Ep # 75 The Next Right Thing: Joe Newman on parenting in crisis, structure and compassionate discipline 

Hi – this is Julie Masters and you’re listening to The Next Right Thing – a mini-series from The Inside Influence Team. Designed to provide some actionable certainty in uncertain times. Specifically – and the situation we’re all facing right now – the ‘messy middle’ of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea behind this series is to go out to some of the most popular guests from past episodes of Inside Influence – and ask them one question: ‘What are the most important things you are focusing on right now (tools, ideas, strategies) – or advising your clients to focus on – that you know for sure work in uncertain times?’

The intention being that somewhere in there, from these incredible minds, you might be able to find inspiration for your next right thing – or to put it another way – a point of certainty amidst the uncertainty.

In this episode I speak with… Joe Newman. Joe describes himself as an expert in helping parents in crisis. When we first brainstormed this series – he was top of my list to reach out to. As one of the first children to be diagnosed with ADHD. A label that taught him that he was “broken,” – he went on to shatter expectations and re-build his identity as a teacher and champion of children labelled by society as ‘difficult’ or ‘beyond help’. Founder of Raising Lions – he is also author of the book by the same name ‘Raising Lions: The Art of Compassionate Discipline’. In other words – how to hold structure in situations – and with children – where structure doesn’t come easily.

Honestly, I think I have used his tools more in my parenting journey than any other source. And – as I say at the beginning of this podcast – I think if this lockdown has taught me anything over the past six or seven weeks – it’s how to apologise. Two kids under three, two businesses in chaos and two parents trying to find their way through without destroying their sanity or each other. That’s a situation – by anyone’s definition – that needs some tools.

In today’s conversation we talk about… structure and why it’s vital. Mutual recognition – including why starting your sentences with ‘I need’ – far from being selfish – is one of the most powerful lessons we can teach our children in creating intimacy. Why the fight is never about the thing – insert homework, wearing shoes or use of the iPad – but about power, autonomy and dignity. And the powerful shift from right and wrong – to cause and effect.

What I want you to reflect on here… is actually a quote I heard from Joe the first time we spoke. It’s a quote from Peggy O’Mara and it says this: ‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’. Seriously: ‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’. Doesn’t that just slay you?

Those words I feel have been seared on my brain since the moment I heard them. But here’s what I’ve realised, the more I’ve thought about it. Our words become the inner voices or our children – yes – but those words start as our own inner voice. The voice, the tone and the language we use on ourselves. In our best and worst moments.

So, maybe we can start there – the next time we hear something coming out of our mouths that we don’t feel is perhaps our best selves – by asking ‘where do I say this to myself’, ‘when did I first hear those words’ and ‘how can I be gentler, more resourceful or present in those moments’. Maybe by tending to that inner voice, we can become a better inner voice for the people that we love.

If you want to dig even further into Joe’s tools and strategies and the work of Raising Lions… you can also hunt down our previous conversation – which I believe is episode No. 54. Obviously, check out the book – and if you sign up for his newsletter I believe he’s also running free Zoom Q&A’s for parents in crisis. So definitely worth checking out.

So… other than staying well and looking after each other – now the time to sit tight, listen up and hopefully find somewhere in here – the fuel you need for your next right thing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say I again – this series very much a ‘by the seat of your pants’ kind of thing… lockdown means we’ve had to work with what we have in terms of equipment and internet speeds. So sound quality isn’t always perfect. But – as I’m learning to embrace – that’s not the point.

The point is that we’re showing up – with intent that somewhere in here – imperfections and all – you will find the fuel you need for your next right thing.

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