The Science of Parenting

Enjoy the Joys! | Ep. 11

May 21, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 1 Episode 11
The Science of Parenting
Enjoy the Joys! | Ep. 11
Show Notes Transcript

Celebrate the journey of parenting by focusing on the good stuff. Embrace your child’s unique personality and his or her evolution as a person.

Support the show

Send us an email: parenting@iastate.edu.
Find us on Facebook or Twitter: @scienceofparent.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext

Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, welcome to The Science of Parenting where we connect you with research-based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks, and I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Hayungs:

And I'm Lori Hayungs and I am the parent of three all in different life stages, one's launched, one's in college and one is in high school, and I'm also a parenting educator. And today we are going to talk about the joys and challenges in the role of parenting. This whole first season we've been talking about parenting foundations. We've covered a lot of different things, but today we're kind of wrapping up with, you know, there are a lot of joys among those challenges of parenting. What do you think about that?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, this is our last recorded episode, or prerecorded, I guess I should say, cause next week we'll be live. You can catch this live. So yeah, we're kind of wrapping it all up and just deal with understanding the joys and the challenges that we have going on.

Lori Hayungs:

We are. It's been exciting. Our first season is coming to a close and we are shocked, maybe slightly shocked, that we are already here. We really did it. We're doing it. And now we're already thinking about another season . So let's dive right into this. I have some research here just like I always do. And so our first research tidbit is coming today from Baumrind Thompson and what they say is that a parent's basic role is to provide responsible caregiving and that society gives parents the primary authority in meeting children's needs because we know this, children are assumed or parents are assumed to have their children's best interests at heart. We do, we do.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We do and I think that it's kinda nice to look at that definition of parenting by Baumrind and Thompson because I mean, I don't always think of it like a definition, you know, you just do it. You have kids and then you parent, you just do. But slowing down, I w as like, yeah, s ociety does really entrust us. I remember one of my classes in undergrad t alked about families as the building blocks of society. And I was like, yeah, I guess we're socializing our kids, we're teaching them, we're educating them. We're teaching them skills to get along with people and to grow up in the real world and have those skills a nd like, yeah, I guess w e a re the building block of society,

Lori Hayungs:

We are doing all those things as parents.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We talked about that parents are the experts on their kids. You know, that's something we really believe at The Science of Parenting and so does society, right? We know our kids best.

Lori Hayungs:

Well, and so then the largest study of joys and problems in child rearing found that by and large parents get what they hope for out of parenting. And a study by Arthur Jersild and his colleagues found that parents reported more than twice as many joys as problems in child rearing , twice as many joys as problems.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Twice as many. Well that's good news, overall? We're reporting that there's more joy or twice as many joys as challenges. That's good news.

Lori Hayungs:

It is good news. And sometimes in the heat of the problems and the challenges, you know, when we look at the largest study of joys and problems, whew . Sometimes it doesn't feel that way, but if we can take a step back and really take in the whole overall picture of those challenges and joys and think, okay, if I really factually sat down and did tally marks for each. Yeah. Wow. There's a whole lot of joys.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but I do think you're making a great point that it doesn't always feel like it. You know, we talked a lot throughout season 1 about meltdowns. We talked about when we lose it and how we repair and reconnect with our kids. You know, we've covered a lot of different stuff and parenting styles because it's parenting foundations. Our first season is focused a little more on some of that tough stuff and how we navigate it, but that there's a lot of joy but it doesn't always feel like it.

Lori Hayungs:

So this study also covered what some common problems were. And so some common problems in the study and remembering again that there were twice as many joys as problems, but some of the problems included things like a child's difficult personality traits or difficulty getting cooperation in routines. Hmm. That sounds like something Mackenzie talked about, getting up in the mornings . That was the second problem identified, difficulties getting cooperation in routines and then concerns about sibling conflicts was another problem identified in the study. And then this fourth one, this one kind of hit me right in the gut, disappointments in ourselves as parents. Now. O kay. So let's just backtrack. Right? So these were f our common problems, but there w ere still twice as many joys. But that fourth one, disappointment in ourselves as a parent, that's hard.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Kinda reminds me of we did that last episode on judgment . Are we kind to ourselves and do we believe in ourselves? So, there's four here outlined in this study, right? Which of these are most relevant for you as challenges you experienced in your current stage of parenting? Is there one that kind of rings out?

Lori Hayungs:

So my children are older, right? And so I haven't had a lot of opportunity to reflect over the years. So when it comes to difficult personality traits, well, you know, I love diving into temperament. So you know, maybe I don't think that one would be as much of a problem for me. Difficulty in cooperation, getting routines? Okay . So I admitted to you all a couple of weeks ago that I'm not good with routines anyway . So, concerns about sibling conflicts? You know, as far as my girls getting along and not getting along, they did pretty well. You know, they had their moments. So that fourth one, yup . That's it. I've had 23 years to think about things I didn't do right as a parent. And so gosh, you know, I appreciated conversations last week about judgment and how we have to learn how to be kind to ourself and maybe because I can think of a lot of things with each of my three children. Gosh, I wish I hadn't handled it this that way. Gosh, I wonder if I'd handled this differently if this wouldn't have been that hard for them. So yeah. How about you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, so my kids are littles, right? I've got littles at home. Right now I have a three year old and an infant and so I would say the two that kind of immediately came to mind were one of the disappointments I might feel right now. That's a challenge for me is those times when I do feel like I need a break or that I need to get away. I do sometimes feel that disappointment. Like, come on, you should be loving this more. You should be enjoying this more. And so I sometimes have that guilt and disappointment in myself of, you know, this is your second one. You already know they're only little for so long. Why aren't you soaking up this stage more? So some of that is kinda tough for me. And then even though I have some of the head knowledge of temperament and personality and things like that, sometimes those strong traits of that strong personality trait of my daughter. She's a kid who she knows what she wants and she's got a plan for it. So sometimes that's tough for me to navigate. Okay, yes, you know what you want. Yup . You do, you know what you want. And that plays out in routines and other things.

Lori Hayungs:

You have a plan. Yes, you do. And so the other thing I think about is that piece that's unique for both of us is that we do have these backgrounds in children and families. And so I oftentimes wonder, I've put that guilt on myself and I think, I know how important this is because it's my educational background. Why am I not like you said, soaking this up and enjoying it? Why? And so we just have to be kind to ourself and think we're parents. We are normal parents just like everyone else. And we just have these things in our toolbox. But sometimes we don't pull them out. Yeah . Right .

Mackenzie Johnson:

I don't get that right every time .

Lori Hayungs:

Do you want to move on to joys ? I do. Okay. So in this study, they also talked about some common joys. And again, remember this study said there's twice as many joys as challenges. So here are a couple of joys that they listed. The children's special qualities as a person. They listed the joy of parenting with companionship and affection with children , that they had pleasure in watching the child grow and in general, the role of parenting. And then a fourth one had to do with if there was more than one child and so that was the satisfaction in seeing sibling closeness. So which of those resonate with you?

Mackenzie Johnson:

I think I probably have to go with two again. So I said, my kids are young enough, there's really not sibling conflict yet. Once my littlest is on the move a little more and they can start getting each other's stuff, that might change. But right now it's just sweet. In the morning, my daughter a lot of times gets to my son's room before I do, before we do, when he wakes up. She loves to go in there and see him and talk to him and get toys out and books out. And so that's a really sweet, I find. I really, really love that. And right now I hear him on the monitor, you know , or talking to him. And so I love that. And then even though my daughter's strong, she knows what she wants from the world and things like that, sometimes that's challenging for me, one of her other traits is that I just love watching her tick. She's an observer so even the route we take to her preschool. If I take a different route for some reason, well mom, the blue house is on the wrong side is something she said to me before or when she's talking about something she's watched or a place we went, she tells such specific details that I'm like, I know what you're talking about because you have this very, very specific thing. And so I find so much joy in watching her tick and observing that trait in her and the way that she thinks. So I'm having a lot of fun with that in the stage she's in right now. What about you? What are the joys ?

Lori Hayungs:

Gosh, that just warmed me up. Yeah. My daughters when they were young like that. So one of the things that I sometimes talk about with parents is those challenging traits. So when we have younger children who had these really strong personalities that are persistent and they're tenacious and they're observers and they get it and they see it, and then they use that against us in our parenting. But I love finding a way to flip that and say, so right now as a toddler, these things are difficult for you because they are persistent. They are tenacious. They are not going to let go. But as they grow those skills as a school ager, as a young adult , wow. You know, those can be such huge assets and such great qualities. And so I think that sometimes when we look at the joys of parenting, those same things that are difficult for us can become joys when the child moves to a different stage. And it's all about that brain development again, right back into brain development. But I think that's when it becomes really important for us to recognize that even in the struggle, those qualities may certainly soon become an asset. And so squashing those and really trying to get rid of those qualities in our child is maybe not the best interest, but somehow just finding a way to walk alongside them. And those challenging traits, I guess would be the way they put it, but I think that definitely is those were joys . So watching those things that I knew in my heart that those personality traits were going to become joys. And I've totally said that about my middle daughter. You know, I can appreciate that. She has the ability to let things just roll off her back and I need to soak that up from her.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Well you kind of remind me, I talk about what some of our struggles were. I talked about it in our bonus episode and then in the blog that went along with that episode. We didn't get a chance to cover it, you know , since that was kind of a mini episode. But in the blog that I wrote with that I talk about when I was struggling with my daughter , bedtime and nap time was just real hard for a while there. And I had texted you about it and ironically since you talk about how you don't love routines , but you're like, harness that skill, right? She knows what she wants and she has a plan and so we kind of use that to get her input to develop whatever that stronger routine was going to be and create a little visual that went with that so she could walk through it. Right? She knew what she wanted and she wanted to walk through those steps because she's a kid with a plan. And so it was kind of harnessing that. I mean, yeah, sometimes it's a challenge, but we kind of turned it into joy that she had this new independence that she was working on. Definitely it's a mix of the challenge and the joy for sure. Yes. Yes.

Lori Hayungs:

Have you ever seen that meme where the little girl has got her fist up in the air and it says, I'm not bossy, I'm a leader.

Mackenzie Johnson:

These are leadership skills.

Lori Hayungs:

Leadership skills. I think that as parents we wonder and we worry and we overthink and this study shows us that twice as many joys as problems actually kind of comes out in the wash in the end. Not to minimize by any means the thing that we're experiencing and the challenges, you know, especially in difficult times. But there are a lot of things that we are going to experience, and the best thing I think we can do is exactly what you're doing, listening to this podcast. You're filling your toolbox. Yeah. Filling your toolbox.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I think you make a great point. So kind of moving into the end, we'd like to end or kind of start to wrap our show and summarize by talking about your reality. Okay, we told you the research, we've shared a little bit of ours . As a listener, as you think about your own reality, one of the skills we've talked about is reframing, you know, understanding those things that might be challenges and that are joys , but reframing them in terms of the long-term or the benefits or turning that challenge into a joy or whatever that might be. And so reframing is one skill that you have, but I think one of the things as we talked about planning this episode on joys and challenges, one of the things that I was like, we can't skip. We cannot skip that if it's not feeling like joy, and especially right now in the midst of, you know, we're still kind of figuring out this COVID-19 and what it means. And all of us have different resources and realities around that. If it doesn't feel like joy right now, it's okay to get help. And it's okay to be honest with yourself. And there's actually been times in my parenting when I was pregnant with my second , I was having a really hard time and I had to be honest with myself, I'm not finding joy in things that I used to do or I'm not feeling the way that I normally do about things. And I had to be really honest with myself and my co-parent about that. So if you are hearing this episode and thinking, well yeah, sure, there's joy sometimes, but I don't know when it is, we just want to let you know, one, it's all right to say that you feel that way and to be honest with yourself about it and with others and that there's resources. So , specifically from Iowa State, there's a lot of resources, a lot of places around the state. One that's available, 24/7 that's totally free for you to call is a hotline called Iowa Concern. Like I said, totally free, totally confidential. There's someone always there to answer, but if the stress feels overwhelming and you're not really sure that you're finding joy anymore and you need somebody to talk with about that and maybe you just need someone who's not someone you know , Iowa Concern is there for you. And then if you have questions about parenting and child development and stuff like that, we also have something called AnswerLine. And so both of those resources are free to call. Iowa Concern, I actually have the number written down. Here it is: 800-447-1985. So that's the Iowa Concern hotline or you can of course , type that into a search engine, find the Iowa Concern hotline or AnswerLine. So yeah, lots of joys, lots of challenges and it's all right if you need a little help navigating that.

Lori Hayungs:

So totally a great resource. Yeah, totally great resources. And I appreciate that you said sometimes you just need to talk to someone you don't know. Yeah, sometimes you just need to reach out and have someone who doesn't know you, doesn't know your situation listen. Thank you. So, you know, in the midst of all this, and we think about this, do we want to bring in Kenzie and have our Stop. Breath. Talk. moment? Season one , this is your last opportunity to stump us.

Mackenzie DeJong:

So , I'm Mackenzie DeJong. I know the last couple of times I've realized that I haven't introduced myself, but again, I'm Mackenzie DeJong,, podcast producer and host of the Stop. Breathe. Talk. section of the podcast. Stop. Breathe. Talk. Is a tool that we frequently use throughout The Science of Parenting, but it's also this little section that reminds us to stop for a minute, breathe and then talk about something. So today's question, topic , item of discussion is something that goes right along with the conversation. So we're talking about the concerns and the joys, right? And this is something that I've heard a lot of families do. They've called it a lot of different things. but it's another tool to put in your toolbox. So it's the conversation of sitting down either every day, every week, you know, occasionally with your family members and talking about the concerns and joys you've had in the week. There's lots of things that people have called t hem, you know, the salt and the sugar, the highs and the lows, good week bad week, positives a nd negatives. So coming up with one thing from your week or your day. Again, this can be a really great tool for parents to either reflect on their current state of parenting to say, okay, so these are the current concerns I have. Being honest about that and then finding those joys or it's a really great tool for families at m eal t ime. J ust sit down and talk through and teach kids that it's okay to talk about those scary things, those lows. And it's okay to talk about the good things happening. So my challenge for you today is not only to share that tool, but also come up and share with us, a high and a low or a s alt and a sugar from your parenting journey throughout the last week, month, wherever you need t o stretch. But something that comes to mind for you, maybe a low in parenting and a high in parenting.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. Can I tell you my reality? So I got one, I have one. My go-to regularly to help include, since my kids are little, we have to be pretty intentional about including them in the conversation. You know, it's easy to just talk about the logistics of our days. And so , I usually ask about something that was fun in the day and something that was challenging. There you go. That's kind of how we phrase it in our house and then something else that I've kind of adopted. I don't know where I got it from. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing that my co-parent and I did one time was we wrote down all the things that we loved about our daughter at that stage that she was in. I can't say we do this every year on her birthday or we do this every... It's just happened sometimes actually. Sometimes it's like when we go on a trip without the kids or we're out of town for a weekend or something. That's when I stop and think about it. But just writing down like, you know, I love that right now when she says this word, it sounds like this, or you know that , my son is at a stage where he scoots on his bottom. He hops on his butt to get from A to B. Just remembering those little moments brings some joy. So that's something little that we kind of do.

Lori Hayungs:

That's great. That's great. So I only have one left in school that I pick up and drop off regularly. And so the fun thing for me to do is oftentimes there are additional children that I'm picking up or dropping off along with her. And so I'll just in the car, open up that conversation. So what was your favorite thing that happened today? And they were taken aback the first couple of times I did it because they thought that I was just addressing my daughter and I was like, no, you're in my car. I want to know what was your favorite part of the day? And then we talk about, okay, what was the least favorite part of the day? And so that happens just kind of spontaneously whenever so now if they show up at my house with my daughter, we just are able to say, Hey, what was your favorite thing that happened? What was your favorite thing on vacation? Or that kind of thing. So that's kind of a tool that we use. And then one thing that I did do was I had a couple of really big challenging things that happened in their lives, whether it was them all three together or just one of them in particular. I actually wrote a letter, you know, kind of explaining, I know you can't understand this right now, but I want you to know that these are the processes and thoughts I went to to get to this decision. And so I have that tucked away in their box, you know, or in this case of more recently, I actually sent it to them, all three of them. And I thought, you know, a way to be able to share it so that they have it to reflect back on, to be able to say, wow, that was challenging. But look at where we're at now and the joys that we have now.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, look at you. I love that.

Mackenzie DeJong:

So yeah, different ways to express those concerns and joys. Sometimes it's large scale like that. And sometimes it can be, you know, day to day, something that irritated us during the day or something. Thank you for those awesome examples.

Lori Hayungs:

We survived Stop. Breath. Talk.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We never know what McKenzie is going to ask us when she comes on .

Mackenzie DeJong:

Sometimes. I don't know what I'm going to ask when I come on.

Lori Hayungs:

And believe me, we've tried often as we talk through our episodes, we might probe her for, What do you think she's going to ask about?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Because sometimes I don't even know, but yeah. All right , well see you all next season.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Thanks . Thanks kids . Oh yeah. So I mean we covered it, right? Joys and challenges. There's a mix and you know, we understand that our role in parenting is important. Society's trusting us to have our kids' best interests at heart, and we're kind of those building blocks of society. And we know there's going to be a mix of joy and challenges along the way in that. But hopefully, right? If the research holds true for each of our realities, that there's more joy than challenges. There's more joy, there's more joy.

Lori Hayungs:

So that's our parenting foundations season one. Now next week be sure to come back to Facebook because that's when we get to interact with you live. We look forward to that time because we really enjoy the comment section where people are getting to ask their quick questions. You know , maybe from a previous episode that they didn't get to ask. because we were recorded. The other thing is that you can always ask us questions in our blog, we have opportunities for you to ask us questions there with our email there as well. So thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast and remember, subscribe to our weekly audio podcasts . You can find us on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast app and watch us next week. Once a month we come to you live and we take your comments and questions.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, so come along with us as we tackle the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and the research in reality all around The Science of Parenting. Thanks.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is a research-based education program posted by Lori Hayungs and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by McKenzie DeJong with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This program is brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension. iastate .edu/diversity/ ext.