August 21, 2023

Zach & Sarah Part 2 of 2: When Your Teen Doesn’t Want To Grow Up

This is part 2 of the 2 part series with Zach and Sarah. Sarah and Zach are divorced co-parents of two children.

They came to Leslie to talk about Andrew, their 16-year-old son who is withdrawn and struggling in school. Last session Leslie explored ways to approach Andrew with curiosity and compassion in order to connect with him. She touched on family dynamics and how Andrew may feel like an outsider in a family of high achievers. We’re going to dive more deeply into that today – how putting pressure on your child, intentionally or otherwise, can set them up for shame and anxiety. Having intense feelings like you are not good enough or that you can’t live up to your parents expectations (perceived or real) can cause major disruptions even when it’s unintended by the parents.

Parenting is hard and we are all learning as we go. Sarah and Zach are dealing with very different issues with their two children.  Andrew’s withdrawn behavior can feel so invalidating to the parent who is trying hard. Parenting the challenging child as we hear in this episode, is not very validating because your child doesn’t tell you that you’re doing a great job. Even though we all love getting the smile, the hug, and hearing the words, I love you, it’s  NOT the child’s job to validate you. Remember, they’re just trying to survive adolescence. Parenting is hard and so is being a teenager.

Time Stamps

5:15 “Shoulding” your child is shaming your child

8:05  Teaching parents to not work so hard

  • 8:14  Talking less.  Listen more to your kids.  Listen twice as much as you talk
  • 8:45 Nonverbal ways of connecting with your child
  • 8:53 Make simple observations. Use the phrase “I notice that” Connecting to your kid in simple little ways that don’t put them in the “hot seat”
  • 9:26 Say it and let it go
  • 10:01 Indirect ways of connecting: talk about yourself
  • 10:35 Be a real person

12:35 Manage your expectations and don’t personalize what your teen says or what they do.

15:50 Three Step Apology

17:10 The core belief of shame and what that means

26:54 Feel the fear and do it anyways:  People/children may not realize that the anxiety is often present when you are doing something new

27:41 “Can you give yourself permission to….”

28:25 “You must have a good reason for…”

34:18 Creative solution brainstorming with your child – Practice brainstorming without evaluation

36:52 Shaping behavior – step by step successes.

Leslie-ism: Practice listening to your child – We have two ears and one mouth – listen twice as much as you talk.

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.


0:00  Leslie Cohen-Rubury:  Hi, this is Leslie Cohen-Rubury. And we’re looking for guests for Season 2 of, Is My Child A Monster?. We’d love to hear from all kinds of families with kids between ages 4 and 18. There’s no problem too big or too small. So if you’d like to volunteer for some free parenting therapy and are comfortable sharing your sessions publicly—with all names changed, of course—please visit to apply.

[Music: The Wilds Beyond by L-Ray Music]

Transcribed by edited by Eric Rubury

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