"It was a human guttural reaction from a black parent surrounded by non-Black families."
"The things we have to think about, that being one of maybe like five Brown families in a school of probably 800 families."
"And it got to the point, I'm a yeller...ugh, I'm a yeller. I said it, and I'll own it, and I'm working on it"
"Because if you push too hard, it's very different than your friend pushing too hard."
"While I don't always see the behavior immediately, the times that I do are just really cool."
Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together.
Welcome to our new limited series, "Respectful Parenting: In Real Life". I get to hang out with some folks and dive into what this work looks like outside of scrolling through Instagram, or that picture perfect snapshot of respectful parenting. What does it look like when you drop the ball, when it's messy, when we're imperfect humans, and when our kids don't respond perfectly as we planned. Buckle up for some real stories from real humans. And I hope that you get to see glimpses of yourself or your kids in these stories to know that you definitely are not alone in this journey. And there's a village of folks walking right along side you. Alright, let's dive in.
Just a little disclaimer before we dive into this episode that the audio was a little choppy for the first three minutes. It clears up after that. Thank you for bearing with us for the first three minutes.
Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of our Respectful Parenting: In Real Life series. Today, I get to hang out with Jamie Jones. Jamie is a mom to two kiddos who are five and seven, and we're going to take a look inside what respectful parenting looks like in her family unit in her household Jamie, thanks for joining me today.
Of course, I'm so happy to be here.
Can you share with folks just like a snapshot, give us a scenario of just a real life scenario of what this looks like in your household that we can kind of dive into.
Yeah! I have two boys, and they're wonderful, but they have two very different techniques for regulation. They have very different sensory input needs. I'm typically working and cramming my day until I pick them up from school. So I'm just like, go, go, go, go until it's 3:00. And so right now, we really navigating kind of who need what when. And we all need something that's very different. And as soon as I'm home, I'm trying to navigate who needs what, myself included, because I haven't really had a minute, and it's been work mode in the morning where I'm typically showing up for others during the work day. And I get about 10 minutes in the car by myself before I'm rushing to two different school pickups and then bringing them home, because the weather is cold, and not everybody wants to be outside. So right now, us getting home has been the trickiest part. Usually it's a snack immediately. I have to bring a snack in the car. So I don't have hangry kiddos when we get in the house, and then one wants some like wind down, shut down. I'm over stimulated time by himself, and the other one needs to move his body. And they both want me to be doing two different things at one time. So right and how we're trying to navigate it, where the little one gets a few minute of like Mom snuggles while the big one gets his snack and kind of figures out what active game we're going to do. And so I'll sit with Griffin, and we have a little bit of cuddle time if he's willing to have some cuddles. Otherwise, he'll just kind of sit and he'll listen to some songs and sit on the couch while Malcolm eats a snack. And then I'll go do some active games with Malcolm. But in all of this, I'm realizing that I still haven't had like a moment to regroup. So we're good for about the first hour and a half when we just kind of get into this go-go-go mom's on full activity mode. And then all of a sudden, Mom realizes like, wait a second. I never had my time to sit and unplug. So we're trying to create more communication around mom needing more time before I blow a gasket and am no longer the respectful parent. And it happens every day around the 4:30pm hour. And this past week, for example, Griffin was very dysregulated. He didn't get enough time. He was very triggered by everything Malcolm was doing. Malcolm needs loud movement, in your face. And Griffin needs quiet alone time, and he wants me to do it. And it got to the point. I'm a yeller. I'm a yeller. I said it, and I'll own it, and I'm working on it, but I lost it. I mean, I lost it. I was not regulated myself. I was not calm. Malcolm was triggering Griffin, Griffin was triggering Malcolm they're yelling, I'm yelling. It was not I, and then they start coming with, you know, mean things, because they're feeling dysregulating and angry. I'm not saying the kindest of things, and I just screamed and told everyone to pause. And everybody stopped. And I immediately apologized in the moment, Like, right then and there, and had to just pause and stop, because we get down these snowball moments where we're all rolling down this hill and no ones feeling calm or centered. And then we all blow up, and we like completely lost control of the car. We're going off the rails. And so I'm really, really, really working on. And this changes throughout phases of parenting. And I can like, speak to that too. But right now, with where the boys are at, I can pause and explain to them, because they understand how we've gotten to this place and try to show that I'm honoring what each of them needs. And I think that's the hardest part for me, and where I start to feel depleted as a mom is trying to hold space for everyone's different needs in the house, when I have not yet had my moment.
And if you're going into it, and I think so many of us, you were going into it feeling like even if I was regulated, I'm struggling to figure out how to meet their individual needs at the same time, you know, even from a regulated standpoint. And then when you throw in just life, and that so many of us are running from one thing to the next, that yeah, I right now I'm working part-time, and when I have on my work days, I feel like I'm way more dysregulated, because I am, I have a child who won't take a bottle and nurses and so, so much of my day is like, okay, after this meeting I have 15 minutes, I'll go out, and I need him to nurse right then. And then I'm going to go back, and so even those like little breaks that I used to have in between meetings right now are like my body is not my own, right? And so, A: I just feel you like, I get to like 5:00. And I'm like, woof and we have hours to go. And I think that 4:30pm marker, you know, we had at one point a couple years ago, we polled folks a Seed and just asked what was the hardest like window of the day and we gave some options, and 4pm-7pm was by far the hardest, overwhelmingly, and it makes sense right from a regulation or dysregulation standpoint, it makes total sense. What does it look like for you right now in this age, age and stage with the boys, when you lose your cool? And you're yelling. And then you, you have awareness of that of like, oh, shoot, like we've gone off the deep end. And now I'm going to try and bring the calm and enter into repair. What does that repair look like? And how do the boys respond?
The beautiful thing is they're really, they understand apologies right now. And what we're working on is a not forcing apologies showing that they're genuine, but also that it comes with a changed behavior, or an effort of a changed behavior. If you've hurt someone, if you've said something that was unkind, if you, you know, blown up and you're trying to stay calmer. So my apology always comes with an explanation not justifying my behavior, but explaining how I got to that place, and also with, with the, the explanation of what I'd like to do differently, next time for myself, with no blame on them, with no underlying tone of there being fault for anyone else. And really owning. It is kind of what I'm working on right now. And sort of what I'm trying to to show is that I am not perfect, I'm going to yell when I don't like it sometime, and I don't like it. And that I'm going to try to immediately catch myself in the moment. And the coolest thing now is, I've seen Malcolm say, or, or acknowledge when I pull back very quickly and say, I know Mom, I can see you're frustrated. And like, he's catching me almost before my apology, because he sees me catch myself. And I think, you know, in our household for me, my biggest way to show respectful parenting to them is to just show that I'm consistently trying to work at the things that I say I would like to do differently, and that they see that effort all the time, because I know I'm never going to do it perfectly. I might always start to raise my voice quickly and then pull it back and, like, show that I'm trying to bring myself to a calm space, or take that deep breath and model that behavior. And I was proud of myself actually, when I saw Malcolm kind of say, I know Mom, I'm really, and then he started to apologize. And I said, no, no, no, we all we all can say, I'm sorry to one another, because we know that we don't want to speak to one another like that. And that while it none of that was perfect parenting, it was kind of a really nice moment to show sort of that my effort to keep working towards this is really all that that I can do. And I want to model for my kids that I don't expect them to be perfect either. And I don't want them to apologize to please me. I don't want them to act a certain way just to please me, but really kind of operating from all of our actions coming from a place of an effort to be kind and effort to be respectful and an effort to own when we feel like we haven't done those things. And it's cool right now with at these ages, because they're really kind of starting to understand that. And I think in my brain, it was harder for me with toddlers to model respectful parenting or what I thought, respectful parenting should be, because I was having a hard time understanding if they were sort of grasping it.
And getting like reciprocal behavior, or not really being able to see a change in behavior because they're tiny and they're figuring things out. And so I think what I tell a lot of my friends who are really sort of diving into their respectful parenting journeys, whatever that looks like in their household is to just kind of like, stay the course and understand that that's going to change with every phase of parenting. And so I'm kind of loving where it's going, even though it's still sort of feels like two steps forward, one step back sometimes. I know it's really never one step back, but that's what it feels like at moments.
Yeah, well, I wonder too, you know, you said it wasn't perfect parenting, but I don't think there is perfect parenting. And I think part of it feeling like there's one step back is still this perfectionist mind said that so many of us have a were like we're going to reach a point where nobody yells, and everyone always speaks respectfully, and nobody reacts. And I just don't think that that's A: realistic or the goal, you know, like, I think that. But when we think of it like that, like, all right, we're moving towards this end goal where there are no big expressions, and everyone's regulated and how they communicate. Then it feels like we're failing constantly, and it feels like those steps back. And I hope that we can start to see this, this shift, in the same way that I don't expect Zach my husband and I to always be so kind and regulated in our communication that they're going to be times when were tired or just the other day. Had a thank you Sage, terrible night of sleep. I was I was just noticing, like all of these little things that most days, they don't matter to me. But all of a sudden I was like, oh, how dare he do x, y and z. And now I was like, oh, okay, I know I'm not in a place to bring up almost anything today that isn't essential, because I can't do that kindly and I, but like, that's real, you know. And like, I guess, we think when we are in that perfectionist mindset and we're working, we think that we're working toward this goal where there are no big emotions or dysregulation. Then it feels like it's not sinking in. And yeah, I guess it's just like, that's that's not my goal anyway.
Yeah. I mean, no, I completely agree to the like, pick and choose your not battles, but pick and choose what gets brought up on any given day, how everyone how regulated everyone's feeling. And and I, you know, I'm trying to, and I feel like this is where I get myself confused or like wonder, what's the best way is to kind of like, teach the boys to acknowledge the times on, that they can be really kind and really respectful, and maybe when timing is appropriate and I know that they're a little young for this. But you know, for example, my husband was super stressed the other day, he was having a really, really horrible day at work, and I can read the room, right? I can read the, the room as to maybe giving a little bit more space and not asking unnecessary questions, or if it's like offering to make a cup of coffee, just because you can see that, you know, a kind gesture might be needed. And I looked at the boys, he had left the room, and I looked at the boys, and he was a little snippy as we all get, and I looked at them, and I was like, woof, Daddy's having a real hard day today. And I said, what's something that we can do down here that would maybe be really nice to cheer him up so that we can also give him a little bit of space to have a moment to reset from work. And so we went into the conversation about, you know, sometimes it's really hard when mommy's brain is thinking of dinner and packing lunch and doing the dishes and homework. And then someone comes up and asks a question. And my brain starts to feel like all the things are spinning and I looked at Malcolm. And I said, "Do you ever feel like that?" Because I know that he does. And he said, "Yeah, sometimes it just feels like there's a lot of things going on in my brain." And so I'm trying to create like a sense of relatability and understanding for five and a seven year old, which is tricky, but without making them people pleasers. I don't want them to feel like they have to act a certain way just because someone else is stressed, but maybe having a little bit of empathy when they can maybe see that someone else is feeling a little bit stressed, you know, because we're trying to do that for them. And I try to say to them, it looks like you've had like a really, really busy day at school. Your may be feeling a little bit exhausted. So let's talk about it later, and whatever that looks like, but it's I'm finding it more challenging and more fun at the same time to be able to have these conversations with them. And while I don't always see the behavior immediately, the times that I do are just really cool. And like, it's more of them being just like little empathetic humans. And I have one who one who I worry about being a people pleaser. And one who really is just he's figuring out the empathy. He's figuring out the empathy in a way that might not always be natural for him. So it's fun. It's exhausting, and it's really fun. And I'm just kind of really enjoying myself now sort of seeing the ways that I feel like I've progressed in my language. And I kind of like seeing my husband sort of tack onto that too. In, in spaces that felt, used to feel really unnatural to him. And now I'll kind of hear certain phrases come out of his mouth. And I'm like, whoa, oh, this is good. This is good. So it's, it's just it's changing all the time.
Yeah, I appreciate that Jamie. I wonder for you raising two black boys what it is there, an additional pressure that you feel to make sure they can regulate, that they can communicate kindly, that these in the reality of like safety for them in the world. Does that make sense?
Yeah, 100%. We just moved to a new suburban area, previously in Manhattan, and it's kind of wild that in some, there are certain things I didn't have to think twice about or worry about in his city school, that now I am hyper hyper hyper focused on. And some of it. Well, no, all of it makes me really sad if, to be completely honest, just the things we have to think about, that being one of maybe like five Brown families in a school of probably 800 families. It's a very large elementary school, and we've already had a call from the teacher. I've already had a call from the Vice Principal, and we've only been there for a few months, probably three months.
About behavior, and he's really strong. He's a very strong athletic kid. He's a mover and shaker. His body has to be moving at all times, and he's, with the most compassionate empathetic soul. My child who absorbs everything, and he's very sensitive, would never, he's never intending to hurt anyone, but they were playing push tag at recess, and he pushed too hard. All the kids are pushing. I think it's a ridiculous game.
00:20:45 Speaker 1
Very silly game.
00:20:46 Speaker 1
It's a very silly game. And I'm like, who's paying attention to this? But I hate being the one that has to say, you can't play that, because if you push too hard, it's very different than your friend pushing too hard. And I said, did anyone you know, does anyone else get spoken to about this? And sometimes it's yes. And nine times out of ten, it's no. And there was an incident with language, which the wild thing to me is he's picking up a lot of things in first grade that we just we don't, perfect or not. And I don't, this is judging no one's practice.
00:21:26 Speaker 1
My husband and I don't swear in the house. We just don't. We don't. And the kids are very aware of what those words are, and that they should not say them when they hear them. And they always like, make a face when they hear it, just because they don't hear it in our house all the time. We don't say that I don't we're, we do with each other, I have a trucker mouth, but I just don't in front of the kids. And so when I get the call from the Vice Principal, it was, you know, well we need you to understand that there's at home language, and then there's at school language, and we need to make sure that you understand what that is. And I said, "Well, we don't speak like that at home. And Malcolm is very, very aware that those are words that are not appropriate or kind to come out of his mouth in any environment. But thank you for clarifying that for us." And I try not to get passive aggressive, because I really love to have an awesome relationship with the boys schools at any time. I like to be that parent that comes in and reads and does all the things. And I have never been less motivated to be involved at a time where I probably need to be the most involved. I need to be present, and I need to be there. And I feel like I have to destigmatize a whole bunch of things about our family and the new family in this district. And I hate that like I have to show up at, pick up, put together, I have to speak to the parents. And like, I feel like, I have to explain how we parent. And I feel like I have to stop him if I see him getting too rough at all after school, when all the kids are being rough. But Malcolm cannot be rough.
00:23:08 Speaker 2
And I worry because, you know, we had an incident where he someone was trying to, consistently cutting in front of him at line, and he'd been coming home and telling me this. And I had been telling him ways that he could handle it at school, and then she did it one day, and they were standing at the top of a staircase in between one class and another. And he put his shoulder out so she wouldn't cut in front of him. And she tripped over his foot. And that was the first call that I got was that Malcolm pushed a girl, and that she was going to fall down the stairs. And after talking to multiple other people, that was, you know, the, the very exaggerated, 'what could happen'. But now he's the rough kid. Now he is the kid who uses poor language. Now he's the one who was late like one time for school. So we're, the family is tardy and I'm, this is the first time, I think, oddly enough, living right in the thick of Harlem that I've ever had to explain to him in this much detail, or make him feel like he can't do things that his other friends can do.
Do you feel like you need to express to him that there are, that not every space is a safe space for him to express his emotions. And and that sucks. It absolutely sucks. But is that something that you feel like in navigating, respectful parenting at home, that you need to make a delineation for him about like, this behavior is safe at home and not out side of home?
Yes. Yeah. And I mean, I think, what, what Russ and I will say is, that's, that's exhausting for us, sad for him and hard for him and exhausting for us, because I will always be his landing space for emotions. And he idolizes my husband, and they're, they're superduper close. But I I'm the primary parent when it comes to the soft space to land. And so I feel like I have to have these conversations frequently, and with just him differently, even differently than Griffin.
Because of how they show up in the world?
Yes, because of how they show up in the world. And right now, what I'm trying to do and I struggle with and like journal about this daily is is not muting him and not make him feel like he has a personality or behaviors that have to be muted. But really about, sadly, what is the appropriate place and level in which those behaviors and those emotions can show up? And that just like a really crappy thing and I forget what he said a couple weeks ago, but I just came up to my room and just burst into tears, because I didn't have, I wasn't ready for it. And it was sort of like "You never say this to Griffin. You only say this to me, and it feels like Daddy doesn't want to hear what I have to say." And I forget where we were. We were out somewhere, and he made a comment in front of some other families around us. Remember what he said and Russ kind of like, shhh'd him very quickly. And it was a human guttural reaction from a Black parent, surrounded by non Black families. And it's it's interesting now that Malcolm can catch on to our interactions with our friends and our interactions with our families, depending on like, who's coming, who's over at our house, and kind of how Russ and I behave. And I hate to use the word behave. But like that's what it feels like.
Oh it's totally social conditioning, right?
I mean completely.
How much can I, how much can I bring Black Culture into this situation?
Right. And down to like what I wear and how I wear my hair. And you know, he, he said, you wouldn't say that if Uncle so-and-so was here. And I'm like, very, very fair, very fair. And he's starting to see that, and he's starting to pick up on that. And my my prayer for him is just that it won't mute him in the world. He has such a big, bold active personality. And I think for the first couple years, I was really trying to figure out how to contain it. So that people didn't think he was the wild kid or the bad kid, or the rough kid. And these labels that we all, we put on kids. And and actually, you helped me with this, you posted something long long, long time ago, probably years ago that, like, just really stuck with me, is that you know how I speak about my child in front of someone else, or the words in which I use to describe personality or behavior really kind of stick. And a lot of them really suck. I mean, and then I was finding myself so embarrassed and really wanting to kind of like change these behaviors. And really, what I want to do is just remove the label who came up with a stupid thing to call it like he's very active, and I changed it from being liked wild, or unruly to he's just active. He needs to move his body. That's a way that he finds actually calmness, if we can move our, and so like changing that. And reframing that in my brain, was very helpful to help navigate him through his days. But they have not yet changed my internal worry and my internal effort to sort of shift how he's seen.
Totally, well and the code-switching, you know, that he's going to inevitably have to do.
Yeah, yeah, I mean, and even sports. And it's like the way that parents and this school will kind of talk about him.
It's immediately that, and he's sporty. So this is also me like diving into a weird place that only I think a Black family in an all white school would do is, but you know, they're not acknowledging him as being sporty and athletic just because they've seen his ability in sports. It's just all of a sudden he's like the Black kid at school, who happens to be really fast and happens to be really strong. And so instead of calling him wild, they try to like, oh, soon as he starts to play football, and I was like, well, he doesn't actually want to play football. And as soon as he starts to play basketball and I like, he tried and he doesn't like it.
This dude loves baseball, he lives for baseball.
Yeah, like. So, I hate trying to feel like I always have to kind of like bash, that that image that's being created, and I'm very active in Griffin's school. He goes to a school that's eight minutes down the road, because he's still in preschool and his school's super diverse and lovely and wonderful, and everyone's down to earth. So we have lots of friends through that school. And sadly, Griffin will come to our district school next year for kindergarten. And I've never been in a school where I want to keep my distance. And we're here now. And, you know, I think we're just processing that like, not just processing. We've known this school rating and social environment around school are two very different things and very important that you find the one that that you really connect with.
Well and feel safe with, a school rating, maybe it's a really good school for a white kid, that's safe there. You know, like that doesn't mean it doesn't mean it's the right school for everyone. And that sucks.
Yeah. And it does impact my parenting, and it does impact my reaction to Malcolm's behavior or mannerisms, or and I hate trying to make him feel smaller that he can't move his body, that he can't be fast, can't play with the kids, that he can't wrestle. And there's 10 of them wrestling. Why am I the only one that's standing there like helicopter screaming at Malcolm to like, not be so rough? Because I need parents to see that I'm, you know, paying attention to my child's behavior, and that he isn't being too much, or that I have control of the situation. All those things are very different and are definitely changing, sort of where we're at in this stage of life. I guess.
Yeah, I mean it, it unfortunately makes total sense.
It blows. And and thank you for sharing your experience in the snapshot into that, because I think we cannot talk about respectful parenting without talking about racism within respectful parenting, and that not everyone has the same freedoms to allow their kid to express anywhere or to respond with respect just anywhere in the same way that you were saying, like Russ shut down the conversation out of safety and fear, and that it, we can't have this conversation without acknowledging that. And I appreciate you sharing your journey and experience with this. Jamie, I have had the privilege of watching you evolve in this space and grow as a parent for a few years. Now, you've been a Seed follower for a while, for years, and I am so grateful. I'm so grateful that I've just had a front row seat and been able to be there with you on this journey, and it's been really rad to watch it evolve for you and see how and now to hear your focus on you. And that was one of the one of the steps of the puzzle that I think so many of us, we put it off until we realize like, oh, we can't anymore, it's crucial to us showing up. And I'm it's rad to hear you say that you're focusing on that because you're worth it, and you regulating yourself and building that awareness is so key for for the boys, and I'm jazzed to get to know you.
And I'm so grateful for you, because I think in all their respectful parenting and all the the resources that people could find, I think you have normalized for me that it is okay to still show up and do this work, and it's not going to be a perfect journey, and I don't have to be wonderful at it all the time, but that I'm still worthy of continuing to put that effort in. And so I think, you know, the Seed Village and all the resources that are there are so beneficial for parents that are really just trying to do this all the time. And so I'm so grateful for you and this community that you've created, because I think there's a lot of spaces where I would have felt out of place or not worthy and that I just wasn't good at it, or I was failing, and I feel really empowered. And so I'm very, very thankful for you.
That's rad. Thanks, Jamie. Thank you for hanging out with us today. And I will continue to see you in DMs! Where can folks find you if they're interested in connecting with you?
Yeah. So I am jamiejonesfit on Instagram, and I can, you can contact me there. You can follow me with Birth smarter for any of the parenting and baby prenatal classes that you could possibly need there, kind of all over the place.
Rad. Thank you so much, Jamie, you're the bomb.
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