Giving Your Child A Second Chance - Fridays with Ferne: Episode #42

This week’s podcast is about Ferne’s childhood; here is her story:

As a child, my mother always praised me for my strawberry cutting skills – I know, oddly specific and not widely useful, but nevertheless, I was proud. I was probably eight years old when I was cutting some strawberries, and I accidentally cut my finger instead.

There was a little blood, but nothing too serious. I started crying anyway, not because it hurt, but because I had messed up my special task. I was worried that I wasn’t good at it anymore.

Surprisingly, after my mom cleaned me up and gave me a band-aid, she sent me straight back to work. I was shocked but elated, I didn’t want to stop something I was good at. My question to my mother is: Why did you trust me? How did you know that I wouldn’t hurt myself again?

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, and today is Fridays with Ferne, where I invite my daughter Ferne to come onto the podcast, and share some cases with us. Ferne, welcome.

[00:00:27] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello! It's always a pleasure. Love talking to you.

[00:00:31] Kim Ades: What do you got?

[00:00:33] Ferne Kotlyar: I was just going to ask if you were ready. A few weeks ago we did a case that kind of turned into a case a little bit about me, so today I wanted to turn the tables and make the case a little bit about you.

[00:00:48] Kim Ades: Okay.

[00:00:49] Ferne Kotlyar: So today's case is actually a story from when I was younger. I was praised as a child for some reason, for being really good at cutting strawberries. Really random, very specific, but I was really happy with it. I felt very proud, I always wanted to cut the strawberries because I cut off just enough so that I took off the top, but not enough to waste half the strawberry.

[00:01:18] Kim Ades: Got it. I remember.

[00:01:21] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] So one day when I was younger, I think it must've been like eight, maybe? I'm not even sure, but I was younger--

[00:01:28] Kim Ades: I think you were younger. I think you were like six.

[00:01:31] Ferne Kotlyar: Oh, yeah? Okay. Well, I guess, you know the story I'm telling. [Laughs]

[00:01:35] Kim Ades: I do.

[00:01:36] Ferne Kotlyar: So when I was younger, I was cutting strawberries and I cut myself with a knife. So I started bleeding and I was freaking out a bit because I felt like I had almost disappointed, you know? Like, I was really good at this task and then I messed it up.

So I started crying, you cleaned me up, and kind of bandaged me up, wash the cut so on. And I thought, you know, "okay, well, that's it, I cut myself, I messed up and she's not gong to let me cut again". But to my surprise, you're like, "okay, back at it, let's go finish cutting the strawberries", and I was actually delighted because I really wanted to finish this task that I was good at.

And so I guess my question now is in hindsight, I feel like you made the right choice, but what was going through your head? Why did you make that decision to make me keep going? How did you know that I wasn't going to cut myself again?

[00:02:30] Kim Ades: Well, I didn't. Right? So how do I know, if you drive a car, that you're not going to have a car accident? How do I know if you travel, somebody is not going to rob you? How do I know that if you go live on your own, you're not going to... I don't know, leave the stove on accidentally? I don't know, right? I don't know that something bad's not going to happen. I never know. We don't know.

We don't know that something bad is not going to happen. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't live. It doesn't mean we should, like, "oh my God, we did one wrong thing, that means never do anything again". Like riding a bicycle, you can fall off, what does that mean? You should never ride a bicycle again?

[00:03:13] Ferne Kotlyar: No, but it definitely increases your caution. Something bad happens and you are definitely more hesitant the second time around because you've been stung.

[00:03:21] Kim Ades: Yes, but your caution will increase if the people around you, who love you and care about you and who have influence over you, suddenly use that as their reason not to trust you, not to have confidence in you, and to make it into a bigger experience than it needs to be. Right?

So my job is to help you feel totally confident. My job is to help you go try things in life and fail sometimes, but then get up and try again. So it's not about preventing failure. We will all fail. It's about being okay that we sometimes fail. Life happens. I failed a million times. Okay. So what does that mean? I should just go lie in bed and stop doing anything?

No, it mean, "okay. I failed. What did I learn from it? What should I do differently next time? Let me go try it again. Maybe a little differently next time". But for me, it was very important, and I remember that. I remember exactly where you were in the kitchen, I remember exactly that moment, I remember the chair you were sorta standing on, right? I remember the whole thing.

And for me, it was very important to de-escalate because you got heightened, you were scared, you started to cry. So for me, it was very important to minimize the situation. To say, "okay, so you cut yourself, big deal. Let's go. We have work to do", and to let you know that this wasn't a tragic event, that nothing terrible actually happened, that people cut themselves sometimes.

Okay, put on a bandaid, let's continue our job and our focus. And I think that what you're really alluding to is a lot of my parenting style or approach was a little bit different than perhaps many parents. Right.

[00:05:19] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:05:21] Kim Ades: And it was focused on the idea of "let's not make small things, big things". Right? There's an expression in French, and I translated in English, and I say, let's not make a beef out of an egg.

[00:05:38] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] Yeah.

[00:05:38] Kim Ades: And that was not only an egg, that was like an amoeba, right? [Chuckles] It was like a small thing. And so it was important for me to show you that I had confidence in you in that moment, and to minimize the event. You didn't cut your finger off, you cut your finger. So I think the way we react as parents is very, very important for our kids. It lays a foundation, it leaves a mark.

And when we freak out, what happens? We teach our kids to freak out, we teach our kids to become nervous and anxious when they make a mistake. When we see our kids making a mistake and we have a neutral reaction, we teach them that mistakes aren't the end of the world.

[00:06:27] Ferne Kotlyar: So when a little kid, like, imagine a small toddler starts running and falls down and I imagine them looking at their parents and if the parent freaks out, generally the kid starts to cry.

[00:06:37] Kim Ades: Right.

[00:06:38] Ferne Kotlyar: But if the parent kind of laughs, the kid starts to kind of laugh as well and brush it off and move on.

[00:06:44] Kim Ades: Right, exactly. "Oops, you fell. Get up, let's go". Right?

[00:06:48] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] Yeah.

[00:06:49] Kim Ades: [Chuckles] So yes, the way we react will determine how our kids learn to react. I think, I mean, for me, parenting is one of the most interesting, fascinating subjects because parents don't realize how important, how vital their behavior is, how much they are teaching without even speaking to their kids. And so it's very important for you to have a high level of consciousness about how you react and respond when your kids do something wrong.

I'll give you a totally different example. I am working with someone right now who has a teenage daughter who is not really doing her homework. And the latest unfolding was he thought she was.

[00:07:35] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]

[00:07:36] Kim Ades: She's working in her room, he thought she was doing her homework, and he discovers that she's actually watching YouTube videos. So now what? Should he get angry? Should he freak out? Should he storm and stomp and yell and say, "you deceived me, you've been lying to me. Why aren't you getting your work done?"

Chances are she's already having a hard time getting her work done for some reason, right? And chances are that she wants to succeed because we all want to succeed in life. But something's getting in the way, something's making it hard for her to get it done. Is it just laziness? I don't really think of anybody as lazy.

I think that some people struggle sometimes. Maybe they struggle to understand the work. Maybe they feel overwhelmed. Maybe they don't know how to start. Maybe they don't feel confident in their abilities to perform. There are a million things going on here. But him beating her up, doesn't make things better.

[00:08:35] Ferne Kotlyar: Not physically.

[00:08:36] Kim Ades: Well, physically or mentally, right? Like, either way doesn't increase her level of confidence and feeling like "yes, I can get this work done", it actually diminishes it. So we need to be conscious of what we do as parents. We need to be conscious of how we react to things, how we respond to things, what we are...

A lot of parents think that their job in life is to correct the behavior of their children. Life corrects the behavior of your children, we don't need to. You know, this whole concept of "parents need to give consequences to their kids", life delivers consequences. Right?

If you hold the knife wrong, you cut yourself. I don't need to tell you you did it wrong. You cut yourself, that's enough information. I don't need to add to it. The teenager who doesn't do her homework? She fails that assignment. Life gives her consequences. Parents don't need to add.

[00:09:36] Ferne Kotlyar: So they just act as support or...?

[00:09:39] Kim Ades: Well, the question is, what's making it hard for you to do your homework? What's making it hard for you to hold the knife properly? Let me show you how to do it correctly. Or take another stab at it, hold it away from your finger, here's the strategy. Right?

But saying, "what did you do?! Why didn't you do your homework?!" or, you know, like "you're lazy", that doesn't help, that doesn't make things better, that doesn't help this child achieve any goal. So the message for today is really, if you are a parent and you have children, be conscious of what messages you are delivering to your children, be conscious of how you react and respond when things don't go according to plan.

[00:10:27] Ferne Kotlyar: Sounds like a lot of pressure.

[00:10:28] Kim Ades: Yeah, but also be conscious of whether or not you are implementing your own consequences where you don't really need to implement any consequences because life delivers natural consequences, you don't need to add to them. Are you supporting your child to reach their goals and your mutual goals? Or are you making it even harder? Right? By seeing your kids in a negative, incapable, poor light. What are you doing?

[00:10:59] Ferne Kotlyar: Good question.

[00:11:00] Kim Ades: Good question, right?

[00:11:02] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, definitely.

[00:11:03] Kim Ades: It's interesting to me that you think about the strawberry story to this day.

Of course. [Chuckles] I hurt myself and you didn't, I guess, blow it up. Like, you made me keep going. And I was like six years old or something like that. I felt good that you trusted me.

And I will say this, that what you just said is really important. And so if you are a parent, ask yourself, do I trust my kids and do my kids know that I trust them? Because imagine that you are your child and you feel like your parents trust you. What will that do to your kids? For your kids? How will it impact the way they grow up and what they end up doing in life. Incredibly powerful.

[00:12:00] Ferne Kotlyar: Definitely.

[00:12:01] Kim Ades: I could talk about parenting all day, every day.

[00:12:03] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]

[00:12:03] Kim Ades: One of my favorite subjects.

[00:12:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, I'll be sure to throw in another case about parenting then.

[00:12:08] Kim Ades: Thank you, I appreciate it. This was a great, great case. Loved it. Loved talking about it. For those of you who have kids and you're struggling with your kids and you're thinking, "man, I could really use a little bit of help", please reach out. We love this subject. If you have a case that you want to discuss, also reach out to Ferne, she's collecting cases. Ferne, how do people find you?

[00:12:34] Ferne Kotlyar: Please reach out to me by email. You can email me at

[00:12:45] Kim Ades: And you can reach out to me if you want to discuss anything related to your kids or anything related to your parents, for that matter. My email address is Please like, please share. We are desperately looking for feedback on our podcast and the content we are putting out there. We want to hear from you. Please, please, please reach out.

And if you have a young adult who might be struggling and might need a little coaching, please check out The Journal That talks Back. It is perfect for the young adult in your life. So please take a closer look. We will see you next time. Have a great week.

[00:13:27] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!

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