Parenthood is the most rewarding gift you’ll ever have, but it’s also the hardest responsibility you’ll ever take on too. It will have you feeling all the emotions you can possibly imagine in just one day. Heck, even in just 1 minute, you’ll go from crying from happiness to losing your you know what real quick.
Toddlers will even make you question the way you peel a banana. If You Know, You Know. We’ve all been there and said or done things we wish we could take back in those emotional outbursts.
Obviously, it is important to remember that we are the adults in the given situation, so, therefore, we need to be the ones handling our emotions because our little ones do not have the capacity to do so.
Today, you’re gonna hear from my friend, Kate Godfrey. Kate is a wife and a mom who wears many hats, including being a social service director in 2 long term care facilities in her town with a caseload of 110 residents. Woah. But one of her most inspiring roles that She recently retired from with over a decade of experience was as a house parent at a boarding school.
At the boarding school, she and her husband raised 12 teenage girls for 8 years, and then 8 elementary boys for their last 2 years, while also raising their own 2 biological daughters. Talk about experience as a parent.
In this episode, we will talk all about parenthood, the highs and the lows, how to manage our feelings through all the seasons of childhood development and ways to discipline our children in a positive way so that they learn that actions have consequences, but doing it in a way that allows us as the adults to check-in with ourselves to manage our feelings in the moment too.
? Parenting is a journey filled with unexpected turns, and Maren and Kate reflect on the learning curve of transitioning between working with teenagers and nurturing elementary school kids. From mentoring high school girls to being mentors for younger boys, it’s a beautiful balancing act!
1. The Impact of Parenthood:
– Gain an understanding of the emotional management required in parenting and its impact on children’s behavior.
– Learn tactics for co-regulating with children during escalated situations, promoting a calmer household atmosphere.
2. Technology and Parenting:
– Understand the effects and importance of regulating children’s access to technology, especially during their formative years.
– Discover strategies for providing healthy technology boundaries and promoting alternative activities for family bonding.
3. Balancing Parenting and Professional Life:
– Gain insights into creating a structured routine for children while maintaining personal well-being and a united front with your spouse.
– Learn about the challenges and triumphs of balancing a professional life with parenting, including setting boundaries and managing work-life balance.
Okay. Let’s dive in, shall we? Alright, Kate. I’m so pumped that you’re here tonight. Why don’t you first and foremost give everyone a background on who you are? You’re obviously a wife. You’re a mom, but there’s so many other hats that you wear.
Parenting Experience at a Boarding School
Yes. So I’m a wife and mom and, big background on me is that up until last September my husband and I were house parents at a boarding school, and they were for the it was for kids who were underprivileged, so kids to, you know, low socioeconomic status, didn’t have a lot.
The school serves about 2,000 kids. So we did that for about 12 years, and when we first started, my youngest was 6 months old. I was still nursing her. And my oldest was about a year and a half, both girls, and now they’re 13 and 15. So it’s as you can probably figure out, they grew up at the school. And when we first started, we did not have our own home of children.
What you do first is called flexing. You move around and basically help other house parents who may be on their vacation or maybe they need medical assistance because somebody had surgery, so you’re assisting the other house parent.
So we moved around and we flexed for 13 months, and then we were given our own house of 12 students, and it was 12 teenage girls from 9th to 11th grade. So if you can imagine having 9th to 11th graders, 12 of them served up to you while you’re also still raising a toddler and figuring out, you know, your 2nd baby, and I’ve never had teenagers before, so I was, you know, jumping straight into that, and you also have to keep in mind you are figuring this out with your husband as you go.
So you’re figuring out what your roles are gonna be in the house, all girls. So he was the only male. And we had them for 8 years, and Then we kind of burnt out on high school, if you can imagine. And then we asked to go down to the elementary division, so they said yes.
We flexed for 2 years, which was so hard. I was so done by the end of that because you just are sleeping in other people’s houses every single night or every other night, every weekend. We’re just moving our stuff constantly. And then we had elementary boys for the last 2 years, about 8 of them from about the ages of 6 to 8.
Wow. Yes. So first of all, there’s so many things to unpack there. And I guess my first question Is so with these children, what is their, if any, relationship with their family or their biological parents. Okay. You know, are they seeing them? Are they, you know, obviously, it’s a boarding school, but, like, are they going home for a certain amount of time? Or is it so much that the school becomes their family?
So yes to both. For the most part, most of the kids would go home for all major holidays, summer break, Thanksgiving, spring, Christmas, and then they could have up to 5 weekends a year where their parents or we would call them parent sponsors because it could be their grandmother.
It could be their aunt, whoever is caring for them at home and is their legal guardian, could take them out up to 5 weekends per year. They would have to sign out, let us know what those weekends were ahead of time. They could take them out on day visits for the weekend.
So just like Saturday during the day, return them Saturday evening. Sunday during the day, Return them by 5 PM because obviously, it’s a school night. So, yes, they did see them.
When we had elementary boys, his grandmother was his parent sponsor because his mother had passed away. His father was not really involved. So there is that as well. You have parents or kids who have parents. A lot of them have single moms. Some of their dads, they don’t know, don’t see. Maybe their parents are incarcerated, it really runs the gamut, but for the most part, at least 1 parent was involved.
There were a few where we did have both parents who were married, and they just, because of their finances, qualified for their kids to go to the school.
They were very involved with the kids. They were very supportive of us, and so it was kind of like a nice meld of us supporting the the student at school and being in contact with the parent, and then, you know, if we had any issues with them while they were With us, we had the backup of the parents on the other side.
Okay. Cool. So You mentioned, you know, this is all your girls really have ever known. Correct. And so what was that like? Because, obviously, you know, the family history of a lot of these young girls, and then, obviously, the boys coming in is a totally different dynamic than the ones that your girls grew up in, right, where present parents with them 100% of the time, etcetera.
So I’m just kind of curious like what was that like for you balancing all of that? And then also explaining to them, Hey. like, this is us sowing into other people and explaining to them what you were doing. Like because I can’t imagine what that was like.
Like, there it must have been such a huge moment of gratitude for them. Like, hey. Look. I have my mom and dad, and look what they’re, like, they’re pouring into these other children. But also, flipside, right, is you’re pouring into other children as well, right, besides your own. So what was that like?
Balancing the Emotional Needs of My Own Children and Children at the School
Well, I think as our girls got older, obviously, they started to understand and appreciate that more. They haven’t verbalized a ton of that, but because they literally just grew up in it, that’s all they knew.
And so as they would grow and as we would obviously be with the group of high school girls for 8 years, and, of course, those girls would keep going. They would transition to 12th grade, and then we get a new batch of 9th graders and so on and so on. So they became really big sisters to my girls, but then when our girls got old enough to pick up on some things, we kind of flipped it and then it was kind of a nice, you know, 180 for our girls kind of to be the mentors to the elementary boys as they were in, like, middle school, starting high school and things like that.
So I mean, and it was tough to balance because there’s always you’re always well, at least for me and I think my husband would say it too.
You always feel that you’re on. You know? We can do it even when we work 12 days in a row. When we first started, we’d have every other weekend off. And then throughout that, we would switch to 12 days in a row, then 3 days off, and it would constantly switch and move those 3 days.
So you’re on for 12 days. So even when you’re going to bed, you’re locked, you know, locking the house down, putting the alarm on. Any of those kids can eat anything at any moment, and you had to be available and you had to be ready and on, essentially. Right.
That reminds me of when I coached. Like, you know, when I was traveling with my 5, 6 girls on my team, and I always got into this argument, if you will, with my administrators be regarding pay
Because I would say to them, like, you know, I’m not clocking in at, say, 7 AM when I’m waking them up for breakfast and then we’re going to the golf course and then, you know, we’re done with dinner by 7 o’clock at night, which first of all, that’s a 12 hour day right there.
But I would say to them exactly what you said. What if there’s an emergency at 1 o’clock in the morning and someone’s sick? Are they gonna knock on my hotel door and say, you know, coach, coach, and I’m like, sorry. I’m off duty right now.
I’m off duty right now. Right now. You are. You’re on. Absolutely. Absolutely. And, like, I mean
your girls too. Yeah? So it’s like double duty.
Yeah. And even the same with, you know, if there was a snow day, the kids weren’t going to school, so we were on duty all day with the kids. I mean and, Yes. Is it more relaxed because you’re watching movies and it’s a snow day and they’re outside having a blast?
Yes. But you’re still on. You’re still working. You’re not really getting paid extra for that because you’re just flat salaried. So yeah.
But then, you know, balancing it with our girls, part of the reason I chose to homeschool my daughter when she was in 1st grade is because I was certainly never, like, I’m gonna be home homeschooling my kids today.
I wasn’t homeschooled. It was never a dream of mine. I find that God likes to do that to me, things that I never thought I would do. He’s like, Hey. So there you go. There’s your opportunity, and it ends up really being a beautiful thing.
But because I felt like I wasn’t giving my girls enough time when my high school students were there because 12 of them needed you all the time needed you and especially being the female in the home, they would come home.
They would wanna hang out for an hour. You know, we’d have dinner, dinner cleanup. There’s homework. There’s just all the things, And I just felt like I wasn’t giving my girls enough focused attention because I was always talking to one of the girls or having, you know, an hour long conversation because they need to be, You know? Right. There needs to be some discipline and whatever it was, so that gave me time with my girls while the high school girls were at school. That was my time with them.
That’s huge. Yeah. Because it’s the opposite of, say, you know, when you’re at work. Right? So when you’re at work, you’re away from them, and now you’re home for dinner, and now that’s your time. Or, like, probably in the morning when you’re before school kinda thing. This was the opposite.
You had all the daytime with them, and then that small, you know, few hours at night, they, you know, had to share you, so to speak. So Right.
That’s huge, and I laugh at that.
Now, obviously, you had, you know, a toddler and an infant, and you’re working with teenage girls. Now Yes. What was your family dynamic like? You know, do you have siblings? Do you know?
So I have 1 brother. He is 11 years older, so I essentially grew up as an only child. Right.
Dealing with teenagers and hormones and all the drama that comes with that age was brand new and obviously for your husband. You know, that’s a lot. You know?
My husband laughs that It’s 2 against 1 here. Can you imagine your situation? So, like, is it the type of thing where you were learning from other parents who are doing this, you know, the same thing as you at the school, or was it a bit of a big learning curve for you?
Like, Hey. Alright. That didn’t work, so we have to pivot and do things a different way. Like, what was that experience like learning how to mentor and nurture because it’s obviously different.
You literally did a 180 going from teenagers to elementary school kids.
Right. Right. And before that, like, my background, which I’m back in now, was geriatrics. I was a social worker in long term care facilities. So I did that, and then my husband and I did middle school ministry at our church, and then we came to the school. So, I mean, I’ve covered all ages.
So I will give my husband credit. He has a military background. He was in the Army National Guard for 10 years. He did do a tour in Iraq, but his previous experience was working with adjudicated youth at, kind of an outdoor program for, gosh, I don’t know, a year, 2 years, 3 years.
So he certainly wasn’t new to the whole teenager thing or pushback or disrespect or anything like that. So this was not a problem for him.
I think I really had to find myself and my grounding in terms of you know, I really had to assert myself as the alpha female because if you don’t, with 12 teenage girls who come from different backgrounds and different Families. They will eat you alive.
Absolutely 100%. But to your question, yes. So when I talked about flexing, when you do that, some of that isn’t just helping other parents when one of them is out or on vacation, but they also do what’s called shadowing.
So they may both be there, but you’re going to shadow them, watch their program, get to know them, get to know their students, and many people that we shadowed, I mean, they’re still some of our closest friends today. There I mean, it’s a fabulous group of people.
It’s a sacrifice to go and do that with your life because you’re moving from wherever you’re coming from. And us, we were Local.
Pretty local. A lot of people move from different states. They quit their jobs. They’re moving their families. They’re selling their houses. It’s a lot. It’s a huge sacrifice to then not only raise your kids, but step out and love other children and pour into their lives as well.
So other house parents were definitely integral to that.
And then, Also, when you start at the school, you do about 6 weeks of houseparent training. You have a cohort, then you get split off into your different divisions where they assign you, but you do get a good basis of training, and you do have other houseparents who you can call up at any time and say, what the heck?
You know, I need some guidance on this. Until you really get your feet wet and then Once your feet are wet, they send you shadowers. They send you, you know, people to train up.
So you mentioned your husband’s background.
And so we’re gonna lead into this next part about discipline.
Right? Because, obviously, too, with discipline, when you have that many you need to be equal with everyone. Like, you can’t discipline one you know, the 9th grader, one way, the 12th grader.
Like, It needs to be across the board so everyone understands that actions have consequences. Right? So on your social media, and this is a big part of who you are, you talk about positive discipline.
And being conscious and intentional with your parenting. So can you first explain what that is? Because as we’ve talked about, there’s a big buzzword of gentle parenting out there, and I just want people to be aware of what it is that you’re speaking about and how it’s not it’s not all looped into the same circle.
Conscious Parenting vs. Gentle Parenting
Right. Right. Conscious and gentle parenting are definitely not the same thing. I’m personally not a fan of gentle parenting. I don’t think it translates to how you are when your child gets older. That’s my personal opinion.
Conscious parenting is about you more than about your child. It is about you being self aware enough to be able to say, I’m feeling very angry right now.
What is the best response? I’m feeling very frustrated right now, tired right now, overwhelmed right now. What is the best response at this moment? Is it, you know, hopefully, it’s not, you know, yelling at your child or just, you know, throwing out some random threat.
It’s just about you as a parent. It’s about you as a person. It’s about you checking in and saying, you know, maybe taking a step back and saying, am I parenting like this because I was parented like this.
Is this a default for me? Did I like the way I was parented? And you can take some things that were great maybe from how your parents parented you And maybe some things that like, oh, yeah. My dad was a yeller.
I don’t wanna yell at my kids. I didn’t enjoy being yelled at. I don’t wanna shame my children. I don’t wanna do this. And are we all gonna screw up and make mistakes? Yes. Absolutely.
Because we’re human, but the goal is and I think I was talking to I don’t know if it was Nate or someone else the other day, but even just doing the social media and the podcast about conscious and intentional parenting has helped me to become even more conscious and intentional, intentional with my words, even just saying, you know what?
What my daughter just said to me is really triggering me right now, but I know if I say something, it’s not gonna be something kind or something that I wanna then later regret.
So I’m gonna take a beat and I’m gonna walk away for 5, 10 minutes if I need to and then return to it when I am calm and address it then, when I am calm and sit down with her and have a conversation, not just start yelling and threatening.
For sure. Because let’s be real. It doesn’t matter what the age, whether it’s an infant, toddler, elementary school or these teenagers, parenting is hard.
You have to take a minute and especially when they’re little. Right? Because and and I don’t wanna give the little guys a pass versus the teenagers, but, obviously, the teenagers know how to push buttons.
They’re very, yes, they’re very conscious of what they’re doing. But in the same breath, I think we forget that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until you’re 27 years old, so they’re still developing.
And when they’re little, small, tiny toddlers, we forget that they still get hungry like us. They still get overtired like us. They have emotions, and they don’t know how to channel it. Like, they’re not. I don’t like when people say that kids are bad. Like, that’s just a bad kid. Because in my mind, it’s no.
Like, how about nurture versus nature? Like, what’s the parenting line?
The behavior right. Was not good. It’s not you that’s not good, and I speak to this, you know, in part of how I teach people to discipline their kids effectively and in love.
Love is the key, and I will give the school a lot of credit because they were not our own kids, because it is still a professional position.
You can’t just walk in there and just start, like, ripping it off and yelling. You can’t spank them. You can’t do all those things.
You really have to think through how am I going to get through to this kid who is disrespecting me, disrespected their teacher, their grades are tanking, They’re maybe lying about something. They’re not listening to, you know, all the things that we go through as parents, but they’re not yours and you have to handle it professionally, respectfully, and really get creative.
But I will say, like, I loved all my students. I loved hard, and I would even say, and I say this on social media, when you are telling them that you love you’re correcting them because you love them that is what drives it home because some of my toughest girls, we had to have the longest conversations with, you know, over and over and over again, and then they are the ones who have written letters or come back and said, thank you so much for teaching me this.
Thank you so much for this. I wanna raise my child the way you raised me because you taught me this even though, basically, you know, they were a stinker at the time. But they were teenagers.
And now that they are grown up or that they are married or have children of their own, now they’re starting to see it, and now that fruit is really starting to come out and they understand, and they did then too, and that’s those were some of my girls who were closest to me because they knew I was taking the time to pour in and I told them that. I said, if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t bother.
But I care about you. I love you, so I’m taking the time to help you learn, grow, and correct the course because I want you to have a successful future. I want you to learn how to have healthy relationships and make wise decisions and all the things that all of us want for our kids, and they really started to get it.
And then I would always laugh because I would then have, you know, my juniors. When the new 9th graders would come in and start posturing and doing their thing, I’m like, you know how we run things. You go talk to her right now. I will deal with her later, but you go talk to me. Like, I got it.
I got it, missus. So call us mister and missus.
Well, you know, obviously, like you said, they’re not your biological children. So there’s just certain things that you can and can’t do. But I think that that is huge because so many times when they are your own children, like, you default to those easy buttons of yelling for spanking or whatever.
And, you know, this podcast is not about, like, whether spanking is good or bad or you know? That’s not what this is about, but it’s more along the lines of how do you because your child is a person.
And, like, we tell people all the time, treat people the way you wanna be treated, and we need to make sure that we’re treating our children with respect.
And I love how you mentioned, like, the shame thing. Because I’ll give you a perfect example. So today, my mom was decorating the tree while we were at work. She’s really good at it.
I was like, you know, you’re she’s was an interior decorator, so I was like, you know what? You just and she was the teacher too. So those are her 2 passions. I said, you go, sister. Like, I trust you. But the baby, she’s mobile now. It’s a lot different this Christmas.
And she took an ornament that she wasn’t supposed to touch because she’s naturally curious. Yes. And It broke and shattered. And my mom didn’t even say or do anything. She was just like, oh, no.
And, innately, children, they shame themselves. Right? Like, she knew, hey. I’ve been told not to touch this, but I did it anyway.
And now I did something, and it broke. And I can tell my Gigi’s, like, upset, not like at an elevated level, but she could tell that she loves her Gigi so much. Oh, no. I must have disappointed Gigi.
And she just, you know, kinda hung her head in shame. And, you know, it’s not a big deal, But now the children already know that they did something wrong.
They’re already embarrassed. Right. Then if we, as the caretaker, come in and just hammer it in again. Can you imagine what that does? Yeah. Rather than saying, hey. It was an accident. Accidents happen because they happen. They happen to us all the time.
You were told not to touch it. Look what happens when we don’t listen. You know, accidents can happen. Yep. So let’s just not do that again. You know? And I think the biggest thing is, like, it’s easy for you and I to have that conversation because, A. We weren’t there. Right? And we’re kinda talking about it outside that bubble, but the hardest part as a parent is managing your emotions.
Yes. Because, like, the opposite can range true that you pick your kid up from wherever, you know, their grandparents’ house. You’re coming back from work. You’ve had a long day, and now the kids are fighting you to get in the car seat and all you wanna do is get home and eat dinner.
And they’re yelling and they’re screaming because they, a, they don’t wanna leave, they don’t want whatever. They’re tired, they don’t listen in the car seat, whatever it is, and kinda stop yourself and and because you didn’t lose it. And we’ve all been there. We’ve all lost it.
Like, you know, and really saying, alright, she, he, whomever, you know, the child is, is just a kid. They were really happy to be in this place, and now they’re sad to be leaving.
But, like, I need to check myself and my emotions because kids feed off of you. Yes. They feed they know when you’re happy. They know when you’re sad. They know when you’re angry. They know when you’re stressed.
“Kids thrive off routine. They thrive on boundaries. They thrive on structure and routine.”
And it’s just this energy that can just fester and literally ruin your whole night.
And so how would you encourage parents to really, like I said, like, check themselves? Like, how do you… you said that you walk away sometimes, right? But what are some other tactical things that parents can do? Because what if you can’t walk away and you gotta get in the car?
Right. Right. I would say one of the biggest things, you know, even for me that I, you know, still need to check myself on sometimes is remembering that whatever they’re going through right now, whatever the behavior, if it’s yelling or or whatever it is, to just, as much as you can really just separate yourself from it, realize it has nothing to do with you because I would say 99% of what our kids are going through has nothing to do with us.
It’s that overtired. It’s overstimulated. It’s that I didn’t get what I wanted, and they haven’t learned how to process those emotions and communicate them properly at, you know, planned ignoring or distracting them when they are really elevated, when they’re really escalated.
Because if you get escalated when they get escalated, nobody’s coming down. You’re both gonna be way on top of that mountain, nobody’s coming down for quite some time, but if you can help your child coregulate, if you can stay calm enough, realize it has nothing to do with you, try to take some deep breaths, and, you know, even if, like, they’re kicking and screaming in the car, even just getting them buckled in, closing the door, and just, you know, taking a few minutes before you even get in.
So you can drive home calmly, put on music for them, whatever it is, to just start to de-escalate them, but you need to do your best to realize it’s nothing to do with you and to keep self calm so then they can feed off that energy.
Like you said, they feed off everything. But if they can start feeling off your calmness And that you’re not you know, knowing that you’re not gonna engage, it kinda diffuses the situation.
And, you know, hopefully, sooner than later, they’re asleep in the back seat where they’ve calmed down or you know? Some kids just they’re just so overtired or overstimulated. They break down crying, and they’re exhausted. They just need someone to hear them out, really.
Yeah. We’re I mean, gosh. We’re finally almost through the woods with teething, but, you know, we can’t feel their pain, but imagine when we do have something wrong with our mouth or when we have a hole. Oh, yeah. Whatever our sinuses, we know what that feels like. Now imagine you’re this little person.
Know what yeah. I don’t know what this is. I just know what hurts, and I just I’m gonna cry because that’s how I communicate.
It’s funny you mentioned, like, say, the music. And I remember A year ago, we were out to dinner with my husband and my mother-in-law, and she’s not happy. She’s crying. She’s all the things.
And I just kinda like wanted to the show… I knew what was gonna calm her down in a way, but I wanted them to kinda, like, figure it out, you know, a little bit too because I think because you mentioned how you would have time off. Right?
So when new parents came into your home to watch those girls, As far as how you say your house rules and how you would parent, What was that like as far as the difference? Because when we were in the car and she’s getting upset, I know, it’s not like I’d let this go on forever, but all I said was put on her nursery rhymes. Well, sure enough, nursery rhymes go on quiet as a mouse, because all she needed to hear was that trigger of Mary had a little lamb and then her little Spotify playlist went, and she would she understood like, hey.
I like this, And she was and my husband Yep. He busted my chops. He’s like, why didn’t you do that 2 minutes ago? You know? I said, because I wanted you to try to figure out how to help her calm down, you know, and talk to her, you know, and and all of that.
I was trying to give, like, a learning lesson. Low key. But so when your parents came in, it’s the same thing if someone has, you know, their children and whether it’s a babysitter or a grandparent or whatever. How does that dynamic work? Because you know how it is.
It could be a grandparent, right, where you as the parent I don’t wanna use the word strict, but it’s just different. Right? You have boundaries. You have rules of your house, and then someone from the outside, whomever comes in to visit whatever, and then it’s like, oh, you know what breaks loose.
And then It takes your kids however long to get back into their normal routine. Like, kids thrive off routine. They thrive on boundaries. They thrive on structure and routine.
So when you guys would leave, what was that like? And then your return, What was that transition like? You know? Did you I don’t wanna say, like, you had to undo anything because, hopefully, it was the same across the board from you to the flexing parents that came in to re preview, but how did you manage that?
Well, part of the standard at the school is when you are going off, you leave notes for the day. So there’s you know, you have a binder basically of how the house is run, what chores each girl would have?
What time is wake up time? What time is bedtime? What time is study time? For elementary kids, what time is shower time? Everything is broken down. So If you are brand spanking new to the school or, you know, you’re not so new but you’ve never been in my house, everything is written down for you.
Phone numbers to call, the contacts of the kids’ parents or their sponsors, everything is there for them. And but if it was like a specific day because weekends obviously are a little more loose. We’d say, hey. We don’t care what you do. You know, take them out for whatever, a movie.
Take them to the mall if it’s high school kids, or even elementary kids. Do whatever you want. We don’t care what you do for dinner. This is what’s currently in the freezer or this came in.
There was, you know, what we call the meal bus. They would come. That’s how we would get our food delivered because everything was on campus, so the meal bus would sometimes deliver prepared meals if that’s what you ordered or specific grocery items that you would then, you know, make your own meals off of, but basically say this is what we have. Make what you want if you want.
And for the most part, the other house parents that we worked with were very respectful of our system and how we ran things. And I would say that most house parents that are there do respect the way other house parents run their houses because if not, that’s one of those things where you kinda sit down with them and conversation you know, this kind of fell apart.
So next time you could, you know and that’s part of, you know, the fun adulting things, talking to other adults, and, you know, please run my house how I would like to. There’s a lot of give, but we still need this structure room place because then it really messes the kids up when it’s not there.
And you would say to someone who wasn’t in your particular situation, but, like I said, has maybe someone that is coming in to watch the kids for the weekend or whatever it may be to kinda set those rules and regulations and boundaries. Right?
Yes. Yes. And thankfully, the school had set up whether you’re on every other weekend, called the 12/2, the every other weekend where you’d be off or the 12/3. The 12/2 would be the same set of called Relief House Parents.
That would be in your home. Those weekends that you were off. So they got to really know the kids. So that was really good because sometimes we’d go off, you know, And the Relief House parents and the girls loved them too.
It was like grandma and grandpa coming. You know? So it was good. It was a good balance.
That’s good to hear because, you know, it kinda reminds me of when you have a substitute teacher in school.
Yeah. Yeah. Right? Same thing. Yep.
You know? Like, you know, they but they tried it.
Yes. Oh, For sure. For sure. But then they knew because they tried that a few times. They knew if they did that, we would come in and really, like, hammer them like we know exactly what you did and how you treated them or what you didn’t do that you were supposed to or the opposite.
So now we’re having a conversation, and this is the consequence because that’s not how you treat people when we’re not here. That’s not okay.
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Obviously, you’ve raised your daughters in your faith, but what was that like with being a houseparent because I’m not sure. Is that, is that a line that you can cross or not?
Or, you know, how does that, a, how does that work, right, from a human resources, you know, view, if you will. But Right. You know, because there’s 2 parts to this question. So there’s that. But, also, you mentioned that a lot of these children don’t have a father figure.
And it’s my personal belief, and I’ve done a podcast episode on this before with one of my friends, about having, like, a biblical marriage and the importance of having a male figure in your children’s lives and how it’s very apparent when there is no male figure that things can go south pretty fast. And so how does that all loop around with your girls, and then also how you were a houseparent. How did you incorporate your faith to these children who might not ever know their creator and then also understanding the importance of family and having that father figure, earthly and spiritually.
Well, I think for the students at the school, I am thankful that the school is a Judeo Christian school. So there are devotions that house parents are expected to do, and we were happy to do that.
You can do it however you want. They gave you freedom to do that there. They would have chapel every Sunday that all students are expected to attend in each division. So there was that backup and, you know, we really just took that and ran with it and even just, you know, whether it was devotions or sitting down and, you know, like I said, having those moments where we needed to discipline them and talk about the behavior, we would always loop that back in, not proselytizing, but talking about, like, how do we treat others?
How do we wanna be seen in the world? How do we wanna show up? How do we wanna treat others? You know, and really talking sometimes about their background. You know, you didn’t have this, this, and this, and we are giving you this love.
We’re giving you this or, you know, your teacher’s trying to do this and really getting them to have empathy for where other people are coming from and really critically think through their choices and think about are those choices I really wanna be making, but a lot of it was just day to day just role modeling how we lived our lives.
And to your question about them not having dads, they would see us as a married couple, and for many, many years up until very recently, the school would only hire heterosexual married couples.
You had to be married at least 3 years before you could even work at the school. So all of these marriages and all the student homes will be played out for these kids to see, to hopefully emulate one day, but my husband and I are very crazy with each other. We’re very silly, but we are very affectionate. They’d be like, oh, stop. Don’t kiss.
And we’re like, you love it. Be quiet. But, You know, and that would teach some of our girls, this is what a healthy relationship is, this is what healthy communication is, this is what a healthy marriage looks like.
But, of course, I mean, we’re literally living with them. So, of course, we had fights in front of them. So they would see how that would go down and how we would move through that and rectify that and all of the things, they’re learning all of it.
They would watch us discipline our own kids. So they really got to witness what that looks like with a man and a woman in a marriage, a biblical marriage, and then, you know, we would tell them sometimes.
So I would apologize to my students. Like, Hey. I really you know, I did yell at you and I shouldn’t have yelled at you or I said this and I shouldn’t have or whatever. You know?
They were always very gracious, but they got to see that lived out and played out. And then, of course, our girls as they’re growing up with that are watching that as well, and they are very, very aware, that what we have personally in our marriage is special, that marriage is a gift because they even come and talk about, you know, some of the kids and they go to a private Christian school.
You know, so and so’s parents are divorced or getting divorced or this or that, and We’re very tight knit. Our girls adore their father. He’s a wonderful father.
So, I mean having a good husband, having a good father. That is, it seems to be rare these days, but it is such a gift. And I will say something else that the school brought. And, like, I mentioned, like, all the great friends that we have, but they are solid Christian marriages at that school. They are solid people. Like, those are some of the best men that I know.
And it’s showing these young girls that it’s possible. Right? It’s not just some fairy tale or, you know, like, they can see, hey, there are actual people out here. They’re not, they’re not unicorns, and, you know Kids don’t miss anything. Nope. They don’t miss it.
And I’ve always said this, you know, how your father treated you. Right? He becomes the benchmark of what you accept down the road from your future spouse. And, you know, I just think that that’s so important for these young girls and the boys to see too.
The boys need to know how they should be treating their future spouse. So it’s equally as important for them as it is for the girls that you had.
We have that conversation with elementary boys too, you know, age appropriate, but, like, this is how you should be treating girls because their moms were there, but a lot of their moms are not picking great guys to replace their dad.
So, I mean, it’s it’s cyclical, and even the high school girls, that was still such and it’s such a hard issue for them, they would see our marriage played out and see how that looked, and that’s something they would want so desperately, and yet they would just keep chasing the boys chasing the boys and wanting the attention.
We’re like, this is not going to work. We’re telling you it’s not going to work, and then inevitably, it doesn’t work. They’re crushed because they put all their eggs in that basket, you know, and that but some of them would go right back to another boy, and I love him. And I’m like, hope you don’t, but, you know, they were desperate for that male affection and attention. Mhmm.
For sure. It’s definitely a cycle that I wish could be permanently broken. I think it’s improving. I really do think it’s improving, but I just think it’s such a catalyst to such positive change when you break that cycle, because I do believe that not having that and not having focus on family and positive male role models.
It’s huge because, like I said, it’s not just about the male role model. How is that affecting the female dynamic within the family? You know, what kind of person is your mom or your sister or your aunt attracting into the home. And then, obviously, you know, when you have this solid marriage. You know, they’re good people, you know, and you want your kids around good people.
So I just think that that’s very important. Now I have a lot of listeners who are entering the new season of parenthood. Like, they’ve never been parents before. Right? Or that maybe they’re like me when they are entering toddlerhood. Right?
And people love to use terms like, oh, terrible twos, and I don’t. I don’t like that. I don’t like just grouping a kid into a box, right, because they’re not terrible.
Right? They’re just learning a lot about themselves. So what would be some words of encouragement that you could give parents who no matter what season they’re in, they’re maybe their 1st time or they are transitioning from a newborn to now this toddlerhood to the preteen, to the teen, right, because every season comes with a different challenge.
So because you’ve been through it with your own children and you’ve seen these different dynamics, you’ve obviously seen all of the different phases. And what have you seen that’s been consistent throughout no matter what the age, and what has been different? And how would you encourage parents to navigate these different seasons, so that they can keep their cool, so to speak, and that they can be respectful of their kids and earn respect back.
So I would say, first of all, Realize that this season is, even though it’s, like, day after day after day and it’s really hard and overwhelming, the season will pass.
You will get through it. You can do it even when you feel like you can’t. You absolutely 100% can. Give yourself grace. Don’t beat yourself up. Expect that you’re going to make mistakes and then realize that you are going to make a mistake teaches your kids that it’s okay To make mistakes, turn it into a learning opportunity. Like, hey.
Mom messed up or, you know, whatever it is. Tell them that’s okay too because, again, they’re watching you. They’re listening to you. They’re absorbing all of it like a little sponge. Be humble.
Be willing to apologize when you yell at them, when you say something you didn’t mean, when you overreacted. Whatever it is, be willing to apologize. That goes a long way.
That teaches your kids humility. It teaches them that you’re just not, you know, some crazy tyrant, that is just trying to throw down the gauntlet, throw down these crazy rules and crazy boundaries because you wanna ruin their life.
All of those things definitely make sure that you are putting in place structure and routine that will support you in that season that you’re in. If you find a particular area where you keep struggling over and over and over again, I would say take a step back and really look at how you can problem solve that specific area.
So if you’re running late every single morning, well, then maybe you need to get up earlier. The kids need to get up earlier. Pack your lunch the night before. Have your purse, keys, backpacks by the door to support you so you’re not running around the house like a crazy person every single morning. If it’s nighttime, I coached a mom who was really struggling at nighttime.
She just could not get her kids to bed on time. By the time they were in bed, it was 10 o’clock, then there was no time for her and her husband. So we really talked about restructuring that and really trying to have dinner at a set time and then getting the bath time done during the time either the spouse is doing dinnertime or getting it done right after…
… working in a calming you know, whether it’s a calming television show or a calming book reading and then getting them to bed by a specific time and make that your target goal every night.
And then you open up that window of time with your spouse, and you don’t feel so overwhelmed, so frustrated, so burnt out because you have then built in that time. So really taking a look at structures and routines that work for you because there’s things that we’re just like, why can I not figure this out?
Why does this keep happening? And even if it’s a behavior issue with your child, I always say get to the root of the issue. The behavior is the surface. The emotion is the surface. There’s something else going on below the surface. It’s our job as parents, to figure out what that is and really to dive deep, and that’s gonna take time.
That might take talking between you and your partner about, you know, what do they think, what are they seeing, and really sitting down with your child and, again, taking the time.
We would be in… I’ve done it with our girls. I’ve done it with high school students and with the elementary boys, Sitting with them for 30 minutes, an hour, really breaking stuff down, asking them questions, and waiting for their answer, or saying, you know…
… if they’re not ready to answer right away like you think about it, but we are gonna come back to this later today or tomorrow and really not letting that go because you wanna get to the root of that issue and really weed out that behavior issue or, you know, if it’s an emotional thing they’re going through, supporting them through that. So that’s what I would say. Hopefully, that was helpful.
No. That was huge because just as our children need structure and boundaries, like, we need structure too so that we don’t lose our minds. But I really love how you mentioned how you need to sit down with your spouse and discuss what each person needs in your relationship, because first and foremost, aside from your creator, like, your marriage is coming first because everything else has a trickle down effect.
And if your marriage isn’t going well, having that positive family dynamic isn’t gonna happen, but sitting down and kind of figuring out what’s our united parenting style? Because I can know, if you’re not on the same page, one’s playing good cop, one’s playing bad cop kinda thing. Yep. Your kids will only be late. For a child.
Yes. It is confusing. And even if you disagree with each other, disagree behind closed doors. It’s one thing to have an argument about something in front of your kids and teach them how you move through that and listen to each other respectfully and hear each other out and communicate respectfully.
But if it’s, you know, an issue that your child is going through, you don’t wanna be having that discussion if you fundamentally disagree on how to handle it in front of them.
You wanna have that conversation behind closed doors and, of course, hear each other out, be respectful, and then come up with a solution you both can agree on and present that as a united front to your child and definitely have each other’s backs.
For sure. Well, my friend, this conversation was so cool, like, as I am entering toddlerhood. Right? Because that’s the other thing too is that society has created these norms for behavior.
And so that’s why I use that term of terrible twos. Well, I guess this is the terrible twos. It’s like, No. Like, why are we making an excuse for both the poor parenting and as a result, the children’s behavior, like, it has nothing to do with it.
I don’t wanna say it has nothing to do with age because they’re obviously going through emotions. But at the end of the day, like you keep reiterating it. There’s a deeper rooted issue here and the behavior is just the effect of the cause.
So I think we need, as a society, to really honor the responsibility of what it means to be a parent because I do believe that there’s a difference between a parent and a mom and a dad.
And I’m glad you said that about terrible twos because that is exactly how I feel every time someone will be like, oh, the teenage years. Oh, you have teenage girls.
Well, well yeah. But don’t just: The teenage years are tough, but so were the twos and so was 7th grade and so was 3rd grade. Like, they’re going through something and you’re always.
So you’re going through stuff all the time too as a person, as a human. You’re growing and changing and learning all of the things, but, like, it’s not like It’s inherent like, oh, bam. They hit 13 and it’s gonna be awful until they’re 18 out of the house. I kinda you know, I wanna the message I wanna say to parents is, like, there is you should be teaching and helping them throughout. It’s not like they just hit 13 and they become awful and start disrespecting you all of a sudden.
Like, That should’ve been taught the entire time. So, yeah, do my girls have some issues? But, yes, it’s not necessarily teenage issues. That’s because it’s their specific personality or the specific circumstance they’re going through. It’s not because they’re teenagers.
So I think that also the teenage years get a bad rap because they don’t just show up and become jerks.
And right now too, like, your girls as teenagers, what they’re going through is night and day compared to when we were teenagers. Yeah. Completely different. Social media, the cell phone, like that to me… listen, teenage years, let’s be real. middle school and high school were no cakewalk.
Girls are mean. Yes. You know? Yeah. Yeah.
Your question everything about yourself.
Yeah. You’re getting a lot of, Should I do this? Should I not do this? Or should I be friends with these people? Should I be friends with these people? I know this isn’t the right thing to do, but I wanna be included.
Like, you have all these things pulling you left, right, up, down center. But now you’re adding in the element of technology that makes everything, in my opinion, worse tenfold.
And so we really need to appreciate what these kids are going through. And as parents, you know, for me, I was. It’s over it’s, like, 25 years since I was a preteen.
Right? But think about how hard it is for you as an adult to go on social media and not play the comparison game, you know, start feeling like you’re not enough as a parent or as a spouse or whatever.
Now take that as an adult, a fully formed brain, and imagine a 13 year old kid, 14 year old kid going through that. Like, kinda put yourself in your shoes. And I just think that as parents, we really need to regulate the access that kids have because 100%. Your 12 year olds are behaving and exposed to things that a 22 year old would normally be exposed to.
Yeah. And so I just think that that, Once again, loops back to showing the importance of the boundaries and the rules and, hey, these are the expected expectations of our family.
You know, it’s not free for all because a lot of times, I see this. I noticed this before I became a parent. I noticed it now. And in our house, like, I have to, like, kinda rein it in. She’s not even 2, and I don’t want the default to be, oh, she wants to look at my phone. She wants to look at pictures.
No. She has puzzles. She has toys. She has Play Doh. She has all the things. She doesn’t need to have Yes. That phone in her hand.
And, Unfortunately, they’re so addictive, and it’s, once again, the easy button. That’s the easy button. Agreed. You know, you don’t wanna drag the child to do, you know, one of those other activities I just named. It’s just easier to hand her the cell phone and call it a day. And think about how many parents right now go out to dinner and literally the with the Ipads in front of them.
And they’re not having conversations. They’re not connecting. Yep. I agree.
Now do you have, like rules in the house about that Oh, yes. With the girls, like, with cell phone time and
Yes. We actually have been going through this, especially with our youngest, because when our oldest got her phone, she I think she was 13, and we were really gonna hold out as long as possible.
But, you know, as, again, parents, hell, all the other kids in school, even a private school, had phones. And so she was the only one left out. She wasn’t able to text friends. Everybody’s making you know, doing all the things. We’re like, alright. We’ll get you a phone.
These are the rules. There’s like, they don’t have Instagram. They don’t have Snapchat. They don’t have Facebook. Like, none of that. But when we got our oldest daughter at 13 a phone, we got our youngest one too, so they would both have it.
It was Christmas, and she was 11, which normally I would not have done, and we just had this conversation a few days ago with our youngest because I’ve noticed her personality changed a bit. She’s not as kind.
She’s not as helpful, as generous, and she used to be my little snuggle bug. Like, It’s changed. I’ve had this conversation with her, and I think it’s directly correlated to the phone or coming home and, like, immediately going to that.
So I actually just took it away and I said, you know, until some things are corrected and we’re gonna be talking about things as they come up, I said I’m taking it indefinitely at this point. No apologies. And when we had the conversation with both of them, she acknowledged. I said, you had it when you were 11, And we shouldn’t have done that, and we wouldn’t have done that if it was just a single child at 11.
Now we can kind of see, but you cannot manage it as well as your sister. You are more addicted. It is something you’re naturally going to. Your older sister is managing it better.
She’s proven that she’s managing it better. So, yeah, for our youngest, she doesn’t have it, and I I don’t know when I’m gonna give it back. I’m gonna see how things go.
It’s wild to me because when I would teach my junior golfers, I mean, these are kids who not only have cell phones, but they would have, like, access to TikTok and Instagram.
No. That’s definitely not happening.
And they’re not even 10 years old, some of them. And I’m like, oh, no. No. But I think just one of the saddest things is seeing a family of 4 or 5, whatever, out to dinner and no one’s conversing. It’s so unfortunate.
And I’ve had this conversation with one of my good friends before, you know, my father and his siblings who are all in their seventies.
My aunt is even in her eighties. These folks can remember everything from their childhood. I’m talking names, details of what happened on such and such day. And I gotta be honest with you, Kate. Like, there’s a lot that I can’t remember.
And what’s the main difference? Yeah. The distraction of the cell phone.
We even got hit with technology later. I didn’t get a cell phone till 18. That’s when they started coming out. Yeah.
Facebook didn’t hit till I had Trinity. So that was 2008.
Yeah. I was a freshman in college when Facebook came out. Yep. And I didn’t. I didn’t get a cell phone till I think I was, like, a junior, like, in high school. Mine basically played, you know, I could play the snake game, and I could maybe send out a few. I could send out a few texts. But like
I think about that and, I just say to myself, why? Like, that’s very strange because as someone who’s 40 years older than me, your memory should probably be a little different. Yes. Than mine.
And it’s rewiring their brains. We talked to our youngest about that. I said there is research that proves it’s rewiring your brain. Because she’s, oh, whatever. I’m like, no. It does. Look it up on the thing that you call a cell phone because she would ask us question. Like, it’s on the phone.
Like, it’s literally on the thing that you’re holding.
Do a Google search for something other than YouTube because we have had the conversation about YouTube. They’re not watching anything inappropriate. My girls, You know, I will give them credit. They have integrity. They don’t lie. They’re not sneaky, any of that.
So praise God for that, but I was like, you’re just watching stupid videos that, You know, every 3 to 5 seconds, it’s something new on the screen that teaches you not to be able to have an attention span. I don’t want that for you.
So now, you guys, if you wanna watch YouTube, it needs to be on the television. I wanna know what you’re watching, and it’s not gonna be this weird, you know, ridiculousness, and it’s not gonna be watching someone else play a video game.
Yeah. Or watching someone do the same dance over and over again. Or you know what I mean? And I think the other thing too, because like I said, we could talk about this forever is that you mentioned the brain.
The brain is not hardwired to be able to handle a 15 second dance. Then the next minute, something that gets your cortisol through the roof, whether you’re angry, sad, or anxious and then drops you back down because then you see a puppy video, then shoots you back up because you see something that makes you anxious again.
We’re not built for that. That’s that constant fight or flight mode, our brains can’t handle that.
And now as adults, and, obviously, now, you know, any kind of teenager that has this technology, we are literally in this high elevated cortisol rate all the time, and we don’t know how to function.
Wonder why we’re more anxious.
Right. We don’t and why we can’t regulate our emotions.
Right. And we’re depressed. We’re more lonely than ever even though we’re more connected than ever. I mean, it’s across the board. I mean, teenage girls are questioning themselves. Their self esteem is dropping. It’s crazy. It’s crazy.
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