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.
Welcome to Parenting in the First Three Years. I’m so glad that you’ve joined me, and I’m so excited to have my guest, Amy Weber. We are going to talk about just some of the fears that parents have, and Amy is an expert at this. She’s a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a play Therapist. She works with families and children all around, with lots of different issues, but mostly just helping parents be the very best that they can be for their kids. So, Thank you, Amy, for joining me. Why don’t you start by just telling us a little bit about you.
Thank you so much for having me, first of all. I really appreciate it. You’re welcome. As Ann said, I am a Clinical Social Worker in Brooklyn, New York. I am in private practice where I specialize in working with children who are like three-ish up until they’re 18 and beyond, and their parents on becoming a more peaceful and cohesive family unit and really learning how to parent their individual kids and understanding their kids’ nervous systems. And yeah, I’m helping parents to feel confident in their choices and parent from their own values. That confidence factor is really, really kind of hard to find sometimes, especially when you’re like, what are you doing and why are you doing that?
Yes. So what does it say about me as a parent that you’re doing this thing? Like, why did this become okay? Right. Yes. That is my specialty. I know that one of the things that you’re really passionate about is helping parents break away from the way that they were parented if they want to break away from that. So let’s talk about that. How do you advise people in finding their own way? And what are some things that you see commonly that people want to break away from? Yeah. So, I mean, we all have our own memories of how our childhood was and what felt good to us when we were children or whatever our memory is of being a child and what felt awful.
I know for me, there were all kinds of wild rules that, you know, now as an adult looking back, I’m like, why on earth was that a rule? And it was because of my mom’s anxiety and that’s how she managed it was like, you know, toys cannot be mixed for whatever reason. She didn’t like chaos and mess, and that became a rule. And it’s a rule I took with me into adulthood for a very long time. And then I was like, you know, this, this rule doesn’t serve me. And I think that step one is becoming aware. What is it that I want to be? What do I want to be like as a parent? What do I want to be like with my child? What kind of human being do I want to be? What are my values? What are our family’s values? And really thinking through those bigger questions will guide you in making your parenting decisions throughout your day and help you set limits that make sense for your family, as opposed to just arbitrary arbitrary rules that you’ve grown up with or that somebody else tells you, this is the way you’re supposed to do it. +
If it doesn’t make sense for your family, or if it doesn’t serve you or your child, then it isn’t the way that you need to do it. So I would say that’s really step one, is what are my values as a human being? What are my values for my family? What are my values for my child? And who do I want to be? And then, thinking about where that’s coming from, where your influences are and where you’re getting information and advice and making sure they’re in alignment with those values.
So do you find that parenting partners come at this from a different approach and mindset? Of course, because we all have different childhoods, right? So, I’m coming from a place of a lot of rules that made no sense. And my husband is coming from a place of his parents didn’t ever know where he was. So, of course, we’re going to have different philosophies and different ways of managing our time and our household and how we parent our children. And coming together to say, okay, but what do we value for our family? What is important? to us, what do we want to instill, what do we want to teach is a really important first step towards getting on the same page.
Yeah, I laugh because that was the story at my house. I mean, I used to just wonder, my friends and I, we would get on our bikes, and we would go miles away. My parents didn’t have any idea where we were and never even asked, you know. You were outside, and that was good. You weren’t under their feet. You know, it’s an interesting conversation between yourself and your partner around those questions. I mean, they come up during pregnancy when you’re, well, even before pregnancy when you’re talking about having a kid and then you get pregnant, you have this expectation and then the baby’s born and then it all comes up again. And then it seems like with every stage of development, you know, like early childhood, presents tons of questions. And then middle childhood, more questions, adolescents, a lot of questions. And then, you know, every stage, you have to revisit, like, what do I want to be like? What kind of parent do I want to be like to this age kid, you know, and that age kid?
Right. Yeah. It’s not a one-and-done conversation. And as your kids get older, they can participate more in the conversation, which is also a really important thing, to know what’s important to them. And it kind of unfolds, huh? You know, like you get the baby or you have the baby, and you don’t even know the baby. And then, by year two, you pretty much know this personality, and you understand a little bit more about how to respond and how to parent them. So let’s talk about that.
Yeah, and then they become two, and they’re tantruming all the time and how do you- how are you gonna set a limit? And what makes sense to you? And how you manage that limit might look very different from your partner, and then what? And how does it feel to see them do something different? Or if your child reacts differently, like if they suddenly comply with one parent and they just dig in their heels with the other, can feel really awful for the parent who is on the receiving end of the stubbornness and the tantrum.
Yeah. And for the other parent as well, because you feel bad, you know, that you’ve kind of got this one up on the case. Right. Or that, you know, it’s not intentional. Yeah. So, okay, let’s talk about that specific situation. You know, this kid who just all of a sudden is doing something that you’re really not quite sure how to respond to, and you do it. But then, at the same time, you feel your parents rising up within you and those responses coming up. How do you help people find a spot in the moment where they can, this is it, this is when I’m going to make this change? Yeah, that is, it’s so hard to notice it, but noticing it is the first step. And I always ask parents, to remember when they are about to respond to a tantrum or to a request or to anything that their child is doing. The response has the power to bring the child closer to them or push the child away. And what’s your goal here? Do you want to push them away or do you want to use this to find a moment of connection with them or try to stay in connection with them? And if you can pause and just take a breath.
So often, I think we respond to emergencies as a 911 level crisis. And it’s not a 911 level. There are very few things that are a 911 level crisis. And brushing teeth or getting out the door to school on time, it can feel that way in the moment. But if you can actually just take a breath, I will have parents put their hands on their chest or on their heart and take a deep breath and say either to themselves or out loud, this is hard. Just taking that breath and the acknowledgement that this is hard can just lower your own temperature before you respond. And that doesn’t mean that it’s a yes to every single thing that your child asks for or demands, but it does give you that pause to think about what your response is going to be in a way that isn’t just, I’m firing this off because I’ve had it up to here.
And nobody is perfect at this. I am not. I have a bazillion years of training and working with children and I lose it sometimes. And that’s totally normal because we are human beings. And Studies have shown that if we were perfect all the time, if we never yelled, if we never lost our patience, that our kids, that actually would be more harmful to our kids. So those moments where we completely lose it, or we behave in a way that isn’t how we want to parent, how we imagine ourselves parenting, that’s a moment where we can go back and repair and apologize to our kids that we are not the people that we wanted to be in that moment and that we’re human.
And it’s really good for our kids to see us being human and then apologizing for our mistakes. That’s where they learn to do that genuinely as opposed to say sorry to me. And I can really aim into that because I grew up in a house where my parents took their conflicts away. They didn’t have disagreements in front of us. They didn’t have fights in front of us. They didn’t work it out in front of us. And I was so ill-equipped as a person, you know, especially when I entered into the relationships that I did and I didn’t know how to have a good fight, you know, I didn’t know how to make up from a fight. In fact, I had this terrible response whenever my husband would get mad, and we’d, you know, start an argument. I would laugh out of weird nervousness or response to, I don’t know how to handle this conflict. That was what I did. And it was not helpful at all. It was a real learning process.
And so, yeah, teach your kids how to have a good argument and solve it and work through it and make amends and move forward with peace. Yes. And let them see you do it. Let them see you have, you know, maybe not as big screaming fight because that can be terrifying for kids, but just, oh, I really didn’t want this for dinner tonight. This isn’t my favorite. Oh, sorry, tomorrow night we’ll have your favorite, whatever it is, little things where you are disagreeing. It’s actually okay. It’s okay for them to see that. And it’s really important for them to see the making up. Yeah, yeah, that’s good.
So what do you say to parents about sorting through all the advice that they get from everybody? That is a tough one because there is a lot of advice. There is advice on the internet. There is advice coming from grandparents. There is the way that you were brought up and the way that your partner was brought up. Your child’s teachers will have a lot of advice for you about all the things that you’re doing wrong. And then maybe you’re a therapist or maybe your child’s therapist, you’re getting a lot of information from all different angles and sorting through that noise is really, really hard.
So, I think going back to your values, I would find a couple of sources that stick with the values or seem to speak to the values that your family holds. and then stick with those, whether it’s those books or those podcasts or those internet sites, you know, but I would, and I would narrow it down to one or two. They all tend to say roughly the same thing at the end of the day. And it can be really hard to, like, I don’t know that I need to listen to 17 different podcasts and audiobooks and grandparents and teachers to understand what I’m doing here.
It’s interesting because when I was raising our kids, or when we were raising our kids, but for me individually, I was always reading. I love child development. I loved reading textbooks about it, you know, and we didn’t have quite as many parenting books, but we had plenty. And I did, you know, a lot of study around parenting. The thing that was so surprising to me was my own emotional response. I had all the intellectual; it was my emotional response to these kids. That was so surprising.
You know, what I came to was that I just had a few people in my life that I admired the way they parented. I liked their style. I liked the way that they spoke to their children. I liked the way, you know, just the way they did it. And I tried to just kind of emulate these people, and I would even think to myself, wonder what she would do in this situation. And I even had authors that I would think, I wonder what Tori would do in this situation. And that did help guide my thinking and guide my practice as a parent and as in my approach to how I was doing things. Help me kind of separate a little bit. I mean, I didn’t need to separate too much from the way I was raised. I was very blessed with loving parents, you know, who did things very, very well. But there were a few things I did need to do, you know, a little bit different, like I mentioned earlier.
Well, this has been really, really helpful. And I think that you’ve given our listeners some really great solid guidance on how to deal with some of these fears and break loose of some of the past things. As we wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement? Just one last thing that you’d like to leave our listeners with. Yes. The most important thing to believe, I think, is that you are a good parent. If you can really lean into that truth that you are a good parent, then it’s easier to lean into the truth that you have a good kid. And in those moments where you might not be behaving the way that you want to, and your kid isn’t behaving the way that they you would like them to, it can be hard to hold on to the truth that you are a good parent who is having a hard time, but that is true. And the more you can believe that about yourself, the easier it will be to have compassion for yourself when things go awry. And then it is easier to have compassion for your kid when things are not so smooth sailing.
Yeah, and we have a tool that we’re going to offer. I know that you have created an amazing resource for parents along that same line, a tool that they can download. It’s called setting limits with connection. And it sounds like that would be exactly what you just described. Yes. Yes, absolutely. And I think that’s an actual quote from the download. So you are a good parent; lean into that truth. And when you can’t believe it about yourself, surround yourself with people who will remind you that you are a good parent. Yeah. Maybe you could even write it on a post-it note and stick it someplace where you’ll see it every day. I think one of the best places to put reminders like that is where you brush your teeth. Yeah. Because you’re not gonna go anywhere. You know, it’s just a good 25 seconds of standing there. If you can look at something that will really affirm you, I think that’s a good spot for it.
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for joining me in this conversation. It has just been delightful to get to know you and to hear about your amazing work. And I’m gonna put all your links in the show notes as well as a link to your book, the children’s book that you’ve written called Gratitude Is Your Superpower. I’m gonna get that one for our grandkids and pass it on to them. So, thank you so much for being here, Amy. Thank you so much. 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 to. 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.