S07|07 - Navigating Parenting through Trauma, Triggers and Rage with Grace (Maggie Nick, Parenting With Perspectacles)Sep 18, 2023
Trying to parent in a different way than you were modeled, while trying to heal your own past trauma can be tricky. Therapist Maggie Nick (Parenting With Perspectacles) shares her story of parenting through trauma, and how she was able to notice shame in herself and her parenting, and what she did to change. Tune into this episode to hear all about shame-free parenting and how it leads to more emotionally intelligent and resilient children.
In our conversation:
- Maggie opens up about her own childhood and how being the “good” kid had a huge negative emotional impact on her as an adult
- How shame gets into our parenting and is so often the root of emotional issues
- What re-parenting looks like, even if you aren’t supported by your parents right now (she helps clients navigate adult estrangement)
More about Maggie:
Maggie Nick is a Recovering people pleasing, perfectionist “good” kid turned Therapist. With her revolutionary insights, she is a Thought Leader in healing low self-worth, shame and parenting. She’s the Founder of Parenting With Perspectacles, a parenting AND reparenting framework to help parents of toddlers to teens find their way through the hardest, most triggering moments of parenting with the tools and insight to help both their child AND their inner child feel seen and loved.
She shares relatable insights as a Cycle Breaking Mom, childhood trauma survivor and Therapist, helping people worldwide to heal, release the shame of feeling not good enough + learn to believe they deserve love without conditions.
Maggie is the Co-Founder of The Parenting With Trauma Project, which supports parents showing up to heal their own trauma while breaking generational cycles of trauma for their children. She is also the Co-Founder of The Estrangement Project, which helps those healing The Motherwound and navigating estrangement from their mothers.
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Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hi, I'm Crystal The Parenting Coach. Parenting is the thing that some of us just expected to know how to do. It's not like other areas of your life where you go to school and get taught, get on the job training, or have mentors to help you, but now you can get that help here.
I believe that your relationship with your children is one of the most important aspects of your life, and the best way that you can make a positive impact on the world and on the future. I've made parental relationships my life study, and I use life coaching tools, emotional wellness tools, and connection-based parenting to build amazing relationships between parents and their children.
If you want an even better relationship with your child, this podcast will help you. Take my Parenting Quiz, the link is in the show notes. Once we know what your parenting style is, we will send some tips tailored to you and a roadmap to help you get the most out of my podcast.
In the podcast today, you'll hear me interview Maggie Nick from Parenting With Perspectacles, Navigating Parenting through Trauma, Triggers and Rage with Grace.
Trying to parent in a different way than you are modeled while trying to heal your own past trauma can be really tricky. Therapist Maggie Nick shares her story of parenting through trauma, and how she was able to notice shame in herself and her parenting and what she did to change.
Tune into this episode to hear all about shame-free parenting and how it leads to more emotionally intelligent and resilient children. We talk all about her own childhood and how being the good kid had a huge negative emotional impact on her as an adult.
We also talk about how shame gets into your parenting and is so often the root of emotional issues; and also, what re-parenting looks like – even if you don't have a supportive adult like your parents right now around you. She also helps clients navigate adult estrangement.
What Maggie Nick does, and how being the good kid had a huge negative emotional impact in her adulthood
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Welcome to the podcast today. I am excited to bring you my friend Maggie from Parenting With Perspectacles. I can't even say it; you can say it.
Maggie, just introduce yourself already. You'll do a better job than I will.
Maggie Nick: I'm Maggie Nick. I am founder of Parenting With Perspectacles—
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Perspectacles.
Maggie Nick: And now, I'm Maggie with Perspectacles all over the socials. I was a good kid as a kid. I was the one you never needed to worry about, the delight to have in class; and I have spent my whole life recovering.
I'm now a trauma therapist, and I focus – online and with my content and workshops and everything – on low self-worth, shame & inner critic resilience, estrangement support, and parenting while re-parenting your inner child.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: So good and so relatable. And I share a little bit about my parenting journey on this podcast, but I haven't talked a lot about my own childhood; and I feel like when you speak about it, I'm like, 'Yes, that's exactly what it was.'
Like, it was for sure like, I always got straight A's – I always did well in class. I was always like quiet, "quiet and peaceful" at home – like the peacemaker.
Maggie Nick: You were a good kid too.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. So, which is probably why I relate so much to you and your content. And I thought it would be really cool today to kind of share your story because I know we have a lot of people on; and we talk about like, 'Okay, what should we do about this?' Or what, what-- You know, when parents are struggling with this.
But I think it's so powerful just to hear people's stories of their own resilience, of their own kind of transformation or healing – whatever you want to call it – that kind of happens that we go through in order to be able to parent in the way that we do now.
So, tell us a little bit, maybe start back in your childhood and tell us a little bit about what that was like.
Maggie Nick: So, let's see. I was the good kid. I was-- I was a twin and an older brother – so like the younger sibling, but kind of the middle sibling as well. And I was the one who talked everybody down, don't set the parent off, right?
One of my parents had a lot of rage, my mom. And so, it was always like trying to deescalate her and talk her down, and keep my brothers from setting her off. You know, I was like on the wall; I think is what Brené Brown calls it. And like the perfect child.
I so vividly remember in high school-- it was probably my senior year. I just remember it was homecoming and it was the night of the homecoming game. And I was upset because I think I had broken up with a boyfriend or something; and one of my friends was like, 'Oh my God, guys, Maggie's crying. What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?'
Because I was like, everybody's therapist; and I was the one they cried on. And so, then I had this day; and she's just like, unnerved. It's like, it almost like set off an anxiety. It was weird, you know? And I was like, 'Okay, got it.' So, I just need to not have any needs.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Any needs, any feelings, show any emotion. I just get to be calm; everyone relies on me.
Maggie Nick: Just need to fine, fine all the time. So, like over-functioned. I think my freshman year in college I was taking 18 credits, training for a marathon, volunteering at a domestic violence shelter, and working part-time.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Wow.
Maggie Nick: Just like, that was my life. Just like a hundred miles an hour all the time.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: All the time.
Maggie Nick: And I feel like I finally got into therapy at 25 to try to save the relationship with my mother; that did not work, but it healed me. So, I've been in therapy for about 16 years, doing trauma therapy; and really like, was so terrified that I would f*ck up my kids. Like, that's the thing.
Like I was just terrified, and I honestly had never really pictured myself having kids. I mean, it's like something I wanted, but just kind of thought, 'Nope, not doing that…that's not for me, unfortunately.'
When I met my husband, that was the first time I could kind of see it as like, 'Oh, okay, I would like to have kids with him.' And so, then it was like, help! Frantic, you know? I need to heal.
And so, I really-- I do have some kind of a SVU type childhood trauma. And so, I really thought that was the why. You know, why I had binge eating, why I had such low self-worth…and was starting to recognize the perfectionism and the people-pleasing and the over-functioning.
And just like setting myself on fire to keep everybody else warm, and just really never having a safe space to admit that I wasn't okay. You know? And so, we went for the SVU trauma, the trauma therapy on it.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: You mentioned-- Is SVU, is that violence – sexual violence?
Maggie Nick: Oh, sorry. Special Victims Unit. Victims, that's how I usually refer to it.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Special Victims Unit. Okay.
Maggie Nick: Just like that kind of gnarly childhood abuse. And so, when we got to the other side of that, that felt better – but like, it didn't really shift anything inside. And I'm like, 'Well, if that's not it, what is it? What is the thing?'
How Maggie Nick noticed shame in herself and her parenting and what she did to change
Maggie Nick: And I just remember I kept seeing all these lines…like the today me struggling with this thing – and when I'm processing it with my therapist, it comes back to parenting over and over again.
I was like…well, I do remember being made to feel or being told, can't do this, must do this – shamed for not doing it. Shame, whatever it was.
And I just remember being like, is it my parenting? And so, then I'm in grad school to become a therapist; I'm pregnant with my first, finally, after a long period of time trying to make that happen.
And I'm like…well, I'm just going to basically go into all of Brené Brown's papers and go into her references and go into those…and just learn everything I can. Like really a frantic, desperate attempt at this point. Like, I'm pregnant now, it's go-time.
And just like, is it possible to raise kids who aren't 29 in therapy, asking their therapist to teach them how to feel their feelings? Is that Possible?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
Maggie Nick: How do you raise kids? Because it was so hard, so hard as a grownup to learn how to like feel safe enough to actually let my feelings out – after just a lifetime pushing my feelings down and bottling them.
And it's impossible to raise kids who actually feel good enough. Like, how do you do that? And really just for me, never imagine any of this; I just was trying to not mess up my kids and heal myself.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I love-- I have to pause you for a second because I love that Brené Brown is in so many people's stories; and that was totally mine too, where I was like, what do I do? I know Brené Brown will know. I'll just read all of her books and listen to all the things that she's put out there.
Maggie Nick: Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I also can just relate so much to your childhood and being that kind of one who's kind of put on the pedestal to be like the peacemaker and the calm one.
And like, even though I had older siblings-- There was eight of us. I had older siblings and a lot of younger siblings; I was always the one that was like watching over everyone else, like, I was always the one that would babysit because I was like the most "regulated". I really wasn't; I never felt my feelings.
And then also again, like pushing down my emotions; I remember as like a young adult being like, 'Oh, well, I never cry.' Like I just, I never cry – but we'd like go to Titanic or whatever, and everyone's like sobbing in the theater; and I'm like, 'This isn't even sad, I don't cry.' Right?
So, I think it's interesting to see the ways in which our childhood manifests in things as an adult that we don't kind of understand.
Maggie Nick: Oh yeah. Oh 100%.
Maggie Nick: I think parenting or like looming parenting kind of brings all that up because you're like…wait a second, how do I actually parent in a different way than what has been modeled to me?
Maggie Nick: Yes. Yeah, 100% to all of that. Well, it just brings everything to light, unfortunately. You know?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. So, back to your story, you were--
How shame gets into your parenting and is so often the root of emotional issues
Maggie Nick: So, I'm in grad school learning about shame, learning about low self-worth; and I just keep bumping into shame. Shame is like the thing for everything. Shame's the origin story for perfectionism. Shame is the origin story for people-pleasing, all these things – binge-eating too. I mean, I think it was some like other trauma, but I really think shame was the driver there.
And so, I'm like…okay, so that means that like; as far as I can tell, to be a good parent and to be a cycle breaker – even though I didn't have that concept yet – I just need to learn how to not shame my kids. Like that was the--
And so, then I became a parent – you know, surviving – and I think I like came up for air when she was about a year. And I'm like, 'Okay, well, tantrums are coming…better learn.' And just didn't find anybody talking about shame; like, nobody is like even mentioning shame or talking about its impact.
And I'm like, 'Guys, it's all about the shame…shame is everything.'
If we're not talking about that, what are we doing here? You know? And, the best parenting experts of our time are not talking about shame. And so, I'm like, okay.
And at the same time, I'm in my graduate school internships, doing counseling; and I just find myself-- You know, when I had children, I ended up having a bunch of kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder in my internship, which is weird because, why would you give that to the intern?
But I had a bunch of young boys, like under 10, and I just found myself doing Parent Coaching with the parent. Like, I would have the parent come in 30 minutes early, so we could do a little bit of--
And what was so fascinating is, I would say, "Have you ever tried this?"
And they'd be like, "No, our psychologist says no." Like to let them get their feelings out.
"Have you ever tried just like letting them punch a pillow?" And they're like, "No, Dr. So-and-So said that--"
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Like, shut down their feelings.
Maggie Nick: That makes them more aggressive. And I'm like, 'Okay, well, I've looked into that research that they're quoting, and that's not really what we can discern from that, (A).
And (B), nobody's talking about shame; and shame's a massive compounding variable. Like all the literature we have on emotional self-regulation, like 90% of it, if not more, doesn't even take into account shame.
So, we're like building these entire parenting frameworks off of, you know, kind of a broken foundation. Like we're not-- Shame drives aggression.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
Maggie Nick: And so, if we address the shame with these ODD kids or other kids who need to explode, like we're taking the-- we're like putting the fire out at the source. If we're not dealing with shame as the driver of this defiance and disrespect and aggression, then we're dealing with the smoke.
We're trying to, like, get fans to blow the smoke away; like, that doesn't make any sense. And so, anyway, at some point – I guess my oldest was three – I finally like made a-- I had a bunch of clients urging me to start sharing my work because it had helped them so much.
And so, I started the account for Parenting with Perspectacles. And I just-- It's just grown, and it's something I could have never imagined. You know, at this point I'm not seeing any counseling-- I'm seeing one counseling client who had to come back in, but I'm not seeing a whole caseload anymore.
How re-parenting helps us to deal with past trauma and to become better parents
Maggie Nick: I'm doing Parenting with Perspectacles work full-time. And so, I do workshops and I do private coaching with clients around the world. I'm about to start group coaching, like a small group coaching option. But this is my life's work. This is--
This work around understanding how shame is driving the bus for you; it's contaminating everything and poisoning our self-worth and how to-- I feel like the way that I teach parenting--
And it's the only way that really makes sense to me is to say, "Okay, hi parent, you're struggling with (let's say) perfectionism – here's where that comes from, here's why you struggle with it for so long."
If we want to break the cycle for our kids, this is what parenting needs to look like. We got to let this go. Put this in there and that will help you heal. But it'll also keep from starting that perfectionism fire in our children, where they have to then grow up and heal that shame.
And so, it's about shifting the way we relate to our kids, the way that we react to them in the messy moments where they're being disrespectful and defiant and aggressive and have lied or whatever it is. It's like so much in the discipline, like those moments are so hard; and they really took my feet out from under me as my own parent with a lot of trauma.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I was going to ask you that. Like, we didn't really talk a lot about your own parenting journey then. So, you've taken all this therapy, you've learned all this stuff, you've done all this research, read all these papers, and then your kids do be kids – because all kids do.
Some people will say to me like, "My kids do-- you know, throwing this tantrum and telling me that they hate me."
And I'm like, 'Oh, see, you have a kid – you have a child – they all kind of do that sometimes.' How did you respond? Did you find yourself responding in the ways that you wanted to be?
Maggie Nick: Oh my gosh, no. I mean, I had found the gentler parenting frameworks; and it made a lot of sense, and it resonated deeply with like how it felt like it should be. Like- it kind of-- I didn't know what parenting should be, and I kind of knew that I would know it when I saw it.
And when I found my way to gentler parenting, I was like, okay. I did kind of have the kids who I had worked with ODD and kind of that whole regulation piece that I just feel like a lot of the gentler parenting frameworks of this time are not--
It's like really good for kids who cry as they're release – but kids who have an aggressive or strong-willed release, I feel like it just kind of-- I don't know. I think it's sort of pushing these fight response kids who are wired for a fight response, stress response, trauma response to like it's trying to push them into a fawn.
And like, anyway, but my daughter would be a good kid if I wasn't careful. I feel like I show up every day to parent her in a way where I don't nurture that; and I nurture the sides of her that are strong-willed, that's my approach.
Like when she's fight-responsing to me, there are mountains of literature on children who experience stress and trauma, who have a fight response; and that's what we would call a bad kid.
But those kids fare exponentially better than the kids like me when they go through hard things because They don't push their feelings down; they have an innate reaction to try to fight and get that stuff out of their body.
And so, she's also my mini me. Like, she's so much like me; and she's highly sensitive, and I think probably has generalized anxiety. There's just a lot of anxiety and hypervigilance in the absence of the trauma that I've experienced in my lifetime. You know? And so, she is the child who triggers me the most. She's the child who's healing me the most. You know, she--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: What does that actually looks like? So, if she's having this big response – this big strong-willed to kind of outburst response – how do you foster that side of her and not push her into the, like, you have to be a good kid in that moment when things are so tough?
Maggie Nick: Well, ideally, I'm regulating, and I'm not pushing my frustration and stress down from parenting. So, let's say 10 is like the place where a body forces a release – that's where the volcano explodes. And 7 out of 10 is kind of the dysregulated zone where I start kind of moving into dysregulation. So, if I'm below that, there's a real different story if I'm in dysregulation.
But if she starts pushing-- I mean, she's almost nine now, so it looks very different from when she was little. When she was little, it was the straight up tantrum. And so, it was easier in a lot of ways actually, just to be like, 'You feel like hitting right now, you want to throw that thing…I see that you want to do that.'
And really just the shame piece here, is not making them feel like there's something wrong with them. They have this instinct; and if we make them feel like there's something wrong with them for having that instinct, then they believe us.
They don't go, 'Nope, you don't know what you're talking about, that's shame.' They just believe us. They're wired for that shame response.
And so, when she has that instinct to hit – which is 100% developmentally appropriate for so many years in childhood – I say, "Oh, I see, you feel like hitting, it's okay that you want to hit me…I'm not going to let you hit me right now."
And if I need to, I'm going to, "Oh, okay…you're having a hard time controlling yourself, I'm going to hold your hands."
Oh, okay, now you're kicking me…so I'm going to turn you around and I'm going to hold you in my lap, and I'm just going to keep you safe until you can release enough to be regulated. And once you can control yourself again, I'll give you your hands back.
Like just, "I trust you, I trust your body, your body's out of control right now, and I'm here to help you."
And just not letting the rage inside of me that, like, I was such a fawn, I was such a people-pleaser – a fawn stress response. And so, I think when you've done that and you start healing, the fight response it's like, 'Come on, put me in – put me in, coach.'
And so, I can so easily, just the other day, just like slam into 10 and I can shut them the hell down. I can get so big and so scary that they-- Just like it happened to me all through childhood; you know, fearing the rage. Just like--
And I just remember my mother bragging about how she could just look at us, and we'd be like-- Like, she was so proud of that. Like, that's such a huge flag. You know, we don't want-- Our children are not dogs. Like, we don't want them to be--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Want to be afraid of us.
Maggie Nick: -obedient like that, right? So, it's a constant battle; and I'm winning the battle in a big way, at this point, this many years then.
But I remember when she was little – and especially when my son was born, she was three – that was such a hard, that first year-- I feel like I white-knuckled my way through that first year and just had my game faith on; you know so overwhelmed by the transition and then her acting out all that stress.
And she pushed me away for a long time, which was like such a mind off for me with so much abandonment trauma and rage right there to protect me when it feels like somebody's trying to abandon me again. It was just, ugh.
And so, I am not perfect. And I get so annoyed that more parenting experts and parenting coaches just don't actively talk about their struggles; like I mess up all the time, but I always repair.
I was the child who always apologized for everything, who not a single time got an authentic apology from my parents – but I apologized every single time. And I've got kind of a no-no list that's like…absolutely not, we do not do those things…no matter how unhinged we are, we walk away.
And most of the time, like the vast majority of the time, I don't cross that line no matter how dysregulated I am. It's hard because parts of me just want to. Mostly the silent treatment…and like, what is wrong with you? And I'm not mad, I'm disappointed. Like those are just-- And not repairing, those are that are--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Okay. All the things that you said are so huge. I remember my son having to freak out, he is probably eight or so, we're visiting my parents' house and I was busy doing something; and so, he'd kind of gone into the other room.
I think my mom had taken him to the other room, and I went in there just to kind of peek in once I had taken some breaths and calmed myself down so I could respond more effectively. And I went in there and she was telling him, "Did you know that when I feel anger, it makes me want to punch and hit and yell and scream too?"
And he was like, "What?"
She was like, "Yeah, did you know that's what anger feels like in our bodies?"
And she like, brings out her-- She's a therapist, so she brings out this like therapy book on emotions and colors and stuff. And he was like literally flabbergasted, like, what, you feel that way?
And I sat down and was like, did you know I feel that way?
And I don't know if I had really shared with them that that is how it feels inside my body right now as an adult. I have to intentionally be like, I'm feeling anger, but I'm not going to scream or yell or swear or hit or throw something.
And to tell them, like, it's really hard for you not to stop yourself in that moment because your brain isn't as developed as mine. And even that is like the most un-shaming thing you could do – sharing your story, connecting with them and their emotions, and connecting with where they're at and like that it's okay that they're there. And it just like decreases the shame all the way, which is manifesting in that rage.
Maggie Nick: Well, it's just, and that's-- I mean, I think my counseling work with children and teens, about half my caseload when I was seeing clients was children. I love working with kids. It's challenging working with adults, who don't think that there's anything wrong and they don't have any part here.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
Maggie Nick: Love working with kids. And that's what was so amazing. Like, so much of my framework was built right on that because I don't have teenagers yet – but I worked with so many teens. And it's so interesting, I teach Calm Circle backs; you know, the circle back…breaking the cycle of swooping stuff under the rug--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh yeah.
Maggie Nick: -and being the one to start that conversation and break that stalemate; and showing kids, not only do they deserve that, but how to do that. Right? And part of my calm circle back script – if you will – is like, how does it feel inside for you in that moment?
Because that question opens kids up, but we have to like frame it with safety. Like if we say, "How does it feel inside?" And then we're going to make them feel like they've disappointed us or let us down for that, it doesn't work.
Like parents are like, 'This doesn't work.'
And I'm like, 'That's because you haven't made it feel safe to let all your messy parts show.'
And that's-- I think circling back, talking to kids, showing interest that it matters to me how does it feel inside for you. And I think the most important part of repair of the apology is…I think the apology is important, but I actually think us showing our kids that we see with our Perspectacles, we see the impact that our behavior had.
The yelling, the getting frustrated, the storming out, whatever the thing we did…I actually think that just as important if not more important than hearing the words, "I'm sorry", is…"I see that I hurt you", "I see that that was scary for you".
And that's really like to me so important like impact, right? Like I teach not punishing – but instead, holding kids accountable because punishments are like consequences plus fear and shame to me – that's how I define that.
I know I'm stand in contrast to a lot of the field with the natural consequences versus not related – but that's not the distinction that I see.
Shame-free parenting and how it leads to more emotionally intelligent and resilient children
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. And it's also confusing when you're like…what is a natural consequence and then what's it's consequence-- Anyways, it's just this really gray area of like--
Maggie Nick: For the record, I think natural consequences are amazing, but there aren't always natural consequences. And I think it's okay for us to do something else. I think it's about the delivery; like we deliver it making our child feel afraid of us.
We deliver it laced with shame; to me, that's a punishment. Like you could even do a natural consequence and that would be a punishment, if you said it with fear and shame.
Anyway, we're getting sidetracked. But I think that impact is so important. Like, we don't need to make our kids feel like they disappointed us and let us down, we don't need to make them feel like there's something wrong with them, we don't need to make them feel like we're shocked and horrified and disgusted by what they've done and who they are which is how it feels for them.
But we do need to talk about impact. We need to talk about how their behavior impacted other people. And really, that research, which I'm sure you're familiar on, with negative self-talk with how we talk to ourselves…there have been these longitudinal studies on children who are shame-prone and their self-talk – and children who are guilt-prone and their self-talk.
And the shame-prone kids are like 400% – I think, don't quote me – more likely than the guilt-prone kids to experience mental health, substance abuse, all these things. And the distinction here is a shame-prone kid says, "I'm bad."
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.
Maggie Nick: And a guilt-prone kid says, "What I did was bad."
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. And I think it's so easy for us to internalize it in a shame-based way. Like guilt is tricky because we can be like, 'Oh yeah, I feel bad for that.'
But I'm like, 'But what kind of bad do you feel like,' because it's so easy, especially I find for highly sensitive kids to go to their shame when they feel like they did something wrong.
In fact, I read an article the other day that said, kids up to the age of nine don't have a differentiation between I did something bad and I am bad. Like they can't decipher that themselves, or it's difficult for them to understand that.
Maggie Nick: I don't know if I agree with that, but I believe you. I believe you, you read that.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I read it. I don't know-- I don't know if it's true or not – but I remember reading that and thinking, 'Well, that's so fascinating that like--' And maybe that is only a certain group of children or whatever.
Maggie Nick: I would put that under seven, seven and below. I believe that. But I feel like eight, seven- and eight-year-olds-- Anyway, it doesn't matter. But that distinction's hard; and I think until our child can do it themselves, it's our job… when we look at them, this is what Perspectacles are all about.
Without Perspectacles, I'm like; you are terrible, you're a selfish spoil brat…you know, I'm ashamed of you and you better be ashamed of yourself.
With Perspectacles on, I'm like, okay-- We just-- My son just turned six, and the five-and-a-half developmental leap was just--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Oh, it's the worst. It's the worst. If you're listening to this episode and your kid is five and you're like, 'I'm having such a hard time,' I would say five, six or seven. And if you have a highly sensitive kid also leaning towards eight and nine--
Maggie Nick: Yeah.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It's a tricky-- They're tricky years.
Maggie Nick: Wow. Yes. And every single time he didn't get his way, he like went into Hulk bash mode, right? And so, with Perspectacles on, I'm like, 'Okay, he is doing his best, this is what his best looks like right now.'
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes.
Maggie Nick: And if I can-- I have a choice here; the way I respond is going to send one of two messages. Oversimplified; but the way that I respond is either going to say it's not okay what you did, but you're okay and I love you – or it's not okay what you did and you're not okay.
Whether we say you're not okay or not, if we make our kids feel like there's something wrong with them – like they should be ashamed of themselves, like we're disappointed in them and they've let us down – then they internalize the shame, which is a self-focused. Guilt is behavior-focused. Shame is me.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
Maggie Nick: And as a grownup, that followed me right into parenting where it was like anytime I struggled it wasn't like, 'Well, that was a rough moment.'
It was like, 'God, I'm a terrible mother.'
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yes, I deserve--
Maggie Nick: Everything boiled down to, I'm a terrible mother. It was like, they deserve a mom who's not. I've even had-- Just a couple months ago, I remember in the middle of like, fine, I can cry now…finally, at 41 can cry.
And I was having a release the other night and was like, my shame part and my inner critic is just telling me that like my kids deserve a mom who doesn't have so much shame. Right? Like that whole-- Those messages come from how we were disciplined. Like we are wired for shame, but we're also wired for guilt. And it's really a matter of like, which garden are we going to nurture here as a parent?
My children are going to have a tendency towards a shame response; and if I nurture that, it's just going to get stronger and more powerful. I want to nurture the guilt garden where they can say, "I don't like what I did there, I don't like the impact I had on those people," but they themselves are good enough. They're okay, they made a mistake; There's nothing wrong with them and they don't--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: And their emotions are okay. Like what they were feeling, what they were going through is valid; and that there was-- that was their best in that moment. But still, how did impact others? And, they don't have to worry about--
Maggie Nick: And they don't have to worry that I don't love them in this moment because of what they did. Right? Like they can-- They know that they're safe in that way. It's so important.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: They're safe, they're held, they're connected. And I think that what you're talking about here is like shame resiliency. Like, how do we teach our children shame resiliency?
And I think for me, how I teach my children is the fact that I do feel shame often and how I move through my own shame. Right? Because as a child who was raised in a shame-based home, which most of us were, most of our generation--
Maggie Nick: All of us, really.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I think pretty much everybody still is doing this – unless you've done your own shame work – is to notice; how is this impacting me? What's happening for me?
I'm processing my own shame first, and then I'm actually modeling how they can do that themselves because I don't think we get out of the human experience without feeling shame. Like I think even if we're doing these things, we're still…our kids are still going to - in some way, in some arena – feel shame.
Maggie Nick: Oh yeah. Of course.
Parenting through rage with grace
Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, I think it's a beautiful thing. Like on the one hand, I'm like, "I wish I just parented perfectly all the time."
But then I'm like, "No, I really don't. Because then, what would I teach them? Like I'm not going to teach them shame resiliency. I'm not going to teach them how to handle those big emotions if I'm just like this calm automaton that like never feels feelings." Right?
Maggie Nick: Well, and I mean, a good portion of my counseling caseload has been grownups whose parents seem to always have it together; and they think there's something so wrong with them when they're struggling. You know, they're like, my mother never struggled, my mother had the dinner on the table at whatever time.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: The house was clean; it was always calm. And I remember having a client like that where she just felt this huge amount of shame that would turn to anger and rage anytime that she felt like any big emotion because she was like, my mom never showed emotion.
And that was the first-- She was one of my very first clients years ago. And I remember thinking, oh my goodness. Like it is actually so good that I feel these big feelings.
And it's hard to feel that in the moment when you're just like, I can't believe that I just freaked out at my kids again when I said I wasn't going to and blah, blah, blah. But like you said, that circling back, that repair is so huge…and like really showing that genuine, authentic apology.
Maggie Nick: Yeah. Thankfully, I found-- I remember, but-- I don't know if I fully answered your question. Like, I remember the first time my daughter, my oldest, started having a tantrum on the changing table.
And I like heard my mother's voice in my head, and it was like, 'She's a brat, you better shut her down.'
And I was like, oh boy. And that's when I like knee-deep into, you know, tantrums and stuff. And I think as I, those moments went from the most triggering moments for me because I had a parent with rage.
So, then my child is doing what feels like rage. So, then it's like my body's trying to, scrambling to survive the moment; and that often looks like me needing to get bigger and louder to scare her, taking advantage of that power.
And then I feel like once I understood that kids act out stress, that she's just releasing; and kids release by resisting us, like the resistance, the disrespect is how they release.
And so, if we shut down the disrespect, then we shut down their ability to release. And then they're going to bottle and be fine like we were. And so, once I-- I kind of have to--
Every time she goes through a developmental leap, I kind of have to learn now what the resistance is going to look like now – you know, when she's testing boundaries and everything – and keep putting my Perspectacles on and getting curious like; what's going on here? Why would she need to-- why would she shout like that?
Oh, that's shame.
Okay, how can I help her talk down the shame?
But it really went from this like the hardest moments that I kind of tried to avoid by people-pleasing and not setting limits in the early days to-- I mean, not too long after that, once I sort of got Perspectacles on the whole thing, it's like…oh my gosh, these are the most magic moments because I'm making her feel like her whole messy self can just spill on out.
And she doesn't have to worry that I'm going to judge it, I'm going to shame her for it. Like she just-- I get to love her through all the mess and the stuff that she would feel so ashamed of.
I do recommend moving into the, like, I call them anti-shame scripts. Like talking down the shame, which for her – generally kids below five – the concept of shame, doesn't make sense to them. That's a little too abstract.
But in my experience, like six-year-olds, kind of-- Even before six, you can still talk down the shame, but you don't call it that. You say, "Are you feeling bad about yourself? Are you worried I don't love you right now? Do you feel like there's something wrong with you?" And just kind of, you know--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Then the older kids, what kind of a script would you say for shame?
Maggie Nick: Similar. Like, sometimes teenagers are like toddlers, so sometimes we keep it simple for them. because there's a lot going on upstairs for them. But, you know, are you feeling bad about yourself?
With older kids, you can move into like, are you worried I'm disappointed in you? Or, are you worried you've let me down? Like, that concept feels really confusing for a young kid.
But like, if your child is shut down and if they are coming at you and lashing out…I would go right into the anti-shame scripts. And sometimes like, I need to do like a printable that people can't get put on their fridge.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah. That's a great idea.
Maggie Nick: Right? I need to. But like, are you feeling bad about yourself? Are you worried-- Don't just cut right to the fire. Like, let's not-- The smoke is just the smoke. Like, we would--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Yeah.
Maggie Nick: We know that in order to put the fire out, we have to go put the actual fire out. And so, if you go right for that-- I can't even tell you the number of times I've had it happen on my couch right over there or with my kids, where they're in lash-out mode. And as soon as I talk, you know, identify the shame and like, are you feeling like there's something wrong with you?
It's like their posture just like, poof, like instantly…they're like, oh yes, that is why I'm lashing out. You know, we all lash out from a place of shame. The more vicious we are, the more shame we're in.
And so, kids-- If you think it takes our feet out from under us as adults…for kids, it's like they're in a freaking tornado and they need us to help them. They need us to own the hell out of our boundaries and not be wishy-washy.
They need us to be a leader – but who leads with love, not shame…who doesn't make them feel bad about themselves for the thing, holds them accountable, but doesn't make them feel terrible about themselves and suffer because of how bad they are. You know, they need that.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: They need that calm, grounded, steady attachment figure…that calm leader who can be like, this is what's really happening and I can handle this.
And I think one of the things you said a while ago too was key in that like; first, I regulate myself. And I think we don't talk a lot about, about that. We're just like, 'This is what we do.'
Well, we can't do that from like an energy of I'm feeling shame or I'm feeling intense rage. Right?
Maggie Nick: No.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: So, it's like, first doing my own, like…get me to this space – and now, what can I say? How can I help them? How can I hold space for them in this calm and loving way?
And again, that it's not perfection. We don't have to do this all the time. Through our imperfections, we're showing them that we're also human. That they're always going to be human no matter how much learning and growth they go through, that they'll make those mistakes – and how to notice their impact.
So, I think this has all been so good and so helpful. And I was going to ask you what should we, like leave somebody who's struggling with this…you know, struggling with this kind of parenting with, but I feel like your tip of like those scripts is so useful.
The Magic 9 words that kids need to hear when they're suffering and struggling
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Do you have any other scripts you want to leave us with?
Maggie Nick: I have like the Magic 9, which is the Magic 9 words that all kids need to hear when they're suffering and struggling. I actually wrote it for my adult counseling clients who were doing inner child healing. And it helped them when they would connect with their inner child to say these nine words. And then one day I was like, what if we said it to our kids?
Crystal The Parenting Coach: What if we just said it to the kids? Oh, I love this.
Maggie Nick: It's like, in the moments where mom rage sweeps my feet out from under me, it's like, you know, sometimes-- I've actually haven't done it in a long time, but when my oldest was like five-ish – probably going through the five leap – as soon as I could tell things were headed this way, I would write it on my hand.
Like, I would just quickly write it on my hand because it's like my--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: I love that.
Maggie Nick: When I don't know what else to say, but I'm too triggered to know what to say. So, the Magic 9 is; I see you, I've got you, I love you.
And like, we don't need to say more than that. Like, that's what my face needs to say. That's what my energy needs to say. But like, if you can get words in, that's the thing. I see you in there, and that's what Perspectacles do. Like kids need to feel seen, they need to feel like we get that this attitude is not who they are. So, many of us felt seen in a bad way. Right? We were made to feel like you're a liar, you're manipulative, you wanted this, you're selfish--
Crystal The Parenting Coach: You're doing this on purpose. Yeah.
Maggie Nick: Yeah. And the healing from that, as we both know, is gnarly and takes years to offload those ideas. I mean, I feel like it's years and years and years and years.
And so, when we can make kids feel like I see you in there, you're just…you've lost control right now and I've got you. I'm going to say no, I'm going to hold your hands. I'm going to do what you need to do. Like you're safe to feel this anger with me right now, and I'm going to keep you safe. I'm not going to let you hurt anybody, and I love you even right now.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: That is so powerful. That is so powerful. I love-- I love those words so much. This has been so good. And thank you for being vulnerable and open and willing to share your own childhood story, and also your own parenting story.
I think it's easy to see people that share parenting tips and ideas online as these people that just like naturally are so good at parenting and have it all figured out when it's like the opposite is true, right?
Brené Brown's learning is because shame was so hard for her, and that's why she's so good at what she does and can speak to us so well. And I think it's the same thing with parenting mentors is that it doesn't come easily and naturally to us…and it has been a long healing journey, learning process. And so, I love that you were able to share that with us; and your tips are so good – I love the, I see you, I got you, I love you. I think that's so powerful.
So, thank you. Thank you for being here, Maggie.
The Parenting with Trauma Project by Maggie Nick, Mr. Chazz, Abbey Williams, & Crooked Counselor Cooper
Crystal The Parenting Coach: You were telling me about a new amazing program with Mr. Chazz, who I love; we also had on the podcast. So, will you share just a little bit about that? I'm not sure exactly when this is going to air, so just kind of--
Maggie Nick: Absolutely.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Give us a general idea about what it's going to be.
Maggie Nick: Absolutely. So, we're launching the Parenting with Trauma Project. That's me, Mr. Chazz, Abbey Williams – she's You, The Mother – and my girlfriend Logan, who is a trauma therapist, cycle breaking childhood trauma surviving mama and trauma therapist like me. She's Crooked Counselor Cooper.
And we created the Parenting With Trauma Project. It's 22 videos about all the ways that trauma makes parenting harder to really just-- We basically-- We had kind of a template for each video; and some of them are pairs where we paired off-- some of them are just us, and some of them are all four of us.
But in the template is like, help them release the there's something wrong with me, shame of this. And so, we have videos on what is generational trauma, how to discipline our kids without hurting them.
We talk a lot about rage and mom rage, and how parenting with rage looks. We talk about trauma responses that make parenting harder, like people-pleasing and mom guilt…over-functioning, hyper vigilance… be like, are you mad at me? Are you mad at me? That kind of stuff.
We've got videos on inner child healing. I have a video on the mother wound. We have a video on the father wound, silent treatment, disorganized attachment.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: This is going to be so good.
Maggie Nick: Abandonment trauma. I know. And then, we've got a couple videos on navigating hard family stuff like estrangement and communicating boundaries, and partners who don't get it, and all of that. So, that's launching very soon, and we're very excited.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: It's so comprehensive. I love that you have put so much in there; and I don't know the other two ladies very well, but Mr. Chazz is awesome and I love his message and his energy is just so good - and so is yours. So, for anybody that's listening, I highly recommend that you go check that out, and send us a link so we can put that in the show notes as well.
Maggie Nick: I will. Thank you.
How to connect with Maggie Nick
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thank you for being here; and for people that want to connect with you on Instagram. Do you want to share, again, your handle – where they can find you?
Maggie Nick: Yeah. @parentingwithperspectacles is my parenting only. And then @maggiewithperspectacles, I'm sharing more about insights as a therapist – my own healing journey, you know, that kind of stuff.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Sounds great. Thank you so much, Maggie.
Maggie Nick: Thank you for having me.
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to help spread this work to the world, share this episode on social media and tag me – send it to a friend, or leave a quick rating and review below so more people can find me. If you'd like more guidance on your own parenting journey, reach out.