Dr Vanessa Lapointe ON: Disciplining Your Kids Without Damaging ThemApr 04, 2021
Learn how to discipline your child without damaging them from leading child psychologist Dr Vanessa Lapointe and get a greater understanding on how a child brain develops.
Check out Dr Vanessa Lapointe's amazing new book, Discipline Without Damage - How To Get Your Kids To Behave Without Messing Them Up.
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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Life On Purpose with James Laughlin Show. Please note that there may be small moments where grammar goes off track - this is simply due to the fact that the LIVE episode was converted to full long-form transcript. For weekly motivation, please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Youtube.]
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, James Laughlin
James Laughlin 00:00
Welcome to life on purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician, and now success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show. Today we're going to talk about disciplining your kids without damaging them. Dr. Vanessa Lapointe is going to join us from Vancouver, Canada. And she is a registered psychologist and she wrote an amazing book on this whole aspect of parenting and disciplining, with your child's connection needs at the forefront. Dr. Vanessa, a massive Welcome to the life on purpose podcast, it's absolutely amazing to connect with you.
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe 00:54
Thank you, I'm really excited to be here with you.
James Laughlin 00:57
Well, your work is phenomenal. And I came across your work from a friend Kerwin Rae. And your whole approach to disciplining our little ones without damaging them was a totally new concept. For me, I grew up in Ireland. I've got great parents, right. But I look back at some of the things they did. And I was like, I would never do that now, I wouldn't dream of it. We've got so much more at our fingertips. So much more understanding. And this is what you specialise in. So, I started reading this amazing book of yours. Absolutely phenomenal. So, for people out there that are parents that care about their kids, please grab this book, Discipline Without Damage. It's phenomenal. So, that the key thing, and I wrote this down was see it, feel it, be it. Right? Could you please talk to that a little bit? And what that concept is all about?
LOOKING INTO THE WORLD THROUGH THE CHILD’S EYES
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 01:45
Yeah, so the number one question that I get asked as a child psychologist is, what do I do when and then you can fill in the blank. What do I do when my kid won't listen? What do I do when I can't get my kid to cooperate at bedtime? What do I do when my kid is hitting their sibling? What do I do when...? Even when I'm asked to come and do workshops, I often get the preamble and make sure you get to the part where we we get to tell the people what to do, right. The problem is Wayne Dyer said it so beautifully. "We're not human doings, we are human beings." And when we can get the being part of ourselves sorted out, then the doing part flows from the being part. And so, the question really ought to be, how do I be when my child fill in the blank? And so, see it feel it be it is a mantra that's meant to inspire all of us big people to stay on track with the heart of our own humanity, and that of our children, you see what the problem is, it'll take you half a second, you go behind the behaviour. So, behaviours, always a facade, you go behind the behaviour into the heart and truth of your child, feel for them, what is happening in there. And from that place, be inspired with your being to then do whatever is called for in the moment.
James Laughlin 03:09
It's amazing, the way you explain that makes so much sense. And the word pause comes to mind for me just that pause of actually, you know, to feel what they you can see what's happening, but to feel what they're feeling. There's a pause, a reflection point before we respond, that'd be right?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 03:25
Yeah, and one of the challenges that I've realised both personally as a mom, and also walking alongside my client families, is that oftentimes, when we see it, it's challenging to get to the child's feeling, because we actually are kind of locked down in our own feeling like, "Are you out of your mind, we talked about this?" Right. And so, we're getting triggered in the face of our children's behaviour. And so we need to take a moment to kind of settle that part of ourselves, and really feel what it is that is happening for the child, when we can look at the world, through the eyes of the child, we will end exactly where we need to land in order to come alongside them in ways that support their development rather than get in the way of it.
ON FEAR-BASED DISCIPLINE AND CONNECTION
James Laughlin 04:12
I love that. I really love that. And the one thing I'm taking away from what I'm understanding within your book is that fear-based discipline, so like timeouts, removal of privileges, rewards, checks, those things are actually not great for long term positive brand development.
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 04:28
Yeah, the challenge with all of that is that we know from the science of child development now, the most important thing in terms of ensuring that a child grows up in the best possible way, the way that nature intended, is that the child has a very continuous foundation of connection with their big people. And by that we mean relationship that there are deep roots that are put down around the child's belief that it is safe. to lean into the care of their grownups. And when you look at things like timeouts and consequences and reward systems, at the heart of all of those strategies is actually an experience of emotional disconnection for the child rather than an experience of connection, you can get it very easily with the timeout, you literally send the child away from you. And at least how I was trained when I was a doctoral student, not only do you send them away from you, but you actually withdraw attention from them, like you are not known to me until you decide to fall into line and do evidence that I have asked a few. So there's a physical and an emotional separation. When we use consequences, how do you come up with the zinger of the consequence that you know, it's going to show them, you come up with it, because you're in an intimate relationship with your child. You know there loves, you know, that things that make their world go round, and you're like, "haha, I shall use this against you." right? And when it comes to reward system, sometimes we think "Well, what's the problem with that?" because the child is getting something they get a shiny sticker, or whatever it is. The opposite of getting the sticker is not getting the sticker. Instead, the seedy underbelly of the reward system is that it is a consequence in disguise. And all you have to do for a moment is imagine like if your partner said or did one of those things to you? How would you feel afterwards? If you came home from a very bad, no good, awful day at work, and you were kind of grumpy-lumpy when you walked in the door, and your partner was like, "Don't talk to me like that. No coffee for you tomorrow.", you'd be like, Oh, yeah. And now I'm so inspired to be lovely to you. Right? It's the same.
James Laughlin 06:45
That is such a great way to look at that. I love it. And if we think about our kids, when they get to that teenage stage, so if we do have all of these fear-based discipline procedures at 3,4,5,6,7 year-old stage, what's the possible consequence when they get to be physically as big as us if not bigger, and they're starting to get intellectually as switched on as us, their emotional being starting to develop. What's the big consequence, if we do use these fear-based disciplines at a younger stage?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 07:15
Yeah. And so, as a rule of thumb, it works a little like a teeter totter, where when connection is high, resistance will be low. And the opposite is true, when connection is low, resistance will be high. And so when you have this sort of long history of pushing up against your child, and using their most essential need that for connection, it's that essential, when you're using that against the child, in order to secure their good behaviour, it is a sacrificial play, you actually are sacrificing the relationship and the developmental needs of the child in order to serve this myth of good behaviour. And so fast forward to adolescence. Now, we've had many of these kind of micro ruptures in the relationship along the way, which means that connection will be low, resistance will be high, during the time of development, when very naturally, kids are meant to be taking a step away from us, and kind of spreading their wings and trying their independence on for size and figuring out how they fit into the world. And so, if the connection is low, at that point, they're not going to be terribly inspired, to come alongside, to follow the rules that you set for them for their own safety and well-being those kinds of things. And so, it really does make that period of development, unnecessarily challenging. I have two boys, my youngest will be 14 in just a couple of weeks. And my eldest is 17. Now they're way bigger than me. And I have to tell you, I mean, I think I've said this about every single stage along the way, but adolescence have been just delightful. And, of course, with the spreading of their wings and the testing out of independence, there are things that we get to talk about along the way. And never has it been a problem. Because they they really just kind of desire to do my bidding. We're, good, we're solid connection is high. So resistance is slow.
ON TEEN SUICIDE PREVENTION AT HOME
James Laughlin 09:25
That's unreal. I love that. I know that for every parent out there. The dream is when we get to that scary adolescent stage that we have this open connection, there's trust and respect, and also giving our kids independence working collaboratively and it's so important. But I worked at a school for 14 years here in New Zealand. And New Zealand has the highest teenage suicide rate in the OECD. It's horrific. And at the school I was at there was several kids who committed suicide. And it's one of those things that when kids get to that teenage stage, they often they get in their head, and we haven't developed this warm connection. From a younger stage, we try to hurry it up and speed it up when they hit teenage age of 13 to 17. So what can we do when they're three, four or five, six years old to develop that beautiful connection so that it's not, hey, let's try last ditch attempt when they turn 13 to be there for them? What can we be doing?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 10:22
Yeah, when I think about things like these suicide rates that are very high in certain parts of the world, and I think about the sort of modern-day pop culture around child raising, I do think that there are pieces of that, that link together, not that we're pointing the finger at parents and blaming them for all of this, because I do really believe it to be a systemic problem. It's the way our eyes land on children, that creates those kinds of longer term outcomes. And certainly, at the centre of anything to do with suicide, the very last kind of lowest energetic space that we are in, that's barely a step up from death is to sit in this headspace of shame, a heartspace of shame. Now, think about what our pop culture around child raising is, when a two year-old bites, we make them wrong for that, when a four year old doesn't share, we make them wrong for that, when a nine year old has a meltdown that makes them look like a three year old. We make them wrong for that. And yet, if we were to sort of deep dive into neuroscience, and look at just from the architecture of the brain, what is happening for a two year old, what is happening for a four year old, what is happening for a nine year old, what's happening for our 16 year olds, when we look at what's going on in their brains, they actually cannot control those things. Two year olds can't control whether or not they bite. four year olds are actually incapable of sharing in the truest sense of that word. nine year olds must have meltdowns that have them look like three year olds, 16 year olds are meant to tell us exactly where to go, how to get there with a middle finger salute, when we say no to them about the party on Friday night, because it's part of where their brain is at. And so when we make them wrong for those things, we actually make them wrong for being who they are, we would be like I was made wrong for having brown hair. It's who I am, I can't change, I could change that. But you we can't change the core of how humans grow and develop, it has become lost in the pop culture around child raising the concept of child development is actually a real thing. Children are not tiny adults. So we cannot take by downward extension, the expectations that we will have of them when they become older, and apply them to the child. Now, all of that to say, I really do think that as parents, the biggest thing that we could do, to make sure that our children grow with an enormous amount of love for themselves that they can then shine out into the world and love on other people, is to ensure that we don't ever bring shame into the equation in terms of how we react, respond, and come alongside them. As they you know, journey along their developmental path.
James Laughlin 13:39
That's lovely. I really, really appreciate that. And I can see that I've got a four year old, he's almost five. And I can just see how that could apply. And I'm thinking about other parents and listeners out there who are thinking, Okay, I have had a four year old who's had this meltdown, I have got a nine year old who's done this or a teenager? What would be a great way, is there a framework that people instead of maybe hey, here's what you do in a specific situation, is there a framework to approaching disciplining in a beautiful, holistic, healthy way?
HOW TO DISCIPLINE WITHOUT DAMAGE
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 14:06
Yeah. And so in, in my book discipline, without damage, I outline the nine stepping stones, which I do to kind of just breathe life into what it might look like, with the caveat that you would never ever jumped around on all nine stepping stones in any one moment, all of our heads would be spinning as we tried to, you know, keep all of that sorted. But if you can go to this understanding that connection will be at the heart of discipline, without damage. And so everything about your response in a moment when things have become challenging, is to go to that bottom line of connection. And I often talk about this parenting mountain where your job is to stay at the peak of the mountain, and yet the slope on either side of that mountain is very steep. So you're going to need to equal the opposite forces balancing you to help you stay at the peak of the mountain on the one side you have to be firm. So there needs to be rules, there needs to be boundaries, there needs to be expectations, that the containment and I mean that in a really nurturing kind of way. But that firmness provides actually allows for the child to be at rest and feel safe as they journey along. On the other hand, you also need to be very kind. So it's that balance of being nurturing, and being firm, all at once. So let's say the child has just hit you or said something that that's not the way your family talks or broken a rule or whatever. So you're able to come in with some firmness, which is not the same thing as being mean. It's being firm. And understanding how hard it is for the child, "It's really tricky to be a big brother, I really get that sometimes you're a little brother just makes you crazy. We're going to take a big deep breath. There you go. I got now another one. That's right. Now we will not be using our hitting hands, my son, that is not how we do things." And so we drop a line. And we understand we hold the boundary and we understand we'd be firm, and we'd be kind.
James Laughlin 16:19
That's amazing and to me that for everybody out there. We can all try that we can all improve on that. And that, to me is a great, simple framework to make some massive changes. For example, Finn, who's still four. He's got a couple of older people around him. They're boys between six and 16. So, Finn's mom and I we co-parent quite quite amazingly. And she's a phenomenal mum. So when he's with his mum, upstairs, she's a matron in a boarding house or private school boarding house. So, and the upstairs there's a master of the boarding house. He's got four young boys, and they're hilarious young boys. And they do what young boys do. And so Finn learns from them. And often Finn'll, say things like, "where did you hear that?", but it's my response to what he says that can create his energy for the day. And so the next time he presents something, a challenging word, or a profanity, the best way to approach that is from what I'm hearing is step on top of the mountain, be firm, and also nurture, and it's letting them know that I understand you're frustrated, I can see that you want to do X, but we got to go and do y. And however, we don't use that language, that's not how we speak. So is that an appropriate way to respond?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 17:30
That's right. And the idea is that he feels seen and heard in that moment, because every child given the chance wants to do their best, they really well and truly do. And when they can feel seen and heard, they equate that with the experience of being loved. And then they can lean into your care, they can lean into your guidance, I was a competitive figure skater growing up. I did partner skating. And so when I was skating with my partner, we learned that there had to be a certain hold. And the reason for that is that the hold provides the point of connection. And if you have that connection, then anywhere my partner wants me to go, if he moves here, I go with him. If he moves here, I go with him, because we are connected. And the same holds true for parents with their children. When there is a relationship and emotional safety that allows for the child to lean in and rest into your care, you establish that point of connection. And so if you go here, they're coming with you. If you say jump, they're coming with you. So, it makes that the essence of what it is to be a leader when it comes to being a parent, it makes that very easy because the child gets to lean in. Now, if we are being you know, too much like what I call a jellyfish parent where we have like no backbone, the child goes to lean in, and they just fall on their face. So, now they're like, hold up, hold up, I don't think I'm gonna do that anymore. I'm just gonna go and stand over here and try and figure it out. So now you have no connection. So you're saying Come this way. And they're like, Ah, yeah, I'm going over here. On the other hand, if the child goes too lenient, and you've become too firm, you turn into the bully parents. So now you're yelling, shouting at your kid, and they're like, Oh, well, that now they're moving away from you. Right? And so either way, you end up with a child who's not going for the lean in and the lean in provides that point of connection. It is in the connection that you get to have true power to parent, and that yucky power. nurturing power.
ON CO-PARENT’S ROLE IN DISCIPLINING
James Laughlin 19:46
Hmm, that's amazing. And I'm thinking about that, obviously, through the lens of co-parenting. There'll be a few other co parenting listeners out there, possibly. So with co-parenting comes naturally, you know, a new partner comes into life. So, it could be a parental figure in your child's life. So, some people would say, Hey, if you're the step parent, or you're not the biological parent, it's important that you're just, you know, fun and friendly, you don't do the disciplining you become their buddy. The other side of that is a no, no, no, they're relying on you to be that adult, that big person in their life. So what's your take on their child's development? When a non biological parent comes in, you know, what role should non biological parent play that step parent?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 20:32
Hmm. So I also co-parent and have lived this with my own children walked alongside many families in the midst of this process. And there actually is a really important pathway for us grownups to follow in terms of making sure that plays out very naturally, and in a way that feels really safe and approachable to the child. As a rule of thumb, the biological mother and father are the primary attachment points. And all new relationships, no matter whether it be a teacher, whether it be a new partner, all new relationships, actually must be formed through the gateway of the existing attachments. So, it's going to be mum and dad, that are the front and centre attachments that allowed the new attachment relationship to develop. So, it is true that initially, the bonus parent, the new partner that's come into the picture has no place in terms of disciplining and doing those kinds of things. Rather, during those early days, you're really going to want to be focused on things like routines, keeping it all consistent, because that's going to provide that little bit of structure and containment that allows everybody to get through that stage. And you will want those primary attachment figures to be the main sources of discipline if you will, connection will be high with them so resistance will be low. And once the relationship begins to deepen with the bonus parent, then that person has context from which to step in, and begin to be one of the guide in the child's life. But the relationship has to exist first. And it's not a buddy-buddy relationship, there is a hierarchy to that relationship, because the bonus parent is a big person, and the child is a child. And for children to feel safe in relationships with their big people, the hierarchy needs to exist in a really beautiful, natural way, not a yucky hierarchy, but a really tender, nurturing kind of hierarchy.
James Laughlin 22:49
That's great. Thank for all the cool pants. That's just amazing. That's gold. And for you as a co parent, what has been your like one of your greatest challenges?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 22:58
Well, I would love to tell you, and it's always so inspiring to me, when I hear people like yourself who have these glorious co parenting relationships, and it's all gone really well. Mine has not been that same experience. And so I continue to have very challenging kinds of interactions with my children's father. And this is some years down the road for us at this point. And so I've really had to grow myself up as a mother and a co-parent, where I have had to realise that actually, for a good relationship to exist, it only takes one person, because we see the world as we are. And so how we see what is going on in the world around us is really just a reflection of what we have created within our own minds. And when I get you know, an email that's very, I'm unsettled and argumentative and those kinds of things, I have a choice to make. I could see that as "How dare you, I put myself out there and do all of these things, and, and so on and so forth." Or I could see that as, "Oh, it looks like things are feeling unsafe for him right now. It looks like he's having a really challenging time right now. or whatever it is", and go through just like we do for our children go through the facade of the behaviour into the heart of truth. And what sits there is always something that allows for you to land on compassion. And even if only one person in the relationship, the co-parenting relationship is able to manifest that kind of reality, then the children will be okay. Children express what is between the parents. And so if from your own mind, you can create energetically a dynamic that allows for that to feel safe and easy for your kids, they're going to be okay.
James Laughlin 25:02
That's great. I think when you say that see it, feel it and be it that also applies equally to the relationship with your partner or your former partner. That's great.
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 25:13
Yeah. You know, it's really interesting the day that that book came out that Discipline Without Damage book, I received a phone call from the head publisher. And she was actually very emotional in the phone call. And I was wondering, where was this going, and what is happening, and she said, "You know, for the first time today, I finished reading your book from cover to cover. And it dawned on me that even though the book is written in the voice of, you know, supporting parents with their children, the reality is with a few wording changes, that book is actually just about relationships, be they with co-parents, be they with somebody, you're currently married to, be they with a work colleague, it's just about being a human being and being in the dance, the back and forth the serve in return kind of dance that is relationship when we're part of a social species."
ON GIVING YOUR CHILD ATTENTION
James Laughlin 26:10
It was beautiful. I agree. I agree with your publisher. A 100%. And as soon as I got the book and started going through it, I rang up, Finn's mum, Lisa, "hey, I've got this book, and it's from a lady in Vancouver, she's a child psychologist", and Lisa, being from Vancouver was pretty excited that we got chatting about some of your thoughts and approaches. And she said, "James, could you ask her one question on my behalf." I was like, of course. So she's an amazing matron, so matron is the mum to 50 plus teenage boys, wow, they're at a private school. And they're away from their mums and dads, they're at a delicate stage, you know, between 12 and 15, she deals with, and she's there for them. So, sometimes what happens is the pinch points in the morning when they're getting out to school, and when they come home from school, back to the boarding house, and she greets them, she's got food for them and asking them how their days are going. Sometimes, Finn is with her when that happens. So we co-parent 50/50. And sometimes that can be really stressful for both her and for Finn. And he can sometimes have a meltdown. So he's four years old. And he wants his mom's attention at the end of a long day or at the start of the day when he's getting going. And if she's busy caring for all these boys and juggling, he can have a meltdown. So, Lisa's question was, you know, what's the best approach to navigating that situation to make sure that she can be there and help him and meet his needs for those trickier situations?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 27:35
Yeah, well, there's a few things that I think about in response to that. The first thing is, it's not our job is to make our children happy. It is our job to ensure that our children have the necessary experiences in life that allow them to become adaptive and resilient, so that they can then be happy. And as part of that, sometimes our kids have to bump up against things that are futile. Like I need to share my mum right now with 50 other boys, right, or my mum's not available to me right now, for whatever reason that is, and to have to bump up against that wall of futility, experienced the mad about that, that comes with being so frustrated, and have that mad, be invited, accepted and received in a very safe and compassionate way. So that the mad can be distilled into sad. And it's right at the point that the mad become sad when the child has moved through to a space of adaptation. Now, if we're so busy running around, stretching ourselves, making it all be okay for our kids, they actually never get to have the experience of mad to sad, which they must have many, many, many 1000s of times over in order for their brain to develop in the way that nature intended. So it's not that we need to run around, manufacturing opportunities for our kids to turn Matt to fat, but you provide a really brilliant example. This is part of their life. And so he will have to bump up against the futility of this reality that his mum isn't always going to be available to him. So, to know that it's okay for him to get upset. And to just perceive the upsetness with a lot of compassion. There are a couple of things that we might be able to do, though, in terms of approaching those pinch point moments in the day to try and set them up so that they're a little bit less stressful for everybody. One of those would be of course, to provide lots of transition warning and chatting about what that's going to look like and how that might feel. And sometimes that's tricky for you. And I know that that's the case and it doesn't matter if you have to have some sadness and mad about that. You're never too much for me, you know that kind of a conversation in advance so he knows what it is that's coming. And if you can think about that he has this little connection cup inside of him. And before we send our children off to the day, or before we approach a moment where we know there's going to be sort of this experience of separation, that we've taken a little bit of time to fill the cup up. So they're topped up in terms of reserves, and they might be able to sustain themselves a little bit more during that time. One final thing to think about would be how can you have a piece of her during those periods when she's not going to be fully available to him? So does she have, you know, like a favourite scarf that might smell a little bit like her, and she can say things, "I'm going to go right now. And I'm going to say hi to all the boys when they come home, I really want you to help to hold on to my scarf for me, though. Okay, so I'm going to pop it around your neck, you hang on to it, you know, it's my favourite. So I'm coming back, and I'm going to get that from you afterwards." And now he's got a little piece of his mummy, but he gets to hold on to when my boys were little. And I used to travel for work. My youngest son is quite sensitive, I had this little plush heart that I said was my heart. And, and there was a little smaller one that travelled with me, that was his heart. And so he took my heart to school with him, and would travel all around his day with my heart tucked into his bag or tucked into his pocket, so he could feel like he had a little piece of me. So there's ways to be together even when we can't be together.
IMPORTANCE OF SHOWING AFFECTION
James Laughlin 31:25
That is beautiful. But I can't wait. Because Lisa will watch this for sure. And listen to this. That is so helpful. Yes, that's amazing. I know that Lisa admires your work she has been since I told her about the book, she has been looking into it. So that's amazing. Thank you so much, Vanessa. And it might be the same in Canada. I mean, I was a late teens, early 20s. And I was in Canada, so I wasn't really doing any child rearing. But in New Zealand, my experience, Lisa would agree with this. Let's say a young boy to two years old falls over, a lot of their approach from a lot of the men around would be Come on get up, you're on your phone, come on, get up stop crying, do stop crying. So they got a big suppression of emotions. Another experience I had, which was totally bewildering, was my boy was about four days old. That's hold them in my arms, and as a male in his late 40s, early 50s, I was holding him and rocking him, and when I give them a lot of kiss, and just chatting away, and my little boy is pretty proud dad. And he says, whoa, whoa, don't don't do that. Don't do what? Don't kiss your son. So what are you talking about? He says, that's totally not not right. You don't want to show that kind of affection. It's going to it's going to impact him growing up. And I knew what he was implying. So I just changed the subject and moved away pretty quick. So how important is it from a dad's perspective? On a man's perspective, or a male role model or a non-biological male role model in child's life? How important is it to show connection and to show emotion and let them express their sad times in their mad times?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 32:59
Yeah, I mean, it is everything we actually know, from the science of child development that our little boys are, in fact born more sensitive than our little girls. And yet, we have this, dominant pop culture around what it is to raise boys that pounds that out of them at such an early stage, when really our little boys need more sheltering, more protection, more opportunity to release the tears. Freud said that which stays in sisters, and comes forth later and uglier ways. And so you want it to come out, you don't want it to stay in, when we tell little boys, stop that. Don't do that. I'll give you something to cry about, you know, these kinds of messages, or we don't shower them with affection, we're withholding or pulling back, we're not allowing the connection to naturally flow in the way that it does human to human, parent to child, when we are shutting all of that down and not allowing the release of connection. It's a kin to taking a beach ball and starting to push it under the water. And you will know that the further down, you push the beach ball, the more it's going to one day explode through the surface. And so think about that, and how we socialise these very sensitive little boys. And now think about that suicide rate. And now think about the number of men who go on to struggle as adults with managing their stress, managing their anger, the rates of domestic violence, and all of the things connected to that, that is the beach ball, exploding through the surface. And so as a society, as a world, what we need to do, especially for our little boys, but all of our children is to ensure that they get to be welcomed in the fullness of their humanity, tears, sensitivity, softness, lovey doveyness, all of that kind of stuff. So they get to be human, and can be part of this social species, as they head off into the adolescent years and eventually become adults.
YOUR KID’S GIFT TO YOU AS A PARENT
James Laughlin 35:26
That is amazing. I'm so so glad that you've said that. And, you know, to give you a wider, broader picture of New Zealand, not only do we have the highest teen suicide rates, we've got the second highest child mortality rate. In the OECD, after Mexico, we've also got the highest domestic violence rate. And the majority of that, which stems back to men, not all but the majority, vast majority of it. So what I'm hearing from you is that we have the opportunity as parents, to heal our own generational wounds, through better parenting, and helping this next generation. And the generations after that, to become, you know, responsible humans that are empathic that we can actually change the tide of mental health, and suicide and violence, through more connected parenting.
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 36:18
Absolutely, it is upon us to grow children who are hardy, not hardened. And in order to do that, we do need to take stock of where it is that we have come from, because we know that we will parent as we were parented, even when we swear up and down, that we're not going to do it, then we become parents, and all of a sudden, you hear your mother coming out your mouth, or you hear your father coming at your mouth, that's just the way that it goes. And that is, you know, what it is to be a conscious parent, is to really be able to understand that in the act of becoming a parent, your child gives you this gift. And the gift is the opportunity to for yourself, heal the wounds that you may have brought forward with you by even really well intentioned parents heal the wounds that you may have brought forward with you, as you experience what it is through your child's eyes, to be able to grow in the best possible way. And so it really does become this idea that we must grow ourselves in order to be able to grow our children. And that that is this very kind of intuitive back and forth kind of experience. And I'll tell you what, it is not for the faint of heart.
James Laughlin 37:42
I'm with you on that 100%. And it's so interesting, because I know there'll be grandparents out there or there may even be older parents that are in their 60s 70s watching this listening to this thinking, oh, there's some stuff I did that I would like to like, undo or go back. Is it ever too late to go back and say to your grown up kids like hams, I'm sorry. Like I didn't really know what I was doing. I was doing my best. But I probably traumatised you a little bit or didn't help you develop in a healthy way? Is it okay to come back at any stage and actually apologise and rectify that?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 38:13
you know, it's never ever too late to make all of that right. And I get to talk with grandparents and great grandparents often about these sort of intergenerational things and how it all plays out. And what we know is a few things. First of all, neuroplasticity, the brain's openness to external influence is alive and well across the lifespan. So you can be 95 years old and rewiring, you know, certain parts of your brain. So it's never too late from a neurological perspective. And from a relational perspective, we know that there's sort of the relationship that's playing out in real time. But there also is energetically the potential to retro actively influence relationship. And so when we talk about personal growth work for us as grown ups are actually retro actively caring for our inner children. And so there's a beautiful book by John Bradshaw called Homecoming, where he says it's never too late to have a good childhood. And when a grandparent can come back to a now, you know, adult age child who is parenting themselves and say, you know, I don't know that that was really the best way to have gone about it. And if I had the chance to do it differently now, I want for you to know that I would, there's something about that, that sets the record straight and makes it right. Well, we're having those kinds of conversations, though. I do think it's really important to understand that all of our parents, I started out my career working in the child protection system. And, and so I worked with parents who, you know, arguably did terrible things to their children. And every single one of them wanted it to go differently. It's just that given where it was that they had come from, and the kinds of experiences that they have had as children, it was somewhat beyond them in those moments to be able to manage how to step through those occasions. And so when we think about that, we know that every single child, every single parent, everywhere, is actually doing the very best that they can, given the broader circumstances that have impacted their lives. And when we can see, our own parents, in a way as innocent in that, then healing has begun. And that has been my experience personally. And also, as I've witnessed the growth journeys of hundreds of other people now, that when you can heal within yourself, and heal the relationship that you have, say, with your parents, your whole life can work.
ON HOW DR. VANESSA WANTS TO BE REMEMBERED AS A MUM
James Laughlin 40:53
That's amazing. So, so cool. And I'm just thinking about who you are. And in my eyes, you're, you're a phenomenal child psychologist, I want to talk to you about being a mom, how do you want to be remembered as a mum?
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 41:07
I want for my children to have had the experience always, that they were never frightened to come to me with something that felt like a problem, or, you know, something that didn't go the way that they wanted it to go, that they would always know that I should be their first call. Because our mom will know what to do. And our mom will have our back and be by our side, that they can have that sort of constant consistent experience of getting to lean into me, and know that I am there for them. That's I suppose a cognitive kind of thing. And more than that, putting language and words to it, I just want them to have that experience of having got to feel what that is.
James Laughlin 41:57
beautiful, a lot. That's part of your mantra, you have the feeling that that's gorgeous, and it ties into your your motherhood as well. It's beautiful. I've got one last question for you. And that is, what does living life on purpose mean to you?
ON LIVING LIFE ON PURPOSE
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 42:14
You know, when I hear that, I think about the idea of what it is to be authentically resonant with yourself as a human being. And if I have to reflect on my own life, where it is that I've come from, where it is that I am now and the things that I'm thinking about in terms of where it is that I'm headed, what I have experienced is that my happiness thing, my happiness has exponentially manifested when I have been able to come alongside my authentic, resonant self, and be who it is that I really am. And to get to that point, there had to be this experience of being able to be quite self-referred, which means that I don't take my cues from the outside world, in terms of how I show up every day, that I am consistently inviting myself to take my cues from my inside world. And when I can do that, then I can show up, I can live authentically, I can live, in a way that's resonant with who I really am. And I wonder if that's what it is to live life on purpose to really live out your dharma.
James Laughlin 43:30
That's stunning. Absolutely and love it. And dharma, a great thanks to Sahara Rose. I'm a big fan of Sahara Rose's work. She has taught me a lot about darmha. So I love that you've touched on that as well. I just want to say a massive thank you, for everyone that's listening, whether you're on YouTube or on podcast, I want you to go and grab a copy of this book. If you're a parent, or you're a co-parent, or you're a grandparent, I'm gonna put the link below for everyone to go and grab that, grab that copy of the book. But um, thank you for your amazing work. You're doing great things for this world.
Dr. Vanessa LaPointe 43:56
Thank you. And thank you for shining a light on that. And in all things, it's been magic to talk with you.
James Laughlin 44:13
Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love Love, love. If you leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks. And folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.