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Episode 91: How to Set and Maintain Boundaries with Carla Naumburg

Brief summary of show:

How do we set and maintain boundaries?

Why is it that we feel bad when we try to reinforce boundaries?

What even really IS a boundary? And how do they impact our values?

In this episode, Carla Naumburg joins me to talk about what boundaries are, aren’t, how to set them, and most importantly – how to maintain them.

Carla Naumburg, PhD, LICSW, is a clinical social worker, parenting expert, and mother. She’s the author of five non-fiction books, including her international bestseller, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019), and the forthcoming You’re Not a Sh*tty

Parent and How to Stop Freaking Out, the middle-grade adaptation of How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids. Carla lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [0:50] Do relationships really get damaged when we set boundaries?

  • [4:00] The boundaries you can set

  • [5:00] Why we overshare

  • [6:10] Internal vs. external boundaries

  • [9:30] How to set boundaries without coming across as ‘rude’

  • [21:20] Why it’s so hard for women to say no and set boundaries

  • [29:05] How to know what our values are

  • [34:50] Tips for teaching our kids about boundaries

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Carla Naumburg

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: saying no isn't easy. Setting boundaries to protect yourself and to be more productive is the topic of today's podcast

[00:00:37] Natalie: Hi everyone, it's Natalie. As we wrap up 2022, I have learned so much from my guests. Hard to believe. We are nearing a hundred episodes of this podcast. I appreciate your feedback and your topic ideas. This is one today that I know so many of you struggle with. I've talked about it with many of you.

[00:00:57] I've received messages from you and we [00:01:00] might not get it perfect. But setting boundaries allows us to be more productive, and more importantly, it sets us up for success with work, our families, and in all of our relationships. I like to say that boundaries mean love. My guest today is a repeat guest and you all loved her the first time so much.

[00:01:20] She is back with more. In this episode, Carla Naumberg joins me to talk. What boundaries are, what they're not, how to set them, and most importantly, how to maintain them. Carla is a clinical social worker, parenting expert, and mother. She's the author of five non-fiction books, including an international bestseller.

[00:01:41] You're gonna hear about that today. She gives. Such practical advice that you can implement right away in your relationships and in your parenting. Carla lives in Massachusetts with her husband and her two daughters. So before we get started, be sure to join me on Instagram where I post almost daily. You will find me at.[00:02:00]

[00:02:00] Tisk and I have a free download I think that you'll enjoy. You can print it, you can check off the 20 ways to make your kids feel loved. A link to that is in today's show notes. In this episode, Carla and I talk about what boundaries are, again, what they're not, how to set them, and how to maintain them. So important.

[00:02:21] Here we go.

[00:02:22] Carla, let's get right into this conversation on boundaries. We, we hear a lot about boundaries, but I think it's one of the hardest things for us as women to really enforce

[00:02:32] Carla: for ourselves. Absolutely. And I think that's because we, as women are taught from. The first moment of our lives and through everything, all the cultural society, societal messages that are worth exists in our relationships, right?

[00:02:50] Women are taught that relationships, taking care of other people, having other people like us, being appealing to other people is really at the core of who we [00:03:00] are. And when we set a boundary, , either internally or externally in any way. The worry is that we are gonna damage our relationships and that I think for many women is one of the scariest things we can do.

[00:03:12] Have you

[00:03:12] Natalie: witnessed it damaging relationships or helping relationships?

[00:03:16] Carla: Oh, both. Absolutely. There have been times when I have found myself in what I would argue are pretty toxic dynamics when. I end up in relationships. This, this happens a lot less now. I'm a little bit older now. I'm a little bit wiser now, right?

[00:03:31] But whether it's with a family member or a guy I was dating or a friendship where something about that relationship wasn't bringing out my best self, right? It was bringing out behaviors in me whether it was the things I was talking about or the things I was doing that I didn't feel good about.

[00:03:47] Hmm. And so in some cases, me setting up boundaries ended the relationship altogether, right? I, I no longer am dating those men, and that was actually a good thing in some of them with friendships. The [00:04:00] friendship ended all together and that was painful, but. . I think looking back it was the right choice because there was no way that particular friendship was gonna evolve into something better.

[00:04:11] And then there are certainly family situations where I have set boundaries that I know the other family member didn't like and they weren't unhappy. But what I found is that setting those boundaries was really an act of radical self. An act of self-compassion, and when I did it, what it meant was I have more time and I have more energy for the other people in my life, for my spouse, for my children, for myself, for the friendships and family members with whom I can show up fully.

[00:04:42] And be my best self, or I can show up fully and be my worst self where I can absolutely fall apart and they will be there to support me. Yeah. And get me through those tough moments. So I'm not gonna pretend that setting boundaries is always easy and sometimes it does damage relationships, but I would argue when we do it [00:05:00] skillfully it's gonna make.

[00:05:01] Help us be our best selves. Yeah.

[00:05:05] Natalie: Boy, this is, this is just so valuable and I, and I think in this phase of, of my life, and we, we both have well,

[00:05:13] Carla: teenagers,

[00:05:14] Natalie: right? Mm-hmm. , you have 12 and 14, and I've got two in college and, and one who's 13 that at this stage in my life, I wish I could go back. No regrets, because we learn along the way, but I wish I could go back and learn these.

[00:05:29] And set some boundaries because at least for me in a time in my life, I loved having lots of friends and lots of people and lots of committees and lots of whatever, but I am so much more like you've just said. Valuing relationships that let me show up that I can just pour into and not trying to nurture these relationships that really aren't benefiting me.

[00:05:54] Someone said to me years ago, and I I love this, that if a relationship's not [00:06:00] making you a better person, why are you holding onto it? Be it a, a boyfriend, a husband, a, a friend, but if it's not bettering you, it's making, it's bringing out the best in. , why are you still there for it? and I think that's really valuable.

[00:06:15] And I tell my teenage daughters that in their dating lives, like, is that, is that relationship. Making you better. Right. I think it's a, it's a really

[00:06:24] Carla: valuable thing.

[00:06:25] Natalie: Can we talk a little bit more about what some of these boundaries might be? I love the word boundaries. Love the concept of boundaries, but let's, let's go into

[00:06:33] Carla: some examples.

[00:06:35] Yeah. So many are coming to mind, right? So there's boundaries around our time, what we're gonna spend our time doing, are we spending our time? Joining committees uh, volunteering for people hanging out with certain people, taking phone calls from certain people. Anything we do that we might spend time on, are we spending time staring at our phones?

[00:06:55] Right? Do we need to put a boundary around that so there's any way we might spend our time, whether it's [00:07:00] with other people, whether it's alone, whether it's a personal space or professional space. Those are things we can look at and try to set boundaries around. Um, There can be boundaries in our relationship and that may look like not only the time we spend with a person, but what we share of ourselves with that person.

[00:07:16] Oh, tell me

[00:07:16] Natalie: about that. Yes, yes. Well

[00:07:18] I overshare some people overshare where I feel like if I, if I share more personal than will be closer. And I've had to learn. . Not everybody gets that.

[00:07:29] Carla: Yeah. Look, a as anybody who's read my books knows I'm a sharer, right. I put personal anecdotes in my books and, and there's a lot I don't share in my books.

[00:07:37] Right. There's a lot of family stories. There's a lot of personal stories. Yeah. I don't share. And that's okay. We all get to hold onto our private stories. Yeah. I remember asking my grandfather, sorry, my grandmother before she died, when was the first time she kissed my grandfather, who was the love of her life, and she said, I don't tell that story.

[00:07:52] We all get our secrets. I was like so annoyed, to be honest, . But I also had so much respect for my grandmother that there was like [00:08:00] this little nugget, this moment in time that was so personal to her that she, she didn't wanna share it. And that's okay. But you know, we can also think about who do we trust with our stories, with our, with our most precious moments, with our internal experience.

[00:08:13] And so we can put a boundary around what we share. We can put boundaries around. I think those are really the big ones that show up for me what we share and how we spend our time. But I know there are other ones. Well, you,

[00:08:27] Natalie: before we jumped on uh, recording,

[00:08:29] you mentioned internal and external boundaries.

[00:08:32] Carla: What, what's the difference? Oh, yeah. Thank you for pointing that out. So I think the external boundaries are what other people would see in our behav. . So if there's a camera on the wall or a fly on the wall, what could that record? Right? What would that see? So they might see me saying no to someone who's asking me to volunteer for a committee or something like that.

[00:08:52] Setting a boundary around that. They might see me saying no to a person who's asking me to spend time with them when I don't want [00:09:00] to either, because I don't like that. , they don't bring out the best in me or because they're just not a priority. And that doesn't mean they're a bad person, but it means I have limited time for the people in my life and I can't show up for everyone.

[00:09:12] It might me be me saying no to a request from a supervisor or a boss at work who's asking me to do a project that's not appropriate for my position or my time. It might even be me saying no to my kids, right? When they ask for something that I just can't give them or I don't wanna give them. Hmm.

[00:09:27] Like my daughter asks me to go to the mall all the time. I can't stand them all, and I take her sometimes, but I don't take her all the time. Sometimes I say, do you have a friend you could go with and I could drop you off? Right? That's me setting a boundary around my time. So an external boundary is one that somebody else can see me doing.

[00:09:45] An internal boundary you can't see. It's a decision I've made on the inside about maybe how much time I'm gonna be spend dwelling on a particular dynamic or situation or problem. But it also may be me deciding. That I'm not gonna share [00:10:00] a particular story or experience or personal struggle with someone else, or it may be me deciding that I'm not going to engage with somebody else's chaos in a kind way.

[00:10:10] So maybe I have a family member or a boss or a friend, or just someone in the community I know who shows up and tells me some crazy story and they want me to get involved in it. They want me to show up and contribute and like really like, let's talk all the Mm. You know? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And maybe instead I just say, Yeah, that sounds really hard.

[00:10:29] that sounds really complicated. I'm sorry that's happening to you. I hope that resolves soon, right? These are kind things, and I'm not lying. I mean them, right? I mean, what I say, I hope you know, whatever is going on, simplifies gets better. Improves. But I'm not here to get into your chaos because that's a boundary I'm setting for myself.

[00:10:48] So these internal boundaries can be especially important in situations where we don't have the ability to completely disconnect. , I have to go to work, I have to interact with the people in my [00:11:00] job. I have family members who maybe really pull for this chaos or drain my energy, but I'm not gonna like cut off the relationship entirely.

[00:11:08] Right? So there are ways to set these internal boundaries that I think can still be really kind to another person while also taking care of our. . Yeah. You know,

[00:11:20] Natalie: I, as you were saying that, I was thinking about my old job, not my, not my new job I teach now in addition to my podcast, but I was thinking about my old job and I, and I know a lot of people will relate to this in the corporate world when someone says, and so I want you to come up, help me come up with ways and things we can give people to say as a boundary without sounding like you just don't wanna do the work.

[00:11:43] Because I'm thinking in my old job of people would, who would say, that's not my. and it's like, well, wait a minute. You're just trying to get outta doing the work. Like,

[00:11:52] can you give us some, ways to set these boundaries without sounding either snotty or lazy? And I [00:12:00] like some of the words that, that you used in terms of people's chaos and not wanting to get involved.

[00:12:04] But how do you set a boundary without seeming, I guess what I'm getting at is without seeming selfish.

[00:12:11] Carla: first of all, I would like to challenge. , this idea You do. Yes. Yes. That it's not okay to be selfish. Like we always think that selfish is a bad thing, and I think that that word will forever carry those connotations for all of us, right?

[00:12:26] Mm-hmm. . But really what it means is, I think there are a bunch of ways to interpret it, but I think one way is to interpret it as I am gonna put my needs first. And that is something that is so deeply uncomfortable for so many women. It really is. Yeah. And so one of the things I do, and I don't mean this in an offensive way to any of your male listeners, but I think this is a real gender dynamic, is I will sometimes ask myself, what would a man do in this situation?

[00:12:54] Hmm. And if I can see a man and not. I'm not a jerk, and I'm not saying all men are jerks, and I [00:13:00] think that men are just raised in a different culture and there are some ways in which men are given the raw deal too. But in this particular dynamic, I think men have been given more leeway to take care of their own needs first.

[00:13:13] And again, not always right, they're. There are exceptions. And so I say to myself, would a man feel comfortable saying no in this situation? And if so, how do I do that here? So in the corporate world, here are some ideas. One is you could just say, I'm not available to do that right now. Or I'm sorry, I'm not available to do that.

[00:13:32] Right. Instead of just saying I don't wanna do it or it's not my job. Right. Because part of it is we just don't wanna come off as jerks, so, right. Obviously part of it is tone of voice. Are we being snippy or not? And you can say, wow, it sounds like that's a really big job. I wish I was available to help you, but I'm not.

[00:13:46] Okay. Another one is that you could say, you know what? I need to go check my schedule and I'll get back to you in a day or two. And sometimes putting that pause in is enough that the person will kind of move on and you won't hear from them again. And sometimes it's not, but that [00:14:00] giving, inserting that time, that break, that pause maybe enough that you can either.

[00:14:07] figure out legit, like, do you have time to do this project? And do you want to mm-hmm. , right? And it can help you strategize for how you're gonna get back to this person. You can also just say like, I, I am hu I'm handling it. First of all, I, I always encourage people, don't lie. Right? If. . It can be tempting to make up a lie and say, oh, you know what?

[00:14:26] My dog died last night and I'm kind of a mess and I can't help you with that. Well, if your dog didn't actually die, don't say it because Yeah. Then they're gonna come back to you in two weeks and say, well, your dog's been dead for two weeks. Are you better now? Talk about Right. Like so. Don't say that. You don't always need to give a reason.

[00:14:41] You don't have to. You can just,

[00:14:43] Natalie: that's an issue for a lot of people is. Overexplaining or coming up with a reason versus I don't have the capacity for that right now. Something like that. Right?

[00:14:53] Carla: Absolutely. And the other thing to remember is the reason a lot of us. Come up with this [00:15:00] overexplaining or feel bad saying no, as we're worried about somebody else's feelings, right?

[00:15:04] We're trying to take care of the other person. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . We cannot be responsible for other people's feelings and that doesn't mean you go around being a jerk and being rude and saying mean things or using a snippy tone of voice or being a snot. That's not what I'm saying. We will do our best. to be our best selves with our own behavior.

[00:15:21] And that's where the, that's where the boundary ends, right? Yeah. We can't take responsibility for how somebody else feels. All we can take responsibility for is our behavior. So this is one of those internal boundaries where we decide I'm gonna take responsibility for how I behave. I'm gonna do my best to be a kind person who's living my values, taking care of myself, helping when I can.

[00:15:44] and saying, no one, I can't, with as much respect and kindness as I can offer while still holding that line,

[00:15:50] Natalie: and I, I have a feeling when people start doing this, it will be really hard. Really hard. People will push back. Family members will be like, well, wait a [00:16:00] minute. You're the one who always A, B, C, and meets my demands.

[00:16:04] Or emotionally, you know, the, the, the passive aggressive family member who says something that, you know, I mean, when you first start doing this, it will be uncomfortable. How do you advise people get through that and over

[00:16:17] Carla: that hurdle? Oh, get yourself good. The. No, I mean okay. So I was only, look, my own therapist was incredibly helpful with me in terms of strategizing and supporting me through setting some really important boundaries in my personal life.

[00:16:32] I realize that access to therapy is not possible for many people in this country right now cuz we have a deeply broken system. We do. So having. A person in your life who can serve as a reality check for you. So this is someone whose judgment you trust, and hopefully we all have this, and I realize we don't all have this, but I want this for everyone.

[00:16:51] Whether it's a friend, whether it's a clergy member in your life, whether it's, you know, somebody. I don't know who, a family member who [00:17:00] knows the dynamic that you trust their judgment, that you can be honest with them, who will support you through this process and who will say to you, I think you're being a little too sensitive right now.

[00:17:10] Or You could have said that in a nicer way. Or, and that person will also say to you, yeah. , that's not your job. That's not your responsibility. It's okay to let that one go. It's okay to not call that person every day. It's okay to say no to that request. We all need someone in our life, I feel like, who can support us through these.

[00:17:26] Yeah. Really changing these dynamics in our lives. Yeah. And maybe you can

[00:17:30] Natalie: be that for someone else. Absolutely. Reach out to someone. I love that. Can we be this for each other? . Yeah. What are some other boundaries that, that you think are important that we make and, and maybe it's something like, uh, I don't do meetings at night , you know, or, or, you know, just like simple things that can make our lives easier.

[00:17:51] Carla: So I think this is so specific to each of us. You know, I will happily take a 6:00 AM meeting because I'm a morning person, then not [00:18:00] I'm up anyways. And it doesn't bother me. But if you wanna get me on the phone after 6:00 PM I'm done. I'm toast. I don't want it. Right. I. For some people, they're really available to communicate.

[00:18:10] This is another boundary we can set over text. And some people, I don't know if you've noticed this with your teenager, Natalie, but my daughter who's 14, wants to FaceTime everything. She doesn't wanna make phone calls, she doesn't wanna text, she wants to FaceTime everything and it makes me bananas. So that's a boundary I have to set with her.

[00:18:29] You can FaceTime your buddies and I will text with you and I will answer a call, but I don't wanna see my face on a screen every time you have a question to ask me. . So how we communicate is a boundary we set when we choose to show up. Mm-hmm. and how we spend our time. And I really think there is an assumption.

[00:18:47] Especially among moms that we are going to volunt. Yes. Right? Mm-hmm. , and I think this is a longstanding assumption from when moms didn't work. Mm-hmm. . And if you are a mom who does not work outside the house, [00:19:00] you may feel this pressure, especially strongly, but whether you work outside the home or you don't, you don't have to volunteer.

[00:19:07] It's a great thing to do if it works for you, and if it doesn't, don't do it. And I will tell you that there were times when I agreed, I said yes to being on committees or planning or whatever because I felt guilty, and then I was fairly miserable the whole time. Yeah. And so now I have figured out ways that I can volunteer that work with my time, which are basically like, give me something that I can do on my computer.

[00:19:29] Staring at the television that, you know, I'm happy to write thank you notes to every donor to an organization, but if you ask me to plan an event, I'd rather go scrub my own toilet. Like, please don't do that. And so this is really, this kind of boundary setting requires us to get curious about our values.

[00:19:49] About our needs and about what we want, and then to respect that. And it is a great way to do this, is to just set a rule for yourself. So Natalie, you and I were talking about the show [00:20:00] and I told you the story that years ago I asked a fellow mother at my kid's school to be on a committee with me. It was a committee that I hated and I've never been on a again.

[00:20:07] And not because the people were awful, just because the, the, the content of what we were working on was a terrible match for my style. And so I asked this mom, To be on this committee with me. And she said, when does it meet? And I said, we meet in the evenings. And she said, I'm sorry, I never schedule meetings for the evenings because that's family time.

[00:20:23] And I was, what? I mean, it was really a mind blowing moment for me. I was like, we can set a rule like that. What? Yeah, we can just do that. Yeah. And you know, religious folks do this all the time. People who go to church will say, I'm not gonna schedule a meeting on Sunday morning. That's when I go to church.

[00:20:38] Many Jews will say, I'm not gonna do anything from Friday night to Saturday night because that's Shabbat and I don't do stuff on Shabbat. So if it feels too hard to say, I'm setting this boundary for me. You know, find the context for it. Find a rule so that in that moment You don't have to say no to the person.

[00:20:58] You're just telling them what the rule is. [00:21:00] And another great example I have is, I don't know if you get this Natalie, but I have a lot of people who email me and message me and say, I'd like to talk to you about how to get my book published. And I would love to help all these people. I would love to have conversations with each and every one of them, but I'm not a book coach and I'm not an agent.

[00:21:16] And I have sort of a weird story with how I got published that isn't very helpful to most people. I felt bad saying no to them, right? But each of these conversations ends up being 30 to 45 minutes long, and that's time I really need. And many of these people I don't know, and my husband said, why don't you write a blog post and put it on your website that shares your story, your journey to getting published and the best advice you have, and the next time somebody reaches out to you and says, Can we have a phone conversation?

[00:21:45] You can send them the blog post and say, this is everything I have to offer. Great. So what that really is, is that setting a boundary on my time while also being as helpful as I can. Yeah. So there can be creative ways to set these boundaries where it's not just you saying no, but you've [00:22:00] got something in place already.

[00:22:02] And what that does not only is save you time and you can help this person, but it also means you're not saying no to them. It's not like, I don't like you and I don't wanna help you. Yeah, that's not what it is. Yeah. It's saying this isn't personal. This is me setting my boundary, and here's everything I have to offer for you.

[00:22:16] So if you can have that in place, you know, I have a friend who's a parent coach. She transitioned from being a social worker to a parent coach, and she had so many people reach out to her to say, how did you do this? Can you guide me professionally? That she set a link on her website and she said, absolutely.

[00:22:29] This is a. Service I offer, you can go sign up for a time here and here's my fee for doing this. I'd love to have this conversation. So she decided she wanted to have those conversations and just charge people for it. Yeah. And I was like, oh, that's brilliant. Yeah. That's a great way to handle it too.

[00:22:44] Natalie: Part of what I'm hearing you say, and I think a, a general lesson people can learn from this is having the confidence in.

[00:22:50] Who you are, your expertise, your family, all of that. The confidence and, and just having that sense of I [00:23:00] can do this, and does it really matter if they don't like it. . It doesn't like, it's, it's, it's confidence. And one thing I noticed as my years in the television industry interviewing Yeah. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people that the best soundbites were those who, who would give a soundbite and stop.

[00:23:19] And I do that in media coaching. When people ask me to help them speak on camera. I'll say, say what you're gonna say and be. But so many people continue to justify what they're saying. Let me, and then they're not quite sure, and then they say a little bit more and they just keep going instead of just say what you're gonna say.

[00:23:37] Maybe it's a boundary, maybe it's something else, and be done.

[00:23:40] Carla: I love that. Don't justify. You don't have to explain. Just own it. And I think for many women, this is a hard thing to do because we weren't taught that our opinions and beliefs have inherent value. We were taught that they have value to the extent that they support a relationship or help someone else or make someone else feel [00:24:00] better.




[00:24:33] Carla: The lessons I learned about this that was so helpful was I listened to Terry Gross, she's a radio interviewer on fresh air uh, sorry, on npr. And her show was called Fresh Air, and she interviews authors and musicians and all sorts of politicians and different people. And she was interviewing a psychologist named Mary Pfeiffer.

[00:24:48] And years ago, Mary Pfeiffer wrote an extremely popular book called Reviving Ophelia about young girls. , the challenges of of teenager hood, if I'm rem remembering correctly. And years later, she wrote a book [00:25:00] about aging and how to age gracefully. And I remember, I, I probably heard this interview so many years ago Natalie, and I still remember that she said one of the things she learned married this author, psychologist later in her life maybe in her seventies or eighties, was that she could just choose to leave a conversation

[00:25:18] And whether that meant walking out of the room literally, or just sort of disengaging from that moment, With, you know, just not engaging in the chaos. She could choose to do that, and it was okay. And she said, I wish I had known that in my forties, ah, that I could just choose to leave a conversation. And I, I would like to take a moment and acknowledge that that is a very privileged thing to be able to do because There are situations in our country, you know, if you are a person of color, you probably can't choose to leave the conversation around racism, right?

[00:25:49] If you are a person in a job where you aren't working for yourself, where you have a boss and, and there's, you can't, you don't have the flexibility to leave that job and you have to be in this conversation [00:26:00] with your boss, you may not be able to choose to leave it the same way. So I wanna just acknowledge that there are many situations where maybe we can't choose to leave it, but man, when we can just leave it.

[00:26:10] And you don't have to be a jerk about it, but it is not our job to make other people happy. Right. Maybe that's the core message about setting boundaries. It is not our job to make other people happy. Yeah.

[00:26:22] Natalie: Yeah. And I think so much of it has to do with, and, and I think I learned this as, as an interviewer as well for so many years, has to do with women in particular, as you mentioned, and I don't like it that it's like this, but I think it is emotionally we engage.

[00:26:37] If I'm talking to someone and they're not giving me the facial expression I need, I continue talking. Other people do that. Oh, isn't that interesting? Just be done with what you're gonna say. But if, if, for example, you're, you're talking to me and I'm giving you a questioning, look. That person might keep talking to be sure you understand.

[00:26:55] Just be done with what you're gonna say. Or if it's a boundary, since that's how we started this [00:27:00] conversation, it's, I'm sorry, I'm not available. Even if that person's giving you a funny look, you don't have to say, because I whatever my dog , my kids, whatever. Just I'm not available,

[00:27:13] Carla: whatever that is. You know, the cool thing about boundaries is you get to decide mm-hmm. , when to flex them, right? You get to decide when to hold them and when to flex them. And as you know, Natalie, as we've talked about, I have a few family members in medical crisis right now and theirs situations, I don't know when they're gonna resolve.

[00:27:28] thankfully they will all probably be fine, almost certainly but it's not clear how long things are gonna be up in the air for. And so I've had folks reach out to me and want to schedule conversations, interviews, podcast recordings, and I have have said to them, I am so sorry, but my family's in a medical crisis that I don't know when it's gonna resolve and I'm not putting anything additional on my schedule for the foreseeable future.

[00:27:53] Please feel free to reach out to me in. Because I do wanna have these conversations with them. Right. And I'm [00:28:00] just being really honest. And so for me, so you and I are recording this in No, in December. The month is actually December . Yes. . Because that's how things are going right now. And I decided, you know what, it's gonna be a few months and even if my family gets better sooner, I'm gonna need time to catch up.

[00:28:15] Yeah. And to catch my breath. Yeah. And so I said, feel free to reach out to me in March, and maybe they'll reach out or maybe they won't. Or maybe I'll reach out to. But that's an if you wanna share something, if it is true, and if it feels comfortable to you to share it, you can do that in setting these boundaries.

[00:28:29] Yeah. Right. So during the pandemic, my family and I got in the habit of ending the day every night watching a hilarious TV show together. So we watched Brooklyn Nine Nine, and we watched Parks and Recreation, and we watched Psych and Leverage and all these shows that just left us laughing and it's like,

[00:28:47] It is such a core part of my day. It is a time when I feel connected to my family. When I get to laugh, I enjoy watching tv. Mm-hmm. and I am just so not willing to give that up. Especially as you know. Natalie, you've got two kids in [00:29:00] college, right? Yeah. My daughter's gonna be in high school next year and my younger daughter's gonna be in eighth grade next year.

[00:29:05] So they are like racing towards moving out of the house and I'm just like, you know what? I am literally gonna say no to a professional opportunity cuz I wanna watch the office with my daughters. Hmm. . Yeah. And I'm allowed to say that. And if you or any of your listeners are like, you know what, it's just a stupid office.

[00:29:22] This is not quality time with my kids. I wanna go take this professional opportunity cuz my career is something I really value and I'll spend some time with my kids on the weekend. You get to say that too. Yeah. Right. So our values are deeply personal and the boundaries we set because of our values are deeply personal.

[00:29:39] Yeah. And when we can root our boundaries in our values, Then we're like unstoppable, you know?

[00:29:46] Natalie: One of the things I really focus on right now is defining those values. Ugh. And, and I think our kids today, and I wanna ask you about that in boundaries and our kids here in a second, [00:30:00] but our kids today so often don't.

[00:30:05] A set of values. What are, what are your values? And maybe that's why they feel lost and you're the expert here, but what are the things you value? Do you value your time, your family, your health? You know, a, a list of things. And, and we have some on our wall in our kitchen. We need to read them every day, but at least they're there for our family.

[00:30:25] And we actually have one my husband just wrote, we put on the refrigerator. We all signed it. Like to regularly define. what your values are individually and as a family, so that then when it comes to boundaries, you can look at that and say, these are things we value.

[00:30:42] Carla: I love that. First of all. So let's just say a couple things about values, first of all.

[00:30:47] Mm-hmm. , they're deeply individual. Yep. There is no judgment. So one of my values is spending every day laughing. I wanna laugh that every day. Love that. I want to crack myself up. I hope that's on your refrigerator. .

[00:30:59] Natalie: [00:31:00] I love that.

[00:31:00] Carla: Nobody, there's a hilarious, you know, it showed up on our refrigerator. My daughter, who is a fabulous artist and she draws like little graphic novel style little people and she's just so great at drawing them.

[00:31:11] She drew a picture of a little girl with her finger up her nose, and it is like the most hilarious drawing and it has like front and center on our refrigerator, . So I don't. Like, you know, I didn't write this out as a value, but every time I look at my fridge I laugh cuz there's a picture of like an eight year old girl drawing, picking her nose.

[00:31:27] And so your values don't always have to be like these high and mighty. Like, I value integrity and I value reaching my goals. Like, fine, if it is, that's great because this is no judgment. But it can also be like, you know what, I really value petting my cat every single day. That is a value for me.

[00:31:44] That's fine. And how do we know if something is a. . When you ask yourself, why is this a value? And there's no good answer, it's just because it is perfect. Right? Yeah. That's how you know you've gotten to a value. There's just, it's just a thing. Mm-hmm. , don't worry about [00:32:00] where it comes from, but this is a thing that, you know, at the end of your life you wanna look back and say, this is how I spent my time, cuz it mattered to me so.

[00:32:08] We work hard to share our values with our daughters by how we spend our time and what we do. So we watch, you know, a hilarious TV show every night we engage with our Jewish communities. Cuz being Jewish and like engaging in practicing Judaism and part being part of these communities, that's a value for us.

[00:32:22] Right? So we've sent our daughters to Jewish day school, so we're showing them by what we do. My husband really values cooking. I do not value cooking. . I value eating right, but my husband really values cooking. So my daughters see him cook dinner for us every night. Wonderful. And oh my gosh, marry a man who cooks.

[00:32:38] It's amazing . Um, So the girls really see it through how we act. However, I don't, I don't know if my daughters could say with any accuracy what their values are. I think they know the right thing to. , right? We send them to a Jewish day school that's a values-based community. We talk to them about this, but they're still [00:33:00] figuring out who they are.

[00:33:01] Mm-hmm. and so, I think it's really important to show our kids through our actions and our words, what our values are and that requires us to get clear on them. But I think it's okay if your kids don't really know cuz it's so developmental. Right? Sure. And I wish I could have looked back at like 20 year old me and be like, don't date that guy.

[00:33:19] He's such a jerk and these aren't your values. But I wasn't clear on it then. Mm-hmm. . Right. And so I think with some values, Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And so I think that what I love is in many schools we're seeing more social emotional conversations. Mm-hmm. , and many of those get to values. I mean, I don't know about you, but like in 1986, New Mexico, this is not what we were talking about

[00:33:42] And so I think these conversations are much more in the air, but I think this is a moment where the best way to teach our children is to live our values, to share that with our kids and our words and our actions. and then let it go a little bit. Mm-hmm. . And one of the tricky things about [00:34:00] parenting is that sometimes our kids don't share our values, which is extremely rude of them.

[00:34:05] I mean, come on, . And, and so some of our inner work is to figure out, you know, what are our values? And so family and relationships is like one of my highest values, right? And so, . If my kid chose to embrace a value or live by a value that I didn't support or didn't resonate with me, I'm probably gonna choose our relationship over that, right?

[00:34:30] So I, I don't even know what it would be, but like, if she chose to be like a gang member on a motorcycle, I don't know. I don't like motorcycles. My dad was in a very bad motorcycle accident, . But if she valued that, it's not like I'd be like, I'm not gonna be your mother anymore because you ride a motorcycle.

[00:34:44] Yeah. Right. Like, I'm not gonna cut off our relationship cuz you value this experience. And so knowing what your values are can also help you like, again, set those boundaries around relationships and hold those boundaries around relationships. Well,

[00:34:56] Natalie: and part of growing up, and, and this is what I wanted to ask you in parenting with [00:35:00] your parenting books, which you're gonna tell us about here in a second Learning to know what those values are. So, you know, maybe they are different, but discussing them, you know, having conversations about what we value and why we value it. And I think that's absent in a lot of families right now, is just having the conversation, you know, the dinnertime conversation without the electronics.

[00:35:24] You know, those things of what we, what we value, what you value. .

[00:35:29] Carla: Yeah. And look, it's, it's hard and I think it's hard for a few reasons. One is it can make your kids really unhappy and again, or uncomfortable. Yeah. Uncomfortable. And, so, you know, my daughter is going to a lot of social events, barn, bat mitzvahs, other engagements these days, thank goodness, after the pan, not after the pandemic, but in this moment she's able to do it.

[00:35:45] Mm-hmm. . And she wants to spend a lot of money on. and that's important to her, and that is not something I value. And so I frame it in terms of, look, I don't value spending this money on a dress. . If you want to spend that much money in clothing, if you value that, you [00:36:00] can spend your own money mm-hmm. , and you can make that money.

[00:36:01] And here's how that can happen. Mm-hmm. . So that's the con. I really frame it not as, we don't have the money because we are fortunate, we do have the money that if she, if we really wanted to spend $200 on a fancy dress, we could for her. So I never say that to her, but I say, that's not a value we have, right?

[00:36:16] Mm-hmm. . Um, And I think that it is perfectly reasonable to value fancy clothing and to value. Dressing in a way that you feel good about. And so that if that is my daughter's value, I will support her in figuring out how to make that happen. I'm just not gonna spend the money on it. Right. Yeah. But

[00:36:32] Natalie: supporting her

[00:36:32] Carla: in being able to do that, absolutely.

[00:36:34] I will support her in it because I think that's important. But you know, while we might have money for a $200 dress, we don't have endless money and so

[00:36:41] Natalie: Yeah. Can we talk about because I, I wanna touch on your books cuz that's how I first met you um, and I've enjoyed our conversations on this, but specific to boundaries.

[00:36:50] Yeah. Can we talk about parenting and what that looks like in teaching our kids to set, obviously they have to have values and all of that, but teaching. Some [00:37:00] age of, of this is my boundary to my friends. Like maybe it's drugs and alcohol, or maybe it's relationships or whatever it is, teaching them that it's okay to set boundaries.

[00:37:09] This is a healthy thing to do.

[00:37:12] Carla: Yeah. So let me tell you about my books and then we'll tie it all together. Mm-hmm. . So my, I've written four parenting books and the two most recent ones are right here behind me. The yellow one is called How to Stop Losing Your Shit With Your Kids, and it's about emotional regulation for parents.

[00:37:25] And the orange one is called You are Not a Shitty Parent. And it's about practicing self-compassion. And boundaries are very much a part of both of these. And where it comes in just briefly and how to stop losing your shit with your kids is it's really about knowing our trigger. And when we can, oh, at least this is one piece of it is, is recognizing our triggers and when we can setting boundaries around those.

[00:37:47] So I know that there are a few family members, for example, when I get on a phone call with them, it's likely to trigger me and really get me amped up and overwhelmed and stressed out. And I'm very likely to turn around and yell at my kids. So one of the [00:38:00] boundaries I said, I don't answer phone calls from those family members when I'm with my children.

[00:38:04] Hmm. I find another time to do it. Usually I actually take myself out for a walk because being in the fresh air and moving my body while I'm having those conversations make me, makes it much less likely that I will be triggered. . Setting a boundary is also a deeply compassionate act because what you're saying in that moment is, I am suffering.

[00:38:24] I am struggling, and rather than not taking care of my needs, what I'm gonna do is ask myself what do I need and offer it to myself. And sometimes what we need is some boundaries in terms of teaching this to our children. It is a hard ongoing process and. , we need to let our kids make mistakes. Yeah.

[00:38:44] And so the goal is that they don't make a mistake that they can't come back from, right. Yeah. So, I am having conversations with my daughter about drugs and alcohol, and she is currently in a place as a 13 year old at the school. She goes to [00:39:00] where that feels a million miles away from her. Yeah. But I grew up with alcoholism and I'm a social worker, so this stuff is on my mind and we talk about it and we talk about.

[00:39:10] The problems with alcohol. We also talk about the benefits, like obviously there's a benefit otherwise people wouldn't drink. Mm-hmm. , why people drink, how to do it responsibly and what are the strategies. So if you're at a party and everybody's holding a red solo cup, it might feel really conspicuous to not be holding that red solo cup.

[00:39:25] So can you fill it up with water? Mm. Can you have one beer and then fill it up with water? And folks might be saying, oh my God, she's only 13. Why are you talking about this? It's me figuring out what's right for my family. Right? Yeah. We all gotta figure out the time to do it. And for me, this is something that's very much on my mind, and I know my 13 year old is in a place where she can have these conversations before she's faced with these challenges and we're having the same conversations around sex and we're having all, and it's all my, it's hard, it's uncomfortable, Natalie.

[00:39:54] I don't wanna be doing it right. I don't value having painful conversations just [00:40:00] for the sake of painful conversations. But I really value my relationship with my daughters. And so I'm starting to talk about this and I know for me what that looks like. If I wanna have a conversation with them about setting boundaries in difficult situations, I have to get myself in a good head space.

[00:40:15] Yep. That's so great. So I can be calm and patient and not get snappy and not be judgmental. And I have to realize that my job is to get to a good enough space where I can let them make mistakes and try things out and test those boundaries. Yeah, because although it would be amazing. . If somebody, if we could just hand our kids a rule book and be like, here are the boundaries that are gonna work for you.

[00:40:34] Just read this and do it. We all know it doesn't happen that way. Yeah. We all test those boundaries. We have to, sometimes the only way we can find the boundary is by like running straight across it. And that sucks. And, but it, it is the developmental process. It is the work, and we gotta let our kids do it.

[00:40:51] Natalie: It is the hardest thing. I appreciate the advice that you give and I've learned so much from our conversations and from your books, which by the way, I [00:41:00] will link in the show notes of, of the podcast here so people know where to get them. But where can people find you for learning a little bit more information on your website and your social

[00:41:09] Carla: media?

[00:41:09] Yeah, so they can go to carlin and you can find me on Facebook and I.

[00:41:14] Natalie: Wonderful. Well, I know you're really busy and I know you've got a lot going on with your family, so thank you for taking the time to chat today, and I'm sure we'll do it again soon, at least. I hope so. I'm, I'm anxious to hear about the new project that you have because you've read a new book.

[00:41:28] You're in the

[00:41:29] Carla: middle of writing, right? Yeah. It's a book about emotional regulation for middle grade kids, roughly ages eight to 12. it's a kids' version of how to stop losing your shit with your kids. So we've taken out all the profanity, we're calling it How to Stop Freaking Out. It's gonna be a fun, funny, engaging, highly illustrated book to help kids with their emotional regulation, and I'm super excited about it.

[00:41:50] Middle school

[00:41:50] Natalie: years are, at least in my parenting experience, the hardest. So , I'm glad to have another

[00:41:56] Carla: resource. Absolutely. And I just wanna thank [00:42:00] you for everything you do to support women and parents. We all need more curious wise voices like you, yours, Natalie. So thank you so much.

[00:42:07] Natalie: Always learning.

[00:42:08] Never stop. . Thanks so much Carla. Good to talk to you. Take care.


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