Eps 408: Joyful Courage Book Club – Chapter Four

Episode 408

Join me in Chapter Four of Joyful Courage: Calming the drama and taking control of your parenting journey, the book I published back in 2019. I will be discussing what holds up and things I’ve learned during the wild years since it came out.

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Takeaways from the show

  • What it means to find our intention, our intended way of being
  • The power of belonging and significance
  • Back to school backlash story
  • How having faith in our kids plays out
  • Meltdowns can be openings
  • The difference between responding and reacting
  • My relationship with playfulness

Joyful courage continues to be about being willing to CHOOSE to be in response vs reaction to life unfolding. Joyful courage is about creating what I want most rather than waiting for the world (or others) to deliver it to me.

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kids, freight train, parenting, controlling, feel, routine, relationship, love, lightness, son, shared, child, courage, meltdown, joyful, influence, group, inviting, practice, thought
Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:05
Hello, listeners. 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. 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, and life skills to be developed. My name is Casey Oh Bertie, I am your fearless host, positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead at Sproutsocial. Also mama to a 20 year old daughter and a 17 year old son, walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting you are in for a treat. This episode is part of a 10 part series where I'm reading from my book, joyful courage, calming the drama and taking control of your parenting journey that was published in 2019. I'm sharing the book with you and reflecting on where it holds up, and how the work has been expanded in the four plus years after writing it. If you're finding the series in the middle, I encourage you to start at the first episode, joyful courage book club the intro so that you can follow along from start to finish. The series is meant to be a resource to you and I work hard with everything I put out in the world to keep it real transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Along with this series is a free companion guide designed to prompt you in reflecting on what you're hearing and taking steps to integrate it into your life. You can find the guide and buy your own copy of the book by going to www dot fece browsable.com/jc book. And please don't forget, sharing really is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around, snap a screenshot and post it on your socials or texted to your friends. Together, we can make an even bigger impact on families around the globe. Enjoy. Hey, we're back. It's Thursday. Here we are joyful courage Book Club series is happening. And we're moving into part two of the book. So loving hearing from all of you about how you're experiencing what I'm sharing, and how you are playing with your learning in your relationships and your personal practice in your family. So keep letting me know I like to hear it. So part two is titled How to get off the emotional freight train. And here's what I wrote about that starts off guy, G H, it's a word guy. Okay, we find ourselves on the train. And it's normal to find ourselves there. But as we become more able to notice the train will begin to realize that we can choose to get off. But it can be challenging to shift in the heat of the moment. It's hard to talk ourselves out of our feelings. It can feel good, sad to say, or maybe not good, but satisfying or powerful to make other people feel as bad as we feel in the moment. But when the freight train fades into the distance, we're left to clean up our mess. This section of the book will help you figure out what to do when you see that emotional freight train coming down the track towards you. At the end of the day, it is up to you. It means digging deep, and recognizing that joyful courage already exists inside of you, and then learning how to access it. So that's the intro to this part of the book. I'm kind of loving that sentence, digging deep and recognizing that joyful courage already exists inside of you, and then learning how to access it. So with my private clients, I'm just going to do a little caveat here with my private clients, I will start our calls with a grounding. And one of the groundings that I love that I've done with groups is going inward and finding the spec. Right, the spec that is patience, that is empathy, that is compassion that lives inside of us those qualities that we're going to talk about, especially this chapter, that we want to bring more of to our parenting in our relationships, and then breathing in to the speck in our body and really holding the idea that we can grow that quality and really the visual of that light, that SPECT becoming bigger and bigger and having a light to it having a color to it, having a physical sensation that accompanies it and continuing to breathe into it and grow it An animated into our bodies, we get to practice being who we want to be, we get to practice experiencing the qualities that we want to bring more of into our relationships. And that's really where we're going to head in this section of the book. Okay. Chapter Four, where would we rather be going? That's a fair question. How many of us have mapped out how we want to respond to challenging situations, we tend to be clear about what we don't want. We don't want to yell, we don't want to blame or shame, we don't want to be so angry. For me, it's less angry, it's more just irritable. I invite you to consider who you want to be as a parent when things are going well. And when the shit hits the fan. How do you show up When your son hits a sister, your daughter tells you, she hates you. Yet again, no one has cleaned up after themselves. Your teenager lets you know that you don't know anything. Your toddler slaps you in the face. Your son hides under the covers and won't get up for school. Every day. The kids are whining about the food that you serve, you find out your child's experimenting with drugs, or becoming sexually active. How do you want to be when your child is having an emotional breakdown? When I think about this, and coach parents around this, I invite them to consider their intention, their desired way of being. We don't want to be scary or mean, we don't want to intimidate, threaten or bribe our kids, especially when we realize those are short term solutions. We don't want to freak out. But what do we want? When we take all those things away? What do we actually have left? Right, what do you want to bring to the challenges that are currently happening between you and your kids? How do you want them to experience you? I was a part of this really powerful training a few months ago, the invitations to change. I may have talked about it on the podcast, I think I have. And it's for people with loved ones who have some substance abuse issues, they're addicts or they're in recovery. And, you know, one of the things that I loved was this exercise that the leaders took us through which was Imagine your 80 year old birthday party, right? You've made it to add your people have made it to your 80th your family members are around you. Imagine the person that is the hardest for you right now present day, project into the future. Imagine that person, your child, your partner, imagine them at your 80th birthday. And everybody's taken a turn talking about their experience of you and that kiddo who won't be a kiddo anymore, which is weird. Takes the mic the metaphorical mic and says, You know what, Mom, you know what, Dad, I really put you through it. In the teen years when I was 17. When I was 13. When I was 15. Whatever it is, I was really having a hard time. And I was pretty wild and really defiant. And you always let me know that you loved me. You always let me know. I knew without a doubt that you cared about me that I mattered to you. And that you were going to have my back no matter what. And I'm grateful for that. Right, like project into that future. 80 year old birthday party and think about that kiddo of yours. Reflecting on how you showed up? What do you hope that they say? Right? I love that exercise. What do you hope that they say? Finding our intention. I use the word intention. Because when we know who we want to be, we're one step closer to being it. If we don't spend time exploring and practicing how we do want to show up, we'll revert back to the way we've always done things. So this is an important distinction in this sentence. If we don't spend time exploring and practicing how we do want to show up, we'll revert back to the old ways. We've always done things. Wait a minute, you might be thinking, why am I spending time thinking about me? When my kid is the problem? This answer is simple.

Casey O'Roarty 09:31
Your biggest problem is you not them. Right and I'm just gonna drop that right here and let you have a moment to sit with it. Joyful courage. Parents know that their ability to influence their children lies in the relationship they're able to build with them. We shaped that relationship by how we show up. So when I say your biggest problem is you, not them. I hope that you can hear I'm not big blaming you for what's showing up, I am inviting you to be in relationship with the experience that you're having, in the context of parenting in a new and different way. I'm inviting you to expand your lens, like I talked about last chapter, from focusing on how to get your kids to be different, and instead, holding enough space, to consider how you might show up differently, how you might be different in the dynamic, and see what happens. So we're gonna go back a little bit. Remember at the beginning of the book, or the series, when I mentioned that I'm a positive discipline trainer. Now I'm a lead trainer. And that positive discipline is all about creating a sense of belonging and significance. What does that even really mean? What humans want most, and what we need most what supports us in thriving is a sense of connection, belonging, and knowing that we matter, which has significance. And this is true for all humans, kids and grownups both. Think about it. How do you show up in a group, when it's a bunch of people that you feel completely solid with? Right people, friends, family, who you know, love you for being you in your most raw, authentic way, and appreciate what you do, and who you are and what you bring to the group. My guess is that you show up authentically real, you let your voice and your ideas be heard. This is your happy place. And it shows you're comfortable here. Right? So you're not on guard.

Casey O'Roarty 11:46
Now, what about when you're in a group of strangers or people that you don't really connect with? But you know each other? On a surface level? Do you bring your whole self? Do you share your deepest thoughts and beliefs? What if there's a possibility that you're going to be shut down? Right? What if there's the possibility that you might not be in alignment with everything other people in the group think or believe? Do you share your deepest thoughts and beliefs? What about when the group begins to make decisions on your behalf that you don't like? How do you show up? We all do better when we feel seen and heard and connected and valued. And when we feel like we have some influence over our lives, we just do. And this is important for our kids as it is for us parents. Right? It is equally as important for our kids, I would say. And so I have a story about this, we're going to go way back back to school backlash to the title in 2013, which I just want to say is 10 years ago, so I have a seven year old and a 10 year old. Wow. In 2013, we had a really great summer we were busy with camps and sunny days in the neighborhood. And I felt like that age. That was a sweet spot. Back to school time rolled around and I was ready for the school year to begin, because I love schedules, structures and routines. And I knew just how to transition my kids into the school year I had a clear vision of what it would look like and I had no doubt that my kids would fall in line. I knew it would be important for them to have a set routine when they got home from school. And you know, I figured last year's routine would be fine. For my then seven year old son in I added a 15 minute reading session to the routine. And I decided I decided that would also be when he made his lunch for the next day so we didn't have to hassle him after dinner. I asked him in which day he'd like to work on his new after school routine. And he picked Monday when Monday rolled around, I asked him to list off what he needed to do after school. He told me I wrote it down adding the two new items to the list and I gave it to him to copy in his own handwriting. I love this part. Because if it's in his handwriting, doesn't that translate to buy in time with Dell? I just love this. I love my ignorance with this because really it was like Well look, you wrote it. You wrote it. So you got to do it. For me and after school routine means my kids know what needs to be done and they do it easy peasy. I tend to think they want to just cruise through their tests because who wouldn't? It turns out that my son had different ideas. Here he was an almost eight year old boy with just gotten off the bus after spending seven hours away from home. He had spent all day following directions, doing the right thing tampering his impulse. Right going along when maybe he didn't want to. He spent all day like that when he got home, he just wanted to eat and relax. The routine chart we created was a mess, and wandered around the house taking forever to do the simplest tasks he wouldn't acknowledge when I'd spoken to him, and it sent me into a crazy spin cycle. I thought he thinks he doesn't have to do anything, and that I just won't do anything about it. He doesn't care about what others do for him. He's so entitled, think he can just act however he wants. He's hitting the pre adolescent boys stage. He hates me. Oh, no. There I am, right? The emotional freight train is showing up. I'm creating all these thoughts. I'm afraid for the future. I was totally there. Right creating this story of despair. Nick got ugly. He pushed against this new reality full of structure and routines. And I fell into fear. I pushed back, overwhelmed and I grasped for control of the situation. I thought I was still using my tools. I thought I was engaging him with curiosity. I thought I was inviting cooperation and contribution. I thought I was doing all the things you guys. When I asked him, What do we do with our dishes? After we eat? I scrunched up my forehead and used an incredulous tone. But the question really sounded like to my son was, Are you an idiot? I could have just said please join me on the emotional freight train. Because that's what happened. I was triggered, which triggered him and we weren't getting anywhere. The next Friday, the whole family was drawing at the counter together. My son got frustrated with how his drawing looked, and he fell apart like big time, he totally lost it. My husband tried to give him suggestions on how to fix his drawing. And then he encouraged him to start again. I added my thoughts and suggestions and his meltdown took on new energy. You're always telling me what to do. He shouted this at me. Oh, dagger to my heart. He was right. Summer ended school started. And I went into full dictator mode. And I mentioned Yes, I have, I have controlling tendencies. I'm working on this and it still sneaks up on me. You're always telling me what to do. It was so humbling to hear my little boy had enough. And he was able to tell me how I'd hurt him. It made me feel both proud that he had space to do that and ashamed of my own behavior. Once he calmed down, I got really close. And I gathered his Little Big Boy body in my arms. And I let him know how much I love him. I told him I was sorry for how he treated him. And I told him that I would work to be different. The next day I did that I worked really hard to check in with him. I asked what he thought about things I didn't assume that I knew best. I was curious about what he was doing. And thinking, I caught myself when I wanted to make assumptions are suggestions and instead, I gave him space and time to ask for help. I worked on connecting with him. It's a tricky dance. Sometimes I start to think that if I'm not continuously reminding read nagging my kids about what they need to do, they just won't do it. When I stopped having faith in my son, he started living up to those expectations. Isn't that interesting? What happened to encouragement? What happened to connection what happened to getting in my child's world, things that I know and coach others around. A few nights later, I called my son into the living room to talk about his apparent lack of desire to contribute. I told him I felt frustrated and angry because it seemed like he thought he could do whatever he wanted. I told him I didn't really know if that was what he was thinking. And I told him, I wanted to know, I opened the door. My son shared a lot with me that night, he told me that when school started, it felt like everything was different. And it was hard for him to adjust. I shared that I felt like he was different. He told me I seem to act different. I told him I wanted to be better. I told him I wanted to be helpful, and I trusted that he could be helpful too. We talked about how we both had responsibilities. We talked about how if one of us didn't follow through with those responsibilities, it would be hard for both of us and said he wanted to move his reading time to just before bed. And together we decided on 7:30pm He also wanted me to help him make his lunch. I told him I'd be happy to help. I also told him there may be times when I was busy, and he might have to make his lunch without me. I told him I knew he could do it. Big Sigh It was messy. But I left feeling hopeful. I was grateful to my son for teaching me how easy it is to get off track to get on the emotional freight train without realizing it. I'm grateful that my son knows enough about how he wants to be too Read it and feel safe enough to be able to engage in a conversation about it, even if it shows up after a meltdown. Yeah, right. Emotional free train.

Casey O'Roarty 20:17
So, this still happens you guys like this story is from 10 years ago. And I still get caught up in feeling this, like foundational fear and worry, which makes me feel unsafe. And so I get a little bit more controlling and a little bit more controlling this dynamic especially happens with Ian, who is now 17. And he still has the ability to say, you know what you're getting on my case, and it's not helpful to me. Granted, sometimes this happens after the back and forth of him, you know, now what it looks like is just retreat, retreat, retreat, I don't want to talk to you irritation. And I get to use that behavior as an indicator of like, ooh, not only is something going on, right, maybe something's going on with him. But I also look at my own behavior. And I'll come at him and I'll realize I'll say an own, Hey, I've been really controlling. And I just want to acknowledge that. And when I do that, like, everything softens in him. And he agrees usually and says, yeah, you've really been on my case, right? And it's like, the tension dissipates, and we can move towards Okay, what do you want? What do I want? What's a better, easier, more useful, more loving, more connected way of getting there? Right. So this is this holds up, melt down sometimes are a catalyst for some really beautiful openings, and relationship building, and amends making. So it's not like how do we avoid ever having meltdowns that we have to deal with? But how are we using them as an opportunity to build relationship and closeness? misbehavior is a code for discouragement. I shared that story because it's useful to know when grownups feel disconnected, under appreciated or ignored, we can fall into behavior that's hurtful, rather than helpful. When our kids feel disconnected, under appreciated or ignored. They can fall into those same kinds of behaviors. What happens, particularly with kids and their developing brains, is that when they're feeling that disconnection or lack of influence, they go into fight or flight mode. And from that place, kids mistake controlling, bossing whining, and or hurting as ways to feel belonging and significance are as pathways for getting back there. Right? Ian gave me all sorts of information about what he wanted, and what he needed. He just delivered it in a way that caught me off guard. I couldn't hear what he needed, because I was wrapped up in this experience of feeling ignored, right of feeling dismissed, how dare he, I couldn't see that he was having a problem. And the solution to his problem was to push back against me. This is totally true for adults to consider the last time you snapped at your partner. Perhaps they didn't do the dishes or left their socks on the floor. Again. When we feel connected. Inside that relationship, we tend to respond from a light hearted loving place. When we don't feel connected. We don't say hey, I'm feeling really disconnected. And your socks on the floor are making it worse. Can I have a hug? Oh, we snap. We jump on the emotional freight train and we go down the tracks of pain and more disconnection. Oh, my gosh, I'm so feeling this right now, in my relationship with my partner. And I've mentioned this on the podcast. And in my newsletter, you know, we're doing couples counseling. And it's so helpful. Because it's a reminder that when we use the processes that our counselor has provided for us, one of which is a heart talk, we call it which is kind of like a family meeting. But instead of the whole family, it's just me and my husband, when we have these moments each week where we drop in with each other and we talk about what we appreciate what's hard, what we're going to do to maintain and build relationship over the next week when we do that every week. And weird shit like the side yard situation shows up. I think I mentioned that last week. It's like, easier to let things roll off our shoulders. It's easier to be light hearted because our foundation is one of connection and mattering. So yeah. I appreciate that. Who do you want to be? So back to what I started this episode this chapter with back to intention. Deciding how you will show up becomes a proactive helpful tool and being more present, connected positive and conscious as a parent And as a partner, this is joyful courage. This is the action of joyful courage. This starts the ripple effect, it can influence the behavior of the people around you. It's the difference between responding to your external experience and reacting or shooting from the hip I like to say, when you think about the most challenging situations in your life, consider what they call for. What are they calling for? Patience, calm presence, Grace, kindness, love, confidence resolve? What are the current challenges in your life? What are the qualities that are missing? If that helps, maybe that's a different way to think about it. Does the situation call for playfulness, surrender, humor, playfulness, and letting go and surrender are all big ones for me, kids love to play, they learn through play. And when we can be playful with our requests and responses, we all feel better. However, playful is not my go to way of being, I tend to be serious and controlling. This is not useful, it shakes my child's perception of influence. Meaning the influence that they have when I'm controlling, right when I'm controlling, and I'm power overing, there's not a lot of room for places where they can take power, and where they can have perception of influence over their life. Therefore, it actually serves me to breathe in some playfulness when I know I'm going to talk to my kids about a chore they haven't completed. For example, as my children move into middle and high school, I noticed I was also being called into practicing Trust, which I've already written about. The character of Reverend Shaw, Moore says it best and one of my favorite scenes from the movie Footloose classic. He says, if we don't start trusting our children, how will they become trust worthy, it's up to us to grow our awareness and be willing to practice new ways of showing up for our children, even when it's hard to do. Try some new ways of showing up, practice them, play for them, make them your own, it isn't just thinking, I'm going to be more playful with the kids, or I'm going to be better at trusting my daughter. It's bringing playfulness and trust into your way of being in the world. It's bigger than just a concept. It can't just live in your head, it has to live in your body. You know, the end of chapter four. That's where I'm going to leave you in the book. But I am going to say like when you think about those ways of being I like to pick two or three to really practice. And I practice them. I'm actually going to talk about this later in the book. But I practice them using that process that I talked about earlier. You know, if playfulness, lightness isn't my go to, then I practice outside of the moment, finding that little speck of lightness in my body. Right? Imagining that it exists. And breathing into it and visualizing it growing and growing and growing inside of me. What does it look like? What does it feel like in the body? Because the body does what it knows. And we get to teach it something different. We get to teach it to become more familiar with compassion and lightness. So that when we're in the crazy moment of challenge and overwhelm, and we recognize okay, I'm on the train, I'm going to step off the train. And I'm going to lean towards connection and lightness. What does that feel compassion and lightness? How does that feel in my body? How does it change the way that I'm seeing the situation? Right? How does it influence what I might do or say here? So yeah, we're gonna get into this more in later chapters. But yeah, chapter four. What do you think about that? Let me know. Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. I will see you soon.

Casey O'Roarty 29:08
Thank you so much for listening. Thank you to my Sproutsocial partners, as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there. Don't forget, get your free companion guide to this series created to expand your learning and your own copy of the book by going to be spreadable.com/j C book. I'm so appreciating you and I'm here to support you and your journey of parenting tweens and teens. Find me on social media or shoot me an email at Casey at joyful courage.com to discover how we can work together. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview. And I'll be back with another solo show next Thursday.

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