October 2, 2023
Focus On Raising A Responsible Child Versus
Raising An Obedient Child With Guest Dale Rubury
This episode is a change in our typical format where parents share their struggles and challenges in therapy sessions recorded live. This is a conversation between Leslie and her daughter, Dale.
It focuses on the topic of raising a responsible child versus an obedient child. We all want children who listen to us. But it’s not as simple as telling our children what to do, and expecting them to do it. In today’s conversation, Leslie will help us define the difference between these two ideas. Dale and Leslie explore these ideas in her childhood and reflect on the value of these principles in her adult life
Dale Rubury is Leslie’s daughter, a producer of this podcast, and today’s guest. After graduating from college with a degree in Zoology, Dale moved to warmer climates to pursue a career with animals. She worked at the largest primate sanctuary in North America for 7 years before moving on to a different career path. For the past few years she has been in the world of construction where she was building yurts and working for Habitat for Humanity. Dale is currently pursuing a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant. Dale is proud to say that she has a healthy relationship with her anxiety.
4:08 The dangerous side of raising an obedient child that you don’t always think about.
4:48 Raising a responsible child means raising a “thinking child”
5:55 Using the line “I see that you are practicing being a teenager” when teens talk back to their parents
7:30 Powering over your child vs giving your child “personal power”
9:42 Engage your child in the process of chores to increase and motivation cooperation
10:30 the importance of giving children choices and loosening the reins to allow for more freedom and autonomy in their daily responsibilities.
11:22 Leslie Cohen-Rubury suggests giving children more risks to take to make them feel capable and confident, which leads to increased cooperation.
15:10 In order to foster cooperation, let your child take more risks. More capable more confident which leads to be more cooperative
20:55 Balancing limits for the child and respect for the child
23:45 Complaining is a secondary problem to doing the chore. Instead MAINTAIN YOUR FOCUS on what you are asking your child to do.
24:50 Use the paradoxical statement “It looks like you need more practice doing the dishes” when your child is complaining.
27:25 Raising an obedient child means you may end up with a selfish child who uses victim language
27:55 Raising an obedient child ends up feeling smaller vs raising a responsible child helps to empower the child
29:00 How power struggles develop between parent and child
32:22 Are you coddling your child? Do you think you are giving in to your child?
37:25 What it sounds like when you as the parent start defending yourself
37:55 Brief description of the DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) skill of check the facts
38:43 One interpretation of when your teen questions adults is to be grateful that you are raising a “thinking” individual
Show Note Links
- Handout of comparing Raising A Responsible Child Versus Raising An Obedient Child
Leslie-ism: Raising responsible children who think for themselves is more important than raising obedient children.
Credits: Is My Child a Monster is produced by Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, and Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Theme music is by L-Ray Music. Public relations is handled by Tink Media. Graphics and Website Design by Brien O’Reilly. by Eric Rubury. A special thanks to everyone who contributes their wisdom and support to make this possible.
TRANSCRIPT OF SHOW:
0:04 Dale Rubury: We didn’t even have that need to go crazy with it because that need for freedom wasn’t like bottled up inside of us, which I think happens if you have those reins too tight.
0:21 Leslie Cohen-Rubury: This is, Is My Child A Monster?, a parenting therapy podcast where you get to listen in as real parents and caregivers share their trials and tribulations in therapy sessions recorded live. I’m your host, Leslie Cohen-Rubury, and I’m a parent and a therapist with 37 years of experience helping families navigate this question. This is our final episode in Season 1. And my daughter, Dale, is back with me for another skills episode. We’re going to talk about the differences between raising a responsible child versus an obedient child.
Yes, we all want children who listen to us. But it’s not as simple as telling our children what to do, and expecting them to do it. In our conversation, Dale and I explore these ideas in her childhood and reflect on the value of these principles in her adult life. Dale has a degree in zoology and has spent seven years working at a large primate sanctuary. And she has just begun pursuing a graduate degree to be a physical therapy assistant. She’s also an assistant producer and occasional guest on this podcast. I’m glad to have her back with me. So let’s get started.
Hi, Dale. Thanks for joining me today.
1:45 Dale: Hi, mom. Yeah, so glad to be here recording with you.
1:48 Leslie: It’s great to have you here today, because we’re actually in our last episode of Season 1.
1:55 Dale: I know. I can’t believe that. We started the season recording together, and now we’re ending it full circle here.
2:02 Leslie: You’re right, we did. And these sessions with you have been…I’ve loved it because I learned a lot as we talk today. It’s very different seeing you as a child and talking to you as an adult looking back on your childhood, which is very helpful, I think, for our listeners.
2:21 Dale: Yeah, it’s been interesting to reflect on these kinds of intentional settings. And in combination with what you talk about on the podcast.
Dale: So in the last few episodes, you were talking to Alice a decent amount about raising a responsible child versus an obedient child. I figured we could start off by you talking about the difference between those two ideas.
2:44 Leslie: Yes, I did. Because it’s a big, big topic, and one that I really do enjoy talking about—raising an obedient child versus a responsible child. Because the truth is, we all want our children to listen to us. And we want them to do what we tell them to do. So why wouldn’t we want an obedient child, right?
Dale: Makes sense.
Leslie: [Laughter] I’ll answer that question in a minute. So for today’s purposes, my definition of an obedient child is a child who…they listen to their parents, they do what they are told…
3:19 Dale: That doesn’t sound so bad. What’s the issue with that?
3:23 Leslie: You’re right—it doesn’t sound so bad. We all want that. So we’re going to work to get towards that. But the big thing about being an obedient child, is that they’re actually not thinking for themselves. So they don’t question what’s going on, they don’t get input, they don’t get to have that input. When you raise an obedient child, you are getting a child to do what you tell them to do. But authoritarian parenting is when you demand children to listen, but you don’t give them the respect.
And so children cannot question authority, they don’t learn to think for themselves. That’s a real problem. So when children don’t think for themselves, then the biggest problem is that it’s fine when they’re seven, and when they’re nine. But what happens when they’re 14 and 17? When, instead of listening to their parents tell them what to do, they’re listening to their peers telling them what to do. Right there, that’s a dangerous situation for me.
4:33 Dale: Yeah, I can see how that seemingly good quality of listening to your parents without question early on could kind of lead to some issues as you get older.
4:46 Leslie: Seriously. Because what are your peers going to tell you to do? Well, they’re going to have ideas and sometimes those are ideas that you do not want them to follow. And so we want to raise a thinking child, and that’s my definition for raising a responsible child. How do we get a child to think, think for themselves, to know themselves?
5:10 Dale: So does that mean, though, that that thinking child is going to be the child who pushes back constantly and is actually more disobedient?
5:19 Leslie: Yes and no. Again, I’m going to refer back to one of the things I say quite frequently in Season 1, which is: misbehavior is information. So when that child’s pushing back, if you are a parent who says, “You need to do what I tell you to do,” then you are going to see that pushing back as, “You are being disobedient, you are being disrespectful.” And I hear that a lot from parents, that children are disrespectful, they’re disobedient, I actually try to get those words out of my parenting language. So instead, when the child is misbehaving, that’s where, as I’ve said before, the misbehavior is communicating to me: they may be thinking for themselves.
As a matter of fact, I have a line that Travis, whenever he used to talk back to me—I don’t know if you remember me saying this to you—but I would say, “Oh, I see you’re practicing being a teenager.”
Dale: Yep, I remember that.
Leslie: You do. And that was my view of, I didn’t think it was disrespectful—a teenager who’s starting to talk back is within the normal development of…they are thinking for themselves. And I want to hone that, I want to respect that, so that when you go out into the world, you can make changes in the world that we need to have. So I want to raise that thinking, questioning child.
6:43 Dale: That makes sense. And it reminds me going back to what you’ve talked about, with a variety of topics, is almost this counter-intuitiveness to parenting; where, by trying to control more and trying to make them obedient, a lot of times you often actually get less obedient kids. And vice versa: by almost giving a little bit more personal power and freedom, you actually get a kid who doesn’t take advantage of that, or who doesn’t push those limits, and actually becomes, quote, unquote, more obedient.
7:21 Leslie: So that’s great. So that leads us to words that I really want to jump on; you said control and personal power. And when you are raising an obedient child, you actually are powering over your child. You are trying to control their behavior, because it makes sense—you want them to do what you tell them to do. You want to raise them to have good manners, as we heard with Alice, or participate in chores, and we’ll get into that. But the way you do it is to control your child.
Instead, there’s this idea of giving my child personal power. And I don’t want it to be a threat to my authority. And I’m wondering if you remember anything growing up. How did I give you that personal power? What did I do that might have helped you think for yourself? Let’s go to the chores, let’s talk about chores. What would I do? Do you remember anything?
8:19 Dale: Yeah, the chores is actually, I feel, the main thing in my memory from when we were younger. Because I mean, chores is a big part of getting your child to do and for a kid having to follow. So yeah, I remember you would, you would give us a chore. But you’d give us freedom within it. You wouldn’t say necessarily that you needed it done right then. You might say, “Okay, guys, I need the laundry folded by tonight.” And a lot of times, we would bring the laundry basket up and we’d fold all the laundry in front of the TV. You let us do it in front of the TV, because as long as it got done, it got done. But you didn’t try to micromanage the process. You gave us some freedom in that.
I also remember, there’d be some chores that the three of us, as siblings, sometimes would have preferences for. And so if there was a chore you gave me that I really didn’t want to do, I might say, “Wait, can Travis do that? Can I do this, instead?” And so we would almost give options. And most of the time you would be fine with that, because there were so many chores that needed to get done. And as long as we were getting something done it was a win.
9:41 Leslie: Yes. Wow, you touched on a few things. And the last thing you touched upon is engaging you in the process. I remember it just came to mind while you’re talking. When you were real little, I think I actually made a chore chart and you got to spin it and decide what you wanted to do. But the idea of engaging you in the process of, “Here are the chores, here’s what needs to get done. What are you going to choose to…how are you going to choose to participate?” And then get that information: “When are you going to do it? How are you going to do it?” And again, I want to come back to the idea that I’m getting you to think for yourself.
And we know that when people engage in the process, they’re much more likely to cooperate. So, absolutely, giving you some choice. You use the word, freedom, you use the word, choice—I want to use freedom again, later, when we talk about loosening the reins. Because when you are raising an obedient child, those reins are really, really tight. And there’s very little freedom. And children need more freedom to make mistakes, to practice what it’s like to be responsible and do things, but not always do them well or do them right.
And I love the idea that, yes, engaging you gets you to think for yourself, gets you to know yourself, because you have to know what it is you wanted to do. And I was always amazed— that reminds me that you would not want to, I don’t know, put the dishes away or clean the dishwasher. But you would say “I’ll go clean the poop in the yard for the dog.” And that would crack me up because I’m like, “Who ever would want to go do that as a chore?”
11:22 Dale: Yeah, well, I made a career out of it working at animal sanctuaries, and a lot of that is husbandry and picking up poop. But yeah, for whatever reason, doing the dishes felt more intimidating, or just…I just remember having more anxiety around it. Whereas, going and picking up all the dog poop in the yard was more of a manual job, which I’ve always loved. And it was more, to me, satisfying; it just felt more clear of what I was supposed to do.
Maybe that’s what it was, is the task of what I had to do, and if I could do it well was very clear. And I liked being able to succeed at a task even if it was a chore. So yeah, I love doing that. But instead of fighting it and making me go along with,”No, I want my kids all to be able to do the dishes and do it when I say,” you took it as a win. You were like, “Yeah, figure this would be the worse job. So if I have a child who is almost asking to do it over other jobs, take advantage of that.”
12:38 Leslie: Absolutely. And I love the idea that you’re talking about what made sense to you; that if you’re cleaning up the yard, there was less ambiguity, less unknown. Whereas you’re doing the dishes, you have to figure out where they go—I would have never thought of that. But there’s more question that, for an anxious child, would be difficult. So again, when someone says no to you, and you say no to, “I’m not going out to the garage to get…” if I asked you to go get something in the freezer. Or you say, “No, I don’t want to do the dishes,” I want to look and learn. I want to look at why you are saying no.
And I want to be inquisitive and assess. There’s a reason why she’s saying no. Because the truth is, children want to be cooperative. It’s not their nature to be disobedient. It’s not their nature to be defiant. And we’ve gone into this before about your anxiety led to a lot of defiance—we don’t need to do that today. But there is a reason why children may be saying no to you. And that idea of cooperation leads us back to raising a responsible child. Because I believe that if we think about, how do we engage children, how do we foster cooperation, that’s key. Because that’s going to replace parents’ grip on, “I need to make my children obedient.” If they can figure out how to make their children cooperative, that’s going to replace that need.
14:12 Dale: Yeah. With my anxiety and sensitivities and everything, I had all the ingredients for a very oppositional, disobedient child. And often I was, but you were able to, through your parenting and this whole idea of raising responsible child and listening to my no’s and then kind of maneuvering them into how I could actually do things responsibly, you made it so I became actually less disobedient and oppositional. You were able to kind of flip that around somehow.
14:49 Leslie: Okay, so that “somehow” I want to speak about, because it’s not obvious and it’s not in the short term that parents can figure this out. So in order to make—this is just one way—in order to help children feel that desire, more motivation to be cooperative, I believe one of the keys is: give them more risks, allow them to take more risks. Because if you think of this as a chain of events, when you give a child the opportunity to take more risks, then the child ends up feeling more capable, more competent, more confident.
So again, giving your child the opportunity to take risks, which is very scary for parents—but we can talk about different kinds of risks—you’re going to make a child feel more capable. And when they feel more capable, they stick up their chest, they put their shoulders back and say, “I can do this.” And when they feel, “I can do it,” they’re going to be more…it’s much more likely that they’re going to be willing to cooperate. They’re going to want to do more, and want that feeling of, “I can do this.” So in what ways do you think I gave you the opportunity to take risks?
16:10 Dale: You definitely let us, kind of at an early age, do things by ourselves more. We took the train from school, and sometimes the train station was a mile away from the house. And sometimes you would have us, instead of picking us up, you would have us walk from the train station, all the way up to the house, which, I mean, it’s a curvy country road, we had to know how to walk safely on a road. And that alone was a risk at that age. But it always kind of felt like an adventure, but an adventure we took seriously. And like you said, made us feel capable of like, “Oh, yeah, if I can do this at this age…”, then it builds up that confidence.
17:01 Leslie: Absolutely. And it’s an important thing to notice that you have to think for yourself. Like you said, you’re walking on curvy country roads, you needed to think for yourself, you needed to think, “How am I going to stay safe on this road when I walk? What do I do when I hear a car?” So it’s really, really important.
That’s a great example. I totally forgot about that. You took the train, you got to meet other adults commuting—you guys actually commuted by train to go to school. I also remember that there was one Monday, and I was teaching parenting classes at the elementary school for years and years, which I loved. But you guys had off from school, you and Carrie were in high school, and you had the day off. And I was working. And I was sitting there with my parents in class. And I mentioned to them that my two 14-year-old twin girls are taking the train into the city and going into the city. And I saw the jaws drop and I saw people really get nervous, like, “Oh my god, what, are you kidding me?” So I do always say to parents, the risks that you want to offer to your children need to be in alignment with you and your values and where you are. So a parent who does not let their child walk to the bus stop alone is not going to be the parent that lets their child go to the city at fourteen. But every parent can take a giant step of giving their child the opportunity to take more risks from wherever they’re starting. Do you remember going into the city by yourself?
18:39 Dale: Yeah, and it’s funny because at that time, it didn’t seem that crazy. I think we were a little nervous about it but, like you said, you built up the steps by having us walk from the train station and doing other things. But as an adult now thinking about like, letting young kids do that does, initially in my body, go, “Wait that’s too young.” But because you had done all the steps to let us take little risks and get us to think for ourselves, we—even as fourteen—we went into New York City. We wanted to go to the bodies exhibit that was in New York City. We were really excited about that, but it makes me laugh being like we’re fourteen years old, we could have gone in, we could have gotten to mayhem and been risky. And all we wanted to do was just go—it didn’t even really cross my mind, it was just, “Oh yeah, we’re going to go to the museum and have a great day”.
But it brings me back to what you said earlier, which almost reminded me…If you have a really tight hold on on your kids, and those reins—you were saying if you have really tight reins—and you don’t allow your kids to take some chances and maybe push the boundaries of what they can do, then when they are given an ounce of freedom, they’re going to go crazy with it. Whereas you gave us tons of freedom and allowed opportunities for risks and kind of having that freedom. So when you gave us a big chunk of freedom, which is going into the city by ourselves, unsupervised, we didn’t even have that need to kind of go crazy with it. Because it wasn’t that need for freedom and whatever. It wasn’t bottled up inside of us, which I think happens if you have those reins too tight.
20:43 Leslie: Yes, yes. And we’ve seen that a lot. I’ve seen that a lot working with families that are trying so hard to get their children to do right, be right, and act right, which is, “Listen to what I say, do what I say.” But we really get in trouble. Because as you said, when those kids get a little freedom, they go too far. They break out of the limits. So understanding the balance between setting limits, but giving children freedom is a very important thing. And right now in parenting, we’ve had this huge pendulum swing, from parenting in the 50s, which was parenting-by-fear, parenting-by-obedience, “You do what I tell you to do, or else.” So there’s the fear part.
And children were not given very much respect. The saying was children should be seen and not heard. Well, we’ve gone maybe to the pendulum swing almost too far, where children get to say anything they want to their parents, and they may be given the opportunity to do things. But in essence, it’s not really any different, because when you give a child too much freedom without a balance of respect and limits, then you actually end up with a child who actually doesn’t know how to manage themselves and think for themselves. So we’re looking for a balance between setting limits, and respect—really respecting our children.
22:19 Dale: So it’s almost like, in the first example, you’re demanding respect and giving none to your child. And in the second one, you’re giving plenty of respect to your child, but almost asking for no respect for yourself as the parent. So how do you balance giving respect and also, you need your kid to respect you as well? So how did you do that with us or with me? Because I’m sure by showing us respect, somewhat fosters respect for you as well.
22:56 Leslie: Yes, that is exactly my thinking. My thinking is: I need to show you respect, because I have faith. And I believe that, in the long term, you’re going to learn to respect others, if that is what I’m modeling. So I really believe that it’s not about disrespect. And I think I might have said this earlier, is that if you talk back to me, in my mind, I see that as: you are thinking for yourself. I do not say, “Stop disrespecting me.”
So that gets me into when kids complain, and when kids whine, and when kids talk back…so let’s put all three of those in the same category. You know, you talk back, “No, I’m not going to do that.” You whine about it, “Why do I have to do it?” Or you’re just complaining. Classic example: do you remember cleaning up dishes?
23:55 Dale: Yeah, I complained about…I hated that job. I complained about that all the time. I complained a lot.
24:01 Leslie: So your complaining becomes a secondary problem, in my mind, to doing the chore. So what I like to say is, if you’re a parent who’s trying to get your child to do something, maintain your focus, the focus and the goal is the child is going to do the dishes. But what happens to parents is the child starts complaining—we could act it out—but you start complaining, and then I start getting into, “Don’t talk to me that way. Stop complaining.” And I literally am getting distracted by your complaint or your whine. If I maintain my focus and go right past your whining, like I either don’t say anything, I give you space to whine—I actually recommended that to Alice—and I just keep going, my guess is you’re going to do the chore. You’re just complaining as you do it and I get myself out of the picture to say, I don’t believe you’re disrespecting me. I give you space to whine and complain about it. On the other hand, if you’re not doing it, do you remember what I did?
25:08 Dale: Sometimes you would say, “It sounds like you need more practice doing the dishes.” Which was my least favorite thing, but it was effective because it wasn’t necessarily that threatening kind of punishment as in, “If you don’t do the dishes, then bla bla bla.” Or “Now you’re going to do the dishes for the whole week by yourself.” It was just kind of…and you didn’t do it right away, you kind of said, “Oh, it sounds like maybe you need more practice doing the dishes.” And most of the time, I would immediately just go, no, no, no. And then I’ll just do the dishes. So you didn’t even have to follow through with any kind of punishment. It was just this clever little line of, “Oh, maybe you need more practice doing it.” And it’s funny to laugh about now, but it was very effective. And it wasn’t fear-based. It was more just pointing out, just the simpleness of “Do you want to do the dishes, or do you want more practice doing them tomorrow? And the next day?”
26:13 Leslie: I’m glad to hear you describe it that way. Because there was no anger in my attitude. Obviously, if there was anger, you would have felt it more as a punishment. And I wasn’t getting baited by your complaining, I was just offering you a paradoxical statement of “Do you need more practice doing the dishes?” I remember specifically we never had to follow through because you got it. You knew, “Okay, I better do these because I don’t want to do more.” And that’s teaching a child perspective, the perspective of “Yes, I can complain that this is the worst thing in the world that I’m doing dishes, and this is so horrible.” But then when I say you can practice doing more, you’re like, “Oh, no, that’ll be worse. I’m not…”
So, perspective, parents often say, and I want to help parents understand: how do you teach your child perspective? Well, without giving them a thread of, “Well, if you don’t do this, and you’re going to have to do that 10 times more,” that was a sweet little thing that I would do that just helped you realize, yeah, you can do more practice.
So in terms of raising that responsible child, I mentioned that idea of respecting a child. I do want to make one point, which I think is interesting. When you are raising an obedient child, you are telling your child what to do over and over and over again. And I actually think it raises selfish children. I think it raises selfish children because children end up believing, “Look what I have to do for them, look what you’re doing to me, look what you’re doing to me, look what you’re doing to me.” And you’re always feeling like, “Oh, what’s happening to me, to me, to me, to me,” and that’s really victim language. And that raises a selfish child and I see it, because the child is always being told what to do. They’re not asking for their thoughts on it, how to engage in this, what are your choices, what choice do you want to make. And so when you raise an obedient child, the child ends up feeling smaller, less than when you raise a responsible child—the child ends up feeling more empowered, they actually feel larger and more empowered, and they become more thoughtful of others, rather than less thoughtful of others.
28:32 Dale: It feels like that paradox again, where, by increasing the confidence and power of the child, it doesn’t create a selfishness. It helps them spread that empowering to others and creates more of that empathy and caring about other people.
28:51 Leslie: Exactly. So when we raise the responsible child, we’re helping them feel good about themselves and the way they can practice that is giving them more freedoms, taking more risks, and giving them a chance to feel that capability, “I feel capable.” And that actually gets us to where it increases their motivation and encourages cooperation. On the other hand, when we’re raising the obedient child, we are telling them what to do. And they end up feeling more selfish, and actually creating more competition in a negative way. I don’t think competition is bad. I just think that when your parent powers over you, you’re fighting for that power. And that’s why a lot of parents get into power struggles, because you’re fighting for power. I don’t have to fight for power. I can give my child some personal power.
[music: Live in the Moment by Lesfm]
Leslie: Dale, let’s move a little bit more into other examples that possibly had the long term effect of raising this responsible child. One of the things that I did and I wonder if you can speak about is the fact that I treated you differently than your siblings. A lot of parents want to do things that are fair and I understand that. But in order to give our children respect, we actually might have to do things that are different. Do you remember anything, where I did that, where I showed you that kind of respect?
30:52 Dale: Oh, I mean, a lot, because I did stand out from Carrie and Travis, because I had a lot more anxieties and sensitivities. You had to treat me differently in a lot of ways. And a lot of it was in the ways that you respected those differences. I had a lot of trouble at night time going to bed, because I was pretty scared of the dark. And so you catered to that in a way that wasn’t coddling, but was respecting what I needed, and also pushing me to grow. And so you would start by, if I was really scared, you would sit in my room, and I would go to bed as you did your work—you read. And then you would move to pushing me and going, “Okay, I’m going to sit outside your room, I’ll be right here. But I’ll sit here until you go to bed.” And so you respected my sensitivities and fears in a way that also helped me—I mean, going back to building mastery of learning how to be okay with that fear of the dark and still go to bed. But by kind of taking me step-by-step through varying levels. So yeah, showing respect, honestly, showing respect to my fears, showed me that you respected me as a kid.
32:34 Leslie: Yes, that makes so much sense. That’s a good example where, in parenting, we do need to respect the individual child. And you said, coddling you, and I think parents, especially the parents who are trying to raise an obedient child, they think, “If I give in to my child, then I’m doing something wrong, the child wins.” Well, the child doesn’t win, the child grows, the child learns. And that’s a very different thinking, because parents who often want their children to be obedient, they are thinking of the shoulds, “My child should go to bed on their own.” And they have these rules in their head that they should live by as a parent, and therefore their child should live by. And Travis and Carrie went to bed on their own. So it’s not like I wasn’t respecting their need and their ability to put themselves to bed—I believed in that. But you weren’t able to do it. So supporting you where you were, was so important. And as an adult, Dale, do you put yourself to bed?
Dale: I do. But for the record, I’m still a little bit scared of the dark. [Laughter] But I am able to put myself to bed every night—I live alone, and I can do it.
Leslie: Okay, so that’s great. So you can put yourself to bed. So let’s talk about what it’s like as an adult. Do you think that you are a responsible adult? And did any of this backfire?
34:09 Dale: I don’t think so. Yeah, I think from everything you did, regarding kind of having us still have responsibilities and still get chores done, but doing it in a way that raised us to be responsible instead of obedient like you said. Now as an adult, I actually really enjoy following instructions. That might also be part of my nature, because I like to know the guidelines and how to do something, but I like following instructions. I like doing a job well done. But I will also question things if something doesn’t make sense to me, if something seems unfair or unsafe or not ethical, I will not hesitate to question that. And it can be kind of a fine line. But I believe I do it in a way that kind of comes out of thinking on my own, and being a thinking individual rather than just being disobedient for the sake of pushing back, so to speak.
35:26 Leslie: Beautiful. I want to make sure I clear something up. Because oftentimes parents hear me talk or hear maybe this episode. And they will think, “Well, Dale always did everything.” You guys were misbehaving, you didn’t do everything. You were misbehaving on a regular basis. It’s just my response to that misbehavior. So I want to clear that up. The other thing that I want to clear up is that I wasn’t always perfect, either. You are misbehaving—so was I; so I just want to be very clear that it’s not a perfect picture.
But parents, if you do this some of the time—you don’t have to do this all of the time—you try to engage your children some of the time. One way of engaging children is having a Sunday meeting or having a little family meeting at dinner and say, “I’ve been asking you to do this. It’s not working.” You and I used to make charts, Dale, you remember the charts, because you would say, “I’m doing the laundry every day.” And I’m like, “You know what? It might feel like you’re doing a lot of laundry, I don’t actually know how much laundry you’re doing. So would it be okay, if we made a chart?”
36:36 Dale: Yeah, yeah. And that that always made me feel better, because it took it out of my hands, it took it out of your hands. And it just left it up to what the reality was, and we were able to track it. And honestly, that’s something that’ll carry over into adult life, which is, you might feel like at your job you’re doing stuff unfairly, and maybe it is, and then you come up with that list of things. And then you bring it to your boss and go, “Hey, I’ve actually been doing things outside of my responsibilities,” and then go from there. So all the things you kind of did with us as kids led directly to be more successful as an adult. But yeah, I remember liking those charts. And I also remember that most of the time I was wrong. [Laughter] Things often felt unfair, and turned out, they were pretty fair.
37:33 Leslie: That’s hysterical you said that. But the response parents usually have when a child says, “I’m doing the laundry all the time,” is oftentimes parents start defending themselves. So a parent will say, “Are you kidding me, you’re not doing laundry all the time, I’m doing the laundry all the time,” and all of a sudden we get into the power struggle of I’m going to prove to you that you’re not doing it all the time, I’m going to prove to me, I’m going to show you how I’m doing it all the time. And I have all the jobs and I’m the responsible one.” And I don’t need to go there. Because there is a skill in DBT that says: check the facts. Let’s get the facts of a situation, not judgment, not what you should be doing or what you think you should be doing or what’s good or what’s bad. But let’s just get information. And I love that you segue that into being an adult because as an adult, you might think something’s unfair, or you might want to speak up, “Well get some data.”
38:31 Dale: And like you said, yeah, check the facts. You taught us how to check the facts before just going, “Hey boss, this is unfair.” It’s like well see if it actually is, and then go to them.
38:43 Leslie: Yes, our perceptions are really off. So we do want to actually check. And don’t get baited. Again, I want to say this, don’t get baited by the whining, the complaining, the questioning, the questioning is such a beautiful thing. And there was a New York Times article—I’ll see if I can find it in the archives—many years ago, that said, if you have a teenager who was questioning the teacher or questioning you as a parent, be thankful: be thankful that you have raised a child who was thinking for themselves. And I really just say that’s my point in this whole idea of shifting from raising an obedient child to raising a responsible child. That’s really it. We want to raise thinking children and when you see your child doing that, you can start to step back and say, “Okay, I feel safer that my child’s going out to the world or going out among their peers, to be connected to them, but not be obedient to them.”
So shall we wrap up? Dale, can you believe we have finished Season 1? We’re going to take a little break.
39:54 Dale: Yeah, it’s been a whirlwind but it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of learning, right? We have a lot of reflecting a lot of…it’s been interesting connecting a lot of the childhood things to things I do in adult life. And it’s always been interesting to see and listen how these other parents and kids in these episodes went through things just like I did so similarly, that it was really easy to connect with a lot of these kids and episodes.
40:34 Leslie: Absolutely. So it’s been a tremendously eye-opening experience. I’ve learned a lot. I so want to thank you and every one of my team who have been just incredible. I mean, Alletta is our producer—she works magic. She is an incredible editor. And I don’t know if everyone knows but, your Dad has been transcribing this because we want to make sure there’s a transcript out there for every episode. He spends hours cleaning up a transcript. So I want to thank him. And we have Brien O’Reilly, who’s been on my graphics team. He’s done all the graphics for Is My Child A Monster?…as well as our new member of our team, Gabriela Glueck, who is doing the social media—we are going to have a presence on social media. So whew, there’s a lot.
41:34 Dale: It’s a good team. It’s a good team you’ve put together.
41:37 Leslie: That’s great. And we’re hoping to start our next season around January. And Dale, we’ve been getting a number of people volunteering for Season 2.
Dale: That’s great.
Leslie: Yes. So we have other parents who are volunteering. If there are more parents who want to volunteer, we have room for you. So go to ismychildamonster.com and you can apply to be a guest on our podcast. Dale, thank you so much for joining me again today.
42:09 Dale: I’m always happy to share and like I’ve always said it’s really a joy to just do these with you. Thanks, Mom.
[Music: The Wilds Beyond by L-Ray Music]
42:21 Leslie: Thank you so much to Dale for taking the time to join me. And thank you all for joining us. We are taking a break for a few months where we will be recording sessions for season two. We’re planning to release Season 2 in January. We will have a few surprises in the feed so make sure you are subscribed wherever you get your podcasts and follow us on social media for updates. On Instagram, find us at Leslie Cohen-Rubury And on Facebook, search for Is My Child A Monster? parenting community. You can also find links and other resources in the show notes. The Is My Child A Monster? team is Alletta Cooper, Dale Rubury, Gabriela Glueck, and me. Special thanks to Eric Rubury. Our theme music is by L-Ray Music. I’m Leslie Cohen-Rubury. Thanks so much for listening. And remember, raising responsible children who think for themselves is more important than raising obedient children.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai edited by Eric Rubury