Episode 54- Managing Divorce & Separation with Dr. Tara Egan
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Welcome to the kids sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. All right, so thank you for joining us here on the kids sleep show. I am excited today to have Dr. Tara Egan, who is joining us to talk all things children, adolescence, separation and divorce. She is a child and adolescent therapist, a parenting coach and the author of two books, and also has her own podcast one day, you’ll thank me so I want to say welcome. And thank you so much for joining. I’m really looking forward to chatting today, Dr. Egan around all things children in a time in which I think we as parents could use all the support we could get. So thank you for joining the show. Tell us a little bit about your background, kind of how you got into the space that you’re in and the way in which you work with families.
Well, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate being here. Well, let’s see my background is first of all, I’m a parent, I have two biological children and four stepchildren. So we are a blended family. And originally, my training was as a school psychologist, so I worked as a school psychologist in the public school system. For you know, many years, I also was an adjunct at some local colleges. And then about 10 years ago, I decided to shift to private practice. So I opened a solo practice called Charlotte parent coaching, which is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and started doing a lot of work with parents and families who have kids who are struggling with behavioral issues. So it could be you know, anxiety, it could be time temper tantrums, power struggles, you know, parents might feel sometimes, like there’s too much yelling in the home, or it’s just really hard to enjoy each other as a family. And it feels very stressful. So, yeah, in that process, I started expanding my reach by doing some public speaking, writing some books. So I really incorporate my school psych sort of behavioral training and focus, and then combined it with the additional training, I got to become a therapist. And so it’s sort of a nice marriage, and it really helps me offer a different perspective to parents who are struggling with their kids.
Well, and I think it’s interesting, I actually spoke to a child therapist, just on Monday about my daughter, because she’s four, she’s in preschool. And, you know, she struggles a little bit with, I think, needing my or wanting my attention. And that was the part I was trying to understand, like, do you need me? Or do you want me? And what should this look like? And how should I be responding? Because I try to be that all things to everyone and I’m an entrepreneur, right? And I’m a tired, BUSY WORKING MOM who, you know, I do prioritize sleep for my kids and myself in the home, my husband, I do a great job. And, you know, I think sometimes it’s that balance of a reality check, like, hey, we’ve been all in this since March with our current situation, what am I not doing to fill your cup? You know, so I think even as a professional sometimes, like, I take a step back and go, how, you know, what could I do? To your point to enjoy each other as a family? And I, you know, I feel like sometimes their shame and saying like, well, I don’t, I don’t know if I should seek help, like, everybody else seems to be figuring this out. And I haven’t What am I doing wrong? It’s like, No, ma’am. Seek help, because I feel like I got a totally different toolset, you know, just off a conversation on Monday with someone in the local area here in Philly about my own child, because like, I see this in the sleep space. Like I work with kids who a lot of times it’s behavioral based, routine based challenges. But I kind of coming to a jaded because I see that so then I feel like I transfer some of that to my own home. And I’m like, No, I need to look at this outside of the clinical, like, I’m not, you know, how do I look, you know, you’re
not objective in this situation. And I think our kids ability to respond to a therapist who’s outside, you know, the family home, that is really, there’s a benefit there to having that skilled, more objective third party and sometimes that’s enough to have kids tune in to using a different strategy or you know, mustering up some motivation to try something new. You know, I don’t hesitate in during the phases of my parenting life, whether it was when I was getting divorced, or the kids were adjusting to something new, to approach a therapist who can work with them, because, you know, my job is their mom. Like, that’s my job. And even though I have all of this additional training in the skill set, which definitely, you know, benefits them to have, you know, an emotionally intelligent parent who understands what research is out there and what it says about kids development. There’s times When my kids have been like, Oh, you know, the counselor, I’m seeing suggested this, that I should do this. And I’m like, I’ve literally said that to you every day for the last three years. But okay, great. This is something you feel like you might want to try, you know? And they’re like, yeah, that’s a really good idea. And I’m, like, wonderful. And so, yeah, it’s really important sometimes to recognize like, we just can’t be all those things to our kids all the time.
Yeah, no, absolutely. And, you know, so from your perspective, in the way you work with, you know, with families from both the you know, that parents and the children, I would say, for you, what would be the biggest change you’ve seen since March in the children that you’re working with? I definitely see a lot more obviously, zooms were on them all day with kids, you know, and in your perspective, what would you say would be the biggest changes or shifts for the children that they’ve had to adapt to? And where parents, you know, especially ones that are coming at it from like a separation or divorce standpoint, like how you’re balancing all this? Because now you’ve added one more thing to an already complicated situation, right? Like, where have you seen the biggest shifts or changes in both children and parents, for good or bad? Frankly, since you know, since the start of the the world that we’re currently in right now in March? Well, I
see a couple things. One, I see increased amounts of anxiety in both parents and kids. So there is more to be anxious about with all of this, you know, illness that’s coming across the world, and hearing, you know, some mixed messages about what we should be doing to respond to citizens, of course, we have everything with the election happening at the same time, which even if you’re a child, and don’t know the details of that, that’s certainly an aspect of adults lives, that can feel very stressful. And then kids are under stress whenever there’s a change in routine. So if they’re not going to baseball practice, or they’re not at school full time, or they can’t visit Grandma, or you know, I mean, there’s just so much that feels really disruptive to them, which always contributes to kids feeling a higher rate of anxiety. And then the second thing I see is that parents are having a really hard time figuring out the role of technology. You know, parents will say, well, it’s their only access to the social world. And for some kids who are really quarantined, that’s absolutely right. There’s no dispute there. But that can be confusing, because parents will say, I just don’t feel like it’s right to have them turn off their technology at 10 o’clock at night, because you know, that’s their only access to their friends. And I was like, they don’t really need access to their friends at midnight, you know, like, it’s okay to just be sleeping that. And you can be mindful of how important it is for kids to connect with their peers. But this generation sometimes feels really entitled to literally have their friends in their back pocket. And do you think of like my generation where sometimes we went out of school for the summer, and there was some kids we were friendly with at school, but we didn’t really have a connection with them outside of school, and we wouldn’t see him for two and a half months, and we did fine, like, we worked it out. And not that we shouldn’t try to support our kids socially if we can. But at the same time, in order for your child to have a healthy balance of family time and in, in social time with their peers, they don’t need to have access to their peers 24 hours a day, like that’s not how we define health, and social connection. So those are things that are really difficult for parents to navigate that and then with school starting, we have this technology domain, which traditionally up to this point has been used primarily for fun, you know, video gaming, facetiming, a friend using social media looking up cooking videos, like whatever it is, and then all of a sudden, we’re like, oh, now, at least 50%, if not, 70% of your time online is now things that tasks that are harder that can induce frustration, where you need a concentrated attention. And so now we’re using technology in a completely different way, as school starting, and that is a super hard adjustment for a lot of kids. Yeah.
And how do you I would say, in your perspective for children that are in a split
home situation,
right or that have, you know, they’re they’re now balancing, you know, potentially school like our district here in Westchester where I live in Philadelphia is starting on Monday with hybrid so they’re doing like, two days in, everybody’s off Wednesday, then, you know, two days in for the other part of the alphabet. I know everybody’s kind of doing it differently. My kids are right now both in Catholic school, so they’re in school five days a week, you know, so it’s that looks different. And that was a choice we made this summer because I was like I you know, I’m a better parent, because I can control that. Like I’m not a good teacher. I recognize that deficiency. So you’re gonna go to Catholic school and I’m safe for that choice, you know, down the road. They’re there. They’ve got a great little operation but like, then you add on to it personally. For two homes, right, like, you’ve got mom and dad’s now you’re in school monday, tuesday got mom, Thursday Mom, this Wednesday, Dad, you know, like, for kids processing, I think one more level of complication, like just given your background and personal history with, you know, separation and divorce, like, how to parents who are going through this right now kind of try to balance that with a partner who may be willing and may not be willing, frankly, to support their children in the same way, right? Like I have, in my sleep practice, I’ve, you know, sometimes mom has no issues with kids at all. And then they go to dads, and it’s like, you know, all hell breaks loose, or vice versa. And, you know, if you’re trying to say like, Look, kids are adaptable to the environment, we have to teach them how to adapt, and then ultimately give them strategies, coping mechanisms, boundaries, which I think a lot of parents are afraid of, and consequences, frankly, that a lot of parents don’t implement, you know, so in my practice, that’s kind of how I how I look at it. But I would love your perspective just on, you know, I know, it’s sort of a loaded question, but just, you know, a couple of in an additional layer of separation and divorce, and like, how you work with families to kind of cope through that. And to coach through that?
Well, I have to say, in my experience, in working with separated divorced parents, the first area of stress tends to be on, you know, a differences in how the safety rules are interpreted. So we have oftentimes one parent is like, Well, you know, we’re quarantining, but you know, the extended family could come over, or, well, there’s just these three kids in the neighborhood that we socialize with, or Come on, they can go to baseball practice, or whatever it is. And there’s another parent who feels differently about those rules. So that tends to be where the first like, degree of conflict occurs, is just parents having a different interpretation of what it looks like to be safe during this time. And then there can be, especially if you have kids who are a little bit older, where you’re like, I know, your dad says that you can go and sleep over at Sarah’s house. But I would like you not to. So even though a parent is saying, Yes, I have a different perspective, let me explain to you, you know, the safety rules that I would like you to follow, and then we’re sort of asking kids to, you know, use this broader decision making, even if they’re getting mixed messages from adults, which is really for some kids super hard. So I think that is where I’m seeing a lot of conflict where parents are like, I don’t want my child to go to to the other parents house during visitation. And they want to keep the kids at their house, because the other parent maybe has a lot more contact with people who potentially can have COVID, or they’re just more casual about interpreting the safety rules. So that’s like, where I’m seeing a lot of butting heads where parents call me and they’re like, trying to get me to weigh in on like, you know, am I justified in not sending them to the other parent, you know, because of safety. And then if their kid has any kind of additional health concern. On top of that, you know that as another level of concern from those parents, and then maybe the alternate parent is like they’re overreacting, I am being saved, we always wash our hands, we wear masks, like, let’s be reasonable, let’s not scare everybody. So that is the first thing before we even get to talking about the school stuff. And then when we transition over to the school stuff, I’m finding that a lot of times one parent will become the point person. So for example, if one parent works from home and kind of has just maybe more confidence in the area, or they’re better at attention to detail, or they’ve traditionally been the parent has communicated Well, with the teachers, I do see a lot of parents sort of allowing one parent to be the lead person on it. And so that even if the child is still physically in the other parents home during some of those school hours, the you know, one of the parents might be the one who’s looking in the power school, or reaching out to a teacher about a question or a late due day, and the other parent is just either supporting or maybe taking a little bit more of a passive role. So I’m not seeing where parents are both typically involved to the same degree, and they’re butting heads and they have contradictory like processes. I am seeing one take more of a leadership role. And then but it it can be hard if you have one parent who is expecting kids to work really, really independently and the other parent is, you know, at their their elbow, prompting redirecting clarifying directions. And so what ends up happening is kids for example, if their week on week off, or they’re Monday and Tuesday at one house and Thursday and Friday at another house, his teachers are being pretty understanding and they’re saying all right, there might be a little bit either lower quality work on those days, or I might need to be more Oh, open minded to having corrections done when the child is back with the parent who tends to have the more attention to detail. So I am seeing where teachers are recognizing that have kids in separated or divorce homes aren’t having the same experience each day. And then I’m also seeing that there’s times when kids are learning. Like when I’m with dad, for example, I need to be more independent, and some of them are rising to the occasion, in order to get it worked out. So there’s a lot of, you know, a lot of differences and how kids adapt. And then I’ve seen some kids, it doesn’t matter whose house they’re at, it’s going poorly. There’s a lot of resistance and stress and tears and power struggles. And it’s not really based on which house they’re at.
Yeah. You’re who’s coming to you and going, this is a dumpster fire. I feel like I’m not doing well at this, but I don’t have a choice. This isn’t going away. Right? Where would be the first, the first thing that you would point them to do? I mean, what would be some practical?
I don’t know, advice, like,
you know, I always say with clients, it’s balance, right? But like, where would you? Where would you point a parent? If they kind of reached out and said, like, I you know, I just feel like the house is a dumpster fire right now. Like, what do I do? Where do I even start to? I feel so overwhelmed. And I think a lot of parents are that way right now. Like, I feel so overwhelmed. And, frankly, I don’t even think Dr. Egan that some have thought to reach out to a professional much like yourself, it took me kind of last week going, you know, actually, I don’t like the way I sometimes respond to my daughter who was four because she, you know, she was difficult, but like, Why is she being difficult, like I’m here, I’m present, I try to do all the things and be all the things and you know, my husband like Courtney, she just loves you, you know, and I was like me, and you’re right, like, you know, so I got there. This was like, she loves me a lot. And like I need to balance, like her emotions with how I respond. And, you know, I got some great, like I said, Great kind of tips on how to do that, you know, in a different way. But you know, for parents, it’s kind of like, Where do I even start?
Well, I do encourage parents to preserve their parent child relationship. Because as long as this is dragging on, and it is it has been a long time, and it’s going to be a while yet, we do need to come out of it with kids having a relationship with their parents. And so that’s something I really encourage parents to treasure and foster. And if it’s getting to where you’re 7080 90% of your conversation is revolving around, did you get your work done, show me your grades, did you talk to your teacher get off your video games, then we’ve got a problem there. Because there’s no way you’re you’re able to protect that parent child relationship, if it’s just turning into prompts and nags and scolding. So that’s something that I give parents like, almost like permission, like you can prioritize this, this doesn’t make you a bad teacher, because you’re recognizing that you’re going to get farther with your kids long term if you keep that emotional connection. But another thing I encourage parents to do is to try to find a third party to help with some of the schoolwork. So sometimes parents have the resources to work, you know, to to hire a tutor, or to arrange something where it’s almost like a pod learning where they have three or four kids who are working with a trained individual. And so they might still be enrolled in their, their regular school, their public school or their online learning program, but they have an adult who is there specifically to guide them through those assignments and tasks. And it’s not not mom and dad. And of course, there’s a cost to that. That’s something that, you know, parents have to allocate some of their budget for. But then I’ve seen other parents where they’re working together, like I have a family I’m working with who their sisters, they’re, they’re grownups who have children. And they basically just kind of switch kids. And they’re like, you go to Aunt so and so’s house and you go to Aunt so and so’s house. And like the aunt is kind of being the person who guides them through their online learning. So it’s just not mom. And just going to that aunt’s house and having it be between these hours and these hours is just kind of enough to make them put their thinking caps on and recognize that they’re not going to have the same power struggle with her and even if they’re close to them, and it’s still a family member than they would with their own parents. So I’m asking parents to try to think of resourceful ways, you know, that are within the budget, they can get that additional support. I mean, I’m a big fan of, you know, getting a tutor. Like first of all my kids math has tapped out of my skill, so I need to get help with that anyway. But also, I there’s certain things I can hire out, I can hire out, you know, somebody to help my son. Learn how to bat more efficiently in his on his baseball team, I can hire out somebody to help my kid with math, I can make sure my kid, you know, has a dentist, but I can’t hire out being their mom. Yeah, you know, being emotionally responsive present, you know, I need to take care of myself so that I can do those things with them and for them. And so nothing’s to be gained by me being this, you know, lib rag at the end of the day, that has to still go through an English essay, because it’s a disaster because they worked on it independently by themselves during the work day. So I really encourage parents like this is something that if you’re able to budget it, if you, you know, given that you may not have vacation this year, or you’re not spending as much time in restaurants, or in movies or at the mall, if there’s a way to prioritize even a couple days a week for a couple hours, to have somebody else go through that list of assignments, you know, check in with the kid, get them through a few. So they have some success under their belt, because we do better. In the future. When we’ve had some experience being successful as a student and get some some wins for you and your kid, it’s going to be easier to build on that momentum.
I love that I know, in our neighborhood, my neighbor across the street, she is probably 14 at this point. You know, so she’s in school. But she’s kind of a mother’s helper. So she you know, but I mean, her mom would be like, pair, you know, $5 now I’m like that. But like over the summer, I’m like, hey, do you wanna babysit and it’s more so just because then my kids can play with them. And they have like a little boy that’s a little younger, and my son’s, like, you know, loves him. And so I’m like, Audrey, can you watch the kids for three hours? Like, do I really need her to know, but do the kids love that and I turned 30 bucks, cool, go for it, you know, and she loves it. But I think kind of to your point, hiring out, like, I hired somebody to clean my house, she is here today. Why because me spending 12 hours on a weekend to do it. That’s a whole weekend that I don’t get to see my kids. So I can hire somebody for, you know, an hourly rate that she quoted me to do it for me like, now I get time back with my kids, the house is clean, I feel less stressed about that. And I can still work because I can make more you know what I mean? Like working on an eight hours cleaning. And I think we hire out like somebody to do our nails or somebody to, to bring our groceries to our house or somebody to clean our house like whatever we’re you know, to help our kids play baseball better. And I think you know, some of the places here in the Philadelphia area, like our gym has a cohort system set up. It’s a fixed amount each week, they’re there from basically six to six. So whenever you want to drop them off, pick them up kind of thing. $300 a week, which I know isn’t in every budget, but they also do part time. So it’s even two days a week. So you pay a lot less, but you at least get two days of a break where they’re getting help from someone, you know, like hiring out the the neighbor’s little girl, she’s you know, helping with a first grader, she can do that. Can she help with organic chemistry in 11th grade? Probably not. You know, but I think you know, looking for resources that are available and accessible to parents in whatever capacity like we have a in our neighborhood, we have a Facebook group. That is you know, I’m in a neighborhood of about 70 people, all different ages, a lot of people are still original folks that are kind of retiring, your kids are in college. And then there’s a lot of new families sort of moving in now as people sell and downsize. And so we’ve got like a really nice neighborhood. But you know, I remember over the summer when this was happening, and we weren’t sure about Catholic school, there were songs we didn’t if there was availability. You know, I posted like, does anybody want to do like a pod or a cohort or whatever, you know, like, you’re just trying to figure all this out with the guidelines. And, you know, so many people reached out it was like, my daughter needs an internship for school. Like, she’ll do it for free, because she has to for college, you know, so there’s always different places, like even reaching out to local universities, because these kids that are student teachers need teaching credits, you know, and I’m forgot, it’s gonna look different now with the requirements for graduation, because they can’t go into a school and teach, you know,
so it’s like,
I think there’s some churches.
Yeah, there’s some daycare programs that are opening up up programs for school aged children, where there’s teachers who are supporting kids as they’re doing our online learning. There’s a I know for us, I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina, but there’s a program nearby, it’s $70 a week and on the days that your kid isn’t in school in person, they go to this program. And not only do they have adults there to support the kids, but they also have a couple blocks during the day where it’s like an outdoor activities, so they’re getting some exercise and some socialization. And of course, they’re following so many of the recommendations for safety. I mean, I do want to recognize that some of this stuff is just not accessible to every family. I mean, if you live in an area that’s suburban, and you know has these resources and you can get your kid there and your work is flexible enough that you can pick them up on time that That’s fantastic. You know, some parents don’t have that option. And so if you can think outside the box, and, you know, rotate some things with some kids, I, with some other parents, as far as you know, US supporting their kids now supporting your kid, also to is, it’s really important to communicate some of these things to the teachers, because the teachers have no interest in your kid failing, they have no interest in your kid checking out mentally of third grade, or seventh grade or 11th grade, because parents are working. And the technology didn’t link up that day. Like there has to be some communication between parents and teachers, so they just know what’s happening. And they can make some accommodations as necessary. I know I’ve taught at the college level, it is way easier to grade papers that have been done correctly than to wade through papers or assignments that have done been done incorrectly, because they’ve been rushed, our kids don’t know understand the directions. And so I would rather have have communication have a nice flow between parents and teachers, where, for example, I have a client who visits with their opposite parent every other weekend, and the opposite parent has a very hectic, almost crisis based household. And so when we had a meeting about that child’s grades, I was like, you just have to understand, this is a kid who’s not going to get stuff done. On the days that she’s with that parent, this is not her being naughty. This is not disinterested, parents, but this family is not equipped with internet attention to detail, a quiet environment for this child to sit down, like I basically was like, you need to modify the due dates. Like if this kid’s going to get through this grade. This, we have to be understanding of the reality of the situation. And they were like, okay, now we know, we will work it out. And so everybody could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that this kid’s barrier to graduating this middle school grade wasn’t going to be because she was spending every other weekend and a couple days here and there with dad and not getting any work done in those times. Yeah, so that’s another thing is I think sometimes parents feel like they’re either bothering the teachers, or they’re asking for something that’s outside the teachers scope, which sometimes happens. And it’s up to the teachers to set the boundaries with the parents, but it just can’t hurt to let them in on what it is that you’re equipped to do. Yeah,
I think that’s great.
I think communication, communication with your children, communication with the teachers communication with the other parent like, and, you know, the other parent may be like, No, thanks, not
don’t want to help. You know, like, there, there is the reality of those types of situations. It’s not always Kumbaya, you know, but I think that the open lines of communication are probably the best tool we
can give
right now, to listen to our kids to speak to our kids, but also to reach out for help and support, you know, and do it in a way that is, again, like, is the child maybe going to ace everything? No, are they going to a certain things in life that maybe they wouldn’t have? Yeah, for sure, you know, if
we just brought in all our kids are, are in the same circumstance, it’s not like your kid is the one who’s falling behind in math, and everybody else is moving forward with lightspeed and, you know, your kids going to get to college and have this huge, you know, deficit in their math skills, like we’re all sort of going to have a different experience. And as far as how they’re acquiring academic skills, it’s going to look different. And when we do one day, go back to more traditional school, like there’s going to be some adjustments that teachers are going to make for the gaps that that have occurred. And I feel confident that Yeah, you know, with some, some bumps here and there that it is going to be acknowledged and worked out. But making everybody sort of stressed out and have this like, state of crisis and being permanently frazzled is not going to be helpful to anyone I know my son, he’s a middle schooler, and his grades fluctuate a lot. A lot of it is because when the teacher puts the grades in, and so he’ll come to me and one day he had a 28 and social studies. And so he comes to me, and he’s like, Oh, my, like, he’s thinking, I’m going to be mad. And I was just like, Alright, let’s look at like, what this is about, because I know my kid. I know he’s not, he didn’t miss school. He didn’t sleep in he didn’t blow it off. But I knew there was this disconnect somewhere. So let’s figure out what it is and problem solve. And we figured out that there’s a day students and there’s CDA students, and he was looking at the C day students due date, and not the a day. So he was like, chronically two days late with all these assignments, because he was like, basically looking at the wrong column. And I was like, Oh, we need to look at the ad column because you’re an ad student. And he was like, oh, and so he got all those assignments. He made modifications on how moving forward. And I think 10 days later in the 87, and it was like, there would have been no benefit to me screaming and hollering. Yeah. Like, yeah. Instead, we had to, like, put our heads together and get to a place of problem solving. And we did and he was like, I’m so glad you’re not mad. I’m like, I don’t really see what screaming at you is gonna do. I mean, you might need to pause your Xbox for a couple days while you catch up on these things. You know, that can happen. That’s a consequence to being behind. But me like being angry at you, you clearly feel badly that your greatest Alo you know, I don’t need to capitalize on that. Like whatever message you’re telling yourself about what a bummer. That is. That’s a strong enough message. You don’t need me piling on to it.
Yeah, yeah.
Because it’s, I think it’s easy for like kids, I think beat themselves up enough.
You know, like,
me piling on like my husband, I don’t fight. We just don’t fight and be like, that’s not healthy not to fight. Like why? Like, we don’t believe me, like, if we have a position. When we stand our ground, we’ll take we’ll take a position but we don’t fight like we’re not bickering all the time and stuff. Like that’s just not how we’re both like not confrontational. Believe me. We both have like, our points, and we’ll make them when it’s appropriate. But we try to foster like communication around certain things. And I think to your point, instead of coming at it, like why did you I told you, I told you not to write like that’s I told you not to jump off the couch or break your leg? It’s like, come at it with sympathy. Are you Are you okay, first of all, now, what is the lesson we learned? Should we jump off the couch? No, because that hurts, right? Yeah. Right? No. And I think I think looking at that perspective is refreshing because, you know, sometimes it’s so quick. And I think we’re all a little short tempered to fly off the handle. And it’s like, take a pause, I now take a pause, take a breath, take an action is the way I look at it. Because it’s like, before, I used to just, you know, I feel like go from zero to 100. And now it’s like, take a pause, take a breath, then take an action, right, instead of just coming at something, it’s like, well tell me a little bit more about why you made that choice. Because in their mind, it could have been a totally rational decision to your point A B day, AC day, right? Like, well, tell me a little bit more about that, Oh, actually, you’re just on the wrong day, let’s correct that,
you know, well, and as a person who is co parenting with, you know, a co parent that I’m divorced from, there’s times when, you know, something like that happens, he has a 28. And I think, Oh, no, I’m gonna, you know, like, now my ex husband’s going to come and somehow think that I’m not being attentive enough for this, somehow, this is my fault. And we can kind of start to have like defensive thinking. And, and a lot of parents who are co parenting have that where they’re like, Well, you know, they’ve got a 28. And they’re with mom. And so she must be the laziest mom ever. When in reality, like two days ago, his average was an 85. And this is like, you know, one of those things that kind of spiraled, or whatever. And so I know, when you add that layer in a separation and divorce, there’s always, not always, but sometimes there’s the feeling that someone’s one step behind, you kind of watch it over your shoulder, making sure that you’re meeting their standards. And that adds a whole level of stress. So in that situation, when my kid has a 28, and I’m like, Great, now I’m going to hear it from my ex, that makes it me more likely to want to snap at my son, or I say, I told you, you know, you shouldn’t have done it this way, or something like that, because I’m not only worried about my son’s grave, but I’m also worried about what’s the backlash gonna be from my co parent. Now, I do want to say, nothing like that happened with my co parent, you know, but I’ve, we’ve had times in our history where we’ve struggled with one parent making assumptions about the other. And it can really add a layer of stress to the whole thing. And of course, that can trickle down to the kid or the kid gets punished twice for the same one behavior. Right? You know, well, mom took away my Xbox, because we had a 28. And then I go to dad’s house, and he’s hollering about it, too. And like, you know, I don’t have to do this again.
Now, it makes it makes so much sense. And I think, balance in the way in which we’re working with our children in that, I don’t know, just overall response to the current situation like being adaptable, right, as a parent, like, how can we adapt to this as best we can for the benefit of our children? What do they need?
Not what do they want?
What do they need? Right?
start there. Here’s your basic needs. Okay, then what do we want to add on top of that? I want to play my Xbox. Okay, well, here’s what that looks like, you know, and so trying to like balance all of that in a plan. Like I always talk to families and like build a family plan. Like this is what it’s going to look like, hey, one night a week we’re going to play a board game. You know, Little Billy, you tell me what night we want to play that board game, right? You decide not me saying we’re going to do board games Tuesdays? No, maybe you like Tuesdays to play with Liam across the street or you know what I mean? Like I think trying to empower kids to be more of a decision makers in the off time. That’s not Because kids do like to have routine and consistency, I think they thrive. They also like to be in control. And there has to be boundaries around that. You know, but I think kind of working to empower kids a little more, we can do a good job at in this to say, like, well, what’s your voice in this situation?
You know, when I tell parents, like, make sure the things that you have your kids weigh on are developmentally appropriate. And so you might ask your child, would you like to play basketball or soccer this season, but they’re not going to be the one that decides which part of town you’re going to drive toward, you know, to what how much of the budget is going to be allocated towards this activity? You know, does the schedule line up with work schedules or other tasks like that, that’s a little that’s not a little kids decision there. Where they weigh in is what which sport do you think would be more fun for you, and then as adults, we make the decisions that correspond with that. But I think too, is having kids have as much advanced warning, when there’s going to be a change or a transition. Because a lot of kids where they struggle, the most like behaviorally is they’ll get a picture or an image in their mind of how their day is going to go. And it might even not even make sense, it might be like they had an idea that they were going to go to the trampoline park or something. And like definitely was never even brought up. But they’ll get an image of what their day is going to look like. And then mom or dad, like, Oh, we have to go to the dentist or Oh, you know, I want you to go through those clothes that are might be too small and try them all on. And what you’re asking them might not be even that big of a deal and might not even be the dentist, it might just be a small error. And we’re going to stop the grocery store or something. And they will become really unhinged, because it feels really arbitrary and unfair. The fact that they didn’t know what was going to be what was expected in their day. And so now the image they had, it’s been shattered. And so they have this little mini moment of like grief and it feeling unfair. So as much as I encourage parents to have the predictability and have the structure, sometimes changes are going to happen if you can be able to give them advance notice. And you know, when they wake up in the morning, say, guess what? I remembered that today, we have to make sure to bring the dog to the groomer. And that’s probably going to take about 30 minutes, and we’re going at two o’clock, or whatever, so that they cannot create this picture that then gets shattered. And now we’re in a power struggle about that.
Yeah, that’s great. That’s great advice. And I love it. And I would feel like I could chat with you forever about all of this tell folks. I know obviously, it’s Charlotte parent coaching. But tell folks where they can find you and kind of just learn more about the services you provide, the way you work with families, you know, your background and touch on on the various different platforms. And I will make sure all of that in the the notes as well.
Well, a great way to get a hold of me. And just to learn more about what I do is just to go to my website, which is www. Dr. Tara Egan calm. And from that website, you can click and join, you know, join in and subscribe to the podcast, you can learn more about public speaking events, you can link up to my therapy practice website out of North Carolina. I also offer a free parenting webinar every single Monday at noon, Eastern Standard Time. So each week, I you know, pick a topic. And we talk about for I do a presentation for about 20 to 25 minutes on a particular topic. And then I open it up to questions, question and answer. So if you register via zoom, you’re permanently part, you know, unless you subscribe to that zoom call. But you can tap in on the ones that feel more relevant to you or you can get them sent to your email and watch them later at your convenience. There have been some parents who’ve known that they couldn’t participate live, but they’ll email a question or two prior to the presentation. And then that can be something I can address live during the discussion. So we’ve talked about how to manage teens anxiety, we’ve talked about tips for virtual learning. We’ve talked about like one coming up that we’re doing next Monday is looking at how you can support your daughter when she is experienced experiencing relational aggression, like mean girl behavior. So we I pick a topic that’s different every week, sometimes people will write in or you know, put something on the Facebook page about like, Hey, can you talk about this topic or that and I’m always happy to accommodate. But it’s a really great way it’s completely free. There’s no obligation. You can watch it at your convenience. And we’ve had a really great response from that. So that’s Mondays at noon, Eastern Standard Time. And if you go to my website, you can go ahead and register via CEU.
Awesome, I really appreciate it. Dr. Egan, thank you so much for joining. I’ll make sure all of that including the link for the webinars is in the notes. I hope you have a beautiful rest of the day. It’s been lovely chatting with you. I’ll share all of the information with you shortly in follow up and thank you again for joining the show and for chatting more about this, I think it’s going to be hugely impactful to the parents listening. So thank you for your time.
Well, thank you for having me. I
really appreciate it.
All right, take care. Bye Bye now.
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Resources: Read the Blog on Traveling and Timezone Hopping with Children Free Sleep Training Workshop – Making Over Bedtime Episode Highlights: Sample Scheduled for every stage of naps to adjust with ease Understanding how to adjust and how long it will take to go back to “normal” Ready to Sleep Better? Book a Call Podcast […]