Eps 452: The dance of flexibility while parenting adolescents

Episode 448

Join me this week during this solo episode as we play with the concept of flexibility while parenting through the teen years. Where are you finding flexibility? How might flexibility serve your relationhip with your teen? What is getting in the way of flexibility?

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Takeaways from the show

  • Flexibility in parenting means being able to move with teens and consider new possibilities.
  • The importance of flexibility in parent-teen relationships, creating an open space for conversation and understanding
  • Tools for flexibility in working with teenagers, including curiosity, deep listening, emotional honesty, and maintaining a focus on their strengths
  • Flexibility as the antidote for permissive or rigid parenting
  • How flexibility supports values, curiosity, mutual respect and communication
  • The work of self regulation to support flexibility


  1. What was your biggest takeaway from this conversation?
  2. Where are the places that are challenging to be flexible?
  3. What is one thing you can do this week to bring more flexibility into your relationship with your teen?

Join the Joyful Courage for Parents of Teens FB Group now and find the homework post by clicking here.

Ahhhh… Today Joyful Courage continues to be the willingness to practice. The willingness to try to stay neutral while also expressing what is real and true for me. And to be ok with however I am received.

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Casey O'Roarty 00:05
Hello, Welcome back. Welcome to the joyful courage podcast, a place for inspiration and transformation as we work to keep it together. While parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people. And when we can focus on our own growth and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already, I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead. It's browseable. Also mama to a 20 year old daughter and a 17 year old son I am walking right beside you on the path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it really real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is a solo show and I'm confident that what I share will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families around the globe. If you're feeling extra special, you can rate and review us over in Apple podcasts. I'm so glad that you're here. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:31
Oh, hey, everybody. Welcome to Episode 452. Do you know that I spent an entire day thinking that I was on episode 500 instead of 450. Last week? Episode 452. That's no small thing. People. That's a lot of content. So a lot of podcasts. I love doing this work. I love it. I love showing up for all of you. And yeah, here we are episode 452. Did you listen to this week's interview with Ed Center? He's the bomb. Oh my gosh, I loved talking with him about all the things. I listened to that conversation while I was taking a walk. And there were parts where I laughed out loud. And so many places where we used the language of parenting in new ways. It was really cool. Take a listen to that episode 451 with Ed Center, what did I take away from that conversation? While big overarching themes of connection, attention, significance power, right? I loved when we talked about, you know who's the son that the family is revolving around? I loved when he talks about the when then walk tool when then walk away. I appreciated how we went down the road of exploring the idea that it's important for us to identify what the actual problem is that we're trying to solve with our teens. Right. And you know, that dance of flexibility, that dance of flexibility. And that's where I want to take today's conversation is really feeling into the dance of flexibility and being flexible in general. Right being flexible in general. So, you know, to prep for this podcast. This episode, I wrote out a bunch of questions for myself. So I'm basically interviewing myself today. You're welcome. So like, the first question that came to mind was, what does flexibility mean to me in the context of parenting, and flexibility, really, to me, it means, you know, like, the phrase of the dance of flexibility, right? Being flexible means that we're able to move in flow with our partner, and our partner being our teenager. Right? So being flexible means that we can go with the changed dance step, right? It might feel a little jarring at first when the dance changes, but we have the ability to move to flow, right to be with it. Flexibility means that we have some fundamentals, we have some values we have a compass, but we also are in the space of possibility right In this space of possibility, we might not have all the answers, we might not see the whole picture. Even though I think as parents, we like to believe that we do see the whole picture and we see all the positive possible outcomes. And we get all up in our stuff with our teens. Because we don't want the worst things to happen. And so we get kind of rigid, which is something we're going to talk about. But flexibility means like, oh, maybe there's actually other outcomes that I'm not considering. Maybe I can roll with this for a little bit and see, get more information, see what's happening, right flexibility, and we're going to talk about this really creates a opportunity for deeper connection and deeper understanding, and sharing in a space that is welcoming and full of love and trust. Right, the benefit of flexibility is this generation of relationship. There's a place with flexibility where we can generate this energy of capability, both us being capable, as well as our teens being capable. And why does it matter for us to feel capable? Well, I mean, come on, how much time do you spend not feeling capable? Right? adolescent years? They are just so I don't know, there's just like so many unexpected twists and turns, I feel like on the daily where you're sitting with Whoa, I didn't see that coming? Or Sheesh, I'm not really sure how to respond to that. Or gosh, what am I supposed to do here? Right? So the benefit of flexibility is, it allows you to be with that uncertainty, and not be consumed by it not be drowning in uncertainty. But instead like, okay, the dance step has changed. Let me find my footing. And sometimes finding our footing means that we got to ask our partner like, what, where did you go there? What's going on? Help me out. Right? Help me out with this benefit of flexibility. Being in relationship with our kiddos, benefit of flexibility is generating a open space where everything's allowed, meaning we're going to have conversations, I'm going to be curious about what's going on with you. And you're going to know that sharing with me, isn't going to ruin our relationship. I can hold it. Right? We talk a lot about that on the pod, being in relationship in a way that offers our people, our teenagers the experience of feeling like, okay, we can handle this, my parents can be with me in this, right? That's big. That's big and important. What are the tools of flexibility? What is flexibility? Right? It's that curiosity, right? tool of flexibility is being present, being fully present with our teens, deep listening, listening to understand, right, not listening to argue, or to make your point. Instead listening to truly understand what's going on for our people. Another tool of flexibility is emotional honesty. Right? sharing our experience in a way that is, you know, doesn't make the other person defensive. That is, instead, speaking our truth. trusting the process is a tool of flexibility, staying strength focused, right, remembering all the qualities that are in development of our teenagers. Sometimes when they start to do not great things and get into mischief, we forget how capable they are. And instead, we think you know that they're idiots that won't ever do the right thing or make good choices, or they're going to be dead in a ditch, right? So a tool to help us stay flexible is also to maintain that focus on strengths of our kids. And another tool is deciding what you will do and follow through. Right? Flexibility is not the same as being permissive. That's an important point to make flexibility, being flexible. pragmatic, maybe is another word to when we get more information, we might have different ideas about what we think being flexible is not the same as being permissive. So the difference is being flexible. There is an intentionality there. There is thoughtfulness. their consideration. Permissive is less is a reactive state. Right? When we're permissive when we're anything goes, there's fear in there. There's worry, and the fear. And the worry is if I hold a boundary or if I do something about this, or if I, you know, create a limit, then I'm scared of what the fallout is going to be. So I'm just going to be permissive. I'm going to put my head in the sand. Anything Goes law, law, law, fingers in the ears.

Casey O'Roarty 10:41
Flexibility is gathering information. You're still making choices and decisions and flexibility. But there's an intentionality, right, and a deeper understanding. And then what's the opposite of that? What's the opposite of being flexible? It's also the opposite of being permissive, which is being rigid, right? Being rigid, not being willing to hear out our kids not asking questions, or listening to understand but instead being so locked in to what we think that there's no room for negotiation. There's no room for questions. There's not even any room for our own emotional honesty, because it's our way or the highway. Right? This is how it is deal with it. And when we think about rigidity, what is rigidity invite from our teens. What has rigidity invited from your teen, they certainly don't want to be in relationship with us. Rigidity invites animosity, resentment, withdraw, withdrawal, isolation, distressed, right? Rigid is not useful. And usually we're rigid, because we're scared, right? They both permissiveness and rigidity are standing our ground, we're scared, right? When we lean more rigid or more permissive, we're doing it because we're getting something that we need out of this, right? Being rigid gives us a feeling of control, a feeling of I'm the boss, I make the rules, I'm in control of this situation. Being permissive, gives us the feeling of being liked, right, of being liked by our kids of not rocking the boat. Both of these are false, right? Being rigid gives us a false sense of control. Because at the end of the day, our kids go out and do whatever they want. Maybe they do it underground, maybe they stop talking to you about it. But at the end of the day, they're going to go and they're going to make their choices. Being permissive gives us a false feeling of being liked of being the cool parent of not rocking the boat. But in the end, there is also resentment. Right? There is also this feeling of IQ from kids with really permissive parents. They want a container they want to live inside of the container that we hold. They don't want to be flailing around, feeling like their parent doesn't have their back. Listen, your behavior makes sense. And it's important to look at how it's working out for you. If you lay down the law, and you're real strict and rigid, you're probably not listening to this podcast, but maybe you are. How is that going? Right? If there are places where you have been able to communicate some firmness around a particular behavior, and it's working out for you? Great, right? If you've let some stuff go and leaned into that, not rocking the boat, and it's working out for you. Great. But take an honest look at that. And how your kiddos doing and if you're not sure you can even ask them. You know, I love that. You could even ask them, Hey, do you feel like I'm super rigid? Do you feel like I'm really loosey goosey? Tell me about that. How does it make you feel? So I'm here to talk about flexibility though. So what are some of the things that make flexibility hard for parents? This is what I'm noticing in my clients and myself. Right? Being flexible is hard because of our fears and worries, right? We feel like we see the road and it heads straight to dead in a ditch down by the river. Right and we get spun out on that worst case scenario. And flexibility becomes hard to embody our values sometimes get in the way of flexibility because As sometimes, you know, while we have our values our kids are in individuation. And they're really trying to explore what is their parents value? What are their teens values? And what are they willing to share with us? Right? Sometimes our values, we get hung up on our values to the point where we expect our teenagers to value the same things. And so being flexible around that can be challenging our narrative our past experiences, right? If you were a teen, who followed all the rules, and did everything right, and didn't rock the boat, and now you have a teen who's getting into mischief, really pushing back, it's hard to hold that, right. It's hard to be flexible. Or, and I've said this before, if you're someone who had a wild time and the teen years, and got into your own mischief, right, that too can get in the way, because you don't want your kid to make the same mistakes you made, forgetting that you actually lived through it. So our past experiences can make it hard to be flexible and popular culture are those voices in our heads, maybe it's the voices of our, you know, our parents saying, Well, if you get flexible, you're teaching them that it's okay for them to xyz, right, those voices in our heads that are contrary to what we know to be true, which is relationship matters. Critical Thinking Matters, opportunities to practice our skills matters, right and flexibility allows the space for all of those things to to happen to exist. Right. Again, curiosity presents, listening, emotional honesty, trusting the processing, strength, focus, deciding what you will do, do and follow through the tools of flexibility, all of these things, all of these tools, which you've heard me talk about in a variety of ways, all of these tools, builds relationship. And again, relationship is where we grow influence. Right? This is where we grow influence. This is where we earn a seat at the table. This is where our voice gets to be a part of what's happening for our kids, when they're making choices and decisions for them to consider. Is this a smart thing for me to do? Maybe I shouldn't do this, what could I do? Otherwise? How might it play out? Right? We want them to be asking those questions in those choice point moments. And when we the parent can maintain a certain level of flexibility. As we walk alongside our teens as they navigate this time of life. Right? The likelihood that we get to be in their brains, we get a seat at the table, it increases, right the practice of flexibility builds relationship with our teens, which then feeds into our ability to lean towards flexibility about that, right, we're building relationship, we're getting to know them and understand them. And as we build relationship and get to know them and understand them and stay strength focused, it gets easier to be flexible. Because our trust in their capabilities are remembering what their strengths are and are watching them developing the tools and skills that we want them to embodied. By the time they're adults. All of that helps us stay out of rigidity and permissiveness. Right? Flexibility requires conversation. So, in the moment, right, sorry about my voice. By the way, I had a kind of a wild weekend of live music and did a lot of Whoo. So I'm a little hoarse flexibility requires conversation and some prompts to put in your back pocket when you're not sure what to say is are. Tell me more about this plan of yours. Tell me more details. I mean, let me help me understand. Here's what I need to feel okay about this plan. Right? This is what makes me nervous about this plan. So help me out. Right? Help me see the big picture, paint this for me?

Casey O'Roarty 19:34
And what about when we have kids that won't talk to us? I know there's lots of you out there who are like, yeah, it's all great. I can start with those prompts. Then what if our kid doesn't have anything to say, rolls their eyes or storms off? Well, you get to talk about that. You get to say listen, I want to be in conversation about this. I don't need all the details, but I want to know that you're going to be safe helped me be more flexible in my thinking, right? I really appreciate this. Anytime we can ask our kids to help us out, I'm concerned that you aren't giving me any details that leaves me feeling like this was kind of a sketchy plan helped me out. Right? My gut instinct is telling me that this is not a great plan. And I have lots of stories about following my gut instinct and finding my children in precarious situations in Poland up, right, get in the car, let's go. Tell me about what's going on. One of my kids in particular did not like to share, she did not like to share. She kept me out of the loop for a long time. And I stayed vigilant in my curiosity, and showed up for her and really worked on flexibility with her. And you know, now, it's a different kind of relationship. So I get it. I understand having kids that are keeping you in the dark, it's hard. It's hard. And what about firmness? Right. I don't want you to listen to me talk about flexibility. And think that I'm saying there's no firmness. Do you remember think tree, have any of you that are listening, if you've taken my class, or there's been podcasts where I talk about think tree, but basically, it's the embodiment of kindness and firmness, right? rigidity is a really tight body, it's easy to push over and crumble because it's so tight, you're in fighter stance. And then permissive is just really loosey goosey body, right? No center of gravity. So you to get pushed over easily. Thinking tree is really pulling the energy up through your legs, and the energy really being our values and who we are and our personal boundaries, right. And the top part of our body being the top of the tree, having some movement, right having some movements willing to bend, being flexible. Think tree, thing tree. It's also the embodiment of mutual respect. There's flexibility, there's mutual respect, inside of flexibility, I can respect the situation. And the other people myself in the situation, and anyone else that's affected by this idea, this plan, while also I'm going to respect you, my kid, a teenager, by being curious, and asking questions, and noticing your strengths, remembering your strengths and treating you from that strength based place, trusting that you're capable. So flexibility isn't the absence of firmness. It's the addition of curiosity and possibility. That's what I would say, right? And sometimes, you know, we get real flexible. We do all the things, we asked the questions. And in the end, our kids are just still getting into mischief. Right. And some of our kids, like I said, they just won't share much, it's not your fault. So let that go. Stay curious, stay vigilant, stay available, and let go of feeling like you're doing something wrong. If your kid won't share. Some of our kids are drawn to the mischief too. Right? So there's also flexibility in the context of how to respond when it all goes down. Right? When you do you pull up to the dark Park to pick your kid up who was supposed to be somewhere else, right? Or you find out that they've you know, you see a video or someone sends you a screenshot of not great virtual behavior. Maybe it's a video of them. Vaping or maybe it's some, you know, a chat, that is them, you know, being overly sexual or not being kind. Right, how to respond when it all comes down. So, hmm, yeah, finding that tree, finding your flexibility and connecting before you cracked. Right. I love that tool. I think it requires flexibility as well. Connecting before we correct what's going on. Hey, hi. Tell me about this. Wow. Exciting out in the dark Park. Right? Oof. How did that feel? Right. Tell me more about your experience of vaping. Tell me about how it feels to cut class. Right? I'm a little worried about this. I'm gonna keep it real. I'm a little worried about this. Can we talk about it? When can we talk about it? Can we talk about it now or you want to talk about it later? Right? It's really important that you the parents stay regulated, right? You got to stay regulated. So if you see that video, look at screenshot, find out about the mischief and you become activated and you'll know you're activated because your whole body will feel like it's on fire, or super tingly, or really tight. You know, you know what activation feels like, right? Do what you need to do, to regulate, do what you need to do to calm that nervous system, and then go in for the connection, and the curiosity and the keeping it real, right? Keeping it real, you get to do what feels right for you. In those moments, you get to do what feels right for you. And it is hard, right? And I've said to my kids before, like, I'm not really sure how to respond to this. I know I'm pretty angry. And I'm really scared. And I'm just not sure what the right thing to do is here. Because I don't want this to happen again. Right. And ultimately, I know that the only person that has power over that is you. So what can this look like? Right, and those conversations that I've had with my kids that have started off that way, we've been able to walk down some pretty awesome roads together, because it hasn't been an attack. Right? It hasn't been an attack. And, you know, flexibility also means that we have to let go of controlling the outcome, which is so annoying, and so annoying. And I see you see your friend, I see you in this work, I see you wanting the clear answer to what do I do. And there's just so much nuance, the goal is to learn to trust your instinct, and to point your compass towards relationship and opportunities for critical thinking and reflection. And I mean that for your teens, you too. But really, how can I hold space right now for my teen to practice critical thinking and reflection. And like I told my sweet friend cam over the weekend. Don't make things worse. If we do nothing else, while parenting teenagers, let's all try to just not make things worse. Right? Yeah, flexibility. So that's what I got for today's show. And I have some homework for you. And before I get into the homework last week, I let you all know that I'm going to start scheduling posts on I'm going to do it on Friday mornings with prompts about the solo shows. So I want to bring this conversation and make it a two way conversation. And we're doing that in the Facebook group. So joyful courage for parents of teens Facebook group, get in there and answer these questions. One, what was your biggest takeaway from this episode? To? Where are the places that are most challenging for you to be flexible? Do some reflecting on that? And finally, what is one thing you could do this week to bring more flexibility into your relationship with your teen? That's your homework. That's your thought work. Let me know what you think. And what your answers are over there in the Facebook group. I so appreciate each and every one of you for listening in. Go get yourself some water, maybe stretch a little bit. Yeah. Let me know what you need. If you have any thoughts or feedback that you want to give to me, you can always email me directly at Casey at joyful courage.com. Super great hanging out with you today. Looking forward to seeing you next week. All right, ie

Casey O'Roarty 28:54
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you so much to my spreadable partners, Julieta and Alana as well as Danielle and Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there and helping it to sound so good. Check out are offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay better connected at B sprout double.com. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview and I will be back solo with you next Thursday. Have a great day.

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