Margaret Webb on What to Do When Grandparents Don’t Understand our Child

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In this episode of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, I bring back parent coach Margaret Webb, who offers advice for navigating a dynamic where grandparents and other extended family don’t understand our child. We talk about how to handle family who may not be as tolerant or understanding of who our kids are (or our reality in raising them) as we would like.

So often big family events like weddings or graduations or holiday celebrations create situations where we’re expected to spend lots of time with family, but it might not look the way we, or they, expect. So what do we do in these scenarios? What are our responsibilities both to our children and to the family members hosting or attending these events? How can we best prep for these tricky situations?

That’s what we’re covering in this episode. Margaret has a lot of experience supporting parents through this difficult dynamic, and in this episode she shares her best tips and strategies for taking care of ourselves and our children and making choices around family events that make the most sense for our reality.


About Margaret Webb

Margaret Webb is a certified Master Life Coach, parenting coach, nature-based coach, former teacher, wife and mother. As a life and parenting coach, she weaves together her experience as an elementary education teacher with the tools she’s learned in Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training, Sagefire Institute’s Nature-Based Coach Training, and what she’s applied to her own life as a mom of a child with special needs.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How “shoulding” from other parents can lead to a judgement shame spiral
  • How to take care of yourself and the emotions that come up in challenging situations
  • How to practice proactive problem solving around family events that are likely to be challenging
  • The importance of being mindful of the time and energy we spend on other people
  • How to play “dysfunctional bingo”
  • Margaret’s best tips for parents navigating tricky dynamics with extended family, and handling grandparents who don’t understand our child


Resources mentioned for when grandparents don’t understand our child


Episode Transcript

Margaret Webb  00:23

And so I’m going back to, what do I know works for me? And what do I know works for my child and what works best for us together in order to get through all of these situations. And when you do that, it takes the power away from the words, the thoughts, the judgment, you know, that might be directed at you.

Debbie Reber  00:48

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 I’m excited to be bringing back to the show for the third time parent coach Margaret Webb. Today we’re talking about family challenges, specifically how to navigate the dynamic with both close and extended family who may not be as tolerant or understanding of our differently wired kids or our reality and raising them as we would like. Margaret and I cooked up the idea for this episode after some comments came up during my holiday survival webinar about this very issue. So often holidays are big family events, weddings, graduations. They create situations where we’re expected to spend lots of time with family, but it might not look the way we or they expect. So what do we do? What are our responsibilities? And how can we best prep for these situations? That’s what we’re going to dive into today. And a quick announcement before the episode, I recently launched a Patreon campaign for the tilt parenting podcast. In case you’re not familiar with it, Patreon is a tool to allow patrons or fans to support the work of artists, musicians, and even podcasters. I’m hoping to get some support with the more time consuming aspects of producing this weekly podcasts such as editing, which as we all know costs money on Patreon, you can support what we’re doing for as little as $2 a month and there are some fun perks we’ve built in as well. If you’d like to support the tilt podcast on Patreon, please check out our page at parenting. Thank you for considering and thanks for being a part of our community. And now I’ll get on with the show. Hey, everyone, I’m Debbie Reber with the tilt parenting podcast. And if you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you will already be very familiar with today’s guests. And you’ll be excited to hear what goodness she has to share with us because today I’m bringing back to the show parent coach, nature based coach and former teacher Margaret Webb. Welcome back, Margaret. 

Margaret Webb  03:02

Hello, I’m so excited to be back and excited about our conversation.

Debbie Reber  03:06

Me too. Me too. So on past episodes, you and I have covered how parents can find more peace in parenting the child that they didn’t expect. And we also talked about summer break survival strategies. And I will include the links to those episodes in the show notes, because if you haven’t heard them, definitely go back and check them out. But today, we are tackling a different and equally as important topic. And that is the challenges parents have differently wired kids face when navigating other familiar relationships or maybe even close friendships that may not be, shall we say, super supportive of what’s going on in our world. And I know that you might get tuned into my holiday Survival Plan webinar. And this was something that came up from one of the participants. This idea that it can be really complicated, especially around what many people consider to be traditional family occasions like the holidays, or you know, Christmas or Thanksgiving in the US and to deal with being kind of forced to be together. While other family members may be our siblings or our brothers or sisters in law or their children or even maybe our own parents just don’t get it. So is this a phenomenon or maybe dynamic would be a better word that you see a lot in your parent coaching practice. Absolutely. It’s

Margaret Webb  04:29

It’s one of the top things that comes up over and over again, with my clients and it’s something that they really struggle with and they struggle with it emotionally they struggle with thoughts about it. And so, it really is something that is kind of, you know, top of the pyramid when it comes to things like this.

Debbie Reber  04:54

Wow, interesting. You know, I have to just disclaim that I have a really special relationship with my family. So I, I don’t personally have experience with being in situations where you know, cousins or aunts or uncles or nephews and nieces and all of that are being unsupportive or maybe even intolerant of the way that Asher is. I mean, I’ve certainly experienced that in other types of relationships, but not in close family. But I can imagine how painful and challenging it must be. So you know, you said, this is one of the top things that your clients are struggling with. What are the kinds of maybe you could share some scenarios with us that are the most common that these parents are dealing with?

Margaret Webb  05:37

That so I was thinking about this, I think all parents can experience this sort of thing to some degree, particularly, you know, I was imagining scenarios of, you know, when you’re, if you have a typical child, and they misbehave, and then all of a sudden, you become, you kind of feel like you’re in this magnifying glass, and other people are judging you and your parenting and how you’re handling the situation and your child. And I think that what ends up happening is with parents of kids who are differently wired, we’re already feeling like we enter in to a lot of these situations, feeling like we’re in the magnifying glass, or other people are judging us, and it can kind of magnify the the differences that our children have, and especially when they’re right next to peers, or cousins who are around the same age, and it can kind of bring up all sorts of, you know, their, their own stuff, and then to be with other people who might make comments. And so, you know, I think a lot of I try to generalize some of the comments, and I called them shooting comments, and when other people are shitting, on you, or your child. And it’s examples, like, you know, oh, like your child should just do, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, you know, and it could be just an offhand comment of like, food has always been an issue for us, we have somebody who has a lot of sensory issues around food, and we’ve come a long way, but there’s certainly been occasions where it’s, oh, well, he should just eat this, you know, when my kids were little, they ate what I put out in front of, you know, in front of them. And if that were my child, I would dot dot, dot, whatever that would be. And so it’s, it’s being kind of on the lookout for those kinds of phrases that are kind of the trigger phrases of when you notice that either if you’re the parent, and somebody is shitting, on you, telling you what you should do, or what your child should do, or what they should be doing. You know, those are the not even kind of those are the times when it’s like, okay, that can activate feelings of being judged or inadequacy, feeling like you’re not doing enough, which then lead to feelings of anger and frustration and sadness and grief. You know, just because you’re in a, you know, you’ve you’ve gone to an occasion, expecting to have a good time. And all of a sudden, it’s shifted into all of these things that as we know, we can’t control other people, we certainly can’t control the development of our children or who they are and who they’re meant to be in this world.

Debbie Reber  08:33

Right? So a couple of things. One is that in those situations where you have this expectation of this is supposed to be a festive time or a happy time where we have our own expectations around celebrations and special events, those interactions can probably hit especially hard. And yeah, that unsolicited advice factor. It’s so interesting. I mean, no one wants unsolicited advice. But I have seen that in families. For some reason people feel free to share their opinions, or give their advice, like they have this inherent right to do it. So as opposed to feeling safer in a family situation or even more accepted. That might be an even less safe place. You know, these parents are feeling more judged. Would you say that’s true?

Margaret Webb  09:22

I would and I think what, what happens is that people in those situations feel like they’re being helpful. And they feel like, oh, maybe she doesn’t know or he doesn’t know depending on you know, which parent is listening. Maybe I should share about what worked for me or whatever. And so I feel like it all stems from a place of either a desire to be helpful that kind of has gone awry, and, and fear and not necessarily being educated on things and so the desire to be helpful is, you know, Oh, I see something that looks a little bit different. And so I’m going to tap into what I know. And it’s almost like this algorithm of okay, see something different? What do I know? And oh, maybe she doesn’t know. And so I will tell her. And I think a lot of it is not even in their awareness, you know, which also brings in this whole, like, okay, you know, you’re supposed to be my supportive people. And here you are bringing up stuff and creating tension, and, and all these other feelings, when that’s not really what we want. We just came to celebrate Christmas. And now all of a sudden, we’re talking about therapies, and how my parenting could be different and all that stuff.

Debbie Reber  10:52

Well, you mentioned that, you know, you said, This stems from two places one being a desire to help but the other you said was fear. Can you say more about that? 

Margaret Webb  11:03

Yeah, I think a lot of people fear what they don’t know, or what they don’t understand. And a lot of times our kids, you know, what normal ight look different, and it might be different, and it might feel different to other people. And so, because they don’t necessarily understand what’s going on, or what the cause of it is, then it can bring up a lot of fear of the unknown of, you know, is this something that could happen in my family, or I don’t really understand this. And so I’m going to kind of push back and tap into what I know works. And so maybe if you’re just more disciplined, or if you, you know, if they had a timeout, and they come up with whatever they’ve used, that’s worked, and, but you know, as we know, with our kids, things are different. And I go back to the most important thing, when confronting fear, I believe, is to become comfortable with who our kids are. And to really, you know, to think, Okay, this is my child. And yes, there are certain things that look different, that are different, that I’ve had to build relationships with, that I’ve had to kind of get to know over the years. And, honestly, it’s been, you know, it’s been an interesting journey for me. And so for people to kind of pop into our life, in these brief moments, during these gatherings, they think, you know, maybe just like, I would have thought years ago, like, oh, maybe you need to try this, or maybe you need to try that. But I’ve just personally found that as I’ve gotten more comfortable and more honest with myself about who my son is, it tends to bring down the fear level in the people around me where it’s not like, you know, he’ll do something that looks kind of different. And they’ll kind of look and I just like, you know, you know, I kind of shrug my shoulders or roll my eyes or whatever, or say, you know, oh, yeah, no, and act like it’s normal, which for us, it is normal. And then they’re like, Okay, there’s no need to respond, there’s no need to activate, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just, that’s, that’s who he is and how he is.

Debbie Reber  13:21

Okay, so two things came up for me, as you were sharing that these two other scenarios that maybe listeners will relate to one is the family member or family members who, you know, either just they just don’t actually believe that something’s going on. So a lot of our audience, their kids are differently wired they have, you know, what we refer to as invisible differences. So, and because of things like sensory processing issues, there are people who doubt that that’s a real thing, or you know, same even with ADHD, there are people who are like, yeah, that’s, you know, not really a thing. That’s, that’s just someone who can’t control their impulses, that’s parent related, whatever. And then another side of that are people who just plain don’t get it, right. They accept that something’s going on. But in certain situations, they are more concerned about the impact on their own children or the fact that, you know, this child might disrupt their dinner or their special event. So that’s a lot to just kind of threw at you. But do you have any thoughts on those types of family members who aren’t necessarily trying to help or trying to be helpful, but really are kind of clueless?

Margaret Webb  14:40

Yes. And I go back to, for me, I have this visual of like, of a target, or like, a dartboard kind of with the ring in the middle and then the extending kind of rings around that center. And in any of these situations, we need to go to the center, which is us, like the mom, the dad, the leader of, of this situation and start there, and that is doing whatever you need to do for self care. And part of that self care is taking care of those, you know, the feelings that come up. And we’ve talked about that before, but like, you know, doing what you need to do to take care of the anger, the sadness, the grief, whatever that comes up. But part of that is, you know, is really doing that in order to build that comfort level with who you know who your child is, and who you are as their parent. And then from there, that next ring is your child. And knowing like, Okay, this is who my child is, and I know that better than anybody else. And I start there, because from there, you can kind of create, the word shields’s coming up, but it’s almost like, okay, these are the things that I know more than I know anything. And from there, what other people think matters less and less, the more comfortable and confident that I am and know, okay, my child does have sensory issues, he might be viewed as a picky eater, and that’s awesome if your kid can eat everything that you put on your plate, but this is my experience with people like that, I’ve learned to kind of plan ahead and think, okay, these are the comments that might happen, or that typically come up. And it’s almost I mean, you could almost write a book with these typical comments as well, when my kids were little, I just put this in front of them, and they ate it. And, sure, that’s awesome for you. And that is not my experience, you know, if you would like to spend two weeks with my kid and do that and see what happens, awesome. But I’ve done that, and it doesn’t work, it’s actually a sensory issue. And so, you know, I recommend kind of taking some time to go to what you know, like will probably be said, or, you know, be commented on and almost create, like a script for yourself, or some responses that feel good for you to kind of go back to that center place to take back the lead on it and not get caught up in what other people think. Because they have, they honestly have no idea. They don’t know what you go through or what you’ve been through on your journey. And so coming up with things like, that’s so great that that was your experience, you know, we’ve been working really hard with, you know, with his therapist to help us deal with the sensory issues that he has, or if it’s an attention thing be like, you know, that’s awesome that your kids can do that. For us. It’s honestly a real struggle. And these are the things that we found work for us. By doing that, you know, people can come back at you with other things. But when you know, like, I’ve, I know more than anything, that I’m doing everything that I can, and that this is what works. And if, you know, I’ve tried all these other things, and they don’t work. And so I’m going back to, what do I know works for me? And what do I know works for my child and what works best for us together in order to get through all of these situations. And when you do that, it takes the power away from the words, the thoughts, the judgment, you know, that might be directed at you. And again, going back to that place of realizing it’s most likely coming from a place of fear, or of not understanding.

Debbie Reber  18:47

I love what you said, because really, you’re talking about proactive problem solving, which is, you know, that’s how we live our lives here is kind of thinking about what could be hard, what has been hard historically, where do we get tripped up? And how can we prepare for that ahead of time? And as you were talking about that, I love this visual of a shield because what you said about thinking about that ahead of time so you can be so solid in knowing what you know, because you know, even when we do this work a lot and I do this kind of work a lot I still can be triggered little hits of self doubt if someone makes a comment about school, you know, just the littlest comment, maybe suggesting that Asher try out this new school and you know, I find myself needing to explain well, actually, here’s what schools really like and why this doesn’t work and almost getting really defensive. So the more that we kind of do this work and always come back to that center of the target and get very grounded in what we know is true for us what we know is true for our family, and just kind of rely on that I could see that being so effective.

Margaret Webb  20:00

Absolutely, and one of the things that I noticed throughout the years is to be mindful of the amount of time and energy that I’m giving to these other people. Because, you know, if you’re anything like me, we use a lot of time and mental energy with our kids, and to have somebody else come in and make a comment about like, for us, it’s, you know, when we go out for dinner, we have made the decision that, you know, most of the time when we go out for dinner, it’s so that my husband, and I can chat and talk. And it’s kind of like our adapted version of date night, and our son happens to come along with us. And so if he’s on his electronics, we’re totally fine with that, because it allows us to talk and, you know, we get looks all of the time from people who just like, look over and are like, you know, and kind of try to catch our eyes, and we’re so clear on why we’re there and what we’re doing that it doesn’t matter. But if I give my time and energy to worrying about what those other people think of me as a parent, or of my child, or of how we operate our family, it’s such a waste. And, like, they don’t know that that’s an important part of my husband and I being a team to help him. So it’s like, there’s, there’s all sorts of stuff. And so it helps me to think, Wait, am I giving this person or their comment or their their judgment, a lot of time and energy that could be better spent just taking care of myself taking care of my child?

Debbie Reber  21:33

So okay, that leads me to my next question. So bringing it back to family, then as opposed to, you know, people who don’t really get what’s going on, but people we have more close interaction with? What is our responsibility in situations and family situations with our atypical kids? Is it our job to educate other people? You know, I know that so many parents do this. And I know that I’ve done it, like a lot of prep for the child to try to get through situations so that they’re under control. So they don’t really rock the boat, like, Where does our responsibility lie? You know,

Margaret Webb  22:07

I go back to our responsibility lies with ourselves and our children. And then from there, if you have, you know, if you know that a, you know, a certain family member does something in a certain way. And it historically creates problems, or if you know, it, just if you know that there’s like, regular triggers, thinking about those, and then okay, what would be helpful information for them to know like, if food and I keep going back to food, because it’s such a, that’s something that comes up over and over again, because people love to talk about, you know, a lot of us have eaters who have sensory stuff. And so that is a typical thing. But if you know that, that’s a common thing, you know, maybe send an email or have a conversation with the host and say, you know, what, I’m so excited, you know, to be coming to whatever and to be eating your food. And I also know that sometimes, you know, eating out or eating different food, even if it’s food that he’s familiar with, it might smell a little bit different, or because of the situation, he might not eat it. So would it be okay, if I just brought, like some snacks or something, or if I took care of this, and meant kind of preparing yourself and saying, Okay, I’m going to bring this food and making a rule saying, okay, you don’t have to eat the food. But you know, we’re going to at this point in time, we’re going to sit down, we’re going to sit and tapping into what you know, works for your kid. So if sitting for long periods of time is a struggle you may be saying, Okay, you’re going to sit for five minutes at the dinner table. And you don’t have to eat anything, but we’re going to set a timer and you’re going to sit and then after that five minutes, you know, and letting the host or letting you know your sibling or whoever’s hosting the thing know and say, Hey, this is what we’ve agreed to, is this something that you can work with? And if they say, awesome, then awesome. If they say no, then say, you know, like, Okay, well, what would work for you? Because this is the reality of our situation. And it comes down to two choices, you know, if that’s not acceptable, then getting really curious about what are the choices? You know, do you choose to leave your child at home, like, you know, and go by yourself and leave them with your spouse, but being open to realizing like, Okay, if somebody else has very firm expectations about how things are going to be, and they can’t work with the adaptations that you might need to make, like, what could it look like, and your responsibility? It’s really a matter of time and energy. Is this somebody who wants to learn and wants to be educated about what works for your child? Or are they somebody where it’s like, their way or no way? And from there deciding, okay, do they deserve my time and energy? I’ve already spent time and energy trying to explain this and they’re not able to To get it so then from there, what do I choose? Do I choose to continue putting myself and my child in that situation? Or do I choose something different?

Debbie Reber  25:09

Right? I was gonna ask, you know, if people still don’t get it, where do we draw the line? So is that that’s just like a personal decision that we make at a certain point that you know what, this is not going to end? Well, it’s not going to go well, it’s going to be uncomfortable. We’re going to skip this. You know, I think, especially with family, there’s so much obligation that can be a factor. And I think a lot of parents don’t even consider the possibility that they can be ing choice about whether or not they participate in something.

Margaret Webb  25:39

Absolutely. And I like to go back always to intention and think, Okay, what is my intention for going to this, you know, was there was a client years ago who came and she was like, you know, I really like I know, birthday parties suck. She’s like, I hate going to birthday parties. I always, you know, I’m so excited. Because I get invited, my child gets invited, and then we go, and my child is all over the place and doesn’t do anything that the other kids are doing. And she’s like, I hate it. And I’m like, Well, why do you go? And she’s like, well, you know, I really want to see the moms like, Okay, I said, so why don’t you leave your child at home, even though there are going to be other kids there. You leave your child at home, get a babysitter and get your husband to watch him and you go to the party? And she’s like, Oh, my God, I didn’t even you know, I never even thought of that as a possibility. She’s like, because the kid was invited. And it’s like, you know, going back to intention of why am I going do I want to go because I love hanging out with my sister and my brother and my, you know, in my parents, and I know that for this period of time, like, are there other ways to create experiences that my child can be involved in? Maybe it’s, they come for a little bit, and then, you know, if it’s something local, then they leave, or, like, my curiosity kind of was exploring what this could look like, you know, if, if you’re somewhere where leaving is not a possibility, talking ahead time and saying, I know that my child is good for about this amount of time, and then they need to have a break, is there a room we can go to where we can just go and have a timeout and watch get on iPads or watch a video or watch TV just to kind of have a calm down zone, or even having a family member where you talk to him and say, you know, I’m a little bit nervous about this. And if we need to leave, I’m just gonna leave with you know, but I want you to kind of be the buffer from our exit strategy, know if things get bad, because, again, it goes back to if things do get better, if we do get triggered, it’s taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of our child.

Debbie Reber  27:48

I love the intention piece. And when I think that is, that’s key in everything that we do. And I also like, you know, what you said, speaks to one of the tilt shifts that we have in the tilt manifesto, which is to be willing to question everything, you know, and I think we do sometimes get so stuck in not realizing that we really have so many options that we never considered. So just getting creative about what else could this look like? Or thinking about? What would the ideal scenario B if I could, knowing the factors that are in knowing who my child is, if I could create the ideal situation for him? What would that look like? And then maybe that’s actually possible to create?

Margaret Webb  28:30

Absolutely. And you don’t ever know, unless you spend some time playing with that. Even that question of what would the ideal scenario be knowing what I know? Okay? Well, if mealtime is horrific than putting it out there and saying, you know, we’re gonna leave before dinner, and, you know, other people, their expectation, or their desire might be to have a full table of everybody. And if you bring them in, and if you explain that, you know, they might be super supportive and create an experience where, like, all you know, all of their expectations can be met before dinner, and then you can leave, and then they can continue on. And, you know, kind of design and create something a little bit differently. And there might be people who choose not to understand and who choose to not play with us. And, you know, we can’t control those. And so we can only do what we can to influence our experience in our lives. And if those are the people who you have to deal with, and that’s good information to have.

Debbie Reber  29:39

Exactly, exactly. I want to spend a moment just talking about other kids like younger kids who are our kids’ age, and this specifically stems from an email I got from someone in the intel community and I don’t remember the exact situation but it was something along the lines of that there family, you know, close family member had children who are about the same age as her differently wired child or children. And that that was kind of tricky, because their child doesn’t necessarily read social cues the same way. And the other kids didn’t love hanging out with her child in the same way. And I believe what she was saying was that the adult in the other family was kind of putting the onus on her on how to make the experience better for her own kids, which is a really tricky situation. And so one of the things that I was thinking when I was thinking, how would I support this woman? And what would I say, you know, in classrooms, ideally, in a classroom, at a young age, teachers are kind of openly discussing difference with the class, including the differently wired child, kind of get everything out on the table, having an open conversation, this is what’s going on giving kids a chance to answer and really building that empathy piece and understanding peace, which I think is so critical, because when kids are really young, they notice difference, but they don’t judge it right? And so is that the kind of thing that we would also want to replicate in our family. So if our differently wired child has cousins around the same age, and they’re going to be spending a lot of time together? And maybe the cousins find some behavior of our kids really annoying, or whatever it is? Do we want to have that kind of a sit down with everyone? How would we navigate that kind of a situation? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Margaret Webb  31:35

Oh, I have lots of thoughts on that. And you’re absolutely right, you know, in classrooms, like you see everything, and it almost becomes like this, you know, when I taught third grade, it was like this entire family of nine year olds, and everybody had their own quirks and differences and strengths and whatnot. And it was just, you know, we work through it. And then you’re absolutely right. Kids are so perceptive. And they pick up on things. And I have found that what happens a lot of times is it goes back to the fear and the not understanding of the adults. They look to us to say, Okay, that was weird, right? Or that was different, right? Like that was not expected, right? And if you’re the adult, and you’re like, No, everything’s fine. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Like, that’s totally normal. Just, you know, just just pat it down. It creates this major dissonance because what they’re seeing and what they’re picking up on, is not in alignment with how you’re behaving. And so, I have found that, like, I have come to be very comfortable with who my child is. And along with that, there are a lot of things that look weird, that sound weird that aren’t typical, you know, he makes this incredibly annoying a hacking mucus sound, which I may have brought up on. Yours does that too. Okay? Yes, I guess it’s like on airplanes, and especially when it’s, you know, we’re at restaurants and mealtime. So it’s, it’s incredibly awesome. And for me to say, oh, that, you know, I love that sound. That’s not true. And it’s not real. And so when he makes that sound, and he has, he’s 13. And he’s got cousins who are 1412 1110, six, three, and two. So we’ve got like, this whole gamut, but the cousins who are right around his age, I’ve never sat down with them and said, Okay, here’s what what is going on. But I’ve always been very honest with them and upfront with them, where when he says something, or does something that’s kind of like, where their heads just kind of I have this image of their heads going like, huh, like, did he just say that? And it’s like, yeah, he just said that. And then you know, and we kind of laugh, but it doesn’t create that dissonance of me pretending like what they’re picking up on, isn’t actually happening. We’re different. And from there, because I’m not having this reaction of it’s something to be ashamed of, or to not talk about. It doesn’t perpetuate the feeling that there’s something wrong with it. It’s just like, oh, that’s how he is. We use a lot of things like, well, his brain works differently. And you know, this is what works best for him or this is how he processes things. There are times when he needs to have time by himself. And you know, that’s just who he is. And being kind of explicit about that where Yeah, no, I know it might look different, but this is what he loves to do. He loves to videotape drives, and he loves to have this. And you know, there are things you love to do.

Debbie Reber  34:49

Yeah, and it makes total sense that it really is the parents or the adults that are setting the tone because they are looking for us for guidance, and we’re modeling constantly. Right, whether we know it or not, how difference is perceived in everything that we do and say, and some things are

Margaret Webb  35:06

Sometimes, you know, things are, like that’s, that goes back to, like I wrote down like the truth, you know, truth. And it’s like going back to the truth of sometimes things do look different and do look weird and do look, you know, unexpected. And it’s saying like, Man, that was a little unexpected and that was kind of weird. And you know, didn’t see that coming and kind of laughing about it, then it’s like, okay, all right, I get that. It’s when we start covering up and putting, you know, almost putting a shame on it. That I feel like that’s when kids start to not trust, you know, that the typical children start to not trust us, because it’s like, wait a minute, I’m picking up on something, and you’re being kind of creepy about it.

Debbie Reber  35:51

So okay, I would love to know, we’ve covered so much here. And I know there’s much more that we could talk about here. Do you have any tips I don’t know, strategies or takeaways, steps, you know, for parents who are in this situation where they’re dealing with a challenging or unsupportive relationship with another family member that they really are kind of forced to? Or it’s inevitable that they’ll be interacting with them on a regular basis? Do you have any? I don’t know. Yes, yeah, bring it on.

Margaret Webb  36:24

So the first thing is, and you know, my husband, and I do this all the time. And if you don’t have a partner, find somebody who is on your team, and is supportive, and where you can talk through things. And so, you know, we do a lot of, okay, this is, you know, the planning piece, like, this is what my concerns, this is what I’m worried about, putting it out on the table, just like you said earlier, just putting it in front of us, so that we can really kind of go into things as a team and making a plan. Also doing that helps us to mentally prepare, so that when it does happen, we’re not surprised. And it’s not this huge shock of Oh, it’s okay, you know, check, you know, kind of the, you know, dysfunctional family Bingo is one of my favorite tools. And we can put the link to that on as part of this. But it’s, you know, just so often we already know how people are going to be and, and what they’re gonna do and what they’re gonna say, and we act surprised when they do it. So dysfunctional family Bingo is putting it all out there and saying, Okay, this is what I know, typically happens. And we do this for our son too. It’s not just like other people, it’s like, okay, he’s gonna make that hacking noise, like, you know, in the most inopportune time check. All right, bingo, you know, we got that. 

Debbie Reber  37:47

Do you have prizes for this bingo game? 

Margaret Webb  37:50

You know, we don’t have prizes. It’s almost like a prize enough when it happens. And it’s like, you know, we’re so proud of ourselves that we foresaw it and knew that it was going to happen, and it takes the sting out of, so no, but, you know, prizes might make it fun. So having that plan, and you know, just putting it out there. And then deep breaths, like it sounds. So it’s just, it sounds so simple. But in the moment, you know, the fastest. And the best way for me to really kind of get back to what I know is taking a deep breath. And sometimes that’s like standing in front of somebody who’s saying something that’s not very nice or kind, or is making a shitting statement that makes me feel judged. But taking that deep breath, and just getting perspective on the situation.

Debbie Reber  38:46

I love your deep breaths. I mean, we’ve talked about them before, and I’m sure I have mentioned the magic of you sharing that too with me on many podcasts. Another great reminder, it’s so powerful and so simple.

Margaret Webb  38:59

Yes. And then the last thing is just remembering that as much as you might want to change or educate or convince somebody about something that’s not in your control. So, you know, as part of that deep breath is the acceptance of, okay, you know, this person is who they are. And I can’t change that. And I can send them you know, I can send them love and compassion and, and whatever. And like, I can do something about my future engagements with that person.

Debbie Reber  39:32

Yeah, I mean, that’s obviously a source of so much of the pain is, this is something else we talked about in that first episode is arguing against reality. Yes, very painful place to be.

Margaret Webb  39:44

Absolutely. And so it’s, the more you can take that deep breath and see like, Oh, get that perspective of this person. Just, you know, they’re just afraid or they don’t know. And they want to control the situation and you know, almost kind of laugh at the fact that like, there are so many times I would love to control my situation. And part of the reason I think I have my son in my life is to teach me I’m not in control.

Debbie Reber  40:10

Yeah, none of us are. No, we just get more present reminders of that.

Margaret Webb  40:14

Yes. Lots of them.

Debbie Reber  40:17

Yes, those are great tips. Thank you for sharing those with us. And I believe that our time is up. And so I just want to thank you for coming back to the podcast. Just so you know, that very first episode you and I recorded together on parenting, the child we didn’t expect is still the most popular episode that I’ve done to date. So again, if you’re new to the tilt parenting podcast, definitely go back and have a listen to that one. It’s at tilt parenting comm slash session one, it’s the very first one. But before we go, can you just take a moment to share with us the best way for parents to get in touch with you and learn more about your work and your tools?

Margaret Webb  40:58

Absolutely. And I’m, I love being here and love all of our conversations. And so I’m just very, very grateful for that. And if people want to reach out to me directly, my email address is Margaret at Sage fire Institute. com, that’s or check out my website at And I try to keep that current with all of the different things that I’ve got going on.

Debbie Reber  41:32

Excellent. And I will for listeners, as always include links to where you can reach Margaret and then also kind of highlight some things that we talked about today in the show notes for the episode. So thank you so much, Margaret, for spending time with us today, and we look forward to having you back on in the future.

Margaret Webb  41:50

Thank you.

Debbie Reber  41:54

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