How to Navigate Big Feelings in Older Kids and Teens with Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed.


00:00:00    Alyssa 

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and today I get to bring you a much requested episode. We get to dive into what this work looks like with teens, and especially talking about teen anxiety. I got to hang out with one of my favorite humans, Casey O'Roarty. She hosts the Joyful Courage podcast, and her work really focuses on positive discipline in those adolescent years, and all the things that come up in that space. And she truly is a human that I'm like, I'm gonna need you on speed dial, my friend. I just find her approach to this so in alignment with ours, with young humans, and that it really does come back to relationship and connection above all else. And when I look forward to those teen years and look ahead, what I really want is to be in relationship with my teenagers. And Casey does such a beautiful job of laying out what does this look like? What's the messiness of it all and how do we navigate it? I'm so jazzed to get to bring this episode to you. All right, folks, let's dive in. 


00:01:17    Alyssa

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. 


00:01:39    Alyssa

Hello everyone and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today I get to hang out with an old pal that I'm so jazzed to be back hanging out with. I get to hang out with Casey O'Roarty, she has a master's in education and is a facilitator of personal growth and development. For the last 15 years, her work has encouraged parents to discover the purpose of their journey and provided them with tools and a shift of mindset that has allowed them to deepen their relationship with themselves and their families. Casey is a positive discipline lead trainer and coach. She hosts the incredible Joyful Courage  podcast, parenting summits, live and online classes, and individual coaching. Her book Joyful Courage: Calming the Drama and Taking Control of Your Parenting Journey was published in May, 2019. Casey lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two teenagers. Casey, it's so nice to be back with you. 


00:02:36    Casey

I am just so happy to be in conversation with you, Alyssa. Thanks for having me. And thanks to all the listeners for being here. 


00:02:43    Alyssa

Totally. We've been getting a lot of requests for like, this is awesome, what does this look like with older kids? This is great, what does it look like with teens? And we just immediately on our team were like, well, we know who we need to talk to first. Obviously needed to get on with you. And I love it. Cause you're like, honestly you're one of the only resources I send people to when they're like, I love this, how do we translate it into teenagers? Because I think you and I speak the same language. That's what drew us to each other in the first place years ago when I got to come hang out on your pod. And I so deeply appreciate the way that you share this work from a realistic standpoint of like understanding it intellectually versus like doing it in practice can be two totally different ballgames. 


00:03:36    Casey

Yeah, a hundred percent. And as I came into the teen years with my oldest, I also was in the question of what the hell does this look like with a teenager? Especially one who was getting into mischief, like straight out of the gate. I was like, ahhh, I thought that if you started off, you know, in this relationship centered approach and you know, that you were somehow going to get to avoid the hard teen years. And what I found was like, there's no getting around teen brain development, you know, and  it happens, individuation happens, all the things happen, and what I've learned through my experience in my work is how we respond to it makes a giant difference in the unfolding. The unfolding is there, and it is deeply messy. So anyone who's listening with teens and tweens who are like, clearly I'm doing something wrong because this is hard and messy. The messy and the hard does not necessarily indicate that you're doing something wrong, right? It really is just the nature of the terrain during this time. So I'm stoked to be here to talk more about that. 


00:04:55    Alyssa

Yeah, same. And I'm so grateful for you mentioning that. I have had a mantra that I've turned to since pregnancy, since I like really beginning of parenthood for me. And it's literally been through pregnancy. I used it in labor. I've used it in the newborn stage. I've used it when Sage refused to bottle his entire life. And I was a working parent, uh, through carrying him sobbing through a recent hike. And when I wouldn't let him stand on the ledge hundreds of feet in the air and reach out and touch a waterfall by himself about me holding on to him. 


00:05:29    Casey

How dare you.


00:05:29    Alyssa

What a terrible parent. And it's 'the only way out of this is through it'. Right. That like, and when you were just sharing that of like the messy and the hard in that maybe we could avoid that messy and hard if I did certain things. And for me, it's been like the only way out of this is through it has carried me through the hard of like, I don't have to problem solve my way out. I can't to -do list my way out of this. I can't even always connect my way out of this. 


00:06:01    Casey

Oh, that gave me the chills. And I think what happens with when they become adolescents, that instinct to fix--


00:06:13    Alyssa

Oh yeah. 


00:06:14    Casey

You know, and that discomfort around our kids' strong emotions like disappointment and sadness and anger. I mean it is it feel I mean being in it right now like it feels like it's amplified but really as I listen to you talk I'm remembering the early years was amplified as well, right?  It's just a different, it's just a different age stage. And the main thing for me has been trusting and remembering that their only way through it is through it. 


00:06:53    Alyssa



00:06:53    Casey

Right. And really allowing, which, you know, you said in my bio, facilitator of personal growth and development, parenting is a personal growth and development workshop that you may not have recognized that you signed up for, but that is exactly how I hold it. It has been for me. It is for the clients that I work with. It's just such this intense opportunity to be with your own inner turmoil as you watch your young person struggle with friendships and school and mental health, if that's something that shows up, substance use if that's something that shows up. And it is all about our own inner landscape. How am I going to show up to this in a way that's going to be helpful and not hurtful? How can I show up right now? And our teenagers do not want us to act like we can fix things. Right. And that--


00:07:55    Alyssa

 I don't think anyone does. 


00:07:57    Casey

Right. Its a really hard lesson


00:07:57    Alyssa

I don't think our toddlers do, 


00:07:59    Casey



00:07:59    Alyssa

It's sucks. I hate when somebody comes in to fix my things. I just need to talk about it. I just need to tell you how much this sucks. I don't need you to fix it, but yeah, we're very good at fixing. And I think for me, as I even just like look ahead to teenage years, I experienced trauma as a 14 year old that then like shaped and really was a huge part of my teen years. And I was chatting with a friend yesterday whose son is 16 and just went through his first like heartbreak. And yeah. And she was like, just watching him be in this. She was like, he asked me to sleep in bed with him for the first time since he was a toddler. And she's like, I soaked it up and he fell asleep. And I was just like crying in bed next to him. Like, I don't want him to have to go through this. I don't want him to feel this because I know exactly what this feels like. 


00:08:54    Casey

Yeah. Yeah. And it is, it is our work to be there and to remember-- that could have been my story like four months ago. And I had to like actively remind myself, well, this is day one, day two is going to feel better. Day three is going to feel better. Like he's not going to sit in this sadness forever. And he gets to have this experience because we all need to know heartbreak, so that down the line, the next time something happens, I call it having those experiences in the back pocket, he gets to remember like, oh yeah, I've hurt like this before and it didn't last forever, right? So that's the other thing when I talk about parenting teenagers and being with them and their experiences is the more experiences that they can accrue and we can stay out of the way and really let them like, we've had a couple things show up where in the, you know, they've, there's been some morning afters over here. And I said, let's just really like just sit and feel right now. Cause there are micro decisions that we make all the time that lead us one way or the other. And, and right now you're, you're having this rich experience around one outcome. So, you know, regret, remorse, like that's a really important thing to feel and to know. And we had a follow -up conversation that sounded like, so what did you learn the other night? Oh yeah, I can't do, you know, doing this leads to bad decisions. Okay, great. So what's your plan for tonight? Well, I'll probably do this other thing, which I won't give you the details. It was kind of hilarious, but I was like, okay, sounds like plan, you know, make sure you come in and give me a kiss when you get home tonight. But I think it's so important, which is hard, because novelty seeking is one of the things that the brain is wired for during the teen years, which means our kids are going to explore and push boundaries. And when we get so afraid and angry about that and think that we can control that, we're really robbing them of the experience of learning through the choices that they're making. Because instead, they're sitting inside of, oh my god, my mom, she's so over the top, or she's such a bitch, or my dad doesn't get it, instead of, oh, yeah, I do feel not so great this morning about some of the choices I made. What could I, where were those points where I could have done something differently? That is a lot more valuable for them in the long term than how dare you, you don't get to go out this weekend, think about what you've done, right? All they're thinking is, ugh, how can I get out of this? 


00:11:44    Alyssa

Totally. Well, it pulls away from the actual connection and collaboration, and it's control at every age, right? Like we're always looking at like, and we just have this false sense of, or maybe it's really that I can control more right now when Sage is two than you can control with a teenager or 20 -year -old, right? And that control is slowly just pulling away. And I can either grasp at it and try to assert it for years to come and lose that connection, I think, with him. Or I can learn how to be in relationship where control isn't my focus. And I think it's so hard. And having experienced the teen years I experienced, I very much had the parenting approach or I experienced the parenting approach of, oh, you did this, like they found cigarettes in my bag and just like showed me they found them and then threw them out. And I'm like, cool, can get them again. I was grounded for this thing or that or whatever. And it didn't change my behavior. My behavior just became secretive. 


00:13:01    Casey



00:13:01    Alyssa

And also then when big things did happen, I didn't have a place to turn. 


00:13:07    Casey

Yes, same. 


00:13:09    Alyssa

You know, and- 


00:13:12    Casey

Even into college, even into college, like really unhealthy behaviors and no healthy adults to say, well, now tell me about how this is working out for you. Right. My friends weren't, my friends, my peer group were engaging in the same kind of stuff-- ish. 


00:13:29    Alyssa



00:13:30    Casey

Right. And that's something that is so important to me with both of my kids. So my youngest is a senior this year in high school. And I've been really clear with him. Like, you know, my plan this year is to really give you some training ground around making your own choices and giving you space and freedom to decide what is best for you. Because in a year, you're gonna be multiple states away and nobody's gonna be really paying that kind of attention to you. Nobody's going to be holding that space for you. So let's use this year in a way where you can kind of stretch out more than you ever have and, you know, when it's an overstretch, we get to tease it apart and look at it, process it. And by the way, everyone, I get worried that I'm permissive and my kids are like, you're like the strictest parent of all the parents. And I say, how do you figure? Like, what do you, really? Oh yeah, things go down and we got to process. We got to talk about it. You know, it'd be easier if you were like, meh give me your phone, give me your car keys. But instead it's like, let's sit with this, you know? And I gotta tell you, it's nice to hear that.


00:14:51    Alyssa

You're gonna make me do the work around it. 


00:14:54    Casey

Yeah, sorry. 


00:14:57    Alyssa

One thing that I, you've shared so openly about, that's something that I struggled with for a long time and mine was largely as a trauma response, but that was all consuming and really scary and detrimental for years, like a decade for me was living with anxiety. And it's something that I personally have fear around my kids eventually as teens living with anxiety because it's one of those for me where I'm like, God, it was so hard and it was so scary and it was so consuming. And so, uh, if you could just walk me through this, uh, real quick, Casey on, can you just give future Alyssa some pep talks here that are going to come in handy, for when they inevitably experience fear that spirals into anxiety, right. Where they are stuck in that fear. You've shared so openly about it and I really appreciate that. 


00:15:57    Casey

Yeah. Well, first I want to say that whatever the trauma was that came up for you when you were 14. I'm really sorry about that and wasn't your fault. And life is a weird place, right? Yeah. Second, I am not an anxiety expert. However, I did navigate some pretty intense anxiety with my oldest, who's now 20 years old, living on her own, has a job, is in college, like super amazing, inspiring human being. So I think my advice to future, you know, mama Alyssa is just remembering that your experience of having moved through anxiety is a goldmine for you. You get to really relate to your kids. I have never really experienced anxiety, and that was, it made it really hard for me to relate and show up for Rowan in the way that she needed. We moved through it, but, you know, remember that your experience is a really powerful experience to use and to resource, while also remembering your experience is not going to be your kiddo's experience. 


00:17:22    Alyssa

 Yeah. That's the hard part, right? It's that lack of projection. 


00:17:27    Casey



00:17:28    Alyssa

Right? And not projecting what I experienced as theirs. 


00:17:32    Casey

Right. And I think that their, you know, and as I'm sure you've done so much work around this, you know, noticing when their fear is poking at your fear and noticing when your emotional response to your kids is actually your emotional response to your past trauma. 


00:17:54    Alyssa

Yeah. It's a doozy. That work is a doozy. 


00:17:57    Casey

Yeah. It's not like, we'll be fine. Just do that. You know, I mean, we can't even really, I mean, it's so layered, right? And I think, you know, that's something that my daughter is learning right now. She, um, we did dialectic behavioral therapy together when she was 17, had just had dropped out of high school, danced with an eating disorder, and she lets me share about all of this. Anxiety trapped her in her room, basically, and for a long time with her bong, right? 


00:18:31    Alyssa



00:18:31    Casey

So that was the self -medication was weed smoking. I don't know how she got the weed considering she never left her room, but... 


00:18:38    Alyssa

Because I met you when you were in the thick of this. 


00:18:41    Casey

Yes. Oh my gosh, right. So, you know, talk about showing up. You know, I have my own, I have my own history of substance use and mischief making. Um, being on the other side is just crazy craziness. Anyway, we went DBT, she finally was agreeable to therapy and has had the most amazing therapist. She graduated from therapy and has been out in the world and in relationship with people and dating and friendships and is noticing her gaps, right? Because anxiety took about 18 months from her plus COVID, right? Where the social learning and practicing social engagement and interpersonal relationship wasn't available. And so just this summer, she goes, God, you know, I think I need to go back to therapy. And I said, 


00:19:39    Alyssa

Oh I love her.


00:19:39    Casey

Yes, I was like, Yeah, exactly. This is how therapy works. You go, you work your shit out, you live, you realize, oh, I found another gap. I've peeled back another layer. And so you get to go back and work that out. And so, you know, I think that's the thing too, future Alyssa, is noticing when what's happening with your kids is actually resurfacing or, you know, kind of showing you where your gaps still remain in your own healing, so that you aren't, you know, working it out on them or having unrealistic expectations of them. The hardest thing about anxiety for me was, not taking it personally. Because when Rowan gets anxious, she's deeply uncomfortable and kind of is a bitch. Like she just, she's so uncomfortable that I am like a walking trigger for her and just, you know, the looks and the snark and the, and it took me a long time to recognize, this is her tell that she's in anxiety. 


00:20:48    Alyssa

Interesting. Yeah. 


00:20:50    Casey

Yeah. Because I would be like, why are you acting like this? What have I done? You know, like specifically on her 16th birthday, this happened. We were all out to dinner.  We had some of her friends, a bunch of my friends, we were at this restaurant. We sat down, I'd organized the whole thing. We sat down and she was just being so like, side rude to me, barely would look at me, and I was just like, what is going on? Why is she being so like this? And I said, and then she leaned over and she goes, the waitstaff isn't going to sing happy birthday to me, are they? And immediately I knew, okay. And I said, I will make sure that they don't. And I sent her auntie off to the hostess and said, listen, no birthday singing at our table. And then it was fine. So, you know, learning where, again, I guess that's another little trigger, right? When am I taking it personally? And you know, also just being really curious about their experiences, like, tell me about how it feels, right? Tell me about how you're coping. Tell me how you want me to respond if I'm around. Tell me what you need. And sometimes they're like, I don't know what I need. Okay. 


00:22:03    Alyssa

I need you to go away.


00:22:04    Casey

Yeah, I need you to go away. And I think also, and this is like a general thing that keeps coming up for me, like, landing the message that you believe that they are capable is so huge, right? They're capable of moving through a panic attack. They're capable of being with their fear and worry. They're capable of pulling things off in the end. They're capable of asking for help. You know, you believe in their strengths and their growing strengths, and you can name them, and they know you believe in them. Because teen years, I'll tell you what, in my experience, there's so many moments where they don't believe in themselves. And they need you to authentically be there and say, but wait a minute, this already happened once. And I saw you do this, this and this. And you pulled it off. You moved through it, right? So reminding them of their past success, reminding them when they've had experiences. And I think that was the hardest thing for Rowan was, and for young teens who are struggling with anxiety or depression, those are the two things that we navigated, is they don't have the past experience to remember and say, Oh, yeah, this happened before, and it got better. Right? The first time, the first move thru-ing it, it's like this is never going to get better. There is I mean, Rowan, there is no cure, mom, right? And okay. 


00:23:36    Alyssa

Well, and then for you as the adult being like, Oh, is this just what life is now? Right? And like, I, I can already like even just with toddler times where he's dysregulated, or in a funk or there's stuff going on, we have transitions, whatever. And there's a new him where he's living in an eight out of 10, easily set off, hard to come down from, whatever. And I'm just like, oh, is this our life now? Like, I'm not having a good time. When I was like carrying him sobbing out of that hike just this weekend, he literally at one point said, I'm not having fun. And I was like, me neither, bud. Like, no one's having fun right now, right? And like, but when we're in those spaces where it's hard and it's a season of hard, and it's not just a moment of hard, I can very easily be like, Is this our new life? Is this who this kid is? Do I like being around this human? You know, and then when we move through it, and we're on the other side, I'm like, Oh, no, that was just a hard season. And this is new. And now that I've had enough, or a few enough, it feels like enough hard seasons where I'm like, okay, it ebbs, it flows. He's in a dysregulated state or a funk. He is a giant introvert. So if we go on vacation, I have four brothers. There's a bunch of people. Anytime we're going to be in a larger function, it pulls from his nervous system. And sometimes for a couple of weeks after we're back. And the first few times it happened, it happened starting as an infant, where we'd get home and we're like, Oh my God, who is this? Who is this baby? Who is this human? And now we're a few years into it, and we're like, yep, this is the pattern. We're gonna do something like this. This is what's gonna happen. And now I can like see the forest through the trees sort of thing. But what you were talking about there with the like really trusting them to move through it, when we were creating the CEP method, we, as a part of it, created the five phases of emotion processing. And phase three is security in your feelings. And this is where you know, I can move through this. I am secure to feel this because it won't feel this way forever, that this is temporary. And there was cool research out of Yale that came out in 2019, and it looked at different approaches to anxiety in kids. And it looked at medication, it looked at therapy, and it looked at parent or caregiver support of helping parents or caregivers allow their kids to experience it and know how to, like, be a partner in it without rescuing them from it. And that overwhelmingly had the greatest long -term results. Right. And then that's what you just hit on here. Is that like, when we tell them, like, I trust you to navigate this. And when we like genuinely do, we say like, yeah, you're going to get through this, that for them, it builds this confidence of like, okay, this isn't going to consume me, which then really allows them to experience it without trying to rush it away or make it go away or feel like they're failing for experiencing it or for feeling it. And yeah, when we look at like from the emotion side, it's like quicksand. When you try to make something go away emotionally, you just dig deeper into it. This is where we can like spiral and get stuck. And I think that that little like tidbit, I was like, Oh, I don't want to gloss over that because I think it's so important that we trust them to move through it means really also allowing them to be in it. 


00:27:09    Casey

Yeah. And trusting ourselves, right? Trusting that we can be with it. One of the things, so my daughter was on my podcast last week and she was my guest. It was her second update. So she's been on three times. And one of the things that she said was, and she was talking in reference to depression because now at 20, when I ask her about anxiety, it is a non-issue for her. 


00:27:33    Alyssa



00:27:34    Casey

It's a non issue. 


00:27:35    Alyssa

That's like me at this point. I don't live with it. 


00:27:37    Casey

Yeah. Sometimes her body will respond to situations, but as far as that being caged, it's not an issue. Depression is something that, you know, comes and goes. And she talks about, you know, the more our expectations of how they move through it, it already feels impossible to them. And then add on our needs, our emotional needs, like, I need you to calm down. I need you to do your work, right? It's just added weight to an already impossible load that they're carrying. So really doing our own work around how to be with them. And I will tell you, too, my relationship with her could not be better. It is amazing how tight we are. And I attribute a lot of that to the fact that I didn't make things worse when she was really going through her stuff. And what you said like thinking about is this is this forever now? Like I mean I definitely last time we talked was like will she ever move out? Will she ever be able to take care of herself? I don't know. At this point I'm terrified because now she's dropped out of 11th grade, can't leave the house, is misusing weed. I don't know, I don't see the future, right? And so for me, it was a lot of work around being okay with that uncertainty and trusting the power of loving her and maintaining connection with her and continuing to offer resources, not in a desperate or obnoxious way, but just hey, and then eventually being like, okay, I got you into this program. We're going to do this together and being in my firmness around this is happening because life doesn't have to be this hard. 


00:29:35    Alyssa



00:29:36    Casey

We're going to figure this out together. 


00:29:38    Alyssa

Did you feel at all, you know, having like, you've been in this work for a while and you so much of like, I'm laying these foundations, I'm whatever, whatever. Did you have glimpses into like, Oh, and that was all still worth it. Right. Like they, there was a foundation for her to pull from or to lean on, even if it was like the foundation of connection for you guys to maintain or get back to, et cetera. Does any of that come up where you're just like, Oh man, I spent a lot of intention in those early years and it was all for naught. 


00:30:12    Casey

Oh, I totally was like, have I been duped into thinking that positive discipline was useful? I definitely was in that question. I mean, I think I wouldn't be human We're not human if we're not like what have I done? How have I created this? Like I can name a million things that I think influenced, you know Rowan would be like quit making it about you mom. But there are definitely places where I didn't I didn't see her behavior as anxiety in early years or even school age, but there were a million signs. And I wonder, had I been more aware, aware, I don't know if that's the right word, but if I had been looking for that, if there weren't things that I could have been doing slightly differently, maybe I did it more accommodating than I could, than I needed to. I don't know. I don't know. But I do feel like in our house, like relationship is just normalized. You know, they've been raised to sit down at family meetings, to have one-on-one time, to co -create agreements, super collaborative, I want to hear your voice. Now she got into 14, 15, 16 and absolutely pushed hardcore  against that and, it still remained the container. It gave me an anchor. Once I got over like nope, I'm gonna I'm leaning in this is what I'm gonna do because the alternative is... What am I gonna... drag her? Like what like I'm-- 


00:31:50    Alyssa

Shame and punish her through this... 


00:31:53    Casey

Yeah like that's not gonna be useful, at all, and I would completely would have lost, I mean, I don't even know what would have happened to her, you know? I mean I had to, I actually I would only text with my dad and my stepmom, who I adore, who raised me through my teen years best, you know, doing the best they could with the tools they had and the mindset that they had. But I could not listen to somebody tell me that I was absolutely doing the wrong thing, letting, and I'm air quoting, "letting her drop out of school". As if, right? 


00:32:30    Alyssa

Right. As if you had control. 


00:32:30    Casey

And so we just went to text. I said, I love you guys, and I'm not going to get on the phone with you. I'm already in enough self -doubt, and I'm trusting that Rowan's self -preservation right now is off the charts, and I'm going to let her take the lead on this. And I'm going to stand by her and walk beside her. You know, was it the right thing? It doesn't really matter because we're four years later, and she's doing really great. And would it have been the right thing for all kids? I do not. I don't know. I wouldn't claim to say, just let them let there's that word again. 


00:33:03    Alyssa

Yeah, there it is. 


00:33:05    Casey

Um, and I have a lot of clients who have kids that, you know, are gripped in, in mental health and, and they're in it, right. It's less about how do I get my kid up and out? And it's more about how can I be with right now? Cause right now is really hard. And like you said, not fun. 


00:33:24    Alyssa



00:33:25    Casey

It's not what I signed up for. 


00:33:27    Alyssa

And that's what I feel like I really needed in my teen years, right? Like I, my mom used to say to my dad, my dad would start the day and be like, can I talk to her today? Like, what am I allowed to do? And they, you know, there was trauma involved that they were just very unaware of. And also they never asked a question, right? They, it was just, can I talk to her today? And I was a brat, and I was whatever. And what I really needed was for somebody to just be in the hard with me. No one could fix it. No one could take it away, but to just be in it with me. And I think that that's, I don't know what the hardest part of parenting, but what you hit on like the relationship piece there. And I think when we're doing this work with younger kids, so often it is like, I was just presented to a group of teachers yesterday and there was a teacher there who's a mom of four. She was like, what happens when you've tried all the things and it's not working? And I said, well, what's not working? And it was really still with this goal to get the kid to do what she wanted them to do, right? And I was like, for me, the goal isn't a certain outcome and behavior, the goal is a relationship. And it's this just ability to connect with each other and disconnect and reconnect and know that overall, my goal is truly just to be in relationship with these humans. And I was chatting with Hunter about this and she, Hunter Clark-Fields, she had said like, you know, her kids are older now too. And I was like, what would you do differently? Or what have you learned that you can like, hit a sister with while I'm in it when they're young? And she came back to the same thing where she was just like, just continue to be in relationship and know that there will be times of disconnection. There will be times where, yeah, you're not jiving. You're not having fun. They're not having fun. And we're still in relationship with each other, and we're going to keep ebbing and flowing and that the relationship evolves and changes. Um, kind of like a partnership or a marriage where who you were at 23, when I married, when I got together with Zach and then we got married, like that version of us is a different version of us than it is today, you know, and like the ebb and flow of just being in relationship, not the goal of a certain behavioral outcome. 


00:36:09    Casey

Yes. Oh my gosh. This is why we love each other, everyone. A hundred percent. I literally just filmed a little reel about this exact same thing because, you know, I've, I've seen people in my Facebook group and in my membership and they're like, I feel like I can't, you know, I can't be firm or have expectations because I'm, because I'm going to wreck the relationship. Like it's feels very either or, I think, for people because, you know, we, most of us were raised with you're either kind or you're firm. And I think you and I, maybe different language, but both subscribe to in positive discipline, we call it kind and firm, right? And when our kids are disappointed or mad at us or when we have to say like, oopsie, like so sorry, I gave you that phone and I, we didn't talk about limits and now we're going to have to pull back a little bit. You know, we're going to collaborate. We're going to figure this out. And our kids are like, no, you know, it's, you're not ruining your relationship. Yeah. Like the relationship. And I think too, when we're so hyper -focused on how do I get them to do this or to not do that? It's the wrong question. The question instead can be what is going on in my relationship with my kiddo that is leading them this way or that way. What is, what is being called for relationally, what is it that my kiddo needs right now as they navigate this thing or that thing? Right. Because there is no, yeah, there's no formula for like, how do I make sure they never do sure. XYZ. Right. There's no-- 


00:37:56    Alyssa

I also think we can sometimes think like if I do X, Y, and Z correctly on my end, then they're going to respond to me in a very specific way. They're going to be kind. They're going to use their manners. They're going to be like, sure, mom, here's my phone. You know what? Let's have that collaborative talk about those limits. Right? Like, that's probably not gonna be how they respond to you, no matter how like, kind of quote, perfectly you do your part. And I think that can come up too, of like, well, I tried this with the kid and then they were, they were rude, or they said this snappy thing back to me or whatever. It's like, yeah, sure. They're gonna have a reaction to their feelings and to our boundaries, and that's okay. Like that's part of navigating relationship with one another. It happens with my husband, right? Like it happens in partnership with us. And I love that like reminder of like, you can be firm and kind. 


00:38:49    Casey



00:38:50    Alyssa

That when I am, I just said to Zach the other day, he was navigating something with Sage and I said, at some point you have to be the adult here. And it was that reminder of like, you have to be firm here too. That it can't just be the negotiation and not everything is. Sometimes we're going to move through this. And then when you are firm, it's not like a, okay, well, here we go. I'm going to scoop you up and we're not going to talk. There's also a way to navigate the firmness, right? And it's finding that. And I think you're right. It's so hard because I think so many of us were raised in just the firm and like an obedience culture. And so then when a kid's defiant, which we see a lot of in teen years as a nervous system reaction to dysregulation, it's really for us going to trigger this like, well, they're not being obedient from our childhood. And then they're also not being collaborative. This other thing I think they're now supposed to be, in relationship. 


00:39:53    Casey

I love how science -y you are. I love talking to you because you're always like, at Yale, They found blah blah blah and their nervous system blah blah. I'm like all emotion. I'm like listen, okay And one of it comes up though too is people say but I'm in good relationship with my kid and they're still doing the things.


00:40:12    Simultaneously



00:40:17    Casey

But the good news about doing the things and getting into mischief and making mistakes and falling down while being in a solid relationship with a healthy adult, is you get to help them learn from the experiences that they're having and they feel supported and loved and the likelihood that they will move through less scathed, I won't say unscathed, but less scathed is so high. Versus the parent whose kids are getting into the same mischief, won't talk to them. How can, I can't even have a relationship. Like there's no influencing behavior without relationship. And so parents get kind of agitated at me sometimes when I bring them back, I see that, I see you talking about all these things and you get to work on relationship. But what about, yep, you got to work on relationship, like this is the back door to influencing what's happening out there is relationship. 


00:41:11    Alyssa

I think it's also really easy to look on the outside and be like, especially if your kid, they're getting into the mischief or they're in, if they're, again, with some nerdiness, their nervous system reaction, we know we're going to have one of four choices. We're going have that fight mode, we're going to flee, we're going to fawn (people please) or we're going to freeze. And I'm really good at fleeing. And it really on the surface for people looked like I was a successful independent young adult. I studied abroad in Austria when I was 15, all by myself for six months, and they were like, wow. And I was like, Oh, red. Running away, right? Like, I was running away. But being able to really discern, I think when we look on the outside, we see that fight mode, we see it in young kids, or we see people pleasing, which is usually our kids that are easy. And we're like, we were just having this conversation with teachers, where I was like, please notice these kids, the kids in your classroom who are easy, who they are only raising their hand when they have the right answer, but they're afraid of disappointing you of making a mistake of failing that that internally is often anxiety in the works, that down the road, that's how that shows up. Is this like, Oh my gosh, 


00:42:26    Casey

That was something that I missed because Rowan, I mean, teachers would literally cry. Her third grade teacher, Mrs. Erickson cried at the parent teacher conference because of how much she loved Rowan in this wild class that she had. And there was this pillar of calm and serenity, which was Rowan who, you know, who was the same kid who had these funky tics at the start of the school year that we were like, what is happening? Right? And then they went away. I mean, yeah, that bonding, that people pleasing thing. I noticed too with my son and you know, I have not been an expert at kind and firm. I definitely am on the pendulum swing. I have my moments where I'm there and--


00:43:07    Alyssa

Where I'm just firm or I'm just kind, but not always kind and firm. 


00:43:10    Casey

I'm like lead psychopath until I can't stand myself, and then I'm like overly, you know, like accommodating until I can't stand the kids. It's that like, ahh. And I see I've had to be really explicit, especially with my son, you know, because he was very reactive when I was upset with him. And I mean, reactive in like it, it killed him if I was mad at him. And that was heartbreaking, right? And I could see-- he's 17, 6 '5", 200 pounds. I don't see it so much anymore. But, but I can see that we do have a little bit of this connection that is a little people-pleasy. Right? And so I'm aware of it. I'm noticing it. And, you know, just working to remind myself and to remind him, like, it's okay. You know, this is the consequence is, I'm frustrated by what you're doing. I'm it's killing me that you have it--like the stack of dishes in a teenager's room is real, OK? Ask any parent of a teenager that you know, to send them a picture of the stack of dishes in their kid's room and they will send it. And it is exasperating. It's like, come on. I know that sounds like-- 


00:44:31    Alyssa

No, it's real. It's real. 


00:44:33    Casey

Its so annoying. And, you know, and I'm like, and he's like, OK, OK, sorry. And I have to say like, no, no, no, it's OK. You need to grovel, like just put the dishes away, you know? Like, so anyway, I don't know that kind of took me into a little tangent there, but it's, I think it's equally, uh, it can be equally as, um, damaging, right. That dynamic for sure. Especially for, especially for our girls?


00:44:59    Alyssa

Especially for our girls. And I think like, but on the outside, when you're like, Oh, my kid's still getting into the mischief, there's still, we're seeing these, again, and it's still that external behavior. And what we can often be looking for is this like, they're not doing that. They are able to just like go to the party and not drink and they're gonna be the DD or they're not gonna go to the party or they're gonna whatever. Like, why can't they do it like this person? And I married the kid who didn't drink at the party. And when I met him, he was riddled with anxiety, which is why he wasn't drinking at the party. And he was so afraid of disappointing his parents or making a mistake or whatever, um, that it wasn't from a place of health. It wasn't from a like, Oh yeah, I just want, I don't want to, I want to have a good time and hang out. 


00:45:48    Casey

I have a really good connection to myself and I'm like--


00:45:52    Alyssa

Exactly. That wasnt it. But I think on the outside when we're only looking at those behavioral outcomes, then it can be like, yeah, my kid's a teen and I have this relationship and they're still doing these things. And that's why you and I both were like, yeah, because that is, it's, it's for me sometimes scarier when they're not, they're not pushing boundaries when they're not looking for that novelty. And I get curious about why, who are they afraid of disappointing and how does that show up down the road? 


00:46:25    Casey

Yeah. Yeah. I would add too, you know, the, the really messed up part of the whole thing is, you know, there are the kids that get into mischief whose life unfolds in a really scary direction. 


00:46:39    Alyssa

A hundred percent. 


00:46:40    Casey

And there are kids who do feel really confident in the, no thanks, I'm going to be the DD. I'm going to show up for my friends, like who aren't riddled with anxiety, like all those outliers absolutely exist. And I don't know about you, but when I work with parents, you know, I can feel that slipperiness, right? I can feel that like, and I have to listen to my own gut and I have to remind parents to listen to their gut, right? Like things happen and you do need outside support. With us, you know, we thought there was an eating disorder happening and told Rowan that she was going in. You know, there was a bed for her and it was the most gnarly 24 hours of my life. And she was just like a caged animal. You can't do this. You'll ruin the family. And I just had to--over, talk about like I'm ruining relationship right, I over and over, all I kept saying like a broken record was this is bigger than our family. This is bigger than our family. We have to get you help. This is bigger than our family. Turns out there was no bed for her which I think was the universe stepping in--


00:47:42    Alyssa



00:47:42    Casey

In a really messed up way,  because she knew after that like we aren't gonna not do whatever it takes.


00:47:50    Alyssa



00:47:52    Casey

Anyway, yeah, we've turned, I think we’ve turned that corner but-- 


00:47:55    Alyssa

It's so true and I think that's where like we can that's where our fear and anxiety come in and, my, one of my like best friends growing up, she and I both experienced trauma around the same age and we went on two different paths with it. I definitely had a lot, like it was touch and go for a long time, a lot of coping, a lot of substance use. But looking at her, like her life has been so much harder than mine. Like I ended up in therapy and having access to tools also just like didn't have the addiction tendencies that she had. Right. And like, that was just luck of the fricking draw. 


00:48:35    Casey



00:48:36    Alyssa

And that's the part that I think is so scary. And now looking even like, who knows, it'll be like with by the time Sage is there, but the what is in a drug, right? Like, when we were-- 


00:48:48    Casey

Oh Geez. Drugs have  been ruined.


00:48:49    Alyssa

Right, exactly. I'm just like, Oh, my gosh, like, no, I recognize like, for you and your teenage brain, this feels like not a big deal. And whatever. And actually like it is. And like that fear for me definitely surfaces a bit. And I think it is finding that balance of like, how do we let them make mistakes and stretch those wings and come back and process, while not losing them? 


00:49:16    Casey

Yeah, totally. And remembering too, and this is what I would say to myself often with Rowan specifically, both my kids, but her specifically is they're on their journey, you know, and you take, go out into the world and take in the humans around you and every single one of them has their story that brought them to exactly where they are in this moment. And I, that was, for me, it was a lot of trusting, like this is a, this is a thread in the tapestry of her life. 


00:49:49    Alyssa



00:49:49    Casey



00:49:50    Alyssa

So scary to trust. 


00:49:52    Casey

Oh God, it's torture. And I'm so glad that I did. And it's, you know, she's like, you owe your career to me, Mom. 


00:50:00    Alyssa

You're welcome, Mom. 


00:50:03    Casey

I feel like I should be paying her every time I talk about her, but it is true. And I would tell her like you, this experience is making me a better parent coach. It's making me more useful to people because, you know, just like your experience, right. And the pain you went through, you get to be compassionate in a, in such a deeply authentic way. And I'm, I'm grateful for that. 


00:50:29    Alyssa

I wouldn't change my experience. I would love to tweak, like having an adult there to turn toand that for me,


00:50:37    Casey

There are a few one night stands that I wish I could go back... 


00:50:37    Alyssa

But that when I look at now, like that's a relief for me as a parent is like, Oh, it's not my job to make sure he doesn't experience trauma. Like I know trauma is something you can get through. It's my job to make sure that he knows I'm there throughout the process and that he can turn to me and he's not gonna be a trouble for it and we'll figure it out together and we'll, we'll move through it together. That's my job. And that is the part from my experience that I feel so grateful. like that, when I look back, yeah, I wouldn't change my trauma. It was a part of my journey and it's very much led to like me doing this work, who I am, et cetera. And, it would have been really jazzy to have an adult to turn to and like that, but I'm like, Oh, that's something I can control. 


00:51:30    Casey

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 


00:51:32    Alyssa

I can be the adult. 


00:51:34    Casey

Oh my gosh, Alyssa, this is such an amazing conversation. Thank you so much for this. 


00:51:40    Alyssa

Thank you, thank you.


00:51:41    Casey

And listeners, I hope that you're taking away that it's freaking messy. It's just so messy. And here you go. No answers. 


00:51:52    Alyssa

You're welcome. 


00:51:55    Casey

Good luck. Call us when you need us. We'll remind you. 


00:52:01    Alyssa

Also when you would like to have no more answers, and you would just want to know that this messy, because boy do we have that for you. Where can folks find you, connect with you, learn more about you, all that jazz? 


00:52:14    Casey

Yeah. Well, you mentioned I also host a podcast. It's called Joyful Courage. It's wherever you found this one, you'll find Joyful Courage, or you can head over to So I'm the adolescent lead at Sproutable. And that's where you can find me. I teach classes. I do a six -week class for parents of teens. I don't let parents who are not parents of teens into this class. Every once in a while, I have someone who's like, I just want to get ready. I'm like, no, you don't get to come until you're in it. It's a six -week class based in positive discipline, super supportive. I have a membership program. So all of that is on You can follow me on Instagram at joyful_courage and I have a Facebook group again for parents of teens the people who are not parents of teens in my guidelines I'm like if you are not a parent of a teen you get to quietly observe. Nobody wants to hear from you unless you've already shown up inside of this dynamic.  It's spoken a little kinder than that but it's called Joyful Courage for Parents of Teens and it's a really supportive, authentic, transparent, kind group. I mean, there's like 2,000 people in that group and I'm amazed that it hasn't gone, you know, some corners of the internet get a little ugly, but so far it's really, really positive, encouraging, powerful. So that's where you can find me. 


00:53:44    Alyssa

Thank you. Thanks for hanging out with me. 


00:53:47    Casey

Thank you. This has been a joy. 


00:53:51    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at, S -E -W. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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