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Welcome to this episode of Friday Reflections by Dad.Work! 

Every Friday I share the best of what we have been doing in the Dad.Work community, to provide perspective, new ideas, and motivation for you to continue on your journey to becoming the best man, partner, and father you can be.

This week we talk about:

  • Why we should stop telling our kids to “be good”
  • How we can use being triggered to become a better man
  • Why compassion, love, and empathy are NOT mutually exclusive from discipline, boundaries, and challenge

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and founder of Dad.Work. This is the Friday reflections for October 29 2021, where I will be just giving some thoughts on the things that have come up for me this week learnings, things that I've noticed things I've got some thoughts on to become better men, partners and fathers. And this week, we're going to be talking about how we speak to our children, and how that relates to how we're feeling inside about what they do. And specifically, I'm going to be going into why we shouldn't be telling our kids to be good. This is a little bit of a charged topic. Some people, a lot of people use this kind of words. And I want to go into why I think it's actually a reflection on how we feel as parents, when our children do certain things that trigger us. We're then going to go into why compassion, love and empathy are not mutually exclusive from discipline, boundaries and challenge. And these things work together a little bit. Because when I had talked to people earlier this week about, you know, you got to stop telling your kids to be good, because it's actually a reflection on ourselves. They thought that I meant we shouldn't set boundaries or consequences. And that's not at all the case. And so I want to dive deeper into how these work together and how to create this aligned, authentic version of ourselves that can deal with all sorts of things by feeling deeply into each moment and understanding what each moment needs. So I hope you enjoy this Friday reflections. If you have been enjoying the podcast, please do me a favor, go into Apple podcasts and leave a review. If you've been enjoying this you can share you can like us on Instagram, you can join our Facebook group. All of that information is for you at Dad dot work slash pod. That's di d dot w o RK slash pod. You can find subscribe links for view links, email signup links, all the other episodes we've done, were at 12. Today, that's amazing. I'm enjoying this so much. And I hope that you guys can get something out of this, the point of the Friday reflections is simply to provide some sort of dialogue, something for you to chew on as you go into the weekend and consider how you show up as a father, because it's the intentionality that we bring as fathers that help us grow and heal. If we go through life with inertia, then things keep happening to us. And we don't actually live our life, life lives us. And for me, that's not acceptable. I was struggling a lot. I continue to struggle at some things. And I want to be intentional about my life so I can continue to feel better, and act better for myself and my family. So that's the point of these Friday reflections. Let me know if you're getting something out of them, send me an email, drop me a line on Instagram, or Facebook, or sign up for the email list and send me an email. All that being said, looking forward to this one, and we'll get started.

Today, we're gonna be talking about a few things I've had on my mind this week. And the first one is that I have noticed that a lot of people say be good, be good when they want their kids to stop doing something. Whether that is having a tantrum, whether that is just not leaving the playground when they want to leave, whether it's not wanting to share a toy when they're like three years old. I see parents say be good a lot. And I always wonder what exactly that means. And it makes sense. It's what everyone says it but it's what you want to see happen, you know, in your head, what being good means. And unfortunately, I don't think this is a great way to speak to our kids, because they aren't being bad. When we say be good, we assume or we insinuate that they're being bad. And we need them to stop to be good. But in my opinion, they're not being bad. I don't think that humans are bad. I think that people react to things. And when it comes to our kids, they're just having a hard time. And when we say be good, what I think we often mean is I'm uncomfortable with the way you're expressing your emotions, and I need it to stop. So do what I say and be good. And I think that's important to think about for a moment. What is it about our children having reaction, whether that's in the store, they're lying down and need to push your card around, and they're having a little bit of trouble? Maybe they're screaming, maybe they're not sharing, like I said, maybe they're not coming, maybe they are throwing food at the table, whatever this thing is that you think is bad. If you bring it back one step, consider how you feel with what's going on right now. Are you uncomfortable with this? Why? What is it about what your child is doing that makes you so uncomfortable that you need to control it to make it to stop? And of course there are times when we need to set boundaries. We need to help our children because they cannot help themselves because of a dysregulated nervous system. And those things are fine. We ought to set boundaries we ought to help our children when they're having a hard time like this. And sometimes we need to stop them because they're being dangerous or destructive to themselves or other people or property Those are all fine. But nowhere in there do we need to say be good and insinuate that they are not good. And so that's why I wanted to think about this this week thinking, like, what are those uncomfortable feelings? What exactly is it that we are feeling as parents when our kids are doing these things, because they're just reacting to a big feeling. And that's what most of us do. But for kids, especially, who don't have the developed logic system that we have, they feel a feeling. And they either have the tools to deal with them, or they don't and and because they're kids, they probably don't have as many tools as we do. So what is it that you don't want to feel when your child is screaming? Or not sharing or grabbing? Or whatever it is? Do you feel shame? Do you feel embarrassment Is it fear, disappointment, anger, it's a lot easier to control our kids by telling them to be good and strong arming them into sharing or putting things down than it is to be compassionate, and simply see that our kids are having these feelings and they're reacting to things, it's a lot easier to stop than it is to sit with the discomfort that these feelings bring up in us. If you were shamed as a child, maybe you can't feel shame without going into shutdown. Maybe you hate feeling embarrassed, because it puts your internal perfection on a pedestal that, you know it can't hold up to. And that that's honestly for me something that happened in my early years of being a parent, when my kids would have a tantrum out in public or when they you know, wouldn't put something back when I asked them to whatever it was that I thought was so called bad. Especially when other people were around. I imagined everyone judging me for not having everything together. I imagine that if my kids were acting out, it was a reflection on me. And because my ego defense mechanism was to show up as perfect. I thought it made me seem not perfect. And what that looked like to me what that felt like to me, was it if I'm not perfect, I'm flawed. And if I'm flawed, nobody's going to love me. And if nobody loves me, I'm alone. And that is so scary. And this for me, after doing a lot of work on this comes back to a very deep childhood wound of abandonment. And my belief was if I am just good, if I get straight A's, if I am polite, if I'm conscientious if I'm all of these things, maybe maybe someone will be there for me. And this is extrapolated into adulthood, very similar to what we call the nice guy syndrome. You can read more about that. And Dr. Glover's book No more Mr. Nice Guy.

But the point of this is that when I look on the times in my life, when I wanted my kids to be good, it was almost always because I was uncomfortable with the emotion that their action was bringing up. It had nothing to do with them. And yes, I could and should have set boundaries and had consequences and move them out of places that were disruptive. But it went way beyond that. It goes to tell your kids to be good. It tells them stop being bad. It goes to telling them Oh, you're making daddy sad. Daddy doesn't like it when you do that. Mommy's embarrassed when you do that, how could you do that. And it begets shame in our children when we treat them like this. And so that's why this has been so important for me this week is because I keep hearing people say be good. And I just want to say, Look, why don't you start by identifying the feelings you're having that your children's actions are causing you when they're so called being bad. And go from there. Next time you want to tell your kid to stop being bad. Why don't you stop and thank them instead, because they have just given you an insight into yourself that you can use to grow and heal. Because when we are triggered, we reveal something about ourselves that is likely wounded. That may be from trauma maybe for from perceived trauma. But when we're triggered, we get a spotlight shined on that pain. And if we can be present, even just for a moment, we can start to dive in to why we feel that way. And it's only through feeling it that we can get to the bottom of it. There's a saying they say if you can feel it, you can heal it. And I think that's pretty true. And so when these things come up these days, I love being triggered not in the moment maybe but I love being triggered because I always get a lesson. I can think back on it. I can meditate on it. I can journal on it. And I can go oh, that's why I was feeling so bad. It's not that my kids are bad and they're to blame. It's that I didn't have the nervous system capacity to deal with this. And here's why. And so it's almost never about them. They're small. They owe you nothing. It's almost always about you know, it's always about me. That's what I've discovered in my life. And what this means is that there's great hope. You can grow, you can heal and all these triggers are little in Besides, in two ways you could grow and heal, you can do the work to become a better man so that you can become a better father in these situations and everything else. Now, I shared a little bit about this story on Instagram. And there's some feedback, saying, Well, you need much more than just love, you have to be not so soft, you got to be hard on your kids, you got to make sure that they know boundaries and stuff like that. And I totally get that. And I agree with that. And that's why as I was telling the story, just now I mentioned how important boundaries and consequences truly are. It's simply how we react and speak to our children. That I think is the problem. And so that leads me to the second thought I've had this week on this Friday reflection, which is compassion, love and empathy are not mutually exclusive. From discipline, boundaries and challenge.

I think that most men struggle with compassion, love and empathy, and not the other part. A lot of men are stern and emotionally unavailable, maybe they have never been taught that maybe they were shamed when they had emotions as a child, and they've let been led to believe in the society that men don't have feelings, men don't cry. And so it's a lot easier to be firm and stern and strong and, and stoic than it is to open up. And so when a lot of men hear that we need to be more open and loving and compassionate, they see weakness. And the other way is true as well, there's a lot of more so called New Age men who feel deeply but don't set strong boundaries. They don't have discipline, consequences, they don't challenge their children. And both of these things alone can be quite harmful to a child, we need both of them. And there is a way to have both of them. There's a way to be a strong masculine leader who is compassionate, and has boundaries, who loves and provides discipline, who has empathy, and challenges his children. That should be our ideal. That is the goal. That is my goal here in myself and with Dad.Work. To help men cultivate the things they need to be both of these things. I see it as a spectrum. Many men are on the one side where it's stern disciplinarians. Not a lot of love. Some men are on the side where it's more free flowing, they're more in touch with their emotions, but they have a hard time setting boundaries. I believe that if we can get to a place where we experience both of those, we can then get back to a center, this grounded middle point, and this is what I'm noticing more and more in my life is that balance is key. I have found it incredibly helpful to experience both sides of things. So if I'm weak in one thing, I will often overcorrect to the other side so that I can embody that when I need to. And what I'll do afterward is I realized that you know, I've gone a little bit too far one side and then I will come back and find the middle, I will integrate and I will ground so that on a situation by situation level, I can go in there and access access one of the things that I need to deal with it. So for example, if I have a situation that requires empathy, I can go there if I have a situation that requires setting a boundary and having consequences I can go there. And even better, I can combine the two so that when I am providing discipline, boundaries and challenge, I am doing it with compassion, love and empathy and vice versa. The way I see it is that the masculine side of this we want to talk about energies, masculine or feminine energies, the masculine side of our energy should be a container. It should be a strong, present, boundary filled container in which we can feel compassion, love, empathy, all of these good things, all these softer, more gentle, feminine qualities. And so if you only have the feminine qualities, there's no container, they can run amok, they're chaotic, and they often don't land. On the other hand, if we only have a container, it's very hard. It's very hard to connect. It's not easy for our kids to hear us and feel us and know that we are actually showing up for them. And so it's this combination of the two. And this can be developed through mindfulness. through journaling, through being with other men, through introspection, wondering in your life, how you're showing up. Shadow Work prompts all these things, we can develop both sides of the equation. They have to be present in parenting, because our kids need both sides. The stern emotionally distant fathers often fail to affirm their children with love, empathy and compassion, as I've noted, and the permissive emotionally overwhelmed fathers don't give their kids boundaries, discipline resilience. So we need to find this middle ground we need to look for this place of grounded embodiment, so we can access both sides and access them together. Of course, this requires training requires awareness and sensitivity so we can feel fully into each moment. Slow down and show up intentionally for our kids when and how they need us.

This is the baseline of all of this. This is so important for being a better man a better father, a better partner, is how deeply Can You Feel into each moment? Do you practice with meditation? Do you breathe deeply every day? Do you feel your feet on the ground when you're walking when you're standing? How connected are you to your body and your emotional body. Because when we become more aware and sensitive, in our own bodies, especially as we practice in meditation, for example, the whole point isn't to have this like, you know, year long streak of having meditated every day. The point is to show up more fully every day in each moment, so that we can feel into what's right. And having both of the sides of the spectrum the tools, empathy, compassion, and discipline boundaries. Having those together is vital to do this well. But it all starts with being able to show up and feel in to each moment. So if you're Stern, become curious about your relationship to your emotions. If you're permissive, become curious about your relationship to your boundaries. Because just like the first topic we talked about, it all comes back to you. My goal is just to find balance, because I know that my kids need boundaries and empathy, discipline and compassion, they need both of these things to thrive. And so that's what I've been thinking about this last week. I see a lot of men struggling with one side or the other. And we don't have to, it might be uncomfortable, but we can say with discomfort. We are strong, you are strong. You've done everything you've done in your life. And it's got you to this point, what do you need to do next to embody a more full authentic and aligned self to be a better man, a better partner, and a better father. Those are the Friday reflection thoughts for today, October 29 2021. I hope that was useful for you today to get a sense of what I'm working on myself and what I'm seeing in the world. And I hope you stick around. If you've enjoyed this please leave us a review on iTunes. It helps tremendously because it's called Apple podcast now submit your podcast app leave us a review. If you've been getting value out of this. Make sure to join our 14 day better man better dad email course you can find that on our website dad dot work. And give us a follow on Instagram at Dad.Work dot Kurt. Anyway, that's it for today. Thank you very much for listening. I hope you are enjoying podcasts.

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