By Cheryl Maguire
consider myself a patient person but being a parent can cause even the most patient person to lose it. In an effort to learn more about how to be calm around your kids, I talked with Dr. Carla Naumburg, clinical social worker in Newton, Massachusetts, and the author of the new book, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Calmer, Happier Parent. In her book she has a conversational style that feels as if you are speaking to a friend, and she shared that same tone during our interview.
WHY A BOOK ABOUT PARENTS LOSING IT? We parents are losing our shit, and that sucks and we all want to do better but we don’t know how. Also, because staying calm when everything is falling apart is the key to eternal happiness. OK, maybe not eternal happiness, but it is necessary to get the chaos under control rather than contributing to it.
I LOVED WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THERE BEING NO SUCH THING AS A BAD PARENT, COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? Don’t get me wrong. There are parents who make less-than-ideal parenting choices. But rather than calling them “bad parents,” I think we should call them “human parents,” or perhaps “every single one of
Boston Parents Paper | December 2019
us parents,” or maybe “parents who don’t have the right support, resources, and information.” The one thing I don’t want to call them is “bad parents,” because that sort of label is shaming and shitty and leaves parents feeling isolated and stuck and that’s not helpful for anyone.
YOU SAID, “CALMER PARENTS MAKE FOR CALMER KIDS.” COULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT?
literally the adults who keep them alive. The bad news is that if we’re falling apart, our kids are going take their cue from us, and ramp up their stress. The good news is that the opposite is also true. Now, we’re not Jedis and we can’t mind trick our kids to calm down, but the calmer we get, the more we’ll send the family energy in the right direction.
YOU MENTIONED THAT TOO MUCH INFORMATION Look, we’re not responsible for our kids’ shenanigans. But we don’t AND EXPERTS ARE MAKING want to make everything crazier than PARENTING HARDER. WHAT DO it already is. And whether we like YOU MEAN BY THAT? it or not, our kids are totally tuned in to how and what we’re doing. It’s a survival mechanism that evolved over generations because we are
I know this is a bit rich coming from someone who has written three parenting books but hear me out. The right advice can be helpful, but there comes a tipping point where we’re getting too much advice and that makes us crazy. It can increase our stress, anxiety, and self-doubt and set us off on unhelpful paths to change aspects of our parenting that may not need to be fixed. All of this makes us more likely to lose our shit with our kids, which is the opposite of awesome.
HOW CAN UNDERSTANDING BRAIN SCIENCE HELP PEOPLE PARENT THEIR KIDS? In the moment when your kids are pushing your buttons and you’re about to explode, it can be hard (if not impossible) to keep things in perspective. Why can’t they stop hop-