Being intentional about the way we parent our young children now can help lay critical groundwork that will allow them to flourish in adulthood. Lessons like independence, self-confidence, and resilience can all be fostered through helping to build emotional intelligence in our kids.
Joining me to discuss how you can help prepare your own children to tackle life in the real world is mother of 4 and Family Life & Leadership Coach, Nellie Harden.
We’ll talk about why and how you can use your parent-child relationship as an incredibly effective motivator for kids, how to help children understand the difference between fair and equal by breaking it down into terms they can understand, how trusting in your children teaches them to trust in themselves, and many other valuable lessons every parent will want to learn!
The whole point during that molding is to get them to a point that by the time they leave home, they have that courage. They have that wisdom. They have that respect to go off and have a joy filled impactful life.
Dr. Sarah (00:17):
What does it mean for our children to show authentic resilience? And how can we use our parent-child relationship and our trust in our kids to instill a true sense of self and confidence from an early age? Nellie Harden, my guest on today’s episode, is doing just that with their own four daughters and teaching other families to do the same. Nellie is a family life and leadership coach who helps parents set their children up for greatness. In this episodes we discussed Nellie’s personal journey and the hardships she faced that led her here and how you can use the lessons that she learned to help your own kids feel like valued and respected teammates within your family unit, encouraging them to succeed.
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.
Hi, I’m so excited to welcome Nellie Harden to the podcast today. Nellie, you are the founder of the 6570 family project, and I’m really excited for you to talk to us a little bit about what that is and what you do and the work you do with families.
Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on here. This is amazing. And yeah, so the 6570 family project really it took off, you know, just like anything in life. It’s this long convoluted road to get there. But I have four kids of my own that are all in middle and high school right now. And it really took we were going along and I actually lost my dad really early in life. And I kind of grew this Carpe diem, you know, type mentality from that I was only one when he passed away. And so but when we had, well for, we went through infertility and then we had four kids in four years, you know, all the things. And so we went through all of this and we kind of got into this like survival mode, right?
We’re like, okay, four kids, four years, you know, no one’s vomiting, everyone’s been fed and no one’s bleeding. Like we check the box for the day. And I remember taking naps at 8:30 at night, just so we could like get up and like finish the house or whatever for that day. But then my husband actually in 2008, went into cardiac trouble and it was it was about two years of this procedures and medications and all of these things. And it ended up, he had to have heart surgery in 2010 and sitting in a waiting room when I had all four kids with me and not knowing if we were going to have him back again and knowing what that was like for me, you know, growing up without my dad and everything, it was very eye opening and he did make it through the surgery and everything was good.
And then five weeks later, we almost lost one of my middle daughters. I have twins in the middle and one of my middle daughters had a non-fatal drowning accident. And these two events within five weeks of each other in summer of 2010, just jolted us awake. It really did. And we understood that we have a very limited time here on earth and even smaller than that, we have such a limited time as parents. And what did we actually want to have our kids walk away from this childhood experience with in order to prepare them for a grand amazing life that is unique only to them and what they’re built for. And so that is when the, the percolation, I would say, I don’t even know if that’s a word of the 6570 really started coming into play because that is 6,570 days that we actually have as our kids high impact and high influence zone right after they turn.
And of course, it’s not exactly those days. You know, some kids go off at 18 and a half or whatever, but, you know, and it’s not to say that once they leave home, we, you know, check the box and we’re, and we’re done. Right. But we do greatly shift our role as parents when they have left home. And so really just being very observant, very conscientious, very intentional with this 6570 with these days, we wanted to say, okay, this is what we want them to leave home with. That is going to best set them up for the life, the best life that they, they can live when they leave home. And by the way, we wanna have a great family experience along the way. And we also wanna grow as adults because this is 18 years of our lives too. So that’s really where the foundation of everything came from with the 6570 family project.
Dr. Sarah (05:36):
That’s so incredible. And it’s, I mean, it’s profound really. It’s like, I can’t imagine how you wouldn’t have such a, like, sort of a aha moment after going through that, in the sense of like recognizing just how precious this time is and to turn those sort of really difficult experiences into something so kind of productive and power empowering is, is really cool.
Thanks. Yeah, it was it’s, it’s been a journey and discovering along the way I come from a psychology and animal behavior background actually. And so I know I, I kind of laugh and say, I went from humpbacks to humans because I used to do Marine Marine ology work behavioral. And so, but I, I, at this point now I’ve worked with, you know, animals for a little less than half of my career, life and humans for a little bit more than half of it. And there’s some funny parallels that I gotta say that go with that, especially in the childhood parenthood arena, but anyway, just being really cognizant and curious, it really does, does come down to being curious and writing things down and trying things and being vulnerable to try things again and fall down and rise back up as a parent. Yeah, I think that’s one thing that yeah, falling down and getting back up right. As a parent, right. We do it over and over and over
Dr. Sarah (07:05):
Right. I mean, we have to get really good at that because you’re gonna fall down just all the time as a parent. And if you know that that’s what’s gonna happen, if that’s something that when it happens, you can say, oh, there’s that moment that I knew was gonna happen. There’s that hard moment of parenting that I was prepared for versus being like, oh my God, how am, how is this so hard? Why can’t I do this? Or, you know, this is never gonna be easy, getting sort of freaked out and flooded every time we struggle versus being like, appropriate that I feel this way.
Yes. And I think definitions over time have really been so interesting. And, you know, like when I think of resilience, you know, some people think of resilience and I look at like the Terminator, you know, type thing coming through and it’s like, they’re bleeding and their arm is falling off and they’re still running like a champion and doing all this. Like some people look at resilience that way. And I was like, whoa, you know, not Rambo and know I’m dating myself there, but you know, not Rambo, you know versus more the, you know, what you see in a, in a typical Marvel movie or whatever now is like, you think this person is down and they’re down and they’re, they make that decision. They’re like, Nope, I have this coping mechanism, this one, and this one, and this one. I’m gonna stand back up and I’m actually gonna be higher than I was before.
Dr. Sarah (08:27):
Yes. It’s the getting back up. It’s not the never falling down.
Exactly. Exactly. Yes.
Dr. Sarah (08:33):
Yeah. And even with, like, I remember hearing something, I probably read it on Instagram to be honest, but it was like, it was something of like a kit, a parent overheard a kid say to their mom that they were feeling brave and it wasn’t, and it wasn’t cuz they were weren’t scared. It was because they were scared and they did something anyway. And I thought that was like, yes, that is bravery. That is resilience. Right. It’s not about not having the difficulty. It’s not about not having the challenge. It’s about seeing that challenge and being like, this is hard or this is scary and then persevering and kind of staying with it anyway. That’s that, that grit that we all look for.
Yes. Because life is hard. And I think actually teaching your kids that early, not in a like, life is terrible, not in an eeyore, you know. We can avoid eeyore. Although, you know, I am huge Winnie The Pooh fan. Read The Tao of Pooh & The Te of Piglet or whatever the, the books are. But but I’m just saying teaching them, you know, life is not going to be easy, right. It’s not always going to be entertainment 24/7, right. We’re not here to be your entertainment committee. Right. And so it’s not going to be fun all the time. And sometimes it’s gonna require some really, really hard decisions and some really, really hard work. And no one has guaranteed that life is, is going to be easy. It’s just not, you know, that’s why fairness is not something that, you know, we talk about in our house a lot of times, so that’s not fair.
Well, you know, life isn’t fair either how, you know, each of, each of my kids, I call them four corners of a square because they’re all so different, including the twins in the middle. Right? And so how I parent one is going to be different than how I parent another and parent another. And so if so, and so does something and they have this kind of consequence for it. And so, and so does something and they have this they’re, oh, that’s not, you know what? I dealt with this person for this and this person for this. And we just have to have that kind of, you know, clarity, but having them being raised in that really, really helps them in adulthood.
Dr. Sarah (10:51):
I agree. And I, you know, I kind of, I present very similar things to my kids where I’ll often use the phrase fair is not equal. Right. Fair doesn’t mean equal. We don’t get the exact same things. Fairness is every kid getting what they need. And we all are different. We all need different things. This comes up a lot. This comes up a lot. When my kids get their little gummy vitamins, I have a two and a half at a four year old and their bodies need different quantities. And so one gets more than the other. That’s the dose. And every, you know, my daughter will always be like, I want that one. I cuz my son gets a little vitamin D one, but you can’t have it until you’re four, according to the package. And so she’s always like, I want that one.
And I say, you know, every body gets what their body needs. Yes. When you’re four, your body’s gonna need this one and you can have it, but just that, but I don’t say it in a tough, tough kid. You know, I say it in a, you want that, it’s hard not to get something that you want. It’s hard to see your brother get something that you want. So you’ve, I validate the, the challenge of tolerating that perceived unfairness. Yeah. But also understanding or trying to offer this kind of reframe that it’s not a fairness is not about equality necessarily. It’s about us getting our own needs met. Right. And being in an environment where our needs are prioritized and met in the unique way that they show up.
Right. I think a great example of this, especially for parents with little kids is ice cream flavors actually. So if they go to a place and maybe they’re having a family get together or whatever, and they go to a place for ice cream and one of the siblings says, I want this kind of ice cream. Okay, great. Everybody has to have that kind of ice cream and then you’re inevitably gonna have a sibling. That’s like, well, I, that’s not the one I want. Right. And I was like, well, equal, if we’re doing everything equal, then everyone gets the same thing. Right. And so it’s a, it’s a good way for them to understand, oh, wait a second. Okay. Maybe everyone getting the same thing. Isn’t exactly what would be best for me. Right. And so it’s just a good parallel to bring with them on, especially their level when you’re talking about ice cream flavors.
Dr. Sarah (13:12):
Yes. But it’s such a concrete example that I think very young kids can, can actually grasp that. So I think that’s a really beautiful illustration of that idea. It’s like motivational interviewing. It’s like getting the kid to get to the decision on their own without being like, no, no, no, you don’t want all the same flavors, but like what would happen if you all had the same flavors? Right. How would that feel? And then having them say, well, I wouldn’t like that. And now they’ve stated, they’ve stated the case that you want them to know to make, but you didn’t just tell them they got there on their own. It’s little like yeah. Kind of a, a little psych hack that I do with my kids sometimes.
Yeah. And well, that’s the whole point. And with, with us only having us as parents only having 6,570 days, and I really encourage you as a parent and a listener on listening to this right now, just when you’re done or what have you go to Google or whatever device you have in your home and say, how many days has it been since put in their birth date and then subtract that from 6570 and it makes it very concrete in your head to be like, oh, okay. So this is my timeline, right? Because when you have a timeline, you are a lot more apt to be intentional with that time, be sensitive to that time. And but the whole point that we have in this, in this childhood parenthood dynamic, this dance is that we are setting them up for life, right life on their own.
And that’s one of the parallels that you can find from the animal world to the human world, right? And we are really setting them up for a future that they can thrive in. And so the point or the point that we want them at before they leave home, is this self disciplined leadership versus when they’re born. And when they’re young, you are in a parent disciplined leadership position. And then there’s this transition that happens. And that, you know, wonderful of course not emotionally draining at all middle school, high school time. When that, that dynamic switches, right. And there is there’s tugs and pulls on those emotional, you know, strings on those mental strings that are happening with both parents and kids during that time. But the whole point during that molding is to get them to a point that by the time they leave home, they have that courage. They have that wisdom, they have that respect to go off and have a joy filled impactful life.
Dr. Sarah (15:40):
Right. And I think the fact that you use the parent-child relationship as the vehicle, by which that sense of identity and leadership and self-regulation and problem solving happens that you say, it’s not gonna just happen because I, you know, make you learn this. It happens because I live with you and I show you in the way that I show up and we live kind of as this like diad or in your case, like quad, like, you know, like there’s a lot of you, but like you’re, you’re in sync with each other and you’re using your relationship with them to kind of guide that ship a little bit. Which I think is, I think that’s where a lot of the, you know, I think our ideas really sync up a bit in our, in our work. You know, I, you were talking about this idea of like, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re doing something now when they’re young to set them up for when they’re older and to set our, not just them up for when they’re older, but our relationship up yes. For when they’re older. And like, I dunno, I, this idea of like laying the brick work now in early childhood, it’s hard work. Yes. It’s tedious at times. It’s backbreaking at times. It’s not an easy job, but damn. Is it worth it?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just drawing that parallel. You ask any brick layer, they’re gonna be like, yeah, it’s hard work. Right. And then you’re, you’re bricklaying humanity, right? We’re raising humans. We aren’t raising our kids. We are turning our kids into adults. We’re raising humans here. And so that is, it’s very interesting. When you look back, I was actually just speaking to someone earlier that was saying that they only had one child and when they had that one child, they said that they wanted to make that life as comfortable as possible. And so there was never any hard discipline. There was never any chores. There was never any allowance. It was just very, very comfortable. And this is she’s about 20 years out of raising that child now and she said, it is so interesting because I learned that I did everything that I maybe, I, I don’t like to say the word shouldn’t I don’t like to should, or shouldn’t turn people, but you know what I mean?
Like she says, I learned what mistakes I made along the way. And now she actually goes back and helps other moms with developing their kids into adults because she went through that experience and her kid did. And what they went through as an early adult was difficult because they didn’t have those tho that foundation. Right. Those landmark things that could have those bricks that were being laid earlier, they didn’t have that foundation in the future. And I mean, it could be something as difficult as knowing identity and, and confidence and that wisdom. Right. And it could be something as simple as, you know, my freshman year of college, I went and I had no clue how to do laundry. Right. I would, I, I was like, where does the soap go? I don’t even know. And I was like, this is something I probably should have figured out before I came here.
And, you know, am I wasting my dollar 75 right now? I don’t know, dollar 75 is huge for a college student that was like two ramen noodles right there, you know, and so, you know, just trying to figure this out, along the way, and you know, with wisdom, because I, like I was saying earlier, really respect, wisdom, and courage right there. But with wisdom comes practical wisdom, right? Like laundry. Yeah. It also comes scholarly wisdom you know, doing your, you know reading, writing, arithmetic type things, but even more than anything else probably comes your emotional wisdom, right. How to have a relationship, how to relate to people, how to have a conversation, how to actually have a communication, represent yourself well, know who you are, know those I AMS, you know, and all of that, if, wow. I mean, if, if you can set your kid up with those before they leave home, and of course they’re going to be further molded, right. We aren’t the epitome of our best selves at 18, but there is foundation work that can be there that then they can build on stand on and launch from, instead of trying to figure it out and lay their own bricks later.
Dr. Sarah (20:18):
Yeah, I agree. And I think, I think parents feel sort of, it’s like this double edged sword on the one hand, I think parents on some level know this or fear this, right. This, like, if I don’t do this perfectly, now my kid is gonna go away to college and they’re not gonna be able to hack it. Right. So all the pressures on me right now to get this done totally perfect. Otherwise I’m messing my kid up for life. I hear that a lot. And I think that kind of mentality or, or fear lives on one end of the spectrum. And then the other end of the spectrum is maybe kinda like the mom you were describing where it’s like, I’m so afraid of putting limits on my kid or having my child feel any discomfort that I’m gonna be like, I’m gonna back off from, you know, challenging them in these ways or stretching them in these ways because I, myself maybe cannot tolerate their discomfort or their distress or their protest.
And my goal is really just to make their lives as happy and comfortable as possible, you know, but our goal as parents, our job as parents, I should say, isn’t really to make our children happy it’s to make our children like whole and be able to have resilience and a wide range of affect that they can tolerate and have skills for. And but like, I don’t want parents to feel like they have to do everything. I also don’t want parents to feel afraid to do anything. Right. Like how do we get parents into the middle space of like, okay, I have a plan. I have a framework for how to support this healthy development for my kid.
Well, I really believe in a family being a team. And so when you, those, those parents that you’re talking about, those moms that you’re talking about too, like everything is on my shoulders. I have to do all of this, but you don’t as they’re going along, right. You’re, you’re through, you know, in general a lot of people are through that. I have to feed them or they will die, you know, first year. So, and then they start having this independence that’s growing. These kids do. And really from that young age, you can start passing on that accountability. Right? Little by little, I look at it as a 6,570 foot rope, you know, and they are standing on, on their own ship and you’re on the dock. Right. And you are passing it over little by little. Sometimes you gotta retract a little bit.
Sometimes you like, take a big leap and you’re like, here’s 10 feet today. You say a little prayer. And but then by the end of that, you are handing them over the, not the rights. That’s not, but you are handing them over the reins of their own life. Right. And so even from that young age, just think about passing the rope a little bit over to them, that’s their accountability. And so instead of having that, that world on your shoulders of everything is up to me. And if it’s not, they’re going to, you know, be blah, blah, blah, B C D when they’re off in college or beyond actually make it a team effort. That’s why I like working with the, the whole family together. Right. And so it’s not just on the mom, it’s also on the kid and it’s on the, the both parents and and siblings, even sibling accountability, right. It’s not a family. Isn’t just parent kid, parent, kid, parent kid, or however many kids there are there’s sibling accountability and a confront like positive confrontation that can come from there too. And so we’re all working together as a family. Then you can approach life. You can approach situations as an entire family, and it takes that burden off your shoulders and puts it on everybody’s so everyone can carry the load together.
Dr. Sarah (24:06):
Yeah. And then everyone gets to kind of share in that pride and a sense of accomplishment when there are successes, right. If you solve every problem for your kid, your kid doesn’t really get to share in those wins, they don’t build that sense of like sort of esteem and joy from crossing that finish line.
Yes. Actually for Christmas this year. So I have four daughters and I I got all of them, a necklace with the, their first initial on it because they’re all individuals, right. And they, they have their own lives and they their own gifts, talents, and passions and everything. But then I also got them all the same necklace with an H on it for our last name. It’s like, you are all individuals, but we are all Hardens. Right. We are all in this together.
Dr. Sarah (24:54):
I just got goosebumps, that’s so sweet.
And so, and they’re on two separate chains, right. And, and, but wearing them together, you can know I am on my own path, but this is also my, my family is my foundation. And this is where I am building my rock to go forward. And so, you know, it really is that team mentality of coming together. We actually own a family business all six of us. And in order to help solidify that, that we started a couple years ago and we love our family business and everything. But really when we started getting into it, it was about us all coming together to have a common focus and work on something together as a family, which has been amazing for us and to be able to do
Dr. Sarah (25:38):
That’s so cool. What’s the business.
It’s called The Seaglass Company. And so we actually custom make glass etched straws and bottles in order to reduce plastic single use plastic use in the United States and the world. But yeah.
Dr. Sarah (25:55):
Oh, well, what a, what a valuable contribution to society, you guys are just rocking it. I like this Harden family a lot. Well, we should put a link in the bio to that so that people could go check it out too.
Oh yeah, absolutely. And it was so cool because I mean, we started it in 2018 and let’s see, that was what four years ago. So one of my kids was seven when we started and we would go to chamber of commerce meetings and we would be invited to different events and everything to speak. And, and our kids spoke at them, like even, even at that young age, you know, my husband and I, we would, you know, teach them like this is the, you know, the mission statement of our business and everything. And when it came around to our turn, it would be our kids that got up and spoke because I’d never wanted them to think of the world as an us them. Right. I think kids have so much to contribute and their ideas and their courage and their fun and everything.
And I never want them to think, oh, this isn’t my place because I’m a kid, right? Yeah. if we can be more inclusive and, and understanding that, and they, they were able to shine in that. And when they, you know, sat down after giving a speech at the Chamber of Commerce and they’re, you know, seven, nine, or what, 12 years old, you know, everyone was so excited for them. And it was such a good boost for them. And yeah. You know, and the butterfly effect of public speaking and courage and all of that, you know, definitely went on, but standing up for, for the world in that way. And the company has made it around the world at this point. So we, I think it was last, it was last Christmas day. We got a message from someone in Tasmania that had our straws on Christmas morning. I was like, we’ve made it, we’re in Australia. We made it, you know.
Dr. Sarah (27:42):
That’s so cool. And, and I think one, one of the places my mind goes is like, okay, when you trust your kids to do something like this, they feel that trust. And they internalize that sense of how you see them, like that capability that you clearly see in them. You don’t have to say, you can do this. You’re so great. You’re not gonna have any problem with this. You don’t have to say anything. You just say, Hey, it’s your turn, you know. Or provide these opportunities. And then just say, yeah, go ahead. And the way, like the way we see our kids, what we, the, what we, the them that we reflect back to them through our own eyes and actions and facial expressions, everything is so much more valuable and profound for a kid. Then all the words sometimes, you know, and such a profound display of trust that I can’t imagine your kids don’t internalize. And then they think of themselves as so capable. And then they’re willing to take risks and do things like speak in public in front of a bunch of grownups, you know, at the chamber of commerce. Like that takes a lot of bravery.
Well, I figure it took a lot of bravery for me the first few times. I’m like, man, if they can lick this thing, you know, early, that would be great. One of my good friends Joanne Holbrook, she actually has a great book out. And and, but she’s lived in many different countries and she was talking to me last week about the different ways of parenting around the world. And in there was Germany, there was UK Italy, like all these places, especially in Europe, they breed fear completely out of kids before, you know, they’re, they’re old enough. And she was like, it would not be uncommon to see like a six year old you know, moms out in the parking lot and, and gives them money and is like, here you go. Here’s some money I need, you know, this many, I don’t know, something rolls or whatever. And that six year old goes in there and buys them. Right. Because it they’re understanding. They are a part of society. They’re not a subset of it. Right. It isn’t, they’re not a delineated human because they’re young and, and they go in there and they understand more how life works. And so that fear, especially public fear or fear in confrontation, in those things doesn’t become an issue for them. And I thought that was so interesting.
Dr. Sarah (30:22):
Yeah. It’s almost like we live up to the bar that other people offer us. Right. And if we off, we’re offered this very low bar, you’re so small, you’re such a child. You’ll never like, this is, you could never do this. Then we’ll live right up to that bar. Yeah. But if we offer this bar of like, you can do this, would you like to try it? I’m here to support you, but go ahead and see what happens. I’m, you know, I believe that this is something you can do. We live, we often live up to that bar if we have the right sense of like safety and connection with the person who’s holding that bar up for us.
Dr. Sarah (30:59):
Which makes me think too, of this, of the, that visual that you talked about, the rope. I love that. Where like the parents standing on the dock, the kid is on a ship and you’re giving them 6570 feet of rope. Right. Slowly, but sure. But I love that. It’s not like with every day you get one foot every day, you get one foot, there’s so much attunement to that model. Right. I can give you a little bit, if you only need a little bit right now, I can even pull it back in. If you need some more closeness right now, I can give you a ton. If you’re showing me that you need that and can handle that. Right. So there’s this again, the parent child attunement is such an important part of this process. You have to be clued in and reading your child’s cues and feeling their feelings to be able to know how much rope do they get today. What’s their big leap gonna be today? Or do they need to come back in and get a little closer to me today? And that’s okay too. Yeah. Like that’s, I just think that metaphor, I can so picture that in my head. I love it.
And having high schoolers and middle schoolers too, it’s very interesting because sometimes they’ll think, right. They’re like, oh, just gimme the whole thing. And you’re like, no, no, no. And you’re like, I think we need to, and that’s, that’s often a cue right there. Like we need to come back in a little bit because you’re not having the emotional intelligence in wisdom right now in order to drive your ship. You know, and, and go off. And so, but you know, so many of us remember as adults that time that either we were dropped off of college, or we moved outta the house, or, you know what ha what have you? And so many, so, so many, even today, there’s so many kids that are leaving home still in a parent led discipline state that when they are left to their own devices, they have no idea what to do.
And they just, you know, if we’re talking about a ship, they look at the control panel and they’re like, I don’t even know where the on button is. So they just start, you know, elf style, hitting all the buttons. And then they’re like going in circles and, and it’s not good. So, you know, just really helping them have experiences at home that they can build on mm-hmm when they’re out there later, whether, you know, grief, you know going through grief, going through relationship issues, friendships, you know, those fair weather friends that are going to come along in life. It’s so funny, a kid, so many times, they’re like, you don’t deal with this. You’re an adult. And I’m like, oh, everything you have as a kid still happens as an adult. Let me just let you know.
Dr. Sarah (33:37):
Yeah, you just get better or worse at dealing with it. Who knows?
That’s so funny.
Dr. Sarah (33:44):
Yeah. But I also think there’s that trust, right? Like if you, if you show a child, you can’t handle this, whether you’re maybe not explicitly saying that, but your actions kind of are like, if you’re solving every problem for your kid and I’m talking about, this could be as simple as my baby’s reaching for a ball, that’s just out of reach. And so I grab and give it to them versus my baby’s reaching for a ball. That’s just out of reach and I get down next to them and I say, oh, you, you really want that ball. You can do this. It’s oh, it’s so hard when you can’t reach. And you just sit with them in that distress, which is safe distress, right? Yeah. This is that inoculation of that uncomfortable feeling that comes over us. When we want something we can’t quite get, it’s not, you’re not teasing your kid.
You’re not leaving them alone and ignoring their pain. You’re labeling it for them. You’re co-regulating with them, but you’re not just immediately reaching and grabbing the ball and just giving it to them. And, and it could be huge things like your teenager comes home and is, you know, having a huge issue with a relationship, or maybe they’re failing out of a class and you don’t just necessarily call up the teacher and like negotiate a different grade, or you, you know, say, Ugh, that I never liked that friend. Anyway, let’s just move on. Like, you don’t need them in your life, you know, downplaying their pain or solving their problems. These are things that get in the way of that growth. Yeah. And sometimes we’re, we, we’re so focused on what we think the right outcome is, and we wanna jump to help them get there, but it might not be the right outcome for them.
Right. Right. And they have to go through some of that pain and figuring it out and understanding, wait, is this me talking? Or is this the outside world talking? I mean, we can’t deny the fact that we live in a very, very, very noisy world of everyone telling you shoulds. Right. shoulds and shouldn’t and social media is, is plain and simple. Huge, right now you can’t have a conversation, especially about middle and high schoolers and frankly, even younger without bringing in the construct and the distraction and the influence of social media today. And so really, even if they don’t have a phone, they’re seeing it out there. Yeah. Or they’re being affected by the next TikTok trend or whatever. My daughter’s school this year they couldn’t even go to the bathroom at school anymore. The bathrooms were shut because too many kids were stealing soap dispensers.
And I was like, what? Like, what TikTok trend decides that we’re going to steal soap dispensers in the middle of a pandemic. Like there seems to be some issue there. Right? Yes. And so they’re, they, my point is they’re affected no matter what, if they have a phone in their hand or not. Yeah. So it’s just, it’s another layer on that parents have to deal with today that frankly, yeah. I didn’t deal with when I was their age. And so it’s, it’s a learning process and being vulnerable to that as a parent and as a kid in this team that you are as a family is very important
Dr. Sarah (37:03):
And you bring up a interesting challenge for parents, cuz it’s like, okay, for our kids who are like seeing some trend on social media that they, you know, that upsets them or if they, they want something and we’re not giving it to them. And that’s really upsetting for them in the context of like some technology thing or app it’s a lot. I think it’s very easy for us to dismiss that pain for them and be like, you know, you need to get over this. I didn’t even have this when I was a kid and I was just fine. And, and at the same time, not necessarily give in to something that feels like antithetical to the boundaries that you wanna set up for your family. And it’s, it’s a hard, it’s a hard path to kind of navigate as a parent because hard, we really do wanna validate their experiences while also feeling like we can set limits.
And then on top of that, we wanna create educated consumers of technology. So we have to figure out like you, can’t just, I don’t think it’s healthy to just deprive and, and, you know, restrict entirely because then you get very hungry kids, you know? Right. And you have to figure out ways to give them to use your metaphor, the appropriate amount of rope to safely experiment and figure out what they’re, what the, how to navigate these waters while staying safe and close enough to us. And you know, we’re talking about laying bricks now when our kids are really young to make sure that, you know, we’re, we’re creating healthy adults. We also wanna make sure that we’re approaching our children’s experiences with enough respect and safety and curiosity, rather than judgment that, you know, our kids come to us when they’re teens and they have problems and something goes wrong and they made a mistake because they know we’re safe. They know we’re not judgemental. They know we see the good in them, no matter what, right. Even if we have firm boundaries and clear expectations that we are consistent in holding up and they’re reasonable and all that stuff, that’s important in parenting, but we don’t how we deliver it matters.
Oh, so much. And a side note with the, the social media too, is that we right now, so when I was growing up, I didn’t have a, I got my first phone in college and then I you know, had social media came around what, 2007. And then it’s really blown up in the 2010s. And so that’s and where we are at right now. So if we don’t help them have healthy boundaries with real life versus social media life, the metaverse is coming. Right. And that is an all immersive literal other universe. I know, I know I’m cranking too.
Dr. Sarah (40:04):
This, I don’t even know. I don’t know how to understand what the metaverse is. I had to, I need to, someone needs to explain that to me. I just, it makes my mind bend. I don’t get it. It
Does. It does the day it came out or that Zuckerberg announced that it was coming. And he’s not the only one he’s just the first like big, big company that has announced that they’re, they’re dumping billions into this. Which means it’s happening all that much faster. Right? Yeah. And the day that he announced that I wrote down in my morning journal time, I said, I will remember this day because it is literally a humanity pivot right now today. Humanity is pivoting. And so when we don’t set them up to understand the, the importance of actual real life interaction, communication, human connection, if we don’t set them up with that now, then when this other universe that they can just go and be in and be, have whatever new skin they want, right. They don’t have to live in their skin. They can get a new skin.
It doesn’t matter. And if things don’t go right with that skin, guess what? They can be a new skin tomorrow. And so it does not help them at all with resilience and character building and identity at all, because their identity is shifting every, it could shift every five minutes if they wanted it to. Yeah. And they can keep reinventing themselves. And if they, if they are immersed in world, we’re gonna have some really messy, actual humans that are running the world because they’re our future, right? They’re the future leaders of this world. And we got enough issues that happen in this literal planet. Like we don’t need to invent more issues on another universe plane. So
Dr. Sarah (41:51):
I’m gonna have nightmares tonight. So great. But to bring people back to this universe, because if we get too far into that world, we’re all gonna be anxious parents, and we need to ground ourselves in today. We’re here, we’ve got our kids here and what can we do? Let’s think of like one big takeaway that our parents can kind of do tonight or today, whenever you’re listening to this, that’s gonna help them lay a brick for the, the long term.
I think the most powerful thing you can do as a parent, like starter brick is to be vulnerable. I love when a parent sees something, their kid is going through bad grade. Maybe it’s a good grade. Maybe it’s a, an issue with a friend. Maybe they’re interested in something, but if you can share a story that makes you more than just mom or dad, or what have you, and makes you more of a human that they can actually learn from. Right. I think that’s so powerful and be like, you know, Hey, I know this is a tough time. I actually went through a time that was much like this, of course, you know, we didn’t have a phone or maybe it has to do with that. Or maybe it’s a teacher at school, or I had this teacher once and this is, you know, what happened?
And I was really scared or, you know, it really bothered me or bring it all the way up until, you know what, yesterday at the office, there’s this, you know, woman named, I don’t know, Patricia. And she is really grading on me. Do you have any suggestions on how, you know, I can help deal with her, right. And bring them into the fold of your own life, because that shows trust. And you’re putting them on a level of giving you advice. And it changes that dynamic so much instead of big parent little child, right. It puts you on a more even playing field, even though you’re the captain, right. You’re still the, you’re the captain of the team. And that is the dynamic. But giving them, trusting them enough to give you some advice, I think is so powerful for both parent and child.
Dr. Sarah (44:01):
Yeah. And I like that that point you make that you’re the captain, right. You’re holding the space. You’re not asking them to fix you. You’re not asking them to make you feel better. You’re asking them how to problem solve. Right. I think that distinction is really important and is so powerful because there is where you’re giving your kids so much trust. Right. Right. Grown up problems can be solved by a child because we, because I trust that you have wisdom. Yes. And I’m curious about what wisdom you have. And yeah, I think that’s a really nice brick that we could all lay with our kids. You know, it like, it’s very tangible, it’s very concrete. It’s very doable. And I think it’s very powerful. So that’s thank you for sharing that.
Dr. Sarah (44:48):
And thank you for coming on. This has been such a lovely conversation and I’ve, I’ve really loved your use of metaphor in the work that you do because I’m a, I’m a sucker for a good metaphor. And I love that visual. I’m definitely gonna use that idea of a rope and the boat and just being that synced up parent, that can say my goal is to get you to the end of this rope so that you can navigate the ship, but I’m gonna hold it. And I’m gonna, I’m in charge of kind of knowing when to reel it in a bit and when to give slack and what, you know, that’s, that’s my job, but I still see you as like the captain of your ship. Yes. And I’m like your anchor, I’m holding you where you need to be. And that’s, I think really beautiful.
Dr. Sarah (45:36):
Thank you so much for coming on and we’ll talk soon.
Okay. You’re welcome. Thank you. Bye bye.
Dr. Sarah (45:46):It is never too late to build resilience, but the earlier that we start, the easier it will be for our children to strengthen those neural pathways in their brain. In my free guide, Fostering Resilience From Birth, I’ll help you make some simple and easy changes in your interactions with your child to build their distress tolerance, their growth mindset and their self-esteem. You’ll learn four pillars of building resilience that are already a hundred percent within your control and the impact that implementing these steps and simple behaviors can have on your child. To check out this free guide Fostering Resilience From Birth, go to my website, drsarahbren.com and click on the resources tab. That’s drsarahbren.com. Thanks for listening. And don’t be a stranger.
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