I’m Not An Overprotective Mom, I Promise! - Fridays with Ferne: Episode #47

Most parents fear for their children, particularly when their children are too far away to catch when they fall. This week’s episode of Fridays with Ferne is about an 18-year-old girl who tells her mother she wants to travel to South America for the summer. The mother isn’t overly protective, but she fears for her daughter. There is so much unknown – a different continent, a different language, a different culture, a different healthcare system. What should this mom do? She wants to be reasonable and encourage her daughter to learn and explore, but she also wants her to be safe.

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 you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast. And today is Fridays with Ferne. Ferne, welcome.

[00:00:18] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello, how are you today?

[00:00:20] Kim Ades: I'm good. How about you?

[00:00:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Good, good. Very good. So today, I have a general case about a mother who is afraid for their child. So their child is quite old, 18 and leaving to another country in South America for the first time, alone, like, with a group, but nobody from Canada, and the mother is worried for the child. So what do you recommend that mother does?

[00:00:52] Kim Ades: But what is she worried about?

[00:00:54] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, she's worried about all the dangers of another country, not only another country, you know? Somewhere that she's completely unfamiliar with in terms of language, in terms of culture, in terms of many other things. And she's worried that her child is going to get hurt or sick or kidnapped or stabbed or something crazy like that.

[00:01:14] Kim Ades: I know that mom.

[00:01:16] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]

[00:01:17] Kim Ades: Okay, so what do I recommend that the mom do? Was that the question? Like, who am I coaching the mom or the daughter?

[00:01:23] Ferne Kotlyar: The mom.

[00:01:24] Kim Ades: Okay. So, many, many moms feel frightened for their children, and what we do is we tend to impose that fear or share the fear or give the fear to our children. And so what happens to our children? They become frightened to do all the things that life has to offer. They play smaller than they can or should or ought to.

And so my biggest recommendation to the mother is write down all your fears, look at those fears and look at the ones that are a little outrageous, and look at the ones that are maybe possible, you know, it's a normal, natural fear.

And what I would suggest to you is share with your daughter, that these are some of your fears and that your intention is not to give her those fears. So you need to say, "Hey, I know that most of these are a little outrageous and out of control... I do have fears. Can we put something in place while you're away that allows me to feel really great about you going away?"

Now, we don't want to put the responsibility on this kid to make sure that the mom is okay. That's just not fair. But at the same time they have a relationship and they can be in communication during the span of this trip, to help the mom kind of check in and tune in on the daughter to make sure that the daughter is having a good time, living in some kind of a group and pattern and she's in good hands. So I think that's a reasonable request.

What happens that isn't reasonable is that parents have so many fears that one of two things happens. The parents stand in the way of their children, living and thriving and experiencing and experimenting... That's one problem. They say, "no, you can't go. No, I'm not letting you go. No, I'm not supporting this. No, I'm not gonna give you what you need to go", and they send in the way, they create barriers because of those fears.

The second thing that's a problem that happens is that parents hand their fears to their children and their children live with those fears themselves, they learn to be fearful. That's also two things that aren't very healthy. So is it okay to have fear? Sure, we all have fear. But it's not okay to use your fear to interfere with your children's growth.

And so, my greatest advice to this particular mom is share your fears with your daughter, let her know that some of these fears are irrational, but that you still have them, and ask your daughter politely if she wouldn't mind staying in touch with you, a text a day or a FaceTime call or whatever it is that will help you know. That your daughter is alive and well and still thriving.

[00:04:27] Ferne Kotlyar: And what if this mother doesn't believe that her fears are irrational?

[00:04:31] Kim Ades: She doesn't have to believe that her fears are irrational, but she has to accept that even if she believes that the fears are totally rational, they're not useful, they're not helpful.

[00:04:45] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, are they helpful in the sense that it encourages you to be protected? To overthink things before it goes wrong, so that you're prepared.

[00:04:54] Kim Ades: Well, certainly we could talk to the daughter and say, "Hey, here are some of the things that you might want to consider and prepare for". So for example, it's important for you to keep your money in different locations, just in case someone steals it, you have a little bit of a backup plan.

You might encourage your daughter to think about, you know, like, being aware of her surroundings and making sure no one's following her, and if somebody does, what she would do in that situation. You might want to say to your daughter, "Hey, when you're going out in the streets, make sure you're not alone".

You might want to kind of review some of these things, but you also want to make sure your daughter understands that you trust her, that you have confidence in her, that you know that she has good judgment, and that she isn't afraid to let you know when she messed up or when something went wrong, because things go wrong sometimes. And that you are the first person she'll reach out to for help. And so it's very important for you to instill trust in your daughter.

[00:05:54] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely. And so what happens if you do all these things and your daughter leaves and you're still kind of freaking out internally? How do you deal with that fear for somebody else that you've absolutely no control over?

[00:06:08] Kim Ades: You journal, you write it down. You write down some of the beliefs that you have, you write down some of the fears, you assess how... Not realistic they are, but what's the likelihood of those things happening. And to be honest, you check in with your daughter and just say, "hi, how's it going? Are you having a good time?" And when you hear it from your daughter, you calm down for a day and then you check in with her for the next day.

And you know what? For those of you who are listening, once again, this is a very real situation. Ferne is getting ready to go to Ecuador, and she's going to be learning how to band birds. And that's super cool. Very, very exciting. I look at you as a person who lives this really extraordinary life. You travel, you try things, you're learning things, you're out there in the wilds and doing all kinds of cool things.

And yes, sometimes that freaks me out, sometimes that scares me. But there was no way, no way ever that I would stand in the way of your experiences and living the life you want to live and learning things and trying things and being all that you want to be. And so my fears are mine, I don't want you to inherit them.

[00:07:26] Ferne Kotlyar: Thank you. Yeah. And what happens when I get sick in one of those countries? Or whatever, you know, the daughter gets sick... How do you deal with that kind of escalation of fears?

[00:07:37] Kim Ades: Well, when she is sick, you try to figure out resources that she can access from afar to help her get better. You try to maybe get her home a little earlier than she planned. If you really need to, you go there and you'll be with her. You just do all the things you need to do to help your daughter.

Sometimes you need to just let her know that she's okay and it'll pass, and that pretty soon she'll feel a lot better. And sometimes you just need to offer some emotional support and let her know that you love her and you care about her and people get sick, but they don't stay sick all the time. Right?

So you need to give her a little bit of faith that she'll get better and she'll feel better. And you sometimes give her some medical advice. Things like "have some chicken soup, take two Tylenols, make sure to put two pillows if you're coughing hard", you know, you get the idea.

[00:08:31] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles] Yeah.

[00:08:33] Kim Ades: Here's a question for you though. So you know that I have a few fears about you traveling, you have those fears? Have I managed to keep them away from you? Or do you think that you took them on? Be honest.

[00:08:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. So I think I have some, like going to Ecuador. I have a friend that did get stabbed there, so I don't know that that comes from you necessarily, but that is one of my fears, because it actually happened to somebody I know. But I think I'm less fearful than you, especially when it comes to traveling alone.

And especially when it comes to being in nature, because I think I'm really comfortable with that. So you may be afraid of me going into the forest, but I'm not afraid of that. So I think maybe a little bit, but not as much as you have.

[00:09:22] Kim Ades: And what do you do with your fears when you have fears? How do you deal with it? You're going, you have a few fears. How do you cope with that? What do you do when you have fears?

[00:09:34] Ferne Kotlyar: So, yeah, I think there's several things. So being prepared is helpful. You know, like planning every single step of your journey, don't have some uncertainties where you don't know where you're going to stay, if that doesn't make you feel comfortable. I mean, some people are totally happy with that. But if you're someone that likes to have structure and planning, then plan everything in advance as much as you can.

For me, I like to kind of see what's going to happen. Like, I can imagine myself going and going through every step of the journey and knowing that each part will be okay. So as long as there's no part where I personally don't know what I'm going to do, that stresses me out, so I avoid that. But other than that, I think if I can imagine it, then I'm ready and I'm not as scared anymore.

[00:10:23] Kim Ades: What do you do with your mother's fears? Do you blow them off? Do you take them on? Do you address them? Does it matter to you that she has fears? Do you try to calm her down? What do you do?

[00:10:35] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I think anyone who you talk to about your travels and they impose their fears, especially when it's someone you love and respect and trust, of course it's going to have an effect on you. And for me, I think, because I look up to you so much that I start to second guess myself sometimes when you have those fears and impose them on me, but I try not to let them change things.

So maybe I'll be more prepared for certain things, but generally I try not to take them on too much, or like keep notes at the back of my head, but try not to let it change my attitude towards the trip.

[00:11:17] Kim Ades: And do you try to calm me down? Just out of curiosity.

[00:11:21] Ferne Kotlyar: Do I?

[00:11:22] Kim Ades: I don't know. I'm asking you. Do you feel like you need to?

[00:11:25] Ferne Kotlyar: I think sometimes I get a bit upset-- not upset, but like, I think I just start to second guess myself. I don't know if I, sometimes I try to calm you down, when it comes to things that I'm sure about.

When I'm unsure about something, I find it hard to calm you down because I take on those fears. But when it comes to something I'm really sure about, like nature things, yeah, I try to calm you down, I think. How do you think I react to your stress?

[00:11:55] Kim Ades: I think sometimes you say, "don't worry, mom". I get your texts, "don't worry, mom, I'm going to do this or this or this or this". Right?

[00:12:02] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, that's reassuring...

[00:12:03] Kim Ades: Yeah.

[00:12:04] Ferne Kotlyar: ...I guess. [Chuckles]

[00:12:05] Kim Ades: You say that. And I think for me, the most reassurance is just be in contact, don't go silent. So I know things are going to come up. I know you're not going to know what you're going to be doing every minute of every day for the next four weeks of your trip. I know that, but just reach out. " I'm good. Hi, I'm good. I'm good. I'm having a good time. I'm okay. Learned this", whatever it is.

And just so as long as there's that moment of connection, I'm like, "okay. I heard from her. She's good. I can go for another 24 hours". So in a way it's good for someone to care about you, in a way it's hard when somebody cares about you and has worries and fears.

[00:12:48] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:12:49] Kim Ades: So it's important for you to forge on, it's important for you to do your thing, it's important for you to live your life. And it's also important that when your mother says, "well, what about this?" And you get frustrated, you say, "yeah, what about this? Maybe I need a little extra preparation, or I need to consider this", but not let it stop you.

[00:13:10] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, yeah. I personally find that sometimes it stresses me out 'cause I worry that I didn't think about something or I miss something and then it'll affect the rest of the trip, you know? But we've all got fears and I just got to realize that.

[00:13:27] Kim Ades: It's an interesting conversation, right? 'Cause what we're really demonstrating is we're very human.

[00:13:33] Ferne Kotlyar: Surprise! [Chuckles]

[00:13:34] Kim Ades: And we all have things. For me, my biggest issue is making sure my kids are happy and healthy, very important. And so while they're off on their expeditions and living their lives and experiencing all the cool things that life has to offer, and I pushed them out of the nest a lot of times...

[00:13:53] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:13:53] Kim Ades: ...While they are flying down from the nest, I always want to make sure that somehow I can also provide a safety net, in case something goes terribly wrong, and sometimes I just can't. And so this is what happens when a kid grows up and they become an adult, you kind of also have to step aside and trust that they will find their wings. So that's where we're at at this point.

[00:14:19] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. I think this was really interesting and useful for a lot of people, not only with respect to their children traveling, but to any kind of wild things that their children are inclined to do.

[00:14:32] Kim Ades: Yes. And when your children are inclined to do wild things, I don't know, I look at my children who are all doing wild things, and I look at them with awe and admiration. And I think "man, you know what? When I was that age, there's no way I would have had the courage to do some of the things they're doing". So encourage your kids to have courage and do the things they love.

For those of you who are listening, I hope you enjoyed today's episode. We'd love to hear from you, love to get your messages, your texts. We want to hear what you want us to talk about!

[00:15:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely.

[00:15:05] Kim Ades: Please reach out to us. My email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. What is your email address?

[00:15:13] Ferne Kotlyar: My email address is Fernekotlyar@live.com.

[00:15:20] Kim Ades: Until we see you next week, have a great week, guys!

[00:15:23] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!

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