Parenting coach and author, Sheryl Gould, joins the podcast today to walk us through parenting our teens and tweens. We talk about ways to cultivate a more healthy relationship with our children and how we should be viewing anger when it shows up in our teens and tweens.
Jen: Hi, this is Jen from grace for single parents where you’re parenting and God’s grace collide.
Today I have a parenting expert, Sheryl Gould on the podcast. Sheryl is the author of the book, “SOS! The Technology Guidebook for Parents of Tweens and Teens: Get The Answers You Need, Keep Them Safe and Enjoy Your Kids Again.” She also has an upcoming book, “You’re Not Crazy, You’re Not A Bad Parent and No Your Teen Really Doesn’t Hate You.”.
I’m so excited to have Sheryl on today because her mission is to provide moms of tweens and teens with a non-judgmental and compassionate place to share the struggles and triumphs of raising teens and tweens, and that’s just what we talk about today.
So make sure to listen to the end so you can win a free month of Sheryl’s online community group MOTTS, which is moms of teens and tweens, as we discuss this in the podcast. I hope you enjoy it.
Sheryl, I’ve been a follower of yours for a couple of years now since my kids hit the teen years. Suddenly I felt like I was mothering new kids all of a sudden. And your posts and online community has been a lifeline for me. So I’m very excited to share your wisdom with my audience. I’m so glad to have you here today.
Sheryl: Oh, thank you, Jen, so much for having me and I’m just loving what you’re doing, so I’m happy to be here.
Jen: Oh, same here. So can you tell us a little bit about the moms of teens and tweens community and your blog and everything you have going on?
Sheryl: Sure, yeah. I have a website, it’s https://momsoftweensandteens.com/ and then we have a Facebook page and moms were reaching out to me and they were asking for more support.
They were feeling alone, they were having struggles and challenges. And as we were growing and our website was growing and more moms were reaching out to me and I was coaching with moms, such a big part of parenting and being a mom is knowing you’re not alone and wanting to create that connection where moms can hear you’re not alone. This is what I’m struggling with and have another mom say. Me too. I’m going through the same thing.
And when we can hear that and we can support each other, it really helps our anxiety level go down. It helps us be calmer as we’re parenting, we don’t tend to catastrophize so much and worry as much as we can as moms when we know that we’re not the only one that’s going through that.
So a lot of it is helping moms too, hear that “Me too.” To get feedback and support and the resources that they need to be the best moms and parents they can be.
Jen: Yeah. And I’ve definitely found that following you. Especially at the beginning when I went from my kids being younger, like in grade school and then near the end of grade school, I felt like, especially like fifth, sixth grade, I began to see like a huge shift in the way I needed to parent my kids. Going from, more of an authoritative parent, especially that’s how I was parented and I was continuing to try to parent them that way. And then I saw pretty quickly that that was not going to continue to work if I wanted to continue to have a good relationship with my kids. And I think that’s where I kind of felt like I needed more help along the way and I needed to reach out and get more advice.
And I mean, that works for some kids. It worked better for my oldest child, but my youngest was just not working. We were really butting heads and but in your community, I found that I thought it was just my child and it’s not. So getting into the community, I found that, that it’s not just my kid.
Sheryl: Oh. And that’s a game-changer, isn’t it? When you hear that and that and you bring up a really good point. I started doing this actually because when my daughter that’s now 29 became a tween, I did not know that, that this is a lot of, this behavior’s normal. And I look back at that time of how I was parenting her and like you said, I was, it didn’t work anymore.
And she was more of a strong-willed kid and she was my first kid and how I was parented wasn’t working with her. And it was really very confusing time. And so then I got into a mom’s group. I actually took her to counseling thinking I needed to fix her.
Yeah. And then I realized, no, I really need the support here. And then the therapist, the Christian therapist said, “You would be great in this mom’s group I’m leading.” And I got into that group and, and the one-on-one, a counseling coaching I received was really great.
But it was really being with those other moms and hearing them come in every week with their challenges and work on those things. That made such a difference. And that’s when I wanted to give that back.
After a few years of being in the group, and I’m still in the group, I was saying I want other moms to know how healing this can be.
So it made it, it made a really big difference in my own mind.
Jen: Yup. I agree. And then can you walk us through some things that we can do to cultivate a healthy relationship with our teens and tweens?
Because as you said, like a lot of it is not about fixing our kid. I think that’s what we run to first. But a lot of it starts with us and us changing, which is kind of a hard thing to grasp at first. But I found that that really does make a huge difference.
Sheryl: Yeah. Dan Siegel has a book and I wish I could steal the title cause I’m in the midst of writing a book. It’s called Inside Out Parenting. And I so believe that, that it starts with us first and really getting in touch with okay, doing some inventory, like how was I parented and why what are maybe some of the wounded parts of myself that are showing up in the way that I parent my own kids.
And so I would say just being curious about that and praying about that. And then getting some support around that was really helpful. What was your question?
Jen: What are some ways that we can cultivate a more healthy relationship with our kids?
Sheryl: So I would say just start there and be curious.
And I’ll give you an example. From my own life, my daughter was strong-willed, well, I was very compliant as a kid and so, and I had a mom that was more of an authoritarian parent.
And so I shut down a lot of my feelings and a lot of my emotions and I think most of us did. And anger, disagreeing, arguing, were all seen as bad. And I was scared to do that as a kid. So then fast forward and I ended up having the gift of my daughter who was very strong-willed.
She was arguing and it was okay, I could control some of that, just like you said. And then she hit the tween years and all of a sudden she’s arguing with me and she’s disagreeing with me. And you expect that with a two-year-old toddler. But it’s like, wait, I thought we mastered this and now you’re talking back to me and you’re being sassy.
And I didn’t know what to do with that except try to lay down the law and say, go to your room. And don’t talk to me that way versus being able to say to her, okay, I hear you’re angry and tell me what’s going on. And helping her to process her anger in a healthy way. And I think that my experiences in my own life and in working with moms are we see anger as a bad emotion and not viewing it as bad.
Viewing it as information and be curious about what might be going on with our kids.
- Why might they be acting out?
- Why might they be expressing this anger and, and being able to listen to that and reflect, listen, okay, you’re angry?
- So tell me what’s going on.
And wow, that does sound hard. And wanting to cultivate this safe place for our kids where they feel like they can open up and they can talk to us. And if we haven’t done that historically with our kids, it takes a little time.
But I find that when we start to listen more than giving that advice like you’re saying or trying to fix it or wanting to tell them not to feel that way, that over time it’s a process. But they’ll start opening up, they’ll start feeling safe. They’ll start thinking, mom is to listen.
She’s not going to judge me or criticize me for feeling this way. So I think that is really a key component.
And the truth is as moms, it is hard to listen to our kids when they’re feeling because it makes us anxious or if they’re angry or they’re sad, we have to be able to contain that and that’s, that’s not easy to do.
My 29-year-old was up last night and she is really having a hard time right now and it took all my energy and I’ve been doing this for so long to just bite my tongue and not give her advice. And I had had a conversation with her on the phone where I was giving her advice and she was like, you’re not listening. It’s not helpful. See it’s just, it’s so humbling. It’s just a continual reminder.
This is not just something that we master and it’s something that we practice daily.
How can I really listen and sit with you wherever, whatever you’re feeling? And it really helps our kids too. If we’re not jumping in and giving advice and we can ask them, what do you want to do about that?
When they become tweens and teens, we’re helping them to solve, to problem solve and to figure out like what do they need versus us always telling them because tweens and teens are gonna resist every time we try and tell them what to do, nine times out of 10 they’re going to resist that pushback up against that.
Jen: Yeah. A couple of things on that are not only is it difficult not to give them advice, but it’s also if they’re taking their anger on you, it’s difficult for you to keep your emotions at bay and not, and not yell back at them.
But one thing I found helpful, and this goes to you Inner Circle, which you haven’t talked about yet, but you’ve talked a lot about, or you’ve had experts come in and talk about what’s happening with the teens and tweens, what’s happening in their brain at that time.
And that helps me a lot too, to understand that what’s going on with them like psychologically right now as they’re growing. And it’s helped me to just kind of be like, okay, they don’t really understand like they can’t process things as we can right now. And when they’re acting out, it’s helped me not to get so mad.
Sheryl: Yes. Oh, so much so. And I’m so grateful that in the last, I don’t know, 10 15 years that they know so much more about the adolescent brain. And I think that that makes a huge difference when we understand what’s happening.
I didn’t know the back of their brain is the first thing to develop and that it develops from the back to the front. And so that makes a lot of sense because that amygdala is in the back of the brain and that is where we have that fight, flight or freeze response to danger and that it protects us. But that is fired up right now.
So our kids, they’re going to react out of that amygdala where they’re gonna all of a sudden they’re going to be fine. But we asked them if they did their homework and they’re going to have that response where all of a sudden out of their mouth comes like, leave me alone. And, and that’s just a big part of it, is that that, and, and even if you’re having trouble with your kids remembering, stop to know that the prefrontal cortex at the front of their brain is not fully developed.
And so they don’t have that executive functioning and it’s still developing. And so to be more patient with them and have some compassion when they are forgetting things and they’re having to juggle so much more, I mean each year they have more homework, there’s stress. Now we have technology. They’re dealing in middle school and high school was social relationships with peers. They want to fit in, they want to matter, they want to belong. So it’s just this perfect storm.
And then, and then think about us like they don’t know how to regulate those emotions. They haven’t learned it yet. So often I find with my parents and even myself, we’re still learning. And if we can even say back to our kids when we below it. Okay. I didn’t like how I responded there, I am sorry. I’m learning right along with you, right?
So then we’re joining them rather than that you’re the problem. I need to fix how you’re responding. No, I’m learning right along with you too.
Jen: That’s one of the things that I appreciate about your inner circle. If you want to talk about that for a minute because even as you said before, it’s like a lifelong process. We don’t master the parenting and be like, okay, I’ve read the three books and I now know how to handle my teenager.
But you bring in different experts and you talk in there I think weekly and you take Q and A and sometimes I may know a topic and be like, yeah, I’ve heard this before, but that’s what I appreciate about it because it’s like I may know this but I forgot it or I’m sure not practicing that this week, and I need to hear it again and I need, even if it’s just like listening to it while I’m working or doing the dishes or something and I need to listen to it again and I need to work on that again or what I mean?
It’s just like I haven’t mastered any of that and I’m not going to, I need to work on it all the time to keep my relationship with my kids at the best that I can.
Sheryl: Well, I’m so glad to hear that, that you’re finding it helpful and I’m sharing what I need to keep remembering to. And I think that even the listening part that is just continually, I think for all of us to remember, that it’s, it’s like learning a new language for us and how to really listen to our kids, especially when they’re tweens and teens and we’re not always liking what they have to say. So I’m glad that that’s helpful to you. And I do, I do a live Q and A in there once a week. And then we do I do an expert, a parenting expert or author interview in there once a week.
And then I also put units in there, which is such a great thing that Facebook does where once a week I share tool, something like I did conversation starters that you can use with your kids. I do affirmation, specific affirmations.
There are so many different tools that you can use that are in the inner circle. So I shared that on Fridays. And then on Mondays, I do a little teaching. So it’s like a little mini class on something. Like this past Monday, I did the adolescent brain. So I talked about that. And then I think I’m talking next Monday on how to empower your kid. And like last Friday I did technology cause that’s a huge one. How do you talk to your kids about technology rather than just wanting to take the phone away? How do we actually them to think about how technology makes them feel and be curious about their world, their technology world and then be able to have, figure out some boundaries and limits around it.
But we want to do it in a way that invites that connection. Like everything that I want to share in there is to build a healthier relationship with your kid.
Jen: Yup. It’s great. I really appreciate that. Yeah. So, so do you have any last words for any parent who might feel alone in their parenting for their teen or tween?
Sheryl: Well I love what you’re doing, Jen, to support single moms because my mom was a single mom and it has that unique set of challenges. And I just want to say don’t go it alone. I think, find a community, try our inner circle. We have quite a few single moms in there and your group and what you’re offering. Being willing. It’s scary to put it out there when we’re struggling, we’re worried we’re going to be judged.
We have shame. We think we’re bad moms, but I find time and time again when a mom puts it out there, something that she’s struggling with, it is so comforting to another mom because she too is struggling.
And I know that our Facebook post and our Instagram posts can look all perfect, but working with moms on a daily basis, we’re all struggling with something, but we can feel so isolated and alone even if we don’t feel like we can share it.
So mom’s time and time again, they say, I never post on your page, but I can’t tell you how much it’s helping me read what other moms are going through. So just having that support system, even if it’s one person that you can really be honest with and talk to them.
Jen: I agree. And where can listeners find you?
Sheryl: Okay. you can find me at, well my email is email@example.com and the Facebook page, the business page where there are articles and funny things and all kinds of good stuff to help you is https://www.facebook.com/momsoftweensandteens/.
And then the inner circle, you can find out more on the website or you can message me on the Facebook page or https://www.facebook.com/groups/Momsoftweensandteens/
Jen: Okay, great. And we’ll have links for all of that. And then also we’ll have a giveaway. I want to give somebody one month free for your inner circle because I believe in it so much. I really enjoy it.
So all you have to do is share this episode on social media. Take a screenshot of it and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and within the next week, and we’ll pick one winner and we’ll get you a one-month free membership to Sheryl’s inner circle.
Thanks so much for being on the show, Sheryl.
Sheryl: Oh, thank you, Jen, so much for having me. It was great to connect with you here.
Jen: I loved having Sheryl on the podcast today. Don’t forget to enter the contest by sharing this episode on social media and take a screenshot of what you shared and send it to me at email@example.com. I’ll choose a winner soon, and the winner will get one free month of Sheryl’s inner circle. I’m sure you’re gonna love it.