You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 172 today's a rebroadcast of one of our most downloaded episodes ever and an episode that I find myself going back to over and over Sam Casey a therapist out of Australia hung out with me to chat about fostering a secure attachment with tiny humans. Ya'll, my number one goal with tiny humans is to foster a secure attachment. To be that safe space for them to break down where they know they're not responsible for our adult feelings. It's a unique relationship, that parent/child or caregiver/child relationship and it's different than peers. It is the foundation for how a child will move through the world for years to come. This episode is full of incredible information and support and is truly truly one of my favorites. So I hope that you enjoy, I hope that there are things that you can pull away from this. Take a screenshot and share it over on the gram tag me, @seed.and.sew and let me know what your biggest takeaways are. I love continuing the conversation over on the 'gram with you. So come on over. Let's hang out and dive deeper into this. All right folks. Let's dive in.
Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell. .
Hey everybody, welcome back to Voices of Your Village, today I am here with Sam Casey. Hi Sam. How are you?
I'm good. How are you?
I'm doing pretty well this morning, Sam as you can hear is in Australia, correct?
But I found Sam on Instagram and just very quickly fell in love with her content, Sam can you tell us a little bit about your background and kind of what brings you here?
Yes, of course. So I am in Australia. I'm a mental health social worker. That would I think be a licensed clinical social worker for you guys in the US and I'm a registered play therapist. I work as a child therapist and I've had a really I guess interesting path to that because I actually left school quite early. I left school halfway through year 10 not knowing what I wanted to do and while working in a child care center. I saw the therapeutic values of play. How would help children work through things that they were going through in their life and I thought "Wow this must be a thing like play therapy". So I Googled it. I think we have like a 9 MSN search back in those days and it was a thing and yeah that kind of set me on my path to go back and finish schooling and do University. And now I'm doing my PhD looking at Child therapy and play therapy and yeah, that's basically me in a nutshell.
Awesome and you're a mom of two?
Yes, I am. I have a three year old and a five year old.
Right in your wheelhouse for play therapy.
Yeah, and that's been an amazing journey as well to I guess see how beneficial play could not only be to my clients but to be for my children as well and how we as parents can actually harness that therapeutic value of play. I think it's really powerful.
It is so powerful and I think it's something you know, we look at like how do we help kids process these emotions, all the time we get these questions obviously in the work that I do and so often what it really looks like with kids is acting everything out through play right and being able to navigate this in a way that's developmentally appropriate for them which is often through play and it's so cool to see it play out.
Definitely I think from us coming as adults, you know, we talk things out and I think it's really, you know common for parents to want to check in, you know, verbally with their child, but rather kind of going into that play and going into their world we can learn so much about our child from playing with them.
Yeah, especially when we can take a step back and really let it be child-led. It's so powerful and so hard to do we often have that desire to control the play even then it's hard to take a step back and let them play.
Exactly your right just so much if I think, us, that comes into that and to be able to I guess recognize that that pool to control it or to direct it and often comes from you know, good intentions from the But yeah, I can can really squash I guess, you know their vision and where they wanted to write the play to go where that needs to go.
Yeah. Yeah really rad. Well I invited you on today because I want to chat about attachment theory. My colleague and I Lauren Stauble. We co-created this method called the Collaborative Emotion Processing Method. We call it the CEP method, C-E-P, and as we were creating and doing research in emotional development we identified that at the core of everything that we're doing is attachment and that when we're talking about even just who we are as humans that being able to identify what our attachments were in early childhood is so crucial to figuring out. All right? What are we showing up with and where do we go from here? And then how do we support the tiny humans kind of evolutionarily right as we're seeing that wheel continue to turn and so I want to dive in today to attachment theory and what it even means and then how it shows up. And what we can do as the adults here, what our role is in being able to sometimes rewrite patterns that we didn't have as kiddos.
Yes. Yeah, definitely and it and I think that rewriting it really comes down to having that awareness. So I definitely want to I guess start with you know, those attachment styles and then go into to how we can actually be aware of that with our own children. So I guess attachment really looks at that internal working models. It's like internal working models of how relationships function and so the way that we have been raised in childhood the relationships that we have had with our parents impact relationships we have with others whether that's our spouses our children. So whether we are aware of that are not, it does, it influences the way that we present ourselves and the way that we function in relationships so, you know research shows that a significant I guess predictor of our attachment style with our child is really the attachment style that we had with our parents. So we learn quite a lot from reflecting on our childhood patterns and I guess understanding that narrative so that we can understand how we show up in our relationships with our child. So really we're not and I really want to hold on this as well for those parents listening. We're not doomed based on these patterns that we've led to either it's really about having that sense of insight and understanding and being able to make sense of these patterns. So that were actually acknowledging and we're processing that pain that may come from those relationships and making sense of that wound rather than blocking it out, which is what we do as children right we block it out because we're in survival mode and so often then we grow up to be adults who have not really understanding of what actually went on in our childhood. We have a very different view, memories, of what actually occurred.
Totally or even the like ability to pause and reflect and kind of dive into that. So much, we have a reparenting class and so much of this reparenting class is really being able to build awareness around, what are we bringing to adulthood? Because it's a as you said, it's a practice that we don't do as kids. We don't pause and say like oh, this is my attachment style with my parent. And so we get to adulthood and so many of us don't have a toolbox for how to do this work.
Yes. Exactly. It's a very uncomfortable. It can be very uncomfortable process, especially for those parents who still have relationships with their parents and it can feel really uncomfortable to go but hang on my parents did the best they could but actually the best that they could really significantly impacted me in a negative way and I need to be able to explore that so that I'm not repeating this pattern, so it's not really about blame. It's more about that inside. Let's talk about I guess those attachment styles really, so the first one is secure attachment. So this is really what we would want to aim for its as Dan Siegel explains its the 4 "S", so it's feeling safe, soothed, seen and secure. So when children feel like their caregivers are safe space for them and they can explore the world and come back to them. As that secure base, they're actually able to not only feel secure in their relationships but also had that sense of identity. So this is who I am, but I can also connect with others in a relationship. So it's really having that sense of self, but also being able to actually interact positively in a healthy way with others.
Yeah. This is the goal right? That's our goal. And so many of us, you know, I was listening to you talk us like oh man like "seen" is something that comes up a lot in our village of folks who didn't grow up feeling seen or maybe didn't grow up feeling safe to express a hard feeling and so let's chat about what that looks like when you don't have that what are let's dive into these other ones.
Yeah, and so even based on that point, it's really hard then to have a secure attachment with a child if you're not able, if your emotions weren't seen or heard as children because then what you do is you actually don't acknowledge your own emotions in that moment. You can't give something to your child, if you're not giving that to yourself. So really the first step is to actually be able to regulate your own emotions your own reaction so that you're actually able to help your child with their emotions. Yeah. So the other attachment styles are next one is anxious attachment. So anxious attachment is basically when a parents there sometimes and then not there sometimes so it's sometimes the children are actually getting that emotion availability from their caregiver and then other times they're completely not and the parents acting in the basically the opposite way. So unintentionally what the parent is doing is they're looking at their child to meet their needs rather than meeting the child's needs. And so what happens is that they're really emotionally draining their child. And so the child is displaying behaviors of being clingy. They're feeling anxious. They're feeling it could even be like a sense of desperation, even though their parents are around because it's like you're there but you're just not there, you're there physically, but you're not there emotionally and I'm not getting what I need from you and so that's what makes children feel really anxious and I have parents come to me and they're like, but I spend so much time with them and I'm always with them and then and they're not understanding that being with someone physically is very different from being with someone emotionally.
Yeah that presence matters.
Yeah, and that consistency matters too. And so when children I guess grow up then they have this internal working model of always being on the lookout always trying to get their needs met in a relationship and it's like it's their responsibility. So they grow up with the sense of mistrust. Like am I going to get my needs met in this relationship am I not it's very anxiety producing for them.
Yeah. And would this also fall into the category then of where a child feels responsible for regulating that parent. So say if you grew up with an anxious parent and you knew like oh if I tell them this or if they know this, they would feel anxious so I need to make sure that I don't share that or they don't see this thing or I take care of this on my own because it would make them feel anxious.
Yes, that's exactly what happens. And so and I have parents who can be so fearful of sharing their emotions with their child based on this but there is a line here, right? And I think it's very healthy for us to show our children that we're human too. And we experience all the emotions just like what they do, but sharing that you feel emotions versus making a child responsible for our emotions whether directly or indirectly are two very different things. And so you may not say to a child you are responsible for my emotions. But if you're constantly seeking out your child to make yourself feel better or to behave in ways that make you feel good as a parent than they are responsible for your emotions and your emotional state.
Sam. Can we put that on like billboards all over the place? I feel like that's at the core of everything that we do comes back to this like your child's not responsible for your feelings and it is anytime I share anything related to that. It's when we get the most push back because you know what people say, they say but this kid needs to know that their actions affect others and I think what I want you to share here and what I'd love for you to dive into is that difference between your actions affect others and have an effect on others and separating that like peer group from your attachment figure. And also the like I guess there's two components the peer group to the attachment figure and the your actions affect others and you're responsible for others regulation are like the two things with this.
Yeah. And so when parents say that what I get from that that phrase is the sense of fear, right because they don't realize how many steps ahead they are off that present moment. So for example, when their child does something they're like they need to know the actions of their consequences because if they don't they're going to grow up and they're going to be this and so they've already jumped like five ten years ahead of their child going around hurting people and they're and they're scared and they're fearful. And so when you're living in the future and you're living in fear, you're not actually able to be present with the child. And so that in itself is actually not being able to be with them and give them what they need in that moment because they are overrun by fear. And that's the other point is well of going yes, there are different relationships a child will have like with a peer group, but what they have to understand is that the parent-child relationship is very unique. And so I know for parents it's really hard when when we talk about this concept of going, you're there really to support the child, but they're not there to support you. It can feel very equal when parents are say at home with their child all the time. They're like, well, I'm at home giving all I can to this child. They don't realize if they're not seeking out their needs from other adults or other sources. They're going to take it from their child and that's not healthy. And so to get them to understand you know, what's a very unique relationship because saying that a spouse a relationship right? It's give and take its it's like you meet their needs. They meet your needs your kind of like equals, right the parent-child they're not equals. And so they really need to understand that that process of going we're there to hold our child's emotional. We're there to hold that space right for our child, but they're not there to hold us. And so we're going to have to find the resources somewhere else.
Yeah. Oh, I love that. Oh, I feel like I could go deep into that. But I do want to keep moving on attachment styles, but yes, we might have to have you back to just to go deep into that because that's it is so huge. It's so huge Sam. All right. So next up on our attachment styles.
Is the avoidant, the avoidant dismissive attachment style. So with that attachment style parents are meeting their child's basic needs, but they're not able to meet their child's emotional needs. So they're like, for example, they're there and they for example given their child food and given them shelter and I'm giving them toys and I'm giving them stuff but emotionally they can't they can't be there at all for their child. And so what children learn is that the best way to get their needs met is to not have any really, so what they do is they it's like this false sense of security a false sense of Independence. I'm okay. I don't need anyone. I can look after myself. And so what happened? Is that they grow up and they're actually struggling to be vulnerable with others. They struggle to ask for help because in their childhood right when they when they were doing that they were dismissed. They were I guess shunned and in order to get love they had to have no needs essentially. So that's a very, that's a huge I guess struggle because children need to be emotionally connected to their caregivers and parents need to be emotionally available and when they're not it create it, children really struggle to know what a healthy relationship looks like right emotionally how to be connected to someone.
Sam, this one you're describing my childhood. So I grew up as one of five kids and my mom's one of eight and my dad's one of six and if there was any the the like key way to show love was to not have needs right because there were so many people there was so much stress in terms of just life like financial and all of that my mom was a stay at home mom and waitressed on the weekends and really worked to make ends meet and had five kids. And so all of our I knew I had a place to sleep. I knew there would be some food to eat all that jazz but not having needs was like how we would show love right and not being what I considered a burden. So then just to give you a snapshot of what this looks like. It looks like studying abroad which everyone was like wow, you studied abroad at 15. I was like no I ran away. It's you know, then right in college. I was homeless in New York City for a little while again, like not having needs was so key for me and then I wound up in this relationship my now husband who is such a caretaker and grew up in a very different household very different attachment style. And he like would take care of me would be like Oh, I'm up. Do you need anything? Like I'm going to the kitchen to and I do you need anything and for me it was like well, I can't ask him to get me something. I'm capable of getting up and getting my own thing and whatever and I had to myself...
Yes. I really did and doing re parenting work is really how I got there, but it took a lot of work and now I still notice like we were with my family about a month ago and I am pregnant and I was sick and not feeling well and just a human with needs and my husband like at one point. I thought I was gonna throw up on the beach. I had had a smoothie that morning we've learned I can't have any vegetables of any kind and is so I'm on the beach and I'm not feeling well and Zack was like do you want me to run up and like make you a piece of toast or something? So I was like, that would be awesome. So he came back down with this bagel. He'd run up to the house toasted buttered brought it down and I did not hear the end of it for like half hour about like, oh my gosh, like how spoiled I am and how much he takes care of me and all these things and I was like, it was like I could step back and see it as an adult like, oh my gosh like that. I like felt for a little Alyssa who definitely wouldn't have, I would have just thrown up on the beach. Yeah and And because I couldn't say yes to this thing. Somebody was offering me because I would have felt like a burden, you know...
It's like that self-betrayal right that you grow up with, like this is what I need, but I have to now shove that down because yeah.
Yeah and it's so wild to see it play out in adulthood now and to see now my brothers as well, but my brother's, my parents perception of just like how he just Zach my husband just like takes care of me and does all these things for me and I'm like No, I I'm just have needs and he sometimes meets them. So foreign, right? It's so foreign for them though. It's so foreign for our family culture that it's so interesting now to see it play out in adulthood after having done so much of this work, and now that I can see it with a different lens and can receive their comments differently and I'm like, oh man, I what I'm hearing is that like you wish you could also have need.
Or that that they can express them? Right? Yeah I can so relate to that, you know, I've had similar experience in my childhood and especially in the culture that I'm from I'm Anglo-Indian and you know, I kind of have this relationship with my dad now that we can joke about it because he's kind of taken that growth, but I talk about being able to have two needs in childhood which is content or happy, right? And then anything else was like not okay. And it's interesting as a parent. Now, you know when people ask me about my child, you know, are they a good baby or were they good? Right? And and when I try and dig into that'll or they talk about the kids well were they good? What does good look like? Okay, it means on a, for example long trip that they didn't say anything, and slept the whole way, that they were quiet the whole way. So it's like, okay so good equals actually having no needs because a child that says I'm feeling a bit queasy or I'm a bit hungry or I'm sick of being strapped in to the car for hours is apparently not a good child? So it's it was it's really interesting looking as now an adult right and going and you know, this is what they see as a good child and which is a child with no needs or just happiness or content.
Totally and I think we also have this idea of like what I think it is often based off of like a typically developing child with a typically processing sensory system of like what does it look like? What are the appropriate needs for a child and when it's beyond that when it's beyond whatever our scope of what that is and I think that'll be different for different folks. But I was just chatting with a friend who has a sensory sensitive babe and his needs are unique right like he is so sensitive to sensory stimuli and he needs certain input and regulation in order for his body to be calm and regulated and it can seem like he's a needy baby and it I think like being able to figure out like, who is this child? Somebody asked me the other day. Oh my gosh. How did they they phrase this question in a way of like somehow that like I had control over who the human I'm growing is going to be and I don't remember how it was phrased, but that's how I received it. And I was like, oh, I'm just curious to get to know who they are right like that this humans' sensory system will be unique like how they process the world will be unique and I think we come into parenthood often with this idea of like what it's going to look like or who they're going to be and so when they have these needs that aren't what we perceived as expected or typical then it can feel like they're needy like no matter what we give them. It's not enough.
Yes, I think it really is magnified when what people are viewing is children who were scared to actually said that they have needs and say that is the norm rather than this is what babies do they cry? This is what children should feel safe to do. Maybe your child doesn't you know not have these needs. Maybe they're just too scared to express them.
Yeah, that is. Oh I love that too, that this kiddo just popped up into my head that I had in pre-K. He was four years old and it was the most concerned I've been for a child at least at that point in my life, where and he was the like most well-behaved kid I've ever seen in my life and he was so scared to make a mistake. He was so scared to not be perfect, to have something happen that wasn't supposed to happen and he just wanted to do everything "right"? He always use the word right, "am I doing it right?" And my heart just like ached for him because I was like, Bud there isn't like you're allowed to make mistakes, but we pretty quickly realized at home. He wasn't allowed to make mistakes there was, and he was praised for being so good and so easy and they would call it respect. He's so respectful and I was like, oh my heart aches for this human.
Definitely and you know when you look at those situations as well. I think for the parent it's like he said the sense of when you fill all of your humanness, right? You're able to share that with your child. And so for example, this parent not actually be able to acknowledge, you know, what even as an adult I make mistakes and as an adult, I haven't got it figured out and that's a great as one of the greatest gifts I feel like we can give to children is going it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to not know, it's okay to not be okay, but we're going to figure this out together and when you see children take on this "I'm really this perfectionist kind of persona" right of going I need to be perfect. They feel so much pressure at the parents are feeling so much pressure and developing this perfect child and that leads to disconnection notice happen when there's two people denying their self-control right? Denying their true self.
Yeah. I love it. Okay. Alright.
What we're saying here is that self-regulation for adults is essential because our kids are going to co regulate. In a world of free information on the internet, it's amazing. We have access to so many of these tools, but there's something different about live events. It really is powerful to be able to carve out time when you don't have a tiny human on your body or calling your name and to really focus in on creating these tools to bring back to your life. To like pause and reflect without distraction and that's what we really get in these live events, you get to focus in for a couple hours or for Mama's Getaway Weekend, you get a whole weekend of stepping outside of your routine to build tools that are hard to see when you're living in it every day. What I love about Alyssa's approach is she's just very down-to-earth and she relates so well to people and she just has so much knowledge and experience to share about working with little kiddos and she's just taught me so much about how to interact with my sons, but also just to have grace for myself and how to kind of work on my own emotional intelligence to be able to better communicate and work with my boys as well. It's a safe space to be able to talk about the challenges of motherhood and how to both look at the things like anxiety and guilt that so many moms to bring to the table and really build their emotional toolbox so that they can respond with intention to their tiny humans. It was really born from a mom who reached out and said "I want to gather with other moms in person to have like a retreat weekend, a time where we can dive really deep and rather than a one-off workshop, we can continue to go into this. So Mama's Getaway Weekend is four workshops from me, two guest workshops, it's lunch, it's breakfast, it's everything included for Saturday and Sunday and then at night there's a "mama's mingle," a time where you get to take off your mama hat and just go hang out with other moms. Right, like you just get to be a human, out and mingling and chatting and building your village in person with other folks who are coming at this from a similar approach, who also want to raise emotionally intelligent humans. If you're ready to take time for you and dive deep into this work come join us for Mama's Getaway Weekend in September in Watertown, New York, September 25th and 26th. You can head over to mamasgetawayweekend.com to snag your ticket today.
And so we've got one more which is the disorganized which is kind of like that last one. Where parents really their responses can be quite frightening to a child whether the child's frightening to the parent or whether the parents being frightened to the child either end they're not getting that kind of consistency. So one moment the parent may respond and laugh at your behavior and the next time they actually go off their face and explode with anger at that same behavior, there's no levels of consistency so children grow up and they're not really knowing what to expect is kind of like no organized organization in their minds as to what they can expect from this caregiver. So they are getting a whole I guess I guess a whole load of like emotional turmoil. So they do have avoidant and anxious behaviors at times. It's all really kind of like disorganized and again, there is no safety in any of in that judgment either.
Yeah, that one's terrifying to me, that one for me feels like when I think of that and I think of folks in my life, I think of often folks who have like alcohol addiction and are struggling. Where like once they've started to drink you're going to get a different person and you don't know which person you're going to get at any given point and maybe if I would have told them this thing or this thing would have happened at 10 a.m. this morning things would have been fine and now at 4 p.m. that same thing happens and I'm getting a different human and just how terrifying, there are a couple people in my life that like that are adults that came up for me when I'm like, oh, yeah, that's a human where like, I never know what I'm going to get from them and how terrifying that is for kids to not know like who who you have in this given moment.
Yeah and especially from caregivers, you know I'm trying to explain to parents they can have for example other family, others around, they could have peers around them, but it's really the relationship with their main caregivers, their foundation's, setting their internal working models for this. So to know that power, you know, like I know parents can kind of get caught up often in cycles of guilt, but rather switching it around, you know, wow the amount of influence I can have for my child right, the safety I can provide for my child is huge and it doesn't really matter what childhood that we have. It's really our ability to actually look back on it and to identify these things to be able to again, have a coherent narrative as to how our parents treated us and how our relationships were with our parents when we were experiencing hard emotions and then again like looking at our behavior and how we can actually change that. I know a lot of parents go. Well I had a great childhood, they would play with me and they took me here and there and I'm like nah. Nah. Nah, what did they do when you're upset? What did they do when you were sad, at least get me through what they were saying because I think again, it's almost like we block it out as a survival technique and it's painful to bring up. But it's influencing us. It's influencing our parenting and we need to bring it up to consciousness so that we can work through it.
Totally. It's something we cover in our re parenting class right from the beginning is that like doing this work, you might start to feel guilt or like you're like there's shame for diving into your patterns and habits that you develop from childhood because you're going to be looking at things that you might deem as mistakes right or things that you're like. Oh well, I don't want to repeat this and so is this something that I'm saying my parent didn't do a good job at, right? And like how we might make sense of those things within our own brain and what can come up with that and the reality is that yes, sometimes guilt might come up and the goal here is not that all parents in the world are perfect. The goal here is that we can raise humans who can say like, alright, man, like what are things that I really loved and you know, I loved being able to turn to my parents for this stuff. They were so great at holding space for these things. And this was one thing that like going forward. I want to learn more about because that didn't work well for me and so I don't want to repeat that pattern of behavior and honestly like I started doing this work because I didn't have a great relationship with my parents and when and so I came in with like a, it's all them and all these things that they did wrong, was how I came into this work. And now at this point I've never had a better relationship with my parents than I do now and really that for me was like in doing this work could realize like they're human and they truly did the best they could with what they had and they continue to do the best they can with what they have. Right? But like I kept finding myself in early adulthood turning to them for things expecting a different result than I was ever going to get right and had to realize like oh man that is, this is a pattern for a reason like this, this is what they have to work with and I'm not going to get that from them. And so where do I get that need met? How do I get that need met?
I think it's really cool that you were actually able to separate it from you because you know for sure and right when they're experiencing this when a parent treats you in this way, they're not able to go actually that's my parents stuff. They actually internalize that and that becomes part of their sense of self. And so, you know, you're right we're not aiming for perfection here. Actually even research shows it's even the best of parents are only attuned what I think it's 30% of the time what we want to do though is to be recognized ruptures and repair with our child. That's where it's at. And so when we repair with our child, what we're doing is we're actually owning our stuff, we're verbalizing hang on this was our stuff and then really being attuned to their needs that moment and being able to meet their needs. And so that's when children are able to separate that and so, you know, I say this a lot to people especially when they know the line of work that I do I said if anything I want my child to know what is my stuff and what is not theirs as I don't want them to grow up thinking. You know, what if only I was doing this and if only I was this then Mum would have been okay. It's like actually no, Mum experiences all these emotions to but that's Mum's stuff and this is how Mom can be there for me being a huge process for me too because when we're not able to have our I guess our emotions really acknowledged when we're in childhood just as I wasn't we're having tonight. So that's the purpose of parenting right? It's actually going this is what I'm feeling in the moment. I'm acknowledging it. I'm validated accepting it and then that's when we're actually able to be there for our child. So that's huge because if we're not used to that it's really heavy to that to ourselves first before we can actually do that for a child.
Yeah. I think that's so huge the rupture and repair is such a huge part of this and and I think like getting real with ourselves and like as we're doing this work we can start to identify like what is our stuff and I think it's hard to know when you're first starting out or when this feels new because it just feels like who we are. And you, just the other day, Rachel who runs our sleep program is so awesome at doing this as a parent and she's had a rough freaking journey when her daughter was two she Rachel was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was going through chemo and what had been the stay-at-home parent for her and so had to navigate like what all that looked like and really went through hard stuff right in front of her daughter that you know, there was no separation. She's sick. And yeah, yeah and had to learn how to navigate this in a way where her daughter didn't feel responsible for her and she it's been so beautiful to watch. I think she really crushes this and just the other day her kiddos five-and-a-half and her oldest is and I love the crap out of her. We have a sweet relationship and just the other day Rach, facetimes me and she's like I'm too dysregulated to handle this right now, but she needs someone she's asking for you. Can you talk to her and I was like sure, what's going on? And she's in her closet and she was crying and she ended up telling me the story. She had seen a homeless person and was really affected by homelessness and then wanted to solve the problem of homelessness. And so I just got to be present with her and emotion coach her through it but what I thought was really awesome was that Rachel was like hey, I need to tap into my Village here. I'm too dysregulated right now and she needs somebody.
That's huge. Right I think for Rachel to identify that for any parent really because it's two things too that there's being able to actually knowledge. I am dysregulated because a lot of parents would see that it would what you'd come out and if only the child didn't do that, then I would be okay, if only they that way, right there was no kind of responsibility. So for the fact that she could do that is huge but then to go well my child needs this, two parts to it, and I can't give that to them right now. So how could I get this need met. So um, yeah, that's amazing and that in itself is such a process as parents right we go through I know I go through as much as I've been through all this training and I know myself I'm constantly catching myself out and going hang on. Okay. I responded that way like actually have it the other morning and we're getting ready and course running late and you know, the kids are kind of playing and I was getting all the bags sorted and like I come into and I heard my daughter scream, when I go into her room and my son's kind of done this like little science experiment on the floor there. He's got the bubbles in the water and it's all overflowing and I'm like, why would you and I reacted I was like, why would you, he's like, she's screaming, it's her room. You need to clean it up, where's a towel and as soon as I walked away I'm like hang on I'm stressed. I'm late. I'm stressed. I am overwhelmed I haven't got time for this. But him what did he need? He was curious. He loved what he obviously he was trying to figure it out. He was in his own he was in his element. And so I went back and I was like tell me what you're trying to do here and he was like well and he told me about his whole experiment I said, how about we do this outside, is that alright to take it outside? He was like, yeah. All right, and he took it outside and I'm like, wow, this could have gone a completely different way and it did for a second there. So I tell parents these stories. I'm like, hey, I'm having these reactions too because hey, I was feeling all these things in that moment, and it's not about denying it and it's not about shaming in any way. I was feeling that way and I validated that right there was a reason why it was that way but then what does he need and how can I give him what he needs in a way that's authentic because parents are like do I just be like permissive and let him do whatever they want? And I'm like well if I said to him, yeah, let's do this right in front of you know, that let's do this all around the house. That won't be authentic to me. Right because that's a safety hazard. That's you know, not in the right environment. So I did it in a way that was authentic for me while still recognizing and allowing him to get his needs met. And I think that's really the number one. It's about being authentic.
Yeah, and that's where the boundaries come in right like figuring out what are your personal boundaries here? Yours was not doing this in the house.
Exactly and it's healthy to have boundaries and I think what we do as parents is, you know, it's really hard to be in that middle state, right? And what I see parents are either going completely permissive where it's like they could do what they want or they go completely authoritarian which is like no you must obey me and so when we recognize these are our ability to sway we are able to hold that space and going we want to teach our children boundaries. We want to be authentic to ourselves and we want to have that middle ground children do need boundaries. They thrive off boundaries. Do that in a kind and loving way and we can do that while we're separating our stuff and what we're frustrated with, different from what they need.
Totally, somebody reached out the other day and said something about me being patient because I had shared on my stories that Zach's a much more patient human than I am. I was like, oh no, I'm I thank you, but no, I'm really not a patient human and they're like, but how do you work with kiddos and do this work and you're not patient like she was like, I just don't believe that and I was like, no what I am is really good at defining my boundaries, right? So if if I'm you in that scenario and I don't want them to be doing this in the house and I don't set a boundary I'm gonna lose my cool really quickly. I'm, I don't have the patience for like this doesn't feel like it's supposed to happen like this. And now I'm feeling really impatient for it to stop for it to for there to be some sort of control here and when I can take that step back and as you said like set that boundary of who I want this to happen outside, that's what feels uncomfortable for me is where it's happening. It's not that it's happening. It's where it's happening and when you can figure out like what is my boundary here? What feels right for me here then I don't think we really need to call on patience a whole lot because we can set and hold the boundary within that.
Definitely. I think that comes with a sense of self-awareness is what you're describing as well because I know I get that too a lot of people are like well you're patient, no I'm like well, no I'm able to separate hang on. What is it that they need so I for example know that children need messy play, they need hands on play. They need to experience life and get dirty right? But then I also know my internal barriers towards that right and so I'm but so I don't stop them from doing that. But I also don't let them go nuts with it. And there's absolutely no boundaries. I set it up in ways where I'm like, okay. This is in a manner that's there's boundaries but you're still getting your needs met and I'm still allowing space for it and I'm sitting with that and I'm acknowledging my stuff and I'm again if we're going to do for example, like a huge painting activity. I'm not going to let that go all over the walls of the house I'm going to say let's do this as an activity outside or let's do this in this room. Not on the carpet or not on the couches, you know, it's little things. Like that that we can tweak it. So it's again acknowledging those internal barriers that we have right or these realistic kind of I don't know, considerations, practicalities, but having that self-awareness to separate what our needs are and what their needs are and I saw this quote which I really feel like it really resonates with this which is what's always what's convenient for the parent is not always what is best for the child and it's so true, you know, then it's really acknowledging in that space as well. A lot of the things that children need are not always convenient for us. And so it's not about dismissing our needs but it's just been really real with this is what we need. This is what they need and being able to actually make that work in an authentic way.
Yeah. In fact, I think kids are often inconvenient for us. You know, like they're going at a slower pace we're walking at a different right like anyone who's ever gone for a walk with a kid is like well this is going to take twice as long right?
Well they're living in a different word right? They're living in the present and everything pulls us to the past or the future, mostly to the future. What to make for dinner, get to school on time, what do they need, planning this, planning that and they just want to be in the present and that's why for me play is the perfect way to connect with the child in the present because you can let go of all these "how things should be" and what you need to do and actually just follow their lead in the present and it's that is where we feel most I feel like a piece and most connected with them when we are in the present with them and it's our fears and it's our guilt. So our guilt makes us live in the past and our fear makes us live in the future right? And so when we acknowledge all these things where I would start. Okay, how can I really make sense of this and process it so I can bring it back to the present and that's what I feel like that self-awareness does is going this is what they need and these are my barriers now, how can I meet them in the present with them and how can I enjoy this experience not gritting my teeth on the side but actually be with them in that moment.
Yeah. Oh, I love that kids definitely make me more present than any thing in the world does, I love that. We're talking a lot right now about meeting their needs and meeting our needs and them not being responsible for meeting our needs and that this is a huge part of a secure attachment is that they aren't responsible for meeting our needs, in a world where we haven't learned how to get our needs met or maybe we didn't grow up with that right or there's so much one of the biggest conversations that comes up, especially in motherhood is this idea of asking for help or saying like hey, this is what I need and I'm going to do it unapologetically right this quote unquote mom guilt comes up a lot with so many people we run a Mama's Getaway Weekend every year and so many people who reach out and they're like, oh I'd love to come and my partner said I should go but I would just feel so guilty leaving for the weekend and I'm like, oh sister. You're the one who needs to come right? Because what you're saying is I feel like I can't take care of my needs and what we know about secure attachment is the most important thing for you to do is to take care of your needs.
A hundred percent and this and that is it is only when you take care of your needs, that you're actually able to be present with your child and connect with them and take care of their needs and I hear that a lot from moms too, especially for stay-at-home moms where they're like a well I'd be too guilty to leave my children, but then they're there right and there with their child and so they're not wanting to fully be there, but they're too guilty to say that out loud, but they're not enjoying every single moment of serving another, a child, right and acting like they don't have these needs and so they're stuck because they're like where I'm too guilty to leave them. They need me and and what I try to explain is they actually need you in your authentic self, they need your presence. And so what do you need to do so that you were able to be present for them. Do you need someone else to watch them? Do they need to go to daycare? But do they need you know, do you need that time alone? You do need that time alone, but how're you gonna get that right. So that you are able to get your needs met by something else and then come back and to be truly present. For me, I didn't realize how much good would be there when I had my my first child and knowing the motherhood I guess that I saw when I was a child and how that was portrayed. It was like the self-sacrificing in our culture was like a self-sacrificing mode which is like I sacrifices for you and this is what mothers are meant to do and and it's all about self-betrayal really though. It's all about denying that we have needs but then actually being stuck and not being able to be emotionally present and really it was in that moment that I'm like I can't do this. I can't I can't let that win because I'm not showing up as who I truly am and so it was really this process of going now. What do I need? And what do I need that's going to actually make me more present for them. So, how can I fill up my cup so I can fill up their cup? So it's not even about just having time away. It's about actually what is going to fill up our cup. And not expecting our child's going to be able to do that for us. Or making our child do that for us.
Totally and I think that that it really does come down to that reality that at the end of the day you do have needs and so if you don't meet them someone else will be responsible for meeting them and it might come out as a child who you just need them to not throw this tantrum in this grocery store because you don't have it in you to get out of the store with them throwing this tantrum because you haven't met your needs that they will have to tweak who they are or how they show up to meet your needs. And I wish that we talked about it more like this so that it wasn't like, oh just like self-care as a luxury or no, it's taking care of yourself is crucial for being able to have a secure attachment with them
Definitely and it's actually shifting our whole perspective as well because quite often when we are in that zone of just serving our child and ignoring our own needs. We you see children grow up and their parents are like but I did all this for you. Why aren't you doing a b and c because I gave up all this for you. I sacrificed all this for you, you're meant to be doing this. You're meant to be kinder to me. You're meant to be, you know here and you're meant to be looking after me and so it just doesn't end and we really want mums to realize this early on that what you imagine your child is going to be and growing up is going to be very different and who they actually are and so if you have these dreams for them, you need to have these dreams for yourself. It's like the parent that's got these dreams to you know, send their child to five different hobbies and extracurricular activities and it's going well if you have this unmet need, right to achieve and to pursue a hobby, go pursue a hobby. That's going to be better for you and more fulfilling because you're not trying to control someone, she had an interest in things that you actually have an interest in but you don't want to do yourself. So because it's too selfish right or whatever they've told themselves. So I feel like it's actually really living out their purpose so that they don't live through their child. So I feel like it's a whole perception, really, change. And so it's like you said it's more than self care. It's more than bubble baths and just taking time out shopping and this and that right that it's this is part of the picture but I think a lot of it is actually looking at our expectations and being true about what are we expecting for our child? And is this fair?
Mmm. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's really been I think we struggled, at least here in the U.S. and I'm not sure what the picture looks like there in Australia for y'all, but the narrative here really specifically around motherhood, although parenthood in general, has been this like selflessness. And oh if you're going to do that, you're going to do it with some guilt, like that as just like that's the expectation in motherhood here. And we, so we were at this place already I feel like culturally where self-care wasn't happening and it wasn't happening as like a badge of honor then coronavirus hit and all of a sudden everybody was in a dysregulated state and their village was stripped away, kids couldn't go to school, they couldn't go to childcare right? Like parents couldn't leave the house for work and they're trying to do, and already there was this basis for not taking care of ourselves. And then we added on this pandemic, right? Yeah, and when that happened, I think it just like really shined a light on our culture around self-care. Where now what I keep hearing over and over is this like we can't take care of ourselves because we're doing this, like this is so overwhelming that we can't like, and I'm like no, there has never been a more important time to take care of yourself then right now and what that looks like is going to be different for everyone. Like maybe what taking care of yourself looks like is eating food all throughout the day right? Like not forgetting that you need to be fed too, or maybe it's saying like hey, babe, I would love to play with you. I'm going to set up this schedule so that you know when I'm going to play with you and so that there are breaks carved in there for me where I'm going to read my book or I'm going to carve out time to be working or I'm going to do something. That isn't about you the child or...
Right, and as a human being and so then I can be more attentive to what brings you joy and I can be there with that and you're surprised I feel like this is overarching thing especially with mothers where it's like well they, you know, I can't do it, doing it all right, you know, they can't do it all and this whole focus on really just focusing on your child and I hear that so much of mom's going, well, they're going to be older and I'll wait till then or you know, they're only going to be little for a small period of time and it's always ladened with this guilt right? Rather right we can't do it all, so how about we put down the excessive amount of housework that women do, why don't we put down the guilt, the shame the expectations of everyone else and actually look at going what I need to do as a woman right and as a mom is to live out my purpose to be true to myself to meet my needs and be someone that I can actually say to my child you inspired me, not I sacrificed this for you, but actually going, you know what, inspiration. Like I'm being the best version of myself so that you can benefit from that rather than going I'm going to sacrifice being the best version of myself because I think that's what you need and I'll do that stuff later. Where is the benefit to the child? The child doesn't get to see this amazing version of what you can be because you're putting that on hold rather than going I can actually do that. I can I can be true to who I am and still be a great mom and being a great mom isn't being a great housekeeper by the way, and it isn't being a great, you know meeting everyone's needs and expectations. So, um, yeah, I feel like it's a complete shift that we need for moms as well. And then to give them those tools to write to go. This is how we can actually be there for her. A child not in the ways that we were told from previous generations of slaving after everyone's needs and doing all the cooking and the cleaning and and all that. But actually this is how you connect with them emotionally. This is how you can play with them to connect with them emotionally and then you can actually, you know, start doing that for yourself right and start having joy and acknowledging your needs and being there for yourself too. So, um, yeah lots of work to be done. I think in that space. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely meeting our needs versus what keeps coming up for me in this conversation. Yeah, we were on the beach with family a couple weeks ago actually the Rachel crew and one of the little kiddos there is four years old. This little girl loves touch and wanted to be on me and I got to the point of the day where I was like feeling touched out and also nauseous just like pregnant nauseous and being in the heat and she came up and she was like coming to climb into my lap and I said, oh babe, I don't want anyone to sit on my body right now, but if you would like to sit in the chair next to me, I could hold your hand and she looked at me like wait what? And just like took a beat and I was like you really wanted to sit in my lap and snuggle and I was like, you know what my belly's feeling a little bit sick right now. If you would like to hold my hand if you want to touch I can hold your hand right next to me in the chair and she was like, okay and like took it and sat next to me and held my hand for a little bit and then went off and played but her mom came up to me later. It was so it was like I needed to set that for me. Otherwise, I wasn't going to really...
But I think it's so powerful that you said that you set that for her too because what often I see is, you know, especially adults. They just try to distract the child away right? Like often, oh look at this! Look at this shiny thing or let's put on the TV and not again acknowledging what the child was trying to seek out in the moment, but rather just distracting them to avoid a situation where there, she might not have accepted your explanation. Right? And so I feel like that fear often gets parents to not even explain it to them, but I loved what you did because you showed how attuned you were to what she needed and you acknowledged that, I need to, then you set your boundary, which I think is so good for them to be able to see so that they know that they can do that.
Yeah, absolutely and her mom came up later and was like, I didn't know that was a choice. Like yeah, it is a choice. It is a choice. And again this like selflessness to the point of like self-betrayal it's such a common thing and I love this around the topic of attachment because at the core of what we want is the secure attachment. We've got to meet our own needs. So kids aren't responsible for them.
Definitely and I think attachment sometimes gets thrown around with like attachment parenting right and so parents get to be confused about like I'm you know, follow them and and in order to not break that attachment I must, you know, give in to their every demand and every need and so it becomes that anxious attachment right because they're not actually setting boundaries and they're not honoring themselves and then they get to the point where they probably explode because they're like, I can't take this anymore rather than actually being able to set those boundaries in a healthy way and for children should know it's not from a lack of love. But if anything it's self-love, right and it's and it's meeting their needs by acknowledging what they want but actually holding that space and I feel like that's what children need not a distraction not just missing their emotions, but actually to have someone acknowledge it and to set a boundary and then and then help them give them that situation where they can work through that.
Absolutely I'm so glad you brought up attachment parenting before we wrap this up because they are not the same, attachment theory and secure attachment is not attachment parenting. In fact attachment parenting is not fostering a relationship for secure attachment. If you follow like attachment parenting as its laid out. That like, it is about often giving up our needs for them.
Yeah, I think exactly and I think also as adults we're not realizing how uncomfortable it is to sit with a child's emotions and that is really a problem that we need to acknowledge and going how are we feeling when our child cries and when our child is displaying really intense emotions because that's going to tell you how you respond to that if you're like, I need this to stop that's when you would be like, okay going to give in okay, I'm going to distract so yes, our reactions could actually teach us a lot about ourselves and really yeah help us on this journey.
So huge we see that a lot with sleep, you know Rachel runs our sleep program and she for the first two years before she got cancer followed attachment parenting and has shared openly in Seed like her journey of realizing. Oh no, like I wasn't and and the effect it had on her kids sleep in using attachment parenting for sleep where she was like, no when my kiddo cried. I needed to make it stop and I needed to like make sure it was like I was doing it in my mind as like I'm meeting her needs. I'm showing up for her. She was like but really what it was was that I wasn't comfortable with her saying I'm disappointed that you're not rocking me to sleep. And so she was like I would just go in and rock her every time throughout the night.
Let's get comfortable with that realization, right? Yeah.
Totally. We see it a lot in sleep. There's again, I'm not sure what it's like in Australia for y'all. But here there's definitely like either 'cry it out' is one approach where we like you respond to nothing or the like...
The other end of the spectrum.
Exactly the other end of the spectrum and we really fall in the middle of like, how can we support kiddos with expressing their emotions and saying like this isn't how I want this to happen tonight and us saying I hear you and I'm going to support you and it doesn't mean I'm going to like rock you to sleep or whatever being able to find that middle ground as well.
Just that two ends of the spectrum and actually, you know, dealing with an uncomfortableness around that of being able to hold that space for them and actually going yeah, this is not the way that you wanted it, but yeah being able to just be in that moment and not trying to fix
it by really going to those ends of the spectrum. And saying yeah. I'm glad that you yeah, brought that up too.
Yeah, I think it's something, it's different around sleep, you know A: it's the end of the day. So I think parents are often like at the end of their rope and they really don't have a whole lot left to give and right and the idea of like a kid, you know, maybe you're not next to them maybe it depends on what kind of approach but it there definitely seems to be a different categorization around expressing emotion with sleep then throughout the day here. It's interesting to see Sam. I feel like I could chat with you and hang with you for a while. This is so fun for me.
Thank you so much for joining me and hanging out with me where can folks connect with you? I absolutely love following you on Instagram, where can folks find you?
Thank you so much for having me on yeah, my Instagram would probably be the best way people can follow me. It's samcaseychildtherapist. So if you wanna pop on there, I share quite similar stuff to what I've talked about here on a that re-parenting journey. Yeah conscious parenting, play therapy. So yeah.
Thank you so much.
Thank you for having me.
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