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EP 15 - Gentle and Respectful Parenting with Mary Van Geffen

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

What does the new paradigm of parenting look like? Is gentle parenting a "soft approach"? What about consequences? What if you have an especially "spicy" or difficult child? How does your childhood experience impact the way you parent your kid? “ Mary and I explore all this as well as the importance of being able to regulate yourself as a parent. Mary brings her humor, insight and wealth of knowledge on the subject of conscious parenting.

Plus she shares her personal story of discovery and how she came to be a thought leader in this arena.

Just for 10 of my Free Your Soma listeners: join Moms of Spicy Ones™️ for $50 off with the Promo code: SOMA Mary Van Geffen is an international parenting coach and parent educator for overwhelmed moms of strong-willed & Spicy Children™. She teaches monthly workshops to help moms gain confidence to choose gentle, respectful parenting especially if they weren’t raised that way. Mary has a ministry on Instagram where she posts an inspiring parenting tip every single day. Just reading her social media will help you delight in your child and remember that you are enough.

Mary believes that when a mom realizes how hard she is on herself and cracks the door open for some self-compassion, her entire family is bathed in light!

To learn more about Spicy Ones™️:


A: Every day there is a forgetting and every moment there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Today, here is where you free your Soma. Hello and welcome to the Free Your Soma podcast, Stories of Somatic Awakening and How to Live from the Inside Out.

Today I have Mary Van Geffen. She is an international parenting coach for moms of spicy ones and she helps out people who are highly competent in life but overwhelmed by motherhood, lean into the spiritual discipline of staying calm and cultivating warmth and tenderness all while trying to wrangle fiery future CEOs. This often requires skill building in the realm of self-compassion. She offers online courses and hour-long classes to help moms gain confidence to choose gentle, respectful parenting, especially if they weren't raised that way. Mary is a certified Simplicity Parenting Counselor and Professional Co-Active Coach. Today she is bringing her life coaching and teaching skills to our podcast. Welcome Mary, I'm excited to have you on.

M: I'm so glad to be here too.

A: Wonderful. Yes, I've been following you for a while on Instagram and I've got to say one of the reasons I really wanted to talk with you is because you really blend a lot of fun and play with really important conversations about what people are experiencing in their day-to-day lives with their children and really useful ways to start reorienting towards a more gentle approach to parenting. So I just really love that you do that. You combine this knowledge with a sense of fun and play. Thank you for seeing that.

M: I just heard, I was just listening to, there's a whole new U2 album where it goes along with Bono's new book and that dates me. I know some of your listeners don't know who I'm talking about, but there's a song called Beautiful Day and it is the gorgeous quote that play is the evidence of freedom. And I really think that that's one of like, it's like when there is a thawing of the snow and the crocus comes out that some evidence that we are doing really good soma work somatic healing is that we begin to see ourselves being more playful. So thank you for noticing that.

A: Yeah, well play is something that I think happens, creativity is something that happens when we're out of fight or flight, right? It doesn't really happen when we're just focused on surviving. Yes. And so tell us a little bit about kind of your background. How did you get into this style of being a parenting expert and all this stuff that you're doing? Like there must be a kind of why around this that you can tell our listeners about your story and how this came about.

M: Yeah, my why of how I became a parenting expert is because I was completely a newbie and didn't know what I was doing when I became a parent. And that's 18 years ago. But I just realized very quickly after my child went through the stage of just being this beautiful little baby that people would stop me on the street that as soon as she began to develop a will and an awareness of her autonomy, I was suddenly triggered and acting out and struggling and really making her wrong. I had lots of stories I could have told you if you came across me when I had a four and a two year old of how my four year old was on the path to be a psychopath of some sort. And I really I was just struggling. And so I went on a quest to get her diagnosed with something and took her to a place therapist where they said, you know, OK, thank you. We've we've we've met with her a couple of times. Could you come by yourself next week? And I thought that would be like where we'd begin brainstorming of how to get her the support she needed and fix her. And instead, this therapist said, could you come back next week and the next week. And for two years, every week, it was mama going to the therapist. It was not the child who had an issue. And so I did that work and then just started plunging into, wow, I didn't realize kind of that I was raised in a way that I don't want to replicate. And so once you become really articulate of articulate on what has happened to you when you were little or what it was like for you to be little, you know, the scales are off and you start stopping a lot of patterns. But then what do you replace those patterns with? So then I began taking courses and got certified as a coach and and, you know, did a lot of work with simplicity parenting. And for 11 years now, I have been coaching moms one on one. And over the last couple of years, I've shifted to more creating curriculum, online classes that like immediately get you up to speed a lot like for beginners, like I have how to get calm in an hour. And people are always like, is this good for when your child's in preschool or is this going to be good if my kid's a teenager? And the secret is has nothing to do with the age of your child. I mean, you might be specifically triggered by certain stages and where you had issues as a child, where you struggled, but in general, getting to calm is not about the other person. And so helping folks really take responsibility for their own self-regulation is important to me because my own mother struggled to do that. And sort of if she was upset, she made it about what the child was doing. And she was unsupported. And I have a lot of support. Wow.

A: Oh, my gosh, that is such a tremendous journey because you found somebody who could actually help you. You know, chances are like what you suspected or thinking that, you know, someone's going to come and give your child a diagnosis and maybe, you know, all that stuff. Like maybe you could have found a doctor or someone kind of outdated in their approach, who would have done that. But instead, you found this like wonderful person who actually initiated you in a whole new way of being, right? Not only in parenting, I'm assuming it affected other areas of your life. Yeah, my marriage, my how I show up in friendships. I mean, when you become aware of the mother wound, everything changes because you have new glasses on. I will say that, yeah, there's a lot of bad practitioners out there. I went to the first therapist I ever went to. I was brave enough to go for myself before I went and tried to get her diagnosed. And this sweet little old lady, she was almost, I mean, she she seemed so maternal. And she listened to my story and she said, sweetie, have you tried spanking yet? That was this mental health advocates suggestion for me to get this child in line. And so you will get a lot of bad advice along the way. And that's unfortunate because that sort of adds to the trauma. Totally.

A: Well, I think, you know, those methods are becoming more and more outdated. There's just so much data that shows that that's actually not effective and that can produce, you know, distance and damage the relationship between you and your child and all that, you know, all the different research that's out there that sort of advocates for a more gentle approach to parenting than most of us probably experienced growing up than was kind of the classical standard. You know, and I'm sure that what you kind of describe before where the age that you were when the stuff happened with your parents is probably the age where you're going to be particularly triggered by your child's behavior. Can you say a little bit more about that?

M: Yeah, that's called a new remembering context. And it whooped my butt because here I am using a violent metaphor. But I thought I had already done therapy in my twenties and I had learned, oh, my parents were alcoholic and drug users and the implications. And I figured that all out. And then I had this child and I didn't like this child. I, in fact, would whisper that I hated them at some level and didn't want to. I would never choose to be with this person, right? And it was through, you know, conversations with my therapist. that I realized that I had never been for again. And you are, your body is becoming that same age because here you are wrapped up in this intimate, physical relationship with a being that is an age you haven't been for many years, right? So you are again experiencing, or at least your body is unconsciously experiencing what it's like to be four, what it's like to be five. And so you kind of don't know when something's gonna flare up like I've been coasting now probably from, you know, eight to 13 to 14. And then, oh, I forgot what it was like to be a teenager and how sort of ostracized and rejected I felt for a lot of my very risky behavior at the time. So there's more healing to be done. It's, that's the bummer. Therapy's never like one and done.

A: Yes, I feel you on that. I went through a lot of, you know, shifting when I was in my twenties and I started actually therapy luckily when I was in my teens, cause I just like knew that I had some stuff to work through. But, you know, since I've become a mother, I feel like the, you know, what you're describing, I feel like it kind of works the other way too, where I, when I was a little girl, right? I was experiencing my parents and little children are so perceptive and they really like feel into, well, I at least was, I was feeling into the things that were going on with my mother. And so as I've been raising a four year old, I'm getting that same experience you just described where like I'm being four again, but I'm also being who my mother was when I was four. What were the things that were going on in my mother when I was four? And that's been a real trip. Cause it's like I'm living like a double identity of being like myself and also being like reliving some aspect of my mother that I experienced at that age that my son.

M: And intuitively you can, we can pick up nonverbally sort of the through line that's happening in the thoughts of our mother. And then we start experiencing them like that was with me. I would be looking at my daughter saying, she's so bossy, she's so dramatic, so sensitive. Well, it's cause those exact same things were said and thought about me at that time. And so I was just like rehashing a worn out script that really wasn't mine to read.

A: That's so powerful that you shifted these things and you've done a lot of like digging, it sounds like to really shift them and you're able to just talk about it. So frankly, which I love, you know.

M: Yes, and I mean, it keeps, it keeps, it's a journey that you keep recommitting to just the other day I was angry with my 16 year old son. Maybe you didn't take out the trash or I think he's really into like, yeah, I'll get to it. Yes, soon. And so things don't happen. And I was very irritated about it. And he said, bye, mom. And I had this split second where my instinct was to say nothing as I walked out the door to punish with by withholding my affection. He actually said, bye, I love you. And my instinct was to give him the silent treatment. And it would have been so easy. And in that moment, I was like, wait a second, both can exist, I can continue to show a love and affection and disagree with his behavior and even be frustrated and kind of heightened physically by it. And so I said, I love you too, have a good day. And I went and got in the car and I was so dang proud of myself because that cycle has stopped. We don't give the silent treatment and make somebody beg for love on some level when they disappoint us in my new family.

A: Yeah, that's powerful. I love that. It's like the era of kind of like punishment as the form of correction, right? Because there's other ways to correct, like besides punishing somebody with the silent treatment or with physical violence, right? There's other ways to help people reorient themselves to what's happening. And especially with children, would you talk about a little bit of the ways that you communicate with your children or you help parents communicate with their children when they're sort of stuck in this old paradigm of like, I have to punish, I have to like scold, I have to demand.

M: Yeah, and that is an old paradigm where if it's, there's this, and we don't even know we believe it. It's like almost worth writing down if you're listening to this, that like for a lesson to stick, it needs to hurt. There has to be some level of pain in this for it to make an impact. And that is so not true. I mean, we know that when we are in duress or pain or feeling shame that we are in a different section of our brain, we're flooded, we're in fight or flight, we're not thinking clearly. So we're sure as heck not learning the very lesson that's important to our parent. So I think really understanding that that's a fallacy that actually people learn quicker and better through fun and play and silliness. That's actually how we learn best as humans. And then also that punishment is about, it doesn't teach anything. So I'll say that that really real discipline comes from the idea of discipling and to disciples to teach. So if we could kind of move away from, how do I get them to stop doing this thing? How do I, what's the consequence? That's like the number one question people want to ask me. Like I've gotten on podcasts where it's like, great, I've got a list here. Could you tell me what the consequence would be for you that each of these things? And I really, you know, bum that person out because instead tell me the skill you're trying to teach. And let's figure out a curriculum or a way of being, a way to model that, a way to prepare that child ahead of time, a way to reinforce it. Yeah, and that requires a different language of the brain because we often know what we don't want. No, don't do that, not that, stop that. But it takes like a pausing and being like, what do I want? And these little concrete, dreamy, sensitive individuals really need us to paint a picture. I mean, parenting is leadership. And a good leader takes a moment to describe what they want. So instead of don't hit your sister, it is your sister needs space, give your sister her full bubble, even if you're angry or write down in your angriest voice what you want from your sister, but we're not gonna touch her body. So coming up with like, what is the yes? And clearly naming it, because then you've created this word picture for the child that they could move towards and that is teaching them versus don't do this. Like, don't you dare think about me getting my hair washed by Jason Momoa and it's not gonna be hot sudsy water. It's like immediately where your brain goes. So our kids are, they really need us to create word pictures of the yes.

A: That makes so much sense because a lot of what you're saying I think applies to every human being. Like if I say, like you just said, don't think of a pink elephant. The more that we focus on what we do, we don't want, we kind of like bring more energy to that thing.

M: Right? Find it. Like it's so important the questions we're asking if the question is, what's my son gonna do to piss me off today? Or how am I gonna, where am I gonna see my son being lazy yet again? So you will find it. But if the question is, how can I find moments of connection? How can I pour into my son today? How can I let my son know that I love him as is? So that I then might have some influence over him later, but you don't yet to connect before you get to direct.

A: That's beautiful. Yes, I totally agree with you on that. So tell us a little bit more about, kind of this shift from dysregulated parenting, which is I kind of think like a lot of us experienced because there just wasn't as much information out there about how our nervous system works, how our bodies work. A lot of people have spent a lot of their lives living in fight or flight, right? And maybe they were raised by parents who were in fight or flight, right? So this kind of move from dysregulated parenting into a new paradigm where the parent is taking responsibility for themselves first. And then they're actually directing or leading their children in a way that's effective. So kind of, if you could talk a little bit about that shift and how that looks like kind of real time in some of your classes or programs that you're getting people out of a dysregulated state into a more calm place where they can actually do that higher functioning thing of teach.

M: Yeah, and I'm not the one getting them just to be clear. I'm teaching like in my calm class, it's coming up with your own calm down recipe that has like four parts to it and doing the thinking ahead of time and the visualization so that when the S hits the fan, you actually have a plan to get calm. So I love what you're saying that we're shifting towards parents having a responsibility for themselves. So, and it's really hard because the world is like burning and I hate to be negative and that's some of my Enneagram for despondency that I just bring to the world, but so much is happening that is overwhelming and I don't need to list it all out. So it's while we are making the shift philosophically to really check in with our regulation, we're the toads in the boiling water that started off cool and the world is more and more dysregulating. There's more coming at us, more things to sift through. So in some ways it can feel like I'm tending this little patch of green grass and behind me is it had a chlismic cliff opening up and swallowing up everything. So there's a lot stacked against parents, I just wanna say. So if you have a hard time getting to calm, I bet there's good reasons. I bet you are transitioning so fast. A lot of lack of calm comes from being time starved and like we've gotta get out the door, right? I don't wanna lose my job. I need to get this kid to school and that, it is really hard to be regulated in that. And then we're sending sort of this shockwave out to our child. There's no way our child's going to be calm if we're not. So a lot of times people are like, okay, you gotta help me get this child to calm. And I'm picking up from them being sort of an empath. I'm seeing that they are not calm. They're talking a mile a minute. They're not breathing. Their belly is clenched. Their jaw is clenched. Their hands are tight. We start with them. So ask me maybe a more specific question and I'd love to know. to guess you kind of answered it. You have them come up with their own recipe. And I think that's brilliant because everybody's nervous system is different and what's calming for one person might not be as calming for another.

M: Yes, can I give an example of that? And maybe we could do it together. I have a one minute meditation that comes from the work of positive intelligence. I'm sure Zad Charmin. And are you familiar with him? Not really, no. It's cool. It's about breaking your thought patterns into nine ways we sabotage ourselves. And so I use it in my coaching. But this one minute meditation is so soothing to I would say 90% of the people I work with, but there'll be 10% who's like, this feels gross. And I'm like, oh, okay, cool. You're part of that where this doesn't feel good. So we'll try it. If we do you have one minute? And then I can tell you how we would alter it for somebody who's like, ugh. Yeah. So I want you to put anything down that you have in your hands. And because we're gonna use your hands and I want you to bring your awareness to your feet and where they are on the ground or on the seat. I want you to notice that your bottom is fully supported by what other your seat is. Just sort of ground yourself in that. And I want you to bring your breath long and soft, just being aware of it. You don't need to alter it at all. And now we're gonna look at our hands with your eyes open. I want you to begin to drag the fingers of one hand across the palm and fingers of the other hand. Going slower than you might want to and bringing all of your awareness to just the sensation of skin dragging across skin. Like you have never done this before. Some other thoughts come in like what is this and you just let them go right by and bring your brain back to this assignment which is we're just feeling every ridge and wrinkle of our palms and our fingers and now you realize you stopped thinking about it you just re-command your brain. Come back to this moment to these fingers you might bring your hands slowly up to your ear as you're moving back and forth. Now we've got two sensations of our body. Got the sound you can hear the almost like the whisper of skin dragging across skin. You've got the sensations in your fingers and your hands and you can see the back of your hand. It's kind of blurry for me because I'm old. Now breathe out. How was that for you Amy?

A: Oh I loved that that's that's lovely.

M: Okay there are some people who are like oh why don't you tell me to get moisturizer first or or that just feels so like skeevy it just don't like it and so for them I might have them squeeze with one hand the wrist of the other hand and then slowly squeeze slightly above that squeeze and release now you're up all the way to the elbow you go all the way up to the shoulder squeeze and release so it's a firm touch and a firm release versus this slow dragging thing that's really gross for some people. Just to that's just to give an example of what you're saying that every single body is different let alone the different traumas and the the exposure we've had and the ideas and metaphors we're working with so really being open to how one person calms down is not the same as how another does but the unifying consistent universal thing is it involves a pause. It involves it involves a three to thirty second like time stop which means you aren't being productive in as far as the world can see you're not putting somebody's shoes on not helping them into the car seat but you are pausing and checking in with yourself and assessing and noticing and really showing up for yourself and a lot of times people were like yeah yeah but what do I say to the kid because now they're freaking out or what are they doing to melt down and it's always you start with this the best instrument you have in parenting which is your body and checking in with where is it at is it even in a place to be imparting any kind of wisdom to anybody because often it's sending off these these alarms that are saying this is an emergency this is an emergency if we really looked at the situation it's not an emergency but our body you know are up our vagus nerve are going all these packets of data telling our brain that we are in a war and we're not so the pause would be like the the biggest tip and and you can warn your people customer service levels are going to decline significantly because I'm going to be pausing I'm going to be taking a moment and it might look like mom is glitched my teenagers are like what what's the answer I'm like oh hold on a second I'm just checking in you know if it's a now answer the answer is no but if you'll give me a moment and really just that's one of the beauties of parenting that it's this spiritual discipline that forces us to get back in touch with our body our youngest self our our soul like there's just you can't do this well and be ignoring your own self and I recently you know interrupt me if you have a question because I'm free associating here.

A: Well I was just thinking about the the power of that exercise that you showed us with you know even adjusting it with the pressure for squeezing for someone who has a sensory issue with the sliding and the sound and all that right. That's promoting lateralization of our brain so I don't know if they taught you that about this but you know tell me more. Yes so what you just had me do with my hands or with squeezing right we're actually getting our brain to do like an infinity symbol right which is your right and left hemisphere are working together and that's how we can best be present with our emotions while problem solving and a lot of times when people get stressed they hop into one hemisphere and just stay over there and then hop into the other hemisphere and there's not this cross brain pattern going on so they're either overly analytical and they don't have a connection to their feelings or they're like super emotional and they don't have the skills to like problem-solving the analytical they're like one or the other and you know intense so this is this pausing and then doing this physical move this a somatic approach to bringing both parts of their brain back online is literally in my view a way that you're inviting people to experience all of who they are instead of just whatever's happening when they're in panic mode. This is where they can access their wisdom this is where they can access their like their skill to deliver the right thing to say you know that that is actually going to make the situation whatever it is resolved in a more pleasant way so I think it's really powerful I just want to say I love that

M: and for some people it looks like bilateral like crossing with with your hands and for others that might look like havening and there's all different ways of getting I love what you're saying though to get the whole brain involved get it start communicating yeah and let some of your wisdom sort of bubble up before you just lash out and react.

A: Totally yes I'm going to use that I'm definitely using that technique because I love it so much and then you know as someone who's kind of I would say like leading the way in this gentle parenting approach what do you think are some of the major benefits that you see children and their parents getting to experience when they start practicing this way of being versus how things have been going like maybe you can just tell us a little bit about the results that people get.

M: Well one of them is joy I mean there's no joy in being a prison warden who's really disappointed in your convicts and that's sort of the metaphor that a lot of people are working under of like it's my job to control this person and to get a certain output from them and so it really robs you of the joy and it makes the stakes seem so high and so you know after and there are four stages of learning right the first is unconscious incompetence where you have no idea that you're not gentle you're just like come on what's wrong with you and you don't understand why you're not getting good results right then there's conscious incompetence and so it hurts it doesn't feel good to realize wow this doesn't come easy I don't really know what I'm doing I know I want to be this gentle respectful parent and that's not who I'm being so I guess I want to validate that some of the results in the beginning are like I feel like crap is it too late did I did I mess this up I don't know how to do this and anytime we're taking on a new skill the brain is sending lots of stress hormones to say no no no we do macros when we see this we think this when we think this we feel this and when we feel this we do this what are you doing don't change the the programming because it's trying to save calories right so there are parts of becoming a gentle parenting that just are fatiguing for a while until it becomes second nature until you move through the other phases of learning where you become very consciously competent if I do everything just right if I pause like that lady said to and I go in and I and I access my calm down recipe I can do this but who I'm tired at the end of the day but eventually you get to this unconscious competence where you know what I haven't thought about yelling in a year wow I don't yell anymore I'm not a person that yells so I want to say that and then the long-term benefits are this person you have a relationship where this child becomes an adult and you're their favorite person they want to be around you they trust you they want you to influence their life and that's what I'm seeing now that that I have an 18 year old I'm seeing her talking about friends whose parents were different who are maybe coming from a much more anxious attachment or just in a more judgmental framework and they're hiding so much of themselves from that parent and so one of the beauties of gentle respectful I mean we could call it conscious parenting we could call it compassionate parenting you know intentional there's there's so many ways to look at it but this new way of being is creating safe longer term relationships that that you want to stay in that become like your secret weapon because you have this parent who's willing to process things with you and to see all of you and I think it's really helping mental health and it's really tough it's hard to do

A: yeah well it sounds like the rewards are tremendous and worthwhile in terms of the big picture of what I think most people want you know at the end of the day is to have that level of confidence and influence with their child as their child's becoming an adult you know to be kind of you know in some ways they want to be able to like protect them from the dangers of the world and from the things that are going to happen that are going to throw them off course or you know drop them to their knees like you know I think a lot of parents they want to be able to be that for their kid but if they don't have that foundation of trust you know if they have some kind of adversarial relationship you know that would be a grief of a lifetime to feel that you don't have that with your kid when it's something that you want right

M: yeah and with gentle parenting I think sometimes there's this fallacy that it's like okay you do what you want to do and that's permissive parenting that's not what we're talking about so there is a lot of big emotion there's a lot of limit setting and there's a lot of allowing your child to fail when they're still with you so that they can build up that resiliency that you're talking about and be able to not crumble when they get to college and can't figure something out so So, yeah, I just want to say it's not permissive parenting.

A: Right, yeah. And it sounds like in so many ways you're not promoting that people be rescuing their kids from the experiences that their kids are going to have, but how do they continue to do the self-responsibility and be the person that their kid can come home to, right, when whatever happens happens?

M: Yeah, and when kids are younger, I even find people being like, how do I help him be okay with a limit because he just goes berserk. And I can intuit that folks are walking on eggshells trying to, how do we not let this kid blow up? And I would actually say, get to that limit way sooner. Let that kid blow up. Get to the point where he can become so dysregulated. He's looking for that anyway. It's not usually about that limit. It's about his container of what he can take on and cope with is just about to overflow. And you can kind of tell when you're with a child that's moving into dysregulation. And so sometimes the best thing you can do is have a firm limit where they can move past the bargaining and go to the grief to lose themselves while you stay grounded and are working on your own regulation. So they have yet another experience of losing it while you stay calm. And that is wiring their brain through all the mirror neurons that we have.

A: Wow, I love that. I'm going to be thinking about that all week with my four year old. Because I do, I do do that thing where I'm like trying to keep him from going over the edge. And it doesn't usually work out that well.

M: Unless you're just trying to get him to nap time, which I respect.

A: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, totally. But yeah, it's like, I feel what you're saying really makes sense in terms of letting him have me fully expressed, you know, and how do I like just put some earplugs in if it's really hurting my ears and stay like super calm.

M: Yeah, earplugs are really important if you are a highly sensitive person. And there's no shame in protecting. And that allows you to, I think, be more available for your child when you're protecting your own body.

A: I love that. Thank you. So you have some really great offerings coming up and some things that you're going to be doing in April.

M: Moms of Spicy Ones is back. And this is my group program. It's eight weeks long and the cart opens on April 12th. And this is, this is where you find your people. If you have a child who is intense and inflexible and has a fierce drive for independence and strong emotions and can negotiate with adults, it's, it's, you kind of know if you have a spicy one. If you're not sure, it's probably not for you, but all these techniques and self development that I teach is obviously works with a mild child, but this course is really best for somebody who has a hard to parent child. And we kind of look at what makes it hard. Is it totally them or is part of it you? And what, what do we need to shift perspective wise and skill wise and communication skills specifically? So if that sounds interesting, I would love to give your audience $50 off. The course is $4.99 and we'll make a special coupon and the code will be SOMA, S-O-M-A. If you would like to join, love to see you in there.

A: That would be awesome. Yeah. Thank you. So you guys look for that. If you know, you're listening in your car and you can't write it down. It'll be in the show notes along with a link to the website where you can read about it and sign up. That's fantastic. You know, I think I've seen this in your content. I just want to verify it. Do you identify as a spicy one? Were you a spicy child?

M: Yes, I was. I still am. I'm a goofball. I'm a, I'm neuro atypical in that with my ADHD and spicy kids don't have to have a diagnosis whatsoever. But yes, I was hard to parent and probably hard to be married to until we figured out like our beautiful dance now. But yeah, I'm, I'm spicy. Nice.

A: Yeah. And I mean, there's got to be, you know, as you said, kind of in the, we said in the intro, they're, you know, fiery future CEOs, like these, these attitude problems or these issues that these children are having where they're so fiercely independent and so strong willed. Like we think of that as like a negative thing when we're trying to parent them, but those attributes can actually be things that are really powerful and beautiful if they're developed properly and not dysfunctional. Right.

M: Completely the most successful and world-changing adults are really hard to control as children because they come out of the womb ready to be in charge just without any experience yet. So yes, these are the hardest people to parent are the activists and the world changers and the future CEOs. And we just, we need to help. My big mission is that they would grow up not feeling wrong. Um, because that, that delays their ability to give back to the world.

A: Yes. Yes. I think that, you know, I identify also as a spicy one and from what I hear from my mother, you know, and it's interesting, just like this conversation and thinking back on that, like mother wound and that relationship and, you know, how these things really are probably quite generational as well. Like the things that went on with her mother when she was a baby and get passed on, you know, down the line to me. And then, you know, as you're speaking of, we have the ability to kind of stop this pattern from continuing with our own children. And that's, that's a benefit to the world. Because as you said, like these are the future leaders. These are the people who will not be controlled, who will not just be, you know, the mill of the masses, who will actually be thought leaders like you moving things forward. And so if we can shift how we're perceiving that and, and give our children more grace, right? This is, this is huge. This is a really big, big, wonderful thing that you're doing.

M: Thank you. I, my mission is that everyone would figure out how they can stay calm, kind, but also firm with these spicy ones. Cause they do need boundaries. Um, but we got it, it's like an art because. You, nobody can come in and say, Oh, always do this because you, it's a calculation that a parent of a, of a spicy one has to make each time of like, is this limit worth it? There will be, there will be bloodshed and there will be audio terrorism happening. So is this the time to hold that boundary? You know, yes it is. Whereas there might be another time where it's not. And so the moms of spicy ones get a lot of judgment from outside because people don't understand the, the energy taxation and the repercussions. And so it really is no one understands it, but, but them.

A: That makes sense. And you know, in the somatic work that I do, we're always talking about like meeting the energy with like the appropriate amount of force. Cause so much that our lives in our bodies were using like kind of a cleaver for the job of a butter knife or where we're using not enough force or something like this. And you're talking about being present enough that you can actually meet the situation with what it really requires and not just with like a blanket statement or just the average way that you do things. And this is, so this is a really a creative process, a meditative and creative process that you're inviting people into. Yeah.

M: That's so well said. And you really can tell that when you have multiple kids because. Whereas one kid would need you to be like, I said, no, please look me in my eyes. I'm going to take your hand now. The answer is no, right? One kid might need that level of strength. Whereas another one, if you just kind of looked at them, they'd be like, sorry, mommy, you know, there's, there's these mild babies and then there's these spicy ones. Yeah.

A: Oh yeah. I feel you on that. So it's just keeping that, that channel open so that you can actually respond to your person as they are and not again, with this just standard way. And I think that that's the efficiency of our brain, right? And how we're kind of programmed to just like, okay, let me just come up with the fastest, easiest way to like make this thing that I don't like stop happening. But there's another level of sophistication that can be developed around. Actually interacting in the world, like not even just with your kids, but in the world in a way that is, um, I guess more subtle and actually like responsive versus just a reaction that, you know, shuts down this thing you don't like. Yeah.

M: I had an example that I just met with someone, uh, in acquaintance and they sat down and they were talking a mile a minute. Um, I'm really excited about this thing. It's going to be great. I really want you to get involved in it. And my, every biometric of mine started to like elevate and my heart rate started to go up and it started to not feel good to be in their presence. And part of that was because they weren't present. They weren't checking in. They're like, I'm so glad we're, I just want to stay in touch with you. And, and, but they weren't asking me a single question. There was no pauses and I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could. And so I just, I resonate with that, that if, if she could have been more present and slowed down and, and queued into that sophisticated part of us that is like, what's the energy of this other person? Because her getting more and more hyped up made me want to go super chill axed, like not ask her any questions. Like I was pulling back because we were doing this energy dance. So I hear you.

A: Yeah. Yeah. That's a great example. I think that goes on all the time and we're not really aware of it. And, uh, there's so much to just becoming aware of that, like both parties being like, Oh wow, like I'm coming on really strong right now with my kid. Maybe that's really not. That's part of what's not working. Right. Yeah. I love it. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing such your beautiful story, your expertise. I would know that this has been so beneficial for all of my listeners to hear. Um, this is actually the first talk I've had with a parenting expert. Um, but it's such a huge major part of our own development. And then if we have children or we're interacting with children, it's part of the future of the world, the world's development. We're changing the world. Yeah. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. Do you have any last words, uh, for our listeners?

M: Uh, I guess I'm just really proud of you. I'm proud that you would take the time to, um, educate yourself and lean into self-reflection and which makes you show up as an intentional parent. So well done.

A: Thank you. Thank you, Mary. We'll catch up with you as some time again soon. And, um, yeah, thanks again for coming on and sharing all your beautiful gifts. You're welcome. Yeah. You've been listening to the free your Soma podcast to find out more information about today's guest, check the show notes and to find out more information about me, Amy Takaya and the radiance program, visit www.freeyoursoma .com.

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