Ferne Kotlyar

We’re back this week with a new case study! Today Ferne introduces a case about a woman named Sophie, who studied her whole life to become a doctor. During the pandemic she has saved many lives but also saw so many people die.

And now that she’s administering vaccines and is a huge advocate for world-wide vaccination, Sophie discovers that her 65-year-old mother, Marianne, is an anti-vaxxer, a poor mask wearer, and doesn’t follow regulations.

What can Sophie do to keep her mother safe?

Have you experienced anything like this? Do you have a case you’d like to talk about? Share your story! If there's a challenge you'd like to discuss here on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me at:


Episode Transcript

Kim Ades: [00:00:05]
Hello, hello. This is Kim Ades. I am the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we typically invite leaders from all over the world to get coached live and in person right on the podcast.

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce to you a very special guest. Her name is Ferne Kotlyar and she happens to be my daughter and today, rather than me coaching her, she's going to present to me a case, where I will look at it, think about it, ask some questions and offer some coaching direction.

Ferne, welcome. I'm so happy to have you here today.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:41]
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here. Are you ready for the case today?

Kim Ades: [00:00:47]
I'm ready!

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:00:48]
All right, here it goes. So, essentially this case is about a young girl... in her early thirties. Her whole entire life she wanted to be a doctor. Let's call her Sophie. So she wanted to be a doctor. She studied super hard. She did amazing in med school, passed with flying colors, became a doctor and worked as a doctor for a few years. Then a few years later COVID hits.

So she works in the hospitals, takes care of patients, and, you know, over the course of her time working in these hospitals, she saved many, many lives. But she also saw a lot of lives go. She saw a lot of people pass, which was really tough, but such as a life of a doctor.

And so a lot of the people she saw pass where older people, people with autoimmune disorders, and, you know, the classic patient that we assume kind of goes with COVID. And so, as the vaccine came out, she started giving the vaccine to you as a huge advocate for giving this vaccine. She was really big on the education of people and making sure that everyone gets the vaccine so that the whole world can move on from this mass pandemic.

And so Sophie is very, very close with her mother. But, as you can expect Sophie's mother is what we would call an anti-vaxxer. Essentially her-- Sophie's mother believes that the government created this pandemic, they created COVID-19 and she absolutely refuses-- Sophie's mother absolutely refuses not only to get the vaccine, but to even talk about the vaccine.

And so, Sophie's not only embarrassed, angry, you know, all these emotions, but she's particularly scared. Her mother is 65 and has arthritis, which you know, is a type of auto-immune disorder.

And moreover, because her mother believes that this is a government created pandemic, she refuses to abide by any of the government rules. So she sees whoever she wants whenever she wants doesn't care where they've been, what they've done, who they are, it doesn't matter.

And the worst part is, the worst part for Sophie is that her mother does not know how to wear a mask. She puts the mask right here as though her nose is allowed to be exposed, her nose isn't part of any sort of anything. And yeah, so she's one of those mask-- poor mask wearers that Sophie tries to advocate against.

And so Sophie's really worried for her mother because she is one of those patients that she saw so many of them pass away. But every time she tries to have this conversation with her, her mother completely shuts down the conversation and Sophie doesn't know what to do.

And so they keep getting into fights and they keep butting heads and their relationship is slowly diminishing and Sophie really doesn't know how to convince her mother to take this vaccine. And so that's really the problem here, or the case study is, what should Sophie do?

Kim Ades: [00:03:49]
Is... What's Sophie's mother's name?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:03:52]

Kim Ades: [00:03:54]
Marianne. Is Marianne married?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:03:57]

Kim Ades: [00:03:57]
Yeah. So she has a husband. And what's her husband's take on all of this?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:02]
So her husband isn't the father, her parents are divorced.

Kim Ades: [00:04:07]
So stepfather.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:08]
Yeah, exactly. Sophie's stepfather. She has a pretty good decent relationship with her stepfather. He's nice. He takes care of her mother, so it's fine. And he's kind of in the same boat, and he's more of a neutral player, similar boat to the mother. Doesn't get the vaccine, but is more willing to talk about it.

Kim Ades: [00:04:29]
Okay. So he hasn't gotten the vaccine, but he's willing to talk about it.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:04:33]
More so than the mother.

Kim Ades: [00:04:35]
Okay. So, okay. So what's the approach? So the question becomes, does Sophie manipulate the situation to push her mother to get the vaccine? What does she do? She firmly believes in the vaccine, her mother doesn't. Like, why does Sophie's course of action?

And so my perspective is this, is that when somebody doesn't want to talk about something and you force their hand, what happens is you create a greater gap. Even if Sophie's forced-- sorry, Sophie's mother is forced to take the vaccine, the relationship won't necessarily be smooth and happy and nice. Right?

So now, the question is, what happens? For Sophie, she needs to be-- get to a place of peace with the fact that her mother is an adult and is making decisions on her own behalf, even though maybe perhaps there might not be well-informed decisions.

And so, if Sophie's mother doesn't want to talk about it, Sophie might say, "Hey, I'm just going to send you some information". And perhaps Sophie can also say, "I'm also going to send you my experience". Right? So, not to do it in verbal writing, but to do it by-- sorry, not to do it verbally, but to send something in writing, send her an email, send something along like that.

Just so that it's up to Sophie's mother, Marianne to decide when, how, and if to review this information. Okay. So I'm not telling Sophie stop completely. I'm telling Sophie, Hey, don't force it down her throat. Allow her to consume this information when she's ready for it.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:06:25]
And if she doesn't-- if she's never ready for it? If she, like, opens the emails and then doesn't even look at the articles because she thinks it's bullshit?

Kim Ades: [00:06:34]
Yeah. That's okay. Okay? So, Sophie can do that. Sophie can also send her a letter with no articles and no information that just says, "Hey mom, I want to talk to you from my perspective. I want to share with you my experience. I want to share with you what I've been exposed to, what I've confronted, the lives I've saved and the lives I've seen, unfortunately, leave us, et cetera".

So she can share her personal experience. And if Sophie's mother doesn't want to talk about it, perhaps she's willing to read about it. But again, that's all dependent on whether or not Sophie's mother opens an email and whether or not she reads it.

So that's something Sophie can do to put her mind at ease, to allow her to feel like I've done everything, I've given her all the information, I haven't given up. Okay? So that's part A and that's really for Sophie.

But part B is let's assume that the mother will never get vaccinated. Let's assume the mother is completely convinced that this is a government concocted idea. Let's just assume that. What Sophie needs to do is actually now take care of her own health.

So she needs to put measures in place to have a relationship with her mother safely. So, what does that mean? It means when she's around her mother, she needs to protect herself. And if that's not possible, then she needs to have a relationship with her from afar without making this the central piece in the relationship.

And if the mother insists "well, I really want to see you", Sophie's response needs to be, "this is the result of your decision-making. This is how things unfolded". And so, it's not about punishing the mother, but it's about Sophie being okay that not everybody, even those closest to her, are going to agree and behave according to her wishes.

And not using that as a reason for her to be unhappy, miserable, upset, frustrated, infuriated, whatever that is. And accepting the mother for who she is and she sees the world, and deciding how to have a relationship with a person who sees the world very, very differently. Because she still loves her mother.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:08:53]
But how does she have a relationship with her? Period. If, let's say, I mean, Sophie's fully vaccinated and that's fine, but it's risky for her to spend time with her mother, considering she's a doctor and, you know, sees so many patients. How does she have a relationship with her mother given the fact that it's really tough to see her?

Kim Ades: [00:09:09]
Well, you're in Montreal. I'm in Toronto. How do I have a relationship with you? I have a great relationship with you. I haven't seen you in many, many, many, many months, but I still have a great relationship with you. We talk every day, we're on Zoom every day. It's possible to have a relationship and maintain certain physical distance parameters.

And so, Sophie has to say, "okay, this is just the way it's going to be". And so the mother now has a choice to make. Right? She could say, "I could live with this" or "wow. This is so important. And I'm making such a massive sacrifice in the relationship with my daughter". But we leave the choice up to the mother.

The mother still has her faculties there, more or less. Right? And so we leave the decision-making in the hands of the mother. And what Sophie does is she accepts things as they are, she continues to have a relationship, she supplies her mother with relevant information and she doesn't make it the crux or the thing that breaks apart that relationship.

Like, COVID's winning on so many fronts. Don't let it win in this relationship. And so the would be my advice to Sophie.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:10:25]
And what about-- so Sophie has kids, and I didn't mention it before, but she has kids and the kids wonder why they're not seeing their grandmother. What does she tell the kids?

Kim Ades: [00:10:37]
She tells the kids exactly as it is.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:10:41]
She says, "Grandmother doesn't want the vaccine"?

Kim Ades: [00:10:44]
Yeah. And we don't want to-- we don't want to make her sick and we don't want to get sick either. We want to make her sure she's safe. So, let her face her grandchildren. Let her grandchildren ask their grandmother why she's making those choices. Right?

So, here's really the story is that the mother, Marianne is making decisions that have consequences. And the consequence is Sophie cannot see her, neither can her grandchildren. That's the choice she gets. We always want to allow people to make choices.

And while those choices may not be optimal for us, our job is to accept other people's decisions, other people's choices and make decisions for ourselves that are healthy, aligned with our values and allow us to feel a sense of peace about the decisions we make.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:11:50]
Yeah. It's a tough one though. To decide not to see your mother and to decide that your-- her grandchildren can't see her, you know?

Kim Ades: [00:11:57]
It is a tough one, but that's not the decision you're making, it's the decision the grandmother's making.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:12:04]
So you're putting the blame on the grandmother?

Kim Ades: [00:12:06]
I'm not putting a blame on anyone, I'm saying everybody makes choices and all choices have consequences. In this case, the consequence for the grandmother, Marianne is that she won't get to see her daughter or her grandchildren, and she needs to be aware that that is the consequence. Period.

It's not about punishing her. It's about if I can be okay with your decision, you have to be okay with mine.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:12:35]

Kim Ades: [00:12:36]
And if this is-- if these are the decisions we make together and we still want to have a relationship, let's find a way to do that.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:12:46]
And what about the stepdad? Is there any sort of avenue to go from there or...?

Kim Ades: [00:12:52]
Well, again, I mean, you can talk to the stepdad, you can send him the same information, you can encourage him to have conversations with his wife, you know, on and on. You can actually encourage the dad to get vaccinated and see the stepdad.

Boy, you know, don't you think the grandmother's going to feel like she's missing out? Probably. So the idea is not to, again, punish anybody, but it's to have relationships as healthy as possible a manner. Both physically, emotionally, mentally, and otherwise.

Makes sense?

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:13:33]
It makes sense. So if you were to give Sophie one last piece of advice, what would you say?

Kim Ades: [00:13:39]
What I would  say is that the harder you try to push someone, the greater resistance you're going to experience. So I would say don't try to push so hard, lent down the pushing. Be okay, with someone's decisions, but help them understand the consequences of their decisions and allow them to choose.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:14:02]
Makes sense. Well, thank you.

Kim Ades: [00:14:04]
Thank you! That was a tough one. That was a good one. I liked it.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:14:08]
I'm glad.

Kim Ades: [00:14:09]
For those of you who are listening to this podcast, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'd love to know if you've encountered a situation like this, where perhaps someone in your life, that's important, has made a decision or has a view of the world that is different from yours. I'd love to hear about it.

Please reach out to me with your feedback on this podcast.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

And if any of you would like to be a guest on the podcast and open to being coached live and in person on the podcast, please reach out to me as well. And if perhaps you have a challenge that you want to share, that you're not so willing to share on the podcast, please reach out to me as well.

My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com

Ferne, you are awesome. Love your cases. I never know what you're going to throw at me. That was great. Thank you so much.

Ferne Kotlyar: [00:15:02]
Thank you so much.

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