Ed Center is the founder of Village Well Parentinga community where parents learn skills that nurture the parent-child relationship, heal intergenerational wounds,

and discover culturally grounded, ancestral wisdom.

439: How to Stay Grounded When Your Kid is Screaming

Ed Center

When your kid is getting aggressive, how do  you stay calm?

Ed Center shares his story of being stuck between the authoritarian habits of his upbringing and learning new gentle parenting techniques that weren’t working when things got tough.

He shares the tools for how to make that vital space to choose a response rather than be reactive. 

How to Stay Grounded When Your Kid is Screaming-Ed Center [439]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Ed Center: So we were dealing with nightly meltdowns that were two to three hours long, and, um, he was punching holes in the walls. So as examples of behaviors. The good news is he is thriving now.

[00:00:22] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Parenting Podcast, episode number 439. Today, we're talking about how to stay grounded when your kid is screaming with Ed Center.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here, it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. I'm Mindful Parenting. We know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course. And I'm the author of the international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now Raising Good Humans Every Day. 50 simple ways to press pause, stay present, and connect with your kids. Welcome back to the Mindful Parenting Podcast.

Yay! I'm so glad you're here. Hey, if you're new, a special new welcome to you, but if you're not new and you've ever gotten value from this podcast, I would love it if you could please help me grow the podcast by just telling one friend about it today. You can shoot them this episode and say, Hey, this is what I'm listening to.

What are you listening to? I don't know. You can do whatever you want, but tell a friend about it today. That would be a great thing to help the podcast grow. In just a moment, I'm going to be sitting down with Ed Center, founder of VillageWell, parenting a community where parents learn skills that nurture parent child relationship, heal intergenerational wounds, and discover culturally grounded ancestral wisdom.

We're going to talk about Ed's story about having an aggressive kid, right? So what do you do when your child is getting aggressive? How do you really stay calm? And Ed's going to share his story about kind of being stuck between the authoritarian habits of his upbringing and learning new gentle parenting techniques that actually just weren't working when things got tough.

So he's going to share some tools for how to make that vital space to choose. A response rather than be reactive. So this is another super valuable episode. I know you are going to get so much out of it. Before we dive in, I want to let you know that the Raising Good Humans Guided Journal is out. It's out on sale.

You maybe heard me say that since you've been listening this January. It was released this January. I'm so excited about it. This guided journal is so cool. It's like your space to, uh, to relax, to unwind, to kind of uncover your values, to challenge negative habits, to, you know, improve the way you respond to your child in more skillful ways, to keep your cool in those moments.

And this is like a little, little space just for you all in a book. And a workbook. It's really wonderful. So the Raising Good Humans guided journal, you can order it anywhere books are sold. If it's at your local bookstore, you may have to call and order it from them and they will order it. They may not have it right in stock, but you can also get on Amazon or whatever, but the Raising Good Humans guided journal out now.

Okay, so let's dive into this episode. Join me at the table as I talk to Ed Center.

Ed, thank you so much for coming on the Mindful Parenting Podcast.

[00:03:56] Ed Center: Hunter, I've been following you for a little while, so it is great to be here, and I appreciate the work that you're doing, and I'm excited to try to provide something to the conversation.

[00:04:07] Hunter: Thanks. That's really nice. Yay. Um, so I, as you, then maybe as you know, I'm really interested, I'd love, really interested in talking about gentle parenting, positive parenting, but I want to know, of course, you know, is this something you're fascinated in?

Because you have the amazing unicorns of parents who are Who heard fully enlightened as to modern techniques way back when, or is this something that was, is different from what, the way you grew up and your, what you experienced as a child? 

[00:04:38] Ed Center: Yeah, I would say that, um, some of the practices are the complete opposite from how I was raised.

And some of the things like, um, love, connection, care, um, sacrifice for your children, um, are, were provided, uh, to me in abundance by my parents and, um, Uh, including things that are core values to me to this day and that I want to perpetuate to my family, such as, uh, my mother would never bother me if I was reading or playing outside.

She would always give full space for that, right? And so, um, you know, if I was watching TV, there were chores to be done. Right? And so, right? And so I, um, and also both of my parents spent lots of time involved with us in play and connection. And so that piece of it, I had in abundance. And I would say that growing up in a working class.

family, uh, in Hawaii, um, in what was formerly a, um, a Filipino, uh, pineapple picking plantation village that we didn't have money as resources. What we had was family and connection and time. And I was also very fortunate to have two parents who were driven in education and so really helped their kids to on strong educational pathways.

And so those were the resources I had, and many of those things are still my core values. I will also say particularly from my mom's side, that there was a definition of respect for adults, respect for authority, that had been handed down, at least from my grandparents, and definitely, and maybe through generations.

That was absolute. And that is a common story for a lot of people, right? And that we were not allowed to talk back, negotiate, um, that her rules and her authority was absolute. And that was very challenging because I was A deeply feeling kiddo with impulsive behaviors grounded in those feelings and she interpreted that as defiance or um, being overly willful.

I now understand that I have ADHD, I got diagnosed last year at age 50 and so some of the behaviors that I now see. That she found as being disrespectful, I now understand as totally related to ADHD. 

[00:07:47] Hunter: And so, they're probably not even choices, probably not even a conscious choice at all.

[00:07:52] Ed Center: Yeah, right. And so an example of that is my mother and I had the Great Towel Wars of 1989.

Oh. Yes, and so what would happen is I would, I was 17, I would take a shower, I would wrap a towel around my waist, and I would take it to my bedroom, and then I would leave it on the floor. And then my mom would say, pick up the towel, and I would throw it in my hamper. And I would do that every day, and so the end of the week when she did laundry, there were seven towels in the hamper.

And so she interpreted that as, uh, I don't respect her value and worth. Because I am creating more work for her intentionally and her consistent requests, persistent requests for me to shift that behavior went unmet. Now I will say, it is true that I was a narcissistic 17 year old friend. That is true.

And so I don't want to argue that, but I now see that behavior directly related to my ADHD. And so now that I am Gifted with two kiddos, uh, one who has been diagnosed for ADHD and who leaves his, uh, clothes on the floor of the bathroom every evening when he takes a shower. These are the evenings when I can get him to take a damn shower, right?

Um, let me, me too. I'm sorry, I, I'm a stutterer. I don't think Dan is going to be a big problem. 

[00:09:18] Hunter: I'm just saying, yes, um, dear listener, we try and keep the swear words so we don't have to have an explicit rating on the podcast. Right, right, right. So, Ed's tribe.

[00:09:31] Ed Center: So, um, when she takes a shower, inevitably I need to ask him to pick up his clothes.

And I don't put any extra energy on it. Because I understand how his brain is wired more, and I understand that it's not an affront to me, we can just have an actual humorous conversation about, here's the nightly check in, where I tell you to pick up your clothes and put them away. And it doesn't have to mean more than that.

And I can lean into building his skills over time. And also understanding that with ADHD, those skills are going to take some time and some different methods to teach. And so there's an example of how I was raised that's different from what I'm doing. 

[00:10:21] Hunter: Can I jump in on that example? I love that because, of course, my daughters are 16 and 13.

We have the clothes in the bathroom. We have the backpacks around the door. We have those things like that. And so, and people ask me, like, well, how do I get my kids to. pick up that picture themselves. And so I have, you know, we have things we can do to talk about in ways that we can communicate it that are better than others.

And what you're saying here, I think, is a little bit of wisdom that I just kind of pull out of the Great Tower Wars of 1989, which is, That sometimes I, I, I tell myself the story like, Oh my God, like, yes, like, it's like, you, you don't care about, like, I'm not your baby. You don't care that I'm doing this work, right?

Like I make it mean that in my head and that I'm, I'm really probably needing this reminder of like, don't take it personally. Your kids brains are still developing. There's a lot going on in their heads. You know, stop making it, stop making up this story that is making me suffer.

[00:11:25] Ed Center: Right? 100 percent. 100 percent.

[00:11:29] Hunter: Okay. So you had the great tell words of 1989. And you, but you talk about your, you know, you're passionate about sharing positive parenting with your community, with lots of different communities that may not have access to it. Um, what, I want to go, before we go there though, I want to, I want to look at like what brought you into this passion for this, and I know that, you know, you've written about how in the pandemic you went through a mental health crisis that really made you want to focus on this, and I was wondering if you could talk to us about that.

[00:12:03] Ed Center: Yeah, so I, my husband and I built our family through foster adopt and when you adopt kiddos from, through that process, they come with some baggage, um, and at the very least the trauma of being separated from a birth mother, which is very real. And, um, so we were humming along with some ups and downs as a family.

When the pandemic hit, the disconnection from community, as well as virtual learning, which was never going to work out for my older kiddo who has learning disabilities that we now understand much better than we understood then. Right? And so that threw him into a mental health spiral and, um, I won't say too much about his spiral because that's his story.

I will say that he expressed it in ways that were very aggressive. And that's important to my story and that, uh, so we were dealing with nightly meltdowns that were two to three hours long and where, um, we had the knives locked up. We had, um, she was punching holes in the walls. So as examples of behaviors.

[00:13:37] Hunter: And how old was he at the time? Just to have an idea.

[00:13:39] Ed Center: Okay. He was nine. And the good news is he is thriving now, and he got amazing resources, including, um, mental health providers who would come to our house pre vaccination at 10 at night when we were in, um, an episode. And they were, yeah, they were brilliant.

And, um, and I'm so indebted to this day to The care that they provided for our family, so we got him the care he needed. 

[00:14:20] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

[00:14:27] Ed Center: During that process, I also went through a re realization that I needed support and that the way. that I was parenting, which was my best work that came from what I knew mostly from my own upbringing, was not meeting the moment. And in particular, when he demonstrated very aggressive behaviors. I met that with aggression and that my instinct was the same as my mother's.

This is testing authority. This is defiance. This is, um, disrespect for me personally. And so I will meet that through threatening, by getting big, by anger, by demanding respect for myself and, um, falling into that. Cycle of Threaten and Punishment. Right. And, and I'm still prone to that today. I've done a lot of work and I've done a lot of healing, but that is still an instinct that comes up that I need to be able to interrupt or sometimes go through and then apologize and repair afterwards.

Right. Yeah. And, um, and so that is what was showing up and I didn't know how to disengage even after I understood that it wasn't a conscious choice that you made. He was making that it was a mental health issue and that I could not scream a mental health issue away. No, generally it doesn't work. No, cool.

Um, but I would go into my own fight flight response and in family, my default response is fight. And so I was so concerned with my own boundaries and my own, um, what I now define as toxic respect, right? The insistence that, um, that my respect and authority is absolute. And I was so caught up in that, that I couldn't meet his needs.

And so I realized that, and I went out looking for support, and I found, uh, therapists for him and therapists for me. Um, I tried EMDR, unfortunately it didn't work for me.

[00:16:56] Hunter: Uh, just for the listener, EMDR is

[00:17:00] Ed Center: Yes. Uh, I forget what it stands for, but it is this really cool and really strange Um, Therapeutic Process.

Oh, is this the eye moving one? Yes, you engage left brain and right brain, and through that process, you are often able to heal triggers around a certain type of trauma. And it's, it's had huge Huge efficacy with, uh, soldiers with PTSD who can now hear an explosive sound and not have a huge reaction to it, right?

And so it's been proven scientifically, I know it sounds weird, to, uh, be effective. Unfortunately, it didn't work. And so I did all of these things and, um, what I, and then I got a parenting coach. And what I found was I was constantly being told that the tools that I had at my availability were wrong and that I was to use other tools that I found to be ineffective, either because they weren't working in this really intense situation that I was in, or because I couldn't stay calm to access those tools.

Yeah. Right? Yeah. And so it led to this spiral for me of feeling like a failure because people were telling me that I couldn't punish, I couldn't scream, I wasn't supposed to give timeouts, I wasn't supposed to threaten, um, and that I was supposed to connect with my kiddo and that connection would, and I was like, I can do special time for three hours.

And that will not prevent, uh, a, um, aggressive episode that evening, right? And I'm like the master of play and cuddles. And that wasn't going to prevent, um, the episodes from happening. And so I realized I needed something different. And so I imagined That there would be a person of color who was a parenting coach who in these critical moments could say what your kid is doing is not okay and I know you want to have a big reaction and what you are going to do instead is ABC.

And I went out looking for that person and I couldn't find her. She was a she in my head. I now know of people like this, but I couldn't find that person at the time. And then I applied for a parenting coach at, uh, a very big, famous parenting coach organization that's really moved the field of, uh, Positive Parenting and Gentle Parenting forward, and I got rejected by them, and they said, I don't think we have someone that can help you.

And so this was kind of the pit of my despair, my rock bottom, if you will, in this process where I felt very alone, um, very scared, and really inadequate because I knew what I was doing wasn't working, but I didn't know how to, uh, access ways of parenting my kiddo that would help him and me heal.

[00:20:09] Hunter: Oh God, that sounds really, really hard.

[00:20:11] Ed Center: It was awful. It was awful. And also, that was the springboard to restart my journey, uh, to where I am now, which is by no means complete and perfect. And what I realized is that I was going to have to do some deep self work in order to, when my kid, when I felt triggered, in order to not react for five seconds.

That became my goal. That's a long time. I told myself, if I cannot react for five seconds, I can access all kinds of things. But if I can't hold it, then, you know, none of that growth is going to be possible for me. And so that's where I started exploring with, uh, exploring basic wellness. That's where I started exploring different types of mindfulness.

That is where, um, I started exploring yoga because my husband is a yoga instructor. Didn't stick with yoga. I think in part because when my husband coaches me in yoga, I have a tendency to say, why do you think my body can do that? So I think I may need a different yoga instructor. Um, and, and then I also started looking at, um, Indigenous and ancestral practices around mindfulness, around calling in ancestors, around prayer, around, uh, being out in wilderness.

Really important being in community with people who are also doing the work, which includes struggling. And, and so through that, I started to develop resources that would help to keep me Calm in a very difficult moment. And what I found is over time, and it was not fast enough, but it started to work. I could hold that space for three seconds.

I could hold that space for eventually five seconds. And within that, I could then access something. To keep me grounded. I could then access a mantra. I could access, um, a rem uh, reminder to myself that my kiddo was screaming out a need. That was unfulfilled and I was going to go underneath that and try to figure out what the need was.

Um, a reminder that I could build skills in this moment, right? And as I mentioned, I was a high school teacher. So that's exciting to me when I frame it as skill building and put on my teacher hat. And through that process, I started to be able to do, uh, things that I saw were like Herculean at the time, like in the midst of a big dramatic episode, knowing when he had hit the apex and was ready to come down.

And, uh, one day I went into his room in a particularly, um, violent episode and I took a mesh trash can and put it on my head. And I went in there with a pool noodle as a sword and a pillow as a shield and came in and said, bring it on. And he threw all these things at me and I was laughing and batting them away.

And then a minute later we were having a pillow fight. And then five minutes later, we were laying on his bed together, um, curled up together, breathing hard from the energy of our pillow fight and, um, re regulating together and co regulating together. And there's no way I could have done that without doing the work of interrupting my triggers and being able to start to heal some of the wounds that I inherited.

[00:24:07] Hunter: And it sounds like you learning how to create the space and how to regulate yourself, it, you know, this, it was exactly what he needed, right? Like he need, he needed that, he needed to learn how to re regulate himself. You needed to learn how to regulate yourself all at the same time. And you know, for him, for, you know, for him to learn that he had to be able to see You doing it and for you to do it, you had to relearn these.

old patterns that were, were, it sounds like before they were, they were really making things worse, right? You know, that, that explosive energy plus explosive energy doesn't, doesn't help. So it, it sounds, I mean, I love this story, this story of regulation and awareness of, of yourself and an awareness of what you need, um, despite the lack of availability for you.

[00:25:04] Ed Center: Uh, yes, thank you. Um, it was a major journey, and I also remember that there was an important epiphany that I had, and I think this is a really important one to think about with many folks who are on a parenting journey, and especially folks of color. In that, for many folks of color, we have spent a lot of our lives being told that the things that we do are not okay.

And that the way, our ways of being in the world are not right. And, um, and that also, we spend a lot of time trying to Grasp firmly onto the power that we have, because often in the world, we feel like we have less power than others. And so for me, being told by parenting coaches, therapists, etc., that, um, the tools that I had for parenting originally were wrong, and that I had to be less powerful when my kid was triggered, right?

That I couldn't come in holding my Firm, like authoritarian energy, if you will, but that I had to meet my kid with connection and gentleness, that was too far of a stretch for me. And so on the healing process, part of what I discovered was if I can reframe our, my aggressive power into calm power. And so what that looks like is I am in control and I know what I'm doing and I will center myself in the eye of this hurricane and hold that and model it for my kid and I can still hold the boundary.

It's not okay for you to hit me. It's not okay for you to throw things at me, and I won't let you do that. What do you need right now? Do you want space for me to calm down before we have a conversation, or do you want me to come close and sit next to you without talking to you, or do you want me to hold you?

Those are all possibilities.

[00:27:19] Hunter: That's an incredibly hard conversation, things to say if you're triggered yourself, if you're feeling threatened yourself, if your fight, flight, or freeze is, is feeling threatened by an aggressive kid, that would, anybody would feel that way, right? Like that, That it would trigger, it would trigger that stress response, which doesn't leave us access to those good words to say, right?

Those really skillful things to say. And so, but I love that, this idea of like reframing that to aggressive power, to a calm power and that, and I also want to just underline also what you said, which is I practiced it for two seconds. I practiced it for three seconds. I practiced it for four seconds and what I'm kind of hearing in your telling the story of how you practice that is that those three seconds, you looked at that and you saw that that was a win because it wasn't instant.

You've created a little bit of space. You looked at the four seconds and that was a win. And that's. That's how we have, those are like these incremental pieces that we have to go from when, when we're in this triggered space to, to when we're moving into that wanting to be grounded when our kid is screaming is to say, like, yes, good for you, you did it for three seconds.

[00:28:33] Ed Center: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And also, I practiced it when I was not in the situation. 

[00:28:40] Hunter: I want the listener to hear how did you do it when you were not in the situation.

[00:28:44] Ed Center: Okay, so credit to my husband who knows me well and was very thoughtful in how he said this. And he said, um, if I throw this Uh, Vase at your head, what are you gonna do?

And I was like, sock you? And he said, no, before that, I said I would dodge, right? I would dodge the vase. And he said, okay, so how come when you're on a soccer field, I'm a lifelong soccer field, soccer player, if a ball is hurtling towards your head, you're able to throw your head Towards that ball. And I said, because I've, and he said, right, so you have practiced to the point where you have overcome what is a natural instinct in a specific context.

And you know how to do that and you do it very well. And so I want you to think like an athlete and game up for these situations. Because when, um, my kid was having an episode and really. Most of the things that trigger us in parenting happen in very predictable patterns. It's true, yeah. Right? And so I was able to visualize.

Going into this situation, and what was the response I wanted to have? And if the best response was to say, I need help and go for a walk, then at least I wasn't, um, making the situation worse. If the best response was two seconds, then that's amazing, right? But then I was also able to practice the words I wanted to say.

I was also able to practice, um, not fighting fire with fire, right? But hold calm power to me is fighting fire with water. Yes. Right? Yes. And so, I did a lot of work, including talking to the mirror, writing down scripts, talking to my husband, so that when this thing happens, this is how I'm going to, uh, react, uh, respond.

rather than react to the situation. And I'm a good student. I do my homework, so I was able to follow that. And the athlete metaphor, um, was really helpful. And I try to find metaphors in the folks that I work with that are resonant to them. So somebody had a theater background and I was like, girlfriend, get into character, get into character before you do this.

Right. Or maybe it is to, um, go to a happy place. Right, and, and understand that you are calm and safe before going into a situation where you're likely to be triggered. But I think there's always a way that if we practice scripts, um, that are about holding our calm power and about responding to our kids in a way that validates what we need validated in ourself, but also looks to connect.

understand, figure out the need that our kids have, um, lead with connection, right? Then that, to me, is the intentional, mindful work that we're all trying to do, right? We are being present in this moment and trying to meet our kids needs as well as ours. Instead of getting hijacked back into some wounds that we have from childhood or some scripts that we kept playing out, which helped us at one point in our lives, but is not helping us in raising our kids.

[00:32:22] Hunter: Yeah, it's the hardest work to do.

[00:32:24] Ed Center:  It's the hardest work.

[00:32:27] Hunter: Yeah, that's exactly, you know, that was. For me, you know, that was, it was my temper that came up. I can relate enormously to your, your own temper that came up because it was my temper that came up and just the frustration of studying like, Oh, here are some great ways to respond.

Here's some wonderful ways to respond that I would learn from really wonderful parenting coaches. And then the incredible frustration of then knowing. What I should have said, but couldn't implement because of that, because of that stress response and the frustration that A lot of things just kind of rest on this unspoken assumption that the parent has, is a perfect grounded sea of calm and there's no, no issues or triggers coming up at all and could just pluck this lovely response right out of the ether, right?

Like, Um, that's, that was very, very frustrating to me as a person. That's why, like, Mindful Parenting is built. But I love this. I mean, what you're describing that you came across, this practicing, and I love the athlete metaphor, this idea of practicing, for, it came up in this situation, like, practicing when you're calm.

Like, this is what I lead people through in Mindful Parenting, like, stopping yelling is like, we practice it in those calm moments. I mean, so this whole thing, though, led you into your own parenting coaching work as well.

[00:33:51] Ed Center: It did. But can I ask you a follow up question? Yeah. Um, because you, you talked about your own temper.

So you and I are both wired as hotheads in certain contexts, right? Definitely. Yeah. Okay. And so now when something happens that. Um, would have triggered you before, do you still feel the trigger and like that surge or do you, have you figured out how to circumvent it altogether?

[00:34:17] Hunter: I, no, I'm, I'm not a robust, I'm a full, you know, no, um, well, the things that I, I know for sure are that.

Our overall stress matters a whole lot, right? In general, right? Yes. I'm snapping. If your stress is up to here, it's going to take not, uh, not that much to tip you over. So I'm trying to be aware of that. And even my kids, it's funny when I come in and I'm like trying to just control everything and I'm like griping about what's going on.

They're like, are you okay? Do you need a minute? You know, cause they could tell like this is what I do when I'm, when I'm feeling stressed or whatever. But I mean, there are times. I think the practice and the, I, I yell way, way less. I get triggered way, way less, but sometimes I do. And because I've been practicing so much and also practicing skillful communication for so many years now, I was like really proud of myself a few years back when my nine year old, she just Wouldn't go to bed.

It was after movie night. And then she was being, you know, she was getting all ramy like at night, which drives you crazy. I thought I could just ignore her. I just was going to read a book and then she'd laughed at me. And I was like, I

[00:35:27] Hunter: didn't know that existed, but I got up. And, I, I yelled, but I yelled, I feel so angry right now.

And then I slammed the door and I walked outside and I walked up and down the street for 15 minutes, but I was so proud of myself because I didn't yell. I didn't yell you anything. Nothing about her, I just said, I am so angry. And that was a great win for me. Stay

tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

[00:36:08] Ed Center: I think that's a huge win. I'm proud of you too, like to be able to center things on your own feelings. And, uh, you know, I'm sure your kiddo had a reaction to that, but let's be clear, you, what you modeled is I have big feelings and I'm letting them out and I am focusing on my own feelings and then I'm going to take care of my space, right?

I'm going to get some space, um, to do my own practice. And then. Um, I'm going to come back and then hopefully when you're ready, right, to reconnect with your kiddo so that they understand that, um, I am still connected to you. I still love you. We have these, um, arguments or get upset, but that doesn't affect our overall relationship.

I think that's amazing modeling and, and hard to do for us fellow hotheads.

[00:37:00] Hunter: Oh, I feel for all the hotheads in the world. I mean, it's, it's a lot. I mean, but in some ways it's interesting. I've been thinking about this recently. And I know a lot of people, you know, I think about those big feelings, right? We have these big emotions and we were taught generally in our generation, like just to suppress them.

Go to your room, don't cry, whatever. And when you can't suppress them, at some point they explode. They're like a beach ball. You're pushing down onto the water and sometimes they just come up randomly in other places. And I'm actually, at this point in my life, grateful that I was not better at suppression.

I, I was, I've always been crap at suppression and I'm, and I've had to figure out ways to express my feelings in ways that are healthy and to channel that and things like that. And it wasn't something that was suppressed because I'm seeing how suppression is just that's so harmful, right? And that whole, the body keeps the score, right?

How the body keeps the score of all those things that happen to you, even if you're Not really feeling it, you're suppressing that feeling. So, uh, just to share with another fellow hothead, like, there's benefit in some ways to being more expressive. It's just we have to like then channel that, right?

Channel that in ways that are healthy.

[00:38:21] Ed Center: So you are leading me to think about, um, what I think is the most fundamental and powerful shift in how many folks in our generation right now want to raise our kids versus how we were raised. And I think that shift is that most of us were raised by our parents with the framework that there are some good emotions and that there are some bad.

And good emotions are rewarded and bad emotions are shamed, punished, um, uh, threatened. And, um, sometimes that's explicit and sometimes it's not, right? Whereas most of us are trying to raise our kids with a different framework that all feelings are valid and there are appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.

Right? Yeah. And so we want to share with our kids that grief, anger, rage, hatred, lust, these are all valid things to feel and we as your parents are not going to be scared. of these emotions. And we are going to help guide you to understand that there are ways of expressing these things in the world that are helpful to you and to others.

And there are ways of expressing these things in the world that are harmful to you and others. Yes. And. I, I feel like that's the fundamental framework, but we don't, as a society, talk about that enough, and we don't have common tools in the vernacular to address that, right? And so a lot of the work that you and I do is around that.

How do you meet the feeling of your kiddo, but also say, um, it's not appropriate for you to do these things in class or, um, throw things at your parents or your brother or whatever. And Particularly for a lot of the families that, well, for my family, one, and for families that I work with that have experienced trauma or wounds in some way.

How do you navigate, um, that desire to hold a new framework when people may be getting triggered left and right in different spaces?

[00:40:54] Hunter: It's incredibly hard because your, your desires, like what you're describing, I think of as unconditional love and acceptance, right? I accept you, I love you, no matter what feelings you're having, right?

And that's what we want to show our kids. And we have that desire and then, but you may have a voice in your head saying, my kid is disrespecting me. Yes. You know, my, my, my kids leave all this stuff all over the house, like they are disrespecting me or my kid is talking back to me with sass and attitude and they are disrespecting me.

Right. And so. Our instinct is not an instinct at all, but it's conditioned behavior, conditioned responses. And it's our conditioning is to then meet that, meet that fist with another fist, right? Because that's what we were taught. And so it's incredible that the awareness that that requires is an enormous amount.

So I'm curious, just, you've been talking about a lot. about bringing this work to, um, to communities, you know, like lower income communities, communities that may not have access to this. And you said yourself that it was like a bridge too far, right? To say that all these tools didn't work, et cetera. So what is that, what is that, um, baby step that you take?

What is that way of, of talking and meeting people where they are? 

[00:42:25] Ed Center: To bridge that gap that you do. So I will answer that question, but I'm going to do it in a roundabout way. Because the first thing I think we need to acknowledge, so you talked about how stress impacts our ability to do this work, right?

And that stress in our society is not doled out in equal, inequitable ways. Right. And so, um, first of all. At any place in society, we do not have systems and structures that support, um, parents being able to provide the support to their kids that their kids need a hundred percent. And that's a crime. Not in the United States, we don't.

[00:43:04] Hunter: Exactly. No, we don't. 

[00:43:05] Ed Center: And so, um, the fact that, um, childcare is so expensive, the fact that maternity leave is so short, the fact that, um, And unpaid. Yes, um, the fact that um, and connected to, you know, so as a queer dad, maternity leave, at least in California, is connected to a disability benefit. But I didn't give birth, so I didn't have that disability, I'm doing air quotes, and therefore did not, there was a big chunk of, Uh, maternity leave that I did not, was not able to access, nor was my husband, because, um, of that policy, and therefore we had much shorter time to connect with our, uh, both of our kids when they were adopted, even though they were foster kids and needed a lot of support, um, to acclimate and bond in a new situation, right?

And so there's all of these ways that our society does not support. And then I will say additionally, for low income families, that the stresses of making ends meet, of, um, providing, you know, shelter and food and safety for your children, of navigating school systems, especially when your kids are more likely to go to a school that is, um, less capable of serving your children, you know.

Right? And so all of these things, it compounds the stress and our ability to, um, to show up for kids in ways that are productive and supportive. That doesn't mean it's impossible, but I want to say before we go to like the individual,

[00:44:54] Hunter: I just need to know. I think also, I know, I know. I feel like that's the disclaimer I need to make like all the time now.

They're so radically under supported and sometimes more than others. And we got to acknowledge we got a sphere of influence. So what can we, what are some steps we can take? 

[00:45:11] Ed Center: Yeah. And so the, I do. Take on individual, um, parent coaching clients, as well as run groups for parents, um, that they can sign up for.

Most of my work is with organizations and institutions, such as schools, family resource centers, government organizations, etc. So that I can meet, um, low income kids on the government or non profits dime, right? Um, or I should say families. Um, and so then within that. It is initially what you talked about, which is understanding where our triggers come from, right?

Just acknowledging that this is when it feels like my body and brain are seizing me, right? And this is what it looks like for me. Sometimes it is a hot headedness like you and I talked about. Sometimes it is a flight response, which often is just a complete numbing, right? Psychological flight. Yes. Um, I know parents who have what we call the fawn response, which is the desire to please and make everything okay.

And so whenever there's conflict, it's, I have to make things right for my Spouse, my kids, to, um, to make it all right and correct things. And that puts a lot of pressure on one individual and it doesn't help others build skills, right? Mm-Hmm. . And so, um, so understanding what that response looks like and then what are the basic wellness and grounding techniques that we can offer to find a little bit of peace and space for people of any.

Um, income strata, right? And what I find is, particularly for folks of color, that that starts with connection and community. And that if you have your sister, your bestie, sometimes your mom, I don't call my mom when things are difficult. I don't get the counsel I want, but whoever that person is that can ground you and guide you.

Right, like that is self care. Spending time with people who make you belly laugh. That is self care. Um, and then being able to, I talk about exercise, right? We all know we're supposed to exercise. We do or we don't, and some people can't. If you have access to a safe block, you, what we need for mental health, what we need to close the stress cycle is 10 minutes of brisk walking twice a day.

And most of us can make time for that. Right. Right. And so I time mine after lunch and then right before I pick my kids up because I want to like close any stress cycle through their legs. Yeah. Yeah. Transition. Yes. Yes. Yes. And so this is what we talk about and have people connect. Right, in these PTA meetings or in a, uh, Family Resource Center, uh, DADS, like, how do you, um, find connection, calm, and community on this journey?

And that's where we start. And then I offer, once we're there, what are some tools, right, that can help us to take Let's second between stimulus and reaction and do the work of spreading it out and moving my hands apart as I say this, um, to one second. And then what are the tools that we can access that allow us to hold calm power in whatever way we define it, right?

It's going to look different for you. It's going to look different for me. It's going to look different for the mom I just talked to with, um, an 18 year old kiddo with intense, with severe autism. And so right now, her fight flight. Uh, Anxiety is that she's so worried about him transitioning to adulthood that when he shows behaviors that seem counterproductive to that, she goes into fight mode because she's It's an expression of her fear for her child.

Mm-Hmm. , right? And so like, what does that look like now to be able to hold calm power, to be able to support her son on his journey. Um, and so that's a lot of the work that I'm doing now.

[00:49:45] Hunter: I love this. Thank you for these tips on how to get ourselves some calm power. Maybe when we're faced with our screaming.

Yeah. And it has been such a pleasure to have you come on the Mindful Parenting podcast. I really, really appreciate it. Where can people find you if they want to continue the conversation or see more about what you do?

[00:50:05] Ed Center: Yeah. So the, um, best way to follow what we're doing is actually our newsletter, Morning Cup of Calm, and you can subscribe to that on our website, which is villagewellparenting.com. And then I'm also on the socials. Great.

[00:50:26] Hunter: Those are all easy to remember. I'll have links on the show notes. Again, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I can relate so much. And I, and I, I love a story of taking something that is so hard and creating something beautiful about it. You know, my, I'm very much a follower of the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and he has a saying that says, no mud, no lotus.

And the, ours is a very, very much a no mud, no lotus kind of story. And I think that we can all maybe look at our own mud and see, see where the potential lotus is coming from that. So thank you again so much. It's really been a pleasure.

[00:51:08] Ed Center: I love hanging out with you and I appreciate just being in community with a fellow hothead on the process of our recovery journey.


[00:51:29] Hunter: Hey, I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you loved it, Go ahead and share it on your Instagram stories and tag me in it at MindfulMamaMentor. And I would love to see what your takeaways were, if you liked it, that really makes such a big difference to me and like the whole team that works on this podcast.

Like when you give it, you know, those shout outs or whatever, that makes such a huge difference. And speaking of shout outs, I want to give a shout out to OneHappyFish1 for your five star review on Apple Podcasts. Thank you so much. They said, informative, enriching podcast. They said, Hunter provides so much information about mindful parenting, giving tips to be more aware of children's emotions and development while providing advice of what can be done in the future.

She's also very forgiving of how people reacted in previous situations. We are human after all. Even hearing Hunter's voice calms me down a bit, so I love listening to this podcast. Aw, heart. Aw, thank you. Heart to you, too. Happy fish one. That is so sweet. That makes a world of difference for me. Thank you so, so much.

I hope my voice calmed you down today and helped you have a better week, and I hope this episode enriched your life and Give you food for thought and all of that. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. I'll be back again on Tuesday. And again, we've got, now we've got Throwback Thursday. We've got our episode from our archives, which, you know, you may have never heard if you've only been listening to this podcast for a little while.

We've got an enormous archive, so you may have never heard it. Um, so, even if you have heard it, you're probably going to get something new from us. I invite you to check it out. It'll be right in your feed. Look for it on Thursday. That's all I got for you today, my friend. Thank you again. Thank you for being here.

Thank you for, you know, watering your good seeds, uh, watering, nurturing compassion and more skillfulness in you. And I'm glad you're here with me doing that. Okay. Have a wonderful week, my friend. Namaste.

[00:53:42] Ed Center: I'd

[00:53:42] Hunter: say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you

[00:53:48] Ed Center: communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So, definitely do it. I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling alone. If you're feeling like you're yelling all the time, or you're like, why isn't this working, I would say definitely do it.

It's so, so worth it. It'll change you. No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this. You can continue in your old habits that aren't working, or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

[00:54:46] Hunter: Are you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting Membership. You will be joining Hundreds of members who have discovered the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to mindfulparenting. org MindfulParentingCourse.

com to add your name to the waitlist so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment. I look forward to seeing you on the inside. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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