How to Practice Conscious Coparenting, with Dr. Jenna Flowers
In this episode of the Tilt Parenting Podcast, I sit down with Dr. Jenna Flowers, a licensed marriage and family therapist, author, and speaker, and the woman behind the fantastic new book, The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Coparenting: A Mindful Approach to Creating a Collaborative, Positive Parenting Plan.
Dr. Jenna’s book is aimed at helping parents who are no longer together design a healthy alliance and share their parenting responsibilities in a way that best supports their children. In our conversation, we talk about the extra considerations for those parenting differently-wired kids, kids for whom consistency and support is critical to their healthy emotional development. Dr. Jenna also explains how parents of atypical kids can foster a structured, supportive environment in both homes, as well as shares her advice for things parents can do right now to strengthen their relationship with their co-parent, whether together or apart. I found our conversation super interesting and relevant, even for those of us whose partnerships or marriages are still intact. I hope you do, too!
About Dr. Jenna Flowers
Dr. Jenna Flowers is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Author, and Speaker. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. She then graduated with her MA in Spiritual Psychology from the prestigious University of Santa Monica, and Doctoral Degree in Psychology from the professional psychology school American Behavioral Studies Institute. Upon completing her Marriage and Family Therapy licensing board examinations in 2006, she has been in private practice in Newport Beach, California. Her new book The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Coparenting was published by Adams Media Publishing June 2016.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- What exactly conscious coparenting is
- The importance of repairing hurts from our childhood in order to become more present with our own children
- How to help a child not take on responsibility or blame for their parents’ breakup
- What to do when both parents aren’t on the same page
- What a designed alliance with a coparent actually looks like
Resources mentioned for conscious coparenting
- The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Coparenting by Dr. Jenna Flowers
- Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Dr. Dan Siegel
- How Positive Discipline Can Help Children Thrive, with Casey O’Roarty of Joyful Courage (Tilt Parenting Podcast)
- What it Takes to Live a Healthy, Fulfilled Life as Mother to a Differently-Wired Kid, with Samantha Ettus (Tilt Parenting Podcast)
I’m happy to be highlighting the work of Eye to Eye this week. Eye to Eye’s mission is to improve the life of every person with a learning disability. They fulfill that mission by supporting and growing a network of youth mentoring program in the US run by and for those with learning differences, and by organizing advocates to support the full inclusion of people with learning disabilities and ADHD in all aspects of society. Click on the image the left to learn more!
Jenna Flowers 0:00
Typically with kids that have more high needs or are definitely wired, they’re really sensitive to what’s happening into the emotional lives of their parents. So the more calm you are about how you relate this, the more that you’ve done your own inner emotional work before you share with the kids. What is about to happen to the family, the better off your kids will be.
Debbie Reber 0:20
Welcome to the Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today’s guest is Dr. Jenna flowers, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author and speaker and the woman behind the fantastic new book The Conscious Parents Guide to Co-parenting: A Mindful Approach to Creating a Collaborative Positive Parenting Plan. Dr. Jenna’s book is aimed at helping parents who are no longer together design a healthy Alliance and share their parenting duties in a way that best supports their children. In our conversation, we talk about the extra considerations for those co-parenting differently wired kids, kids for whom consistency and support is critical to their healthy emotional development. I found our conversation super interesting and completely irrelevant, even for those of us whose partnerships and marriages remain intact. Because at the end of the day, parenting our kids in a way that respects our partner’s experience while also prioritizing our kids’ well-being is important for any family, regardless of its makeup or who lives where this is one of those episodes where you’re bound to have at least one aha moment. I hope you enjoy it. And before we get to the show for the month of December, I’m taking a few minutes at the beginning of each episode to bring attention to an organization doing great work in the world of supporting differently wired kids. This week, the organization I’m sharing is Eye to Eye, a US-based mentoring organization that partners kids with attention and learning issues with high school and college students who have the same diagnosis. If this sounds familiar, you may remember that a few months ago, my son Asher interviewed the founder of Eye to Eye, David Flink. Eye to Eye’s mission is to improve the life of every person with a learning disability. They fulfill that mission by supporting and growing a network of youth mentoring programs in the US run by and for those with learning differences, and by organizing advocates to support the full inclusion of people with learning disabilities and ADHD and all aspects of society. Also very exciting, especially for those of us who don’t live in the US, is that next year, I will be releasing an app which will enable them to provide virtual mentorship for kids around the world. Asher is very excited about this development. To learn more about Eye to Eye and perhaps make a donation to support the great work they’re doing, I encourage you to check out their website at eyetoeyenational.org. I’ll also include links in the show notes page for this episode, which are at tiltparenting.com/session38. And lastly, this will be our last episode of 2016. It’s hard to believe that this was the year we launched tilt just a little over eight months ago. And since that time, we’ve produced 38 podcasts connected with so many inspiring changemakers in the differently wired space and seeing the Tilt community grow as parents raising extraordinary kids find us and connect in order to be a part of the movement. So thank you for being a part of our audience. If you want to formally join our community, please sign up at tiltparenting.com so I can keep you in the loop on what’s happening and what we’re developing for the coming year. We’ll be back with a new episode on January 9. Until then, I encourage you to catch up on some of our past episodes and we look forward to what’s to come. Hello, everyone. It’s Debbie Reber here with the Tilt Parenting podcast. And today my guest is Dr. Jenna flowers, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, co-developer of the Conscious Mothering class and author of the new book The Conscious Parents Guide to Co-parenting: A Mindful Approach to Creating a Collaborative Positive Parenting Plan. Welcome to the show, Dr. Jenna.
Jenna Flowers 4:10
Great to be here. Debbie, thank you so much for having me.
Debbie Reber 4:13
Well, yeah, I’ve been really looking forward to having you on the podcast because we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about the relationship between partners raising differently wired children, and we haven’t at all touched upon how to make it work when a relationship ends and two parents are no longer living together, but rather are trying to navigate how to best raise their child or their children. I’ve also recently read that some of the frequently quoted statistics about the percentage of marriages that end in divorce when a child is autistic or has another special need may be greatly over exaggerated, but there’s still no denying that raising differently wired kids can put a tremendous strain on a couple and that it’s not unusual for those marriages to end in divorce or separation. So I think this is a fantastic topic to be bringing to the podcast, and I’m just really happy to have you here.
Jenna Flowers 5:05
I agree and even for parents that are together, to be preventative with their marriages, is really key. So you know, this is something to be conscientious of, of when you’re a parent parenting a child that is differently wired. How are you maintaining and sustaining your marriage so that you guys are a healthy team, for your children and for yourself?
Debbie Reber 5:30
Absolutely. And I think that I’m glad you said that upfront, because I do think you know, I have your book, I think it’s fantastic. And knowing what we’re going to talk about today, this is definitely something that all parents raising differently wired kids, all parents in general could really benefit from agreed, I gave a brief introduction to you at the end of the podcast, but would you mind just before we dive in taking a few minutes to tell us more about what you do as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?
Jenna Flowers 5:59
Sure. My practice is in Newport Beach, California. And I see individuals as well as couples. I do parenting consultations. And then I have been teaching a curriculum that I co-developed called Conscious Mothering. And see parents regularly in my groups, as well as give seasonal parenting book, discussion courses. So we take the latest book, and we talk about it and apply it to our families. And when I first started out, I was in a consultation group with Dan Siegel, at his office in Brentwood when he was there in Brentwood years back. And so Interpersonal Neurobiology was just something that was completely fascinating to me. And when I read his book, Parenting From the Inside Out with Mary Hartzell, it just blew my mind, I was like, This is what parenting is all about understanding how we grew up our own attachment styles, and then how it ends up translating into our current style of parenting with our children. So my kind of my my flag out there to parents is have the ability to repair, repair the hurts for yourself from your own childhood so that you can be more present with your children and then make choices that are really conscious, and who you want to be as a parent, and how you want your children to really know you rather than parenting from a very unconscious place.
Debbie Reber 7:22
That’s great. I really like Dan Siegel’s work and I’ll definitely share some of his books in the show notes so readers can check him out. I agree. fantastic resource. And your introduction is a great segue to what I want to dive into which you wrote in your book, The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Co-parenting, and I was typing up some notes in advance of this. And it made me think of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin with their conscious uncoupling. I think this is a little different, but probably similar in other ways. So can you first of all, tell us? What exactly do you mean, when you say conscious co-parenting? How would you define that?
Jenna Flowers 8:03
I would define conscious co-parenting as two parents that are very intentional about listening with full attention and embracing a really non-judgmental acceptance of yourself and your child, as well as even your co-parent. And then as you engage in this act of becoming a conscious co parent, you discover a heightened sense of emotional awareness of yourself and your child. And you gain a clear approach to self-regulation in the parenting relationship with your child, and you feel a greater compassion for yourself and your child. And also, as Brene, Brown says, you know, we want to be generous in our assumptions of one another. We’re generous in our assumptions of how our co-parent is trying to do the best that they can as well, in this partnership, and in parenting the child. So when you’re holding that compassion for yourself, as a parent, you’re also holding compassion for your co-parent.
Debbie Reber 8:59
It sounds like such an ideal, you know, in such an ideal utopian almost sort of relationship. Obviously, you know, that intentional parenting, it’s something we talk a lot about on tilt. And it also, as I’m listening to that, I’m like, gosh, that sounds hard to achieve, you know, even in the best of relationships, to be able to, to be nonjudgmental, especially with yourself. I mean, there’s so many pieces that seem tricky to achieve.
Jenna Flowers 9:27
I think you’re right. And I am sure that it sounds really idealistic. In fact, when I teach different support groups for divorce, you know, 50% of the people are on a strictly texting basis with their exes when it comes to parenting their kids. And so, when I kind of put out this definition, it doesn’t mean that everybody’s arrived at that. But I will tell you, there are a lot of parents out there that are striving towards it, because they really recognize that there is an opportunity here to put their children first even if they choose to no longer be with their partner. And you have to put these kids first, because they didn’t ask to be a part of a divorced family or a family that is no longer together. So since you have children that connect you, you have to commit to doing the very best that you can. And I’m raising them, and ultimately having some semblance here of a partnership. And I think when it comes to differently wired children, that’s even more important, because the structure that is necessary to raising differently, why are children in the home is important that it’s instilled in both homes, and that you are on the same page when it comes to the kind of structure necessary, or an ideal living arrangement and academic success for that child.
Debbie Reber 10:48
Well, yeah, that was what I was about to ask you. I know that your book isn’t specifically written for parents who have differently wired kids, but you just mentioned the structure and having the consistency in both homes. Are there any other special considerations, you’ve identified that parents raising a typical kids have to factor in when, you know, either making the choice to resolve their relationship or trying to create this ideal both on the same page conscious co-parenting relationship? You know,
Jenna Flowers 11:21
it’s been in my experience, and I don’t necessarily have real research to back this up. It’s more anecdotal, because it’s research that I have found in my private practice. But when I have worked with children that are more high needs, or sensory sensitive, the emotional life of these children requires a lot of regulation. And so if you are planning to go ahead and divorce or separate, you need to create a lot of basically time for that child to process and understand it. And be very intentional about how you go about separating the family, that this isn’t something that’s just done on the quick that you’ve put a lot of preparation and timing into the discussion of with your partner about how you’re going about go about telling the children where the kids are going to live, that the structure is already in place. And that also there is a real rhythm that is acknowledged to what that child needs on a daily basis. And that you create it in both homes, because you want the child to feel as regulated as possible in something that is relationally really traumatic. And so you know, typically, with kids that have more high needs, or are definitely wired, they’re really sensitive to what’s happening into the emotional lives of their parents. So the more calm you are, about how you relay this, the more that you’ve done your own inner emotional work before you share with the kids, what is about to happen to the family, the better off your kids will be.
Debbie Reber 12:52
Such a good point. And I mean, this has been our experience. But I know this is true for many parents with differently wired kids that they’re energetic and are so attuned to what’s going on with us. And I mean, I Yeah, it’s really scary. You know, they can pick up on our moods, Asher knows when I’m having a bad day before I do, and he lets me know, in creative and unusual ways, but that’s such a good point. So that makes me think of another question. So as you know, differently, wired kids grow up and they be they, you know, often become more self-aware, often because of the work that they’re doing to learn how to cope and to gain skills that they may not have, they can become really aware of who they are, what’s hard for them, what makes them unique. And along with that, they often start to become aware of how their behavior or the challenges related to their diagnoses affect those around them, including their parents, so many kids blame themselves for the breakup of a relationship, whether they ever voiced that or not there. I know that that is the case for a lot of kids, they feel like they have some responsibility in it. So how can parents either in the process of divorcing or those that have already divorced ensure that their differently wired child doesn’t feel responsible or take on blame for what’s happened,
Jenna Flowers 14:19
I would say by making sure that the parent himself or herself has really continued to make sense of why they left the marriage and to give a narrative to that child that isn’t detailed, because oftentimes parents overshare with their kids when it comes to why they’re divorcing. But just that you take position of, you know, the one in authority and basically that, you know, mom and dad still love you, no matter what even though we can no longer be together. That doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a family here. Right? And you are our family and we’re going to do our very best to care for you and love you to be in your corner. And that’s just, I don’t know what more I want to say about that. But just the continued support for that child to know that both parents are there, no matter what I would also say though, it really is important to not be overly intrusive, with details with kiddos, especially, you know, once again, kids that are more sensitive to their parents emotions, because they will end up taking it on and they’ll feel like a burden, they’ll also start to not share things when they go for their shared time with other parents, because they’re worried of hurting the other parents feelings, some kids feel really protective for the other parent. So you really want to be managing your own mental health and making sure that your child is not taking care of you, but you’re definitely taking care of them. And that doesn’t mean that you have a larger emotional support network, you know, whether it’s really good friends, church, other, you know, a therapist, mentors, you know, Alanon groups like places where you feel really supported so that when you come home and you’re diligent in your parenting, you’re not so overwhelmed that your child is sensing like, oh, I need to take care of you, you know that you’re not emotionally available here, or you’re feeling too preoccupied to really be with me. So let me take care of you, we want to definitely not do that.
Debbie Reber 16:28
That makes total sense. So in many families where a child or maybe more than one child is differently wired, it’s also not unusual for both the parents to not be on the same page. And, you know, I’ve heard plenty of stories and also have just seen this among families that I know where one of the parents is on the ball or you know, is really kind of tuned in and on top of things in terms of trying to get support and accommodations and therapy or whatever that child needs. And sometimes the other parent may be in denial that there’s really nothing actually going on. And you know, this is a phase or they’re outgrow it, or I was like this is a kid, it’ll be fine. And that can be really challenging to have that constant friction. So when a couple is together, usually, the parent who is aware of the diagnoses or is in deep belief that that is what’s going on for a child, they’re driving the boat. They’re the ones who are arranging and doing all the work. And it kind of works. But in a situation where now parents are no longer together and the child may be splitting time. Like, do you have any thoughts about how to get parents in that sort of scenario on the same page, so the child doesn’t feel confused about their own self-identity, right? If they’re one parent doesn’t think there’s anything going on? And maybe they are just coming to accept that they have something going on. But also so they continue to get that consistent support? How can they get on the same page?
Jenna Flowers 18:00
I think that’s a really key question for your audience, Debbie. And I think I would always start with looking into the resources within your community to validate what your child experiences or what their behavior is. So for instance, I know in Orange County, when it comes to the Orange County school districts, and maybe even just the state of California, you know, when you ask for educational testing in in the public school district, even if you’re in a private school, within your public school district, you write a letter, and within 10 days, the school psychologist for that school district has to contact you to start setting up appointments for an evaluation. And so having evaluations and different tests that have been evidence based and validated, help a parent that doesn’t understand, you know, a child that’s differently wired to better understand, because sometimes people need more evidence, and education to really comprehend the situation for their child. And you can’t deny it when a medical doctor, or three weeks of a battery of tests that have come out of a school just district says hey, your child has ADHD, or your child is highly gifted and actually as bored and as needing more, you know, something else, I think to lean on that is really helpful. And if you haven’t had those kind of resources already put in place, then in a co-parenting situation, go find it. And sometimes it’s worth the money as well. If you can outsource to a psychologist, is that does that testing or if not, you know, look to your local school district. Another good resource is also developmental pediatricians, where a lot of people don’t realize they go to the regular pediatrician but developmental pediatricians are highly skilled and understanding what is appropriate at different developmental stages for their child. And so having that extra expertise with your child evaluated can also be very eye opening for parents, so use resources. And then also, when you put your child first and who they are, you know, having real, authentic conversations about well, this is how our child is wired or what they’re more prone to, what are the strengths that we have as parents and each other, that we can maximize and raising this kiddo. So for instance, if one parent is a really good at school projects, but the other one has a work schedule, that is not helpful to doing the weekly homework, perhaps then one person kind of takes more than lead on the group projects, and the other person makes sure that the homework during the week is getting done. I also say to use email, a weekly email or for parents that are getting along really well to be able to schedule a call. And then I talked about this in the book, and I list out all the different areas that the parent should be talking about, over the upcoming week for that child, just to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. And it is the primary parents that are going over that schedule, not stepparents or boyfriends or girlfriends of the parents, but it is the primary parents.
Debbie Reber 21:12
Those are great tips. And what I like about everything you share, too, is it takes the emotion out of the equation, you know, having the evidence and using all of these resources and just kind of standing, I guess, confident and firm in that and not making it a personal thing or, or something emotional, which I think I’m sure in your experience, you see doesn’t really work very well.
Jenna Flowers 21:38
Correct? Yes. And if you’re actually working with a parent, then that would completely deny so much evidence that says that like no, you’re there is a real valid diagnosis, it’s been validated now by several different tests, and a school psychologist and outside psychologist, the teacher, you know, then you’re probably looking at a parent that is in denial. And that’s more their own issue, because they’re putting their own stuff ahead of the real needs of that child.
Debbie Reber 22:09
Right. That’s great. Okay, so what I would love to know, and you know, I know this is, this is in your book, but if you could kind of share with us how exactly it looks like? So parents who are not together any longer or they are considering dissolving their relationship? What does it actually look like to design an alliance that’s supportive of who their child is, while also being respectful and positive? Like, I imagine it, you don’t just flip a switch?
Jenna Flowers 22:39
No, but you know how this originated, and maybe that will help to give a little more sense to this is that what I’ve noticed in my private practice is that I would see so many parents that were so child centered to begin with in their parenting, that they were not caring for marriages, the marriages, you know, we’re kind of like it was last on the totem pole compared to children. And we’ve got backwards. And I think some of this is because, you know, I came from a divorced home when I was little, and my parents really didn’t speak at all about parenting us, and they just kind of hoped for the best. And luckily, I was a pretty high functioning kid that I, I ended up, you know, you’re being a really good student, but I didn’t receive any help from my parents and whatnot. And so when I came into my own parenting, and then seeing my clients in my practice, I realized, like, you know, kids from the 70s, and 80s, we really have now that we’re parents, a very child centered approach. And as a result for a lot of these marriages, if you’re not taking care of your marriage and your child centered, and then you decide to divorce, you’re still very committed to your parenting, because that’s what you had in common. That’s what most had in common. So there is a really high population now of divorcees that still love parenting want to be involved and recognize they have to have some kind of viable partnership with their co-parent. And they seemingly do, you know, because they took it so seriously in the marriage. Now, that being said, what does that look like? It looks like checking in during, you know, at the beginning of the week, and saying, Okay, this is what we’ve got on, you know, on the books, there’s a parent conference, there are two soccer games, you know, depending on what your custody arrangement is, you know, the shared time of who’s going to be at whose house some co-parents are able to even share the time when it is 50/50 that maybe the other parent might come in and help with homework. It just depends also on the finances of that family and work schedules. But oftentimes, you know, co-parents can be both at the soccer games and cheer on the kids and both be at a parent teacher conference and also even share a portion of the holidays with each other. I know a lot of co-parents that now are remarried, and they can end up having, you know, a certain portion of the time of Christmas where they’re all together. But then they’ve also have their own separate time for Christmas to some co-parents are even able to do how vacations, I know one family that does a regular trip to Hawaii every summer, even if they have different partners, they still set aside the time without partners to just be in you know, different rooms, but then do hiking and take the boys to the beach and, and have a good time of it. So if you have recognized that the reason why you’re no longer with your partner, why you can’t be is because of your own personal issues. And that other person has also come to that terms with that, and you guys have brought closure to why the marriage can no longer exist, you can be friends, it is possible and you can choose to parent your kids really well, even into different homes, and the children that recognize that their parents can be friends. And they see it because it’s being modeled to them and end up having a much easier time of understanding and healing from their parents divorce. So when you put that co-parenting arrangement, first I’m like, I’m going to I’m going to choose to pursue this, even if my co-parent right now is hates me, maybe you might be in a situation where it’s not neutral right now and the co-parenting, but if you continue to choose to pursue working with that person, and you’re doing your own inner work to help make sense of it. You know, like the times where you feel hurt, or, or whatever, and you’re not engaging in the negativity and you’re staying with the facts is like what we talked about earlier with a differently wired child like having, you know, this is the evidence to shows that this is why we need to parent a certain way with our kids are the kind of support that we need, you know, and you just stay very constant and objective, you know, at some point, you hope that that other parent will come along and support you in that. And for the parents that don’t, you’re still better off taking the high road, because the level of negativity and energy that goes along with the fight on choosing to not get along and badmouth your ex, you know, all of that, especially if you have a child with more high needs, they’re going to be so sensitive to that, and it shuts them down. So it really tears down your own connection with your child. So it’s really a very lose situation, if you choose the other way.
Debbie Reber 27:48
That makes absolute sense. And I also, again, I hear this from a lot of parents, that the partner even if they know what’s going on, they’re not caught up to speed. You know, I actually I had Samantha Ettus who’s the author of a book called The Pie Life recently on the show talking about this, and how to get your partner up to speed so that you’re not the one with all of the information, or you’re not the one who’s kind of quote unquote, doing it right. And so I can just see that there’s a lot of layers to this because it is taking the high road and treating the other person with respect so your kids can see that. And at the same time, sometimes that’s tricky if the other partner isn’t quite up to speed or quote unquote, doing it right. You know,
Jenna Flowers 28:33
Yeah, I actually have Debbie a whole chapter on Fostering Mutual Respect and Your Co-parenting Relationship, and how to avoid all the distractions that come along with co-parent that is trying to take jabs at you and bring you down and get away from the real, you know, heart of what you’re trying to work on, which is co-parenting.
Debbie Reber 28:55
Could you actually I’d love it if you could tell us a little bit more about your book specifically, you know, what readers can expect to get out of it? How will it positively change their experience?
Jenna Flowers 29:07
Yeah, well, I wrote it for this generation of co-parents where not only are they’re divorced or separated co parents but there are also elective co parents you know, people that never met their their soulmate, you know, and but they’ve got a really good friend and they decided, let’s have a baby together. There are some people like that out there, or people that are living together, and then decide, you know, they get pregnant and they didn’t intend it, but now they’re pregnant and how do they go about co-parenting. So the book goes into attachment, so that you understand how to become a secure connector so that you can pass that down to your child and foster secure connection with your child. It also goes into understanding the developmental needs of children, because I often have found in my parenting classes that those parents have unrealistic expectations of where their children should be at certain developmental stages. So to have that knowledge really helps a parent have realistic expectations of oh, okay, this, this is appropriate, versus, you know, this my child should have already arrived at, that’s often not the case, I also go into emotional attunement and, and how to repair ruptures with your child, as well as with your co parent, when things come up, how to align on mutual values to raise your children, if you feel like, you know, you’re just so vastly different. So you really embrace where you align in your value system, and where you are both really successful in your parenting. And then where the challenges are, how to talk about those challenges, in a very compassionate way. But then look for what are the resources we can implement, then, to help you know, to help our kid, also developing a rhythm and routine in your homes, how to discipline, I do a very extensive chapter just on positive discipline for children, so that we’re not going to areas of frustration where you’re, you’re spanking or, you know, yelling, you know, just taking away tons of, of toys to try to empower yourself because it ends up actually disempowering you as a parent. And then also knowing your rights as a co-parent, because it is important that you have a legal plan that has been put together, and that it goes through either mediation or a family attorney, so that everybody knows what to expect in co-parenting, and then there’s a whole chapter two on mindfulness, and becoming really present, how to be really present in your in your child’s life, and the new transitions and co-parenting. So how do you adjust to a new baby? special time with your child, a stepparent edition. That’s what the book was about.
Debbie Reber 31:57
It’s so comprehensive, I really was pretty blown away when I flipped through it. I love the connection to positive discipline, which is what we’ve done shows on positive discipline. And that’s what we do in our home. And certainly what we advocate, there’s so much information in here, you really did cover all aspects of this. So congratulations on the book. It’s a great resource.
Jenna Flowers 32:19
Thank you, Debbie, I appreciate you saying that.
Debbie Reber 32:22
I do have one last question. And I’m kind of putting you on the spot. But I know there are parents who are going to be listening to this episode who are either divorced, or in the process of divorcing or maybe they’re just struggling with figuring out how to improve the dynamic with their parent, maybe they’re still together, if you could share kind of one golden piece of advice or one tip that could have an immediate and positive impact on their lives. Maybe something as little as shifting their thinking about something today. Do you have that piece of or some piece of advice that our listeners could noodle on after listening to this?
Jenna Flowers 32:58
Well, one key thing that I think really stops communication is blaming, and so to take responsibility for what you’re feeling, and to authentically share, rather than putting the other person on the defensive and making them wrong, I think is really helpful. So it might sound like you know what the Gottman’s call a soft startup, you know, when our son didn’t get picked up from school on time, and I thought that we had agreed that you were going to pick him up on time. That made me feel confused, frustrated, and I want to be able to rely on you. And so when that doesn’t happen, that makes me feel scared that I can’t. So authentically sharing like that sounds vastly different than what’s wrong with you. You didn’t pick up our kid on time. How do you think he feels now? God he felt so abandoned, right? That’s going to put the co-parent on the complete defensive. So owning your own feelings, I think is really key and how you share it is just as important as what you’re sharing.
Debbie Reber 34:07
And also yeah, exactly. Seeing your partner as a partner, whether you’re together or not that you are a partner in this relationship. And it is Yeah, as soon as we put someone on the defensive, it’s over, like the conversations over and it takes a while to get back to square one again.
Jenna Flowers 34:25
Yeah, I often think you know, when it comes to people that you know, are ending their relationships or divorcing, it’s okay. You know, if you chose that you didn’t, that you can no longer be together. The world gets it. It’s okay. But your child is going to have a hard time understanding why that is so and your child will have an even harder time understanding it. If you’re so preoccupied with why you’re angry that it’s no longer working out in that marriage, that they’re feeling forgotten. So if you want to make sure that your child’s needs are coming first and that they’re still having a childhood, you know, and that childhood needs to have both of you there. Now for the parents, that because there is a certain portion of people out there that just get so angry, and become manipulative and try to use the child to manipulate or withhold money, you know, so that there isn’t, you know, the financial wherewithal for your kids, and for yourself, then you do have to take the necessary courses in court to figure that out. And as long though, as you’re not bad mouthing that partner, to your child, but just helping your child understand, like, you know, it’s a tough situation, and to hear your child’s feelings about it, or if your child is too, is not able to talk about their feelings, because maybe they haven’t had a real emotional vocabulary or, or because of how they’re differently wired. It just doesn’t come easy, then to find a counseling resource, or some kind of group social skill group or something for them to be able to have a safe place to talk about it, too.
Debbie Reber 36:06
Thanks. Great. Thank you. Great, great advice. Where can listeners learn more about you and your book?
Jenna Flowers 36:13
So The Conscious Parent’s Guide To Co-parenting is in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide. It’s under I believe, unique parenting or parenting situational parenting in the parenting category. And it’s also on Amazon as well. And you can go to OCparenting.org, where I have my upcoming parenting classes. And I believe there’s a URL link there on that website as well, that will lead you to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble for online purchase. It’s also on Kindle.
Debbie Reber 36:49
Perfect. For listeners who want to check out Dr. Jenna’s book, I will share all these links and links to her book on the show notes for this episode. So you don’t have to be scrambling and writing this down right now. And, Dr. Jenna, I just want to thank you for being a guest on the show. And talking with us about such an important topic. There were lots of nuggets here. I think, again, not just for parents who are no longer together, but really for any parent who’s looking to foster more respect and collaboration and the way they’re parenting their child. So thank you again for coming on the show today.
Jenna Flowers 37:21
Debbie, thank you for having me. And thank you for having such an important resource for parents that are parenting kids with higher needs and are differently wired because I think it’s so important, it can be very isolating for parents out there. So I think you provide such a fabulous resource for them.
Debbie Reber 37:40
Thank you so much. Thank you means a lot. You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Dr. Dennis book, The Conscious Parents Guide to Co-parenting and the rest of the resources we talked about in this show, as well as to find out more information about our unofficial sponsor for this episode, visit tiltparenting.com/session38 If you liked what you heard on today’s episode, and you haven’t already done so, please consider Subscribing to our podcast on iTunes or leaving a review. Both of these things help our podcasts get more visibility. And thanks again for listening. I would love to wish you a happy holiday and new year and we’ll see you in 2017. For more information on Tilt Parenting, visit www.tiltparenting.com
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