The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast

Sailing Through the 'Should Storm': Charting a Course for Mindful Parenting. With Dr Alison Escalante

March 03, 2024 Peter Lap
The Healthy Post Natal Body Podcast
Sailing Through the 'Should Storm': Charting a Course for Mindful Parenting. With Dr Alison Escalante
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As parents, we're often caught in the eye of the 'should storm,' buffeted by unyielding waves of perfectionism and contradictory advice that promise smooth sailing but leave us floundering.

Pediatrician Alison Escalante, MD, joins me on a voyage through these tumultuous seas, shining a beacon on the cultural expectations and societal 'shoulds' that threaten to capsize our parental confidence.

Now that I've exhausted that analogy let me tell you why you should listen;

Alison Escalante MD is a Pediatrician and the author of the upcoming book Sigh, See, Start: How to Be the parent your child needs in a world that won’t stop pushing, (available in all good bookstores)

She is a TEDx Speaker and a woman on a mission to ease the epidemic of anxiety that has convinced us we are always failing and is stealing our joy.
She has developed a 3 step method to help parents raise their kids mindfully, skillfully AND enjoy doing it.
She writes for Forbes on the science of human performance and Psychology Today on life in the culture of anxiety.

She has degrees from Princeton in the history of ideas and Rutgers in medicine, and did her pediatric training at Duke and University of Chicago.  She is an adjunct faculty member of Rush University School of Medicine.

We are talking everything to do with the pressures of motherhood.

Mums are constantly being told about the things you DEFINITELY SHOULD or ABSOLUTELY SHOULD NOT EVER! do when raising their kids (breastfeeding Vs formula, screen time vs none, cry sleeping vs "that's child abuse!") and it can be really difficult to live with the pressure.
Alison cuts through all this nonsense and has a clear way to help you find the best way for you and your child.

You can find Alison everywhere;

Facebook
Instagram


As always; HPNB still only has 5 billing cycles.

So this means that you not only get 3 months FREE access, no obligation!

BUT, if you decide you want to do the rest of the program, after only 5 months of paying $10/£8 a month you now get FREE LIFE TIME ACCESS! That's $50 max spend, in case you were wondering.

Though I'm not terribly active on  Instagram and Facebook you can follow us there. I am however active on Threads so find me there!

And, of course, you can always find us on our YouTube channel if you like your podcast in video form :)

Visit healthypostnatalbody.com and get 3 months completely FREE access. No sales, no commitment, no BS.

Email peter@healthypostnatalbody.com if you have any questions, comments or want to suggest a guest/topic

Playing us out this week 


Peter Lap:

Hey, welcome to the Healthy Postnatal Body Podcast with your postnatal expert, peter Lap. That, as always would be me. This is the podcast for the 3rd of March 2024. You know, day before music means I have a guest on. I'm talking to Alison Escalante MD. She's a pediatrician and, more importantly, she's the author of the upcoming book "Sigh, See Start.

Peter Lap:

How to be a parent your child needs in a world that won't stop pushing". This is a fascinating conversation. You're going to love this. We're talking about the idea of shoot storms and all that sort of stuff when you know you feel I should be doing this or I shouldn't be doing that and all that sort of stuff. How to best navigate that. What a good process is to actually make your way through that horrifically difficult time where you find yourself in a situation where your initial instinct can be a bit overwhelming, where all the parenting books have told you one thing. All the advice you get is telling you something else and basically just how to raise a healthy human being, a healthy adult, in a way that is manageable for you, for a process that actually works. You're going to love this shot. You're going to love Alison. So, without further ado, here we go. Let's start at the beginning. What is a should storm?

Dr Alison Escalante:

Well, a should storm is a term I coined to describe our current culture of parenting, which is perfectionistic. It's critical. It drives parenting anxiety by constantly bombarding us with messages about what we should do, what we should not do, what we should never do and how we're likely to mess our kids up for life. That is a shoot storm.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that starts quite early on, doesn't it?

Dr Alison Escalante:

that messaging it starts well before you even break that that's correct, and it's not only the culture, but then parents tend to internalize these messages. So, we do it to ourselves as well, so we're constantly focusing on what we should do, what we shouldn't do, whether we're getting it right, whether we're getting it wrong, and this is very distracting. It leads us to actually often be more focused on these shoulds than on our children themselves, and that's really counterproductive.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that's a good point, because I see this quite a lot with first time parents, with new moms and I say first time parents. This is something I find mainly. It's mainly the mom that suffers from this, so to speak, that suffers from dealing with this. If you know what I mean, that might well experience it. But yeah, I acknowledge it a little bit and I'm just talking about the normal couples. Everybody listening knows I'm middle aged white guy. My default position is male, female, married. That is the way I talk. There's nothing to do with how you live your life and all that sort of stuff. There's no judgment in any female, female, male, male. It's all good. This is just the way I tend to speak. But the whole. For example, I know my child would be happy watching the iPad for a little bit, but I have told myself that I should not let her or her watch the iPad and therefore I will not. That is the sort of thing that you're talking about, isn't it?

Dr Alison Escalante:

Right, and it's difficult because some of these shoulds are correct. They're good advice. Right, that one depending on the age of the child is good advice. We found that under the age of two screens and screen time iPads are uniformly negative for the child's brain development. So, yeah, and then as we get older, we really do want to have some kind of limits on that. So that's good advice. But the problem with the should storm is that there is so much advice that it's conflicting. So you get, say, you're on a parent's online group. If you were to put a question out there, you would get multiple different comments with conflicting advice, people telling you sometimes exact opposite things, at least one or two telling you you're a terrible parent, and maybe some being supportive. So I think that's the hardest part is we're expected to know what to do, we're expected to get it quote right for our children, but we have such a multitude of advice it's impossible to tell how to do that and what advice to listen to.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, that's it. Yeah, the sorting the wheat from the chaff and all that sort of stuff is huge, especially considering a lot of information or advice shared is not necessarily shared by people that actually know what they're talking about.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Well, that's right, and I think a lot of parents end up choosing like a preferred parenting expert as a way to sort it all through and then, but the thing is, they become so loyal to this parenting expert that then and I think it again it's a way to manage this crazy culture.

Dr Alison Escalante:

But sometimes that can lead to then wholesale just trying to apply what the expert says, instead of again giving kids what they need most, which is our true understanding of them. But I wanted to go back to something you said about moms and dads, because, as a pediatrician, the majority of couples are going to be your standard heterosexual couple, so I had certainly observed that trend. But even there I have noticed that there are couples where it's the dad who really struggles with the should storm and the mom who has that other role of saying no, don't worry about it, it's fine. And I think I've learned from personal experience that I think it's sometimes the role we're in. So a term we have I don't know if you guys use this term in Ireland, but a term that's common in the US is the concept of the default parent. Have you heard this?

Peter Lap:

Yeah, I'm familiar with it, but for my listeners, yeah.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So the default parent is the parent who takes on the mental load, the responsibility for organizing and managing the family, and in modern family of parenting that means, you know, signing the kids for all these different enrichment activities and making sure their grades are excellent and making sure their emotional health is and running them around to all the different things, or organizing the folks that do run them around to the things, and of course this is generally the mother. But here's what happens when you flip that role. In my own case, two years ago I got sick with COVID and then I developed long COVID, and so I've been really struggling for two years now and most of the time I have to rest like not most of the time, all the time I have to rest all of the day. Sometimes I'm unable to get out of bed at all for days at a time and it's affected my you know my ability to keep things straight with the brain fog.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So my husband took on a lot of those responsibilities and he became the default parent, where he's the one keeping track of all the kids activities and he's the one, you know, making sure that they keep up with their homework and they eat a healthy meal, because he's doing all the cooking and so forth. And guess what? All of the sudden, for the first time in our life as parents, I've spent a year telling him it'll be fine, Don't worry about it, and he has spent a year telling me oh man, this is a concern and that's a concern. He's in the struggle with the should storm because the responsibilities are on him right now and I'm the one on the outside saying it's okay, it's okay, honey.

Peter Lap:

But that's a fascinating one, because I would have thought just again, from my own experience as a middle-aged white guy standing by the sidelines, I mean and I'm exaggerating that position a little bit right, I understand not having the mental load, not being the lead parent, as you say. So standing more to the side, my, let's say, my dad's default position was very much, oh, you shouldn't really be doing that. Do you know what I mean? Giving all the advice, that is, giving all the shoots, and should not, without any of the responsibility, to actually no shoot the kids really be eating. That was my. Mom was cooking. There's a reason they ended up divorcing, right?

Dr Alison Escalante:

I'm not saying yeah, I mean we, I think it's it's it's really hard to define. Every couple's going to have their different iterations of this. It sounds like your dad took on the role from the sidelines of what we call a shooter. I had been the default parent for many years, so I'm not going to in my case. I know what it feels like and I, I, I know that my husband is invested, as a father, in the well-being of his children and that's what drives some of the stress right, and so for me, I, I don't come into it. So I think we we're all going to have different reactions based on our own background and our own experience.

Dr Alison Escalante:

But I have noticed in more than one family, like families where the wife takes on a very high powered career and the dad becomes a stay at home dad, and some of those dads seem to be a little little less likely to internalize the should storm, but others of them, just by taking on the role of the childcare, seem to struggle with it more. So. So that's the point is that it is out there and I think, I think it affects all of us, you know, in its own way. Oh yeah, even just to sparking arguments between spouses about whether you should worry about that or not.

Peter Lap:

Well, that that was going to be my my next thing, Cause I I.

Peter Lap:

I'm not quite a bit. Indeed, as soon as the person in in the shoot, the shoot person, so to speak. This is. I should really be doing this as soon as the comment from the other parents could then be ah, don't worry about it so much. There might then be a snappy moment there, right, cause it's the don't tell me how to parent, even though the, the, the person on the on who is not in in that moment, uh, who's standing on the side? That's who's standing to say, telling it to to relax a little bit Doesn't necessarily mean anything by it, right, cause that is very much what my wife and I find, that when, for instance, when she went through, like parents, menopause and all that sort of stuff, and she'd say I keep forgetting, ah, don't worry about it, and she was like that's not the point, right, I'm very good at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, you know. So that that can be, that can be a tricky situation.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So I think that's why this idea of the should storm can help couples like you, right when you're. When you were there for over a year, she was standing muito intelligent. If you don't understand how the culture is driving this, it can't, and how universal this is how, as a pediatrician, I've observed that it seems to affect every parenting situation in some degree. It's easy then from your position to say, wow, she is just so neurotic, she is worried about everything, right? No, she is being told messages and they are spoken with such power, such authority, and the threat is very real that your child will not grow up to be successful or have a good life if you fail. Right, but what failure is is unclear, and what the right thing to do is unclear. And nobody feels the should storm more powerfully than single moms.

Peter Lap:

Oh yeah, well, that's the whole America. Farrara, Barbie Spiel, isn't it? Her monologue? And as in, you can't do it right for doing it wrong, or you can't even get it right, depending on, because somebody, like you said earlier on, will always tell you you're doing it wrong, even if five other people are telling you you're doing it right. It's that Facebook support group sort of sort of structure a little bit.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right. That's why we actually I actually started a Facebook support group called should free parenting, and one of the membership questions is do you agree not to should on other parents in this group?

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because that's a really important point, because it is with the isolation that, especially in this day and age, but that always kind of comes with being a new parent. So you're probably, if you're a parent for the first time or even the second time, you're likely on maternity leave for a little while. And I understand in America maternity leave is terrible, but over here you get six months or something like that, which is great. So your friends as in your established friend group tends to still be at work. Nobody has babies at the same time, other than the people you meet in your anti natal classes, right. So then you have this new group of friends that you kind of only know and they kind of only hang out with because you really have to be pregnant at the same time. You get along well enough. So those are the people you meet for your coffee mornings and all that sort of stuff.

Peter Lap:

Then if you're a single parent and you might have to go back to work earlier. A lot of these connections are mainly online, so you have your Facebook groups and all that sort of thing, and the temptation, what I find with support forums is that people tend to think of their online acquaintances and the people they talk to as their friends in that situation and therefore take whatever they say a lot more seriously than they might otherwise do, because the feeling of isolation can be quite strong, and that is your group.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right and I mean there's nothing wrong with that because we need a group. The western industrialized approach to parenting of living alone in your house and being there with alone with a baby while you're recovering, yeah it seems like.

Dr Alison Escalante:

For some of us is especially, you know, it can be brutal what it does to your body having a baby, and it's not normal in human history and it's not healthy for us to be alone with our baby like that. We've always raised children in extended family groups or tribal groups that you might think of, sort of family friend groups, and so we need to find ways to be connected, and I think online friendships are very real friendships. I have some that are very important to me and some friends I've never even met face to face who are really close friends. And but you're also right that then when that, when that advice can, but then that does give an extra authority to the advice. So the question becomes Okay, well, if we're not getting what we need from this parenting culture, how do we raise our kids well? And if there's no way to be perfect or figure out exactly what the right advice is like, what approach can we take so that we can meet our kids needs? You know?

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because that was going to be like my next question, when people are telling you indeed, and some support groups are distinctly better than others, right? And?

Peter Lap:

I always tell people that is part of a support group always a good thing. Just make sure that you know you're hanging out with positive influences, so to speak, that you don't get bullied online into do into a parenting style or into a recovery style or whatever it is that doesn't actually shoot you. So what are, then? Some of the things, of course, you know that you recommend. How do people deal with being in that moment where you're like I should be doing this, I shouldn't be doing this, but how do people get out of that?

Dr Alison Escalante:

Yeah, and so sometimes that's what's going through our head, or sometimes we just feel anxiety or this intense drive to just jump in and fix it with our kids. Right, we've got to get it sorted right now. And so when we feel this way, I developed a method to help us with that and it's called psi C start. So when you feel a should or you feel unsure, psi C and start. And some people, it's kind of similar to what we were taught about if our clothes catch on fire. Right, if your clothes are on fire, you're supposed to stop, drop and roll.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Yeah we need something quick and easy to remember in moments like that, because we're not really thinking straight. When our clothes are on fire, we're not going to go. Oh, let me see, what did that fire safety manual say? We're going to remember that. Our kindergarten teacher told us stop, drop and roll right. So it's the same thing when your brain or your emotions are on fire as a parent, you psi C and start. And all of these steps are actually rooted in science and what they do is they help us actually connect with our kid instead of the shoulds in our head.

Peter Lap:

Yes, yeah, because that is an interesting. That's an interesting point because obviously I think we all agree that as in deep down we know, especially we know that's that every child is different and therefore it's in some parenting advice like when you're talking about iPads and screen time and all that before the age of two, awesome and and you know, all that type of stuff works and it's good advice for 90, 95% of kids. And then you'll have the outliers. That will be a little bit, be a little bit different and they might not be great with either screen time up until the age of three or four or five, or they might you know, they might be a little bit better with it. But it's really difficult to take that individualized approach If you are not indeed able to spot what the best solution might be and indeed do that. Take a step outside of the parenting book, so to speak, and then decide what the best way is.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Because we're taught not to trust ourselves, and this method actually teaches us how to have confidence in ourselves as parents, not by saying, oh, just follow your instincts, because then you typically do what your own parents did right.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, it's always bad advice.

Dr Alison Escalante:

But by giving a method where you can learn skills. So, for instance, it starts with the Psy and with Psying, you deep breathe and then you let it out long and slow. Now a lot of parents tell me, doc, I can do that, I, I see it, my kids all the time anyway. And I say that's right, and if you can catch it, instead of a Psy of exasperation, try a Psy of relief. Right Now, when we breathe out slowly, it actually sends a message to our nervous system that we're safe and that it's okay to connect. So Psying is one of the breathing methods that takes us out of fight or flight.

Dr Alison Escalante:

But unlike the other breathing methods out there like there's box breathing and there's, you know, three, nine, six breathing and there's all these different techniques, this is the only one that's 100% natural and built in right and we all Psy. It's, it's wired into the system. And so if we Psy, we can tell our nervous system okay, stop overreacting, stop with the fight or flight, stop with the anxiety. And if you actually Psy right now, you'll notice that your body starts to calm down immediately. Now, when I'm really worked up, I like to Psy three times in a row, because one doesn't quite do it, but three can be very effective and by the time we're done Psying, we feel more like connected in our body instead of our head, more present in the moment and more able because we're calmer and more connected with what's going on.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, I remember one of my friends is a trauma therapist, you know, as in proper trauma. So we're talking like bombings and all that sort of stuff, helping people to be covered from that sort of thing, and he said he likes to double inhale. So he was a deep breath in, then another deep breath in and then let it go, because he said that's also guaranteed if you're too worked up, if you're too far. To have that one Psy sort of is one size enough, because it's good that you pointed out that you sometimes use three, because but I've seen with some people is that okay, I've had a deep sigh, which it wasn't really a deep sigh, and then they still jump in. So you're actually still in that fight or flight state, right?

Dr Alison Escalante:

Right, and that's that's right. So this is not meant to tell people oh, you should only sigh, you shouldn't use your preferred breathing technique. Right, if a breathing technique works for you, use it. But the point of sigh is for those of us who don't remember in the moment to use that breathing to technique we we heard about. But sigh is a little easier to remember because either we're doing it anyway or it's an alliteration. So, oh right, scythe start. And I think the other thing is that that's why there's three steps to the method. Right, we don't go right to jumping in and reacting and and and doing something.

Dr Alison Escalante:

We sigh first and then have to take a little time to see before we make a choice about what we do.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and and that's that's interesting Cause, when you say, see you talk about this, you know actually assessing the situation.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right. So, um see, is about, um, mindfulness, and a lot of people think mindfulness means that you have to meditate for 30 minutes a day and you know what. You're a postnatal mom and you can go great, great, super helpful. But I didn't have, uh, the mental energy to even concentrate on meditating at that time, when I was home with newborns, and so, um, we've learned from the research that actually, uh, even micro moments of mindfulness make a huge difference. Um, so the sighing is the breathwork part, and then the C is where we see what's going on with our child. We see the situation, we notice and we observe without immediately trying to change anything. And the mindfulness concept here the word is acceptance and, uh, westerners have a hard time with the word acceptance because it's not like a direct translation from you know the original Buddhist concept, right? So in this case, acceptance doesn't mean we say, oh, that's fine, little Timmy can hit his brother, that's no problem, that's not what we're saying. Mindful acceptance means I say, okay, this is what's happening right now.

Peter Lap:

Right.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Not I'm denying this is happening right now, or this shouldn't be happening right now. I've got you know like. Or I failed because this is happening right now. We cut out that shatter and we just notice our child and in so doing, we get a lot of information that we don't normally get, because normally we're running the shards in our head.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that's again. That's that's interesting. But because the first time I heard about the acceptance in the way that you're talking about it was when I had like a headspace sort of app, sort of thing, and they, they really talk about it as in the point of mindfulness. Acceptance, as, as they explained to me, was yeah, you know, if you're meditating, a half hour complete peace and quiet might well be what it is, but you know so, as we're recording now, my gardener's arrived about five hours late, so they're using the leaf blower outside, which is perfect timing, right. So you know what it is, what it is and that is just what it is. Our actions I can take to deal with that that don't involve shouting at the guys, but that don't involve losing my mind. It just is okay Asking myself doesn't really matter that they're there currently, or can I just take some easy actions, because I can't change the situation anyways? Or indeed, I could change the situation if I ask them to leave and all that sort of stuff.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right. So we, we what you're talking about is moving out of that initial irritation. You feel right and mindfully recognizing the situation as it is, and then, because of that, you're talking about choosing to respond as opposed to react, right, so you're not just reacting, and you could react in multiple ways. You could just sit there and do nothing but be mad about it or frustrated right, it's a British approach.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Yes, and it's a yes, I think, I think, yeah, I mean, I think it's also a common mom approach in a lot of situations. Or you know you could go out and ask them to leave, or you could call the manager later and fuss. You know there's all these options. But instead of just reacting, you've taken a moment and now you can make an adult response. Because that's the problem is, parents were supposed to be the adult in the room and the should storm does not equip us to be the wise adults in the room. You know, and one of the things I love about C for parents of newborn, for postnatal parents, is that a lot of it can be.

Dr Alison Escalante:

A lot of information can be gathered by looking at your child's body language right, listening to your child's cry. You know Parents have been told that they are supposed to be able to learn to recognize their child's individual cries and what they mean within a few weeks, and sometimes that's the case, sometimes it's not. But if you've got your auntie's voice running in your head saying, how can you let the baby cry like that? That's neglect. You're not going to be able to really notice what's going on your child. Maybe they're just overheated and they're going to fall asleep If you give them three or four minutes to fuss it out, not neglectfully, but just like you know. Or maybe that's a pain cry, you know, and it prompts a call to the physician. But the key is that it's hard to think straight with all those shuds in our head.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, absolutely, and indeed it's interesting, like you mentioned, about the crying and all that sort of stuff. This is where a lot of the episodes in the last year or so have mentioned you know, the Chinese habit of sitting the month, the Salir-2 type thing, which is basically and it's other, loads of other countries do it it's just unfamiliar with the Chinese one. In fact, several guests on, like Dr Crystal Lau and Gwangmin Widley and all that sort of stuff, who talk about that method where the first 30 days after giving birth, the mother essentially only bombs with the child and recuperate. So there's no housework, there's no cooking and there's no entertaining of guests. The only time people are allowed to come is if they're helping out. So someone can come visit you to be of service to you, not for you to then go.

Peter Lap:

Can I make your cup of tea, can I look at my baby, and all that sort of stuff. There's none of that. It's just for you to recover and then bond with your child and, like they pointed out and I think they have a really good point unless you have that bonding time specifically, it's really difficult to get to know your child well enough when it's not actually talking yet. So that immediately now. I mean sure, in DuPors you'll get there, but it's much easier if you have a tremendous amount of bonding time. That is where you don't have to worry about anything else Other than I need to relax, I need to recover, I need to get well because you know labor is what labor is and pregnancy is what the pregnancy is. And this is just time for me and my baby.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So I've had the honor in my practice to care for a multinational population and because I live outside of Chicago, so we're an area that attracts people from all over the world, and I've always been intensely jealous of my East Asian mothers who practice this, because I would have loved to have that month, yes, instead of hosting friends and giving them coffee and tea, all of those things right. But I'm glad you mentioned it because I want to reassure the moms who don't have a family who's lined up to do that, not to panic. Bonding happens. It just can take us a little time, you know, but you're not missing out or missing a key opportunity.

Dr Alison Escalante:

We've gotten a lot of distorted information since the 60s and 70s suggesting that if women don't bond with their child in a certain short window, that they'll never bond, and that's quite untrue. We've proven it. In fact. You know you bond at different, different paces. You bond with different babies in different timeframes because of you may have a similar temperament or a different temperament and so forth. But yes, mothers need a little more care than we give them and I think that's a wonderful tradition.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and the reason I brought it up is just because it makes sense to do so if you can. That's nothing. And it's like you said, it's a position almost of extreme privilege in this day and age because you know, most, most parents, women, just can't just look after a child for 30 days and especially if you have two or three or four or whatever, it becomes impossible almost and the family structure isn't, isn't in place like it is in some other countries and cultures and all that sort of stuff.

Peter Lap:

But that's mainly because we've drifted away from it. And, like you said, you'll bond. And yes, I remember reading one of those parenting books from like the 70s or 80s I think it was the 80s and 90s that was really full of that type of book where if you don't bond, don't bond fast enough with your kid, your kid will be a sociopath.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's fundamentally what it said.

Peter Lap:

Yes, and you just. I've seen American Psycho and I'm fairly sure he didn't do that because if mom chose to use formula rather than breastfeed, but that I'm so glad you highlight that message because that message is still present in the should storm.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Parents still hear that and they don't know where it came from or how wrong it is. But you know, connection is is so important it's the most important part of parenting, actually is that sense of connection that our child gets from us. But then we still have to do things right. The baby's still screaming, the baby's still hitting his brother on the head. What are we going to do? And so that's where we get to the start step. And the start step is where this parenting method is different, because there are a lot of wonderful parenting advice methods that include mindfulness steps. What's different here is, once we get to start, we take the information we've gathered, we take that sense of connection to ourselves. That is the beginning of confidence and we make a choice. Maybe we start thinking about what's appropriate here, maybe we start thinking about how to do things differently or start thinking about what we learned from the body language. Maybe we start something and that something works and that's great, and we learn something. And the more times we start something mindfully, like this, and we gain that success and knowledge, we feel increasingly skilled and confident as parents, and then we feel less anxiety. But maybe we start something and it fires and doesn't work. Well, most moms will then immediately cycle back into oh I should have done it differently, I failed, I shouldn't, blah, blah, blah. But we know what to do. When we feel as should we sigh, see and start again, right. And so if you continuously practice this cycle, the should start to lose their power.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Now, one of my very favorite things to start is nothing, because I'm naturally a little reactive, and so for me, once I created the method and then started using it, I noticed I was more likely to just pause and not say anything at first, and I found that in many cases. Sometimes that was because I wasn't sure what to do, because it was because I could see that my child just needed some space, because sometimes, especially when they're frustrated, when they're trying to achieve a task and they're frustrated, we jump in at the first yelp to try to rescue them. And actually, if we give them a little space, sometimes they'll work it out for themselves and they'll often gain, like with babies, skills like learning to roll over or learning to reach and grab. They can get so frustrated while they're working on that. But if we don't let them work and get a little frustrated, they never achieve the skill Right. So the main thing with start is that you're constantly gaining new information and enhancing your parenting skill by what you learn moment to moment and day to day.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because it's interesting, because when I read that, when you say and you said it now as well right the start phase. It says start listening, start thinking about what an appropriate reaction would be, whereas you know, for a lot of people start, they would immediately jump in. As in the start is I now have to take action, whereas you're saying no, no, no, no. Start is when you start thinking of how to address the situation rather than immediately jumping in and doing something.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Now, depending on the situation, if little Timmy is hitting his brother on the head, I'm jumping in. That's my start, right and so. But you're right, because when we move from C to start, we take that information we've gathered. We can also, as we get better at it, take the information we have from our prior knowledge of our child, and maybe we choose to incorporate that piece of parenting advice we read that seemed like a good idea, that seems to fit this child in this situation, and then we start it right. So we're now responding wisely instead of reacting.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that way you can also ask yourself the question which again is something that's come up in a lot of parenting books, I think, recently is what kind of a person am I trying to raise here, right, which is, admittedly, it's an important question, and I'm not saying people shouldn't ask it, we can. Now, you want to raise a kind child, and all that type of stuff. So you can ask yourself, when you're starting to think about that, how the reactions, for instance, that our parents might have had were maybe not appropriate in this particular circumstance. Yeah, indeed. Well, little Timmy is hitting his brother. Maybe it's time to remove little Timmy or take the mallet or whatever away from him.

Peter Lap:

But in almost every other situation where, for instance, little Timmy is trying to take a biscuit off the kitchen counter, the best reaction is maybe not smack little Timmy on the hand as hard as possible, shouting no, and it gives you time to assess that and think okay, but what am I actually trying to accomplish here? It's interesting that that is part of that start process, because it allows you then to formulate a much better idea. So what your actual successful approach will be in the long run?

Dr Alison Escalante:

Yes, and I mean the corporal punishment that people your and my age grew up with. What it really teaches is I'm bigger and stronger and I can force you right or I can cause you pain if you disobey. It doesn't teach wise decision making. It doesn't teach and we're talking about on the child's part right. It doesn't teach the child to say I'm going to think this through and learn how to make decisions.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So the way we're parenting today, most of us are trying to do this kinder, gentler, respectful parenting, which I'm all for. It's certainly how I'm attempting to raise my kids. What we're trying to do here is model for them kindness, model for them respect, and it's messier. Our kids are worse behaved at younger ages than I and my brother's were because we knew we would get a spanking if we didn't. But I've seen on the other end.

Dr Alison Escalante:

As a pediatrician, I get to observe the whole lifespan and it is messier, but it leads to something as they become older adolescents and young adults. That's really beautiful An awareness and understanding of themselves and an ability to think things through. That I feel like it's very different than I and my friends had as adolescents. That being said, on the reverse side current parenting we often tend to overdo it, and when we are interfering with our kids all the time rescuing them, frustration, not letting them learn things for themselves then we're getting in the way of that skills development. So when we calm ourselves down and one of my favorite starts then is to give the child space to figure it out or try to support them by equipping them with what they need to figure the problem out Then we can try to hit that respectful parenting we're looking for, without taking away their chance to gain skills.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because you still need to learn how to live in the real world. That is how the pendulum tends to go. People with the pendulum was maybe a bit too far out in my generation's parents, and especially their parents, to be honest.

Dr Alison Escalante:

It wasn't even further out.

Peter Lap:

And now maybe it's gone a little bit too far on the other side, but hopefully it will settle in the middle somewhere where we just get to the stage. As I always say, your job as a parent is mainly just to try to raise a reasonable adult, and anyway you do that, it's completely fine. You can do it with your breastfeed or formative feed. Just keep them alive and raise a reasonable adult that makes reasonably good decisions. That's a win in anybody's book.

Dr Alison Escalante:

I think we see very much eye to eye and that's why the subtitle of the book it's SIC Start how to be the Parent your Child Needs in a World that Won't Stop Pushing. Because what you've just explained there is you've got to let go of the pushing to get the exact right feeding or the exact right this or the exact right that You've got to take that pressure off yourself as a parent and that starts to take that pressure off your child, or at least you can be their place of resilience from that pressure that's coming from their school or the outside and then hopefully raise a reasonably kind, reasonable human being.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because, like you said, that is the end. What I like about your method is that it's not just made up. There's a tremendous amount of science behind it, because you know what I mean when I say not just made up. It doesn't just sound good. A lot of parenting books and a lot of people listening to this will have read those parenting books, especially if you're in your second or third child or your kids are a bit older, and then you come across the offers that started with a slogan, so to speak, and then broke the book around them, which is very much not where your book is. This is all much more science-based.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Right, and the book goes into depth on that in a very understandable way. Don't be afraid of the science. We talk about the science of the autonomic nervous system. We talk about problem-solving methods that you can, especially as your child gets older, because when they're very young, no matter how we parent, we generally are going to tell our children what to do to some extent, but as they get older, we want them to be more engaged in decision-making, in problem-solving, and so we have. You know I share methods about that that correlate with CICY's start.

Dr Alison Escalante:

And the other thing that was important to me was, besides, it being simple and easy to use for those of us who are overwhelmed and can't remember the more complicated methods and I include myself in that it was also about making sure that I didn't. There's so many books out there that say this is the method. Buy into my system, let me become your parenting guru, right? No, no, I just want to help and I'm not a guru, but this method is something that you can apply by itself. Maybe this is all you need. Sure, this can be a method that you use to enhance the way that you apply other parenting advice. Right, and that's very important to me because, again, you know, having the honor to doctor a multinational group of people, the different traditions, different ideas, you know different ways of approaching things and my job is not to come in and say you must do it the way I say I'm another should store right, it's OK. Well, how can we enhance your parenting in your home and in your culture, with respect?

Peter Lap:

Yeah, because again, that's a very interesting point, because again I did an interview with Tessie Watson not that long ago and she is of Afro-Caribbean descent and she also has a book out and she says that because a lot of these books are coming from a position of the white person telling you what to do no matter what, as in Western education. Let me put it that way this is the Western way to raise children and therefore this is Whereas that kind of flew in the 1960s and 70s. But because we have large multicultural societies now, it comes across as more than slightly racist, or at least my supremacist.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Absolutely.

Peter Lap:

Without intending to right. Yeah, just a lot of these books are written from the perspective of wanting to do wanting to do good but they completely ignore what you were talking about the multicultural aspect of the audience.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right.

Peter Lap:

And if someone from Oriental descent or culture or African culture buys your book, they're not going to go with the ah, there we have another one that I can just throw in the bin. Or, even worse, it becomes part of that shootstorm that is culturally completely inappropriate as it adds another layer of oh my God, I already have so much to deal with. I have to do this as well.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's right, and you brought up something very close to my heart. What I don't try to do in this book is pretend, you know I am a Caucasian from America and that's going to be my viewpoint and so I am limited in that way. So I don't pretend to. It's not one of those books where I went to a different culture and then I tried to white-splain it to everyone else right.

Dr Alison Escalante:

I think culture is too complex for that right. But it is meant to be respectful, it's meant to be inclusive, and not just in that way, but also for the parents that get left out by most parenting books. And those are parents, because, I'm sorry, but most parenting books, the ones you're talking about, they read like you are in. They seem to be all written for happy heterosexual couples where the parent, most likely the mother, has endless time and energy to perfect her parenting, and that's not real life. In the US, 70% of mothers work, have to work.

Dr Alison Escalante:

That's the economy Right, but the idea that it's a choice is a fallacy that's often spouted in America. I wanted to write this book to include the families I've cared for, families I have the utmost respect for, where the parents are working two jobs each, three jobs. They barely can get enough sleep and they barely have enough energy to take care of themselves, let alone their kids. I wanted to write this book for the divorced families, the single families, for the families who had sick parents. That's funny, I wanted to, and then I became a sick parent and really embodied that and found that the method does help even in the middle of that, because even if I can't always care for my kids' physical needs and thank goodness they're old enough to do that themselves I can still connect. And then the last group that we included that always gets left out is non-heterosexual couples, couples that are raising families, and they're usually left out. We have stories from couples like that in the book.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that's a real, really weird one, because it always makes you think of Cheryl Sandberg Lean In, if you remember that horrific book that came out 15, 20 years ago, where Facebook-.

Dr Alison Escalante:

I was holding my breath, waiting to say did you like the book or do you realize what a disaster that was?

Peter Lap:

No, no, there's a cluster of a book. It's a nightmare of a book, the whole idea that you can have everything and all you need to know is just be a bit more man up a little bit. That's fundamentally what the whole book says. Man up and just lean in. Have you seen the Book of Mormon? By any chance.

Dr Alison Escalante:

I have yes well, man up.

Peter Lap:

The song is in that as well, and it is that equivalent just man up. And it's horrific, but a lot of these books are written in that way. Indeed, if you just do this and you just transform yourself into something you are not so whether that comes from gay couples or non-binary people or whatever, or the multicultural, culturally different couples or whatever If you just do it this way, then you, too, will be successful. If you just ignore everything you are, then you will be fine, and I have never come across a bigger recipe for this.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Oh, and especially when you think of the single parents right, Parenting on their own and you must be all to your child, right?

Dr Alison Escalante:

While being the breadwinner, you know, and all of that. I love the way you put that. I love the way you put that If you'll just be something you aren't, then you'll be successful. Scythe's start is the opposite of that. It's like look, this is where you are, this is what you've got. Let's work with what we've got, because you have more than you think. And that's what parents discover when they practice this method. They suddenly realize that they thought they were incompetent parents and they turned out to know a great deal more about their child than they realized. And then, by this experimental method of trying things out until you figure what works, you quickly learn hey, I can do this and it's not perfect. But oh my goodness, there are few messages worse to send to our kids than you need to be perfect, right? So if we're modeling, that, that's not healthy for them either, and I know I just threw out a should there, but there are a few shoulds, right?

Peter Lap:

And one is some things yeah.

Dr Alison Escalante:

And so when we say, hey, you know what I love you and I'm going to try to know you and experiment with what works till we figure out what works together, that approach gives our kids space to take a similar approach for their own lives. And what a gift that is.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that's back to the raising decent adults, isn't it? Because it is exactly what you said. I always tell all my clients listen, you have to work really hard to break a child. I think you have to put some effort into screwing something up just by making the wrong choice Once, every now and again, by getting reading the situation wrong. Do you know what I mean? As in, if you're not dealing with a situation perfectly, your kid will likely be fine. Yeah, yeah, honestly, there is. It is so difficult to break them. You have to put some consistent effort into it to really mess a kid up.

Dr Alison Escalante:

And you know what that's. The other thing is we have the option of repair. Yes, if we mess up and we come to our kids and we say, look, I am not, I don't like the way I reacted to that. I'm sorry, I screamed at you. I imagine it made you feel a lot of things. I'd love to hear how you felt and I apologize and I want to do it differently next time. You know our kids. They can be two or three and they're already able to understand apologies and to understand repair. And that's the key is, if we make a mistake, we don't want to bury it under the rug and pretend we didn't make it and pretend we know everything, like our parents did. Right, because they were taught that if they apologized it would undermine their authority, right, absolutely Not true. A genuine apology actually boosts authority. It boosts trust. It says I am a trustworthy person who takes responsibility for all of my actions. Yeah, the good and the bad.

Peter Lap:

Yeah, and that is very similar to. I always gave the example when I still had a proper job before it became the boss python thing. And it's the person in the office that makes a mistake, the person in the big office that makes a mistake. And then the boss comes out and you know who made the mistake. And if the person immediately raises her hands that was my screw up Everybody, everybody's okay with that situation, whereas if you're the person that just keeps her head down, hopefully it wouldn't get noticed that you make the mistake.

Peter Lap:

Everybody knows it was you and everybody will be thinking of how untrustworthy you became in that moment just by not owning up to a mistake that almost everybody makes. Goodness be honest, everybody screws up every now and again and we use that, we accept that in adults, but it's it's. It's taken a while to filter through. That idea is filtered through to the parenting relationship as well, as a parent can just apologize to you. It's nothing wrong with that. I made a boo boo here, I'm sorry. I'll try not to do it again. How did it make you feel Okay and then we can actually move on, rather than that lingering suspicion of future trauma that's sitting there so much.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Yeah, you know. I mean, I think that how we respond to our own mistakes is a fundamental piece of character, right, yeah, but it's interesting to one of one of the things. One of my favorite chapters in the book is where we talk about raising the family. You have not just not trying to turn your child into a successful child, however our culture defines it, but raising the child you have in the family you have in the circumstances, in the circumstances you have with the resources you have, which may be more or less. And one of the parts of that approach is is, you know, the should storm culture also encourages this kind of social media parent, right.

Dr Alison Escalante:

So we, we post lots of pictures of our best moments, right, and we look great and we look put together, and you know, we try to, you know, project that image, in part for self preservation. But the more that we size C start, the more it becomes okay to say you know what, I'm having a hard day or I'm having a hard time. And so, in order to be a good model for everybody and to include those parents I've always loved, the ones who struggle with chronic illness or going through cancer treatment I'm going to admit that because of my long COVID, my brain is stopped working and so I'm having more and more trouble following you and I'm finding that I'm out of energy. And you know, our culture teaches us to hide weakness. But I would say that if I can be honest about my weakness, maybe that'll encourage another mom or dad who's who's struggling in their own way, and maybe that'll be a good example for my kids during times when they when they're maybe not 100% to yeah, no, you're absolutely right If that is.

Peter Lap:

If nothing else, that is an excellent message to to finish on, Was there anything else you wanted to touch on, Because we've covered a lot of ground.

Dr Alison Escalante:

No, this was a super interesting conversation.

Peter Lap:

Lovely. I'm not happy. No, don't stop and press stop. Record is exactly what I did. Thanks very much to Allison for coming on. Like I said, I love this conversation and I love her approach. When we recorded this, which was the 12th of Feb, her book wasn't out yet, but it is now the 20th of Feb it came out. So you know it's available absolutely everywhere. I've seen it on Amazon, it's on Books of Million, it's on Barnes Noble. So I will, I will link to absolutely everything and check it out.

Peter Lap:

This is one of those, one of those things like, like she pointed out, you can apply this to absolutely every situation, every sort of parenting method that you have and all that sort of stuff. I think it's, it's a huge help and you know she knows what she's talking about. So thanks again for her to to her for taking the time out a whole hour out of her very, very busy schedule and, like she said, she struggles with long COVID as well. So for her to make the effort is absolutely huge and I genuinely appreciate that. There's a new bit of music and then, you know, I'm back next week with God knows what.

Peter Lap:

I think we're doing a Q&A next week. Good people, because I've got five or six questions from you Lovely people. Peter at HealthyPosnatorBodycom, if you would like to add to the list of emails I get I'm a huge fan of emails If you could give me a little five star rating, give the podcast a little rating. I know reviews are a pain in the neck, but a little rating really helps. So thanks for that. Appreciate it and I'll be back with a little Q&A next week. Right, take care of yourself. Bye now.

Dr Alison Escalante:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Navigating the Parenting Perfectionism Culture
Navigating Parenting Pressure and Support
Acceptance and Mindfulness in Parenting
Parenting Connection and Starting Mindfully
Enhancing Parenting Skills Through Listening
Effective Parenting Through Honest Communication
Upcoming Q&A With Music Update