Moms are overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt out. There is a major lacking in systems to support new, working and stay-at-home moms… so basically, that’s every mother.
It is important for us to fight for change, but the weight of that constant battle and stream of seemingly never-ending bad news can feel too heavy to carry at times.
Joining me to discuss the advocacy work The Chamber of Mothers is doing, ways you can get involved, and how to find joy in an often turbulent world is the founder of Working Momtras, Raena Boston. If you’ve been feeling helpless or hopeless in light of recent events, I hope this episode makes you feel empowered and renewed in its collective call to action and message of togetherness.
Raising your kids with, you know, nurturing and love and also with an eye towards justice, that is activism.
Dr. Sarah (00:16):
Mothers carry a heavy burden and many are doing it without the proper support systems in place. And that is something my next guest is working to change. By day, Raena Boston is a working mother to 3 children, Chamber of Mothers co-founder, and human resources professional for a consulting firm. By night (and wherever there is margin), she is a writer and the founder of an online community for mothers called the Working Momtras, a community designed to help empower moms to resign from doing it all and instead lean into their inherent worth.
Raena and I have a powerful and poignant conversation about what it means to be a mother in today’s society and how we can raise our voices to demand change.
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.
Hey everybody. So today I have a really very special guest coming on our podcast. We’re really, really lucky to have her take some time to share her insights with us. I’m excited to introduce Raena Boston. She is the founder of the Working Momtras as well as a founding mother of The Chamber of Mothers. And we’re gonna talk a lot today about what The Chamber of Mothers is, the work that they’re doing and sort of how to conceptualize motherhood as a form of advocacy in and of itself. Raena, thank you so much for being here today.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored and delighted to be here.
Dr. Sarah (02:12):
And you are, you are a mom of three, so you are no stranger to the load of motherhood.
That’s right. My kids are six, five and nine months.
Dr. Sarah (02:26):
Amazing. So you, and also we’re recording this on a Sunday because this is when moms work because we are both working moms trying to do it all, and it’s impossible to like, not be working sometimes around the clock and in odd times.
That’s right. We’re just getting it in, in the margins as I like to say. Right?
Dr. Sarah (02:47):
Yeah. Well, I’m glad that you’re here. I had really, really wanted to do an episode like this because I’m aware of the work that The Chamber of Mothers is doing. I’m a member. I think it is an incredible organization. Can you share a little bit about how you got involved with it and the work that it’s, that, that the chamber of mothers is kind of focused on?
Yes. So I got involved with the Chamber of Mothers in, I wanna say November of 2021, right when we formed. I was on my maternity leave and it was my first encounter with paid maternity leave. My other two pregnancies were not paid. It was just, you know, survival of the fittest, just like most moms in this country. So this was my first experience with paid family leave. And I was so excited to see that build back better was including paid family leave and just felt so proud that our country was finally going to do something about this. Especially after feeling what it was like to not have it and then have it. So then when it went from 12 weeks to four weeks I went on PBS news hour as a part of a segment, just to talk about my feelings about that and how angry and upset I was.
And then it got completely pulled out. Yeah. and then around then is when Chamber of Mothers formed. I had been in communication with Lauren Brody from The Fifth Trimester and The Mama Attorney, Daphne Delvaux. And I just was so angry and seeing that, you know, they were posting things and that they were starting something. And I just said, whatever, you’re starting, I wanna be a part of that. I have something to say, I have been saying things about it. My community with the Working Momtras, they are angry and they’re saying things about it. So whatever you’re a part of, I wanna be there. And that’s how we started essentially or how I got involved. And one of the things that Erin Berg who’s from Totem Women, she’s also a part of our executive team, she said, we can’t build back bleeding. We can’t build back this country bleeding. And that’s what so many of us have to do. And I, I I’ve been feeling the weight of man moms really put this country on our backs with sacrificing our careers taking over caregiving for kids who were now remote schooling. Perhaps even taking care of more elderly family members at the same time. And none of that would’ve been possible without moms making the sacrifice. So I just was just really fired up to be a part of something like this.
Dr. Sarah (05:50):
Yeah. And it’s evolved right. The Chamber of Mothers, I guess it really kind of came together around the paid family leave act, but, or the trying to get that into the build back, better act, I should say. But it it’s evolved. I think a lot since, since you guys really took off, right. Can you talk a little bit about the ways like the pillars and, and what you encompass now?
Sure. So we are not a single issue group. We know that there’s a lot of things that impact parenting and mothering in this country. And so our other pillars are in addition to securing federal paid family leave, they are access to affordable and quality childcare and maternal mental health. And all of those things go together, right? So if you don’t have access to paid family, leave, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. You, you have to be off work, your kids have to be outta school. That’s gonna impact your mental health. If you are cut off from financial resources, your job might be in jeopardy. And you have to worry about all of these things. And then at the same time, one of the things that we also have seen in this pandemic or the panini landscape as I like to call it is that childcare is a, in a, a major problem in this country. We, I think COVID really amplified and magnified and, you know, brought to light all of the cracks within our childcare system. And our government does not invest in childcare, particularly early childhood education. And it shows, it shows, it shows with the fact that daycare providers are closing that daycare providers cannot offer the wages that someone would need to have in order to have a living wage in order to take care of our children. And so all of those things work together. Yeah. And that’s how our pillar pillars really shook out.
Dr. Sarah (07:51):
And I feel like things I’ve been seeing come up recently, especially in the light of the overturning of Roe v Wade in June, is that it’s, and also all of the gun violence that’s been happening across our country in, you know, very unfortunately high volume that gun safety and reproductive rights have also been a big talking point. I think, did The Chamber of Mothers just recently go to Congress?
We actually went to the white house in the beginning of July. We had done a lot of work around gun violence after Uvalde happened after Buffalo happened. Because that impacts your mental health being afraid to send your kids to school and being afraid of when is the next active shooter situation gonna happen. And all of that is just makes it harder to be a mom in this country. It makes it harder to be a parent in this country. It makes it harder to be a caregiver in this country. So our social team, who is amazing, did a lot of work around gun violence. We had the opportunity to be on some health and human services calls. And we had just been on the administration’s radar just through some of our work. And so we got invited to the, I don’t wanna call it a celebration. But the commemoration about the legislation that just passed around gun violence and I’m speaking for myself and I’m sure many of our founding team feels the same way. Of course, it could have gone further. We wish it would’ve gone further. But it is something to commemorate that we have gotten this far. So we were invited to attend that.
Dr. Sarah (09:39):
It really shows that like, when you put this many voices together and get this loud and this organized, because it’s not just chaotic screaming, it’s really targeted, organized action and advocacy that really able to actually shift meaningful change. I mean, it’s not moving the pace that anyone wants it to, but it sounds like you guys are seeing an effect of the work that you’re doing.
Yes, yes. And that is encouraging. And it also, for me at least feels like there’s something here. And I think everybody feels this. There is something here, momentum is on our side, moms have not forgotten about all of this, and we really need to harness some of this righteous, valid rage into something powerful into some collective action into coalition building. And I think that’s where we are, is just in this short amount of time. It has shown us, yeah, there is a need for an organization like this. There is a need for more structure around this. There’s a need for you know, our pillars are, I, I feel like our organizing principles in a lot of ways and I there’s a need for that.
Dr. Sarah (10:56):
Yeah. I mean, I’m not sure the numbers exactly, but we’re talking about probably close to 50% of the population is our mothers or parents. And nobody wants to think that their kids are not being taken care of, not their children’s rights and their own rights aren’t being thought about by our government and our elected officials. That’s, I mean, it’s enough to get people very angry. That’s right. And I think you you’ve been, you’ve been talking about ways to turn that rage into something less disorganizing and less destabilizing and less defeating, cuz rage can be really ERO, like corrosive to our bodies. If we hold it in, what do we do to, to, to get it out of us and into the world in a way that makes, makes meaning and does something,
I think it is reaching for action and reaching for action. That makes sense. And so a lot of my thought process is there’s people that are already doing this work where The Chamber of Mothers are not the first people to think about, of access to affordable childcare or family leave. And so a lot of our efforts have been of amplifying the voices that are already there. So looking for resources that are already doing this work and pouring into them in whatever way that you can. So does it look like donating money to their organization? Does it look like they have a collective action for you to sign up for something and it triggers you to call your Senator? Like they take those steps because calling your Senator and even tweeting at your Senator is helpful. There is a underpaid, somebody making a tally every time you call to speak about a specific issue.
And that puts the pressure on our elective officials to do something. So action also looks like that. It looks like protesting. If that’s something that feels good to you or feels right to you it feels safe for you. And another thing that I would add is rest is also important. You know, we, you talked about rage bank can also be very corrosive and we have to be able to rest. We have to be able to put this work down. We have to be able to do this work in a group with other people because this work is too heavy and too hard and too burdensome to be, to do alone. So whether it looks like joining the chamber of mothers or mom’s demand action or any number of permutations in combinations of what feels good and right to you, that’s important.
so I would say resting and, and putting your phone down as hard as that is, cuz I think sometimes it feels like if I’m not paying attention to every single thing that’s happening right now, then how do I still stay engaged? And I think we confuse some of that righteous anger that rage with action when sometimes it’s just taking a step back. Yeah. And then also finding space for joy. I think that is so important. Because as you said, I really like what you said about rage being corrosive is it can almost begin to feel like we can no longer find what’s joyful or what’s beautiful or what’s, what’s good when there is still so much that is joyful. Beautiful and good. I was talking to Erin Erenberg the other day and she asked me that question. We were doing a IG live and she asked me, you know, where do you find joy? And I’m like, sometimes it’s just looking at my kids as much as they drive me crazy. Like just looking at them how beautiful they are and how how much they inspire me to do this work.
Dr. Sarah (14:47):
Yes. So interesting that, that that sort of anecdote about how you find joy. And, and so one of the thing, it reminds me of this exercise that I often give to parents who I work with. A lot of parents who have postpartum depression or who have challenging relationships with their kids because their kids are really intense and demand a lot of them from a behavioral dysregulation standpoint. So they’re exhausted parents who sometimes find it hard to feel that joy in parenthood. And one of the things I often tell parents as an exercise is for three minutes, maybe 10, just sit and observe your child. Like with complete curiosity, don’t, don’t interrupt them. Don’t lead the interaction at all, just sit and observe them and kind of allow yourself to find that awe and find that curiosity and like watch them solve problems. And this is true for like infants.
It’s true for 10 year olds. It’s true for 18 year olds. Like if you are feeling like you are struggling to find the joy in parenthood, like just sit and watch your kid with that intention of like leaning into just observe them. And I think that just made me think of that exercise that I give parents because sometimes it’s hard to find the joy in parenthood and it’s hard to find the joy in a lot of things kind of generally when all of this horrific stuff is going on all around us and we start to feel really hopeless, really helpless. We feel despondent, we feel rage, but we don’t know what to do with it. And so I love this idea that like one, there are lots of very strategic things you can do that sort of harness and direct your energy into something focused instead of like feeling scattered all the time. Because that, I think also happens to parents a lot, but also to balance out that with some just rest and joy and qu like quiet in that it’s like stillness
I would even say, I love what you just shared by the way. I think a lot of it is also like noticing when we are like maybe placing unfair expectations on our kids or even the world, right? Like we are using the word joy, but joy is not the same thing as fun. Like I think parenting is always, there’s always joy to be had there, but like, it is not fun all the time. Yeah. There’s a lot of it. That’s not fun. And I think that’s like a lot of, you know, this, this work too with the chamber of mothers, like there was a lot of joy in that, like we got paid leave back and build back better. There was a, that was a big joy moment. And then for it to go, absolutely nowhere, it’s just like, damn, like it is really deflating. It’s really disheartening. And even like, it’s disheartening for it to have only been four weeks that got put back in. But like this work isn’t really supposed to be fun. Right. I, I think about like, that’s something else that kind of anchors me as like, oh, it’s not supposed to be fun. Yeah. Like maybe that’s an expectation I can take off of this and that will help me better do the work.
Dr. Sarah (18:04):
There might be fun moments. Like it was certainly fun to get together with my co-founders, but like, and, and there was joy in seeing the commemoration of some gun legislation, but it also, like didn’t always feel fun. Like it felt sad to that. This is the reason why we’re at the white house is because people needlessly had to lose their lives to get some incremental progress.
Dr. Sarah (18:30):
No, this is, it’s dark work. Yeah. It’s really dark work that you do. And you can find joy in it because there are moments where there’s light, but it’s because it’s so damn dark. Like, you know, I’m a big, obviously I’m a psychologist, I’m a maternal mental health specialist. My work is highly centered around the maternal mental health. That’s, you know, that’s sometimes out of reach for a lot of families in this country and not due to any lack of effort on the individual’s part, right. People want to feel good. They want to feel happy. They want to have joy. And when they’re explicitly denied rights that allow them access to things that make their lives better, more healthy, more safe. Like it’s really hard not to feel the impact on a person’s mental health. If people get depressed, people get hopeless.
Like this, it’s harder to have healthy relationships. Like it becomes really hard to move through life. And I think your point that we can’t just try to fix it all and we can’t take all of this on ourselves and it can be very overwhelming when you open up social media and you just see one thing after the next of what’s wrong and feel this urge to it’s like almost like the pendulum swings, like you wanna help everything and in doing so feel like you can absolutely do nothing at all. Like it’s just too overwhelming and it’s paralyzing. And so I think that’s another thing that’s so important about the work that The Chamber of Mothers does is it’s, it’s like a, like a funnel or a siphon or something where you can take the sort of scattered feeling of all of us, women and mothers and people who are upset and target it into something. It gives people something to do very specific somethings to do, instead of feeling like I have to figure this out for myself,
Right. Without having to do it alone. And I think that’s so much of being a mom in this country is doing things alone when it should have always be a community or a collective or a coalition, somebody coming alongside you so that you’re not, not doing this work by yourself.
Dr. Sarah (20:51):
Yeah. So what are ways that people can involve get involved with The Chamber of Mother specifically if they’re feeling like I need to do something?
Sure. So the first thing is you can just join us. And the, the simple thing is to do, just go to our, our website, chamberofmothers.com and just entering your information. We send out a newsletter where we talk about what we’re doing. We talk about what’s next. So the next thing that we have going and we’re pushing for is to have local chapters. And we’re hoping to have those start by the end of the summer. And so that’s what we’re working on now. So just staying tuned to that, staying tuned to our social cause we do post a lot of actions that you can take and amplify actions that other organizations are recommending as well.
Dr. Sarah (21:41):
That’s great. I’ll put links to all of that in the show notes so people can, can connect. I wanted to ask you a little bit too. I know that like The Chamber of Mother started with the paid family leave and you’ve done a ton of work around gun violence with the, with the recent overturning of Roe V. Wade, what are some of the things that are happening in response to reproductive rights and access to care for women?
So we’ve actually talked a lot about this as well, because you know, it’s really hard to ask people to have children when we, you know, it all ties into our pillars is we don’t have access to paid family leave at an, and we don’t have access to affordable quality childcare. So how can you ask people to just have children? It just doesn’t, to me, it just doesn’t compute, but we have talked a lot about that. And we’ve talked a lot about the feelings surrounding that. And we have talked about actions that you can take. And I’ll just go into a couple of them. Number one is we talked about supporting your local abortion funds. Those are independent grassroots organizations that have been doing the work for quite some time. And there’s a website, just abortionfunds.org/funds, and that will direct you to your local organizations. And why that’s important is because we saw a lot when Roe was overturned about, I will house you, I will send you money. And so now you’ve created in this very strange world of the internet where there are privacy concerns where now there might be, could this potentially be used as evidence one day concerns, that’s why it’s important to support organizations that have already been doing this work we’re already established and who already have been thinking about how to best navigate a landscape like this.
Dr. Sarah (23:40):
And who probably already have systems on the ground to get aid to the people who need it the most. Right. They’re not just starting up and they’re well established.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And then I think that’s something we touched on earlier is that there are a lot of people who are already doing the work. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Right. and I think that also makes it feel less exhausting and less heavy and less room for just despair and, and then ultimately in action, cuz it’s so hard to make any moves when you’re feeling that. Yeah. let’s see, there’s a couple of other things, so donating to abortion rights organizations and those are organizations that you probably already know about like planned parenthood the center for reproductive rights indigenous women rising there are guides online. So the ACLU has a mini guide to discussion to discussing abortion rights at the dinner table.
Dr. Sarah (24:41):
I love that. I read it. It’s so good because it’s, I think a lot of times like people know they, they have this sort of intrinsic knowledge that this feels, you know, that, that I want to be able to support this movement that I feel that abortion rights are, are intrinsic rights about bodily autonomy. And, and, but I don’t have the facts. I don’t exactly know how to, how to articulate that argument based on research and evidence, which we know it is. We know there is a tremendous amount of scientific research that backs up the fact that restricting access to abortion decreases mental health among women and children like it is documented. And it is a, it’s a healthcare issue and a mental health issue. And so if you feel like you don’t know how to talk about it, we get quiet. And so looking at places like the, ACLU’s mini guide, or even just, you know, the APA, the American Psychological Association has also like a bunch of resources and studies. And, and it, I think educating ourselves is probably one of the most critical things that we can do. And that is a form of advocacy that doesn’t take money or labor
You’re absolutely right. And I think that, you know, you said something that’s so important is you not feeling like educated or having the right words or even knowing how to respond to emotional arguments that maybe another side makes or saying, how do you confront misinformation and disinformation, right. Yeah. So those types of guides and educating yourself on like, no, what are the facts? When do most abortions happen? Things like that are so important as you’re having those conversations. Because I think it allows people to maybe get out of the talking points that they’ve always heard, maybe like somebody that’s trying to argue with you and it really leaves room for a conversation.
Dr. Sarah (26:45):
Yes. Which I think is really critical. Like I wanna make a very important point that I don’t know gets, I mean, we live in such a polarized world where you just kind of eventually sort of find yourself in an echo chamber, and you’re only really talking to people who share your views. And then there’s those occasional clashes where you find someone who’s like a totally different end of that spectrum from you and it’s explosive and uncomfortable and, and, and not productive. And like, that’s never gonna get anybody anywhere. It’s not gonna get our country anywhere. Like I think a dialogue is the most important thing for change. And obviously we live in a country, that’s run by political parties that are incredibly polarized, which has made legislation next to impossible because anytime something passes in one group, the next group just shoots it down. And so we’re not getting anywhere.
And so I think learning how to have dialogue learning how to be curious about another person’s opinion, learning how to not come at this ho with hostility and to be able to say, how can we look at this with curiosity? How can we look at this from a place of wanting to understand, but all sides, all sides, everybody who believes what they believes, believes it for a strong reason. And it might be in sometimes the case because there’s misinformation and a dissemination of propaganda on all sides of the spectrum. But I think when you really wanna know what’s going on, look at the science, look at the research, educate yourself on what people know, not what people are saying. They know, but actually go to the sources and don’t trust people who don’t cite their sources.
Yes. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say. Testify.
Dr. Sarah (28:31):
Sorry. I get passionate. Cuz I feel like I, I, this is one of the things that I get so frustrated about is like we have these conversations that end up going in circles. But if you just kind of go to the research, it kind of democratizes things.
And I think that you bring up a really good point about listening to people is so important. I think one of the things that came out of, we had a meeting, a few of us had a meeting the next day with the white house partnerships office and the person that we met with his job, he was a, is a former conservative who has now is now a Democrat. And he, his first job with administration was talking to voters from the faith community and evangelical voters to, to get them to the other side, to convince them that this might be in their best interests, vote, voting wise, this administration. And so I said, or my question was, how do we talk to moms who don’t agree with us? Or maybe don’t have an opinion how do we build that coalition?
Where do we begin? And he said, the first thing that you do is just listen to people. And that doesn’t mean that you listen to people, abuse you or who are not discussing with you in good faith or who just wanna prove a point to you. But somebody who’s really interested in, in engaging and listening and having a conversation and really listening to what they have to say without being defensive, just listening. And I, that can be tough. Of course, if you believe something so passionate, passionately, that’s tough, but it’s so important that we are able to do that with people who are willing to have these conversations in good faith. And I think that last part in good faith is so important. I don’t think that we really need to be out here convincing people or proving to people, anything like let’s just have a conversation, let’s have a dialogue. Let me listen to you and you listen to me and let’s see where we get.
Dr. Sarah (30:51):
Yes. And I think you bring up a really good point, which is it’s not our job to convince or preach or change the minds of those who have unchangeable minds. Like that’s actually a very small percentage of the population of our country actually believes that the recent overturning of Roe V Wade and the subsequent banning of abortion in many states is in line with the best interests of the people of this country. I think a lot of people believe even people who are identify as Republicans who identify as religious, who identify as conservative. A lot of those people believe that there should be some level of access to reproductive care. It’s in the best interest of the health of our country. And I, you know, from a, from a therapeutic standpoint, from a mental health standpoint, it impacts the intergenerational transmission of trauma, right?
If you are having some, somebody who’s forced to have a pregnancy that they are not prepared to have or capable of having or wanting to have, we are gonna impact the lives of that mother. We are gonna impact the lives of the child that’s been born. We are gonna impact the fallout in the entire family system for many generations. And so that’s not to say that there should be zero restrictions or policies made to protect life in whatever form. Like, I’m not saying I’m opposed to this again, like it’s very much about a conversation about the middle, the middle path or, or finding a way for everybody’s rights to be considered. But at the end of the day, you cannot restrict access to healthcare and mental healthcare in the form of restricting access to abortions and then expect people to not have their be repercussions. And I think most people are interested in that conversation. They wanna understand it better. They’re not opposed to that.
I would agree with you. And also like, as you’re talking, I think about why would we want to give someone a child as a punishment? Like, what does that say to the child? What does that, what kind of relationship does that set up? And as you’re talking about mental health and trauma, like, is that really setting somebody up for the, you know, I think we’re all gonna experience life, but like, we’re certainly not setting up that child for minimal trauma if there their existence is a punishment for somebody else. Right. and then I think about how, you know, I just wanna keep bringing it back. Like we don’t have anything set up in this country to help people when they do decide to have a child. We don’t, we, there is no, you know, again, there’s no federal paid family leave.
There is no access to child childcare, that’s quality and affordable. That’s guaranteed that the government is gonna subsidize or help you with. And those things are, you know, necessary when you’re first getting set up as a parent, absolutely necessary. And I haven’t talked about this in this conversation, but, you know, I saw a meme or something that was like, most of my, it was a mental health professional. She’s like, we need to talk about how a lot of these mental health conditions are exacerbated by a lack of financial security and how money would change so much of that for people. And I think about that with my own leave experiences, I think with Aviva who’s my daughter and my last baby, how I did not experience any of the postpartum depression or anxiety. And I think it’s because I wasn’t freaking broke and worried about money the entire time. I had a paycheck for most of my leave. And I didn’t have to worry about bills and I didn’t have to worry about putting something on a credit card and I didn’t have to worry about maybe I should just rush my healing along as fast as I can so I can get back to work so that we won’t have a financial hit.
Dr. Sarah (35:15):
Yes. It’s huge. It’s huge. And it’s, you know, it’s not just the, it’s not just the birthing mother that feels this way. Right. It impacts the child because the, the stress in the family, it’s not like it doesn’t trickle down.
You know, parental stress causes child stress. We’re all a big interconnected system. And so, and we look back at generations of women who have not had access to parental leave and, and like the inequality too, because it hits different groups of people far harder than others. And there are marginalized groups that are way more impacted by the absence of fade, family leave and other types of resources for parents, like, you know, childcare, formula.
Mmm. We haven’t even touched on that.
Dr. Sarah (36:15):
Oh, no ability to pump at work. I mean, you can’t breastfeed and you can’t formula feed. What are we supposed to do?
You know, these are all very good questions that apparently nobody has the answer to.
Dr. Sarah (36:29):
Or is just completely uninterested in solving.
Dr. Sarah (36:32):
Right. Which is why we need more women and mothers and people who identify as mothers to start being the voice of this. Because I don’t, you know, that’s another thing is like, who are making, who’s making the vast majority of these laws or not making them? Men.
Dr. Sarah (36:49):
And I think, you know, going back to this idea of like listening, listening to each other, talking respectfully, being curious, these are all skills that tend to be possessed more frequently by women than men. And then not trying to brag on men. I mean, I think there’s some biological evolutionary components to this. Like this was historically in our species, the role of the women to create the community and keep the people together. And it was the role of the men to hunt and gather and provide that kind of like sustenance and survival and safety. And I believe these are traits that have been passed down in our biological genetic makeup. And so it’s interesting to me, right, that societies where there are more women leaders tend to show more kind of equitable laws, more interest in dialogue and conversation. It’s just seems kind of interesting to me, I’ll say that.
Very, and I just had a thought while you were talking we’re talking about mental health in this discussion. Of course it’s the underlying thing, right? But so often in our gun debates in this country, we talk about, oh, we need more access to mental health. And it’s almost, it’s an afterthought. It’s not a, how do we get ahead of somebody having raggedy mental health to begin with? It is in the form of making sure that they’re coming into a situation where their parents are not facing financial insecurity, where they are wanted, where the, their parents have the resources to give them the best start, give them nurturing, give them support because they are, you know, their parents are, have the resources to manage their own mental health in it as much as possible. But like so much of these gun violence debates, really to treat mental health as an afterthought, as something to be fixed after it’s already revealed itself, as opposed to ahead of time before have serious trauma, we have to undo or work with or reform.
Dr. Sarah (39:07):
A hundred percent. And I also think it’s not used, I think it’s a red herring, the, the conversation about mental health when it comes to guns. It’s like, if it really were about, like you said, if it really were about mental health, if that were really the true idea behind that, that statement after like every time there’s gun violence, the conversation switch to mental health is saying, in essence, we don’t wanna talk about guns. We don’t wanna talk about gun legislation. We don’t wanna talk about the role of access to guns. We wanna talk, we wanna distract you with mental health because the reality is, is if it were actually about mental health, like you said, there would be preventative measures put in place to actually create real mental health access. And really look at the systemic inability for this society to, you know, perpetuate mental health and wellness. But that’s not what that conversation’s really about. It’s just a deflection
Dr. Sarah (40:08):
Which is unfortunate because then it, it, it devalues the real conversation about mental health in our society.
Dr. Sarah (40:23):
So much to be solved and work through.
Dr. Sarah (40:23):
But let’s, we should think about the cuz like you were saying, and this is a really good, I think example, like in vivo of like the more we talk about this, like we’re getting depressed, we’re feeling hopeless. This is hard to talk about without feeling that sense of like, oh, have a pit in my stomach because this is really hard to face. But I often will say to parents who, I mean, Ugh, in the last, I would say three months, I’ve had so many parents in my private practice, like in my in therapy sessions, talking about feeling helpless and despondent and more depressed because of the sort of political climate of things. And so one of the things I say to people is the antidote to helplessness is action. But like you were saying, it can’t be scattered action. It can’t be total action. It can’t be, I must do everything now, cuz that will burn you out and it doesn’t do anything, any good. But when we feel helpless, finding something to do can be really helpful. And like I will often say to people, it doesn’t have to be activism. It can be just taken a shower or bacon cookies. Like it, it be finding some time to observe your kids and find that joy. Right?
Dr. Sarah (41:40):
There’s so many ways that we can take action, be physically and emotionally and mentally active in the face of our sadness and our hopelessness so that we feel less helpless. But, and then it of course can look like more, more classical activism in the like kind of what we were talking about earlier with the stuff that Chamber of Mothers is doing.
I also feel like it can be, and this is something Daphne says all the time. She’s also another co-founder I mentioned her earlier in the episode is like raising your kids with, you know, nurturing and love and also with an eye towards justice that is activism, raising happy, healthy kids who are able to articulate their emotions and know that they have a safe space to be themselves and helping kids grow into more of who they already are as opposed to what we think they should be. That’s activism cuz you’re raising your children to be, and you’re nurturing your children toward seeing you’re nurturing them towards wholeness, but also like you’re modeling for them in a very important relationship.
Dr. Sarah (43:07):
And I think that that is also activism. Like people also talk about this with, you know, anti-racism as well is like you could just start by reading your kids books that have diverse characters like that that’s activism. Yeah. Then expanding their worldview is activism. Yes. And that’s like part of our work in the world as people chosen to be parents is like raising them to, to be fully themselves, to have an eye and a desire to make things better for everybody to be inclusive in their mindset to think about not what would just get me ahead or just benefit me, but what would con what would benefit the collective? What would make society better? Yeah. I think that’s activism too.
Dr. Sarah (43:58):
A hundred percent.
And then I also think that feels less big too, right? Because like parenting is a job just like a whole nother, you know, set of actions that we’re taking to be activist quote unquote is another job. In addition to, if we have paid work, that is a job. Like we all have so many jobs.
Dr. Sarah (44:18):
Do. I think some of it is even looking like, okay, what in my current jobs can I impact?
Dr. Sarah (44:24):
Yeah. What am I, what am I maybe already doing? Yes. That is activism that I can start to log and give myself credit for. Cause I think that’s another thing is like we’re probably already doing like, I have a good, I have a good hunch that if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably trying to raise your kids in a, in, in a, in a way that is aligned with what rain is, what you are saying, right? Like people who listen to this podcast, I genuinely believe they’re here because they believe that raising their children with respect and allowing them to feel whole and to have a voice and to trust their emotions and to speak up when they don’t feel okay with something that, that, that that’s this, that is this group of people listening right now. And so like take a moment and reflect on the fact that you are already actively engaging in important advocacy by just doing that. And don’t forget to give yourself credit for the work you are already doing. Cuz that’s also important when we’re battling helplessness and hopelessness is we forget to realize I already do a whole lot. And I need to give myself a little bit of credit for the work that I do.
Dr. Sarah (45:34):
I’m so glad that you came on today to share all this with us.
I’m so glad that you had me. This conversation, I know that we had a part where it was like, oh, this feels heavy. But to me it also feels very energizing because I’m having a conversation with you. And as I’m having the conversation, I’m like, oh, this is another thing that I could think about. This is another way I could think of it. This is you know, even just thinking about, or just brief discussion about gun violence and you know, some people wanting to make it a mental health thing. It’s like, well, how do we, okay. Okay. I see what you’re saying. Even if it’s not a good faith argument, like here’s some things that we can do to prevent that on the front end. How can I get you to invest in that?
Dr. Sarah (46:18):
So that, to me, like even like sitting in some of that discomfort and sitting in some of that, like, Ugh, this feels heavy allow and accepting that allows me to move towards, oh, what about this feels energizing? What about this is making me thinking about it in a new way. What about this is making me look for ways that I’m already doing this work or I’m already like you said, how can I give my credit self credit for some of the things I’ve done? And I think so often in our society, we’re not taught to give our self credit it’s how can we do it all? We’re not doing enough. How can we do more? Oh, by the way, you’re you need to be a superhero in order to be a mom. Yeah. I’ve, I’ve absolutely loved this conversation. I really appreciate you having me off me on.
Dr. Sarah (47:05):
Me too. I feel really good about it. And it’s so interesting how, like, you know, we’re gonna go back to moming now, cuz it’s Sunday and our kids are waiting for us and being cared for by our partners and the people who build our family and like allow us do the work that we do. And, but I’m gonna go into it with a different energy. I feel like I know it just because of this conversation. So it’s really powerful to talk about this stuff.
Yes. More conversations.
Dr. Sarah (47:36):
Instagram is always great. I have a website it’s theworkingmomtras.com. But I’m very active on Instagram and it’s just @theworkingmomtras. I have an email list. All of this is kind of, I feel like I’m in a hiatus phase, like slash coming out of a cocoon, cuz I’ve been spending so much time on Chamber of Mothers and also like tending to a new baby. Right. But I am active there. I would love to see, you would love to have conversation with any of your listeners. And that’s where you can find me.
Dr. Sarah (48:19):
Yes. All right. Well we’ll put links to everything in the show notes and thank you so much for being here and I’m excited to see where this, all this wonderful work you’re doing goes.
Thank you so much.
Dr. Sarah (48:35):
Thank you for tuning in. This was a heavy but important conversation to have. I hope it resonated with you and I hope you can join me in spreading the word and amplifying this call to action. One of the best ways to get this message out there is actually very simple. Go ahead and follow, rate and review this podcast and you’ll be helping to get this episode into the ears of more mothers and parents who need to hear it. It only takes a moment, but it has a massive impact let’s band together to demand change big and small. I am so grateful for all of your support. And don’t be a stranger.
Want to get more from Dr. Sarah Bren?
✨ Follow Dr. Sarah on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drsarahbren/
✨ Subscribe to the weekly newsletter: https://drsarahbren.com/join-newsletter
✨ And check out her website for more free parenting resources: https://drsarahbren.com/resources