Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Hey, welcome to the Connected Mom podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, your host, and I have with me today my amazing cohost, Sarah. Welcome, Sarah.
Thanks, Becky. It's so good to be here. Or let us know what we're talking about today.
So we are talking about connection. And we have a very special guest who I am super excited about. So we have with us Dr. Gregory Jantz. Dr. Jantz is an expert on connection. He's written a book on it, but he's a mental health expert. He's done all kinds of work with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and he has spent the last 30 years pioneering the whole person care. He's been a guest on CNN, Fox News. Focus on the Family, dr. Phil, all the things and he is the best selling author of Get This Lady's, 43 books. I don't even know how that's possible, Dr. Jantz, but when I received your book The Power of Connection, I knew we had to have you on because you're such a perfect fit for our mamas. So welcome.
Good to be with you today. And the boy, the power of connection, we need that more than ever.
Yeah, no kidding. So help us unpack that a little bit, because why is connection so important for people? What's behind that?
Yeah, what is and by the way, people love I'm doing more of these. I call them mini books.
100 plus pages.
Our attention span is so down shorter. Um, that said, sometimes we need information quick. That's my design. Um, what's that? No, we need it. So, um, as I think about connection, supposedly we're more connected than ever. We got social media, and we're supposed to be more tied together than ever before. But what we're finding is, um, our loneliness is going up and up and up. That recent. It was kind of a famous little survey that was done across the United States. Found 61% of Americans said they were lonely. 61%. The second question on that was, can you name a close friend? And, uh, majority of people could not name a person they would consider to be a close friend. And so despite social media, despite all these interconnections, we're probably less connected in real relationships. And real relationships have trust. They have intimacy. Uh, I have a younger son, and I did ask him, um, because we were talking about friends. He says, Well, I have lots of friends. And they were online. I said, have you seen any of these friends? Oh, no, but they're my friends. So we've kind of redefined what a friend is. But we need real relationships.
We really do. And loneliness is just on such a rise right now. And I think for mamas, they, uh, are all I mean, if you go to a local park, right? They're all on Instagram. While the kids are playing. So they may feel like they have those connections, but they really need friends. When I was raising kids, I knew there were certain friends I could call at any hour of the day. We prayed for our kids together. We got together in real life. And so those connections are so important, really important.
We grow in the presence of healthy relationships. So I've been in the helping professions. This is my 39th year. It sounds strange to say that. And, uh, I founded a facility where people come. They're here for four, six weeks. And if there's one issue, they're coming for help, for depression, for anxiety at times, for addiction. But if there's one single issue that everybody says, I wish I had, and it was, I wish I had more healthy relationships, I wish I had relationships and people in my life I can trust. The last three years of pandemic insanity, um, people have learned not to trust. Distrust generally, uh, is at an all time high. We don't trust media. We don't trust news, because we, um, feel betrayed. And so when we think about relationships, who do you really trust? Who do you know will tell you the truth, and they have no intent of hurting you? But there's that trust. There's that intimacy, that emotional intimacy. And it's a healing relationship. We, um, need to have two or three people like that in our life.
Yeah, we really do. And I think for moms, it's critical that they find those people. Uh, okay, uh, I'm thinking a couple of scenarios. I'm just going to throw them out, and you give us advice. Okay. So I think about the mom who is in the toddler years, and her kids are wild, and she doesn't feel like she can take them to anybody's house. And how does she connect? How does she find a friend?
Yeah. Okay. One of the things, and you brought me beautifully to something that's called isolation. If we're overwhelmed, if we're embarrassed, if we feel disconnected, we tend to isolate. And isolation breeds depression. Isolation can promote anxiety. And isolation can cause you to feel I'm going to say shame, that something's wrong with me. I really can't connect with people. Um, my kids are out of control. You just start looking at everything that's not going well, and you feel ashamed. So when we want to isolate, it's usually because, um, of embarrassment or shame, maybe depression, we feel too anxious. So that's the time that we need to replug in, though. But in our fear, we want to isolate.
Okay, here's another scenario. What about the single mom? I had the privilege of raising our four kids with my husband. We're still married. We've been doing this for 43 years. And it was wonderful to do it together. But I feel for those single moms out there, and I'm sure we have a bunch listening today. So they're single, they're trying to hold down a job, get the kids to day care or school or whatever. They get home in the evening. They're trying to help with homework and cooking dinner and all those things. How do they connect? How do they find connection?
Yes. We have two things going on. There, uh, time, limited time, and everything in my life is intense. There's an intensity, right?
And there's an intensity of work, of taking care of things at home, taking care of kids. So it's hard to find any time where I can renew or rebuild or restore my well being. So one of the things is, uh, find two people in your life, and, uh, they're usually not family members, but they're friends. Um, that one is they're going to pray for you. Um, they're going to be a resource. I like to say mentor. I want somebody in my life that's a little farther down the road, um, who I trust, um, who I can check in, but make sure I'm having communication, uh, with them. It doesn't take much time. A, uh, ten minute phone call or a ten minute check in once a week can be pretty powerful.
Um, but sometimes, if I have all these things going on, I do need some accountability for how am I taking care of myself, how do I find time for that? But I need to begin to let at least two people into my life where I'm really telling them what's going on. I'm sharing with them. For one, they may have some ideas for me. Number two, I want them to pray. And we're praying for one another. Um, but sometimes they can have ideas that go, oh, I didn't think of that. Sometimes they can help. So, uh, the tendency is to go alone, to isolate, and I'm saying do just the opposite.
So we've been talking about connecting with other moms, which Becky and I love to talk about on this podcast. But if we could shift to connecting with our child, I feel like in American medical world, we've figured out, oh, okay. Infant bonding connection with our child is really important. But, um, Becky and I talk about sometimes it gets a little trickier as they get older. Right. So how do you reestablish that connection? I mean, when they're little, they're literally on you, right. Often. But then as they get bigger, I know developmentally, they naturally want to kind of become their own person and that sort of thing. But what advice do you have for moms in keeping that connection, um, as a child grows?
Yes. Well, and we need to allow for normal developmental stages. And I'm going to say, um, in some general terms. One is, uh, a typical boy moving into young manhood is going to, uh, respond differently at, uh, times. You're, uh, going to be concerned about them. They may seem like they're withdrawing from you. They may be very short. If you ask them a question. How was your day? Fine. You feel like I can't even get a conversation from him anymore, and you're worried and concerned about him. Um, so there's some natural, um, developmental stages that they're going to go through. But here's the thing. You can still keep a bridge of communication, a bridge of love. And how we do that is we do need to still factor in, uh, time. Uh, you may notice that if we do physical activities with our kids, it changes something. If I have something really important to talk to my son about, for example, um, you don't say, sit down, I want to talk to you. This is really important. Look at me in the eyes. Right. Um, suddenly they're shutting down. But if you take them outside or for a walk, or you engage, um, a physical activity with an important conversation, it's an entirely different experience. Just find creative ways to reconnect. But allow them. We need to allow them. There's, um, a growing up going on as well. Right. Um, we also want to look at where's their peer influence that's pretty important. A, uh, peer influence. If suddenly you see academic struggles and failure, you see isolation. Uh, and they're putting earbuds in, and they're, um, not coming out of their bedrooms for long, long periods of time. Um, they seem even more lithron. Some of those are warning signs. And we do it's a time of experimentation. Uh, sometimes we're shocked when we see even what's going on online. So keep all these topics, though, safe to talk about.
Yeah, I love that. I'm having so many thoughts right now. So I got to ask you a few other questions. Okay. What about, like, let's talk grade school for a minute. Okay?
What about a grade school child where you've had kind of conflict, and maybe there's a strong will involved there, and the child is having angry outbursts, and they just start pulling away because they're angry at you. They don't like your rules and whatever. Um, how do you reconnect with an angry child? How do you get them to calm down so that you can reconnect yeah.
With an angry child? Is that what you're saying?
It, um, can be so difficult. I just want to acknowledge that challenge. So one, uh, of the things we need to be sure we're doing an anger sometimes as a parent, we may say things that we regret, um, out of frustration. And so, um, I'm always going to say, when you're dealing with a very angry child, maybe elementary school, um, be careful. We want to usually work to calm that down or control the child. You probably noticed the more you try to control, the more they may go into a tantrum. So that doesn't work. Um, but change the physical setting again. Um, hey, let's go outside here for a minute. Just change again. Um, if they're upset, um, change the environment. Um, and allow a certain amount of time for them to express. We do want them to know it's okay. Um, but it's how we say things. If they're screaming, I hate you, well, they got to learn a different way of doing it. Um, so sometimes we need to ask the question, um, sweetheart, what's really going on? Can you help me understand? So go for gaining more information, go for clarity, ask a few questions. Um, and then it can be comforting to say, I understand you're really upset. I believe I can help you. Okay. But acknowledge the emotion. I know you're really upset. I believe I can help you. Can I ask you a couple of questions?
You're going to help them refocus.
I love that, because I think kids do get angry. When I grew up, probably when you grew up, uh, anger was really you were kind of taught, hey, this is a wrong emotion. We don't want to give our kids that message. Right. Because Jesus got angry. Right. But we want to teach them how to use those angry skills, and we want to repair the relationship, which for some moms is really a struggle. And then if the mom is getting angry, that can escalate the whole thing. Or if she's getting panicked, like, uh, I got to control this, like you said. I love that you use that word, control, um, because I think that can escalate the whole thing.
So Becky mentioned that I have two little boys, the six and nine year old. And that piece of advice, I love boys.
Thank you. I have boys. One of them is married now and one's in college. But come on. I love boys.
I do, too. I'm glad to be a boy mom. I didn't really have a say in the matter, but I'm terrible. It's working out pretty good. Um, but I hear there's a book I need to read of yours, so that's awesome. I just wrote that down. But is there a difference between how parents connect with boys and girls? I'm sure there's similarities, but in asking this, I'm sure there are. So what are some of those differences that can be there? Um, in a connection with a boy child versus a girl?
Yeah. Generally speaking, we connect to boys through activity. Um, so, uh, if I had something really important to talk about, I would generally, uh, take, um, boy outside, and I would make sure they had something in their hands. I know this sounds silly.
Whether or not that sounds wise.
One is they need that in their hands to fiddle. And, um, we call it a mediating object. They need an object. So it's a ball. If I go for a walk, give, um, them a stick, swinging a stick. But they need something in their hands, and they need movement while we're talking to them. Um, so the boys, if it's really important, um, or has the communication has some emotion with it. They don't do well sitting down. We, um, know in the classroom, boys, um, the little bouncy balls, um, you have at the gym, um, what are those called?
Yoga balls. Yeah.
So there's some classrooms that that's the chair for the boys, or they put those in the room. You think, boy, the room is going to be totally out of control. As long as a boy can be moving and I'm moving as long as they can be moving while they're taking a test or a quiz, their scores are higher. Um, it has to do with their brain.
Okay. If there's a connection with the movement.
In their brain connection with movement in their brain. Yeah.
And this is why the boy in the classroom that's got the pen, and he's just m and he's hitting the kid in front of him, and he's making all kinds of, um, obnoxious noise. And you go, put it down. Well, he needs something in his hand. Um, what we know is the boy's brain may go into alpha or a restate pretty easy. That tapping a movement is kind of keeping his brain awake.
I love it. Hey. Sunday night. Just like this past Sunday night. Okay. I have my kids over for Sunday dinner. And, um, we have four seven year olds, one in each of the four kids families, and three of them are boys. So the three boy parents were here and they were all talking about it. And wow, the soccer balls flying through the house. And Barbie heads are coming off. And my son doesn't want to read anymore. He's just always got to be moving. He's got to be on the trampoline. He's got to be kicking a soccer ball. And everything you're saying, I mean, really, we should have invited you to Sunday dinner.
That would have been quite a case study.
Yes, that's right. You would have had material for years.
Um, let me just acknowledge, it can be really challenging times, frustrating at times. You feel like, whoa, I don't have their attention. Where is their attention? You mix technology in it, and they want the technology. It's challenging at times.
It is. So let me dive into another topic. Technology. I mean, that's every parent's challenge right now, right? We're talking about connection. You want to be connected to your kid, and at times, they're just shutting down. They want to be on a phone or on an iPad or playing a video game, and they just want to kind of tune you out. What are recommendations you have for moms concerning technology?
Yeah. And let me just say, technology is tricky because it's so easy to hand, um, the little iPad over and use it as a pacifier. And if you've ever tried to in a restaurant, you've ever seen a kid that's being noisy, and you just hand them your cell phone or iPad, and suddenly they have a pacifier, and then you try to take that from them. Boyd, and you get the tantrum. So we first of all, need to have parameters around time, how much time is allowed in technology. And we also know if we overstimulate the brain. So unregulated. What are boys like? Uh, fast, a, uh, lot of stimuli, visual action, et cetera. Okay. But if we have unfaired access to that all the time, we're overstimulating the brain. And the brain developmentally is not designed for that level of just overstimulation. And we can develop later on.
Why 6th, 7th grade. Uh, you may see, uh, a boy in particular who is they're like addicted to technology. Ah, and their whole life evolves around that. And you see their personality change. You see that they're irritable, you see their sleep disturbances. And really they are developing a technology at times of gaming addiction and you see the personality change. Um, so we have to have boundaries around time. And we, uh, never allow a screen in a bedroom. M, so it's like, okay, they're in their bedroom doing homework. There's a computer in the room. Um, a lot of reasons for that. So there's something called cyber bully behavior. We can't always control what they're being exposed to. The average age to exposure to pornography on the internet, it's about age nine.
That's crazy. Um.
If they do have a cell phone the cell phone is a portable computer? Yes. If they have one. Well, it needs to be on the chart. We had a rule, it has to be on the charger. And this happened to be in mom and Dad's room, um, by a certain time every night or you didn't have it the next day. So you control the amount of time.
Um, I love that some of this is age dependent. As they get older, things change a bit. Um, and we don't let any devices be present ah, at meal time. So, dinner table, uh, no devices. Now, I'll have to tell you, this is a confession we did make, I think it was Thursday evening. We called it digital. Ah, dinner night.
Oh, that's a good idea.
Okay. This is the only day of week that they could bring their device to the dinner table. And this was by design. I mean, it was distracting, but we wanted to learn. Okay, so what's the latest app? Or what's going on? What do you do with your friend? We wanted to enter into their world and them share with us, um, more about what they were doing. And it was a chance for them not to hide from us, but to talk about it.
I love that. We learned a lot, I'm sure. Yeah.
So good. So I have the boy tip spinning in my brain and uh, technology is so consuming for both genders. But in terms of connection, what is it about gaming for boys? Maybe specifically or maybe just in general? Because it does seem like that is just a natural thing that they grasp. Not natural. Gaming is not natural. But the fact that they really love gaming. And I'm sure there's some positives in that. So as a mom that's trying to connect with my boy, who also loves these games, he's going to love them whether I ban them or not, right. Um, do you have any tips for that? Because I love the digital dinner idea, but how can we kind of step into that love? What is it about it that they like?
Well, for one, um, and honestly, I'm going to tell you, this was probably my least favorite thing to do. But, um, I would ask, um, to play with them occasionally.
First of all, for me, too.
Yes, I was absolutely terrible at anything. I was slow, and it just was not my world at all. I have never liked anything to do with gaming or online games. But I did it as a point of connection. And then talking about so I used it to bond and connect. So, um, we could talk about other things. And, uh, by the way, kids need outside. They need movement. And technology keeps them inside, keeps them away from fresh air, keeps them from movement. But particularly with boys, boys love things that are intense. So that's why the War Battle games all that. They love anything that's intense. And they're visual. They're more visual. And so, um, it creates also a lot of dopamine flowing through the brain, that chemical in the brain that we call the pleasure chemical. And so, um, that's why I say they have an overstimulated brain. You get that dopamine high, it feels good, and you want to go back to it. And it becomes a way for boys to process emotions. So if I'm upset, I go play a game. If I had a good day at school, I play a game. And it ends up being like, the only thing. And if you ask a boy, sometimes they go, uh, well, I don't know what else to do. Things are boring. Everything's boring. So I like this game.
Yeah, that's how it gets to I love that. I love that you admitted that you weren't good at gaming, because, um, last year I was taking care of one of my grandsons, and he's really into gaming. So he said, come play minecraft with me. So it's remote. And then halfway through the game, he got so frustrated with me, and he's like, Mimi, give me that. I just gave up. I'm like, all right, that's not going to be my strong suit. Anyway, in closing up our time together, dr. Jans, would you just give our mamas like, maybe three closing tips, um, about connecting, um, maybe one tip about connecting with other moms and two tips for connecting with their child.
Yes. Connection builds relationship, and relationships build and empower us. And you will notice that, um, I will always regret moving away or isolating, but I won't regret stepping into a relationship. Um, and also, there's times where you're talking to somebody and they've walked through it. And just having that empathy, having that compassion can be really powerful. Um, also, we need somewhere to go and talk about things besides just in our head. Sometimes it just gets really toxic. Connecting with kids. Again, developmentally, in age, all that is a little different. Girls and boys are a little different. Um, but stay in the game. You feel like, oh, man, I'm losing my son. No, stay in the game, uh, with them. And I don't mean playing the game. I mean stay, um, with them. If they give you short responses, okay, receive. Um, it find, um, ways to integrate them into, uh, activities that are outside. Um, be careful with boys, we tend to focus over focus on the negative. Um, and if we want to connect, be careful about using the why the word why. Why did you do that? Why don't you why haven't you done your homework? Be careful of the word why. It just comes across as a strong judgment, and it breaks a connection.
I love that. I don't think any of us ever would have thought of that. So good.
Yeah. Hey, as we close out, would you pray over our moms? And then I'll close out the show for us? Thank you. It's been a joy to have you on.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for our moms. We thank you because we know that, um, man, they're trying to do their very best. So we pray for fresh, uh, perspective on our kids. Help, uh, us see our kids as you see them. Uh, Lord, where we need patience, where we need grace, where we need, um, just a new ways or wisdom ways to reach them. Um, but let's, Lord, um, give us that. And, uh, Lord, give us the opportunity that we can, uh, care for ourselves and also, um, have that self compassion that we have for our kids. And give it to us, Lord, that we can care for ourselves and may we have more, um, healthy, uh, relationships bring to those people in our lives that we all need one another. So thank you that, God, you are at work and our kids, even when we don't see it, in m Jesus name.
Amen. Hey, Dr. Jans, thank you so much for being with us. I feel like we could have you on every week and there would be more to explore. I think our moms are really going to love this. And friends, thanks for joining us today on this episode of The Connected Mom Pod Pocast. And we'll be looking forward to having you join us again next Thursday for another episode of The Connected Mom podcast. We'll talk to you next week. Goodbye.