Before becoming a mom, so many of us have images and dreams of what it will be like. We dream about the kind of parent we will be and what our kids will be like. Then motherhood hits. And it’s often a far cry from what we had imagined.
Looking back, there are so many things that I wish I knew before becoming a mom. First of all, that it won’t look like I imagined, and that’s okay. That will have days where I will lose it, and that’s expected. That my kids won’t be perfect, listen all the time, and be the “model” kid, and that doesn’t mean that I failed as a parent.
In this episode of the No Guilt Mom podcast, we discuss the things that we wish we knew before becoming moms with our guest Robbin McManne. Robbin is a Certified Parent Coach, Speaker, Author of the book, The Yelling Cure, Host of the award-winning Podcast, Parenting our Future, and am a wife and mom to two teenage boys. Most importantly, she says she came from being an angry and overwhelmed mom to one who has built a strong connection with her boys – and it’s the best feeling ever!
The following post is a transcript of our podcast episode “What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Mom with Robbin McManne”.
Welcome to the podcast Robbin. We’re so excited to have you here and all of your amazing advice. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Yeah, so like you I’m in the parenting space. I’m a parenting expert as well and also an author a podcaster. I do speaking as well. And you know, my you know, I come from being a really angry mom. One who just didn’t understand what my kids were trying to tell me when they were acting out and I have one child who isn’t a typical kid who has lots of extra stuff going on. And this literally brought me to my knees. I’m like, just somebody, please help me. I don’t know what to do.
And through that pain and really darkness, I found my way out through this kind of parenting through peaceful, intentional parenting. You know, there’s lots of different ways, I think, to say it, conscious parenting, the whole, you know, whatever it whatever you want to call it, it’s the kind of parenting where you’re honoring feelings and needs, and you’re always coming to your child’s behavior and even your own behavior with curiosity.
So the honoring feelings and needs, I think it’s such a big way that this parenting style is very different than what we ourselves grew up with. Because a lot of parents who come to us they’re like, Okay, well, what consequences should I get? And how do I keep my kids accountable for doing things? When really, it’s like, hold on, we need to talk about the feelings underneath it. And sometimes, that’s hard for parents. Like when you were a self-described “Angry Mom”, did you ever see this advice that you should pay attention to feelings, and you’re like, “that’s not the way!”. Did you ever have any doubt?
Oh yeah! To me it was crazy, but then it hit me like a light bulb.
I was like, “Oh, he’s not trying to manipulate me drive me crazy. Oh, like he’s not just trying to get his way and just needs attention.” Actually, he does need attention, by the way.
I feel like we were programmed to believe that by our parents’ generation, and I’m not putting any blame on our parents.
What I’m saying is that the way they were brought up was that you got to be firm and you got to make sure nobody manipulates you or takes advantage of you. And then really thinking back to it- how many times did you feel completely misunderstood by your parents growing up?
I can name a couple of times definitely.
And it’s that, “you better keep your kids in line” thought process that I had in my head. Plus the fact that my kids weren’t well, my oldest kid wasn’t listening to me. And I was never listened to as a child. So like, I had times of rage.
I was so angry. Like, I mean, hop up and down, yelling and screaming, like, humiliated.
Yeah, and to be raw…I can so identify with what you’re saying.
I was looking at old pictures of myself when I was 10 or 11. And I’m like, “Man, I was an angry kid.”
And I think it goes back to that when kids aren’t listened to. They’re angry.
And then it’s really hard for us as parents to kind of flip it and be like, “Okay, we’re gonna listen to you now.” When we weren’t taught how to.
So how did you realize that you needed to change to this form of parenting?
Yeah. Well, I thought I was okay. But I was so miserable.
You know, I was somebody who is like, pretty perky. A pretty friendly person, you know?
I was winning in the rest of my life until I had kids, right? And then it was like,
“Oh, how come I can’t do this?”
“What is wrong with me?”
And I thought I would be like Mother Earth, right? Like, bring all the children to me, right? And instead, it was like, I cannot wait to get back to work. I remember the day I went back to work. But here’s the thing. I’m a love bug, right? I love love. And I love hugs and cuddles and all that stuff. And with every cell in my body, I knew that I couldn’t keep going this way. Because I wanted to leave my family and maybe even leave this earth.
That is how bad of a place I was in.
And so it wasn’t until I found the world of peaceful parenting. And even then I was like, I don’t know that I trust you. And I was like, we’ll see, right? And because I had been to psychologists, you know, I’d watched Dr. Phil, I had done all those things. You know, like, yeah, everyone said just be the adult.
But I don’t know how to be an adult! And I’m so angry!
Like, I don’t know how to do that. So when I learned that I could accept my child for who he is, and not who I expected him to be, I also accepted that I didn’t have the answers sometimes. Like, I thought I had to beat myself up because I didn’t have the answers. I thought there was something wrong with me. That’s why my kid acted that way. I didn’t know that I could let it all go and say, okay, like it just is what it is.
I think that’s how a lot of parents feel they feel like they need to have all the answers and just like you are beating themselves up because they don’t have it. And really it’s like what you said, that is not the case.
It’s okay to just meet your kids where they are and not to take personal responsibility for their behavior. And I think you also had another good point.
We have this idea of perfection, and that parenting is gonna be like The Donna Reed Show or Leave It to Beaver. Like, it’s got to be so easy, and it couldn’t be less easy.
And it’s primal. And it’s gross. And it’s, you know, it’s humiliating to some degree, like, I’m thinking back to, you know, my C-section and having two days of labor and then someone all of a sudden coming in to shave me like what?! And then the next minute, you know, someone’s given me a suppository.
Like that set me on a dark path.
I just feel like that’s how it is when you’re having a kid. Your dignity just goes right out the door. Bye dignity! Yeah, it’s like, oh, that was nice. I had dignity at one time. It’s gone.
When you were first starting out with this method of parenting, and- are you married?
So how did he respond to the change in parenting styles?
So that’s such a good question. Because in those early days, my husband was more peaceful than I was. So I was the one that needed the help and the work. So I did it then.
Now, it’s interesting, because now the kids are teenagers, they’re 13, and my oldest just turned 16.
He went through troubled times when the kids were younger.
So I see now him reacting from his own fear, right? I mean, it’s not easy being married to a parent coach. I think maybe he felt it was not welcome to bring in his two cents and you know, it was just really hard for him.
So at the beginning, he really adopted it pretty easily, because he kind of was already there. He wasn’t taking their stuff personally, he could see it’s just boy stuff or whatever stuff. Like it was just no big deal stuff to him. To me, I took it all personally.
You know what, I think you brought up a really good point, too, right there. I felt like parenting my son, and still, right now, it’s a little bit of a mystery, because I mean, he’s a boy.
I don’t really understand.
Like, with my daughter, I can be like, “Yeah, I remember going through those emotions.”
And like right now, you know, teens and preteens, I know what you’re going through. I know the feeling.
But with my son, I’m kind of like guessing like, is this normal? Is this what normally happens?
Yeah. And he’s the quiet one, right? So you’re not even sure what he’s thinking? Because he doesn’t even talk much, right? It’s even more so when they’re teenagers. They become monosyllabic, right? I’m excited when I get a Yeah,I don’t want anything.
Anything other than “Yeah”, is good!
I get that from my eight-year-old! I’m glad to hear it doesn’t change. I guess I’ll just be prepared for the “Yup”, and “Yeah”.
You mentioned something interesting about your husband- how he started kind of parenting through his own fear. And I think that that is a lot of what our parenting is based on sometimes.
We do parent through fear. And when we have all those like those anger moments, when we trace it back, a lot of our anger, and we can trace it back to like, a trigger of fear. Like we’re afraid something is going to happen and that we could have prevented or, or something like that.
Or that like if this behavior is happening now, What does this mean for your future?
If you’re kicking, hitting me spitting or you’re lying? What does that mean for who you’re going to be?
Are you going to be a bully? You’re gonna be a drug addict? Are you in jail? Are you gonna be a gang member?
Like, what does it mean?
And so then we punish and even over-punish and over-criticize and over-lecture because we think of what could happen. And actually, it’s just temporary. Like, give him a break. They don’t have to know what they don’t know yet.
There’s a phrase here at No Guilt Mom. They won’t end up living in a van down by the river.
Yeah.Straight to that.
He got a C on a quiz.
And then, you’re going to fail out of school.
And then you’re going to end up being homeless and living in a van down by the river!
It’s also like the overcorrecting behaviors that you talk about because I see parents take away their kids cell phone privileges when the kids miss one homework assignment. And I’m like, wait, wait, wait, wait.
Let’s hold on a minute there. What do you say to parents about that?
So here’s what I say, right? You gave them the phone first, right? So you have said yes to this thing, right? So I think it becomes about your quality of yes and no, right? Because so often we say no, and then they “Mom! Mom! Mom!” Us to death. And then we’re like, Fine! And just give in, right?
So now it’s like, “Oh, well, really that No, didn’t even really mean anything. And I put you through all of that only to finally give you what you want it because it’s easier.”
Honestly, parenting has nothing to do with easy, as we all know, right?
But then also you say “yes” to something. But what they don’t know is that there are actually invisible strings attached to it, and that if you displease me in some arbitrary way, I’m going to take that away from you. Which makes that thing even more attractive to the kids and even more as I gotta have it. I gotta have it. This is where it’s like Gollum, right? Like my precious. You take away my precious….
because what- I looked at you the wrong way?
Because I didn’t clean my room?
But what does that have to do with my phone?
You know, like, then that becomes the control. Instead of asking…
“Hey, what happened?”
“How come you got a C?” Or…
“ How come you couldn’t do that thing that I asked you to do?”
You know, that’s all it needs to be. And then we will work it out. You don’t have to take stuff away from them. Because it doesn’t work anyway. Like, how many times have you done that?
Right, it doesn’t work well. Then it starts the road down to “Oh, emotional manipulation? That’s an okay quality to have? Okay.”
You never learn how to work it out with your kids, right? And soon, you know, my oldest is 16, so he’s going to get a job.
He’s going to be driving soon.
If he has enough money, he’ll get his own car. He’ll have his license, right?
He loves his own money. And it’s like, don’t tell me you can take it away from me. I paid for it. It’s then like, okay. I got nothing. I got nothing now.
You bring up a great point. Because I mean, how are we supposed to relate to our kids in the future when like, we don’t have that “control over them anymore”?
And it’s just so hard being a parent.
It’s so funny about that phone thing, and how you said like, then our “No” means nothing.
Like it just reminded me of a conversation with my daughter this morning. She got a new principal at her middle school. And she’s like, Oh, my gosh, we like the old principal so much better. Like the reason why was the hilarious part because it has everything to do with this.
Because she says, “Well, he always said there was a dress code, but he never really dress-coded us. And then he would be like, Hey, why don’t you guys pick up all these cans during lunch? And then I’ll give you like a free dress day. And then if we didn’t pick up all those cans, he’d be like, “it’s okay. You tried. We’ll give you a free dress day anyway.”
It was hard being in the car like, oh, my gosh! I have such a smart-aleck comment to say this right now. But I gotta keep it inside. Because it’s like you said, I’m thinking, so basically, you just got what you wanted? And his no and didn’t mean anything at all.
Worse yet, then we become figures of instability in our kid’s behavior. Like they react to that because they don’t know if they’re coming or going.
And look, this is not about dominant-parenting, but it’s about being in charge and being the best bet. In Peaceful Parenting, we’ve got to be consistent and kind of like, seriously, “I’m saying no. I know, it’s hard to hear no. I get that you really want that thing. And I get you really want to do that. And I bet that feels really hard. And I Gosh, I wish I could do that for you. I wish that you know, things were different. And they’re not.”
And it’s hard to say no, because then you do hear that opposite viewpoint where my daughter prefers this other person compared to like the current one.
Why? Because he doesn’t say no. And yeah, so I know parents want to be liked by their kids. But in the long run, it’s not benefiting them.
No, it’s not, because as kids get older, the stakes get higher.
And I think it brings up a good point, there’s a difference between
like and love, and
and trust and mistrust.
Like if I had to pick from all those things- like trust would be the most important thing to me.
I don’t care if my kids don’t like me, but I want them to be able to trust me and see me as a stable figure in their life. And I can’t be that if I am changing my answer all the time.
And if I’m not consistent, then I’m showing them that the way that they have a relationship with me is totally based on my emotions and that my emotions run my brain. But they don’t.
The relationship is what’s important. But again, if I’m making choices when they do things that displease me based on my emotions at the time, I’m not teaching them how to think through and problem-solve and calm down and use self-regulation.
All these skills that they get to learn- just from me not lashing out at that split-second with my emotions.
Yeah, totally agree.
So like, all these things do make parenting pretty hard. I know that you’ve put a lot of thought into the how and the why it makes it hard. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, it’s funny, because we’re talking about all of this assuming that we have typical kids, but like, that’s the thing, like, it’s hard enough to raise a typical child- never mind a child with extra needs. And so many parents do have that, whether it’s ADHD, whether it’s, you know, kids on the spectrum. So I just want to say that like, yeah, it’s really, really hard. And I think that what we need to remember, in general, is that the most important thing is not to punish them.
The most important thing, you know, is to have a good relationship with them.
And I know that sounds really wishy-washy, if you don’t know this kind of parenting, but like living in that relationship with them- where relationship comes first, which means you’re not judging your kids, you’re not labeling their behavior, you’re not putting them down and criticizing them, or making fun of them, you know, all of that stuff, right? You were just saying, you know what? You may not be the kid that I wanted, but you are for sure, the kid that I needed. Even though, sometimes I wish I didn’t mean this, you know, like I say, my oldest child is the greatest gift I’ve ever had in my life. And he’s the gift that keeps on giving. And some days, I wish I didn’t have any more gifts, you know? Like, I’m good. I’m good for lessons. Thank you very much!
But obviously, I still need them. You know, I think it’s also about us, just remembering that our kids are just who they are. And we’ve got to honor who they are. We’ve got to figure out who they are. Let them figure out who they are. And then we need to recognize that when we’re really, really triggered, it’s not about them.
It’s about us.
And something that’s either happened to us or you know, or in own childhood, you know, and in it, it means that we need to work some stuff out, right? We really are raising our kids as our second chance to really make sense of our childhood.
That is a really good point. Because I always think about my own childhood when I’m parenting. Because you notice that when you get triggered, and you’re like, why why is this such a big deal to me? And I’m like, Oh, I know because I was told I couldn’t have this as a kid or this happened to me. And usually, it could always be traced back to my own personal feelings and not really an objective view of the whole situation.
Now I’m going to intervene on that real quick for anybody listening to this. It doesn’t happen that quickly. It’s all over it for a while. Therapy does help move it along a little quicker. But yeah, it’s the work.
I tell parents that I work with that this is actually the work. It’s just this stuff (our stuff), right? The rest of it’s actually pretty easy.
But it’s managing our own thoughts and feelings, right? And taking a moment. And it’s practice. I look at it as the practice of peaceful parenting, right? It’s not ever like oh, I’ve got it. I’ve done it. I’m done working. I have to commit every day to doing it. Because my default setting is not so nice. You know, so many of us struggle with it. I mean, yeah, I want to control. I want you to do as I say, just because I say so. I’d like my life to be easier, Thank you very much! And you just do it. But it doesn’t work that way.
Resources We Shared:
Cozi Family Organizer App FREE Family Organization App that includes customizable calendars, shopping lists, dinner recipes, and MORE!
Easiest Allowance and Chore Chart Ever – The foolproof plan and allowance tracker for running chores & allowance for your kids – even if you’ve always struggled with follow-through.
The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here . These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.