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Episode 70

Is my child’s behavior their issue or mine?

March 20, 2023

Free Lunch Series - Shepherd's Fold Ranch

Next Session: Thursday, March 23 • 11:30am-12:45pm

"Parenting with the Knowledge of Science"

Join us for this free session at Daybreak Cafe in Tulsa, OK. We will explore the latest neuroscience, how it can help us become the parent we want to be, and how it can help us raise self-motivated, respectful, courageous and compassionate children.

[Kyle]: In today's podcast we're going to talk about how we project ourselves onto our children. Why do we do that? And is it helpful?

[Kyle]: Hello, and welcome to episode 70 of The Art of Raising Humans. I’m Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today I'm purposely saying podcast really clear, because I got a note from our producer Chad, saying I wasn't pronouncing it very well the last couple episodes. So, I'm gonna say podcast just for Chad, because he said I was cutting off the T's. So, I'm sorry about that to all listeners. This podcast should be-- Now I'm super conscious about it. This podcast should be dropping on March 20th. You know, Monday, March 20th. We're moving more to a twice a month schedule, you know?


[Kyle]: And we're doing that kind of because of just the cost of producing the podcast. We want to make a lot of great content, but we're also putting a lot of time into creating content for speaking things we're doing, you know?


[Kyle]: And so, in February we did six speaking events. Pretty awesome, huh?

[Kyle]: Yeah, and some of those speaking events we're at churches, some were at schools. They range from-- Some groups had over a hundred and other groups had as small as like ten, eight to ten.

[Kyle]: And we like all size groups, they're very fun, you know?

[Kyle]: I mean, the large groups it's great to be able to speak to such a big group and impact so many families, but the smaller groups can be more intimate and really do a lot more one-on-one stuff.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and so, in light of that, one of those speaking events that we did in February was a group called “Shepherd's Fold”. So, it's a camp here in Oklahoma and we did a talk on parenting with the-- Through the lens of faith and then on Wednesday-- On Thursday, Thursday, March 23rd. So, a few days from when this podcast is dropping, we'll do the second part of that speaking event and it's going to be parenting with the knowledge of science and we'll do a third parter in April. So, if you're interested, it's a free event. You can come to Daybreak, which is a restaurant located near Oral Roberts University. Used to be First Watch and they bought it over, but we'd love to have you come out and even if you're not connected to Shepherd's Fold, Shepherd's Fold is providing this as an opportunity for any parent that wants to come out and do that. So, if you'd love to hear Sara and I speak about the brain, which is what we're going to be focusing on this one, we'd love to have you join us and once again, I want to throw out that if you have any wish for us to come speak at your church or your school, your small group in Oklahoma, in Tulsa or anywhere throughout the country, we are game, we are open to doing it. We've been doing-- One of the speaking events we did was with the church; it was a webinar and we did that weekly for four weeks and just met with different parents over video. So--

[Sara]: Do they register anything for that Shepherd's Fold lunch?

[Kyle]: Oh, that's a--

[Sara]: We will put a link in the--

[Kyle]: It’s a fantastic idea, honey. We will do that. Yes, we will put a link to that in the podcast description of this podcast. Thank you for saying that, honey.

[Kyle]: And then you can sign up, because they definitely want to know if you're coming, right?

[Sara]: Yeah, and ultimately, they would eventually run out of seats.

[Sara]: So, I’m sure they need to know who’s coming.

[Kyle]: They want to make sure who's coming. That’s great. Okay. So, I just wanted give that little bit of-- What's that called? Technical information or whatever.

[Kyle]: Whatever that's called about what's going on and we want to spend more time doing that, but also providing great content on the podcast. So, we will switch to probably the first Monday and the third Monday of every month. Look for the podcast to drop and if you're finding this very helpful and supportive, we'll continue, you know, giving that content to help your family.

[Kyle]: So, today we really wanted to dive into, you know, a topic that we've hinted at a few times in other podcasts, but it's a big part of I think what separates us from other parenting type trainings or podcasts. So, the real focus that we try to do in these podcasts is-- Our goal is to not only help give you more skills. Like, we could spend all day talking about techniques and skills, but--

[Sara]: And those are great, those are really-- We're always looking for those as parents, I think.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and we're always learning new ones.

[Kyle]: And you gotta have them.

[Sara]: Freshing up on ones that were rusty on.

[Kyle]: Yes, but we also are really passionate about helping parents see the journey of parenting as a pathway to becoming a healthier and more whole human being.

[Sara]: Yeah, and I think that's the more-- That's really powerful. We want all the techniques, but I think even those can be a struggle if we haven't first worked on us.

[Sara]: That’s where it starts.

[Kyle]: I think a set of tools-- That the tools can be great, but they're neither good nor bad or helpful, as long as-- If I don't have my own stuff, if I don't understand where it's coming from and the intent I have in using it, then it really gets kind of confusing.

[Sara]: Yeah. Well, and you'll continue to have the reactivity or the-- You know, whatever struggle, a lot of those will keep cycling through because of some of the stuff that's sitting inside of you just, you know, are sitting there.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, the topic today, Sara, that I want to discuss was how we project our own stuff onto our kids.

[Sara]: Yeah, we do.

[Kyle]: Yeah, we do it a lot.

[Sara]: We don't want to, but we do as parents.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and I think I do it a lot.

[Kyle]: I mean, it's almost actually impossible not to.

[Sara]: Yes, I would say it is. I mean, it's just who you-- Is you can only operate out of your paradigm and who you are in your past experiences and you know, what are you going to do? You can't be somebody else.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and I think I notice, Sara, when I start to get angry, frustrated, annoyed, exasperated, those are the big most common feelings I have by our kids behavior, it's almost always telling me-- Well, it is always telling me more about me than it is about them, you know?

[Kyle]: It's revealing something about me because, you know, there's so many times I get annoyed, frustrated, angry about things that you're not annoyed.

[Sara]: I'm not bothered at all. I’m like “what’s the deal?”.

[Kyle]: And I mean, like-- You know, I think about all the ways our kids are like us in the way they aren't and I find that kind of interesting. Like, there's times that when I see Abby, Brennan or Ellie being like me, I have some-- There's joy in that. I'm like “oh, look at that, that's so good”.

[Kyle]: But there's other times it really annoys me and then, in the same thing though, there's ways they aren't like me and that can frustrate me too, because I'm like “why don't they see the world the way I see it!?”.

[Sara]: Yeah, “I've been modeling this to them their whole lives, why aren't they adopting this!?”.

[Kyle]: Yes. Pick it up, yes and so, I find it's got to be confusing for the kids, because it's like sometimes I'm upset that they are doing it like I do and then other times I'm upset that they aren't doing it like I do.

[Kyle]: But the key thing is me, because I’m the key ingredient. It's me looking at what they're doing--

[Sara]: And that’s the thing you can change.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, which is really empowering.

[Sara]: You know, we can't really-- We love the illusion that we have some control over our children, but you know, really you have control of it yourself.

[Kyle]: Yeah. Like something I love that where Abby's very similar to me and she's very talkative, she's very extroverted, she's very outgoing. So, her and I can really have some great back and forth conversationally and typically, that's a fast-going conversation and I love that about her. But then Brennan, he's more quiet and he's more introverted, you know? He more likes to--

[Sara]: Yeah, he takes some thought, he’s-- Yeah.

[Kyle]: He does, he likes to think about things and sometimes it's not happening fast enough for me, right?

[Sara]: Yeah, he likes to think for a long time.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, I'll get frustrated that he's not me, which is weird, because he's obviously not me and so, he's obviously Brennan, he's not me, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, I'll project myself on and think “why don't you do it the way I do it?”.

[Kyle]: You know? And that can cause some tension, you know? How does that happen with you and the kids?

[Sara]: Well, opposite. You know, I can appreciate Brennan giving it some thought, because I gotta give it some thought. A lot of thought. I may need to circle back around later and sometimes my thoughts don't occur to me till two hours or later.

[Sara]: And so, in the fast moment if Abby's shooting stuff at me, that would be the opposite, you know? I'm like “slow down, let's just take a moment. I very much value being calm, let's be calm” and you know, she wants the passion and that fire there and so, then I'm thinking “why aren't you--?”. I'm wanting her to be more “let's just chill and be calm and think about this” and you know. So, I'm sort of opposite of your experience.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and I know. Yeah, and I remember almost all the conflicts I had with the kids when it came to sports, because I like playing sports. I particularly like soccer and when the kids would play soccer, I would get most frustrated when they didn't play soccer like I did. Which once again, it's strange. I mean, I know that thought is there partly because I think “why--?” or “how is my DNA not given this to them?” and yet when my dad would watch, like I think my memory is deluded.

[Kyle]: Like I think the way I played soccer as an adult, I assumed I played soccer the same way as a kid and my dad would remind me that as my coach, that I would spend a lot of time just putting my foot in the dirt and kicking dirt and playing around.

[Sara]: Like a lot of kids.

[Kyle]: Yeah. In my mind I was super focused and passionate.

[Sara]: All the time!

[Kyle]: Yes! Every time! Yeah.

[Sara]: Right there! 100%!

[Kyle]: Exactly, I was always 100% in. So, anytime Brennan or Abby weren't, I was getting mad about it, but to my dad he's like “why are you getting so upset about this? Like you did the exact same thing”. But in my mind, I didn't do the exact same thing, but maybe that's why I'm getting so upset about it, because I did do the exact same thing and other adults got mad at me for doing that.

[Sara]: Maybe

[Kyle]: You know? And so, maybe I was reliving that through the kids, you know? And so, I find one more example that I thought was funny that you pointed out, was how I can get to sometimes-- I'm sure any of the people listening to this, none of you probably ever yell at the TV when it comes to sports, probably never get mad about referees or-- But sometimes I can do that. I can get upset if my team isn't performing the way I would like and so, I've gotten better at that, a lot better over the years. Right?

[Sara]: Yes, yes, you have.

[Kyle]: Okay, you passed--

[Sara]: Well, it comes and goes.

[Kyle]: So, I can-- So, when the kids start to yell at the TV too, then I get upset about that and you pointed out like, that's kind of weird because I do that.

[Sara]: They're only doing it because they're connecting with you.

[Sara]: They’re like “he yells, I'm gonna yell. So, we're connecting”.

[Kyle]: But I don't like that about myself, I think it's very immature that I do that and so, when they do it, I'm like “no! Don't be like me! Stop it!”, you know? So, I think there's that component too that's kind of confusing, where you-- There's parts of you, all the good parts, you wish they would just take those.

[Kyle]: And then all the negative parts, you wish they would easily let go of and just never-- You never-- They never take that from you, you know?

[Sara]: Yeah. Well, even how often do we tell our kids to be patient and then there's lots of times we're not patient? Or we tell them to, you know, really stay focused and then sometimes we laugh at ourselves, because we weren't focused on a task or we needed to get something done and we procrastinated. But if our kid does it, then “don't procrastinate!”.

[Sara]: You know, there's lots of I think little things in our life, where we know what we want to be and so, it's easy to kind of ask them to do that and-- But we're also not always hitting that mark.

[Kyle]: How can all of this--? Well, let's start with this truth. So, I think you and I agree upon this. We're asking the listeners to kind of think about this and if they agree upon it, is we can only see our kids through our eyes.

[Kyle]: So, that's a truth that we agree upon, right?

[Kyle]: We can only understand and judge their behavior through our own lens, in our own world view.

[Kyle]: Right? So, our perspective of what they are doing is very skewed, you know? It's through glasses that are kind of limiting, you know? Because they just see the world through our own eyes.

[Kyle]: And what we don't like in them, is actually telling us more about ourselves than it is about them.

[Kyle]: Would you agree?

[Sara]: I agree.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and so, I think with that in mind, then I want to talk about how when we see that stuff in them, the stuff we don't like, it can actually be a gift to us.

[Kyle]: How can it be a gift to us?

[Sara]: Because it allows-- When we see our kid acting in a certain way, we are just seeing it through our lens, because you know someone else could see that same thing and have an entirely different response. So, that's definitely a clue that it's like “oh, it's me, I'm the component”. Because if 50 kids-- 50 adults watch a child do one thing, they would have different takes on that event, that thing.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, different stories they're telling themselves about what the kid did. Yeah.

[Sara]: Yes, the child's motive or rather it was good or bad or there would be a lot of-- There would be a huge variety of responses to that. So, it's really revealing, it's an opportunity for me to go “why am I having this response? What's going on inside of me?”. Because if I can bring that to light, I can do something about it, you know?

[Sara]: It allows me to go back and maybe it's coming from an injury from my own childhood, some wound I have from my childhood and I can go back and visit that wound and get some healing there, so then I'm not-- That's not being carried into this moment with my child. I can, you know, sort of lay that to rest.

[Sara]: Or it's some judgment I have on myself, I can look at that judgment and go “oh, I'm-- What's going on here? Where is this judgment coming from? What voice is in my head?” and it's just a moment to heal and to grow and instead of carrying that around your whole life and into all-- Into your relationship with your child, but all your relationships.

[Kyle]: Well, I think that's the power of having kids, is you could see-- You know, you don't see-- Like, when you're interacting with other adults and you have these things that maybe, you know, that you'd like healed in yourself or things that are kind of you want to work on, you just don't-- Like, you don't really see them. You're still projecting them onto the adults, but you don't feel like you're actually forming those adults, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, there is this sense of-- It does become really personal, when you see this junk you have in you that is unresolved or this hurt that's still not been healed, you know? This trauma that might be in there, you know, whatever the things might be and you're now giving it to your kid, you know? And now you see this other human taking it on too, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, I think that is when a lot of parents go “I want to work on this” and so, I know for me there's stuff that I never would have worked on without seeing it rise up in our kids and then go “oh man, I need to make this more intentional. I need to really focus on working on the self and me, so this doesn't become a thing for them”, you know?

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah, and own it, because then it allows you to change the message for the child. Even if it's something you're working on, if you own it and you can voice it, then the child goes “oh, it's not me” and that helps-- That helps-- I mean, the goal like, we're trying to give them as many wounds as possible, right? And it helps them separate that, because otherwise it becomes--

[Kyle]: You’re trying to give them as fewest ones as possible.

[Sara]: Few, few. Did I say as many? As few.

[Kyle]: Yes, you did. I was like “Sara, you want give them many--?”

[Sara]: No, no, no, I'm trying to avoid. I'm trying to avoid giving them many wounds, right?

[Kyle]: Okay, okay, that’s good to know.

[Sara]: Okay. but we're not gonna-- Anyway. So, if that's my- If I can own that myself and I can even voice it with them, then it gives them the opportunity to go “okay, I don't have to take that on”.

[Sara]: “It's actually not me"

[Kyle]: “It’s not mine, it’s yours”.

[Sara]: Yeah, “I'm not actually in charge of your feelings, I'm not in charge of who you are, because you're owning it for yourself”. Because sometimes those children, you know, they're trying to be the best athlete for you, they're trying to be that go-getter for you or that really smart kid for you or you know, they don't realize it, but those identities really kind of can get enmeshed and woven together and you really want to separate that.

[Sara]: As well as “I'm angry, but that's me”.

[Sara]: “You didn't cause that anger”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and so, I wrote this sentence down, Sara, I was kind of thinking about this, as we come to accept our kids as they are with all of their faults and imperfections, we actually allow ourselves to do the same thing back to us. You know, we allow ourselves to have that same acceptance, that same grace, that same forgiveness for ourselves and so, really our kids then, in projecting ourselves onto them, which we’re naturally going to do. Like I said, we can't see them any other way. Once I can be honest about that, that really what I'm judging in them is something I'm judging in me, then I can actually heal that within myself by loving and being able to accept my kid as they are, you know? Because really, I'm loving and accepting myself as I am, right?

[Kyle]: And I don't want to get too much in the weeds of council leaves, but that is really how healing happens, is-- That's why being in relationship to other human beings and especially in this case your children is so important, because it gives you an opportunity to face stuff you may have never had the courage to face otherwise.

[Sara]: Yeah, definitely will bring it to light.

[Kyle]: And so, I think part of the practice is, Sara, what we've tried to do and we haven't always done this well, but is to stop and notice the aspects of our kids that we really don't like. You know, take a moment and go “why don't I like that? Why does that bother me so much?”, you know? Just to be curious, to hold it in an open-handed way. You know, not to go “what is wrong with me!? I should like everything about my kid!”. No, I mean, there's obviously things you aren't going to like, but just be curious, what is it about that you don't like? Because like you said, other kids might find that cool about that kid or might find that a good quality, a positive quality. The kid themselves might find that a positive quality.

[Kyle]: I mean I find that always so interesting, like type A driven parents have a real hard time judging their kids as lazy and unmotivated.

[Kyle]: Almost every time they're gonna have one of those kids, you know? And part of it what I hear the parents saying is “I don't have the freedom to not be constantly driven and motivated. I don't have the freedom to relax”.

[Sara]: They actually kind of wish they could just relax and like, be a little more laid back. [Unintelligible]

[Kyle]: Well, and maybe the reason why they are so driven is because they judge themselves and won't let themselves ever relax; you know? Because relaxing is lazy and so, they have this strong judgment probably from childhood and then they're putting it on their kid and the kid just-- The kid if not handled well, we'll take that on and they will just believe “that's what I am, I'm lazy and unmotivated”.

[Kyle]: And you can see how that cycle then repeats itself, then the parent feels the need to then motivate and make the kid do stuff and the kid's like “yeah, you have to because I'm lazy and unmotivated”, you know? And so, it just kind of goes in this whole circle, you know? So, if we can stop and notice what it is we don't like and just be curious, what does it say about me? I know for me, you know, there's things that I pride myself on, things that I think I'm just really good on and I think “I would never do it that way”, you know? So, there's like this judgment on that and maybe I want my kids to pride themselves on never doing it that way either, you know? So, I'm trying to put it on them to say “why can't you have more pride in yourself? Don't let yourself do that”, you know? Or--

[Sara]: [Unintelligible] you can feel real successful and you want that for them.

[Sara]: I mean, whether it's true success or not, you know, that maybe that type A “I've got my life totally together and I want you to have that too and this is how you do it!”.

[Kyle]: Or it could be something I really hate about myself and I don't want my kids to be like that and something I learned early on, Sara and I think you noticed it too. When we were helping families, you know, you have parents come in and they'll tell you all these things that are going on with their kids and sometimes they're upset about it and have a lot of judgment towards their kid, you know’ “The kid’s doing this and this and this and it's hard to even like my kid” and you know, all this stuff and inevitably if you go long enough with that parent, what you'll find is underneath there is there's a fear that “my kid will become just like me”, you know? “I don't want my kid to be like me. I want my kid to be better than me”, you know?

[Kyle]: And so, somewhere there is this lack of self-- Self-acceptance of “what is so wrong in being you? What it's so bad about that?”, you know?

[Kyle]: If your kid did become like you, would that be the worst thing in the world? You know? But you hear in their voice “it would be. I don't want them to be like me”.

[Sara]: Yeah, “I'm trying to save them from the heartaches and the trials I’ve had”.

[Kyle]: Yes, “all the mistakes I've made, all the stupid decisions I've done and so, I'm trying to make a better life for him” and I love that about parents, but that's actually not how redemption happens. Redemption doesn't happen by trying to make sure your kid doesn't become like you, it actually comes in loving your kid and yourself just as you are.

[Kyle]: And that's how things are redeemed, you know?

[Kyle]: So, a lot of parents have that fear and so, if you're listening now, I wonder if that's a fear you might have too. Is that your kid is following some of the same mistakes you have. But we really want to be free, we want to be free people. We want our kids to be free to be able to really be who they are going to be, you know? That we actually don't get to decide that. They're going to have parts of you and parts of me.

[Sara]: Yeah, and then parts that are just, we just don't where that came from.

[Kyle]: Completely different, I know. It's like “how did that come from us?”, right? But there will be parts of you and parts of me and I've got to accept parts of me I don't like are going to be in them.

[Kyle]: I can't avoid that. So, once I accept that and go “okay, my job isn't to stop that, my job is when I see that, to love my kid in the midst of that and by doing that, I'm actually loving that kid”.

[Sara]: Hopefully free and free yourself and free them.

[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah and so, the end thought I had in this is, first of all, just notice how this is a truth. That everything I'm seeing in my kid, even the good, the bad, it's all projections of myself. Things I like about myself, things I don't like about myself. All of these are coming through a lens that is glasses that that are through my world view of what how I see the world, you know? So, I've got to just own that. My view is skewed and real freedom to grow and change and you and them, comes in accepting them and yourself just as you are and not as you wish they were, right?

[Kyle]: And that's at the core of all real change and healing.

[Sara]: So powerful. Really hard to do.

[Kyle]: It is really hard to do.

[Sara]: But it's a work. Little steps at a time.

[Kyle]: Yeah. So, I would ask the listeners to just see when you have these conflictual moments, where you're seeing the kid and your brain is saying “what is wrong with them!?” or “why are they doing it that way!?” or “how many times have I told you!?”, stop for a second. Calm yourself down, take a deep breath, maybe smile and realize it is a projection of something that's within you that you're putting on them, okay? And then you're able then to address it more honestly for what it is. It's not something that's wrong in them or wrong in you, it's something that just needs to be reconciled or healed or encouraged or guided or helped, you know?

[Sara]: It starts with acceptance.

[Kyle]: Uh huh, and it all-- Of all the freedom to do that, will start in accepting the moment, accepting the kid, accepting yourself just as you are, because you can't be anybody else in that moment. So, just smile, this moment is as it is and then pivot towards the kid and towards yourself and see this as an opportunity to understand you and understand them better, and this is how growth and change happens.

[Kyle]: All right. So, I know we gave you some stuff to chew on this. I really hope it gives you some thought over the next few weeks and like I said, I'd love to invite you out to when we're speaking about the brain and how the parent with the knowledge of science. Come out on March 23rd to be with us in Shepherd's Fold as we do this teaching with other parents. So, thank you so much for taking the time to listen.


[Sara]: Have a great day.

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