Real Talk Podcast: Parenting Tips for the Modern Age

December 21, 2022
real talk with susan and kristina podcast

In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by Meghan Leahy, a parenting coach and a published author of parenting books. They discuss parenting. The conversation includes how parenting has changed over the last 100 years, different approaches parents can use with their child to problem solve, and the importance of building bonds with your community can help with parenting.

Links From Episode:

Meghan Leahy Website

Parenting Outside the Lines (Book Link)


Show Notes:

  • (2:25) – What is Parenting Coaching?
  • (4:18) – The Parenting Problem Exposed by the Industrial Revolution
  • (5:45) – The Problem with Modern Parenting
  • (7:41) – The Conundrum with Setting Boundaries for Kids
  • (9:43) – Parent Coaching: Finding the Middle Way to Explain Consequences
  • (13:16) – The Collaborative Approaching to Problem Solving with Children
  • (14:30) – What if the child refuses to go to school?  The middle way approach.
  • (16:16) – The Ultimate Goal of Parenting
  • (17:07) – The Consequence of Harsh Parenting
  • (18:20) – The Goal of Meghan’s Book for Parents
  • (21:24) – How To View Parenting Over the Long Term
  • (24:05) – Is it ever too late to change how you communicate with your child?
  • (27:03) – Do apologies mean a loss of parental power?
  • (28:15) – Can adults form relationships with children who aren’t their own?
  • (30:33) – Creating Micro-Connections with Other Parents In Your Neighborhood
  • (32:06) – How Transmitting Values Builds Stronger Communities
  • (33:34) – The Power of “Do No Harm”



Susan Stone: Today’s podcast is going to discuss the value of using a parenting coach. And Kristina, wouldn’t you agree that we deal with parenting issues every day? 

Kristina Supler: Oh, uh, In so many different ways, whether we’re working on a campus, title IX case, special education, student discipline, there’s issues in our practice that really lend themselves to parent coaching 

Susan Stone: well, and our clients often look to us to help guide them as to what decision domain.

Susan Stone: So much so. That in 2021, both of us became certified in positive discipline, which we’ve had a podcast on “What is PO positive discipline” and how you can incorporate those thoughts into everyday parenting. 

Kristina Supler: We also though, at times, Sort of really believe in the importance of, of using a tough love approach.

Kristina Supler: And it really just sort of depends on the context in which we’re representing a student and working with families. But we really think it’s important to work with all sorts of different outside professionals to support students and their families through crisis. Yeah. 

Susan Stone: And we’ve made a lot of referrals to outside therapists and coaches, and today we’re lucky to have a great coach online.

Susan Stone: So why don’t you kick off and introduce our guest today. 

Kristina Supler: Today we are pleased to be joined by Meghan Leahy. Hi. Hi, Megan.

Meghan Leahy: Hello. How are you? 

Kristina Supler: Great. Megan is a former teacher and school counselor who now owns her own business as a certified parenting coach. She has a master’s degree in school counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

Kristina Supler: She’s a weekly columnist in the on parenting section of the Washington Post, and she’s also a published author. Her book is titled, “Parenting outside the lines. Forget the rules, tap into your wisdom and connect with your child”. And most importantly, Megan’s a mother to three and she brings her real world experience and relatable insights to her work.

Kristina Supler: So thanks for joining us, Megan. 

Kristina Supler: This is my pleasure. Thank you for having me. 

Susan Stone: So we’re gonna kick off with a very basic softball question. What is a parenting coach? 

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. It’s kind of a BSE job, it feels like. I essentially help the same problems I feel like I create. So, , what do you mean? A hundred years ago?

Meghan Leahy: Not even that long ago. You didn’t need a parent coach. You had a community, a church, a synagogue, a village, a village, and everybody was like-minded. , rightly or wrongly. If everybody was whooping their kids, at least you had that in common. You lived here I 

Susan Stone: was whooped. My parents will deny it. Just so you know. I got the belt. 

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. Yeah. I got all kinds of things. And so we, we had our family around. and it was a true generational passing down of your ancestry, your lineage, how you parented, good or bad, right? So I’m not gonna paint a picture that it was great. A lot of bad stuff was passed down.

Meghan Leahy: And then as we industrial revolution moved away from each other and away from community, we have become increasingly so we had an up down opposite thing. We became obsessed with our kids cuz we had fewer of them, right? And we used to have a lot of kids to work the farm cuz you’d lose some in a bad winter.

Meghan Leahy: Do you know what I mean? Like, and women couldn’t stop having them. So thank God for the pill. And then as women could have less kids, and we got more obsessed with them. So the obsession went higher and the support went lower. , as religion fell away and as psychology came up, we started to realize that we were sending our kids to therapy when the identified patient should have been the parent.

Meghan Leahy: So the kids weren’t the problem. , the parents were. And when I say problem, I put that in air quotes. They just need support. They just need somebody to tell them they’re doing a good job and here’s what else we can do, and here’s what is typical child development for this age. They just need support. So that’s what I do, that’s what I try and do, support them.

Kristina Supler: Megan, have parents gotten too soft today? I mean, it’s interesting that your initial response sort of looked back in history. in today’s time. I mean, I, I just wonder about this issue of soft parenting, cuz I know when I was growing up and being raised, my parents were very strict with rules, boundaries, consequences.

Kristina Supler: Yeah. Good or bad. I mean, Susan, it sounds like you had some of that 

Susan Stone: as well. Well, I did, but I know that we, I, I know Kristina’s parents and I would say they were very effective old school parenting with you, correct. Absolutely shout out to Jim and Dolores . Can we give you a 

Kristina Supler: shout out to my wonderful parents?

Kristina Supler: It just seems today as we’re dealing with families in crisis and in various contexts, cuz of course we’re lawyers. So generally when, when people are with us, it’s because they’re at a low point in their life. Often it’s feels as though parents are reluctant to impose rules. What are your thoughts on that?

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. So what what you see in society is bing bonging from one extreme to another. So if we were in a scene not heard kids were at the very bottom of the totem pole we came out of an agricultural kind of, I mean, remember, humans have been around a long time. We think we’re important. We are not. We are a speck of sand in this universe, and even in the longevity of humans.

Meghan Leahy: Here we go. Now you’re asking me have parents gone soft. So they were too harsh. Mm-hmm. , right? Not in every culture, but let’s just take culture. Right. And harsh for no reason. Mm-hmm. , right, right. And controlling for no reason. But kids were also given a little bit more freedom to go outside, to go into woods to.

Meghan Leahy: now we fast forward and we didn’t like how we were raised. A lot of us, so we swing too much into the other extreme. Sure. So back in the day, if you went to go, you know, if you were little and you kicked your parents in the shins, right? You got spanked. You got sent to your room, you got yelled at, you got harshly reprimanded.

Kristina Supler: If you said, no, I won’t do that, you were in 

Meghan Leahy: trouble. Right? Harshly reprimanded, right? Oh, I 

Susan Stone: got soap in the mouth when I used the F word as a little girl. I still remember that. Me, me too. I, I was a mouthy kid. And the soap in the 

Meghan Leahy: mouth, you want a trauma bond over it. We can . 

Susan Stone: The funny thing is I don’t look back on it as being traumatic.

Susan Stone: I think it was. what you did when you had a mouthy kid. And I was Back then. Back then? 

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. Back then. So what we have now is though, is that people don’t wanna be raised how they were raised. And so then they go into when the kid kicks them in the shins, they’re like, please don’t kick mommy.

Meghan Leahy: That makes me feel sad, right? There is. , a lack of boundaries, and the kid doesn’t respond well to that either. So if you look at it as a fence around a house, if the fence is too tight around the house, that leads to disobedience. Power struggles. Rebellion. Rebellion or shame, right? If the fence goes too wide away from the house, the kids don’t know where the boundaries are. The natural hierarchy is not in order, and the kids don’t feel safe. So as humans, we feel safe when we know where the rules are. Now, what I see a lot is people saying, well, I was raised like this, and I’m fine. Great. Somehow, right? Like somebody’s temperament with how their parents were with their birth order

Meghan Leahy: that alchemy. Oh, 

Susan Stone: first children, right? Those first born, no, 

Meghan Leahy: first children are hot mess. . They’re cage, they’re ill. They are perfectionistic. Yeah. They are highly medicated and very successful. Yes, I would agree. Yes. And oh, they look great, but go live with them. Okay. I’m a firstborn. Married to a firstborn.

Meghan Leahy: We’re a fricking nightmare. 

Kristina Supler: I love your analogy about the fence around the house, though. I think that’s, I love it. That’s, that’s really 

Meghan Leahy: good. And why this is good is that different kids need different fences even within the same house. Sure. Yes, yes. 

Susan Stone: Yeah. You know what, we were just, uh, I was just talking. I have a junior.

Susan Stone: It’s time to really kick it in for college, and that’s a really real consequence. I’m not imposing it saying kick it in. You need to really finish your junior year with great grades and great scores, or 

Kristina Supler: you might not go to the schools you wanna go to. That’s, 

Susan Stone: that’s not me imposing the rule. That’s the world.

Meghan Leahy: So in what I do in my parent coaching is I find the middle way, give us the middle 

Susan Stone: way under that fact pattern. Okay. Let’s talk about grades and scores. 

Meghan Leahy: Okay, so let’s say you have a kid, junior year, has spent the last two and a half years in some kind of BS covid situation. Sure, yep. With you. , they have lost social skills.

Meghan Leahy: Mm-hmm. skills within the classroom, confidence building skills, as well as important learning skills. English and math are the lowest they have ever been since they have started testing in the sixties. A 

Kristina Supler: bunch of news articles have come out recently highlighting that, and it’s, it’s 

Susan Stone: in the new, it was in the New York, York Times, and I heard SAT scores and ACT scores are down by five points, which is a lot.

Meghan Leahy: So now, now we come in hot as parents. Mm. . Okay. So we are bringing our old expectations to a new way of life, So the old way is I’m gonna sit you down. You’re gonna do this work, you’re gonna apply these schools, you’re gonna write these essays, you’re gonna get this resume. Do, do, do, do. One way. The opposite is, well snooze, you lose, you don’t do it.

Meghan Leahy: You’re f okay, the middle way is “Hey, Brian. Things have been a little wacky. We are like out of the habit of maybe some organizational skills. What’s important to you this year? When you look ahead?” They may look at you and be like, blink. Blink. What do you mean? Well, let’s look ahead, right? Let’s look ahead and so you start at the beginning.

Meghan Leahy: That is the middle way of where are we now? Where can we go given what your kid is experiencing. So natural consequences for kids who are suffering only cause more suffering. So if you are have a broken leg and you’re at the bottom of the stairs and I scream at you, get up the stairs, what is, well, the consequences are you don’t get up the stairs.

Meghan Leahy: who would ever do that to another human? 

Susan Stone: No, but it is a real consequence. So I, I wanna challenge you on this. . Sure. Okay. Are you up for the challenge? Kristina and I All day work? Yeah, all day. Kristina and I work with kids who are accused of various misconducts at college or younger in college. In college.

Susan Stone: It could be sexual assault. It could be cheating, and some of our cases, they’re at real risk of getting indicted, let’s say, a hazing case. 

Meghan Leahy: Okay. And, and 

Kristina Supler: we have cases in the criminal justice system, so yeah. 

Susan Stone: It is cruel to say, get your act together, or you could get kicked outta school or get charged. But guess what?

Susan Stone: Those are the facts, Jack, right? Yep. Yeah. So. . I, I, I can’t, as a lawyer and Kristina as a lawyer, I can’t soften that. That is the real world face in you, babe. Yeah. So what do you do when you have opportunities like get your grades up, get your scores up, live right? I I, yes. You won’t get up to the top of that stair.

Susan Stone: So give us a mid-level approach that’s kinder, but real, real world base. How 

Kristina Supler: do you coach under those circumstances? . Yeah. 

Meghan Leahy: So, I really love the Ross Greene approach, g r e e n E. This is a collaborative problem solving approach, which takes both needs of both parties into equal weight. Okay? So, for instance, the parents are saying okay, this kid has Cs, but you wanna go to UNC.

Meghan Leahy: And the kid is saying, well, I don’t really care. Right? You meet in the middle with Ross Green’s approach, where you start to work on small problem solving, small amounts of problem solving. Because for the average adolescent, now listen, when they’re 18 and they’ve been, they’ve hazed someone like.

Meghan Leahy: What’s gonna happen is gonna happen, right? My work is when people call me for the ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen year old. If we can work with them there you are less likely to have a kid who is going to sexually assault while drunk, haze somebody while drunk, right? Like make these decisions with lifelong impacts.

Meghan Leahy: So my interest is problem solving in the middle way. It is easier. in the moment to say sink or swim. It’s, it’s easier. It’s easier for the parent. It’s easier to go like this. But for instance, I have a kid who, I had a parent family who the kid stopped attending school. It’s a lot of school refusal.

Meghan Leahy: We’ve dealt 

Susan Stone: with that. Yeah. Yeah. And actually running away from home. We’ve dealt with that too. Yeah. 

Meghan Leahy: And so they, they were we’re gonna send them away to this wilderness 

Susan Stone: camp. Oh my gosh. We deal with school with that. 

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. Yep. So I said, okay, so your kid’s gonna wake up, be grabbed by strangers and taken to Utah.

Meghan Leahy: Do you wanna destroy your relationship with them forever? My questions are, are they addicted to drugs? Are they a danger to themselves? Are they a danger to anyone in the house? No. No, no. Oh, okay. So you want to rip them away from the family when they’re already struggling. Oh, well, I guess not.

Meghan Leahy: Okay, so the middle way became how do we make small movements toward, so rather than the answer is go to school or not go to school, it’s What does online school look like One hour a day? , then it’s two hours a day? It’s 

Susan Stone: that mid-level approach. Well, 

Kristina Supler: I I, i, I hear your point, and I think it’s an excellent one that there, there’s gotta be buy-in from both sides.

Kristina Supler: Otherwise, you’re not making any progress.

Meghan Leahy: I’m not looking, wait. My goal in my human life while I’m here is to not crush souls. . Right? So by the time they get to you guys and they’re looking at jail time, that’s soul crushing on that side. Yeah, it really is. That’s, that’s a life ender for a lot of these kids.

Meghan Leahy: Yeah. That’s now their invitation into not being able to have a good career, not being surrounded by the right people. Not being right. So my job on the front end is for that child to look at the parents and the parents’ eyes say to them, I love. , I am here for you. I’m not giving up on you. Ever. Mm-hmm.

Meghan Leahy: ever. And we have goals every day. We have goals. Whether your kid is eating disordered, cutting themselves, in dangerous behaviors, not doing homework. For me, always having an adult in that children’s life that says, I’m never gonna give up on you. Ever. , 

Meghan Leahy: that’s beautiful. And, and it builds or can help build a sense of security.

Meghan Leahy: And again, the bring the fence maybe really wide back in a little bit. To tie back to your initial point, the only 

Meghan Leahy: way a human has moved forward besides the military is through connection. Mm-hmm. , humans do not move forward with carrots and sticks. Now, if we take on parenting as the beatings will continue until morale improves, you will get the behavior you want, but you will not get a relationship you want.

Susan Stone: That’s right. 

Kristina Supler: Let’s lighten it 

Susan Stone: up a little bit. Oh gosh. 

Kristina Supler: I need that . We, we got heavy, we got a little dark, but really, really important. And valuable insights. So thank you for sharing that. And, and 

Susan Stone: thank you for trying to lighten it up already.

Susan Stone: I was like going, oh my God, I haven’t had my lunch and not enough coffee. 

Kristina Supler: Let’s talk about parenting outside the lines. So your book is, it’s funny, it’s informative, it’s full of really practical advice. For our listeners out there, share a little bit of your humor with our parents. Share a little bit about the book that you think parents should know about.

Kristina Supler: So they go check it out.

Meghan Leahy: I tell a lot of my own stories with my own kids, which is its own s show. And me growing up I

Meghan Leahy: I, this is a parenting book where I just want somebody to read it and go, oh, I don’t feel as bad. It’s not lofty. I don’t want you to put it down and go, oh my God, I’m a changed person. Cause I haven’t really ever seen that happen. , right? Um, it’s like reading books about stomach crunches. Nobody gets outta bed and does them , right?

Meghan Leahy: I want somebody to just read the book and go, oh, right. So for instance you know, when I open the book, I just go through all of the different parenting styles, helicopter parenting, snowplow parent, all the different iterations, right? And you people will recognize themselves in those.

Meghan Leahy: And I say it’s okay. if it works. I’m trying to kind of lift the burden of parenting one way. 

Susan Stone: Right. You know, I was thinking about humor and Kristine and I have a really heavy practice. We deal with serious issues. And what gets it, you mean the me Too sign? Yeah. No, it’s, every day is challenging and I know that What gets me through the day is the fact that I just have to say this.

Susan Stone: My law partner Kristina Supler is hilarious. Well, thank you. Isn’t that amazing? I know, and you know, a lot of people don’t get that side of her because she is such a consummate professional, but really that’s what gets us through the day is that we have to 

Meghan Leahy: laugh. You have to laugh. Well, one of the things, when I coach with people and in the book, you know, I would be getting a one-year-old, a four-year-old, a seven-year-old out of the house by myself.

Meghan Leahy: Um, my husband went to work at 5:00 AM Everybody was screaming ins in some sort of undress, right? Like never fully dressed. And I’m supposed to be the parent coach on my block, right? So I’m in a full flop sweat and we’re late and we get in the car and I click everyone in and I’m like, we made it, we’re in the car, we’ve won the day.

Meghan Leahy: Victory . And all the kids are like, what? , okay, whatever 

Kristina Supler: Mom drive, right? 

Meghan Leahy: This is winning. I’m a, oh, this is winning. Right. You know, 

Susan Stone: one of the things that I wanna share on a personal level of what winning is, and I. my number two. They always say that number one are rule followers. And then number two, always likes to break the rules in three rules.

Susan Stone: What are they? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that. Yeah. But I was just talking to my 23 year old and seeing the adult come out. Mm. 

Susan Stone: Like that is the payback, you know? A hundred percent. Yeah. But you sometimes. 

Kristina Supler: You wondered 

Susan Stone: if you’d ever get there. I didn’t think I’d ever get there. And he is amazing.

Susan Stone: Really. And he’s, it’s so gratifying. It really is gratifying. Yeah. 

Meghan Leahy: And I think, part of the, the hard part for all of us is that you’re parenting for the long game. Right? This, it’s hard to explain to parents sometimes That the small gestures they’re making right now manifest years down the road.

Meghan Leahy: So one of the major things that I teach parents is the family meeting. It’s just really getting together and talking, right? And, um, and it has rules around it and, and it sounds so dumb with a three-year old. Right. Like, what is your rose and thorn? What did you love about Oh, we do that in my 

Kristina Supler: house. . 

Meghan Leahy: Right. But eventually, you know what it’s turned into, at least in my family, is, um, you know, well, let’s sit down.

Meghan Leahy: Um, mom, there’s a boy being bullied in my class, and if I speak up, I’m bullied too. Ah, uh, okay. But what do we do about. . Right? It’s, it’s like 

Kristina Supler: a beautiful sort of invitation for the kids to speak about whatever’s on their mind. 

Meghan Leahy: And so the parents though, have to create that. Mm-hmm. , because in our culture today, there’s not time.

Meghan Leahy: We just pick up our kids and bring them to A, and bring them to B and drop them off at a, and then take them to soccer and then to like, we actually have to consciously create that time. 

Susan Stone: You know what I say? The goal in life is that we spend a couple years diapering our kids, and if we do it right, they’ll wanna diaper us one day when we can’t make it to the bathroom.

Susan Stone: And, and, and all of us who’ve been through menopause, you know what I’m talking about 

Meghan Leahy: right? Oh geez. as I sweat right now. But you know, talking about like your son being an adult and being so proud of him, right. That is the result of a lot of what you didn’t do, like has nothing to do with you in many ways, which is the mind f of parenting, like sperm met egg in there.

Meghan Leahy: He was all, all his potentiality. , all his IQ, hype, goodness, all everything, right? And then we are the gardeners, right? We make sure that he can fully grow up. So we, we are both in helping him and getting out of the way. 

Susan Stone: Yeah, I like that, the gardener cuz sometimes you need to add water and sometimes you need to pinch something off.

Susan Stone: I mean, that’s a good metaphor since, uh, your husband. That’s his biz. Right? 

Susan Stone: It is working with his plants. Well, so 

Kristina Supler: let me ask you, Megan, you’re we’re talking about when our children grow. What’s your advice for parents of older kids, say late teens college? Is it ever too late to change things to sort of rewire how you communicate with your children and your family dynamic? 

Susan Stone: Even if you screwed it up badly?

Meghan Leahy: No, it’s never too. . It’s never too late. And they used to think it was, and now neuroscientists know it’s not. And also we can’t blow smoke. It’s hard when a parent has realized they have mistepped and they have done the work to see that, and they’re ready to apologize and humble themselves. That does not automatically click the dominoes into forgiveness and changing of behavior in the child.

Meghan Leahy: So if you have a older teen that you have bossed around since they were born, or shamed or manipulated, and you see the light and you get help , you have to kind of see it as like, that’s how far off I 95 you drove maybe for 18 years. So to get back to I 95 is gonna be that journey too. Mm-hmm. . So there is, there has to be a, a cultivation of patience and persistence because humans, when I tell you, oh, I’ve changed.

Meghan Leahy: Oh, that’s nice. Prove it. Prove it. Prove it. prove it. But one of the most important things to know about kids of all ages, including us, is that we are always hungry for a relationship with our parents. It never, it 

Susan Stone: never, absolutely. Oh, it never ends. And our family, I mean, I was on the phone last night with my 99 year old aunt, and I check in once a week or so with her and Right.

Susan Stone: She’s very meaningful in my life. 

Meghan Leahy: and that is should give people a lot of hope that even if there is an apology to make and something to make right, As a parent that deep desire to be connected to your family never goes away. Never goes away. 

Kristina Supler: It’s interesting, Megan, as I’m listening to you talk, I’m, I’m, I’m thinking, and it’s sort of, it, it, please correct me if I’m wrong, but a theme throughout your work is this idea of vulnerability. You, you’re vulnerable in sort of putting your family’s own stuff out there. You know, some days you get it, right? Mm-hmm. , sometimes you get it wrong. And what we just talked about, the analogy of having the car off the highway and turning it around, and really at the heart of that is parents, admitting to their own children.

Kristina Supler: Look, I, I made a mistake, I screwed up. Let, let’s, let’s regroup it. It’s okay to do that. And that’s a means of forming connection . 

Meghan Leahy: Oh, one of the biggest, right? In therapy, they call it rupture repair. It’s like the basis of a human relationship. In my book, I have a, a chapter on apologizing, right? And it’s, you know, what’s a good apology?

Meghan Leahy: What isn’t, how it works, how it doesn’t. Because everyone thinks connection looks like going to the zoo or going to the park, or all these things, right? The obvious things. But connection. Humility, vulnerability, and you can absolutely apologize while keeping all of your parental power. 

Susan Stone: You know, I do wanna go back and circle to the village idea because I still.

Susan Stone: It’s not just on parents. I think we have to all do our part for being, playing a role in children that are not our own. That might be our friend’s kids. You know, when I grew up, my mother had, she passed her best friend from seventh grade cooking class. And I considered her like an aunt Aunt Eileen and Aunt Eileen would remember me and buy me, I remember this, I wanted desperately a Bonnie Ball lip smacker, and I got that from Aunt Eileen.

Kristina Supler: They were amazing. 

Susan Stone: They were amazing . And I was thinking today that Kristina came into the office with York Peppermint Patties from her son James. I mean, I just trick-or-treating 

Susan Stone: leftovers. Amazing. Yeah. 

Susan Stone: Yep. And I think that, , it’s on. We’ve become so insular bec Yes, especially with Covid, that we forget that we are a community and we can form relationships with children not our own.

Susan Stone: And that can be deep and meaningful for kids. 

Meghan Leahy: The science is very clear that as soon as a baby is born, whoever picks up that baby is the parent. because mothers die during childbirth all the time. Not to be dark, but I just, there’s a big kind of culture of like mother love and the specialness.

Meghan Leahy: Biologically, that’s not it. Okay. Biologically we can connect to anyone in those early days of life who loves us. Right? And that continues and continues throughout our life. And the power of showing up . For, for your community though, I just wanna be very clear for everyone listening, you are not crazy if it’s hard.

Meghan Leahy: All our culture makes it hard. We are both in suburban homes where the garage door shuts and we’re on this, so you have to decide to reach out. You have to decide to like go out on your front yard and invite the neighbors over. You have to decide to do what you want to do. It’s not as organic as it used to be.

Meghan Leahy: Even maybe when we were growing up, right, where the kids were here or there, and you knew the neighbor, and the neighbor knew the, and your family and your cousins. , it’s harder for families now. 

Kristina Supler: So I hear sometimes people talk about how, you know, back in the day, the good old days, kids would just walk around the neighborhood and pop in and out of everyone’s house here, there, and everywhere, and parents often didn’t even know where their kids are versus now where.

Kristina Supler: It’s a sche, uh, uh, a structured schedule and you schedule play dates, you know, in 30 minute increments, weeks out. And, you know, it’s sort of this discussion of why can’t we go back to the good old days? And I think it’s something that, you know, as you point out, it’s important to be really mindful of the ways to build connection, both intentionally but also perhaps organically.

Meghan Leahy: And remember, you know, when you are running the carpools, when you’re standing on the sidelines at the soccer tournament in the gymnastics thing. The, these are micro ways to create connection. Mm-hmm. , these are little teeny ways to tell the kids, get off your phones. Tell me what’s going on. Right. To pick up a headline to turn to the parent.

Meghan Leahy: I mean, like how, how have you guys been? Right? Like, cuz we’re not gonna return to everyone running around and frankly, the good old days were not great in a lot of ways. But, but we can. , we can stop and do little micro connections. Even sending another parent an email like, I saw your son on the field today and he picked up the opposing teams player like by the arm after he knocked him down.

Meghan Leahy: What a great kid. Absolutely. 

Kristina Supler: And and I think so often we’re looking for these really formalized opportunities to build connection and it doesn’t have to be that, 

Susan Stone: and you wanna form those connections so kids Feel responsible that, you know, not to get all religious on anybody, whatever faith, but am I my brother’s keeper?

Susan Stone: Totally. Are we responsible for one of them? And you know, that’s a universal spiritual concept is that we live, we’re social, we care about each other. And this is such a divisive time that I think connecting on a human level is important. I think when you have that foundation you wanna do 

Meghan Leahy: well. Yeah, and I really love what you say there cuz you’re, what you’re talking about is transmitting values. And there’s a couple different ways to do it.

Meghan Leahy: One is modeling it, one is saying it one, like every parent can say, what’s my wheelhouse? What am I good at and how can I do connections? , right? Like maybe you’re just good at the grocery store connections, but let your kids see it and tell them why it matters. There’s not a one size fits all approach. No, correct, correct.

Meghan Leahy: Maybe you are the organizer parent. Maybe you are the block party parent. Enjoy that. Find what your thing is and also the different seasonality of our lives. So I have a bunch of tweens and teens. I just sent one to college. I’m actually super tired right now. The only thing I can focus on is I’ve decided to get to know the parents of my youngest kid.

Meghan Leahy: That is my focus for this year. Everything else I’m not doing. That’s okay. Right? 

Kristina Supler: And saying no can be freeing. 

Meghan Leahy: Yes. And so look at what do I have the energy for? How old are my kids? What is my work life balance? What is real for me right now? You know, it’s 

Susan Stone: funny, I was thinking about this energy thing.

Susan Stone: That’s a real thing. Kristina and I were just on a business trip together and it was grueling. It was grueling. And of course she has younger kids, so she had to go trick-or-treating. Not hat, wanted to, but wanted to, but yes, wanted two. But I, like I had to get in my jammies and crawl in bed. Yeah. You know?

Susan Stone: Yeah. That’s a real thing. 

Meghan Leahy: and paying attention to it is a gift to the world, right? Because especially women, you know, we have the invisible labor constantly. Mm-hmm. , constant, invisible labor. Yes. Schedule keeper, schlepper to the doctor, caretaker of the dog care, making sure there’s milk, constant email watching, and that’s not even our work.

Meghan Leahy: No. Right. getting into bed and resting is, is a gift because I say a lot to parents when I coach. Um, it’s not very sexy, but one of the big things we work on is doing no harm. How can you do no harm? Mm-hmm. , how can you not do damage to your spouse, to your kids? 

Susan Stone: How about this? We so often wanna put on social media this picture of us smiling and at this social event or that social event, but maybe it’s when the phone is off, the doors are closed.

Susan Stone: Are we treating the people in our home like the best? Right? And doing it when no one’s looking. Mm. ? 

Meghan Leahy: No, not usually. We usually, here’s what’s funny too, is that we come home from work or get offline and go down and we’re like this and we’re dead and we’ve, we don’t have a lot left. And now there’s dinner and you know, a night ahead of you.

Meghan Leahy: Right. And we’re not our best selves. Our kids are the same. They are, and we call it misbehavior. Yeah. We blame them when their cups are empty. Why are you rude? Who do you think you are? Why are you sassy? Why don’t you wanna sit down and do that stupid math worksheet? Let’s, which, let’s face it, is stupid. What’s wrong with why are you right?

Meghan Leahy: We are not any better . Yeah. I was thinking 

Kristina Supler: you’re the, your comment about the goal of doing no harm and how. Some people might respond, well, gee, isn’t that, isn’t that a low bar? Do no harm? Yes. Come on. Because we’re 

Meghan Leahy: low bar, a 

Kristina Supler: high achieving drive, drive, drive society. But I think that it’s actually really accurate and, and I, I like your points about parents thinking about how they feel when they come home from work.

Kristina Supler: Kids feel the same way, but we label it with a negative. We, we put a negative label on it.

Susan Stone: I’m a big believer in saying to a kid, why don’t you? What would be your good transition activity? For my oldest, she loved tv. Or is it getting into a hot shower? How can you, you know? I know when I get home, the first thing I like to do is get outta my work clothes and put on my jammies.

Kristina Supler: Me too. I’m the same way. My husband doesn’t get it. Oh my God. Pajamas on at like six 30. I’m like, yes. Free 

Meghan Leahy: the 

Susan Stone: girls. Free the girls. 

Meghan Leahy: Well, I mean, yeah, people come into the house with my bras sitting on the couch, and of course I’m at an age where I’m like, whatever. Oh, 

Susan Stone: I’m with you. I’m with you. Anyways, this has been, this has been a real treat.

Susan Stone: Really fun. I feel like if you were in Cleveland, you’d be our 

Kristina Supler: girlfriend. Yeah, I’d say let’s go get wine. Thank you so much for joining us.

Meghan Leahy: One of my favorite cousins, li moved out to Ohio and uh, her husband works at the Cleveland Clinic and so does she. And I will say it’s been like a culture shock for her a little bit, but her son is at a high school. She says she’s never met so many lovely, lovely people.

Susan Stone: Well, hopefully this is the beginning. Wonderful family for us as a new friendship.

Kristina Supler: Yes, Meghan Leahy, thank you so much for joining us today. And to our listeners check out her book and her other work on columns and she’s all over the internet, so thank you. Yeah. And 

Meghan Leahy: check out us. Thank you guys for all the hard work you’re doing on this other end of the hard behavior.

Meghan Leahy: It’s rough, so definitely keep your spirits up as it gets darker. Yeah. Thank you. Thanks.