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Episode summary:

In this episode, Susan talks with Debbie Reber about the habits and socialization that make it hard for us to take time to rest. If you have a hard time honoring your need to slow down or if you worry about disappointing others by saying “No”, you’ll hear some great suggestions in this conversation.

Deborah Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a top resource for parents like her who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in Kids & Family, with nearly 3 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A certified Positive Discipline trainer and a regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired. In the summer of 2020, she co-created the Parenting in Place Masterclass series.

Things you'll learn from this episode:


Tips for tuning in to your body and spirit’s need for rest

How to overcome discomfort when you need to set limits

A great way to turn down a request that doesn’t leave you justifying or negotiating

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Episode Transcript

Hello, and welcome back to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast or welcome for the first time. If this is the first time you visited, I'm so glad that you're here. This podcast is just about helping you raise confident, caring kids with more fun, more joy and fewer power struggles. I'm your host, Susan Stiffelman.
I'm the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. I'm also a marriage family, child therapist, a teacher, a long time parent educator, and the mother of a now 31 year old. So it's so much fun to share some of the things I've learned in my 40 plus years, doing this work with thousands of families from every walk of life.
I really cover everything here. Screen time, money, anxiety, burnout, chores, everything under the sun when it comes to parenting. So I'm really glad that you've tuned in before we get started, please make sure that you're getting all of our updates by visiting and signing up for the newsletter.
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Today's episode is going to leave you hopefully breathing a little more easily. I'm going to be joined by my friend and colleague Debbie Reber from Tilt Parenting. As we talk about a four letter word that should be in your vocabulary rests. R E S T so have a listen and we'll come back on the other side for the wrap-up I Debbie.
So glad you're here. Hi, as you said, me too. I'm excited to chat with. And about such a great topic. So one near and dear to both of our hearts, I'm going to read a little bit of your bio and then we'll jump into the conversation. Debbie Reber is a parenting activist, a New York times bestselling author podcast, host and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction.
In 2016, when she founded Tilt Parenting a top resource for parents like her who are raising differently wired children, the tilt parenting podcast has grown to be a. Podcasting kids and family with nearly 3 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space.
She is a certified positive discipline trainer, a regular contributor to psychology today and attitude magazine and her newest book, Differently Wired: raising an exceptional child in a conventional world, is just a huge hit one that I recommend as well as your community, just because you're serving such a really, really important.
Valued and needing support niche. So thank you for your fantastic work and the beautiful heart that you give it. Anything I left out about what you do. No, I'm just a thank you for those kinds of words. And I feel like we're so in alignment and in the respectful way that we approach children, and I'm just grateful to be in this journey with you.
Yeah. So I was thinking about our conversation and for a lot of parents, rest is like a dirty word. It's a four-letter word. That's like violate some construct that we've developed about what it means to be a good parent, a good partner, a good member of our community, a good sister-in-law the daughter, all the things that have kind of been embedded in our consciousness, particularly as women.
But not exclusively. What do you think that's about and what can we do? Yeah. And I am a total type, a person control busy all the time million projects. And so I think that's just the way so many of us have been operating on autopilot for so long. And it's just something I've been thinking a lot about now, especially, and I'm sure you're hearing this too, because of COVID we're just like, yeah.
You know, we're recognizing those patterns have become really visible to me. And, and I'm starting to wonder what is that all about? You know? And, and I think it depends on where people are in their, their age journey and their trajectory, but so much of it, I will say for me, has been about. Showing up and trying to prove I'm good enough, or I have worth, or I, you know, I can contribute.
And you know, it's almost a compulsion for so many people, especially women to be always doing the things. Yeah. This is a little bit of a tangent, but some years ago I took a self-defense course called model mugging and. It was really powerful. And one of, one of the things that happened in this course is that it's, it was all women of all different ages.
And there are two men who are dressed in kind of space suits, completely padded every portion of their body. So you could kick them really hard wherever, and they'd be protected. And, and then there's the instructors as well. And you're taught how to do things like saying. And if one of them is coming to close you're, you're taught to say, that's too close.
I'm not comfortable back up. And if they keep approaching, then you're taught to yell. No, and it's so emotional. Debbie, like people are sobbing women, as they're saying. And I recommend this to anybody and everybody, especially for parents of younger girls, because it's about this boundary setting thing.
And, and one of the things that they point out is that women have been socialized to be helpful to serve. So you could be in a, in a deserted downstairs garage parking lot, and then somebody could approach you and say, how can you help me find this place? And that part of you, that's like, oh, I have to be helpful.
Is in conflict with the other party going with alarms, going off saying, wow, there's nobody around here. And that person doesn't look, I don't know. I don't feel safe. My instinct is to not engage in a closer distance with this person. And there's this kind of war going on and it's informed by I'm supposed to be helping.
And so I bring that into this conversation because I think that the more we can be aware of, oh, there's that voice saying I'm tired and I need to rest. And I want to help my neighbor with her, blah, Bubba, but I'm really tired and depleted. And then there's the other part that's so deeply programmed in us open.
She's so nice. And she doesn't have the kind of help she needs and it won't take you that long. So I don't know if you want to kind of play off that. That comes to mind. When I think about this whole place of us, especially as we approach the holidays saying, what are my limits and what are my boundaries?
And can I comfortably live through like, studying. Yeah, I love that example. And I just a little on another side note, do you think this is a generational thing? Like I really don't know that young women are growing up with this same sense of, of needing to always be showing up and helping and giving of themselves.
Like, I really think it's something I've really had to. Learn how to do for myself. And it's really uncomfortable the first, you know, when you start kind of setting those boundaries and. Download another book on my Kindle about boundaries. You know, it's, this is a work in progress for me, hard to know. I mean, I don't know.
I, you know, I, I am in my sixties, so for sure, I'm of a generation and different from my mother who is a hundred, you know? And so I think that you might be onto something in terms of our, our 25 year olds struggling in the same way. I guess it also depends on what you grew up with and what was modeled for you and what the rules were as the, as they were presented to you.
But for those of you listening, whatever your age, I would invite you to just sort of take a breath and take this in and, and consider when you are tired. First of all, let's take it down to the basics. Do you know. Yeah. What does that feel like in your body to be tired? Right? Cause so many of us are even just cut off from the information our body is giving us all the time.
And again, it's that autopilot. It's a great question to start with. Do you know when you're tired, what does it feel like? And then if you notice that. There's a deep level of fatigue, especially as we head into the holidays, the end of the year, there's sort of this kind of, I don't know, energy wise, it just feels like the end of the race.
Like this is the end of this year's race and the finish line is in sight. And, and as soon as you cross it, there's like a whole new world of new things to take on and, oh, I'll get to that after the first of the year, but to just become aware of. What it feels like to be depleted, to have to talk yourself into doing one more thing.
I think the more we can be gentle observers of those dialogues between our ears around. I should, I should. Yeah. So holiday wise, I know you talked about your tilt member community. I'm talking about it with my parenthood without power circles, community, trying to just encourage parents for us to notice what your level is energetic.
And where you might be ignoring that. Do you want to kind of share a little bit of what you've been talking about? Yeah, sure. I mean, a lot of what is coming up in my community is the expectations and demands surrounding families and get togethers and travel and rituals surrounding holiday celebrations.
And so I feel like what I'm noticing is. There are more parents and moms in particular. That's who I am at most in relationship with who are starting to question like, wait a minute. I can actually say no to this because this actually, isn't the best thing for my whole family right now. This isn't the best thing for me.
And that has been really. Exciting to see again, it's uncomfortable for so many people. But there is a lot of work happening right now in growth spurts happening right now around learning how to navigate tricky relationships with family and friends who might be placing demands on. What about you?
Yeah, same thing. And I think part of what we practice is, you know, saying something like, I see how desperately you wish we could come in. That just is going to work for us this year. And, you know, repeat after me, everyone. I see how desperately you wish this could happen. I see. You know, definitely I wish it could happen and that just isn't going to work for us this year.
And like, this is going to work for us. And notice what feelings come up for you like panic for some or heartache for others, like, oh grandma, just really. And there's no easy answer. Nobody can tell you to say yes to that. And no to that other thing, you have to trust yourself. And sometimes it's impossible, but I love about what you just shared is you also.
There aren't excuses. It's not going to work for us. I mean, I have a friend who, who, you know, we have regular meetings and different groups and when she is unable to attend, she just says, I'm so sorry, I'm going to miss you today. And I'm like, oh my God, you can just say that. And I it's, it's so beautiful and simple, and we don't owe people explanations or, you know, and that is part of the boundary too, right?
Because that pressure of, I mean, that's so much energy that we're using to think about, how am I going to say this in a way that isn't going to offend this person? Or how am I going to save this? And, you know, we can't control everybody else's experience of this. So I love the simplicity of what you just shared and being very present with.
What it might mean to you or what meaning you might make of someone who potentially might judge you or be hurt or withdraw? I know for me, one of the totally greatest things about getting older, which I just want to jump up and down and wave my arms and have a parade about is caring less and less about the opinions of people who don't actually.
I want to be in a real relationship with me, cause a real relationship with me recognizes my frailties and limits and flaws and beauty and gifts and all it's the package deal. You know, I have many a whole tribe of friends that I've been friends with for over 40 years. I mean, literally. The same eight, 10 women and friends and their partners, and, you know, anything goes, there's just so much generosity in those relationships.
And so we test relationships on sometimes if that person insists and pushes and says, well, why not? Well, that's not a very good reason. Well, couldn't you do this other thing? Couldn't you do that on Tuesday, they start getting involved in orchestrating our artist's schedule so that we can do the thing they want.
And now you've just gotten some information about. Where that person fits in the, in the orbit of your friendships? Yes. Right. 100% and you'll know too. Right? Like going back to the body, if you share that. Information or you, you tell someone I can attend this or I won't, we won't be able to make it and they'd push back, like, listen, pay attention to that that uncomfortableness that is or those alarm bells, whatever that looks like, that is information to pay attention to.
I love that. And a lot of times, you know, I'm very interested in patterns. And a lot of the work I do in my parenting community and my memberships and everything is helping parents to choose what things to perpetuate in terms of how they were raised and the things that they internalized as the way to approach a situation with their kids.
You know, if you were raised by parents who yelled at you or, or sent you to your room or shamed you, then instinctively, that's going to come out when you're. In stress mode when you're overwhelmed and your child does something similar that you'll shame or you'll threaten. And so a lot of the work is sort of palate like cleansing that those patterns out of our system for a lot of us you'll notice that thing you were just saying in the body, because it's all over your life.
You know, or it's so much a part of your childhood, as we were saying at the beginning that you were raised in a climate where perhaps your mother more likely your mother, possibly your father modeled for you, that this martyr sacrificing that that was noble. And he, and might have been just howling and rage internally.
But smiling when she made yet another meal for the 20 relatives. And we as kids pick up on all the subtle stuff, not just the superficial and might've started thinking, that's how I need to be as well. So if you have that reaction, gosh, that's a gift, right? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. If we listen to it, if we pay attention to it, And I'll just share that.
I am so grateful. I have a sister who's two years older than me, and we're very close. Although we were not, when we were being parented. We are making so many discoveries together. You know, when we are with our family, you know, my, both my parents are still alive and we debrief afterwards and we're still kind of learning.
We're so much of our own stuff comes from. And it's been really fascinating to process that with her. A lot of what you just, you know, suggested how we do. Have a voice in a conversation or setting a boundary makes other people uncomfortable. So we don't want to do that, like trying to unlearn all of that.
Wow. Wow. It's really exciting to me. I mean, I find this work so thrilling that there's so many of us, you know, doing work in one form or another with parents wanting to kind of help break this. So that we raise kids who can be helpful and be of service. We're not suggesting that everyone should just look out for themselves, but in a way that's genuine and, and in integrity with their bodies needs, their family's needs, their personal needs, their limits there, all of that.
So Consider it, even when you turn your kids down, because you're not saying yes to something they desperately would like you to do, because you're just tired and you want to take a bath or put your feet up or watch TV or something. That light looks very. I don't know, not very helpful. Right. That your children are observing you looking to strike a balance and that they get a different message internalized so that when they're adults they're able to say no, that just won't work for me.
Like it just flows. It just is easier. I think it's a gift when we model us taking a break and. I said in the beginning of our conversation, that I am one of those people who is always doing things. And I, I always have a million projects and I, you know, I have a little Superman or superwoman statue over here because that's what, you know, some of my friends think that that's what I am, but you know, more and more, I am just, I just did this the other night and I'm like, I I'm like, I'm done.
Like, I can't interact with you people anymore today. I need to be. I'm going to the room and you know, and when I do that, now I'm a 17 year old. They are very sensitive to what I'm going through and they'll, you know, and, and actually will knock on the doors that, okay. If I ask you a quick question, it's actually teaching, you know, empathy, it's teaching perspective taking and it's teaching.
You know them that it's okay to take time for yourself if you really need that. I loved that. I love that. And we do that too. You know, my husband and I, sometimes we just, we love to be together, but sometimes, you know what, I'm going to just have my own night tonight. I'm just going to do my own thing. And and there's a lot of respect for that.
Now, the other thing I wanted to touch on which here comes to, oh, no part, but you know, at this point I just. Nobody has to listen to anything I say. I mean, you guys don't have to agree. Okay. It's okay. But I'm offering you the possibility at least of hearing another, another thing you might consider doing for some period of time over the holidays, which is put your computer somewhere far away.
Shut it down or hide it. I, I do that for, well, this will be about 17 days. I'm, I'm going to be shut down from the 17th until the 3rd of January. And I've done this every year and I usually do it a second time in the summer, and it's really hard and it's getting harder because there's just, oh, I just want to look up this one thing.
But I got to tell you that after a couple of days, line nervous system goes, there's something about restoring a natural rhythm and I'm old enough, which always sounds so weird because I feel like I'm about 27, but I, most of my life, or at least half or a little more was without computers, well computers, but not the internet.
And to see in this just 30 years, how it's taken over every aspect of life that, that you could be in a doctor's office and not just look around. And you'd have to grab your phone or to that you could be waiting in line or at a restaurant with your loved ones and be looking at your phone. So for those of you who want to be a little more hardcore consider even taking three or four days for you and your family, to try that.
And to see what it's like the first day or two, as I said, is kind of weird and uncomfortable and awkward. You might decide, well, I'll look up something on my phone. If I need to, others will say, no, I'm just text me. If you need me. That's the extent of the use of my smartphone. But after a little bit of time, there is a way that, that the urgency leaves your orbit.
There's nothing to check and I find it deeply restorative. Oh, you are inspiring me. I used to take a social media hiatus for two weeks over the holiday, and I've been flirting with the idea of doing that again. But I love. I love this idea. I'll say what I'm working on right now, which I'm going to expand on is even just, you know, my routine, right?
These are all habits that we have. And so disrupting the habit is really important. My routine has been after dinner. I come down, you know, I wash up, my husband usually cooks and then I wash up and I come down to my office and I've got my two computers here and I'm like, okay, it's time to get back to work.
And I've done that. Yours. And I'm starting to be, you know, like, what are you doing? There's nothing, you know, you, you don't have any deadlines tomorrow. You could answer those emails in the morning. And so I'm, it's feels really big, but I close the computer and I grab a book and I go sit in a chair with a blanket and it still feels.
Like, I feel like I'm up at a spa. I'm like, Hey, you know, but it's, it feels so indulgent and. I'm sleeping better because I'm, you know, I'm just winding down. It changes everything, but I'm having to, like, I have to consciously make that choice every day to close that computer too. And what I noticed is, cause I've meditated my whole life since I was 16, 17.
And of course it didn't have to compete with. Oh, there might be some emails I have to look at until sub decades ago. But I still notice now that the, that there's a like a back and forth inside of me, a push pull that wants to meditate before I do anything. But then there's the, oh, but so-and-so, might've reached out or, but Tinto's on the east coast and they might, you know, that there's this and I'm.
Enjoying being an observer, almost like they used to have the cartoons with the devil and the angel like duking it out and, and just noticing it. And sometimes the best I can do is stay very aware of the discomfort of not knowing if those emails have come in acknowledging. And then I get to choose.
Sometimes I will make an exception, say, you know what? The pressure is really high. I really feel somebody waiting. I'm going to go check, but I try and make it more intentional and less reflexive. Like this is just what you do. Grab your phone in the morning, never sleep with the item. I never have a phone in my bedroom, so there has to be sort of a waking up and sort of arriving into the world back in my body and then a choice.
I always want it to be a choice. But that's so beautiful that you're giving yourself this, these little micro steps. And I think that's all, I, I would hope we could invite people to do as we wrap up, like to think about a small little adjustment that might, that people could make, that would be in service of or rest.
Yeah. I love that. And you know, the, the thing I've been encouraging people to do going into this break too, is to just really. Consider the things that they may not have written down, but then in the back of their mind, they're going to be doing right, you know, cleaning out this silverware drawer or that, cause it, you know, I always go into these breaks.
I get so excited. Oh my gosh, I'm going to do all, all of these things and it's going to feel great because I'm going to declutter, I'm going to clean or whatever it is. I really like to clean and organize. It's one of my things, but yeah. I am. I am just lowering that bar. I am crossing so many things off that list.
I'm just going to work on one little product and I don't even expect to finish it. I just don't want to have, I don't want to schedule myself and then start the new year with the sense. Unaccomplished right. Or disappointment in myself. Yeah. I love that. And just, again, just become more aware with it in a kindly nonjudgmental way of the dialogue inside of you or the discomfort in your skin, between the part of you that just says, please leave me alone.
Please. Let me just lay down on the chair with the blanket and the book. And I might even fold the book and. You know, let my eyes close for a little while or listen to music that restores my spirit or call a friend, you know, for no good reason just to hear their voice. And like these things are so part and parcel of who we are.
As creatures. And so to, to observe the conflict or the anxiety or the pressure or the stress, oh, if I get, don't get it done, my list will just be longer. And to be kindly toward that part of yourself, that's trying to kind of crack the whip and then to say, yeah, I just, yeah, I know, I know I might end up with a longer list and for now this is what I need.
And to just love yourself enough, honor yourself in that. Value yourself enough to know that you also don't need to give an excuse to that part of you. You don't have to say, but I'm really tired. Not that tired if you've gone to bed earlier, like even to have the dialogue inside yourself with justifying, you don't even need to give yourself a reason.
I just don't feel like doing that right now. It feels so good. If we can practice that once a day. Like not to give you a to-do, but if, just to kind of remembering that. That, that, you know, I'm going to put that on a post-it and stick it here just so I can remind myself, does it need to get done today?
What would it feel like to just say no to that? Yeah. Yeah. So good. So Debbie tell people a little bit, cause I love your community so much and all the things that you offer and and where to find you. And if you have any final thoughts, Oh, thank you. So, yeah, my, as you said in the intro, my work really is around supporting parents who are raising.
Neurodivergent what I call differently wired kids. So kiddos with ADHD, gifted kids, autism, sensory issues, learning disabilities. And I love this community so much because. 'cause our kids are so awesome. And these parents are so brave and really show up in such a authentic way so that they can parent from a strengths-based point of view and really embrace who their children are.
And so all of my work happens at tilt, I have a podcast at community and it's all really centered on the parent experience, you know, and supporting ourselves through this. So great. Thank you. Thank you for this wonderful work. I said people there all the time. Thank you. Y'all know, my work, but I'll say a little bit more in the wrap up for now, Debbie.
Just thank you. And I hope you get some good rest over the hall and get absolutely nothing done. I hope here. Just, I love that slouch. Thank you so much. Thanks for having this conversation. I think. It's a gift to remind ourselves that we are worthy and giving ourselves permission to, just to just give ourselves what we need in the moment is it's an app.
Yeah. All right. Thanks for that, Debbie. Okay. I hope you enjoyed that. I love talking with Debbie and I love talking about challenging the, that part of us that pushes us beyond our limits so that instead we can. Honor ourselves, treat ourselves, kindly recognize our limits and also show our children what it's like to live that way so that they grew up feeling more empowered to listen to their body and their mind and their heart and their soul.
And to honor the guidance that they receive internally rather than always being pushed and pulled from the outside. So think about one or two things you've heard today that you might want to try and implement in the week ahead. It's always fun to. Make a tangible intention out of what you've heard and see what comes of it.
Just one small shift can make a big difference in your life. Love the conversation. If you've enjoyed this conversation, or if you're enjoying the series, please leave a rating or review or tell a friend or do all of the above. It's so, so helpful. Also, you can hit the subscribe button and you'll be notified every time a new episode is released.
And now remember to stay in touch and get your regular doses of parenting at You can also look around there at the many Masterclasses on different topics with colleagues like Dr. Dan Siegel, Janet Lansbury, Michelle Borba, Melinda Delahooke, Debbie Reber. So, so many wonderful colleagues have joined me for these deep dives into various topics.
So you'll get the whole scoop. If you visit Okay, then that is it for today. Remember, no matter how busy life. Look for those moments of sweetness and joy stay well and stay safe. And I will see you next time.