058. How to Foster Peak Performance Through Effective Parenting with Dr. Marissa Caudill

In this episode, our guest, Dr. Marissa Caudill, an adult child adolescent psychiatrist, delves into the crucial topic of parenting and its impact on achieving peak performance in our lives. Dr. Caudill empowers parents by highlighting the importance of understanding that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. 

She emphasizes the significance of fostering healthy relationships with our children, navigating the different stages of parenthood from handling toddlers to teenagers, and the value of honesty and good intentions in communication. Join us in this insightful conversation, tune in now! 

Key Points From This Episode:

  1. Empowering parents that there’s no one size fits all when it comes to your child
  2. What is it like to have a healthy relationship with your child
  3. Handling toddlers vs teenagers as parents
  4. Sometimes you just need to be honest with your child
  5. Have good intentions with your child 
  6. Have a clear identity of who you are and what your purpose is
  7. Praise their effort instead of the outcomes when your child fails


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58 - How to Foster Peak Performance Through Effective Parenting with Dr. Marissa Caudill

00:05 Dr. Ann Tsung Are you struggling to advance your career and sacrificing time with your loved ones because of endless to-dos, low energy, and just not enough time in the day? If so, then this podcast is for you. I am your host Dr. Ann Tsung, an ER critical care and space doctor, a peak performance coach, a real estate investor, and a mother of a toddler. I’m here to guide you on mastering your mind and give you the essential skills to achieve peak performance. Welcome to Productivity MD, where you can learn to master your time and achieve the five freedoms in life.

00:51 Hello. Welcome to Productivity MD Podcast. I am your host Dr. Ann Tsung. And today I have Dr. Marissa Caudill. She’s an adult, child, adolescent psychiatrist. She’s also the Founder of theparentdoctor.com. And what she does is she applies a holistic approach to teen mental health by working with parents. And also, specifically, the focus is kids, maybe 5 to 12. But she also works with parents with kids who are more younger or older. And the reason why I brought her on is because we cannot be productive or have peak performance in other areas of our lives if we’re worried about our children or if we don’t have a good relationship with our children. If we fight with our kids, then that really messes up our whole entire probably mental state. We’re not in a beautiful state for the rest of the day. So it’s so important to realize how you can have a great relationship with your child so that you have the stability to pursue all other aspects of life. So thank you again for being on the show. Tell us a little bit more about what you do. And why did you decide to pursue this career as a parent coach and parent doctor?

02:09 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, well, thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I think your listeners are exactly the kind of parents that I love to work with. And you’re totally, you know, this is my jam, like talking about those things that you’re talking about. What’s more important if you are a parent than your relationship with your kids? I mean, certainly for those of us who are entrepreneurial and driven, we want to succeed in our business. But my husband and I were talking recently. We both have MD-PhDs. So we’re kind of overachievers, right? We were in school doing double, residency then fellowship. We didn’t finish all that training until we were like in our mid 30s. And that’s when we started our family. But we love our kids. We have two kids, 11 and 7. And we love them so much. We were discussing the kind of irony that we worked so hard and invested so much time and money to get our degrees and to feel competent in our careers, and now we have these children. And the reality is that nothing is more important than them. So yes, we would be devastated if, for some reason, we couldn’t do what we do professionally. But we would be so much more devastated if, for some reason, we couldn’t feel successful as our kid’s parents, if we felt like that relationship were damaged in some way or that we were failing them, right? So that’s really why I’m so passionate about what I do.

03:25 This also comes from my personal history, too. I had a rupture in my relationship with my dad, who’s now passed. And so that experience is painful as that loss was and as that ruptured relationship was. It has really strengthened my resolve to try to help as many parents as I can with my work to create a lasting relationship with our kids that will be strong but also flexible. Because life throws you curveballs, and you don’t know what’s going to come in your own life and in your child’s development. You just want that relationship to be as strong as possible. So that’s what The Parent Doctor is all about. And I really think that the most fertile ground is for parents whose kids aren’t yet teenagers. Just because before puberty really kicks in, our kids are a little bit more likely to listen to us and to respect what we say. A natural part of adolescent brain development is to start questioning parents. I’ve already hit this with my 11 year old. Everything I say these days, he starts saying like kind of, “That’s not right,” or correcting me on things. Then he’ll reluctantly admit, oh, maybe I was right about something. But it’s funny to see that happening in him, and I know it’s only going to get worse over the next few years.

04:34 So I think the most fertile ground is really when the kids are 5 to 12. But we always can do better. It’s that idea of constant and never-ending improvement with productivity, like you talked about. So many great mentors talk about like when it comes to parenthood, we also can constantly be learning new ways. And this is another thing. Even as a child psychiatrist and as an expert, I do feel like I still have so much that I could do better when it comes to how I respond to my kids. It’s just a constant work in progress. So that’s what I’m committed to. And I really think there’s no better way for us to spend our time when our kids are young than to really be thinking about how do we want our relationship to be with them. What do we want them to think about when they think about us when they’re in their 20s and then their 30s? When they’re sitting in their therapist’s office in the future and they’re describing us, what are the adjectives they’re going to use to describe us as their parents in their childhood? We have to be mindful of that, right? We really have to use our productivity mindset to plan and to have direction and intention. So that’s what the work that I do really helps parents to focus on.

05:40 Dr. Ann Tsung That’s awesome. Can you clarify a little bit how much do you practice clinically versus the coaching, and the pivot that you did, I think it’s amazing, so that you can have more time to help parents? So I’m just wondering how that transition—

05:55 Dr. Marissa Caudill Sure.

05:56 Dr. Ann Tsung You told me the why. I’m just wondering how you did that.

06:00 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, it’s still an evolution, and it’s a work in progress. So I finished my training at UCLA in 2013. I finished med school in 2007. So I had six years of psychiatry training that was supervised. That’s residency and fellowship. This is why I get on my soapbox sometimes about the difference between a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner. Because it’s about 18,000 hours training difference. It’s a big difference. But basically, I did all that training, and then I went to work in private practice at community. mental health for about five years. And then it was good, but I felt like I wasn’t helping enough people. Because I had a pretty small practice here in Los Angeles. So I went to work for Kaiser Permanente, which is a huge HMO. I enjoyed that work, but I was there for a little over four years. And as I was telling you before, at the end of that period of time, I treated over 1,800 people. So it’s really like this patient after patient after patient, like 14 patients a day every day. And that was also great training for me.

06:55 But what I got frustrated with was how within that system as an MD, they really wanted me to function, to be efficient only in the way that an MD can do. So my role was to diagnose and treat disorders. So if a kid comes in with their parents, I had an hour to spend with them and their parents. Slap the diagnosis on them, tell them what the pill would be that might fix it, tell them what therapy I recommend, and send them out the door. I knew in my heart that this really wasn’t what this family needed. And I would see these patterns, because most of the kids who would come to me were usually teenagers. Because typically, the problematic behaviors or habits don’t really come to a head until your kid becomes a teenager. Then their delta of like where you wanted them to be versus where they’re functioning becomes bigger, and it becomes a problem. So I would see these patterns between kids and parents and how they were interacting. It was heartbreaking for me to see both the child making their best effort to convey their thoughts and feelings to the parent, and the parent making their best effort to convey their concerns to the child. But they were just missing, missing the mark, and feeling heartbroken and disappointed and hurt because they weren’t hearing each other. And I wished that I could have rewound time and gone back in these people 2 years before, 5 years before, 10 years before.

08:08 So when I left my job at Kaiser, it was really because I knew in my heart this wasn’t — although I was seeing more people, it wasn’t the work that I still felt would be the most impactful that I could do. And so I spent the next year, that was May 2022, really reading a lot and thinking a lot about how can I have the biggest possible impact. With all the education and knowledge that I have as a child psychiatrist, how can I reach the most people? And during the pandemic, I had done an online course. It was a real estate course for physicians. It was a great experience. Because I realized that in that format, you can reach so many more people and create a really supportive community. So I designed a course. It’s called Unlocking Love. That’s my premium course. It’s an eight-week long course with six months of support with me and weekly Zoom calls. Then I have also a seven-day mini course. But now after having recorded all of those, working on the marketing for that, I’m shifting and I’m also doing now private practice. So I’m doing private practice just in a very small format with families intensively and trying to help local people here in Los Angeles, in addition to the stuff that I offer online.

09:13 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, I’m sure it took a lot of courage to pivot. I mean, it’s awesome that you actually realize what you wanted to do, and then you pick the time point where you can make the most impact. It’s very similar to, I mean, my passion for nutrition or sugar in schools. Really, by the time I see people in the ER, in the ICU, it’s too late. If somebody had just told the kids what actually holds nutritional value or the parents how to cook since they were little, then there wouldn’t be all this obesity down the line already. So similar concept. Similar concept.

09:52 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, totally. And I feel like, as parents, it’s so hard, right? We get so much information about what you should do, what you shouldn’t do. Should you be a gentle parent and let them do anything? Should you be an attachment parent and wear them for five years? Should you breastfeed for five years? Should you breastfeed for six months? So much competing information. It’s really hard to make sense of it all. I don’t propose that I have all the answers. That’s not at all what I’m trying to put out there, but I’m trying to empower parents to realize that there’s not one size fits all. There’s not only one good way to parent, and everything else is bad. That’s just not true. You know your kid better than anyone on Earth, and you know what’s going to serve them the best. But having the support of someone like me who can really help you understand what are the brain pathways that tend to make anxiety more likely, or what are the brain pathways that tend to make depression more likely?

10:45 Again, there’s some of this that we can’t control always. There’s some certain genetic component, nature component, that you may not have control over. So I’m not saying that if you do what I tell you to do, there’s a guarantee that your child will not have mental health issues. No one could ever say that. But I do think for someone who does have a mental health disorder diagnosis, it’s not permanent. And there are things that you can do, which traditional psychiatry practice doesn’t really teach very well. I think CBT tries. But honestly, I think this whole coaching movement is very powerful. Because it’s honestly like better CBT or the best CBT. Because it comes out with this really energized and hopeful approach, whereas CBT comes at it more from the, “You have a disorder, and this is how you can try to cope with it.” The assumption is you’re broken, but maybe you can fix it. Whereas coaching comes with the assumption that you’re not broken. Everybody has these kinds of little quirks, and you can train your brain to rewire and to fight those kinds of thoughts that don’t serve you. And so that’s the approach that I’m trying to embrace to for parents.

11:45 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, and for the audience, for those of you guys who have not heard of CBT, it’s cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a modality that’s commonly used in psychiatric treatment. I do want the audience to know a little bit about some people may have teenagers, and they may think it’s too late. There’s just no way. With the work that we’re going to discuss and the tactics we’re going to discuss, can you paint them a vision of what is it like to have a healthy relationship with their child? What does that look like, so they can kind of diagnose themselves at what stage they’re at? What does it look like when it’s dysfunctional, which I can kind of imagine but I’m just curious what your thoughts are? And what does it look like once it becomes a healthy relationship with the teenager?

12:40 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, sure. Well, I think you’re getting to the fact that there is normal discord in all — well, classically, teenagers get a bad rep. That there’s like, they’re difficult to be around. And that’s true. But they’re also awesome. I mean, what’s going on in a teenage brain is pretty freaking amazing. Excuse my French. And it’s actually not even just teenagers. I actually just did a little piece on this in my newsletter. But adolescence for brains starts even before. So like I said, I have an 11 year old son. He’s definitely in adolescence. And so adolescence for girls can start as young as age 8, and that’s not considered precautious puberty. And for boys, as early as age 9. There’s a normal range of about five years. So it can start from 8 to 13 and for boys from 9 to 14. But once your child brain starts changing in adolescence, you’re going to see behaviors that are like those teenage problem behaviors. You’re going to see them rolling their eyes, questioning your authority, slamming their doors. Their emotions are going to snap and go really big. All of a sudden, you’re going to wonder what the heck is going on. So I think that’s an important thing for your audience to know. Because you may think, “Oh, this isn’t adolescence. I have a 10 year old.” But it is. It is. For their brain, it already is adolescence most likely.

13:56 What’s going on in the brain in adolescence is, there are huge changes happening. You’ve had a baby. You have a baby. I have babies. In that first year of life, it’s the time when the brains grow the most. But the second period of change that’s great is during adolescence. That starts from the onset of puberty which can be as young, like I said, as age 8 or 9. And it goes all the way till about age 25. So it’s a long period of change. What’s developing there is the prefrontal cortex, which is really our best brain. This is the part of the brain that we’re engaging when we’re doing all these productivity things, right? It’s a part of our brain that can handle executive functioning and planning. It’s the part of our brain that can think about our own emotions and other people’s emotions, can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. So that part of our child’s brain is developing constantly. No matter what condition your child might have, that’s always going to be developing. And it’s developing more during adolescence.

14:51 The other part that is also developing is the whole emotional brain, the limbic system. So they’re having new emotional experiences that they’ve never had before at an intensity that they’ve never experienced before. So that’s when you’re seeing these big explosions of emotions — the shouting, slamming the door, whatever it is — and you’re wondering what’s going on. They’re wondering what’s going on, too, by the way. So often, I think as parents, we react, like, “What the heck?” We yell at them, or tell them to stop it. But we have to have compassion and realize that they’re in a new place without a map, experiencing things they’ve never experienced before. And it’s pretty scary for them sometimes, too. And once we can reframe that and understand that, I think it makes it much easier as a parent to respond in a way that’s less likely to escalate or make their behavior worse, and more likely to calm them down. If your kid can go slam the door, then instead of yelling at them or saying, “Don’t walk away from me,” or whatever you might want to do, you can go to them and just say like, “Hey, it seems like you’re feeling really mad. Do you want to talk about it?”

15:54 One of the things I do is I help parents and kids with an exercise called the Feelings Thermometer exercise. This is on YouTube. It’s for free. You can get it from my website. Basically, the idea is, and this works for any age group. Even in older kid, even if you’re in a bad place and things are dysfunctional, this can be really powerful. The first thing I would suggest, if you have any listeners who are struggling with their teens, is to let them know I recognize things aren’t always going the way we would want. Sometimes we’re yelling at each other. It’s not that I want it to be that way. I want to do better. And so I tell parents who work with me: make sure the first thing you do is tell your kids that you’re working with an expert because you love them, and you care about them. And you want to make things better. Because that sends a really powerful message to a child that you care about them. It’s shifting the dynamic from saying that the child is the problem and that they need to be fixed, which is what happens when you drag your kid to a child psychiatrist, right? They get that message that there’s something wrong with them. Now my mom wants me to see a therapist or a shrink. And they think I’m problematic. If instead you come to the doctor and say like, “How can I help my kid,” it’s a totally different message that you’re sending. It’s a loving message that decreases their fear center in their sympathetic nervous system arousal rather than increasing it. So the work that I do is really to help parents and teens understand where do these big feelings come from and then also to work about communication, specific techniques for how to communicate your needs, how to reach win-win agreements. We talk about difficult topics in the course, too.

17:23 So if you’re in a difficult place, how would you know if you’re in a difficult place through teenager? Well, I think if the communication is not flowing, if you feel like it’s constant tug of war, if you feel like you’re trying to control your child. Because ideally, all of us want to raise responsible young adults, right? I think the goal would be to get to 18 with your kid and be able to have a year where they can have no rules and practice adulthood under your roof with your guidance, and knowing that you’re that safety net of love for them when things go wrong, rather than feeling like you have to build this cage around them to keep them safe and then set them free knowing yourself and they know that they probably shouldn’t be set free yet, right?

18:03 So the whole key is to really empower parents to empower their kids, to build that confidence, to be able to increasingly tell your kids you believe in them, and to help them feel confident in their own decision-making abilities. That’s based on these four pillars that I have in my course. That’s defining direction. So we’ve talked about the importance of that, right? Really knowing what do you want for your family? What are your values? What are your kid’s values? What’s your family mission statement? All those kinds of things. Then emotion regulation for parents so that when your kid does slam the door in your face or swears at you, or breaks the rules, whatever it is, that you can have your own experience, regulate that emotion and come to them calmly so that you can help them stay calm as well. And then embracing failure. Knowing that they’re going to make mistakes as are you, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be then their line. That’s just a part of the process. You learn from it. You move on. And practicing gratitude. Really, when it comes to behavior, it’s like the more we can reinforce our kids’ good behaviors, if you just do that really well, you don’t really have to worry so much about consequences and punishments. So I think that’s the number one thing: shifts. Because most people, by the time they come to see a child psychiatrist, they feel exasperated and helpless because they’ve implemented consequences and punishments. They’ve taken away the kid’s phone or grounded them, and the kid is still mad or still behaving in a way that they don’t feel is right. They feel like, “Well, I’ve done everything I know how to do. How do I change my child’s behavior?” And at that point, the answer is really somewhat counter intuitively to just pour more love and more good into the relationship because that’s what’s missing at that point.

19:40 Dr. Ann Tsung It sounds like what you do with a spouse too.

19:43 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, well, it’s all relationships, right?

19:45 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah.

19:46 Dr. Marissa Caudill I mean, with bad behavior, we’re all human beings. Human beings behave badly. We act out when our sympathetic nervous system is on fire, right? When we are in that fight or flight or freeze mode when we feel threatened, when we feel unheard, when we feel unseen, that’s when we’re going to act out. Because we’re seeking help. It’s a cry for help. So what we need to do in those moments when we recognize that the emotional bank account we share with our spouse or our child is low or overdrawn is not to punish them but to rather show up more and give more. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to do if your bank account is also low. That’s the point where most teenagers and parents come to see a child psychiatrist. Both parties are hurting. And it’s hard because I need to support the parents to be the ones who are going to start making the adjustments. Because that’s really our role, right? We have the more mature brain. We have to be the ones to take the first step towards our kids.

20:43 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, I think there’s a lot to unpack there. Number one, that for either spouse or kids, if your self-care is not prioritized, if your sleep is not prioritized — we talked about holistic approach — your hydration, your nutrition is not prioritized, then you’ll have low patience to be able to interact with your spouse or your kids. And it seems like maybe a barometer for where you are, your relationship with your kids is, number one, how you guys are communicating. But also, number two, your self-reactivity. Can you react like a zen-like monk state with complete universal compassion, with no judgment, and understand where your kid is coming from? Or, you are so low on your own tank that you react with your ego in a defensive type of way? And you are hurt because they slammed the door, and so you just lash out. So maybe think about how many times that you lose control or you get emotional because you are actually — I do hear parents or spouses saying that, “Well, I did this because you did this.” But actually, the first step is to commit to decide that, “No, I am in control of my own emotions, but it’s something I’ll decide.” And so it sounds like that and then to pour more compassion, more love, to share more understanding despite them acting out. You can correct me if I’m wrong. It sounds like this is exactly what you would do with a toddler. I mean, with my toddler, a 21-month-old, I mean, if he throws himself on the floor and cries, it’s not like I’m going to react. I don’t scold him. I pour more love and soften my voice and label his emotions and try to distract him. So I’m imagining when I have a teenager or an adolescent, that it would be the same thing you would do, right?

22:44 Dr. Marissa Caudill It’s actually very similar. What’s going on for your toddler in terms of brain development is very similar to what’s going on with your teenager. The difference though is that your teenager has more ability to really partner with you and rationalize, and try out different things, and experiment to see what works for them. So again, like you’re saying, if your kid is acting out, instead of reacting with anger, or frustration, or yelling, and raising your voice in response to their raised voice, if you can take care of yourself enough and intentionally work on not being that reactive but responding to them with a different version of yourself — maybe be curious, maybe be playful, just be a different version of yourself that won’t trigger them — then you model for them that they don’t have to behave in response to their initial emotion drive, right? We all have a default activation of our survival brain that comes on in certain situations. But with practice, you can get better and better at silencing that quickly before it takes over the control of what you’re saying, and what you’re thinking, and what you’re doing with your body. So, yeah, absolutely.

23:52 I think the other part that’s hard, the reason why it’s harder with a teenager is you have — okay. A toddler, they’re tiny. They’re cute. You know they’re young. You know they can’t do things. A teenager, on the other hand, you might have the 16 year old who could drive a car, who can go to work. And then out of nowhere, at home, they blow up over some little thing. What does that do to you as a parent? Well, it triggers all of your own panic that like, “Oh, my goodness. Am I raising this person who’s going to fail to be responsible adults? Are they going to function in the world? Is this how they’re going to be?” You start to naturally assume that because they have this big body and they’re able, in certain ways, to function, that because they then don’t function once in a while, that means they’re dysfunctional adult or that they will be a dysfunctional adult. But that is not true.

24:37 So the other part that we need to keep in mind is that the connections in the brain between the prefrontal cortex, that’s regulating. This is what I’m working with with parents to get them to be able to regulate their emotions like a Zen monk: to just see the emotion, feel the emotion, set it aside, respond in the best way with your best self. Kids can be trained to do that too. But it’s much harder for them because their connections between the emotional brain and the prefrontal cortex, which are needed to stop that response, that reflexive ego-driven response of defensiveness or anger, is just not strong yet. That’s what’s going on in this adolescent brain development. It’s those connections happening. So although simultaneously, their ability is getting stronger within the prefrontal cortex, the connection to the limbic system isn’t there yet. So it’s perplexing, but it’s not surprising. And we don’t have to be angry about it. We also can reassure our kids, like, “Look, I know you were really mad. I also know that you know the right answer, the right way to behave in this situation. And I’m sorry that you weren’t able to do it in this moment.” That gives your kids space to be able to apologize, because they know that you see the real them. You’re not judging them based on their temporary insanity behavior, which is part of being a teenager.

25:50 And teenagers also are hardwired to overestimate rewards and underestimate risks, which leads to some very interesting choices. I’m sure if you think back to your own teenage years, you could probably think of some things where you’re like, “I’m really lucky, I survived that.” I know I have some moments where I’m like, “That was really dumb.” But it’s just part of growing up. I think we can have those conversations. I have those conversations with my kids now. We talk about the neurobiology of adolescent brains and what it’s going to mean for them, and how they’re probably going to do some really dumb stuff. But that doesn’t mean that they are dumb. It just means that their brain was making an incorrect assumption in the moment. That’s why it’s making a judgment call. And I hope that that leads them, when they’re at a party and they make a poor choice, and they smoke something or drink something that they shouldn’t have, that they’re not going to drive home and they’re going to know I’m not going to judge them. I might judge their choice, but I’m not going to judge them. That helps with that Brené Brown shame-versus-guilt development too. Have you heard her work? It’s basically like we can feel guilty about our mistakes, but we don’t have to feel ashamed that we, as a person, are bad because we’ve made one bad choice. That’s not true.

26:54 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, just making them feel like they will be loved. Unconditional love, essentially, no matter what decision, what choices they make. You hope that you raise them enough to make the right choice. But even if they didn’t and they suffer the consequences, then you’ll still show them unconditional love. I wonder. Another maybe like a case what I can think of, I wonder what your thoughts are about this. I’ve heard my clients say that they want to raise an independent child. And when the child doesn’t do certain things independently, like goal setting and planning and just being responsible, it makes them feel like a failure as a parent. A lot of times, the parents set their own standards of success and failure based on if their child is doing what they think, the parent thinks, would be the right thing to do. Like being very proactive, goals set, have good plans and study. At the same time, it’s so funny that sometimes we’re working, working, working but just want to have that inner flow, inner happiness, inner joy, and that inner satisfaction. And sometimes people want to get to that.

28:16 I can see that when that child is just happy with everything, content with everything, and doesn’t really necessarily feel that drive, one is like the parent’s own standard from their own childhood. One is like the child’s own personality and seems like already has like inner bliss. How do you coach parents to reconcile that too is the right way? How do you balance still wanting to raise an independent child but balance that back to not apply their own standards or their own upbringing from their own mother? I guess generational standards or whatever, generational trauma that you want to say. How do you balance that, if that question makes sense?

29:08 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. It’s a little bit of a, kind of a big question, like a big question. I guess what I would say is, I think I understand what you’re talking about. I think we all have our own inner expectations of what success as a parent would mean in terms of what the outcome will be in our child. I actually just went to a great lecture at my kid’s school by this guy, Colin Seal. He has a website called thinklaw.us. He’s a lawyer. He has ADHD. He’s turned into an educator. And he has this great critical thinking course that he uses in schools and that he has also for parents to use with their kids to think through things. But basically, he was asking the group of parents in this high-achieving private L.A. school. What is your definition of success? And when we sat there, we all thought about it. Of course, we’re thinking, “Oh, I want my kids to be happy, to have work that’s fulfilling.” But then he said, okay, but what do you think your kids would say your definition of success is? And of course, then we’re all like, “Get straight A’s. To turn in all your homework on time. Get into an Ivy League school.”

30:14 So what our kids perceive as our definition of success and what we internally truly believe is success might not be in sync. And so I would really encourage parents to have a conversation with their kids. If they are feeling like they’re failing their kid or that their kid isn’t living up to their expectation, I think the best way to go about it is to just be honest with your child and say, like, “You know what? Sometimes I feel like I’m hard on you because I’m telling you you aren’t doing it the right way, or you have to be organized in this way.” The other question, I think the best possible question you can ever ask yourself is Byron Katie’s question. It’s, is it true? So as a parent, if you’re feeling like you’re a failure because your kid isn’t doing whatever, ask yourself. Is it really true? Is it true that they’re going to be a failure? Because whenever, in fifth grade, they didn’t plan their evening perfectly for productivity. And at 8pm, they were crying because they still had 20 minutes of math homework to do that they forgot about. Or, is it true that that’s a normal part of childhood development? It’s messing up, experiencing the failure, learning from it and doing it better next time?

31:17 And with older kids, it’s different, right? Because it’s a different thing if it’s your fifth grader versus if it’s your high school senior. There’s more panic, I think, for the parent who has a high school senior who’s dropping the fall or failing to meet their commitments and those kinds of things. And I think there, we just have to keep in mind that all, like I said, adolescent brain development goes till age 25. So although, chronologically, our education system is like you’re done with high school at 18, you should start college at 18, that’s not really the true path that meets every child’s needs. Not every kid is going to be ideally ready for college-level independence at 18. Some are ready at 14. Some aren’t ready till 24. It doesn’t matter. It’s just like, we’re all on our own path of development. And I think accepting where your kid is at, reflecting with them, honestly, it’s something really hard for them. If it is, they probably can share with you. Because if your 17 year old is really struggling, they probably know they’re struggling relative to their peers. And it probably feels really bad for them too. So if you can open up and let them be with you with that pain and discomfort — the fact that you’re feeling like you’re feeling them in some way, or they feel like they’re feeling you in some way — then you can talk about it and come to a solution with both of you using your prefrontal cortex rather than your emotional brain, right? To problem solve.

32:32 But you have to first be able to be calm about it. Because if you come at it with this angry expectation or disappointment, if you rile up your child’s sympathetic nervous system in the way you address it with them, then they’re probably already primed to be triggered by your criticism if you’re a 17 year old who’s not meeting expectations, or who’s failing in classes, or whatever. It takes a soft approach, a sympathetic approach, I think, to accept where things really are, to recognize that that doesn’t mean that’s where they’re always going to be, and to think about how you can creatively get to the place where you both want to go. I think that’s really the key. And that’s, as a psychiatrist, what I tried to draw upon when I work with families. It’s like figuring out what is the common goal here. Because they often, parents and kids, come in not seeing eye to eye on many things. And it’s hard for them to feel like they’re in alignment about anything. But truthfully, they usually are in alignment about many things. I mean, there aren’t many teenagers who want to live at home with their parents forever. Most of them also want to go out and have a life — that’s their own life — someday. But it can feel disempowering and scary for them if they feel like that’s not the path that they’re on. Then they often get defensive and just use the I-don’t-care approach or those kinds of words that they’ll say to try to not trigger their parents to be critical of them or to make their parents feel more disempowered, because they also feel disempowered.

33:58 Dr. Ann Tsung So say, if it’s a teenager who just is happy with everything and doesn’t see a need to strive for straight A’s or to do many extracurriculars, but the parents are forcing it because of their own standard of success. We talked about just finding out common goals. But what exactly are the wordings or questions you would suggest for parents in this situation? How do you actually approach them? What do you say so that they are receptive instead of like, “Oh, that’s weird. I don’t want to do that, because I think I’ve also heard they think it’s weird”?

34:42 Dr. Marissa Caudill I think at first, the conversation is going to feel awkward. The first time you come to your kid if you’re working with someone like me or another parent coach, they’re gonna be like, “What?” But if you consistently keep showing up and saying through your actions to them, “I’m serious about this. I really want to help you,” then eventually, they’re going to want to participate in the conversation. And again, if the intention isn’t to change them but to really understand them, that’s a different intention. Right? So if you’re coming to your child like, “How do I get you to want to do 15 extracurriculars, so you can get into Harvard and get straight A’s? What do I have to do to make you want to do this,” that’s a very different intention and self that you’re bringing to your child than it is if you’re like, “Hey, I noticed that we’re in conflict about these things. Sometimes I’m encouraging you to do these activities, but you seem to be someone who prefers to stay home and do less. So I just want to understand.”

35:36 I think one great conversation is to talk about values. Your values and your child’s values might have similarities and might have differences. It doesn’t mean that you’re right, and they’re wrong or the other way around. There’s all kinds of people, right? I actually have a child who’s kind of like that. One of my values is hard work and always doing your best. One of his values is relaxing and having downtime. It’s very important to him to relax and have downtime. So I am not very good at relaxing, and it’s hard for me. But I’m trying to work on the fact that it also feels good to relax and have downtime. That is actually a nice thing in life. Some of our best memories as a family come from those moments. It’s not all about achievement. It’s also about enjoying. So I think if you can talk with your child and see—

36:21 Basically, it’s about assuming good intent. If we assume that your child is a good person who’s going to do good in this world, but the way that they go about it might be different than the way you went about it or that there may be a different way of going about it than the way you think one has to go about it, then you can learn from your child. And also, in doing that, you get the child to think about. If you ask them and you really want to know what are your values, then you get your child to want to live a life that fulfills those values. That’s meaningful to them. That’s the only thing that’s going to motivate your child.

36:56 It’s like when Tony Robbins talks about success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. If you force your child to take piano lessons their whole life and they perform at Carnegie Hall, but they hate piano, they’re not going to be fulfilled. So you have to really be open to them having their own thing that’s going to be fulfilling for them, whatever that is. Because I can’t tell you what your life’s purpose is and what you’re here for. Only you can know that. And it’s the same for our kids. Only they can figure out what’s really going to light them up inside and inspire them to want to work and do good. They have to figure that out for themselves. All we can do as parents is offer all the different variety. I think the best parent can offer a buffet of choices and walk the walk themselves by doing work that feels fulfilling to them, by leading for our kids, by showing them that doing work that feels fulfilling is great. And you never feel like you’re working if the work feels meaningful, right? If you are feeling like you’re stuck in a dead-end job, and you’re coming home every day complaining about your boss, that’s leading your child to feel like why would they want to grow up and have this life probably, right? It’s not very inspiring. So I think it’s important work as parents that we really have to question ourselves too. Are we leading the life that’s the best life we could lead?

38:15 Your question maybe if this parent had a very traditional upbringing, where there were high expectations from their parents and they had to get straight A’s to be considered a valuable person, and they did that, are they now in a position where they feel fulfilled from where they got with the end results? Or, is there maybe something else they’d rather be doing with their life? That can be a tough inner look. And it can lead to a big shift. But sometimes those big shifts are extremely powerful.

38:45 I’ll tell you a story. I’m not going to give any details. But I had a patient. In all my years, this kid, I was the most worried, would kill himself. He had made a serious premeditated suicide attempt. His parents were working, kind of mid-level corporate jobs, stressed working all the time, always worried about money. He started an intensive program. His parents participated as well. They really re-evaluated their values as a family, what they think the purpose of life is. They all started meditating. He ended up getting off all medications. I saw him like a year later. I was like, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you. I was worried about you. What ended up happening?” He told me about how he’s doing great, and he meditates. And his parents, they quit their jobs, liquidated their retirement accounts and bought a restaurant that was their dream and were succeeding and thriving. So again, this is an example of how sometimes our kids struggles can actually be a wake up call for us, to realize that maybe my kid is not wanting to be alive because the life I’m leading as an example doesn’t feel like a life that’s really worth living to them. I mean, that’s a hard thing to accept as a parent. But if you’re willing to accept it and say, “Hey, maybe I do want to be doing something different. Maybe my purpose is somewhere else or doing something else,” that can be incredibly empowering if you’re open to it.

40:10 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, your child is a mirror for you, actually.

40:14 Dr. Marissa Caudill And sometimes the canary in the coal mine. Of like, hey, they’re telling the truth of like, this isn’t right. This isn’t real happiness or real fulfillment.

40:25 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, I think there’s so much to unpack there. I think to summarize, the first thing you want to do is to ask them for their values from a non-judgmental way. Be in the state of curiosity, to see what they’re actually interested in and what they’re not interested in, whatever extracurricular. And like you said, we can only provide them with opportunities across, and they can try out. And if they don’t want to do it, there might be an assessment of like — there might be a grit training versus if they really don’t want to do it, sometimes you want to teach them grit as well. But coming from that standpoint, and then also accepting that perhaps that just means that there’s more work to do on yourself and reevaluating if you are fulfilled, if you’re happy, if you’re leading the life that is inspiring for them and your own self-care as well, that’s what it sounds like. Does that sound about right as a summary?

41:22 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. Because it’s all about the balance of your needs. We call that self-care or knowing yourself. But having a clear identity of who you are and what your purpose is in this life versus others and their needs and their desires, and recognizing that they are influenced by each other but they are also separate. And we have control over ourselves. We do not have to live to please others all the time. That’s true for your child too. They do not have to live to please you, whether we like it or not. We may wish that. We may have the expectation that that’s their role. Culturally, I think that’s the case in many different cultures. In America, not so much. We kind of accept that individuals are individuals. So I think that also comes into play a lot in my clinical experience with Asian families, first generation US. Often, there’s this discord and disconnect where the parents will be like, “I never would have talked to my parents the way that my kid is talking to me.” But your child is growing up as an American kid with this different sense of what it means to be an individual. It’s not better or worse. It’s just different. And I think the two approaches, the two viewpoints, really have a lot to teach each other and a lot to learn from one another for the better.

42:37 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, and I think Tony Robbins talked about if your happiness is determined by what other people do, then you’re screwed essentially.

42:47 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yes, exactly. You can’t control what other people do.

42:49 Dr. Ann Tsung Right. You can’t control their thoughts. You accept them as human beings. Human beings have different thoughts, different emotions. And you appreciate that because they have different lives. But if your own success, definition of success and happiness, bliss, depends on what other people do, you are screwed. I mean, you can only control how you feel and what you do. And I think another thing, like you said, the first-generation Asian parents, that’s me. We moved when I was nine years old. And oh, my God. I mean, the conflict was just enormous, enormous. And you’re right. It was like late 20s. Finally, late 20s to 30s, we’re going to Tony Robbins’ UPW. It’s when I started the forgiveness process, the thinking process. So it doesn’t last forever. That’s true. It was a long journey. And it was through that experience that for our family we have defined our values, three values, that we actually wrote it on a wooden board when you walk in the front. It’s playfulness, courage, and compassion.

44:00 Dr. Marissa Caudill Love it. Awesome.

44:02 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, as long as the kids, at least, for me, hopefully. I don’t know how this is going to turn out. But at least for me, for the toddler, and the girl who’s on the way, if they have intrinsic self-worth, that’s my definition of a successful parent. What that means is like if they can feel worthy and self-worthy, then good enough, regardless of external circumstances or getting straight A’s or whatever. That’s why I say now. But I don’t know what’s going to happen when they get to school and they start failing classes and don’t do extracurriculars.

44:38 Dr. Marissa Caudill You know, I think you can start so early. I mean, I talked with my son. Gosh. He rolls his eyes now because, like I said, he’s in adolescence, when I started talking about these things. But we started talking really early about the difference between intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards, and how I can give you praise. I can tell you, great job. But if you don’t feel like you did a good job, if you don’t feel like you did your best, it’s going to feel hollow. You’re going to know the truth.

45:03 I have a very hands-off approach with my kids when it comes to school. They’re at a pretty academically rigorous school. But I’ve never logged onto the electronic system that shows what the homework assignments are and stuff like that. I know I’m in the minority. Because we have this WhatsApp chat group, and the parents are always like, “Do we really have an English test tomorrow?” They’re like in there, and they know what the kids are doing. I have no clue what they’re doing. I don’t know who their teachers are. I actually missed the parent-teacher conferences for my middle school this year. Because I don’t know. I just, I feel bad. I’m not saying that you should be as uninvolved as I am. But I think the consequence of me being uninvolved is that they own it 100%. He owns his straight A’s on his report card, because he knows that that’s his work. I didn’t have anything to do with it. He didn’t do it for me.

45:48 Honestly, if he decides that academics aren’t his thing, if he gets a C, that’s not him either. Grades are not who you are. Grades are a reflection of the state you were in the day you took that test, and maybe the days leading up to it. But you could be a great, totally competent person. I have a friend who was going through a really hard thing where in med school, her dad died unexpectedly. So it was right before our board of exams. She did not do well on the board exams, and it had a negative impact on her. She had to redo things. But ultimately, that doesn’t mean she didn’t learn what she should have in medical school. It meant that she had a really distressing event that day that prevented her brain from being able to access all that information. It happens. She’s a human being. We all are. So all we can do is really help our kids to understand that. Because they’re going to fail at some point. All of us do. They have to be able to have the flexibility to recognize that that doesn’t mean that they are determined or destined to be a failure. It just means that it wasn’t optimal conditions that day. And so what can they learn from that? How can they try again, and be more likely to succeed the next time?

46:56 Dr. Ann Tsung So that does bring up a question. We talked about not using extrinsic rewards and punishments to get them to do things, to facilitate intrinsic motivation. How do you do that? Or what mistakes should you not — no, I wouldn’t say mistakes. What are like the top one or two things that you should really try to avoid doing to really cultivate intrinsic motivation? I don’t know. Toddler stage, adolescent stage. What stage do you start?

47:33 Dr. Marissa Caudill I think you can start really early. Your comment about developing grit, we all want that for our kids, right? Carol Dweck ‘s work about mindset. Basically, we don’t want to praise the outcome. We want to praise the effort. So when our kids are trying something new — I’ll give you an example. My seven year old, she saw some kids on the bus crocheting. And so she got really excited, and now she wants to crochet. So I spent $8.99 and got all this yarn and starter kit from Amazon that it comes. She sits down. And in her head, she imagined she was just going to start whipping out some scarf. But we just sit down three separate times, and she was in tears every time because we couldn’t get beyond just like how to do the slipknot to start the crochet. Because she had this idea that it was going to be so easy, and it wasn’t. I could have yelled at her for being so emotional and told her like, “You’re never going to be able to crochet.” But I didn’t. I just reflected that, like, “This isn’t the way you expected it was going to go, right? You thought it would be easy. You saw the kids on the bus who’ve been doing this while. And it seems so fast and easy for them. And it’s a lot harder for you. You really want to do this. It’s really important to you.” But she was crying. I was like, “Okay. Let’s try again tomorrow.”

48:41 So you can reflect and let them know that the emotion that they’re feeling is normal and okay. You don’t have to dismiss it. When they’re struggling, you don’t have to rescue them. I think that’s one thing. It’s hard for us to see our kids in distress. So we can say like, “Oh, it’s okay. Mommy will do it for you,” or, “Don’t worry. It’s not important.” But really, what we want to do is be with them in that negative emotional state and reassure them that it’s okay to feel that way. Because this is something that’s important to you. Then we also want to praise the effort, like I said, and not the outcome. Like, “You worked really hard on that. You didn’t get it today, but I know that you’re going to keep trying. And one of these times, it’s just going to click. And once you’ve got it, you’re never going to lose it.” So you want to reinforce the effort. The other thing is to think about — sorry, I lost my train of thought. What was the question?

49:32 Dr. Ann Tsung So then let’s say when they’re teenagers and you catch them drinking and smoking, what do you actually do? It’s not to punish them?

49:43 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, that’s a tougher one, right? Because the stakes feel a lot higher when they’re teenagers. The mistakes are bigger.

49:50 Dr. Ann Tsung Drinking and drove home. Say, they’re 16 or 17 and drinking and drove home.

49:55 Dr. Marissa Caudill Okay. Let’s think about all behaviors in three categories. Category one is things we like and we want to see more of. Most kids are doing this most of the time, and this is the thing that’s the easiest to become complacent about and to stop reinforcing. Because as our expectations grow, as our kids grow, we expect that they’re going to clean up their dish when they finish dinner, or put their dirty clothes in the hamper, or tell us in advance that they need something for school. Those are our expectations grow as they grow, right? But one thing we can do to really see more of that behavior that we like is to praise that. Just a quick, “Thanks for giving me the heads up that you needed that for your homework tomorrow. I appreciate the advance notice. I’ll make sure I get it for you.” Or, “Thanks for reminding me that you needed to be picked up after soccer today.” Especially with teenagers, I think we, as parents, often get a bit lax in recognizing the good things that they’re doing. And it becomes more awkward because kids don’t really want — with your three year old, when they do something good, you’d be like clapping. And they love that. With your 15 year old, if you’re like, oh, charms, thank you, they’re going to be rolling their eyes at you. Like, shut up, mom. What you need to be really good at is kind of genuine, non-verbal and mildly verbal communication of like, “Thanks.” Just like off-the-cuff praise, like, “I really appreciate that. That went a long way. Thank you for doing that.” So you don’t want to give up on that as they get older. So that’s number one: reinforce the category one behaviors with praise, noticing it, thank you’s, all of that.

51:24 Category two behaviors are the things that you don’t like, that you’d rather not see happening but they’re not dangerous. Okay. I think this is a tough one, right? But say, your kid drinks a beer at a party but doesn’t drive home or get a ride home with someone who’s drunk. I would say that’s probably a category two behavior. Is it something you will like? No. But is it something that’s dangerous? I mean, it’s kind of a gray area. Category three is things that are dangerous. Those are the only things that really deserve a consequence or a punishment. I would say the number one thing parents do wrong is, they get into this trap where they’re basically using punishments and consequences too much. They’re using that for category two and category three behaviors. They’re spending way more time doing that than they are praising the category one behaviors. This quickly depletes the emotional bank account until it’s negative and then the behaviors get worse. Then it just becomes this sort of negative spiral.

52:17 So what step one is, is recognizing that even if your child is acting out, even if they’re doing really reckless things like drinking, they are probably still doing some things that are pretty good. And you’ve probably neglected to be praising them and recognizing those because you’re pissed about the things they’re doing that aren’t good. And so it’s very important to start building that bank account balance by telling your child the things that you like about them and the things that they do well, and to be explicit about that. Then when it comes to category three behaviors, the punishment or consequence should be delivered when you’re calm, not when you’re upset. Because when we’re upset, we tend to be too severe, right? We tend to deliver a punishment that’s probably more than what the crime deserves. So we should be thoughtful about it. We should get input from friends, or our spouse, or partner about what would be the appropriate consequence.

53:06 Especially with a teenager, you don’t have to give the consequence immediately. If your kid came home drunk from a party, you’re going to be pretty upset. The time though to give them the consequences is not in that moment when you’re really upset. You might just be like, “We’re going to talk about this tomorrow. Go to your room.” Then you’re going to want to discuss, like, “This is not okay.” You want to set a firm boundary, like, “This is not safe. Here’s why.” Then you want to be curious and say, like, “What was going on?” And so you want to invite their explanation. Because again, it’s that they have this teenage brain that was overestimating reward and underestimating risks. And they might not really be able to give you a very good answer, other than the fact that it was there and other kids were doing it. It seemed like it might be fun.

53:51 And so then you can talk and you can learn from that together. Because again, if you’re not judging them as this bad person that you’re disappointed in and that you cannot be proud of, if you’re not causing them to feel shame, then hopefully, you can help them regulate their own shame response, which I’m sure they have enough, that they can see themselves as worthy but also as someone who made a mistake. Then they can collaborate with you about what would be an appropriate consequence. But you don’t have to negotiate with your teenager. If the consequence is they’re not going to parties for a month, and they’re losing their phone access, that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be a negotiation. But I think it’s also okay to have a negotiation, to hear their point of view, to hear what they think would be fair. Because again, we ultimately want to create kids who are regulating themselves by the time they go off into adulthood, right? So the question is kind of, how can you help them view this as a failure that they’re going to learn something from, rather than a failure that gives them ammunition to blame you as the parent for the reason why their life sucks?

54:51 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, and I’m just thinking about if you use like — because I’ve heard — you’re being selfish, like parents to the kid, you’re being selfish because you don’t understand the consequence if something happens to you, the consequence it can have on other people. I also know that for teenagers at that stage, they actually don’t care. They can not care about anybody else but themselves. So you almost want to a sense motivate them to want to change your behavior or to learn this lesson really for their own benefit. Is that correct?

55:32 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, I think you can say how they affect you. But don’t use that as an excuse for them to change. Right? Yeah, I mean, if you can tell someone, “You’re being selfish,” it’s much less effective than if you were to say it to your child, like, “Look, it seemed like you were drunk last night when you came home. Is that correct?” And if they’re like, “Well, yeah, I had a couple of beers.” And then if you’re just quiet and say, like, “Tell me what was going on?” And if you’re curious and you want to hear from them. And then if you ask them, like, “What do you think about that? What do you think about your choice?” Basically, if you can get them to start to think about your point of view. Like, what would you think if this was your child? And it may be very hard for them. Because that’s a stretch for a teenager, like you’re saying. They’re really just thinking about themselves.

56:16 And again, to understand as a parent that, evolutionarily, that is protected. There’s a great book called Brainstorm by Dan Siegel where he really talks about why this hardwiring of the brain happens in adolescence. Because in old hunter gatherer societies, once you hit puberty, it was beneficial for the gene pool. If your brain was reducing the risks of going out on your own to find a mate from another tribe, then you think you were more likely to propagate your genes, right? So this became hardwired in our DNA to want to go out there and take risks. It’s not that they want to die. It’s just that they don’t think that that’s going to happen to them. Their brain is wired to not think that’s going to happen to them. There’s a great show on Netflix. It’s called like, I think it’s called Brain Child or something like that. They interview young kids. Like, if there was a shark sighting at the beach and the lifeguard told everyone stay out of the water, would you go swimming? And all the young kids are like, “No, I would not go swimming.” Then they ask adults, and the adults are like, “Yeah, I don’t think I would go in shark-infested waters.” Then they asked the teenagers, and the teenagers are like, “Well, you know, sharks really are not aggressive if you don’t hurt them first. I mean, they probably wouldn’t even bother you.” Their brains are literally broken in this way temporarily. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to be foolish adults. It’s just that they’re really hardwired to not see the downside. So I think the exercise here, the growth exercise, is for you as a parent not to lecture them about what the downside is, but to try to draw it out of them. Try to get them to see.

57:46 Then I think also telling stories from your own life. In high school, I had a friend who was driving his best friend. I don’t know that they were drinking. It was just an icy night, and the car crashed. His friend was paralyzed from the waist down. So this was devastating for them. They were best friends, and they played sports together. Then when his best friend comes back, he’s in the wheelchair. That’s where he is for the rest of his life. So it’s important to help your kid realize from your own stories and stuff that sometimes bad things happen. They happen not because you’re a bad person but just because of bad luck. And I just care about you. And I know you care about yourself too. I want you to know that you can make those choices. And if there was a better choice your child could have made that night, talk about what that would have been. Like, should they have called you to get a ride home? Should they have stayed overnight or said, “Hey, mom. I drank a beer. Should I stay here?” Whatever it is.

58:36 Think it’s about having a two-way conversation rather than an ‘I know and you don’t know,’ which is so tempting to do. Because it’s true. In that moment, you do know something that your child brain can’t see. But their brain is just temporarily rewired in this way that helps them in some ways, that hurts them in other ways. And it’s so hard for us as parents. It’s scary, right? Because we want to prevent them from making really dumb choices. But the reality is, again, when we think about what we can control and what we can’t control, we are not going to be able to control all of our kid’s choices. That doesn’t mean that we’re bad parents. We have to accept that. All we can do is know that we’ve loved them the best we can. Tell them we believe in them. Let them know the door is open, to come to us if they ever need help. That’s all we can do, right? I mean, we can’t totally have control over the choices they make and that their friends make.

59:27 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, so the only thing that — it sounds like the overall common theme is accepting that this is evolution, this is biology, and to accept it with universal compassion, understanding. Just think of what the Dalai Lama, how would he approach the situation.

59:48 Dr. Marissa Caudill A teenager who’s drinking and driving. What would the Dalai Lama’s drunk son get told when he comes home at 2 AM?

59:57 Dr. Ann Tsung I guess first thing would be to show love, that you’re grateful that they’re alive and that they’re safe.

1:00:03 Dr. Marissa Caudill Like, I’m glad you got home okay. Are there any of your friends that you’re worried about tonight? You could show that, right? That would probably be an unexpected response from a parent. The kids are probably scared coming home if they’re drunk or high, and worried about what’s going to happen. But if you’re like, “Well, I’m glad you’re here safely. Is there anyone you’re worried about?”

1:00:25 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, it’s easy to talk about it. But when you’re actually at that situation—

1:00:27 Dr. Marissa Caudill Oh, yeah. It’s easy for us because our kids aren’t there yet, right? Yeah. And it’s hard. I would say the other thing is like there’s this gradation between permissive parenting or the parents who don’t say anything. I had parents in my private practice who let their kids smoke weed at home with their friends, because they view that as less bad than the kid was out smoking weed with their friends where they didn’t know where they were. But in my opinion, that is too permissive. You still deserve and have the right to have boundaries. You are the bumpers on the bowling alley of your child’s life right now. It’s important actually that you have pretty firm boundaries about what’s okay and what’s not okay. And it’s important that when your child does cross that line, there is a consequence. Because that’s part of how they’re going to learn. You just don’t want to overuse that.

1:01:19 Then there’s authoritarian parenting, which is the other extreme, which is my way or the high way. Oh, no you didn’t. Kicking the kid out. There are parents who do that. Lock the doors, and tell them go to this friend’s house. Like, you’re not my kid anymore. That’s another extreme. Then there’s authoritative parenting where you’re saying like, “This was not a good choice. We are going to need to talk about this. How are we going to be able to trust each other to know that this isn’t going to happen again? Let’s problem solve together and make sure that this isn’t goin to happen again.” And every once in a while, even for parents who are in that boat, drug abuse and dependence develops, right? And so those people need more support. So if you have a child who’s really struggling in that way, don’t try to go it alone. It requires a lot of support.

1:02:04 Dr. Ann Tsung Thank you for that.

1:02:05 Dr. Marissa Caudill Once chemicals get involved, it’s a whole other thing. It’s not just the normal biology of adolescence. It’s also the neurobiology of our brain that’s being yoyo-ed by substances, which is a different beast.

1:02:18 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, once your receptors start changing and those neurotransmitters go influx, then it’s like any other psych. Adults psych, too. You need professional help. And I think we talked why range of things. What would you say will be top three takeaways or action items for the parents in general who are listening to this, as in like the fundamentals?

1:02:43 Dr. Marissa Caudill I think the main thing is just to really know that it’s never too late to improve your relationship with your kids. We’re always doing the best that we can. And we always probably can do a bit better, both our kids and ourselves. Right? So committing to working on your relationship with those people who are closest to you — your spouse, your family members, your children — is, in my opinion, probably the best productivity that you can do. Because it’s going to reap the biggest three words. Again, when your family and your partner relationships are not in a good place, everything else feels pretty meaningless and hollow. So I don’t think there’s any better way to invest your time and energy than really in yourself and then into your kids. Because again, you have to really be in a good place to be able to help your kids, especially if your kids are struggling. That’s where the self-care becomes all the more important.

1:03:40 Dr. Ann Tsung And so look at your own self how much you’re actually providing time for yourself. Self-care, meditation, yoga, I don’t know, chiropractor massage or something. Just look at if you’re carving out time for yourself in your schedule as your non-negotiable, then you’ll have a full enough cut to give to your child, your significant other.

1:04:01 Dr. Marissa Caudill But, you know, there’s probably a lot of people listening who feel like they don’t have the money for all that self-care that costs money. Right? Like chiropractor, acupuncture. But even just subjectively rating yourself. Like, how do I feel like what I’m doing right now? How full is my cup? Am I meeting my own needs with sleep, with nutrition, with exercise, with social connection? Yeah, massage, chiropractor, all that on top, great if you can. Those are bonuses. But I think more basic self-care too. Jus like, am I getting what I need for my life right now? And when we give too much of ourselves — whether it’s too much at work, whether it’s working in a job that doesn’t feel fulfilling, or whether it’s our own health is not good because we haven’t taken care of ourselves — then, like you’re saying, it becomes harder to have good emotional reactivity, to have patience, to have the ability to reflect. Because we are not fulfilled ourselves.

1:05:00 Dr. Ann Tsung Yeah, you’re right. And it’s essentially me time. How much me time do you have essentially in your schedule? That’s awesome. That’s true. That’s a good point that you bring up. Those are all extra. Just think about, do you have any me time for yourself that’s scheduled, that you can be quiet and just self-reflect a little bit and just recover? If people want to work with you for one-one-one coaching or go to your course, how could people find you or contact you? Any social media links?

1:05:29 Dr. Marissa Caudill They can find all of that at www.theparentdoctor.com. That’s got my social media links. You can email me through the contact page, and it’s got links to the courses as well.

1:05:38 Dr. Ann Tsung And it’s theparentdoctor.com?

1:05:41 Dr. Marissa Caudill Correct, yeah.

1:05:42 Dr. Ann Tsung Okay. And you offer one-on-one coaching. And also, you said that you currently have asynchronous course.

1:05:47 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yes, that’s right.

1:05:49 Dr. Ann Tsung Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much, Marissa, for your time.

1:05:52 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, thanks for having me.

1:05:53 Dr. Ann Tsung I know we went over, but there’s so much to tackle.

1:05:57 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, you can edit.

1:05:59 Dr. Ann Tsung We did so much to talk about, so I appreciate you coming on. And I know the audience who are parents with kids of all different ages can benefit from this, you know. It helps their kid indirectly but just if they can help themselves. So thank you for doing the work that you do. And I really appreciate your time.

1:06:20 Dr. Marissa Caudill Yeah, thank you for doing what you do. All right. Take care, Ann. Be well.

1:06:22 Dr. Ann Tsung Thank you. And everybody, the links, the resources, will be on the show notes at productivitymd.com. And just remember that everything we need is within us now. Thank you.

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