PODCAST: Parenting Without Yelling feat. Wendy Snyder

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Parenting Teens, Parenting Young Kids, Podcasts | 8 comments

Parenting without Yelling featuring Wendy Snyder
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Can discipline and kindness go together?

Today on the Bare Marriage podcast we’re joined by one of our favourite people, Wendy Snyder, a parenting coach with Fresh Start Family. 

She helps parents learn how firm kindness works–how we can connect with our kids through discipline, and how punishment doesn’t have to be the modus operandi of our family. Instead, kids can learn through connection and firmness, with limits.

And it’s so beautiful because it creates relationships where connection grows! 

So many of you relate to what we say about marriage, but it all spills over into parenting, too, doesn’t it? So join us as we jump into the parenting conversation today!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Timeline of the Podcast

1:45 Our policy for where we speak/who we invite on podcasts
11:30 Wendy Snyder joins for a parenting discussion
15:20 Fear-based parenting
24:15 Threatening/Yelling vs Other strategies
31:10 “If we don’t control our kids, won’t they control us?”
39:40 Yelling doesn’t make you firm
48:30 Engage in your creative brain
58:00 Come to our FREE webinar on September 14th!
1:03:40 Conclusions + what’s coming up!

Let’s talk discipline and firm kindness!

A mistake many people make is thinking that discipline=spanking, so if you don’t spank, you’re not actually disciplining your kids.

But that’s not true at all! Effective discipline actually requires a lot of work. But it’s worth it! Because teaching kids self-regulation, good decisionmaking, and character traits requires time, but ends up in a strong relationship where you’re connected. 

All of us want that. But frequently we get off track because we get scared. Our kids don’t listen to us, and we’re worried that reflects badly on us, or we’re worried we’ll lose the relationship with them. So we yell. We lose it. We express our frustration in totally counter-productive ways.

Wendy Snyder is a parenting coach who helps you learn how to creatively and proactively understand what your children need and create opportunities for your kids to learn and succeed. And helps you regulate your own emotions as well! Rebecca likes to say that everything she does as a parent that she didn’t learn from me she learnt from Wendy!

On September 14, we’re doing a FREE webinar to learn what creative discipline with firm kindness looks like. 

If you’re intrigued by what Wendy is saying, please join us! She’ll run through 6 reasons why your current discipline strategy may not be working, and lay out a new plan that will help you think about parenting in a whole new way–that will empower you as a parent while helping you connect with your kids. 

Sign up here–the webinar is at 1 pm EST, and there will be door prizes for those who are there live, but the recording will also be available. 

We have a new speaking policy!

Before COVID, I used to speak quite a bit at different churches, conferences, and events. Then we took a big hiatus (which allowed us to write our books!), but now I’m starting to get more invitations. So as a team, we’ve sat down and tried to hammer out a policy of where I’ll speak. I talked about that on the podcast, and I’ll put up a post really soon with all the details. 

But in a nutshell, when I host the event or podcast, I will vet the speakers, and I believe that what they will be sharing doesn’t enable harm, and as far as I know there are no credible allegations of abuse.

But when I’m not hosting the event, I see every speaking invitation as a missionary opportunity. I don’t want us to become echo chambers, and if a place that I don’t usually align with asks me to speak, I will gladly go, because that’s the audience that really needs to hear. So I can’t vet speakers and workshop leaders at conferences I go to. But I do want to go and speak where people have offered me a platform. Because that’s the only way to get the message out!

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Podcast with Wendy Snyder on Parenting without Yelling

What do you think? Do you have issues with yelling with your kids? Do you get frustrated because they don’t seem to listen? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.   I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.

Sheila: And coming up, we have an amazing interview with Wendy Schneider from Fresh Start Families.  We’re so excited about that.  One of the most common questions that we get is about how to parent in an emotionally healthy way because we talk so much about emotionally healthy relationships and marriage and that naturally translates into how do I raise my kids in an emotionally healthy way so that they can grow up feeling good about themselves, able to have good relationships, able to feel confident in Christ, and all those things.  So we’ve got that coming up with Wendy along with a really special webinar that we’re going to announce then.  But before we get to that, two quick things.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: Okay.  First of all, I owe Greg Locke an apology.

Rebecca: Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  Okay.  So last week on the podcast we made mention of the fact that Pastor Greg Locke had attacked a Barbie house with a baseball bat surrounded by Bibles, and it turns out it wasn’t a Barbie house.  It was just—  

Rebecca: A regular dollhouse that he attacked with a baseball bat that he had tied a Bible to.

Sheila: Yes.  So it was not about the Barbie movie per se.  Still some issues with that sermon that he gave but not about the Barbie movie.

Rebecca: Still lots of issues with literally using the Bible as a battering ram.

Sheila: Yes.  For a doll house.  But not about the Barbie movie.

Rebecca: No.  Not Barbie.  

Sheila: But speaking about issues, while speaking, we have—we’ve been trying to work on a policy.  And I just thought that it would be really good to share that with you all today because one of the things that’s starting to happen now that COVID is over is that I’m getting asked to speak a lot.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  It’s something that’s been happening the whole time is you’ve gone on podcasts and other people’s platforms quite a bit.  Promoting the book.  And what we get asked a lot is why are you going on this podcast or that podcast because they clearly disagree with everything that we stand for.

Sheila: Right.  And so I thought I would just share what our policy is so that you—you can hear our hearts because this is something that we wrestle with a lot.  The team behind the scenes.  So I think our number one goal is to speak to people who really need to hear.  Just like Jesus went wherever he was asked to speak—He went and sat at the Pharisee’s houses.  He went and talked to tax collectors and sinners.  He didn’t only hang out with people who totally agreed with him.  He went and talked to people who really needed the message and who were willing to listen.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I think that’s the big thing.  And He didn’t compromise His values when He went and talked to those people.  

Sheila: Right.  Right.  And so what we’re trying to figure out is where will I speak if I’m asked to speak or if you’re asked to speak, Rebecca.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Realistically, it’s going to be you.

Sheila: You’re the one with toddlers.  Yeah.  And so we do have a couple of guidelines.  First of all, if I am ever hosting an event or if I’m having people on the podcast, I will only ever have people that I have vetted as much as I can vet.  And sometimes you have someone on, and you realize afterwards, “Oh, there were issues with that person that you didn’t know beforehand.”  And that’s a difficult situation.  But as much as possible, I will only have people on that I have vetted and that—

Rebecca: Or specifically the portion of their writing or their video or whatever they do, the part that we are talking about we’ve vetted.  Right?  So if they’ve written 17 books and we’re talking about one of them, we vetted that book.  We haven’t vetted the other 16.

Sheila: Yes.  And as much as we know, there’s not abuse allegations or as much as we know.  Okay.  So this is not a person who is going to share teachings that might be harmful or that might cover up or enable abuse.  This doesn’t mean that we agree with them 100%.  In fact, we probably don’t agree with people 100%.

Rebecca: Well, even just the fact that we’re Canadians and mostly have Americans on, we don’t agree with anyone 100%.

Sheila: Right.  I don’t agree with you 100%.  You don’t agree with me 100%.  So it doesn’t mean that I stand by everything they say, but I will endeavor as much as possible to not invite people to speak that I think are harmful.  At the same time, I will go and speak at places that I think are harmful if they’ll have me.   

Rebecca: Yeah.  Well, because why wouldn’t we?  I mean everyone who is here who is listening—the vast majority of people here were in churches that restrict women, that are all about us versus them, that are about maintaining power over others that are actively harmful.  And the reason that they left was because someone went into that space and said, “Maybe it could be different.”  And I think that there’s so much need to, in essence, have—and I know this is a loaded term outside of evangelicalism.  But within evangelicalism, I actually think it works.  Missionaries into a lot of these spaces.  Because what often happens is you get so insolated and you get into an echo chamber and our whole mantra forever has been let’s change the evangelical conversation about sex, about all this different stuff.  And you can’t change the conversation if you’re only speaking to people who already agree with you.

Sheila: Yeah.  Or if you’re not part of the bigger conversation that’s going on.  

Rebecca: Yeah.   Exactly.  And there are so many people whose job is to speak to those who are already through it, and we do that quite a bit too.  A lot of people are here for that.  But one of the things that we do that other people don’t is we actually are often peoples first point of contact, and that’s kind of how I hope people can see us too.  We’re the first point of contact for a lot of people.  They start to listen to us, and then they get to find a new community that actually accepts them as they are and doesn’t see them as lesser because they’re a woman.

Sheila: Right.  So if John MacArthur asked me to speak.  I would speak at John MacArthur’s church.

Rebecca: Even though it’s John MacArthur.  John MacArthur is never in a million years going to ask us to speak.

Sheila: No.  I would speak at The Gospel Coalition.  

Rebecca: Even though we clearly think that both of them are horrendous theology that’s just terrible and destroys lives.

Sheila: Because those are the people that really need to hear and so when I—if I’m asked to give a workshop at a conference, that doesn’t mean that I agree with all the other workshop speakers.  Absolutely not.  I don’t have time to vet them.  In fact, if someone were to ask me to speak at a conference and there’s 25 other speakers, I have no way of vetting those 25 other speakers at the point where I’m asked to speak.  I probably don’t even know who the other 25 are.

Rebecca: No.  They often aren’t even announced.  Often, the other speakers don’t even find out until it’s announced to the public.  

Sheila: So if I’m asked to speak, I’m going because I want the people who are attending the conference to have the chance to hear our message.  And by our, I mean our whole community.  I want to take our whole community and I want to bring it into the place where this conference is happening.  And so that doesn’t mean that I necessarily endorse the other conference speakers.  It just means that I am going to make sure that in my part of that conference I am bringing our message of health and wholeness.  And hopefully, I can steer that conversation in a good direction.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And I think the other thing that I have to add is whenever we are speaking whether it’s on a podcast that totally disagrees with us or it’s a conference the big thing is that we’re not going to compromise our values because it makes them more comfortable.  We actually have been told you can do this if you don’t name names.  And we’re like no.  No.  We’re not not naming names.  So either you can have us, or you can’t.  So we don’t offer a watered down version.  If people who are promoting the theology that’s part of the problem are willing to have the antidote present, I mean—I just feel like at some point it’s—I don’t know.  I just think that we can be so tempted to create an echo chamber, and it’s easy to see the other side doing that.  And I think it’s hard to see our side doing that.  And we just want to make sure that we don’t keep perpetuating the cycle where people remain in toxic theologies because they’ve been able to remain secluded from the rest of the world.  We want to go through and make sure that they get to hear there’s a different way and, hopefully, change their thinking.

Sheila: Yeah.  So just because I speak at a church doesn’t mean I agree with that church’s theology.  Just because I speak at a conference doesn’t mean that I endorse all the other conference speakers.   I mean there’s obviously some nuance.  I think I would have a really hard time speaking at a conference with Mark Driscoll no matter how much I wanted to share my message.  I’ve got some personal issues too with some of the people in evangelicalism.

Rebecca: That’s also why it’s so—but what you’re saying is there’s personal issues for you there, right?  And I think that’s actually one of the reasons why it’s important that we do go into these spaces because a lot of the people speaking in these spaces were directly harmed.  There are survivors at Bethlehem Church, right?  John Piper’s church.  There are actually active abuse survivors.  And frankly, we’re not.  We’re coming at this with evidence, with data, but it also means that it’s easier for us because we don’t have as many of the direct trauma responses.  And as horrible as it is, it often means that they’re more likely to listen to us as well even though none of us agree that’s a good thing.  So that idea of there’s a personal thing sometimes—yeah.  But we have fewer personal things which is why it’s important for us to do the work.  It’s like what Paul says, right?  The eye cannot say to the ear, “I don’t need you.”  The ear cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”  Each part must do its job in the body of Christ.  That’s a direct quote.  Word for word.  It’s not.  But the idea is that we might just be the feet going places where other people don’t want to go.  And you might be the heart or the liver detoxifying.  I don’t know.  Whatever you are, do your thing.  But just—yeah.  We just want to make sure that—we’ve had a couple people listen to podcasts that we were on and then listen to other episodes and be like, “Wait.  This is weird.”  And so we just wanted to clear this up and say, “Hey, just because we’re somewhere doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a safe place to be.”  So just follow us on Bare Marriage.  

Sheila: Yeah.  But you know what?  Maybe we’re moving people—

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s the hope.

Sheila: – and we’re challenging people to think including some of the podcast hosts.  And so yeah.  In general, I’m going to say yes to most podcasts.  Obviously, there will be exceptions.  Sometimes I just don’t think I have the emotional bandwidth to handle some people.  So I reserve that right as well.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And also sometimes it’s just that you’ve done a lot of ones that we disagree with in a row, so it’s not even like this one is particularly bad.  It’s more just like I’ve done seven of these.

Sheila: I’m done.  And right now I am not doing a lot of podcasts because I am so busy writing a book, our marriage book, which is awesome.  But yeah.  That’s just generally our philosophy about speaking, and so I’m going to put that up so that you guys can all see it.  But that’s what I’m hoping is that doors will open.  And when doors open, if people are willing to listen and willing to let me say what I need to say and let me talk about our findings, then I’m going to try to go.

Rebecca: Because seriously, what a God thing would it be though—can you actually—at this point, we’re not surprised when exvangelical groups want us to speak, right?  When people who are willing to talk about abuse in the church are letting you speak somewhere, it would be really, really astounding if people who were like, “There is nothing wrong in the church.  Everything is good.  You just need to trust Jesus more, and then you’ll stop being abused,”—if those people started wanting to have us speak, that is—those are the places where a difference can really start to happen.  And we’re not going to see systemic change unless we start to actually fight for it.  So anyway, (cross talk).

Sheila: Yeah.  So no more echo chambers.  And, hey, if Greg Locke wants me to speak, I will come speak at Greg Locke’s church too.  And so without further ado, someone that we can endorse and someone that we have vetted, let’s bring on our guest for today.  Well, we are so thrilled to bring back to the Bare Marriage podcast a dear friend of ours, Wendy Schneider from Fresh Start Families.  She is a parenting coach.  Wendy, you did a webinar with us last year.  You’re doing another one with us in two weeks.  We’ve got more information on that coming.  And you were on several of our podcasts last week talking—or last year talking about how to get over the punitive style of parenting and really connect with your kids.  So thank you for being here.  We’re so excited.  

Wendy: I’m so excited to be back.  Sheila and Rebecca, thank you for having me.  I love you guys.  I love your community.  I love what you’re all about, and it really is just an honor to be here with you and to be doing this workshop together again this year.  I’m pumped.

Sheila: Yeah.  So one of the things that we are talking about as we’re going into the new school year and the fall is how we can help our kids do well because of how we raise them, not despite how we raise them.  And sometimes the things that we’re taught are good don’t actually work.  And it’s because it’s a misunderstanding of how we’re supposed to parent.  And let me just give a bit of a background, and then I’m going to let you jump in.  But in Christianity especially—and I’ve seen this a lot.  There’s this idea that unless you come down hard on your kids at the very beginning they’re going to turn into little hellions, and they’re going to go to hell.  So we need to protect them from being little hellions.  And if they go off the rails, it’s your fault because you didn’t come down hard enough on them.  And so the emphasis is really on punishing them.  And they may not say it’s punish.  They might say that it’s discipline, but it’s that control your kids so they don’t—and we had the perfect example of that with the docuseries, Shiny, Happy People a couple of months ago.  So why don’t we start our conversation with you—what were your reactions to that docuseries?

Wendy: Oh, my gosh.  In one way, of course, it did make me sick to my stomach.  I’m at the age now where I’m having this crazy—I have a visceral stomach turn reaction.  If I see my kids have a cut on their finger or something, it’s hilarious.  My stomach actually turns. What is happening? With that docuseries, I had that same feeling. You kind of feel like you want to throw up. It’s heartbreaking and haunting, and I was really, really happy it came out, Sheila, because-and Rebecca, because it shined so much light on how we got to where we are today. To me, it just helped explain why so many people get taken down this route thinking that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, thinking that this is a godly way to discipline and raise children, and how much fear and indoctrination was used for so many years. It just makes sense, right? I do think that that was one of the positive outcomes of that docuseries being aired. I think it did stir a lot of conversation around the long-term effects of that type of punishment because yes we know that it’s called discipline. They will call it discipline, but it’s punishment. It’s fear based influencing tools. Thank God, there’s just a really—an even heightened conversation now. I know you had a great conversation about it that I really enjoyed, and I like that. I want more conversations. I want more spotlights on the problem. In that regard, I was really happy that it came out.

Sheila: So let’s talk about this idea of fear-based parenting. What does that look like?

Wendy: Well, one of the oddest societal norms that we’ve adopted over time is this idea that we need to make our children feel worse in order to make them behave better.

Sheila: You’ve got to say that again. That’s actually pretty profound. You’ve got to say that again.

Wendy: Yeah, where did we get the notion that in order to make our children behave better we must first make them feel worse? Really for many, many, many years and centuries, it has been the way of doing things. If you really want a child to learn their lesson, then there needs to be some type of pain and suffering inflicted. Otherwise they’re just going to think they can do whatever they want. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Children are actually brilliant and are incredibly influenced through connection and relationship and firm kindness and strong boundaries. They don’t need to be hurt. They don’t need to be humiliated. Yes, they need strong boundaries, and when you have compassionate, firm, and kind discipline set up in our home and you’re consistent and you’re teaching often and you’re holding to those firm boundaries, then it’s beautiful. They learn. They make mistakes still because they’re human. Then they learn how to make different decisions tomorrow versus just feeling bad about what they did and learning to hide it more or be scared to death of the person they love the most-their parents again hurting or humiliating them. So that fear-based parenting style again it makes sense why so many of us got to that place where that was what just all of a sudden we realized we were doing and trying, and then if you have strong willed child, then thank God, they raise their hand and kind of say, “Heck no, this does not work. I won’t tolerate this.” So what every family really needs is a firm and kind discipline toolkit that combines the relationship with the firm, kind, strong limits in the home. I always tell my students, “Rules plus relationship equals respect. Rules minus relationship equals rebellion.” So when parents really learn how to enforce those strong limits and how things like logical consequences and natural consequences and really a focus on self-regulate first and foremost in their home that’s both modeled and taught, that is what equals a beautiful learning environment for children because they’re human. They’re going to make mistakes. What we all want is for our children to learn from their mistakes. We don’t need them to feel bad about their mistakes. God has given them this perfectly designed natural guilt system. Guilt is, “Whoops, I did something wrong. I wish I wouldn’t have done that. I realize that that felt bad in my body after I hit my brother,” or whatever it may be. Shame is, “Something is wrong with me. What was I thinking? Oh my gosh, I’m a bad kid. My mom thinks I’m mean,” whatever it may be. Shame is not what we’re going for. It’s ineffective. Brené Brown has proven it through her research, but guilt is a God-given natural design. If you come beside your children and help them learn from their mistakes, they will make different choices tomorrow as long as you’re enabling them and teaching them how to make different choices tomorrow versus just stop it and be better. So a lot of emphasis here is around the how-to not just the stop it. That’s what we do when we do compassionate discipline work and really just empower families to build up a full toolkit.

Rebecca: We have a really funny thing that happened in our house which kind of speaks to this. I personally have a son who had to learn empathy. Some of them just exist. My husband was the exact same way when he was kid. People are very fun little science experiments. It’s like, “No, no, they actually have feelings.” The theory of mind was a little bit behind with the-I love him dearly. We had this moment where we had been telling him-explaining why you can’t push your sister off the couch and why that’s not okay and why when she falls she cries and all this stuff.

Sheila: Just for context he is three, and she’s one.

Rebecca: Yes, sorry. He is three-years-old, and she is one. This was like back in the winter. So he was quite little. Anyway so we were in his room, and he is crying. He says, “I am bad.” This little three year old. Connor just looks and says—my husband—says, “You are not bad, Alex. You are good. You just did a bad thing. Since you’re a good person, you’re going to learn how to do good things.” So now he says when he gets in trouble, “But, Mommy, I am not a bad person. I just do bad things sometimes.” It’s really cute

Wendy: Don’t we all, little buddy, don’t we all?

Rebecca: Yeah, but you actually have to try to do the good things. That’s the part where we’re at now. But that idea of understanding there are bad things to do. There are good things to do, and you’re still a good person. We still love you. Everything is still okay. You just need to stop doing the bad things.

Sheila: This is a really good example is I think a lot of parents get into these power struggles with their three, four, five, six-year-old kids, and then of course into teenagehood which is a whole other kit and caboodle. We get into these power struggles with our kids where we’re trying to get them to do what we want them to do. We see it as, “I need to change that behavior,” and we can get into really controlling techniques because we don’t know what else to do. We get really scared like, “My kid is going to grow up and be an axe murderer.”

Rebecca: As someone in the middle of it, like I’m the one who has the three year old, right? Even like the last time we talked, Alex was two.

Sheila: Yeah, on the podcast. Yeah.

Rebecca: Alex was not even three years old last time Wendy and I really talked on the podcast exactly. I’m in a totally different stage of parenting from then. Like toddler parenting is totally different than childhood parenting, and you kind of start—I’m entering into the genuine childhood parenting, that you can actually reason through things. What do you think will happen if you do this or that? It is hard because you’re like, “No, I do just need to end this behavior,” in your head. He can’t push people. She can’t bite people. They need to stop doing these things, and I understand the fear there because I’ve definitely—and I have wonderful, wonderful children who I don’t ever want to make it sound like I don’t-but I’ve had moments where I’m like, “Holy cow, what are we doing?” because I think everyone does when they’re a parent.

Wendy: They do. Yeah.

Rebecca: It’s so easy to think, “What am I doing? I’m doing everything wrong. I need to lay down the law,” instead of, “Maybe we all just need to take a step back and stop asking so much of ourselves,” and maybe we stop going to 18 playgroups a week for a little bit until we can self-regulate a little bit better. One of those kinds of things too. It’s easy to get into this idea of I have to fix this, and that’s just what I’m trying to say there.

Sheila: You do have to deal with the behavior, but it’s like the way we do that, and the way we engage with it really matters because for a lot of people the way you engage with it is just controlling your kid. I’m going to control my kid. I’m going to be really punitive. I’m going to yell. I’m going to spank. We talked a lot about spanking on the last podcast. So I will put links. So we’ve covered this a lot on this podcast. I will put links to previous podcast where we talked about spanking. Yeah, we get into these really negative cycles where we’re trying to control either with spanking or with yelling or whatever, and that doesn’t-it’s like what are we actually aiming for though? Because do you want your child to behave externally, like to do the right thing they’re supposed to do without it really coming from the heart like doing it out of fear? Or do you want your child to develop character so that they’re doing it because they’re choosing to do it? 

Wendy: Absolutely, and you know every single parent on the planet, it’s a no brainer to answer, “Yes, we want our child to do it because they know it’s the right thing to do.” Another great question to ask yourself is do you want to control your kids, or do you want to teach your kids to control themselves

Sheila: That’s good.

Wendy: It’s simple. It’s so simple when we think about it, but then we fall into these patterns where we are yelling or threatening. Those are the big things. Like most people before they invest and really learn and become fluent in these types of connection based firm and kind strategies, they’re just relying on the hand-me-down parenting tactics. Again it makes total sense. Especially when you see them maybe “work” for other people who don’t have the strongest willed child on the planet because the strongest willed child will raise hell about it. But when you see it “working” in the short term and like Shiny Happy People, people looked at the Duggars and thought, “Oh, it’s working.” That was in the short term. That was not actually exposing all the long-term detrimental effects so it makes sense why we got there and why we rely on these patterns and why we fall into this just vicious cycle of what I call hopeless parenting because you do these external controls. You think it’s working because in the short term your child might be scared of you enough or scared of their consequence, but long term whether that’s a few days from now a few months ago or once they grow up to be teenagers and get really good at hiding, lying, and doing stuff behind your back without you finding out. Then you realize dang it. I invested in the wrong strategies, and I wish I could go back in time. We don’t want anyone to get to that place so the biggest thing I want to encourage families with is to remember that when you are able to completely shift out of a punishment mindset and into a compassionate discipline one it not only works better to teach your children the life skills that they need to learn in order to be a successful, thriving, wonderful human beings, but it also makes you more sane. It gives you the joy and the peace that you don’t have to control these other human beings. I always think right in the beginning of the Bible we’ve got right in the beginning we were never meant to control other people. Yes, we were meant to control our environments but not people. That was never the path. That was never how we were designed. We’re fighting to do this impossible task, and then the strong-willed ones are like, “Heck, no.” They won’t even-most of them won’t even comply for a minute with the external based stuff. So it becomes joyful when you have discipline in your home and influential tactics where you’re actually united as a team and you are doing things where you’re teaching the life skills. That’s a big thing I hear all the time with parents is, “It’s so easy to focus on what you don’t want your kid to do and the behavior you want to stop,” which makes sense. It’s a problem as Rebecca said. What we really want to do with discipline every day with our children is look at the missing life skill. What are we teaching today? When a kid is pushing another kid on the couch, it’s usually self-control and self-regulation that is the missing life skill.

Rebecca: Yes, not even a shred of impulse control. Yes, exactly.

Wendy: Kinesthetic kids—a lot of strong-willed kids are kinesthetic kids.

Rebecca: That’s mine.

Wendy: [inaudible]. They’re the ones in Target where you walk through and you hear, “They’re touching everything.” Stella was—when I would take her to gymnastics class when she was a toddler, she would tackle hug her friend. She couldn’t just hug her friends. Tackle hug her friends, and I would watch from a distance just mortified. My little guy who’s actually my easy going guy. He’s almost 13 now. He made a really bad mistake when he was three and was on a play structure and pushed his buddy who was four. I think they were both four, like really hurt his wrist bad. I was mortified like oh my gosh, that’s a story for another day. Beautiful story of compassionate discipline, but I almost lost my mind for those three days. I sent him to grandma’s house for three days, you guys, because I was flipping out. “I’m drinking Kool-Aid. This isn’t working.” But long story short, he wasn’t a bad kid. He was never even a kid that did things out of anger like my daughter does, like I do. He was just excited. He just didn’t have the self-control. When you’re playing tag and you have another-he just pushed a kid because he didn’t have self-regulation and self-control and hadn’t learned the life skill that you don’t push kids from up high yet or he hadn’t strengthened it to the ability of fluency yet. After that—

Sheila: Think about that situation though and what if in that situation you yell at that child and you make them think terrible things about themselves instead of coming alongside them and saying, “Okay.”

Rebecca: We’re going to make sure he’s all right

Sheila: Obviously you need to deal with the child who is hurt, and in the story that you shared and in the workshop—I’m sure you’ll share it in the workshop coming up too.  You’ve come up with strategies of how to do that, but the point is you don’t want your child to label themselves as bad. You just want to take this and say, “Okay, how can we learn regulation.” The kinesthetic thing—Alex, your son, is so like this.

Rebecca: Oh my goodness, yes.

Sheila: We ended up going to the Y where they have this amazing room where everything-I don’t even know how to describe it.

Rebecca: It’s a padded room for toddlers. It’s like a McDonalds play place, but everything is padded.

Sheila: And you can bang off stuff. It was wonderful for him because he just needed to bang off stuff.

Rebecca: He really did, and then we go to learn not to bang people off the stuff. I loved how you talk about the idea of thinking about what life lessons do you actually want your kids to learn and what skills do you want them to learn because I think what we often forget is that with the punitive, controlling parenting we’re also teaching our children life skills and we’re teaching them lessons because we’re teaching them about how they should relate to other people. Like we think about how does someone-I know this is hard to talk about. These are the kinds of things I think about as someone who also has a very strong-willed kid, and as myself being very strong willed is what are we teaching our children about how they will relate to future partners? Are we teaching them control? Are we teaching them to be nit-pick and to scream out people’s flaws and to beat them down and break them down emotionally until they do what we want them to do? Or are we teaching them how to connect, take ownership, and stand up, and have boundaries? Are we teaching that it’s acceptable when people berate you and people convince you that you’re a horrible, horrible person because you made a mistake? Are we priming our children to end up with people who will try to control them because that feels familiar? Are we already doing half the work for a bad relationship before they’re even age five? These are the questions I do think we have to be willing to ask as parents.

Sheila: And we need to realize that a lot of these punitive parenting techniques are highly co-related with future abusive relationships.

Wendy: They really are.

Sheila: It is quite scary.

Rebecca: I think that—sorry, I saw this amazing TikTok because we’ve been talking a lot about punitive and on the other side I saw this fantastic TikTok from a guy—dad who does a lot of gentle parenting content that’s the no nonsense gentle parenting kind of situation. He said, “Listen, if you sound like you’re in a hostage negotiation setting, you’re not a gentle parent. You’re a permissive one.” It’s okay, honey. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’ll make the chicken nuggets. I know you don’t like lasagna. Do you want peanut butter and jelly? Do you want chicken nuggets? What do you want? It’s okay. Just don’t cry. Don’t cry. It’s okay. Don’t yell.

Wendy: I’ll give you a cookie. Just put on your shoes.

Rebecca: You don’t have to put up your toys. You don’t have to clean up your toys. It’s okay. I know you’re tired. I know this isn’t a good day for you. You don’t have to clean up your toys. Mommy will just do it. It’s okay. It’s okay. That’s not gentle parenting either. I think when we’re used to controlling our kids we think that we do the opposite. Our kids control us. What Mom says goes. Oh, that’s not okay? Well, then it must be so what the kid says goes. Really what it is is setting up standards of behavior and standards of expectation and in essence your own kind of familial moral code that also is in line with what society requires from us and holding everyone in the family accountable. 

Wendy: Yes.

Rebecca: We had a moment where there was danger-an issue with our dog being in a lot of danger because he has five pounds, and I have two toddlers.

Sheila: And he’s blind.

Rebecca: And he’s blind. He’s in essence a furry Roomba vacuum at this point who likes to hang out under my children’s feet. It is not a good situation for anyone at this point. There was a point where Alex was doing something really unsafe, and he was about to land on the dog. It was going to be end of Winston. It was not going to be a good end either. So I whipped that kid in mid air off the couch, and he bonked when he came down. [inaudible] because I was still holding onto him.  But it was scary because it was fast, and I had to react in a minute. He’s crying, and Winston is barking. Vivian is clapping. There’s just a lot going on. He and I had this conversation where I explained to him what he had been doing wrong because we have a very strict no jumping on the couch when Winston is on the couch rule because Winston could die. We had explained that. You could actually really hurt or kill Winston, and we had explained it very bluntly to him. He actually apologized then. He was like, “I need to calm down.” I was like, “Yes, you need to calm down. Also, Mommy did not mean to hurt you, but I know I hurt you, and I know I scared you. I’m very sorry.” It’s those both things. We have to have this standard where it was the right thing to do to whip him off the couch. It was. 

Wendy: Yeah, absolutely.

Rebecca: The dog is still living barely. He’s very old. I’m not sure how much time we saved, but he’s still with us. Alex is not traumatized with guilt. It was the right choice, but it’s this right idea that we have standards that everyone in the family is held to. Alex has to apologize to me if he accidentally hurts me. I apologize to Alex if I accidentally hurt him. I also don’t jump on the dog. 

Wendy: Exactly.

Rebecca: I love that little dog so much. I think that’s what often we get confused about. It’s not that what parents say go and so therefore what children say go. No, it’s what we are supposed to do is what we do, and we all have to do that.

Wendy: Yeah, and I want to riff on two things because gosh, you just shared so many beautiful things. But just looking at the long-term effects, like we’re not trying to scare anybody into changing their ways. Now that I’m at the point of my career as an educator having the 16-year-old who we’ve been doing this work with her since she’s three seeing the difference with how she operates and is in the world. It’s so much of your book, Rebecca, and she’s not perfect. She has hiccups here and there, but it’s just so beautiful to see the difference. But then I see everything from a very drone point of view. So I can zoom out and just kind of see, and I’m always looking at things from a very curious lens. But I see it all over the place, the long-term effects of the kids who the shaming and the hurting and the humiliating and the overpowering-again especially with the strong-willed kids. Just this last few days and helping a good friend with a marriage that is really-it’s not looking good, and he’s coming to the table and realizing for the last four years how he’s contributed so much. We’ve watched, and the amount of criticism, overpowering, irritation, annoyance, frustration, and just hostility, you could feel from his end, and then come to find out his family used all of the punitive things. He was the hard kid. He was spanked. He was always in timeout, been a long, long, long time family friend since like birth. I just see it so clearly. When you have a child who has such a strong need to feel powerful and is never given the opportunity to learn how to feel powerful in a healthy way and then also is over powered in many, many different ways and hurt and harmed and humiliated, they often grow up to have very unhealthy coping skills and very unhealthy ways of feeling powerful. So that comes out in passive aggressiveness. That comes out in criticizing others. That comes out in the ability to not have and be able to do peaceful conflict resolution in a marriage, and that’s just the marriage example. But I do see the long-term effects very, very clearly. Again I see it so much in my daughter’s age group now that she’s almost 16. It really is a big deal when you—I know it’s like we’re all in the moment, and we just want our kids to put on their shoes and not jump on the dog. But what we’re doing when you invest to learn a different way of influencing and teaching your children life lessons is literally setting them up for success and to thrive as a human being the rest of their lives. Then second is yes, the strong boundaries—I always say with little kids especially more action, less words. You mention the idea of a lot of people think positive parenting is permissive because we’re not doing the heavy-handed stuff. We’re not hitting, harming, humiliating the kids, and we are not perfect by any means. There are moment when we may still hit, harm, and humiliate our kids, but that’s the not the goal. We’re not reading a book and saying, “That sounds smart. I’m going to go for that.” Yes, we mess up. There are hiccups. Our group inside of our program is filled with people who come in and are like, “Dang it, I did it again. Help me make a different decision tomorrow,” or, “I slipped into hand-me-down parenting tactics,” or, “My knee jerk reaction,” but that is not the goal and that’s not how we try to live. More action, less words. Again it’s the farthest thing from permissiveness, and it reminded me, Rebecca, your story of the couch is we were in Ireland on top of the Cliffs of Moher. I don’t know if you know these, but they’re like—literally just two days before there was a tourist who died. We were there with our kids to see a concert at a castle in Ireland. It was one of the best trips of our lives, and we were visiting the Cliffs of Moher with our kids. My little guy who I think was 8 at the time, and he started to get close to that cliff. Man, I was like—I grabbed him by the shirt and like slammed him down. We were taking a picture, and it was so instinctual and firm but yet he was so upset about it. We have this phony picture where he is so mad. It was not with an intention to hurt him, and it was really firm. It was like heck no.

Rebecca: Full mom arm.  With the mom arm.

Wendy: There is no negotiation here. There is no permissiveness. It’s just an example of more action and less words. Sometimes there is a high level of firmness in positive parenting, whatever you want to call it. Connection based, positive parenting.

Rebecca: Authoritative.

Wendy: I have a lot of good friends that are in the gentle Christian parenting world, but whatever it is, it is so much firmness. I actually spend a lot of my time teaching my parents how to be more firm and how to not hurt their children.

Sheila: That’s actually quite interesting because I think a lot of people think they’re firm when they yell, but actually people can be very permissive parents who just yell a lot.

Wendy: It’s so true, Sheila. It is.

Sheila: Because yelling has no consequence. 

Rebecca: Well, I mean in Why I Didn’t Rebel, right?  One of my interviewees said, “Yeah.  We just figured out that all mom and dad ever did was yell at us.  We were like, ‘Is this worth getting yelled at?’  If the answer was yeah, we just did it.”  And then they’d just get yelled at.  And they were like, “Okay.  So I snuck out.  Okay.  I think that’s about a 25-minute yell and then awkwardness for two days.  Yeah.  That’s worth it.  Let’s go.”  

Wendy: It’s true.  It’s true.  There is usually not a logical consequence associated with yelling.  There is just shame and intimidation.  It took me seven years to stop yelling.  I’ve been doing this work now for 13.  It took me a long time.  I grew up in a yelling home.  But I remember I yelled so bad one time at my little guy who was—gosh.  He must have been—maybe he was five at the time because he poured out a huge thing of organic bubble bath.  World ending stuff.  I yelled so hard at him in his face that he just started bawling.  If you’re listening, if you’ve ever yelled so hard that you made your child cry, I still love you.  I’ve been there.  It happens.  But heck no.  That’s not the way I want to live my life.  My body was on fire.  My nervous system was freaking out.  His nervous system was freaking out.  We were both in our amygdala.  That is not the tool that I want to use to influence my children to not pour out bubble bath tomorrow.  Again, it’s just a knee jerk reaction.  And so much of it is rooted in this cultural conditioning that you should be able to control your children.  And it’s just not true, right?  But when, as Happy, Shiny People pointed out, yes.  That is actually possible when you have that level of fear and intimidation and overpowering and these super twisted and toxic ways, you can actually control human beings.  And so that made just society so confused.  The impact of that movement and everything—and there’s—it wasn’t new, right?  That’s been going on for centuries.  I’m reading and apartheid book right now, right?  It’s nothing new.  But at the same time, that is not how we want to influence our children.  And so in the end, it just becomes a choice, and it becomes undoing the cultural conditioning.  Our brains have these very thick neural pathways.  And once we do it for awhile and we start to romanticize it thinking that it’s getting us the results that we want, then the neural pathway is paved.  And it becomes this—what feels like a very easy path, which is what a knee jerk reaction is.  And so to undo that takes courage and practice and tenacity and also being beside people who can show you, “Hey, look at all the ways you can actually influence your kids to not run in the street or touch a hot stove or jump on the dog in different ways.  And look.  It works.  Here’s a story.  Here’s a story.  Here’s a story.  Here’s how different I feel when I go to bed at night, and I haven’t made my child cry because I made him feel so bad about himself or made him so scared that I was going to hurt him, right?  This is how it feels inside my body, and it feels amazing.”  All of that will help you undo that neural pathway and learn a different way, and it takes courage.

Sheila: I’m just thinking about what you said about the amygdala when you’re both in that amygdala space.  I think that’s what often people don’t understand is when we are using threats, spanking, punishments then you almost create a fight flight response in your kid.  And you’re there too, right?  You’re in the fight.  And so when you’re in that space, you’re not using your rational brain.  And so your child isn’t learning, “This is how I can self regulate.  This is how I can control my behavior.”  They are just learning, “I need to make this stop.”  And that’s a very different lesson.

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s like the difference if your kid spills something or makes a huge mess screaming at them over top of the spill versus getting very quiet and being like, “You made a mess.  It’s time to clean this up,” and handing him the cloth and the cleaning spray.  That’s often a lot more uncomfortable for the child, right?  Because they actually have to sit there and clean up what they did, and they’re like, “Well, I don’t want to.”  They scream.  Okay.  You just sit there until they clean it up.  It’s like we’re here until you clean this up.  You’re here.  “It doesn’t matter if you can scream for 25 minutes.  That’s fine.  I can sit for longer.”  

Wendy: And what did you learn from the mistake.  And how are you going to do it differently tomorrow so we don’t—so we can be outside playing right now instead of sitting on the floor cleaning up milk with an old, dirty rag, right?  It’s just what did you learn.  How are we going to do it differently tomorrow?  All while looking inside of ourselves and going, “Huh.  That’s interesting.  I have such a huge temptation to smack or yell right now,” right?  It’s just all part of this crazy journey that we do as parents as we’re unlearning so much of this stuff.

Sheila: Yeah.  I think as parents too I remember it wasn’t that I wanted to yell.  It wasn’t that I wanted to be punitive.  It’s just sometimes you really—you don’t know what to do.  And I think the biggest problem for me was actually when my kids were older.  It wasn’t when they were toddlers.

Rebecca: I know exactly what you’re going for.  And Katie is editing this currently.  I’m sure that she’s also laughing.  You’re going for chores, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  It was awful.   

Wendy: Oh yeah.

Sheila: The years where they were between—

Rebecca: 9 and 13.

Sheila: 9 and 13.  And it was especially bad when Rebecca had already gone through puberty, and my younger daughter hadn’t.  And Katie was feeling like, “I’m losing my big sister,” because Rebecca wanted to be big and not a little girl. 

Rebecca: I literally made a sign for my door.  “Only Rebecca’s space.  Katie, go away.”  I literally made a sign.

Sheila: And then if I assigned them Saturday chores, Rebecca would just follow Katie around and tell me all the things that Katie was doing wrong and say, “Katie’s complaining.  And Katie’s (inaudible).”  And I would just lose my mind because the whole time that Katie was being silly—because she was.  She was horrible doing chores.  But Rebecca wasn’t doing hers either because she was following her sister around trying to boss her around.  And it was so frustrating.  And this is when we often lose it especially when we don’t have the other strategies.  That’s what I really appreciate.  And you are doing this webinar.  We’re going to have the link in the podcast notes.  But is freshstartfamiliesonline.com?

Wendy: So the registration link—I know you’re going to put it in the thing.  But it’s freshstartfamilyonline.com/baremarriage.

Sheila: Okay.  It’s freshstartfamilyonline.com.

Wendy: Yeah.  Freshstartfamilyonline.com/baremarriage.  And I want to add to what you just shared here in a second because I want to share about something.

Sheila: Yeah.  But I just want to say.  So if you want to know—okay.  I don’t want to yell.  I don’t want to get in these power struggles, but I literally don’t know what else to do.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  At least the yelling makes the kids move their butt, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  Or it does something.  But I literally don’t know what else to do.  That’s what you’re going to share with us.  But what would you say to me if it was me 17 years ago or something?

Rebecca: Math is hard.  Math is hard.  

Wendy: I love it.  Well, yes.  Just that workshop is going to be awesome, you guys.  Yeah.  We’ll talk a little bit about yelling.  But when you have a compassionate discipline toolkit that you’re like, “Oh yeah.  This is strong.  I can rely on this day in and day out to teach the kids important life lessons after they’ve made a mistake,” you’re thinking—your thought process that you have to yell will subside.  So even though in the workshop it’s not necessarily how do you stop yelling workshop, we’re going to talk about how do you build out a compassionate discipline toolkit so you have choices that are strong, firm, connected, relatable, reasonable, all the things.  It’s going to be amazing, and it will help you yell less.  But with the yelling and I can so connect with you, Sheila, because my gosh.  Right now with kids that are almost 13 and 16, chores are the biggest thing right now.  I told you it took me 7 years to stop yelling.  But I still am like—I’ll get very firm.  And still they’ll go, “Why are you yelling at me?”  And I’ll be like, “I am not yelling.”  And it’s like yes.  I am.  Right?  I’m still having those moments where it’s like I’m heightened obviously.  But the thing when we get so heightened—and a lot of times yelling is a result of us engaging in a tone of frustration.  The tone of frustration is basically one that we entertain this thought loop of, “I have tried everything.  And nothing works.  I have tried,”—I was just in two situations this week.  I taught a workshop of 30 teachers.  They were amazing.  But one set of teachers were so thick in the frustration loop that they could not even think for—they could not access their creative brain at all because they were so busy justifying how much they’ve tried and how much they’ve done in order to get this one strong willing kid to do what he was supposed to do in the kindergarten class last year.  We just kept going through the same loop of frustration.  And so frustration is a great one to realize that you’re caught in that, and it’ll just drive you insane.  And it’ll keep justifying why you have to keep yelling because you think that nothing else is going to work.  And, again, that’s going to keep you out of the creativeness.  And in order to be effective as a parent and to come up with creative solutions on how am I going to Katie and Rebecca to leave each other alone, clean up their stuff, whatever it may be, you have to be creative.  You have to be coming from a place of, “Hey, how am I going to make them have empathy for one another?  How am I going to help them have peaceful conflict resolution?  How am I going to set the firm boundary here?  How am I going to give choices to empower?”  All this stuff we’re going to go over in the workshop.  And then also how am I going to implement some logical consequences, right?  If the chores don’t get done and the want to go out to a movie on Friday night, what is the logical consequence there?  We’re going to plan it.  We’re going to do it.  But really if you’re not in your creative brain, if you’re in your amygdala which is panicking—you’re like, “These girls are going to grow up to be entitled brats, who think they can boss their husbands around because they never—they’re so entitled.”  That fear brain will suck the life out of you as a parent, and then you just end up being caught in this loop.  So the creativity is really important.  And when you’re in that frontal lobe of you’re seeing things for what they clearly are, you have two tween kids who are learning the life skill of being a contributing member of the family and also how to be in a sisterly relationship and want their own space and still get along, right?  It’s a tale as old as time.

Sheila: It’s funny because now looking back on it I can think of so many ways I could have handled those things differently.  

Wendy: Right.  Because you’re in your creative brain now.

Sheila: One of the big things I would have done was have them simply do chores at different times or different rooms.  In different rooms.  It would have just—because the big problem was that she, Rebecca, would just follow her sister around to notice all of the things that Katie did badly.  And one of my biggest things was, “Rebecca, that’s my job.  That’s not yours.”  And so just literally changing—

Rebecca: And I was like, “But you’re not doing it.  You’re letting her do it wrong.  You’re not doing your job.”

Wendy: I do it better mom.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so just taking Rebecca out of that situation and letting Katie do it.  And then if it was wrong, I could deal with it.  But I felt like I couldn’t deal with it because Rebecca was telling me—so that was bad.  So I could have had them do it differently.  Or at different times.  I could have really worked on Katie was feeling badly because Becca didn’t—she felt like Becca was leaving her behind.  And so what could we have done to help Katie feel like she was still loved?  And also what could we do to give Rebecca a chance to experience more independence without her little sister, right?

Wendy: I love it.

Sheila: Those were the two things that were really in conflict then is Rebecca wanted to feel older because she was.  But she often still had the same bed time.  They still were being treated very similarly.  So how could I have given Rebecca more responsibility while also giving—Becca is looking at me like, “Well, you should have.” 

Wendy: Which is empowerment.  But the whole reason you’re able to come up with those things is because now you’re able to see it from a creative way, right?  And you’re also detached.  I think in those moments when we’re yelling we’re also buying into this idea that we have to appear like we know what to do.  It’s the first time we’ve ever had tweens that are fighting at 9 and 13.  Or me—it’s the first time I’ve ever had a 13 and a 16 year old who bicker a lot and aren’t necessarily always doing their chores.  We’ve got to give ourselves grace.  But the yelling is often a cover up to make us appear like we are powerful and we know what to do.  At the exact same time, we are claiming we’re powerless.  And it’s just a façade that doesn’t solve the problem.  And so if we can come to the table and just give ourselves some space and be like, “Huh, I don’t know what to do here.”  And so instead of acting like I do by puffing up and intimidating someone and thinking that’s going to work to teach these girls the life skills that they want, I’m going to slow down, give myself some space, put everyone to bed maybe a little bit early tonight, and really think about it from a detached place.  What could I do tomorrow?  What are my options?  This doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent, right?  That’s another whole aspect of it is—when we start to think we should know what to do like we should know how to make these children listen.  And the fact that they’re not means that we’re a bad parent.  It all just starts spiraling into this we lose our cool when we flip our lid.  And then we just keep driving ourselves crazy and (inaudible).

Sheila: And I think the other thing is to enter into your children’s emotional state because I didn’t do that enough.  I thought I know my kids, but I knew how I wanted them to behave.  And I was so focused on that that I missed what they each were feeling.  And they each had some very valid emotions that I didn’t deal with very well.  Katie was feeling left behind, but Rebecca was feeling like Katie is getting away with too many things.  And so she’s smirking now.  So she was held to a much higher standard and that that wasn’t fair.  But one of the reasons, of course, she was—

Rebecca: I was older.  I’m supposed to be held to a higher standard.

Sheila: She was older.  But also I felt like I couldn’t come down hard on Katie because Becca always was.  And I didn’t want to positively reinforce Becca coming down hard on Katie.  

Wendy: You’re explaining my household right now.  Exactly.

Sheila: I was missing out on both of their emotional states, and I was trying to impose, “This is what you guys need to do,” whereas if I had just understood where they were emotionally and entered into that, that probably would have done a lot too.  That’s hard.

Rebecca: Well, I had a moment which might be a bad parenting moment.  I don’t know.  But it worked.  Alexander is three years old.  Every three year old is like this at some point.  But he’s just—and he’s a kinesthetic kid.  He’s a big body play kid.  And for people who don’t know, picture in your mind my 90th percentile three year old.  Well, now he’s not 90, but he’s a big kid.  He’s a big truck of a kid.  And my slightly growth restricted 10th percentile daughter, who is two years younger than him.  Rough playing.    

Wendy: (inaudible) or losing your mind.

Rebecca: So Alexander plays with Vivian the way that he wants people to play with him, right?  He will body slam her into the couch, and she loves it until she doesn’t it, right?  And he will push her.  And he’ll whip her around.  At one point, he literally whipped her around by her neck.  It was terrifying.  And there was a day of time after time, you hear bonk, cry, bonk, cry, right?  For hours.  And I brought him upstairs.  And I was trying to talk to him about it and be like, “You cannot do this.”  He was just laughing and giggling because he’s all amped up.  And he’s having a fun time with his sister, and I just started crying.  And he just looked at me.  It was like, “What’s going on?  What’s going on?”  And I was just crying.  And I said, “You just can’t hurt your sister anymore.  I can’t watch you hurt your sister.  You are very big and strong, and that is a good thing.  But you cannot hurt your sister, and it makes mommy really, really sad.  And it also makes mommy scared that you’re going to hurt Vivian.”  And I just told him.  And I was like I don’t know.  Maybe he’ll still feel too guilty.  Maybe he’s too young.  I was like I don’t know.  I’m going to tell him how I feel.

Wendy: No.  It’s not guilt at all.  That’s called vulnerability.

Rebecca: Yes.  Exactly.

Wendy: That’s called vulnerability and connection.

Rebecca: But he just looks at me, and he says, “It’s okay, Mommy.  You are frustrated.”  And he gives me a hug.

Wendy: Beautiful.

Rebecca: And we talked about it.  And he just said, “I will not hurt Vivian.”  And for the record, he tried really hard for the rest of the day which when you’re three is a win.  When you’re three.  And he’s doing a lot better now.  He also has learned that when he hits—he actually had a moment where he hit Vivian.  And he looks at me, and he immediately knows.  He’s like, “I need to calm down,” and he goes.  And he sits on the stairs.  And he calms down.  And he says, “I think I am ready to be kind now.”  But it’s like it’s been a year of (cross talk).  That’s, I think, where we’re at is like how—is that’s what the workshop is going to be talking about.  I’m not a perfect parent.  I don’t know what I’m doing either.  But the idea of what do you do and how do you accept that although the quote unquote the old ways might work faster in the interim long term they don’t pay off.  And how can you feel confident in what you’re doing knowing that it’s probably going to take a lot longer to pay off than your friends who are willing to really harshly punish kids into compliance because teaching just takes a lot more time than controlling?  So that’s what we’re going to be talking about in the webinar.

Sheila: And it’s free.

Wendy: We are.

Sheila: It is free.  Even if you can’t make it live, you can sign up, and then you can watch the recording.  But if you can make it live, it’s super fun.  And you can ask questions and things like that.  So please check it out.  Freshstartfamilyonline.com/baremarriage.

Wendy: Yes.  And I’m going to have—I’m going to do a few giveaways for those who are there live, Sheila, so that will be really fun.  So yes.  We’ll always have the replay available.  But there will be huge—a huge perk to being there live.  Again, we’ll do Q&A at the end.  We’ll do a few fun giveaways.  And yeah.  You guys, those kinesthetic kids—they make a lot of mistakes.  The strong willed kids.  They learn through doing.  But Stella was the same exact way, Rebecca, and she grew up.  We started her with drumming at kindergarten.  She is now just—I’m her mom, so I’m going to sound silly.  But it’s like she’s a professional drummer.  She’s almost 16.  And she can—I mean her drumming skills are amazing, but she needed to hit something hard from a young age.  And she’s a really high level beach volleyball athlete, really wants to get a scholarship.  I think she’s probably going to pull it off in the next year or two.  Those are a result of her kinesthetic body, right?  And so, hang in there.  And yes.  We will teach those actionable steps.  If we need a child to have more self regulation and be able to be next to a sister and have that self control and have a different outlet for getting those kinesthetic needs met, how do we teach that through compassionate discipline?  Especially after they’ve made a mistake.  Again, we’re going to cover all the theory, but we’re going to give you guys the actionable steps that you can apply immediately and see magnificent results in your home.

Sheila: Yeah.  And that is September 14th.  It is at 10:00 Pacific.  AM  So 1:00 Eastern.  1:00 PM Eastern.  Live.  But you can watch the recording, and you can sign up for that.  I think too—when I think about why this is so important to me I think it’s because the way that our children experience us as parents and the way that we act as parents says a lot about what we think God is like.  

Wendy: Yes.

Sheila: And when you’re constantly yelling at your kids because you’re trying to control them and because you’re really afraid that they’re going to be bad, I wonder how many of us think that’s what God thinks of us.  

Wendy: It’s so true.

Sheila: That God is trying to—that God wants to control us.  That God wants to punish us.  That God is upset at us.  That God thinks that we embarrass him.  That we’re not good enough.  And what would it be if we could see a different picture of God?  And one of the best quotes that I’ve read in a book lately is that—when you think of Jesus, a lot of us know that in Jesus we can see what God is like.  But what if we flipped that on its head and realized that it isn’t just that Jesus is like God?  It’s that God is like Jesus.  

Wendy: Heck, yeah.

Sheila: And Jesus doesn’t try to control us and punish us and shame us.  Jesus laughed with people and engaged with people and really—and answered people in different ways depending on their needs and where they were coming from and just wanted to help people grow in the right direction.  And he was creative about it.  He did it in all different ways.  But He was really looking at changing the heart.  And He did that through love and acceptance but also firmness, right?  He was firm.

Wendy: And relationship, right?  That relationship, man.  That relationship part.  Yeah.

Sheila: And that’s God.  That’s God.  That’s how He sees us.  That’s what He wants to be with us.  And if we can accept that God is like that, that’s really freeing.  And then wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could give our kids that vision of God too.  And I think that’s what happens when we leave punitive parenting behind.  We also leave permissive parenting behind because it isn’t just about letting your kid run everything.  

Rebecca: No.  

Wendy: Nope.

Sheila: And instead—yeah.  We do this compassionate discipline with firm kindness.  So I love that.  So I hope that people can come.  September 14th.  1:00 Eastern, 10:00 Pacific.  And join us at freshstartfamilyonline.com/baremarriage.  So thank you, Wendy.

Wendy: I love it.  Yes.  Sheila, and one last thing, it’s like so many people—when they do that exactly like you said—they go on that journey.  It’s like a lot of times when you make a go at providing this for your children and making this your reality as you’re raising your little human souls, a lot of times it’s so healing for people who never had that in their home when they were growing up, right?  They never had that presentation of who God is and who wants to be in their life.  And now they get to do that for their children, and I just see so many people have deep profound healing through providing that with their children and something happens within them too.  And it’s just a beautiful process.   So yes.  September 14 is going to be so good, and I just can’t wait to hang out with you and spend the hour together just pouring into your community.  I love your community so much.  And it’s going to be a really, really good day.

Sheila: All right.  Well, thanks, Wendy.  As always, thank you for being here.  

Rebecca: Wendy is pretty much the reason that I parent that I do for every area that I don’t get my direct examples from you and Dad.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So all the areas that Dad and I messed up in, Wendy has made things better.

Rebecca: I mean, for pity’s sake, you did not have a hyperactive young kid.  Neither Katie nor I were particularly hyperactive in the way that my son is.  But yeah.  My parenting style is just Sheila, Keith, and Wendy.

Sheila: Yeah.  And we just—we find her so relatable and really down to earth.  And I know that people have been in her coaching groups and just find her really accessible and kind but also just so creative with all kinds of ideas.  And so we encourage you to check out that free webinar.  The link, again, is in the podcast notes.  So thank you for joining us for this edition of the Bare Marriage podcast.  We have so much coming for you in September.  We’re debunking some stats about whether complementarians do better.  We have another One Sheet download for For Women Only coming.  We have some fun conversations about the impact of purity culture.  So much coming.  So yeah.  Always wonderful to have you all listen.  And just remember that you can help us so much by leaving a rating and a review of this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.  It helps other people find us and see us so that we don’t become an echo chamber, but so that other people, who maybe aren’t in such great spaces, can hear about this too and can hear what health looks like in Jesus.  So go leave that rating and review, and we will see you again next week on the Bare Marriage podcast.  Bye-bye.

Rebecca: Bye.

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    How can “discipline equals punishment” NOT affect our view of God and our relationship with Him?

    How does living in constant fear of God’s imminent punishment square with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”?

    The teaching-moment style of parenting sounds an awful lot like Deuteronomy 11:19: “Yell at your kids when they screw up, or even if they’re close to screwing up, and make sure that they’re living in fear of you every second of every day.”

    Oops, wait, that’s not quoted quite correctly. Oh yeah, here it is: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

    While Deuteronomy is specifically about God’s Law, it doesn’t seem too big a stretch to expand it to anything else. After all, how do kids learn to do anything? When they’re little, mainly by mimicking what they see. So why not show them in the manner of a teacher rather than as a tyrant?

    Kids see through “Do as I say, not as I do” long before they can articulate the sentiment.

    • Codec

      Conflating love and discipline with punishment does explain a lot of the attitudes I like to describe as “Act like a 40k comnisar to try and protect your kids mentality”

      I wonder if tiger moms can be explained in a similar way

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well said!

  2. Cynthia

    Love this!
    First, I appreciate how you think intentionally about your reach and platform, and not just have a knee-jerk reaction of either reacting to people who shouldn’t get attention or refusing to engage at all with anyone who doesn’t share 100% of your views.
    Second, love the message that discipline and punishment are not the same thing! When my kids were little, someone taught me that the two big factors in long-term discipline were to (1) have a strong relationship with your child so that they would want to talk to you, listen to you and be like you, and then (2) to work on being the sort of person that you would want your child to become. That doesn’t mean that our kids don’t have individual differences and personalities or that they lack free will, but we are role models and they learn from us 24/7, not just in the moment that we are intentionally teaching or disciplining. When we jeopardize our relationship with our kids through harshness, we are harming our most powerful parenting tools.

  3. Codec

    Does this lady have a book?

  4. Anonymous

    For Wendy,
    With the seminar will you address any specifics such as parenting kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, etc.? I think a lot of your techniques carry over well but wonder if some things work better or worse depending on possible diagnoses?

    Do you have or know of any resources to help a family with kids with comorbidity of ASD, ADHD, and PTSD? There’s already a lot of creativity going on but it’s hard. I’m hoping they will get family counseling but as a sometimes-babysitter, I’d love to learn more myself. Babysitting has been a nightmare even though I parented in a similar style to what is discussed.

  5. Laura

    Very interesting that this podcast came just as I witnessed someone deal with parenting issues. In this case, they are the parent of a teenage boy. He did something very wrong and his father whipped him with a belt. The mother just let him do it because she’s under the belief that the husband handles the disciplining. Well, the boy told CPS (Child Protective Services) and embellished things a bit so his father had to talk to CPS. Still, I just do not agree with whipping a child with a belt. The mother told her husband (the boy’s father) that he needs to show their son love rather than spanking him with a belt. I’m so glad she talked to her husband about this and I have been praying for their marriage to grow in unity rather than them adhering to patriarchal doctrine.

    I have never had children so I cannot give my input, just that I don’t believe in spanking.

  6. Lisa Johns

    I love the term “hand-me-down parenting” — it describes so well what we tend to do! Even when the particulars of our actions are different from what our parents did, so often the tone of what we do still mimics what we were accustomed to in our families of origin. I for one would be a huge advocate for all potential parents seeking professional counseling before they welcomed the baby: much in the same way that we require premarital counseling, I think we should require preparenting counseling!


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