Seeing your child hurt can be one of the hardest things to handle as a parent. In today’s episode, Dr. Leman talks about how to help your kids through the many hurts that they may face in life.
Learn more about Dr. Leman at BirthOrderGuy.com.
NEW: When Your Kid is Hurting –Dr. Kevin Leman
Show Sponsored by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing
Produced by Unmutable™
Doug T.: Well, hello. I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea T.: And I’m Andrea.
Doug T.: If this is your first time with us, we are so glad that you are here. We’ve got a couple of special episodes. A quick reminder that if this is your first time, this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman, this podcast is going out August 21st of 2018. That means summer is wrapping up and kids are heading back to school. Can you imagine that? Already we’re talking about the end of summer. That’s too early.
Dr. Leman: In the state of Arizona, in our schools, Leman Academy of Excellence, we’re back to school August 1, I believe it is, and August 7. Different schools like different start times. Isn’t that amazing that we’re back here already and summer has flown by? That’s a big deal when you’re a parent.
Doug T.: Lots of things to do with your parents.
Andrea T.: One of the things about going back to school is those kids are going to be facing those relationships, whether they’re good or bad.
Doug T.: Yeah. I’m really excited for the next couple of podcasts here, because we get to talk about this brand new book of Dr. Leman’s that I think is absolutely amazing. It’s titled, “When Your Kid is Hurting”. I’ve listened to every podcast, and put them out there, and I have read I don’t know how many of the books, and this book I learned new things that I have never ever ever heard from Dr. Leman that were amazing to learn for me as a parent that I’m adding to my parenting tool box. The part that, again, just blows me away, and I don’t know how you do it, Dr. Leman, but you talk about some real issues, hard issues, deep issues, and you do it in a way that there’s a little bit of humor, it’s concise, I can understand, and I can relate to it. I’m looking forward to talking through these four books. In my opinion, I think the thing we’ve got to talk about that is just right off the bat is what is it that just is hurting our kids the most nowadays?
Actually, I want to hear from you. I shouldn’t jump in. I’m going to back up. You just wrote this book. What’s your perspective of this book?
Dr. Leman: Well, it was probably the toughest book to do that I’ve ever done because I want everybody just to think about your kid hurting. What do you tend to say to your kid when he’s hurting or upset about something?
Andrea T.: It will be okay.
Dr. Leman: Yeah. It will be okay. Don’t worry about it. Oh honey, you shouldn’t feel that way. Hello. You’re not going to get anywhere, parent. You have to be authentic. You have to be real. You have to understand that this book is all about relationships, and when you talk about hurts … Look at the subtitle of the book. “Helping your child through the tough days”. That’s a statement. There’s all kinds of tough days ahead. Okay, your kids are four and six and nine. I get it, okay? I’ve got news for you. When they hit the hormone group and relationships become all important, and they have to have this and it has to be now and they have to … they’re trying to fit in. They’re trying to find their place. Parents tend to worry about out there things. What’s an out there thing? Terrorism. School shootings. Now some of you, as soon as I say school shootings, you say, “Wait a minute. Out there? That was 40 miles from our home.” I understand that.
In the big picture of things, most of the kids’ hurts that you’re going to have to deal with, and this book will help you deal with those things, are things that happen in your school, in your church, in your neighborhood. It’s all about relationships. It’s about things like divorce. Huge. Huge hurts for kids with divorce. How about best friends forever? All of a sudden your kid, who used to be really tight with these two girls, they’ve dumped her? They’ve moved along. They go out of their way to avoid her and on top of that they say mean things about her, not only to herself, but to other people. If you want to find hurts in life, you don’t have to look beyond your own community, your own home, your own school, your own place of worship.
Doug T.: One of the things I appreciated a lot about the book is that you talk on some really, like I said at the beginning, heavy topics for parents to have to deal with, and you did it in a concise way that I got the concept, I jumped into it. Then you gave all these great little bullet pullouts, these little self tests, these little analyses of it. Sorry, I just thought it was a great book. I’ll stop saying that like 12 times. Help us out. You start off by saying that most of the hurts that kids are going to have are relational. What the heck does that mean?
Dr. Leman: Well, let’s start with divorce. Very common today. I’ve often said I know a school teacher, an elementary school teacher who’s got 27 kids. 24 of them are from single parent homes or divorced homes.
Andrea T.: Whoa. Really?
Dr. Leman: It’s that prevalent. What do you do? Your kid is showing signs of hurting. “I want to go see Dad.” Well, you live in Phoenix, Arizona. Dad’s in Chicago, Illinois. What do you say to that kid? How do you get the conversation started? I’ll tell you what most parents say. They say exactly the wrong thing. “Oh honey, what do you think we are, made of money? We can’t afford a plane ticket for you and your sister to go to Chicago.” Okay. There’s a stopper. That kid’s not going to share anything about what’s going on in their life with you.
But, “Wow. Wouldn’t that be great to get on a plane and see Dad? Wow. You know, we’re going to have to figure out a way for that to happen. When it’s going to happen, I’m not sure, and maybe Dad can come down here. How about if I bring that up to Dad? Then you can talk to him a well. I’ll be glad to run interference for you a little bit.” You want to lengthen the conversation. You want to keep it going, because the kids, when they read you as you’re just telling them what to do, they’re going to turn you off. “Give me your perspective.” “Tell me more about that.” Those kinds of things generate the conversation further, and you want the conversation to continue throughout your kid’s life with you. It’s going to continue. The question is going to be good or bad.
Doug T.: wow. That’s a really good one. My question right off the bat, and maybe it’s because I’m a hot head, is like, in the middle if my kid said that to me, how do I calm myself down to remind myself to lengthen the conversation? How do I do that?
Dr. Leman: Well, number one, you don’t always have to react to what they say. Remember when I said, “Wouldn’t that be great to hop on a plane?” That’s a response. That’s opening the door. You think before you say something. Is that asking too much, to think before you … See, you’re in the middle of it, because when your dad says, or when your child says, excuse me, “I want to go to Chicago and see my dad,” you might be thinking, “That slime ball who’s living with a woman 18 years younger than him?” Do you see the problem? You have to think it through, because as soon as you start slamming dad or slamming mom … slime balls come in both genders, by the way … you’ve lost them. You have to fight some of your own feelings, Doug and Andrea, to be able to communicate to a kid in such a way as it makes sense to him. He or she is in the middle. She wants things to be fair. He wants things to be fair. He wants things to be even Steven. He’s protective of his father, he’s protective of his mother. As soon as you lean one way or the other, end of conversation. They might throw you a bone, but they’re not going to have any real talking and real honesty and any authenticity to that conversation.
It has to come across, the parent is, “I care about you. I want to help you get the way you say you want to go. The reality is not that Dad has left, we don’t have the money we used to have. We have to count our pennies.” You know, is that the smart thing to say to a kid, or is the smart thing to say, “Let’s figure out a way to make that happen. By the way honey, tell me more about your feelings about that.” Keep this in mind. Feelings draw you close together. Judgments push your apart. Do you want to share feelings and be close, or do you want to be Judge Judy and your kids will merely just grunt, throw you a bone once in a while, but they won’t tell you what’s really going on in their head.
Now, let me point out this. We’ve got an increase in teen suicide, 170% in just the past couple of years. Ever think about that? Are you worried about your kid being depressed? Are they depressing? Is that the right word? Do you see what I’m saying? Young kids take these things to heart. These things are huge. When you dismiss your kid and say, “Honey, don’t worry about it. There’s a lot of other fish in the sea,” so to speak, meaning best friends forever, other relationships. I wish it was that easy.
Andrea T.: You talked about different relationships, one of them being in the family or a divorce. Can you talk about maybe relationships at school that the kids are thinking about that we, as parents, may not be even thinking about.
Dr. Leman: Well, almost every kid in the U.S. and Canada, we’ll start there, gets up in the morning. If they’re in fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, middle school, high school, they have the thought, “I wonder if today’s the day I’m going to be laughed at, I’m going to be made fun of.” They’re very super sensitive to that kind of stuff. Now let’s take the kid who had this, the 11 year old girl, perfect. To quote my lovely wife, the 11 year old female is the weirdest creature walking the planet, okay? They’re pubescence before adolescence. They’re weird. Here’s little Laurie and Ashley. Little Laurie and Ashley, you can’t separate them. They are best friends forever. They hold hands, okay? They’re chummy as can be, and all of a sudden things change because a new girl moved into school, and her name is Sarah. Now Laurie and Sarah have become best friends. Where does that leave Ashley? What can you possibly do, what can you possibly say to a kid who feels like they’re odd man out?
Let me tell you what I would do. I’d say, “Honey, this has got to hurt big time. I know how close you guys were.” You can save your story, by the way, about that happening to you, at that point, because she doesn’t care what happened to you. She cares about what’s happening to her, and she doesn’t even want to go to school. She doesn’t want to show her face in that school. Here’s my conversation with daughter. “Honey, I love you as much as life itself. You know I’d take a bullet for you. I am 28 years older than you, and this is a time I need you just to listen to what I say. You don’t have to accept it. You don’t have to do what I suggest. It’s simply a suggestion. I know you don’t want to go to school today. I know you’re hurt. You don’t want to see anybody. You’d like to just pull the covers over your head and forget life. Do you know what? I believe in you. I’ve seen you. I trust you. I have confidence in you.”
“I’m going to give you a suggestion. Get ready for school. I know you don’t want to go. Just a suggestion. Get ready for school. You’re going to be a little late. I’ll drop you off. In fact, if you want me to go in and just tell the administration we’re just running behind time today, I’d be glad to do that for you. Here’s what I want you to do for me. At lunch time, I know you guys always sat together. again, you don’t even want to show up for lunch. You don’t even have an appetite, you’re so upset. I want you to look for a kid, a girl, who’s sitting all by herself. I want you to go over, and I want you to sit right across from her, and I want you to say, ‘Hi. My name is Ashley. What’s yours? I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting you before.'”
“Then I want you, at the end of the day, just to share with me how that felt to reach out to somebody else who seems to be all by themselves.” You see, this is what I call running toward the fear. You don’t run away from the fear. Hello. Lesson in life number one, life isn’t always fair. You don’t always get what you want. Sometimes you get lemons and not lemonade. How do you deal with it? I think you deal with that assertively in a positive way. I think there’s wisdom in seeking out this kid that’s by themselves. Again, “Honey, how do you feel inside? That’s my question for you at the end of the day. That’s what I’d like to hear from you. How did that make you feel, to look in a kid’s eyes, introduce yourself, and generate a conversation with somebody who probably would have sat there in silence the entire meal?” That’s what I’m talking about relationships.
Doug T.: Andrea, you’re the mom now, talking to Ashley. Do you feel you gave enough empathy with that kind of response?
Andrea T.: No. I’m questioning like, it seems like now I’m doing all the talking and I’m telling my daughter what to do, rather than listening to her hurt.
Dr. Leman: I’ve only given her one suggestion in all of that. It was a lengthy suggestion, okay?
Andrea T.: Okay.
Dr. Leman: The “tell me more about that” when the kid comes home and the news finally gets broadcast to you in a personal way, you have to be a listener. You have to be able to listen before you make that call.
Andrea T.: We spent a lot of time before I gave her this suggestion just listening, talking, letting her cry. What was I supposed to do prior to that idea of what to do when she went back to school?
Dr. Leman: Well, the listening is generated by “tell me more about that.” It’s a command, but it doesn’t put the defenses up.
Andrea T.: Right.
Dr. Leman: The questioning, “Honey, you’re upset. I’ve never seen you this upset before. What’s going on?” That’s not going to get you anywhere, but a statement like, “Oh, I can see you’re really upset. Hey, if you want to talk about it, I’m available. If you don’t want to talk about it now, fine. We can talk whenever, but I can tell you’re upset.” All you’ve done is open the door to first base, and you take it one base at a time. Sooner or later, a response is necessary. I think, when you’ve got a kid who’s crying in their room, doesn’t want to go to school, what do you do? Do you placate them? Do you give them sugar and cookies and ice cream and write an excuse for them to stay at home for a day? I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Andrea T.: You just said to her, “You don’t have to do this, but I want you to get ready for school,” so the whole time she might be fighting me taking her back to school that day.
Dr. Leman: She might be.
Andrea T.: Do I force it?
Dr. Leman: “Honey, I expect you to do the right thing. I have great faith in you. I believe in you.” Do you remember that part? You want to be your kid’s cheerleader without being too much of a cheerleader.
Doug T.: Right. For the fear of me getting in trouble, this is Andrea interpreting the story.
Andrea T.: Big time. I just re-lived fifth grade when you told that story.
Doug T.: How many years did it take you to get over that hurt? 20?
Andrea T.: Oh. Yeah. At least.
Doug T.: At least 20 years. Andrea’s best friend dumped her for somebody else.
Andrea T.: No, two. We were a triad, right? They decided they didn’t like who I was anymore.
Doug T.: And pushed her out. If your mom would have treated you this way, would it have made a difference?
Andrea T.: Yeah. I was trying to think of how my parents responded, but there was a whole other dynamic twist to it, so my friends got me in trouble.
Doug T.: You retreated, didn’t you?
Andrea T.: Yeah. Thankfully it was in the last week of school, so I was able to, you know, by nature of time, not be at school. Yeah. That protected me.
Dr. Leman: You can feel that kid. That kid doesn’t want to go to school. See, when you’re 11, it’s the end of the world.
Andrea T.: Oh, I was sick to my stomach in the nurse’s office at school that day.
Dr. Leman: Tongue in cheek, it only hurts for 20 years.
Andrea T.: Yeah.
Dr. Leman: It’s easy for us as parents to be dismissive of a kid’s viewpoint. That’s why, when you say to a kid, “Honey, I want your opinion on this. I’d love to hear what you think. I’d love to know how you feel.” Now, if you come back and you’re judgmental of the feelings that were shared, guess what happens? No more communication. That basic trust is manifested basically by listening and fighting that parental urge to tell a kid what to do. Now remember when I made that suggestion, I said, “I’m X number of years older than you, and I want you to go an extra step and just hear me out.” I give that kid an out, that it’s a suggestion. Do they have to do it? No. If a kid doesn’t feel pressured, chances are they’ll do the right thing. They’re going to feel good about that experience with that loner kid in the cafeteria.
Doug T.: That’s why I think this book is so important. For you, Andrea, we were married and you were still dealing with this to some degree in a lot of ways. These aren’t just like, “Oh, the BFF dumped you.” These are like real life issues for kids that have decades.
Dr. Leman: You know, I was just down at Focus on the Family in Colorado. I did a show with them. We were talking about hurts. I shared one of my hurts from college baseball. I remember getting ready for a double header. We were playing at Illinois Wesleyan University and our baseball coach walked by me. There’s two guys on each side of me. We’re putting our stuff into our little satchel or carrying bag. He walks by, he says, “Ah, Leman, I don’t think we’re going to need you this weekend.” That’s all he said. As I shared this, this sounds so goofy, I started to tear up. I’m on social security, and that still bothers me to this day, where I got cut from JV basketball, and I was a little hotshot basketball player. I was on the freshman team as a seventh grader. I was a pretty good player, but I always fooled around. Looking back, I think the coach just looked at me as a screw off to put it bluntly. When I talk about that publicly, I can tear up.
Things that happen to your kids, every day things, parents you have take seriously. You have to be able to listen to them. If you hear kids out and you listen to them and you don’t try to micromanage their life, chances are they’re going to get through that tough time. There’ll be other tough times ahead. Don’t kid yourself.
Doug T.: As we come to a conclusion, the thing about the book that I thought was really impressive is that you give so many practical examples for parents, and then you give quizzes for parents. Are you perfect as a parent? Are you not? Here are the ways to know that you are, and if you are, here’s what’s going to happen to your kid. Then the last half about the Ask Dr. Leman section is massive, to be able to drill down into specifics for these kids.
Dr. Leman: Those are real questions, by the way, asked by parents who are around the globe. People always ask me how do you stay in touch? I say I stay in touch because people are always being in touch with me, and they’re sharing what’s going on in their mind. Like I say, this is a tough book to do, but I think people will enjoy it. I think it will be a very helpful tool. It’s the kind of book you’re going to refer to a lot.
Doug T.: It’s the kind of book you’re going to refer to a lot is a really great statement. I think, not to parrot you, but I was like, “Wow, this has got so much packed into it for you, parents.” It really did help me, talking about the out there issues verus the in there issues and for me not to worry about the out there things, but really to focus on the in there things. Regretfully I didn’t like it that you said, “in my home”. I was like, “Hey, now you’re getting a little too personal.” It’s just a great book. It is another great Dr. Leman book. It’s got new content. Again, if you’ve already read a Leman book before, if you never have, he goes in and touches some of the bases for you to have just a general overview of what is good parent, what is a bad parent, even? It’s loaded. It’s easy to read, as always. It’s just not hard. Thank you, Dr. Leman, for that. Thank you for helping Andrea.
Andrea T.: Yeah.
Doug T.: Her 20 year hurt.
Andrea T.: It’s been a little longer than that now.
Doug T.: Yeah. Well. You might be thinking, “Okay, Doug. Where can I get the book?” You can pre-order it now. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, wherever you buy your books, you can now go and get it yourself. The title’s “When Your Kid is Hurting”. “When Your Kid is Hurting”. I highly encourage you to go there. You can also go to birthorderguy.com and pre-order it there. It’s one of those things you’re not going to regret picking it up and reading it at all. Go to any one of those spots and pre-order the book now and just be thankful that you’ll know how to deal with your kid when her BFF dumps her, like you wish your mom would have. Your mom’s great. I’m not talking bad about my mother-in-law.
Andrea T.: No.
Doug T.: It would have been nice to have it. All right. As always, we want to give huge thanks to our friends over at Revell Books and their love of us to make sure that we get this podcast done as well. We love those guys and appreciate their time. Andrea and I look forward to the next time we can hang out with you.
Andrea T.: Yes.
Doug T.: Get the book! Go. You will thank me later. Trust me.
Andrea T.: Have a great week.
Doug T.: Take care. Bye bye.