Episode 23

#23 Gentle Parenting with Rebecca Cefai The Matrescence Podcast

In this week’s episode we talk to Rebecca Cefai from Growing Gently Psychology about all things parenting. As a registered psychologist with many years of experience working in the childhood development and parenting space, Rebecca was perfectly positioned for a smooth transition to motherhood. However, like everyone else, motherhood turned her world upside down and she quickly realised that there was a gap between best practice parenting and what was realistic when you were on the ground, in the trenches and knee deep in parenting. Throughout the conversation we discuss both what the research says about parenting and our own lived experiences, including stories of when we really got it wrong. Rebecca teaches us how to get clear about our parenting style, what to do when you are not on the same page as your partner, how to repair when you f*ck it up and so much more.Subsequently, we explore the responsive/ gentle parenting style, including what it is, why there is a growing trend towards this kind of parenting and what it looks like in a real life context.At 37 weeks pregnant and in lockdown, Rebecca also shares her plans for birth, including her hope to have a  maternal assisted cesarian.This was an honest, vulnerable & non-judgemental conversation about parenting. Join us for this weeks episode. To continue to conversation connect with Rebecca at @growinggentlypsychology https://www.growinggentlypsychology.com.au/ Follow us at @matrescence.podcast Head to our website: http://www.Matrescencematters.com.auJoin our Facebook group: Matrescence Matters

Transcript

“This transcript uses AI to extract what we say into words on a page so our ideas can be accessible to all. The algorithm isn’t perfect, and neither is our pronunciation so we are quite sure that this transcript will not be perfect. Using technology allows us to get it out faster and we appreciate your patience in reading it as it was spoken. In this case done is better than perfect.”

Kelly: Hi Rebecca. Thank you for joining us today. We’re super excited. There’s a lot to cover around the elements. But I think the best place for us to start today is to talk about why we were interested in having you on the podcast. Because I remember you sent us an email and being a psychologist. You’ve got the academic and research back and the clinical experience, but I remember you pointing at that moment when you got your own baby in your arms, when everything just changes, but also solidifies what you know, what I’d love to do is have you talk a little bit about what work you do, how that changed when you became a mother and you’re about to go and do this again and become a mother second time around.

So a little bit of the story of you to get stuck.

Rebecca: Hi, thanks for having me. I really appreciate you having me as a guest on this podcast because I love listening to it, but I’m also really passionate about speaking to other moms about my experience, because as you said coming into parenthood I had experience both academically through my study, but also I’d worked in a variety of settings with children.

So I was quite confident about the transition to parenthood and yeah, it definitely was an eye opener. Once I became a mother myself like I’d always worked. I think I started working with children. I volunteered in high school at a before and after school. And I really thought this is what I want to do.

I want to work with children. So I set off and decided to study psychology. And throughout uni, I worked with children and then I got a job as a intern psychologist working with children. So I’ve worked consistently with children for quite a long time. And so yeah, leading up to the birth of my first child I’ve actually been reflecting on that a lot because I am pregnant.

That kind of takes you back to your first pregnancy and what you’re doing at the same time. I think so I’m just about, I’ll be 37 weeks tomorrow. And I was just thinking actually the law over the last week about, what my thoughts were this time, my last pregnancy. And I’ll have to say that.

I was pretty faithful about the birth and labor and what to expect, but I was quite confident about parenting. I think it was because I worked with children. I’d supported parents, we seemingly good results in their parenting. So I was quite confident. And then obviously that all shifted once I did have a baby of my own.

It’s such a different experience when you have your own baby. I think that, it’s, I probably didn’t realize the relentlessness of parenthood and had the manding. It is. And I also, I think your identity really does shift. I know, particularly for me, I went from someone who was able to set myself, set my mind to certain goals and work through them and had a lot of control over what was happening around me.

And then I get a little baby and she completely was different to what I had imagined because she is her own little person. I think I totally underestimated that the impact of things like temperament and your baby’s middle personality on parenting. And I think that it was I think early, the early parenting stage, that transition, which this is why I first started listening to your podcast because you talk about Matrescence I.

Neck deep in that those early days. And I was getting a lot of different information from lots of different people. And I had in my mind, like what I knew about, infant care or articulate infant sleep and the biology of slate, but in reality, when trying to do it and you’re sleep deprived and heal, homophones are trying to balance themselves out.

It’s really tricky. And you’re getting lots of mixed messages from everyone. And I think that my daughter’s slate was probably the most triggering aspect of my early parenting role. And I did reach a time where I did have this moment where I realized There was like kind of two paths I could go down.

I could continue to go down a path where just getting lost in the confusion, or I could just put my feet down and make a decision that was aligned to my values and move forward in my parenting. And I did that and it was a lot of work. It didn’t come naturally or easy. But then once I, I did that and I came through the end.

I’d really developed psych another layer of, I think, compassion for parents and some insight into the true challenges of parenthood and also a passion for helping them navigate not only the information presented to them, but also what their values are as parents so that they can pick and choose.

Yeah, they want to parent and they empowered in their parenting experience. So that’s why I started growing my psychology.

Kelly: Perfect. So your experience of Matrescence and becoming a mother really allowed you to get that clarity about how you want to just show up as a support for others, you touch on a point there about, the research and right way to parent in the myriad of information.

Are there some universal truths about what good parenting is or is it really just what you find is aligned to your values from what you’ve experienced and also what you’ve researched?

Rebecca: Yeah. I like to say that there’s probably there’s, there is a, probably a wrong way of parenting. But for most of us.

There’s multiple right. Ways of parenting. So I think that’s always useful to keep in mind when you’re looking at how your parenting compares to others. There’s multiple right. Ways of parenting, but I suppose it is also, so one of the values of my the way I work is to be an informed source of information for parents.

So having access to information is particularly important that we can make them the decisions that are aligned to our values. So if I had to narrow it down to what might be the key elements are probably mentioned attachment. So I’m looking at attachment being the relationship caregivers and parents have with their children and how that can set up.

The foundation and the social and emotional foundations for children right into adulthood. And so focusing on parenting in a way that builds a secure attachment, what referred to where children feel safe and secure and they have their needs responded to is quite important. And the other lens that I like to look at in my work too, is parenting styles.

So looking at the different parenting styles, particularly if we want to know which one has probably the best outcomes and we’re looking at the authoritative parenting style or what sometimes. Thrown around there’s lots of different labels that are thrown around nowadays, but sometimes gentle parenting, which is sometimes the term that I often refer to falls into that authoritative parenting style.

And that’s where caregivers or parents have really high amounts of warmth and emotional responsiveness and connection with their children. But they also do have boundaries and put limits in place to make their children feel safe. And so their children can learn.

Bree: Beautiful. Kelsey’s going to jump, go back to her questions in a second, but I did want to jump in quickly because I loved what you said about informed parenting.

And that’s the term I used on Instagram a little while back. And at the time I kinda thought I invented it. Honestly. I’d never heard anyone say it before, but I’d come from preparing for birth for nine months. And everything was about informed consent informed decision-making. And then I became a parent and all that kind of just went away and I was like, hang on.

This is the same process for birth as it is for parenting. And. Your Instagram page is a fantastic source of expert and evidence-based information. Mine is not always. And I openly admit that. And I’ll say to people, like this is my experience as a parent. And sometimes it isn’t aligned with best practice, but if you don’t have the information available to you, you can’t make informed decisions.

So part of parenting I think, is going okay, I understand why we do it this way, but it’s not practical for me in the season of life. So I’m going to do it differently. But as you said, a key component of that is having the good evidence available to you in the first place. And I think sometimes we get parenting is such a sensitive topic that whenever anyone tries to tell us how to do something, we shut down completely.

So being able to like Wade through that and deliver it gently to people is so invaluable. And we also had we did ask prior to this interview on our Instagram, what parenting style people felt most aligned with and overwhelmingly people identified with that gentle authoritative parenting style.

So it’s really interesting that you say that and I think that’ll be reassuring for a lot of people.

Rebecca: Yeah. I think, yeah. When you’re talking about, you’re comparing like S like I’m hearing like the evidence-based information that parents could receive versus that that personal experience, I think both of those together, Are valuable.

And it’s about just, I think parents sometimes being just mindful about, what information is, this is this person’s personal experience that doesn’t need to be Y experience too, but it’s something that I can still take onboard that can help me feel select subsidiary clarity. Yeah.

Bree: Big solidarity fans. Yeah.

Rebecca: And I think that really crucially part of parenting, because I firmly believe that we are because parent alone and with parents together. But having also them being able to differentiate between okay, I just, I need to know the fact up and being able to access that I think is also an import.

Kelly: Yeah. And look there’s a lot in this because one of the reasons we started this podcast was because we understand that people learn through storytelling, that we pick up things through hearing the stories of others. And we’re always conscious to say, we’re not experts, but we have the opportunity to bring people onto the podcast from time to time who come both with that personal experience and the experience that comes with the research and academia, if people want to go deep, but that’s why people don’t read the textbook.

They want to hear the stories. So I guess that’s one of the things I was pondering before this, my parenting journey started a full decade before breeze. And the other thing which we’ll get to later maybe is why we’re also triggered by our parents and our parents’ parenting styles and how that influences how we parent, but thing those generational gaps of say.

My grandparents who didn’t even think about how they parents, they just tried to keep the children alive to my parenting generation, through to my own journey. And then it feels like the expectations of mothers and the job of motherhood has just expanded so much. Like you have to have almost a PhD in motherhood to have a mother.

Nobody goes into motherhood now without, saying what research do I need to read and what book and what course should I do, et cetera. So even a decade ago, there was quite low expectations for me in motherhood. It was feed your baby, make sure they’re healthy. My first child was born in London, so there was this first early introduction of things like baby massage and baby sensory and singalongs in the library, which I think probably only hit Australia many years later.

So I guess what I’m curious about is. Are you finding that parents are searching more and more for a book, a course? Or are they generally going on autopilot until they hit an issue and then calling you from your experiential point of view? Yeah.

Rebecca: So I’d say that all parenting throughout the ages is something that’s learnt and it’s not something that’s necessarily instinctual, but I think the way in which parents are learning to parent has maybe shifted.

So I think before, we’re talking about our grandparents or even earlier, the parenting information was just passed down from generation to generation. Parents learnt how to parent from their parents, from their grandparents. But also from the parents around. But now he’s saying some shifts where I know the stats are that parents are having children older at a later age, but I tend to observe that is just an average.

And so what we’re finding is parents paperless, still having children, younger people are falling in the typical average range, and then people are having children later. So what that creates is that we’re often parenting in isolation. We’re not like around parents as such. And so what we’re finding that we have to do is figure out, cause it’s confusing when you go to a correct.

Infant that you don’t know how to settle, let’s say, what do you do? Where maybe before you would have, observed different people, trying to settle their baby, and I’ll be observed different techniques in settling. When now parents may like sometimes the first baby they hold is their baby.

They’re having to actively reach out. I think that’s probably why there’s more of a shift for people to be reaching out to maybe the internet or books and things like that. And I think it’s also reflective of just like the information age where, there’s a lot more information about out.

It’s a lot more easier. It’s a lot easier to access information and we can do it really quickly. But also,

Bree: sorry, can we just take a second to process that as you said so many of us. The first baby we hold is our own. That is such a radical concept. Like throughout history, that would never have been the case.

We would have been handed babies, siblings, relatives, and participated in their care. And I would say that probably for the vast majority of men specifically, the first baby they held would be their own.

Kelly: Do you think, oh, a hundred percent. And even thinking about this, we’ve talked a number of times about the modern village.

And I hear people talking about, I’m the first one in my friendship group to have a baby. I have no model. I have no framework. And then when you dig into it, they’re also, I, that came from a family that lived geographically dispersed. So they didn’t have younger cousins. They didn’t have, experential like view of what parenting looks like other than what they see modeled through television series.

And we were not going to go down that rabbit hole. So your point and we think about it, know. As women, but also particularly for men there, isn’t this, group of, adolescents who are also experiencing younger children and seeing that modeling of behavior through generations and half generations and decade gaps, as opposed to just here you go, he’s a baby off you go.

Bree: Yeah. And we, again, we asked this question on Instagram, where did you learn to parent? Cause it’s such an interesting thing to reflect on. And many of us don’t stop to consider it. And there was pretty much a dead 50, 50 split of people could say whatever they wanted to say, books, podcasts friends.

And there was almost a dead 50, 50 split of people saying I learned to parent from my parents. I really want to emulate them in my parenting. They did a great job. And then the other side of going, I am trying to parent, in spite of my parents, I want to be nothing like them. So even when we are influenced by our parents and has seen that some people.

It’s influenced them in a way that they’re trying to reparent themselves in order to make really different decisions. And that’s, as you said, hard to do when you’re in the trenches, you’re on the ground, making these decisions that’s an overwhelming process to go through.

Rebecca: Yeah. I think now we’re seeing that we can have a choice in how to pair it where maybe before you just did what was expected of you, people tended to, get married young because that’s what you did.

And then you would have a trial straight away because that’s what you did and you parent the way your parents did, because that’s what you did. But now with there’s a lot more choice in our lives in general. And then we know now we can choose how to parent, which is a blessing and a curse because it’s a blessing because we can choose and we can make change, but then it can be a curse because then it’s fine.

Even when, you might want to make a change, et cetera. How do I know how to do that? And have, can I do

Kelly: that? W which is that whole, even when we know better, we don’t always do better. There’s a part of me that wants to ask, even when you know, what is good parenting and what a choice is, what happens when you have those moments where you’re like, ah, I just didn’t show up and do that the way that I would have hoped.

How does, how does that work for someone who knows better already versus someone who doesn’t

Rebecca: I keep talking about the last week I’ve had, because have you been around my home? Because yeah, I’ve definitely felt that more the last week. So being in Sydney and locked down with the toddler and having no energy to parents because I’m pregnant definitely.

Optimize stress and and my energy levels are low. So I feel my capacity this past week to parent, responsibly, which I’m a massive advocate for has been significantly reduced. And, there’s been yelling because I PM it. And there is a bit of a conflict net sometimes for me, because I know in the back of my head, what I should be doing, but I think that if I focus on the shirts or when we do focus on the shirts I should be doing, they should be doing that.

That’s when like creative and the more stress I know that when we’re stress, then we can’t bake those good parenting decisions and have those good parenting moments. I’ve really found, find that the self-compassion. Being self-compassionate can really help ACE through those moments.

So being kind to myself, allowing me at myself to have those moments allowing for a breakdown between my daughter and myself, I might yell at her cause I’m that modes. And but then knowing that I can also then at a better moment make a repair and reframing it as not a failure, but as a way that’s teaching her as well, that, sometimes because we’re human, we make mistakes.

But there’s something we can do about that. Then we can have a repair, my say, sorry, or come in for a hug. That was a really hard moment for us, both. And I think that. Seeing that’s really helped me. And this does come from the resection, which shot is I’m reminding myself about it.

You don’t need to be a perfect parent. It’s certainly good enough parent. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to respond perfectly a hundred percent of the time. I’m only intending to do it most of the time, what actually counts.

Bree: That’s something that Kel actually taught me. Honestly, some people may know at this point that I met Kel when I started working as her nanny and from my own parenting, I went into the experience going, I need to have it together.

I’m the authority to figure that one I’ve got to have it together and, Kel really showed me that human side of parenting and that whole, it’s not about the rupture. It’s about how you repair it. And that there’s actually huge value in children getting to see big imperfect and how you navigate that situation when you get it wrong.

And I’ve spoken about this before, but it was so uncomfortable for me at the beginning with Kels boys initially, and then with my own little guy to be like, I’m really sorry, I got it wrong. And I want to try that again because it didn’t feel good for me and to apologize to him because I had this feeling of, I can’t let him see me be weak.

I’ve got to maintain that. I’m in control. I’m in charge of it. I know what I’m doing. But I want to. A human being. And in order to do that, I need to be human with him, I think.

Kelly: Yeah. And I must admit, it, I love hearing that the things that Bree got out of our experience together, because even now, when I was preparing for these, one of my questions was what happens if we’ve screwed it up?

Because I worry with pre-teens what happens if I have screwed it up? Is it repairable? Because I immediately think jump straight to all the moments that I did screw up and only heard this morning that there’s research behind this concept of good enough, which felt right to me in parenting, because I was in a phase of, I can only do what I can do, and if it’s not good enough for you then, and being vulnerable with my own kids.

So I was very pleased to hear this some research, but there is a part of me that does want to understand that a little bit more is as we go on and our children get older and. I have spoken to people before who say I’m choosing not to have children because I’m frightened that I will screw it up. And the world doesn’t need more people who are damaged.

And obviously there’s a lot to unpack there in their own background of their experience of being parented. But there’s a part of me that every day that does say I’m doing my best here, but what if I have screwed it up? Oh

Rebecca: yeah. I think that’s a true fear. I don’t want to say all to generalize, but I think a lot of parents do resonate with that fear.

And yeah, that’s definitely a true fear. And I think that’s where the good enough parenting paradigm really does help. But I also, parenting as a learning process as well. We often say that, children are going through these big stage, but then learning what’s right and what’s wrong.

As parents, this is. Last time that we’ve had a child and as their child gets older, this is the first trial we’ve had time. This is the first time we’ve had a one year old. This is the first time I’ve had a two year old to get. This is the first time I’ve had a 17 year old.

Like it’s always a first time, and every then micro experience in that is our first time. And seeing parents as continuous learners, I think can take the pressure off because if we look at the learning process, learning isn’t linear, there’s ups and downs, and we can only.

Do you use the information we have at the time? And we could only do what’s within our capacity at that time. So as it does

Kelly: change. It brings me to an interesting point about being on the same page with your partner or co-parent, whatever that looks like, because that’s something that certainly Bri nine environments talk a lot about as we are married and we’re not always on the same page with our partners.

It’s a constant process. And these kinds of into the four really early, because when we did invite Bree to come in and work with us, and it was a work construct very quickly, there was a realization for me that there were parts of our parenting. We weren’t on the same page, but that we actually had to three-way parent.

So we had to invite Brie into our relationship and set up a. Series of, in the early days assist a wife. Yes. And we have,

and moments where people I’m sure. Looking, going to see actually have two wives. Cause I can’t like that scenario, we would have family meetings, we would talk about values alignment. We would do this. And I bought this as a business lens because it was the only lens I had because I wasn’t trained to be a parent to say, I do values based hiring at work.

Let’s do values-based hiring in the home. Let’s work out what our strategy are, what are our guiding principles and non-negotiables. And over the years we had to do less and less explicit conversations about it because we were on the same page. But one of the things that we’ve also talked about is how different my husband and my parenting styles are.

And somehow we still managed to so far have made it work. I’m curious about, again, your thoughts on this co-parenting being on the same page all the time. Sometimes, in

Bree: front of the kids behind scene, that seems like, how does that look and how do you navigate it when, sometimes you can compromise, ideally you’re going to be able to compromise, but sometimes it’s a black and white decision.

Do we put the child in daycare? There’s not really a compromise there they’re either going off. And so in a way, someone is air quotes winning. And how do you navigate that process and make sure you’re aligned so that you’re a United front for the children.

Rebecca: Yeah. I think what I like, I love when you’re talking about the preparation, you put into creating that three, three parent unit.

And what I can really pick up is like communication. Was there. And I think that it really does, whether you’re parenting, you’re whether you get together with your partner or whether you and your partner are separated, but you’re co-parenting or whether you’re sharing the parenting load with like your grandparents or I’m living like, multiple families living under the same roof.

I think that it does come down to communication and the way that we communicate and having those conversations from the beginning about, what do we want for the child? So it can be really tricky as parents and as adults to talk about, the best way to parent, because we all do have our different views on that.

And we all have the diff different experiences. To our parenting role. And I think that bringing it back to the child and what might be best for the child can really help with that. I’m a big fan of experimenting and seeing what works for the individual trial rather than just rolling.

Yeah, I think he’s best as a parent. Sometimes what we think is best. It doesn’t actually work.

Bree: Yeah. Yeah. And actually, this was a question that I wrote for you because I genuinely wanted the answer. It’s not that I already know it, but when you were talking, it just popped up in my mind that really, this is essentially what Kel did with me as the nanny was we sat down, we communicated, we ensured we were aligned in our values, but then she gave me radical trust to make on the ground decisions for the boys, because there were times where she was in meetings and was not contactable and neither was her husband.

And, I would have to make decisions about, okay, how are we going to navigate this situation, this meltdown, this, for example, one of her boys always forgot his hat or his entire school bag or his lunch box for like day after day, year on end. And so then I had to go, okay, W, how would they navigate this situation?

Is it best to go? This is a natural consequence. I reminded you three times and today you’re actually going to have to stay inside because you don’t have your hat or go, okay, we’ll turn around. We’ll get your hat silly you. And so we did that groundwork of going let’s communicate, let’s get aligned, but then, she didn’t micromanage the decisions I was making and that’s probably very similar to how we should navigate it within our parenting relationship.

And I should probably take a leaf out of my own book and do that with my husband. Yeah. And

Rebecca: I think it comes down to we’re so critical of ourselves in our parenting role. So it also, that gets reflected in whoever we’re parenting alongside, when we say like other people would have been perfect if we’re expecting ourselves to be perfect to that committee also.

Yes. Escalated show allowing. Imperfect parenting about, I really like what you say about trust. I think it does come down to trust.

Kelly: Yeah. And it, when Bri was asking me this question, in terms of some of the decisions that they’re navigating as parents in their own thing, part of me was going, I don’t even know why you’re asking me this because you’ve done it.

You did this so successfully in our family. And I can remember, sometimes she would ask me like, if they ask me and particularly because I have boys, it was a lot of curiosity having another, a significant other woman in their life who was teaching them to love and about femininity and nurturing and caring other than mum, they felt in those early days, as they were navigating their bodies and sexuality, they would ask me a lot of questions and she was asking me what can I tell them?

And I was like, even doubt, tell them the truth that’s relevant for you and what you’re comfortable with because I can’t navigate something that I’m not there. So that was part of that trust. But one of the things. It occurs to me is that the stakes are different when it’s on your family terms. But I, it was a big thing for me.

And you mentioned at the beginning, you like to be a planner and you like to be in control this realization that I can’t control everything. And so I have to do some kind of distribution of power and ownership in order for us to move through it. And one of the things that I have, where we are in still a nuclear family situation, one of the things that I think about a lot, but I have no ability to help my friends with is what, how does this work when you do have separated families, when you have, kids who are moving between homes, when you have step parents, when you have other parenting elements, you mentioned grandparents.

Sometimes the village includes that. And we’ve talked about how we’ve never gated that before, but yeah. When you have no control over how another parent parents, how can you show up for your child when you do have them to give them the best possible chance of stability, nurturing and thriving when you can’t control?

What happens when they go elsewhere? I know that’s

Bree: good question.

Rebecca: I think it’s about there is a degree of trust. And I think it’s also about, again, focusing on the trial and using the child as a manual, so to speak. So we’re bringing up tricky conversations about, just say your partner took your child and they may, that maybe they use a different parenting practice that you don’t agree with.

Maybe for example, they use the naughty check. So not necessarily, abusive, but as something that you would probably never do to say that was example It can be helpful instead of to go in guns blazing. And you’re saying, I don’t agree with that. This is what I think, you think differently is to focus it back on the trial and being like, how do you notice did that actually working and, how’s the trial responding and, if, and focusing back on what the child might be thinking and feeling as though, as a guide for whether that strategy, whether you agree with it or not is

Kelly: working.

So even in terms of relating to the children themselves, and this is obviously age dependent even though I’m under the same house with my husband, there were times when he will parent or make a decision, that’s very different than what I would, and my kids will come to me. And it’s that it’s not fair.

There’s I don’t know. I’m sure everyone’s heard that from the

Rebecca: top, the point. It’s not fair

Bree: phase. Yeah. They aren’t really a

Kelly: thing, right? Yeah. It’s not there. And, One of the things that, that we’ve been doing to try and navigate it is for me to be able to say to them, it wasn’t my decision, but I have to respect his decision.

How do you want to respond to him to let him know how you feeling about this? That’s constructive because me going in and telling him he’s wrong for doing that, it’s probably not going to get the same outcome as you expressing back to him, how that makes you feel. They’re a bit older. I guess what I’m wondering about is how, and there is a scenario of someone in my life who doesn’t have a great relationship with their ex.

There, there is deemed periods of visitation, which the handover is tenuous. So she has no ability whatsoever to give any feedback or influence the other parent, but she receives the children back in varying states. Let’s just say that when they come back from those visitation, so her being able to show up for them and say whatever happened in that experience, this is the safe place for us to parent.

Brief. I’m just curious if that, that seems logical to me, but is there anything that actually supports that?

Rebecca: Yeah, I think there’s definitely situations where perhaps bringing in a third party, like a family support service can help with those particularly challenging dynamics. But also if you’re looking at things that you could probably do as a parent, what you can control is, things like what skills can you build in your child to advocate for their needs?

So similar to what you said, I actually I’m still with my husband, but I still use that skill of, how would you like to communicate that with dad? I think that, even from a young age, we can start to instill that with our child rather than coming in and rescuing them in that situation.

So for example, my Little one is really not wanting to be called a baby at the moment because she’s a big guilt. And so when my husband calls her a baby, she gets very upset that you will come and tell on him. Daddy could be a baby. And so I just say you might need to tell daddy that daddy, I don’t like that.

You called me a baby. And so giving her the language and the communication to communicate that back to him rather than me always intervening. So I think that strategy would work well too, when you don’t have to right. Influence with that parent. And I think it can also be powerful when it’s coming from the child, rather than from another adult who there might be some underlying conflict there as well.

The child is saying that they don’t like something that can also have a bit more effect.

Kelly: Yeah. That actually really resonates. And I guess that’s building better humans that are in their own sovereignty, have their communication skills and helping them to practice communication from a young age of when you do that, you make me feel.

And I think your point is that it’s probably never too young to start because sometimes we take a few goes at to practice things along the way. I just had a thought about, say, going back to this, getting on the same page, I remember listening fairly recently and I am going to have to look up which ones so I can link it.

I was listening to a business podcast. Inside of that they delved into, I hear you have an interesting way of making decisions with your wife and what it turns out is that they have a system whereby when they disagree on an outcome or a decision that they’re making, each of them has to rate how important the decision is to them.

That’s what we do. Perfect. Yeah. So let’s talk about the daycare example. So one parent is this is a 10 for me. I think it’s critical. And the other part would be like, oh, it’s a seven. So then you have a basis off to go. It’s 10 for me. So surely my answer should have greater white and it gives you a gain of frame because sometimes you can argue really heatedly about something.

And when you ask them well, out of 10, how important is that decision? They’re like, oh three. Wow. Why are we arguing about this then this year?

Bree: Yeah. And I’m actually at the moment I’m reigning the books, the book you wish your parents have the book you wish your parents read. Have you read that? No it happened, actually.

It’s just really good. Yeah. Yeah. And she says, essentially when you’re in this predicament of having different beliefs around something to do with parenting, what tends to happen is you getting to a gauge, a game of fact tennis, where we are humans. We have confirmation bias, you can find research to back up, whatever view you hold.

So it’s really pretty redundant. So to bring it back to feelings, and I think that’s what this strategy does as well as going to sit 10 out of 10, this in terms of how I feel about it. And that can be a really good way through. And in terms of the daycare example, I want to share a story of when I got it really wrong the other day, because we certainly don’t have it figured out.

And we are trying to transition to being really, even more responsive in our parents. Taj does not want to go to daycare at the moment he’s distraught. When he goes, carrying him out the door, kicking and screaming, it was okay, but it’s getting worse. I’m home. And I’m actually really happy to have him home with me.

So I’m the opinion of let’s just pull him out for the rest of the year and it’ll be fine. My husband disagrees and we hadn’t, we’d been avoiding the conversation and avoiding the conversation that it came to the morning and my husband was taking him and he was. Screaming and crying and holding onto our legs.

And my husband was trying to take him and get him in the car. And my husband’s a very gentle and responsive parent, but he saw I’ve got a task to do. I’ve just got to get him in the car. We’ve got to go. And so then I said, Oh babe what are we doing? Why are we doing this? It doesn’t make any sense, like easiest the way we want to parent.

And it was the wrong timing because then how it played out was that I was siding with Taj and I was not United with my husband. And. What we needed to do is have that conversation privately so that we were aligned, but it was so distressing for me to see him like that, that I couldn’t think of anything other than resolving the situation.

I just wanted to swoop in and scoop him up and be like, it’s okay, baby. Mommy’s got you like

Rebecca: 100

Bree: to stop. Yeah. And so even when we do know these things, like my husband’s accounts, like communication is his like bread and butter, but it’s still so hard to do because we’re invested in this little person and parenting is emotional and it then came, sorry, that was Wednesday.

It came to Friday, his next daycare day. And my husband was working nights. It was up to me to take him. I had Emmy who’s a newborn in into, and I just said to my husband, look today, I’m not taking. If he wants to go, I’ll take him. But if it’s the same situation, I’m not going to put either of us through that.

And on the weekend, we’re going to sit down and talk about it and make a decision. And so in that way, I was able to meet my needs and make a decision that felt right for me, but not undermine my husband in the process, if that makes sense. But this is as recent as Wednesday. So

Kelly: out of curiosity, what happened on Friday morning?

He didn’t

Bree: want to go same process. And I said, okay, we’re going to go. We’re going to have a nice day at the park. But then on the weekend, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to talk about what this looks like for you, but once we pull you out of daycare, there’s no going back. You can’t change your mind.

And yeah, like my husband and I will now make a decision around that. So that come next week, we can be more of a team, hopefully.

Rebecca: Yeah. It’s a good point though, that you make it’s really. Probably not productive or helpful to have those conversations in the moment. Those moments are so emotionally charged that, the, what we know about effective communication or what we think might be the best decision.

When I think it clearly just flies out, but we go,

Bree: yeah. And I’ve said this before that, when I came into Kellen and parenting dynamic, I would ask Kelly a question and she would say, okay, I’ll go and chat to ant and get back to you. And I was like, what? You’re a parent just make a decision kind of thing.

But I loved that. They were we’ll go off into our private space. We’ll talk about it. And then, come back to you, come back to the kids and we’ll be a team on whatever we decide. So you actually did this very well killed,

Rebecca: taken away. We’ll see. I think that we can feel when we’re under pressure as a pair.

Yeah. And then putting those conversations at times where we’re Betty there’s, we’re setting those conversations up for success. So I also think timing is important, not just, reacting in the moment, but also thinking about sitting up on the couch with your partner 10 o’clock in the night, is this the best time to bring up a conversation about parenting a parenting disagreement when you’re both tired and you’re both covers idea,

Bree: very triggered by that.

That’s literally, I’m like, now’s a great time to talk about this.

Kelly: And by the way, in carrying it around, having the conversation with myself for the last 12 hours ready to tell you, I actually, I must say I did learn this from my husband, because one of the things, when we first got together is he, if I bought something up, he would just shut down.

Not even he couldn’t even respond and it used to drive me bat shit crazy. Don’t shut me out. And some, I laugh and we laugh about it now because he, that period of time, he goes into his little cave is reduced over the last 15 years. It usually was an average of three days. It would take for him to get his head around whatever I bought up.

And then he would come back to me and he would say, when you raise it with me, I couldn’t answer you. I’ve been thinking about it. Here’s my answer. And over time I learned how to navigate that. But what I learned from that was pick your times, not just two battles, because inevitably from me thinking about, so when I raised that thing, he wasn’t able to answer, it started to raise a pattern of me, springing things on him at times that he was not able to process them. So now I feel like I’m much more calculating about it.

Rebecca: If we look, I love analogies, but seeing the parenting relationship is like a dance relationship, there’s sometimes where the partner, your partner might want a big dance and you’re like, yeah, let’s get up. Let’s get ready to go. Let’s go out, let’s dance together. And they’re like, nah, I don’t feel, I care.

It’s the same thing too. You might be ready because you’d be thinking about some parenting dilemma or stress for the whole day and then but they’re not ready for it. And so you’re already in the end that it’s probably not going to go very well. So sometimes they even ask me a parent I’ll ask him, or, oh, I really want to talk to you about this sometime, when would be a good time that suits you.

Kelly: Oh, yeah,

Rebecca: I do at work. That’s not necessarily at home, but I’ve started to implement it and it has been a lot

Kelly: better. I think the dance analogy has so much that we could go into because, moving in rhythm, knowing what the moves are, but having, the magic is in the little bit of improvisation, but not stepping on each other’s toes.

And so there’s a lot in that dancing. Yeah, absolutely. So you’re about to introduce a new baby into the family. I’d like to hear a little bit about the preparation that you’re doing with your husband and child around the dynamic of a new human entering. I w we also updated at the beginning that we hear you’re having a maternal assisted service area in which we’re very excited about hearing about as well.

Obviously you haven’t, it hasn’t happened yet, but I do, we fundamentally at the Matrescence podcast, believe that how we birth influences how we parent because of our sovereign sovereignty, over our decisions, et cetera, and maternal assistances area, and has a number of those elements in it. So I was wondering if we could ask you to talk a bit about that preparation, both from how you’re going to birth and preparing your daughter and husband for this new person in the family dynamic.

Yeah.

Rebecca: I mentioned before that, with my first born, I was quite fearful about the birth and feeling confident. I laugh about parenting. And I think that the preparation for this trial began right back after the birth of my first child, his IO was really like, I’ve always wanted to have, multiple children, but after my first one, I was like, oh my gosh, I actually cut out the bed and am I able to actually go through pregnancy and birth again, I’m feeling quite disempowered.

So I think I’ve done a lot more preparation this time around than I did with my first. And I think that if we’re looking to get the birth, I have learnt a little bit about. The role of fearing birth and the birthing process. And that was like a bit of a a key piece of information. That’s really started me off on a journey of preparing for that rather than just winging it.

And after the birth of my first born, which was an emergency Syrian I did try and think of some things that I can do to have a more empowering birth. And I’m fortunate enough that the obstetrician that I did have with my first child is, does offer maternal assist. And he suggested that I do, I have a maternal thesis here at this time realities.

And I think at first I was what is that?

Can you tell us a little bit? Yeah, I’m sorry. It’s basic plea. Where the mum scrubs up as if she’s part of the surgical team and you are then able to help birth your baby. So sometimes the doctors might need to position the baby a little bit outside of the room so that you can lift it up.

And then you just grab your baby and pull your baby to your chest. So it is that maybe that kind of primal experience of a Baba who might deliver Virginia, really bringing the baby to their chest. And then you then also can have your baby on your skin if they’re obviously healthy and have that special time.

It’s a baby on the skin and you can breastfeed straight away and things like that. So for me it is, it’s a bit about having that connection with the baby through the birthing process. And also having a little bit more control over what’s being done, Don Tigger because the C-series obviously surgery can feel like, but it’s just happening to you.

So it does give some of that pal back, which I think is can be really important for bombs in, how they feel birth and having that feeling of empowerment after their birth and. I’m hoping. And I know that the research shows that it can help with that with the bonding with your baby as well.

I know I, I know after my first birth having emergency surgery and that bonding was took a lot of time to come, which I was shocked about. And I think that definitely the birth had to do with that. Cause it wasn’t the birth I’d imagined.

Kelly: And when you talk about preparing for birth this time, you’re referring to the emotional, psychological preparation versus getting out a nursery.

So that, that mental preparation. Yeah,

Rebecca: so different. I think last time it was like a checklist of things I had to buy and, washing the clothes and things, which I think they kind of rituals that are still important. You preparing for a baby, setting up the nurseries. It’s not just about the tangible, but it’s also about the ritual.

Preparing your home for the baby. But yeah, for me, it was definitely preparing mentally. So I done the hypnobirthing for positive scenario in births which gives me some mental skills to practice in preparing for my birth. And so I can stay calm and connected to my baby during the birth.

So that’s been a big for me personally, a big change in the shifted, my mentality of birth I’m instead of being fearful, like I was the first time I’m actually feeling quite positive about it,

Kelly: And what about the preparation of your daughter? Who’s almost three about, she obviously understands there’s a baby coming.

Have you done any specific work with her in the parenting sphere about what will change in the dynamic and your attention with having another baby?

Rebecca: Yes, I have. I, as I’ve met you before, I am a bit of a planner. So suddenly I have thought a lot about, and I know I’ve done some things intentionally to help prepare her.

I was wanting impulsive and I told her that I was pregnant before my husband. I suppose the baby books don’t really say to do that, but that’s just how I was feeling in the moment. I needed to share it with her and she’s, she is quite aware that there’s a baby and she knows what a baby is and she’s been around a lot of babies.

So she does have a good understanding about that. Some specific things that I suppose I’ve done is be mindful of. The language I use is probably the first thing. So when I talk about the baby, it’s not my baby, it’s our baby. So including her in the baby, And so she’s not feeling excluded in the baby process and shaky kind of share that responsibility.

We talk a lot about what it will look like when the baby comes. That the baby will be sitting on mommy’s lap and Audrey can see it next to me. Or maybe at dinner time, I’ll say, oh, when the baby’s here, when am I the baby B, when we’re eating dinner and talking a little bit, or maybe the baby will be in the Rocco, maybe mommy will have to hold the baby.

It gives getting her familiar with the fact that some of those retains it guaranteed to change dramatically. And then I’ve set up some physical cues to like, I suppose having I put the capsule in the car very early. When I was in my second trimester to try and get her used to the fact that she has a different seat in the car and that the baby will be in the car and I won’t be able to see her as much.

It’s backfired because we were barely using the car look down. But no, it was intense. Same with the moving the bassinet into our room, but also saying to her, the baby might not always sleep in the best in it. There might be times where we’re all sleeping together.

Bree: Isn’t that the

truth?

Rebecca: Yeah. W we were reading some picture books about, you will be a big sister and I’m like, yeah, it’s talking about babies, sleeping in the car. This is my daughter would love it. If the baby slept in the car in a different room and she got to sleep with mommy and daddy and how bad I’m like, that’s not our reality.

So I’ve actually tried to physically set that up by talking to her about it and using dolls and props to act out those things,

Kelly: just relying on the book books. Oh, that’s awesome. And we were really excited to hear your experience of the maternal assistances Arion and her involvement in that going forward.

We have covered a lot of ground today, Rebecca. I was thinking a great way to wrap up might be. One of the key things for you is navigating the maze of so much information out there. So if you could leave parents and listeners with just one message that helps them make sense of how to navigate this journey, what would that one message be to help them?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Yeah. But I suppose one thing that I always tend to come back to when parents that in this state of confusion or not knowing what to do or the best decision to make is to really go back to your values. And that sounds really what does that even mean? What are my values, but I think having a clear vision of the child that you want your child to grow up, to be the person you want your child to be not in terms of, what they’re doing as a career, but like what talk about.

Person, they are in their core. And also what kind of parent you want to be like if your child was to describe you when they’re 18 and as you know yourself, if they were asked, what’s your mom like? How would you like your parent to just, how would you like your child to describe you?

So having those two kind of visions in your head and thinking, is this, parenting tool or strategy, or is this way of responding to my child would go to move me closer to those visions? Or is it going to pull me further away?

Bree: I love that.

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. And clearly I’m very values driven person, so resonates with me.

But I think that gives people an opportunity to use that as a tool. So thank you so much. We have loved hearing more of your story and I’m pretty sure there’s lots of things that many people will get out of this episode and listening along and we look forward to hearing. From you after next baby comes.

Rebecca: Thanks so much for having me. I love they, I would have the opportunity to have a talk about these really important conversations. So hopefully, parents can feel empowered in their parenting and they have some kind of direction and say,

Bree: beautiful. Thank you so

Kelly: much. Thanks Rebecca. Talk to you soon.

Kelly and Bree


kelly@birthofamother.com.au
brianna@birthofamother.com.au

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