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πŸŒ† Sean Grover. When Kids Call The Shots.

Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky podcast.

Sean Grover is a psychotherapist from New York City, dad of two children, and an author of the book When Kids Call The Shots. For 25 years Sean has been teaching parents how to embrace their challenges and to create a happy functioning family. If you think your kid might be bullying you, if you lost all hope and don’t know how to deal with tantrums, or maybe you are just looking for some advice on how to be a better parent, this interview is for you. You will not be disappointed, guaranteed!

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Hello and welcome to the ride that show. Have you ever had your child throw attention? And you felt absolutely powerless about doing anything about it. You're in luck today. My guest on the show is Sean Grover, a family therapist from New York City and the author of the book When Kids Call the Shots. Sean, welcome to the show. Could you describe yourself?


Describe myself. Okay, I'm a psychotherapist. I work with Children and teenagers and families. I've been doing it for almost 25 years, and I thought parenting would be a breeze because this is kind of what I do for a living meeting with parents and kids. But, ah, my book was inspired by everything I did wrong and had to relearn after I became a dad.


So I got to say this I looked, looked up all the things that you had to say online and about your book and your interview. And I said, Well, I'm either really gonna like what you have to say. I'm really gonna hate this. Uh uh. But I think from everything I've read like it's actually right on point and the title of your book eyes almost misleading. And I think it's misleading on purpose because from what I've seen them parroting a lot of parents wants to be. Want to be right? What do you think that


yeah, it being right as a parent is the booby prize. You know, if you're right, it's using at the cost of a relationship. Are creating hard feelings. It's being right is a win lose situation and you want to avoid that as a parent as much as possible. But what what about the group of the book is that I'm gonna like this or hate it? I'm interested in the hate part.


You call it when kids call the shots, right? And it immediately. It's sort of standoffish, just like all the kids are wrong. And my immediate reaction.


Well, of


course, the kids are not wrong. Like in fact, a lot of parents that I've had seems to have the headed to that like the kids are wrong and we need to control the kids and we tell kids what to do it. I'm


like, No, no, no, no, no.


But then I read more into it. I was like, Oh, wait, no, wait a second. You're you're actually saying all the things that I agree with, right?


Wow, you are really? You're a good reader. I have a confession to make about the look. Uh, well, when I was ah, I had written it and some publisher interested publishers were interested. I had a meeting with the person who ultimately published the book. Ah, they said, You know, it's great. We like what you did. There's only one problem. They said what they said You have no idea how to sell a book, she said.

Well, you have to write a book that blames Children because parents don't want to take responsibility since that that book will sell if you So after a lot of heart ache and arguing and it was either and publisher no published, they made a deal with me that ah, well, it's will shake the book up and reshape it. But your message will still be there within the chapters. So you're one of the very, very few people who picked up on the secret message, which is really parents need to get their act together as the first step before they, um, take a look at the Children, start blaming and assigning blame to their partner or the school. The teachers of the neighborhood. So I can't believe you're the only one on Lee interviewer that's ever picked up on that.


Maybe it's because I don't want to blame Children. Um, why? Neither do I. Yeah, I mean, for me and my wife, it's kind of our philosophy, right? We treat our Children as fully grown adults with constraints. Um, not necessarily his Children. So we help them and trying to figure out what in each situation is good for them. But we don't necessarily want to push the blame on them, because I mean, like, little ones, right with why?


That's right. That's right. Well, if you look, a friend of mine read the book, and she called me and said, Hey, that was a nice bait and switch. Ah, because she saw that in the first few chapters, I'm asking parents about their history, their choices, their background What? What? Uh, their parents did what they want to do differently. So we're spending a lot of time looking at the parents before we even settle down and consider the Children. So I'm very impressed that you caught that


So you're really good at your job, then, you know, just anecdotally. I went to a couple of classes of things called positive parenting. My wife thought it would be a good idea. Personally, I'm not a big fan of classes, so it didn't It didn't work out quite as planned, but it was interesting to see how other parents react to suggestions about them. And their Children are specifically about parents. There was this one Mom. We were talking about some problem with her kid quote unquote problem. You know, none of them really problems. But in the issue she was having with her kid's behavior and I said, Well,

maybe you should consider what what he wants and what he thinks, and she kind of laughed about it and they're friends with my wife. So later on, I find out she thought I was sarcastic and, like, joking about, you know, ask him what he wanted. Well, that was completely, you know, honest with her, like, this is what we do at home. We say, Well, what do you think in our three year old tells us? And we're like, great, So


that's exactly right. That's the kind of culture you wanna present in the family that there's. Of course, the parents provide leadership and they make the big decisions. But as a family, you establish a culture for communication, a commotion culture for relating to one another. You collaborate on things. You include your Children. But if you if you take that kind of dictatorial because I said so on the boss and you're just gonna set up conflicts more and more down the line, no one really wants to be controlled in that level, even if you're a small child, unless it's dangerous. And let's just, um, so danger than you intervene. But you want your child to have a voice. You wanted to be assertive. You wanted to speak up, so you've got to give him


a chance to do that at home. Absolutely. And I gotta say, just thinking of the class. One thing that's that was really important, and I think a lot of people really like that. We switched roles and parents were reading dictatorial statements. Basically, they would say to their Children off paper to adults. And then we were all talked about how it made adults field, and if somebody tells you, go to bed or, you know, turn that off. You like. I feel awful if somebody tells me that. But when we do that without our kids, we don't realize what we're doing.


That's right. Way. Speak to our Children in ways we would never speak to another adult. Yeah, I always say, If you if you go to lunch with a friend and she tells you, you know, your husband is really ah lazy and you know your career is going nowhere and I don't like your people, you're hanging out with that friendship would not survive, But But with Children we have this hostage situation where we can say almost anything. But to me it's a parent you are when no one's looking, that really matters the most on in workshops and things. That's a wonderful exercise to get their parents, too, uh, to experience what it feels like to be talked down to, to be chastised,

criticized. Always say the three worst ways of influencing a Children's child's behaviors advise criticism comparison complaint way out of the 4th 1 there. But those things really shut down communication and what you're doing with your kid this is the way we want to go. We wanna open it up because a lot of times you engage in shaming or guilting. Criticizing that child takes those feelings internally. They become a part of how they operate in the world, so that triggers it can trigger defiance. It can trigger depression. It could trigger anxiety. So the parent really creates these imprints very early on, and those become that primary relationship. Union's parent child becomes the way that child begins to interact in the world. So if you can start, I don't know how old are your kids?


So the older one is three and 1/4 and the younger one is about nine months.


That's fantastic. So you're really you're in a great place. Ah, lot of times I get called in to do parenting workshops. O. R. A teenager comes into my office. He's 16 years old, 17 years old. I he sits down. He starts cursing at his mother. He starts blaming. There's so much. There's so many bad habits. I sit in my chair. I don't even know where to begin to dismantle


this bomb off. The reason why I left New York. Oh, really Well, I I went to high school in New Jersey and sort of this whole time. Everybody wanted to go to New York hanging out, and I could never relate because I felt like that was very common attitude. Right now, I'm in Seattle in Seattle, is very different. Seattle was very loving, very kind of emotional. People go outdoors, but New York is the opposite of that. And I wonder just the sheer surrounding it where you grew up. It has a lot to do with. You know, how you behave as a child,


I think, absolutely. But the, uh, the ah, the atmosphere of the family, the culture, the family, how people relate that can insulate a child I work with. I had an intern in my office who was definitely without a doubt the best intern I've ever had. She went on to become, ah, physical therapist, and she's a great career, and I really I love this kid. When I knew her way back when, but I didn't know until she was ready to leave that she had grown up in one of the worst,

most dangerous highest crime rate areas of Brooklyn that I had been there when I was doing gang prevention conferences and think this is one of the only neighborhood that scared me to death on. Actually, when they asked me to come to a conference there, I It was the first thing I turned down. I just felt like I couldn't do it. Uh, but this this girl who went on to have this thriving career was so wonderful, came out of that neighborhood. And so her parents, we're able to create a situation where she was well insulated against a hostile environment and she was able to make choices that that were in complete contrast to everyone around her. So I think we can look att, certainly their challenges in the environment. But ultimately you can grow up on a farm in a beautiful, scenic picture postcard picture of, ah, childhood.

And it can be a horrible experience. So for me, it comes down to the family, always come down to the parents and the Children in their relationship and the culture in the family. The other stuff is important, but not necessarily a deal breaker.


And you said at the beginning that you often get Tina just come in and they're ready, misbehaving and sort of. The problem probably started long ago, and now you have to go back and gonna fix it. The root of the problem is that where you were going?


Well, yes, because the parents start. They have a culture of disrespect in the family, where they'll a yellow The kids are screaming the kids that took down to the kids. It's only a matter of time before child internalizes, and that becomes the way they relate eso. It just escalates as they get bigger. But you can see the seeds of it are from that initial way of interacting with the child or trying to suppress them or hold them down. Shame them in some way that's gonna fester and his child gets bigger and moves towards adolescence begins to flex a little. They're gonna play back that attitude to their parents, and the parents are shocked and everything, but I'm really not. I can always find, uh, some choices that were made early on that later just sort of took root. And now we're getting the harvest of these horrible habits.


So how long does it usually take to undo our mitigate? These issues.


Well, it really depends on the age of the child. Um, I'm always thrilled when I get to ask to speak Thio Elementary Schools and talk to parents because there's so much that can be done. Uh, by time. Middle school. It gets a little tougher in by middle or late high school. It's It's sometimes, honestly, you feel like you're climbing a glass wall. But if I can get the parents to take responsibility of their family for their behavior and start changing and evolving their behaviors and healing the relationship with their child and how they relate to the shop, you'd be surprised how quickly things can turn around. But it always starts with the parent making that determination to change themselves on evolved themselves and the Children will come along. But we have to start with parent First.


You gotta ask, What's your success rate?


What do you mean? My statistics of my people kids I work with,


Well, I mean, I assume parents come to you because they want something to be done about it. But then they come in and they realize that's that about their kids. It's about them, and they have to change and I went there. How often they hit


the berry. And then well, that's right. Come back to you again because it's hard, right? Yeah, Well, I think in the early days of my practice, I got fired a lot. I wasn't a parent at that time, and I had a lot of very strong opinions. And I think over the years, especially becoming apparent, I really softened and had much more compassion for how difficult a job this is With zero training, Uh, so the parents that I see the progress with the Children I see the progress with, Really,

if the parent commits to working on themselves, we have a very, ah, very good outcome is likely. But if a parent does what they called dry cleaning therapy, where you just drop your kid off to get straightened out and you pick him up, Uh, it's gonna be much harder to see lasting change.


But what do you do in the latter case? Is there anything I can do to help kids understand that you know what their parents are going through and help them mitigate the situation at home?


Yet sometimes we'll often if I have a situation. Let's say there's a hostile parent or a hostile divorce or, um, gosh, I deal with that so much. Um, if a child in adolescence, they're trying to define themselves as different, different and separate from their parents and they want to move beyond the orbit of the family, a lot of times I can harvest that energy s o. They can make different choices and it feels good, or they can decide the person they want to be. And it feels good. Or I may say to them, Look, your parents of your parents, they're maybe they'll never change.

What do you want out of life? And how are you gonna? What are you going to do differently from them, then, using that separation individual ation phase where they're really branching out? I can help them to make better choices, even if in the house the parents aren't.


Yeah, that's really good. That gives kids ah, whole other outlets to express themselves.


Yeah, it provides in that age range. Really. We're really looking at models and mentors as, like, very powerful figures. So if I can get a kid an internship, if I can offer him an internship about working with me and adolescent groups. Once they begin to attach to another adult who offers a different way of being, they'll go follow, boy, they'll follow that person anywhere. I had a woman call me the mother called the other day, and she said she heard son Darryl really like talking to me when he was in fourth grade and he wants to come back. And I thought, Oh, great Darryl's welcome to come back He's I don't actually remember we was at the time,

But on I said So, yeah, tell them how to give me a call. How old is he now? And she said, 32 years old. So once you make it, once a kid attach is to you in a very positive way, you can't shake him off. Most most teenagers come to my office is hostages. They don't want to be in therapy that you know that I'm wasting my time and wasting their time and within a few sessions, and really, I


can't get rid of them. It's a great recurring business model. Hey, no, but that's great that, uh, I would hope that there should be an easier method I mean, obviously, it's great to go and talk to you and get this resolved, right? But it shouldn't be that hard. Like it's hard to find help that you need to necessarily like going. Talking to therapist, in my opinion at least should be like the last resort. You should be able to figure this out and maybe help. Your job could be to help them figure it out. But there's gotta be something in front of that,


is there? Yes. Oh, absolutely. I talk about this in the group in the book very early on where you say, you know, before you contacted therapist before you involve your family in this, uh, which can be a very expensive and time consuming. And there's no guarantees, I mean, depending on the personality of the therapist and training and everything. But before you do any of that, there's plenty you can do at home. You know, one of the favorite talks I give is the five things every teenager needs. And as parents before your appointment,

I want you to go through this list and see. Does your kid have tension outlets? Meaning cardio workouts 34 times a week which cut anxiety depression by 72%. Do they have models and mentors? Are you providing enough structure limits and boundaries are There is a possibility of any learning problems that could be fostering these these troubles. So a lot of parents were coming for a consultation. And, ah, I'll give them a lot of homework and often I'll just work with the parents two or three times. I'll never meet their kids because once the parents starts managing the family differently, they start to get different outcomes. And that's really you can bypass Ah, lot of therapy and so forth. By the same token, if you drop your kid and they're being, don't do anything, don't work on yourself. Don't challenge the culture and your family don't provide better leadership. That's not gonna work either.


Is it all over the spectrum? Or are the families who drop their kids off in therapy expecting you to fix them? Usually in this in the group of social economic status?


Ah, no, it's all over. You know, I thought when I wrote this book that I was writing about a very specifics group of parents that I was seeing over and over again in my office in downtown Manhattan. Uh, but since then, the book has been published in Russia, China, in Korea so far, Uh, and I get calls from all over the place with people and e mailing me about this dynamic. So I was shocked that this was a much bigger issue than I had realized


in the way that's pleasant to know that everybody makes mistakes. It's not just a certain group, but but tell me, S O u world. This book You said you started doing this work before you became a dead, and then you became a parent and things became clearer. Can you talk about that transition kind of what you learned and how you apply these methods of home.


Well, I don't know if they became clear. I mean, I everything I did based on books and my training and trying to do the right thing. I don't think it was organic to who I was or the culture I grew up in. And it just backfired over and over. I have so many stories of my my daughter having these huge public meltdowns that were just so you you you know, and I was losing. My temper is getting angry. I was. I was punishing and things were just getting worse and worse. I think I had one of the many rock bottoms was I was at a at a party at a friend's house and a bunch of Children. Everyone was, uh, behaving so nicely and we're getting ready to leave. And my daughter had this full throated screaming, but she didn't want to leave And don't touch me.

And here I am, in front of 20 or 30 people who know I'm a therapist who works with Children, and this kid is a nightmare. I mean, she is just I died a 1,000,000 deaths and I went home and I thought, I have to start over. I have to start over. I gotta figure out how to do this completely differently, because I'm screwing up. And that was the seeds of the book, which really was, Ah, about me maturing and making better choices. And then in response to that, my Children


began to ensure and make better choices. I think it's great to hear that even professionals make mistakes and you have to go and fix them. I think That's extremely reassuring, in fact, and it's a great message to send to parents right that it's just like guys, you, your don't have any training in this, and I do and I made mistakes. So therefore, like, you really don't have to blame yourself, but it's good to work on it and then you can get better.


Oh, absolutely, and parenting is is so It's just so people don't recognize how difficult is until it's too late. Until you're a parent, you don't know the kind of partner you have. Their choices apparent may be different from your choices as a bear. I was working on this new, uh, workshop that I called surviving parenthood because the statistics on people getting divorced and separating within the birth of their first child, which is our just startling. And it was people were really coming apart after became parents. So it the more I study this, but more I recognize that we really do need more training that people really do need to ah, take a different position on this. In the old days, you would just check off. You know,

I graduated high school. I graduated college, I got married had a kid. It was just a list. Uh, there were no parenting workshops. There are very few parenting books. If I ask currents in one of my workshops whose parents here attended a parenting workshop, almost no hands go up. So we're only at the very beginning of understanding the profound impact parenting has and, um, and how we have to we have to do better.


You said something about the divorce rate, and it is extremely high, I think, all over the world at this point. But I'm wondering And, you know, as a parent, I can see how there are a lot of stressful situations. And unless you and your partner really understand each other and willing to work together, it could get really stressful. So how would you help you and maybe upcoming parents for new couples think through this and really figure out if one they're ready to have kids, and two if you know they're in a good relationship and they should stay together to have kids? Or maybe it's actually not gonna work out and they should make different choices?


Yeah, that's it. That's a tough one, because patches that come to my office when the problems have already manifested. But I would say with the, um, the new parents that I'd really want them to begin to have a dialogue about with each other about how they were raised, what their parents did, right, what they didn't do right, what their own expectations are. As parents, I really want them to explore that part of their personality together as much as possible, because what happens? So it's a little bit of a gamble. I meet someone, get married,

have a kid. Let's see how it goes. I'm not a gambler. I've never been, uh, but the new parents that I've worked with, if they really work on their relationship in their communication and prepare their themselves emotionally that the same way they would prepare a house for a child, they have a much better shot. There's much more mindfulness there. As much more attention was, I'm sure, consideration for choices and as parents, you're constantly I know my wife and I have ah weekly date. We go out every Thursday night, and part of that date is like the week in review, where we can talk about how our kids doing or concerns,

and if we're mad at each other, we can get it out there. If I didn't appreciate what she said in front of my daughter and tell her, then you know. So we're really working on that, Uh, and some with new parents. You want to try to do that as much as possible. So they have a framework to process difficult moments and have a lot more tools when things go wrong, because they're going to go wrong, Children get sick, don't have accidents. People lose their job. Life gets can get much more difficult after being apart, because now you're responsible for a whole another person's not just you. So we really want to explore that a terrain as much as possible and prepare for that. It's not gonna prevent problems from happening, but it's gonna leave parents with far


greater tools to manage them. I think that's an excellent advice, and personally I've never been a fan of tools. But then, after becoming a parent, I realized that it is valuable at least for one of the parents. Like I know I'm very free flow, but my wife really likes to read, and she really likes to know what's available to her. So when we get to talk, then she'll sail like I've read this and we should do X, Y and Z. And I'm like, Oh, well, that kind of makes sense to me just emotionally And then it works out between the two of us. But


that sounds wonderful. That that sounds great. Is she there she listening.


I don't know. She she's with the kids right now, so I can record this. But, uh, but honestly, right, Like if I had to be a parent with myself exactly the same person, that would be a lot harder, because we probably have more fun on some occasions. But it would also be a lot more difficult because I wouldn't have another opinion. And that's and that's just a bit off recognizing. But you need the other opinion and that you both should work on it together.


Yes, that's the question, I asked parents. When I work with them, who's better at what I can tell you in my marriage, I was awful at home work. I mean, geez, I was the wrong guy to do homework with. I was impatient. I just didn't enjoy it, but my wife could really get in there. She was fantastic himself. My girls have always done well in school. I take zero credit for that, but there are things that I provided them with. If they come to me,

particularly with writing ideas or they're working on essays, they know go to Papa. Papa can help me with this. If it's about math and other things, go to Mama so that these differences


can be your strengths, that it seems like we're collecting a lot of material for your second book. Well, honestly, be here. Behavior of the kids is just one aspect, right? But there's just so much more of that parents can learn and what I found with parenting, you can pretty much read every side of the story. If you go online, you can find the answers to everything, and they'll always be different and the re conflicting advice. And I feel like part of it is finding what works for you and what you can agree with. But I want to see how you mitigate that in your practice, right, because if somebody comes and says, well,

I should really be hitting my Children if they don't do something right, You're like, Whoa, this this is not right. All right. But how How do you help parents recognize where something they meet truly think is correct is not,


You know, that's that's it. Depends on how how I am everything particular day. Sometimes I'm much better at gently nudging apparent towards better choices. And sometimes I have to really confront them. Andi, I'll say, Look, you're paying me. You're hiring. You're paying me a lot of money for help. And I'm telling you, what you're doing is so destructive that no therapist, if you continue it is gonna be ableto fix your kid. We got to start with this and they'll Celtic woman. My father hit me or my mother yelled at me in the they parade out All these things is if that justifies something repeating a pattern that maybe there are better choices. Uh,

so it's sometimes I had a big cash the other day with a step dad in my office. Hey, stormed out. I'm never gonna see him again, but, um, he was really violent. And his language she was invasive. He would kick open a door and screaming a child and and the more gentle I tried to, like, point out to him. Could you have handled that differently? No, no. This is who I am. This is You know,

I could tell you I don't think that couples together anymore because he refused to evolve and it was so obviously damaging to ah, his stepchildren. But he stormed out. He didn't want to hear that he had to work on himself. He wanted someone to tell me, is giving these kids are wrong and they just need discipline and that, you know, that's a tough situation, depending on the character. That person I remember I said to one dad who was just so obnoxious and abusive to his wife. He was talking and he turned to me and said, Why do you look so confused? And I said, I'm confused that I I'm trying to figure out why she stays with someone like you and sometimes with the bully, you have to hit him a little hard before they respect you. That man went into therapy and actually joined a father's group with me.

And later he said I was the first person that ever talked to him. in that way, So it's a tricky business. Other people would have just stormed out and went and wrote bad things about me online. But for some reason many of them when you confront


them with a bit


of an edge, uh, the respect you more particularly if it's a bullying parent and they'll they'll start to listen because ultimately they wanna walk all over you, too, and you can't allow that.


Let's talk about bowling parents. You book your book is about kids that bully their parents. What about parents that bully their kids? I haven't heard about that very much, but I want to know.


Well, I think it's I think it's far more common, actually, Uh, these are parents that tend to be very impatient. They have certain expectations for their kids. And if your kids don't meet these expectations that become very critical, often a child will say to me, I feel like my parents want me to be a different person, and actually that's that's pretty accurate because they expected a certain kind of child. So I'm not dealing with a child in front of them, dealing with this expectation that makes the child feel like a failure. So parents parents tend to run on a lot of disappointment or shaming and frustration. And actually, if I'm going to really get to the core, this is a part of their personality that just never really matured, that they themselves can handle being frustrated and be mature about it.

They refer, they revert to almost like childlike behavior. And I have had in my office I had a fist fight break out between a mother and daughter and just before it broke out and they hit the floor and knocked over a table. And I was amazed because the daughter was yelling at the mother of mothers yelling at the daughter, and they sounded like two Children. There was no adult in the room. Uh, so becoming a parent, you really had to face these immature it ease thes ah, struggles. You have cause what? What you have, Ah, problems in relationships with friends or bosses or or acquaintances. They're always the patterns that show up those parents of those patterns they're gonna show up in your relationship, and they're going to show your relationship with your kids.

So if you ever you're a bit of a hothead and you're you blow off steam the office or people with strangers, they're in the car. You're going to do that with your Children. If you're impatient and others life, you're gonna be impatient if you're controlling it. Was controlling people that make you feel like you. They're sucking the oxygen out of the room. They're going to do that with their Children. So these air patterns that are ingrained in the personality of the adult that really need to mature and they're just taking that was those into the new role. As a parent, it's getting so serious and depressing.


Well, I have, ah, kind of vivid imagination, and I imagine you're sitting there in your office with mother and daughter fighting, and part of it is, I mean, it's shocking.


What is interesting is that you know, if a child comes in a parent in a kind of, you know, uh, angry or yelling or if it's a teenager, particularly teenagers are so unstable and they have trouble with their moods. And there's all these reasons by the parent. You can't go to that child's level. You can't abandoned your role, is an adult and start name calling back or start cursing back. I am never forget I was reaching. I turned around. I was reaching for my My date book was on the desk behind me, and I heard this big slam and I thought, Well, what? I thought something fell off the wall and it was the two of them hit the floor role.

I had to pull them apart. But really, um, the child was came at the parent with all this aggression, and the the parent came right back and escalated it. There was no parent. Basically, I was prying apart two Children. And I think with the bullying thing is that parents really, uh, uh, have a complete misunderstanding about, uh, what's effective on what isn't. They will stick to that bullying thing when all the evidence is it's


not working. And you just said something, I think very important on dhe that comes up in the interviews as well, where the most effective parents recognize that the kids are not yet equipped emotionally to deal with a lot of things, and it really isn't the adult on the parent to sort of take the emotional beating. But I also help their kids because you know whether a teenager, a three year old like you can't expect the child to deal with certain things if they're going through a lot already and it really isn't a parent. But I wonder, like, how do you tell an adult that you know, so that they don't storm out of your office? But how do you tell them that perhaps they need to get educated and they may be being


lazy. It's tricky and and I tend to if an adult's really, uh, really in trouble, those choices air really, really stubborn. I tend to share a little bit more of myself, my own struggles, my own disappointments and how hard, uh, how you know, I struggle as a parent. And so they feel that they're not alone, that I'm a member of that club, and I'm not trying to fix them or change them. But together with you on this journey and see if we can come up with better outcomes. Um,

because ultimately the parent is the model you model behavior, communication, everything. So your child's gonna internalize that there was, ah, moment cash. My daughter was one of my daughters, is a middle school and we had this. We're in the bathroom crammed in our New York City bathroom, every three people trying to get ready to leave the house. And she says she was worried about something and I said something really rude like Starkey. I made like a bad joke about a very sensitive issue. And she turned around and through the last water in my face. And here I am with a suit on with High and I am drenched. And I remember at that moment so much flashed through my mind. Uh,

but I also recognize that what I said was way out of line. So I didn't say anything. I walked away, and for a day or two there was a lot of silence being between us, and she came and apologized. And and, um, you know, I said I wasn't ready to accept your apology, that I was really upset by that. And, uh, I just need some more time to figure out how that even happened. And I just left a lot of I let if you let a lot of ah, silence is a great tool, a great leverage with Children because it forces them to reflect and forces them inward.

But anyway, we survived that in a year or two Later, my daughter wrote this essay in class called the lowest moment in my life, and it was about throwing that glass of water. Now, if I had responded, if I had thrown a glass water at her, if I had screamed at her, if I had gotten violent with her like she was on borderline violent with me, there never would have been that introspection. There would never have been that reflective space. So I tell that story just to illustrate. I may even tell that to really, really stubborn pattern that I was like you. I didn't want to change. I thought I had all the answers and I didn't.

And so they're here. We are together, these two people who have stumbled and made mistakes together. Let's figure out if we can do this differently, and I never never assigned parents scripts. My book is not say talk this way or do this. It's got to come organically from who you are authentically when you make these new choices, Uh, because you just can't parrot phrases that just I'm sure you've experienced that where you try to say things you've read your child, just it feels like your impostor. But if it comes from who you are in an authentic way, we have a much better chance of that. That decision having a greater


impact. I can see why people love your book. Can really come to counseling because from everything you say, Yeah, it's


a it's a converted. I've converted you. You're ready. You love therapy. Now you're going back to MIT. Nothing to get a therapist


If I needed a therapist that come to you. Okay, The more we talk, the more interesting things box and I really want to cover as much of it is weekend Well, when kids come to you and they already frustrated, let's talk a little bit about the environment, right? Because what we've noticed, it may be an unpopular opinion, but there are a lot of things about our environment that also influence kids primarily things like screens


and sugar. Oh, absolutely screen time. Every family should have ah ah, contract about how they manage phones. I have this whole list of 10 points for managing technology in your home. It's Yeah, the the science behind the negative impacts on unlimited access to technology, unlimited access to the Internet, a social media and so forth. And the impact it has on these developing minds is it's it's terrifying, really s. Oh, there is a lot in the environment that parents are forced to manage because when there's just so much out there, that's, uh that can can really, uh, damage to their Children.


And with all that said, how long does it usually take to convert parents you? Because we talk about parents and their own issues? Kids in their issues environment? What are we talking like? Is it weeks, Months? How long does this therapy taken average to help somebody really become a new family?


But that depends. That really depends on on how far the parents are willing to go. Uh, I've seen things turn around Ah, and rapidly. When parents Air Super committed Thio to making new changes and changing the culture and the found working with one couple with a daughter who was having Horrible she's 12. And, boy, the stories I heard about this kid I couldn't believe, but it really came down to the parents didn't have any structure in the house. They rewarded constantly. They over indulged her. They built this monster, but they came to me because they were just absolutely destroyed. The home it become a war zone. They were so eager for help. And I think we've been working together is about four months now.

And now I'm seeing them every other week and things that are much better. I don't think we're gonna will probably finish up before this in the next 23 weeks, and they'll come back when they want to. But what what impressed me is, as a couple, they really took ownership, uh, of, ah, of the situation. And we're determined as a couple to change it, and that meant a radical rebooting of their parenting style. But once, if you have that kind of commitment to parenting into, uh, and real and taking responsibility,

you can change things rapidly. Kids want more structure. They want strong leadership. They don't want to get no child bullies their parent and feels good about themselves. That actually devastate. Is that their self esteem? So, interestingly, when parents step up and say, Okay, uh, no cell phone into your homework's done and the the cell phones often 8 30 all technology was off at 8 30 They always say there's a big backlash was within three days everything's much calmer and they can see their kids. Anxiety has come down. There actually seemed to be relieved that someone stepped in and did that. So it all comes back to the parenting, the parenting, the parenting and their willingness to take responsibility.


I just hope that enough parents listen to it and agree with your message and do something about it, too, because it's gonna be so much better for, you know, the parents and the kids. And just it'd be a pleasure to see more happy families.


Yeah, absolutely. And my everything I do with a family or what a family comes in or parents come in on. I'm looking at the child. I'm hearing these stories. I think, what's missing Run and let's fix the child what's missing here. And usually if you can address what's missing, like the overindulgence in technology, or playing violent video games, or not having a bedtime, your basic stuff, if all that stuff's missing, that's that's the equation that's adding up to this outcome. So by re reshaping the causes, you get different effects. And that's really the express lane to turning around these problems. When parents aren't willing to do that, these problems become character logical, and that becomes a way of life for the child, and that's that's really scary.


So let's say somebody is reading your book and they like it and they're trying to use it at home. But it's not quite working out and they don't live in Manhattan. What can they do to make it better?


Oh, my gosh, I would hope that people could read my book and not have to call me. Ah, because I d. And, uh, you know, Chapter six and seven, we really will talk about how to assemble your support team. There's so many people you know first, you know, unite with your partner, your spouse. You wanna enlist support from friends. There's so many people at schools that get paid toe help you guidance counselors, psychologists talking thio,

other parents contending apparent in workshop. Ah, a lot of parents feel a lot of shame around when their kids are misbehaving and they tend to, like isolate themselves. But in the book I recommend, you know, step by step, these worksheets that you fill in. Who can you contact today? Who can you talk to today? Who can you reach out to today so they can build more of a support system? And, um, I think there's more people out there with the Internet and parenting. Is this huge industry actually be honest in my gosh, If you Google parenting Milli,

billions of hits probably come up. There's plenty of ways to get support. You don't have toe higher therapist. Er, fly to New York City and come see me. Um, but sitting down and making that phone call is hard for a lot of parents. Um, but you'd be surprised once you start talking about the struggles you're having other people start step forward and talk about their struggles. Before you know what, You have a movement and you have a support team


and things begin to change. That's an excellent advice, and hopefully it helps a lot of parents make things better Before we go, though, let's let's finish in the bright note. Tell me it wasn't a silly gloomy, but a lot of this stuff needs to be addressed, so it's not be happiest thing people would deal with. But in your personal experience, what are they? Happiest things you've done I've seen is apparent that people should really look forward to in their parenting life.


I love discovering my Children as they mature and grow. I've never felt the need for them to be anything other than themselves. And so they're very different. Parenting isn't doesn't determine everything. I mean, you could have three kids from a family and completely three different personalities, but I really love if I go to see my youngest daughter playing a concert, she's a wonderful musician or my oldest daughter rights, and she sends me a story she wrote from college. I I'm so filled with pride, not just for them. I am proud of them and I'll always be. But also, I'm a little proud of myself. I sent this child into the world who's thriving. Uh, and that is one of the best feelings I've ever had. Bar none. Parenting. Only things I did publishing books or only that really doesn't even come close to the joy and satisfaction I see of my my Children. Thriving in the world of being authentic and developing their talents.


That's just a thrill ride that never ends. I hope it's true. Hope is a thing of feathers. Well, you know, fun fact about parents, and you just keep doing all these things every day and you don't know how they were accounted for 2030 years. So


that's right or you do something and think that didn't work. I'm not going to do that again. Or maybe I could do that differently. But, ah, you know, mindfulness and ah doesn't people don't really associate that with parenting. But if you think about mindlessness parenting, you're impulsive and just reactive and, well, that's a deny it. It just so risky. But this mindfulness where you notice Hey, this works. If I have breakfast on these days with my kids, she's in much better shape for school. Or if I get up earlier and have everything ready,

she's so you're figuring it out. We're all figuring it out. Ah, and I think bringing that kind of mindfulness to your choices and examining them. What's working? What isn't working, That's that. That's gonna be fun, and you can apologize. You kids love when their parents make mistakes, said. I handled that wrong. I totally screwed that up. I shouldn't have said that. What a mistake. They love that cause. Now you're making it safe for them to make mistakes and also apologize or, uh, make a different


choice. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Another great point, and it also puts you on the level and reminds them that you're both in it together, that it's not dictator relationships.


So yeah, that's right. That's very human being. Eventually, they're going to discover


that Sean, thank you very much for coming. It's been great. There's so much to unpack here, and I'd be happy to talk to you again. They should go to your website show anger over that Come. Is there anything else that parents should do after listening to this episode?


I think they should, uh, make sure they do more than just being a parent. I found that when parents get in touch with their passions or things they love to do on, they go out and do it. They go out and do a sport they haven't done in years. They play an instrument again. They they publish something that kids take such joy and pride in their parents. So put parenting aside for a little bit and rediscover the parts of yourself you abandoned because you thought that's a parenting needed you to do it. It's not. Kids want happy parents. Unhappy parent is a burden for a child at any age. So taking better care of yourself on applying these tools for your kids. It's also, uh, addressing these parts of yourself that need to be satisfied to. So I would say, uh, do your parenting. But put that aside and lead your life in a way that will make your kids proud.


So much. Excellent advice. Thank you very


much. Well, thank you so much for having me. You make it so easy.


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