Speaker Series: Full Episode Page

How Can I Establish Boundaries When My Young Adult Child is Struggling?


Mariah Loftin, MA, LP, Clinical Director & Senior Clinical Therapist - Young Adults Group at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy


Brenda Zane is a Sky’s the Limit Fund board member, Founder of Hopestream Community, and podcast host of Hopestream

About the episode:

Many parents struggle with effective ways to set and maintain boundaries as their children transition from adolescence to young adulthood, especially when a young adult is struggling with mental health or other life challenges. In this episode, Senior Clinical Therapist, Mariah Loftin offers tangible strategies for establishing healthy boundaries that will help young adults launch into a life of independence.

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Brenda 0:00
This is Sky’s the Limit Fund. It’s been a little while since we’ve been here, we took a break for the summer. And so we’re back with some really great guests for the fall. And I just want to take a minute to just if you aren’t familiar with Sky’s the Limit Fund tell you that we are an organization that helps fund wilderness therapy for families who might not otherwise have access to it. And so we work really hard to partner with wilderness programs. And we are funded by some amazing, amazing donors. So thank you, if you’re a donor listening, and we are working to bring education to families about wilderness therapy, it can be a confusing topic, it can be scary for families. And so the speaker series works to kind of break down some of the misconceptions to provide you with information from people like Mariah, who are going to be talking to today who’s working out in the field with kids. So you’re getting to hear this information, right from the people who are working with students out in wilderness programs. So a couple of just quick housekeeping things, we’re going to go for about 30 minutes or so. And then we’re going to give you time to ask some questions. So if you scroll down, you’ll be able to, to submit a question, we’d love to have those. And Mariah will be answering those at the end. So I think that’s it for launching. And I want to make sure we have as much time as we can. With Mariah, we’re going to be talking today about boundaries. I know that setting and holding boundaries, whether it’s with a teenager or young adult is really difficult. It’s something that many of us struggle with. And so Mariah is going to talk with us today about that from somebody who really has the experience of working with kids and really understanding how boundaries impact families. And so I want to welcome Mariah Loftin who is with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. And Mariah is a licensed professional counselor. She works with young adults, she has been with Open Sky Wilderness since 2012. And my blends her background as a psychotherapist and a behavior analyst and are also our therapist for her families that she works with. And so she does that every single day, every single week working with families. And so we’re just thrilled to have her here today. So welcome Mariah.

Mariah 2:40
Hi, great to be here.

Brenda 2:42
Thank you. Thanks for being here. And I know that you are you actually work out in the field. So you are right now you’re obviously not unless that’s your background. Right, right. But I think it’s just so great for parents to be able to meet you and to know that you’re the one out there in the woods, walking around with the kids, and really providing that therapy in the moment in the field with them. So we got a little time with you while you’re not in the field. So that’s awesome. But Welcome, and thanks for being here to share all about this difficult topic of boundaries.

Mariah 3:24
Absolutely. This is work that I absolutely adore. And I just feel like I made for it. So yeah, really great to be

Brenda 3:31
here. Awesome. Well, we don’t have too long. So normally, I would chitchat a little bit more. But I think there’s some really common challenges that parents face, especially when our kids are struggling. Sometimes that’s the time when we feel like oh, maybe we should be a little bit more lenient, or we should be, you know, a little bit looser. And so I would love it if you could just share with us some of the challenges that parents face with boundaries, why it’s so hard for them. And then we’ll get into some strategies for what we can do to be a little bit better with that, and maybe why this is important. But why don’t you start out with some of the challenges that parents face that you see from your experience in working with kids?

Mariah 4:17
Oh, absolutely. So one of the things is being a parent at this point in time, with all of this technology, so much access. It’s incredibly challenging. It’s one of the bravest things that I think is happening right now in a lot of ways. And so what I noticed is that it’s difficult for parents to be in relationship with their children and how much freedom do we give them? How much support do we give them? And ultimately, how do we support a young person and adolescent transitioning to being an adult? Right? So boundaries, actually are built into that transitioning process? And

Brenda 5:01
because what we used to do when they were little, doesn’t necessarily translate to now. That’s exactly right.

Mariah 5:09
And so I think what we’re talking about is we’re in a different developmental stage. So young people as they mature, they naturally start to push away from their parents. And there’s young adults are starting to seek that freedom. But as we know, most of those young adults are actually not quite ready for that. So maybe they’re not accountable, following through with what they say they’re going to do not budgeting very well, you know, so we can, there are a plethora of things that we can kind of take take inventory of, and I think a big part for us to look at is what’s actually happening, what what are our children doing? What are the things that we’re seeing tangibly? What are the concerns that we have, and maybe even one of the concerns that they have? So that’s a good place for us to start, like, let’s have an honest analysis for ourselves, and for our children to do the exact same thing.

Brenda 6:09
Yeah, and I think you have a slide that talks about this a little bit. I think that’s a really good tip, too. I like what you said about writing it down, because it tends to get really emotional, really chaotic, sometimes, we’re also busy. So that’s a really good, I think tip for parents is to just spend a little bit of time, really kind of documenting what you’re seeing. Because as kids are changing. And as you are a super busy parent, it can be easy to either forget stuff, or to kind of blow stuff off sometimes to like, Oh, that’s really that big of a deal.

Mariah 6:52
Yep, exactly. Well, and so what I want us to impair so think about starting with is, what’s been happening? What are the behaviors that we’ve been seeing? And most importantly, what do you actually feel as you’ve been observing these things? So if you’re noticing your child start to struggle? What exactly is happening there? So are they withdrawn? Are they spending a lot of time in their room? Are they acting out? Are they doing substances, because those are equally concerning behaviors, but they just look very different. And we have different feelings in relationship with both of them. And one of the things that I recognize with families is that sometimes it’s actually easier to set boundaries when our kids are acting out. Right? So if they’re using substances, or if they’re breaking rules, it’s like, hey, we need to create some parameters around this. But our children are actually struggling with a tremendous amount of depression, and are just staying in their rooms. A lot of times I see parents not actually look at, well, what are the boundaries that I need to set related to these behaviors as well. And so I think, in that for parents, we have to start off first with looking at Wait a minute, what are our fears? What are our concerns? So for parents, like? What is it to? What are the things that you need to consider about being a parent? Like what are and thinking about setting boundaries with your child? Like, do you are you afraid of not having leverage not being able to get your child to do what you want them to do? Are you afraid of being powerless? Are you afraid of making them more depressed? And, you know, a common thing that I’ll hear is Oh, my gosh, they’re going to get worse, right? They’re going to decline, they’re going to be more unsafe. And, or that, oh, my gosh, I don’t want to have a power struggle. So there can be the avoidance of actually setting any boundaries because you’re avoiding the the power struggle itself. Yeah, sometimes I also see parents not being on the same page. And so then we just don’t have a conversation about it all because we don’t know how to address them with each other. So then we don’t know how to address it with our kids. Right? So there are a lot of different things that can come up. So just being aware what’s actually going on here. Let’s name it. Yeah, we observe it ourselves. And each other.

Brenda 9:24
Yeah. Oh, you nailed it on the head. So many, so many of those things. I think the powerlessness that that comes when you don’t have good boundaries, you just feel like you’re like you’re kind of being trampled on. And and there’s that really that fear of am I going to make things worse if I start really having some consequences if I really start addressing this? Are they going to go even further off the deep end either with substance use more technology, more isolation? Right? It’s really scary.

Mariah 10:00
Yeah. And so when we’re entering into this whole conversation, like, first thing that I encourage parents to do is, like I was saying before, write down what you’ve observed. Howard, the your child’s behavior has been impacting you. What are the things that you’ve heard your child say? That they want to do the goals that they have the things that the aspirations? Well, I just need to fill in the blank, and then I’ll feel better. But have they actually followed through with those things? Have they not? Those are really good measures of what’s actually going on here. And so if we have that, that point of reflection, first, before we enter into the conversation, that’s really important, right? So because then we have a better understanding of, Oh, why am I so concerned? What are the things that have actually been going on? And then you can go into the conversation itself? And so to me it communicating is how do we be present with each other? So this is a piece of, are you actually attuned with your child? Are you saying like, Hey, I’m right here with you, and how I see you, I see that you’ve been struggling. And the ways that I’ve been seeing you struggle, are ultimately not supporting you.

Brenda 11:29
Yeah. And when you say to men, maybe can you talk a little bit about what that really means? Like, what does that look like for a parent? If you’re if you are attune?

Mariah 11:38
Yeah, absolutely. So being attuned versus like lecturing, telling someone what to do, trying to control them. So the important part is, we are seeing and are connected to the other person. And so it doesn’t have to just be our children. And it’s that we’re present. And we can offer, this is what I notice, I’m connected to you, rather than here’s what, here’s what I am needing to have happen like this is I’m going to push out all of this onto you. Right? So what we start with is a dialogue. And that that actually helps bring our children out, because what they recognize is oh, you see that? I’m struggling?

Brenda 12:24
Yeah. When you said that, when you said, this is what I see. I think that’s really powerful. Because like you said, it’s not this is what’s going to happen, or this is yeah, what you’re what I’m going to do to you, it’s so powerful to be able to say that I this is what I noticed is going on, because that just starts a conversation.

Mariah 12:48
That’s it. That’s how that’s how we need to begin. And so when we’re attuning, we’re asking questions. We’re saying, Here’s what I’ve noticed, what did you notice? Here are the things that I’m worried about? Are you worried about those same things? And a key part of this whole dynamic is that if we slip into lecturing, if we slip into telling our kids what to do, then that’s actually our own warning sign. Oh, yeah, I just did it again. And it’s okay, like actually being ourselves. Well, could be human. At this process, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s okay that it’s messy. I just want us to give up all of ourselves permission to be in the experiment of communicating. And but the point is, to even name it, as you’re in the conversation of Oh, my gosh, I’m really trying to not lecture here. And I just did it again. And I’m sorry, that actually is being attuned as well, like, yeah, I get it. I’m doing this thing again, I know it’s not helpful. I’m gonna just stop. What I really want to know is, what do you what do you notice in yourself, right to come back, that’s being attuned to that being in relationship.

Brenda 13:59
That’s got to be so powerful. And I’m sure that you, you have such a unique perspective, because you’re also talking to kids who are on the receiving end of this conversation. And so I’m sure I would love to be a fly on the wall. Sessions, just to hear because it when you think about how you want somebody to interact with you, I’d love to have somebody say that, you know, this is what I’m noticing. Can we talk about? The kids must just feel so good. Like if their parents learn this skill. It would just really change how things are for them.

Mariah 14:36
Yes, that to me, that’s the whole point. How do we actually connect, communicate reflectively Listen, right. So there are all these foundational communication skills but when it comes down to it is I hear you. Yeah. Did I get it right? Let me repeat back some of the things that I heard. Like that’s, that’s a really good thing of okay, so it sounds like you’re having Making a really hard time. And what you see is you’re having a hard time. And so you’re going and partying with your friend. Yeah. For you’re going in your dorm room and refusing to get off of technology. Yeah. So reflecting back, what are you hearing them say? So you make sure you get it

Brenda 15:17
right. So I saw on the slide, I peeked and saw something about consequences. So I think that boundaries and consequences are really tied together. So maybe you can talk a little bit about that. And then I know you have some strategies for parents who are trying to figure this out how to do it.

Mariah 15:37
Yeah, great. So we’ve started I want to kind of create a process. So you write down, what are the things that you’ve observed and what you feel, and then you move into the conversation itself? And you’re asking good questions you’re offering here are the things that I’ve been concerned about as well, here are my perspectives of what’s been happening. Here are concrete examples that we’re giving our kids. And you know what, I’m scared, I’m scared, because I see that you’re not following through, I see that you’re not showing up to class, I see that you’re not taking good care of yourself, or you’re hanging out with people that end up being kind of harmful for you, or you’re doing substances, right? So we’re noticing what they’re doing, and we’re rooting it in, here’s how I feel like I’m scared, or I’m worried about your future, I’m worried about that you’re not okay. And based on that, then we move into the other conversation, which is, hey, wait a minute, this is actually not okay with me. I can’t support you doing these things. Because I see you, I see that it’s detrimental, I see that this is actually going to derail you even more. And so a big part of this whole process is actually offering our perspective and then saying, I can’t support you going down this road.

Brenda 17:05
Right? That’s really bad language.

Mariah 17:08
Yeah. Yeah. So so that, to me, is actually a really good thing for parents to examine before going into this conversation. What will you support? And what will you not? So if you will support your child staying in their room and staring at their phone 24 hours a day? Or even if it’s 10 hours a day? Why? I want you to know, like, oh, wait a minute. Because that if you are willing to support that, then what does that say? Like? What information does that actually give you about yourself? Are you just being avoidant? Are you afraid to be in conflict, etc? So I think that’s, that’s a big piece. And then the the next step in relationship with your child, when you say that of I can’t support this anymore, because I know it’s detrimental for you. And so we need to do something about

Brenda 18:02
Yeah, yeah, that will not allow this to happen. Yeah, that’s an interesting kind of flip from always looking at their behavior, to looking at our own and saying, am I supporting this? Am I okay with this? Wow. That’s hard.

Mariah 18:19
It Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that parent that is parenting, right, like gives you that amazing self reflection, and that mirror that is incredibly confrontational. Again, parenting is brave.

Right, right.

If you’re willing to have those tough conversations

Brenda 18:38
And with ourselves, not only just, you know, with our kids, but with ourselves. So what are some tips if we, if we are noticing that, okay, my child’s doing something that I really can’t support. And I’ve realized that I have been avoiding this, I really don’t want the conflict. I know as soon as I start talking about it’s going to cause this big blow up. What are some of the tips that you’ve seen that can work for parents when they’re in that it’s a really sticky position to be

Mariah 19:09
sure. When I’m in relationship with my students in the field, so if I’m in a therapy session, one of the things that I’ll say is, I am so invested in you and your goals. I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader. I am also going to hold you accountable to your goals. So let’s write out what are your goals? What are the things that you actually want to do? Now let’s identify what are the steps you need to take in order to reach those goals? Because what I know when you withdraw when you run away, when you don’t show up to class, that’s you not being accountable to you. Right. And so that’s where I my cheerleading switches into, like, I’m not going to tolerate you not reaching your goals. I’m not going to support you showing up in the He’s detrimental ways. Because we can talk all we want. I work with so many different people who have incredible insight of what they need or what they want to do. Insight is not action. Yeah. So I’m looking for action. Right. And so it’s so for looking at this kind of step one of hey, something’s something’s not right. And the level of crisis is, you know, kind of mild to moderate. And what I mean by that is, we’re not in a kind of a danger zone of wow, this has been going on for a while. Or there’s a kind of bigger risks, like substances or self harm, then, okay, so we can stay in that conversation, and maybe it’s great, we’re going to make a plan of you showing up to class, or that you have to show up to work, or you have to have this many hours that you’re working or whatever it is, that is a definition for this person of accountability, day in and day out. Right? So if they’re going to work four hours a day, a lot of hours left in the day, and that still doesn’t make a healthy day. Self care actually look like right, let’s let’s actually look at all the ways that someone needs to show up to be healthy in their lives. And then, great, let’s follow up in a week, let’s follow up in a month. Did you actually meet those goals? Did you follow through? And if you didn’t, that’s problem. And then we can identify, we need to do something about this. Because again, I will not support you not following through. I will not support this behavior continuing. Because I know it’s not what you want. And I see you. And so here’s the interesting thing, like there’s this edge of, yeah, but let me just try one more thing, right, there’s the bargaining thing that comes from, like what’s there. But if I do this, if I just have one more week? Oh, it’s amazing, right? So the negotiation begins. And so you have to be prepared to say no more. And that is a very important line to define of, we have tried it, and I am done. And so this is the action, this is the step that we need to take so that we shift gears then as parents. And that to me is actually the parenting moment, the true parenting moment of like, absolute boundaries, that it’s no longer we’re having a dialogue, it’s no longer I am just in communication, good. Practicing good communication, it’s, here are the boundaries, and we’re going to follow them. This is how we are going to move forward because you’re not doing it for yourself. And I’m going to make sure as your parent that are you that you are heading forward. So that’s that’s the edge moment.

Brenda 22:49
That’s the hard. And that’s, you know, what I hear a lot is that parents say, Well, I can I can communicate the boundary easily. It’s that next step of actually holding it and knowing what what the I don’t know, if you call it a consequence, or a whatever you want to call it, but what’s going to happen if that if that boundary gets crossed? That’s the really hard part to to know, as a parent, what what are those things? You know? What can I do? What do I have control over? Absolutely. And what will actually be helpful to them versus harmful, right? If I kicked my kid out? Is that going to just make things worse? So I think that gets like you just said, That’s the true moment. We’re at that point, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. I think you have to bring in expert resources at that point. Because that’s, that’s so tough.

Mariah 23:51
That is that edge of Okay, so when do you actually seek help? Like that final step, sometimes, it’s just not possible. Because one, your child might be so reactive to you that you can’t even have you can’t even sit down and have the conversation, you know, the concern of them actually harming themselves running away, acting out in some way. You have to seek help, uh, you need you need to have someone that actually like supports those conversations or that boundary being enforced.

Brenda 24:23
Right, right. Because I think it’s just when I rewind in my mind to when I was going through this, you know, it sounds lovely to say, sit down and have this conversation with your child. If your child won’t have the conversation. If they stormed out of the house, the minute you tried to talk with them. It’s kind of like, well, you have to move to something else then because you could try again and again, you know, you want to try multiple times, but if they are absolutely closed to having that conversation, I think you kind of have to bring in the people who really know people like you or people who really know how to do this effectively. We don’t necessarily have that same emotional attachment to the right.

Mariah 25:04
Yeah, there’s that that objective perspective. And one of the things that, I think is also brave as parents as parents is, when do you ask for help? Yeah. When When do you recognize this is so hard, I actually need to invite my own support in. And I think about this being an incredible time for parents to have the most impeccable self care that they can possibly have. It so so I think about like life stressor, and most parents are like, I’m just, I’m just trying to get that self care to meet that. And I would say it is imperative that your self care exceed the stressor, so that you’re not just get keeping your head above water.

Brenda 25:50
Right? Yes, because these are difficult conversations to have, even if you are at 100% as as a parent. So if you’re depleted, and you are at 50%, to have that difficult conversation is going to be you’re just making it harder on yourself, do you see that, with the families that you work with? Is that something that you focus on is helping parents know how to take care of themselves so that you can have these conversations?

Mariah 26:20
Oh, my gosh, I absolutely adore that that kind of part of open sky, that we have a whole family services team and a whole family services pathway that supports families, not only learning the skills that their children are learning, but how do they take care of themselves? So yes, that to me, is such an emphasis that can be missed, right? So it’s like, Let’s all focus on our child. And oh, wait a minute. Here’s what actually has to happen here. And so I think that well rounded, holistic approach is essential. Otherwise, we miss opportunities to be connected and to worship both ourselves and our children.

Brenda 27:04
Yeah. Any other tips for things that we can do as parents to, to make this process? Because I think it is a process that we have to learn if you’re not good with boundaries. It’s not like you’re just going to change overnight and be really awesome. Any other tips that we can take on that might might help us be better?

Mariah 27:26
Sure. It, I think starting off with being patient with yourself, and allowing the support in not just from a professional, but also from your family and your friends. Make sure that you’re keeping in perspective, like, what are the what are the ultimate goals? So it’s so that your child reaches their own goals so that your child is safe, so that you head forward as a whole family? Yeah. Like that’s, that’s the end game?

Brenda 27:59
Yes. Yeah. Yeah, the end game. That’s a really good, I like that, because we get so caught up in the moment, and we get so our narrow focus just like everything zeroes in on this one problem that we’re dealing with right now. And it can be really hard to look at that end game. Because you’re like, but I have to solve this. I have to solve this right now today. And so kind of picking our head up. And I know Open Sky has a podcast is it skylights, I think is the name of it, which is so brilliant. Whoever thought of that as super smart. But those I have listened to some of those episodes, and it’s just great. And I think that’s a really good way for parents to keep an eye on the end game instead of just getting that that super narrow lens focus. So if you haven’t, if you’re listening, you haven’t checked that out. Definitely. I think you guys are in all the podcasts players, highlights. So good. Just because you’re really hearing from people like you who are you’re not sitting in some corporate office somewhere in you know, not being attached. These kids like you are out there with them. You’re hearing what they’re saying. And that’s just such valuable insight to bring to us as parents like, Oh, this is what my kids say. Like, you know, even if it’s not your actual child, it’s, you know, kids who are like yours who are going through something like that, and you can just learn a lot from not anything.

Mariah 29:31
Yeah, yeah. But there are in the podcasts that we have, and webinars that we have. There are definitely quite a few resources. And one of the resources that’s on there is how to support your child and wilderness therapy treatment. And so and there are other resources like that, that I think can be really helpful. You know, again, when do we ask for the support that we actually need?

Brenda 29:57
Right, right. Well, I’m just Should we have some questions? We have about five or so minutes left. So if if you are listening and you want to ask a question, I believe it’s not on my screen. So I’m, I’m telling you what I know, I think you scroll down. And there’s a place where you can ask questions. So we’ll see if we have some of those. I think, one, one question that I would have for you, just from my own personal experiences. Often, things seem like they’re getting worse after you start really being better at holding boundaries. So people aren’t used to that necessarily, our kids aren’t used to us really doing that. So I guess what would your advice be? Or what are your thoughts about that? If if somebody is like, Okay, I know I need to be better at this. Is that pretty typical that things might get worse before they get better?

Mariah 30:56
Yeah, I’ll put my clinical hat on. So it’s called an extinction burst.

Brenda 31:03
There’s no official name for it. It absolutely is.

Mariah 31:06
It’s the the thing that we all know, if you’re in a supermarket, and there is a child and their parent in the candy aisle, and the child is throwing a fit, we have all seen that we’ve probably been there. And so if that parent gives in, it’s like, Okay, we’re gonna get that candy. And then the child comes down, check out the next day, the next time they go to the supermarket. If the parent says no, and the candy aisle, that child’s behavior is going to ramp up. And so if you give in Oh, de escalation, but they might ramp up a little bit more. And then So now imagine that you’ve done that a whole series of times. And so maybe by the 50th, time that you’ve given in, you go into that candy aisle, and you say no, and you’re like, Okay, I know I got a hold at this time, that behavior, that child’s behavior is going to be exceedingly high. Yeah, because what they’ve experienced in the past is, but if I throw this fit, you’re going to give in eventually, right, and so you’re going to see this extinction burst. And so what it means is that child’s behavior ramps up until they really get this, this is actually not going to change. And so then their behavior will drop off, and they’ll have to test it. But the next time, so I kind of later on, as you become as the parent becomes more consistent in holding that boundary, their behaviors will not be as big. Okay, here’s what’s also interesting from a therapeutic standpoint, and a nervous system standpoint. Boundaries, support children support nervous systems feeling safe, which sometimes parents really don’t understand. And we as humans who hold boundaries, don’t understand. But wait a minute, there’s so much resistance. You hold the boundary, it’s like, oh, I can relax. I know the edges of where I am. And I can trust you. That’s what that actually communicates. I know your boundaries. That means I can trust you. So now I can relax.

Brenda 33:04
Wow. So one thing I hear there is, as a parent stamina, you have to have

Mariah 33:11
right stamina, ask for help. Have a team have compassion for yourself? And you’re like, oh, my gosh, I gave it again. I can’t believe I did it. So

Brenda 33:22
it’s okay. Okay, so this is a two little two part question. Um, so I will pop that up. So you talk about we can’t support this. So if my child says, Okay, that’s your problem. I can see this person has a son or a daughter very similar to mine. How do we proceed? My child won’t communicate and share his thoughts and feelings and struggles with us. And then there is a part two, he can set goals and not follow through, do we kick him out? This is so common join me to put this back up. So you can see.

Mariah 33:58
I think I yeah, I can hold on my head. So one of the things is that I’m hearing is this is complicated. And so this, to me is an opportunity to one make sure you’re on the same page with who, who you’re parenting with, or the family that you’re with of, wait a minute, this is not okay. Because if your kid says I don’t care, then what are the what are your parameters like? So how are you actually going to create that safety by saying, I hear that you don’t want this and I hear that it like it’s it doesn’t align with who you are, what you want to do, and I also care about you, and this is not working. Right? So that’s the first place to start. And then if they don’t want to listen or if they’re going to run away, or if they won’t follow through with anything like as far as just goals that you’ve set or that they have set. Then you have to identify what if you are not Meeting your child. So if you’re not going to create another plan that is healthy and follow through with it, then I will create one for you. That’s the boundary. So if you can’t follow through, I will help you follow through. And so I don’t want it to ever be a threat. Right? It’s a boundary. It’s clear. It’s like, I care about you. And I love you so much, that I’m okay, if you’re pissed at me for a long time. Right? Woof. Now, that is really edgy. And so if you can’t do that by yourself, bring in support, ask for help. Yeah, yeah. And that boundary might need to be treatment, right? It might need to be a wilderness therapy program or some sort of program that is actually supportive and creates that containment helps them follow through.

Brenda 35:45
Right. Right. That’s, that’s great. That’s very practical. So thank you for that. Another question. I also hear that boundaries are a form of self care, as opposed to wait to control our kid or the outcome. Okay. Speak to this.

Mariah 35:58
Yes, yes, that is exactly. So the self care, when we’re talking about helping that child to relax. Like, we create the boundary, because we see it, like we have the fully developed prefrontal cortex, right, like our brains are fully developed, we have from the outside, we see the big picture. And so then we hold that picture, big picture for our kids. And so in that, we then hold them to what we know is supportive for them. And then that helps them to take better care of themselves, but it helps the whole system to calm down.

Brenda 36:36
Yeah, awesome. Okay, well, we’ve lots lots of questions from Julie, how does one as a parent balance the need to back off and allow the relationship to repair with the need, with the need to stay in and facilitating what the parent will not tolerate? I guess the with the need to state and facilitate with a parent will not tolerate

Mariah 37:01
what you said the first part of that question,

Brenda 37:03
how does one as a parent balance the need to back off and allow the relationship to repair with the need to state and facilitate what the parent won’t tolerate? So I think it’s that push and pull, right? The

Mariah 37:17
Oh, absolutely. So first thing I think about is you have to be in family therapy. So you have to have someone that is supporting the conversation. Because if there is so much repair that needs to happen, that you actually can’t be in a conversation, ask for help bring someone else into that picture to support a productive conversation, slow things down, make sure that you’re you know, your child feels listened to, and you feel also hurt, right. So there’s that there is the support for you to come together. And then if if there isn’t like if the plan is created, maybe with that therapist, or with that person that’s helping you, and the plan, and the goals within that plan are not reached. That gives you really good information. And so I would say don’t make year long goals, make weekly goals. daily goals, yes yet and then revisit them? Because that gives you and that gives your child the assessment of It’s working. It’s not working?

Brenda 38:23
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. more, lots more questions. This is a great one, my child’s extracurricular activities have been scheduled and planned for most of his life. How do I get my young adult son to take this on? That’s a good question. I love it such a great question.

Mariah 38:44
I was actually just having this conversation that we, as a community, once upon a time, our children had so much more responsibility, and it’s not the case and for every child or every family. But I frequently see that children don’t have responsibilities put on them to, to tend to their families to their communities, we tend to them, right, so it’s just kind of a foundational concept that is a cultural piece. And there’s a lot of pressure put on parents to take your child to this and this and this, and it has to be the perfect event. And you have to get them in this particular class or this particular preschool. So they go to that particular college, there’s so much parents will pressure. And so what we do in that is we can inadvertently take away that self initiative. And that self accountability that self drive, and so then what’s really baffling is they go off to college and all of a sudden they’re not doing it on their own. Wait a minute, why not? Because we’ve been doing it for them. Right. And so I love this question because we do have to make the trends Question. And I think this it can be so nuanced. And so there is a piece of like, can you ask for some, just like, some support? Maybe not from like a high level therapeutic support? But hey, can you have somebody come in to, to, like, do some some goals training or some executive functioning? Training? You know, so is there something going on that it’s that is actually related to, um, just planning in general follow through in general? And so to support you and your child? Hey, what are the things that you need to do in your life for you? Yeah, like asking, even asking that question to the to your child.

Brenda 40:39
What do you need to do get them to start thinking about it? Exactly. So

Mariah 40:43
it’s not us thinking for them? It’s so we can there’s a difference of you need to do we’re telling, versus what do you want to do? What do you need to do so that you can headed in the direction that you need to? Not that you can just be kind of floating around? It’s you need to head forward? Yeah. So how are you going to do that? Yeah, anybody need help? doing that? Yeah. So it’s what might be the most effective to remove yourself from that picture and say, great, so you have these goals, awesome. Work with this person, so that you follow through with those goals? And if you don’t, gives us really good information?

Brenda 41:18
Yes. Okay, I know, we’re probably supposed to wrap up. But I do want to make sure I answer people’s questions. So just bear with us. I saw a good one here. This great, can you model what a positive conversation might look like regarding curfew for a young adult living at home with another awesome questions and that they feel?

Mariah 41:44
Great. I would start off by going for a walk like so here. Here’s a bit of myself. So it might not be not be everybody’s style. But if we were to say like, Hey, I need to talk to you. All of a sudden, it creates all of this tension of like, oh, my gosh, what have I done? Right? So initially, it’s like, yeah, so like, let’s talk, I have to be defensive, I have to be guarded and be like, Hey, can you can we go for a walk? Let’s meet the dog for a walk together. Let’s right. So just like, is there a way to have the environment itself just be disarming? And so then, because we’re just hanging out, and we’re talking like that it starts at the conversation in an easier way? And then go into that asking good questions of like, hey, you know, here’s some of the things that I’m noticing. And I’m noticing that I’m a little worried that if you stay out later, that I don’t feel comfortable with that. And I know what I need is for the curfew to be this. Right, right. So we can just start start that conversation of like, here’s what I’m concerned about, or here’s the things that I’m worried about. And what helps me feel comfortable and know that you’re okay, is this is like this is the parameter of what I’m comfortable with. So we have two things there. One is like, Here, here’s what I’m feeling. But we’re not backing down from here’s what I feel comfortable with. And here’s what I expect, right? And then you can open it up of like, yeah, so how do you feel? And then your child might say, I’m pierced or I’m, I don’t want to do that. Or if like, Yeah, I hear that you’re pissed. Or I hear that, that’s really hard for you. And this is how we need to head forward, this is what I will support heading forward.

Brenda 43:37
Nice, different conversation than most of us have. Okay, one more. From Andrea, when you foresee an issue, is it better to proactively get involved and be supportive? Or sit back and let your child learn from failure?

Mariah 43:55
Hmm, great question. Yeah. Depends on the issue. Right? So if you notice that your child is skipping classes, that seems like it’s potentially leading to higher risk things, if you’re see your child doing substances, or, you know, like, things that I would say, like, hey, there’s kind of their different tiers of risk. And if they’re, for example, if they’re not completing their homework, like, the first question that I want us to ask is, hey, what’s going on? Rather than, hey, you need to complete your homework. Yeah, we go to the boundary. First, we go to the lecture first, and we miss, let’s ask, what’s happening for you. So have that dialogue of what do you notice for yourself? Why why do you think you’re having a hard time and kids might not be able to answer that, but at least we start there. And so then we get to make a choice of, you know, I recognize that you sneaking out with your friends. That’s not something I’m ever going to support because it’s too dangerous. And so Oh, here is what I will support. Like, I want you to have your friends and I want you to be connected with people. Great. You can have your friends come over here when I’m home. Right, so, so just looking at what are the parameters that you need to be setting based on? What are the kind of risks of those behaviors? So I think it really depends on the behaviors that a person’s having. And again, starting the conversation like here’s, here’s what I feel. Here’s what I’m yeah, that’s,

Brenda 45:27
that’s an interesting, I like that shift from, it’s all about you and what you’re doing to here’s what I’m noticing, here’s what I’m feeling, here’s what I’m seeing, it does take away that defensiveness because I think we can, you know, they can come to a conversation like with the guard up and, and then that’s just not a helpful place to start. So Right. Exactly. Awesome. Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. For for those of you who are listening, you will get an email with resource a resource list. We also have two more great speakers coming up in a few weeks. So where you want to register for today’s make sure to go back and get registered for the next to the next one. I am so sorry, I can’t remember the date, but it’s listed on the website is going to be a mother daughter team, talking about wilderness therapy and how you can not only just sort of get by, but how wilderness can help kids really, really thrive. So that’s going to be a great one. Great chance to see a family kind of in an action talking about it. Maria, thank you. We’ll let you get back out to the field if that’s where you’re going.

Mariah 46:38
Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Brenda 46:41
We appreciate it too. Thank you so much. And thank you to open sky for being such a great partner, to sky’s the limit and helping out all the families that you do. Thank you. My pleasure. Thanks. All right, we’ll see you at the next one.



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