Mindful Mama Mentor
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Raising Emotionally Resilient Daughters in a Digital Age – Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler [358]
July 19, 2022

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In this episode, I talk to Dr Roni Cohen Sandler, author of “Anything But My Phone, Mom!” where we discuss the importance of building a trusting relationship with your daughter(s). We talk about how to set the tone while they’re younger, for the kind of relationship you want with them throughout adolescence. You’ll also hear about parental anxiety and the modern challenges parents face while raising their daughters.

Takeaways

  1. There will be conflict, focus on being an ally
  2. Being adaptive is important, every relationship evolves
  3. Parental anxiety can influence our daughter’s narrative about us

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About Our Guest

Interview is for: Roni Cohen-Sandler, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and speaker with decades of experience assessing and treating adolescents and adults, specializing in the issues of women and teenage girls, mother-daughter relationships, parent guidance, and psychoeducational assessments. She has appeared as an expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, CBS, Good Morning America, and PBS, among many others.

About Hunter Clarke-Fields

Hunter is the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, host of the Mindful Mama podcast and author of the bestselling book Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. She helps parents bring more calm and peace into their daily lives. Hunter has over twenty years of experience in meditation practices and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide. She is the mother of two active daughters, who challenge her everyday to hone her craft!

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Transcript of this episode:

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

Raising Emotionally Resilient Daughters in a Digital Age – Dr. Roni Cohen-Sandler [358]

[00:00:00] Hunter: So glad you could come talk to me,

selfishly, cuz as I’ve told you, I have a 15 year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter who will be 15, soon as years and a week in a week. in a week. And, but I also think that this conversation is incredibly important for parents of. Young kids like however old your daughters are, because if you have a daughter, because this is a relationship that starts and builds on the things that happen when they’re young would you say, I’m sure you agree about, oh,

[00:00:45] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: absolutely.

There’s no question. I think it’s so important to establish. The sort of things that you wanna accomplish in terms of your relationship with your daughter when your daughter is very young and to set the tone for what’s gonna happen, if you start trying to create a trusting relationship when she’s 15, it’s gonna be that much more difficult.

[00:01:09] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s important. At least for me, like I had that that was a big driving force for me, was like, I don’t want my child to hate me when they’re 14 and 15. I’d actually like to have a good relationship with them when they’re 14 and 15, because I had so much, I had a lot of strife in my own relationship with my more with my father when I was that age.

And it, it was like we had a difficult relationship for many years after that. Because the way he parented me and I was like, I wanted to avoid that, I know there’s gonna be separation and there’s definitely like separation and teenagers are teenagers and they’re wacky and weird and a little bit hormonal, definitely hormonal at times.

And, but I’m feel happy in that. We’re. We’re in a close relationship, still. We’re talking all every day, about all kinds of things. I feel like that you’re right. Like that tone of I listen to her, tell me like these long stories about my lymph and stuff when she was four. And now she tells me all these things right.

That are happening in her life when now that she’s 15. And but I love that idea of set the tone just think about it when they’re young what do you want your relationship to be

[00:02:31] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: like? What do you value? And when you ha, when you are Mindful about that very early on, what are you emphasizing?

What are your priorities? In any given situation, what are you trying to convey to your daughters about what you think is really important? When you can do that? When they’re really young, you’re establishing a foundation because when adolescence comes just because of development, there’s going to be conflict.

Of course you always wanna be close to your daughters, but I think that it’s unrealistic to expect that you’re gonna get through the adolescent years without. Because just by its very nature, moms are supposed to keep are the, their kids healthy and safe and teenagers are supposed to test the limits and they’re supposed to flex their wings and, try to fly away a little bit.

And so there’s this push pull going on. That’s very normal and natural. and if you have a good relationship, if you have a good foundation of closeness and trust and your daughter feels like you’re an ally during those years, I think it’s that much easier to weather those years without feeling like you’ve lost that closeness with your daughter or that you’ve lost the communication.

That’s so important during those years.

[00:03:58] Hunter: I love that idea that they feel like you’re an ally. I think that’s really important to like, and especially sometimes when I think of the Parenting metaphors that we all have, like the United front and pick your battles, right? Like we have all these like war metaphors for Parenting I think those are really wrong headed in that we wanna be on the same team.

Like we wanna be allies. But I’m curious about you and What drove you to write this? Cause I, I know that your first book is titled, I’m not mad. I just hate you. Which you’re now adult daughter to whether the popularity of a title of a book titled I’m not just mad. I hate you.

Was, and I love what you said also about there will be conflict, like that’s just normal, right? Like we’re all gonna have conflict. So as. As you went into this with your own daughter and this conflict arose. What were some of the, what were some of the maybe fears or worries that you had to work through going into this, going into adolescence?

[00:05:08] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: Sure. I too had a very difficult relationship with my own mother. And so a lot of my fears were that my daughter would let me just say how I felt. I felt that my mom could not tolerate any sort of. Expression of feeling on my part or a thought on my part that was different from hers. She took great offense to anything that wasn’t exactly what she thought felt or wanted.

And so I felt like I couldn’t really be myself and be authentic and genuine with her in relationship, I had to kind. Appease her and be very superficial and we were never very close and I wanted things to be different with my daughter right off the bat. And one of the things I was seeing in my practice was that the teenage girls, I was seeing were very loathe to express any kind of.

The slightest irritation, the slightest anger, the slightest negative, if you will feeling, but they’re perfectly normal human emotions. And then I was realizing that the reason they couldn’t do that was because their moms couldn’t do it either. So many of their moms were just so unraveled by the idea of conflict or anger, they didn’t know how to handle it.

And so I was seeing that there was a better way and. We as moms could model for our daughters, that it’s okay to be upset with each other. That doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. And in fact, learning how to deal with conflict effectively was a way to keep our relationships intact because when one person expressed something and the other one really listened and really metabolized what was said.

Then we could work out things and find a better way. And so that’s what I was determined to do with my daughter at every turn. And I really focused on how to say things in a way that didn’t make her feel like she was a bad person or if she had bad feelings, that I wasn’t going to fall apart.

If she said to me, mom, I don’t like it. When you do. , it’s

[00:07:32] Hunter: just an example. This is this is relieving to hear cuz we have no problem expressing

[00:07:41] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: our irritation.

[00:07:45] Hunter: Although my husband is a little bit conflict. It’s funny, my husband, he’s the one who’s conflict avoidant and and it’s it’s okay for us. Talk to each other, right? This is it’s okay for people to have conflict. Someone said, you’re, if you’re not, and you have no conflict, you have no relationship, but also, and but also it isn’t it, if you’re not resolving things, if you’re not working, talking through things, don’t, Imagine other party or your child, they’re making up a whole story about your motives and things and whatnot. That may not be real right. If you’re absolutely solving these

[00:08:22] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: conflicts.

Absolutely. And every relationships aren’t stagnant, every relationship evolves over time, particularly during the adolescent years when your child. Literally changing every few days, every few weeks, they’re evolving so rapidly. It’s, the maturation that’s going on here is unparalleled.

So the relation as your daughter evolves, the relationship has to evolve as well. And so if you’re not dealing with things that arise, if you’re not being flexible and adaptive, then your relationship is gonna stag. All right.

[00:09:00] Hunter: It’s not gonna work. Yeah. Okay. So what are the things that we should expect moving into adolescents for girls?

What are some of the norms that we should expect? And maybe we can also talk about some, the way some things are different now than when they were they’re young, cuz your new book is called anything. But my phone, I know how valuable the phone is, but what are some of the, what are some of the things we should expect developmentally?

[00:09:26] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: You mean in terms of their psychosocial development teens. Oh, okay. Yeah. One thing that is really important, and especially when you’re talking about how moms react to it, one thing that’s really important developmentally is that around puberty is when. When teenagers or preteens start to think about gravitating more toward their peers than hanging out with their parents.

And it’s not a hundred percent across the board, but that is the general developmental shift that happens at that time. And a lot of parents feel really. Threatened about that, particularly moms, especially if you have been really a very engaged, very involved mom, and you spend a lot of time with your daughter thinking about your daughter and you love spending time with her.

If you find that she’s not as interested in spending time with you and really more interested in her peers, sometimes moms feel really threatened about that and really insulted. And I think it’s really important for parents to be aware of these developmental shifts that are perfectly normal.

And honestly, it’s a positive thing if your daughter has friends and wants to spend time with them. So that’s one thing that I would say. And another one that also affects some other daughter relationship is that this is a time when there’s a tremendous amount of cognitive growth. And daughters when they get into early adolescents or even in between years, they’re able cognitively to question things, meta-analysis thinking about thinking.

And so they’re more apt to question. Parents like why can’t I do something, explain to me, why are you saying no to this? And if mothers and fathers were raised in a home where that was absolutely forbidden that was seen as talking back or challenging authority, then they might reflexively respond like.

To their own daughters. And I think that’s really a mistake because we are trying to teach our daughters to be good problem solvers. So we want to share with them our thinking. We want them to see how we reason through things and how we make decisions. We wanna encourage them to ask those kinds of questions.

[00:11:54] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I agree. I’m all for questioning kids who question. It can be frustrating to live with sometimes though. Yes. Yes. ,

[00:12:06] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: it’s almost like the toddler stage where they’re asking. Why , and you’re tired of answering, the same question. Why, but things change, and you might say no for one reason, one day, and then two weeks later, you might have to say no for a totally different reason.

And it is tiring to go through those kinds of. Processes, I would say, it is tiring to, to have to go through it. But I think that there’s so much you gain from that. And if you shut off that process, not only will teens feel not heard and not understood, which is not a good thing.

But also that’s a part of their thinking process that won’t develop in the same. . Yeah.

[00:12:56] Hunter: Yeah. I mean it, to me, I think if I were in a relationship like that would seem disrespectful if we’re not gonna talk about if we can’t have a conversation of why, so it’s something is the way it is.

So I would offer that same respect to my kids to say, this is why, maybe this is different at this point. Are there any pieces. Other pieces developmentally that we should look for in, in kids. So we’ve talked about that orientation towards friends, the cognitive development.

Are there any other pieces that we need to touch on? Oh yeah.

[00:13:36] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: There’s a lot. I’m trying to think about what would be the priority that I would talk about because there are so many things like that. I think that there’s developmental thing that’s going on with kids that affects parents, but indirectly, and that is around puberty.

So around this age that I’m talking about is when kids get into the latter part of. Middle school or junior high school and, or start to go into high school. And that’s a time when, for many parents this whole frenzy about achievement starts, they start to feel like, oh, your grades in this grade.

And. Year of your schooling are going to affect, what classes you’re gonna be in next year. And whether you’re gonna be in honors classes, all this kind of anxious thinking . And I find that can be a huge impediment to Parenting relationships because all of a sudden parents start getting anxious and we should talk about parental anxiety in general.

But parents start getting anxious and they start. Behaving differently toward kids schooling and they’re, they sometimes they get much more involved. And so teens start feeling this pressure and it can also happen with extracurricular activities as well, because that’s the age when you know, you’re doing it for fun, you’re doing it for fun.

But if you find your niche around age 11 or 12, like a lot of girls will just quit sports. If they’re not good at. But parents might try to convince them to continue. They might try to ask kids to step it up and do a much more intense version of a sport or a hobby. Because they think that. They want, they need to have their kids find this niche.

That’s gonna help them to achieve and get college and all that stuff. And it starts really young. And I find that is probably one of the number one factors that really erodes relationships between parents and young teens.

[00:15:49] Hunter: It’s interesting as you talk about that, because for me, I’ve been, my kids have, I’ve always been in, involved in Montessori.

They haven’t had grade. They didn’t get grades until like seventh and eighth grade, and they, they do the work. They follows the child that, you know, and they it’s child led. And I have, and I and I’ve seen, I having done, seen the research about extrinsic motivation versus intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation, being things like. Praise rewards and grades and how de that is. I basically have evolved to this attitude of that your grades are your thing. That’s your thing, like I have hallelujah to do. I don’t. That’s great. Barely I oh good. Cause I barely, it’s like they have to be like, Mama, mom, I got my report.

Good. Oh, okay. Do you wanna show me like you don’t have to, you can show me if you want. They, I almost don’t even. And it’s interesting because they have. Like a hundred percent ownership of their grades and their thing. And they’re so motivated. It’s a simple size of two. So I can’t say that this is a thing, but they are, they get incredible grades, but I don’t have.

I could not, I have could not let from their perspective, I imagine it’s oh, that’s great. I bet that feels good. It’s completely their thing. And that seems to worked incredibly well for them. And it does.

[00:17:24] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: Really honestly, kids have a natural love of learning. And if they learn things on their own and they feel good about it, they feel empowered.

Parents don’t have to do a thing, but it, the antithesis of that, and I’m very familiar with the Montessori method and I think it’s great. My children also were in Montessori schools very early on, but then they went to regular elementary school. Cause it didn’t go up, preschool, but I love that model, but the antithesis of this is what I’m seeing in middle school and especially in high school now where parents have an online portal.

And so they can see every single day, whether their kid was in class what they got on that quiz, all of their homework assignments, their grades, if they didn’t get anything in. And, it’s taking the school ownership completely away from kids. And the reason I think and this is something that I want to talk about a little bit, if it’s okay.

Yeah. Is that, I think that so much of the problem that comes in with parents and tweens and teens is that parents get anxious about things. This is a huge thing because. I hear from the teens that I work with, whether it’s social or academic or things like, being out in the world, whether it’s drinking or drugs or driving, whatever it is.

When parents are anxious as you well know, and their amygdalas start firing away and they perceive a threat, then they’re flooded with stress hormones. And what happens is that the way they speak to their kids completely changes they’re coming from this anxious place, but it comes out angry. It comes out like they’re mad at their kids and their kids perceive that as.

The anxiety as sort of anger and criticism, their tone of voice changes. And I read a really interesting study that showed that around mid adolescence at around 15 or so girls are maximally sensitive to facial expressions in their moms, especially anger and anxiety. And so you’re giving your kid this message that they’re.

Angry, anxious, whatever. And the kids are feeling so criticized and like, why is my mom angry at me? And it’s coming out in a way that’s so not helpful.

[00:20:11] Hunter: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah. When I’ve been worried about things, they’ve my curls have expressed to me. It’s you’re mad at me.

Like they’ve said that to me. And I’m like, I’m worried. I’ve, we’ve had that conversation probably a couple times about some things like I’m worried about X. Oh, it feels like you’re mad at me. That’s really fascinating to

[00:20:32] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: have that. It’s wonderful that they can express that to you. Yeah. Is wonderful. I believe me, the kids I see in my office that is not easy for them to do.

And I don’t know that their mothers would be that receptive. Cause I don’t think their mothers are aware of it. I don’t think the mothers are aware that they’re coming across as angry or that their kids think they’re coming across as angry.

[00:20:56] Hunter: I think this could be a real light bulb for a lot of us.

I think this is your listener. This is important information, like our anxiety. Our children may make up a story about that, about how you feel about them and how they’re not good enough and they’re not worthy. And if I’m feeling constantly criticized then that is that’s definitely a lack of acceptance there, that they’re ex experiencing, for sure.

[00:21:24] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: And as I said, it can be something like social, I’ve had situations where. Let’s say a girl’s in middle school and she’s really struggling socially. And she tells her mom about that and she tells her mom, you know what she’s doing about it.

And the mom. Can relate to this situation. Who of us? Maybe too much. Exactly. Who hasn’t been in middle school. if you’ve been a girl in middle school, you can relate

[00:21:52] Hunter: to you. Oh God, the issue seventh, worst your way. The worst. Yes. The worst.

[00:21:57] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: I was just gonna say, we all wanted to skip seventh grade.

There should be no seventh grade for girls the worst year. You hear this and you become very anxious. and you don’t realize it. And then you respond to your joint what are you doing? Why are you letting these girls treat you like this? And you speak like this and.

Your daughter is like, what did I do wrong? Why are you yelling at me? What, and the daughter ends up feeling like a disappointment. Like she’s not only disappointed in her own social life. Now. She feels like she’s disappointing her mom. So not only is she upset about her own social situation, but now she’s upset about upsetting her mom.

[00:22:41] Hunter: So I’m hearing from you. Parents. We need to take care of our own anxiety. We need to learn to take care of our difficult feelings. We need to be able to process, bring our, regulate our feelings, bring ourselves back to our own sense of ease and calm. And that’s. One of the best gifts we can give to our kids.

Dear listener. I’ve we’ve said that how many times on the podcast, but here it’s from another angle. It’s so amazing.

[00:23:09] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: I’m sure you have said it before. But sometimes, hearing it in the context of situations can be so helpful. Yeah. Because I. We’ve all been there in those situations.

We want what’s best for our daughters. And we think that we are, we’re doing our, and we all do our best, but being aware of our own activation, being aware of what our bodies feel like. When we have all these stress hormones flooding our brains and being able to have the self discipline enough to realize it’s happening and realize.

I don’t have to act on this right now. We all have this feeling or at least I did, I can speak for myself. So if I were upset about something that was going on, worried, whatever you wanna call it something that was going on in my kids’ lives, I felt this sense of urgency to talk about it.

I felt like I have to deal with this now it’s really upsetting me. And now is the best time. And I learned the hard way. I think that if I’m feeling that way, oftentimes no, it wasn’t the best time, the wrong time to talk about it. It’s the wrong time. Exactly. And that I needed to take a pause and process things, myself and kind.

Kind of do a little self inquiry and think, okay, why am I so upset about this? What is it triggering for me? What am I really upset about? What do I really wanna accomplish in this conversation with my kid? And boy was that grounding. That was so helpful. Cause then I didn’t blurt out. The first thing that came to my head, which was not the best thing.

[00:25:09] Hunter: That reminds me of advice. I heard on this podcast that I’ve mentioned a couple times that I think is so apropo that Aaron Huey director of the fire mountain center for troubled kids who are dealing with addiction, suicide, et cetera, his top two, I said how can we avoid our kids coming to your center, Aaron?

And he said, it was like, take care of yourself and have other adults that you can process your stuff with to talk. That was what, like those, some of the two top two things, he said it wasn’t anything about the kids. It was like you taking care of yourself and process your, have places, have people to talk to to process your things.

So you’re not. Coming to your kids as activated, just like you’re saying Ronnie, that’s yeah.

[00:25:58] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: Yeah, that’s incredible. And I think that podcasts have fulfilled such a need because in my experience, as time has gone on over the decades, that I’ve been a psychologist in practice and interviewed people for my books and things.

I’ve seen that it’s harder and harder for parents to get that kind of support. Because when kids are little. You’re more isolated. That’s one thing. And especially during the pandemic, but also as your kids get older, you don’t have as many opportunities. You’re not volunteering in school that much anymore.

You’re not being the chaperone on the field trip or chaperoning a dance. You just, you. Kid doesn’t want you to do that kind of thing. You’re not the class mother. And then when your kids get into the adolescent years, you have this sense of not wanting to violate their trust. And so you don’t wanna talk about your kid with other people who might be in a position to judge them.

But also I think that there’s, again with this achievement frenzy. Parents are low to, to really acknowledge that they’re having any issues with their kids, because they’re so busy presenting this image of this perfect kid and that is making every other mother feel like, oh, I’m the only one who’s having this problem.

I’m not getting any validation that this is a normal thing you look around and you see every other teenage girl seems to be so much more put together and it’s so polite and how come your daughter is the only one who’s giving you the stink eye, and it’s so not true. And I think podcasts have really brought that home to a lot of mother.

Oh good. Yes.

[00:27:49] Hunter: Thank you for the work that you’re doing. You’re not alone dear listener, but I wanna go back. So what I’m hearing from you, Ronnie, is we need to. Back off a little, right? Like we need to give them some space. We need to take care of our feelings. We need to let them value their friends.

That’s great. But I also understand that in the teen years that you mentioned, like we, rather than pushing them, we want, we maybe need to back off a little, but I also understand that like in the adolescent and teen years are a good time for things structured. Things like sports. Yes. Like activities, like my girls are in Scouts.

Like they’re really into that, and. I think that’s great because when you’re little, you need all this unstructured play, you need to be able to make up your own rules. You need to have free time and things like that. And then your brain goes cuckoo bananas in adolescent, and you need some structure, right?

Is that true? Cuz I think that’s a helpful guide to think about. How much structure are you gonna have in your kid’s life? Are you gonna encourage them or say, Hey, at least you need to do one activity. I don’t care what it is, you choose it. Something like that.

What would you say to that? Ronnie? Absolutely

[00:29:03] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: correct. I think that it’s very important for developmentally, for kids to. Be in a structured kind of situation where there are guidelines, there are rules where they’re in a relationship with another adult, who’s an authority figure. They’re in a situation with peers where they have to learn, even if they’re not on a team sport, whether it’s in.

Scouts or even a class that they’re doing together, but they learn how to share. They learn how to help each other. There are many things that can be learned from structured activities, but as you say, it’s a very different thing when kids are allowed to choose their activity and follow their passion, that’s a very important thing.

And the other thing that I wanna say, and I don’t think that you were implying this, but I just wanna clarify this. Sure. Yeah. Parents need to step back for sure. But we also need to be poised to step in when necessary . And so I think that is a really important message that we give kids where we say to them, you do your thing, show me how responsible you are.

Show me what good judgment you have. Show me, that you’re making these good decisions. And if you don’t, I’m here to help you out. That’s what I’m here for. I will step in because you’re gonna make mistakes. That’s how you learn. And I’m gonna treat your mistakes, not as a federal crime and, punish you for the rest of your life, but I’m gonna step in and help you to see where you went wrong and correct you so that in the future you’ll make better decisions.

And that’s really important for kids too. Just as much as the freedom is knowing that there are guardrails there for them. . Yeah.

[00:30:47] Hunter: Some structure, some yes. Yeah. The too much limits. It’s some limits a sense of, yeah. A sense of I don’t care about you. That’s gives them that message.

If there’s too much freedom, it’s like, where are the people holding the limits that show that they care about me and, yeah, I see, it you’re

[00:31:09] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: reminding me of of a story from when I was probably. Pretty new in my practice. And of course, 99% of the teenagers in my practice were complaining to me that their parents didn’t give them enough freedom.

And then I saw a girl who very tearfully told me that she had no rule. Her mother didn’t know if she had dinner, didn’t make her dinner. Never asked about her schoolwork. Her mother was completely checked out and I don’t think I’ve ever had to that point I have since then, but I had such a sense of sadness for this girl because she really felt like she wasn’t even seen, like she wasn’t even important.

And it, it was very damaging for.

[00:32:01] Hunter: So the middle path, it comes back to the middle path. Yes. Moderation. Yes. Moderation. OK. But moderation it’s now we have some new challenges, so let’s go into some of those. Okay. So today we have some new challenges. Yes. And sometimes I think of for me, one of the Cardell rules of Parenting is like we model, our modeling is like the best teaching, that we live, what we want our kids to learn. But then there are a few things. I feel like that where there’s with boundaries and things like that. But I, there, I feel like there are two things where we need to have stronger boundaries in some ways, because their very nature is so different.

And that’s sugar and screens screen time and technology, right? Because the addictions things yeah. That are, that can be like incredibly addictive, right? Yes. To the human body, because of the way we evolved in a. Our brain is a hundred thousand years old and we live in this very, extremely different life.

That is really hard for our a hundred thousand year old evolved brain to deal with. Yeah, sure. And kids

[00:33:16] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: brains have not evolved. They have but they’re not fully developed. So you’re dealing with under underdeveloped brains or still immature brains, which is a whole other thing from.

[00:33:28] Hunter: Yeah.

And we’ve got things like. TikTok now. It’s which is like this super addictive thing. So what are your guide? What do you recommend as far as dealing with technology? Some, maybe some guidelines that you could offer us for dealing with technology for adolescent girls in ways that keep them empowered but safe and, and learning.

My learning how to. Deal with this. It’s hard for adults to deal with this technology. It

[00:34:03] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: is hard for adults to deal with it. And it’s hard. I might say that one of the reasons that I wrote this book is that I really feel for parents of teen right now. My kids are so much older and I know would’ve been very difficult for me to go through this.

And so I really wanted to help this generation of parents who have, who are raising teens right now. And one of the things that I think is very important is to recognize that. You it’s okay. If you’re feeling intimidated, a lot of parents know that they didn’t grow up with technology, but their daughters have, they’re digital natives and they have this natural affinity and they have less anxiety about technology And so many parents feel so intimidated that they just wanna bury their heads in sand, which is not what I think. People should be doing. Yeah. So I’d like to,

[00:35:02] Hunter: that’s they’re gonna run wild. We have to kinda, see’s a disaster, almost like the, you were saying before, like we have to be available and tuned in, but that middle path not like totally hovering in control.

So

[00:35:14] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: here’s a, here’s how that would look with the technology world. First of all, what I said before about being allies, I think that’s. especially important because so many parents think, oh, technology it’s the devil, no, that’s not the right attitude. I have seen. So many examples of how technology is really beneficial to kids and how it really helps them to feel connected and to grow and to exercise creativity and to become entrepreneurs.

So there’s all those good things, but our job I’ve seen everything else too. For sure. Yeah. Yeah. So our job is to help keep them safe. And so long before. Your kids actually get their first piece of technology, which I think you should delay as long as humanly possible because you’re giving their ch brains a chance to grow and develop more.

But before you do that, you have to establish that you are not the expert because you’re not the expert on every social media app. That’s gonna be, that’s invented now, or that’s gonna crop up in, two months. But you are the expert on your daughter. You are the expert on what her skills are, where she has her strengths, where she has her weaknesses.

And you are going to sit down with her together and talk about technology. You’re going to teach her as much as you can, and you are gonna ask her things in response. And so you are gonna learn from each other. This is a collaborative relationship, a partnership, if you will. Now, obviously you’re the parents.

So you have that say it’s not a democracy. What I mean by that is so for example, with social media, We don’t know the culture that the social culture that kids have at every different grade level or with their community. So we can’t make assumptions. So sitting down with your daughter, for example, and asking her, what is her idea of a good post?

What makes a social media post good? What makes it authentic? What are a turnoff for her, among her peers, there’s an unspoken. Set of rules. What does she think is inappropriate? And you start off little by little kind of discussing this with her, giving your, her your feedback and conveying your values.

And you’re gonna say to her, this is something we’re gonna learn together. And until I know that you are really skilled and older and making good judgment, I’m gonna check in every now and then to make sure that you’re safe. Just as I will, when you get your driver’s license, I’m not gonna give you the driver’s license and have you go drive on a highway or in a snowstorm, little by little, I’m going to let you drive independently and make sure you know how to keep yourself safe.

So it’s really, you put it in the context of all the other steps toward independence that you’re gonna be going through as you raising.

[00:38:25] Hunter: I love that makes so much sense. Like for some reason, with technology, we tend to be like, okay, here it is. And right. And that’s nuts, we it is.

And would you agree, one thing I discovered recently with the technology is that we can use the technology to. Hold some of our boundaries, right? Because it gets really confusing. If my 15 year old has a smartphone and my 12 year old doesn’t have a phone, but my 15 year old now likes to read books on her smartphone.

She has a black background. That words are in type. She has a book reading app. She does do a lingo on her smartphone. Like she’s got her scout up on her smartphone, everything is there. So we have for instance, a boundary in our house where we have a screen free Sunday. And we don’t know, like she’s just looking at the phone, we don’t know what she’s doing.

And she says that she’s reading. But recently I discovered that I insert my phone. Can. Control her phone and block certain things for, and these were agreements we had made a long time ago, so I just made it formalized by blocking that thing so that I would, could not, I could step away from being like the enforcer of this thing.

And I could let the technology be the hold, the boundary for me. I don’t know. What do you think about that?

[00:39:50] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: Yeah, I’m thinking about that. I’ll tell you I have mixed feelings. I do have mixed feelings. I understand the reason that you wanna do it because you don’t wanna be the enforcer.

You don’t wanna be in that position where you have to do that. And I get that it’s exhausting. There are a couple of reasons why. Part of me thinks that’s not a good idea. First of all, I think that what we’re trying to do during this stage is to help our kids develop the self discipline to say, no, I’m not supposed to do that, or no, that’s not a good thing for me to do because otherwise, as soon as they get to school, They’re gonna be, I don’t know, watching something or shopping or online, or, in the black hole of TikTok or whatever.

They’re not gonna have those skills to pull themselves back. And it’s very unlikely that kids are going to use those kind of parental controls or they’re, setting screen time kind of limits for themselves. They don’t do that. They have to be able to resist the temptation in the minute.

And so it’s helpful to to teach them how to do that. The other reason is that when I interviewed kids, For this book, I was shocked. I talked to 16 and 17 year olds and I talked to 11 and 12 year olds. And it didn’t matter the age when I asked them about parental controls, they laughed at me.

They know how to get around them better than computer engineers, literally better than they have. And I actually wrote some of these in the book, the ones that they told me about, they told me about all kinds of clever work arounds and how to. You can’t even imagine. When I tell parents these things, their mouths drop open, they have no.

Or parents tell me, I don’t know how my kid got my phone. I changed my password. I said did they create another, ID? Oh, yes, that’s what they did. So it, it gives you a false sense of security. Okay. And I don’t like that. I don’t like that idea at all. So I actually,

[00:42:15] Hunter: my daughter’s told me about a workaround.

Oh, they did? Yeah. Because my husband set it up. So the wifi turn turns off, you turns off at a certain hour at a, like the wifi cuts off YouTube. At a certain hour. And I had in mistakenly, like signed up to do like a 7:00 PM book talk for raising good humans. And then I got there 7:00 PM and it was like, I didn’t even realize it was 7:00 PM on the west coast, which was like 10:00 PM.

So anyway, I was already exhausted. I had to stay until 10:00 PM. Oh my gosh. Cause I didn’t wanna make these people disappoint. All these people had signed up for this thing. So I’m like, okay, I’m just so tired. I just watched some YouTube on. Phone or whatever. And I couldn’t do it cuz it was like, and my daughters were like, mom, it’s super easy.

You just put your phone on, on, on cellular rather than wifi. Oh. That it’s oh, okay. Putting your

[00:43:09] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: phone on cellular is one way also changing the time zone is another way. Yeah. There are lots

[00:43:15] Hunter: of, there are lots of course they know about it. Okay. So

[00:43:18] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: better. And

[00:43:21] Hunter: the value, and part of me feels like.

Okay. We’ve had this screen free Sunday forever. Sometimes they hate it most of the time now that but what we see is like their most creative work comes outta screen free Sunday. They’re like painting, they’re doing all these like great things, of course. And we like having this sort of Sabbath.

Is it something that I should maybe at this point Try to like express the value of, but not be so much of enforcer of, I don’t know. What do you think Ronnie ?

[00:43:55] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: I think that it’s important to offer kids an alternative. I think that it’s better to demonstrate things and to have them experience things than to then to talk them into it or moralize in that kind of thing.

I’m a big believer in screen, free time. And I think it’s good for adults. I know it’s good for adults as well as for kids. So I love when parents have first of all, dinner time, there should be no phones. Yeah. Family time. I think there should be no phones. If you’re, having a movie night or you’re having people over no, no phones.

But I think that what you’re describing, I love the idea of, a screen free Sabbath. Then it should be fun. You should plan to do things that are fun for the whole family and. You’re demonstrating to kids. Yeah. They might have missed their phones. They might have, they might feel out of touch with their peers, or they might not be able to read on their e-reader.

But you know what, they’re also having fun doing non-screen activities and it’s so important for them to experience that and to be aware that’s possible

[00:45:13] Hunter: otherwise. Yeah.

[00:45:15] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: They think that their screens or their.

[00:45:17] Hunter: I know it’s scary, cuz it’s so easy, right? It’s so such a way to get those dopamine hits and it’s so much easier than reaching out to a friend and connecting and real life.

I’m amazed how little I see that teenagers in like the community, which is pretty connected where I live R reaching out to each other and seeing each other. In real life. It probably is left over from the pandemic, but it’s just amazing, I think.

[00:45:46] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: Yeah, it, it’s interesting because with the pandemic, what happened was that teens were so used to talking, through technology.

And then when they couldn’t see their peers in school, they started craving that face to face. I was seeing such an increase in kids who were saying, I just wanna hug my friends. I just wanna be with my friends, which I thought good. It’s silver lining of the pandemic that it’s human nature to want something that you can’t have.

So all of a sudden they wanted that again, but I was just doing a wellness day with middle schoolers. And what I was hearing from them is. Their people skills are super rusty and they are feeling awkward about being in person with people. They’re saying what if we have nothing to talk about?

What if we have nothing to say, they’re telling me that they’re whipping out their phones. If there’s an awkward moment, because. What else are they gonna do? They’re showing their peers something. They, their people skills are terrible. They’re having panic attacks. If their mother asks them to pop in the post office and get some stamps they can’t order in a restaurant I’m hearing from parents.

They just can’t look at people in the eye. It’s a, so they’re having this reentry problem. A lot of anxiety. So I love the fact that parents are able to now do things as a family and maybe do things with family, friends, which is usually less anxiety provoking for kids, because they’re usually kids that they’ve grown up with and they’re not going to school with.

So there’s less pressure.

[00:47:30] Hunter: So can ease them back into, yes, this is how you are with other people. Exactly. Oh exactly. Oh my goodness. Ronnie. There’s so many things you could talk about. I can’t believe how quickly we came up against our oh my gosh. Yes. Ronnie’s book. New book is anything, but my phone mom can be found anywhere.

Bookstores. Books are sold. And where can people reach out and talk to you if they have more questions or wanna connect?

[00:48:00] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: There’s a lot of information available on my website, which is RoniCohenSandler.com. And they can also reach me on Facebook, Dr. Ronnie Cohen – Sandler and Twitter DrRoniCS. I also have a newsletter which they can sign up for on my website, but I have a lot of lot of information on my website for parents about all different sorts of things all different sorts of topics. And they can also ask questions of me there.

So I’m happy to hear from all of your listen.

[00:48:40] Hunter: Thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time for doing this work for writing your books and sharing your wisdom with us. It’s selfishly, it’s been very helpful for me to think about my teen girls. And that makes me feel good. Yes. Yes. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Thank you

[00:48:57] Dr Roni Cohen-Sandler: so much anytime. I loved it. Thank you.


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