Episode 46

What we offer our children
is a gift to ourselves

September 12, 2022

[Kyle]: In this episode we're gonna tackle or jump into this deep dive-- Whatever you want to say, about the idea of what you offer to others is a gift to yourself. What does that even mean and how can it help you as a parent? Look forward to this discussion.

[Kyle]: Hello and welcome to episode 46 of The Art of Raising Humans. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today we want to dive a little deeper. I’ve been trying to like, as we're coming up the podcast, there's certain subjects where I just know Sara and I just like, scratched the surface. So, I really have-- As I’ve been trying to like, plan this and try to figure out what topics, listening to a lot of parents who give feedback. I really want to dive in deeper to a particular few and I know last week we spoke about choices. I hope the audience listened to that. This week we're going to dive a little deeper into a podcast we hit back and you can look back. I don’t remember what episode it was, but we discussed a skill from Conscious Discipline called “positive intent” and we kind of just-- Kind of scratched it, because it's such a deep, deep topic; all of these different skills are. But this one we want to hit a particular idea and before we get into that, I want to make sure last week we talked about how Sara and I are wanting to do more speaking events.

[Kyle]: So, if you're listening to this podcast and you think “man, that sounds awesome! Kyle and Sara are so fun! I’d like them to come and talk to my group of people, because we're all awesome people and we want help” and so, it could be like, maybe your church, maybe your school. We've already got like four scheduled this fall and hope to have more for fall and spring. So, just trying to do a couple a month, to really spread the word about The Art of Raising Humans and to kind of reach more people with this podcast, with this information, because we just don't want to be selfish with it, right?

[Sara]: Right, I agree.

[Kyle]: We want to give it away, it was-- Sometimes we paid for it, but a lot of times it was-- it was given to us in many ways by a lot of different people in our lives and so, it's really--

[Sara]: Just even the opportunity. Even if it was paid for, the opportunity to get this information. I am daily grateful for it.

[Kyle]: Yes, completely transformed our marriage, our parenting and our personal lives. So, really would love it. If you want to ask us about that, you can go to the website parentinglegacy.com and you can email us there. There's an email info@parentinglegacy.com or kylewester@parentinglegacy.com. Either one of those, you can reach us. If you say “hey, I’d love for you [Unintelligible]”, maybe we'll you know talk to you and maybe see if that's a possibility, okay?

[Kyle]: So, I want to dive in today's concept and we're going to start with a quote. So, this is a quote that-- Yes, I’m getting it from Dr. Becky Bailey and Conscious Discipline, I just love this quote and so, I didn't want to change it at all because it's so powerful. But I want to start with this idea, Sara and just get your feedback on what resonates with you when you hear it, okay? “What I offer to others is a gift to myself”.

[Kyle]: So, when you hear that for a moment, “what I offer to others is a gift to myself”. How does it impact you?

[Sara]: Well, I think it's one that you have to sit with and let it sink in and what I love about it is-- It is just said perfectly. If I give judgment to you and the people I’m around, then I’m really heaping judgment on myself and if I give grace, kindness, joy, love, to those I’m around, that's what I am putting on myself and I think if we take a moment and think of a moment where you were really judging someone or something like that, you can feel the tension in your body. Your body has a physical reaction to those moments and it feels that and so, you're actually doing that to your body.

[Sara]: You're washing through your mind and through your body this anger or this judgment or this-- And the opposite is also true. If I am graceful and loving and kind, then I’m also-- I can imagine what that feels like, think of a moment in life where I could have, but I was like “okay, I’m just gonna give you grace and understanding what's going on, I can feel in my body something different”. And to realize “so, what I am giving to them, I am actually giving to myself”.

[Kyle]: Uh huh. Well, and I love it. Even when I first heard it, I liked the concept, but I was thinking I don't understand exactly how this works, right? Because it is a really deep idea.

[Sara]: It is.

[Kyle]: One example-- I believe Dr. Becky Bailey [Unintelligible] in her book, but one example she gave was something like-- I guess there was like an object and I’ll do this sometimes in sessions with parents. I have an object and if I hand that object to you, Sara and I give it to you, who has that object now?

[Sara]: I do.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and so, she'd say “that's kind of how physics works”. So, if I have matter and I give you matter, then you have the matter, it's yours now, but our thoughts don't work like that.

[Kyle]: You know, what I think about you, actually doesn't go to you, it stays with me, right? So, as I was like, processing that, I really noticed that if I was really annoyed with the kids and really frustrated with them, I was a lesser version of myself, I was not a better version. Like I could feel myself becoming more stressed. So, you know, she talks about how the brain chemicals actually change. If I’m coming into a room of people that I think are idiots or a room of people that I’m judging, like you said, naturally all of my feel-good chemicals, the serotonin, the dopamine, it's not firing, you know?

[Kyle]: And instead, the cortisol, my stress chemical, starts to go up and I feel more stressed, I feel more tired, I don't enjoy the moment as much, right? And then I begin to just like-- When I’m with my friends, one of the things I love about being with my friends is I don't go with my friends and judge them. I walk in and I find out “I’m a better human being when I’m with my friends”. Because I walk in and I immediately like “oh, cool! I can't wait to see them, I can't wait--” and then I’m feeling good about me being with my friends and the flip is true too. If I’m like “why am I here in this place? I don't want to be with these people”, I don't want to be with myself in that moment, you know? Because really my brain doesn't differentiate between them and me.

[Kyle]: The brain just knows “you don't want to be here”. Nobody is good enough in that moment, these people and you either. Everybody is less than, you know? And that's very stressful.

[Sara]: Yeah, it kind of comes down to “I can-- I’m going to be-- I’m going to wash my brain and wash my body”, just experience all this anger and this upset feeling and sometimes, people don't even know that you're feeling that way, so you're really just doing it to yourself or the opposite.

[Sara]: You can choose, you can even-- Even if everyone else is miserable, you can choose to look at them differently and see them differently. I think maybe we're going to get to that, that actually will free them up.

[Kyle]: Yes, yes, yeah. I was even thinking though, like I remember specifically when Facebook first became a thing, you know? And it was kind of-- I don't know remember what year that came out, but I remember we were at a different house, we didn't have kids and sometimes I started getting a habit of going to the computer at night before we went to sleep, to just see what was going on on Facebook.

[Kyle]: And back then-- I don't see people do this as much now, but back then, people were posting like every little minute of their day. I mean, like friends of ours would be like “look at what I’m having for dinner!” or like-- No, they’d even post “not sure what I’m going to have for dinner”. They would like--

[Sara]: What should I eat for dinner?

[Kyle]: Yes, and then like an hour later “look what I chose! Look how it turned out. I like that dinner” and I’d just be like, in the-- I remember I’d yell to you like “what is this person doing!? Why are they telling me all this!?”, you know? And you were like “why are you doing that? I don't understand why you're reading at all. You go to bed so upset about all these silly things” and I just felt compelled to watch it. I was just filled with like “what is going on? Why are people boasting all this?”, you know? And then I remember a friend of ours, I was asking him about this and he said “yeah, I don't know the answer to that question. I guess the only question you can answer is, why don't you? Why don't you post all that stuff? I mean, that's the only question you have an answer to”. I was like “that's true! Why am I not asking that question!?”. Because obviously that's what the judgment was coming from.

[Kyle]: “Is there some reason why I’m not?” and then I think everybody else should make that same choice as me too and it's like, frustrating that they all-- They don't all believe or have the same value system or the same thinking about this thing and why should they? You know? So, it was this thing that my judgment, I was projecting on to these people myself and that's what we're always doing, we're always doing that. Whatever I don't like about you, is actually something I don't like about me, you know? Or something I think I do better than you, right? But all of my thoughts, I know for-- I hope our listeners, this might be a big “aha moment”. All of my thoughts are about me.

[Kyle]: Because they're mine. So, they're always about me. I mean, I know a lot of times when we're helping families, this is like a-- I know it was for me, that I tell families “My thoughts, my words, my actions, my feelings tell you about me, not about you. They tell you about me, you know? And the sooner I can differentiate that, the sooner I can understand this truth that, what do I want to give back to myself?”, you know? I mean, Sara, we all kind of-- I think most of the listeners probably heard the golden rule, right?

[Kyle]: The golden rule of treating people the way you want to be treated and I always thought we just did that because it's “the right thing to do”. But then you see the brain science says when you do that to others, it comes back to you, you know? And so, I think it transforms how you interact with everybody, but specifically speak to how it transforms how you interact with kids, you know? How does a quote like that change how you view your kids?

[Sara]: Well, it's the same when I look at my child and they haven't cleaned their room. Right? So, what I offer them, I give to myself.

[Sara]: And to go to your other point, if I’m upset about their messy room, it is saying-- I actually should take a moment to go “why?”. “What's inside of me?”

[Sara]: Because someone else might walk by and go “oh, it's a really clean room if I compare it to--" or “who cares? That's how I keep my room too” or there's all kinds of different reactions. So, it's really saying something about me and that's what I need to be curious about.

[Kyle]: Can I ask you, what is it saying about you? Just to use that as an example. So, if I can be curious about that and really know “okay, what am I saying? What is it saying about me?”. So, if this is a projection of me, it just seems like “no, it's not. Everybody would be upset about this; we've asked her a hundred times to clean their rooms!”. So, what does it say about you when you're getting upset about it?

[Sara]: Well, I think everyone would have to answer that individually.

[Kyle]: That's why I’m asking you.

[Sara]: Right? But for me maybe it-- Let me think for a second, let me get in that space. So, it'd be interesting-- I would note that I have a judgment about clean or messy like, judging myself. I have my own judgment. “Am I clean or messy?” or “how hard I work to be clean?”

[Sara]: And “what did I do? Did I put all my stuff away?”

[Kyle]: Yeah, “I’m a better human because I’m organized and clean”.

[Sara]: Yes, yes. “Why do I do that? Why do I hold this--?”

[Kyle]: Yeah, “what is wrong with these other people who are messy?”. Yeah.

[Sara]: And “why do I hold that in to the esteem that I hold it too? Why is that?” So, I would want to explore those things and realize, that that's really what's going on in that moment. It's actually not about my daughter's room or whether it's clean or not, it's really about that stuff going on inside of me.

[Kyle]: I think mine's different, mine when I see that, I get upset because the thing that it triggers to me is, she doesn't care what I’m saying. Like, I specifically asked her to do it and it doesn't seem to matter, you know? Because my voice has no power apparently, you know? So, then I’m going to get upset. So, really, if I can sit back and go “wait, she does. There's so many ways in which she cares about what I say” and yet, I’m now about to slip into this negative place and what I’m going to offer to her is no grace, is no patience. I’m going to offer her judgment, I’m going to offer her shame, I’m going to offer all these things to her and it's only going to come back on me. Because then I’m going to do that, I’m going to walk away going “that's not gonna work”. I mean, how many times have I done that? She's not gonna care about that either. It's just gonna feed in on itself, right? Instead, what I could offer-- What could you in that moment offer instead of those things? When you see the dirty room.

[Sara]: Well, offer curiosity. Just “why is the room like this?” or “why--?”

[Kyle]: “What's going on?”, yeah.

[Sara]: Or you know, “why didn't you do it when I asked you?”.

[Sara]: “How do you see keeping a room compared to how I see keeping your room?”

[Kyle]: Yeah. “Does this bother you that the room is messy? Because it bothers me. But does it bother you?” Right?

[Sara]: What would you offer instead of, if I would think I’d want to be curious? What would you want to offer?

[Kyle]: I mean, my thought would be “do you see any value in that?”. Like “do you understand the value in a clean room? Doesn't it feel better?”, right? And almost every kid I’ve talked to, they actually do think it feels better, it does feel better to be organized. It's almost every time, they're just overwhelmed or they don't know, they don't have the skill, you know? And then when I look back, Sara, it's funny. I didn't keep a clean room until I was like, in college and my brother and I kind of like “let's keep a clean dorm” and it felt good and so, I got to feel that feeling over time. But then I want my kids to have it by the time they're like eight or nine, when you're like “I didn't have it then either”,

 

[Kyle]: So, going back to “I want to treat you the way I want to be treated. I want to offer to you what I would like-- A gift to come back to me” and that's where--

[Sara]: Well, going back to the room cleaning thing, I was thinking “what else?”. Besides curiosity we could also offer generosity, support. If I was not doing something in a moment that I was expected of me, I would hope I would be approached with generosity, support, grace, curiosity, you know? If I-- Let's say at work, I failed to get a project done. Even though my boss told me to do the project [Unintelligible], you know?

[Sara]: As an adult you think “well, of course--" I mean, probably something happened, right? But you know, you'd hope the boss would approach you and go “hey, I had this deadline and it wasn't met, what's going on? Do you need more support for that? Do you need to learn how to do something?”

[Kyle]: Well, and to that point, if the boss came at you and thought all those negative things, you'd be like “the boss doesn't trust me. What kind of boss is this, dude? Like--”

[Sara]: Yeah. “The boss has no idea, this--"

[Kyle]: I know. “I have other things going on in my life, yeah. Like this is not--”. So, you would hope from the boss to get some kind of positive intent or some belief that you're doing the best you can. It doesn't help you to believe otherwise, you know? So, in this idea is-- I loved how at the conference I was at, Sara, I really resonated when she was talking about this skill being fundamental to helping raise kids, who have good self-confidence, healthy self-confidence. You know, not arrogant, but have good self-confidence and I was like “how does that connect together?” and she said “if you're struggling with self-esteem or self-confidence, belief in seeing good in you and your capability to change and grow” and she said “your self-confidence, your self-esteem doesn't come from how you view yourself”. Like, I always thought that's what-- I needed to be like those self-help books and like, just talk better--

[Sara]: “I’m awesome!”

[Kyle]: Yeah! Like “look at me!” or like “Look in the mirror” like Stuart Smalley did on Saturday Night Live like, all those kind of like-- And those can be helpful, right? But she said “it's not how you talk to yourself or how you view yourself or think about yourself. It's not how you think other people think about you”, you know? “It's really how you think about other people”.

[Kyle]: They're really the best indicator of how you view yourself is how you view other people. Is whether or not you can see the good in them, whether or not you believe they're doing the best they can or not. Because really what you're seeing in them is just a projection of you.

[Kyle]: It's you projecting onto them. Like, how many times have we done that? Where our kids-- I encourage all the listeners to think about this. How many times have you approached in a situation to your kid and you and your spouse see the same moment and you both come to completely different conclusions about that moment. But the kid did the same thing, but you both saw it differently, because you both were projecting different things onto the kid.

[Sara]: Right. Through your own filters, your own life experiences, your own set of judgments and paradigms and that’s the lens we’re looking through.

[Kyle]: There's so many times personally you and I do this, but parents we work with do this, where they see a behavior by their kid and they believe they know a 100% everything about why the kid did that or about what was motivating the kid, the intent behind the kid, there's no curiosity at all. I mean, how can that be? Unless we have powers to read the kid's mind and like to really-- I’ve just never had that power, but yet I’ve assumed so much about the kid's behavior without ever coming and being curious or even if I am, it comes about “why did you do that?”. Like “tell me the real reason, because I know what it is”, you know? And so, then I’m offering to them no openness, no curiosity, no willingness to change my narrative. It's already written because I projected it onto you and I know who you are, you know? And I think many parents who are listening to us, there are ways they-- They're so afraid they see behaviors in what their kids do and they “I know exactly, I did that when I was their age”, right?

[Kyle]: And not to say there's no truth to that, there is truth to that--

[Sara]: It could be the same or not be.

[Kyle]: But just realize it's just part of the story, it's not the whole story and if I’m not careful, I make that story the whole story in my mind and in the kid's mind.

[Kyle]: And it really limits my ability to ever change myself in that moment, much less my kid, right?

[Kyle]: So, going back to the quote. “What I offer to you is a gift to myself”, right? So, I think the way you and I have done this, we took this quote and we kind of like, put it all over our house for a little bit. On the refrigerator, on our bedroom door, places we would see it and we just practice it. You know, just for a couple weeks we're like “okay, all week long I’m gonna--” and I remember doing this specifically in our marriage, Sara. That there was a time where I would come home from work and be late at night and you'd been home before me and you had cooked dinner for the kids and you do this funky thing that most of our listeners don't know about, where when you wash the dishes, you put the dishes in the sink when they're drying, right?

[Sara]: Well, in the other sink that's clean. Yes, so they can dry if I can't dry them right away.

[Kyle]: But like I like to stack them, right? I stack them outside this--

 

[Sara]: Yeah, and it's very precarious. Sometimes they fall.

[Kyle]: But I’m saying I do that, so I-- You and I would have these like, heated dumb conversations about “why are you putting them in the sink?” and you'd be like “why are you stacking them? They could fall over” and I’d be like “but they don't! Look how great they're stacked!”. Sometimes they-- Yeah, but then it's kind of exciting! You never know it could fall over, but the sink is dirty, I don't want them in there, right? But I’m saying all that to say, when I went and heard this idea, I’m working on this, I noticed that I come home from work and I walk in and the kitchen was-- Looks awesome, it's all clean and you know, all the stuff and the kids are in bed. I mean, most people like “this is fantastic!”, but I’d look at those dishes and I’d see them in that and be like “what is her problem? How many times have I said I don't want them in the sink” and it would already start me in this judgmental mode and I didn't know at the time, but now my serotonin is going down, my dopamine's gone down, my cortisol is going down. So, then my first interaction with you is like “what is your problem? You know, what is your deal? Why do you keep doing this?” and it just made it so difficult to have an evening at all of connection or joy or you know, like--

[Kyle]: So, I thought “I’m gonna try this. Like, lately I’ve been kind of annoyed with Sara about this dishes thing and I’ve noticed that made me kind of annoyed at a bunch of other things, it wasn't just the dishes thing. There's a lot of things, I’m getting really nitpicky like, goodness grace” and then I thought “wait a second, what that's led to is like a dissatisfaction in the marriage right now, because I’m being so like critical, you know? So, I’m gonna come home and I’m gonna look at those dishes and I’m gonna smile and think ‘you know, if I was dating Sara, I would just think this is cute. I would just think this is quirky’. I would think ‘how cool is that that Sara does her own thing with the dishes’. I mean, it’d just be gross if everything I wanted her to do was just like how I did it, gross, because I would have married me. I don't want to marry me, I married her’”. So, I come in, I look at the dishes, I smile and just think “she's hilarious, she is not going to stop doing that” and then I wanted to see you, I wanted to come in and “say how was your day?”. It just shifted my whole idea, but neurochemically I’m seriously like shooting myself full of serotonin and dopamine and just making it--

[Kyle]: So, I give it as an example I think a lot of couples listening this can deal with, but it totally transforms with the kids.

[Sara]: Well, you gave the gift to yourself, you know? [Unintelligible] give to yourselves, but it's a gift to yourself to fill your brain up and your body up with the happy feel-good great things and yeah. Change your evening.

[Kyle]: And it goes back to not only that quote, but I’m thinking of, you know, something Dr. Brene Brown's done with all his shame research is this idea of buying into “everybody is doing the best they can. They're doing the best they can”. When you connect the brain science to behavior “they're doing the best they can” and if I approach someone with that, it actually hurts me to not approach somebody with that and they're actually less likely to be receptive to anything I say when I believe they're not. So, if I come at the kids or your spouse with the belief they're doing the best they can, then I offer them the ability to think the same of me.

[Sara]: Yeah, and I’m doing the best I can.

[Kyle]: Yes, and I give myself the freedom-- Yes.

[Sara]: And even if we know how “oh, I know I should be doing--” or “I could be--” or you know, but you're really in that moment, you're doing the best you can and giving yourself that feels so good and giving others. It changes dynamics.

[Kyle]: Well, and so, I’ll end it kind of with this quote that I wrote, is when we do this, when we make this, we kind of internalize this thing, what I offered to use a gift to myself. When we start really living that kind of life, we free ourselves to be all that we are by accepting others as they are, you know? That really hit me, was I-- We get a chance for a kid, like we turn it to our kids, we free our kids to be all they are by accepting them as they are. It's not by wishing they'd be somebody else, you know? It's not by wishing I’d be somebody else. Once I really accept myself as I am, it's only through that acceptance that I am free to be something even better.

[Sara]: Yeah, you're actually just fine in this moment. You have what you need, you are what you need to be. There isn't this big list of things you should be.

[Kyle]: Well, and the reality is I can't be anybody else in this moment. I mean, that's the biggest thing we run into is, we keep wishing our kids would be somebody else or we'd be somebody else and we just can't be. This moment's here, I need to accept myself as I am in this moment and that's going to free me to be somebody else.

[Kyle]: So, I hope this does free you, I hope it frees a lot of listeners to, you know, just know that this is something you need to offer yourself. If you if you need a boost, if you need a boost to like, your belief that you're the parents, like you're doing a great job as a parent, that you are the parent your kids need, look at your kids and think good thoughts about them. You know, sometimes I think my parents are struggling with this, I even tell them to go and just watch them sleeping, because they look so sweet when they're sleeping.

[Kyle]: I mean, as they get older, they kind of start slobbering, but when they're little, it's so cute and you just come look at their face and even if it's hard to think good thoughts during the day, to take that moment to just-- Oh man, just breathe in the sweetness of your child and you get to be their parents, how cool is that? So, as I think those, as I offer that to my kid, I actually give it back to myself and I--

[Sara]: Yeah, that you are the sweet parent, you are who you need to be in that moment, you are doing the best you can do.

[Kyle]: Yes, fantastic. So, we'd love you to go to the website parentinglegacy.com, we have video content there that could really support your journey. Please share this, please rate us, give us a five-star. All those things are amazing and send us any kind of speaking opportunities or other suggestions about other topics. I know lately we've done several on schools and how to get ready-- Kid ready for school, got some comments from people about doing one on bullying and how to help with that. So, we thought that'd be fantastic, so that's on our list of ones to do in the future. So, really appreciate you taking the time to listen to this and I hope it really deepens and helps your relationship with your child today and even for you to give grace to yourself. So, have a great night.