Eps 451: From power struggles to connection with Ed Center

Episode 451

My guest today is Ed Center, and today we’re talking about how power shows up while parenting teens.  

Ed kicks off our conversation sharing how his childhood and parenting experience led him to finding Positive Discipline, and how & where cultural wisdom and cultural trauma affect our parenting.  Ed and I talk about how hard it is to pause and access our Positive Discipline tools in the moment when you are pissed, and why those moments & gaps are so important.  Ed brings it back to Alfred Adler’s belonging & significance, shares a reminder that teens are craving additional autonomy, power, & significance, and explains that negative attention is significance, too.  We talk about Ed’s blog post & metaphor, “Your attention is the sun,” and we agree on the effectiveness of the “when, then, walk” strategy.  Ed and I dig into what can stop positive parenting strategies from working and what threatens our connection with our kids (spoiler: screens aren’t helping!). 

Guest Description

Ed Center was a kid with big feelings and impulsive behaviors. He drove his parents and teachers bonkers. Now he helps grown-ups understand and support these kids. Ed is a queer brown dad who coaches parents, educators, and kid-raisers toward greater connection, calm, and joy. He focuses on the needs of families of color, helping people to tap into cultural wisdom while interrupting intergenerational pain.

Community is everything!

Join our community Facebook groups:

Takeaways from the show

  • Passing on cultural wisdom
  • Not passing on cultural trauma 
  • How do we access our Positive Discipline strategies when we are pissed off!? 
  • Your kids can build new skills when they are feeling secure in their belonging & significance 
  • Teens who are secure in their belonging with you start seeking belonging from other sources 
  • Adolescents are craving additional autonomy, power, significance without accountability or repercussions 
  • “Negative attention is significance” 
  • “Your attention is the sun” metaphor & mantra 
  • When, then, & walk 
  • “Wisdom and love are slow”

What does joyful courage mean to you

I was thinking about this question because I realized that it was very powerful because it helped me realize that lately I’ve been seeing courage as something that I’ve been doing without a lot of joy.  I’ve been wading into the muck or the difficulty or taking on things that are hard, and it’s been more connected to a sense of fear, or challenge, or resilience.  The question reminded me is that I think I’m the most successful in joyful courage when I trust my kids.  When things are difficult and the outcomes are unsure, and I think I know more, but I say, “Okay.  You seem like you’re making a decision from the best of your experience, and I’m going to trust you in that.  And if it doesn’t go right, I’m still going to get your back.”  I think some of the best things that have happened in connection – in choosing schools to choosing after-school activities or where we want to go for vacation, all of those things, or even what do we want to do on a rainy sunday.  Those things happen when I really trust my kids, and it’s a reminder to keep doing that because I forget.  So thank you for that question.  



The Village Well 

Village Well Parenting on Instagram

Ed on TikTok 

“Your Attention is the Sun” by Ed Center

Subscribe to the Podcast

We are here for you

Join the email list

Join our email list! Joyful Courage is so much more than a podcast! Joyful Courage is the adolescent brand here at Sproutable. We bring support and community to parents of tweens and teens. Not a parent of a teen or tween? No worries, click on the button to sign up to the email list specifically cultivated for you: Preschool, school-aged, nannies, and teachers. We are here for everyone who loves and cares for children.

I'm in!

Classes & coaching

I know that you love listening every week AND I want to encourage you to dig deeper into the learning with me, INVEST in your parenting journey. Casey O'Roarty, the Joyful Courage podcast host, offers classes and private coaching. See our current offerings.


parents, kids, kiddo, family, work, school, love, great, experience, teens, impulsive behaviors, talk, teenagers, life, attention, walk, moment, autonomy, homework, meltdown
Casey O'Roarty, Ed Center

Casey O'Roarty 00:03
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 Sproutsocial. 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 01:26
Hi, listeners. Welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Ed Center. Edie was a kid with big feelings and impulsive behaviors. He drove his parents and teachers bonkers. And now he helps grownups understand and support the kind of kid that he was. Ed is a queer brown dad who coaches parents, educators and Kid razors towards greater connection, calm and joy. He focuses on the needs of families of color, helping people to tap into cultural wisdom while interrupting intergenerational pain. We're gonna dive into how power shows up while parenting teens and tweens. I am so excited to welcome him to the podcast. Hi, Ed.

Ed Center 02:10
I'm so excited to be here. I'm still a person with big feelings and impulsive behaviors. But I'm gonna do my best not to have a meltdown on your show today. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 02:20
Oh, great. Hey, listen, it might actually serve we can like in the moment in real life yet our tools to use. So start off a little bit about filling in your story of how you found yourself doing what you do in the world today.

Ed Center 02:35
Yeah, so I've worked with youth and families since I was a youth myself. And my first job was as a high school teacher. I think you were a teacher also for a while.

Casey O'Roarty 02:46
Is that true? A million years ago, I was Yeah, I think I have a little more

Ed Center 02:50
than your a million years on me. So also a million years ago as a high school teacher. And they stayed in education after that experience working in after school programs and teacher training and philanthropy. And in the broad range of children and families. What really brought me into positive discipline into this field is, of course, my own story. So my husband and I adopted two kiddos from foster care. And as you know, kids from foster care come with some baggage, and it's not always matched Louis Vuitton when they come. And so our kids are amazing, and no exception. They have some early childhood trauma that manifests in some of their challenges and behavior. So we were muddling along through our little queer family life. And then when the pandemic hit, and we went to virtual schooling, things started to get more and more difficult with my older kiddo who was nine at the time. And in retrospect what I can see what's happening was that his trauma, if you think of it, like corn kernels, the pandemic was the right heat and pot and oil to make that pop. But what that particularly looked like was virtual learning was a shit show. Yeah, he has some neuro diversities and learning differences, which are not that big of a deal in in person schooling, so ADHD, dyslexia, but virtual learning was never gonna go well for him. But I was an educator. So I was like, I will keep him on track. I will keep him focused. Actually, I need to correct myself. I am older kiddo is going by them now. So they were really struggling but I was gonna keep them on track. And that just created these power struggles that neither of us knew how to back ourselves out of. In addition to that, we've been blessed with an extended family chosen and actual that has really supported us until we were disconnected from those folks. And then we were all insured. Terror, right. And so those things are just too much pressure for my kiddo. And they started acting out in really challenging ways. I'm not going to get into all the specifics, because that's their story to tell. Sure. But I will say that the episodes are incredibly big and aggressive. And what that did to me was my own cultural wiring, the tools that I've learned from my own parents say that when your kiddo is being big and aggressive, it's disrespect. It's pushing against your boundaries, and you must shut down, threaten, hold power, all of those things, right. And so even as I could see that my reactions were making their mental health worse. I couldn't stop. And so what ended up happening is one, we got great support for them, an amazing team of therapists, counselors, et cetera, et cetera, who would come and help regulate and help restore his mental health. But I knew I needed something

Casey O'Roarty 06:08
that in and of itself is amazing, because I was looking for mental health support up here. And it is not easy to find, as far as weightless and things like that. We're the

Ed Center 06:18
only family I know who has the story with the how, yeah, that's amazing. And so shout out to Edgewood and Seneca centers in San Francisco who really came through for my family. And so they got that support. But I knew I needed a different set of tools. And they needed a different way of parenting because my skills were not meeting the moment. And so I went out and researched and I found the broad field of positive discipline, positive parenting, conscious parenting, gentle parenting, all of those things, right. Yeah. And a lot of it resonated with me from my teaching background. Because I was a master relationship builder. As a teacher, I don't know if I actually taught my kids any English, which is what it's teaching, right? But Darn it, I could build the relationships,

Casey O'Roarty 07:05
right. That's how I feel, too. They liked come into school. And

Ed Center 07:09
I did have a lot of kids with trauma, and neurodiversity, and they could get them to do great things, because of the connection I have with them. Right? That's where the positive discipline really resonated with me. But there were also pieces that were struggles for me. And so one is, I was so triggered when my kiddo was aggressive, and I would get aggressive that I couldn't access the tools. Yeah, and I don't feel like the field in general pays enough attention to Okay, mom, dad, auntie, uncle, grandma, here is how you hold it together. Right? Yeah, when things are really challenging. So that's one. And then the second piece was there's a lot of assumptions of white culture, mono culture class, Side Story, a parenting educator, who I actually think is really good, put out this story about a family she was working with. And in the pandemic, they retreated to Tahoe. And the struggle that they were having was that their kiddo was skiing all morning, and then it was hard to get them back inside to be able to do homework in the afternoon. Now I can have appreciation for a lot of people's difficulties. But when I was in my 1100 square foot apartment with two kids and a mental health issue, trying to do online learning, it was like, I really don't give a shit about their skiing issue.

Casey O'Roarty 08:35
Up there in Colorado. And

Ed Center 08:37
so that's the most obvious one, right? But what I needed is to see my cultural background, talked to in this and so I felt like my kid was acting out that I could hear the voices of my ancestors in my head and my mom in real time saying smack them ate this down, contain this, this is a threat, stifle, right, and that is not cultural wisdom. That is survival. Right? Yeah. So I went on this process to understand that we all have cultural wisdom from generations back that we want to bring to our family. So for me, that's cousins as your first best friends that Sunday suffers accepts, we're gay. So we made it branch. Right, that is service to your community, loyalty to family, but there are also traumas that we inherit from our family, and they can feel like mandates, right, hold authority to not let your kid talk back all of these things, but they're actually not healthy. Yeah, right. And so the process that I had to go through and now in the communities of color that I work with, is to be able to understand that wisdom and trauma are not the same and we all have them and how do we separate them and really lean into our traditions and interrupt those wounds that we're carrying. And so that's become a signature of the work that I do with families. Now.

Casey O'Roarty 10:13
I love that I've had actually a couple of guests on the show that have really helped me open my eyes around the experience of other people, people that are different than me, Yolanda Williams, she Do you know, Yolanda, she's amazing. And Leslie Priscilla, from Latin ex parenting, you know, when you talk about those mandates, right, that impulsive, like, shut it down. It's so interesting to listen to that and learn about the context of where that comes from, which is like life or death, you know, and colonialism, and you know, slavery, and you some people of color had to be sure that their kids stayed in line, so that the people in power, you know, wouldn't be the ones to rip those kids out of their families or hurt them abused them. And so I always appreciate it when I have people come on and talk from that lens, because my listenership, I'm guessing is predominantly white. And so it's helpful for all of us to recognize those layers that exist and families that live down the street live next door live upstairs. So thank you for sharing your experience.

Ed Center 11:29
A couple of responses to that. So one, that white people have traumatic backgrounds to? Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. So like, a lot of these tools and approaches are the same. So I've worked with many folks of different ethnic backgrounds who really struggle to let go of an idea that if I give my kid an inch, they may take a mile, right? So I can't let my kid do these behaviors. And moving to the place of, it's really important that we hold our boundaries. I'm absolutely not saying that we don't have expectations and standards for saying that if you're triggered and your kids triggered, that you're not teaching the lessons that they need to hold their own boundaries, right. And so how do we do that? And that's a whole different question.

Casey O'Roarty 12:21
Yeah. And I think something that is universal for parents, is that instinctive reaction, is it coming from that place of conditioning, whatever that looks like, for me, for you for somebody else? Or is it that wise guide, who's saying like, Oh, here's an opportunity to make sure that we are holding, teaching, exploring a boundary in a really healthy way in a useful way. Absolutely. So we're going to talk about power. Okay. I'm so glad that you have your high school teacher background. So you've had many a teenager in your life I

Ed Center 13:02
have and I'm really good with other people's teenagers.

Casey O'Roarty 13:07
I know I laugh about that with my clients. I'm always let they're like, oh, man, I wish he lived on my shoulder. I'm like, wow, I probably less helpful on your shoulder than I am in this phone call. So let's keep it real about that.

Ed Center 13:20
I have a tween now. So my oldest is 12. And the other day, I told them to brush their teeth, and the screamed and slammed the door. And I was like, Oh, welcome puberty. We're here, aren't we?

Casey O'Roarty 13:34
Yeah. Hi. You're not alone. Welcome to the club. Yeah, and there's so many different ways, like it can show up like that it can show up more steadily. You know, before we hit record, you had mentioned how much autonomy like autonomy than the desire. These weren't your words. But you know, how toddlers and teens have so much in common basically, right? Autonomy, again, is in full development during the teen years, which is fertile soil for power dynamics to show up after all of these years, all of these like school age years where parents are under this illusion, everyone it is an illusion, that we've got it under control, and then they move into individuation and teen brain development. And we realize like, oh, wow, I love it when I get to that point with clients where they're like, oh, so I actually I don't have any control. Like, kind of reframe how you're thinking about this for sure. Yeah, right. And you've been through challenging times. You've been in the gauntlet with your child. I've been in the gauntlet with my kiddos and talked about this a lot on the pod how we be with our kids through those challenging times. Whether it looks like a mental health breakdown or defiance or you know, disrespect. I feel like that makes sense. difference with what unfolds in the after. Write how we be with it in the moment versus how it looks in the afternoon, it can feel scary, right? It can feel scary what our kids are doing, especially our older teens, but also some of our younger twins, thinking about you and others who are just stepping into the wild world of adolescence. And there is this instinct to how can I shut this down? I feel like and something I try to work with parents around is being in that moment. And like you said, there's not a lot of conversation around. Okay, great. Yeah, be in the moment and validate them. But how do I navigate how pissed I am? Yeah, right. Like, that's the gap. Right? We can talk about the gap. But first, I want to talk about just in those moments, really what our kiddos need, is to feel seen and validated and not for us to become emotionally triggered by the door slamming or this wearing, what are your thoughts around that.

Ed Center 15:57
So as a framework for thinking about working with all kids, we've talked about, and I've heard you talked about on the podcast before the importance of belonging and significance. Right, that goes back to Dr. Adler. And so I think that's so important. One of the things that I remind parents is that when your kiddo is secure in their belonging, and their significance, that then they are open to building the skills towards productive behavior, right. So just because they're secure, doesn't mean they're able to navigate a transition, or to deal with a heartbreak or the overwhelm of too much homework. Right? Right. And so our ultimate goal is to provide them with that sense of security so that we can then build their skills. And then we need to do that in non triggered moments. And what that looks like is different for every kid, right? Because if it was a one size fit all you and I would not have jobs. Right? So I remind parents that if you've done a great job as a parent, your kid can be secure in their belonging with you. And now they're looking for belonging for more external resources, peer group, other adults who aren't you? Right? And that can be very hard. But it's important for us to have our kids connected to aunties, uncles, mentors, great teachers, coaches, right. So yeah, they can find that support, and that they will also go looking for significance in ways that are very inconvenient for us. Right. And so in general that and this is a overgeneralization. teenagers want increased autonomy, increased power, increased significance, without accountability or repercussions, right. So we can see because we have life experience at our brains are more developed, we can see that if possible, if that's right. If you don't do this homework, if you don't go to school, if you hang out with this wrong crowd, these are the possibilities and then we can get concerned about those. But figuring out the right framework, where we are giving our teenagers the opportunity to have more autonomy, to make mistakes, to have natural consequences. That will not be long term consequences. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah. How we not control but how we nudge their decision making and create containers for their learning is the job of parents and the community, adult community raising teenagers. And that's the really hard piece to do. Yeah, right. So for example, I was coaching a parent of a 13 year old yesterday, and his daughter is not going to school. She's refusing to go to school, she's sleeping really late. And she seems to have kind of lost passion for many things that were interesting.

Casey O'Roarty 19:06
That sounds very familiar. Yes.

Ed Center 19:08
And so I said, Do you think she might be depressed? And he said, Yes. And her therapist says that, and he said, Okay, the school refusal was a symptom of the Depression, right? It's not the main issue. And so we want to focus there, and he said, but if I let her off the hook, then right and so it's this and I said, You're inviting yourself in for a power struggle. Right? And so point number one, you've got to tackle the depression with her therapist. Yeah, point number two. She's feeding off the negative attention that you're giving her right and so when she refuses to go to school, all the adults in her life freakout. Yeah, getting all of this negative attention. Remember, negative attention is significance. Right?

Casey O'Roarty 19:56
Oh, tell me more about that. Let's pick up then and that, okay, come back to that because I have not heard those words together before and I want to dig into that. Okay,

Ed Center 20:06
we can go into that now. Okay, so what I mean by that is, if I do a challenging behavior, and my parents freak out about it scream ground to me, all of these things, subconsciously, I have just become the center of their universe. Right? When my older kiddo was in their mental health crisis, they were the son of where on which our family orbited? Yes, right. It took me a long, long time when people would say, How are you doing? For me not to respond first with how my kiddo was doing? Yes. Right. And so all of this attention, the feed off of it in subconscious ways, right? Sure, sure, say that. They want you screaming at them. But all of a sudden, they are the center of the world again, they know

Casey O'Roarty 20:51
they matter.

Ed Center 20:52
Right. And so with teenagers, and particularly with neurodiverse, spirited those with impulsive behaviors, right, to be able to hold the boundary in a calm way and give as little energy to the behavior as possible, is what starts to correct that behavior. Right. And so my counsel to this dad, which I've seen work in other cases, and worked in ours, right? Is if you refuse to go to school, okay? There's really nothing I can do about that. Because you're a teenager. And so you can choose to stay home, there will be no phone, there will be no Wi Fi, there will be no TV, I will make your late I don't say this, right. But I'm going to make your life as boring as possible. Sure, right. And so that you're actually not getting of that significance through negative behavior. And then when you do go to school, then we bring in, I'm so excited. You went to school today. Why was you successful? Let's go for ice cream tonight. Right? And so we're piling on with the positive behavior. And so that's what I mean with that negative attention. Increased significance. And so we want to be careful about doing that.

Casey O'Roarty 22:07
Yeah. And how does that address like what you were saying to the father around the depression? Yeah. Because it's one thing to just be a kid and be like, Man, I'm not gonna go to school, and there's really nothing going on under the surface, then that becomes a useful tool, like, Okay, well, how can I make being at home? Not that fun? Yeah, right. Versus I can't, because I've got, you know, and that was something that came up in my household was debilitating anxiety. Mm hmm. And it didn't matter how boring it was at home. Yeah. Yeah. You know, there was no work around the anxiety. Right? Yeah. I love thinking about that metaphor of the sun. Mm hmm. I think that's really important. And I appreciate that mattering reframe that you gave me. It's interesting. I heard this phrase one time that has stuck with me, I can't remember exactly where it came from. But that children long for connection, and that they will settle for attention. So attention becomes kind of like the cheap knockoff, that they're willing, if that's what I got to live with. That's what I got to live with, again, out of consciousness. Yeah. So it's just really an interesting exploration around the conversation around attention. Positive, negative attention versus connection. Yeah,

Ed Center 23:33
that's a really powerful phrase. And I love to have me like reflecting right now on what does attention look like with my kids? And what just connection? And yeah, what is, you know, genuine and real and fully being present? And what is, you know, giving them the bare minimum or actually giving attention to negative behaviors that I don't want to give attention to? Right. It's such a powerful. Yeah, I want to go back to what I said about the dad, because you highlighted a really important area that I just realized now that I did in that coaching session. Yeah. Is that I told him 10 times, right, that you've got to tackle the depression first. Yeah. And his worldview and framework couldn't get there. Yeah. Right. And so I was throwing what I think is kernels of amazing wisdom, right? Sure. I'm sure it was ad against a brick wall. Right. Yeah. Who didn't hear it? Right. Yeah. And so what I did was pivot. And this, like I said, I'm realizing it now. So it was kind of an intuitive thing. This ain't working. What am I going to try? And so instead, I gave him some strategies to support his daughter in a way that would not create power struggles. Sure, sure. And take away the power struggles. Yeah, drop the rope. Exactly. And so that it can at least make things easier in the household. Yeah, if he does that, and that works right, then great, they will have solutions to this issue. If he does that, and it doesn't work, then I'm hoping that that is additional proof that his daughter needs. Yes. Better support. Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah. Because when I talked about some of the possibilities of what you can do with kids with depression, medications, EMDR.

Casey O'Roarty 25:35
Yeah. DBT is where

Ed Center 25:36
we went, stands that he was very closed off. Right. And so I feel like the pathway that I took in at least that session, yeah, yeah, I have a different way of treating this symptom. Yeah. And that will give us more information for the future. Yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 25:51
yeah. I love that. It reminds me we do a process in positive discipline called Parent helping parents in our classes. And it's, uh, you know, one parent brings up a scenario and we roleplay it, and it's like a group, think around what are possible solutions. And when I train new parent educators in the process, you know, everybody wants to know, well, what happens when they choose something that is punitive and not really positive discipline? You know, then we get to say like, okay, great, we're gonna ask how it went next week, right? And usually, it's like, ah, it was a disaster. Okay, great. You have this whole list, what's something else you want to try? Right? I love that. Edie. And what I hear in you talking about this experience with your client, is a real respect for and meeting people where they're at. Right. And I think as coaches as parent coaches, I can speak for myself, sometimes there is that moment of like, come on, like you're not seeing it, you know, and I think it's really important to hold our clients, as we are expecting them to hold their kids, which is like, Okay, how far can they see? What is their perspective? How can I sit inside of their shoes and see through their eyes, and then from that place, you know, meet them where they're at, and offer some solutions to practice and try and so I just really like that. So you also wrote a blog post that I was checking out today that I really liked. And it uses this metaphor about the sun. And I love a good mantra, I love a good like, what can you put in your back pocket to remind you to help you to guide you in those moments when you are activated or triggered and like logic has left the building, you are the son is such a beautiful mantra for parents to remember the choice that they have, when it comes to the message that we're sending. So talk a little bit about you are the son.

Ed Center 27:51
Yeah. So this has been a really powerful metaphor for my folks of color clients, who often come from both a cultural background and a history with wounds, right, because of poverty, carnal sensation, etcetera, etcetera, where the desire to threatened punish control is very strong. Right. And so what I offer is, your attention is the sun, what you shine it on will flourish. Right? And so how can we think about, what do we want to shine our light on? And so first of all, it's our children on their own, right, like giving that joy being present, whether that's a special time, or whether that is just putting our damn phones away, and making sure that we have time to connect and really be present and play. Right. And I feel very blessed that both of my kids, including my 12 year old are still very much eager to play with us. And that is a superpower of mine. Right? So I can turn a meltdown into a pillow fight into calmness pretty quickly. Yeah, if I stay regulated, right. Right. Right. Right. So that is one just giving really shining on our kids because they deserve it as the amazing humans they are. And then the second piece is, how do we shine our attention on the behaviors that we want in our house versus the behaviors that we don't, because we can spend a lot of time giving our attention to the negative? And that's especially easy if you have challenging teenagers, right? Yeah. And again, that will fill their significance bucket, even as it creates more challenging relationships in the house. Yeah, right. And so an easy example that I use, right is instead of nagging our kids about homework, instead of threatening them with consequences if they don't do their homework, it can be as simple as when you finish your homework show me. And then I would love to drive you to go get that ice cream take you to your friend's house, we haven't played a board game in a while, what are the things that you want to do or even like, let you have your video game time, right? And then walk away, and then they are empowered to make a choice, right? And you are not in the power struggle. Now, it also means that if they choose not to do your homework, you don't get to go back and threaten them, right? That's the consequence. You've already seen it before. Yeah, there won't be board game video game time driving to the mall. But you've set that up, and you can let them have the authority and autonomy to make that decision. Because again, we're building skills. Right? We're building a really powerful skill, which is to delay gratification. Right? And how many adults do we know suck at that? I suck at that half the time.

Casey O'Roarty 31:02
Me too. My hands up too, right? Yes. And

Ed Center 31:05
so we're building that skill with our kids, but a power struggle is not going to build that skill.

Casey O'Roarty 31:10
Okay. So you know, I think a lot of us have heard of the when then. Yeah, right. I love that you add when then walk? Oh, yeah, I say and then you turn and burn nice, you know, when we stand there, it's just an invitation for negotiation, or back and forth or push back. And I also really appreciate what I think is so important, is, you know, when then is really stating your own boundary, there's a positive discipline tool called, decide what you will do, and follow through, right. And what I really want you listeners to hear Ed say, is that piece around, and if and when they don't follow through, your only job is to hold up your end of the bargain, right? It's not blame, shame, and humiliate them into it, because the quote tool didn't quote, work, it's around letting that go. I don't know about you, but every time I like, there's certain things that I'm trying to get ever better at articulating. And that keeps coming up. And that piece around having a kid who's really like, there is a big challenge, whether it's school, or substance use or just isolation screen, there's I mean, we could do a whole list of things. And it becomes so centered in our relationship. And when I think about, you know, where am I going to shine my light, like, our kids are whole humans, right? Their whole humans, and so to neglect all the other parts of them, because you're so freaked out, you know, and you get to be freaked out, that's okay. But you're so hyper focused on this one piece, and neglecting all of these other pieces, that's when relationship really does start to fall apart. And yes, that's filling a significance bucket because of the attention. But it's also creating this divide. And this discouragement, and this disconnection, that isn't actually useful when you're trying to solve a problem. That's right, because we don't have control. But we do what we do have is an opportunity to build influence, which, like I've said, on the pod before, I'm gonna say it again, doesn't mean okay, I've influenced so they do what I want. No, you have influence. So you get a seat at the table. Mm hmm. Right. Like, that's what we can hope for. That's the best that we can hope for is I want to have a seat at the table.

Ed Center 33:45
You made me think of something that I've been thinking a lot. Again, this is the thing that I'm trying to articulate and figure out right, yeah, yeah. So you talked about solving a problem, right? And a gank. It's so important when we're in these sticky situations that we figure out what is the most important problem to solve right now. Right? So let me give you an example. The other day, I set myself up because they told my kiddo that if we left at a certain time, we would go to the good croissant bakery and get croissants, and through no fault of their own. We didn't make it by that time. And so I said, we can't go to the good croissant bakery, because it's in the wrong direction. And this is not a consequence of this is a logistics thing, right? Yeah. And so that started a huge fit. And that felt fit went to, you know, eight or nine very quickly, and I got really frustrated and I got dysregulated and I left and I went walking and I called my husband who's away somewhere. Thank God he picked up the phone, and he did a great job of talking knee down. And then he said, Okay, what's the primary task here? And I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, there's a bunch of things that are moving through you. You want to get him to go to school. You want him to show you respect. You don't want him to win, because you feel like you're in a battle right now. Right? Blah, blah, blah, what's the primary goal? And I realized that my primary goal in that moment was to get him to school, both for his own good because I needed him the heck out of the house. Yeah, right. relatable, right? Yes. And so he said, so what? And I'm like, You know what, I'm already walking to the good bakery. Because if I can come back with croissants, put them in the passenger seat of the car, right? And go in and say, Hey, that was a mess. Let's get your school to have the croissants. We're already late. Yeah, I know, parents are listening right now saying, wait, wait, wait, you just taught them that if they have a meltdown, that you will break your own boundaries, that they can have a meltdown to get what you want, except their meltdown, actually had nothing to do with testing me. In this case, their meltdown was about deep, deep disappointment. Yeah. And for my kid, I'm blessed with one of these kids. And I was one of these kids myself, that something that's a bummer to other kids is catastrophic crisis. Sure, right. Yeah. So I'm like, we can solve this crisis and move you forward. And there will be other times to teach delayed gratification, but right now you need to get you back to school. And you know what, on that car ride to school, we ate croissants, and we had real connection. We had real relationship. We talked, we sang, we did our thing, and then could feel connected until the next shit show happens.

Casey O'Roarty 36:52
Yeah, well, in what I hear in that story, which I think is a superpower tool, and one that is an exploration for everyone. Is that dance of flexibility. You know, and I could hear that same little, it wasn't my voice. But I could hear that like, well, you're just teaching them blah, blah, blah, right? And it's my mother's voice. It's, yeah, totally. But it's not true. It's just not true. And that connection piece to like, you know, and we were talking earlier about, like connection versus attention. And the difference and like, what I think our work is really about is how deeply it's like, there's depth, there's authenticity and depth to the human to human relationship that we get to cultivate with our kids, with our partners, with the other people in the world. We've packaged it up as parenting, but if the stuff even like when then walk, or you are the son, like you have your things, there's things and positive discipline. If we don't get deeper at the surface, it's like, okay, great. So I'm an okay, I listened to this podcast. So now I'm going to use the web, then walk. Yep. Right. But if it isn't, like couched inside of this deep, just respect for the humaneness of the other person. Right, and the autonomy in the individual experience, the valid my couples therapist would say, the equally valid reality of the other person, then, I mean, I feel like those are the people that come back and say, well, this doesn't work.

Ed Center 38:32
Yeah. So there's a couple other I think, threats to connection to showing up and being present enough to do this, right? Because you really have to be grounded in that in order for these tools to work, right, which was my main issue coming into this. And what I have learned for myself in the communities I'm part of is that one, wisdom and love are slow. Tell me more about that. And what I mean by that, is that contemporary parenting and family life is a rush all the time, right? Get out the door, after school activities, pick up this therapy appointment, this ADHD coach, right, all of this is, and I'm not saying any of those are wrong, and we have a lot of those. Right? But and then our own jobs and careers, and oh, maybe remembering every once in a while if we have a spouse that like there's somebody that we love, and we should pay attention to that person, right and have a conversation beyond logistics, but we move so fast, and that peace prevents us from being slow and present. Right? And so in the moments where we find a joy and connection with our kids, they are usually in places where we're not rushing from one thing to another where we have time. I mean, there can definitely be humor in the car, right but where we really show up where we are Not thinking about other things. Yeah. And so we find that joy and love. And so I do think that contemporary powering teen life makes that so much more difficult. And then the other thing that we've mentioned before is screens. And I'm surprised at how much over the last year I've become an evangelist for less screen time. And I will say, I'd love to hear your response to this. But every single one of my clients, who has tweens and teens raises concerns about screen addiction. Oh, yeah. embrace everyone. For sheet. Yeah. And then also where I get to eventually with parents is our own screen time. Right? 100%. And my thing is not usually scrolling tick tock, but I like to put my podcast in and cook dinner and I don't want anyone to bother me. That's my flow. Right? Yeah. But those headphones are saying I am not available for you. And when you interrupt me, anyone in my family, I'm like, what? Yeah, right. So what's your response? Oh, my

Casey O'Roarty 41:07
gosh, listeners, you could not see the look on headspace. No, that is the exact look that I give like, what what do you want? It's

Ed Center 41:18
right. Yes. You know, maybe I'm listening to something amazing, like joyful courage, roll or

Casey O'Roarty 41:25
speak. But like, also, I've

Ed Center 41:27
heard Beyonce, he's lemonade. 5000 times I get back to it. Right. And yeah, just modeling being present in making that space is so important. That's where we do find our love and wisdom.

Casey O'Roarty 41:39
Yeah, well, a couple things. I love that I love. Just any conversation I find is this. And maybe it's because most of the kids are, you know, now in high school or late middle school. And there is this experience of Oh, shit. Time is running out. Yeah. Right. So there's this urgency to fix things or to make things happen really fast. You know, that and like the whole practice of presence is like a magic slow things down. piece. By the way, everyone, I work a lot with parents just around navigating and releasing as best they can. That experience of urgency. Yeah, right. And acknowledging that our ideal timeline for our kids to do X, Y, Z, often does not match their timeline. And that's okay. Talk about what's the actual problem. You know, sometimes the problem is the experience we're having of the experience and not the actual experience itself. And so I love playing in that space, as well. And then I'm cracking up because just this morning, listeners, we're recording in December. So we're doing an Advent challenge my family, my little unit, and every day is a new act of kindness.

Ed Center 42:55
That's amazing. That's beautiful. Yeah, that's really sweet.

Casey O'Roarty 42:58
Like, let me just tell you, we're also earning points to content. We live in capitalism. So today, Rowan, my 20 year old took a screenshot of her screen time on her phone and said, is one of our Advent things going to be a contest to see whose screen time is the lowest because I'm killing it. And, you know, my son was like, No, we're not doing that. And I took a picture of mine. And I said, but I think this would be a great challenge to do after the advent challenge. And so one thing around screen time is just normalizing that we're all in this experience of so hard sucked in. Yeah, man. I look at my stuff. And it's I am not proud. I'm proud right up there with the teenager struggling to get under four hours. Yes. Thank you. Yes. And that's and I feel like if

Ed Center 43:51
I go on a drive, and I use the navigation, I'm like, That doesn't count got our can't count.

Casey O'Roarty 43:57
Average. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that like the antidote is this is being real is being in conversation is normalizing the idea that we could all be doing better. And then putting, you know, I talked to my son, I have an app on my phone, the opal app to block certain things during certain times of day, you can also work around it. And I get to be in that like, Oh, look at me, I have the app. And so anyway, that's a bottomless pit of conversation. We talked about screentime but it is it's real for everyone, not just our kids, I

Ed Center 44:35
do want to go back to one thing about the busyness, right. Speed of modern parenting. What I also find, particularly with my clients of color, and particularly women, right, okay, is that the drive to move fast to get everything done to keep going? It's so hard to push against that because especially for my folks of color that they have received messages around hustle grind outperform be better than do more. And that is such a coded message that they also want to pass on to their kids. Right? If you're gonna be successful, right as, say, a black or Latinx women in America, then you need to be better than you need to outperform. And you can't screw up. Right? Yeah. And pressure that we carry around. That is so huge. And so that's a dance that I'm doing with my clients and in the communities where I talk because I can't invalidate that message. Right? I got that message, too. And I benefited from that, and it carries a cost. Yeah. So how do we balance that? And I don't have answers. But that's a path that I want to walk down with all of us who are trying to be more conscious and more present. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 45:51
Well, and I love how powerful it is to be in questions. Right? This is an example of that. We don't have all the answers. Right. And as humans, we're continuing to unravel, dismantle, peek into, you know, corners that we've didn't even realize existed, and simply asking questions. And being curious, is powerful movement, in that direction that you're talking about, oh, my gosh, I could talk to you for a whole nother hour, I have things that I did not even get to. So I

Ed Center 46:29
don't have another meeting after this. I keep going.

Casey O'Roarty 46:34
I adore you. If you're listening. We are going to set up another interview. We'll do a part two in the future. Because this was so fun and so informative. And I definitely want to be in conversation with you more. But as we wrap up, will you share with the listeners where they can find you and follow the work that you're doing? Yeah,

Ed Center 46:57
100% Happy New Year, everybody. And we'd love to have you find out what we're doing on our website, which is village well, parenting.com. Or you can follow our socials, which is Instagram is at Village while parenting and tick tock is at queer brown dad. And we put out a slate of interesting classes, opportunities, small group coaching sessions coming up in January. And I'd be thrilled to have your listeners join. Beautiful,

Casey O'Roarty 47:29
beautiful. And my final question that I asked all my guests is, what does joyful courage mean to you? Yeah,

Ed Center 47:37
I was thinking about this question. Because I realized that lately, I've been seeing courage as something that I've been doing without a lot of joy, right that I've been wading into the muck or the difficulty or taking on things that are hard. And it's been more connected to a sense of fear or challenge or resilience. And so what the question reminded me is that I think I'm most successful, in joyful courage, when I trust my kids, when things are difficult, and the outcomes are unsure. And I think I know more. But I say, Okay, you seem like you're making a decision, from the best of your experience. And I'm going to trust you in that. And if it doesn't go right, I'm still going to get your back. Right. And I think some of the best things that have happened in connection in choosing schools in choosing after school activities in figuring out where we want to go for vacation, all of those things, or even like what do we want to do on a rainy Sunday? Right, that those opportunities come when I really trust my kids. And it's a reminder to keep doing that because I forget. So thank you for that question. You're

Casey O'Roarty 48:57
welcome. Thank you for that answer. This has been a joy. So So nice to meet you. So glad to have you here. Thank you for all the work that you do.

Ed Center 49:06
You bet it's great to be in community and we will talk again soon.

Casey O'Roarty 49:16
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 beasts probable.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

See more