves. When you're doing this practice, and you feel like you're not really getting anywhere, like the resistance and resentment is strong. I want you to peel back the layers get to the heart of the dynamic. You know, I've said this a million times get curious about what is getting in the way. Sometimes the problem isn't that your kids won't do chores or are disrespectful or won't get up in the morning. Sometimes, often times. The problem is deeper than that. And the behaviour that we don't love is actually the solution that our teens have come up with, to solve the problem that we don't know about. Ah, I know this is a mind blower kind of like a riddle or a tongue twister. So I'm gonna say it in a slightly different way. Sometimes the behaviour that's driving you crazy is actually your teens solution to a problem you don't know about. We are all humans having a very real human experience. We are all perceiving and interpreting the world around us through our own lens. Right that we've developed over our lifespan. There is so much bullshit that can build up in our relations in our relationships. Keep showing up keep doing your own work. Trying to wade through the BS. Right? Keep letting the teens in your life know that you love them. And keep being just really transparent and clear and consistent and loving and confident. Right? Trust them, trust the process, trust that they're capable of learning and growing and developing. And you might be like I do, but they're not. And I'm here to say they are. And maybe you need to give them a little bit more room and a little less criticism. And you might be surprised, right? So there's a lot here. There's a lot here, sit with it, digest it, maybe re listen, I might need to re listen to it too. My goal in this show is to leave you feeling empowered, right? I want you to feel empowered, because you're amazing. You're amazing. And there's a reason that you are the parent of your kids. Right? You're the exact right parent for them. Keep growing. Keep exploring, keep questioning, and I'll be back again next week. All right, my friends. Thank you for being here.

Casey O'Roarty 26:21
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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