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How to Take Feedback from Your Kids| 12.21.2022

In this episode, Kristen talks about getting feedback from your kids (no matter their ages) as a parent, some personal examples of getting feedback and why it’s one of the most important elements in parenting.

You'll Learn

  • How to handle kid's feedback to you without getting defensive
  • Open and closed systems in the Family
  • Why feedback is important and what are its benefits


How Defensiveness Impacts Connections & Destroys Relationships

Parenting from the Inside Out

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline

For counseling services near Indianapolis, IN, visit www.pathwaystohealingcounseling.com.

Subscribe and Get a free 5-day journal at www.kristendboice.com/freeresources to begin closing the chapter on what doesn’t serve you and open the door to the real you.

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This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Welcome to this week's Close the Chapter podcast. You're here with me again for another episode. And I couldn't be more grateful for your presence and willingness to look within, heal and expand the way you think maybe some of your beliefs and what you feel you're really getting curious about who you are. And I want to offer you a free gift. If you haven't already gotten it. I'm going to give you a free journal, if you go to www dot Kristen k, r i s t e n, d Boice b Oh ice.com forward slash free resources. And it will be emailed to your inbox. And you can use it over and over and over. And that might be helpful for this episode, because I'm going to be talking about getting feedback from your children. Specifically, as a parent, I'm going to give you personal examples. And why this is one of the most important elements of parenting. There's several components of this that I'm going to outline. And if you can work on this piece, taking feedback, digesting it, processing it, and then taking action and making change and growing, you will be a more secure human being and have better relationships with your children, grandchildren and other people in your life, you will transcend generational trauma, and disrupt it. I am passionate about this topic. As a licenced Marriage and Family Therapist I work with so many couples and families, parents, children, as a children, as a child myself, I have children. And I have learned so much along the lines. Well, first I'm going to recommend is I'm going to have you get a book, if you are open to doing this work. Parenting from the inside out by Dr. Dan Siegel, is an important book for you to get because it has you look at your own way you show up as a parent, how you were raised, what was your relationship with your mother and your father, your grandparents, this is not to pick on anybody. And the second book is homecoming by Dr. John Bradshaw, I have recommended these two books over and over and over. And I really sat down, praying over what was I going to talk about today, kind of meditating on that what was what was going to be the topic. And this came through pretty strongly that we need to have more conversation around taking feedback from our children. So I've got teenagers and as they become adults, and have their own children have their own issues, especially if they're in therapy themselves, they are going to come to you with issues, they're going to give you feedback, if you've allowed them to separate an individual eight, which is around 1718. They start coming up with their own thoughts, beliefs, feelings, opinions, they have their feelings all the way through. And if you can tolerate that they can question things, be curious about things, and not be afraid of that you will create a more secure family system and relationship with your children. So one of the things in our family system that I've allowed, because of my own work is to speak truth with love and grace to say how you feel. And sometimes the grace part is gone. Because we're dysregulated they're dysregulated. And the one thing I've modelled them consistently because I'm not a perfect parent, let me disclaim This is ownership, accountability, responsibility, and repair work. We're going to talk about all of those things. Because when someone gives you feedback, the ability to handle the feedback, healthy feedback, to tolerate the discomfort that that brings to you potentially the hurt and shame that that triggers within you that it's already there, that that activates in you. And to be able to hold that space for your child is one of the most important skills you're going to have as a parent. And I say it so many times because I do my own work as a parent. I'm walking the walk with you. This is not coming from a place of I've got it all down. It's coming from a place of I'm putting this into practice and these are the results I'm getting. I'm been teaching clients for 20 years plus, how to create healthier Are Family Systems, more connected and authentic relationships and feel more secure within themselves, meaning I have worth and value. I can recognise shame and not feeling good enough, I can work myself through it, it may take some time. And that's how I can tolerate feedback. So I'm going to give you some examples. And then we're going to walk through step by step, what is necessary in a feedback loop. So all systems had feet have feedback loops, open systems can tolerate that feedback, that it can be back and forth. closed systems, for looking at family systems cannot tolerate feedback, it creates too much fear. And a threat response almost like a fight flight freeze response in a parent, if a child questions things may have a different belief have different feelings than the parent. And they don't have the ability to be open with how they feel. So open systems means open with feelings, the truth can come forward, and it can come to the light, and we can handle it, even if it's hard, brings up fear, maybe some shame of not feeling good enough. It might bring up some anger, some disgust, some sadness and grief. And the system knows that in order to create the connection, and the health, it's necessary to have truth beyond the table. A closed system lives in almost a trauma response. It's generationally tied down, it could be culturally, it could be programming conditioning, from decades and decades and decades and centuries really. And that closed system can't tolerate the openness if it's different than what that system has been programmed, conditioned to have. And so truth doesn't prevail in a closed system abuse, secrets, hiding. manipulation, often live in a closed system. And an open system has healthy boundaries. They're clear and direct. They can handle other people's opinions. As long as of course, we're taking responsibility for the delivery. There's a high level of ownership and accountability and transparency and open systems and closed systems. There is blame, shame, fear, oftentimes abuse. Again, manipulation, lack of tolerance, insecurity open system comes from a place of security groundedness, centeredness, not all the time it's the system, the people in the system are working on their own nervous systems, looking, noticing their own intensity, which means their body response might be more rapid breath, maybe they got more intense feelings in their body, maybe more tension, and they can self soothe. The rigid system is disconnected, where the open system is connected to those body responses to their emotions, they can sit in the discomfort, even though it's hard, they can tolerate the pain. A closed system doesn't like to look at the pain. numbs moves away from has trouble with truth and reality. They almost live in unrealistic expectations, more control, the illusion of control that I'm going to control another person I'm going to control outcomes. Were an open system accepts there is no control. You allow the person to be who they are, not who you want them to be who they are. Where a closed system is used to. can't tolerate to create an outcome to conform. There's a lot of conformity. There isn't the ability to be who you really are oftentimes you've placated, pretended, perfected, performed, pleased, projected to try to stay safe. It's important we're talking about open and closed systems because when we talk about feedback, if you're in a closed system feedback is not tolerated or acceptable.

It's a threat to the system. It's a threat to the person and who they are. It's taken very personally. And I'm going to own what I get feedback. I am taking it personally at the beginning because it hurts. Shame can get evoked in me feeling like a bad mother, a bad parent, a bad partner, a bad wife, a bad friend, a bad boss. I mean, the list goes on, it's endless. And I have to take responsibility for that shame. Notice what's living in my nervous system, my body and work on figuring out what is underneath that trigger. For me, what is at the root of it. So I love you've heard me talk about EMDR, eye movement, desensitisation reprocessing and brain spotting. There's many different forms of therapy, trauma based therapies, that can get to the root of what is going on in your reaction to something were reacting rather than responding in a centred way. So let me give you an example. That happened a couple of days ago with our family system. I was between my two daughters, who are teens are 15 and 16, at this point, and they were having a disagreement, because of the cleanliness of the bathroom because they share a bathroom. And I'm giving you this example, because we think we're just bypassing experiences, when really, there's something underneath with what's really going on. So one of my daughters said, I'm upset, you're not picking up your towels, you're, you're leaving the bathroom a mess. And the other daughter got really defensive, felt shame immediately felt this disconnection in the relationship. And because I work, I've tried to work on this, and we're not perfect, believe me, I want to give you example. So you can relate to maybe that this specific example. So you can start picturing what this looks like. And at the time, I thought, this needs to be a repair, there's feedback going on. And we've got some repair work to do because they've hormonal, they also are struggling with feeling good enough. And each of them had their different triggers and personalities. So I took a deep breath. And I said, Can you handle listening to my one daughter and mirror back mirror? If you think about mirroring, we have what's called mirror neurons, like you're looking in the mirror. And you're reflecting back to what you hear, why is this important? This is so important when we're looking at feedback. And I asked parents to do this in family therapy all the time. And they struggle, because that we interpret what the other person is saying, based on my own life experiences, based on what I think I know that they're saying, because this is what they've said to me in the past, based on my own shame, and beliefs about myself, I'm filtering this through my own lens, rather than a tuning to what is actually being said. So very early on, think they were one in two years old. We started working on mirroring with each other, and I would have them mirror back what they heard. So here's how the format goes. What I heard you say is that you're really frustrated with me, leaving the towels on the floor. And how messy I'm leaving the bathroom. And you feel really disconnected from me. Did I get that? What is that doing for this relationship? One you feel heard and understood to there's connection happening because you're beginning to feel safer with the person. Now if I'm saying this and I'm activated and I'm saying you think I lay towels all over the floor immediately this is not going to go well because the person on the receiving end is to defensive and to activate it so we have to take deep breaths and then after we've done the mirroring, we go oh I can imagine that's really frustrating for you. And then without me prompting it, she said what do you need from me? This is key What do you need from me? The other person can't read your mind. It seems obvious I'll pick up the towels clean up the bathroom did it up but maybe it's something else. And it actually was it was to feel respected. Okay, what is respected look like for you to be calm when I tell you my feedback to be To listen to me without interrupting and getting defensive. So it's actually deeper than the towels on the floor and the dirty bathroom. It always is. It always is. And my other daughter, after she got herself calmed down, I had to do a little intervention on, everybody needs to take a deep breath. And then she was able to mirror that back and really understand that she can get defensive, and she can interrupt. And it's hard for my other daughter to talk to her because she gets in her shame so quickly. And she said, I will work on being less defensive and listening and acknowledging your feelings. It was a beautiful repair. Now, it doesn't always go like that, by the way. The what are the elements of this repair? So let's go through what feedback looks like when you're giving it to somebody, or when you're receiving it. So the first thing I want you to remember is what did you want from your parents? Please float back. And maybe even now, if they're still alive. What do you want from your parents? And what did you want as a child? One you wanted a regulated parent you wanted to present? This is ideal scenario. Okay. It really is. It's, this is ideal, calm, centred, connectable. So what does that look like that looks like I am making eye contact with you, softening my facial expressions, regulated breath, not defensive, not giving you nasty looks or an intensity, managing my intensity. Secondly, we wanted to be heard, without interrupting, without getting defensive. We wanted to know that our parent cared about what we were saying, they cared about us, they cared about what we were saying.

Since and so it's important that so it's important that you are in a space or calm yourself down. So you can really listen to the feedback that they're offering you. So we're going to acknowledge what the other person feels, we kind of walk through that we're going to mirror back acknowledge what the other person feels, oh, this is what we wanted from our parents to take ownership for our own reactivity, our own emotions, and our own intensity. So what did this look like then for the family system? So then what we ended up doing is we went around the four of us, my husband, myself, and my two kids. And we ended up saying, what are two things that you're going to own that you're going to work on? Consistently? Don't go through a list of 10 It's too many, you won't do it. Go through two things. So what were my two things you're wondering, I'm going back and remembering. So my two things are one my intensity, I call it passion. No, it's intensity, it's, you can perceive it as you know, I care about something so much how they perceive that is I'm intense. It doesn't come across. Yes, it come across as passionate, but it's not really comforting. They it's not they want me to be less intense, more centred, and more calm, instead of me being so passionate. And not that there's a wrong with that. But there's a time and place for that. And secondly, be more direct than what I'm saying wanting and feeling. And I think I'm pretty direct. And I can always get better because there's a little passive aggressive that can get in there. For example, that might be something along the lines of it's really cold out there you share you're going to wear that short sleeve shirt when it's freezing outside instead of saying, Hey, what are your thoughts are more direct will be I would love it. If you'd wear a coat since it's so cold outside. They get to decide. It's ultimately because they're teenagers. And lots of teens don't want to wear coats and I have to live with natural consequences, I have they have to live with the natural consequences, I cannot control everything. I have to release that. So in order to take the feedback, where they so for example, I said the two things and they agreed With that that was feedback that was. So feedback isn't necessarily. Sometimes it's direct. Sometimes it is asking them a question. Sometimes you're asking them for feedback, not that they need to parent you. You can say, hey, well, what could I do better as your mom, or dad, or friend, or wife or husband or partner, whatever that looks like. It's important that if the feedback dysregulated you which it will, at times, it just will hurt, it will hit your shame trigger, it'll hit your fear that you are exploring that through your own work, what does your own work look like? journaling? You got to acknowledge the feelings. process it what is it reminding you of what shame story? Are you telling yourself that you're a terrible mother or father, you're, you're never going to get this right, you're going to screw up your kids, hey, guess what everybody's gonna have issues, they're going to have issues. Because we are human beings, can you be open to them giving you helpful information. So you can help them find healing and do repair work. And you can apologise specifically for the hurt that that caused. And then commit to really working on that through your own therapy, perhaps through your own coping mechanisms, such as my favourites, walking, journaling, processing it, naming it doing body work, it's playing with your pets, listening to music, I mean, the results are endless of that, but facing the truth. Now, sometimes feedback may not align with and you may not agree with that feedback, it might be projection, but let's just say for the sake of this conversation, that the feedback is important for you to grow and evolve. Let's just say that this is necessary for the relationship to heal, that you can handle the feedback. So let's take some additional examples. I do a lot of family therapy. And it's one of my favourite things to do. Because we can repair a family system, and then repair a generation. What does that look like? Oftentimes, that has me working with the parents on their defensiveness feeling defensive. So they might shift the blame and go, Well, you were yelling at me. And so I yell back, which I've done. As a parent I have, I've got to own it. And me getting defensive. And so we I see parents try to shift blame. Well, if you wouldn't have lied to me, if you wouldn't have done this, or you wouldn't have done that. Well, that may be true. That's not what we're doing in the exercise. What we're doing in the exercise is mirroring back what you heard, validating the emotion getting to the root of it, what's really at the root of this disconnected relationship, or this repair that needs to be made? So no, I'm sorry, but take but out of your vocabulary. If I heard that from couples, I hear it so much. And from parents, I love you, but or I'm sorry, but you take it out, just I'm sorry, I hurt you. I'm sorry, I can see how me yelling getting super dysregulated or just dysregulated was scary to you and hurt you and I can see why you shut down and didn't want to tell me things. Oh, there was a third thing that I needed to work on for my my kids. So we had to and then I was like, You know what, if we want to open it up to more I can handle it. And they're like no more teachable moments. I think I've shared that all the puck as I love me a good teachable moment. They don't so much. I just think this is an opportunity for me to get it in there. And sometimes those teachable moments, it's not the time it's not the place. They just need to release what they're feeling for me just to be present to it. Get off my phone, no phones and these rips in this feedback to put the phones down. Look him in the eyes softly kindly. tenderly. Take the feedback, take your deep breaths. Don't interrupt. Watch your defensiveness because the defensiveness wants to protect you from the hurt and the discomfort that you're feeling. And the shame it wants to protect you from feeling the shame Well, you already got the shame. You have to take responsibility for your own shame of feeling bad. Terrible. Your own avoidance of avoiding having hard conversations and then it building up over years and years and years and years. And the the parents that have the most trouble come from programming have. That's not how I grew up. I would never have said that to my mom or dad, I would never have done that I would never have told my parents how I really felt. Well, here's the truth. How did that work out for you? How did that work out with your relationship with your parents? You held back. You play Kayden, you said things, and then it played out in your marriage, I promise you I see this placation If you placated your parents, because you wanted to avoid conflict, you took it into your marriage, you took that pattern of placation in your marriage. And you almost can play it out with your kids or your kids will become the play caterers because they know you're gonna get so dysregulated they don't want to tell you anything. And there will be distance. And when you blame your children, for four dynamics, you will not have connection with your children.

You won't you got to go to root issues was there a trauma at birth? Was there attachment issues where maybe they were had a medical condition or maybe there was something medically that went on early on and Nikki visit a surgery not to scare you because those can all be repaired? They can I promise you attachment wounds can be healed and repaired. When the parent and the child and or the child is an adult, you can still repair this, but when the parent is emotionally present, that is reparative work. One nervous system to another nervous system, one regulated central nervous system to another is so healing. Are you emotionally available? Can you handle the big emotions? Can you handle the big feelings sometimes I feel like I want it out. I'm like, check, please, this is too hard. And whatever you do, don't put this on your children to help you feel better. Stop asking them for advice on what you should do, or how you should, you know, handle this with your partner, your husband or your wife, or that's not their job. That is not feedback you're seeking do not get that feedback from your children. If there is a dynamic between you and your husband, wife partner, that is between you two, do not pull your children into that dynamic ever. And I do mean ever, because it's not their role, you're disrupting the roles. feedback between a child to a parent is appropriate. When regulated that when you allow, especially as adults and and as children, like I have teens, and they're giving me feedback all the time, because I want to create a safe, secure environment. I don't want them to pretend to give me an answer. And then they're not transparent and going, you know, I know they're teens, but they are living a life of transparency, accountability. And I'm living that life. I'm being accountable for my actions. I'm doing the work outside of this dynamic in my own therapy, to take responsibility for my reactivity to go ooh, why was that so intense for me? Oh, why did that hurt me so bad? Why did they get so angry about that? Why was I so dysregulated over? Why was I so sad? In grieving over that. And it may be a, you know, transition in the relationship, maybe they're going off to college, and then they're coming home and then leaving again and that there's emotion there. But I'm owning that. I'm owning, and I'm connected to my own experience. So when they give me feedback, I welcome it. I really do want it. I'm not saying it's not hurt hard. And I'm willing to take responsibility for my part. Now, sometimes that isn't my stuff. And I'm done enough work where I can delineate that. And then they can also this is the beautiful part of feedback when I'm willing to look at my staff. It gives them courage and permission to look at theirs. And they can quickly go, oh, yeah, I did that to manipulate. Now this is because we've been doing this for so long. Does it always go like that? No. But when we're regulated, and that prefrontal cortex develops even more, which is the CEO rational part of the brain. I see. I see children. I see kids, I see adults in the family system being able to take responsibility. If you are closed because you've been in trauma and you're self protective. You still have boundaries boundaries are in opened healthy family systems, you have clear direct boundaries, that's a staple that's essential. closed systems. If you can't handle the feedback, you're going to shut it all down, put it back into the body, or you're going to numb it or move away from it. That's why it's so important to tolerate feedback. To know that you can handle it, you can be with it. And it hurts sometimes. I mean, I've had grief bursts over it. And now it's tapping into my inner child work. It's tapping into my small parts that feel maybe shame in maybe there's some bad part like I feel bad, I feel unworthy, I feel unlovable. And our children cannot make us feel loved. It's not their job, we're here to love them. It's icing on the cake. Yes. When we are able to expand ourselves, love flows in and out all the time. There's an abundance of love. And we can handle feedback, positive or not so positive. So when I have adult families, and they're giving each other feedback, we work a lot on taking a deep breath. noticing what parts of your closing off or getting defensive. The ability to listen to mirror back. And the mirroring back is really interesting, because a lot of times people don't mirror it back what the person said, They totally put it through their own filter, and they didn't mirror it back. So I often tell people to say verbatim, if we're struggling with this, what you hear, then we're going to offer empathy. So I can imagine you feel sad if the person hasn't expressed how they feel, if you're giving feedback. So let's go down that route. That's if you are the listener, if you're giving feedback, I strongly, highly recommend doing this after 20 years, use an I feel sad, scared statement. I feel not with a thought in there, I feel like you is not. That's a thought not a feeling. You've got to distinguish between a feeling and a thought. I work a lot on this with family systems and couples and communication for effective communication. I feel sad, do not start with a you always you never you this you that. I feel sad, but you just eliminate that I feel sad and scared because I'm afraid we're growing apart. And I really want to be close to you. And it reminds me of this is the other sentence I love. Because it's so much ownership brings emotion in my eyes. It reminds me of the dynamic I had when I felt disconnected from my mother. I'm making this up but you get the idea that takes the accountability to another level. And what I need is for our phones to be put down for maybe soften our tone of voice and to really connect in notice those bids for connection. So I was specific. I said I feel in there. It reminds me of and I really want you to encourage you to find out what are you afraid of? If you add that in, I'm afraid I feel afraid. Most of what we're feeling is driven by fear. Fear up someone thinks of us fear of abandonment, rejection judgement, shunning, you name it, the fear is real and relationships. And then I need blank. I feel that reminds me of the fear I have if you didn't already name it in the beginning. And what I need is. So if you need a structure to give feedback, that's the feedback. And Conscious Discipline is another parenting book if you have young kids. It's called Easy To Love, Difficult to Discipline. And it's all about how to self regulate as a parent. Allow feelings to be expressed authentically in real time and processed and witnessed. We know trauma happens. Thank you Dr. Peter Levine. If we do not have an empathic witness in real time. That's what we're offering our family systems as an empathic witness. Even if somebody's giving you the feedback, I'm witnessing it I'm taking my deep breath. And I'm taking responsibility for my tone, my behaviour, my facial expressions when I'm communicating, and what I'm receiving very hard to do, because I can't see my own face. But I can connect to my body. If there's an intensity in my body, and I'm not grounded or centred, it's going to come across.

So gave you several resources, we'll put those in the show notes. And I want to encourage you to really be able to tolerate feedback as a parent, as a grandparent, as a friend, as a partner. That's important feedback that has, especially as a parent that has truth in it, please don't deflect it, please don't shift blame it back onto your kid, please don't, you will not be able to repair and reconcile pain that didn't get tended to as a child. And when you can see things as deeper than they are, that's going to be a gift to you. When you deflect, avoid, shame, blame, and judge, there will not be healing repair work done that will be a it will impact your connection with your kid, adult kids in estrangement is a deep, deep lack of ownership and willing to look at someone else's pain, a deep lack and willingness to look at your own pain. And to look at someone else's pain. It's too hard for you. So you got to do trauma work. Essential to do trauma work around this, please see a trauma therapist, I do my own therapy. And so I'm a big fan. And listening to podcasts, doing your writing, doing your journaling, meditation, movement, breath exercise, we can go on and on doing your deep breathing centering yourself, it will pay dividends for generations. So don't give up I know it's hard. It can be done stay with it. Even when you want to throw in the towel, you think the person isn't receptive. They may not be but still do your own work, regardless of the other person, be healthy enough to make a repair by acknowledging your part and how you might have heard another human. Even though I might not see my intensity, I have to stop getting defensive around it and start acknowledging how that might feel to my kids. Even though I call it passion, it's not to them. To them, it's a block in connection. Do you see that? To them, it's a blocking connection, what is blocking your connection? What part of you is blocking blocked. Because you don't think it's fair or just a right? Take ownership of your part as a parent, humble yourself to see the pain, acknowledge it, to be able to tolerate it. If you can't tolerate your own pain, you're not going to be able to tolerate your kids pain, there'll be a limit for you. Especially if you feel like you're the target of it. They're blaming you for their pain, you're not gonna be able to tolerate that. And here's the truth. You have caused some pain for your kids. I've caused pain for my kids. I'm not that naive, I know I have. And when I can be real real about that, then acknowledge it. You can still have boundaries, you can still say how you feel. Try to see where they're coming from without getting defensive. Let me know what you struggle with in this on this topic. I'd love to know, because we all have struggles. I'm honest with you. I'm in it with you. And let me know what the biggest struggle in taking feedback from your kids is. And then maybe we'll do a part to answering your questions. So you can follow me on Instagram at Kristen D Boice. or Facebook. You can always go to the website at Kristen D boice.com. And get the journal forward slash free resources and you can get on Tik Tok which I did not know what I'm doing. It's Kristen Boice B ice and Pinterest and all the places you know but tag me let me know what you're struggling with on receiving feedback from your kids and how to handle that and how to process it. Had to be with it and grow with it. Because they're our greatest awake nurse. They open the door to parts of you you never knew needed to be opened. They are my greatest Awakener I've done more work around my children. them just being who they Dr because that's what kids do. They're meant to mirror back to us parts of ourselves that need tending to, to take the invitation. Do the hard work consistently. There's no finish line and know that I'm rooting for you. You matter you're loved. You're important and you're enough and I thank you for joining me today. Be well