Becoming the mom you were MADE to be doesn’t come from parenting scripts or “how tos”—it comes from you transforming yourself.
In this podcast, you’ll learn nine parenting tools designed to help you increase connection, navigate hard moments, hold boundaries, validate feelings, and more.
Instead of feeling like you’re constantly failing as a mom, or like you’re doing it wrong because your life doesn’t look like her life, you’ll get a fresh perspective that will help you finally feel like you’re good enough.
Welcome to Mom On Purpose, where it’s all about helping moms overcome challenges and live their best lives. My hope is by being here, you are more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog, mama, Chicagoan, and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.
Hello my beautiful friend. Welcome to the Mom on Purpose podcast. Today we are talking about parenting. I like to say that I am not a parenting expert, but I am a mindset expert and when you take care of the internal stuff by working on your thoughts and your feelings, the parenting sort of takes care of itself, at least 80 to 90% of it. And so while I’m not going to give you specific action steps to parent, that’s really not what I’m here for.
I don’t teach potty training for example. What I am here for is to help you feel better equipped to navigate challenges that present in parenting. And in that way it actually will have a huge impact on the way that you show up as a parent. So it’s fascinating because we often think that we just need the how-tos and the solutions spelled out for us of exactly what to do. But if you are coming from a disconnected mindset, if you are approaching your kids from disrespect, from control, from any of those unhelpful feeling states, you’re not gonna get the result that you’re hoping for. And it has nothing to do with the actions. It has everything to do with who you are, being in relation to them. And that’s where I come in. That’s what I can help with. So I was thinking about how best to talk about parenting and I think this is gonna be really fun.
I am going to share with you my favorite parenting tools that I think will be little nuggets, little gems that you can take with you on your parenting journey in a really kind of um, easy way that you can just implement starting today since of course this is just one podcast episode. Take with you the tool that you find to be most helpful and leave the rest. Alright, number one, mindset. What are your thoughts about your kids? This is tricky because we don’t wanna judge ourselves and that can mean that we kind of cover up what our real thoughts are. So if you know that you “should have positive thoughts about your kids”, you may be tempted to answer this question with positive thoughts. However, I want to encourage you to just be really accepting and open and loving towards yourself. And also really curious about the automatic thoughts that your brain comes up with, with respect to your kids.
And write them down. Write down the way that you think about your kids. For example, you might find that you’re thinking thoughts like they’re so hard to deal with right now. They’re really just in a tough phase. They’re disrespectful, they’re bad kids. They don’t listen to me. One of ’em is a problem child. They should be different than they are. Dinnertime shouldn’t be so hard. The mornings should be easier. They should know better. Whatever your thoughts are, just write them down. You’ll get a sense of your general thoughts about your kids. If you write down about, I don’t know, 10 thoughts or so, you can also write down the thoughts that you have about this season of life. So with respect to your kids, regardless of if they’re little ones or if you’re an empty nester and you have adult children, what is your story, the story that’s playing in your mind about your kids? Is it I don’t have any help and this isn’t fair? Or is it this is too hard? Or is it it should be different than it is? Or something has gone wrong? What is the way that your brain is telling the story about this season of life? And then after you have your authentic thoughts written down, ask yourself if the way that you’re thinking about it is helpful.
The reason that this is the question I want you to ask is because all of our brains believe that we are thinking true thoughts and the thoughts that you’re thinking might be true. But if the way that you’re thinking about your kids in this season of life isn’t helpful, isn’t supportive, then it doesn’t matter If there are true thoughts that you’re thinking, there are hundreds of different thoughts you could think that are equally as true that would feel so much better and be so much more helpful for your sake. So for example, if you are thinking a thought like my kids know better than to fight before bedtime. If that thought is true but it creates so much frustration for you, then it’s not the most useful way to think about the nighttime struggles that you’re experiencing. Instead, you might come up with another thought that still feels true, but that is much more helpful for you.
My kids are still learning the skill of staying calm at bedtime. This thought is also true and it’s much more helpful for you. I call this coming up with a Next Believable Thought. Come up with Next Believable Thoughts that help you show up with a much more connected mindset. Connection to your kids means that you feel genuinely like you’re on the same team. It doesn’t mean that you don’t hold boundaries. You still be firm and you still will hold boundaries, but you’re not viewing them through the lens of being bad or doing something wrong. Instead, you’re viewing them as humans who are doing their best and making sense of it from the lens of being on the same team as them. There is so much work to be done just from this tool alone that cleans up so much in your parenting. And that’s really what this is about. It’s cleaning up the way that we parent. So it’s from a really clean place.
Tool number two, define success as a mom for yourself. I teach this inside the Mom On Purpose Membership. There’s an entire course and it’s the Motherhood Toolkit and includes how to evaluate yourself. And the reason that this matters is because if you’re anything like myself or the members inside our community, you find yourself feeling like you are constantly failing, yet you don’t actually have a standard by which you measure yourself. So you’ll say something even just subconsciously to yourself, I’m failing. My kids deserve better. I’m not good enough. And this can be really pervasive and I think just steal some of the joy out of motherhood. And I think that because this is so common amongst kind of our generation, it really seems like it’s the only way, but it’s not.
There is such a better way, and I call it defining success as a mom. Instead of looking to society, instead of looking to your kids’ grades and their friends, instead of looking to other moms, your neighbors, instead of looking on social media, instead of looking at how clean your house is, you stop looking at those sources and instead you define success as a mom for yourself. Do not define it as perfection because you are a human mom, but you can genuinely come up with real measurements. This seems kind of weird, but it’s actually so freeing because what happens is on the other side of this, you have real ways to kind of measure how you’re doing. And I don’t mean that in a way that you’re gonna be hard on yourself or think that you’re failing if you’re not measuring up. It’s simply a way for you to actually think about the skills that you’re utilizing in motherhood and that you want to improve on and that you’re doing really well.
I talk about this inside the membership, but if you think about a job where you work, if you have job responsibilities, maybe at year end or twice a year, you have a review and you go over what you’re doing really well, where some spots are that you can make improvement on and you just reflect in the same way you are in a role as mom. And you can do this for yourself, not as an invitation to beat yourself up, but as an invitation for you to become more aware of yourself, for you to understand yourself, for you to know yourself, for you to say, oh my gosh, I am so grounded and playful and connected with my kids and I could do a better job of holding boundaries, particularly when we’re out in public. It’s really just a way for you to check in with yourself with actual standards so that you can stop the narrative that you’re somehow failing as a mom.
Which of course if we take a step back, we know there’s no such thing as actually failing, but it feels so true and it feels so terrible. So come up with real measurements that you can control. Again, we’re not gonna base it on what the neighbor’s doing, we’re not gonna base it on your kids’ grades, you’re not gonna base it on your kids’ happiness. Those are all things outside of your control. Come up with real measurements that you can control to evaluate how you’re doing. Here are the measurements that I teach inside the membership that I like to use. Number one, keeping my kids safe. Number two, validating their feelings. Number three, holding boundaries. Number four, teaching them. And number five, repairing with them. And so at any point when I want to evaluate how I’m doing, like for example right now I am excellent at navigating tantrums so I can hold boundaries really well in like the most connected loving way.
It’s really become a sixth sense that I’m so proud of because it wouldn’t have happened but for utilizing these tools. But I could probably do a better job at repair. I think the frequency with which I repair could be increased. So that’s something that I want to do more of and I have done and I, I’m gonna continue to do that. And so at any point I can use that as a standard and evaluate where I’m doing really well and where I want to work on. And it really takes the guesswork out of it. It really reduces mom guilt and it helps me stay out of that narrative of failing as a mom, also staying out of the idea that I need to earn my goodness, I need to do more to sort of be “enough”. And that’s exhausting as well. So number two, define success as a mom.
Number three, parent don’t control. I think we all know this one, but it’s actually so sneaky because control can sound so lovely like it can sound like you’re really caring for your kids, but it is control if you are trying to control their thoughts, their feelings, their actions, their agency. So the alternative to control isn’t just apathy. So for example, I was coaching one of my clients who is really successful. She is a CEO and has kids who are teenagers and approaching college and one of her kids was behind on college applications and she was feeling very controlling, trying to get her child to do the applications. And her brain was going to a little bit of black and white thinking, either she basically forced him to do it from a place of control, trying to control his actions or she just did nothing and said, well, whatever happens happens, I’m gonna stay out of it.
And what I showed her was those were two opposite ends of the spectrum and two out of 20 different options. The truth is that you can show up in a loving way where you are supporting your kids from a place of believing in them and their capacity and helping them to the extent that you want to help them. And if you just think of a spectrum, this isn’t doing it for them. It’s also not kind of forcing them to do it on your terms, it’s also not ignoring it and not doing it all. So in this situation, she decided to have a sit down with her child so that they could brainstorm and come up with creative solutions for him to succeed, for him to win. If you just think about being on the same team as your kids, it doesn’t mean that they’re in charge.
It just means that you respect them, you parent them, you don’t try to control them. Here is a cue if you are in control, it’s called get my child mode. If you are focusing on what you are trying to get your child to do, you are trying to control them. It sounds like this. How do I get my child to fill in the blank? How do I get my child to fill out the applications? How do I get my child to stop hitting? How do I get my child to fill in the blank? Anytime you’re in, get my child mode. It’s not that you have bad intentions, it’s just that you’re focusing on the wrong thing. When you’re trying to control them, it’s so much more helpful for you to think about it in a way that focuses on what you can control because you can’t control your child.
So instead of how can I get my child to focus back on you, who do I wanna be? How do I want to show up as mom given who my child is being? You can control how you show up and that is your superpower. A great question to ask yourself is, I have a child who fill in the blank with what’s going on with them. What kind of mom do I wanna be? That is a beautiful way to make sure you’re focused on you and parenting, not controlling.
Number four, sit. Don’t solve. Sit with your kids in their feelings. Don’t try to solve their feelings for them. I love the shorthand. Just a reminder to yourself when your kids are having big emotions, sit, don’t solve. If your kids think that you want them to be happy all the time, they are going to make their unhappiness bigger. They need to feel seen. So for example, if they feel really upset and you jump in trying to solve for whatever they’re upset about, it’s most likely not going to land because they just want you to see them in their upsetness. Kids need space to feel their feelings and be seen in their feelings. So just let them feel however they want to feel. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want to do. I like to say all feelings are welcome, all actions are not. It’s okay for you to feel mad, to feel angry, to feel upset. It’s not okay for you to hit to swear, to fill in the blank, whatever it is. So you can set whatever kind of boundaries you want at home with respect to actions. But with this step, it’s really about allowing them to feel how they want to feel.
And if you want to be there for them and support them in that, you sit with them in it. You don’t try to solve it. I’m so sorry, this really stinks. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so sad. And you just be there with them. You might tell a story about when you were sad. You might kind of talk them through the emotion, process it with them. We have a course inside the membership about how to do that. The main takeaway with this tool though is that you are being with them in their feelings. Sit with them in it. Don’t try to solve it.
Tool number five is to hold boundaries. This is most recently my favorite tool probably because I have been practicing it so much and really have found the balance and what it means to be calm and firm. So a lot of times people think that being calm means you just allow any behavior. So if my child is hitting, they think that being calm around them, oh just means I just allow them to keep hitting. That is not the case. Being calm just means that you’re regulated, that you are not freaking out because your child is hitting. But once you’re calm and that is work to do and we, we do that as well as just calming down that nervous system. And a lot of that just comes from what you’re telling yourself. So I just expect tantrums. I expect my child to be a child. I don’t have thoughts like they know better they shouldn’t be doing this. I really just am in acceptance. I’m like, they’re kids. I expect them to be kids. My job is to be mom and hold the boundary. So the way that I think about holding the boundary is being the boundary. So for example, my son has gone through a biting phase.
It’s my job to be the boundary for him and to stop him from biting. So if I see him about to bite, I literally physically stop him. He’s not in trouble, he’s not punished. I tell him, it’s my job to make sure that you don’t bite. I won’t let you bite. I love the phrase I won’t let you because it focuses on me and what I can control instead of you can’t. Side note, one of my clients said this worked really well with her teenagers as well. She said that she told her teens that they couldn’t go somewhere, but she said, instead of saying You can’t do this, she said, I’m sorry, I can’t let you go to this place. And it worked so much better. So little sell to you to use the phrase, I won’t let you. So I say to my son, I won’t let you bite mommy.
I will let you bite the blankie. And I give him a blankie. ’cause he has an urge. So I’m teaching him that all actions are not okay. Some actions are okay and some aren’t, and he’s learning that. But I’m the boundary. I step in. I, you know, hold him , right? I was talking with one of my girlfriends and she was asking me about tips for her daughter who is in a hitting phase and particularly hitting in public has been really challenging. She hits other kids and you know, she’s asking me what do I do? Do I ignore it? Like I, I’m not sure. And I was telling her, absolutely not. Don’t ignore it. Be calm, but be the boundary. If you see her about to hit, remove her and and you’re doing this for her sake. So again, it goes back to tool number one, mindset.
If you have the mindset, my kid is bad, my kid is hitting, this is horrible. It’s really hard to problem solve and be on the same team as your kid, right? If you’re thinking my kid is disrespectful. Instead, if you think that your kid is good and they’re learning skills, so you separate out their internal goodness from the actions that they’re taking, the actions reflect the skills that they need to learn. You don’t label them negatively. You don’t say the child is disrespectful. You say the child is a good kid and she’s still learning how not to hit. She’s still learning how to be calm. She’s still learning whatever it is. And so for my friend, she actually needed to learn how to step into being the firm boundary without it being punishing. So something that I always say to my kids is, you’re not in trouble.
This isn’t a punishment because punishment is, it’s so interesting it it, the more I learn about it, the more I’m just blown away that we think it’s useful. Okay? Now again, the boundary is useful. The punishment is not. Punishment is about control. It’s behavior modification. It’s if you don’t obey me, bad things happen to you. It doesn’t actually teach the underlying skill. So if my child is hitting kids, yes I’m going to remove them, not because they’re in trouble and they’re punished, but because it’s my job to keep my child safe and to keep those kids safe, right? I wanna remove my child and teach them out of the moment. Holding boundaries is really what we do in the moment, but out of the moment is where we teach skills. So you can out of the moment teach alternatives to hitting. Okay? And so think about how you hold boundaries and just think about being calm as in you’re regulated and being firm. And I like to just imagine myself as the boundary. It’s not my kid’s job to be the boundary. It’s my job to be the boundary. And that is just really empowering.
All right, tool number six, it isn’t about you. Another way of saying this is to not center yourself. So a lot of times we take on the mindset that our kids are doing this to us. If they say I hate you even, right? That’s a phrase directed directly to you. It’s easy to think this is about me, they’re doing this to me. But that’s never the case. We’ve talked about how your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings drive your action. So if your kid is saying, I hate you, that’s their action. Your job is to be curious about them. ’cause remember, you’re thinking, I’m on the same team as this kid. That’s really interesting.
I’m wondering what’s going on with them? What are they thinking and feeling? They must be experiencing some big emotions to take action like that, to say that when you stop making it mean that their actions are about you, you are able to parent in such a better way. It’s totally normal to make other people’s actions about us, but it’s just not that helpful. It’s sort of like the first thing our brain does. Oh, this must be about me, but it’s just not true. And so you can get in the habit of looking at their actions and being curious about what’s going on for them that led them to take that action and asking yourself like, what do I think they need more of right now? And it’s going to depend on your child and and what stage they’re in and what they’re going through. But it’s a really useful framework to just stop centering yourself. Tell yourself this isn’t about me, and get really curious about what’s going on for them.
Tool number seven, respect. Respect your kids as individuals. They are not an extension of you. They are also not beneath you. They are humans worthy of respect. Even if they are infants, even if they are trying to drink toxic cleaner, respect them when you hold the boundary, respect them when you say no. For example, there was a point in time where my son wanted to grab the toilet bowl cleaner and I grabbed it from him, removed it, but I did it from respect. I didn’t say, oh my gosh, you’re ridiculous. This is gonna kill you. I can’t believe you. It’s fascinating how much you will notice disrespect towards kids if you start to pay attention to it. And it’s subtle. It’s not mean, it’s just invalidating. So, um, maybe the child is upset because they can’t use the pink crayon.
And disrespect would be, oh, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. You have a blue crayon and just go and just sort of ignoring it. I will say for older kids, there is a time and a place where you can let some things go. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about invalidating their experience. So even if my child wants to do something that’s literally going to kill them, like drink cleaner, that’s toxic. Or even if it’s just that they didn’t get the color they wanted. It’s big and it’s real to them. Kids are born with the capacity to feel all feelings. They are born with zero skills to navigate them. And this is true for all healthy humans. This is why we see adults getting completely dysregulated or having adult tantrums. It’s not because there’s something wrong with them.
They just haven’t learned the skill of emotional regulation. And so what we’re doing by respecting our kids and validating their experience is teaching them through co-regulation, how to self-regulate. So that one day when they’re really angry as a 32-year-old, they tell themselves, oh yeah, I’m really upset about that, but that’s all right. I’m just gonna keep on going instead of freaking out and yelling or you know, something worse. And so the way that you start the process of teaching your kids how to manage their emotions is through validating their experience. So they learn how to talk to themselves that way. It’s okay that I feel sad. Sadness isn’t a problem. I can be sad, and that’s okay. I can feel my feelings and respect when you respect them, they will respect themselves and then they will respect others. It’s not gonna be instant. They’re going to learn it.
You will create such more connection in your parent-child relationship just from respect. Now, respect does not mean yes to be clear, right? If we think about all the things our kids want to do, so many of those things are a no, because I like to say my number one job is to keep you safe. And so sometimes that means no, but it’s a respectful, no, it’s still firm. It’s not flimsy. It’s not weak, it’s not second guessing, it’s direct and it’s respectful. This applies even outside of boundaries. Maybe you are leaving to go out with some girlfriends and your child has separation anxiety, being direct with them, respecting them, telling them, mommy always comes back, I love you. You are safe. And doing that from a really loving, connected, but firm place where you’re looking them in the eye and respecting them is so validating and important for your connection. Okay? I love respect. If you can’t tell.
Number eight, tool eight, the fast forward error. This is one that comes up a ton thinking that what’s happening now is going to negatively impact your child forever. So if your kids are fighting with each other now, that means they’re going to be fighting forever. If your child is having a tough time in school, it means they’re never gonna get into college. If they’re having challenges with friends, it means they’re gonna be isolated and never be able to make friends in their adult life. If they are late turning in a college application, their entire college career is ruined. And it makes sense. If you understand how the human brain works, that this would be something that happens. So I just want you to be aware of it. Once you’re aware of it, you just call it out.
Oh, that’s the fast forward error and bring it back. Shorten that lens to today. All we know is that today my child is having a tough time in school, so we’re just gonna navigate today’s challenge and not make it mean something about their future. That’s why I call an error, right? The fast forward error, we have no idea what their challenges are going to be in adulthood, and most likely it’s not the challenge that they have now.
Number nine lastly, leadership. You are the leader of your family, and there might be two leaders in your family. You might be married and your spouse is also a leader. But I’m talking to you mama, and I want you to think about yourself in this role. What kind of a leader do you want to be specifically? Not just when things are amazing, like maybe you wanna be more playful and more fun, and just think about how you show up.
But if you’re like a lot of women in this community, you’re hard on yourself, you think you’re not good enough, you beat yourself up. When you make mistakes, you feel insecure about, you know, navigating tantrums or whatever it is, and stepping into your own leadership as a mom and deciding how you want to think and feel about yourself when you make a mistake is so powerful. I was just coaching someone inside the membership and she was beating herself up so much thinking that it was too late and she should have learned these tools sooner and all of these things, and there’s just no upside to being that hard on yourself, and it’s just simply not true. You’re learning this at the exact right time, and so you have the information. Now, how do you want to apply it to your life when things are hard?
When you make a mistake? Who do you want to be? How do you want to love yourself and love your kids? Think about that analogy to an office where you are stepping into a role with responsibilities in your job and you’re evaluating yourself based on your job description. And we talked about that earlier for this tool. It’s thinking about the type of leader you want to be in your home, your home being the office. In this analogy, what kind of culture do you want to create? Do you notice that the culture you want to create, maybe you want to create one that’s really fun, but also studious or whatever it is. Whatever kind of words you can kind of play around with that feel good to you for your home, loving, respectful. Maybe you have a handful of them. Those values and the culture you wanna create.
Maybe you notice that what you want doesn’t align with what it is right now. Maybe the culture feels very busy, maybe it feels stressful, maybe it feels overwhelming. Again, this is not an invitation to beat yourself up, but an invitation to gain awareness into what is so that you can decide to change it if you want to, just like we can’t control all the employees at the office if we’re the leader, but we can decide intentionally what we bring to the day, what we bring to the office. That is how I want you to think about you as a leader. You can decide how you want to show up and what kind of culture you want to create. Even though you can’t control how your kids show up, it’s not your job to control them. It’s your job to support them and to love them.
All right, my friends, I shared with you nine of my favorite parenting tools on today’s podcast. There will be lots more to come and of course, come inside the membership and I will coach you on any parenting challenge you are having because getting to the root cause of that challenge and changing the lens through which you parent IE, changing the mindset and the way that you relate to your kids is foundational to navigating any parenting challenge. I love you so much. Thanks for being here and I will talk with you next week. Take care.
Thank you for being here and listening. Now, head on over to momonpurpose.com/coaching to learn more about the Mom On Purpose membership, where we take all of this work to the next level.