My guest today is Krissy Pozatek, and she’s here to teach us all about her parallel process method of parenting.
Krissy starts by sharing how she found herself working with teens in the woods. I ask Krissy how parents decide on wilderness therapy and what it’s really like there. Next, we get into what Krissy’s four foundational principles of parallel process are, including what the adults’ roles are, valuing emotions, keeping & holding boundaries for safety, and how much struggle we allow for our adolescents to experience. I ask Krissy where in her process parents can discover their teen’s belief behind their behavior. We discuss accountability & teaching skills, why we don’t use punishment, and how hard it can be to resist rescuing our adolescents. We wrap up circling back to enmeshment patterns and how it can backfire when you’re fixing everything for your child.
Krissy is an Author and Parent Coach. After over a decade as a wilderness and adolescent therapist, Krissy has identified the concepts and skills kids gain in the wilderness and integrated them into everyday parenting so kids can be more adaptable and resilient in the home.
She is the author of Brave Parenting: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children (Wisdom Pub) and The Parallel Process: Growing Alongside Your Adolescent or Young Adult Child in Treatment (Lantern Books). And Brave Teaching (Lantern Books) Krissy has ecourses you can find out more about on her website www.parallel-process.com. You can also follow her on Instagram @theparallelprocess.
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Takeaways from the show
- What is parallel process?
- What is wilderness therapy?
- Enmeshment between teens & their parents
- The four foundational principles of parallel process
- Emotional attunement (connection)
- Uncovering the feeling (belief) behind the behavior
- The differences between accountability, teaching skills, & punishments
- The skills learned & benefits that come from safe struggles
- Resisting the urge to rescue our adolescents
- Grounding & awareness
What does joyful courage mean to you
I think just being your most authentic self where you are speaking your truth, you’re aligning with what resonates with you, you’re saying the hard things, you’re being honest and most authentic self, not just trying to be liked or fit in. I think that’s in life but also in parenting. When we speak our truth and we’re in our power, kids feel that. My kids now are 16 and 19, and it’s cool to see all the things they’ve embodied from having that more authentic parenting where you’re in your truth and in your power. I like the language you use: confident authority. I love that! It’s so powerful
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parents, kids, wilderness, boundaries, work, behaviour, talk, struggle, programme, child, therapy, mom, learn, feeling, feel, therapist, call, fix, accountability, holding
Krissy Pozatek, Casey O'Roarty
Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and 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 at Sprout double. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this 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 real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, 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 all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.
Casey O'Roarty 01:25
Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Chrissy Positech. Chrissy is an author and parent coach. After a decade as a wilderness and adolescent therapist. Christie has identified the concepts and skills kids gain in the wilderness and integrated them into everyday parenting so kids can be more adaptable and resilient in the home. She is the author of brave parenting a Buddhist inspired guide to raising emotionally resilient children and the parallel process growing alongside your adolescent or young adults in treatment and brave teaching. Christie has e courses you can find more about on her website WWW dot parallel dash process.com. You can also follow her on Instagram at the parallel process. Hi, Chrissy, I'm so excited to welcome you to the show. Well, thank you so much for having me. Yeah. Can you start us off with just kind of telling your story? We got some of it in the bio, but how did you end up in the woods? How did you choose teenagers? Tell us a little bit about your journey of doing what you do. Absolutely. Just to go all the way back in college, I majored in environmental studies and geography kind of random, I guess. But I, you know, didn't really know what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be like an environmental ed teacher, or I didn't want to do environmental law or whatever the professions I saw. And I happened to go to an AE conference, my senior year of college, someone recommended, which is Association for Experiential Education. And as I walked in, there was a booth that said wilderness therapy, and I'd never heard of it before. And I was interested also in therapy. And I just think nature is therapeutic. You know, Wilderness is healing to me. And so, you know, here I am studying Environmental Studies and all facets of like interfacing with the natural world. And wilderness therapy just seemed like a beautiful blend to me. And so I was sort of like, sign me up, I didn't know much. And that was my first job right out of college sort of drove cross country got dropped off in the middle of nowhere, Utah, and started working with initially adolescents who were caught referred from the juvenile justice system from like Colorado and Montana, like some western states. And it was amazing. It was really amazing. And actually starting with sort of the court referred kids, we learned so many skills, we had to do so much training around de escalation, mirroring and matching, like their body language, we'd match with our body language, so we'd attuned to them. And then we'd like slowly through verbal prompts, bring them down and learn how to deescalate and how to connect. And so we almost got like, the sort of like military training, honestly. Yeah. And it was like, I had no idea this would like, set my career forward. And you know, they were challenging kids, but they're also amazing kids, you know, underneath are so sweet and incredible. And some of them just had tough life situations. And shortly after that, I was really drawn to therapy and working. There was a sort of a sister programme like across the street. I mean, we use the same sort of field area in the wilderness, but they were more therapy, private pay or insurance based at risk youth, if you will. And so I did transit
Krissy Pozatek 05:00
shown to that population. And, you know, wanted to learn everything I could about the therapeutic process, what the therapists were doing, you know, how therapists worked with adolescents in this way. And then of course, parents, parents would come and I was running like parent workshops. And well, a certain point, I then went back and got my MSW, so I went back and got my degree, got licenced as a therapist, and then I went back to wilderness therapy. And before I knew it, I was running like eight hour parent workshops, you know, before I was a parent, and just really loved it. And so I don't know that answers, but that's sort of what got me into this field. And then, you know, so I was a wilderness therapist for whatever, like 15 years or something more worked in the industry. And then I became a mom myself, and I decided to throw the recommendation of a lot of people is they're all like, Chrissy, you should work with parents, because I, you know, I did work in the wilderness a little bit when I had a baby, but I was like, Ah, this isn't going to work. And so because I would just go out for like, a really long day. And so then I ended up transitioning to working with parents. And what I realised is all these parents are incredibly devoted. These are not like neglectful abusive parents. No, they're incredibly devoted, like they would do anything for their children. They just didn't know what to do. Yeah. And mostly what was happening is something I call enmeshment, over involved, right, not having healthy boundaries, like emotional boundaries, or just sort of behavioural boundaries in the home. And so they sort of over function and then their kids under function. So as the kids would go to the wilderness, and they build skills, first of all, they got a break from mom and dad. So they build skills, no one was managing their emotions, no one was fixing their problems, they had to take more ownership, they had to learn to self regulate, they had to learn to, you know, just find themselves capable, right, they learn to problem solve. And in doing that, we saw this massive transformation of kids, but then they go back with their parents. And guess what the parents were the same, right. And, you know, the kids are learning to regulate their emotions, kids are learning to be accountable for their behaviours, kids are learning to be emotional leaders, because they learn to be vulnerable. And then they come back home. And guess what mom and dad wanted to fix their emotions, right, mom and dad didn't negotiate the boundaries. So a lot of the progress would unravel, which was very discouraging. And so that's when I did decide to write the parallel process, my first book, just to give parents a guide, like, Hey, this is what you guys need to do. I love, love, love that. And I really appreciate that you started by acknowledging how deeply devoted these parents were, you know, like many of us are to our kids, and how slippery that enmeshment can become. And it comes from a place of love, right? It comes from a lack of skills, it comes from that desperation. I know, I've been there, you know, with my own kids, while one in particular who really struggled and recognising like, I don't even know how to untangle from the hard time that she's having, like, I can't stand that. Like, quote, that's what you're only as happy as you're sad as kid. I don't know that came from I don't know where that came. I don't buy it. i Yeah, like I don't really want that to be my store. That's the definition of codependency. Yeah, that's the definition of codependency. Actually, what we want to be is we want to be differentiated from our kids. Yeah. So if your child's in a low place, does it help them if we're in a low place, you know, we want to be stable and like regulated. And so we can show up and be there for our child who's in a low place. But if they're reeling, and then we're really Yeah, it's not useful. So I don't know who where that came from. But I don't know. That well. And I'm fascinated by the wilderness. First of all, I remember years ago, watching a show called brat camp. Did you remember that show? It was filmed? When in the programme, I was in no way that I think it was like right after I left. But yeah, I mean, I'm sure it was like, I can only be as representative as it can be with cameras there and like, writing a story, but it was fascinating to me. Yeah, completely fascinating. The interpersonal relationships. I watched the whole thing. Plus, I have a family member who's been through wilderness twice. I have clients who have kids who have been through it and swear that it saved their life. So who are you mentioned a little bit about, you know, some of the kids that you worked with? How do parents make that decision that this is where we're at?
Casey O'Roarty 09:42
Because it is a huge investment? Right? And I'm not thinking there are many kids who are like, Okay, I'll go for three months walk around in the woods, and I'll go along with the programme. I mean, and I'm thinking about Brett camp, you know, it seems like it's kind of this last ditch effort. Is that really how it is typically?
Krissy Pozatek 10:03
Yeah, I think that it is the hardest thing. Absolutely. And I think that No parent wants to do that, right. That's not a place any family wants to be. But parents do it because they have to, you know, they've exhausted everything in the home. They've done therapy. They've done like a mentor. They've done, you know, behavioural plans. You know, you don't get to wilderness unless you sort of overturned every stone, and even hospitalisation, right hospitalisation is just a holding environment, there's no treatment. Right? Right. Everything I hear is it's things get worse, because kids are put on different meds, or they're getting exposed to other kids who are, you know, not doing okay, not healthy, right? Or not in good places. And so, you know, Wilderness is, in my mind, and I know there's been pushback more recently about, I don't know, different programmes are. But in my mind, Wilderness is this amazing job of putting kids in a healthy environment, right, we're removing them from the enmeshed parent child patterns, we're removing them from the home environment, which might be substance abuse, it might be addiction, it might be negative friends, negative peer groups, negative relationships that might be failure at school might be whatever it is. So parents only go there when the child needs an out of home placement, they need a shift, they need a change. And, you know, there are kids that do go voluntary, absolutely. Like some kids know, they don't know how to solve their problems anymore. Okay. And that's something I really do observe. Or if they're not, like admitting it, they, they may like, leave their parents a little trail, you know, like, they leave the vodka bottle on the floor, or they leave the journal entry open, or the mom saw the text or you know what I mean? Because when kids are not in a good place, they want their parents to know. Yeah, you know what I mean, when they're not? Well, yeah, when they're not well, when they're scared of their thoughts, or their behaviours, or the situations they're in. And so yes, I do see kids wanting to go. And then there are also kids who are so unsafe, the parents do hire people to transport them. I know it sounds honestly worse than it is. But it's kids that are like on the run, they're unsafe, they're potentially suicidal, like, whatever it is. So yeah, I think it's amazing. And I do think it's such a healthy environment where kids are removed from everything. So guess what they're left with? They're left with themselves. Yeah. Right. And so they have to start doing the inner work, and what do I feel? What do I think, Who am I blaming, you know, what is my negative coping, and they start to take accountability, and they start to talk to other peers who are doing this therapeutic process. So it really is a magical thing.
Casey O'Roarty 12:44
Yeah. How would you explain kind of the underlying philosophy? Is it just therapy in the woods? Or what are the components?
Krissy Pozatek 12:53
Yes. So there is like a therapist that comes out and does a session once a week, when they come out, runs the group therapy. Okay, so there is that sort of traditional therapy. But what's different is, you know, the kids are residential, right? They're living there, right? And so you've kind of got them you've got like, office therapy is tough, because kids can just tell you what they want. Right? They can just parents are just, oh, they went to their therapist. Yeah, there's confidentiality, like no one really knows what they're doing or saying, I mean, occasionally kids engaged and wants to work on themselves. But a lot of times kids don't want to go, they talk about their friends. They don't, you know, they're not really getting to the core stuff. And so what's really amazing is, you know, when kids are sent to a wilderness programme, like a therapist knows all the behaviour patterns, all the issues, all the reasons they're sent there, and they start diving in, you know, and there's assignments, and there's a curriculum, and there's expectation that the child's showing up. And so the programme, you know, has, like, typically, they have phases where kids like, you know, when you start, you're sort of an orientation, and then there's, you know, every programme is a little different, there's different phases, but for kids to be moving forward in the programme where they're becoming like leaders to the new kids, right? They're doing this deeper work, right? So it's really the whole like, philosophy, the whole structure, the whole curriculum, it's hard to just pinpoint it to one thing, but then there are these therapeutic staff who live there, right. So the therapist goes in and out, but the therapeutic staff live there, and they're running an evening group, they're hiking with them every day. You know, I guess I would just say there's a philosophy of wilderness, which is what I've brought into my parent coaching. That's why I said, I'm bringing the resiliency skills from the wilderness home, because parents should know these magical things shouldn't that I saw it over and over these kids like transform. Shouldn't we teach parents like what are these key ingredients that make kids transform? If you want, I'll just sort of run over the key ingredients.
Casey O'Roarty 14:50
Well, yeah, I want you to do that. But I'm just thinking about, I really appreciate your work because the idea that kids can go through this deeply transformational process, and then come back into an environment that wasn't necessarily useful or healthy for them to begin with, you know, it's just like when I think about people or hear about people going through a substance use rehabilitation and then being dropped right into the environment that they were into an expecting that they're going to be able to avoid kind of the dance moves, that were a part of who they were prior to rehab. And I also really appreciate the idea, and that we're going to talk about, which is, there is no end to the personal growth on this human experience. And being parents does not mean that we've got it all figured out. And I love this parent component and the work that you've done, because it really highlights that there's so much more for us to learn and grow. And I really believe that there's a cosmic picking that happens between parent and child. And you know, especially for those of us that have kids that are really struggling, like I know, for me, I really try to sit inside of what is here for me, what's here for me to grow and to learn. And you know, absolutely my kids are my teachers, and just really grateful for you and your work that you're doing with parents. So yes, tell me about a parallel process curriculum and where you go with that.
Krissy Pozatek 16:25
Yeah. And like I said, I was very much informed by the wilderness. So just to sort of run through it really quick. I talk about these, like four foundational principles. So number one, is in a wilderness setting or any kind of like treatment setting, the adults are in charge. Right? The adults are there to create the safety, right? So there's not just kids, you know, eight kids running around the wilderness, right, their staff who are trained, who are holding the boundaries, who are setting the schedule and the routine and the structure. Adults being in charge creates what I call a safe container. What's happening in a lot of American homes, adults aren't in charge, kids are in charge. Right? Yeah.
Krissy Pozatek 17:10
Parents are negotiating the home with their child, whereas parents are the ones with the prefrontal cortex development. Parents are the ones that are like, you know, legal adults paying for the mortgage, right? Choosing to be parents, right. But they're negotiating the home with like, they're 812 15, whatever age old their child is, when there's a reason they're minors till 18. Right? They need adult guidance, right. And so, number one in the wilderness, it's just crystal clear, the staff are there for safety and boundaries. And that's what I tell parents to bring into the home you are there for safety and boundaries. I call it stepping into your parental authority. A lot of parents have lost their authority, they want their child to like them, right? They want their child to be happy. They've sort of folded Okay, yeah, you can have this or that. They're not the Guardians anymore, like guarding their child's life to create that safety for them. And so, number one, parents need to bring the safety boundaries into the home and step into I like the word guardian, because it isn't like a legal term, like we get to guard our children's life. Like we have that privilege. Like we're the ones in charge, right? We're the legal guardian. So we get to say like, whether you can be on tech all day, or if I'm going to ask that you're doing an extracurricular after school, because I think it's healthy for you or whatever it is. Right? Right. So that's number one. Number two is emotional attunement. So in the wilderness, we always leaned into emotions. So you know, if a child's sad, we're like, sad is important. Tell me about it. You know, if a child is anxious, we're like, you know, it's okay to be anxious. Like, we'd much rather a child talk about their feeling than act it out. So all feelings were really valued. We were like, angers important. I'm gonna sit down and listen to your anger. We didn't try to fix her change their anger. Yeah, we just held space. If anger became a behaviour, like of anger became like throwing rocks or yelling at the staff, then we'd hold them accountable. But the feeling itself was almost like sacred. Like, this is like what you're feeling this is what you're going through. This is so valid, but what do we do in the home? We want to fix our children's feelings. We want to only feel one feeling happy. Yeah, that's not resilient, right? That's not a resilient or stable place to be. We want kids to learn what I call the A to Z to feelings, where you can feel them all and they're all okay. Right? It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be mad, it's okay to be worried frustrated. So in the wilderness, I really learned that like, we need to value our children's emotions, not fix them, okay. Number three is behavioural boundary. So if their emotion becomes a behaviour, right, if their anger becomes a hole in the wall, or F bombing their parents, right, or if their anxiety becomes school refusal, or whatever it is, we need to hold those safety boundaries, right. We need to hold them accountable, right? Whether it's a losing a privilege, right, like okay, if you're not going to go to school, there's No tech for today, you know, you can't make them go to school, but we can uphold boundaries for safety. You know, if kids are disrespectful, parents can hold their kids accountable in different ways. And so that became crystal clear in the wilderness. Right? The feelings were valued. But if it became a behaviour, they weren't moving forward. Right? They weren't moving forward in the programme. Right? There was accountability.
Casey O'Roarty 20:22
I have a question about that. So I'm a positive discipline person. That's my foundation. And one of the things that we talk a lot about is exploring the belief behind the behaviour. So how do you support parents? Like whether it's back talk or school refusal? Like where is the exploration of his behaviour makes sense? How you guide parents to that place? Instead of leaning on that kind of the if then if you don't do this, then this is what's going to happen? Well,
Krissy Pozatek 20:52
like I said, so number one was being an authority. Number two is valuing the feeling. I call it emotional attunement. So we always have to attune before we hold a boundary. Okay, so a tuning is, you know, your example of if kids are disrespectful, maybe they're feeling dysregulated. Right? They're feeling overwhelmed, right. That's what kids do a lot. Right? They get overwhelmed and dysregulated. Right. And so we want to stop and attune to that first, we want to say so overwhelmed, right? That's an okay feeling and we want to validate. It's okay to be overwhelmed. It's okay to be mad at me. I want to listen, but it's not okay to F bomb me. I call it D shaming. Yeah. Because if you think about punishment, I call it accountability, not punishment, because punishment is saying you're bad. Punishment is aimed at the person, right? We're saying, you know, I'm so disappointed in you, you messed up again, you know, you're in trouble, right? That kind of language. It's about you. It's about the person. So what are we saying? We're saying you're bad, right? That's shame based accountability, right is saying, Hey, your feelings good. You're valid, right? But you made a bad choice. You know, you f bombed me, right? So we're all capable of bad choices. I make bad choices every day. And typically, I'm held accountable, right? Like if I don't buy enough food, or I got distracted or something, and I missed a call, or I can't make dinner tonight, or if I didn't pay a bill, I get a late fee or like accountable in the real world. But a lot of kids parents are afraid of holding their kids accountable. And so kids aren't facing the consequences of their actions, right? If they're F bombing mom, and nothing happens, right? It can feel like they're going to bed with that, you know, you don't when do you feel good? When you like lash out at someone? No, right now. But when there's like a clearing of the slate, like an accountability like Mom, I'm gonna help you with dishes or something, you know, or they're they work through it. Right? It clears the slate. So what I really observe is when kids aren't held accountable, it builds up that sort of negative self worth. Right? So no, absolutely. To go back to your question. Maybe it's a slightly different language. Like, I like what you're saying about talking about the behaviour. And I guess the way I would say it is typically underneath the behaviours of feeling. So you get to the feeling, right? So why are they refusing school because of a feeling because they're overwhelmed, and they're anxious? Like, I'm sure most of us adults, we have to walk through our anxiety every day, right? Like, we have to go to events, and we have to talk to people and we have to make phone calls and write every day we're walking through our anxiety, but a lot of kids if we're not saying anxieties, okay, or struggles, okay? They're like, I can't do that. I can't go to soccer. I can't go to school. I can't, you know, so they're not walking through the feelings.
Casey O'Roarty 23:33
Yeah. And well, and I also wonder, too, and I've where that we haven't gotten to your number four. And so I might be jumping the gun. But there's also that peace, like, even with the backtalk and the F bombs, that curiosity of okay, you're dysregulated, you're going to be dysregulated. Again, like that will happen, you are going to feel angry towards me again. So what are some things that you can do to help yourself in the end, so that you can feel your feelings without, you know, telling me to eff off? Right? So I'm just curious about where you fit that in as well, because I get the accountability. And accountability to me isn't always enough to necessarily teach the skills that they need. It's kind of more to me, like a kind of hopeful like, well, maybe next time, they won't want to have to do the dishes, right. And so they won't, you know, so I'm just wondering how
Krissy Pozatek 24:24
you're saying? Well, I think it's both because we're mirroring the real world. Typically, what I recommend for accountability is more just like losing a privilege briefly, not so much a chore. I don't know, because I just sort of feel like that's But parents are different. I think you should do it. Yeah, that's an eight right?
Krissy Pozatek 24:41
So that's my kind of like, a chore because then we're doing this together. And we're right, you know, be messing with sudsy warm water on her. Yeah, it's like, I feel like that's probably it clears the slate useful then like, give me your phone. Right.
Krissy Pozatek 24:54
Right, right. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think it all varies, but like, I'll just give a personal example sometimes my daughter's get really rude to me, and I'm just gonna say I'm gonna take your phone. And they don't even know they're being rude. They're just in a bad mood. They're just in a bad mood and unloading onto me. And they hand it to me. And guess what, they're more thoughtful of how they talk to me. Okay? And so what I find is boundaries help us regulate because it's skin in the game, when you have to hand your mom your phone. It's skin in the game, right? You actually want that phone. So you're invested in talking to Mom different. So again, if it's not done punitive, we're not doing it, you're bad. We're doing it, hey, I can tell that you're upset. It's okay to be upset. You know, you've talked to me rude enough time, right? You were rude to me and say we're taking a little break from the phone, you know, whatever, 20 minutes, it doesn't even have to be a thing. Right. But the idea is, they stop
Casey O'Roarty 25:45
right and interruption. It sounds like
Krissy Pozatek 25:47
interruption. Because a lot of kids, there's an entitlement, right? They can have all this bad behaviour, but they still get everything. They can lash out at mom, and then they can be demanding. Well, my phone doesn't work. And I want to get on my video game. And i right. So I actually think boundaries help us regulate, right? It's just like, if you know, you're going to be late to work, and you may have a dock in your pay, or you may not whatever it is, right, like you're gonna want to get to work on time. So I think our accountability does inform our choices. Number one, but I also agree with you, you're right, when we are dysregulated. Our thinking brain is not online. Right? And so in those situations, right, we are focusing mostly on the attunement, creating safety, I can see how upset you are right. So we can still say you can't talk to me that way. But maybe have them accountable in that moment. Maybe later, we're gonna say, you know, what, the way you talk to me, you know, like, some parents are like, not gonna have the car tomorrow, you know, or whatever. Like, it's just not, you know, we're gonna take a break, because I started with the juvenile justice system, right? Think of it that way. Yeah. Then you work into high risk kids, right? So for me holding a boundary with like, an eight year old is really minor. It's like, it's small. It's two seconds, but they learn there's limits. They're learning, there's cause and effect. There's consequences to actions. And so no, I understand there's different, like language out there. But I also think there's just from working on the other end of more severe behaviours. I think that we're as a culture, we're so afraid of accountability, we're so afraid of boundaries, because we think it means we're power tripping, that we're being abusive, or we're punishing them. And I actually think founders create safety, honestly, for sure. I work with a dad who I was just worked on, you know, dad, and his son is failure to launch. He's in his late 20s. And he's living in the basement on his tack. And the dad's like, bringing them food back and forth, and just very enabling. And I said to him, do you think it could be a safety issue for him to be down in the basement for like three months, like it hadn't occurred? Because he's afraid they're afraid to have a boundary with him. We forget that boundaries are support because if a boundary could support that kid to make a different choice, it may get him in a new direction. And we'd have to think about how we do boundaries. So so many parents tell me Christy, I'm nice till I'm not nice.
Casey O'Roarty 28:05
Yeah, that pendulum swing, right. Like we don't do bound to anger, right? I
Krissy Pozatek 28:09
got it. Like, we get angry, you know, like, we're human. But it's not an effective boundary and effective boundary is like, Hey, I see you made this choice. So I'm gonna hold you accountable. I'm going to ask you to pay for that thing you broke. Oh, for
Casey O'Roarty 28:21
sure. Yeah, making amends. We call it making amends. Yeah. Okay. And positive discipline. And that looks like, you know, amends to a relationship amends to Yeah, fixing what's broken from a place of really deep curiosity and connection. Yeah. And, of course, yes, please, everyone listening Absolutely. And be clear and be transparent. And I love that safe container and the parental authority, I called the confident like, that internal confident authority, where you know, when parents are like, but I can't get them to do XYZ. It's like, it's an embodiment. It's an energy embodiment that we get to practice, and grow and lean into when we don't need it, so that we can get more familiar with it for those hot moments. I see you, I see that you're struggling. And right now I'm not willing to have this conversation, because it feels hurtful. So let's take a break and come back to it. Absolutely. And I feel like that's about like, that's setting boundaries, too, for me is just like, oh, now's not the time, you're clearly dysregulated. And, you know, I mean, isn't dysregulation, the the root of it all right, like I just feel like at the centre of every poor behaviour, bad decision is some level of dysregulation whether it's elation because you're surrounded by a bunch of other teenagers who are like, this is a great idea, let's all do this thing. Like that's dysregulation just as much as you know, the anger or the sadness or kind of the darker ish, whatever. I don't want to judge emotions. But you know, there dysregulation can look a lot of ways and I think that Yes. I love that emotional attunement. What is number four?
Krissy Pozatek 30:04
So number four is letting kids struggle. Yeah. So if you think about the wilderness, right, the whole premise of wilderness a struggle, we're sending kids to go like sleep on the ground and eat beans and rice and were issued clothing and talk about their feelings. They don't have their tech or their friends or their parents or right so we're literally sending them into what I call Safe struggle. We don't want our kids to have unsafe struggle, and I really sure about that in my books, right? So if it's unsafe, right, like any kind of abuse or content online or substance use or whatever, go be a mama bear, Papa Bear rescue your kid, right? So we can right skew unsay stuff. But a lot of us rescue safe stuff every day, because we don't want our kids to struggle, right? So hard. It's so hard. We were just like, you know, like, how do I fix this? How do I change that, right? But we forget, like wilderness, the whole intent of it was to send kids to an environment for them to struggle, and then to build skills, right, and then to become adaptable, and problem solve and learn resiliency. And that's where I really see the light come back and kids eyes, the light doesn't come back in their eyes. When mom and dad fixes it. The light comes back in their eyes is when they got up and over a rocker boulder on their path. And they navigated it and they figured it out. And they built a skill and they built a competence. So when parents rushed in to fix and change, I mean, I'm a parent, I get it. Sometimes I try to fix and change and you can't right. Sometimes we can't change, right? Like being rejected by a friend or failing at a sport or, or school, right? Or heartbreak. Oh, my heartbreak. But what I see my daughter's like, whatever, like you get graded as a parent like I'm an empath I feel at all. But I see my daughters when they go through really hard things. Like they come out the other side, like they learned something, they got something that was like, good, right. So we forget, as parents that through all these obstacles that kids have to get up and over, they're building a skill. They're building, you know, an internal resource, they're navigating things. And at the same time, parents are like, I want my child to mature, right? They're like, I want my child. But I want to remove all their struggle and all the consequences of their actions. And you can't have both, right?
Casey O'Roarty 32:12
Yeah, I call it the backpack. Like whenever my kids go through something, I'm like, I'm so glad that you had this experience. Because now you get to put it in your back pocket. And the next time you're up against a choice or a decision or, you know, a judgement call. You're collecting experiences that can support you in ever better decision making that's in alignment with who you are, like, you know, whether it's the struggle or their own mistakes or all of that. Yes, absolutely. And we swoop in even with like, Yeah, I mean, there's so many things that we do that kind of nip things in the bud or like even when we come in strong, and all of a sudden, they don't have to think about the mistake they made because all they're thinking about is what a psychopath. We are right, right, right. And I know because I come from a line of women that AR can fly off the handle. So that is my personal work that I've been practising since mine very little is just like keeping it together. Because yeah, I want them to sit with, like you said, the consequences, the outcomes of their choices, instead of bypassing it so that they can just be pissed at me
Krissy Pozatek 33:20
or blame you. Right? Right. And that's the other thing. So a lot of parents when they're in mashed, right, the parents are tasked with child's emotions and the child's problems on their lap. And so kids, kids can check out. It's get apathetic kids become dependent and you know, are more checked out. So then they can blame Mom, if everything's not going right, or they can blame mom for all their problems. And that's why part of this maturation process, we have to hand their emotions back to them, we have to handle our problems back to them. We have to say, oh, my gosh, that's so upsetting. And back. What do you think you'll do? Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that seems like a really big problem. Hand it back. How do you think you'll navigate it? Yeah. So they need us to mirror back to them, they need us to see it, they need us to, you know, we need to be important witnesses in their lives. We're not helping them build any skills if we're solving and fixing and directing everything. And that, as you know, probably is hard as a parent to sit on our hands. But I think that, you know, this is what I mean, there was no parent in the wilderness, right? There was no, so we have to learn to know that parenting is an action, but it's also an inaction. It's also a holding space for them to struggle. So we have to let kids struggle and it's funny, I was just doing a parent call. And the dad said to me, because he wants to like solve everything. And he said to me, what if he doesn't know what to do? Like, what if I back off and he doesn't know what to do? Right? That's so scary. And I was like, I'm struggling with it. Because if you're owning at all, he's not going to learn so we have to hand it to him. How do we learn everything because we have to, right? It's like starting a new job or going to college or whatever we have to like figure it out. You know, and that's where you dig deep and you you figure you know, we put kids in disc Comfort. We put kids in struggle. And you know, I'm like, I know it's summer right now kids are getting sent to summer camps, right? It's uncomfortable. It's overwhelming. They're homesick, whatever. And it's like, it's okay to struggle. It's okay to have safe struggle, the kids are safe. Let them have their feelings, right, let them navigate. They don't know how to do things. That's okay. They'll figure it out. So if we actually value struggle, right, which is the opposite, right? If we've value safe struggle, right, like one of my daughters is switching schools, right? She had a situation that required switching schools. It's okay. Right? letting them go through that, because we know there's growth and maturation on the other end. So the valium struggles number four. So if you bring all those four ingredients together, right, that being in your parental authority, tuning to their emotions, holding behavioural boundaries, and valuing struggle, what we just saw as kids magically shift, and that's what you can parents can bring into the home. And I think that, you know, we all have edges, right. Some of us are good at holding boundaries. But we're really bad at attunement, some of us are good at attunement, but we don't want to let our kids struggle, right. So we have to find our edge and, you know, integrate that.
Casey O'Roarty 36:08
Yeah. Do you have any quick tips for parents? Like I'm thinking about that dad that you were talking to earlier? And that physical experience that we have? That is really the reason that so many of us are a meshed? Do you have any tips on how to pull away like, how to Animesh? Yes, well, like in the body? Yeah, moment. Yeah,
Krissy Pozatek 36:32
I actually ran on and mesh in class this spring. And it was all like, almost like a meditation. We did it. We met every day for 15 days. And it was like, an awareness practice. So some of it is coming in, into the present moment. Right? Yeah. So one of the things I teach is like, and again, this is probably thinks, you know, too, but like, I can feel my feet on the ground. You know, I'm sitting in the chair, I can hear a car outside, I can feel my breath, I can, you know, just grounding. And then I'm aware, I feel anxiety, I'm aware that my child is struggling, and I'm overwhelmed. I'm aware that so you just keep doing the awareness over and over and over and over. So rather than going into the thought and into the feeling, you know, meaning getting hooked into it. Yep. You're like, I'm aware that I'm angry right now, because my child disrespected me or I'm aware that my child is struggling, and I'm overwhelmed. I'm aware that it's triggering my being overwhelmed. You know, when I was rejected as a kid, because anxiety or in measurement is brutal, like I've been enmeshed with my daughters in different ways. It's not a fun place to be. It doesn't feel good. I mean, the problem is, when you're close, and you're fixing everything, sometimes you feel like I'm the best mom ever. You know, it's funny. I wrote brave teaching with a co author, who's also a teacher, she found my work. And she said, Chris, he was the best mom in the world, because I didn't really think. And I was totally codefendant. And then, but he didn't have any skills, he wouldn't go brush his teeth alone, he wouldn't ride his bike around the block. Right, right. And so she started saying to him, I can see that you're really overwhelmed. She just started, she didn't even do any boundaries yet. She just said, I see that you're really overwhelmed. How do you want to navigate it? Mm hmm. So he'd have his math and want to give out, I can see that you're overwhelmed. So she didn't jump in and fix and change anything? Yeah. And so she just sat with him. And she didn't say anything. She just mirrored back the feeling. And then he'd be like, I'll try it this way. He started solving. And then she said, by the end of the summer, he was like, going upstairs, he was riding his bike around the neighbourhood. So she brought it into her school, which is what brave teaching is. Because she's like, I fix all my D students, and then they fall apart when the sun comes, right? Because we all have a lot of codependent tendencies where we think if I fix everything, like I'm the best person, I'm the best mom ever. I'm the best teacher ever. But actually, it's not. Right. Well, it's control. Really, right. It's control. Right? Well, it's
Casey O'Roarty 38:59
the illusion of control. I mean, right, exactly. The illusion that it's easier, right? Oh, it'll just be easier. If I just do it. It's easier if I just fix it. I get to stay feeling okay. If I can make sure that you feel okay. Right. I love that. It comes back to that meditation, stillness, awareness. You know, for me, I talked about growing our outside observer, like without that, even when parents are like, Oh my gosh, I totally lost it on my kids. And I knew I was losing it. And I just couldn't stop and I celebrate, like, in the moment you recognise what you're doing while you're doing it. Awesome. Yeah, then we've got a place we've got a place to start, right? Because that awareness inside of the moment, like you said, pulling out of the moment and looking at it. I mean, that's go time. That's where we can shift and make different choices for sure.
Krissy Pozatek 39:55
Right, because if you do it a million times, you're like, I don't know if I want to blow up right now. Right because Right wareness grows and grows and grows. And Absolutely.
Casey O'Roarty 40:03
Right. Okay, Christy, I could talk to you for a really long time. I'm so excited to dive deeper into your work. Is there anything else you want to make sure that we leave listeners with today, before we wrap? Maybe it
Krissy Pozatek 40:17
would just be helpful to share like the other side of enmeshment? Like, what is that? Right? Totally. Because, you know, in measurement, a lot of parents are afraid to leave it, right? Because they're like, you know, I know everything my child needs, or I need to be the one that does everything, right. And, you know, at the same time, when parents aren't matched, they're actually not close to their kids. Because what I observe over and over and over, is they know how to make their favourite pizza. Or they say, Mom, they, you know, kids will tell them, I need new jeans, and I need this and I need that, right. So parents are good at meeting the needs. But kids don't share their inner world when they're in meshed. Because guess what mom's going to take it on, or dad's gonna take it on, they're not sharing their innermost world. They're only sharing what they need, what they want what the parent did wrong. Can you do this for me? Can you drive me here? Right? They're not sharing their inner self, because the parent is going to take it on. And so what I see on the other side of enmeshment, is when parents tell me, you know, and it's amazing. And parents told me like Chrissy I, you know, I'm not fixing, I'm not changing, I'm listening, you know, I'm validating I'm holding space, I'm holding boundaries, right? You know, and again, I'm working with a population of kids coming home from treatment, they're like, you know, maybe getting back into substances, so they're holding their boundaries, but they're not fixing and changing, the parents will tell me, Oh, my gosh, my child just wants to go for drives and talk to me, because it's safe. Because the parents not going to take it on their lap. The parents just gonna listen. And at the end of the day, kids want to be seen, right? They want to be seen and heard, they want their inner self to be seen and heard. And that's what I really see is when parents get to the other side, kids want to be with their parents. And yeah, there's boundaries. Because if a kid disrespects mom every day, and mom's like, Okay, we're on a, you know, no Snapchat. So we get this many days without disrespect. Or say they do something like that, which I've done when they come home from treatment, because they're learning to regulate tech again. Snapchats a little further out, you know, kids realise I can't just disrespect mom every day. And then they're like, I want to go to lunch. Can we go for a hike? Yeah. And it's so I just want to share that for parents that are caught in these enmeshed patterns. You know, you can get to the other side. And actually, I call that real closeness because it's sharing, right? That's the glue in the parent child relationship. The glue isn't just meeting our kids needs, although I know we all want to meet our kids needs. But we also want that sharing and then we have to be done enough work in ourselves that we can sit with their Shang, good or bad they might be sharing right? Hey, right.
Casey O'Roarty 42:51
That's what I say to it's like, Hey, you're asking for this open, honest relationship with your teenager. You better be ready. Yes. Because, you know, that means open honesty is tough to hear. Right? It can be really tough to hear. I know, that's been my experience where I'll say, my kids will say, I have to tell you something, because it's always after the fact that I hear the things like okay, let me feel my feet. That's one of my tools. Like, on my feet, I'm going to strong backs off front. All right, let's hear it. Let me witness you. Right. And, you know, sometimes I can't believe what I'm listening to.
Krissy Pozatek 43:29
It's cool. It sounds like there's a lot of crossover
Casey O'Roarty 43:32
to where there is that there is and the you know, in measurement is I feel like always right there on the just right on my peripheral. Like, I'm always paying attention to that because I quickly get lured in. And so I'm grateful for people like you.
Krissy Pozatek 43:47
And I think like today, like a lot of the sort of gentle, there's all these different parenting philosophies, the gentle or like, never have a boundary or, you know, I think that there's a measurement their parents are trying to always make them happy. Right, always fix everything. I mean, I think their intentions are good. So I you know, it's like, obviously, we want to be gentle and loving and all of that, but so much often there's a merging, we've raised our pain, yeah, we're actually at our pain because we don't want them ever to have pain. And versus just letting our kids have their experience letting them feel letting them face the consequences of their actions, which is where they're going to mature, letting them be disappointed. And then we say it's okay to have all these feelings. And I'm, you know, and have that attunement to them.
Casey O'Roarty 44:35
Yeah. Well, my last question that I asked everyone, all of my guests is what is joyful courage mean to you?
Krissy Pozatek 44:43
It's so funny when I read this before I had an answer. Now, what's my answer? I think just being your most authentic self. You know where you are. speaking your truth, you're aligning with what resonates with you. You're Saying hard things, you know, you're just Yeah, being honest speaking your truth being your most authentic self, not just trying to be liked or trying to fit in, or whatever it is, right. Yeah. And I think that's in life. But I also think that's in parenting because kids when we speak our truth, and we're in our power, kids feel that, you know, and my kids now are 16 and 19 just turned 19. And so it's cool to see all the things they've embodied, you know, yeah, from, you know, I think just having that more sort of authentic parenting where you're like, in your truth, you're in your power your Yep. You know, and like the language you use, like confident, confident, authority, competent authority. Like I love that. Yeah, exactly. It's so powerful. So,
Casey O'Roarty 45:46
thank you, Well, where can people find you and follow your work?
Krissy Pozatek 45:50
So my website is www dot parallel dash process.com. I have three courses, one called Transform your parenting, which is for more if you have a child in treatment, right? I have brave parenting, which is more just building your child's resiliency. And then I have this on admission class. And then I also have an ongoing subscription like group parenting coaching class, so if you want to come on and ask parenting questions, and then yeah, I have my books that you said they're on my website as well. I don't have to go over all of them. But yeah,
Casey O'Roarty 46:25
yeah. And I'll listeners have all the links to socials in the website in the show notes. Chrissy thank you so much for spending time with me today.
Krissy Pozatek 46:34
Thank you so much for inviting me and I love the podcast. Thanks for what you do.
Casey O'Roarty 46:46
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at bees profitable.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace