Database Name: dbwzecoixet92g the estranged heart podcast notes – A Dad’s Path

Transcript: #43 – How Do You Avoid Your Child Resenting You When They’re Grown?

 


Can you imagine being estranged from your child? Not communicating with them? How can you make sure this worst cast-scenario doesn’t happen to you? A Dad’s Path and the Estranged Heart discuss.

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Will, A Dad’s Path:

Hi, and welcome to another episode of A Dad’s Path Podcast. I’m here with Kreed, who’s the host of The Estranged Heart podcast. You can find her podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen. So welcome Kreed. Thanks for joining us.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Thanks, Will. I appreciate you having me on.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Well, first The Estranged Heart, what your podcast is about. As new dads I don’t think many of us are going through the situations you talk about specifically on your podcast, but we certainly want to prevent them. So first, can you tell us more about your podcast and what it’s about?

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Sure. A little bit of background. I was formally estranged from my two adult daughters back in 2016. And we were estranged for, I have two daughters, one for a year, and then the other one for two years. And we have since been reconciled now for five and six years. So for much longer than we were estranged. However, that experience was something that just really turned my world upside down as a mom and I wanted to help others. I wanted to talk about estrangement from a perspective that I hadn’t been finding. I mean, there was little information at the time about estrangement between parents and adult children at that time. And then there was certainly no one talking about it from the perspective that I held, once I had been through the estrangement and then into the reconciliation piece. So I wanted to get my version of things out there and wanted to give voice to something that I was not finding. And so that was how I created the podcast.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

That’s amazing. You’re right. I know about estrangement, but find few resources on there. And as a father of young kids, it can be hard to imagine getting to the point of estrangement, but it happens. So I guess what I’d like to start with is you help a lot of other estranged families. What do you see? What are some commonalities when this happens? Is it a certain age? Or what do you see there?

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Yeah. And that’s really interesting because not a lot of people put that together, and that is something that I have noticed. I mean, estrangement can happen at any point in time when children become adults. However, it’s been my experience that I see that happening generally around the time either the kids are going off to college, so between 18 and 21, 22, years of age, or around 27 to about 32 or 33.

And it’s interesting because at those two junctures in life, they’re really big junctures for kids. I mean, leaving home, flying the coop, getting off to college, being on their own, trying to identify who they are as a person separate from Mom and Dad. And so that can bring on some estrangement. And then in the late 20s, early 30s, they’re establishing families and having children of their own, they’re really delved into their careers. And so lots of things are happening in their world.

And we tend to see parents, when they feel like their children are not as close and are separating from them, then parents want to naturally grasp and tighten the hold and so then you start to see the discord. What generally comes about is kids are like, “I want my space. I want to be independent. I’m trying to make my way in the world.” And parents are trying to be what I call, and I got this from Dr. Joshua Coleman, who is an estrangement expert. He’s a psychologist in California. And he says that as parents of kids 18 and under we’re really like their managers. We’re managing all aspects of their life, their world, from the time they’re little, from clothing to food, to friends, to playground antics and things like that. And then what we need to do when our children become adults is we really need to move into the role of a consultant.

And we find that parents stay in that managerial role. And as natural, when we become adults and have our families of our own, there’s a lot of pushback. That’s kind of a very basic overview of estrangement and how that can come about. What is generally happening beneath the surface there is a lot of trauma on the part of the parent, a lot of unpacked baggage on the part of the parent. And we tend to find that once parents start unpacking their own stuff, it makes it easier to come back in relationship with their kids and that’s really my perspective and what I talk about on the podcast a lot.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Right. Really interesting. Because you talk about learning the language of emotions on your podcast, which I found really insightful and as a way to sort of transform our relationships. And the example you give, I think is anger is being a secondary emotion. That’s not really what’s happening. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Nothing, in my world and I’m a therapy client myself, I work with a bunch of therapists. And so psychotherapy and learning about emotions and the psychology of life is very interesting to me. And what I have found and has been my experience both personally and professionally, and I’m a manager at work, is nothing is really ever as it seems on the surface. There’s always something going on beneath the surface. And so with anger, I tend to see a lot of moms. I mean, when we go through estrangement we go through a grief process, and one of those emotions that comes up is anger. We get really, really, angry at seemingly what our children quote unquote have done to us. And when we can get beneath the anger, what we find is that there’s a lot of hurt and a lot of pain, and shame comes with estrangement as well.

And so when we can get to those emotions that are beneath what’s on the surface, that’s when you start really teasing out the dynamics of a relationship because it’s what’s running that person’s show. That’s what I talk about on the podcast is your emotions are running your show. And so if you have all of, and a lot of moms can relate to me because I was a very angry mom and that stemmed from my childhood, didn’t recognize it at the time, have learned about it since. And so that’s what I’m trying to help other parents to recognize and to work through. So for your audience, having younger children, now is the time really to be looking at your own stuff, so that we’re not putting that on our children to carry based off of how we respond to things when things don’t go right with them or they have a particular failure in life. If we’ve had those similar failures or we’ve received harsh criticism because of our failures, we tend to overcompensate with our own children and it puts a lot of pressure on them.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. And, yeah, a lot of new, not just wounds, but a lot of new memories or memories are revisited, of childhood, of things you haven’t thought of for a long time and you’re being challenged in ways you maybe never been challenged before by your sometimes cute kids. It makes a lot of sense. And when you make a mistake, which we all do, how do you apologize? I know as we’re working on ourselves, we might yell, we might lose our temper. And you talk about apologizing some and sort of the right way, the wrong way, and especially as a dad or as parents of young kids, a lot of what we do is modeling. So not only do want to apologize because we mean it but also because we want to model the right way to apologize. I’d love for you to talk about that for a second.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Apologies. Huge, huge thing. To be able to be humble enough in front of our children, which we grow up with this expectation that our parents are the all knowing. They know everything. And we as parents tend to believe that on some level, that I have all this life experience, you’re five years old, you don’t know anything, and so I’m right, you’re wrong. And here we are. And if we can get beyond that, if we can be humble enough to apologize, it really can change the trajectory of your relationship with your children. And when I talk about apologies, I’m talking about apologies for, not only, I mean, if you’ve taken an egregious action of some sort, obviously we want to apologize for that. “I am so sorry that I turned around and startled you in the car when you said this or that or you did this or that.”

But what we want to address, really, is the feeling, the feeling that the child has. “I’m so sorry I startled you. And that it looked like it scared you and I am so sorry that I scared you.” And then as children grow and become teens, we want to address their feelings, not necessarily the actions. I mean, yes, we want to address the actions, but we want the focus of the apology to be on how they felt when we did A, B, or C, because that again is the underlying piece. They can say, “You’re the meanest parent on the face of the earth.” “I hear what you’re saying and I am so sorry. It sounds like you’re really frustrated by what I said to you. Can we talk? Can we have a conversation about how you’re feeling about that? I really want to hear about how you’re feeling.”

And they may not know, especially younger kiddos, we have to help them to figure that out. And even teens, we don’t get any of that in school. We don’t talk emotions and things in school. So it’s really hard even for adults to figure that piece out. So we have to help them to learn about that and explore that. And being with us in a safe container to be able to explore and figure that out while they’re with us is better than when they obviously are out of the house and who knows where and doing what, those types of things. So I don’t know if that, am I?

Will, A Dad’s Path:

That’s perfect. No, you brought up some great points. I mean, one of course is being humble, which is not easy in any situation, but when you’re in the mindset of, “Hey, I’m the quote unquote all knowing parent,” being humble is very challenging. And there’s also a question of what’s most important. Even if you’re right, quote unquote, is that more important or is focusing on the love more important, your relationship.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Exactly. One of the things that I do, I have grandchildren from a year old to 13, and what the estrangement experience taught me is that I now look at not only my daughters but also my grandchildren, as they are really my teachers. To me, I look at them now that they are the knowing ones and I have so much to learn from them. And so I think if parents, I wish, I wish, if I could have a do-over, I’ve always said if I could have one do-over in life, it would be to change the way that I parented my children. And another do-over would be that I could come at parenting from the perspective of my children being my teacher.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

So can you give an example of that? Because what you just spoke about is what we’re focused on, saying how do we make fatherhood count? How do we do it as right, quote, unquote, as we can, the first time and every time, because there aren’t going to be a lot of times and there’s no instruction book. So for you to be that sort of candid and honest saying, “Hey, there are things I wish I could have done differently. I could have learned from my kids.” What should we be learning? Talk about that a little bit, if you don’t mind.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Yeah. Another piece that I talk about often on my podcast is the sense of curiosity. Children by nature are curious. They come at everything from a sense of curiosity. Wanting to learn, wanting to explore. What is this about? How does this work? Turning it upside down, looking at it inside out, those types of things. If we can come with our children along for that ride of, “I wonder what they’re really upset about here.?I wonder what would happen if I just sat down with them in the middle of this meltdown?” And instead of being, because my buttons are being pushed, because we’re in the middle of Target and they’re having a meltdown and everybody in Target is turning around and staring at me and my perception is that all of these people are thinking that I’m just this ineffective parent here, not knowing what to do?

If I can instead look at this scenario through the eyes of my child. What are they experiencing? And how can I best help them with this knowledge I have as an adult to be able to not be concerned with what’s happening out here, but what’s happening within? And that really is the key. And I’m here to tell you, that’s not just the key for just little kids. That’s the key for adult kids as well.

I have a daughter who’s 27 and one that’s almost 35. And I am here to tell you that I still do that with them now, since the estrangement and having gone through all of my therapy and have learned the things that I’ve learned on what works and what doesn’t, is I will come to them and they’ll tell me something that has happened in their world. And I’ll say, “Well, what was that like for you?” Now I can probably figure out what it was like for them, but I don’t just go to them and say, “Wow, I know that was really scary. Huh?” No, I don’t know that was scary. So I come at it for that curiosity, the questioning, without feeling like I’m prying kind of thing, but just really curious about what their experience is.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Oh, that’s great. That’s beautiful. And I think it’s a great aim and a lifelong one to your point. It’s for young kids, it’s for adult kids, it’s for everyone, really. I mean, any relationship having that empathy and understanding, that’s how you connect and that’s the only way you can get someone else’s experiences. And that’s what’s important if you’re trying to get those from someone.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Exactly. Because that’s what we want in return. We want the same thing. And this also applies to not just your children and parent-child relationships, but in any relationship, be it personal, professional, Your neighbor next door, anyone. It really does apply and can bring people closer together instead of dividing.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Yeah, absolutely. Especially, I want to focus on teenagers. I think that’s a really interesting time period, because we know intuitively it’s a really hard time as parents. A lot of us can look back and think about what it was like to be a teenager and everything you hear. It’s going to be some challenging parental roads ahead. And then where you started the conversation we were talking what age does estrangement typically happen? And you named two ages and one being right after the teenage years. To me that’s a little scary and just in terms of saying, “Okay, if we’re going to go through this period that’s challenging, then they’re leaving, for college presumably or wherever, but they’re leaving home.” You’ve lost your quote, unquote control of them if you really had it when they’re teenagers.

But what would you recommend? You’re entering the teenage years, whatever age that starts these these days, maybe 12, I don’t know. When you find yourself potentially going the wrong path or how do you know it’s a wrong path since it’s going to be hard? I mean, at what point do you pull the trigger and say, “Ah, I need professional help.” What does that look like to you?

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Yeah, those are great questions. And I think the most important part, because the teenage years are, if you have buttons that can be pushed, every one of them are going to be pushed, every one of them, multiple times. And so my suggestion is always, again, going back to the very beginning of our conversation today. Look at your own childhood, look at your own teenage years. What were your parents doing, or not doing, that worked for you, didn’t work for you, you felt was inadequate or hovering too much, those types of things. Because what we tend to do when we start to see our teens begin to become independent, again, we’re moving from that managerial role into a quasi consultant. You still have to manage pieces of their lives as teens, but we want to start moving into the consultant role early in their teen years so that we can manage incognito, more or less, where it’s not really in their face about that.

And you’re kind of standing back on the periphery, holding that space that’s safe for them. And making sure that they’re safe is first and foremost, but we want to be able to back off. And it’s really hard to back off when we are in fear and that fear is coming from our own stuff. I’m here to tell you it’s really hard to see your own stuff because you’re in it. And so that’s why I work with a lot of estranged moms and estranged children, who will, I’ll ask them a question and they’ll say, “Well, I don’t know what makes me respond this way.” And I’ll say, “Was there any time in your childhood where a similar experience came up or something along those lines?” And they just, I mean, it’s just like this glaze comes over them and they’re like, “Oh my goodness. Yes. When I was 13 such and such happened.” And I’m like, “Now can we see where some of the correlation comes in?” But when you’re in it’s really difficult to do that.

So my suggestion, I’m an advocate, 100% for therapy, is that every parent, especially when you have teens, is to be working on yourself and figuring out where your triggers are, where did they come from? Because we all have them. We all have them. And so it’s not that you’ve done anything wrong or that you’re failing at parenthood. It’s not any of that. It’s that you’re wanting to learn how to do parenting even better, because we all do parenting well, but we also are human, which means we’re all going to fail at parenting somewhere along the line.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Absolutely. As we said, there’s no real guidebook. I mean, there’s a lot of books written about it, but it’s the first time you’re doing something, or second or third, but it’s not something you’re going to get better at with a ton of repetition because there’s only so many kids we’re going to have and we don’t want to learn that way. We want to learn proactively, ahead of time. And like you’re saying, there can’t be a book because everyone’s different. We all have different issues. We’re all humans. That’s the one commonality. So we all have problems, but they’re all different, not problems, but things that we need to work through to make us better parents.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Yeah.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

That’s really great. And I think you posted this quote, “You can’t see the picture if you’re in the frame.” That was a Les Brown quote. And is that what that’s referring to?

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

It’s the old saying you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you’re in it it’s just really difficult to be able to have, you can’t have an outside perspective because you’re not there. You’re not looking at it from outside. You are in it. And when you are in the throes of parenthood and depending on your own whatever personal things are going on for you as a parent, in your professional life and maybe your relationship with your partner, things like that. I mean, all of these things are coming into play and all of these buttons are being pushed. And it’s easy to lash out at our children when we’re in the middle of it.

I have found, it’s been my personal experience, as well as my experience working with parents who delve into their childhood to work on their baggage, what I call their baggage, so they can lighten the load. When they do that, it’s a ripple out effect. It cannot help but have positive effects on the children, your partner, at work, with friends, everyone. It’s not just do this for the kids. You’re doing it for yourself and then humanity at large because it’s a ripple out effect.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Absolutely. What a powerful point. It’s easy to focus and say, “Hey, is this just about Dad and child or parent and child?” But not at all. It affects all parts of your life. And to your point, there’s a great ripple effect here. Thank you for joining us, Kreed. This was really fascinating. As we said, you can find her podcast The Estranged Heart on Apple, Spotify, wherever you listen. Kreed works with estranged kids and adults. You can find her on Facebook. She’s got a private group, The Estranged Heart group. So you could reach out to her that way. Kreed, thanks again for joining us.

Kreed, the Estranged Heart:

Thanks so much, Will. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Will, A Dad’s Path:

Thanks. Have a great day.

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