"My Child Keeps Going to the Dark Side!" Call In - Transcript

You've spoken with me before, and it helped so much. I just was itching to talk with you one more time about my own children, because before we spoke about my family of origin.

So, my daughter is eight years old. She's a wonderful girl, super fun and creative and goofy... but she has what I'll call "dark mode," where it's a lot of negative behaviors, panic attacks, screaming, expressing feelings of worthlessness. It's just... it's terrible. It's terrible for her. It's terrible to experience.

I'm worried about what you say sometimes, that adage about, by seven years old, someone's personality is sort of set for life.

So, what I'm hoping to get out of the conversation is, what what did I do to create this "dark mode?" What I'm doing to try and repair it, if that's enough? I'd like to get your perspective on everything that I've done as a parent and how I can be better at it.

Another part that of this that really terrifies me is that my my own sister, at seven years old, there's this family story about how she ran away for the afternoon. When my parents found her, she was screaming and raging at them, telling my parents to kill her! My parents kind of tell it as just, "Well, we don't know what what happened!" and they never did anything for her. Her life has turned out by her own estimation, she's just a wreck and we have like zero relationship now. To see that same thing echoing in my own daughter is just: "Ahh! I need to do something!"


[0:00] Hello, hello.

Apologies and Technical Difficulties

[0:02] Hello, hello.

[0:03] Sorry about that message in all caps. I didn't mean to be yelling.
I just leave them on sometimes because that's how I name files.
So sorry about that. I'll call you in a sec. So my apologies.

[0:14] Sorry, I'm getting a call on my phone from you as well. I'm afraid that technology is frightening me right now.
If I hang up on my phone, will it drop the call?

[0:23] Well, we could try. I could just call again.

[0:26] Okay. You're still there?

[0:29] I am.

[0:30] Oh, okay. Very good. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

[0:35] Oh, no, my pleasure. I'm sorry about this last week, but I'm all ears.
I'm all yours. How can I help?

[0:42] Well, you've spoken with me before, and it helped so much.
And I just was itching to talk with you one more time about my own children, because before we spoke about my family of origin.
And this is what really matters so uh my daughter has been uh she's about eight years old and she's like a wonderful girl super fun and creative and goofy but she has what i'll call dark mode, where um she it's a a lot of negative behaviors panic attacks screaming um.

[1:23] Expressing feelings of worthlessness. And I can go into specifics later, but it's just, it's terrible.
It's terrible for her. It's terrible to experience.
And I'm worried about what you say sometimes, that adage about by seven years old, someone's personality is sort of set for life.
And so my question and what I'm hoping to get out of the conversation is, um like what what did i do to create these this this is it fair to call it dysfunction, um i don't know i mean i'm i'm still gathering info so however you want to describe it's fine with me let's say problem let's just call it it's a problem yeah i'll just call it dark mode um.

[2:16] And what, what I did, what is, if what I'm doing to try and repair it, if that's enough, if it'll like, you know, like, um, getting your perspective on, on everything that I've done as a parent, um, and, and how I can be better at it.
Because another part that of this that really terrifies me is that my my own sister um at at seven years old she had uh like there's this family story about how she ran away for the afternoon and when my parents found her she was screaming and raging at them telling her telling my parents to kill her and and my parents kind of tell it as just this well we don't know what what happened and they never did anything for her and her life has turned out, um, by, by her own estimation.
Like she's, she's just a wreck and we have like zero relationship now.
And to see that same thing echoing in my own daughter is just, ah, I need to do something.

Comparisons to Troubled Sister and Seeking Solutions

[3:23] So, um, and what, what you said, your sister's life didn't turn out well. What do you mean?

[3:29] Well, um, She had a lot of self-destructive tendencies that kind of, in her mind, were empowering.
And she's never been able to form relationships with people that were not tempestuous or ended up in abandonment.
Um, she's, she's really unhappy, but if you try to talk to her about her unhappiness, she considers that like an assault and she'll rage at you and, and then, um, it's just, it's hard.
She's just not she's past the point where she can have her own family because she's never dealt with her own dysfunction and she you know blames me she blames she doesn't blame our parents I think enough and blame is not the right word but it's hard to talk about without assigning emotional value to these words.

[4:43] Um she's just lonely and unhappy and refuses to take responsibility for it so she's not going to change and what would she say what would she say is your causality in this that i'm judgmental, and that i ruin her nice moments by bringing up uncomfortable things, oh so she sort of parades around in full misery if anyone says what's wrong it's like you're You're spoiling my mood, like that sort of stuff.

[5:12] Well, kind of. If you don't indulge in her misery, she says you're not supportive.
And if she's having a moment where she's sort of celebrating the things that are making her miserable, like terrible relationships or terrible life choices.
And I guess I should be specific. There's one specific thing that she hates me for.
It was at a birthday dinner a few years ago, and my oldest sister was making a toast to her.
Because my oldest sister picked on this middle sister a whole lot growing up, and my middle sister refers to it as abuse.
And my role with both my sisters is just, hey, you know...
We were all living in the same house, so maybe it's not my oldest sister's responsibility, to take complete ownership for how my middle sister's life turned out, but abuse should be recognized and that's how you move forward in a relationship.
But my oldest sister kind of laughs about it and made this toast saying, you know, I was really mean to you growing up, but you're better for it.
You're stronger because of all these things I did to you.

[6:28] Whoopsie.

[6:28] And I objected to that. The what?

[6:31] Whoopsie.

[6:33] Well, you know, it released a sort of dragon inside of me. And I said, that's a terrible thing to say.
How could you say that your abuse made someone stronger and make that a toast?
And I ruined the evening and I had a panic attack.
And my sister, my middle sister says that I ruined her birthday dinner.

[6:54] Well, but you know why your older sister would say that, I assume, right?

[6:59] To take responsibility off of herself.

[7:03] Well, I guess, no. I mean, sorry, it doesn't seem that. I mean, she's saying she did abuse, right? Or she's saying that she was mean, right?
So why would she say, I can make you better?

[7:18] Um so that, no one has to deal with the experience that my middle sister had growing up in that house so i'm not sure what that means and nobody well nobody wants to admit that the house that we grew up in was really unhappy and because we all want to celebrate our parents we don't want to hold hold our parents accountable for anything that they did because we want to keep pretending that we're a really perfect, happy family.
And by not acknowledging my middle sister's misery as a kid, we don't have to acknowledge the abuse she suffered at the hands of my parents.

[8:03] Well, but she was acknowledging that your sister suffered as a kid, and she's also acknowledging that she was the cause of it, right?

[8:09] Yeah, or part of the cause.

[8:11] Well, I mean, she's certainly acknowledging her part in the cause of your sister's unhappiness.
So why would she then say, I mean, I have a theory, I'm not just asking this rhetorically, which doesn't mean I'm right, of course, but why would your older sister say it made you stronger?

[8:32] To keep her from getting better? I don't know. It seems like a trap, doesn't it?

[8:36] Well, it's because she's feeling guilty. So she's accepted that she was mean.
She's accepted that it was harmful at the time.
And she doesn't want to take ownership. She doesn't want to take responsibility.
And so she says, well, I was mean, but you're better for it, right?
You're better off for it. And I assume that this is something your parents would say, too, about their aggression or their meanness. And so, yeah, she's got a bad conscience.
And so she acknowledges it, and of course, it's also publicly humiliating your sister again, right?
It's a continuation of the verbal cruelty to say, well, you're stronger because if this is your sister in a state of strength, God knows what she would have looked like in a state of weakness or instability or dysfunction or whatever, right?
So, yeah, but a lot of stuff comes from a bad conscience, particularly, you know, if you harm younger children, and that leaves a huge black stain on your conscience and it doesn't tend to stay stable.

[9:36] I agree. I'm sorry. It's hard for me to see things clearly.

Complex Family Dynamics and Need for Support

[9:42] Well, it's your family. It's hard for me to see things clearly in my family.
That's why we kind of need each other, right? So yeah, that makes sense.
I mean, yes, I'm the same way. So is everyone.

[9:51] Yeah, that was the big incident. There are others. But, you know, years later, Later, we're having another family get together where, you know, we're a perfect, happy family that sees each other once a year.
And my oldest sister, I'm sorry, my middle sister is on the warpath for me because she's so furious at me still years later that she draws me out to have a private conversation.
And she within 30 seconds, she's shouting at me and cursing at me over this birthday dinner. So it just, I thought I was sticking up for her, but she interpreted it as, um, And a judgment or she kept calling me judgmental and a big baby.

[10:37] And she called you. So she's complaining in her 30s or 40s. She's complaining about her birthday party being ruined, but she's calling you a big baby.

[10:47] Yeah, well, she said she suffered so much abuse from our oldest sister that to her, having her toast her was such a special moment.
And I just had to ruin it for her because, um, I don't know.
She thinks I'm, I'm a monster.
I don't know the extent to what she's made up about me in her mind, but I honestly don't have much of a, you said you don't really have much of a relationship with her.
No. Cause every time I engage with her, she ends up yelling at me.
Cause I, I can't, I can't, um, indulge in the things that I view as self-destructive for her.
I can't tell her she's doing something, you know, bold and daring and amazing when I think it's harming her and her relationships.
And she doesn't like me to say those things. Nobody does.

[11:37] And do you know what may have happened to her as a child?

[11:45] Yes, I have some idea. I witnessed a whole lot, but I have suspicions that there's a great deal more that I did not see.
And I guess I'll never know because she'll never have an honest conversation with me.
My father was verbally abusive to her, calling her names, calling her dumb.
My oldest sister was verbally and physically abusive to her.

[12:10] Not over the top, like in front of like punching in the face or anything.
Thing my um but like a respectable amount of of abuse if i can make a sick joke um, There's like pinching and jabbing and just being rough, like not playful, just rough.
And there was also a great deal of neglect and a lot of shoving her aside in favor for me.
And I've been going through a lot of old family videos where I see it on video. It's just there.
It's just so heartbreaking where my father is gathering everyone around to hug and kiss and glow over me because I was the baby of the family by quite a few years.
And he's literally shoving my middle sister aside so that he can cuddle me and I can see her as a young child reaching out to me, and just having her hand smacked away.

[13:19] So we were kind of doomed from the start.

[13:24] Well, I don't believe that.

[13:29] I don't believe that abby don't believe doomed i mean challenged for sure uh there's a function that's a mess but i can't get to the deterministic doom thing yeah sorry it's i i have to be careful with my language but i will say my parents set up our relationship um not on the best footing, Like we were set up to be antagonists.

[14:02] Right, okay. And do you know if there was more than sort of the, you say, the fairly minor, but obviously still significant physical and verbal abuse, was there anything else that you know that might have happened?

[14:16] Yeah, like neglect. My mother was like a sort of a jet setter and was never really there.
And when she was at home, she was not really emotionally available.
Our family, there's always like a lot of yelling.
And the kids, like for me, I just always retreated into my room to try and not be noticed.
Just as one of the big revelations I had when I went to therapy was that I always thought of myself as a good kid, but what I was was a scared kid.
And I was left alone for the most part.
So my middle sister, she didn't skirt a lot of the bad things going on in the house.
Like, she was really sensitive, and that was, I don't know, I shouldn't try to mind read.
I just know it wasn't, she had needs as a kid that were definitely not met.
And all three of the kids, like us, we grew up with certain amounts of dysfunction.
I think I got off the lightest, and I've got a happy home, a stable relationship with my husband, and I'm the only one who avoided...

[15:46] Bad choices and um i think there's i don't know a fair amount of resentment that my middle sister has towards me, and i just so when i when i see my daughter having these tendencies i just i i want to do something, Of course, yeah, no, I mean, I haven't forgotten about your daughter.

[16:19] And so what decade is your middle sister in?

[16:26] Forties, almost late forties.

[16:29] Late forties, and she's never had a long-term stable relationship, never had a successful marriage or been married?

[16:36] She's had long-term relationships that lasted at most seven years but ended horribly and they were you know chaotic tempestuous relationships um that that was in her 20s every subsequent relationship has gotten shorter and shorter and shorter and always to the point where you're you're just not allowed to ask how her partner is doing because you never know if they're together or if they're in a fight and like the stuff that we're allowed to talk about is just gets smaller and smaller and smaller um she's got she.

[17:15] Uh i'm trying to avoid saying some things but i mean i might as well she had uh one boyfriend where they um got pregnant together in in her 40s and then um got a test done to test for Down syndrome and then uh within a few days aborted the baby which was something I kind of really wanted to talk about as a family because I I just saw so many cascading bad decisions, um happening again and again and again like they and and they didn't break up and they didn't get It's just the same fight cycle over and over again.
And I gave up a long time ago being friends with my middle sister.
But I would just settle for peace.

[18:14] I thought for a while I was still...
Respected enough or i don't know if that's the right word had enough credibility in the family that that she would listen to me but i i i said you've pretty much created a perfect storm of bad circumstances to bring a child into this world please you know commit to each other uh don't do your very physically dangerous career, move out of this terribly dangerous neighborhood, get rid of your thousands of cats, please. It's a child.
But they ended up aborting the child anyway, and I just...

[19:03] Sorry, did they abort because the test was positive for Down's?

[19:09] That's what they said, but I have my doubts. workouts because you know if it were me i would want to get a second opinion i wouldn't just rush out and get the abortion i would look up and there's so many articles about the false positives of those tests as well and i mean i really don't know why they decided to abort or she decided or i don't even know who was who made the okay no i was just wondering if it was confirmed about the the diagnosis so they said yes but you're not sure okay and what yeah what are her uh sorry to interrupt what are her finances like is she stable income stable finances she's a really high earner but a really big spender and she's kind of um she i don't know if i it would be technically correct to call her a hoarder but she has a hoarder mentality where she just buys a lot of stuff and she has a great explanation for why she needs all of it and it's you know for business purposes and all that but it's it's like um an alarming amount of stuff, and it just drains her finances okay all right got it got it and was it her you said somebody who had a dangerous job is that hers yeah that's hers uh what what field.

[20:35] Guilt? The entertainment industry.
She has a very physically dangerous job in the entertainment industry.

The challenging experience after childbirth and seeking support

[20:43] Interesting. All right. It sounds like Harvey Weinstein, but it could be something else. Just kidding. Just kidding. Just kidding. All right.
No, and I just wanted to get, because this is a bit of a template that you're concerned about with regards to your daughter, right?

[20:56] Right. Yeah.

[20:58] Okay. So you said that you had some more specific instances of your your daughter's behavior that you wanted to talk about?

[21:05] Yeah, I could give you a rundown of, um, what she's experienced in her life.
So you can sort of get a sense of how she grew up. Um, and, Okay. So, um, and just so you know, I, before my husband and I had kids, I thought I was fine.
Like I, I was so happy with my life.
Um, except for the fact that I had put off having children for so long.
That was, um, I thought that was why I was starting to feel depressed.
And that when I just went ahead and started the family and forgot that the dumb plan that I had about what I need to do in my career, blah, blah, blah, just have the kids. So I did.
But I didn't realize how much I had to deal with before.
And if anyone ever ends up listening to this, it's so important what you say, like do the self work before you have kids.
And uh so when she was born it it ended up in a emergency c-section and it was really painful recovery so i was recovering at my parents place with the idea that i would get more care and it would they would help with the baby and being back home in the in that state was uh it was really horrible. I was so surprised.

[22:32] Like, holy crap, did your husband say anything about this?

[22:37] No, he, he agreed to it because my parents at that point were, uh, you know, loving and supportive.
And I didn't have the self, like I told my mother for the very first time, I feel close to you now that I have a child.
And she thought that was sweet. And I thought that was sweet.
And in retrospect, I'm like, oh, that's a terrible thing that I, I just admitted to my mother that I've never felt close to her.
And at the time we thought that was the sweetest little sentiment so we were all kind of in a fog, um so your husband didn't know anything remotely close to what actually happened with your family is that right no because i presented the picture as well that we were we had a great childhood he just saw red flags around my sisters but he thought my parents were fine he he they were leagues ahead of his own parents um whom he barely ever speaks to so he thought that their offer of help was was a good idea um especially with me being you know like physically incapable of picking up the baby for a few weeks that it was important to have people around me 24 7, and uh in some in some respects it was true like my father would wake up in the middle of the night to hand me the baby for her feeding.

[24:00] So I appreciate that. But there was the same kind of neglect during the day.
Like my mother was never there.
And anytime I expressed any kind of negative feeling, I got yelled at.
And the pediatrician asked if I would consider being checked out, like talking to someone for postpartum depression.
And I rejected that idea wholesale because I thought, I'm just tired.
I just need to get a good night's sleep and everything will be fine.
So I think that in those first few weeks, there was some serious lack of bonding that I did with my baby.

[24:37] And thinking back, I remember not getting that rush of love hormones that I'm supposed to get.
I felt really primal, just like feed baby, baby sleep, feed baby.
That was all I could think of.
She didn't smile until she was six weeks old. and even then it was like really quick like blink and you'll miss it so after um a certain point i couldn't bear to be at home anymore and and also to be fair to my parents they were going through a whole lot as well like my mother's parents were dying and they were taking care of her parents so it's just that, I felt really guilty for needing them.

Feeling neglected and desperate for support from parents

[25:28] And after a while, I realized what a bad situation it was because, you know, I was not self-aware at the time, but, you know, any idiot could see that this was not working. So I begged to go home.
My parents wanted me to stay longer, but I just, I told my husband how I was feeling and he just got me out. Because he could tell.

[25:51] But what in particular was happening with your parents that you wanted to get out? I'm not disagreeing with you, of course. I'm just curious.

[25:58] I just felt this really, I felt a desperation. I don't know.
I still feel guilty about being so unhappy at the time, but I felt so alone.
And it was when I came home from the hospital after the surgery, I kept begging, can somebody take the baby for an hour so i need to take a shower and it was two weeks before i could take a shower they would just say yes and then go go and do something else there was like this big disconnect between what they said that they would do and what they actually did, and they were my mother was barely ever there um and when she was she'd you know play with the baby for a few minutes and coo over her and then go and do her own thing just and when my middle sister visited the one time she visited she petted the baby for five minutes and then took my parents to the other room to cry about one of her boyfriends for two hours and I just I just felt like I am not a priority and I am not capable of looking after my baby right now so I just feel able to spare.

[27:19] And I kind of feel like that's what postpartum is, if it's not just too much of a projection of my own experiences to make a theory like this.
I feel like postpartum is a despair that women feel that they don't have any safety net, like their community is not there.
And like the whole weight of the realization of how much it takes to raise a baby it just crushes you when you feel like nobody's there but me and i feel so weak that i i just don't think i can do it and it's that's why i was crying i think also there's a whole aspect of of it that you are in an absolutely incontrovertible state of needing support.

[28:09] You need people to help you. You need people to support you.
And if they're not there for you, it just brings back all of these memories of not being supported, of pretend love, of pretence affection, of pretend closeness.
And like, you know, you in particular with the emergency C-section and you're wounded.
It you're like you've got a baby and you're wounded and you know if there's ever a situation when should people should bend over backwards to help you with that and then when they don't it's uh it just reminds you of the horrors of the past and also reminds you that you haven't dealt with them because you're in the situation of need just as you were when you were a baby and it's not being provided yes that's absolutely right i i felt like i was like a little kid again And just helpless, hiding in my room, just...

[29:02] Waiting it out hoping that things will get better but being completely powerless to change anything and but even then I didn't think that I had any self-reflection work to do I thought I was just super emotional hurting from the surgery and just you know I just had a baby and that those bad feelings those negative feelings would go away my family is great that's what I thought at the time, It wasn't until much later when I started looking into your um video.
I found your videos about daycare Um jumping ahead a little bit because we had put our our baby and not baby.
She was two at the time We'd put her into daycare and I was having a real hard time with it Because she was having a real hard time with it And that's when I found your videos and started thinking.
Hey, maybe there's some thinking I should be doing Um about myself.
Maybe i'm not as fine as I thought I was.

Struggling with bonding and stress in the early days

[30:01] Um but yeah that's, that episode so i just don't think that we had a proper bonding period like we were supposed to as as mother and baby and in the beginning just stress there was sorry how old was she when you moved out of your parents place oh just just a few weeks old okay so what were the other things things that were occurring that might have not had the bond you want?
I just, I didn't feel that flush of love and peace that I thought I should have.
I was very anxious and, gosh, I was always fighting, fighting, fighting with my parents, like just creating the bath for my baby took an extra half hour.

[30:54] You were anxious. I don't follow that. I mean, you felt anxiety and so on, but that's not the same as saying that you were anxious.

[31:02] Yeah, you're right. I felt anxiety because every little thing was like a conflict or a struggle.

[31:09] Do you know why you felt that anxiety?

[31:15] Well, I think it's something like I'm not allowed to be critical because I need these people to help me, but I need to be critical so that they'll help me and I'm just stuck. Yeah.

[31:33] Uh postpartum again i'm no experts it's just my amateur theory but postpartum a lot has a lot to do i think with the parents being outed as selfish.

[31:44] Right so so it could be of course that you felt anxious and so on i mean that wouldn't be the first place that i would look it would be more like okay like if if you if you're i don't know you've got some brother who's a criminal and you say oh i'm dating this detective she's fantastic fantastic at spotting criminals she can do it like she should points them out to be on the bus and so on and then you you're going to bring your your date uh the the police inspector over your brother's going to be all kinds of nervous and he's going to try and make you feel anxious and so on because he doesn't want to get caught he doesn't want to get outed right like the cadaver sniffing dogs in the backyard kind of stuff so when you're when you have an absolutely obvious need that your parents are supposed to provide.
I mean, other times they can say, well, you know, you just got to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. So we're toughening you up.
This thing that your elder sister said to your middle sister, you didn't kill you, I made you stronger.
But in this situation, they absolutely have to be there for you.
And the fact that they can't be, they're nervous that they're being exposed, that they're nervous that you're going to see their true actual hollowness and the lack of follow through on everything they say.
So it could be that you're you're nervous, but the first place I would look is that your parents are nervous that you're actually going to see them for who they are or, more importantly, who they aren't.

[33:03] I agree.

Self-work reveals family's self-centeredness and Ayn Rand influence

[33:08] The self-work that I've done since then has revealed a lot of that.
I don't know if it's fair to label my family as narcissists, but they're let's just say they're just really big fans of Ayn Rand.
With all that selfishness talk as the highest virtue.
So maybe that's framing it.

[33:30] I have no problem with the selfishness talk, but the selfishness should include you.

[33:35] No, no, it doesn't. The selfishness is all about whatever the individual sees as a priority is the priority.
And there's not really an emphasis or any consideration at all for relationships being important.
It's, it's, it goes in line with the other family philosophy of like family is everything you you always unconditionally support everything your family does, because whatever they choose to do is is right because they chose to do it and so, Um, it's kind of a beating, a breeding ground for selfishness because there's no room for, you know, other people in there.

[34:18] So I don't understand how, I don't understand how everything is for the individual and yet everything is also for the family.

[34:28] Well, it's one of those happy contradictions that you're not supposed to think about.

[34:32] Ayn Rand said, judge and prepare to be judged.
And then, you know, there's this whole fear of judgmentalism and so on.
But anyway, you know, we don't need to plumb those depths in particular, but their selfishness is being exposed.
And they feel pretty scared and nervous of that because the hypocrisy of everything for family and sorry, you're going to have to hobble your own thing.
And we're going to deal with your sister's emotional meltdown rather than help you.
That's pretty hard to ignore and seeing that is is really chilling and then you've got a whole bunch of self-work to do and a whole bunch of historical pain to do at the same time as you want to be there for your baby yeah okay so how many weeks was it before you moved, oh it was gosh now i'm thinking it might have been eight weeks i think it was close to two months And did your husband notice, sorry to interrupt, did your husband notice any of this mess?

[35:34] Yes, yes, because I was redirecting my anger at my parents and my sisters at him.
At him?
Yeah, for leaving me there, like I asked him to. It's crazy.

[35:55] So, I mean, how did that play out?

[35:59] He's like it's time to come home and I'm like yes take me home please no no how did it play out that you were attacking your husband because your parents insisted we're being selfish.

[36:11] Well, my husband and I have a really good relationship. I didn't really attack him. I was just not warm to him.
I was pretty cold for the first few minutes whenever he'd come to visit.
And then we'd get to talking about things.
But it was hard to talk to him with my family around.
But once we were able to have some private conversations, we realized I needed to get back home.
But i just i i just i was having negative feelings that needed to go somewhere and it just got channeled towards my husband which was which very unfair but he didn't sorry you had the coldness when he would come over what else um that that's about it but we get along super super well so i don't like being cold to him and i i i didn't want that dysfunction to fester, And what happened with your feelings and your daughter while you were still there for the two months?

Warming up to daughter but dreading every day at parents' place

[37:18] I warmed up to her once I started feeling physically able again.
Like once I was able to walk without too much pain, I felt a lot better about my baby.
Being able to get some sunshine and fresh air, it did a lot of good.
But I started to dread every day.
And reading about attachment.

[37:41] Sorry, I started to dread every day? I'm not sure what you mean.

[37:46] Well, the longer I was at my parents, the more I began to dread being there another day.
But I didn't want to name what the problem was. I just kept saying, it's just me. It's just my dumb feelings.

[37:59] Oh, you didn't want to name what the problem was. Your parents didn't want you to name what the problem was.
Isn't language funny i've done all this work but i keep your parents were mad at your husband you're you know because he might see their selfishness and they didn't want you to identify it but i mean you just internalize all this stuff but i assume you're just obeying your parents as we all tend to do yeah you're right i try to be so careful with the words i pick but it still comes out that way it's just nuts well you take ownership of what you for yourself and i understand that you You feel it's being responsible, but I think it's not accurate.

[38:40] Thank you. Thank you for correcting me.
Because you're right on the money. And just to put a bow on it, anytime I would talk to my mom about her schedule, when are you going to be here?
And anytime I would express that I was unhappy, she would just snap at me.
And she wouldn't call me names or anything, but she's like, what's the matter with you? You've got everything you need.
You've got family, you've got food, you've got shelter, and...

[39:18] And my mother is such a... Like, everyone who meets her absolutely adores her, loves her.
She's just this big ball of sunshine, so when she snaps, it just cuts you.
So you're right, she was... warning me don't go there don't don't criticize me or how i raised you or well you know one description that applies to sociopaths is outwardly charming but inwardly cold, oh my gosh i never thought of her that way i don't want to think of her that way um maybe she doesn't want you to think of her that way i know definitely not.

[40:04] Darn it i thought i'd worked through all of this i'm sorry to be no it's just that you said everybody loves her right yes okay so she's very charming and everyone thinks she's the best but when it comes to interpersonal stuff she's just kind of cold and selfish i think again i'm no expert but i think that's a mark of a sociopath well um when it comes to interpersonal stuff she's She's very warm and loving and caring until it gets to the point where she is uncomfortable with something and then and then she snaps.
So like she carries that. That outward charm pretty far until you get start talking about things that matter.
Especially if it's something that could reflect poorly on her.

[40:52] Right, okay, okay.

[40:54] So I don't know if that's sociopathic or not.

[40:58] Did your, I don't know, for sure, did your husband ever confront your parents

Support from Parents, Financially and with Childcare

[41:03] about their mistreatment or coldness or selfishness?

[41:06] Oh, no.

[41:08] I'm not saying whether he should or shouldn't have, I'm just curious.

[41:11] No. No, they did a lot to support us, a lot to support our marriage.

[41:19] Okay, so they gave money, what else?

[41:21] Yeah, they would watch our baby when she was about, from six months on, they would watch her one day a week so that we could get some rest.

[41:39] Sorry, I may have misunderstood this. I thought they weren't particularly good around babies when you were there.

[41:45] No, they're good around babies when they want to be.

[41:49] Well, that's not being good around babies. a baby's on to when you want to be kind of situation, that is true but i guess we were being selfish too well listen i honestly don't particularly care about the labels they don't help much because their conclusions not evidence so tell me i mean i'm certainly happy to hear of course right i mean how were your parents good around a baby oh just attentive and um like singing and playing little games on the floor and um just loving like feeding them and everything it's just when there's something like, my mom can't sustain that for uh for too long, Well, how long?

[42:48] Well, until she has a place to go, you know, in the outside world where there's outside affirmation, like a few hours at a time.
She really, really hates being at home. She likes to be out in the world doing stuff.

[43:09] Okay, so she would be like a good grandma for a couple of hours and then...
And then leave or go somewhere else or get impatient?

[43:19] No, she wouldn't get impatient. She's really...
Really um like the perfect grandma when she's there it's just that she won't be there all the time um so she'll have like a class to go to or um and like a spa treatment or something like that and so um when we were asking for help looking after the baby so we could have some time for ourselves we'd really work within her schedule to make sure she didn't have to miss any any of her, um fun stuff her recreational appointments yeah okay and what about your dad my dad uh he was good for the the first couple of years uh but his health started failing um right around, just a few years ago.
And so he's not a caregiver anymore.

[44:24] And what's he dealing with health-wise?

[44:27] Parkinson's.

[44:29] Oh, gosh, I'm sorry to hear that. That's tough. That's very tough.

[44:33] It's been really tough for him because he was like a really, like a blustery big man, you know?
And weakness for him is like the worst sin.

[44:45] Do I know blustery big men? Anyway, every morning in the shaving, in the shaving mirror. All right.

[44:51] Yeah.

[44:52] Okay. So, but this is, of course, when your baby was little.
I'm sort of asking more about that.
I'm sorry about the last couple of years, but for the first five or six years, when your baby was little, when your daughter was little, how was he with regards to taking care of her?

[45:09] He was very good except for um like the yelling if she misbehaved he'd use his you know uh, disciplinarian voice which still can send shivers up my spine he could get so loud um so he would like bellow at a baby no not a baby toddler not at a baby at a toddler um It was like, that is not what you, you know, like, don't do that, like, big voice, not, I wouldn't call it abusive, but just, I'm not comfortable with it.

[45:44] Well, it's frightening, right?

[45:45] It's frightening, yeah.

[45:49] And how often might that happen?

[45:52] Not very often. Most of the time, they were very, very good companions for each other.
They would go on walks. And, um, but her, her, when she would start misbehaving was, um, like she, you know, see a butterfly and run off and he would, um, I don't understand misbehaving.

[46:16] She's a toddler, right?

[46:18] She's toddler. I guess I'm framing it from his perspective when she would do something that he didn't want her to do.

[46:27] Yeah, objectivists are all about the individualism until the individualist does something they don't want, and then they're about the authoritarianism. But anyway, okay.

[46:35] Yeah.

[46:36] All right. So once a week, your parents would take care of your daughter, is that right?
Would she sleep over or just be there for an evening while you were spending time with your husband?

[46:48] There was, um, for a while we did do sleepovers.
We would drop her off in the, in the afternoon on Saturday and pick her up on Sunday morning and all have breakfast together.

[47:02] And she would enjoy those?

[47:04] Yeah oh yeah she she loved being with grandma and grandpa she was she was a really happy kid like these behaviors didn't start until i think gosh five or six or maybe a little bit earlier she was starting to get aggressive but it still felt playful and it's hard what was the daycare history well um we put her into daycare when she was around two two and a half because i wanted to go back to working full-time and you know having a baby sort of drained our finances and both my husband and i agreed it was time to get dual income again but did you have to pay a good portion of that in daycare costs i was i was making enough i'm a high enough earner that it It wasn't a significant loss.

[47:58] Okay.

[47:59] Yeah.
And also, I was so exhausted. I hate to admit it, but I enjoyed the peace of having a few hours to myself and being able to focus.

[48:14] I'm sorry, were you working part-time?

[48:18] It was full-time. I'm there. It's hard to put exact hours on it because I'm an independent contractor.
So it's I work project based. So her daycare was from 8 a.m.
To 2 p.m. So it wasn't a full day.
And when I was working full time, I would work during her daycare hours and make up the hours in the evening as well. So I was like super tired.

[48:49] Uh, sorry, I thought you were tired being home with your daughter, but you were actually tired doing the work and the parenting?

[48:57] Yeah.

[48:59] I mean, gosh, how short a money were you that you'd given up your kid to daycare and giving up time with your husband for work?

[49:08] It felt urgent. Yeah.
We had savings, but I didn't feel comfortable just living off of savings because I didn't see— Well, no, but your husband has a job, right? Yeah.
Yeah, but it's not—he's an independent contractor, too, so it's just—we never know when the famine is going to hit.

Financial Struggles and Anxiety

[49:32] Well, look, I understand all of that. I mean, trust me, I know the feast and famine, but, I mean, it averages out. I mean, were you going to have to like sell your house or sell a car or like was it down to the wire or what was happening?

[49:45] We just had a couple of years of having to dip into savings and I saw our reserve depleting and I was very anxious about that.
So I wanted to bump up our income so that we could stop hemorrhaging money.

[50:04] Was there no possibility of cutting expenses? Yes.

[50:09] We were, we already had just one car. Um, we lived, it was hard to get closer to work because, uh, my husband's jobs changed location a lot, but we lived in a central location where we wouldn't have to drive too much. We had a pretty modest house.
Um, I don't think we could have cut expenses.
And also I was, I was of the mindset that we were doing real good because, we managed to keep our baby home for over two years and everyone else was putting their babies in at eight weeks or not having them at all.
So I was feeling pretty cocky about what great parents we were.

[50:50] And were you, I mean, obviously you had the conversation about having more kids.

[50:57] That was something I put on the back burner until I felt more, until I felt like I'd gotten a few good nights of sleep.
And that, that happened when she was about three. And I was like, you know what? I feel good.
I feel like I can handle this. Let's, let's get another baby, make a playmate, you know, make.
And, um, so I actually at around three, I did discuss with my husband about getting, um, getting pregnant again and having another baby.
Because by that time also, we had built up our savings again.

[51:43] And what happened?

[51:45] I had a baby. And she was a beautiful baby.
I actually managed to not have a C-section, which is a little unusual.
But I was really happy. I was able to bond with her.
Um but when i bonded with my second baby it made me realize how little that bonding i had with my first and i started to feel pretty guilty about that um, i can't remember i i wish i had been journaling all this time so i'd have the dates straight, but i i can't remember when i really began diving into your videos but i i knew at some point that I had to do some work, to fix. I had done something wrong.

Living with Parents With New Baby, Feeling Abandoned

[52:40] It's the first year if you find this funny, I also went back to live with my parents with a second baby and my oldest daughter as well, but not as long.
Right yeah it's my first my um we sent my oldest daughter to live with my parents around the due date so that in case i was in labor in the middle of the night there wouldn't be any scrambling to find care for her and my second baby ended up being two weeks late so she was at my parents for a while and it just felt natural to go join her at my parents with the new baby and stay there and um i thought that there was that i was surely going to have like that wonderful family bonding experience this time because there was no other family tragedies happening at that time that i would i would be the priority but it's like the hilarious thing was that it felt I felt exactly the same.
Even when there was no other excuses, I still felt abandoned.

[53:57] Yeah, yeah, I mean, they're still the same people.

[54:00] Yeah. I think that's when I started thinking about not excusing my feelings, but actually considering that they were genuine.

[54:14] Right, right, okay.

[54:19] Let me see. Where am I in the timeline? I want to talk about my oldest daughter and the negative behaviors or troubling behaviors she was exhibiting.
So daycare, she was not a fan of it. every day at drop-off was such a struggle it was just like how you wrote about it in and in the present where it was just this battle of wills she was always so unhappy to be left there but i justified it to myself uh that you know when i pick her up she is happy and playing and she She made friends, and everyone tells me, oh, they always cry. They get over it. It's fine.
And everybody else is doing it. And I still remember there's one little girl.
Every time I was dropping off my daughter, there was another little girl in the class who was always in an absolute state of despair, tears, tears, tears every single day, and even more hysterical than my daughter.
And I would ask about her and they said, oh, she's been doing that ever since she was an infant when her parents first dropped her off at daycare.
And I started thinking like, oh, my God, all those years and her parents just let her have this despair every day.
And it didn't occur to me that I was doing the same thing.

[55:47] Well.

[55:54] Oh, yes. I'm sorry. I shouldn't leapfrog over this. I did spank my oldest daughter when she was about three, three and a half.
And it wasn't regular. I never planned to do it.
I never thought about what my disciplinary recourse would be when I felt like there was some bad behavior. So she would play rough with me and bite me and I would, I would spank her.
And I'm still shocked that I did because I was only spanked once as a kid, but between the ages of like three and a half and before she turned five, I think is when I seen your spanking videos.
I spanked her about maybe a dozen times.

Realizing the Need for Changes and Homeschooling

[56:51] And it wasn't like the way the Christians do it, where it's very methodical and without passion.
Like, I was reactive and rough.
And even though I watched her videos and did that research, I was still rough with her for a long time.
And my emotional state was kind of all over the place at times.

[57:18] Um, like, I didn't know how much, how, how, like, words, why won't they come out?

[57:32] I'm not trying to make excuses for myself. It's just, like, I reached another stratus of understanding, or, like, being able to see myself from a distance.
And I knew like I've got to make some changes and when COVID happened it was kind of a blessing in disguise because we just took her out of that horrible situation um she was in pre-k at that time we were all at home we were all doing family activities together going to the creek or wherever we were allowed to be during the lockdowns.
And I decided to try homeschooling, but I was just not mentally in the right space to be a homeschool mom.
I'm still trying to do a little bit of work at night, keep earning a bit of money. I have this thing.
I like to be earning money. I don't feel.

[58:37] I don't feel safe unless I've got a little bit of my energy directed towards sustaining my career and bringing in an income.
Because like I said before, we're both independent contractors and we never know which one of us will need to be the breadwinner at any given point.
Like we can plan about a few months ahead because we know what jobs are coming but beyond that it's about um just juggling who has the jobs coming in um and i only mentioned that because my it's at that point my concerns were really split like i was worried about my kids but I was also worried about my career.
And she started, uh, my oldest started saying things, insulting things where I'd have to really like, where is she getting these words?
Uh, for a while I, we had hired a nanny to, uh, come and help look after the kids while I could get a few hours of work in during the day.
And I thought it was a good situation because I was right there.

[59:54] This was when?

[59:55] During COVID.

[59:56] Okay, got it.

[59:57] Yeah, and...

Insulting Behavior Towards Nanny and Puzzle Over Origins

[1:00:03] And I thought it was a good situation, but my oldest daughter, who really got along with the nanny, and they would play, and they had very good terms, but would have these moments of anger and lashing out, called her a pig at one point. I was absolutely mortified.

[1:00:20] I'm sorry, who called you a pig?

[1:00:22] My daughter called the nanny a pig.
And we don't insult each other. At my worst, I've never called anybody names, certainly not my children.
So I don't know where that came from.
And I'm still trying to puzzle that out. Maybe it was from a cartoon. I don't know.

[1:00:45] Sorry, you don't know where this came from?

[1:00:49] The insults, yeah.

[1:00:51] I mean, your father was verbally aggressive, right?

[1:00:55] But I never... I never...

[1:01:00] Did that i i don't know i'm talking about your father sorry not you your father your father was a yeller right yeah and you who knows what happened at daycare i mean this is the problem is you don't know right who knows what happened at daycare who knows who knows what happened with your mother uh did your sisters did they babysit did they and it's more than babysitting of course was because they're aunts but did they take care of your daughter as well no oh no no, never not once, i i would beg my at that time my middle sister lived about 10 minutes from me, and i would beg her to come over and play with the baby not even look after her she came once months and stayed for 15 minutes.

[1:01:49] And there was another time where my husband got really sick, and I had to take him, I think, to the emergency room or get a... Oh, yeah, I remember.
I needed to take him to get an IV because he had been throwing up so much he was completely dehydrated.
And I was I had this baby and I was just this is when I just had the first one and I was just a wreck probably still postpartum and I called my sister who lived 10 minutes away and she just kind of coldly said I'm at work and um she did send a friend or like an employee to help me but she never followed up she never um.

[1:02:45] Why do you have anything to do with these people that's utterly beyond me, just so you know?

[1:02:51] Is it really that bad?

[1:02:54] I'm just telling you my perspective. I have no idea what you should or shouldn't do.
And, of course, it's your siblings, but, I mean, they don't help you with the baby when you desperately need help.
Your sister yells at you. Your other sister provokes her. You said you can't have a conversation with your middle sister without her yelling at you and insulting you.
Doesn't help you with the baby. Has never spent eight years.
She's never spent any time with her niece.

[1:03:24] Well, there's family events.

[1:03:27] Oh, come on. You know what I mean. Don't give me this family events thing.
Then she's there for the family events.

[1:03:34] Yeah.

[1:03:35] She's never come over and helped you with your baby, your toddler, either of your kids.

[1:03:42] No. And I think like you said in a recent stream that like people who don't support you are out like for your destruction in a way I'm probably misquoting horribly, but, um, There was a recent birthday party I had for my youngest daughter where it was just friends only. It wasn't a family event.
And my parents don't live nearby anymore, so I just didn't feel a need of announcing this birthday party I was having.
But my middle sister catches wind of it and starts, like, a whole drama about me excluding her from her own niece's birthday party and how she's not allowed to see her own nieces.

Middle Sister's Birthday Drama and Lack of Assistance

[1:04:24] No, that's just leverage crap. crap. I mean, look, here's the fact.
So your middle sister gets enraged at you and keeps yelling at you month after month, I don't know, maybe year after year, because you came to her defense at her birthday party.
So she's all outraged about how you ruined her birthday party.
You have a husband so sick, he's got to go to the emergency, which is dangerous for your child.
Because who knows who's coughing up what, right?

[1:04:54] Yeah.

[1:04:55] Yeah, it's it's my particular preference is to keep children away.
I mean, unless they have to go themselves to keep children away from the ER or hospitals because hospitals for the sick people and who knows what they could catch. Right.
So your middle sister is too busy to help you when your husband is half dead and your kid is at risk and she just sends an assistant or something like so.
Oh, you ruined my birthday. It's like, well, were you there for me when my husband was half dead?

[1:05:27] Yeah i actually asked her to um when i was my whole family knows how how tired i've been sleep has been a real problem for me these last um i guess eight years and i just asked for help just like can you just come over and just like play with the kids for a few hours so i can just just take a nap or, and they're like, well, you have a husband. Like.

[1:05:56] So you're in a situation of desperate need, and then we'll lift a goddamn finger.

[1:06:04] It feels, that's how it feels to me, but I always feel guilty.

[1:06:08] No, that's not how it feels. I'm sorry to give you man speak here, because I know feelings are very important for the ladies, but that's not how, it's not how it feels. That's how it is.

[1:06:20] I know. I guess I'm just trying to cover my ass and be fair to them.

[1:06:24] I hate to say this as a married man. Don't cover your ass. No, this is a fact. Listen, you and I, as parents, know that when we become parents, our children become our world.
And for me, anybody who's not interested in my daughter, I'm not interested in them. Like, sorry.
No, I mean, I'm not even going to. Because I don't want to have people around who aren't interested in my daughter because it's going to make my daughter feel worthless.
Or that I place great value in people who aren't interested in her.
No. No, you've got to protect your kids.
And one of the most subtle things that affects kids is indifference.
So your daughter is fully aware that her aunts don't give a shit about her.
And she sees you chasing after them, trying to make nice and fix things, right?

[1:07:23] Not anymore. A little bit? Yeah.

[1:07:28] A little bit, right?

[1:07:30] Well, no, after my middle sister chewed me out last month, I made an announcement that she's, I asked her to leave and made an announcement that she's not welcome in my house anymore.

[1:07:46] More okay so then when when i said i'm surprised you have the people you can't imagine why you'd have these people in your life and you're like is it that bad sorry but i didn't realize you'd already maybe i missed that and i'm sorry if i did but so you've already drawn the line i didn't mention it but i've drawn the line and i've had after my sister left because it's uh i've been been having this conversation ongoing with my oldest sister and my parents for the longest time the last few years about um you know what our childhood was like it's like i'm trying to air it out because i've also got a niece and nephew that i want i don't want them to fall into the same pitfalls and i certainly don't want my children as well um so my oldest sister My sister has become receptive to talking about childhood.
It's not been a roaring success, but after I banished my sister, my whole family sat down and we talked about our childhood.
And my oldest sister and I talked to my parents about our experience growing up and what our middle sister's experience was like.

[1:09:03] I'm sorry, your whole family, that means after you banished your middle sister, your whole family, including your middle sister sat down?

[1:09:11] No, no, no, no. I'm sorry. The remaining family.

[1:09:13] Okay, got it, got it.

[1:09:14] Yeah. Because both my parents say, like, she's just always been this way.
She was just born this way.
She's just always been troubled. She's always, you know, kind of wiping their hands of any responsibility.
Responsibility and both i was a little surprised that my oldest sister backed me up on this which said no she's she was not born this way she was like she has a lot of destructive behavior now that she demands a lot of sympathy for but like how about and we and it's like we don't know what's true or not because there's a lot of stuff that's that sounds kind of nuts like gang stalking, But even if it's Wait sorry your sister believes she's a victim of gang stalking Yes.

[1:10:08] Is she on meds?

[1:10:09] And when I, I don't know. I really don't.
She has mentioned once about taking CBD. So maybe she's self-medicating, but.

[1:10:21] Right. Okay. That's pretty out there. Yeah, that's pretty out there.

Questions about a woman's experiences and credibility

[1:10:26] Well, it sounds like there's details that could, it could be true.
Maybe the things that she's describing, but every time I ask for details, she gets mad at me.

[1:10:37] Um like accuses me of like how can you not know that this happened and i'm sorry to because the gang stalking thing i just i mean i i remember having a call-in show with an indian guy who was into that sort of stuff and you can't penetrate the defenses um he heard a knocking in his cupboard when he lived in an apartment building and thought it was gangsta i mean whatever right so okay um it's not it's not that degree of crazy like it sounds like it could Could happen.

[1:11:05] It's her interactions with police and somebody who sabotaged her car.
I mean, I don't know. Maybe she lives in a really bad part of town.
Maybe she fell in like, you know, got in the crosshairs of some shady drug dealers. I really don't know.
But to me, it's insane either that it's true. And if it's not true, it's insane that she doesn't move away, you know, does something.

[1:11:30] No, sorry, let me just understand something as well, if I can. Yeah.
Your parents, they obviously help you with the kids, right? They're close enough that they can do that?

[1:11:47] Not anymore. They moved away. And ever since my father's health started declining, they just...
My mother said that she would come once a week for a few hours, but she did that for a couple of weeks, but said, oh, I want to go on this cruise or, oh, I want to take this class.
And that just sort of fizzled out. did they ever confront your middle sister about not spending any time with their grandkids never it's not even a subject of conversation, and what's your husband's perspective on all of this I know it's a little tough to sum it all up but, he's so sick of me dealing with my family he's just sick he's basically cut off his family he goes on a call with them once a year um, He's just like, I'm sick of hearing about your family.
They're nuts. Just let's just focus on our family, which he's absolutely right.

[1:12:45] And so we host Thanksgiving once a year and we'll visit my parents when we feel like it because they live in an awesome part of the country, which my children really enjoy.
And also, when they're there with the kids, they're very loving.
And I don't feel like I can take my kids' grandparents away because my kids love them.
And I just have to be really careful about it.
I just have to kind of put up my own boundaries about...
What I share with them. And I definitely never ask them to look after the kids, on their own. I'm always there.

[1:13:34] Okay. So was it about, you said the age of five or so that your daughter started having these, what do we call them, dark episodes?

[1:13:43] Dark mode. Dark mode.

[1:13:44] So she started getting dark mode around the age of five. And when did you first notice it and what was happening or what happened?

[1:13:50] It's just aggression and the insults, saying things that were just where did that come from and while we were doing the um like the homeschool year um we were out having a really nice day at the um oh what's it called like a nature preserve uh there's lots of butterflies and with with a bunch of uh with with some friends and i i triggered some i think i embarrassed her by refusing to buy her something at the gift shop and reminded her of um like we were working on you know we can't buy every toy that we want uh so i'm going to say no and that's and that's that and she she just started spiraling into dark mode and ended up saying, I should just kill myself.

Daughter's dark mode and exposure to suicide talk

[1:14:50] And I'm still reeling from this. And she's how old?
At that point, she was six.

[1:15:01] I should just kill myself. Yeah.
Where has she been even exposed to the idea of suicide?

[1:15:11] Well, I tracked that down. We were part of a little co-op with a lot of, what's the nice word for it?
Neurodiverse children. And there was one 12-year-old girl who would say that stuff all the time.
And I was, when I, every time I brought up, like, maybe she should watch her language about it, that I sort of got attacked for not, I don't know, being too much of a Karen. I don't know.

[1:15:50] I mean, sorry, your daughter was around a 12-year-old kid who talked about suicide?

[1:15:55] Side well she would say she talked about it like oh my gosh uh it's so hot i just want to kill myself like that's that like the phrase and that girl would also get really aggressive um she was a she was a bully i i hate to say that about a child but she would scream and yell at me for asking like hey is is that your brother and, I'm not trained to deal with children who are on medication for mental health.

[1:16:30] I'm sorry, was this homeschooling group, was it for neurodiverse children?

[1:16:35] No, that's the thing. It was about just letting kids run and play and be free.
And I noticed there was a bunch of kids who were neurodiverse that were just being dropped off.
And it was expected that the parents of the younger children would stay.
And I was staying no matter what.
And the the older this older girl would just do so many off the wall things like she'd come into a room where i'm having a tea party with my littlest one and just start tearing things off the shelves and saying this is how i relax just like and i would say hey stop don't do that what are you doing and the people in charge of the co-op are just like oh that's just how she is and i talked to the kids and they say oh that's just how she is and and how long were you wearing this Sorry, she was swearing as well? Yeah, yeah.

[1:17:24] And how long were you part of this group for?

[1:17:27] It was about a year. It was mostly normal night.
I thought I could shepherd my kids away from her.
And when I talked to the woman in charge, she said, oh, no, everyone is welcome at this co-op. I asked, what are the boundaries here for acceptable behavior?
And the woman in charge said, no, we accept everybody. We're very accepting.
And I said, well, I don't feel very accepted.
And then we left. But we were on and off for about a year because she had good friends there and she really liked it. My oldest daughter did.
And I thought I could avoid.

[1:18:14] What was the number of kids, and how many were neurodivergent?

[1:18:20] I'd say there was about 15 kids, and there was, depending on the day, two or three.

[1:18:29] And why didn't you just invite her friends over? I mean, it's easy to say in hindsight. I'm just kind of curious if there was a couple of friends.

[1:18:37] I try.

[1:18:37] Real weirdos. I mean, why not try?

[1:18:39] I really try.

[1:18:40] Yeah?

[1:18:41] I did, but their parents are just like, oh, we're busy. And that's been a real challenge getting regular play dates with her friends because everyone's very busy and prefer to meet up, do meetups at things like this co-op.

[1:18:57] And you were always at the co-op with your kids?

Challenging the dynamics of the homeschooling group and parenting styles

[1:19:02] Yeah, yeah. I was mostly trailing my youngest one. They had a mud kitchen and an outdoor area that she really liked.
But my daughter would have, you know, I wanted to give her freedom and be able to start to negotiate her own friendship.
So I tried not to hover around her, but I tried to, anytime there was something I witnessed that I was uncomfortable with, I'd try to talk with her about it.
I mean that's a really disturbed kid isn't it I mean the 12 year old sounds really disturbed I think extraordinarily disturbed and the whole time I was trying to figure out if I was the asshole or not and, it still makes me really uncomfortable to think about because everyone else was totally fine with it and thinking there was something wrong with me and that I was some...

[1:19:57] Well, I hate to say it, but it's a bunch of moms, right?

[1:20:01] It was a bunch of moms.

[1:20:02] And, you know, much though I love moms, it's not always the very best in terms of standards and exclusion and, you know, boundaries.
Not always the best situation for that.

[1:20:15] No.
And also, at the time, I just... I guess it's a theme where I just want some form of community so badly that I'm willing to, not make a big deal of things that make me uncomfortable until it just, Gets to the point where even I can't make excuses anymore.

[1:20:46] Right, right. Okay. No, and listen, I'm not trying to be down on you or anything.
I'm just, you know, if we're trying to figure out where this behavior is coming from.
So there was the one 12-year-old girl who was all kinds of messed up.
And what about the other kids? You said there was another couple of odd boys.

[1:21:02] There was one little boy that I know that my daughter never interacted with him, But he would throw stuff at me and my little one.
And like little acorns and nuts just like pew, pew, pew.
And I didn't really know what it was at first until I saw him sort of darting around.
And I very firmly told him to stop.
And then the other mom would say, oh, no, no, no, you can't talk to him that way.
He's got, I keep forgetting the term, compulsive disobedience disorder.
Do you know what I'm talking about?

[1:21:39] Oppositional defiant?

[1:21:40] Yes, that's it. I'm sorry. Yeah, oppositional defiance disorder.
And I said, but he's throwing things at me and my baby. And they said, well, maybe he'll stop. Yeah. Like they just.

[1:21:53] Oh, God.

[1:21:53] I was.

[1:21:55] Yeah, you've got a label. Therefore, you don't have to be a parent.

[1:21:59] Yeah. And but he was a drop off as well.
His parents were not there. and it's just every situation just seemed like oh there's some things that are so good if only there weren't these awful things as well so um but we've we've left there and we've we've found a better co-op um but oh i'm leaping ahead again sorry um after i had like kind of a disastrous disastrous homeschool year because dark mode kept escalating and i was i was terrible i was thinking homeschool was this rigid structure do the workbooks do the workbooks we have to do this we have to be here we have to blah blah blah like i was authoritarian and just stressed out all the time and i'm sorry i see that about sticking to a curriculum about getting to our field trips on time about um enforcing discipline in the home uh because i was this weird combination of completely permissive until i was completely authoritarian it was just the worst combination of both extremes and and was your husband on board with this parenting style or this discipline style.

Husband confronts parenting style, seeks change and improvement.

[1:23:26] No, no, he confronted me about it a few times.

[1:23:32] What was his, what did he say about it?

[1:23:36] He said, I, I basically like, I just need to calm down and get a grip. This is wrong.
And, and I think that's when right around that time I was trying to figure out what I needed to do.
That's when the opportunity to send her to school happened because we were dead set against sending her to public school but there was a charter school opening up that had just this beautiful curriculum and we thought oh gosh okay this is great we could send her to school she'll get this education that i'm incapable of delivering to her and i can work on whatever it is is going inside inside my head.
And, um, because at that point we had already, we, we realized daycare was wrong, but we didn't, um, draw the same conclusions about school.
So we thought there was still, it was still possible to have a good school experience.
And so we sent her to school for the first year. It was a modest success.

[1:24:42] She was not thrilled to go to school, But she would do it without complaining.
And she'd come home and tell me everything that she was learning.
And she was reading so beautifully. And we thought it was a wonderful thing.
And then by the second year, she returned.
Turned um she started saying like i don't want to do this anymore and she would tell me and she's pretty articulate for her age of all the things in the school they do to just sort of squash the kids about how there's no socialization time hardly any play time how play time was leveraged uh for good behavior from the class all the punishment reward system that they have silent snacks silent lunch um this the rigidity of um they had they were marked for posture um they're not allowed to read ahead they have to do all these reciting their lessons and it's a very long school day and she laid out all these reasons why she didn't want to go there she's also saying and i don't think anybody likes me even though i knew for a fact she had tons of friends because we'd all meet up and go play and they'd be over the moon to see her but she was having these um feelings of.

[1:26:08] I'm not good enough. I'm worthless. Everybody hates me while she was at school.
And she started biting her nails and her grades were excellent.
She was one of the top kids in her class.
And I kept thinking, you know, maybe it's just this teacher or maybe the school, since it's new, is finding its footing and they'll accept some parent feedback.
We'll get more recess, maybe shorten the day. And I'm going to talk to all these people.
I'm going to make it it better we're gonna make this work and long story short they don't care and i couldn't make it work and her third year there she started having legitimate panic attacks and there was one panic attack she had that was so bad they could not get her to stop screaming for an hour, and so i picked her up and i said you don't have to come back here anymore, Wow.

[1:27:05] And how old was she there?

[1:27:08] Eight.

[1:27:10] So, I mean, that was fairly recent, right?

[1:27:13] Yeah, it was a couple months ago. And we're homeschooling now.
We're de-schooling. We're working on just...
Repairing the...
We're just in repair mode. I guess the computer terms help.
And I thought that once she knew she never had to go back there, that her descents into dark mode would sort of lessen, or they wouldn't feel as extreme, or they wouldn't be as frequent.
But the patterns just kept in place.

Patterns of dark mode behavior persist despite leaving school.

[1:28:07] And there would be some good weeks and then some really, really bad weeks.
And we're doing counseling as well to learn.

[1:28:18] Sorry, what does a bad week look like?

[1:28:21] A bad week is when we go to a social event, a party, and she just screams, Everybody hates me and just hyperventilates.
That happened last month.
And it alienates her friends.
She's humiliated that she's doing it. She wants to stop, but she can't.
So a really public event like that, which takes days for her to recover from, just emotionally.
Another bad thing would be if we're out in a park somewhere and, oh, yeah, we tried to take family pictures for our Christmas cards and she decides that she hates taking photos and she just starts running.
And I have to go find her in the park and she's hiding behind a tree and say, like, we don't have to take a picture, just come back with me.

[1:29:40] There's also picking on her little sister, which I'm also concerned about how this affects our youngest, where she'll just just do everything she can to get a rise out of her sister like poking at her making little noises making faces things that she thinks I won't notice and just so when her little sister shrieks out she can play innocent it's, it's just it's.

[1:30:18] Sorry.
There's just a lot of little episodes where they just seem to come out of nowhere.
And I'm not sure what I did to trigger it or what she experienced to trigger it.
And it takes a while to come out of it.
And that's an expression I use. It's just like, hey, come back to me. Come back home.
And um i'm learning a lot of different approaches for not how to resolve things in the moment but just how to talk about it afterwards how to stop lecturing how to how to empathize better.

[1:31:03] And this week uh and i say all this after having a really good week where we were able not to avoid negative emotions and behaviors, but actually able to talk through them.
And it was so wonderful. We went to a meetup at the park with a bunch of other homeschool kids, and they had all brought Pokemon cards, and she didn't know that they were going to bring Pokemon cards, so she descends into dark mode.
She sits in a little corner of the playground, scowling and starting to breathe heavy. I said, hey, what's going on?
She said, I didn't bring my Pokemon cards. I can't, like, no one's going to want to talk with me.

[1:31:44] And I don't remember exactly what I told her, but I tried my absolute hardest not to put pressure on her.
Let her know that she's among people that are safe.
Everyone, all these kids love to play with her. her and if she just um oh yeah she said she she was upset that none of her friends were coming over to see what was the matter with her and i said hey you know not everyone's gonna reach out sometimes you gotta reach out first and i don't know if that was something that sparked something in her but she took a deep breath and you know went over to engage with her friends and ended ended up having the best day of her life.

Empirical evidence and recurring theme of feeling hated

[1:32:31] But that would, like she said, this was the best day of my life afterwards because she had such a good time.

[1:32:39] So hang on, so she says that everybody hates me kind of thing and you try to provide empirical evidence that that's not true?

[1:32:49] Yes, yes. But does that fix the problem? It did that time.

[1:32:55] Well, no, but it's a recurring theme, isn't it, that she thinks people hate her?

[1:32:59] Yeah. It's something she brings up a lot.

[1:33:04] Okay, so the empirical evidence isn't helping, right?

[1:33:13] I guess it doesn't.

[1:33:20] All right. And sorry. And so when it's a bad week, how many of these dark episodes does she manifest?

[1:33:32] I'd say like one a day.

[1:33:38] And do you know what you said? Sometimes you don't know what triggers them. I mean, do you have any?
Is there any pattern that I'm sure you've thought about this?
Anything you've been able to determine?

[1:33:46] Well, something I've been talking about with the counselor is that she feels really, really jealous of her younger sister.
She feels really hurt that she was the one who got sent to daycare and to school and her little sister wasn't.
She feels like um she was sent to school because i didn't like her and i wanted to be away from her and and that i like her little sister more because i never sent her little sister to school, and that's something i've talked about with her as well a lot um and that's you so when she says, you put me in daycare because you prefer time away from me i mean empirically i'm not saying that you didn't care for her or love her, of course, right?

[1:34:34] But empirically, that's hard to argue, right? I mean, whatever we do, we want to do, right?
It wasn't like you were unjustly imprisoned by some evil regime, right?
I mean, you chose to go back to work, right?

[1:34:49] Yes.

[1:34:51] And that's choosing something over your daughter?

[1:34:55] Yes.

[1:34:55] And, of course, to some degree, at her expense, right?
I'm not trying to be mean, right? Obviously, but I mean, as far as like, that seems hard to argue.

[1:35:07] It is hard to argue.
She asked me why.

[1:35:15] Why you went to daycare?

[1:35:17] Yeah, she said why.

[1:35:18] I'm sorry, not why. Why she went to daycare, sorry.

[1:35:21] Why she went to daycare, yeah.
And all I can really say is I shouldn't have. I'm sorry.
But we're homeschooling now, and I'm going to make sure that you have a really good experience and we spend a lot of time together.

[1:35:44] Um all right so how comfortable are you sitting with her anger with her hostility, because it sounds like i'm sorry but and then but now things are good right, i'm not comfortable it's very uncomfortable, because you know how everybody experiences apologies is that everything before the but but gets erased.

[1:36:14] Yeah.

[1:36:15] I mean, to take a silly example, obviously if you found out that your husband was having an affair and you said, yeah, but that was six months ago, I mean, we've been totally happy since, right? Right?

[1:36:27] Yeah.

[1:36:27] Would you be okay?

[1:36:29] No.

[1:36:30] No. In fact, you probably wouldn't be able to trust him until he really connected with your feelings, your negative feelings, right?

[1:36:38] Right.

[1:36:40] Because here's the spoiler. And you and I and every other parent in the known universe is in the same boat, which is sometimes our kids are going to have really fantastic criticisms of us.

[1:36:56] Yes.

[1:37:02] And we want to wave that away because we think that's going to have us maintain our authority.
But it doesn't.
Sometimes they're really harsh on us and they're totally right.

[1:37:27] Yes.

[1:37:30] And to be able to accept that, It's one of the toughest things around, because it sounds like we're being torn apart by our own parents, right?

[1:37:41] I can't stand being yelled at.

[1:37:44] Right. But generally, if you listen with an open heart and no defenses, defenses provoke aggression, right?

[1:37:53] Yeah.

[1:37:54] Minimizing somebody's upset promotes aggression, right?

[1:37:59] It does.

[1:38:01] So she desperately wanted to get out of school, right?

[1:38:05] Yes.

[1:38:06] And nobody listened until she screamed for an hour.
Because she's learned that to get her way, she has to escalate. I think.
And I say this with absolute sympathy for everyone involved.
How does your daughter get her way? She's obviously brilliant, right? I mean, you said very verbal. She's taught marks at school.
So she's totally brilliant, right?

[1:38:37] Yes.

[1:38:39] How does she get her way?
She wants you to buy something. You say no. She wants to get out of school.
You say no. She doesn't want to go to daycare. You say no.
And you and your husband, right? Her dad.

[1:38:54] Yeah.

[1:38:55] How does she get her way?
How does she affect her world so that she gets what she legitimately wants and needs? She's not saying, I want to live on a steady diet of sugar and cocaine.
She's like, this environment is bad for me. I don't like it.
I need out. I need out.
I mean, imagine if you were in a cage and the cage was slowly being lowered into water and you had to scream at people to get you out. Wouldn't you escalate?

[1:39:31] Yeah.

[1:39:31] Would you call that a panic attack?

[1:39:34] No.

[1:39:35] That's desperation, isn't it?

[1:39:38] Yeah.

Negotiating Allowance: Finding a Middle Ground

[1:39:49] Give me an example, if you can. I'm sure you can.
But give me an example, if you don't mind, where your daughter has made the case peacefully and reasonably, and she's gotten what she wants and needs.

[1:40:04] I guess recently it was that she wants to earn money.
And she said I'd like to how about if I do this chore and I get this much for it and we talked about it and said well how about you just, are generally, helpful around the house and we'll give you an allowance every week and she agreed to that, Well, okay.

[1:40:41] I mean, she didn't actually exactly get what she wanted, right?

[1:40:44] Well, she wanted like $5 for picking up one room.
And I said, that's a bit excessive for the amount of work that it is.
But, you know, she started bids high, I guess.

[1:40:59] She started, oh, she bidded high?

[1:41:02] Yeah.

[1:41:04] Okay. Yeah. Can you give me another example?

[1:41:07] For example?

Recognizing the pattern of negotiation in her behavior

[1:41:37] Escalated the situations where, she's able to negotiate and get something that she wants.

[1:41:44] Right.

[1:41:45] Right. So isn't that the pattern?

[1:41:55] I guess it is.
Sorry, you gave me a little bit of a moment there.

[1:42:05] What do you think? What are you thinking?

[1:42:09] Well, I was focusing so much on her negative behavior.
I didn't appreciate all the good things about her.
Because there's so much.

[1:42:26] See now what you're doing though is you're differentiating good behavior from bad behavior she's eight years old, the bad behavior which you call the bad behavior is trying to help you, I think she's saying, you don't listen to what I need and work to provide it as best you can, and I'm not giving up on your capacity to do that, so I'm going to escalate till you listen.
I'm not giving up. You know, the fact that she's yelling, the fact that she's screaming, is a much better sign than her going passive, right?
Her going rubber bones. Yeah. Then she would have given up.

[1:43:17] Yeah, I've thought about that. Anytime she has a screaming episode at me, I think, gosh, I would never do that to my parents.
I guess she's better off than I was.

[1:43:34] You don't have, as modeled to you from your own parents, healthy negotiation, healthy listening.
You ask for what you need, and whether they provide it is up to them, right?

[1:43:53] Yeah.

[1:43:54] Your sister doesn't feel like coming over, she doesn't come over.
Your mother doesn't feel like playing with the baby anymore, she just goes to the spa, right? Yeah.
So, you feel helpless, I think, or you felt helpless, maybe you still do, probably do, with regards to your parents, right?
Or your family as a whole, you can't negotiate with anyone about anything.
No so you've inherited that you don't negotiate you might give a whole bunch of reasons you might you know pretend to listen but you don't negotiate like you don't say listen your needs are super important we'll work everything we can to try and facilitate your needs, because children reflect back they make you feel what they feel but can't express in general right so when she is in dark mode you feel panicked and helpless and out of control right, yeah which means that regularly in her childhood she's feeling panicked and helpless and out of control.
She is recreating in you what she is feeling, but it's not acceptable to talk about.
For how long did she want out of daycare? For how long did she want out of school?

[1:45:22] Out of school, I think it was at least a year.

[1:45:28] Do you know what a year is for an eight-year-old?

[1:45:31] An eternity.

[1:45:32] Yeah, it's like 20 years.
So it would be like you're stuck in a job you hate with a boss who screams at you but don't worry maybe you can quit in 20 years wouldn't you freak out too?
Wouldn't you do anything it took to get out of that environment?

[1:45:57] Yeah.

The Importance of a Father's Role in Education

[1:46:11] Does your, what's her relationship like with her dad?

[1:46:15] Very good. Yeah.

[1:46:18] Nope. Nope, nope.

[1:46:21] No.

[1:46:21] No, it can't be. It can't be. I'm sorry. Like, it just, I hate to be this guy, but it can't be.
Because if she goes to her dad and says, dad, I got to get out of this school, what's his job?

[1:46:35] To listen.

[1:46:37] No. To get her out of the school, Not just listen What's the point of listening Do you want to call 911 And they say I really heard that there's emergency Thank you for telling us click Oh look they listened, It's to act, I guess it's I'm just the one who makes those kinds of decisions. No, no, no.
Let's not fall back into you. We're not talking about you. We're talking about your husband and your daughter.
She goes to him as she went to you and she goes to him and she says, I've got to get out of the school. It's killing me, right?

[1:47:20] Mm-hmm.

[1:47:22] What's his job? And she says, Mom's not listening. What's his job?

[1:47:31] Take over. Take the reins.

[1:47:33] Well, make a case or whatever. I take over. or whatever, right?
But to say to you, listen, she's really miserable at school.
We've got to do something.
Right? He's got to take her case, right? He's got to... And if he took her case, what would happen?
She'd be out of school. She wouldn't be screaming. She wouldn't be having these panic attacks and everyone hates me.
So she can't have a good relationship with him if she doesn't feel protected by him?
That he really listens and acts on her behalf and this is why moms and dads are important is the dads can see things the moms can't and the moms can see things the dads can't and you work it out.
Why couldn't she leave the school? What was wrong with her wanting to be out of the school?

[1:48:30] Well, there's a few reasons. One of them was I felt since I'd already tried homeschool and public school was not an option, that this was just her best chance at getting a good education because it was a very unique school in its curriculum.
And the second was that because it was a unique school, it had a community sort of baked in.
And like I said before, there's a lot I'm willing to put up with if it means I've got a community or access to a community.

[1:49:04] Well, it's not you who has to put up with it, though.

[1:49:07] Exactly.

[1:49:08] It's your daughter who has to put up with it. And the fact that you would say it's your burden, but it's in fact your daughter's burden is telling too, right?

[1:49:14] Yeah. Yeah.

[1:49:16] Okay. So when it came to being, to homeschooling, are you, and you don't have to obviously tell me, and please don't tell me where you are geographically, but are you in a place where you have to follow a curriculum?
Is it more open-ended? Do your kids get tested at the end of the school year?
Or how does that work with your homeschooling?

[1:49:33] It's very open.

[1:49:36] You could have done pretty much any approach to homeschooling, right?
Right. Okay. So why did you do research?
Did you talk to people did you read books i mean you you took on a teacher's job right which is no small thing and did you read books and say you know let's say it sounds to me like your kid's a genius obviously i don't know for sure i'm just gonna because she's very intelligent right so um how do you how do you best educate i mean this is a great problem to have as a parent how do you best educate a kid who's probably smarter than you are right yeah i found a curriculum i really liked um oh no no no hang on hang on hang on oh see saying that you have to go to a curriculum is already assuming an answer, Because you said you went very authoritarian, right? Got to do this, got to follow this, got to do that, right? How did you know that was even the right approach? Did you consult with experts?

The Assumption of Needing a Curriculum in Homeschooling

[1:50:34] Did you talk to people? Did you read a bunch of books about unschooling, the Waldorf School, like lots of different ways of getting your kids educated, right? Right.

[1:50:44] Yeah. Yeah. It started out as I need to find a curriculum.
I looked on a lot of Facebook groups, read a lot of books, um, that, that were recommended.
I did eventually just unschool, like, like you said, because I, I hated how, how much I was imposing my will.

[1:51:04] Sorry. I feel like we're just going around in circles here. What you said, I said, well, how did you even know whether you needed a curriculum?
You said, well, I went to look look for a curriculum. And I'm like, how did you even know that you needed a curriculum?

[1:51:14] Well, I guess I was still in that school mindset.

[1:51:20] No, no, but if you do research and you look things up, you don't have the excuse called mindset, right?

[1:51:28] Well, I didn't start out researching.
At first, I didn't know what I didn't know.
And I thought But as I went along, I was just sort of adapting to the problems I found.
As I hit a bump in the road, I would do research and figure out what I was doing wrong.

[1:51:52] Sorry, so you started out with a curriculum, and did your daughter enjoy the curriculum?

[1:51:57] She would do a few workbook pages, and then that slowly stopped being a thing she was willing to do.

[1:52:05] And you know i'm sure you know because you've done the research that about 98 of everything we learn in school is either useless or we never use it again oh yeah yeah i understand that okay so if you understand that what was the purpose of the curriculum i gave up on it um, during that that homeschool year and how long did it take for you to give up on it a couple months and your daughter said that she didn't like the curriculum or enjoy the curriculum right.

[1:52:37] No, it's just, she's just, I don't want to do it.

[1:52:40] Right. So she said she didn't want to do the curriculum.

[1:52:42] Right.

[1:52:43] Okay. So that's your daughter telling you she doesn't want to do the curriculum.
And what's your response to that?

[1:52:50] I said, after those two months, like, well, let's just do the field trips and the meetups.
And just I had read the unschooled book by that by that point and thought, like, let's just lean into having having fun this year, her kindergarten year, because she read pretty well.
And I, I just didn't.

[1:53:13] OK, so she was able to negotiate with you about the. Sorry, I thought you had this whole fight with being authoritarian.

[1:53:19] Well, I was. was it started out about fighting about doing the workbook pages and then i gave up on that because if she doesn't want to do it i can't okay so sorry it wasn't it wasn't it wasn't particularly authoritarian or if it was i mean how long did this conflict go on for, the conflicts about doing workbook was like just that first couple months and then the other conflicts are about going places and and doing things being being on time like i i wanted to be be free and loose and spontaneous but then when i'd feel like hey we're gonna miss this if we don't you know finish lunch get get dressed like all these things and and i'd say i promise you it's gonna be so fun when we get to our field trip but we've got to be there sorry so did she not want to do the field trips no she would she would like be really excited and then get get distracted she'd start a project and said i'd rather stay home and do this project isn't but we bought tickets i told you we're going here um and for whatever five or six at this time, at that point she was six okay so she's six years old she's getting into a particular project she doesn't want to do the field trip right yeah but it's so why does she have to do the field trip if she doesn't want to, Because I said, I know you like these. Like, when we go, you enjoy it.

Validating a child's feelings and preferences

[1:54:47] No, you can't tell a kid what she likes when she doesn't like it.
That's telling her that she doesn't even know herself.
And that her own feelings are lying to her. And, like, she doesn't like it. She doesn't want to go.

[1:55:02] We've been in a few situations where we do miss something. And she's like, hey, what about that thing? I said, well, we missed it.
We couldn't go. You didn't want to go. Oh, and she'd be upset.

[1:55:13] Well, that's fine. I mean, that's fine.
But if her feelings aren't perceived to be valid to her, she doesn't want to go.
Now, of course, if it's the dentist, well, you've got to go or check up or whatever, right? So there's some things, but if it's optional and voluntary, why does she have to go? She doesn't. I mean, she doesn't, right?
Now, you can tell her you're going to feel different or your feelings are wrong or whatever it is or you're going to regret it and so on.
But you're also not letting her have the experience of not wanting to go and then regretting that she didn't go, right? Which is fine. That's how she learns about whether her feelings are valid or not, right?

[1:55:57] Right.

[1:56:00] So why does she have to go? And the fact that she might regret it later, so what?
She can have that experience. We all have to have that experience, right?
Where, you know, I remember my brother went with a babysitter downtown.
I remember wandering around my neighborhood, like, really regretting that I didn't go with them.
Right? I imagined them having all kinds of fun.
So, you know, going through that experience of regret or...
I'm trying to find places where her feelings are listened to, validated, respected, and acted upon.
And I'm not saying this hasn't happened, of course. I mean, of course it has.
I know it has. But I'm trying to find more sort of instances of that, if that makes sense.

[1:56:43] Yes. And I feel defensive, so I know you're getting closer.

[1:56:48] Yeah, listen, and I understand you don't want her to experience regret.
You probably also want to get out of the house. I mean, there's a whole bunch of things going on.
And none of these things in isolation are a problem, right?

[1:57:02] Right.

[1:57:02] But if there's a pattern.
If there's a pattern where you spend a lot of time talking her out of her perspective or trying to, that is a very significant and I think quite a deep criticism of who she is.
Because you're saying to her, well, you're wrong. You think you don't want to go, but you're wrong. You think you don't enjoy school, but you're wrong.
You think you don't like this curriculum, but you're wrong.
You think you want to leave school, but you're wrong. Now, I don't know.
Again, I'm casting about.
These may or may not be the patterns. There may be other things that we can look at, but I mean, that's where I'm gravitating.
Again, which doesn't mean that there's anything true or right about it, but that's sort of where my head's going.

[1:58:03] Well, yeah, that's...
Where I arrived at... But you're saying it in a clearer way, is that I feel like I damaged my credibility in that year where I didn't take her out of school the first time she asked me.
My credibility as a mom who will take her seriously.
But when you say it's, I'm just completely telling her that her own feelings are wrong. that's.

[1:58:45] I mean, the real question is, did that happen to you as a child?
When you had feelings, strong feelings that went against the wishes of your parents, were you talked out of them or were they dismissed or were you told that you were wrong?

[1:58:59] I never even brought it up. I saw how my older sisters were treated.

[1:59:07] Sorry, did you say older sisters or was there more than one?

[1:59:10] Yes, plural.

[1:59:12] Okay, sorry, sorry. Sorry. Okay. So what would happen with your older sisters that you saw when they would have preferences that would go against your parents' preferences?

[1:59:19] Oh, there was screaming. I never saw the hitting, but my older sister describes being smacked across the face until she was about 16, and I don't have any reason to disbelieve her.
I saw my oldest sister get kicked out of the house as a teenager, for, disobeying she would she liked to sneak out at night and party with friends, and got kicked out for it so she was tossed out on the streets at what 16?

[2:00:08] 16 or 17 okay so your parents are absolutely terrible at negotiating with the females yeah okay.

Childhood experiences of conflicts and escalating yelling

[2:00:27] And with my middle sister, she would, you know, fall in with a less than savory crowd.
And whenever my parents would, you know, talk to her about the choices she was making, the people she was hanging out with, it always turned into screaming.
It always turned into door slams.

[2:00:53] Okay, so why did it escalate? I mean, you saw countless of these conflicts.
What were the keys that caused it to escalate?

[2:01:07] Let me think.
I don't know. My dad would just start yelling at some point pretty early on in the conversation.
And once at that point when he was younger and had his um was at his full capacity um his yelling but there was just no talking over it there was like once he raised his voice that that started that was just the end of the conversation, and so you didn't get involved in these kinds of conflicts as much because you just You just didn't express preferences, right?
Yeah, I just tried to avoid being caught in any bad...

[2:02:04] And how old were you? Do you remember?

[2:02:09] Those screaming matches with my middle sister, I was, oh gosh, it was just my whole childhood until she moved out.

[2:02:18] Do you remember a time when you expressed preferences and then decided not to, or did you just never decide to express preferences?

[2:02:26] I did. I remember two instances where both my parents recount the stories as humorous, where in high school, I started dating my first boyfriend.
It lasted about a month it was it wasn't a real relationship but I felt it was important that they know about it and I just said I just want to let you know I have a boyfriend now, I just want to see what they said and they're like okay and I was like oh all right and uh the next time I remember sort of expressing something important to them was when um I I started dating my current husband. My current husband.
I said it weird, but you know what I mean.

[2:03:11] Yeah, yeah.

[2:03:12] Dating the man who would become my husband. I said that I was going to start staying over at his house.

[2:03:20] Sorry, how old were you?

[2:03:23] I was in my 20s. I think I was 22. and I had my, excuse prepared was that because he lives so close to work that it's just easier for me because we're going to be spending all this time together anyway and they just sort of raised an eyebrow and were like well alright and and, Um, so there was no screaming or anything, but I do remember also growing up, there were times where I, I was just, I was doing things I wasn't, I didn't think were upsetting.
Like, uh, in middle school, I started shaving my legs and my father just caught me shaving. My legs was screamed and screamed and screamed at me.

Negative reaction to shaving legs and social pressure

[2:04:08] Um, Why? What did he think that meant? You had a sex life or?

[2:04:14] He said um when you shave when you start shaving you can never stop the hairs grow black back really black and coarse and it's stupid and and why are you doing this and, um if i could have articulated at the time i would have told him of the incredible social pressure there is and i didn't want to be the weird girl with hairy legs in middle school And it's not even true.

[2:04:39] Hair does not grow back coarser when you, I mean, that's just retarded.
I mean, it doesn't change your hair follicles to cut your hair.

[2:04:46] Well, I mean, I used to have kind of downy, light colored hair and now it's like gross. I don't know what if age has something to do with that.

[2:04:55] Yeah, listen, just go look that up because, yeah, my mom tried shaving my head to make my hair thicker, and it doesn't change the follicles.
It doesn't, like, whatever, right? So, no.
Cutting hair does not change follicles. It just feels more bristly because it's shorter. That's all.
It's got nothing to do with coarser or stronger. Anyway, that's my sort of understanding.

[2:05:13] In any way, it's just I didn't even know I was expressing a preference, but it was wrong. Right. Okay.

[2:05:21] Okay. Okay, and so when you were little, sort of, you know, four or five, six or whatever, you didn't express any preferences?
Because, like, that went against what your parents wanted because you saw all the screaming matches?

[2:05:38] Yeah, I tried not to, at least.

[2:05:41] Okay. So the pattern that I would guess at, this might sting a little, doesn't mean it's right. I could be totally wrong, obviously.
But if you killed off your preferences so that you wouldn't provoke conflict and your daughter then says at the age of six what, maybe I'll just kill myself, I can't have preferences now preferences is life, preferences is identity, preferences is existence, and if she feels that her preferences are meaningless less she's going to feel, I don't want to say like she's dying but she's going to feel like she can't manifest her will in the world and because she's a very advanced and smart kid she's going to want to manifest, her will early and because you had very brutal parents you weren't allowed to manifest your will at all, and there's that kind of conflict between the generations right.

[2:06:58] Can I step away for a second and blow my nose?

[2:07:00] Of course, yeah, yeah.

[2:07:01] Okay. Sorry, I hope that didn't pick up.

[2:07:07] That's fine. I don't care, honestly.

[2:07:08] Okay.

Husband's absence in parenting challenge

[2:07:10] So then the question is, and I've been listening for signs of your husband in this parenting challenge.
He doesn't seem to be here.

[2:07:22] Well, it's because I'm the one who reads all the books and listens to the podcasts.
And I try to teach it to him as I learn it.

[2:07:30] Okay. So does he not get behind your daughter's preference and make her case when, for whatever reason, you have your history, so do I, right?
Sometimes you need to make the case to your wife. Sometimes the wife needs to make the case, the kid's case to the husband or whatever, right?
You got to be the kid's advocate, right?

[2:07:48] Right.

[2:07:48] Is there a time where he said, no, we have to accept this. We have to do what she wants.

[2:07:57] It's uncomfortable for me to go there because he's, he's the only person that, he's just I don't want to be critical of him but I do wish that he would, try try to be more on her side.

[2:08:30] Right. And that's why when you said they have a good relationship, look, I'm sure they have fun together and all of that. And I'm, I'm not trying to take any of that away.
I'm just saying that she, you know, because, because you've had the history and there's some parts, which I think are still to, to be sort of fully worked through.
She needs someone in her corner, making that strong case, shielding her will.
Like the will is like the, for kids, a will starts off really strong, wrong, but it's real easy to blow out. Well, you know this from your own history, right?

[2:08:57] Yeah.

[2:08:57] You know, it starts off as this fire, and then it goes down to this candle that you've got to try and keep going in a windy world, right?

[2:09:05] Well, I guess I've been assuming the role as her advocate.
I convinced my husband to pull her from school because he didn't want to leave for a long time.

[2:09:19] Sorry, he didn't want to leave? You mean he didn't want your daughter to leave?

[2:09:22] Yes, that's what I mean.

[2:09:24] And your daughter knows this, I assume?

[2:09:26] Yeah.

[2:09:27] So your daughter knows that her dad wanted to leave her in the place she hated?

[2:09:33] Yes, I guess she does.

[2:09:35] Well, that's not great for the relationship, is it?

[2:09:38] No.

[2:09:40] And what else?

[2:09:44] Um, his argument is that if I, if I let, sorry, if, if she determines what she does or doesn't do, um, like with lessons, classes, um, if her preferences are, are followed, she's not going to end up doing anything. anything.
One conflict we have now is that she really wanted to try cello.
She's done it for a few months and she says, you know what? I really don't like it. I'd like to quit.
And my husband got irritated saying, you just started. Give it more time.
You're good at it. Your teacher says you're natural at it.
If you keep going more, you're going to like it. And I'm inclined to just let her quit, even though I like her playing cello as well.
But he's said she's quit so many things.
She's tried so many things. And she keeps quitting, quitting.
And she's going to think it's so cool.

[2:10:52] Sorry, she's eight years old. She's not 30.

[2:10:54] I know.

[2:10:54] Like, what are you talking about? She's tried. She's had four careers.
She's been an astronaut.
She's been an accountant. She's been in artwork. I don't know.
I'm not big on it. She's been an actor, an artist.
How dare she quit all of these careers when she's eight?
Oh, my gosh. That's wild.
Look, the only thing that she's going to succeed at is the thing that she loves to do.

[2:11:21] Yeah.

[2:11:22] You know, when I got my first computer, I mean, I'm not a morning person.
I'd get up before school to program it.
I'd go in all Saturdays and program computers, and it ended up being my job for like 15 years. I loved it.
You couldn't stop me. I took money that I could have used to buy a car, and I bought a computer.
Well, I guess I was 12 or whatever, so I couldn't have driven the car.
But, you know, I could have got something cooler than a computer, but that's all I wanted, right? Right, so she has an idea that she wants to try things, and you have her try these things, and she doesn't like it.

[2:11:53] Yeah.

[2:11:53] So now your husband is saying, no, you're wrong. Your feelings are wrong.

[2:11:59] Right.

[2:12:02] So maybe stop telling her her feelings are all wrong.
And her preferences are wrong.

[2:12:12] I think that the uh uh idea behind this is like both both he and i determined what we wanted to do like very very young we became very obsessive about it and very disciplined and we kind of think, uh it's it's time for her to find the thing that she you know can be obsessive and and find i'm Sorry, at eight?

[2:12:36] At eight years of age, she's got to figure out her career?

[2:12:42] It happened for me at 10, so I guess she's got two years.

[2:12:46] Okay, you're trolling me at this point, right?

[2:12:49] I'm sorry, I was just making a joke.

[2:12:50] No, no, I mean, but you're trolling me that you're impatient because your daughter hasn't figured out her career at eight years of age?
After you put her in situations where her will has been largely impotent?

[2:13:04] We just want her to find something that she really, really likes.

[2:13:07] Why?

[2:13:13] I don't know.

[2:13:14] Well, you do know because it's a big strong impulse that you both have.
Of course you know. Why does she have to find something that she really, really likes?
Especially when the things that she's liked you haven't allowed her to do, like be home with you instead of go to daycare, or not have a curriculum for a couple of months, or get out of school.
Well, we are going to blunch your willpower and your preferences, but we really want you to have a willpower and a preference.
We're going to bar you from any knowledge of Japanese, but you better damn well learn Japanese.
And the reason that you and your husband probably found your careers early is because you were desperate to get out of the house.

[2:14:05] That's kind of true.

[2:14:06] She's hopefully not that desperate to get out of the house.
You call it dark behavior. I call it commitment. I do. I call it commitment.
I'm going to get out of this school.

[2:14:34] Do you know, when I was talking with the school about her outbursts, she was having emotional outbursts, they blamed me for telling her that homeschool was an option, and that she was just being willful.

[2:14:53] Oh, so wait. So you told her that homeschooling was an option, but she had to stay in school?

[2:14:58] Well, I said, let's make a decision at this point. Oh, my God.

[2:15:04] So basically, it's like your husband saying to her, well, as long as you don't smash that cello into a million pieces, you have to keep going.
What's she going to do next?
Well, it's weird. She had this rage outbreak and smashed the cello into a thousand pieces. It's like, well, of course she did.
Because you told her that's what it would take for her to stop doing it when she doesn't want to do it.
Homeschooling is an option but you know as long as you're relatively okay here we'll just keep going.
Oh look, she's not relatively okay there. Ah, I guess homeschooling's on the table.

[2:15:36] The school called it she was being manipulative.

[2:15:41] Well sure, of course. And why are people manipulative? Because direct doesn't work.

[2:15:46] Right.

Youngest daughter's unhappiness and parenting influence

[2:16:02] She is imposing her will on your youngest daughter, and that's causing your youngest daughter unhappiness, right?

[2:16:13] Yes.

[2:16:13] So your oldest daughter, it seems to me, is modeling her experience of your parenting or some aspects of your parenting on her sister.

[2:16:26] Yeah.

[2:16:33] Because you guys were kind of sneaky mini-tyrants in a way, because you listened, right?
I was really struck when you said that your eldest is kind of a sneaky tormentor of your youngest, right?

[2:16:42] Yeah.

[2:16:43] It's not open. Not like that boy throwing acorns. Or the kid trashing the tea room. The 12-year-old girl.
Right, so you guys, you listen reasonably, but she still has to escalate to get her way, doesn't she?

[2:16:58] Yeah.

[2:17:01] And that's because you view her instincts as somehow wrong.
What if they're right? What if she's right and you're wrong?
I mean, isn't that always a possibility? In fact, my gosh, I got to tell you, if you're a peaceful parent, you hope to hell that they're right and you're wrong.
Because having been raised with trauma and abuse and neglect and so on, what you think is normal, your kids should never think of as normal so they are going to be, pushing your buttons in a way because you're raising them better than you were raised and so basically what happens is they become more free and more self-expressed and your inner parents come clamping down, yeah but that's the price of staying in touch with your family of origin, is that you keep reactivating the parental alter egos that are attacking your daughter and calling her wrong and bad and mistaken and dark mode and panic attacks and acting out and screaming.
These are all highly insulting terms.
That's what your parents would call it.

[2:18:17] I've struggled to find a neutral way to describe it.

[2:18:26] It's a cry for help. It's a cry for listening. It's a cry for her will to become manifest.
Well, we can't give her just everything she wants. Why not?
She doesn't want to join the Marines or deal drugs.
Maybe children aren't born these weird broken creatures that keep going off in the wrong direction and you just need to keep restraining them and turning them around and fixing them and solving them and redirecting them and steering them and controlling them and, what if she's acting out your tension your parents tension, What if there's nothing wrong with her? What if? I don't know.
I mean, what if she's eight?
What if the problems are in the parenting? I'm just telling you the way that I think, right? I mean, what if the problems are in the parenting?

[2:19:34] I've always been certain that the problem was the parenting, but I kept...

[2:19:41] Where she's reasoned with and she's listened to and you negotiate peacefully she doesn't have tantrums right right where you override her and make her do things while pretending to listen she escalates, You want her to be very different from you because you were raised badly and you want to raise her well.
So you want her to be very different from you. But then if you try and control that difference, it's a trap. It's a setup almost, right? Well, we're going to parent you very differently, but you better kind of do the stuff that we did.
Right? So it's like your husband saying, well, you know, we'll be peaceful parents, but she better damn well figure out what she wants to do by the age of 10.
It's like, no, no, that's what you guys had to do. Because you want it out.
How much of your parenting has been run by what you experienced as a child?
With regards to your husband, how much of his parenting? Why can't he get behind and make the case for his daughter?
I assume it's because he was never allowed to make a reasonable case for himself as a child. Is that right?

[2:21:04] Oh, absolutely.

[2:21:05] Okay.
And when your husband doesn't make a reasonable case for his daughter to you, why doesn't he do that?
In part, in part, it's because of his own childhood, and it's in part because he's scared of you, I assume.

[2:21:25] Scared of me?

[2:21:26] Yeah.

[2:21:31] I've never considered that before.

[2:21:34] Well, why wouldn't he make the case? Is it all about his childhood, or has he tried to make the case and you've pushed back?

[2:21:45] I'm always the one advocating to listen to the kids.

[2:21:51] All right. How did he feel about spanking?

[2:22:00] He didn't know.

[2:22:01] How did he feel about your aggression with regards to the curriculum that happened for a couple of months?

[2:22:05] He very much wants curriculum.

[2:22:09] And why does he want curriculum?
Because it worked for him?

[2:22:22] Well, I guess it's more about falling behind or staying, having something to show in case we ever get audited.
Um, but there's, there's ways to get around that.

[2:22:38] Well, I mean, she's still going to read, she's still going to do art, she's still going to take cello, she's still going to do stuff, right?
And you can sit down, you know, in our family, we read, we read, we just finished all of a twist, like we read books together and all of that and talk about them. So you can just make notes of all of that.

[2:23:00] The thing with my husband is he still gets very irritable when they express counter will.
Oh, the kids? Yeah.

[2:23:16] Right. What's his irritation?
Is his irritation that they shouldn't? They should do what they're told?
Old he just gets very irritable and uh oh so maybe part of the inflicting of maybe it's not that he's scared of you but you're a little nervous around him don't want him to get irritable so they've just got to follow the curriculum or your daughter well now i'm not trying to impose a curriculum now i'm i'm trying to be really um follow her interests like she's no but he Okay, we can drop the curriculum, but he wanted her to stay in school, right?

[2:23:55] Yeah, for a long time. It took a couple months for me to convince him.

[2:24:04] And have you, I guess, do you feel that it's apology worthy to say sorry to your daughter for the school stuff?

[2:24:14] Yeah, yes.

[2:24:16] And have you guys apologized to her for that?

[2:24:20] I have.

[2:24:22] At your husband uh no why not because it's my job no it's not he's a co-parent, You're both responsible for your kids, right?

[2:24:43] Right.

[2:24:43] Was your husband wrong to want to keep her in school?

[2:24:48] Yes.

[2:24:49] Okay. When you do something that's wrong to someone, what do you do?

[2:24:57] Apologize, make restitution.

[2:25:00] Okay. Has he apologized? No.

[2:25:05] No.

[2:25:08] So we apologize to restore trust and tranquility in a relationship right right, it seems to me that she has to fight harder for herself because maybe her dad isn't in her corner or maybe she feels like you're not in her corner and working really hard to validate and support her interests and feelings, Was he raised religious?

[2:25:40] He rejected religion at a very early age. It was imposed on him.

[2:25:44] What age?

[2:25:46] I've tried to get him to pin it down. I think he was six or seven.

[2:25:51] Okay.

[2:25:52] He started asking questions and was shouted down, and he said, like, screw that, and just started believing in nothing.

[2:26:03] Okay, so this would be my advice.
You and your husband need to have a discussion about what the nature of children and their feelings are.
Are children, in their natural state, good, decent, grow into responsibility, know their own thoughts, know their own interests, and will do okay?
With some guidance, obviously, right?
Or do they need to be controlled? Do you need to oppose their wills in order to civilize them or have them be successful or whatever, right?
Because that's the foundational question I don't know that you guys have answered yet.

[2:26:44] Mm-hmm.

[2:26:47] Are your daughters fine with guidance, but mostly need to be listened to and you need to facilitate what they want and need to do because they don't need to be bullied or do things that they hate or like you don't need, it's not a bootcamp, right?

Balancing Parental Authority and Listening to Children's Needs

[2:27:05] Right.

[2:27:05] You have to have that discussion.
When your daughter really doesn't want to do something, is your instinct to say, well, hey, life's tough, kid.
You've got to do stuff you don't like, you know, it's hard world out there, you know, you've got to toughen up, or it's important, or it's necessary, we're the parents, like, does she need to be overridden?
Because she's just a kid, and what the hell does she know?
We're in charge, we're the parents, we're the authorities.
Is that the approach, that children have instincts that are bad for them, and they need to be kind of rigidly managed and controlled and opposed a lot of times, or at least sometimes.

[2:27:54] Or are children born, you know, they want to please their parents, they want to do the right thing, they have their own preferences.
Sometimes they are confused about their own preferences, but guess what?
So is every adult I've ever known, including myself.
So that's okay. They have to learn to live with ambivalence.
They have to learn through their own mistakes sometimes, and again, with guidance and all of that, but sometimes.
Is parenting control or is parenting facilitation?
Is parenting pushing back against your children's instincts and telling them that they're wrong and they need to change?
Or is parenting saying, okay, this is the clay I'm working with.
How am I going to bring it to its greatest fruition without destroying what it is?
How are you going to bring your daughters to their greatest fruition without destroying who they are? It's not the simplest thing in the world, right?
Do they need to be controlled and managed and told that they're wrong and they need to conform?
Are they there to be opposed and controlled and managed and changed?
Or are you there to facilitate to their greatest potential the clay of who they are?

Conflicting Parenting Approaches

[2:29:16] Because I think your daughter's getting elements of both.

[2:29:27] Yeah, I definitely know that I keep vacillating.
Even when I'm trying hard to be conscious of it.

[2:29:43] No, but you and your husband need to get on the same page as far as this goes.
Right it's not just you were raised as people to be opposed and controlled right, right so that's in you and without a very conscious definition of what it is to be a great parent and listen you guys are doing fine so this is not this is a a nudge let's say right but, without that definition of what are you as parents are your kids constantly like Stray dogs that want to run into traffic, you've got to keep them on a tight leash or they're going to get creamed by a truck.
You've got to watch them, manage them, oppose them, control them.
Because that's how you guys were raised, isn't it?

[2:30:29] Yeah.

[2:30:30] So that's what your inner parents are saying.
Or our kids they're going to grow up fine they're going to you know like like when your kids you don't need to pull at your kids legs to make them grow it just happens right just feed them and stand back right, and it's the same thing with their minds you need to facilitate keep safe give them some feedback but you know let them come to you for feedback back, you don't always need to impose, right?

[2:31:05] Right.

[2:31:08] But, you know, it's kind of ironic that your husband says don't vacillate on whether you like cello when you guys vacillate on your entire approach to parenting.

[2:31:23] Yeah, I guess parenting is not something that falls into the category of division of labor.

[2:31:30] Well not fundamentally, I mean not foundationally, I think children are there to be appreciated and facilitated and guided but not guided against their natures and not guided against their will, to preserve the will of your children is very important And that means letting them oppose you, encouraging them to oppose you, letting them disagree with you, encouraging them to disagree with you, and never assuming that you're right and they're wrong.
You know, if she wants out of school, it's like, tell me more.
The other kids don't like me. Oh, sure they do. They're always happy to see you. You understand? You're just rejecting her feelings.
She feels that the children don't like her. And you just, that's why I said at the very beginning of this or very early on, when she says the kids don't like me, you provide counter evidence, but it doesn't work, right?

[2:32:39] Right.

Curiosity and Communication over Control

[2:32:41] But you understand that's a complete mirror, of you saying to your mother I'm unhappy and she says you got a roof over your head you got family you got everything, what are you talking about, did that help your feelings no, your kid says I want out of school tell me more your kid says, kids hate me tell me more what's your feeling what's your thoughts what's your experience tell me more that conversation can go on for a week, rather than controlling things that make you feel uncomfortable explore the mind and heart of your child, oh I guess I guess I'll just kill myself. Wow, that's really a striking statement.
That really cut me to the core.
Like, what do you mean? Where did you hear that?
Not where the hell did you hear that, but, you know, gosh, what's that?
I mean, have you thought about this? Tell me more. Like, just be curiosity, right?

[2:33:51] Yeah.

[2:33:53] You change far more people over curiosity than over control.
Control just breeds resistance.
Curiosity brings credibility.
I mean, if you called up some contractor and said, I need you to renovate my kitchen, he says, 50 grand.
It's like, don't you even need to look at it? No, 50 grand. You wouldn't believe him, would you?
He needs to come over and measure everything and look at everything and ask you what you want. He's got three days of questions before he can even think of a quote, right?
You just keep asking.
Tell me what you think of the cello. When did you first begin to dislike it?
Or what do you not like about it? Or, you know, just without wanting to change, just ask.
No agenda, just ask.
I mean, we've been talking like two and a half hours, and I'm only now giving you some thoughts, right?

[2:35:03] You've given me plenty of thoughts.

[2:35:05] No, no, but I mean, it's a whole bunch of asking on my part, right?

[2:35:08] Yeah. Yeah.

[2:35:19] She says, I'm really jealous of my sister.
And your first impulse is to talk her out of it, right? No, no, no, we love you equally.
That's selfish. I mean, to be frank, right? Because it's about managing your feelings.
She says, I'm really jealous of my sister. She doesn't have to go to daycare. Tell me more.
When did you first think of this? or how to, you know, just tell me more about your experiences of daycare.
Like, and sometimes it's like literally standing in front of a jet engine and letting it melt your face off, but, you know, it's unpleasant, right? But that's what's needed.
There's a whole world in your children's mind.
And controlling the world is not good in the economy. It's not good in politics.
It's not good in censorship.
She says, I don't like my sister. No, tell me more. Like, not, oh, your sister loves you.
We're really happy that you have a sister, or, you know, that's a terrible thing. Like, whatever.
Then she's just rejected. She's told her feelings are wrong, and she's going to get angry.

[2:36:34] Mm-hmm.

[2:36:50] But just ask, and try to ask without offense, without agenda, without...
If your daughter's upset, and that upsets you, and then you try to brush away her upset, you're rejecting her.
And then she internalizes that and starts to reject herself.

Rejecting and Internalizing: The Impact on Children's Self-Worth

[2:37:11] And, you know, it's early days and all of that, right?
But open and accepting. Accepting. Tell me more. That's the three words, right? It's everyone thinks it's I love you. No, it's tell me more.

[2:37:27] I always feel like I have to do something.

[2:37:30] Right. Right. And that doing something is I have to fix my daughter's feelings, which implicitly gets across to your daughter that her feelings are wrong or broken or bad in some way.

[2:37:40] Right.

[2:37:45] You don't have to do anything. Just listen.
Because she can't be herself if you require that she manage your feelings by what she does and does not say yeah that's that is not what i want and i don't want her to be in the business of managing other people's feelings right right so so you know your kids will say stuff to you that sometimes times cuts to the quick.

[2:38:18] Absolutely.

[2:38:19] And, you know, they absolutely could be right. You know, they absolutely could be right.

[2:38:38] And her instincts are probably bang on.
And And allowing your children to upset you without being offended is really important, because they're trying to teach you something. You're not avoiding your daughter.
You're just avoiding your own upset, which means you're avoiding pain with your parents, which means you're conforming to your parents' desire that you avoid pain with them.
So this is why I'm like, well, why do you want these people in your life?
They don't help you. they escalate, they produce a crazy daughter that they don't intervene with.
They produce another daughter who's kind of cold and you get blamed. Like, what's the plus?
I mean, I can see the minus clear as day, which is that every time you're around your parents, you make your inner parents stronger, which interferes with your empathy for your daughter. Yeah.
And at some point, man, I'll tell you this, man, at some point, and it's probably not going to be that long, at some point, your daughter, well, both of them, they're going to find out exactly how brutal your parents were to you, right?

[2:40:03] It's crazy. I don't even think of it as brutal. But.

The Harsh Reality of Parental Neglect and Abuse

[2:40:11] All right. We can say neglectful, cold, your dad boom voicing, or whatever.
I mean, your dad belted his daughter into her teens, right?
Didn't he hit her in the face? Did I remember that rightly?

[2:40:27] Yeah, he would slap her across the face.

[2:40:29] So he's assaulting his daughter into her teens, and then your parents kicked out your eldest when she was 16. Where the hell was she supposed to go?

[2:40:38] She went to our grandparents.

[2:40:41] All right.
So they kicked her out, like she was the problem right they didn't look in the mirror no, and this is the same way when you labeled your daughter with dark mode right, yeah I mean it's not as bad obviously I'm not trying to put you but at some point your daughters are going to find out, how cold and selfish and violent your parents are, right? Or have been, right?

[2:41:22] Yeah.

[2:41:25] And they're going to see that you, left them with your parents. They're going to see that your parents are welcome in your life, right?

[2:41:37] Mm-hmm.

[2:41:39] And what are they going to think?
These were unrepentant child abusers.
Unrepentant child abusers were welcome in your life and were given control over me.
And I had daycare teachers, then a nanny, then other teachers, and you.
The bonds kept being made and broken.
Now that nanny was pretty harsh, right?

[2:42:37] Oh, the nanny was, she was very nice.
We hired her because she was always so soft-spoken.
It was, maybe I was unclear earlier, but it was my daughter who was insulting the nanny.

[2:42:51] Right, right. Yes, sorry, I remember that now. I remember that now.
But your daughter also knew that she could, right?
Which is something to do with the nanny's credibility and authority as well, right?

[2:43:04] I guess so.

Higher Standards for Children than Parents

[2:43:20] And how really are you going to be able to, I won't say oppose, but how really are you going to be able to oppose your daughter's negative behavior behavior if your parents, who still have never apologized or taken ownership, if they're still welcome in your life?
How dare, how dare you have higher standards for an eight-year-old than you do for people in their 50s and 60s?
You're not trying to fix your parents, but you're trying to fix your daughter, which means you have infinitely higher standards of behavior for your daughter than you do for your parents.

[2:44:03] Well, I was trying to fix them a little.
But I respect what you're saying, for sure.

[2:44:15] And listen, man, she knows all of this. We think we hide all these things. It's pretty funny.
Like we, we literally think we, you know, like the little kids you play hide and go seek and you catch them and they turn around, cover their eyes and they say, you can't see me.

[2:44:29] Right.

[2:44:30] Literally, we think we hide all these things from our kids. We don't.

[2:44:35] You know, when my sister, um, had that shouting match at me, my little one, actually, she was the first one to hear and she ran to me and started, um, comforting me.

[2:44:48] And now she calls that sister my mean sister right right and so now both your children know that you have really messed up hostile and dangerous people in your life, in your are you in your 30s i think you're in your 30s uh i just squeaked out of my 30s okay so at the age of 40 or up until really recently right yeah you had aggressive crazy dysfunctional people in your life yeah so your kids know that that's fine with you, and they and those crazy people get the attention too so well as your husband was kind of exasperated all of this too right yeah okay so how are they going to respect you as a moral authority, if you're constantly chasing after crazy people and nasty people and trying to make them sane and better. And failing.

The Impact of Dysfunctional Relationships on Children

[2:46:10] And mom's really attached to dysfunctional people. You don't think your daughter's seeing that?
I mean, she might be imitating your sister to win your love and devotion and attachment and time and attention.

[2:46:28] No, I might consider that if my middle sister had spent any time around her.

[2:46:36] Well, you don't think they hear you on the phone? You don't think they've ever overheard you talking about your sister with your husband?

[2:46:45] Point taken.

[2:46:47] They know everything. They're like mini spies. They're like the NSA.
They're listening in on this. I hear them on the wire.

[2:46:57] That's a funny image.

[2:47:00] No, they got the caps to the ear, right? The walls of the ear.
Yeah. Listen, they know they hear everything, they observe everything, they see everything. They can sense your mood at a biochemical level when you've got off the phone with your parents or your sisters.
They know whether you're happy or sad, whether you had a good time or a bad time, whether you laughed or were quiet.
They know, I mean, I tell you, you ask your eldest daughter, you ask your eight-year-old to describe what she knows about your relationships with your family, it would give you bone chills, everything she knows.

[2:47:36] Gosh, I've never asked her. I think I will.

[2:47:39] I think you should, because you think that, oh, she doesn't really matter.
It's like, yes, she has, just not in person.
She's heard the stories. She sees your mood. She knows when you talk about it and how you are.
And she's probably got a lot of really healthy stuff, to say to you about all of this.
So i think that would be um yeah i think just the open-hearted listening and you know it hurts and you might flinch from time to time and just keep asking, yes and i think with the asking and the listening and the fully committing to and you know you can your husband's welcome to call me too but you can call him at the carpet and say well why haven't you been defending her interests more well it's your job it's like no no you're dead you can't just be the fun one that's not fair.

[2:48:50] Yeah, I actually have had one conversation with him where he's more a bad cop and I'm a good cop. And I'm like, I don't want you to be bad cop.
He still is a little bit in disciplinarian mindset.
Yeah, he's like bad cop and fun cop somehow.

[2:49:14] Well, that's consistent. So I'm sure that's very easy for your daughter to navigate.

The Continuous Journey of Growth and Parenting

[2:49:18] Yeah.

[2:49:20] Is he up is he down we don't know so i mean that's most i mean we know we've been talking for a long time that's most of what i wanted to i mean get across based upon what i heard what do you think well i think that i'm very humbled and i i can't thank you enough for taking the time to talk with me because it's crazy every time i think i am fine i got it you know figured out there's just like a whole another universe to crack open well i mean if it's any consolation that's philosophy as a whole like i'm still doing that and i've been doing it for 40 years i'm like every time i do a live stream we're like oh yeah there's this whole new thing whatever right so uh that's good that i mean that's that's part of the whole growth process and and uh you know you guys are to be enormously commended for the strides you've taken forward in your parenting and it's magnificent and wonderful and you'd be very proud of that and uh i think you get this listening thing down and and supporting her her feelings, and I think you'll be a way to the races.

[2:50:18] I really hope so. I want that peaceful household, that little oasis of sanity.
I want them to grow up completely whole and not having to fix anything.

[2:50:34] Well, I mean, that's maybe a bit optimistic because the healthier they are, the tougher it's going to be for them navigating this madhouse of a society.
So, but, you know, we just give them as many tools as we can and we act on principle and and then everything just plays out however it plays out.
But at least we stuck to principle.

[2:50:52] Right.

[2:50:54] All right. Will you keep me posted about how it's going?

[2:50:57] Absolutely. Thank you so much.

[2:50:59] You're absolutely welcome. And I really appreciate the call and have yourself a great weekend.

[2:51:04] Thank you.

[2:51:05] You too. Bye.

[2:51:06] Bye.

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May 2024

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