Last week, a mom on TikTok made a video about the disrespect and harsh criticism she received from her adult child. It turned into a mini rant on how Gen Z kids are entitled and don’t regard their parents with respect after all they’ve done. This video went viral and was stitched many, many times (before it was taken down) from Millennials in particular, explaining their choices to go no-contact with their parents. As difficult as it would be to imagine a no-contact relationship with my girls, my own relationship with my parents makes me feel this can be a completely justifiable move.
I started reading Good Inside with the intent of reviewing it, and be sure this is definitely a book review. But after this video, and in this context, we can very clearly see how Millennial parenting has evolved. We see the need for reflection, not only on how we were raised, but how we intend to raise. We see the importance of providing not only a model for your kid, but also building a mutually-connected relationship with your child through their teen and adult years. We can see how generational trauma has trickled down and how we ourselves need to be cycle breakers.
So with that, here are my takeaways from Good Inside:
Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Dr. Becky Kennedy.
Dr. Becky Kennedy is a clinical psychologist and mom of three, recently named “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer” by TIME Magazine, who’s rethinking the way we raise our children. She specializes in thinking deeply about what’s happening for kids and translating these ideas into simple, actionable strategies for parents to use in their homes. Dr. Becky’s goal is to empower parents to feel sturdier and more equipped to manage the challenges of parenting. She has an expertise in parenting and child development with an emphasis on anxiety and resilience.
A good parent is responsible for three things: 1) Keep your kid safe, 2) Let your kid feel seen, and 3) Validate their feelings.
That is really it. No one is asking you to sacrifice your well-being. No one is asking you to spend enormous amounts of money giving them everything they want. Being a good parent is not dependent on your kid’s grades or where they go to college. It doesn’t mean taking away all of their troubles and paving an easy road. It also doesn’t mean giving them “tough skin” and being intentionally cutthroat to prepare them for an adult world.
Note that keeping your kid safe is also about emotional safety: letting them know that they are loved, that you’re not going to turn away and abandon them, and that they aren’t alone.
Always lead with knowledge that your kid really is good inside.
There are no bad kids. I think it is a common fear that our little baby is going to grow up and be spoiled or a bully or too attached. Even when we have babies that weren’t “easy” or were fussy or bad sleepers, we go full worst-case scenario and convince ourselves that our kid will turn into a difficult teen, a heartless adult, or they won’t grow at all and just be an adult baby.
I think this is the flip side of the “I have a perfect child” coin. Both are obviously a fallacy. Kids are always growing and learning, and bad or difficult behavior does NOT equal a bad kid.
So against your worst fears, you have to give your kid the benefit of the doubt. You have to be able to see the good in your kid and dig a little deeper during those rough episodes. One of Dr. Becky’s included scripts is “I know you’re a good kid, who’s just having a tough time.”
The book is structured into two parts: first are Becky’s Parenting Principles. These are ten distinct guidelines to make you think differently about the role of a parent. She gives many examples of common things we deal with from our kids and answers how each of these thinking points can alter your approach to handling teachable moments.
The second part addresses 18 common behaviors that kids throw at you (tantrums, not listening, fighting, rudeness, etc) and how the parenting principles can be applied in these situations. But first, she talks about building connection capital.
Connection capital are the good moments. You know, being silly with your kids, playing together, sharing memories. She refers to this as a positive bank account.
If you do not build and replenish your positive connection capital with your kid, then it will be very difficult for them to genuinely want to talk to you and cooperate. On the flip side, if you’re not building these positive moments, you yourself are less likely to keep with the approach that your child is good and well-meaning.
For a personal past-experience example, the majority of the words spoken to me growing up were either commands, condescending reminders, corrections or reprimands. That’s a lot of negativity. When my parents asked me questions, I could tell they weren’t really that interested in what was going on in my life at school or with my friends. I wasn’t a troublesome child, I was a gifted student, and always got positive feedback from teachers and my friends’ parents. Yet somehow, I always felt like a bad kid in my own home.
Over time, I associated my parents as just people who hassled me for no reason. So now when I’m strolling down memory lane, there aren’t a lot of positives outside of a summer vacation or two.
Of the few chances I could tell my father wanted to connect with me as a teen, I felt it was really awkward, uncomfortable and forced. We didn’t have any positive connection capital and it was hard for me to believe that my dad was being genuine.
All kids need these positive moments with their parents well into adulthood, and those positive moments should without a doubt outweigh the bad ones.
One of the many striking comments from the viral TikTok is the call for parent accountability. When we have bad, dysregulated moments and blow up on our kids, we need to repair the situation. Regardless of what the tantrum or raised voice or bad choice was about, there is also our reaction and it’s impact on the parent-child relationship.
Parents need to be the first to take accountability for their actions in order to repair. Keep in mind, a good parent-child relationship does NOT mean that there is no conflict or tantrums or drama. That’s impossible. You might find that you have to repair quite frequently. But not only does this keep clear lines of communication, but you model the mature, responsible way of handling conflict. You’re also teaching self-awareness, empathy, and mutual respect.
A repair is also not just an apology. It’s not a dismissive “Okay, I’m sorry. Let’s move on.” A repair opens up conversation so that BOTH parties can learn and once again, feel safe with each other.
Personally, I had parents that always had to be right, that never asked me for my side of the story, and now, they selectively forget that a lot of these tough conflicts in my childhood even happened. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, I don’t remember it that way.”
So yes, repair now. Repair often. It’s never too late.
I caught myself on this one. When my kids are doing their morning routine or when they are getting ready to go to dance, there is almost always a hiccup and we exasperate, “I need you to be a better listener.”
The truth is they can hear me and listen just fine. I don’t need them to be better listeners; what I really want is for them to cooperate. A-ha!
So now, what are the reasons a kid doesn’t want to cooperate? You are commanding them to do something when they’d rather be doing something else. Do commands and raising your voice work on other adults when you want them to cooperate? Obviously, not.
When you are in moments when you swear your kid isn’t listening and you are getting more and more frustrated, it’s probably your approach. So think about what you can do (this is where positive connection capital counts) to lighten the situation and cooperate WITH your kid.
These are my five biggest takeaways from the book, but they definitely aren’t all of them. I did go through it much slower because once again, she’d write something so simple and yet paradigm-shifting that I would go back and reflect on some crazy memory that I hadn’t thought of in decades.
I don’t want to give you a full play-by-play, and I’m definitely not going to give all the strategies away. This is most definitely a book worth reading, especially if building that parent-child relationship is a top priority.
The principles from Good Inside help inform and guide how we deal with our child’s behavior, how we discipline and teach, and how we keep ourselves from being the overbearing parents we don’t want to be. It may be simplistic. You could probably get the gist from her IG videos. But I do think reading the book, gives you more opportunities for self-reflection and you are more likely to start implementing the principles right away.
Stay with us for the next few weeks as we talk about some common parenting topics related to Good Inside, and what we learned from our recent event with the author.
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