Eps 456: Being with our teens’ experiences

Episode 456

When does positivity and optimism get in the way of what our teens need? How can we be with what they are moving through in a way that is helpful and builds connection and trust in our relationship with them? Listen in to this weeks solo show and hear all about this topic!

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Takeaways from the show

  • A bit about Vegas with Rowan for her 21st
  • Building trust in relationship
  • Cultivating optimism and growth without dismissing the other persons experience
  • Our kids need to learn to navigate pain and suffering
  • Toxic positivity is harmful to our teens
  • Parental empathy is exhausting
  • The F.L.O.W. process
  • Practice being a witness

Homework/ Invitation:

  1. What were you takeaways from this show?
  2. What is under the surface for you when your teens have big emotions? 
  3. How can you practice more F.L.O.W.?


Joyful Courage is showing up and not letting guilt get me down. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s never useful to beat yourself up.

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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
Every everybody Hi, welcome back to the podcast. Today's a solo show. I have to tell you before I start anything, so I recorded this on Monday the 15th. And it was the Monday before my daughter's 21st birthday. 21. Dude, that's trippy. Right. And guess what row unwanted for her birthday. She wanted me, her mom to go to Vegas with her for the weekend to celebrate her birthday. And guess what we did? We went to Vegas last weekend. Well, it'll be last weekend once this show goes live. But in this moment, time of recording, it's still ahead of us. And I just feel so privileged, I feel so lucky that my soon to be 21 year old daughter wants to spend her birthday this birthday. With me. I think that I have one.

Casey O'Roarty 02:33
I think that that is a pretty beautiful indication of where our relationships at and I am so very grateful. And it hasn't always been here. I've worked really, really hard to nurture and develop and grow myself so that I could be in this kind of relationship with her and it has paid off. It's paid off. So I am positive we're going to have a great time in Las Vegas. We're going to do some fun things, some silly things. And you know, it's gonna be good times. So that's fun, right? I am also coming to you this week, post my interview with Kristin Duke on Monday. Did you listen to that podcast, I found Kristin on Instagram. And I just really loved first of all, I'm always drawn in by those parenting people who have really gotten down the hole real making thing, easy to suck into a good real. And that's what I first noticed about Kristin were these fun and informative reels that she was making. And you know, also realising so much of her content was just totally aligned with like I say, in my episode with her totally aligned with what we're doing here, there was one particular poster reel where she's talking about trust. And I was like, That's it. That's what I want to talk to Kristen about. So that's what we talked about on Monday. If you didn't listen, you can listen after you listen to this, or you can pause listen to that, come back to this, whatever works for you. I love talking about trust. And you have heard me talk about this in a million different ways, right? Or a million different times. What I thought I was excited to dive deeper into is one of the blind spots that Kristin talked about, which is toxic positivity, because I feel like this in a lot of ways is a place where I go. And yeah, I thought it would be useful. I know I'm not the only one that goes here. So I thought let's play with this right? So I am someone who, over time have chosen to learn to develop into sitting inside of the idea that life is unfolding for me there's something for me in the things that show up in life. Right? I'd rather be in that mindset than feeling hopeless and depressed, I'd rather lean into what's opening up because of what's hard or not working out than complaining about what's hard and not working out. I just feel more empowered and encouraged when I live in the space of everything is working out. I just don't might not see it all right now, right. And this, you know, when I think back to, I think it was really this was really catapulted, I got a really big opportunity to practice this. When my husband was sick during COVID. It was post Rowan's, you know, really tough mental health time, we're still in it with her, and then COVID happened, and then Ben was diagnosed with cancer. And, you know, I just couldn't, it kind of reminds me of like, what Alexander Ford said in the sex trafficking interview, like, I had to believe I was empowered, or the whole house of cards would fall, and I realised I was being exploited. So it's similar to that, right? Like, I have to believe that there is purpose to the events of my life, to the challenges of my life to the things that are hard, I have to believe that they are being offered up as a teaching opportunity, a growth, a transformation and evolution opportunity. Because if not, then what the hell, everything's just random and shit happens. And you never know, there's no reason behind it. Like, I don't want to live in that world. And maybe that is the actual reality of the world. But guess what, I get to decide my own reality. Right? I get to decide my own reality. And so to me, it makes sense to be inside of that place of optimism and growth, and what can I take away from this. And while I have over time and continue to develop this mindset, it isn't always useful for me to like, put it on top of other people's experiences, right? In fact, when I'm not honouring their experience and my people's experience, and I'm jumping in with the silver lining, or where is there room to grow here, it has all sorts of unintended consequences. And we're gonna get into the iceberg. But I don't mean to be dismissive. I truly want everyone to live inside of this mindset of growth and possibility and learning and seeing life as an unfolding, because it feels like such a more empowered place to be. And it comes from a good place, like, with my teens, when I jump in with them, and I'm like, Well, you know, here's another way to look at it. Or here's another possibility. I want my kiddos I want them to develop their optimism, I want them to stay in a mindset of possibility. I want them to see all the potential outcomes of their challenges. And not just the one worst case scenario. I want them to develop resilience. I want them to feel empowered inside of whatever the situation is that they're moving through, right. That's what I want. That's why I show up the way that I show up. And, unfortunately, how that can make them feel is unheard, misunderstood, dismissed, like there's no room for them to feel their feelings, they feel invalidated, they feel discouraged. They might even feel some shame. So why do we do that? Like, why do we want to swoop in and make everything better? Right? Why do we want to swoop in and want our kids to see the bright side right to see the silver lining? Why do we do that? I think it's this underlying urgency that comes with how hard it is to see them in pain and suffering. Plus, we know that things tend to look brighter on the other side with more time and experience and we just, we just want to give that to them. Right? However, the unintended consequence is that our teens start to not want to come to us, right? Like, you know, do you want to engage with someone who leaves you feeling unheard and dismissed and invalidated? No, you tend to weed those people out? Or you should? Because nobody wants that response? It's not helpful. It's not useful to feel those things.

Casey O'Roarty 09:39
You know, we talked about this in my interview with Kristen like, it's a blind spot for a lot of us where we don't know why our kids don't want to come to us with things. And, you know, here's one of the ways that we kind of taint the space. Right? And we also talked about the iceberg. And here in this space, I bring up the iceberg. a lot, and I use the iceberg in the context of our kids behaviour. But we have an iceberg, too, right? We parents have, you know, we're responding tip of the iceberg. Our behaviours also are driven by what's going on under the surface, right? humans in general. Yeah, that iceberg metaphor works for everyone. So when our behaviour at the surface looks like toxic positivity, right, silver lining, let me tell you, I went over, I said to Rowan, when she was, you know, like, deeply in her struggle, like I kind of said, you know, I bet there's gonna be a day in the future where you'll look back. And you'll be really grateful for this time, and how much you learned because of how you're feeling. And the look on her face. She was like, get out, you know, like, that was not good timing on my part. And she was not there to hear that. And I can remember that actually pretty vividly, and realising I can hold that belief that that time of her life would be something that would be looked back on as useful, but I don't need to, like how dismissive to say that to her. So what's the problem? If that toxic positivity is at the tip of the iceberg? What's the problem that the behaviour solving? Right? Well, it allows us to avoid fear and worry for our child. It's a reflection of our capacity for our teens discomfort, it also can be prompted by our own experiences of moving through adolescence, or conditioning around emotional expression, what's okay, what's not okay, what does it look like? What are the messages that we got, that have been ingrained into us? So this is where our work really is, is in kind of exploring and teasing apart this under the surface stuff. And, you know, I tried to find some scholarly articles or research on why it's so hard for parents to be with their teens hard emotions, and I couldn't find anything. I couldn't find any science. I although I'm sure it exists. Maybe I just wasn't good at the Google Search. Mostly, it was just like, be calm, you know, like, your teens are gonna have a rollercoaster of emotions, and you just need to be calm. But I really want to explore, like, what's getting in our way of being calm, what's getting in our way of being with their emotional experience, and I did find a blog post put out by why found two one was put up by scary mommy, that highlighted something called parental empathy and how exhausting parental empathy is. Because basically, the author was like, we do feel everything our kids feel from a very young age through adolescence, right? We feel what our kids feel. And it's hard to be with that. It's exhausting. By the time they get to be teenagers. I mean, holy cow. It's really exhausting. And another post, I found from reality, mom's blog, also talks about how hard it is to hold our kids emotions. Because isn't that what we're doing? Right? We're holding our kids emotions. And they even had this imagery of like our kids in the pit, right in the pit of despair. And we want to kind of share our heart with them so that they can hold on and we can pull them out. And I think oftentimes, we kind of get in the pit with them. Right? So there's also that level of detachment to practice, which is really hard, right? We're witnessing our kids, the ones we love the most move through some of the hardest parts of their life, or at least as you've heard me say so many firsts, right? And we're really impatient. We want to know that they won't let these hard things hold them back. We want them to see the bigger picture. Right without accruing the experiences that actually develop their bigger picture, their more expansive perspective. Sometimes we go back to our own teen self struggles and remember, Oh, it was so much. I mean, remember your first heart ache, or your second or third? remember feeling like you were a tag along in your friend group going to a party. Remember what it felt like to compare yourself to everyone hating your braces feeling left out. Remember feeling alone, you know, as mid lifers, it's easy to think about those experiences without that emotional attachment that came along with those experiences because you know, it's been a long time But it was the worst, it sucked. And yeah, we kept growing and evolving and experiencing life, and maybe hopefully got some therapy and have sought out some personal growth workshops and we've transformed over time, right. And, you know, made our way to the highly functioning adults that we are today, whatever that looks like for you. And then we've got a teenager that reminds us simply with their existence of all that old pain that's stored in our body. That sucks. It's hard. And the good news is, for your teen, you're a parent who is seeking to explore how to show up in a way that is more helpful and less hurtful than maybe the experience that you had. Right. So that's a good thing. You're a seeker you're exploring, you're open to trying something new and different, you're open to healing and looking inward, and really, you know, continuing to develop yourself through your experience of parenting, your teenager. But before we can do that, we get to acknowledge the gut punch that happens when our kids are having those big emotions, right, acknowledge the gut punch the pattern of wanting to make it better, or making this wanting to make this uncomfortable situation go away and do something different. Right. So I have some thoughts around this, I developed my own new acronym, and I'm excited to share it with you. It's called flow flow. So when we flow, the first thing we do is we find our breath and again, so because we can't ever plan out when our kids are having a meltdown, or an emotionally charged experience, where we want to dive in with our toxic positivity or our fixit had on or are saved the day cape on, right, but we can start to recognise that moment of Ooh, this is hard, I want to fix it. And then we're going to shift into a different way of being in the first one. And the way we're going to do this is to flow. So you're gonna find your breath first. Right, it just takes a few moments, just a few moments to breathe, you can let your teen in on this or not, even if it's simply shifting your attention to your breath. This is useful, you don't have to make it fancy, main box breathing is great and Google that but I mean, just make it simple. Just lengthen your inhale and exhale. If you want to get a little fancy, you can inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. And just do a few rounds of this as you listen to your child or you witness or you sit with your child who's in their emotional experience. So that's the F of flow, the L is loosen your body, right notice where you're tense or wound up. Typically we tighten up when we're in an emotional reaction, right? Even if it's a reaction is fear, or worry, I got to do something about this. Like even when I said that my arms got tight, and pulled in. So stretch or wiggle, notice the small muscles in your face, that's a place where I definitely hold tension your bottom right, there are sneaky places where we tighten up, we want to loosen those parts of our bodies up, right, so we've F find our breath, l loosen our body, oh, open your heart. literally pull your shoulders back so that your heart is open to this teenager in front of you that you love so much. And you want to show up while for open your heart. It's okay, you're safe. And you get to send the energetic message to your teen that they are okay. Right? Even if they're in a tough situation. So we want to open that heart centre and send out that loving energy. And then finally, W witness witness your teen in this moment, your kiddo is moving through a challenge. Maybe it's a disappointment. Their feelings are valid and real and hard for them to hold. It may be first heartbreak. Or it may be their first bad grade or their first rejection. It does not matter. It's real for them. So see them, be there for them bite your tongue and let them take the lead flow, right? Flow

Casey O'Roarty 19:37
I think this is the hardest part this witnessing, because we want to shepherd them through their experience. We get this impulse to just take over right no one's asked us to take over but man it's like okay, crisis. I'm in charge. I'm good. I got you. Let's go. And we forget that if we are privileged enough for our kids to come to us, and share their pain and share what's hard. If we have that privilege, then the most powerful thing we can do with it, is to witness it, right to be a witness. So flow, find your breath, loosen your body, open your heart, witness your teen, right. And I feel like this is a basic kind of process for that work of being with, right. So these are the steps to take to be that calm parent that all the articles invite you to be for your routine, their emotional experience is very much on par with where they are developmentally, like I said, they're going through some of their first firsts. Their brain is already wired to be highly emotional. So they feel the highs, high, they feel the lows low, you get to do your part to prepare yourself, to be with them in a way that is helpful and not hurtful flow. Find your breath, loosen your body, open your heart, witness your teen. And there's this other piece that I kind of love that I want to talk about from Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson, when they're usually they're talking about or when I've seen this, they're talking about younger kids, right, younger kids and their tantrums or emotional meltdowns. They have these three R's regulate relate reason. And I think this is these are really useful for parents of older kids to that first one regulate is really about safety. Right? So on one hand, we want to make sure our kids are safe, right, they're falling apart, we want to make sure they're not hurting themselves or anything else, right, we want them to be safe, but it's also about regulating ourselves, right. And we can use that flow, to help us regulate ourselves to be present, to be available to be that witness. And when we get to that relate once we've regulated ourselves, and that there's also something that happens co regulation, when we can stay calm. We're actually offering a space for our kids to step into more calm, it's not automatic. But you know, their dysregulation coupled with our dysregulation is no bueno. But their dysregulation met with our regulation, our flow is going to help them move into a more regulated state. So then the second RS relate as we move through flow, and we get to the witnessing, this is where things may begin to open up towards relating to our teen. This is a place for validating them, believing in them mirroring back some of what we're hearing, all with an energetic trust, that they're going to be okay, that they're going to move through this and make it to another side. And as things continue to open and soften. Maybe there's an opportunity to share your own story, in relation to what they're going through how they're feeling, right. That's where we're at with relate. So regulate, relate, and then reason this is a place of action and restrain my because this is where we think it's time for our advice, our sage wisdom, however, it is crucial that we remember what Kristin and I talked about on Monday during the interview, ask permission. Ask your teen if they want to hear more of what you think. Ask them what they need from you most in this moment, ask them if they want help problem solving, or if it's enough simply to be seen and heard. Right. So before you get into that reasoning, sharing, offering, it's really important to get clear on what is your team want from you right now? Right? It's so painful to watch our kids move through their firsts. I know. They have to do it. And we have to do a better job of normalising that big emotions have a place in our experience, and that we have faith in them to move through those big emotions. And when our own inner teen shows up. You can take a minute to love on him or her to depending on how your family navigated emotions, you may have some wounds to attend to their, you know, this is hard work. And when we commit To the practice of learning our own patterns and behaviours, and exploring what's under the surface of our iceberg, and we're willing to try new things, we can hold space for our teens to get what our inner teen needed, which is a safe space to be all of themselves. And for those of you like me, who do work on the bright side, who do find the silver lining, who are leaning towards meaning making from life's challenges and optimism. I mean, I think the best way that we instil that or develop that in our teens is simply being the model, right in our own life's experiences. So we don't need to throw it at them when they're in their challenge. But we can certainly talk about it, and how it shows up in our lives in a more organic way, right at the dinner table or on drives are just simply in our own sharing and modelling. Yeah, that's what I have for you today. That's what I have for you today. So your homework, remember, I'm doing homework, your homework is to think about what were your takeaways from this show? What was under the surface for you, when your teens have big emotions? What is under the surface, you might have to do a little of your own exploring and discovering to answer that question. And number three, how can you practice more flow, f L. O W. I am going to post that in the joyful courage for parents of teens Facebook group, so get yourself in there and get let's have a conversation about this. This is a new thing that I'm doing and I gotta tell you, I'm noticing no one is taking me up on it. So maybe you could be the first person to be reflective in the joyful garage routines Facebook group on this post, I will have a link in the show notes to get directly to the post. Yeah, that's all I got for you. So big love my friends. I hope that you have a wonderful weekend. And I will see you soon for the next interview. Bye.

Casey O'Roarty 27:17
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you so much to my spreadable partners, Julieta and Alana as well as Danielle and Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there and helping it to sound so good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay better connected at B sprout double.com. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview and I will be back solo with you next Thursday. Have a great day.

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