NEW SHOW: Nurture vs Nurture with Dr. Wendy MogelArmchair Expert with Dax Shepard
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- 16 Feb 2021
Dr. Mogel speaks with family #1: Erick and Elsie and answers the question: Will our children hate us if we stop loving them so much? She also teaches us a new word: Familect
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Welcome to Nurture versus Nurture. I'm Dr. Wendy Mogul and I'm a clinical psychologist.
I've been in practice for approximately one hundred years and I work with parents and we talk about their children to help them understand that whatever they're struggling with, they are not alone. I've seen it before.
It's a little bit funny and a little bit wonderful.
One of the things I do in working with parents is I bring up words from other languages. Monica Padman has so beautifully described this as a side hustle in linguistics.
I collect words that are untranslatable into English and I tie them into the conversations with parents so that not only can we realize that our struggles are not unique to our family, but that the planet has a way of describing some of our emotions and some of our dilemmas in beautiful, single words.
So today we are going to meet Eric and Elsie. The theme of this episode is thinking about new ways to demonstrate love.
These days, it's tough for families to figure out how to strike a balance between fun and firm. Parents are so close to their kids.
And when I was growing up, if someone asked your dad the name of your fifth grade teacher, he would not know right off the top of his head.
And now we just have so much data and we're always pursing it and figuring it out.
And also a really sweet and warm and affectionate friendship parents have with their kids. And at the same time, they want to have structure and be firm and they want the kids to become independent but super accomplished. And then each child is different. These are a lot of balls to juggle. And often I see the most loving, devoted, smart parents playing Blame Pong. This is a term I made up for how parents will just because the other parent is the closest one to them and it's all the other parents fault that things aren't going so well.
And then sometimes teams emerge and each parent is selecting their draft pick. Today you'll hear how our very dear guests, Eric and Elsie bump into each other as they negotiate their family's rules of engagement. After our session, I will share with you what the author of The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, says about embarrassment and murder.
I'll also tell you how an international nuclear disarmament expert recommends handling differences of opinion.
We'll talk about the origin of the Linguistic Term Family Act, which is a concept that reveals why private jokes and nicknames are serious love bombs.
And I will give you an assignment to take home and use with your own family.
Finally, we'll learn a single word in Portuguese cafu name. That means tenderly running your fingers through the hair of the one you love. We do not have a single word for this in English.
And now join me in the consultation room with Elsie and Eric.
First, a disclaimer. What you are about to listen to is not a professional counseling session. Each episode is a one time conversation and the advice I offer does not constitute psychological treatment or services, substitute for professional diagnosis, intervention or behavioral health care in order to protect their privacy. Our guests have been given pseudonyms and some personal details have been changed if you have concerns about your child's well-being or your own. Seek out guidance from a medical or mental health professional, good places to start your child's pediatrician, the counseling staff at your child's school, and the American Psychological Association, a comprehensive guide to finding resources in your state.
And now onto the fund, honey.
One day. Doctors, in the meantime, we got. We get. He got. I'm going to tell you what I know. OK? OK, which is that you have an 11 year old daughter named Daisy and a seven year old named Julie. Yes. And the issue that you'd like to talk about is structures and boundaries in raising children, how to navigate and negotiate differing ideas of a fun dad and a more structured mom. We have Dad Eric here and mom, Elsie, tell me what that looks like, OK?
Yeah, you go OK. So Eric is a wonderful dad.
Both of our girls love and adore him. He is definitely the fun dad. They love to eat sugary things together. He lets them watch in my eyes sometimes inappropriate TV or movies. He would be the one heading up a trip to Disneyland.
And bedtime sometimes is more fluid for him or I prefer a more solid bedtime and routine. OK, I'm stopping you.
Right. Here we go. So sugar screen and schedules. These are the big three in most families. Let me know why this is a problem for you. Let's say it continued exactly as it is now.
I mean, let's face it, I'm a funnier person than you are in general, so it makes sense for me to have that role.
Yes, he is more fun. I guess there would not be a huge issue.
I feel like a lot of times I pick and choose my battles and some of the questions that I have for you are are there things that I should let bother like? Should I let that ball of love the way you said that?
Are there things that I should let bother me?
Yeah, yes. Yeah. And I have that battle in my head a lot where I'm, you know, negotiating in my head.
It's not a big deal. It's not the end of the world. It's one night or, you know, it's the holiday. They're going to be fine that we got to balance out.
That's a lot of thinking that you're doing. And so you're observing the behavior. It's pretty common. You're used to it, and then you have an internal battle going on. Should I bring this up? Will it do any good? Yes. Should I bring it up in some whole new way? Yes. And then what do you usually decide?
A lot of the time I will let it go.
And how resentful, indignant, frustrated and annoyed are you?
It depends. I don't like getting to the place where I feel resentful. So I try to do that in are talking and decide, OK, if I'm not going to let this bother me, then I really have to let it go. But I will say yes, there are times where I will let it go and I might be just a little, you know.
Oh yeah. Like he feels for sure. Yeah. It takes me just a little bit being like that and then I'll get through it and then it's fine. And then there are times where I have that talk and I'm like, no, this is not OK with me and I want to talk about it and say something and have a conversation.
Does it do any good? It does.
Like we had a recent disagreement. Please tell.
So I did not know that Daisy and Eric had had a conversation about getting Daisy on tick, talk to see an older cousin that we have in the family who has an account. And she was excited about it. And I did not hear about this and cut to I just heard that Daisy was signing up for ticktock. How did you hear she was coming over to Eric and saying, OK, now what do I do? And he was telling her, don't forget your password, write it down somewhere.
And I ask, what are you doing joining a terrorist group?
Yeah, exactly. Getting on. And there was no discussion in my mind. I just reacted in that moment and I said, oh, no, I don't want her on talk. That was a big thing for me.
In hindsight, I probably should have waited to maybe react.
One of the reasons that you react that way is you are at a state of semi alert to alarm at all times and you're waiting for the intel to drop. Yeah. So you heard the words get on and tock. Yeah. And it had not been passed by you. And that fell on top of a pile of frustration about this child man's judgment and the ambivalence you have about what a warm, loving, fun guy so close to his daughters, his daughters who are coming of age and will have crushes on boys and they are getting so deeply cherished by their sweet dad and at the same time, you know so much about what goes on.
In the world of social media and girls, self-esteem and identity and sexuality, that you have your good angel and the devil, yes, each on your shoulders arguing at all times the corpus callosum that connects the right and left hemisphere of women's brains is thicker than in men. And it means that women naturally use both sides of their brains to make decisions. And for men, it's sometimes a little bit more easier and direct. Is it a cousin or a friend who's an tector?
It's my cousin's daughter. Cousin's daughter. So exciting. Celebrity family member on Tic-Tac doing an adorable dance and she has her own channel on. So cool. And now spoilsport here is hyper vigilant. That's what we call it in psychology. Jumping in to say you did what? So what happened in that moment?
The main reason I got irritated is we were with our pod and there were a couple guys there, too, and it was very emasculating. She was just like, no, she's not what you think. OK, that's it, OK? And I'm like, OK. And for as liberal as I am parenting, I do default to whatever she says. I mean, I'm definitely the better as far as you can default to whatever she says, but you can't read her mind.
Right. And so that's your intention and that's your kind of moral position. But in a case like this, and this is a beautiful example here, you were joining with your daughter in a celebration of cousins expansiveness on the magnificent new platform, Tic-Tac Swerling, the pandemic world with joy. And then this bitch comes in, humiliates you in front of your friends, male and female pop. Right. And you think, OK, I'll just swallow this and eat some more sugar with the girls and it will be totally out of control.
Exactly. Yeah, that's exactly what happened. So how did it get resolved?
So the next morning, you know, I went to bed. It was bothering me and I didn't feel bad for the way that I handled it. So no conversation between the two of you?
No, no, not Thanksgiving night. We're about. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
So the next morning I said something. I said, you know, I'd really like to get this off my chest. What time? What place, what words.
It was probably around nine a.m. and I think I use the words I'd really like to get this off my chest. And we're the two of you alone.
We were the girls there. You were alone and he was not in the most open mood. But I feel like I really wanted to talk about it.
What room were you in? In the kitchen? Seated standing. I was seated. He was standing. Had you had breakfast? OK, yeah.
OK, so I started with I really want to get this off my chest and correct me if I'm wrong. I said, you know, I want to have a conversation about ticktock. Oh.
So I want to back up just a little bit because we're going to password's. Sure. I really want to get this off. My chest strikes terror in every spouse at all times. He doesn't open the gates of grace and trust and happy anticipation. Yeah. Oh, wonderful. Elsia, every single thing that's on your chest, I wish to hear and I already love even before I hear it.
Yeah, it did not invoke that. And so yeah he did not feel super open after I said that.
So you said this Tic-Tac thing. Is that how you said it. Yeah, I said I want to talk about tick tock.
I really wish we could have had a conversation about it.
Did you shake your finger like that? I did it, yeah, I did it.
But maybe it felt like I was verbal. Finger is good at yelling at you without yelling at you. Yeah. She's like the quiet power. Yes, that's what he says.
That's what the girls say to you. So then he said, well, we really don't need to have a conversation. It's always what you say.
Oh. Which it kind of is. I mean, you say, let's have a conversation about things, parenting things, but you're just telling me the way it is.
I mean, I don't have a whole lot of input either. You're kind of accepting what I'm doing or you tell me not to do it and I don't do it.
I understand that. But I do really want to be able to have conversations.
What do you want to hear from him in that moment? What could Eric have said? Do that conversation for me, both sides.
So I'd really like to have a conversation about Daisy being on tech talk and what a jerk you are in general.
I want you to do Eric, not the. Well, Eric, what he might have said back to you, this is the dream conversation will never happen. Oh, the dream. OK, so I would say, hey, I would really like to have a conversation about Daisy being on tick tock. And then he would say, yes, I realize I talk to her about getting on tick tock before I talked with you.
I'm sorry. I was thinking it might be fun because her cousin is on there and she really wanted to see. But now, after thinking about it, I could understand that maybe it wasn't the best idea.
This is the dream conversation. I know. I know it never happened.
But something like that or, you know, even he could say I thought it would be really fun for us to get on there. And then I could say I could see how that would be really fun for you guys. Maybe we could think of a compromise where you or I could get an account and we could look together at that account and not have her have her own account getting on there by herself, because I feel that she is not ready to be on social media and she's also not asking to be on social media.
She just really wanted to see what her cousin was up to, which we might all be interested in seeing. And if she could care less.
When you said she couldn't get picked off, she wasn't upset. She said, OK, I'm deleting it now. So it really went well, except for that moment in front of the other men. And I want to tell you about a study I did so you will know you are not alone. I interviewed middle and high school age kids around the country and some around the world. And I said to them, what do your parents worry about? That they don't need to worry about what they worry about, that they don't.
What do you enjoy doing with your parents most? What are the sweetest things your parents do for you that they may not realize how much you appreciate? And what don't your parents understand about texting and technology? And the reason I'm telling you this is that what came out of this so frequently is how much the kids enjoy doing slightly reckless things with their dads and they called their mothers fun haters.
And it is true.
Yeah, but it's their perception. And I would finish by saying, what do you want me to tell your parents tonight? And this was amazing because it was in little towns in Texas. It was in the hipster schools in Brooklyn. It was everywhere. They all said the same thing.
They said, just tell them to chillax. Just tell them to chill. Just tell them to chill out and chillax. We are so devoted to getting this right. Yeah. From moment to moment that what it does is it interferes with the bond of trust and goodwill and faith and grace. Yeah. Between fathers and mothers. So I would like to know from the two of you what you enjoy doing together that doesn't have to do with the children. And what makes the two of you laugh?
Well, normally when we weren't in a pandemic would go on a date night every Friday night and we'd go to hot yoga, both of you both Friday night.
You would go to yoga religiously, then food after that. And how did the conversations go, especially after hot yoga? Great.
Great. Because we are in a good mood. So I remember I would be driving the hot yoga in a horrible mood. I talk to her all night and then by the time I did yoga, I was like in love with her again.
And this is so important for everybody. What we've become is enslaved to the children's development, to their success, to their moods, to their pride, and severely neglecting adult relationships, respect for the dignity of men, respect for the tremendous responsibility that mothers take to keep track of everything and hot yoga, plus dinner. It's such a potent formula. So that's what you did. For how long did you do that. Yea yea yea yea yea. And the girls know you do that.
Yeah, yeah. It's really profound for them to know that because otherwise they feel a little bit like they're in a product development mode and that how well they're doing is all that feeds their parents and stops their mom from being depressed. Your dad from being addicted and their parents from getting divorced, right? This is in the child mind. Yeah. So now we're in the ninth month of our pandemic. Yeah. What are you doing together?
I figured out how to set up a hot yoga thing in our gym just recently. How did you do that? Well, it involves about 10 heaters and tricking the thermostat to think it's cooler than it really is.
So this is a clever, clever able person.
And did it work? Do you have it?
Yes. I still want to get it hotter. So I may need to get like a gas burning.
But it was great. Hopefully we won't burn the house down, but it works great. And we've done, what, four classes?
Our goal is to do two a week together and we hit that goal. Last week was our first week with that goal and we did it.
And I mean, historically, for you and me, I was a drug addict for the first eight years of our marriage. So we almost got a divorce. And then we had to have a lot of counseling, both when I was a drug addict and was coming out of it. So we've definitely figured out how to make our relationship a priority over the girls and let the girls know that we have a relationship separate from them. And I feel like we had such a low for years and years and years that we've been on an uphill climb as far as being close for since I've been sober for seven years.
So that's definitely helped our marriage. I don't think we'd be as close if I didn't have the drug problem.
I'm sure you would not. And this is the advantage of the people in recovery have they have tools and insight. Everybody now needs to be in recovery from the culture because the culture is driving parents crazy and not everybody can build a hot yoga studio in their home. But everybody can do some version of that. Right.
Talk to me about humor in the family, about private jokes. There's a term in linguistics. It's family act. Yeah. And it means the private lexicon of a family. And each family has their own. Everybody who comes to see me, one of the first questions I ask them is their pet names for their children.
And if they're really, really mad at their children or worried, for example, that their son has terrible character disorder on the road to being serial killer, any minute they say nothing, nothing. I don't have any pet names and I just sit there and wait and they always do. So Daisy and Julie, what do you call them?
So, Daisy, we called Daisy Bug and Julie, we call the Dalai Lama for whatever reason.
Do you really? And Jules, she has a very peaceful energy about OK. Yeah, yeah.
Daisy is much more like me and Julie's much more serious.
Being funny is important in our family and I think that is a huge part to Eric. Everything is humor.
Yeah. You don't take anything too seriously, which is actually very good for me.
And I see that it is very good for our girls.
I mean after almost dying, but a couple of drug overdoses, it's like is ticktock really that serious? We look at it for a night or any of this stuff. And I think I in general, I get triggered by the over parenting culture. I see these wives talking so intimately about these issues like helicopter parents and Elfy hate's one of our friends will be over and they'll be talking.
And I was struggling to put you in front of them like a helicopter.
Yes. OK, so I don't like it. No. And this is the parallel where you say, what kind of idiot are you to allow this tiny little child to be on this slimey platform? And then he comes around mocking the very devoted moms. So the part about Uma that you're talking about that's really important is that comedy is tragedy plus time. Right. And, you know, from tragedy, both of you do.
So that's where you meet and you have a very nice appreciation of the differences in your temperament and how you see that in your daughters. And for all of us, it gets complicated. A lot of us are introverted extroverts. And there's a wonderful book by Susan Kane called Quiet.
Yeah, I read as far as I think I'm a well, why was a securities attorney for fifteen years and I think I'm an introvert that was forced to be an extrovert for years. And I think that's kind of one of the reasons I got a drug problem because I needed to get amped up to have an outgoing personality. And I read Quiet. It's not talk. About a lot like this cultural thing where you want all the kids to have outgoing personalities because those are the ones who are successful and those are the ones who make it and the ones who are introverted while they don't get as high as Steve Jobs, as people who might be extroverted.
So for our society focuses so much praise on the extroverted kids that I think it makes some introverts feel like they need to be extroverts.
And some parents of kids who are shy, slow to warm, enjoy their own company, feel like they're defective. Imagine a world where every single person was a gregarious leader. It would be annoying, noxious and intolerable. But that's what we expect from these kids. And the great paradox is the most important 21st century skill is not learning Mandarin or coding.
It is communication and the ability to talk to other people and to listen and to not think up the next thing you're going to say while you're listening.
Yet, like, I think my intuitive parenting style is not the right way to parent. Like, I think at first I want to parent on, like, fear and creating children who can succeed in a world that's eat or be eaten. So I have to always logically back off of that and be like, no, I'm much better off raising kind kids who are nice to everybody and have good verbal communication skills.
Like I logically made myself not focus on grades. You know, I always tell them I'd rather have someone tell me that you were being kind and tell me you are being smart. You know, if a teacher tells me Daisy was being kind and sometimes she puts the students that are having a little bit harder time next to Daisy because she'll help her. How wonderful. That will make me feel better. I wonder if anything, although I do have this lingering, like paranoia that I'm raising children who are not going to be able to survive in a world that's hard to survive in.
I'm constantly putting that beast in me down. I'm a little bit, I guess, paranoid about just the world ending and I have to survive.
I've got 20 years of military freeze dried food in case there's a pandemic and food runs out. It's out in a pandemic.
You're not paranoid. You are correct. And this is the really tricky part. So in some ways, our desire for our children to be perfectly armed with a layer of skills for anything that will come up is a reflex right now because the world is ending at some point, we're not quite sure when it will be.
And so we displace all of our worries about the following things climate change, aging, our health, the economy, no matter what people status is. Freud calls this the narcissism of small differences and the social comparison theory says wherever you are on the socioeconomic ladder, you worry that there are people above you and your children will not have the security they need. You said that that was your intuitive parenting style. I think it's your brainwashed parenting style, Eric.
I don't believe that's your intuitive.
I mean, it's like my go to like the girls will do something that wasn't necessarily in their best interest, but maybe would be kind. And I would think, oh, maybe I should tell them right now you need to look out for yourself first and then I have to kind of put that down. And that's part of the reason. When I said that I let L.C make a lot of the parenting decisions, Elsie's never been motivated by money or fear and she sort of parents that way.
So I generally will listen to her and not argue about most parenting things. One of the reasons I think I would have even been worse if I would have had a boy been like, look, you got to go out there and kill man because it is a hard world out there and you better, like, get all you can and be manipulative and figure out how to get into Stanford and, you know, be an investment banker.
Look what happened to you. Exactly. Which is visible. Go so well towards the end. So that's why I think I was kind of raised in success and money where the goal. So you nailed it. I am brainwash for my own kids. I don't want to put my own brainwashing into them. And it takes some mental energy on my part to just be like just raise kind kids. And, you know, one thing I thought about at some point was if I look around all the people I know, there are a lot of smart people who are miserable, but there are very few kind people who are miserable.
So if you. Get to your kids being kind, I guess they're probably going to have a more satisfied life, even if they're not as financially successful or whatnot and really being OK, if my daughters want to be teachers or something that's very important to society but doesn't necessarily make a ton of money.
That's great. It's also thinking really far ahead, right?
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The best way to do what you're talking about is the way you treat each other, because the girls are studying that all the time and what you're talking about are your values and forbearance and empathy. And as I look at the two of you, I see that these are the little bumps in the road that you keep hitting and they are so common right now. So what did we have? We had sugar screens at screen time or screen content. Escadrille bedtime.
And it's also the stuff that you really love that I let Daisy watch or talk to her about.
So Daisy and Eric have a beautiful friendship relationship.
I shouldn't say friendship relationship.
Tell me about Daisy and Eric shared interests. It could be her movies. Could be something that doesn't seem entirely savory, wholesome, wonderful, and predicting a bright future for her. What do they both love? They're the ones with similar temperament, right? Yes, they are both out of the box thinkers and they love that sort of conversation.
Example plays. Daisy knows that she can go to her dad and ask him anything and she is going to get a very full and honest answer.
Is it too much to you what he tells her? I think it's too much.
I remember when I had the epiphany that I was going to tell her everything and get ahead of it was she was in kindergarten and I was driving her home and she said, Dad, one of the boys in the class told me that my vagina is going to start bleeding everywhere. And so I thought, what?
This is kindergarten. And so I'm like, well, start playing everywhere.
And then she's going to bleed out to die. Right. So at that point, I remember I'm just going to get ahead of this and she can hear all this stuff for me rather than some kids at the school. And, you know, ever since then, she comes to me. I mean, the other day she said some boys were on the radio that she goes surfing with they were playing with the dial and she's in this. And they kept laughing when it got to sixty nine and so hilarious.
She's like, what is 69 mean? So I explained exactly what's for the next one they're getting ahead of. It is a very good intention. Right, because what you're trying to do is not let her get polluted with misinformation, distortion, scary things, humiliating things. The piece to plug into that is cognitive development and emotional development and this concept of getting ahead of it. What parents wish to do is sort of get it over with all the truth at once about sex, about money, about drugs, about race, about every touchy topic, every sensitive and important topic.
And the first step is to find out what they already know. And when it's distorted, then you correct it right at their level and say not too much, but be the assailable parent, which is what you are right. For Daisy, this may be both basketball and some hot, juicy topics that you could pass right along and then L.C would be hearing about it.
Did ever tell you that of being protective?
One of Julie's friends was telling her about sex the other day and Daisy said, Daddy, she's really too young to be hearing about sex. You know, you need to talk to Julie's friend about it.
That's a really poignant and dignified moment when the older sibling steps into a respectful and reasonable parenting mode. We want them to do that. They have so little that they feel they can contribute to the family other than how popular they are, how terrific their grades are, what a good athlete they are, and that they're going to get into Stanford. And ordinary stuff like watching out for the sex knowledge of her little sister is really something of a lot of dignity.
Yes, she is protected.
And would you agree that, Daisy, we parent differently than Julie because Daisy seems to be OK and not get overstimulated out of control?
Julia is more sensitive. Julia is more sensitive.
Which one of you read to them? Do they like to be read to? Do you read to them? This is a good question.
So Eric puts Daisy to bed, which is a whole topic I want to get into.
And I typically put Julie to bed and whenever I put Julie to bed, as long as it's not getting too late, we always read books together and we kind of take turns and that's when. We do our reading as before bedtime. That was always our routine with both the girls when they're young, we had like a bedtime routine and always involved books before bed, lullaby, sound, watching the whole thing.
What was the thing after Lullaby? It sounded like sandwiches. And I know I sound machine turning the sound.
Yeah. Yes. So as Daisy has gotten older, she loves her dad to put her to bed because as we were talking about that, some of their favorite pastimes together is to talk and for her to ask all the burning questions.
She might have things that have come up or something she's curious about.
I mean, she likes telling me about her. So things like that over the day. Yeah.
She tells Eric everything, which I think is awesome. And I love that they have such a close relationship in that way. We're close, too. But she definitely knows that she's going to get full of everything from him. And she loves that because, like I said, they're both outside the box. She really wants to be stimulated and interested in a conversation and she gets that with her dad.
OK, so I just want to check in one piece. Eric, do ever feel she amps up the drama of some of the social issues to be entertaining for you? Because it should get a little bit boring and you would want to cut it off at some point to kill myself and the boredom?
OK, good. Oh, I'm so glad I'm more bored with my kids than anybody. Everyone is bored with their kids and everyone hates them. Yeah. And we love them more than anything on them, but they're very, very boring.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. OK, yeah.
So here's the problem with you suppressing the boredom too long. It's the opposite of the public relations firm. It is the captivated but incarcerated audience member. Right.
And then you're teaching them that other people are going to think, well, you're right, you're going to be that point now.
Yeah. The wonderful thing about reality is that friends give you all the feedback you need, right. And it overpowers what parents do. But I would like you to consider cutting things off when they're getting dull. Do you ever do? Oh, yeah. I love the face you're making right now. Maybe, but I don't think so. But really, this is so precious and she'll never be eleven again that a lot.
And she loves her daddy so much she will use that. What does she say? She will say because they have this very long, drawn out bedtime.
How long is it?
And that was one of my questions about boundaries and structure. Yeah, I'm OK. Half hour after bedtime, but like hour, hour and a half years.
Yeah, OK. Really long.
But you think this almost eleven year old kid is going to go to bed at seven o'clock?
No, I do not think that. I do not know her friends. I don't like it.
She will go to bed at seven in my mind. I want her in bed at night in a perfect world again for Daisy.
I would love for her to be in bed at nine o'clock. She can be reading a book. OK, I interrupting you right here to introduce a scary topic, borderline personality disorder. There is, and I'm saying this is that people who have this condition, they feel their identity only in what we call enmeshment with other people. So one of our goals for Daisy, who does not have borderline personality disorder, is to help her learn to keep good company with her.
So that's my concern, is she gets almost she's got a fabulous like drug. She will leave notes in front of our bedroom. Daddy, come, please. Every single night I will see a note in front of our daughter look like, what's it written in?
How big are the letters? Does it have little hearts?
No, it's usually like scribbled out on a white piece of paper highlighter, like a eight and a half by eleven. One color of highlighter. Yeah, she doesn't take a lot of time to do it.
It's just like, Daddy, come, please. She will set an alarm. And also going back to your point of having this special time between the two of us for me, I want to get those girls in bed. And Daisy is now older, so it's later than it has been. So we don't have a lot of time at night after they're in bed. And I would love to snuggle up and watch shows. And the bed time situation with Eric and Daisy really impedes on that.
She's the younger woman. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, yeah.
She's the younger woman and she's doing a fabulous job of captivating the guy, Eataly. And it's such a pickle for you. It is because I love your beautiful, precious daughter and this great relationship with man, so you don't have to talk about this, Eric, but I'm assuming that when you were growing up, nobody did this for you the way you are doing it for Daisy. Well, yeah.
I mean, it's a different world. I was an only kid, too, so. No, definitely. And as you guys are talking about it, I feel like kind of stupid that I like being a little bit too accommodating. Yeah, it's hard for him to say no to her. Yeah. Yeah.
Impulse is so good. Right. So worthy. The and boy, she is learning all kinds of techniques that we wouldn't mind if they softened up a little bit and some of them might disappear. So an only child is sometimes juggling both parents issues and kind of an adult way and you don't have a sibling to sort of mock.
The parents were offended by what you're trying to provide for her is the land of the cushion of dad. And it has endlessness. It doesn't have boundaries. And the surprising part and this feels abstract. So it's so hard for parents the time you spend with each other, the amount of time. And I don't want to weigh too heavily on humor, but right now in a pandemic, I need, you know, that the pleasure and enjoyment and comfort and fun between the two of you is a direct nutrient for the children.
It feeds them no matter how much sugar they eat, no matter how much screen time they have or how much Tic-Tac they're watching, no matter how early or late, Daisy goes to bed. This piece is the Balas. This is what they stand on. This is how the ship, even when the sea gets rocky. Yeah. Feel safe.
So by the time he crawls out of there, bored to death and ready to murder, then how do the two of you reconnect? And have you been pissy? And it's growing the frustration.
I'm not pissy. It's been one of those things. I'm like, oh, I know that this is the best.
And I've been thinking, too, like, this is getting longer and longer and longer. I just want to point out how overly rational feels. So, you know, clearly that it's stretching out more and more. You know, clearly that this is his better girlfriend. Yeah. And you're thinking, what am I, chopped liver?
Yeah. And I have tried. I told them I have this great idea. Bad time has been stretched out so late.
I think we need to to stop you right here. I'm sorry to pick so much.
OK, I have this great idea is very similar to we need to have a I'd like to have a conversation about this. These are the openers that alienate your conversational partner. They don't care about your idea for its own sake. They may care about the content of it.
Yeah, well, I was just trying to broach the subject with Eric about how to get the daisy bedtime situation under control.
OK, stop right here. Just trying to broach the subject with Eric.
Yes, go ahead. Yeah. So I had the suggestion that they could start earlier, but leaving it up to him to do it, it just didn't happen. I have to be the one that's driving the boundary.
This is not moral. This is not deeply emotional. It's a habit. Yeah. That's just developing. And she's outgrowing. Yeah. So the part I want you to be prepared for is that Daisy May Appu strategies, which is why I asked you what the notes look like. She may put a skull and crossbones on them now or pictures of herself holding daggers.
And she will up the allure.
Oh yeah. Of her pain and her need for time with her precious dad to metabolize the agony of her day. And I'm not in any way saying not to be empathic with her. Yeah. You listen to her and these are the three words really hard for parents to say. I want you to say to her, hmm, tell me more. Mm hmm. Instead of coming up with a solution or cutting it off. So this is not the way you would think it would work, right.
If you say tell me more, it's very respectful, but it puts her back in a relationship with herself. Yeah. Instead of outsourcing the pain to dad and the frustration to mom and then making the relationship between the two of you slightly more fragile.
Yeah, yeah. Definitely some parenting books.
It'll say, look, you shouldn't be friends with your kids. And I don't know if that's right or wrong, but I definitely have thought in my too good friends with our older. Because maybe she's too comfortable and there's not as much of a parent daughter relationship as there needs to be. I mean, look, I am crazy. I mean, I'm bipolar, too. I'm depressive. So I have a lot of high emotional energy in our relationship.
And this is totally normal flat as far as like her emotions are always within a very narrow range.
These are stereotypes and lies about the two of you there. You are not crazy.
You're not and you are not totally normal and full right here is to help Daisy learn to keep herself emotional company.
I'm afraid that Eric has become her human blanky. Right, because she says she can't sleep without him. She uses.
Oh, so do you stay till she falls asleep.
Oh, oh, it's a pandemic. And she's eleven and she'll be bleeding if she's not already got a hard phase of life.
Are you in our house? Yeah, I didn't tell you.
We set it up with a wire. It's like a Wendy on the show. She's very manipulative about it.
I mean, just we're not going to call it that. We're going to call it clever.
And it is so smart right now. I mean, her birthday's tomorrow and she's happy birthday, Daisy. You know, Dad, you've only got one more night to sleep with me before I'm 11 and I'm I'm 12. I'm not going to want to have anything to do with you. I mean, I'm going to have my own life. I'm social and my friends. You are an attorney. That's right. There it is. The attorney controversy. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah, she is.
So you can admire that without taking it at face value. She's on the stand. She's the witness for the defense right now or the defense attorney. I'm like open to like that.
This is a problem that I need to figure out the tricky part.
You're going to be tempted to explain that to her. And I don't want you to write so precise.
This is where we try to sell them the good emotional technique and theory right now. DEASEY It will be so much better for you if you learn to fall asleep on your own. Right. And if you learn to have internal conversations about some of the social stuff. Right.
Implying that you are still completely willing to lie down on the floor and let her do her emotional dance on your belly. Right. And just knowing it is going to guide you in where you want to go. It's just like I was bringing up with you L.C the introductory remarks we make about what we want to say that just alienates and bores everybody else and dilutes your message.
Yeah, right. How are you going to go about this?
Well, I was talking to her about reading Harry Potter, so maybe I start that at eight thirty and maybe do it till nine thirty and just make sure I'm out of there at nine thirty. Is nine thirty good enough?
I don't know. I'm interested in you reading for one hour at night every night at the end of your long pandemic day.
Yeah, I was actually thinking the book on tape so I wouldn't have to actually read, but both be lying there and listening for an hour. That's probably not realistic, right. Maybe a half hour. But she's going to mess around for a while. What is the mess around look like?
I want to do some sort of play that she's made up and she wants to perform it.
Or is it good? No, never.
Yes, but I do tell her, look, you got to get your content better when you're doing little plays because they're boring and then you don't want to be boring. So and I tell her this one of a lot of people, you know, you got to get your game up if people are going to watch your little plays. So she kind of uses me to test it out.
Sometimes one of the things she's doing is she's leading with her need. Mm.
And implying to both of you that she is so vulnerable even in this package of extreme strength, unlike her wimpy sister who is not with the keeps herself company.
Yeah. For you to start thinking about, be prepared. And it's so good that you're trained as an attorney because she's going to pull all the stops out. Right.
And it will feel scary at first. And then for both of you, so much easier and more comfortable. And the metabolism, the energy between the two of you will rise because you won't be drained, I. Picture you crawling out of that room or else he comes with hook, yeah, pulls out.
Yeah, it's time that something needs to change with that dynamic. Yeah definitely. I need at least get out of there. Maybe I shouldn't be falling asleep. He's been falling asleep in there.
I fall asleep there and then I move to our bed at like 12 or. OK, so that's your sleep drug.
That's your medication sober person. Right. Is extreme boredom. But it's like you become anesthetized by this process. Right. And justify it by giving your poor suffering daughter everything she needs. Right. Right, right. And just as I said, not to have a big theoretical, psychological, spiritual conversation with her beforehand, you can definitely let her know that this is the plan.
And I could just say, look, mom and I need time together. I mean, it's ridiculous that we're not able to watch our shows.
So I don't want to call it ridiculous. Right. Because that puts the responsibility on her. Yeah, I'm sure she's brilliant. We get seduced all the time by how articulate and sophisticated these kids are. Most of them are younger than their years. They're not emotionally as mature as any of us were, no matter how messed up.
Yeah. At their age, because we had so much more independence. Yeah. And so they're complicated packages. They're really articulate. They can argue you are anything. They're little attorneys, they're brilliant. And at the same time there's a baby there. Right. So if you say to the baby, this is ridiculous, mom and I need more time together, what am I doing? You're asking her to solve your problem and also inviting her to think, oh, our mom and dad are going to get divorced.
They once almost did good. Doesn't do anything that I know.
She knows because you told her you do not want to share with them.
That ship has sailed here because he's an overshare.
OK, the ship is leaving the port every single day, Erik, every day. And every single parent has made one billion egregious, shocking, vile mistakes. And the kids mostly turn out perfectly fine to real life. Right. So you don't have to explain to her except to say here's the plan and then expect her to do every single thing in her power to erode it. Right. And this is a wonderful opportunity for you, too. And that's how we started today entirely with boundaries and limits and structure.
Yeah, kids love, serendipity, excitement, adventure. They actually don't have nearly as much adventure as they need, and they love structure and ritual and predictability. It's one of the problems with pandemic that everything's pretty unpredictable. The more you can provide predictability and structure at home, they are not going to vote for it. Right. They're not going to say, oh, thank you, father.
Thank you so much for enlightening me about this issue between you and Mom. I would never want to stand in the way. Goodness gracious. So she's not going to say that. But you are going to stick with your plan. Right. And the piece about reading to her is that instead of her downloading all of the social stuff to you, which at your age and your gender maybe is not the most fascinating subject matter in the world, you can talk about the characters in the book.
You can gossip like crazy what you don't want to do about other adults. Oh, right. Other parents or her for kids. Right. Or kids. Exactly. But characters and books, you get to teach your values right. If she tells you a bad dream, you can go into the dream with her.
Then what happened and what happened. And that monster ate you and what did it look like? How big was it? This is more for Julie. A little bit young for Daisy, but it might fit. And then you're with her in her unconscious and you don't have to be physically present with her, right? All the time. I really want you to think of it as a habit and custom and not any sort of emotional damage at all.
Yeah, right. Nurture versus nurture. We'll be right back. Audible is the leading provider of spoken word entertainment, all in one place at Audible, you can find the largest selection of audio books, ranging from bestsellers to literary classics to memoirs, parenting books, true crime and podcasts. During the pandemic quarantine. Many of the parents I'm working with in my practice have told me their young children are soothed and entranced by audio books, which is a welcome respite for the whole family from screens.
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So seven year olds, the series of books called your one year old, your two year old, your three year old into the seven year old book is called Life in a Minor Key.
OK, very interested in death, very melancholy. It was written in nineteen eighty five. It's relevant today except the way they talk about how independent the seven year old should be and all the tours they should be doing around the house. But they understand that it's a stage of pulling into themselves. They're quieter and you already have one that's a little bit quieter than her sister and 11 year olds. This does not fit every child depends on their temperament, their environment, their whole situation.
They tend to be angry. They're angry at everybody. They're very expressive. They're very colorful in their language, their emotion, their moods. And so we're already inviting her to take all of her frustration and resentments and all the dark stuff and just dump it on dad.
And she will get angry. She will get angry. Yeah, she will have these bouts of getting really angry over something. And, you know, I'll just ride the wave with her and she will then come back and apologize a lot.
At the time, she will have almost like a temper tantrum a little bit. Yeah, but she does have some insight afterwards that she'll come back. How frequently does that happen?
The temper tantrums and the apology. It's like every other month. Oh, not often.
Maybe a little bit more often.
Like what she did in the car the other day on the way home.
No, I maybe see it more like one time a week, once every two weeks. What sort of thing triggers it?
It's a lot. Her little sister will piss her off or something, you know, related to her sister indirectly affects her and she gets very angry about it, angry at her, about her sister's privilege.
Her sister is just like asking her, like, what you've done has affected me. I mean, she'll get really mad, you know, like say they'll make a mess together and I'll ask them to clean it up and she'll think she did more. And maybe she does. And she just gets really frustrated at her sister and she will do the little parenting thing. She always is telling me, well, you need to make sure that she's responsible for her messes.
You know, I mean, I'm like, thank you, honey. She only needs one. Mommy, I appreciate your thoughts. She's always trying to tell me what I should be doing. And I need to make sure she's responsible. And you're doing this and she's going to be this.
She's frustrated. What she's talking about is frustration and she's so smart that she spins it into. If only you were a better mother, I wouldn't have to deal with this. But since you can't handle it. Yeah, without sounding too, Frankie. Yeah, you can say it sounds like it's frustrating. Yeah. To just name the feeling and to give them the opportunity to figure out what to do when she has a temper tantrum and then come to you with an apology.
What you can do is unpack it a little bit to see what triggered it and say to her next time in that situation, how would you handle it or what's your role in that situation?
What were you aiming for? Because what happened is the four year old or the three year old took over and that's why she's apologizing because she knows it's baby. Yeah, but we want to give her the tools so that next time she can do it, she can manage it and she won't need to end up with the bipolar style apology.
Yeah, a lot of her frustration comes over Julie, Julie. And I'm always protective of the seven year old Julie. And then her rebuttal will be, Daddy, you protect her too much. She's not going to be able to deal with life because she's going to not be able to deal with adversity because you protect her from so much.
She says she won't be able to deal with adversity.
Maybe I made up adversity. I think I wouldn't be surprised, actually. Yeah, she's I keep saying manipulative, but she can be manipulative.
Yeah, manipulative is being a kid. Right, right. There's a great word that you can use which is nevertheless. Yeah. Yeah. And just say nevertheless, because we really want them to fight. It's a wonderful opportunity for them to learn how to manage aggression or kids in general are deprived of a lot of good danger. There's a child development specialist named Ellen Sensitizer. She does research on the anti phobic effects of thrilling experience. Mm. And she says that kids need to be exposed to sharp tools that they can cut themselves with.
Great heights where they could fall, bodies of water, where they could drown, fire traveling at great speed, wayfinding finding their way on their own, our kids almost never get to do that. And aggression, they need to learn to deal with aggression. So many of the times you can say to them, I'm confident you guys are going to work this out on your own and they will 100 percent disagree. So you can just say to yourself, yeah, yeah, yeah.
That is our time for today. Thank you so very much for coming in and talking to me.
Thank you. Thank you much. OK, and good luck tonight.
You don't need luck because you know what to do. Yeah, it's a process. We don't want to be too goal oriented just the way we don't want to be too goal oriented about whether Daisy's is going to be a teacher or an astronaut. Right. You're going to be what? They're going to be a.
OK, so same time next week for sure. So that was Alphin Eric, and what a privilege it was for me to spend time with people this candid, this sweet and this warm, and for those of you who have never been to therapy, it's good to realize the privilege therapists feel to be trusted with intimacy and to be invited in to such an interesting realm. When I was a child and I would go out to dinner with my parents, we would sit in the booth in a restaurant, all four of us.
I have a sister, all four of us pressed against the back of the banquettes and would not talk so we could eavesdrop on the other people. And then on the walk home from the restaurant, put it all together.
So do you think that was second marriage and and she was so sweet, but the mother was kind.
So now I still get to do that. I'm really happy. Eric and Elsie, here's something Eric said. I think the main reason I got irritated is we were with our pod and there were a couple of guys there and it was very emasculating. She was just like, no, she's not watching. Tick tock. That's it. And it made me think about a quote of Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid's Tale, who said, Men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them.
And a goal in our culture right now is to share the valuable input of each member of the team. And in the past, moms used to say to their kids, wait until your dad gets home. And that meant the father had authority and would punish the children.
And now the dad gets home and very often he feels a little bit in the way. What can I add to this group that they don't already have? How can I fit myself in?
And again, this is not the least bit true of all families.
But for more and more of the families I see, the father has a little bit of trouble figuring out how to place himself in the mix. So my countercultural perspective on this is treating both parents perspective with calm, curiosity and dignity.
So here we have Eric lying down with his daughter until she falls asleep.
If you feel your day with acting towards the children like a concierge or a butler, the secret police, a life coach and a sort of cheap publicist telling them how fabulous they are, you're going to be so tired that you won't have any energy left for your partner.
It doesn't leave time for pleasurable adult interchange at the end of the day. And by that I don't mean serious conversations.
So we had L.C talking about wanting to get something off her chest or having a serious conversation trying to do that at night. When you're out of emotional fuel and you're tired, we all regress into belligerent babies or indignant marder's. When you do want to have a serious conversation about differences of opinion, one way to do that is radically countercultural.
Right now it's listening. If you can postpone persuasion until each of you can state your partner's point of view to their satisfaction, you have solved ninety five percent of the conflict.
Moving along private jokes, the Family Act. This is a term from linguistics and it refers to the creative, playful language made up of pet names inside jokes, slips of the tongue that become part of the family vernacular. Often they are words that come from a shared story. Every household and social group in the world have a family. These words never make it into the dictionary. They are often inspired by cute words that come out of a child's mouth.
The origin of the. Ray's pet names is Greek and please excuse my ignorance about how to do a Greek accent, but it comes from hypo thigh, which means to call a person by a pet name, which comes from Cortis Etai, which means to caress Queen Elizabeth. The second was apparently nicknamed Gary by young Prince William, who was unable to say granny yet, and the name stuck. So in a world ever more public, it's ever more special to keep some things private and personal for every parent to freely use affectionate pet names for their children often and easily, but not in front of their friends.
And think back to the pet names. Your parents called you. What a parent called you. What a grandparent called you. In our family group text, we will often just speak entirely in our family and it helps us.
Right now we're all living in different cities and it helps us feel both our personal family history and united in the moment.
So it's a powerful tool. And the Brazilian word funny, I'm probably pronouncing that improperly also is the act of tenderly running your fingers through the hair of someone you love or stroking their hair softly to make them feel safe, calm and relaxed.
Some extra cofound between Eric and Elsie can also help soothe the frustration they feel as they work so hard at doing parenting right. The kids end up getting so much time and tenderness and the parents end up feeling just a little bit deprived. When we take family life too seriously, we find ourselves unbalanced, grumpy with each other and playful with the kids. It's helpful to have a top down perspective on fun and affection and run our fingers through each other's hair.
Thank you so very much for listening and what a pleasure it was for me to spend time with Eric and Elsie. Great session. Same time next week. We're so proud and honored to have Dr. Wendy on the network right now, we have a bonus episode that you can go listen to, go over and subscribe to the nurture versus nurture feed by searching, nurture versus nurture, wherever you get your podcasts.