The stereotypes surrounding fatherhood often revolve around a disengaged father figure described as “baby-sitting” their own child, lacking deep emotions, and blindly following their wife’s advice.
But that is far from the reality for most modern-day fathers. Here to give us that often elusive real dad perspective is father of two and therapist, Eli Weinstein.
Eli will give us a peek into the mind of a dad, discuss the importance of men finding their own community of support, and share the strategies he and his wife have implemented to help them create a true partnership in parenthood.
We’ve had these conversations about what we both need and what our limits are, what frazzles us with each kid. There are some things about my daughter that frazzled me, that my wife can deal with it in three seconds. I don’t have to understand why it frazzles you to help you.
Dr. Sarah (00:19):
A lot of parenting content is often geared towards moms and dads can sometimes feel overlooked and underappreciated. But parenting is truly a team effort. Here to give us that dad perspective that is grounded in his work as a licensed clinical social worker and a dad himself is Eli Weinstein. Eli is the host of The Dude Therapist podcast and has over 18 years of experience working with individuals and couples. If you’re a dad and you are still searching for your parenting community or a mom that wants to peek into the mind of what your partner might be thinking, this is an episode you won’t want to miss.
Dr. Sarah (00:53):
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 (01:26):
Hi, I’m so excited to introduce our guest today on the podcast, Eli Weinstein. He is a licensed clinical social worker and he’s a dad and I’m so excited to have you on the podcast.
I’m so excited to be here and to really have a fun conversation and a real conversation about everything.
Dr. Sarah (01:50):
Yeah, no holds barred. So, so first, can you share a little bit about, you know, like how you got into this work and you know, a little bit about where, where you’re coming from?
Yeah, for sure. So as a kid, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was around eight or nine years old. And I started going to therapy and getting mental health treatment and it kind of opened my eyes to the world that someone can have in your life. The impact that a school counselor support of the person, who’s not your parents, who is not a friend who was there bought in to you to help you be the best that you can be, whatever that means to you. And I was like, you know what? I was always that friend who always was in the corner, chatting with all the people about their issues. I was always that person who was the listener and giving advice, even though I had no idea what heck I was doing at like teenage years, like about girls, like what the heck did I know?
But people would always come talk to me. I think it’s because I have big ears, which you can’t see, cuz I’m covering them with my head, my, my headphones. And I said, I, I really wanna do this. What can I do to help people? What can I do to be involved with people? What can I do that taps into my energy and creativity as a therapist sorry with ADHD. And you know, isn’t so stagnant as a job changes every day. Even with the same people every week. And I fell into being a therapist and I love it. I love how the mind works, why we do what we do, the patterns, behaviors how we say things, how we talk to ourselves, how we interact with other human beings getting goosebumps. I just love it. I it’s like my it’s like, I love what I do.
It is who I am. And it makes me happy and I feel very fulfilled as a human being. So I’m excited to talk about what that is. Yeah. And there’s only one other thing I feel this way about, and that’s being a parent and my wife, of course, you know, I love my wife and she’s all on there. I promise, sorry, didn’t say that first but no, but being a family person is like something that’s very part of my core value. Yeah. So like, that’s just like, it also gets me pumped and excited. So I’m, I’m excited to be here.
Dr. Sarah (04:05):
Yeah. And it seems like you found a way to blend the two, right? Like how old are your kids?
My oldest is three and my youngest is four months old.
Dr. Sarah (04:13):
Okay. So you’re like deep in the thick of it
And I, oh my gosh. The thick of it is the word. Yeah.
Dr. Sarah (04:18):
Yes. I feel like I, I too feel like I’m in the thick of, I have a four and a half year old and a, now three year old. So they’re close in age. I feel like I have, it’s two toddlers against me and my husband at all times. It’s, it’s exhausting, but it’s like, you know, I too. And like I love therapy and I actually didn’t start out being a parenting support specialist. Like that. Wasn’t what I did. I did. I worked with like adults with trauma histories and it wasn’t until I became a parent that I sort of moved into this space of trying to help parents understand attachment and end and healthy child development to like, kind of be more preventative. So we didn’t have the trauma in adulthood stuff. So, you know, I’m curious, like how did you get into the, the work specific, like around supporting parents and helping talk about, you know, sort of parenting from a, the lens of fatherhood?
Yeah, it was that when I became a dad I’ve wanted to be a father since I was like 15. Like I, since I remember, I don’t know, I’m just saying that number. As an Orthodox Jew, family’s very, a very central part of our life holidays, you know, ceremonies, rituals involvement of a community which is really beautiful. My wife and I went through infertility and it crushed us cuz we’re like we did, we wanted this so bad as a unit. And now we have two kids through IVF. And in the beginning, when I first had our daughter had a massive blowout, panic attack, I had postpartum anxiety actually, which I didn’t know was a, a thing in men. Yeah. Until I had a great conversation with a specialist about it. And I was like, I gotta learn more about what it means to be a parent, a healthy parent.
Let me, let me look at my family structure and parenting. Lemme look at my wife’s and I started reading all these books, research books, self-help books about parenting making sure that there’s some truth and reality to it. Not just a self-help book that is from some random person in Oshkosh Pash in the middle of nowhere, but like something based in, in, in, in some research opened my eyes and I went, I need to do this for other people because as a dad starting off, there was nothing for me. My wife had so much support. Every Instagram account, every Facebook group, friends who were moms were talking about what it meant to be a mom and what, and the, the struggles and the happy and the joy and the sad and the despair and the hope and the excitement and all the emotions.
And the dad just sat there and I’m like, so you watched the Lakers game and I’m like, yeah. You know, I’m really struggling as a, as a, this that, oh yeah, yeah. Cool. And that was it. And I’m like, maybe that’s just me. So the struggle I have is that with my ADHD, I’m a very emotional person with that comes awesome. Like I love being emotional, but I don’t relate very well with a lot of other dudes who are not emotional. So I thought, Hey, I guys are talking about this more because I know they’re thinking about it. Yeah. Because, and I know they’re struggling and I know they’re not doing great. So let me talk about it. Just that there’s another guy out there doing, feeling being and if you don’t wanna talk about it, that’s fine, but I will. Right. I’ll do it.
Dr. Sarah (07:40):
It’s interesting. As a mom with ADH, I could very much relate to this idea of like, sometimes we don’t have a filter. Yeah. And like there’s some magic to that too. Right. Because we’re saying out loud, the things that a lot of people are inhibiting, cuz we can’t inhibit so well and so we just say it and it’s like, we have the feeling and then we talk about it and it’s not that other people aren’t not having the feelings it’s that they’re inhibiting and people can get really, really good at inhibition of talking about feelings. And I think men, especially culturally and maybe even bio biologically to some degree inhibit talking about feelings with one another. And when you’re a parent, like you need that community to start talking about what’s happening. Otherwise every parent’s reinventing the wheel by themselves, they’re feeling super isolated. They’re probably feeling inundated in, in stuff that like there are solutions for it just, we’re not like there’s no support and I think dads feel it more profoundly than women.
Literally. my son who’s four months old has been struggling with sleeping at night. He has tongue issues and all these different things, tongue ties, whatever the ties he had. And it’s been really, really a struggle for us as a couple, as a unit to not sleep well. And, and my wife posted in a Facebook support group for moms and got so much love and support of from other moms saying, oh yeah, my kid did this until six months old. And then it changed. And then this happened, I tried this and we had friends over for Memorial Day and the wife like helped out so much and just showed up as a friend and gave us a piece of advice that she worked for her kid. And my son slept six hours straight last night. Ah, right. Which like, like I didn’t need coffee this morning.
Like that’s how I felt. I felt like a new person and the husband who we, we, we, we, you know, joke around, we talk about Marvel. We’re very nerdy in that way. We talk about star war, whatever we’re talking about. But then all of a sudden it shifted and said like, I’m so sorry. You’re like he started a conversation and that’s a person in my tribe of guys that I have found that are real, that I know that if I need a real conversation with another guy, who’s in a similar situation, he’s one of my first calls. So that has helped me is to pick up on, okay, so those friends are dudes and guys and, and they, they serve certain purposes of talking and being, you know, bonding and growing out, whatever that means. And then I have other friends who are, I can do that, but I also know that in the flip of a hat or a switch that I need, that they show up in a different way that is deeper and real and supportive.
Like my wife is getting from her friends. And that’s, you know, if you read there’s a great book for any, any, any guy who might be listening or, or a woman who has a guy in their life, Justin Baldoni’s book, Man Enough is something that is so powerful because I cried reading it because it opened my eyes to a man who looks like he’s got it. All the hair, the family, the career he’s, he’s pretty darn good looking. And he has this tribe of bros that he has a retreat every year that he takes them like these four or five friends and they just let it all out emotionally. He created that. He found that because he needed that. So like, it was a very eye opening experience to see that someone can do that. And that’s a huge suggestion. I give to a lot of people who call me and, and, and, and women who say like, how do I have give a space to my husband or to the men in my life. It’s about having them find their tribe that is deep and real. If they want it.
Dr. Sarah (11:25):
It is. And it’s hard to find, I would imagine, like, I think some people have those relationships they’ve had ’em their whole lives. Like, I think about some of like the men that I’ve grown up with, like the group of guys that I like went up, grew up, going to high school with that. We had this like very close group of friends and a lot of them are fathers together now. Like, and they, they do have that, like, they’re they’re, they were such good friends growing up and they were so intimate and vulnerable and real with each other. And now as dads, like, I I’m, it’s a fantasy. I’m not totally sure I’m not privy to it. But I imagine I picture all these guys who I know as fathers. And I’m like, I bet they are calling each other when they’re struggling. And I bet they, cause I know them and I know they lean on each other and I know they have that emotional safety with one another. I also know that’s kind of rare.
Yeah. So like I know not to call out people in my life, but I know that I can talk to my father-in-law about real emotions because he just is, is very much more in tune to that. And my father is, it will not be as responsive emotionally, but will hear me. So I have to figure out for myself as a man who and how I speak to certain people to get the response that I need. Yeah. And that’s something that I think we all need as humans is we have to find the people and create the boundaries as an adult of what we’re like, how we’re getting and how we need to get that from people in our lives, because we can’t rely. And this is something that I think a lot of us in our relationships, my part of relationship work is that we can’t drink from one cup only to get all the nutrients that we need for ourself.
Yeah. For sometimes we need something extra that’s or different that doesn’t detract from our partner and spouse. Right. My wife is not lacking because she can’t give me certain things that my bro friends or my dad or my father-in-law my mom, my mother-in-law my brother, my kids, whoever it is in my circle, my unit can give me, my wife still gives me things that they can’t. Yeah. But it’s not all on my wife to give me everything. Cause that’s not fair to her because she sometimes can’t right. Not that she’s bad or there’s something wrong with her. She just can’t. Right. same thing for me. Right. Sh I can’t provide her everything that she might need to be the full self that she needs. And that takes a lot of hard work. When we look at someone we’re like, you’re, but you’re my partner.
You know, you, I just, you have to gimme everything. Like, no, I can’t, well, what are you here for then? Right. Right. That’s a conversation happens sometimes in relationships. Like you can’t gimme this, that, and the other thing, why am I with you? Well, I can give you things that no one else can and you need to find it somewhere else. So that’s why a lot of guys go to sports or to, to working out or to whatever it is that they do. I just give two classic examples such a bro thing to say muscles and sports. But that, that’s true that they find other supports in different ways. That’s not their partner. And it doesn’t mean that partner’s lacking.
Dr. Sarah (14:28):
Right. And I think that there’s this, there is this nuance to that idea, this permission for one, for us to kind of go inward and say, what do I need? How do I ask for it? And also, how do I find it in the right places? Like, I can’t just ask one person for everything. It’s important that we have the capacity to know what we need to be skilled enough and brave enough to ask for it, but also to know where to ask for it. And it shouldn’t like, I love that the metaphor that like you, you will get all your nutrients. If you just drink from one cup, like you need diversity in, you know, your environment. And so I think it’s very empowering for, for women and for men to hear that permission to say, like, go, and I do think women are a little bit better at this than men of like, of fostering and nurturing friendships outside of their nuclear family.
I think sometimes in the thick of motherhood, you lose that. You isolate, you get kind of lost in motherhood. And I think that’s a big part of the work. I often will work with mothers on. And because, and it’s about getting back into re expanding that, that self up to more, like, I often have this exercise. I have parents do where I have them think, create like a pie chart of like the different slices. It’s like, okay. Your relationship to your child, your relationship to your partner, your relationship to yourself, your relationship to your family, your relationship to your friends and your relationship to work or, and add in anything else that’s significant to you, but take a peek at the ratio there for many new parents, it’s just my child and maybe my partner, but my relationship to myself is a sliver. My relationship to my friends is a sliver. And like, we, it’s not like you, everything has to be even, it just, it needs to be, we have to figure out what balance works for everyone. And usually something out of whack.
I love that. I love what you just, I just literally spoke to a client last week about this, the idea of the ratio balance of life, that, and, and the pendulum swings, depending on where we are in our career, in our personal life, when our kids grow up or just born when we first get married or start a relationship, the ratio shifts amongst that. And it’s just about taking an assessment. Okay. So what’s my ratio. Now what’s the balance of that ratio? How much can I give to this versus that? Like for example, my wife and I are leaving New York and moving to, to the west coast and we’re super excited. My kids are coming to and right. And we’re super excited because we want to create a ratio of quality of family time that we don’t feel we can get right now in New York with the access, we have the financial ability, all those different parts of ourselves.
We want to actively shift that ratio and balance for ourselves. But for some people that doesn’t matter, right. They wanna shift it a different way, the ratio and, and this and that changes. And as long as we are being honest with ourselves, which is, I think the hardest part, what you said before about knowing, knowing what we need is a very hard thing. Sometimes, because sometimes we haven’t asked ourselves that, like, what do I actually need from a relationship? And then on top of it, do I feel comfortable asking for it? Yeah. Even if I know I need it. So like, for example, sometimes I will like my wife, let’s say, we’ll need a break. And she’s afraid to ask because I need a break. We both need a break. So last week I said to her, I said, Hey, I see, you’re really struggling.
I have like three hours open in my schedule. I want you to go get a massage. That’s like, I can’t provide it. I just, my hands get tired. I’m not as good as a real masseuse. Just a different experience. Right. So like, great, I’ll do my best, but let’s go to a professional and help you out and help, help you feel relaxed. Right. I can’t provide that. I got the kid, my, my daughter was in school. I got our son go. And that’s something that I can give to her that she didn’t ask for. But what if she does ask, can I say, yes, let’s do that. So I start a practice in my relationship. I try to practice what I preach sometimes just to try to be, try to be, you know, real person <laugh>. And I say in the, let’s say in the beginning of the day or the night before I say, what do you want to get at it tomorrow?
Or what do you want to get at today? And she asks me that, so this morning, she really wanted to go on the Peloton bike. So I made sure to be able to give that to her. And she asked me, what do you, what do you, what do you need? I was like, I really want to be on this podcast, right. With the freedom of mind that I’m not needed, right. The space to be able to, you know, focus on, on this. And that’s my self-care or that’s my joy or that’s my, okay. Now we know, thank you for sharing, whatever it is. We say, love you lots. Let’s make it happen. 1, 2, 3, go team go. And some days it’s a possible and some days it’s not, but I don’t think men ask that a lot. And I think sometimes, like you said about like parenting styles, we don’t express ourselves well enough to even have the conversation, to bring, to be brought into a plan or to feel a part of a plan. Yeah. Or feel heard in a plan or feel comfortable to express ourself in a plan. Right. And that’s an argument and the conversations happen. Right.
Dr. Sarah (19:51):
Yeah. And it’s interesting too. And I think it’s not, it’s not necessarily all the dad, you know, all on the dad to, to be invited into that space, right. Like, yes, if you are a, a father, you are not the babysitter, you are a partner in this, it’s your responsibility to show up in the parenting, but then there’s this other piece. And I know I’m guilty of it. I coach moms all the time on this is like, we get to be a little too gatekeepery of all of the parenting tasks, especially in the beginning, cuz we’re anxious and we’ve done all the research and we’ve spent nine months being obsessive about like exactly how things are gonna go. We have the whole picture in our mind. And then our husbands will come into the room and be like, no, no, no, we got this, we got this. Yeah. And so the beginning of having this new child, sometimes we inadvertently accidentally kind of elbow them out and they don’t get to feel that sense of confidence and competence and mastery that women tend to start to build in the first like bit of parenting. Yeah. So we gotta let ’em in. Oh,
I love that because I know for me the biggest key to feel, to feel like a real parent was when I took paternity leave. Mm. Cause my wife had to go to work. We didn’t wanna get a babysitter yet. And it was just me. I had to figure out not what you did that works for you for our kid. What are the basic requirements for a parent in the beginning, they are fed they’re alive and they are somewhat happy because newborns cry for random reasons that you just don’t know why, they’re clean. Right. They’re sleeping. Right. All the things that are basic requirements that we need as human beings, how you do that is dependent on the parent. So for my wife, it could be a different style of rocking our child to sleep. But if I find my dance that works and my humming or my tune or my way of doing, does that make it wrong? No, it makes it that that’s my energy and vibe for like the way I put my three year olds to bed, I call her the Richster her name is Ricky. I go, the Richster to bed is very different vibe than my, my wife not wrong, but different. My father, when she, when he puts her to bed also different, my mom different, my mother-in-law, my father just were different. Yeah. But she’s still getting to bed.
Dr. Sarah (22:08):
Yeah. And she’s probably learning to have safe relationships and safe attachments to all you different individuals and that makes her world feel safer.
Exactly. And the, and I know, you know, this is something that you specialize in and do so beautifully. Imagine the mom, let’s say we’ll just use the mom for an example is the only one who puts the kid to bed because she wants it done the way that she feels is correct or right. What that does is the connection now to that relationship is the only person who can put that child to bed is you. So when you want a break or you can’t, or there’s another child now who needs, you let’s say a newborn needing to breastfeed and what do you do? We need to expand and let people come in. So that it’s not all on you. The burden isn’t all on one partner. Right? Because my daughter now knows that she can feel comfortable to go to bed with anyone that’s in our circle.
So that if I want a break, my wife wants a break. We know people can do it. Yeah. And my daughter feels safe and comfortable. And like you said, that elbow out the research shows it happens not on purpose, how that we are just moms, aren’t doing it on purpose. It’s that usually moms have maternity leave. The birthing parent has maternity leave to have the space, to learn their style, get their, their sea legs. Right. And have that confidence and men society doesn’t bring a lot of paternity leave into a lot of businesses. Yeah. So you can’t or
Dr. Sarah (23:40):
Afraid to take it because
Exactly. Cuz then you’re gonna lose your job.
Dr. Sarah (23:44):
They’re as acceptable even though you, like, I think that’s why it’s so important. Men have paternity leave. They have to take it
A hundred percent.
Dr. Sarah (23:52):
There’s no way this cultural shift will happen. Unless one business is offer it, but men need to take it.
Yeah. And then it creates that confidence that you can do it and that you don’t, and that you have to find your energy to that child to build that connection. But I love that you said that idea that sometimes it’s just this inadvertent way of pushing someone out. And they don’t feel a part of it. Right. And not that you’re doing it to be mean, but you’re doing it out of survival for the kid. Right. Because you think that that’s what has to happen for the kid to be okay.
Dr. Sarah (24:25):
Right. Which I think is also, and like there’s so many layers to this, but like it speaks again, culturally, I think to this pressure that women are kind of inundated with that. Like you need to be the mom who does it all. You need to be the perfect mom. You need to be the martyr. And so these women very understandably feel as though it’s all on them and then it gets played out. So it’s like, everybody’s got these stories that they are, are maybe not so aware that they’re telling themselves about what parent it needs to look like. And for the dad, it might be I’m out of my league. I can’t do this. Right. I I’m, I’m out of my depth and for the mom, it’s like, I have to do this all. And when we have those two people telling those stories to themselves, what’s gonna happen. It’s gonna be really imbalanced. And everybody’s gonna feel the effects of that, including the kids and it’s not, I mean, the only way to correct for that is to start talking about the stories we tell ourselves, looking at where they’re coming from. Most of it is societal, most of it’s systemic. But like, and, and shifting those structures so that the stories change.
Yeah. I think that’s too important because, and a lot of times it’s a couple sitting down and talking about how they wanna do things differently than maybe they were taught and also what works for them and the balance and the perspective of the other person of like, if the birthing parent is really overwhelmed because they feel everything’s on them or they feel the need to be super mom letting sometimes men aren’t aware of that pressure cause they’re not, they’re not moms, they’re not women. They don’t understand the pressures of society bringing into the, the motherhood thought process to sit down and say, Hey, like, I just feel like I have to do every, like just sometimes the conversations, breed, awareness. Yeah. And understanding where the guy goes. I never knew that. Wow. You, I didn’t, oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. Or in a, hopefully a healthy, loving relationship. What can I do to take that burden off?
Dr. Sarah (26:29):
So, and, and like I said, sometimes with my wife and I it’s literally just having conversation daily, cause each day changes like what can I do right now? What do you need? What can I help? And that’s for both of us so, and it’s, or sometimes it’s just a look like when I try to put my son down, it’s it’s been like 45 minutes and it’s been three to four tries of putting him down. I will walk out of the room with a certain face and she goes, okay, I got it. And vice versa. Right. Because we’ve had these conversations about what we both need and what our limits are, what frazzles us with each kid. My wife used to be overwhelmed by my daughter playing the dead fish thing, you know? And they like, like they, all of a sudden they have no bones and, and my wife would be like, I can’t deal with this. Right. And I would come in and deal with my daughter. And there are some things about my daughter that frazzled me, that my wife can deal with it in three seconds. I don’t have to understand why it frazzles you to help.
Dr. Sarah (27:22):
I don’t have to understand why, if you are looking at me as a partner and saying, Hey, this is overwhelming me, I then need to say, okay. Yes. And what can I do? Not why that’s ridiculous. It doesn’t bother me. That’s not helping anyone. Yeah. So it’s also those conversations of awareness, as well as a dad to be open, to listening to your partner struggles. To not take it as you suck as a father, but as a, what can I do to help, to make it easier for us as a unit? Cause we’re in this together. I love that. You said that it’s not babysitting. Right. I hate I’m in like a dad group. Facebook groups and I find them so unhealthy. Cuz it’s all about like that mentality of like, oh my gosh, I had to babysit my kid for like a few hours today. Ugh. Or like I hate my wife because she made me do this. Or like I’m so annoyed at my kids because I had to watch them while I wanted to watch the sports game. Yeah. It’s like the mentality, like of not buying in fully of what it means to be a parent.
Dr. Sarah (28:21):
And, and, and it’s not babysitting. No. And if you view it that way, of course you’re not gonna buy in a hundred percent. Of course you’re not gonna be go above and beyond certain ways. Right. To, to be a unit. So
Dr. Sarah (28:34):
Cause it’s not intrinsically motivating. Right. It’s like, yeah, if I’m, if I see myself as a babysitter, I’m doing this because I’m supposed to, because I have to. And I doing it for like a, you know, you know, to just fill a gap until the, the person who’s supposed to be with them can come back and relieve you
The base parent.
Dr. Sarah (28:51):
And it’s like, you know, if, and, and I say this with like, I’m sure if that’s the way a person is approaching parenthood, there’s a reason for that. Is it cuz that’s how they were parented. Is it cuz they don’t know what it’s like to have a parent who’s fully invested in them and wants to be with them because just because, just because that feels good to me. So it’s like, you know, I, and I think this comes up a lot in general when I’m working with a couple around parenting where like two people there’s one person is all in, on approaching parenting and in particular way, like usually if it’s with me, like it’s this sort of like attuned, responsive parenting, you know, trying to figure out what’s underneath the behavior, trying to go to the root of like the emotional issue with the child.
And the other parent is often like, no, no, we just need to discipline them better. We just need to figure out what the right punishment needs to be. You can’t let them get away with this stuff and like that. And, and listen, and I often will tell pair who comes to me being like my husband it’s often the dad’s, but it’s not always his true demanding. He doesn’t wanna, he doesn’t wanna, he doesn’t like par, he thinks this is soft. Yeah. And, and I will say, I’m happy to work with you, but I’m not gonna convince your partner to do this. Yeah. Like I’m not gonna, that’s not the work. Right. Like I will try to understand why they feel that way and validate it because it’s probably a, they have a reason for feeling that way. And we have to figure, we have to figure out a way to help every parent feel safe, to talk about what they think is supposed to be parenting in order to get, make any shifts in that mentality.
Yeah. I, I love this transition because my wife is a dietician and she, when we first started introducing solids into my daughter’s life she has this thing called baby led weaning, which is a process of a kid learning how to eat on their own, all these different things. I shot it down right away. I’m like, no, that’s ridiculous. That’s so stupid. That’s why baby food. Right? Baby food formula, like baby food, baby food. Right. I was just in this mindset of traditional thinking and I could not hear my wife just wanting to talk to me about a plan of action that she had as a research that she looked into that could be helpful for a child in the long run. All these different things. I was so stuck in. This is what’s always done. Why are you trying to, what are you like my brain went on.
Like I can’t like it. It short circuited to this is what’s always done. This is how my parents, this is my brother. And sister-in-law do this is how people, I, I could not fathom that we were gonna do something somewhat different. So my wife got very upset of course, because I literally just didn’t hear her out and dismissed everything that she researched and everything that she trusts as a dietician in her profession to suggest for her child to be healthy and well, so she said, can you just do me a favor and take the course with me? So I was like, fine, whatever, open my eyes because I actually listened to what the procedure and what it actually meant. Not what I assumed it to be, not what my presumptions of my own thought process of where my head was at or what I thought to be the only way to parent my daughter eats brussel sprouts and broccoli by choice right now.
Not that that’s the goal. Right. But her palate is so advanced as a three year old because I listened same thing with any parenting style. I literally had this conversation with my mother and father-in-law I did a TikTok about it. My mother-in-law goes, oh my gosh, was this our conversation that inspired? I’m like, yes, it did. When it came to dealing with tantrums. So I’ve done a lot of research. I consider myself a parenting specialist. Not that I push that on my family or anyone else outside of, you know, I don’t, I put my therapist head off a lot of times when it comes to my personal life, I learned that compartmentalization when it comes to my kids, I in the back of my head, I know. And I’m like, okay, my wife’s name Ariella. I think we should try this. Let’s try this. Let’s try this. I read this, let’s try this fine. I had a whole conversation about old school versus new school tantrums. And the idea that listening and talking to your kids is somehow viewed as permissive that we’re letting them get away. They’re gonna take advantage and manipulate. Well, if that’s your perspective. Hell yeah. You’re gonna be fi you’re gonna fight that. Yeah. So my daughter was fighting, taking a bath one day. She goes, I don’t wanna take a bath. I want to go to bed. I’m tired.
Heck yeah. Let’s do thank you. Let’s get on that. Cuz you fight other things. There’s there’s no winning. You’re not winning. There’s not manipulation. You’re not getting a toy or getting a candy. You’re picking something that helps me as a parent. So I’m gonna, I need to listen to you. I need to listen to what you’re saying. As a parent, there was no permissiveness there. I didn’t let her get away with something. But my mother-in-law said I, no she’s taking a bath because this is what has to happen. Close the door. I got this. And I said, no, you don’t. I got her. And I put her to bed and we had a whole conversation. I think what happens with a lot of parents is that we don’t explain the why. This is a smart idea and start with this is what is happening.
And if you don’t explain the why you are not, not giving some explanation to refute or push back on the worries, concerns and expectations of parenting that has been taught them. Yes. So old school parenting is power, power and fear, right? That’s the old school thought process of parenting. Well, the new school is more compassion, love and grace, but you’re still controlling the environment. So I tell, I was talking to my wife about this yesterday, giving two choices. Okay, honey, you’re either gonna do this. I call my daughter my love. I said, okay, my love we’re gonna do this or that decide I controlled the choices. I didn’t let her pick whatever the heck she wanted. I controlled the two options. She now thinks that she is ind MIS independent. She now believes that she has control when in reality I’m controlling it the entire time. Right. But I gave her two options that now she feels she can choose. And now she chooses it. Now it’s her decision. And now she buys into it. Yeah, but that’s like a retraining of our thought process. What’s the old school parenting we’re doing this let’s go. This is happening. Let’s do it. So it just, it it’s, it’s just about explaining the whys and learning and buying in and being patient to give the partner, whether it’s the dad or the mom, but you’re right. Usually the dad is very combative about this stuff.
Dr. Sarah (35:51):
I think it’s the dad was probably parented more firmly than
A hundred percent cuz they’re boys.
Dr. Sarah (35:56):
That was the way. And it’s not again, like I am really, I feel like it’s, I can’t say this enough that like we all parent, we all show up as a parent, the way we do for reasons that are bigger than us, that go they’re in our roots, right? That it’s this, we talk a lot on this podcast about the idea of intergenerational transmission of parenting styles. Love it. And in the past, historically, especially in our culture, boys were treated more firmly and with less compassion and curiosity than girls were because the gender stereotypes were much stronger than, and there was a way in which you know that, you know, boys don’t cry, be a man toughen up. That was much more communicated to boys back when our, you know, the previous generation were kids. So then you look at FA people who have grown up that way and who are fathers now or who are grandparents, grandfathers now. And they look at this more compassionate connected, curious, emotionally attuned way of parenting. And it’s like triggering. Cause even if it’s not a conscious thought, there’s like an unconscious, like I didn’t get that. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> I don’t wanna give that. That’s not it’s weakness. What we do. That’s not fake.
Yeah. It’s it’s weak.
Dr. Sarah (37:20):
I heard someone recently say that they remember their parents saying they love them twice in their life. Oh God. They actually know how many, I never want my kids to remember a number of how much love they got. Yeah. Now I got some pushback on TikTok. As I, I said something about this, about love and, and saying, and, and expressing versus feeling. It’s not that we ha it’s not that it’s that they knew that they were loved, but there still was a doubt in their mind. So there was food and there was hugs and there was memories and there was joy and there was comfort in home. But if there’s no expression of love, how do you know?
Dr. Sarah (38:02):
Right. How do you trust that? How do you have validation or words for love? And it’s why the person that I’m talking about is so expressive of their love towards their family because they don’t want a day going by. They’re not knowing that.
Dr. Sarah (38:20):
And I, so there, I love that you have that thought pro it’s so true. And it took me to be a parent to analyze my childhood in a way that was not judgemental towards my parents. Sometimes I do. I’m not gonna lie. I’m a human. But how that trickles into how I view my kids or how I view parenting, like what baby led weaning, we have to do this way or that what we, we, we have to, we have, we have to, when I start saying that, right, I’m like, Hm, one second, me pause. Why do we have to do that? What is the reasoning behind that? Is it truly a need or is it something that I’m just used to or taught?
Dr. Sarah (39:04):
And once I analyze it as a parent, once I think about it, if it still works for us as a unit, keep doing it. If it works, if it’s healthy and well, but think about it first, if you start saying you start having that short circuit, think about it. Why are you thinking so aggressively about a certain idea of parenting? Why does it make you so uncomfortable to be a different way than that is the quote unquote than always has been or norm conversation,
Dr. Sarah (39:29):
Right? Yes. And I think
A lot of men struggle with that
Dr. Sarah (39:32):
And I understand it. And I also think it’s helpful too. Now that we have more research, like I think a lot of the way that we have shifted in parenting in the last, I would say generation or are, are trying to, is based on what we know about neurobiology and the nervous system and, and secure attachments. And being able to say, we actually know that the brain does not integrate new information when it’s in fight or flight. So if you wanna teach your child a certain behavior, you know, we, when they’re having a tantrum, you know, when they’re doing something dis that shows you that they’re just, neurobiologically dysregulated that in order to teach them the, the behavior we’d like to see in them, we first have to help them feel safe. Get back into that, out of fight or flight into that parasympathetic nervous system, into that safe, relational connection with us.
And once our child feels safe, then Hey, their brain’s back online and we can teach them, Hey, if you want me to do this, this is how I need you to get that. Like, instead of screaming at me to give you this thing, let’s think of a way you can say, Hey, can I have that next time? Or if whatever the thing is, but we can teach, we can’t teach in the heat of the moment. We know that now. And so parenting strategies in the past that would, you know, yelling or punishing or timeouts where you can’t really help. Co-Regulate a child’s nervous system. When they’re separated from you, you lose the app. We, we lose access to the kind of thing we’re trying to accomplish. And so it’s like, it’s not that we’re trying to break things and do something completely, you know, progressive and wildly new. It’s just, we know a little bit more and it’s actually more effective.
Yeah. This actually really has happened over the weekend. My daughter and I were doing the puzzle together. She started loving puzzles recently and she grabbed the piece of the puzzle, very close to her. And she started singing a song from Daniel Tiger about sharing. She goes, I’ll take a turn and then I’ll give it back.
But I didn’t, wasn’t taking the piece. I wasn’t touching the piece. She grabbed the piece, looked at me very intensely and then sang the song and then made a smile and handed me the piece. Okay, great. Thank you. Love it. So I went to go look at the episode and watch with my daughter, you know, finally the song I did the whole apple, like, you know, search for it. That was on Saturday. Yesterday friend came over with a daughter. It was four. And something happened where my daughter had to share. And she was so overwhelmed. No, it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine. And I said, Richter, she’ll take a turn and then you’ll get it back. And she went, like, it clicked in her head about sharing. I didn’t teach her that in the moment. That was something that she taught me.
One, two, I kept watching the episode with her to reinforce it and then utilize it in a calm, collected way where I’m a, I’m a big guy. I’m six foot, two, about 230 pounds. So I had to like get, you know, crouch down and talk to my daughter and tell her the thing that she taught me. Remember on Saturday where we played at the puzzle and you, that’s not weak parenting or, or stupid that’s, I’m helping my daughter become a full-fledged human being right. With full emotions, you know? And I, and I wanna say that I actually had a question for you cuz you talk a lot about your work. And I love that. You know, for me it was something that I do with parents or especially with relationships, I do something called collaborative conversation, not compromise, but collaborative we’re we both express our emotions and our frustrations about an idea ups, the downs, the joys, whatever it is, outwards.
So we have awareness of the other person. Not that I can give you what you need, but now at least I know what you’re saying and why you’re saying it and what you’re doing to get a better, deeper understanding of you. How do you do that? When a father is so combative to an idea, let’s say with the theme that we’re going, you said I’m not gonna convince them. What are some of the things that help that you’ve seen help men? Yeah. get on board to some parenting, things that they might not be comfortable with or so understanding to
Dr. Sarah (43:47):
I listen to them. I want them to tell me their story. I want them to feel safe enough to tell me exactly why they, they, they fear this way of parenting and what they believe is more effective and why and how they learned that. And I’m curious about it. I think if you want someone to come to the table and be open to, to opening their mind to something different, they have to feel safe and you can’t feel safe if you feel like you’re walking into a trap where everyone’s trying to change your mind. And so I’m really transparent that like, I’m not here to change your mind. I don’t have an agenda for that. My goal is if you are working, if you’re coming into this session and I would say coming in my room, my, my office, and now it’s all virtual anyway.
So it’s like, if you’re showing up in this way, you’re here for a reason. Yeah. You know, you didn’t, you don’t have to be on this call. You don’t have to be in this session. So why are you here? What would you like to see different and getting a sense of like what that person, what makes that person show up for their child? What is their connection to that child? And I’ve had dad, I have had dads in therapy sessions. I have had dads in therapy sessions say some pretty upsetting things to me about their feelings towards their kids because in the moment they are. So at a breaking point, they are so not interested in fixing things. They just want it to be, be, they just, they want it. They’re like, when can I send them to boarding school? Like I can’t do this. And I’ve had those same dads after our work together, be able to tolerate some of the hardest, most messiest meltdowns and the most challenging parenting situations with the more grace, because this is a long process. It’s not just like, let me give you some strategies and go home and try it and call me in a week. It’s like, this is really deep work and you have to feel safe.
Yeah. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I just love your perspective on things. I just wanted to hear it. Like that idea is so important. I think as a, as a man the idea of someone wanting to be curious about what I’m thinking makes me feel so heard, and that’s like super important for anyone listening when it comes to creating that space for your, for your husband, for the men in your life, don’t be judgemental, don’t attack, don’t defend, be curious and open just like you would want them to do for you. Cause when you create that space, just hear them out. However, dark, deep, or scary it might be. You are now creating an environment where they feel safe to come back to do that again. Yeah. To be more open, to create more awareness, more understanding of their fears, more understanding of their anxieties and worries because they’re there and they have them. And it’s about just the curiosity that breeds the conversations, where then you can grow as a couple and as a unit and become better parents together. And I love that. You said that cause that’s super important. And I’m so glad that you, that you do that with so many men. It’s so important.
Dr. Sarah (47:09):
Yeah. And the beautiful thing is, is if you are a parent who models that kind of curiosity and invalidation with your partner to help them feel safe enough to parent, that’s the same thing we want them to be able to do with their kid. Right? Yeah. We want to help our partner be able to engage with our child with curiosity and validation and compassion. So if you want your partner to be able to do that, you have to do that to your partner and do that authentically. And it’s that’s modeling and that’s
Dr. Sarah (47:39):
We’re all kind of learning these skills together, I guess, hundred percent. Thank you so much for being here. This was like such a great conversation. I can’t wait to like, keep talking to you about other fun things in parenthood.
Well, you have my, you connected now and now you’re now you’ll be on my show and you’ll be part of The Due Therapist family, whether you like it or not. You’re, you’re, you’re part of the family for life. Yeah. I just I really love your work. It’s it’s super important. And to help parents through the roughest of of times helps create now I hate saying this, cuz it takes away our jobs in futur, as therapists for their kids, which is the goal, right? Yep. But that we help create units of families that are better in the future because they’re doing the work now and their kids don’t have to be in therapy. Well, you know, when my kids are in their twenties and thirties, they’ll just go to a therapy. No, we want to create environment of safety and love and security and calm and, and make parenting more enjoyable.
It’s never gonna be easy, but more enjoyable. And, and, and an experience that we look back on as something that we are proud of and not, if only I knew differently, I would’ve changed. If only I had someone to help me, my kids might not be so upset at me when they get older. If only cuz we wanna build the relationship so that we have adult relationships with them, that we connect with them in the future that we’re involved in their life and they wanna come home to and feel safe going away from. So that’s like the, the such a key thing. So I love your work so much. Thank
Dr. Sarah (49:07):
You. I love yours. And if people wanna get in touch with you or learn more about the work you’re doing, how could they find you?
Sure. So my Instagram is EliWeinstein_LCSW. My website’s eliweinsteinlcsw.com. I am based for now in New York, but I will be for the rest of my life, hopefully in the fun and the sun Vegas, I am moving to Vegas. So my New York work will be virtual. And if you wanna visit me in Vegas and have a good time, please visit. But yeah, those are the ways to kind of reach out to me. And, and if I can’t help you I’ll be more than happy to find someone who hopefully can, but please never be afraid to reach out, to ask to talk and see if I can help in some way.
Dr. Sarah (49:48):
Amazing. Well thank you for being on and we’ll make sure to link the show notes, all those, those resources. So people can find you too and have a wonderful day.
Thanks for having me.
Dr. Sarah (50:04):
Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode and you wanna hear more like it, one of the best things you can do is actually pretty easy. Go ahead and follow, rate, and review Securely Attached podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you stream your podcasts.
It’s a small act, but it has a huge impact in helping us create and run this show. I hope this podcast has been a place that you can turn to for guidance, support and reassurances in your parenting journey. Your support and reviews have meant the world to me. I read everyone and I truly appreciate you being part of this community. So thank you so much for being here and as always, 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