Kids Are Grown,

Now What?

Transcript

Transcript – Episode 45 – How To Keep Your Opinions To Yourself And Allow Your Children To Figure It Out Themselves – With Sue Groner

Alice Agnello:                     

Thanks again, Sue for agreeing to be on the podcast. I really appreciate it.

Sue Groner:                        

I'm so happy to join you.

Alice Agnello:                     

So explain to me and my listeners, what do you do as a parenting mentor? Because I really like that whole phrase.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. Well, as a mentor I'm different than say a therapist. I deal with the everyday stress and anxiety that just inevitably come from being a parent. And my goal really is to help the parent to be happier and more relaxed, to reduce that stress and anxiety that we get all the time. And so rather than focusing on the child so much, it's more if you as a parent buy into the things I'm saying, then you got the results of not only yourself being happier, more relaxed, but it really benefits the whole family.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because I always feel like there's always so much frustration going on as a parent, they're not listening to me, they're not paying attention to me, they're not cleaning up their room. And it sounds like to me that through just a little baby, some changes in the way your acting and communicating that then it will be more beneficial to your stress level and to beneficial for the whole entire family.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah, exactly.

Alice Agnello:                     

So my audience and I would love to know, because I am right there. So I've got, of course one child is out of the house, I have one child in the house and I've noticed that our communication has kind of changed as they've gotten older and I want to learn how to become a better communicator with them since they've now, are now adults and not so much teenagers anymore.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. I mean there are young adults.

Alice Agnello:                     

Right.

Sue Groner:                        

We're adults, they're young adults so you know, they're not quite there yet. But yes, there's a totally different way to approach things with your children when they start hitting mid high school, even younger depending on the child, but mid high school through college and then after. And the switch that I see is really that we no longer can be giving unsolicited advice. So I learned it from my daughter actually. My kids are now 20 and 22, my daughter's in grad school, my son's a sophomore in college. And when my daughter was, I think a junior in high school, I went into her room and she was working on something and I had all these great ideas and I started sharing them with her, you could try this and you could try that. And she looked at me and she said, “Mom, you may have the greatest idea in the whole world and I'm not going to take it because I want to figure this out by myself, so please stop.” And that was so helpful to me because I realized, very clearly she doesn't want unsolicited advice anymore.

And now my kids being the ages that they are, I almost never give it. And if I do give it, I give it with the caveat of I know this is unsolicited advice. I remember when my daughter was probably the end of her freshman year, early sophomore year of college. And she called me and she said, “Hey mom, I really need your advice about something.” And I was so happy. I said to her, “I'm sorry, I can't hear you, can you repeat that please?” And we had a good laugh about it. And now she asks me for my advice all the time, but I don't share unless she asks.

Alice Agnello:                     

So how do I know that I'm doing that? And what I mean by that is, is like I always feel like my son who's living with us right now and going to junior college is constantly asking me things or he's telling me about his day and then I think I am doing that. Like I'm telling him, well, why didn't you do it this way? Or why didn't you do it this way? And I guess I want to learn better on how to know when I'm doing that.

Sue Groner:                        

Okay. So, and this is something that, whether you have a kid who's three years old or 33 years old, starting a question with the why is perceived as very judgmental. So well, why didn't you do this? Or why didn't you try that? Or maybe you should have done this. We're coming from a good place, this is not … We're not really thinking about being judgmental, we're just like, wow, we have all this experience and we want to share it with our kids. To them, they're hearing it like, oh my mom thinks I screwed up, because I didn't do what she's saying I should have done. Or well, why didn't … Like it comes out as well, why didn't you do this? Even though we're saying, well, oh, you could have tried that, but it doesn't work. It doesn't work with them.

And so instead of giving other ideas of what they could have done, our job really at that point is just to validate how they feel. And it's really different and really easy when you get the hang of it. And so if your son is saying, oh this happened and blah, blah, blah, and I really had a hard time with it, because that's when you want to start sharing your own ideas. Say, oh wow, that sounds like it was pretty difficult. It sounds like that's … So what did you do? And just listen and say, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Are you happy with the results? And they'll say, well no because blah blah blah. And then the next question is, well if it happened again, what might you do differently?

Alice Agnello:                    

 I guess I am asking that question at the end. I am always like, he'll say all these things and then I'll say, well okay, so what can you take from this and learn next time? How could you apply what happened to you next time? And then he'll usually always has an answer of what he did.

Sue Groner:                        

Right, which is great. And I just feel like the question of like, oh, so what do you think you might do differently next time? It's a little more casual and relaxed as opposed to, well, what did you learn from this? And what are you going to do next time this happens? It's not, again, it's like we have to try so hard to just, the more chill we are, the less judgmental, the less we think that our children are, that our children think that we're really looking so critically at everything they do, the more they're going to talk to us, where they're going to share with us.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because we're always trying to prevent the mistakes from happening. I think as a parent, they'll come to us and we'll tell them, oh well, do it this way because we from our experience knows that these are the things that are going to happen in that situation. So for instance, my son was insisting upon driving his Jeep, he had to get it fixed, the alignment was off. And so my husband and I had said, “Why don't you drive the back roads to get there instead of driving the freeway, where you have to go like 45 to 55 miles an hour. It's a more public road and that way you'll be a little safer.” And he was adamant, adamant about not going the back roads, which would again, would be the safer route to go. He wanted to go the fast way because it was faster to get there.

And it was a big discussion and I finally just said, “Okay, however you want to get there is fine. Just let …” And then as soon as I said that, he's like, “No, forget it, forget it. I'll do it your way, I'll do it your way.” And he was just walked right back out. And so I'm like, okay, I know we could've handled that better and differently.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. So instead of telling him to take the back roads, you could have had a conversation about the pros and cons of going on the highway versus taking the back roads, talking about what the issues were that were wrong with the car. If going really fast on the freeway, could that cause a problem with the car? But do you know … Like does he know that? Ask him, I don't really know cars that well. Do you know if it's better to drive when the car's out of alignment more slowly than more quickly? I don't really know.

Alice Agnello:                     

It was an interesting conversation that we were having, because I kept saying, “Well you've said it shakes a lot when you go faster. So wouldn't it be better to go the back roads and go slower?” And he's like, “No, I just want to go fast.”

Sue Groner:                        

So do you think it might be better? What do you think? Because you're already, by saying, don't you think, you're saying I think this, this is what I think you should be doing. Right? And you know what, honestly, if the car broke down in the middle of the freeway so be it, I mean think about it. Like you were just saying how we have all this experience and we know, but how did we learn?

Alice Agnello:                     

Right. I avoided all that stuff. But that was me because I'm like, I don't want to get stuck on the freeway. Go the back roads, it's fine, but with him and I just thought, okay, you know what, it breaks down, we'll come get you.

Sue Groner:                        

For me, I think the best situation would be that it break down, but you can't rescue him. He's then got a call AAA or he's going to call a gas station and he's got to wait there and he's got to deal with it. By swooping in there and going to pick him up, he's not learning anything.

Alice Agnello:                     

Right.

Sue Groner:                        

Right?

Alice Agnello:                     

Right.

Sue Groner:                        

And I swear, I don't mean this in a mean way. I'm not like, well he did it the wrong way so he's going to have to pay. It's more like, okay, you made a decision, learn from the decision. As a parent, that's when we validate, oh my gosh, that must've been … What a hassle. I remember once when my, you know, got a flat tire and I had to wait by the side of the road and it was such a drag and when that happened to me, I didn't even have a cell phone. And you just sort of get into this whole thing and instead of being angry, you should have researched this better, you should have listened to us, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. It's more like, oh what a drag. That must've been such a pain for you and end of story and that's it.

They were heard, you're connecting with them saying, wow, that was … And it certainly was a drag, but we don't need to say you should've listened to me because they learned by themselves. We don't need to like rub the salt in the wound.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because the more you do that, I'm imagining that then your child is going to come to you less and less-

Sue Groner:                        

Exactly.

Alice Agnello:                     

When they would want to listen to you or actually get some advice from your experience to find out what to do in certain situations.

Sue Groner:                        

When my kids are going through a rough situation, I always say, and it's a very little difference, but I say, instead of, hey, I'm here to talk if you want, I always say, I'm here to listen. You can talk, I'm here to listen. To listen, which means to me, I'm here to hear what you're saying and to validate how you're feeling. And I'm not going to talk, I'm not going to give you ideas or suggestions unless you ask me, but I'm here for you. I'm here because I love you and I want to support you in any way that I can.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah. Just that shift. Even just me just thinking about it in my head, like saying out loud to my son the next time, say, anytime I'm here to listen, whatever you want to talk about is fine. It's a much more powerful way to say that.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. And then it's like the judgment falls away and no one, these kids do not want to hear it from us. And it's really okay. I think it's … We don't want to see our kids get into difficult situations, or most of us don't. I kind of do now, because let's face it, our kids growing up have not had it so tough. They've not experienced a lot of adversity. And how else do you learn? By experiencing the adversity. When my daughter was doing semester abroad, she went to Edinburgh and she was dying to go to Scotland for years, and she was so excited and we were so excited for her. And we never said, we never talked about how initially it might be a little bit difficult, you're going to end up having a great time, but it might be a little hard at first getting, learning your way around and making friends and whatever.

And so I feel like that was personally my … That was a mistake that I made because we were all like, oh my gosh, it's going to be so great, great, great, great, great. And when she got there, and she's a super outgoing kid and she really knows how to get along on her own and, but she had a tough week the first week. School hadn't started yet, she had two people that she knew and they were living far away. She hadn't gotten a bus pass. She was feeling really isolated and she would call us and say, “I'm so sad, it's soul crushing sad.” She actually said that.

Alice Agnello:                     

Oh gosh.

Sue Groner:                        

And of course it was dramatic. And within a week, as soon as she got her bus pass and got her way around and she had a great experience. And when she got back to school and all her friends were all coming back from their semesters abroad and everyone was trying to figure out the routine again. And so rather than it being like, “Oh, we just were away for the weekend and now we're all back.” It was tough for all the friends to kind of figure it out and get back in that smooth kind of living. And we talked about it and she said, had I not had that experience my first week in Edinburgh, this would have been harder for me. But I know that it'll all work itself out very quickly. Again, that just like reinforced for me how important it is for our kids to experience these little bits of adversity, we should be celebrating when that happens. We really should. And not swoop in and say, you know what? I know you can figure this out. I know it's tough.

Alice Agnello:                     

It's almost like you're retraining yourself as a mom. And what I mean by that is because literally they handed that baby and they say, okay, protect it a hundred percent, make sure it never gets hurt or anything happens to it. And then all of a sudden you keep doing that as they get older and older to the point where it's actually not allowing the child to become self-reliant, which then becomes a problem even more as they grow on. So like you're retraining yourself to allow them to fall down, it'll be okay. And they have to learn because again, that will help them in the future in certain ways.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. So I think that our role as parents, like I feel it's not what so many parents kind of end up doing, which is, I call it like an engineering project. Like having a child is not an 18 year engineering project. Okay? And instead, like you said, with the being self-reliant, if we help our kids to become self-reliant and resilient and develop good problem solving skills and good coping mechanisms, we are doing a great job because then our kids can go out into the world and we'll know that they don't need us to fix things because they can handle it. They'll be able to figure it out on their own, they'll be able to deal with it. Right? If you have good coping mechanisms, you're going to be more resilient, right? If you have good problem solving skills, you're going to be more self reliant.

Alice Agnello:                     

And I think also when our children come to us to ask for advice, they've come and they've actually asked for advice and then we've given it and then we're upset when they haven't taken it and they've gone in a different direction. So as a parent, what do I do? Or how do I communicate? Or do I need to say anything or just let it, it is what it is.

Sue Groner:                        

So if your child comes to you and asks for advice, I think the very first thing to say is, well, what do you think? What do you think? I'm so happy to talk about it, but I want to hear what you think first. And then we can brainstorm.

Alice Agnello:                    

Really, they've got the answer.

Sue Groner:                        

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. But then start brainstorming together. If we give them the answers, they're not going to learn to problem solve. Right?

Alice Agnello:                     

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Groner:                        

Gosh, I don't want the answers all the time. I want to figure things out, unless it's a tech problem and then I want the answer right away.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly.

Sue Groner:                        

I just want it fixed, don't ask me how, just get it done.

Alice Agnello:                     

Just do it. 100% agree with that one too.

Sue Groner:                        

But yeah, and that's a different way of communicating. Because again, we'll always want to jump in and get it done and help our child. But it's a way of sitting back a little bit more and becoming more of an observer and listen and be patient. And helping your kids learn how to figure things out on their own. And with the like, hey, you know what? This is tough, but I know you can figure this out, I really don't think you need me. I think you can do this. And you know what? If it doesn't work out the way you want it to, that's okay too. Like we're giving them the permission. Everyone talks about failing, failure's good, let's give our kids a chance to fail. I like to think of it a little bit more as trial and error, right? And I think that's a nicer way to put it, but I also think it's a more realistic way of looking at it. Try something, if it doesn't work, you try something else. And if that doesn't work, you try something else.

And so if we can give our kids that message, like okay, you know what? I think you can figure this out, if you don't on the first try, then try something else. Everything I do doesn't work the first time, I try it. And we need to say that. We need to say I totally get this. I don't know what to do as much as you do. And so, I like this … Just say, hey, do you want to brainstorm some ideas? Right?

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah.

Sue Groner:                        

And it's like brainstorming is just throwing things out there, you take what you want from it, you leave what you don't, I'm not, I don't have any ownership of this ideas or any skin in the game here and they know that too. Then they're less, the wall won't be up so much.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah. I think my son's been dealing with that because again, a lot of his friends have all, it appears that they know exactly what they want to do and they've pursued it and they're in college in second year and my son is still trying to figure out like what he wants to do, and I keep telling him it's okay, you don't have to have it all figured out at 19 years old. I still don't have it figured out yet and I'm 46, so what's the difference? You've got a lot of time. Go experiment, try a couple of different classes. What interests you at the junior college? I would rather have you take a fire science class and say, yeah, no that's not for me. He's already taken a coding class and he took a psych class and now all of a sudden he's like, I really like psychology and so he's going to take a couple more next semester.

And he was very disappointed when he left the college that he went to, to come home and to go to junior college. But he actually also said, “I learned that that wasn't for me at that time and I'm glad I came home. It was an expensive mistake to make.” And I said, “Yeah, but now you know that that wasn't for you. I'd rather have you learn the mistake, than you go there for years and you end up at the very end, and you're not happy still. Like you can still pivot again, there's no rule book that says you can't pivot five times in one year.”

Sue Groner:                        

Oh, I mean, I've had any number of careers and this one as the parenting mentors, I'm in my fourth year and I'm older than you are. And my daughter always knew what she wanted to do. My son pretty much kind of always knew what he wanted to do, but they're very unusual in that respect. And I've talk to their friends a lot and said, “It doesn't matter.” How boring if you as a 22 year old get out of college and say, I know what I want my career to be and that's what you do for the rest of your life. I mean, that's crazy. I'm like two years, just think two years out. Give it a try, see what you like and what you don't, and then if you want to move on, you move on. If you want to move up, you move up. Many of the jobs that will be around in 10 years and 20 years, they don't even exist now. I was in college, there was no, all this, the tech jobs, they didn't exist.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah, exactly.

Sue Groner:                        

There was no social media. There was no Facebook, there was no Google. I mean, so look at that.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah. I always joke with my husband, I said, I love now that when we watch TV together we can be interactive in the sense that we'll have our phone and so if we ask a question like, wasn't that guy in the other movie or something? Google it.

Sue Groner:                        

Look it up to find out.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. I mean that's so wasn't around. I mean, you'd have to wait and go to the library if you really wanted to know information about anything or ask your mom or dad.

Sue Groner:                        

Instinct gratification, oh my gosh.

Alice Agnello:                     

Exactly. What do you think parents struggle the most with when communicating with their “Adult kids?”

Sue Groner:                        

Again, I am just going to go back to the judgment thing. I'm going to go back to the judgment and we may think to ourselves, oh my God, I can't believe he did that. That was the stupidest thing, but we can't show it and we can't say it. And that's hard. But if we start teaching ourselves and it's practice, it's not that easy to do right away, but you get into the habit of it and it's great, is just to validate.

Alice Agnello:                     

And so what are the kind of the words or phrases or sentences or I forget, I'm trying to make sure that I, when I'm talking to my son that I'm taking a second to kind of rephrase some things that I know are basically like knee jerk reactions. Because like, well why did you do that? That's always my question. I want to know because I really, my brain wants to know his reasoning of how he got from A to B to C to then lead to where he is now. And I understand why is not the right way, right word to lead with.

Sue Groner:                        

It's basically like when you use those why questions, it's basically like saying, what were you thinking?

Alice Agnello:                     

Right, because I really want to know what we're you thinking.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah, what we're you thinking? And maybe he wasn't really thinking at all, but that's okay. He's 19, he's got another six years until his brain is fully formed.

Alice Agnello:                     

I will never forget, I think it was on NPR, they talked about how there was a brain scientist and she was studying brains and then all of a sudden her son came home one day and literally he went from a preppy boy to a goth guy in just the span of two days. And she was like, how did this happen? And so she started studying younger men brains to understand and how things are not connected upstairs like at all. And you will look at your child, especially the boys and say to them, “Why did you do that?” And there will be a time, and my son did this once, where he will say, I don't know. And he literally did not have an answer to the question.

So I always try and remember that, that his brain synapses are not all connecting up there yet for another couple of years and he is probably going to do some really bizarre things that I would never have thought him to do because again, he's still trying to figure that out.

Sue Groner:                        

If you want to be that loving parent who is just there for your kid, sometimes you just have to laugh and go, oh my God, it's really hard to be 19 isn't it? And it is. And that's all you have to say and just come here, let me give you a hug, that must've been a really frustrating experience for you. And that's it. And God, how good is he going to feel? There was so no judgment there, right? It's just like wow, my mom's just here to give me love. That's what she gets and she gets me. Instead of the, you don't understand and go slam the door.

Alice Agnello:                     

Yeah, because I definitely have friends who are dealing with that stage right now with their children, is that they're in their 16, 17 and yeah, they're having an argument and then you just don't understand me. And then yeah, I've shut the door and lock it and close it down and I just, I feel for them because I've been there, done that and I'm glad I'm on the other side sort of, of that situation.

Sue Groner:                        

These skills work in the same way even for 16 and 17 year olds because again, they don't want to hear it really. And we can be there to help our kids if they want it, but if they don't want our advice, at least we can give them our love and support and to let them know it's okay to feel frustrated or depressed or sad or disappointed, or worried and anxious. Those were really normal healthy feelings. And if we're constantly trying to have our kids not feel that, we're doing them a huge disservice by A, telling them, don't feel that way, which is kind of the underlying message. And B, not giving them the opportunity to experience those feelings and get hold of it.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because I always want to make them feel better. If they're feeling sad, I just want to make it to remove it. But it'd be helpful to acknowledge you're feeling sad, tell me more why you feel that way. And it's okay that you feel that way.

Sue Groner:                        

Or sometimes they don't even want to talk about it, but it's like, yeah you know what? Just be sad. It's okay to be sad. You're not going to be sad forever. Like it's okay. Just feel it, be in the moment with it. If you want to talk about it, I'm here to listen. If not, let me give you, I'm here just to give you a hug. I'll make you some tea, whatever. Just be loving. Or like, I'm really worried about this test or I'm really worried about going away for the weekend. Of course you're going somewhere that you've never been before. Gosh, that's so normal. Of course you feel that way. Unknown causes worry and anxiety and the more you do it, the more you get used to it. But it's so normal.

Alice Agnello:                     

And I've also noticed that a lot of moms will be upset and stressed over the communication, how it changes. They seem like it's less and less, and then they're angry with their child because there is not any communication. Like he never calls me, she never texts me back. She never does anything. And I try and explain to them, that they have their own lives and you have to not like pester them basically. Because maybe they're not coming to you because you're being overly communicative with your child.

Sue Groner:                        

I have a mom who wants to have a lot of communication with me. And I've learned as an adult now to say, I'd love to talk to you but I'm really busy. But there's a lot of guilt that's come into that and I work so hard to never let my kids feel guilty or to feel that they have to call. I don't want them to call me because it's an obligation. I want them to call me and share stuff with me because they want to. And sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It's important to me to have some tiny little contact with my kids every day. And so I text them each, good morning sweetie, love you. And that's it. And most of the time they write back the same, and that's enough for me. And then when I go to bed at night, I do the same thing.

My daughter is out of college, will call me when she's walking to class in grad school. She's a lot more … It's phases, it's really phases. And the more we let them feel like it's okay what they're doing instead of they … We don't want to be … Why should we make them feel badly? Like the fact that they don't need to share with us and they don't need to be calling us every day and what do I do and how should I do this? We should be thrilled, we've done our job if that's happening.

Alice Agnello:                     

Because I think like in, let's say in high school you're communicating a lot because you see your child every day. You might have to know different things and then they go to college or they move out and then it's almost like radio silence and you have to readjust to that and not take it … I always sometimes think is that some women think it's personal to them that their children are ignoring them and not communicating when really it might not be, but they're internalizing it in that way.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. Also they're really busy. They have classes, they have work, they have activities and they have friends and hopefully a little bit of sleep. And I remember saying to my son, who like sometimes he's really talkative on the phone and other times you can tell he's so not into it when we call him. And so I finally said to him, I said, I told us to Victoria, my daughter when she was in, started college and I said, “I'm going to tell you, I don't need long phone conversations with you. I know that's a burden. You don't want to repeat everything you've done all day. Like I get that. But I love to hear your voice, so if you have a minute or two on your way to class, just call and say hi, that is enough for me. That makes me feel really good.” And he's like, “Oh I can do that.” And immediately just let him off the hook.

Alice Agnello:                     

You gave him another option than feeling like this guilt or oh, my mom I got to, oh she's always this and that. You gave him an option.

Sue Groner:                        

If you are working really hard on something and you've done it all day long and then someone calls you and says, “So what'd you do today? Tell me about your work, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Like that last thing you want to do is rehash the whole thing that you just spent all day working on. You know? And so like when we pester our kids and like start throwing questions at them right and left, it's like, “Really? Do I have to tell you about this class and this paper and this exam and my match?” And I'm like, “No, you don't.”

Alice Agnello:                     

No, it's exhausting. As you said, if I put myself in that position, yeah, I don't want to talk anymore. I'm done and so why would I put that expectation on my child that they should then want to rehash their whole entire day and talk to me?

Sue Groner:                        

And it's no different than picking your kid up from school and saying, How was school? Tell me about school. What'd you do today? Again, that never works.

Alice Agnello:                     

All they want to do is be quiet in the back. That was one of the biggest things my mom said was, “When they become teenagers and you're driving them from some place, don't talk, they will talk and they will forget that you're in the car and you will learn so much more information if you just are quiet and don't interrupt the conversation.” And that was one of the best pieces of advice that I ever got, because I did. I actually learn stuff.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. But if they're getting in the front seat with you and it's just the two of you, tell them about something you did. You don't have to ask them anything, just say, it's great to see you sweetie, I'm sure you just want to like chill. Sometimes they just want to check their phone. Like they shouldn't have to feel like when they hop in that car that all of a sudden they have to be like, chatty Cathy.

Alice Agnello:                     

They want to debrief the whole entire day, tether the day. I know my son was always, when I would drive him to and from lacrosse practice and he would get in the back of the car and with all of his gear, and he was the biggest talker at that time of the day. And so I just knew that I didn't have to ask questions earlier in the day because I knew at the end when he was high on endorphins and done with lacrosse, he would just spill out all kinds of information that I might want to know about. And it was great. I just, I kept it like that and just let him talk and I would answer back and that was it. It helped a lot in our communication skills.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah, I would say … I created this little method called CLEAR, and it stands for communication, love, empathy, awareness, rules and respect. And once you get the hang of it, it makes everything so much easier. The awareness is like the first key, why is my child reacting the way they are? Why do they feel the way they do right now? I want to try to get in their head and instead of getting angry or frustrated, I want to understand what's going on with them. And when I do, then I can be empathetic, right? And then when I'm empathetic, I'm coming from a place of love. And when I'm coming from a place of love, my communication, the tone and manner in that is much warmer and more caring and not judgmental.

And so the two R's, the rules, no matter what, you're going to always have some rules in your house, no matter how old your kids are. Of course, by the time they're much older, they should be almost none. But if it's like never leave your dishes in the sink in my house, then that's your role, and kids know it. The respect piece is always the hardest for parents to grasp because it's, we kind of grew up like I'm your parent, you respect me. I tell you what to do and you do it. And if you don't, you get in trouble, and we know that totally doesn't work. So the respect is us respecting our kids. And in that piece is, I know you can figure this out. I want to hear what you think, I want to hear your answers. I respect your opinions, I respect your desires. And maybe you feel like it's cold out and I'm boiling hot or I'm freezing and you're not. And so it's, even those little things.

I'm not hungry, how can you not be hungry? You haven't eaten all day. You need to eat something, right? Put a sweater on, it's freezing. No it's not, I'm fine. No, you can't be, it's freezing. Like who are we to tell our kids how they're feeling? Right? And so that respect for how they feel, how they think, making their own decisions in almost every case.

Alice Agnello:                     

And that respect piece I think is so important because I feel like the generation above us. So like for my parents, a lot of family, it was always like, whatever dad said was it and it didn't matter what us as kids wanted to do. And so I've had to relearn that and say my word is, yes there are rules and that kind of thing, but I need to show respect to my child. So if they want to come and borrow something of mine, I just, they need to ask me. Just like if I wanted to go and borrow something of theirs, I'm going to ask. Just because I'm the parent and they're the child doesn't mean I get to go in their room and just take something, because then what am I showing them if I do that, that I can just do whatever I want and then they can't do whatever they want.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. Like when we go on family trips, which we tend to do a lot, I'm usually the one who's doing most of the planning, but I always send the itinerary and all the activities to everyone in the family and I'm like, you need to give your input on this. You know? I'm not going to say this is what we're doing. No, this is a family vacation. This is a family adventure. Everyone has equal say in this and that's respectful.

Alice Agnello:                     

Whenever the kids for their birthdays say they could either have a party or they could have a day of fun, and they get to choose whatever it was. And the other child always knew that they were in charge that day, because again, they got to then do it for their own day. And I always said, “It's your day, you can plan whatever you want.” But it was always funny because my kids always knew that, I think I'm going to do this because I know all of the family would enjoy it, as well. So it was almost like, that they learned by example that we can still have fun as a whole entire family even though it's my day, I can still include everybody in the day.      

So Sue, this was such a great time. I thank you so much for your time and your valuable insight and I know I'm going to probably a lot more discussions with my kids. I think I'm going to have a blank look on my face for a second to make sure I get in the right frame of mind before I start talking. But I'm definitely going to use the, I'm always here to listen. I'm definitely going to switch my language in that respect. So I always ask all my guests the same questions just to get to know them a little bit better. So tell me something that not a lot of people know about you.

Sue Groner:                        

I sing opera.

Alice Agnello:                     

Oh wow, that's so cool.

Sue Groner:                        

I haven't done it in a while and it's always been an avocation for me.

Alice Agnello:                     

Were you trained at some point or did you take lessons?

Sue Groner:                        

As an adult, I started taking lessons as an adult. I mean, I sang all through my youth, but the opera thing came much later.

Alice Agnello:                     

That is so cool. That was something I have not heard, that's why I'm like, oh that's so cool. So name three things that you can't live without other than your family and friends.

Sue Groner:                        

Okay. One is really shallow, but that's my tea. I have to have my Earl Grey tea and it has to be done exactly in a certain way. Water, the temperature, exactly right. And has to have just the right of milk and honey. And so I'm a big tea person. I would say the other two things, one is my phone and it's a great vehicle for communicating with my kids, with my family, within business. It's a great learning tool, it's a relaxation tool. I mean, it's just so full of so much that I would have a very hard time without it. And then the last thing I would say is my passport, because I love to travel the world and I would hate not to be able to do that.

Alice Agnello:                     

That's awesome. If you could choose one song to play every time you entered a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sue Groner:                        

So when I read that question, I decided I was going to go with the very first song that popped into my head. And it's a really old James Taylor song, but every time I heard it when it first came out and every time I hear it now, it puts a huge smile on my face. And it's, You're Smiling Face. I don't know if you know that song, whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself and just love that song. I love James Taylor, my son's middle name is James.

Alice Agnello:                     

No, I think that's awesome. I want to say I have heard that, but I don't think I've heard it I awhile. My mom loved to listen to James Taylor, so it's interesting how a lot of music that I know is because my parents listen to it. And I know my kids know a lot of music for my dinner, because that's what I play all the time. And my son was in a music class in college and said, “Mom, I actually think I'm going to do really well in this class because I know all the 80s music and some of the 90s music.” And I'm like, so glad I could help.

Sue Groner:                        

Yeah. And there's actually like so many influences. My daughter was playing me a Fleet Foxes song the other day, Fleet Foxes song, and it was one of her absolute favorites. And I'm like, oh my God, that's sounds exactly like CSN, why? It like sounded so much like the song Guinnevere and I played it for her and she's like, “Yeah, it's like almost exactly the same bang.” And so yeah.

Alice Agnello:                     

I love how music brings us all together in different generations.

Sue Groner:                        

My kids listen to things that were, even before my generation and they listen to all this alternative stuff now and …

Alice Agnello:                     

That's what I love about it. So thank you again so much Sue, I really appreciate you having come on today. If anyone wants to get connected with you, what's the best way to find you?

Sue Groner:                        

Well, everything is The Parenting Mentor. Follow me on Instagram at The Parenting Mentor. My website is the parentingmentor.com. I'm on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Alice Agnello:                     

Awesome. Awesome. And of course I'll put all of your links in the show notes, but I just want to make sure everyone knew instead. So thanks again Sue.

Sue Groner:                        

Great. That was great, that was fun.

To listen to the episode instead, click here.

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