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Today’s guest is Jeff Fruhwirth.

We go deep talking about:

  • Why it’s important to acknowledge your faults and wrongs as a parent
  • Being able to recognize your childhood trauma-related triggers
  • How to teach our children to communicate effectively when they need something rather than throwing a tantrum
  • Setting boundaries with your kids
  • Why it’s sometimes necessary to take a step back and consider how you can best show up as a caring and compassionate father in the face of a crisis.
  • Successfully Co-Parenting
  • Vulnerability and why it’s okay to ask for help from other people
  • How Jeff shows up intentionally as a step-father
  • The need to maintain the connection with your kids after a divorce

Jeff is a parent and entrepreneur living in Cheyenne, Wyoming. After going through a divorce in 2016, Jeff started down the road of healing and inner work so he could show up fully for the people he cares about most. He has one daughter.

Mentioned on this episode:

#48. Building Relationships and Finding Friends as a Dad – FRIDAY REFLECTIONS

Find Jeff online at:
https://instagram.com/fruhwirthj/

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. This is episode number 67 intentional co parenting and step parenting with Jeff Fruhwirth. We go deep today talking about why it's important to acknowledge your faults and wrongs as a parent, being able to recognize your childhood trauma related triggers, how to teach our children to communicate effectively when they need something, rather than throwing a tantrum, setting boundaries with your kids, why it's important sometimes to take a step back and consider how you can best show up as a caring and compassionate father in the face of crisis, successful co parenting vulnerability and why it's okay to ask for help from others, how Jeff shows up intentionally as a stepfather and the need to maintain the connection with your kids after a divorce. Jeff is a parent and entrepreneur living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after going through divorce in 2016, just started down the road of healing and inner work. So he could show up fully for the people he cares about most. He has one daughter, and you can find him online on Instagram at fru worth a J, that's F r UHWIRTHJ. This was such a fun conversation, Jeff is just a down to earth normal guy, I don't know how else to say it. And I don't mean that in any negative connotation because He's amazing. He's very successful. And I've actually crossed paths with him over the years, just in my entrepreneurial circles. So it was so exciting for me when he got in touch. And when I asked him if he wanted to be on the podcast, because he's like doing so much of this work that I had no idea. I see him in an entrepreneurial context, I see him as a business person. And here he is doing all this work both as a co parent and a step parent. And I know so many of you guys asked me like, how do I do this, you know, I'm newly divorced, or I'm going through divorce or I'm co parenting and I'm not sure how to do this or, or my stepdad. And I'm not sure how to show up. And he has this incredible mix of experience. And it was just so grateful to have him on the show, because I don't have this experience. And he's able to share so openly and so vulnerably and so usefully that, yeah, I just I was so grateful. And I think you'll get a lot out of this. Just want to remind you as well, it is second week of March when this is coming out of 2022. We are launching the village online training and brotherhood community for dads. On April 1, we're going to be opening it up to a select group of people who are on the waitlist starting in the last week of March. And if you would like to join that waitlist, I would love for you to go and sign up at dad.org/village. This is going to be our monthly online membership community where you can do your work alongside other fathers who are busy doing theirs as well. We will be having monthly calls we will having monthly question and answers with me we will be having monthly workshops with experts, you will get a chance to join a member led men's group you can take my course conscious fatherhood as part of this community, we will be adding so much. And there'll be an online forum for you to access other men in the community 24/7. So literally, anytime you have a problem and issue a worry or concern, a crisis, pull out your phone, open up your computer and ask for help. And there will be men waiting to support you. This is what I wanted, all throughout my fatherhood journey but never knew it existed. And so this is a place for mindful intentional fathers who want to become better men, partners and fathers to do the work together. And I can't wait to join you in there. So we'll kick off in less than a month. If you'd like to be on the list that hears about this launch. Please join us by going to Dad.Work/Village. Also, if you're not ready to go so deep if you're not ready to join yet and a monthly subscription basis, if you're not willing to make that investment in your growth. We also have at the end of this month at the end of every month, the last Friday of each month free community called men's group meeting for dads. And I would love for you to attend with us. We had our first one last month in February. It was phenomenal. I could not believe how amazing the meeting was. We go for 90 minutes. It's the last Friday of every month. And I would love to have you join me. So you can sign up for that. I'll send you the Zoom link automatically if you go to DAD.WORK/FREE dad.org/free. And I'll send you the Zoom link. It's the last Friday of this month. And I hope to see you there. So that is it. Let's get into the conversation with Jeff. Jeff. Thanks, man for coming on. This was an incredible chat. Here we go.

Alright, dads, I'm here with Jeff Fruhwirth. And I'm excited to have this conversation because this is one of those ones where I think we're just gonna jam on like what it's like to be a dad in a whole bunch of different situations. Jeff has got a lot of experience in a variety of things that I have been asked about by you guys listening, from co parenting to step parenting and everything in between doing his own work as a dad as a man. So first of all, dude, thank you for coming on. I know we've been in each other's orbits for like close to 10 years now. And this might be the longest you've ever chatted for real so welcome.

Jeff Fruhwirth 4:47

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Curt. Appreciate it.

Curt Storring 4:50

Yeah. So I want to start with one of the things we're talking about before which you said you intentionally parent different than the way you were raised. And I think that's amazing because first of all, it points to a general awareness that you can choose how you react and how you parent. But I wonder, like, what was the impetus for that? How was your childhood? And what did that mean to you growing up? And why was it important to not do the same things that were happening to you?

Jeff Fruhwirth 5:16

Well, you know, I kind of want to start by saying that, you know, nothing my parents did was wrong, or necessarily bad, or however, you kind of want to phrase that, like, they were doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time. You know, I kind of looking back on it, it's easy to see like, well, you know, maybe things would have, you know, I would have rather done things differently in this situation. And that situation, just kind of, because how I remembered feeling at the time, and after some of these, you know, some of these instances where we were butting heads or what have you. So I kind of started digging into it. And it's like, well, why, you know, why did I have a problem with what was going on there? And how can I make sure that I don't repeat those mistakes. So a few of the things that I do that I think are important in terms of intentionally parenting with my kid are first like, I own up to when I make a mistake, like, you know, she gets upset, you know, you telling someone to calm down, I found is probably the least effective way in the world of getting someone to calm down. So, you know, I kind of, if I feel like she's starting to spin out of control, like, take a breath, take a step back, like, you know, get her kind of like, back into a spot where she can think and, and think about what she's doing. And listen to me, instead of just like digging her heels in. I try and do that. And then like, if, if the mistake is my fault, if I've, you know, if I've done too much, or said too much, or just done anything where like, I didn't help bring the situation back into like, a point of calmness, like, I acknowledge that it's like, hey, you know, I'm sorry, I could have handled this better. All I'll try, you know, I noticed this. And, you know, I'll try and use that as a cue for next time to not let anything, you know, that will help de escalate the situation happened next time. So I think that, you know, kind of acknowledging what you did wrong in the moment, or, like, as soon as you realize it is extremely important, just so that, you know, my daughter learns that, like, I'm not trying to be perfect all the time. And, you know, I'm not going to be perfect all the time. There's just, you know, there's just going to be times where I don't have the answer, or whatever. And there's like, there's nothing wrong with that, right? There's just, you know, that's just what it is like, Okay, well, you don't have the answer. It's like, alright, well, we'll go and we'll get a book or we'll like, go to YouTube or whatever, and figure out what the best way to do is. So I think that's one thing. And the reason that I find that one to be so important is like, if I give her the impression that like, I know what to do all the time, and I'm right all the time, and I have no flaws like that could, you know, lead to her feeling ashamed when she feels like she doesn't know how to do something she's, you know, feels like she should do. And data is an extremely powerful kind of driver of emotion. And it can either kind of make you do better, or make you hide the things that you think you're doing worse and you don't want, you don't want to kind of set up the environment to hide mistakes or hide things that you've done wrong, just to make sure like, just so that they don't like start doing that with other things down the road. I guess. Like, that's probably, you know, the biggest one is like acknowledging where I mess up and then kind of like telling her why and then, you know, if, in those same instances, if I do fine, like, if if I need to kind of correct her behavior, or otherwise, tell her what's going on, um, kind of like, hey, you know, make sure to use like, call even keel voice Don't shout, you know, hey, we're just having a conversation, you know, when you when I had to ask you 15 times to go put your plate in the dishwasher. Like it's super frustrating for me and get that you were busy doing something else. And next time we please like say, hey, you know, let me finish what I'm doing. And then I'll go do it instead of just ignoring me because that's frustrating as well. So those are kind of the two I think the two biggest ones in terms of me like doing, you know, the whole parenting thing with intention.

Curt Storring 9:58

Yeah, those are so so Good Man and like those as a fundamental layer to how you parent, I think that like anyone could drastically increase the quality of their sort of parenthood journey, just by doing those couple of things. And a question that came up was like, when you say your parents did the best they can, that's so important to acknowledge. And there's still something in there for you to have dug through and been like, Okay, I don't like the way I remember feeling. At this time. That's what I heard you say is like, I remember how I felt while this was happening. And I didn't really like that. And so this is sort of an interesting opening for guys out there to sort of feel into even if your parents were great, and you had a great childhood, there were probably no, there were definitely perceptions of trauma or wounding or not having your needs met. And so like, how have you even noticed what those things were? Because even feel even hearing? Like you felt a way that you didn't like, as a kid? Do you like meditate? Do you have a mindfulness practice? Or was it just like, when your child was born, you started thinking about these things again, what did that sort of awareness cycle look like? Because I feel like that's not as common as I wish it was.

Jeff Fruhwirth 11:20

For sure. I think all of those things you touched on I've done it. I'm variously, like, right now. I meditate for 10 minutes every morning, I, I wouldn't say that I'm as good as I wish I was. But I journal almost every day and have since late 2015 or mid 2015. So getting into the six, seven year mark with that, and I think it's not like it just sat down one day and was like, oh, yeah, you know, this, you know, this thing happened when I was a little kid. And I'm thinking about and I didn't like how I felt. So you can kind of as you start connecting back to yourself, you know, via your journal, or, you know, meditation or whatever. You find yourself in similar scenarios as an adult as you did when you were a kid. And you can, you know, oh, I reacted this way. Because, you know, when I was a kid, this happened that I didn't like it. And now I've got a, you know, now I'm defensive about it, or whatever the thing is. So a lot of those things kind of come up in my journal, but not necessarily like, from me, as a kid, it's more of like, oh, this thing is really similar to something that happened to me when I was like, 14, or whatever. And, you know, then you can kind of work through it, and think about how it went, why and what you didn't like about it. And it's, you know, it's nice that I can do that now, as, as these things come up as an adult, because at this point, I have, you know, tools and like, I have, you know, the words to place on my feelings where I may not have then or whatever, you know, I can say, Oh, like this was, you know, instead of I, you know, going through, like the general range of six emotions or whatever they are, and attributing everything bad that happened to me as a teenager is something that made me angry, it's like, well, you know, I was hurt and not angry, or, you know, I was upset, or I was frustrated instead of taking all those things like I did as a teenager and bumping them under anger, because that's pretty much the only way. It's okay for men to show

Curt Storring 13:48

emotion. Yeah, man, that's beautiful. And it sounds like you're already trying to give your daughter the tools to do this potentially earlier. Like when you were saying, this makes me feel frustrated. When you don't put your plate in the dishwasher. Now she's gonna know, frustration, not just straight up anger, right? It's like there's a different feeling to that. And so is that been part of this as well, like you're doing your work and then passing it on? In tools? Not necessarily specifics to your to your daughter, as you parent?

Jeff Fruhwirth 14:18

Oh, absolutely. Like I I don't want her to, you know, again, think that the only way that she's going to be able to advocate for herself is through anger. Right? So I'm trying to teach her to ask for what she wants. And instead of just throwing a fit, for lack of a better term until she gets what she wants. I don't I don't it's like I don't want you to sit here and stomp your feet and go slam doors around the house until we do whatever you want. You need to understand you can ask me for whatever you want. But I also get to reserve the right To say, No, you're not doing that. And, you know, that doesn't mean that I don't love you. And it doesn't mean that, you know, you're a bad kid for asking that. Like, it just means that now's not the time for that, or that's not happening at all. Like, you know, it's usually one of those two things. And I try and like, if it's something reasonable, you know, if he wants to go to the park, or whatever, it's like, alright, well, we can't do that, right this instant. But, you know, maybe like in an hour or after lunch,

Curt Storring 15:29

right. And that's a there's like boundaries there for yourself, too, which is something that I've tried to put in because I think I almost err on the side of too harsh boundaries, because it's like, well, I don't really want to do that right now. So I'm just gonna say no, rather than sort of going with the flow a little bit more, but how do you think about boundaries as a dad? Because it's like, you have to make sure that you're saying no, like you say, which it sounds like you're doing a very healthy job with, and I gotta let the kids in sometimes, too. So have you sort of thought about boundaries? And how you can get your own needs met as a father? In this instance? When like, you do have to say no, sometimes,

Jeff Fruhwirth 16:06

yeah, it like you said, it's kind of challenging, you know, you have to, you have to know, kind of when to say no, and, you know, be the adult in the room and not let not not turn your life into, you know, the movie yesterday, I don't know if you've ever seen that where parents say yes to whatever the kids want. And, you know, it's, it's, you know, Twinkies with chocolate syrup for breakfast. And, you know, they kind of just let the kids run wild, it's, you kids might like it if they're, like, 10, or whatever. So you need to kind of like say, hey, you know, we're not like, we're not doing this, like, somebody has to be the adult in the room at some point. And it's okay for you to say, No, we're not going to do that. Or, you know, I know that you want to do this, but now it's not the time. And just kind of setting those up. It's like, look, you know, something, you can't always get what you want. And one of the things that I'm trying to teach my daughters, like, You're not always going to get what you want, when you ask for it. And I also know that if you don't ask for it, you will never get it. So like, I'm trying to, I'm trying to teach her like to, like, ask, because there, you know, there are some kids that I've met, that are eight who are just like, you know, they'll they'll tell you exactly what's on their mind. And you know, they'll ask for whatever they want. That whole night, and my daughter is not quite there yet. So sometimes trying to figure out what she wants to do is a little bit like pulling teeth. So you kind of you got to kind of her the space to like, Come, you know, come and talk to you in that way. And I also like want her to practice because it's not, if you don't advocate for yourself, like she's gonna get to the point where she's an adult, and, you know, just expect somebody to meet her needs, whatever those may be. And I don't necessarily want to take it that far. I just don't want her to, you know, grow up expecting someone to meet her needs when, like, he's basically expecting them to read her mind and do whatever she says. That's not how the world works. And I want her, you know, to be very clear.

Curt Storring 18:19

Yeah, that's beautiful. And I think that's something that a lot of us can learn as adults even. Like, it took me forever to get to the point where I was like, Oh, I can, like state my need, and not expect it to be met. Because first of all, I learned like, oh, I need to state my needs. And then like, some of the lady met, that's sweet. And then sometimes, like, they wouldn't be met. And I'd be like, a little bit resentful. Like, Hey, I said, what I wanted, can you just give it to me. And that was a very sort of immature form of it. And it took me a long time of being like, oh, I can actually honor myself by saying, here's what I need, and then let go and surrender to whatever happens, knowing that maybe it may be actually knowing that it's like, not about me, whether I get it met or not, I have a responsibility to meet some of those needs. But when I'm rejected, for example, it's not me, it's that the other person has boundaries. And so any conversation about this with our kids from a young age like you're doing and like I'm trying to do is so important, because I get the same sort of thing with my kids. It's like, I get asked a trillion questions. Can I have this? Can I do this? And it's like, sometimes it's overwhelming, like, do just do something. But it's like, man, they really know what they want. And they're okay asking for it. So that's such a great point. And the thing that's coming up for me now is like, You sound very practical, and very pragmatic in all this and I wonder what your relationship with love is and how accessible love is in your parenting journey for us. For me, I was extremely practical for the longest time, and I felt a huge block to just like straight up open hearted love. And that was my work, but I've been thinking about this recently, unlike the the portal to love to fatherhood can open. And I wonder if you've ever like thought about that, or if you've done any work to be openly loving, or if that's just come naturally for you.

Jeff Fruhwirth 20:13

That's, that's a tricky one. I think like, in my own journey and my own experience, like, it's, it's at times, it's easy for me. And in other instances, it's not the easiest thing. Like, I think, if, you know, speaking specifically to my daughter, right, she hasn't, to this point in her life, like done anything to like that I was like, significantly hurt by, right. You know, she's, she's eight, it's, it's going to happen probably at some point. And I suppose, like, given her age, it's probably going to happen sooner than I would bet it will. And I think it's easier to be like openly loving when you're not, like when the person that you are openly loving with hasn't done anything or said anything that says like, really hurt. And, you know, in the relationship with my daughter, I think it's really easy to be expressive like that, and openly loving. I think that in like some of my adult relationships, that wasn't always easy. Because, you know, there's, you know, if this person has, has hurt me in some way, and I haven't quite made peace with it, or who I was holding on to a fear of rejection, or like, even, you know, my own shame around, some things would be blocking me from, you know, being as open and as loving as I would like, like to be in, like how I want to show up in the world. And that's, you know, that really is challenging, like, you can, you can kind of stand there, right, my, you know, it times, like you can be, like you're standing out there in a pair of shorts and short sleeves in the winter, and, you know, the snow is just blowing and you're sitting there like, well, this is me, like doing my best to be open and loving and completely exposed, and, you know, just freezing my butt off out here, you know, waiting and hoping that the sun is going to come home. So, like, I mean, it can be, it can be a challenge, especially, you know, in adult relationships, where, you know, there are all these other things tied up, you know, with it both within you, and within whoever like this relationship is with being a parent or a friend or an intimate partner or whatever. And, you know, it's kind of the way that kind of, I look at it and try and bring myself back to it every day is like, alright, like, how do I want to show up? Right? And if you if you know that, you know, then you can kind of ask yourself a series of questions like, well, if I, you know, if I wanted to show up as a kind, loving person, how would I respond to this situation? So you can kind of take that into account I heard, you know, I heard this guy, Johnny alacer. I think his last name is he does the art of masculinity podcast, I met him when I was in Austin, and he, you know, told, told us a little bit about his time is an Army Ranger. And they do this thing called a tactical pause, where they'd like be in the middle of some operation. And they pause for like, five or six seconds and like, check all their shit. And make sure that everything was okay. In he turned that around for us and into like, you can do that in a conversation. You know, when you're with a loved one you can if things are starting to get heated, you can take like a tactical pause and ask yourself the questions. Are things going the way is this conversation going the way I want to? Are? Am I listening? Am I Am I communicating clearly and kindly? You know, so you can you can kind of add all those things in and that will help you to show up in the world as you kind of tell yourself, tell yourself you want to in your best moments.

Curt Storring 24:23

That is so good, man. I love that sort of prompt or phrase like if I wanted to show up as a kind, loving, compassionate, whatever, how would I act and then just like doing that, and almost like faking it till you make it except the point is, when you want to act like that it's not faking it. It's just like putting intention behind it. And like that is genuinely who you are. And I love the idea of pausing as well. That's something that took me a while because I thought for the longest time if I was like speaking to either a group or an individual, it would have to be like, Oh, if I pause, I'm going to look like I'm fucking up. Or I don't know what I doing now and they're gonna judge me. And that was a lot of my own issues and fear of being rejected and ostracized, and like my perfectionism and my nice guy syndrome, but pausing and like checking in with your body and being like, you know what, I'm just gonna take a break here, because this isn't the way that I envisioned it. Or let me rephrase that. And just taking a pause like that. Just I don't know, man, like, I feel like I've been given. I hope the guys feel like they've been given this acceptance and allowance to do that. Because like, that's the I don't know, that's such a mature way to communicate, rather than just bumbling through be like, Oh, no, I didn't really mean that dude. And then trying to like repair after what makes way more sense to just pause, fix it, instead of like, making more and more of a, you know, idiot out of yourself in this situation. Hmm, I love that dude. Thank you.

Jeff Fruhwirth 25:51

Yeah, I mean, I like I absolutely. And even sometimes, you know, I'm better at it now than I used to be when I started thinking this way. But I've also just kind of told people in the middle of the conversation, it's okay, you know, let me, let me figure out how to phrase this, or, you know, how do I want to work this or whatever, because you don't want to be, and I usually do this in conversations where emotions are running high, you don't want to be unintentionally flippant or unintentionally hurtful, just because you're, you know, you're used to speaking one way, and this conversation is not going to take those words, you know, maybe in context, or as you meant them, they're, you know, they're going to focus on the wrong part of the thing you said, so, pause, take a step back. And it's, it's okay to do that in a normal conversation, say something like, Hey, you know, I need to let me try and find the words for this. So you can piece it together in a way that is, you know, respectful of the person that you're talking to, and not going to be harmful, or however.

Curt Storring 27:06

Yeah, and that's, um, quick tip as well, you can do this in parenting, you know, like, I have so often caught myself in reaction, rather than response. and been like, actually, guys, I'm just feeling really angry right now. And my instinct is to want to do something that's like punishing rather than consequence and boundary related. And I actually don't feel that way. So let me just back up here. And I'm sorry, again, like you said, apologizing, and then moving from there. Like it's extending to them. The idea that, yes, I screwed up. Yes, it was a reaction. And now I'm ready to go from like a heart centered place. So I love doing that with kids as well, because, man, it's it stops you from digging in. And going further and further, like, well, I said that, and now you've got like this weird punishment that makes no sense. But you feel like a little bit better because your angers like dealt with. And it doesn't actually make sense. So I think pausing in all situations is a great skill. And I want to make sure we get to some specifics. In your parenting journey that I get asked a lot. This is specifically related to co parenting, divorce, and everything comes up with that. And so I wonder if you can walk us through, like, generally your ideas of co parenting? Like, how do you set it up? How do you deal with conflict? Is there energy that comes up when you have to communicate with your ex wife? Like, what does that look like for you? And is it working?

Jeff Fruhwirth 28:36

It's, it's a really, really, kind of tricky. situation, obviously, for whoever is involved in you don't, you don't want to kind of like, you know, if you're co parenting, obviously, you know, you and and the other party, like didn't work out? Or, or what have you. So there could mean you kind of start co parenting? Well, you kind of have to let go of the entire relationship or however your child came into this world. And kind of just forget, not necessarily forget, but don't get yourself too tied up in situations that you felt like her or your needs were being met in that relationship, because they're not going to help you kind of have to approach it from a place of like, okay, how do we make this best for our kid and how, how can we best communicate that to her? And how can we best communicate with each other? So you kind of have to start from that place you need to, you know, you just basically need to kind of wipe the slate clean and say like, alright, well, all of this other stuff. It happened. And, you know, I heard when I was in Austin, they use the phrase, you know, and so it is so he you know, your relationship failed. And so it is Like nothing, nothing else needs to really be said, there doesn't need to be any explanations, you just need to kind of start from there. And, you know, assume operate with the assumption that both you and your co parent are wanting the best for your kid or kids, and move on from there and also understand and accept that those two things are always going to be true, and may not always be in alignment. So you could have differences of opinion on multiple things, that doesn't make you right and wrong. That just is what it is, in terms of communication, I found that it's easiest to keep everything in writing, just so you know, everybody knows, like, it's easier to go back and know like, oh, you know, we we talked a week and a half ago about, you know, switching pickup from school or whatever, you know, I forgot to put it in my calendar. And then, you know, I remembered and instead of asking, again, I can just search through our chat history and find and say, oh, yeah, I did agree to that. Or, you know, we agreed to switch weekends on this day, I think like that, that has definitely helped. And it just makes it so that like, everything is kind of clear and concise and written down and easy to find and easy to like, ask, because it's really easy to you know, forget, you know, we've all got our own lives and our own kids, and we're all trying to do the best we can. And you know, fill our time when our kids aren't here with stuff that we like to do. So communication is definitely key. And then one of the other things someone told me a while ago was like, write it in a way that if you went back and read it later, or if someone else went back and read it, that they wouldn't be like, Wow, you're like, you're saying these things, and you're talking to that person this way? Like, it's, you know, again, it's okay to disagree on matters of principle or what have you. It's not okay to you know, name call, and, you know, do do whatever, while you're having a disagreement, right? You can I mean, you can disagree with anyone on anything for whatever reason. And that's okay. But you don't need to, you know, start personally insulting them, or what have you. Get that

Curt Storring 32:37

imagine? Yeah, I can only imagine the extra drama and just issues that would bring up when they point in the relationship from this point on, as you say, you know, like, everything that happened has happened. And now the point is, how do you raise this child together, in the best way possible, and bringing in all of the wounding doesn't sound like a very productive way to do it? And the question that I have is, like, where did you go to get support during this? Because, like, I can only imagine there must be a lot of emotion and energy around that. And so how do you personally, like how did you get support to move beyond that to show up in a way that was respectful and mature and getting your needs met elsewhere? So that this, I don't know, resentment or whatever, didn't bleed into the relationship as a co parent.

Jeff Fruhwirth 33:27

I think it first you know, like, I don't know how many people this is two, four, but I expect the number to be nonzero. Like it first, I just kind of drank a lot and worked a lot. And as you know, as that was happening, I that could, you know, I could kind of, you know, go home after work and, and drink, you know, a half or a whole bottle of wine, depending on exactly what was going on at night. And then like start writing in my journal. So that was kind of a way, you know, alcohol wasn't the healthiest thing for my body. However, it was, you know, good in a way that it allowed me to kind of like, be actually really honest with myself and like, oh, you know, like this, this happened. It's like, well, you're you're not allowed to just blame the other person for everything, because that's not going to help you. Okay, you know, you had a hand in this. If we're being really honest with ourselves, like, What was this about? How did it work? Early on, you know, it was just like, I didn't really talk about it a lot. As you know, as I was going through divorce, and, you know, the custody agreement was getting worked out and all that, like, I don't really talk about it a lot. I was super embarrassed about it. I was ashamed, you know, and I didn't I don't know I guess I just didn't want to be like fat vulnerable with people because of something that really affected me at the time, and, you know, it's, it is what it is now and I know that but at the time I was going through it like it was seemed fairly significant to me. So there was there was that And, you know, that was kind of the kickoff to more journaling and kind of like gotten into a, you know, the beginning stages of what I guess I would consider to be like my development as a man and a human being like, alright, you know, I read Mark Mason's book models, which is like super old at this point, I think I read it in 2015 2016. But the genuine points that I took away from the book were like, wow, you know, it's, it's okay to be vulnerable with people. And usually when you are that, that brings you closer to that person instead of further apart, which is a, I got into, you know, I so I figured once I kind of figured that out, I started like, testing it inactive situations, it's like, okay, well, you know, I, and I can, at this point, like, in conversations, like, I can tell, it's like, alright, you know, I have an instinct to do this. So what that means is, I should probably do the opposite of what my ends, because I know that my instincts, like tend towards, like, I don't know, self protection, or self preservation, or whatever you want to call it, and not vulnerability. So it gotten to the point where I know where I need to hijack my own instincts and take a step back, and like, you know, alright, I, you know, I'm gonna do my best saying this in a good way. But, you know, here it goes, it's that just takes like that kind of vulnerability and stuff takes practice. And that will kind of help you work. You know, as, as you continue doing that, you'll, you know, you'll get typically positive feedback from people and, you know, that will help you work through some of the issues, you know, the like, you can give yourself the support you need. And then you can also ask for help from friends who just like even just talking about it makes it easy. You don't have to carry the load by yourself.

Curt Storring 36:59

Man, absolutely, that is true. And in one of my, I do like a solo Friday reflections podcast. And I think a few weeks ago, by the time this will come out, I was talking about my own journey and finding support and showing up vulnerably. And like, I'm really good at showing up vulnerably. And in my men's group circle, I was not showing up as vulnerably as I needed to be. And so when I change that, and shared, what I was feeling, why I didn't feel able to come to them for support it like everyone was like, immediately closer to me, and I got the support I was looking for. And guys were like, man, if you just share this more, then like, I would feel like there's something to connect to. And for me personally, the veneer comes across as like, Oh, this guy's got it all figured out. What is there for me to like, help him with as a friend, because he's got it all already. And it took me being like, actually, I do have problems. And here's what I'm feeling for guys to be like, Oh, dude, let me support you. And so I love every single call that I can get for guys listening, to open up and show up and be vulnerable and like, set the boundaries, you need to stay safe, obviously, but join a men's group or something like that, where you can go deep. And I just want to finish this particular segment by asking if there's any other tools or resources that you have found along the way to help with co parenting, divorce, anything like that, that you didn't mention already.

Jeff Fruhwirth 38:23

Um, I, I think the the three that kind of helped me the best were one like journaling, like that was huge for me, I've kept a journal for almost seven years, I still I still have most of them. I'm not the type of person that goes back and reads them. Typically. I know some people do. I don't I meditate every morning for about 10 or 15 minutes, that has really helped. And then I didn't mention this when we were chatting earlier, but I go to the gym six days a week. And that has really helped and I think one of the reasons for that is like, for me, if I feel like I'm getting physically stronger, then it's easier for me to like think of myself as getting mentally stronger as well as long as I'm doing the work, right? Like going and doing like 20 deadlifts in the gym is going to help me get mentally strong. But it's going to help me with my overall perception of myself as a strong person. And part of that is like okay, well you need to shore up this you know this emotional stuff or you know, the mental side of things.

Curt Storring 39:27

That's such a good tip and just like the physiological benefits of being in the gym, man, like I get a boost every single time. And if you're not going to the gym or you're not moving like that is a fundamental part of self care and mental health is physically moving. So I'm glad you mentioned that and you're looking pretty buff right now by the way, so it seems like it's working. The next thing I want to touch on is your experience as I don't know if it's necessarily we call it a stepfather but like the the stepfather role you have played and I'd love to chat about that, because what you were saying is, before we started recording, one of the things you learned was like how easy it is to start treating kids when you come into a relationship. And this could apply to your own as well as though they're just like, fully formed adults with less experience. And, you know, the, I don't know, if you want to tell the story or like anything else that comes up for you as your experience as a sort of a stepdad. But like the seeing how they're actually just little kids, like, where do you want to go from there, what what feels real for you about the stepdad and the relationship that you guys had. And just things you learned along the way.

Jeff Fruhwirth 40:39

Like, one of the one of the things I want to start with is like, it was a really, you know, it was a really cool thing I thought and for the people who are listening now who weren't on, we were chatting about this before, but like, that relationship ended up not working out for other reasons, but like, I got to hang out with some really cool kids and do some really like fun stuff and watch them learn and grow and develop and kind of do all these things. And it was really kind of interesting watching from a place of like, attachment and love and care and not necessarily, I guess, results driven, it might be the best way to put that like I could watch and, and have a lot of fun with them and watch them kind of grow and develop and be who they were. And even they were generally good kids that I wouldn't have to do know, the part of parenting not so fun, which is like, boundaries and consequences and behavior correction. Because generally they were, you know, on their best, you know, they were, they were on their best behavior with me, because we had a super respectful relationship. It was, it was a really, it was a really fun time. And, you know, you could kind of see them as they were 10 1214, whatever, you could kind of see them, you know, starting to advocate for themselves, you know, as adults and become their own person, like as adults. And then, you know, they were also like fairly tall kids. So they like, they looked like little adults. And it was just, you know, there, there were some days where it's like, man, quiet, like, we're out of ramen, or you know, whatever is going on, you know, like somebody took the last bangle, and now you're, you're this upset about it. And sometimes it was hard to kind of marry those two ideas. And one of the ways that it really hit home for me was we were heading back at an airport, and, you know, there's like ticks along the spread. And I turn around and I look at one of the kids, she's sitting there holding, like stuffed stuffed sea turtle, that's also like a pillow. And walking through an airport very wide eyed and like kind of looking boss, like know what, even though there's a lot of expectations placed on you to like, act like an adult, and, you know, not, you know, not scream and yell and slam doors and do some of those other things that we all try and you know, get away from as we get older, you're still just a little kid and you still are doing your best and figuring it all out. And they're you know, there's gonna be times we like, wow, you know, you're like, you're an actual fully formed adult, but it's other times, like that moment was like, wow, like you were still just, you know, nervous. Or, you know, afraid not necessarily don't want to put all the emotion in that situation. But like you're, you know, you're still a little kid who needs you know, love and support and guidance for, you know, parents and other adults in your life. And that was kind of the big realization for me, it's like wow, like you can't you have to kind of a expect and, you know, be ready for that kind of polarity of their experience. Like the times they want to really be you know, a big adult you know, the other times where they like there are they are still little kids and you know, you take to the beach and they're in their full you know, they're in their clothes and they just sprint out into the ocean anyway without you know, without even thinking about like, kids clothes and cars. You know, you have to be ready for both of those. Like both of the ends of the spectrum are with kids, which is part of the fun.

Curt Storring 44:54

Yeah, man, this reminds me of like we get pictures printed as often as possible. I love having fun. Physical photos around. And I will look back at my oldest and be like, Oh man, I wish he was still that small because like, I would do such a better job now and I could like really see how small and sweet he was. And then like, I'll get to the present day. And you know, I will be two years later. And I look back at the pictures of myself thinking I wish he was small, realizing that like I missed when he was a little bit bigger, but still small. And now he's like nine and I'm going like, Oh, I wish he was still like five or six is looking at a small and Sweetie wise. And it's like every couple of years. I almost like miss it as it's happening. And I see him still is like, Oh, look at how old he is. He's the oldest kid. He's the biggest. He's got all these like new mature traits. And in my head, I go like, Okay, well, like what does he need me to be like, nice and soft with them, and gentle. And then every time I see the picture, I'm like, Oh, I did it again. Years go by, or it's like, oh, I just need to see him as the small kid that he is. And so that's been really helpful. And like I'm, I'm almost ahead of the game. But I feel like it's just like always punting a year out in a year out here. So I love hearing that realization from you to just remind me, like, Oh, dude, they're just little kids, no matter how big and how like, or no Rayji sometimes they could get it no matter how like well spoken he is he just like, when they're sleeping, go look at your kids when they're sleeping and tell me that they're adults, man. Like, you'll never think that right? That's so these are such important points to like, just get in the day to day dad life. So you're not just like, I don't know, a slave driver, in many senses. That's what I feel I can get. So thank you for sharing that, by the way, because that really touched me when you said that before we were recording. Are there any other things in your experience as stepdad in this role that were important to you to share for men, quarter may be entering this, because I see step parents who are like, actively showing up, that's the man you don't have to be and yet stepping into that role can be beautiful and life changing for the kids. So like, how did you navigate that? Maybe? And how did you stay grounded with your own parenting, like what else came up for you in this role?

Jeff Fruhwirth 47:13

I mean, it was, it wasn't that challenging to step into, I don't think it was it was really enjoyable. And just kind of like, you know, these, you know, this is fun, you know, I I enjoy doing all this stuff I get to I get to learn about what they're doing. And you know, hear all the stories, and all of those kinds of things. So anyway, I had a good job, like a good time doing all that and like you said, you know, it's, it's not, I wouldn't necessarily say that it's unexpected, but it's like, at this point, I feel like it would be fairly common for someone to find those in a situation similar to that. And my, my best tips for that is like, just have fun with it, you know, like they'll, like they will let you in to their world as they feel comfortable with you. And the way that I've kind of learned that, you know, you you do that is you know, just continually showing up. Like for me, it wasn't about trying to like emotionally pry them open with a crowbar and like figuring out what they're thinking or feeling all the time. It was just, you know, go up, have you know, a genuine interest in who they are and what they're doing or whatever. And you go keep asking questions. Yeah, you know, I do that with my own kid all the time, as well.

Curt Storring 48:43

Yeah, just curiosity. And I think that's, uh, I lost that for a long time before realizing like, oh, yeah, I just gotta like, be curious and creative. And just ask what I don't understand. I think a lot of guys have a hard time with that. Rather than just like, fix or assume that I know everything. Like, just learn, man, get into that like beginner's mindset and just ask the questions. And what about with your daughter now, I know, we've got sort of limited time left. So I want to talk about how you are connecting with her as I guess like a single dad, when you don't have all the time? What kind of things do you do to ensure that you're maintaining that connection, without the physical ability to be there all the time?

Jeff Fruhwirth 49:27

Um, well, you know, one of the things that I like it's super, super important for me to do is give myself the ability to be present with her when she is so no work. No distractions. Stay off the phone. Don't you know, don't go hang out with my friends when she's like, do do the things that she likes to do the things that she has fun doing. She's getting to the age, he's going to be eight soon. He's getting to the age where her schedule and you know the things that she wants to do. with her friends is gonna start taking priority. So, you know, just kind of go and go and do those things with her, she just signed up for cheerleading. So we're, you know, we're going to practice and going to, you know, sports games and stuff so she can share and, and that's been fun. One of the other things they do is is trying to video chat once, once a week, she's, you know, little little kids can be distractible, and they're, you know, they're not always the easiest to keep focused on the phone, you know, she'll be running around with the phone in her hand, and you know, just kind of carrying on her life and not necessarily having a conversation versus on the other end of the phone. That can be a challenge at times. And that's, you know, something you just kind of it gets easier, it's gotten a lot easier as she's gotten older. One of the other things I do and I've been doing for years is she has this little stuff dinosaur that we we got for her when he was really little, and I whenever I go on trips or whatever I take dinosaur with me so you know, dinosaur has been to, you know, Singapore and Thailand and Abu Dhabi and Mexico City and Miami and I, I set dinosaur up doing stuff with me and take some pictures of you know, of dinosaur at the beach, or, you know, dinosaur driving in the car. And so whenever I go alone, I take him with me and that's like a way for me to connect to her and then we'd look at the pictures of dinosaur doing whatever, the next time I see her and then when her and I go somewhere together we bring dinosaur as well and we can you know, create memories both together and separate with you know, dorky, little stuffed blue dinosaur.

Curt Storring 51:50

That's precious man. I love that. What um, what are you working on these days? Like, but like what's real for you right now? Have you got things you're working on anything like books you're reading? What is working for you right now.

Jeff Fruhwirth 52:03

Um, I've been doing a lot of reading lately just finished dopamine nation, which was a fantastic book, if you've never read it, they especially at the end, they kind of talk about a lot about shame. I thought that was really good. Benjamin been working on some of the master classes. I don't know if you've heard about those. But those are those are kind of fun. I found that it's best to go into those with an open mind in an area that you know, absolutely nothing about. So I did wonderful Alicia Keys on songwriting, I don't, I don't have any musical talent, like whatsoever. So everything in there was new to me and fascinating. Other let's see, I've had, I'm trying to think of what other good like good books that I've been reading a lot of Mark Manson stuff, everything is Focht subtle art of not giving a fuck. And then there's another one that he's written recently. Those were all fantastic. Like anyone wanting to kind of get started in you know, becoming a better human and a better man, like my, my best advice is to just like, sit down with a pen and a journal. And if you want to, if you want to add some commitment and intention to it, go buy like a nice moleskin notebook and in a fountain pen or whatever, you know, put a little money into it block off some time I didn't bring some people prefer in the evening. But you know, just start writing about what you're grateful for. Write about, you know, how your day went, how you're feeling. And then if you're found yourself in a situation that day where you acted in a way that you may not be proud of, or wish you could take back pay. I call it the game of 15 or 20 wise, it's just like, Okay, what happens? Why did that happen? What? Why did that happen? Keep asking yourself that question until like until you get to the answer. And once you have the answer, you can kick around with it a little bit. Think through it. And you know, hopefully not repeat the same mistake. The next time something comes up.

Curt Storring 54:03

Yeah, I love that. Just asking why repeatedly until you get to the base level where you can't ask anymore and you just go like Oh no got punished. That's one of my favorites as well. Okay, man. Well, we're I don't know if you want to drop, like a link where people can find you or what you're up to, but I would love if you're open to it too. Yeah, just let people know what you're about and where they can connect. Yeah,

Jeff Fruhwirth 54:24

I mean, the best way to connect with me is probably on Instagram. That being said, I do take six weeks off of all social media at the beginning of the year. So sometime in mid February, I'll be back on Instagram, but it's just free with Jay and Instagram. As far as the best ways to connect you have any questions, you know, shoot me a DM, whatever, and be happy to chat. Sweet okay,

Curt Storring 54:43

we'll put that in the show notes at Dad.Work/Podcast and Jeff man, this is so good. I was no I had no idea what to expect. Because I mean this is not like your day to day thing. And I'm just so grateful because like you touched on all the right things that I love and like new personal vectors and great tips. So thank you. And man, I'm just grateful so I appreciate you I appreciate you thanks so much for having me that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening it means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to dad.work/pod. That's DAD.WORK/POD type that into your browser just like a normal URL, dad.work/pod to find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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