Aaron is the founder of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center, the host of A #1 Parenting Podcast “Beyond Risk and Back” and helps parents navigate “beyond Risk” behaviors.

444: Relisten: How To Prevent Troubled Teen Years (284)

Aaron Huey

We all just want our kids to be happy and healthy, right?

How do we protect them and prepare them for the world? How do we make sure that they don’t face troubled teen years that may follow them into adulthood?

Aaron Huey, founder of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center and host of parenting podcast “Beyond Risk and Back,” shares with us the reasons why kids may make “bad choices” and gives us strategies for raising our kids to thrive in the world.

Relisten: How To Prevent Troubled Teen Years - Aaron Huey (284) [444]


Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

[00:00:00] Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:16] Aaron Huey: Your job as a, as a parent of a young child is to protect them. Your job as a parent of a 12 year old and up is to prepare them.

[00:00:27] Hunter: You're listening to the Mindful Mama podcast, episode number 284. Today, we're talking about how to prevent troubled teen years with Erin Huey.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. At 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 Rest Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids. Hey, welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast.

I am so glad you're here today because this is a really important episode. We are talking about how to prevent the troubled teen years, and in just a moment, we're going to be sitting down with Aaron Huey, who is an amazing guy. He's the founder of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center. He's host of the parenting podcast, Beyond Risk and Back, and he helps parents.

Navigate those beyond risk behaviors, but we're going to be talking about how to prevent them from getting into a place like Fire Mountain that Erin runs, right? Like, what do we do? What are the risk factors? Even if you have like toddlers, this is a really, really important episode for you to be listening to.

We want to make sure they don't face the really troubled teen years that may follow them into adulthood, right? And so Erin's going to share with us the reasons. Why kids make bad choices and give us strategies for raising our kids to thrive and never get to a risk treatment center, hopefully, right? Or give you some ideas of how to deal if you are in that risky place.

So I want you to listen for some really important takeaways, how The changes at home need to start with us, they need to start with the parents. How bad behavior is simply a child struggling to get their needs met. That's really the same whether your kid is 2 or is 17. And this is so fascinating how prioritizing our own self care is the best way we can prevent our kids from struggling.

I talk about this all the time. It was so affirming to hear Aaron talk about this in some of the most extreme cases. This is a really, really fascinating episode. We, you know, we're going to talk about some challenging things, so just be prepared. But this is so important. If you have young kids, if you have older kids, this is going to be the episode that you share around because it's so, so important how to help us, how to help kids.

All the principles we talk about in here really support and bolster the work that we do in the Mindful Parenting membership because in the membership, we start with meaningful, mindful self care, right? We start with that inner work. We do the inner work to calm your reactivity, for you to model and show how to be at ease with all the varying things that life comes up with.

So, you know, that really matters. And I just want to share this wonderful thing that a member recently wrote to me and said, I'm just feeling super grateful to be here on this journey and doing this course. She said, I usually don't suffer from anxiety, but my husband is fighting stage four cancer. And you know, it's a really stressful time.

It's this week, another scan. So, and the kids are retired and suffering cold. So due to that, she missed two mornings of meditation and she felt it. And then she. Did two short meditations and just to ground herself again and did another 30 minutes in the morning. And she said, wow, I can totally feel the difference in myself from now to yesterday.

She said, I had no idea how much meditating each day was benefiting me from this anxiety and the monkey mind until I wasn't able to do it. And she said, meditation is key. Yes, and so we teach you how to create your own meditation practice. We pair you up with an accountability buddy so that you are really accountable.

You know, we don't want you to just get lost in the shuffle. We really want to support you. We teach you how to take care of all the difficult things that come up because that comes up and we need to really be able to regulate ourselves if we ever want to help our kids regulate themselves. Okay, so if you want to know more, you want to go deeper with that.

Go to MindfulParentingCourse. com, get on the wait list, we'll let you know when we open the membership. And that's all I got to say about that. Let's dive into this conversation with Aaron Huey. Aaron, thanks so much for coming on the Mindful Mama podcast.

[00:05:26] Aaron Huey: It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me. 

[00:05:31] Hunter: Well, I had so much fun talking to you for your podcast and you seemed like such like an intriguing person that, that I had to have you on and, and you do great work in the world, so which we're gonna tell parents about.

I'm excited about kind of like diving into that, but first I'm I, I know you're in this like, you're in this helping and healing space with me, you work with at risk teens, this is not like, most people don't say like, please, I would like to like, go work with like, at risk teens who are having major issues in their lives.

What, what brought you to, what brought you to this, this work and what you're doing?

[00:06:14] Aaron Huey: My relationship with my work is essentially an opportunity to reconcile my past. I mean, it's, it's the, it's the quintessential 12th step is that you finally, once you finally understood the message of recovery, then you spend the 12th step taking that message of hope.

To people who are still struggling with addiction or mental health issues, uh, of which I struggled with both. So this is the give back. This is the great, um, I saw, I saw a piece this morning that said people in recovery say, I love you a lot. And that's because they understand what it's like not to love yourself.

And so they're reminding you that other people can love you. And I thought there's another piece to that. It's also reminding yourself. When you say, I love you a lot that you are loving because I did not feel loving as a parent who was an addict or as a child who father abandoned him or who was sexually assaulted by his best friend or who was bullied mercilessly, I mercilessly, I did not.

Feel like a loving person. And of course I didn't feel loved. I did not feel lovable, but that loving piece, that active principle on, am I worthy of being loving? Does, does my love matter to others? Um, not just am I loved by others, but does it matter that I love others? That's huge. And that's the 12th step is when you realize it matters that you love.

And that's, that's a big piece. So that's what this part of my life has been about is being loving, loving enough to go into the shadows with families who are really, really hit the wall and don't know how to get away from that wall, uh, and help them, help them flip around and see the other side.

[00:08:16] Hunter: There's so much there that I'm interested in.

I've always been really interested in the 12 step programs because I don't, I don't, um, I don't have any personal experience with it, but it seems like so, um, uh, so effective for so many people. And your own story sounds like you had a lot of, a lot of suffering and challenge. But before we dive into any of that, I just want you to just tell people, what do you do?

[00:08:43] Aaron Huey: Well, I, and, uh, I started running kids camps. I, I ran a martial arts school that turned into an afterschool program called Warrior Camp, uh, which turned into a summer camp. And then we wanted to make sure, uh, girls were feeling the experience of the warrior, but also, uh, truly honoring their goddess. So we created a second camp to run simultaneously called the Warrior Goddess Camp.

And these were overnight programs. Uh, that led into Superhero Camp and Jester Camp and Wizard Camp and Bard Camp. We were trying to get all of the archetypes. And then from there, we started doing Teen Rite of Passage programs. And I started coaching teens in sobriety, uh, or trying to get sober. And that of course turned into working with their parents.

And at some point during the Teen Rite of Passage, parents just saying, can my kid come live with you? And my wife and I were like. Yeah. And literally, uh, the, in 2000 and and five, when we said, I'm sorry, in 2009, 'cause we started the kids camps in 2004 and five and in 2009 we were like, yeah, we'll take your kid.

A week later we had six. Boys and a waiting list of four more. And we were like, what is going on here? So we started in earnest running a teen sober home for boys. Uh, and then in 2011 started working with insurance. So families could be supported by these. Ungodly fees they pay out of their paychecks each month.

And, uh, in 2013, uh, we bought a facility, the sober home model turned into a full blown residential treatment center model. And, uh, we now have one of the most successful adolescent treatment centers in the United States, uh, with, uh, with one of the highest success rates in the United States. And I will say out of the gate that that's because of the work we do with parents.

The work we do with kids is awesome. We do very cool crap with kids. Very, very cool stuff. But what makes us successful is that the parents have made the changes they need to make so the kids can bring their changes home. No child change. Can survive a stagnant family system. Family system has to change.

And that's been our focus since we began working with teens is educating the parents. And that's where our success comes from is for parents saying, all right, do me next. And we do.

[00:11:19] Hunter: Wow. Uh, so, I mean, that's amazing. I love that. Warrior Camp, Warrior Goddess Camp, Rites of Passage. Erin, there's like five bazillion things I want to ask you about that's so ADHDs.

There's, that's so fascinating, but it all kind of circles around, um, this, the, this, and, uh, uh, addiction, and the suffering that kind of happens with that. Um, When did you, when did you move into your own 12 step program?

[00:11:53] Aaron Huey: So I got sober on May 21st, 1998, um, and went to my first meeting, uh, that night. I had a, a deeply spiritual experience.

I was very spiritual. This was late in my life. I was a minister already. Um, and, uh, a minister who was using quite a bit. And, uh, that night went to my first meeting. Uh, and those, those parents who are listening, moms who are listening, who've been through the 12 steps, you're going to laugh at me. Because I was told as I went in that it was a speaker's meeting.

So naturally I assumed they meant I was going to talk. You know, that I was the speaker. This is my first meeting ever. So I went to go speak and this big biker guy yanked me back down in my chair and I turned to swing on him and he said, just sit down and shut the F up for once in your life. You might learn something.

And he was completely unfazed by the fact that I had my fist cocked ready to punch him. So I sat down and I listened and the guy got up and told my story. And that biker became my sponsor. Now, what I will say about the 12 steps is it wasn't the steps in my mind that got me sober. I did the steps, but it was the people in those rooms, the people who said, I love you, the people who proved it by spending time with me.

The people who comforted me in my tears and shame and then shared with the transparency of the 12 steps and the people in those rooms was, was the most inspirational aspect of the work. And that's what I've carried forward. Um, so it wasn't the steps. It was the people for me. So community's always been important to Fire Mountain.

Uh, we could, we call it the Bear Tribe and even the kids in the old warrior camps. or the teens who are going through our recovery program, which I need to say is we are dependency second. We're mental health. We have never and will never call a child an addict. Never. That is completely inappropriate in my mind.

And I've worked with plenty of teenagers who are addicts, but it's not my place to call them that. Um, Why? Well, there's a, there's a couple of reasons. Number one, uh, develop mentally, truly being addicted to something is, is something that happens to us later in life. And to me, addiction is a maladaptive coping strategy that becomes a habit.

Let me say that again, a maladaptive coping strategy that becomes a habit. That can be mayonnaise, Hunter. That, I mean, if you, if you put mayonnaise on everything because it makes you feel better and then pretty soon it starts raising your cholesterol and your life's threatened by it, but you can't stop, that's addiction.

So video games, marijuana, social media, friends, heroin, cutting, shopping, all of it. Anything can be addictive, and so I don't see myself as qualified to look at a child 12 to 17 years old and go, well, you're addicted to weed. Like, that's a setup for defensiveness. But if a child says, I think I'm addicted to fill in the blank, you can, you can ally with them.

And you can have that conversation, but I'm not in the business. We're, we're in the business of trauma. We're in the, that's the gateway drug is trauma. We're in the business of mental health issues. That's the gateway is, is epigenetics realizing that, you know, great, great your grandmother, just your grandmother was in, you know, the, the, the Holocaust.

The family dragon. Is what gets brought to our treatment center. That's what gets dealt with. Not my child smoking too much pot. And that's a result. We need to find the influence, not his group of friends, not her social media use. Those are results to the prime influence that led to the experiences that led to the thoughts, which led to the feelings, which led to the actions, which led to the results.

Parents come in with actions and results. We got to get them to influence and experience and that stuff that could have happened in utero or pre child's existence. We got to deal with that stuff.

[00:16:10] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

You're talking about generational patterns and you're talking about how, how trauma is passed down through generations and kind of looking at. You know, uncovering, like, kind of beyond, beyond the behavior, what's driving the behavior beyond even maybe the circumstances you're looking at, like, I'm having this pattern, I see that my parents have this pattern, it sounds like, it sounds very similar to me in some ways, like, you know, we talk about this in Mindful Parenting a lot in our second module, we're diving into, like, understanding your own childhood, And understanding your own problems because if we don't make these things conscious, then we're, we're acting from them, right?

Like, we don't have any choice but to act from sort of these unconscious things. So it sounds like you're kind of like diving into these, these things that are below the surface too. How do you, how do you, how do you help kids dive below? How do you help them uncover sometimes these, these patterns that maybe even started before they were born?

[00:17:18] Aaron Huey: How Well, first thing you do is that before you have a psychiatrist, put them on any meds. And I have a psychiatrist who works for me. We have a Western medicine and Eastern philosophy and all we teach martial arts, Tai Chi, meditation, holistic diet, like we use all that stuff, but we also have a psychiatrist.

But before our psychiatrist is going to put a child on any medication, we do a genetics test. We do a neurotransmitter test. We have, isn't it, isn't it nuts that if you fall and hurt your arm and you go to the hospital, the first thing they do is what?

[00:17:57] Hunter: X ray? I don't know. What do they do? 

[00:18:00] Aaron Huey: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. You don't know what happened. You can say, I fell. I heard a loud snap and my arms are misshapen. So they X ray it. How could we not do that with a child's brain when they're like, something's not working, I'm depressed, I'm anxious. I'm I have addictive tendencies. I'm ADHD. I'd my child's borderline, my child's bipolar.

My child's take a picture of the brain, but go do the X ray of the brain. Find out what is actually a genetics test will show you what's not firing and that to the child automatically. It gives them the, the recognition that this may not be about willingness. This may be about capability. So often parents get so upset as the child's choices and now, Oh, they're making bad choices.

No, they're not. They are fulfilling needs based on what they have to work with. And that could be environmental chaos, neurological chaos, a system failure like a social system, a family system, a school system, a political system, and it could be an epigenetic failure. Something that happened to great grandpa has changed the family's genetic expression.

Our kid is now speaking the language of the family behavior. This child's behavior is the family language being spoken out loud. So we can't say bad choices if every choice we make is an expression of need. What we're doing is trying to get safety, uh, uh, connection, our safety, freedom, connection, worth.

Those are the five human needs. And there's a developmental order of, you know, you know, safeties first and then power. That's the terrible twos and then connection and then freedom. That's generally in our twenties, late teens and twenties, and then worth. And Hunter, that's what you and I are dealing with.

You can have those needs at all times. We, we, we asked the kids and I use this story a lot. Why do you smoke? Why do you smoke cigarettes? Why do you even start smoking cigarettes? And. The kids, here's why we ask the question, because a lot of the kids come into my facility and they, they have, they've been smoking cigarettes and they dicked it and they war story.

I smoke three packs. I spoke 12 packs a day, blah, blah, blah. But they've been growing up since elementary school with signs on the walls that say, don't smoke. It's going to kill you. It makes your teeth turn yellow, your clothes smell, you lose taste, blah, blah, blah. Why do you smoke? The kids give the same answers every single time.

Well, it's like I get to take a break from my life and I, I go outside and I hang out with my friends. Well, Hunter, if you came to me and you said, Aaron, I'm, I'm, I'm really struggling. Life's just smacked me across the face and I'm this and, and my work and my, my family and on and on and be like, okay, Hunter, time out.

Here's what I want you to do. Here's, here's my prescription. I want you to just take a break from everything and you need to find a support group. Right. I need you to get outside and start hiking, you know, and move your body. And I also want, I'm going to add one more thing. I want you to take deep breaths.

Didn't I just describe smoking? Yeah. So yeah, the found a way to meet the need of power, freedom, freedom from the pain they're dealing with, the stress they're dealing with connection, they're hanging out there outside with friends. This is, this is all, everything we do is need fulfillment. So there are no bad choices.

There are risky choices. Smoking cigarettes is risky. That's a risky way to get needs met, but stop calling them bad. I would never assume as a parent coach that if a parent called me and said, Oh, my kids scream, punch a hole in the wall. So I ripped their cell phone out of their hand and I threw it down the driveway.

I wouldn't say, well, that was a bad choice. I would say, what needs did you doing that fulfill? We would have that conversation because that's a journey inward. That's a journey towards their experience, their feelings, their thoughts, their influence. And that's where the work actually happens.

[00:22:16] Hunter: Yes. Yes. I mean, you're pointing people away from judgment, which is like, it's a dead end.

Like it's a character assessment and then it's a dead end and what do you do from there? Into curiosity and understanding, which is, that's where you can then move, you know, you can do some things with, I love that, you know, you're saying even for, you know, we talk about this like with the little kids, right?

Like that there's not, it's not bad behavior, it's just like trying to get needs met and you're, you're, you're saying this, like it's the same exact thing. With a struggling teen who's like going off the wall that this, it's not bad behavior. They're just trying to get needs met. It's the same for the parents too.

[00:23:02] Aaron Huey: Yeah. Everything a parent does is trying to get needs met. Yeah, and

[00:23:09] Hunter: I, and I love this point of, um, willingness instead of capability, like, willingness versus capability, because we're, we kind of get trapped in this, um, in this conversation of like willpower and choice in this country where we think everything is willpower and choice.

But as we start to understand, like, The way we work as humans, like, as we start to understand our, our, our nervous system, our biology, our genetics, uh, the causes and conditions that we grow up with, all of those things, um, you know, it, we, yeah, we're just, we're trying to, you know, there's a certain capability to get needs met and there's certain avenues that are available to us that we're trying to get needs met at.

And I think that shifting that conversation away from like, Your willingness or your choice is, and just kind of understanding it more, um, more clearly, uh, you know, understanding the whole human biology and the whole human animal is like so much more productive than to say it's something about like your choice.

[00:24:17] Aaron Huey: Yeah, I don't, I don't see any child in our facility being there because they chose to be there. No, no child was like, well, three years from now, I want to be in treatment. By golly, I'm going to set up my life. No, I kind of liken it to the COVID experiences that none of us had this in our five year plan.

This is, this is something that happened to us. Family dragons happen to families. Computer systems can get hacked from the outside. So we can talk about responsibility as much as we'd like. You are responsible for keeping your computer healthy and up and running. I got hacked. You know what, that happens emotionally.

Physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially in life is that we get hacked and to look at a child's experience, the results from being hacked by having a dragon attack their village, and it could be a family dragon, could be a brand new drag, could be a trauma none of us saw coming. That just completely undermines our child's experience.

They go to a party, she drinks too much and some boys assault her. That is not something that we planned on. But then to say what she does because of that, the actions and results that come from having an experience like that are bad choices infuriates me because. Look, Hunter, when I was high, I was happy and when I was sober, I was suicidal.

So tell me how logical it is to be sober. That's when we talk about you're making bad choices. I gotta get high so that I can stay alive. I'm a dad. I, I'm, I'm trying to go to work today. I hate myself. I hate my life and you're telling me I should quit the one thing? It makes me happy. Well, your, your child should make you happy.

Being a father should. Yes, but it doesn't because the hole inside of me can only be filled by pretending there's no hole. And the only way I am capable, not willing, capable of pretending there's no hole is to blitzkrieg my own brain. With a behavior that's making everybody else miserable. But it doesn't make me miserable until that one moment that the cost of my behavior outweighed the payoff.

This isn't, these choices are cost and payoff. What we're doing gives us more than what it costs us until the one day it doesn't. And that's rock bottom. Can you manufacture rock bottom as a parent? Sure. You have been practicing your, your child's entire life to practice them hitting rock bottom. You will let their behavior go on so long and then you cut it off.

You set a boundary. And sometimes we set those emotional boundaries. What did you do? I said, you stay in your room until it's clean. Go. I'm talking like a firm parent. I'm not angry at my kid. I'm maybe I'm angry at my husband. Maybe I'm angry that, you know, what happened on, on the bachelor wasn't what I wanted to happen.

Maybe I didn't sleep enough last time because my kid's not sleeping. So I set this emotional boundary and it affects our children until it doesn't until the cost of them ignoring our emotional leverage. Is no longer as big as the payoff. And then they start to talk back. We either escalate, we come up with ways that our children actually experience consequence that teaches them the lesson that we were trying to teach them with our emotions.

See, when your children become teenagers, your emotions are no longer leveraged. That's the, that's the hardest thing for parents to learn.

[00:28:03] Hunter: I think I would disagree in that if. You have not been using destructive power methods all the way along and your kids aren't resenting you, then you, and you still have that connection.

Then your emotions, then they, when, if they still care about your emotions and you're still, you have still have that, you know, if you haven't been using that destructive power, you still have that influence. There's an inverse relationship between power and influence.

[00:28:33] Aaron Huey: Certainly, certainly as a parent, if you have not been abusing the emotional leverage concept, You're allowed to have feelings.

You're allowed to express your feelings. How you express them in a healthy way is, you know, emotionally intelligent. Where does an emotional intelligence stop is the question. And, and you're watching the work that you do, Hunter, the whole point is to maintain an emotional, intellectual growth. But when your child, and I'm not going to say, but I'm going to say, and when your child suddenly has a traumatic experience and they doing things like sneaking out in the middle of the night, and you thought you had this incredible relationship that you would spend all these years building, but you don't know what actually happened to him.

You don't understand why this brilliant, beautiful boy is now spending 12 to 17 hours on a video game. And you, you start losing sleep. And you stop taking care of yourself and you're not doing what I call the FAB five, which is good sleep, uh, body movements, healthy food, drinking water, and breathing on purpose.

Like those are the five foundation points of emotional intellect. Let one of them go and the whole house starts to teeter, right? You're not drinking enough water that starts to collapse the conscious breathing part that collapse. I, I, I liken this to the little kid in the grocery store throwing the fit at the cereal aisle.

No one immediately stops to think, and I'm not just talking about the parent, talking about everybody else in the store, that this kid might actually be having a blood sugar crash, right? Which is most likely what that is. The kid's throwing a fit on the floor, how's dad doing? When he's standing there watching this kid throw a fit on the floor, has he been running from one errand to another?

And he's thinking about work and he's thinking about the other kids at school and he's thinking about, and now this kid's throwing a fit and other parents are looking at him going, Oh, well, poor guy. He's like, God, just get up. And that's not emotionally intelligent. So we, we, the, the miss is coming from when extreme emotional experience happen, where your kid punches a hole in the wall in front of you when you take away their cell phone.

What's then? Can you, can you still access that emotional intellect? If so, awesome. What I work with the parents who go, okay, now what?

[00:30:59] Hunter: Well, that's a, that's probably a lot of us are saying, okay, now what? So, Erin, you're, you're pointing to the incredible vital importance of our own self care and I'm so glad you brought that up in the context of a child who's like a teen or someone who's like a struggling with big extreme things that, you know, dear listener, if you've got a, a two or three year old, this is like, oh my goodness, I hope I never am having to deal with this, but I think this is an incredibly important conversation because you might, right?

Thank you so much. When you get to that stage, what Erin is saying is that your self care, those five things, that still is incredibly important. But I'd want to kind of, like, rewind a little bit and look at this, this idea of, like, how can we prevent this, right? Like, you're describing for the

Anyone, Wisconsin kids, you're describing, so, you know, if we haven't already gotten there, like, we're, we're some really frightening scenarios that we don't want to get to, right? So we want to prevent with every ounce of our being, right? So what are some of the ways that we can prevent our kids struggling so deeply?

I mean, assuming that, you know, I don't, I don't know what we're assuming here, but what are some ways we can prevent it?

[00:32:20] Aaron Huey: Yeah, you know, they're a lot. And what's amazing is that 95 percent of them are absolutely free. And all the research that talks about preventative measures for at risk behavior, for when your kid hits 12, and boy, is that a magical age.

But when 12 year old comes Have you put things in place so that we can end up in an experience more likened to what you're talking about, where you do still have leverage with your emotions, that when something makes you sad, your teenager is going, Whoa, I affect this world. I'm my, my self concept and my attitude.

Vibrates outward like a pebble in a pond and is radiating to my whole family. There are ways to set that up. And it's why, it's why I think it's so important to talk to your listeners about prevention, because it is my sincere hope that none of them ever have to meet me. My entire. Process. My entire work now that I have this wonderful facility, this amazing staff, and this podcast to, to help educate parents who are dealing with teens and struggle is to now prevent someone ever needing to listen to my podcast or call my facility.

And so the, the absolute number one is self care. It is the absolute number one preventative measure. Because it is teaching your child. Okay. Let's set aside all the personal benefits of self care being your priority, that you feel better, that you have self concept that is, that is based, that is increasing self esteem and self worth, right?

That you are, your concept of self is that you love it and you're going to take care of it. The benefits of that, you just being healthy and having long life and dealing with illness and sickness and emotional stress in such a way that reflects what someone who takes care of themselves. But then the second thing is to then tend to your adult relationships.

See, we have to put children third. If I don't have a support team. 

[00:34:25] Hunter: Aaron, hold on. You said put aside the idea that of all the benefits to yourself, what are the benefits to our kids?

[00:34:34] Aaron Huey: Oh yeah, that they're watching you prioritize health and that's the modeling that they're going to grow up with is that my health is a priority.

My self care is a priority. And then I will, I thank you for bringing me back to that. I would have ADHD'd right past it, but, but I am watching my daughter go through a struggle in her life. That is something that daddy can't come. She's 25. She's about to turn 26. I can't come in for the swoop. This is not for the rescue now.

And I watch both my daughter, who's 25, my son, who's 24, when life gets tough, they immediately go to movement. My son is like, I got to go skateboarding. My daughter says, I got to hit the gym and I'm going to go to therapy. And my, like, that's what my wife and I modeled was self care. Now the second, um, the second thing we, we modeled is adult relationships.

That you have a partner, you have a parenting partner, a spouse, uh, a support group of other adults that you can take your huge things and turn around and walk into this room and go, I didn't have that massive emotional overwhelm venting session, not with your kids. But then when you can turn around and you can come back to your kids because you've tended to your adult relationships, these people who can go, wow, that was huge energy.

How you doing now? Here's some strategies I saw. Here's some of this and here's something I tried. And then you're working this out with the adults and you go back to the kids. And of course you can express the emotion. Oh my God, I was so scared and I was so angry. And so I really had to go to my support group and really talk about.

What that was like when you did that thing. And I came back with some strategies and I'd like to talk to them about, uh, talk with you about them on Thursday or Friday, which day works with you. And I can deliver that connection before correction. I can deliver alliance before compliance, that I am making sure I am connected to my children before I go in and try to correct anything.

And the third, then I prioritize what's going on with my children. So take care of yourself first, your adult relationship second, and your children third, because that's how you're going to do your best work with your children. Those things are free. The next thing, and this is something that Stanford, Harvard, anybody who has any sense to them will understand why this free thing will prevent child at risk behavior, family dinner.

It is, it is something that has been proven time and time again, that that time of connecting. That time of not talking about work and homework or arguing. No screens. And I mean that not for the children, I mean for the whole family. No screens, put them down, put them away. Look each other in the eyes, start having the conversation.

No screens, no TV in the background. Want to play music? Great. Stimulates a different part of the brain. Play nice jazz music, play, you know, have a, have dinner night where each, each kid gets to decide which music we are listening to for dinner. And then you get to talk about, that's a new subject. Get a box of table topic cards off from Amazon.

I, I, I make nothing by promoting them and I have every single set and the kids up at our facility use table topics. And it's just a box full of questions and you just, so that's, that's the strategy, family dinner. The next thing is knowing your children's friends, parents, got to know your community. You got to know the parents of the kids that your kid is hanging out.

Get to know them, set up a coffee date. Even if it's on zoom, cause we're in a pandemic, but when it's not set up a coffee to get to know them, check your values, check their value, talk about how you can align to co parent and parent like a community again, third thing, something for your kid to do between three o'clock and seven o'clock.

There's too much screen time. We know this. We don't have to believe beleaguer beleaguer beliger, be belligerent and beleaguer this point. We know there's too much time spent on screens. So if we're going to avoid that, something for your child to do between 3 o'clock and 7 o'clock. Between school and dinner.

[00:39:03] Hunter: Now, the talking to a good friend of mine, John Duffey, who's a, uh, uh, a teen expert. Um, he talks, and this is, I think this is an interesting shift that happens like in, you know, in mindful parenting. Uh, we talk about sort of simplifying and kind of reducing the, our schedules, like simplifying our schedules is kind of, but then as, and, and for little kids, we really, they, little kids really need that free play time.

They really need that unstructured time. But as teens, they really need that structure, right? Like that's what we're moving into in my own family is like that my daughter's 11, right? Like we need those structured activities are really the things that provide. Because, you know, as teens, their brains are pretty chaotic, right?

So they need, this is when they kind of need some structure. Would you agree?

[00:39:52] Aaron Huey: And I, absolutely. And again, it starts around 12 years old where we, and it doesn't matter whether they're playing magic, the gathering, or they're playing sports. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is that they're in community.

Part of the connection piece of the need is that children have to develop self concept, not based on what the parents or the teacher is saying, but what the other kids are saying. That is developmentally appropriate. As much as we hate that, as parents, I don't like the children my kid hangs out with.

Right. You know, other parents are saying that about your kid, right? Stop saying that. That's a terrible thing to say, because it's a terrible thing to say. That's not the prime influence we're worried about. That's a result. Of, of, uh, prime influence collapse, right? This bad group of friends my kid is hanging out with.

I'm not saying it's nothing. I'm saying that we'll talk about children like that because they're struggling to find self-concept as well, and they're hanging out with your kid. Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

You said prime influence collapse. What is that then? 

[00:41:11] Aaron Huey: Prime influence collapse is when you have a primary care provider who maybe they're mentally ill or they're dealing with addiction or they're abusive or they're assaultive or they're that level of prime influence collapse. You're an adopted child, an abandoned child, things like that.

That's prime influence collapse. That's way down at the bottom of the iceberg. Whereas results are, is way up at the top. We see partial feelings, actions, and results. That's what you see above the waterline on an iceberg. Partial feelings, actions, and results. Underneath is where we see the hidden feelings, the thoughts, the experiences of life and prime influence.

And that's where therapy goes.

[00:41:56] Hunter: All right. So just for this, I'm going to recap a little bit here because we talked about a bunch of different things. So I asked how to prevent this, how to prevent getting your kids into a treatment center for at risk behaviors and all kinds of things that your kids are dealing with like suicide and depression and drug abuse and things like that.

So how to prevent that. Number one is our own self care, number two is our own adult relationships and our ability to connect, process feelings, all that with adults. Number three was, you said, our relationship with our children. 

[00:42:32] Aaron Huey: Yeah, the connection before correction. Really, truly connecting with your children before you try to correct behavior.

And you're always going to try to correct behavior, so we don't leave that out. We just say it's connection first. It's alliance. 

[00:42:45] Hunter: I like that. I love both of those. And then number four, family dinner, table topics. Uh, number five, knowing your children's friends parents, which is really interesting. It's so like during this COVID time, I'm like trying, I'm meeting some friends parents of my 14 year old and like, I don't even know what they look like.

Cause we met. Add a scout ski event and like they got a gator on a ski mask and a helmet that could be anybody under there. I have no idea. But anyway, number six, number that was number five and number six was like something to do between three to seven for your kids to do that is not on screens. Yeah.

[00:43:25] Aaron Huey: And then, and then the seven community. Yeah. The seventh one is. The real education, the real honest to God education about mental health and about how drugs and alcohol and cigarettes affect brain development. And that doesn't always have to be on the parents. But we can't rely on schools to provide, you know, dare to say no.

Our, the program, when we were kids, that didn't work because they tried scared tactics, the scared straight model has.

[00:43:59] Hunter: Oh yeah, completely. Because I remember it would say your brain is going to turn into scrambled eggs. And then I watched my friends and their brains did not turn into scrambled eggs and they did not turn into like.

People on the street from Smokin Pot a couple times, and I was like, hmm, okay, well that's BS. You know, I remember thinking that. 

[00:44:19] Aaron Huey: So understanding the true science as a parent behind it. You know, so when your, your young teen brings you all the reasons why marijuana is not addictive, that you understand what THC actually, which neurotransmitter, and it's actually a neuromodulator that it copies in the brain.

Like this is, well, it's not addictive. I can tell you as an addict that I acted like a junkie around marijuana. I don't care whether marijuana is addictive. I know what THC does to a developing brain and what it does to an adult brain. And you have to really know the real science behind it. Not just the, the, the, the hype on either side.

It does not turn your brain to scrambled eggs. But it is absolutely not harmless. You need to know the truth.

[00:45:13] Hunter: So we need to get educated about it. And that may be for you. If you're caught, your teen comes to you with this. You know, marijuana is not addictive. You might need to say, Hmm, I don't know about that.

Let me think about that. And you might have to go do some research and that's okay. And let's say, let's put, let's have this conversation again in a couple of days. I want to learn more about it and I'm curious. So bringing that curiosity rather than judgment. But I think it all kind of goes back to, you know, you talked about mayonnaise, um, a maladaptive coping strategy, right?

I mean, what you didn't have, Aaron, was you had a lot of suffering in your life and you didn't have coping strategies, right? 

[00:45:56] Aaron Huey: So amazing parents. I had incredible, my mom and my dad, my dad was not my father. But the two of them were so progressive, hardworking, and connective. My, my dad was at every stupid violin concert and hockey game.

He was affectionate. He was not my father. I never said that to him. He never treated me anything like his son. Same alcohols in their liquor cabinet that was there when I was a little kid. They still don't know that that vodka is mostly water. Why? How did that happen? It's, it's much deeper than just being a good parent.

I had amazing parents. I turned into an addict. What do

[00:46:36] Hunter: you, as you've wrestled with that question throughout your life, what conclusions have you come to?

[00:46:42] Aaron Huey: Abandonment, assault, you know, there's the end, right? Yeah, it's, it's, it's the trauma. Trauma's the gateway. And then, and there's a, If there's anything to look for as a parent of a young child, your job as a, as a parent of a young child is to protect them.

Your job as a parent of a 12 year old and up is to prepare them. And that line, it's It's so hard to know when it's time to switch to protect them from society that really could give a crap about your child's safety. It's very clear that this world does not care about your child's life as much as you do, but at some point around 12, 13 years old, you've got to start preparing them to live in that.

And with that, Is a strategic on purpose, conscious experience to have with your child, to literally have those conversations and make those changes to your parenting so that they get ready to experience the real world on the real world's terms. Cause I'll guarantee you this, this real world is not on mom or dad's terms.

Mom and dad, they love you. They want to protect you. The world does not.

[00:47:53] Hunter: So I'm curious about kind of like what you would be specifically talking about when you talk about that. Cause I think of like. Kind of preparing our child for the real world is something that kind of happens all the way along at different levels and stages, you know, I cross the busy street at the end of my street with my child and then I say, okay, now you tell me when to cross and then we cross together and eventually she crosses.

Right? So that's, and so that's kind of an example of kind of preparing for her. It's not just the physicality of the real world. We also, you know, we introduce like the news and things like that as things sort of like come along and we have discussions about things in an age appropriate way. Is that what you're talking about?

[00:48:36] Aaron Huey: Uh, it is, and, and I think as a mindful mother, uh, you're, you're very aware of the preparation process. I'm sorry, the protection process that includes the preparatory, uh, aspects. And there's a line where we stop calling the teachers and asking about our kids homework. There's a line where we stop, you know, giving them allowance because they exist.

And we start giving them allowance and bills. And there, they, it's, it, there's a, it's a, it can be game like, but it's still a beginning process where they go, none of my other parents, friends, parents do this. You're like, I know. That's so sad. So here's your electric bill and it's, you know, age appropriate, but it's an experience for them to start realizing that money comes at a cost and that your grades while, uh, you know, that their grades are their work and not your work.

And they, I ended the homework battle with my kids in middle school. We never discussed it unless they came to us and said, I need some help with math. Do you need a tutor or do you just need Chris to help you? No, I need Chris to help me. Okay. No, now I think I need to turn. Done. Like you're always there as an ally to have their back.

But at some point you have to say, you got to come to me because this schoolwork is becoming my problem.

[00:49:59] Hunter: Yeah. It's your kid's problem. Aaron, you're speaking my language. You're totally speaking my language. I talk about this. We've had this conversation, mindful parenting and homework is kids is not your problem.

It's your kid's problem. Whose problem is it? It's really important to not take on. all our kids problems, and that's why we have a whole, we have a whole list of age appropriate life skills, including, like, changing tires and stuff as you get older. My 14 year old makes dinner once a week. So, uh, you know, like, things like that.

Like, yeah, we gotta do that stuff. And part of that is our mental health Education, but the biggest part of that mental health education, I would wonder if you agree with me on this, Aaron, is that modeling? Is that like what you said, like that your own self care, your own taking care of your feelings, your own team, moving your body and all those, those five things.

[00:50:50] Aaron Huey: To, to, to point a finger at a child's maladaptive coping strategy and say, well, that's a risky choice, but then you come home from a brutal day at work and two and a half classes of mine later, Netflix goes. Are you still watching? Because you've just binged watched, you know, 15 episodes of the, the great, the amazing race or something like that, which I love, but that's your maladaptive coping strategy.

Modeling when I, when I teach the, the parents weekend and my parents weekend that I do for the families of the kids who are in our facility is free to anyone, any parent can participate in. I ask, you know, so I'll have 25 parents in the room and another 60 on Zoom, and I'll ask, raise your hand if you remember a life-changing lecture your parents gave you.

Not one hand goes up , but if I, yeah, exactly. But say, how many of you made decisions on how you were going to be as an adult based on what your parents did or did not do? That's a hundred percent buy-in. It's not about your content, the quality of your lecture. And for me, it wasn't a lecture. I was proselytizing.

I was not a teacher father. I was a preacher father and another thing in the universe and the God and the goddess and blah, blah, blah. I was. My, my kids were like, uh, no, it had to be about what we modeled because now that they're 24, 25, about to be 25 and 26, it's very clear what we modeled financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically.

I can see it in my kids because my habits became theirs. That is how the family dragon gets passed down through expression, not through attitude, not through choice, not through avoidance. Because if you, I'll use this as a, as one of the final story examples, if something happened to you as a parent where you were brutalized by someone wearing khaki pants and a red shirt.

Like they, they hurt you deeply and traumatically. And then you go to a certain big box store and all the employees are wearing khaki pants and red shirts. Your amygdala that has no timeline says, alarm, we're in danger. So now you're walking around in your tents, you're tight, you're scared, but you also have a toddler in the cart in front of you.

You have to ask yourself, how is the thing that traumatized you affecting them? Are you really hiding it? When, when more than 78 percent of our communication is body language, tell me what you're actually hiding from your child. When all the cues we have to live on is based on actions we take every single day.

If you're scared of snakes and you're walking with your toddler and you see a snake and you yank their arm and pull them into you, scream and run, what do you think your child is going to have as an experience for snakes from that? That's how it's passed down. It's through unconscious modeling. Your conscious modeling is only as effective as how often you are conscious of your actions and behavior.

Everything else is unconscious model. And we have to recognize that and do that self healing, self love, self care work to say, what am I truly modeling? Because I'll tell you, those of you with toddlers, those of you with little kids, thank the gods. That you are doing your work now, because I was high when my daughter was a toddler and I wasn't doing any work, but I was not, I was avoiding connection as much as I could, and I was avoiding my discomfort and I was avoiding my pain.

It's not until now. And here I am watching my daughter at the age that I was when I was using, 25, 26, 27, 28, and watching how that plays out in tiny little unconscious ways. And she is so much more evolved than I was. She is my evolutionary step, but I still see it in my son and in my daughter. These things that I didn't know that I was modeling.

So if you want a teenager dom, if you want a teen who still holds you close and you still hold them close You model connection, you model self care, you model support groups and the healthy community, you model taking care of things once you are taken care of so that they know that at least they can fall back on it.

The other payoff to self care, and this is the hardest ones that I have to tell parents of teenagers. This is one of the hardest things I have to say to a teen parent. Your teenager may not survive what they're going through. Now, let me, let me say, I work with the kids with multiple suicide attempts, kids who have been trafficked, kids who are completely dependent on maladaptive coping strategies that are destroying their life.

I have to look at the parents and say, your teen may not survive this, but you have to. And so what does it take? Because you surviving chaos is modeling to your child how to survive chaos. And at the end, that might be the only thing they can take in. Because even as a teenager who's 12 hours in their room on social media, is still paying on, paying attention to the strongest nervous system in the house.

Has to be you parents.

[00:56:42] Hunter: I'm just taking that in, Erin, and I can feel the, the heart and the intensity behind your message and it's so important, you know, what could be more important. Yeah. Ah, wow. Erin, I'm, I knew I invited you here for a reason.

Oh man. You're making my, my, my heart feel a lot and, um, and I'm really glad you came and you shared your, your passion and your experience. And your, um, the things you've learned from your suffering. Um, truly, um, you've made a lotus out of your mud. And I, I think that's, that's true, right? Um, so I, I want to thank you for, um, for coming, for sharing your voice, for all the things.

I want to, I'm curious to hear the takeaways you have. Dear listener, Erin, where can people find out more about you? God forbid that they. Need your services, or they know someone who

[00:57:55] Aaron Huey: does. I, I, I hope we never meet again. I'll just say that with all the love in my heart. I hope we never meet again. If you need me, I'm here and you can find me.

My podcast is called Beyond Risk and Back. And, uh, you can find that wherever you get your podcast from. Uh, you can find me free on Facebook on parenting teens that struggle. You can also go to parenting teens that struggle.com, and if you do have a child that you're wondering if they do need treatment, or if you know someone who's looking for treatment for their child, my residential treatment center is called Fire mountain programs.com.

Fire mountain programs.com, and you can always email me directly at aaron@firemountainprograms.com.

[00:58:40] Hunter: That you got a direct email there, folks. That's a very rare thing. So, um, Aaron, again, thank you. It's been such a pleasure. I'm so glad that we could have this conversation and share your work, um, and, uh, your wisdom, hard one.

And I'm, I'm, um, I'm so glad that we were able to share this time. 

[00:59:03] Aaron Huey: Thank you so much. Thank you, Hunter. I appreciate being on your show. Thank you.

[00:59:15] Hunter: Wow, wow, wow. Right? I mean, oh my goodness. It's pretty amazing, right? That even in the most challenging situations, our self care becomes the number one thing. So stop putting yourself last. It is not doing anyone any good. Don't do it. Stop it. And stop trying to go it all alone on your own. This crazy attitude.

Human beings are meant to be doing this together. So, you know, if you're ready for the support, you're ready to dive in deeper, you're realizing maybe how important it is because look what can happen. Then learn more about the Mindful Parenting membership. Learn more about the work we do at MindfulParentingCourse.

com. Get on the wait list. If you have some ahas from this episode, let me know. I really want to hear your ahas. I want to hear what you're taking away, you know, what's speaking to you. I love it when you share a screenshot, you know, of where you're listening to this, like even show me where you're listening to this and like, let me know.

Tag me, um, my Instagram handle is at MindfulMamaMentor, and I want to know, like, what are you taking from this? Because I took so much from this. I've been quoting Aaron Hewey all over the place when people interview me, so I'm wishing you a peaceful week, my friend. I'm wishing you well. I'll talk to you soon.

Take care. Namaste.

[01:00:53] Aaron Huey: I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you 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. Connecting more with them and not 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 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. 

[01:01:51] 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'll 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 mindfulparentingcourses. com 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

Support the Podcast

  • Leave a review on Apple Podcasts: your kind feedback tells Apple Podcasts that this is a show worth sharing.
  • Share an episode on social media: be sure to tag me so I can share it (@mindfulmamamentor).
  • Join the Membership: Support the show while learning mindful parenting and enjoying live monthly group coaching and ongoing community discussion and support.