You’re listening to Parenting in the First Three Years, the place where we explore the strategies and soul of parenting from pregnancy through the first three years of life. I’m your host, Ann McKitrick. Thank you so much for joining me. Hello and welcome to the podcast Parenting in the First Three Years. And I’m so excited today to introduce my guest to you, Miranda Rake. And Miranda is a writer for Romper, which is probably a website that you have come across as you are just kind of perusing the internet, looking for information and fun facts about parenting and children. Miranda is a writer. And she writes the most fabulous articles. I met her the other day. She was interviewed in an article about parent coaching. So Miranda, thank you so much for being here. I’m so glad that you’re on the podcast.
Thanks for having me. It’s an honor. You know, one of the things that I think is really interesting is that we are told, you know, we, we tell new parents, be careful what you read. You know, you, you don’t want to let all of that. Influence. the way that you feel about your children and yourself as a parent. And you just have to be kind of have your filters on as you are reading everything. But you are a mom of young children. I want you to first tell us about that. But then I have a second question but first, tell us first about your kids.
Okay, my favorite topic. So I have Griffin, who is five and just started kindergarten. And I have Nellie, who is two. Her name is actually Cornelia, but we call her Nellie. She’s two and a little bit, and that’s our family. Yeah, yeah. So what’s that like? What is it like to constantly research information for the things you write and filter that out as a parent? What’s your first impression of that? I was a food and drink journalist for a long time before I switched to parenting as a topic. And it was really when I became a parent when Griffin was born, you know, my interests changed. I was living and breathing all of these questions that I now get to answer as part of my job. And so I feel so lucky. I think, for some people, your job needs to be a break from all of this. And for me, the way my brain works, I like to go deep. And it’s not that I think there’s a right way and a wrong way or a right answer and a wrong answer for so many of the questions that I get to ask as part of my job and that I usually come from my own life. And then I talk to my colleagues about them, or it comes from conversations with peers, you know, and, and I’ll bring those conversations that I have on the playground to work and say, are you encountering this?
And we’re so lucky because, at Romper, we have this group of really diverse people who live in different places. So we have people who live in more suburban communities in the South or the Midwest, or some of us are in New York. And, but you know, this is a nice thing with, I think, post-pandemic, we are all remote, so we can really be in different places. And we know we have a good topic when we’re all encountering this question. So, for example, like how I met you, like we were hearing about parent coaches all of a sudden, and we were like, okay, this is a new, you know, or maybe it’s not new, but it’s exploding, and so then I love that it’s part of my job to take that playground question and go deep and talk to people, you know.
And sometimes I end up in the gray area, you know, which is when I know that something is really interesting and that I don’t necessarily see it as finding a right or a wrong answer for parents, as much as being a companion and offering validation. Just, you know, we’re all asking this question. It’s not just, you know. I love that because they’re really, I mean, one of the things that I can say from firsthand experience is that there are certain things that are very black and white, you know, when it comes to safety and all of those kinds of things with young children. But when it comes to parenting, you can do it a lot of different ways, and the kids will come out just fine. And so I think it’s a really beautiful thing that you just said because it really does speak to that, that we can follow what is right for us, for our family. Our… environment, our culture, wherever it is that we are in the world, we can do it our own way. And it’ll be great.
You know, that’s what’s great for your family. So you’ve been doing this for five years; it sounds like working in this genre of parenting. What changes have you noticed that people are interested in talking about now that they may not have been so interested in five years ago? I feel that just in that space of time, in five years, TikTok has become a massive force in parent, influencing how parents feel about the job they’re doing and influencing what they think about all kinds of things related to parenting. And it certainly is driving the questions they’re asking. I think… I have my own feelings about that. I think social media can be really harmful to parents. I think it can really be harmful. I think that some people turn to TikTok or any social media for answers and advice in lieu of reaching out to their village, their relatives, their friends, or their colleagues.
I was talking to a perinatal psychologist, focusing on pregnancy and the postpartum period and talking about maternal mental health. And she made the point that we are really inundated with information from these platforms at a volume that is so much greater than our brains are built to manage. And even though sometimes we have this sense that these parasocial relationships offer companionship, validation, or humor, I think that’s true. I don’t wanna be demonizing, but I do think that TikTok or Instagram were truly designed like slot machines. They use that idea of reward and dopamine to keep us scrolling and to keep us refreshing, and keep us on their platform. So I think it’s really important and really hard to step back and say a little bit, okay, and then I need to walk away. And am I caring for myself? Like, is this self-care or is this time that would be better spent even just in silence and staring out the window? Right. There’s a lot of value in that. But yeah, so I think that, you know, that has changed a lot. And I think the power of those platforms is something that is just increasing in a way that really blows my mind. And, you know, one of the things that I wonder about with, with that very thing, is the effect that it’s going to have on children.
Like, say you’re two-year-old is having a tantrum and somebody films it and puts it on TikTok, and it goes viral. And you are the star of this tantrum video, right? Ten years later, when they’re 13 and you’re in this fragile adolescent state, and you go back, and you see what feelings will come up? And so I’m just going to say a plug and just say, consider your children, respect your child’s dignity before you post something, and make sure that it’s positive and loving and kind. So when they look back at it later, they’ll say, wow, my mom and dad must’ve really loved me if they put that on the internet, you know? And that’s something that I always, I have a heart check a lot of times when I see some things, and I just think, ugh, I don’t know, that’s hard. Yeah, I think, you know, a lot; I know some friends who have started, so peers of my son who is five, a lot of the parents have started to ask their child for consent before posting a picture and often don’t get it. Right. My son, I try to ask before I take a picture or video and, and if he says no, it’s like, okay, you know, and I think it’s a good check, you know, very good check.
But yeah, you know, that has changed a lot. And then I feel like sort of in line with parent coaching on a positive note, I think this trend has probably been going on for a long time, but parents are really earnestly trying to look at inherited patterns and how they may be playing them out with their own children and looking critically at what maybe isn’t working or what didn’t work for them in their childhood and trying to intentionally break some of those patterns and seeking help if it’s available. And I’m sure that some of, you know, turning to TikTok or Instagram is trying to different way, you know, what better way that I could do this.
And people like Dr. Becky, you know, using the platform to try to give good advice. You know? Yeah. So I think, and I think that is really cool. I think absolutely. Yeah. I mean, she’s doing a great job, and there’s a lot of people I, I really admire who are out there doing really, really great work. advocating for parents and children through those platforms. And so, yeah. Yeah. I think parent, you know, I was talking to a friend about this, a colleague. And I wonder if it’s partly the parents really trying to break these patterns, maybe because a lot of us are having children later in life, you know, than people have historically. So we’re just, maybe we’re just older, and we just have a little more perspective, or I’m not sure. Yeah, I just think there’s a real awareness amongst parents and just the culture, you know, around all things, all things emotional, all things mental health. And that’s very much a part of the conversation. And, you know, I think we have probably always been that way. You know, it’s just when you look at the stages of parenting research that’s part of the process of becoming a parent is looking back at how you were parented. and deciding what you wanna do the same and what you wanna do differently, and what you are absolutely not going to repeat. It’s just working through the details of it because that is what rises up within you in these moments of, you know, stress is your mother comes out, or your father comes out, and you’re just like, ah, I don’t want that person to be talking to my child like that, you know?
So yeah. Our beautiful, wonderful nanny she’s 25, but she’s likewise beyond her years. And she told me that when our kids are really tough, and you know, she’s with them nine to five, so long days. And in the summer, she had both the five-year-old and the two-year-old all day. And that’s a lot. And she said that when they would sort of trigger her into a place of dysregulation, her practice is to go home and journal. And she says, I know that when they send me into a place of dysregulation, I know that’s about me, not about them. So, journaling is how she unpacks that. And that’s pretty brilliant. She’s amazing. Yeah. She’s a great nanny.
So, as you know, just thinking back on some of the things that you’ve written, you have such fun articles. I love reading your work. What are some things that you’ve learned and implemented with your own children? Any new ideas that you have put into practice? So many. My biggest parenting practice right now, and I assume this will stay with me, the thing that helps me the most is to try to keep in mind to be present with my children and have real compassion for whatever feeling they’re going through. I first have to have compassion for myself. And that practice is surprisingly hard, I think. And it has made me think about trying to intentionally have compassion for myself, particularly in the hardest moments when I’m feeling frustrated or angry, or I’m just… I’ve wanted a snack for like two hours, and they won’t stop asking for stuff. And I’m so hungry, and they are just both at their worst. And I’m also at my worst. And then to try just to have compassion for all of us in that moment. If I can do that, we can all get through it a little more smoothly.
And so I think that is my biggest source of moments of success. Like when I was learning to work on that and practice that, it’s been a process, but when Griffin was about 18 months old, I started a daily meditation practice. And it really helps to make that sort of quiet mind a little bit more accessible in the really chaotic moments. And it’s not perfect. There are plenty of bad moments, but I do find that it’s like practice. I practice it in those meditation times, whether it’s 10 minutes or 15 minutes of sitting quietly and observing my mind. I usually do it after the kids are in bed. That will carry over into my day. And in those really hard moments, that place of calm and compassion is just a little bit closer because I practice it every day. Yeah, that is so great. Honestly, I didn’t learn this, and I’m still learning it, you know, where I am in life. I think that I spent most of my parenting years in a place of not having very much self-compassion and grace. You know, I was always in my mind criticizing myself. And I can honestly remember, I’ll tell you this little quick story. I am a slogger, a slow jogger. Over the years, I have ran a bunch of races, and it sounds like it’s bigger than it is because, literally I am so slow. But I like the camaraderie of running with people, and I like the party afterward and the T-shirts and all that stuff.
One year, we all, my older kids, were in college at the time. They, we decided we would train for a half marathon. It was one of those Santa runs where you wore clothes and stuff, and it was around Christmas time. So they came home for Christmas break. We ran this race. I had followed my training plan, I don’t know, for four months or so, and I had done it. I was, I followed the plan. But then, on the day of the race, I could not run. I just couldn’t run. I kept having to walk, and that’s no big deal. But in my own mind, my self-talk was saying, why, why you’re so lazy, you’re such a bad trainer, blah, all that negative talk. And it was like, I don’t know, a few months later, I went to the doctor and learned I had a heart problem. That was honestly, I can say, that was the first time I ever thought said to myself, no wonder you had a hard time. Your heart was not working right. It wasn’t getting what it needed. No wonder. And it was really a turning point for me, you know? And I just thought, if I cry out loud, that was way too late for me to get that lesson, you know?
I’m so glad you’ve gotten it much younger and earlier than me. And that’s what I mean about this self-awareness and the thinking and talking people are doing now. I just love it. I think it’s so helpful. I do, too. Yeah, you know, I think being a parent too, sometimes the way that my default ways of talking to myself, I would never want my daughter to talk to herself that way. And I think about that as a parent now, the way I love them. And I’m very lucky. My mom and I are very close, and she’s very loving. And now I understand really the way she loves me because I love my daughter like that. And I think I need to be nicer to myself, if not for me, for my mom and for my daughter. Yeah. And that makes it easier, too, because I think of them, and it helps too. Yeah. It’s one of the best parts of becoming a parent is really learning this capacity for loving that you didn’t even know was there. It’s really, really beautiful.
Okay, so here’s that same question turned in the other direction. Have you come across anything that you’ve just, in the research that you’ve done for writing, something that you’ve just kind of said, I’ve got to disregard that or discard that idea. That didn’t work for me. Has that happened? Well, there are a lot of trendy things that I very much disagree with, but it’s personal, and If something is working for someone, and even if I think it’s goofy, I don’t wanna knock it, you know? So it’s hard to think of. I mean, I think social media, I think people need to step away from that a lot more than they do. I think people need to check their relationships with technology. It is not beneficial. I just think it’s not, and consider what we’re modeling for our children. That’s one thing that I have a strong feeling about, and it kind of goes back to meditation and mindfulness. And I think about how much practicing presence, true presence in my own life. And then when I’m with my children and how they respond to that and how differently our time together is, I’m as present as possible. And it’s not all the time, right?
Sometimes I think about the grocery list or what I’m gonna get my mom for her birthday or, you know, not always fully present, but I try to practice presence with my children. That’s really important to me. And I actually think it makes being fully present for the difficult moments makes them easier. If I’m trying to hide in my phone, or it actually makes it harder, I think. Right, because you don’t know what’s going on. Yeah, yes. And you’re sort of not facing the truth of the moment. You’re trying to escape from it. And that I think is harmful to our children. And yeah, so, and that kind of extends into things like giving phones to kids. And I know people, there’s a lot of debate about that. And some people feel it’s important for kids to have them.
And I, you know, I only have a two-year-old and a five-year-old. So, in with me when my kids are older, but I think with technology is a thing where I really am trying to raise Luddites. Yeah. I think, I think those are really great things to consider deeply, you know, and I, I appreciate that there are companies that are coming out with alternatives for children, you know, where they can contact their parents without having a smartphone in their hand, you know, and, and I’m sure that that’s not going to do anything, but get better and better. as your children get older, you know? Now tell them that’ll be available by the time they’re entering high school, you know?
So, yeah, that’s really good. As we wrap up this conversation about parent trends and how it all feels for you as a researcher and writer, do you have any one last word of encouragement for those who might be listening? You know, one of my good friends is about to have their first baby, and I just wrote an article for Romper that kind of expresses my feelings about that. And it’s sort of in response to the whole what to expect concept. And it’s really just to expect the unexpected, and it circles back to self-compassion, and nothing challenged me like becoming a parent. And in terms of ideas that I didn’t even realize I had about my ability to control my experience, which, of course, is a delusion. But before children, it was easier to maintain that delusion. And after children, it was very clear I needed to make peace with the fact that I was not in control of what happened. And just to be kind to yourself and kind to your kids, as we talked about at the very beginning, I think if you don’t have the answers, that’s fine. And if you’re asking the questions, you’re a good parent. You’re just trying your best. And that’s great. And I think, you know better than I do, but I think that even clinical research backs that up. You just don’t have to be perfect. If you’re a parent and you’re trying, great. And even thinking about the best approach to name your parenting challenge, it doesn’t matter what you choose. It just matters that you have intentionality, that you care, that you love your child, and you’re there, and you’re listening, and you’re loving them. And I believe that’s enough. Yeah. You show up; you’re there. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and insights with us. I really appreciate you being here, Miranda. Thanks. Thank you. It was really nice to talk again.
If you love today’s episode, take a minute and subscribe to our podcast. And one last thing, I’d love to pray for you and your baby if you’d like for me too. You can email me at ask at nurturednoggins.com. Your request can be as simple as just one word, or it can include an explanation. Either way, you can trust that I will pray for you. It’s a quiet, simple way that I can connect with you and your family and support you in your parenting journey.