We all make mistakes, but how do we move on from our past failures when shame seems to linger? Find out what Dr. Leman has to say on the subject on today’s episode.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Andrea: Dr. Leman has told us over and over that our parenting can only be as healthy as we are healthy. So he reminds us to start with ourselves, so today, I’m gonna be a little bit vulnerable on this podcast over a mistake I made that led to some guilt and some shame, and he helped me walk through that. I hope that this can help you personally and in your parenting.
Doug: Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: If this is your first time here, welcome, welcome, welcome. We are so glad that you are here with us. If it is your first time, just a quick reminder for you that this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go look for a local professional for help.
Well, Dr. Leman, we get to look into Andrea’s soul and help her out. So, Andrea. Do you wanna tell us your story?
Andrea: So we got to watch our friend’s dog last weekend, and sweet little Australian shepherd, Maddie, got to hang out at our house for a few days. And the last day, they were gonna come pick her up at 1 o’clock, but we weren’t gonna be home, so we said, “Well we’ll put her in the backyard and so you can just come and get her.”
Well, little Maddie decided she didn’t want to stay in the backyard, and she pushed the gate open.
Dr. Leman: Uh-oh.
Andrea: And today is Thursday, she’s been gone since Sunday. And every social link that we have in the community has been looking for little Maddie. Well I just got a text that they found her last night, the sheriff found her and she’d been hit by a car.
Dr. Leman: Aww, terrible. Oh my goodness.
Andrea: So I’m dealing with shame.
Dr. Leman: Well oh gosh. Well, you’re dealing with reality. The reality that, oh my goodness, there’s a built-in responsibility here. Not to make light of a situation as tragic as that, because it is when a little pet is struck by a car. It seems like we need a sign on the mailbox that says, “Not responsible for left articles.” It’s not the shame, it’s the fact that the two of you are so darn responsible to begin with. If you could put a little tagline underneath the Terpenings, what would it be? Committed, responsible family. Now that would sum up a lot of who the Terpenings are. So this one, it’s so personal. Here you go, and you do a favor for somebody. And people who open their doors to pets, there’s inherent problems with doing that. Dogs could destroy your property, dogs could bite someone on your property, all those things can happen.
So you have no control over what happens to that little Australian shepherd once you put her outside. It’s just a natural hurt in life that in time heals. Do you forget something like this? No.
Andrea: Unfortunately, I know I won’t.
Dr. Leman: You don’t. It’s just one of those bruises in life that comes out of left field. It’s like all of a sudden, you’re skipping in the sunshine, holding hands together, skipping down Happy Street, and all of a sudden, you hit a sinkhole, and you’re engulfed in it. It’s just one of those shockers. And so all the obvious things that you do, the expressions of loss, of “We’re so sorry,” but you have to keep in mind that this is an accident. And you can certainly write a book called, “Accidents Happen to Great People.” We don’t know when those are gonna occur. People use the term, “Move on”, today. And you do move on, but you move on with a tender spot in your heart. I guess I could write a book or we could write a book called, “Accidents Happen to Great People”, because those are the bruises in life. And they do hurt, and they bring out all of our feelings, all of our love and concern for humankind.
All we know is that when these bruises come, they hurt, they affect a lot of people, and you respond in kindness and love, compassion. Again I wanna go back to it’s not shame. And to put that on shame is a disservice to yourself, to your family, and to the family that lost their puppy dog. Those are just real tears of concern and love and kindness and all the things that are wrapped up to, “What does it mean to be a Terpening?”
Andrea: But I keep going back to, “Well, I should’ve just left her in her crate instead of loose in the yard. What if I’d left her in the garage?” All those questions that, “What if I’d done it differently?”
Dr. Leman: Well, we’ve used the term, “Shoulding on yourself.” And “Shoulding on others.” Let’s say there’s an automobile accident. How many people do you think have thought, “You know what, if I only would’ve turned left at Elm Street instead of Main Street, this would’ve never happened.” It’s human nature to look back and try to say, “If only I had done this. If I only had done-” That’s not how life works. You don’t get second and third chances in things like that. You were doing the kind thing. Rather than put her in a crate and leave her out in the elements, you chose to let her have freedom. So the fact that little Maddie, mischievous Maddie, decided to open that gate, led to her doom.
I tell a story about my sister’s cat, who got run over. The cat was literally flat in the street when they found her. And I remember one of the kids said, “The cat would’ve been alive if she would’ve stopped and looked both ways.” Even in tragedy, there’s a teachable moment. In this case it was for one of her children, who was reminded as a youngster, when you come to a street, you stop and you look both ways. Personally, I’m sorry you had to go through that. That’s a toughie. But don’t should on yourself.
Doug: So two questions. So this is about a dog, which impacts us. But we also, this is about parenting, right? That’s what this podcast is about? There’s a lot of times that we look back at our parenting and said, “I should’ve, I could have”, and we start shoulding on ourselves and blaming ourselves. What do we do with that? When we feel that we’ve failed.
Dr. Leman: Well you tell yourself that’s unhealthy thinking. That that doesn’t get us anywhere. There has to be a principal mind that looks at an accident as an accident. There’s no intent, it’s one of those sad things that happen in life. Is it real? Does it hurt? Yes, yes. Is it life changing? No. It’s not life changing. That doesn’t change your life. Losing your child changes your life. So you have to take a step back and give yourself time to grieve over the situation. If you talk about it, you always feel a little better when you talk about it, even though it’s something you don’t wanna talk about. But life does move on, and you have to persevere. Don’t look for reasons, don’t second guess yourself. You express the sadness to your friends, through tears and hugs and if they’re friends, they’re not gonna dog you. They’re gonna understand it was an accident.
Doug: So for uber-responsible people like Andrea, who just struggle to let go, right?
Dr. Leman: They’ll have a hard time letting go. You know that.
Doug: Absolutely. This will haunt her for months.
Dr. Leman: That’s who Andrea is. That’s one of the reasons why you married her. She’s a deep, compassionate woman who’s got a great brain in her head on top of that. She’s smarter than you, is what I’m saying, Doug.
Doug: We know that. We do know that. Trust me.
Dr. Leman: Okay, just wanted, I wanted to make sure that point didn’t go by you.
Doug: Yeah. Well I might be better looking, but she’s smarter than me, right? Well, maybe not.
Dr. Leman: [crosstalk]. You’d lose on that one, too.
Doug: Oh, bummer. This is … She’s more compassionate, she’s more smarter and better looking so I’m not sure what my role is yet.
Dr. Leman: She’s a lovely lady.
Dr. Leman: Let it go at that.
Doug: So for the Andreas of the world, who just continue to beat themselves up. Just incredibly, for months.
Dr. Leman: Take your shoe off, okay? I don’t care if it’s a size 9 narrow. And wail yourself in the teeth. Now, you’re better off doing that than you are hanging on to this forever.
Doug: And for listeners of the podcast, you’re the first to know that the next book that Baker Book is offering is, “My Firstborn: There’s No One Like You”. It’s only $1.99 in eBook form from Amazon or wherever you get your eBooks, from March 12th through the 18th of 2019. If you have a kid, you have a firstborn, highly, highly recommended to understand what they’re going through. And now, Straight Talk with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Parents, I hope you’re sitting down. Here it is, straight from my shoulder to yours. Parenting is simple. It’s not easy, I’ll give you that. But it is simple. There is a simple paradigm that works. It’s called, “I’ll be Dad, and you be Mom, and let’s make sure we’re on the same page.” If you can get to that initial point, you have an opportunity to be a five-star parent. Is it easy? No. It’s not easy. But it is simple. And the same thing applies for those of us who are married. Marriage is simple. Is it easy? No, but there is a paradigm, and it’s built upon mutual respect and love. And a word most of you hate, and that is submission. You have to be submissive to one another.
As a wife, you need to understand who this husband is who spits and wears clothes with spots on them, that grunts answers to you. Consequently, gentlemen, you have to understand this woman actually wants you to read her very mind. So I know there’s a lot of mine fields along those statements I just made, but I’m just telling you that marriage is simple, and parenting is simple. Easy? No. But that’s why we have podcasts.
So there is a cerebral, straight out, talk to yourself, “This makes no sense, I need to replace that thought with something else.” I’ve said many times, if you can think differently, you can change behavior. So it’s that self-talk, “It’s gonna be okay, it’s not the end of the world.” So you’re replacing the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. “I’m thankful for my children, I’m thankful for my home, I’m thankful for my husband, I’m thankful for my job, my career,” whatever it is. So you replace the negative with a positive as best you can. But just like you’ve heard me say, sin is like pizza. You have it at 7 o’clock at night, you still taste it at 10. There is an aftertaste when there’s accidents and hurts in people’s lives.
Doug: So Andrea, last one.
Doug: Why do you think it’s so hard for you to let go of this? And historically, these kinds of things.
Andrea: Well, because I want to get it right. I don’t wanna be responsible for something that went wrong. I probably have been that perfectionist. And like I told myself earlier this Summer, I’m done being a perfectionist. Well, this isn’t what I meant, but …
Dr. Leman: Yeah, it comes back at you, doesn’t it?
Andrea: Yeah. I wanna be responsible, so-
Dr. Leman: And you are. And you’re not only responsible, but you’re kind. And so I hate to pin the tail on Maddie, but I’m gonna put on my Judge Judy robe for just a second. Maddie, sad to say this, you’re responsible for this accident. You didn’t stop and look both ways.
Doug: How do you feel, Andrea, knowing that Maddie pushed open the gate, Maddie climbed through however she got out, how do you feel knowing that Maddie’s the one that decided to leave?
Andrea: I think I’m sad for her.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. My daughter, Hannah, had a dog that decided to take a leap off of a fourth floor, in a hotel.
Dr. Leman: And it was one of those Embassy Suites. You ever been in Embassy Suites? And they’re not quite square, but they’re rectangular and you can along you can walk, and look down. I don’t like looking down at those heights, but Maddie decided to take a jump. She’s crazy. She’s just a very high-strung dog. And she died in Hannah’s lap on the way to the hospital.
Dr. Leman: Well, I just want to put this in perspective for all you non-animals lovers out there. My wife was on American Airlines a day later, flying from Tucson to Chicago, to give comfort to her daughter, who lost her loving dog. These are traumatic, hurtful experiences in life. They’re like the deep bone bruise, it takes awhile for them to heal. You’ll be okay, your family’s okay, and life will move on.
Doug: Well thank you, Dr. Leman.
Andrea: Thank you.
Doug: And to show how compassionate and responsible Andrea is, the dog owner came by yesterday or the day before, just to give Andrea a hug and tell her they’re okay, she doesn’t need to carry it. They love her still. So they know that you’re responsible and caring, so good friends. They’re amazing friends.
Dr. Leman: Good friends. Yeah.
Doug: And for all of you that can identify with this, with your kids, right? We all have things that we would look back on and say, “Wish we would’ve thought of this.” Obviously kids are way bigger than dogs, so I’m not trying to equate kids with dogs. That’s why wanted to do this one, to say that it’s tough to get rid of it. Anything else, Andrea, you wanna say?
Andrea: Oh, just thank you, Dr. Leman, for those good thoughts for me to carry with me, and remember that Maddie made this choice. And not to should on myself, because that doesn’t help.
Dr. Leman: Yep, that’s a good plan.
Andrea: I have a lot to be thankful for. I can focus on that, too.
Doug: Let’s start with my husband.
Andrea: And start with my husband.
Doug: Start with my husband.
Dr. Leman: I’m looking forward already to our next happy podcast.
Doug: Yeah, I know.
Andrea: Me, too!
Doug: With that in mind-
Andrea: Thank you for putting up with this.
Doug: Yeah. Well, Andrea, thanks again for being honest and telling your story, and being vulnerable. And I hope that helps all of us to figure out how to get out from under the guilt load and the shame load that we feel.
Well, quick reminder. The book, “My Firstborn: There is No One Like You”, for $1.99 in eBook form, March 12 to 18. As always, we’d love for you to subscribe in whatever way that you’re listening to this podcast, and if you’re on iTunes, a rating of a five-star if you feel it was that would be great. And as well, if you know somebody who’s going through something that, like Andrea was, it’s fabulous to post it on Facebook or Instagram or wherever to say, “Hey, here’s a great podcast that might help you overcome something that you’re going through.” Just to give them another perspective.
Well, we hope this helps add to your parenting toolbox so that you can love those kids more and more. It was great to be with you today.
Doug: Have a good one. Take care.