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Parents often feel they need to be perfectly aligned with their partner in their parenting approach. While it is true that sharing the same overall values and standards do help, allowing your partner to parent in a way that feels most authentic to them can actually make for a healthy and diverse experience for children. And both relationships, while different, can still create secure attachment bonds.

Today I am welcoming my husband Danny to the podcast. We’ll share the lessons we learned ourselves, so you don’t repeat our mistakes. And also offer you tools we used that helped us to get on the same parenting page.

Dr. Sarah (00:00):

If we hadn’t course corrected. I would have been a source of more criticism in your mind. So you would have not wanted to receive more criticism when you’re feeling vulnerable. So you wouldn’t have shared that stuff with me. And I think the fact that you and I have addressed that misalignment, it allows us to then after things, don’t go well to come together and be like, oh my God, all right, that didn’t work. What do we do when that happens?

Dr. Sarah (00:28):

There is no shortage of parenting advice out there. I doubt that you can open your email inbox or scroll through social media without it really being in your face. And this advice comes in many forms sometimes from professionals in the field. Some from people claiming to be experts. Some from parents though, those sources are typically highly curated mommy influencers. And honestly, you don’t really get much of a peek behind the scenes. So as parents in the real world, it can sometimes feel like while you are flooded with guidance, that you’re sometimes lacking information on how quote unquote regular parents actually use and apply that information in their own lives. So with that in mind, I’ve coerced a very special guest to join us today. A regular dad. He’s not trained in psychology. He’s not trained in child development or early education. He’s still someone who’s found his own way through parenthood.

Dr. Sarah (01:28):

I’m going to introduce you to my husband, Danny. Today, we are dropping the curtain and letting you into our living room to hear about the conversations that we’ve had together. When we first became parents, we talk about the tension that we felt in our parenting, in our marriage and how we ultimately overcame that and learned to be a more cohesive parenting unit. Which does not mean that we parent the exact same way, but it does mean that we parent as a team. So I really hope you enjoy this episode, removing the pretty filter and letting you hear the raw truth of how parenting actually looks inside my own home.

Dr. Sarah (02:08):

Hi, I’m Dr. Sarah Bren, a clinical psychologist and mom of two. In this podcast I’ve taken all of my clinical experience, current research on brain science and child psychology and the insights I’ve gained on my own parenting journey and distilled everything down into easy to understand and actionable parenting insights. So you can tune out the noise and tune into your own authentic parenting, voice with confidence and calm. This is Securely Attached.

Dr. Sarah (02:41):

Do you sometimes feel that while you love parenthood, it’s also overwhelming, messy, confusing, and not exactly what you thought it would be. Do you wish you could stop worrying if you’re doing it right, and just feel confident, trusting yourself. If that sounds like you, you are not alone. I kept hearing the same thing over and over in my clinical practice. And that’s exactly why I created The Authentic Parent: Finding your confidence in your child’s first year. Whether you’re a brand new parent, or maybe you’re thinking about how to approach a second or third child with a different set of skills, in this six week virtual course, I will teach you the fundamentals of psychology, neurobiology and child development. And I’ll walk you through integrating this new knowledge into your own unique family. I will help you learn to tune out the noise so you can feel confident responding to any parenting problem that arises connect authentically with your child and truly enjoy parenthood, because this is a guided course with access to me as your coach enrollment is very limited. Make sure to sign up for the wait list and you’ll get access to register for the course before doors open to the public, go to my website, drsarahbren.com/TAP to sign up and learn more. Knowledge leads to power and power leads to confidence. Don’t miss your chance to take part in The Authentic Parent and learn to confidently move through parenthood during your child’s first year,

Dr. Sarah (04:11):

Before I ever started working with parents professionally as a psychologist, I was working as a psychologist with adults, but I was parenting as a human parent, right. I was figuring this stuff out on my own as I went. And while you could say that I had an advantage in parenting by having sort of a really deep understanding of the brain and the body and how humans are wired. My husband, didn’t the father of my two children didn’t. And we were parenting together figuring this out together. And I think it’s really helpful to hear how a dad like a regular dad. Who’s not trained in psychology who genuinely just wants the best for his kids and how he has really taken to and internalized a lot of these parenting methods that I now teach to parents. And so I’m really excited for you to hear his perspective and how he came to really accept and love using some of these frameworks of parenting that did not come totally naturally. And welcomed at the beginning. Right. I found RIE. You know, Resources for Infant Educarers, which is a parenting philosophy. And it’s, like you kind of have to study it a little bit to figure it out. I think it’s, that feels very intuitive, but it’s, it’s a little prescriptive sometimes and you know, it, it’s not always like something people want to dive right into. So I’m really excited to introduce you to my husband, Danny, the, of my two children to talk a little bit about his journey with, with parenthood. So hello.

Danny (06:06):

Hello. Thanks for having me. I’m very excited to be here and I’m a big fan of your podcast.

Dr. Sarah (06:12):

Well, thank you. I’m so glad you feel that way. How many episodes have you listened to?

Danny (06:16):

Oh, uh, 15.

Dr. Sarah (06:21):

So, okay. I’ve told this story before on this podcast briefly, but I think it’s a really like hallmark story that I actually think a lot of people probably can really relate to, which is when I was doing the RIE foundations training, which is, it was like an eight day full day intensive training in sort of the fundamental principles of RIE. I would come home every day. Our daughter was like four months at the time I was on maternity leave. She was two months. Sadie was two months. I was on maternity leave, which was the only reason I could take eight full days to do this training. And I would come home at the end of each day. And I would like gush to you about all those amazing things that I was learning and all the things we needed to try and remember, we were sitting in the family room and you, what did you say to me? Do you remember?

Danny (07:13):

Shut up?

Dr. Sarah (07:16):

More or less. In not so many words or maybe just that many words. But I think you were like, I recall you saying, I really hate it when you talk to me about this stuff. Like, and I was like, could not have been more shocked. Because I was like coming from this place of like, this is so mind-blowing and exciting, and I have to teach everybody this. And you were probably like, shut up. But why, why did that touch a nerve for you? What about all of that enthusiasm was irritating to you?

Danny (07:54):

Well, I mean, I think, you know, I had an idea of how I wanted to parents and raise our kids and for someone to come in and start telling me I’m doing things wrong, or I need to change it up or do it differently. You know, it just made it sound like I’m not doing a good job or I’m doing things wrong and you know, when you come off that way, it’s just, yeah, shut up. I don’t want to hear it. Let me be who I want to be and let me raise my kids the way I feel is the right way.

Dr. Sarah (08:32):

And I really, I mean, I remember that moment being like shocked and a little hurt, but also like I did some legit self-reflection after that. And I was like, what is going on that I’m having such a different perspective of this than you. Like, I’m thinking I’m sharing something awesome. And you’re hearing it as this intense criticism of your parenting. Cause that, which by the way, as a total side note, from like a couple’s perspective is I think a really common issue is one person thinks they’re doing something from a place of positive goodness. And the other person is feeling that and interpreting that as a criticism. And it’s like, we can be on such opposite wavelengths, but we’re talking about the same stuff. And so if we hadn’t had that conversation where we clarify like, oh, you know what you think you’re helping and it’s not helping. It’s actually making me feel frustrated and angry and judged. We would have never been able to like repair that and figure out a way to reassess and re-approach not only how we parented our kids, but how we talked about it together.

Danny (09:39):

Yeah. Well, I mean the philosophies and things you’re mentioning made sense. But it was just the way it was coming off and how you were trying to give me the information. I think that was the hardest part. But when it came down to actually like the philosophies and you know, what you’re actually trying to do with the kids and that all made sense. But it took me a time to get to that point of being able to even accept it. And, but then I also realized that I was already doing a lot of these things naturally. And then once I was kind of able to figure that part of it out, then I was like, okay, well I’m already doing it. It does make sense. Let me look into it a little bit more.

Dr. Sarah (10:24):

But you needed the space to figure that piece out on your own and make those realizations on your own. And I think this is a mistake that a lot of parents oftentimes the mother, but really it’s whoever is the one that’s I think most excited about doing something a particular way tends to preach and teach. And this is a huge parallel. I think when parenting, like, I think we want, we preach and teach to our kids and they don’t like it. It doesn’t motivate them to try something. They have to see us doing it. They have to try it out for themselves. They have to get to the answer themselves. And I think it’s true in as you know, partners in parenting. Like if I tell you, you need to do something a certain way versus I do it a certain way in your presence and you observe the outcome and you’re like allowed to come to that conclusion on your own, like hmm, that’s an interesting way of addressing that issue. It seems to work. Maybe I’ll give that a shot. But like you can’t, I can’t make you do that. You have to do that on your own.

Danny (11:33):

Exactly, yeah. It’s all about saying again, like seeing it in action, right. And it was very hard to even accept that. Even if you see it to accept it, you gotta, it’s all, it’s a mental mindset. And it took me a long time to get past all that and start putting into action. But after I got, you know, sort of understanding what was actually happening and taking a step back and watching the kids, you know, it was like, wow, like this, all right. And look. Not everything in RIE. I also agree with either. I’m not 100% on bored. But there’s a lot of it that makes sense. And that I do follow and try to incorporate, but not, not everything. You know, I still am my own person. I still have my own ways that I want to do things and you have the kids and, and still do that. But I have another level of thinking and these other, you know, scientifically proven ways of doing, you know, research-based ideas of how to do things with kids and, and incorporating that it’s in the back of my mind. And I’m using that and mixing that in with my own parenting style

Dr. Sarah (12:48):

And like, what is like, what are some of the things that click for you? That like feel okay, this, this makes sense. And I’m keeping in the back of my head now.

Danny (12:57):

You know just kind of stepping back and let the kids be themselves. Like, you know, don’t try to push them or, you know, like just playtime, like it doesn’t need to be like, Hey, play with this. Or, you know, just sit back, watch them be themselves. And you know, you do that and you start to realize like, Hey, like there’s this whole like, they can do it themselves. They don’t need us.

Dr. Sarah (13:24):

Yeah. And like, I think, I think, I think also a lot of parents like rise one way of approaching parenting. There’s a tremendous amount of, you know, sort of in this umbrella of conscious or respectful or responsive parenting strategies. Right. and I do think in our family, we kind of pick from a lot of different pools and figure out what works for our family. And also it works for both of us. Like I parent differently than you parent. We’re informed by a lot of the same things, but we are very different parents. And I think that’s healthy and good.

Danny (13:57):

Oh, for sure. I mean, if we were both the same parent, I mean, you can see it. Like the kids favor one or the other but it’s different every night, right, every day. But it’s good. They need to have that. The kids need that.

Dr. Sarah (14:10):

And they’re starting as they’re getting older, like our son is about to turn four. Our daughter is a little over two and it really started to see them develop really different types of relationships with both of us. Like, you know, Ollie has a relationship with you that is special and it’s solid, but it looks very different than his relationship with me. And I think that that diversity in relationship styles is healthy for a kid.

Danny (14:38):

For sure. Yeah. And I don’t know if that’s RIE or not, or, but it works for us. Right.

Dr. Sarah (14:45):

But I think the point of this episode really isn’t to tell people like, oh, you need to do RIE. It’s really about saying, how do we share our parenting values with our partner in a way that they can hear it and not feel criticized? So like I get it right. If you have someone barreling down your throat all day about how to parent you are going to get resistant. But, you know, once I started to find a different way of introducing these ideas, that was a little bit more open and more curious. And some of it landed for you in a way that actually peaked your interest and felt authentically aligned with the way you parent, you know, you, you did change the way you parent not that you were doing a bad job before, but again, it’s like when you have a lot of information, it shifts things, especially I’m thinking like in terms of like emotion regulation and, and helping our kids manage their feelings. You know, I’m curious for you, like, how did, when you did start to adopt some of these respectful, responsive parenting principles, how, how did it change your relationship with the kids?

Danny (16:00):

I think it was just a little more laid back and easy going. I mean, I am just generally, but just you know, like you mentioned emotion, regulation. Like I think before RIE or just, you know, all the information you gave me on RIE and all these other things. I would been more like, you know, when they’re crying or upset I’d have been, you know, it’s okay. You don’t have to cry. You know, like hide it. Which is kind of the, you know, what we kind of do in general as a population these days. But learning some of these techniques and emotional regulation stuff you know, now it’s more okay, you’re crying, you’re upset and it’s more about, okay, it’s okay that you feel that way. Letting them express that they don’t need to always be happy and smiling. They need to feel these emotions and know it’s okay to feel these emotions and just, you know, let them ride it out, let them know it’s okay. You know, try to name the emotion for them. Cause they’re learning too. They don’t know they’re having a feeling, but you know, we just need to kind of guide them a little bit. But let them feel them. And before, you know, I had all this information, I would have just been more of a, you know, tuck it away, suck it up.

Dr. Sarah (17:26):

Which probably how you were raised. Right. Cause we parent how we were parented and most people, many, many, many people were raised to, and from a loving place, like I’m your mom and dad, I love your mom and dad. Like they love you. And also they, they were trained themselves to say, oh no, no, no, no, don’t cry. That’s that’s not what, we don’t do that. You’re fine. Smile, smile, smile. And I think, how could you not do that too for your kids? Because it’s coming from a loving place. You want them to be happy. But I think when we understand that happiness is one piece and the full range of emotions is actually incredibly healthy and important and we shift, right. It wouldn’t make sense to continue to suppress all the other feelings for children when you know that it’s important that they have it. But I think you wouldn’t have gotten there if I had just said, don’t do that. No,

Danny (18:24):

There’s no way, no, I’d still be sitting here today saying suck it up. It’s okay. You don’t have to cry. But no, I mean, that’s the complete opposite of what I do.

Dr. Sarah (18:35):

Right. So it’s changed your relationship with your kids. How’s it changed relationship with yourself? Like how you identify as a parent and your confidence as a parent?

Danny (18:43):

You know, I’m not sitting here and, and I mean, when we first had our first son, I was on Google, the internet, searching up everything. How do I fix this? Or what am I doing wrong? You know, there was no confidence. But you know, as time went on and I got, you gave me some more insights on all these different things. You know, the confidence built and I’m not sitting here. Like I read articles that I see, I don’t search articles, but I’ll come across them every now and then. And you know, I already know that. That’s what I’m already doing. So yeah, I’m just, you know, I can be a little more relaxed. Know that I’m, I am doing a good job. You know, and even if they’re sitting there screaming, we’re at a store shopping and have a meltdown, doesn’t mean I’m doing a bad job. You know, it’s you know, I can’t let them sit there and scream in the store the whole time and you know, I’ve got to take some action. But you know, still, you know, letting them feel their feelings, their emotions, and helping them guide them through that.

Danny (19:52):

But yeah, just, you know, just being confident in, in wherever you are and whatever happens.

Dr. Sarah (19:57):

Yeah. It’s funny. Cause you really are the tantrum Tamer in our house, like a hundred percent when Ollie loses it, it’s you that comes in and sort of scoops him up and goes off to his room with him and sits with him and talks with him. And it’s not mama, you know, he needs you for that. And it’s really cool to see actually I love watching you with him.

Danny (20:22):

Yeah, I mean, it’s not the best of times in the moments.

Dr. Sarah (20:27):

But you have so much patience for it.

Danny (20:29):

Yeah. You’ve got to have patience.

Dr. Sarah (20:31):

But I don’t think you’d have that patience if you thought this tantrum that he’s having is a problem and something, that’s my responsibility to end. Because then you’d start to get frazzled and more worked up as that wasn’t happening.

Danny (20:46):

Sure. And also, look there are times I do lose it. You know, I do my best. But look, you know, there’s, you have lapses or whatever you want to call them. I mean, it just, yeah, like you said, we’re human. So you just do the best you can. And just as long as you’re aware of what’s going on, and then there’s a lot of times where I’ll do things where I don’t, and like I probably shouldn’t have done that. It’s not the best way. Then I’ll come to you later and say, Hey, look, here’s what happened. Here’s what I did. What do you think? And then you know, I’ll take your, your, your answer or your feedback and next time, maybe I’ll incorporate that. Or I at least thinking about. You know, just being mentally aware and just trying to be better everyday.

Dr. Sarah (21:37):

But even that just really illustrates how far you and I have come. Like as a partnership in our parenting. Like we do check in with each other when not going well. Instead of like before, if we hadn’t course corrected you probably would have never come to me when things weren’t going well, because we wouldn’t have had, I would have been a source of more criticism in your mind. So you would have not wanted to receive more criticism when you’re feeling vulnerable. So you wouldn’t have shared that stuff with me. And I think the fact that you and I have sort of addressed that misalignment and have come to a place where like, we really trust each other as parenting partners. And we let each other figure things out ourselves and you know, we don’t micromanage one another at all. It allows us to then after things, don’t go well to come together and be like, oh my God, all right, that didn’t work. What do we do when that happens? And I don’t think it’s because I’m a psychologist that you do that I think it’s because we’re a team. And so we come together when things don’t work.

Danny (22:40):

Well you’re their mom, like, you know them too. Right.

Dr. Sarah (22:43):


Danny (22:43):

So, you know, just, yeah, it’s not, it has nothing to do with you being a psychologist. It’s the fact that you’re their mom, you know, but you know them in differently than I do. And it’s good to bounce ideas and feelings off of each other.

Dr. Sarah (22:58):

Yeah. Otherwise you feel so alone in it?

Danny (23:00):

Yeah, for sure.

Dr. Sarah (23:01):

You know. So, okay. I’m thinking, I want the people who are listening here to feel empowered as parents, to be able to parent their own way, but also to feel like they have a teammate. So what would be something that like, you would want that couple to hear that you think helped us?

Danny (23:27):

To listen to each other you know, understand that you guys are going to parent differently, do things differently, but just being open to each other and the other, you know, and other information that’s out there. And just take it day by day and you know, use what you think works for you and ignore the rest.

Dr. Sarah (23:50):

Love it. Thanks so much for being here.

Danny (23:52):

Yeah. Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.

Dr. Sarah (23:55):

I know.

Dr. Sarah (24:03):

Well, that’s a little peek into our lives. I hope it was helpful for you to hear how we were able to work through our differences and ultimately come out stronger because of it. And if you want to learn about these responsive parenting principles, along with the foundational basics of psychology, neurobiology, and child development that you can parent from an informed place of confidence, you’re going to want to check out my course, The Authentic Parent. In it I personally guide you through the six week virtual program where you will learn to calmly and effectively respond to whatever parenting problem arises to connect authentically with your kid and to truly enjoy parenthood. Because when we start working on ourselves, not our partners, not our children, but ourselves, the things that we can control, the way we react, the power struggles we engage in and the mindset and expectations that we set. We have the potential to make really amazing shifts. And you’d be surprised just how much of an impact those personal shifts can make in how our children show up in the family.

Dr. Sarah (25:06):

So thank you for listening. Don’t forget to follow, subscribe, like rate the podcast. It really helps us reach families. And I’ll see you next week, right back here. Until then don’t be a stranger

18. Finding your footing in fatherhood: My husband’s journey with RIE and respectful parenting