Parents to a 4-year-old strong-willed son and an almost 2 year-old daughter, Omaya + Andrew are here to share the biggest mindset shifts they internalized that made it possible for them to go from constantly splitting up their family to avoid setting off their strong-willed child to watching their sibling relationship thrive and taking both kids hiking as a solo parent!
They reflected on what they've done well to parent together as true partners, processing the information in real time and tagging each other out in the moment.
But most importantly, they hope by hearing their story you'll not only feel incredibly validated, but realize how possible it is to make sense of all the theories when you have individualized insight.
IN THIS EPISODE, WE COVERED...
*FREE* MASTERCLASS: Learn how to CONFIDENTLY parent your strong-willed child WITHOUT threats, bribes or giving in altogether so you can BREAK FREE of power struggles + guilt
It's hard to empathize with him all the time. But when I am successful in doing it; when I give him that hug before saying, "I can't believe you threw that", like, he melts into my body, I can see the tension in his body, like, melt away for a moment. And I know that I have touched the need that he needed in that moment. I didn't know how to do that before we saw this information. I knew in theory, but I didn't know how to do that.
Danielle Bettmann 0:29
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety...not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. That this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud...this podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here.
Danielle Bettmann 1:42
Hey, it's Danielle. If you are new here, I help defeated parents find validation, support and proven techniques to parent their strong-willed kids with composure, connection, confidence and cooperation through a three month group coaching program based on the Wholehearted Framework I've developed over years of working with families one on one. I have an early childhood and elementary teaching degree. I'm certified in Positive Discipline and have two daughters myself.
Danielle Bettmann 2:11
And if you have just found the podcast go to failingmotherhood.com to view a playlist of our most listened to episodes as well as where to start in the episodes if you have a strong-willed child.
Danielle Bettmann 2:22
So just FYI, in December, I'm going to be sharing a few episodes from my vault. The gem episodes that out of the 130 that we have so far have not gotten the listens that they deserve, and need more attention before bringing all new episodes to you in the new year. So be on the lookout for that.
Danielle Bettmann 2:42
In today's episode, I am joined by clients that I worked with over this past summer. Omaya and Andrew met serendipitously in graduate school. Both were engineers pursuing doctorate degrees and today they both work in the energy industry. Their life melds multiple cultural heritages, and many extended and loving family members. They have a strong-willed son who is four and a half, and a daughter who is nearly two. And they have so graciously been willing to bear all in this interview describing how they have gone from not being able to enjoy any of the fun family adventures, having a disastrous Easter, having to split up their family constantly to keep the peace TO thriving on Halloween, watching him perform in a preschool play, watching their kids foster a relationship that is all their own and being able to take both kids hiking as a solo parent, and what has made all of that possible. They share what they have learned by sharing their biggest takeaways including the problem with spending your energy trying to rationalize with someone whose behavior is by definition, irrational, the need to harness your power as a parent and learn how to wield it, how incredibly important your mindset is and how to take control of what you have control over, the responsibility it is of being their rock through their big emotions, moving from textbook understanding of parenting strategies to the actual application of it, and how game changing it is to digest the same information at the same time alongside your partner. And we get a peek at what that true partnership looks like in their marriage and relationship. So I guarantee as you listen to this one your struggles to parent your strong-willed child will be so validated, and you'll find yourself nodding along as they share shouting EXACTLY into the ether of your car. So without further ado, let's dive into my conversation with Amaya and Andrew.
Danielle Bettmann 4:53
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann and on today's episode I am joined by Omaya and Andrew Well, thank you guys so much for coming on the show. It is the biggest compliment. And I don't look forward to anything else other than being able to have clients that I have a relationship with back on the show to be able to kind of be an open book. And we can really ask you the good questions and get down into some some good stuff. So thank you so much for being here, taking the time and being willing to to be honest and vulnerable. I really, really appreciate it.
Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Danielle Bettmann 5:31
So just go ahead and do a quick intro. Who are you? Who's in your family?
So I can start my name is Omaya. Andrew and I met each other in grad school 10 years ago. That's a big thing of our story, I think because we are, we are kind of like education nerds. And we that applies to our parenting style as well. We're kind of reading all the things and looking at all the information all the time. But we have two children; strong-willed kiddo is our oldest child, he is four and a half. And we also have a younger daughter who is nearly two.
I'm Andrew. Yeah, so like I said, we met in grad school. Yeah, it's just been quite a journey, going through parenting these last, you know, almost five years now. And everything that has has changed and all the challenges we faced with the kids. So it was really, really great. When we were able to kind of make things run a bit smoother. Yeah. So yeah, our family, our family feels a lot happier now.
Danielle Bettmann 6:33
I'm so glad to hear that. I love seeing your smiles compared to how things probably felt a few months ago when we first met, not as much cupcakes, rainbows, butterflies. And I don't want to beat you to the punch of telling your story. So let's let's go back maybe as painful as it might be to what parenting was like maybe six months ago, and paint that picture. What was the day to day like?
So Danielle, I think for us, it goes back a little bit further in our issues really began with the birth of our youngest. And that sibling rivalry which we didn't really kind of recognize is like a sibling rivalry thing because it was it was all one sided. There was like a little infant. And then there was our toddler. But we kind of lingered in the state of separating the family because we couldn't be cohesive. And that started really early on just because we had so many outbursts from our toddler when everybody was together. And we functioned like that for a long time; for a full year. And then when we found you, like a half year ago, we had already been like that for a while. And I don't know if something specifically changed. But we had a month or two right before we started the Wholeheartedly program where things were just more intense, they weren't getting better. So like the splitting up of the family to meet the needs of our children separately, was not helping. There's a lot of walking on eggshells trying to I don't know if the word is placate what would you say Andrew? What were we doing?
No. I mean, I think that placate is definitely the right word. Because, yeah, it became necessary for on weekends when the family was together to to not actually be a family together, because it was so, so contentious. And so like nerve racking, when the two kids were next to each other. You never knew if out of nowhere for No, you know, nothing actually upsetting, but out of nowhere, he would you know, choose to hit her or go after her. And so it was really, really difficult to kind of design our weekends that way. It was just not a, is just not an enjoyable place to be as a family.
Danielle Bettmann 8:53
And you are no strangers to research. So what did that look like for kind of the path of crumbs that you started to develop of, of not only understanding, but maybe strategies? What had you tried?
So I mean, we're newer parents, right? Our oldest is four and a half. And I think we've researched things before, right before he was born. And it was like it started off being like, what is our parenting philosophy? Right. So a lot of books that we share and read from, like, down to the down to the idea of like even family planning, like we had the luxury of being like, Okay, we're almost at three years. Let's have another kid because that's what research says work better for family dynamics, right? And then as soon as we've reached that stage and actually, to be honest with our with our strong-willed kid, he's been a strong willed child his entire life. We used to describe his personality as intense. He was an intense baby. He wasn't a colicky baby crying all the time. But he cried often for many reasons. And him as a one year old was the kind of kid that you couldn't tell him how to do things. He'd all was protests, right? He he had to figure it out. Right. So we it was a lot of like standing back and letting him observe. Right. So he's always displayed evidence of strong-willed personality. But once once we have the dynamic of two children in the mix, and we had so many issues of him, when he was deregulated taking it out on his younger sibling, we then move toward like the behavior kind of side, right? Is there something? Is there aggression? Like, do we have to? Do we look into dealing with resources that helps little kids with aggression? Is there something wrong with him? Right, we talk to a few specialists who, Andrew you were the one looking for...
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Therapy. Right. So that was that was the confusing thing for me is that we went to a couple of different child psychologists. And, you know, we did like an extensive intake, and we had one tell us, like, you know, I could do an evaluation, but I'm not going to because he's going to be a different kid in six months, with continued application of techniques. Yeah. And so, you know, it was just, it was really, really difficult to kind of feel like we couldn't figure out what we were supposed to do, or how to fix that problem, or how to just make it better, you know, for our daughter's sake, but also for his sake, too, because, you know, he was not having a good time, with all of those outbursts and things like that. So yeah, it was, No, obviously, we weren't having a good time, either.
We would end the day and, and we'll probably talk about this a lot. But Andrew and I kind of had the luxury of parenting together, we both work during the week, and our kids are, we have helped with them from family. And then he and I get to be with the kids together all weekend. And we do all these things to like, set us up for success. And we'd have terrible days, and we'd be exhausted at the end of the day. And we'd be like, we're good parents dammit, what, what's what's going on? We're trying so hard. And it just, we did not feel like the trend was was, getting better by the time we came to you?
Yeah, that I think was the also very confusing and a little bit frustrating part is, is we knew we were putting the effort in. I mean, we were really, really, you know, we were really working hard. And then like really trying to put the effort in and trying to, you know, do research and, you know, be very involved and onpoint with the kids. And it wasn't really making a lot of progress. And it was, you know, a little confusing to really be striving that much and not have it go very far.
Danielle Bettmann 12:43
Right. That's not the experience you probably had in your work life up until this point, right, like hard work ethic equals results, outcomes, progress, things that are maybe more on the analytical side being in the science engineering field. And I remember from our first conversation, one of the things that came up is just the frustration that arises because his behavior doesn't make sense.
Right. Yep. Like Andrew was alluding to, we felt like we were doing all the right things. We were giving him all this. That's why we split the family up a lot, right? Like he needs one on one attention. And we split the family up with different parents, right? So he wasn't with one parent all the time it was we'd switch back and forth. And we're like, we're doing this where we're trying to give him his time with us and to explore things. And when we would try to come back together, it wouldn't... It wouldn't lead to the outcomes we wanted as a family together, we'd still have all the issues.
And on that note, I mean, yeah, it was especially it was really difficult for me because his behavior is you know, by definition irrational, right? Right. But like, you know, not being able to let go of the why, and trying to put so much thought and energy into understanding it. And just addressing the techniques of how to deal with it. That was a really hard thing for me to let go and kind of change my mindset on that. But really, really useful to change that mindset. Because ultimately, I mean, they are human beings, they're complex, and you can't spend all your energy trying to rationalize why a toddler is going to be doing what they're doing. Because you won't have any energy left for anything else.
Danielle Bettmann 14:29
Right. that'll suck you dry for sure.
Yeah. And I'll say and I don't, I don't know if this is like the place to say it. But I think something that gave us hope that when we were going into your program, was something that you had said from your materials that were available to us before we entered was that these kinds of kids have high highs as well as they have low lows. Right. So we were like, yes, we do have good times with our child. It's just in a single day, we have bad times, like really bad times, all in the same day. And we wanted to figure out a way to stretch out the time between those oscillations because we kept bouncing back and forth. It was it was like whiplash the whole day. Like, it was crazy the way that happened in our household.
Danielle Bettmann 15:17
No, you're describing it so vividly and we're all in the room with you. But what because you didn't know what the solution was at the time? Right? You You tried everything that you were aware of, and you're trying to seek out a million other opinions? Did you find any conflicting advice through that time? And did you have any fears that were kind of like informing your approach that you're trying to avoid down the road?
Yeah, Andrew, I'm gonna bring in the family that our family aspect here, we have, while it's so such an asset for us to have help from my parents, and we have a lot of aunts and uncles and little cousins around too that get that actually, they saw the behavior happened, my mom was experiencing it every day, as she was watching the kids. After our toddler got home from preschool, we had a lot of pressures to fix the situation immediately. Right? It was bad enough, right? The, the aggression, again, especially towards the younger sibling was bad enough that Andrew and I were feeling so much outside pressure and being told what to do to fix it immediately. And we struggled with meeting the needs of our strong-willed Kid, while also protecting our daughter.
You know, we did have conflicting advice coming from, you know, some family members that had good intentions, but you know, it's just, you know, somewhat outdated advice, right. And so a lot of a lot of the pretty traditional, like, hard nosed approach, like, you know, he needs to be put in his room. Or, or even, you know, like, bring up spanking as a suggestion. And just like, you know, things that a lot of family members, you know, do and they want an immediate result, or they, they want you to fix the problem now, right. And so, you know, that was really difficult, because we would have, oh, my family likes to do a lot of family events, you know, it's like, no matter what time of the year it is, you know, it's like, maybe there's like three weeks without family getting together, at least like a couple dozen people. And, you know, you would have her aunts and uncles and other people seeing this behavior. Yeah, there's just there's a lot of concern and a lot of, you know, kind of pressure of what are you guys doing to fix this. And so that's, you know, that's an additional thing that you're trying to deal with, on top of parenting your kid.
And the only thing I wanted to say is Andrew and I as a couple are very comfortable looking through, like printed material together. But I tend to be also then the more social media kind of person getting the tidbits from social media. So when we had found you, I found you over social media, there's a lot on there. And that was the more piecemeal approach that we were kind of doing. But it was coming all from my end the piece mail, Andrew would go slowly and methodically through books that I had also done, but then I was doing all this little stuff in between, it was hard to implement things by piecemeal that we found on social media. But as we we searched as I searched more and more, that's what what was exciting was when we hit, I hit the nail on the head with the strong-willed kind of identification for my kid. And that was something that that we hadn't seen before. And that really piqued our interest in in this program, just that something directed specifically for my kind of kid, right? Like, it's all the rage is gentle parenting and stuff like that. But gentle parenting is applicable to all children, right, all kinds of children. And I didn't realize until we had our second child that personalities were so different, that this was an actual specific kind of child. And he needed something very specific to his needs. So that helped. But we were we were in this kind of limbo land, getting pieces of parenting stuff for a while, before we kind of focused in on the kind of kid our kid is.
Danielle Bettmann 19:18
Yeah, you call that kind of a patchwork approach? Yeah. How did that fall short? What did that what does it feel like to parent with the kind of patchwork understanding?
For us, the patchwork thing felt like a lot of behind the scenes work without an actual game plan to do things and apply them. So I find something that was really interested in like, oh, we should try this. And maybe it would be something we try once and it failed. Or maybe we didn't even really get to try it because it there was no movements or we didn't we didn't have the time to move an idea toward an action. So it just felt like a huge load on top of the load we were already holding In parenting.
Danielle Bettmann 20:01
Yeah, it's not like you're twiddling your thumbs in the first place. Yeah. So how did you end up finding me? Was there any like last straw or like, event? Did you have like a trip right before? You ended up kind of googling more?
It was Easter. Right?
It was right after Easter. Yeah, it was. It was the beginning of May. Well,
I mean, the event was Easter, though. Okay. Yeah,
that was the biggest event. Yes. Yeah.
Because I mean, he really, really, I mean, savagely attacked me in front of my parents, and I don't think they had ever quite seen him in that state before. And, you know, it was concerning to them. Right. And it was interesting seeing the reactions from somebody who hadn't really, you know, seen how he he got when he was upset. And realizing like, you know, this is this is something that really needs to be solved now, rather than later, because it's only going to get more difficult, certainly gonna get more difficult to adjust their personality as they get older. Right. I mean, I think that's part of your material is like one of the first graphs you shows how moldable they are. And as they get older, you know, past a certain point, it's a little bit more difficult to do that. Right. So, but he had, he had attacks, really, and then he attacked me and Omaya and I talked and we decided, you know, the the scheduling that we're putting in place, some of the things we're doing is good, and it's helping, but it's not enough, I think was kind of where we landed with that.
Well, and I'll add to so two things it for us, like, the Easter weekend was a big turning point. Because things were so bad. And I couldn't rationalize how an event that was supposed to be really fun, like everything was fun, and set up for their enjoyment. And all our strong-willed Kiddo could do was find the injustice that was was lurking everywhere, and pointing that out and getting upset about it. And that was our entire weekend. That was like the three days that we were off, right. And it was with all this family watching too. It was such a low low for us as parents in that moment. And I'll tell you that I found you right after that. And did my whole like, brought it to Andrew like, this is what I found on social media. Let's look at her stuff. It kind of added to the noise of things that I had brought in the past. I went away on a work trip, I listened to a podcast with a couple who had been through the program. And I remember a parent saying that after 12 weeks, their lives were so much better. And I was like, could that be us? That'd be us in 12 weeks, like her work into into this could could that be us? Right? And then our turning point when we came back to talk to each other was we had another bad weekend, before we made our choice. And it was like, well, let's actually do something now. Let's do it. So yeah, so parents that came before and said, things can be different. That's really what pushed us forward. Like things can be different. Let's try to make a difference.
Danielle Bettmann 23:08
Yeah, just the hope of possibility. Because you just don't You don't know at that point. If even if that is a possibility, right? No,
it feels like an impossibility. It feels like it can't be done. Yeah,
it feels endless. It feels endless. Right. Like, I'm like, Is this our life? Is this what is this? What parenting is? Is this what family life is? It was it was depressing, right? Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 23:30
Yeah. What What else didn't feel possible at that point that you would have imagined would have been a part of your family life other than not splitting up all the time?
Well, I don't know if this goes toward it. But we were doing a lot of extrapolating down the road, right? Like if it's this bad now. And things get more challenging because life or the outside world becomes more of a factor. What are we going to have a school aged kid? What are we gonna have as a teenager? What are we going to have as an adult parents to an adult, right, like we kept extrapolating. So things felt so doom and gloom because of that, as well.
And I I'll add on to I think one thing that really got to Omaya, and to me as well is, you know, she mentioned for Easter weekend, like it's, there's a lot of stuff that we had planned to try to do that was fun, and like all he could find was the injustice in it, but it was a difficult time period. Because, you know, it was hard for him to just enjoy things just taking him somewhere to enjoy things that a lot of little things set him off. And so that was kind of the like, occasionally you know, sitting and thinking about it like oh, like are we not going to be able to go do things when he gets older at 5, 6, 7 and enjoy them? and that was a really really depressing thought. And you know, obviously now is it's fantastic but
Danielle Bettmann 24:55
and his body gets bigger, right? The aggression of an older child.
Yeah, yeah. Exactly, I really, really did not want to be raising a bully. That was kind of like my big concern. And so that's what really got to me of needing him to change. Yeah, I mean, he's he's made an amazing amount of progress.
Danielle Bettmann 25:15
So yeah, let's jump ahead for a second. And then we'll back up again. Contrast that with you had posted in like graduate community Andrew, like two weeks ago, I can't wait to update you things are going so well. Like what was what was that that prompted that WIN post? Do you remember?
Yeah, yeah. He actually participated in his preschool play, which, in previous, you know, preschool years, he had at least, he was able to kind of like code switch at preschool. So like he once he got used to preschool, he could follow the rules. And he never had the outbursts of preschool that he had a home, which was really interesting. Like he was able to really keep it together, and then let it all out as soon as he got home. But he wouldn't really participate. He just kind of stand up there. He wouldn't sing, he wouldn't do anything. And this past one, he actually did, like sing in their little production that they put on, and it was very heartwarming to see that change happen compared to a year ago. Yeah, something that, you know, is really hard to imagine. But it was, it was really, really uplifting.
Danielle Bettmann 26:25
Yeah. What else do you feel like has changed in your day to day that is noteworthy? Is there? Is there less aggression?
Yes. I mean, so there was the play. And then Halloween was really, really fun. He was very enthusiastic about actually saying "trick or treat" and like going door to door and actually participating, which was, you know, watching him get excited about doing things and participating in things. It's been just completely different this year, compared to all of the activities, you know, seasonal stuff we did last year. Yeah,
so I'll add to that. We are not devoid of outbursts anymore, but we feel so much more in control when they happen. We're not perfect when they happen. Sometimes when we can't handle it in that moment, we kind of revert back to old habits. But last night, specifically, he was having a moment the end of the day, right. So a kind of a predictable time to have more of a deregulation, and it was over our youngest child choosing something that he didn't want to happen, right. And he was so funny like he, at first he like, screamed and ran away from the room, right trying to leave, right because he couldn't handle the disappointment. But then he'd come back and he'd asked us again to like change the activity and we'd be like...
He wanted to change the movie is what he wanted to do. We were watching Coco, you wanted to watch Toy Story is happened.
And so it was funny to watch him try to like manage through that feeling. It did end up with him throwing the remote control. But then we like Andrew scooped him up and took him upstairs and did his bedtime routine. And he he allowed it to happen. Right? He was like, yeah, it was almost like yeah, I messed up. I tried to hold it back. I couldn't hold it back. And they were able to kind of proceed finishing off the routine because he was he was in that state because he was overtired, but he like accepted it. Right. So that was interesting.
He accepted us moving forward and being like, Okay, we're gonna go read before bed. And he wasn't super happy about it. But sometimes when he's sitting on me, and we're reading our books, he will you know, he will protest or he will have issues with the fact that his little sister is getting to stay up later than him or something like that. Right. You know, that was kind of what I was afraid of that he would. He'd be mad about that. But he just, he accepted our parenting, and we just moved forward. And then he went to sleep. And it was fine.
Well see. And that's something we learned though, too, because the explosion of throwing the remote, we learned that our reaction can't be explosive back, right. It was just like, Okay, we're done here. Let's move on. We didn't throw it in his face. Like, like, how dare you do that which we were kind of like in the pattern of doing before. We had a plan of like moving on with the night and pushing through with that and and he had the ability to move along with us because we weren't pushing him away. as we were doing it. right. We weren't yelling at him. We weren't. We weren't being mean back to him. We weren't losing our cool. So it was inviting him in to kind of lean with us along that process.
We weren't reacting. Yeah, yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 29:51
And what made that possible. So how have you changed as parents over the last few months?
I think the biggest and you can do your side too, Andrew. For me, the biggest is I stopped thinking about parenting in terms of fixing my child, and started thinking about it more in terms of myself as an individual and what I'm doing and what I can control, and leading with that as my focus. So when things go bad in a day, it's now news to me to be like, Okay, how can I change the situation the next time it arises? And how do I plan for that? And how do I plan with my child, so that it's predictable we have I did learn with like strong willed kids that nothing is you can do things spontaneously, but the success rate goes down, the more spontaneous things are, so you can't leave things to chance, right. But that's all on my end. I can't expect it from him if I didn't do that kind of back end work. So it's, it's the my end portion. And it's actually comforting to be in the mind portion. Because I know what I'm thinking, I don't know what my child is thinking all the time. So living in his unpredictability in his toddler head, and in his volatility as a toddler was very disorienting for me. And now I don't have to like exist in that space anymore.
Danielle Bettmann 31:11
To how empowering that that makes you feel more in control.
Yes. How about for you, Andrew?
Oh, so many things changed since we started this class? So yeah, I mean, I think the really, really impactful insight from from going through this 12 week program was realizing how emotionally deregulated I would get from him. Right. And so that was kind of a real eye opener, actually went to therapy for a little bit to try to, you know, really get a good handle on, you know, being angry and my reactivity to things he would do. And that was helpful as well. But like a mindset to just realize that you are, you are focusing on changing yourself and not the kid, right? And realizing that, you know, you're the adult, right, you're the authority figure, you have to be doing your end of things the right way. And that doesn't mean that it'll always succeed. But it means that's kind of a prerequisite for success, right is making sure that you handle doing things right from your ends. And, you know, it was interesting going through it realizing that like, hey, our strong-willed kid would be deregulated, and that would deregulate me, and things would spiral or, you know, occasionally I would let my bad mood get the best of me and deregulate him. Understandable. Yeah. Yeah. So taking this taking this class is really, really good for kind of self awareness, and just getting a much better handle on how to parent and how to be kind of that authority figure that they need, right? Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 32:55
Because I remember you saying, like midway through the process, when we are on our "A game", we see immediate change and a correlation in the day and then behavior, and then when we are not, we also see that change where it's like a very trickle down effect. Would you agree?
Yeah. And just knowing that so we still have bad days, right? But they're still variable. But we can end the day and being like, Yeah, I had a bad day. And I was having a bad day, right. And this was the outcome. And then I'm allowed to have a bad day, right? Oh, yeah. And you know what? Our kid is too! And learning that right? Like that. That's what happened today. And let's move forward. It helped us recognize that we didn't have to exist in the bad though, that they fluctuate in and out, depending on things that were going on with our own moods, ours and our child at the same time. So again, if we couldn't control for our, when we were capable of controlling our own mood, we had more success. And there are times where it's like, I'm in a bad mood, and I'm gonna let myself be in a bad mood. And I'm going to allow whatever happens to happen, because I can't control that right now. And I gave myself that grace. And it's actually kind of fun to give our child that grace to sometimes and we've learned to do that too. Rather than, you know, running circles around him as he's losing his cool and trying to fix it like here. Here's this or no, we can do this. No stops us up. We didn't have to do that anymore. We have to be like, Okay, you're having a bad time. Let's let that happen. Look at the bad time. Yeah, totally go for it. It was it was a different mindset in that respect him.
It was... Yeah, it's a much more strategic and calm and controlled reaction to things rather than trying to fix them and kind of the Panic Away, right? Yeah. It feels better to have that there.
And we recover quickly, more quickly because of that, too. So our day might not be tanked from a bad moment. And the the moment rectifies itself quicker because we're primed to let that happen, rather than blocking it through like the frantic kind of trying to mediate in the moment. I don't know or fight against it, maybe, too.
Danielle Bettmann 35:13
There's like a level of acceptance.
Yeah, it's knowing, you know, it's kind of having a better idea of what that obstacle is right, and being prepared for it and accepting it. And just saying, I know, it's easier when it's not happening all the time. Right, it's not happening all the time you are, you are at a baseline, that's really good. And so you're like, you know, he, he might get upset about something. And I know, in my head, how we're going to handle this. And having that kind of preparation, mentally is very reassuring, when you're going through the day to day of parenting.
And that was a big switch, too, right? So our mindset used to be how do we avoid him getting upset about this thing? Now? It's like, we know he's gonna get upset about this, what is our reaction? What are we going to do when he gets upset? That's a big change. And that's not everything. Like we didn't want him to now, like stand back, like go ahead, get upset about everything. But when it mattered, when it was something that we couldn't avoid, like, we'd split up all the time, because we didn't want him to get upset with his his sister around. And we had to learn how to have them together, and safely allow him to get upset because it's not sustainable for us to remain separate. Right. So we were react, we were trying to make sure, like, we were doing something to avoid a bad reaction. And that was not a sustainable thing. Right. So we have since learned how to help him with his feelings when they're warranted in a space because we have to we still have to direct his his life. He's four and a half. He has terrible ideas about what life should be like. So
candy all day, every day? Yes, yeah. That's very true. I mean, to what you said Omaya, though, like, it's not fair to deny him the ability to be upset because he's human, right? It's just, it's very hard to give them space, if they're upset day in and day out, you know, with a high frequency, right, but learning to be able to allow them to be upset that was really healthy, and then trying to avoid making him upset, sets a really bad precedent that we didn't want to do, right? Because you don't want them to get used to that, because then they can't learn to handle their emotions. And that's part of their emotional development is learning how to deal with those things. And it just makes things worse. So yeah, I mean, learning learning how to accept and treat his, you know, upsetness at certain things was was really, really good. And
I love how like, it's still we're still kind of like, I still feel like a fledgling parent in this. I'm laughing right now, because I'm remembering this week, after reviewing materials through your course where we were reminded about like during an outburst, like we have to give them our calm. And so Andrew and I were talking about that and Andrew this week, at some point, during an outburst, you were like, narrating "I am so calm right now. I am so calm. And this isn't bothering me." Like you were telling him. And I thought that was so cute in my head. I'm like, he doesn't care. But Andrew was like, Look, I'm doing it for you. But that was so sweet.
Danielle Bettmann 38:23
I love that so much. Because, yeah, it doesn't matter the words you say it's the energy you're giving in that moment. And whatever you need to do, to have a really grounded, strong, resilient presence in the midst of someone trying to basically like, that's in the undertow of an emotion and it's like a vortex and they're trying to sweep you in and like pull your legs out from under you and then join them in the ocean and you're trying to be in the sand. digging your heels in being like Nope, you're not pulling me in. I'm pulling you up out like I'm here to help you get out of this emotion. I'm staying here. I love that. Yeah. Narrate that.
Yeah. I mean, I think part of what I learned from the classes understanding really the importance the responsibility of being that rock for them, right that like if you are that safe, immovable rock, you know, that they can kind of crash against for a little bit like it's really really comforting and reassuring to them. And just understanding that that's, that's very difficult that that's something that you have to do for them.
Danielle Bettmann 39:48
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Danielle Bettmann 42:00
And while you guys are here, I want to pick your brain on something that has become so clear through your processes that one of the strengths of your family and of your relationship is that you are such a partnership. You know, you both were fully engaged in this process, you both brought questions and showed up and made the most of the insight and information and could really tell that you like bounced each other off each other and backed each other up in the moment. How did you do that? Because, you know, that's still something that is like hashtag goals. So, you know, bring us into that, how do we do that? Like what what made that possible for you guys?
I it's hard to answer because I I feel very privileged that it's it's the relationship we have with each other and we work on it a lot. But we do do parenting together we have we have that advantage of the time we have available in our lives with our careers is similar so that we can then expend the same amount of time with our children to it's not I don't think it's a requirement for this to work. But it's it's our advantage. So we're doing things. We're allocating time for our kids and doing that work, like similarly with each other. But I will say the way this court is set up, it lends itself to a very conversational reaction. So we would listen to the information. And we would talk about it all the time. Did you hear this yet?. Would you think about that earlier? Like it wasn't, it didn't feel like work? It felt like I can't wait to tell you about this did you like that's what it felt like going through it with each other, we would be doing chores and talking about it. After the kids went to bed, we'd be talking about it. Like it would just be a constant thing. And
Danielle Bettmann 44:13
how how was that conversation different than the way that you were talking about parenting? You know, a couple months ago, because you were still probably talking about it. But more than like a how do we fix this way?
Yeah... Well, we were digesting the same information at the same time. And that's what was different. It's not perfect. The load goes back and forth between us but like I had I will say I've been shouldering a lot of like here look at all the information I found looks like a lot.
And I don't really do social media. So she like tried to send me this Instagram post and like I don't have this.
But that that wasn't a good space to be in because the load then went more on me on trying to find the solution to do it. And then once we joined this program, we chose a program that we were going to dive into together, we then we're sharing the same information we're digesting at the same time. So it evened the playing field again. And and we could plan together, we made the plans together on how to implement things, what we were going to do, we started predicting what our when our issues would arise and then planning for them together. And actually, so we are a couple of months removed from the completion of our program. And I will say that what we have grown in since then is now we're learning to implement things individually, where we don't need to kind of work with each other anymore, right? We needed all hands on deck, it was that that? I mean, we need to both be there at the same time. And now we've grown even more to be like, Hey, I got both of them by myself. And Andrew does that too. Like Andrew, I think you're doing it even more than I am right now. Like you've got both of them by yourself or? I don't know, like, so we feel like we're growing together in that sense, too. But that's because we did all the work with each other to begin with.
Yeah, I mean, having having common material to talk about I think is really important. So that your conversations about that you're not talking past each other, right? You're talking about the same same content. And any, anytime I had cleaning or any, you know, 15 minutes of chores, I just put my headphones in and listen to the the audio portion of that week. And it was, you know, really easy to fit in. And so it just kind of became part of my regular routine to just like, listen to it when I could, and Omaya would listen to it when she could and, you know, yeah, we just having that common material to talk about, I think made it a lot more like focused and team effort.
Yeah, and I'll add in, remember, we had an extended family kind of factor in this. And my mom who does watch our kids, sometimes, we had her join in as well. And she was listening to the content. Now she did not take on the added responsibility of implementing it. But she, we had her buy in, because she was listening to the information as well. And she learned her own stuff, and pulled from it as well, too. So like having that buy in across the board for the people that were responsible for our children, including ourselves, was such an asset, I think, to our progress that we made in such a little time.
Danielle Bettmann 47:20
Definitely, yeah, and I'm so glad that you took full advantage of that. And you said it perfectly, it was your advantage. Because yes, you can do it with older kids, you can do it as a single parent or solo parent. But being able to integrate things really accelerates your progress when you have that full buy in from as many parties as possible to have that shared understanding. And I can tell just how much you grew from week to week, because you were doing that in the back end. And you know, you're each engaged in that self paced process. So for the logistics of the program, is there any other aspects of it that you really valued? Or was, you know, maybe a favorite topic or anything that you feel like really just made it stand out that it was what you guys needed and really benefited from?
And I think all the materials really good. I forget what week it is me weeks, somewhere around five, I'm not sure. But once we started getting deeper into the kind of emotional regulation part, that was when I kind of had some breakthroughs, realizing that like, oh, like I need to not be reacting as much to him and things like that. I'll say I think even in week one, just changing the mindset of understanding like oh, like he... getting where he's coming from was such a huge benefit for me. And just understanding that, like, oh, he sees certain things happening as an injustice. And this is, this is his mindset. And this is where he's at. It really, really helped me put myself in his shoes and made those emotions a little bit easier to deal with. I would say,
For me, I would say like all of the key terms of the parenting information I was familiar with coming into this course, were kind of pulled from a textbook understanding and helped me move forward toward an application understanding for my own situation. So things like and there's so many, but like the biggest ones I can talk about are like, what does it actually mean to set a boundary and hold it? And for what reason? I got to kind of filter my life through like what boundaries matter, and what am I going to do to create them and to uphold them so that they send the signal they need to be sending because i i oscillated a lot between like I need to send set a million boundaries because everything is wrong, or I need to set no boundaries because he he rejects everything right? So I oscillated between that all the time. So I really was able to figure that out. That was a big thing. A big thing for me too. Who is like, like, I kept hearing, like, respond to the emotion, not the action. But like, I didn't know what that meant, really, I really didn't know what that meant. And through this course, I was able to learn what it truly meant to respond to my child's emotion. And I will tell you beforehand, like I couldn't move past my, my shock at the things he would do to actually empathize with him and where that feeling comes from granted. Again, remember, he's a four and a half year old. So I can't believe he feels things over like, the most mundane issues. But he does, right like, and it's very real to him. And I learned what it meant to empathize with that. And that is something that I continue to learn how to respond to, because it's hard, it's still hard to empathize with him that, you know, we didn't choose the activity he wanted to do, right. Like, I don't know, I can't come up with a great example. But it's hard to empathize with him all the time. But when I am successful in doing it, when I give him that hug before saying, I can't believe you through that, like he melts into my body, I can see the tension in his body, like, melt away for a moment. And I know that I have touched the need that he needed. In that moment. I didn't know how to do that before we saw this information I knew in theory, but I didn't know how to do that. Yeah, so okay.
Yeah, and I mean, having like a real, full curriculum of 12 weeks, I mean, it's the difference between, you can watch clips, and they'll give you helpful pointers. But having like a real actual book of this is the content. And this is the curriculum, and this is what we're going to be looking through is really, really useful. And having that all in one place, right, as opposed to kind of scattered in different, you know, accounts that you might follow or anything like that just having a class for parenting, which I think a lot of parents wish was a real thing, right? Well, it is. And it's twelve weeks, it will really really help you.
Danielle Bettmann 52:10
Yeah, no, you're leading me into this last question I really wanted to ask, which is, you know, speaking to the families that were where you were, when you listen to that episode, you said Omaya, where you're like, could that be us? Could that be us? So speak to them directly. If they're resonating with it, if they they know they've been in a place, they don't want to be for entirely too long at this point? What do they need to hear? What can you say like that, of why you would recommend a process like this?
Now knowing what I know, I would like to tell people that you have a lot of power as a parent, and you just need to learn how to pull that forward and learn how to wield it. And that's what this program does, right? It's not, it's not the be all end all of every issue that might arise in parenting. But when it comes to meeting the needs of strong willed kids, that's what we all have. That's why we're all in this space. We have a strong-willed child or more than one, I'm sorry for those that have more than one but more than one, right? We have certain powers that we can wield, and you have it, and you just need to learn how to do that. And that's what this material does for you as a parent, and it's so empowering for the parents, I would say and find your hope in that that like it, like you kind of it's like the Dorothy thing like you've had it in you all along, right?
Danielle Bettmann 53:34
Yeah, yeah. So well said.
Click your heels. And yeah, and and I mean, it was we did it over a summer, three months in the summer. And it felt like a season in our life, like we talk a lot about before and after. Now, now that we're a season away from our kind of little intervention. We refer back to lessons we've learned often. And we have it, it's in our arsenal, and we can tweak as things go. But we made that investment in time, it was a time investment for us in a financial investment, too. But we have the access, I guess to to that information for all time, basically.
I think actually part of what helped sell me on it was because you didn't episode with your husband, right?
Danielle Bettmann 54:23
Yeah, a while back.
You know it's definitely something I would say is one, you'll see more success if both spouses are engaged on this. So it's very worthwhile to kind of jump in there and learn the material and you might learn a surprising amount of things that you didn't know, that can be helpful. And it's the 12 weeks of like I said curriculum is very, you know, strategic, it's it's really, really structured in a way that is supposed to gradually bring you to this end points of having a more calm are in happier household right? So, you know there's there is a lot of material out there out there and trying to sift through it is difficult and some of that can be kind of wishy washy, and you're not exactly sure if it really works. But I mean, I would say like last weekend, I took both kids hiking by myself, which is something that six months ago would be unfathomable, totally unfathomable to just take both of them and take both of them out, solo, you know, in a public place and have it not only go okay, but they actually had a really great time and having our strong-willed could be excited about being the trail leader and helping his sister and, and being wonderful.
Danielle Bettmann 55:42
Oh, my gosh, I love that. Yeah. So
So I would just say, Yeah, it really is very practical leads to a lot of really good outcomes. And yeah, is just really useful in terms of strategy for handling your day to day. You know, that's, that's all the great stuff that I got out of it.
Yeah. And I mean, in our life, I think one of the biggest differences in our kids because the sibling relationship was a big barrier for us, we learned how to help our children form a relationship that's all our own, on the all their own, sorry, not our own their own. And it's been beautiful to watch that. Whereas before, I think Andrew and I gotten in the way of that we write we split the family up, we just didn't, we didn't allow that to happen. And we learned how to do that for them. So they have daily moments of things that are their own with each other. And I, I was so afraid that we wouldn't get to that place. And I'm so impressed that they haven't already as a two and a four year old that, I think is probably one of my biggest like, success things too. For the they have that for themselves. And it's exciting to watch that as a parent.
Danielle Bettmann 56:53
Yes. There's no There's no better feeling as a parent is watching that sibling relationship, like thrive.
Yeah, yeah. And our two year old is learning from it too. Like, it's so funny to watch her like we do a lot of like, if something bad happens, you have to check into the sibling, right? See if they're okay. whatnot. And like her and her little two-year-old thing. We'll go to him and be like, are you okay, hug? And Bandaid? Yeah. And like he, he will allow her to check on him. Like, here. Oh, yeah. Okay, I'll give you a hug. If he's feeling it. If he's not feeling it. He also learns to be like, no, and then will be like, oh, yeah, he said no, right. Like, I don't know, it's just it's so funny to watch these kids like employ these techniques in their own little ways. Right? Yeah, checking out checking on feelings is a lot of Do you want a band aid for your feelings? It's very literal. But that's what they do.
Danielle Bettmann 57:46
I love that for them. No, that's so good. And, and how it's really a testament to the work that you've done. Because they are just little mirrors. And they're, they're gonna say the things that you've been using with them. And you know, a lot of times it's like, convicting because they'll say something. And we're like, oh, they learned that from me, or like, just, that does not sound as good coming from them as it is from from me of how I thought I was communicating. But when you get to really see that modeling pay off, because they're doing it on their own, no better feeling.
I'll also add too.... Sorry. I was gonna say,
Go ahead. Yeah, we're the same person, I'm sorry.
Danielle Bettmann 58:23
Go ahead. Go ahead, Omaya, Go ahead, go ahead.
I was about to say, we are not the same person because Andrew and I actually have very different like temperaments as people. And I'm going to kind of throw it on you, Andrew. But I think the strong nature comes from you, your side of the family, probably.
Danielle Bettmann 58:41
The truth comes out.
You're not wrong.
But another advantage of doing this together is it has instead of us kind of resenting each other in the way we were trying to parent figured out how both styles can work. And then also watch ourselves, right. Like I, I'm a very, I'm more of an even keel person, but I get deregulated too. And the way I get deregulated is I Boss everybody around, and it's nice. I don't know, if I, I could put my finger on. That's why I was doing it right in my head. I'm like, I'm fixing the situation. And now I know, it's like, okay, Andrew will be like, you need to you need to step away right now. And I'll be like, okay,
Yeah, we've gotten really good at tagging out. Yeah, we'll tag each other out if one of us is direct. And that actually has been incredibly helpful to doing that. But I just wanted to also say that I mean, as difficult as it seems, at the beginning of the journey, one of the things at least with my kid that strong-willed is that while he and I think strong-willed Kids in general are very resistant to change, they also can adapt really quickly. And so, you know, it was really interesting seeing the resistance to some of the techniques and approaches initially and then how quickly you know, he kind of got what the program were Right, and actually, you know how quickly they started to be effective. And I would say that, you know, even within the group of people talking in the week to week meetings that some of his behavior was was pretty concerning, even among these peers, and he still managed to make a really great leap forward in terms of his behavior. So I really think that this program can work for any kid. Really?
Danielle Bettmann 1:00:26
Yeah. And that says a lot, because I think every parent secretly fears that their kid is the worst kid. That
is, that is correct.
Danielle Bettmann 1:00:36
Yeah, so when you get really afraid, like, what is the mantra that you have that you talk yourself off that ledge of our kids? The worst kid?
I don't think he's the worst kid anymore. I don't I don't I don't have those thoughts anymore. And it's because when I started this, it came from a place of judgment. And now it's not, right. Yeah, that's important. You know, it does it really rewires your way of thinking as a parent, because it came from a place of judgment. And now it doesn't come from a place of judgment it comes from this is a little person, and they're really frustrating, but they need me to be helping lead them through this. Right. And so, you know, it just completely changes your your outlook and your mentality. So there is no, you know, worst kid, it's just, they have a need, and it's not being met. And it's up to you to try to move them through it. Right. And that's what I learned from those.
I'll echo you, Andrew, completely and say that, yeah, I think that, instead of judging our child all the time, we now like, recognize he has a need that's not being met. And that's, that's so freeing as a parent too, because if we suffered, thinking that our kid was the worst kid, we suffered,
Danielle Bettmann 1:01:46
worrying about that, that's a heavy burden.
And instead of using that, and that, instead of having that distraction anymore, we get to be more pragmatic and be like, instead of focusing on our child's character, which is what we were mistakingly, applying it to focusing on something he was struggling with, and helping him through that. And that feels that feels so great instead as a parent, because now we feel like we're, we're loving our child more. Yeah, yeah. That's such a, that's such a two way kind of gratification thing. It feels good to love our children.
Yeah, feels good to have confidence in what you're doing instead of feeling lost. It feels really, really good. It's easier to go forward and do that when you're confident in what you're doing.
Danielle Bettmann 1:02:33
So good. I feel like this entire episode has been a long saga and explanation of why you are the parents or kids need. But I have to ask you, because I asked every guest that I bring on to the podcast. Why are you? And how are you? The parents your kids need?
We're on their team. Like, I have no question anymore, like whose team I'm on, right? I'm not on my family, my extended family's team. I'm not on the team of my friends. I am not on the team of all of the experts, like I am on my child's team, right? Like I am their advocate. And I love being that for them. And I there's no other people besides the two of us that are on our child's complete whole team. I. And because of that I have I have it gives me confidence, right? Like, am I I'm in it for them and nobody else.
Yeah, I mean, I've talked to my about this before, but if there's any two people in the world that need to be in your corner, at all times, it's your parents, right. And realizing that that's, that's who they have is us. And, you know, we talked a little bit about this earlier, but I do think a lot of his strong-willed. And this does come from me. And so really just learning to understand him and appreciate him more, and his feelings of unfairness and just having a lot more empathy for for dealing with that has made me into into better parents. So, you know, now I can be the person going forward that even if the behavior isn't right, I understand how he's feeling. I understand why he's acting this way. And I can just give him the action that I need to be taking to move things along and to make things right, and that's a really good feeling. Yeah,
Danielle Bettmann 1:04:28
it's not that you didn't love him before, but you can be even more equipped to feel like you're getting even the gratification of that love back and you know, have the peace of mind that you're doing the right thing for him. And you have all the right intentions that you're in this for his good and not just trying to defend yourself and you know, fend for the future.
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 1:04:54
But you guys are a poster child for exactly the change that can happen in a home and And you go now into the client Hall of Fame, if that existed. But I'm so grateful that we have the graduate community now where we can continue to stay connected and be able to learn from each other ongoing, because there will be new curveballs. And we always have to go back to the basics. And I'm just so grateful for the perspective and the insight and the honesty that you've shared of, of what that really looks like behind the scenes to, to raise a kid like this and to really reckon with these hard truths. So thanks again for your willingness to come join us. And we are so so so grateful.
Danielle Bettmann 1:05:35
Thank you, Danielle.
Yeah, thank you for the class. Thanks for putting it together.
The resource yep.
Danielle Bettmann 1:05:42
Yes. I love what I do and It's what I'm meant to be doing.
Danielle Bettmann 1:05:51
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of failing motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on
Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!