“Marly Q., didn’t you just have a baby? How are you still sharing new podcast episodes every Wednesday?!
Today's episode reveals my secret …
I’m able to be fully present for my new baby AND still make Time to be Kind while I learn how to parent two boys because one of the nation’s go-to parenting experts, Lina Acosta-Sandaal, inspired & empowered me to STOP PARENTING ALONE long before I became a mom!
If you’re in the US you can TEXT the word READY to 66866 to get on Lina's list! Connect on Instagram @parentingexpert
DON'T MISS THE ALL KIDS INCLUDED FAMILY ARTS FESTIVAL (scroll all the way down for details)
Totally FREE Virtual Event launching September 4, 2020 and continuing for several weeks!
Hi PARKer. I'm Marly Q and you're listening to Episode #23 with Lina Acosta-Sandaal. I'm celebrating life today because my husband, Bert and I just welcomed our new baby boy into the world this week! You know, being full-time entrepreneurs, raising one child has been challenging enough over the past two years. So, we're taking a little time off to be kind to ourselves as we transition into the role of parenting two kids.
In case you're asking yourself, how are we still able to share new episodes every Wednesday?
Well, I'll tell you our secret, we are not parenting alone!
That's precisely why I invited one of the nation's go to parenting experts to make time to be kind with us today. Lina Acosta-Sandaal is a highly sought-after human development expert, she's a psychotherapist, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder of Stop Parenting Alone; a parenting education and consulting program based in Miami, Florida.
Lina's heartfelt mission is for all parents to fall in love with their parenting journey and whether you're a parent or not, this episode is full of gold that'll spark kindness towards all the parents you know.
And I want you to stay to the end because I've got a very special invitation to a free virtual event coming up called All Kids Included, and you don't want to miss it. But first, let's listen in to this inspiring conversation with a fellow PARKer and real-life parenting superhero. Lina, thank you for making time to be kind with us today!
[01:41] Lina: Thank you for having me, thank you for asking. There's nothing like kindness, that's like one of my favorite subjects. So, I'm so excited to be able to be on today!
[01:52] Marly Q: Oh, one of my favorite subjects too! And as it relates to parenting, I know I'm a brand new mom, as of two years had my first baby boy and this episode is airing as I just had my second baby and I'm transitioning into being a mom of two young little boys! I am just so definitely focused on kindness towards myself, my husband and my babies. So, it's just absolutely awesome to have a parenting expert give me some love and advice for me and our PARKers listening.
[02:29] Lina: Yes, and you know, you say something beautiful, you know, "I am a mama of a two-year-old and a little tiny, new citizen.", right?
And the first tip on kindness to self as it pertains to parenting is, always remember that your knowledge, your information, and your experience is as old as your children's.
So, you cannot know what it's like to have a 10-year-old until you have a 10-year-old and you cannot know what it's like to have an 8-year-old, until you have an 8-year-old. You know, a lot of the time, parents' pain or self-criticism comes from this idea that somehow you can think far enough into the future to avoid and no, be kind to yourself. So yes, Marly, you are a mama of two year old information, you have two years mama and anything beyond that, your beautiful souls, who have chosen you, because I like to think that our babies choose us, right? They're going to teach you along the way so you know, it's my mission in the world to remind people, parenting is a journey and where you end up, you don't know, which is why it's so scary.
[03:44] Marly Q: Definitely for a planner, a recovering planner, I like to say, I'm a recovering planner, I remember you and I sitting at a women's symposium a couple years back, I think it was 2017 or so, actually the end of 2016 and you were a speaker at this event, an amazing speaker and I was emceeing.
We got to sit at the same table and one of the reflection questions was about creating like your vision and your big goals for the coming year. And I'm like, "I've got this parenting expert sitting right next to me. I am petrified to start a family.", and I remember being really afraid, but very anxious about starting a family and, "How am I going to be this ambitious, successful woman and philanthropist and doing everything that I'm doing and start a family?". But my husband sat me down and said, "Woman, when are we going to start a family?", and I confessed this to you and I wrote it down in the little yellow post it like,
"This is my big goal. I'm going to start a family.". And I took advantage and I picked your brain like, "Lina, how do you do it?", and you were so kind and generous and understanding and you didn't laugh at me and you're like, "This is completely normal for you to feel that way and you're going to be such a great mom.", and you just-- you were so supportive and I just always remember that conversation. You sent me a book, which is all about understanding that as parents, we are the architect of our child's minds and their brains and I just found it so fascinating, right? Although there isn't a children's like, a handbook on parenting, really, given that gift, as I was pregnant was just super powerful for me and I tried to follow much of the advice that you have given me in my first two years of parenting.
[05:33] Lina: Yay, that fills me with joy! And thank you for giving me that feedback. Because I remember vividly, just knowing in my soul like, you know, once you say yes to parenthood, it kind of happens, you know that there's a saying that my uncle used to say to me, and he used to say, it's in Spanish, "Los niños vienen con pan del brazo.", you know, “children come with a piece of bread under their arm”, and there's truth to that, right?
And, you know, I love that this podcast is about kindness, because I think that that's what most parents lack for themselves and it's not because they're bad, and it's not because they're evil; it's because parenting is high stakes.
Yes, we are the architects, you know, of a brain. For the first five years, we are laying the foundation of a human being's brain so, whenever we do anything that's high stakes, or stressful, we tend to be self-critical, we tend to micromanage and get into the minutiae of things and in that moment in that table, that's what you were doing; you were imagining, "How am I going to bring the soul into this earth and still be Marly?". You know, and I know that I said, loving things, but I also told you, you're not. You're going to be a new person, it's a new transition, It's a new shift, it's a new change.
And when we change, we must give ourselves the kindness to be human because it's when we criticize our mistakes or it's when we criticize what bubbles up in our emotional world for ourselves and for our children, that we feel pain. It's not what's actually happening in front of us, is the self-judgment and the self-criticism that actually creates bigger pain. Yes so, when I was thinking about coming on to speak to you, I was like ...
Kindness to self is key to being a parent.
[07:40] Marly Q: I'm so grateful to have been on this self-love and kindness journey well before I decided to bring kids into the world, and I see it every day, every single day. I mean, even as we speak, in days that I'm feeling low in energy and I have a headache and my child who's two now, he notices right away that I'm not feeling well. And I'm like, you know I tell him, "Papi, you know, mommy's head hurts you know and baby, you know baby Luka is almost here and I'm a little tired, I didn't sleep.", and he's two and he understands and he put his little hand like on my head and gives me kisses and I'm just like, "I'm teaching kindness, right? His middle name is Jude Parker, Parker is all of our PARKers listening, all of us are people who Perform Acts of Random Kindness.
I named him an acronym, you can laugh at me, it's okay. I share it all the time, people are like, "Oh my goodness, you named your kid an acronym?". Well, because if I only have one mission, as a parent, one seed that I am very intentional about planting in my kids, it's going to be the seed of kindness towards themselves, towards each other, towards this world because I believe that that's how we make profound change in the world.
I believe that that's really my single, most important role and job as a parent is to teach myself kindness by modeling it first and foremost, and he sees me modeling it, right? And then, teaching that to him, my kid hugs himself, you know, you would love it, he does something great, he's like, oh, he uses the potty right, we're potty training him right now. So, he's like, "Yay!", and he gives himself a hug, that's amazing.
[09:18] Lina: And that's beautiful, what a beautiful thing, right? Because you just named something really important in parenting, right? Which will be your map for all the trials and tribulations that we go through in our parenting journey, which is values, right? So, you have this very powerful value that you are teaching your child and modeling for your child, which is the value of kindness, right? Because kindness is a value, it has rules, right? So, when parents are very, very confused, I always say to them, "Hey, do you know your five core values that you're teaching your child?", right. Because if you have these values that you're certain of, that's how you can pick what you do in the routine, the rules you have in your home, the schools you will choose for your child, the after school activities that you will choose for your child, because you have to look at it through the lens of the values that you're teaching them, right? So, Marly Q is not going to put Jude Parker into a school that is not teaching and expressing kindness, it would just not-- so, it will be easy. You won't have to ask eight people what school is a good school in the city, because well, you will but then, you'll go to the four schools that the people tell you and then, you're going to be looking for how do they teach and honor this value? So again, if you don't have your five core values yet, and your child is 16, that's okay because you probably did it unconsciously. You have been teaching them about responsibility, and respect, and honesty, and all of those things are values. It's just that when I get to talk to a person who has a citizen of the world inside of their body, I'm like, "All right, values"!
That's the first thing I want you to figure out, forget everything else. What are the values?
What are the values you're going to teach your baby? Because that's how you can make all your decisions. And that's why Jude can be kind to himself when he does the excellent thing of going pee and poo in the potty because it's the pain in the behind to do that, you know, "It was so efficient before, I didn't have to stop my play.", and now he does. Now you have to stop his play to go pee and poo in the potty, which is awful.
[11:40] Marly Q: He definitely celebrates himself, which I think is one of my values is celebrating and gratitude. And my husband - I'm so grateful to not be on this parenting journey alone, I have a partner that is just as committed to, you know, being in alignment with our values and teaching him that so you know, values of kindness and honesty and gratitude and compassion, right, are all there. I am not parenting alone which is why I love, not just the name of your business, but really your messaging is really, you're not alone on this parenting journey and I'm just so fortunate, blessed to have, not just my husband who is right there, the rock, we're on the same page, but I have my parents, my mom who's been a child caretaker her whole life, I have my in laws as well right now while I'm on maternity, and I'm healing from my experience here, she's helping me you know, cook and clean and take care of Jude so that I can breastfeed the other one. And I have come such a long way in my own ability to ask for kindness, to receive kindness from others, which I know I struggled with in the past quite a bit and I'm receiving graciously with a lot of gratitude, a lot of help right now.
[12:53] Lina: Yeah, you're feeding me all the information of you know what makes up for good parenting, right? So, you just said, "I have a partner that parents with me.", and you know, there are three musts to parenting, and one of them is teamwork, right? And you just named your team, your partner, your in laws, your parents. And when we parent, we definitely need not do it alone and/or should do it alone because you rob the opportunity of your child to experience multiple people loving and caring for them, multiple people showing them different aspects of the world because each of us as individuals will show up with a child in a different way; I'm sure that you know, paternal grandma does very, very different things with Jude than maternal grandma. But it is important for those extended family members, friends, your partners to be able to be on the same page, right? For everybody to agree, and by the way, that doesn't happen quickly. I mean, when in early childhood, you know, that's one of the biggest stressors, right? When the caregivers are not on the same page, when there isn't teamwork and that stressor comes from the fight over the division of labor, who does what? Right. And here's another tip, the division of labor is not fair, it's very hard to do 50/50 division of labor, right? It's more about who does what well. And I don't like to get into gender stuff however, a lot of mama's believe the myth that only a mother can soothe a baby and that is not true. A loving, warm, present human, you know, can take care of a baby. It is so important to give everybody around the child an opportunity to build their own circle with the child and for everyone to speak to one another because, I don't know about you, but each of us depending on our relationship, we show up differently as well. So, when your child has multiple people around them, you get to see the range of their personality. Yeah, you just named, you know, now you've named the two like, high, A+ star, right? Values, teamwork, if you're wondering how to be-- how to do this parenting thing as well as possible. Because by the way, it's super messy and nobody does it perfectly. You're not supposed to do it perfectly.
[15:37] Marly Q: I want to talk about that because for many PARKers that are listening, who are parents or considering to be parents and are thinking that there's this perfection, right? This ideal that we are going to get it right all the time and that parenting is this like straight line, I love that you also focus so much of your work and your talks and your therapy with people on the messiness of parenting and allowing, I see it again, as kindness; it all comes back to allowing ourselves the kindness of messing up and making mistakes and being able to repair those mistakes with ourselves and our children, and that that's okay.
[16:17] Lina: 100%. There are different facts about raising a child one, yes, you are the architect of their brain, you know, their little neurology and their beliefs; their first beliefs come from you, you know, everybody knows this innately. You could be 30, 40, 50, 60 years old, you still hear certain rules in your head that your parents gave you, whether you agree with them or not, you hear them, right? And the messiness is also a fact of parenting and the messy is because of how quickly a human being that we're raising from 0-24, how quickly those years are with the shifts and the changes. We don't like change, you know, the neutral point of the brain is to be able to predict what's going to happen, right? The brain is a prediction machine, it uses past events to predict the future, right? Which is what all of us need to work very hard, if we get out of the neutral of the brain, to be mindful. I love reading your social and you talk about mindfulness and kindness and I'm like, "Oh, Marly, I just want to throw you kisses.", because to think, yes, because being mindful is a practice. Because our automatic response is to predict, right? So, why is parenting messy? Because the brain doesn't have any information, this is a brand-new creature, right? And I always tell parents, I have expertise in children's development, I have expertise in children and adolescents and infants but you parent, are the expert on your child because they are also an individual. So, you can take all this broad information that we have about our children, but then you have to see it and discover what's in front of you and that feels super messy because your brain wants me to predict for you, "Okay, at 25.3 quarters of a month, your child will be speaking in four sentences.".
[18:36] Marly Q: No, I understand as a recovering planner, one of the guidelines that I tried so hard to follow, in that book that you had given me was, to not expose my son to TV or electronics, that type of thing until he was two years old. And then, this worldwide pandemic hit and we're quarantined at home and I'm pregnant and I have a toddler and I still was really good and committed to it and we're like five or six weeks away from this kid's second birthday and I caved completely. I was just having a, you know, a low energy day and this kid was just non-stop and I'm like, "We are turning on this TV and we are watching animal planet.", and we saw like, some nature, you know, animal show, he just had the best time. So, although a little part of me really wanted to be self-critical and be hard on myself for not, you know, meeting my goal of two years old, I did exactly what you're just sharing right now is, I allowed it to be messy, and I applied it to this individual child that I have in front of me who is incredibly sharp. And I'm like, "You know what? Six weeks before his second birthday? It's going to be okay, I'm not going to ruin his brain, and we're going to watch some TV together.", and it was this beautiful family time that he loves. So, I thought I'd confess too, to you; I broke my goal of the two-year-old but it was okay, I was kind of myself about it.
[19:59] Lina: You know, you're naming what we had, right? Our old, prior to global pandemic times of guidelines for young children and screens, right? No screens before two, you know, an hour between two and four with an adult, just like you handle a book and then, you know, five and older, you know, two hours, right?
But I was just speaking to a pediatrician and she was like, "You know, we kind of have to wiggle and slow and wobble with what's happening.", and you're naming it exactly right. It's that moment where, whenever you're in doubt, as a parent, whenever you are frazzled, and you don't know what to do, and you're overwhelmed, my go to, kind of like break glass for help is, "How can I stay calm?", because our children use us, to know when the world is safe and this is true of all age groups, right? They look to us for leadership, they look to us for safety, they look to us for information, right? So, in those moments when you're frazzled and lost and crazy, but you are making the perfect nutritious meal and no screens and-- but you're crazy. That doesn't do, I mean, I'd rather he watched you know, two hours of television with a calm, happy mommy, sitting next to him cracking up, than a frazzled, scared, self-critical mama who was making the perfect meal.
[21:38] Marly Q: Yeah, absolutely. That's the basis of how I made that decision, I'm like, "Nope, right now what's more important to me is that we are calm and that we are going to keep a peaceful home and we're going to watch some TV together, buddy, and it's going to be great; you're going to love it.".
[21:51] Lina: Yeah. So, that is my, here, break glass in emergency. “How can I be safe? How can I be calm? How can I stay as loving as possible? What do I need to do as a parent?” and ask yourself that.
[22:04] Marly Q: My favorite part is when he asked me so far, again as a relatively new mom still is, what's my favorite part so far about being a mom? And my favorite part is, how my son looks at me as his guide in life with these eyes of like, trust and like, "Tell me what this is. What is that mama?". You know, and just trusting you as their guide in life. So, for me my priority is that self-care, "How am I feeling?", because I understand that that's what I'm communicating to him pre-verbally, before language, I'm communicating to him energy and how I'm feeling so, that comes before. And am I perfect? Absolutely not but I know how to implement the 70/30 rule as well.
[22:51] Lina: Oh, yes. I always share with, I love that you brought that up, that in parenting, you know, this isn't the exact number so, those of you that are mathematicians don't divide your hours by 70/30. However, it's just a nice kind of reminder that 30% of the time, you're going to mess up miserably; you will, because you're a human, right? And the other 70% of the time, you're going to be that parent that you hope that you will be that you know, that you've read about in all the books. So, what you do with that 30% is what makes or breaks your relationship with your child, right? So, that 30%, when we mess up, when we blow it, we go and repair and that's how you build self-esteem with your child because they experience this estimable moment where the person that they love the most is letting them know, "You are so valuable to me that I am going to come here and let you know the mistake that I made.", and it's not a, "I'm sorry, mommy's never going to do that again.", because that would make you a liar; you will do that again. But rather, "Hey, I didn't speak to you in a kind way, I forgot to breathe, I forgot to walk away and next time, I'm going to manage my frustration a little bit better, we're both working on that buddy.". And repeat and remind, repeat and remind forever and a day, right? Because if you pretend to be perfect, you make the child criticize themselves because children always make mistakes. Children don't have impulse control and children break the rules all the time because they're children. So, if they have this perfect person that never does anything wrong, that creates chaos.
[24:35] Marly Q: Thank you for sharing that, I think that that's so important to have brought up in the conversation as well. So, I try to practice it my friend, and I know my kid's only two but he knows when you know, mama messes up and I got frustrated, I am a spicy, fiery, Cuban mom, man, I get mad sometimes, and I'll breathe.
[24:54] Lina: Actually, he's already at two, learned a really valuable thing which is not to take your mood personal. So, besides being that secure base and doing what you need to do to stay as calm as possible, always be mindful to, you know, take him off the hook as it pertains to your mood and your energy. So, "Oh my god, Lina, I can't possibly be calm all the time, you're scaring me. I can't do that.". Listen well, I'm not telling you to be perfect, I'm telling you be mindful of how you can stay calm as often as possible. However, if you're having a 30% day, let your baby know something to the effect of, "Mommy's cuckoo bananas, I'm going to take deep breaths, I'm going to come down. So, we're going to move slowly. today.", that way your child is like, "Ooh, mommy's cuckoo bananas.". You know, my son, back when he was younger, you know, he's 12 now, but when he was younger, he would open my door and then I would like look at him and he'd be like, "Oh Mama's cuckoo bananas?", and I just like, shake my head saying yes and then, he would just close the door. So, the next time your child walks away from you or your teenager says to you, "Oh my God, you're so crazy.", pat yourself on the back, because that means that they're not taking your mood personal.
[26:10] Marly Q: What a great insight there. Thank you, that makes me feel better about those times. But you know, we can talk for days, I love talking to you, I love hearing, not just receiving your light, your love, your energy, your wisdom, your advice, all rooted in kindness. Always seeking to make the world a better place by empowering and educating and uplifting parents because we do have, I think, the most important job and if we want to create a world where it's full of PARKers, of people who are Performing Acts of Random Kindness, it really does start with us and us instilling these seeds of kindness in our kids. Thank you for the work that you do every day, thank you for making the time to be kind today and sharing all of that with us.
[26:55] Lina: You're so very welcome and I am honored to have had this opportunity.
[27:00] Outro: I hope this episode inspired you to Stop Parenting Alone. If you want to receive more free parenting tips from Lina, head on over to marlyq.com/23 for show notes, transcription and direct links to learn about her awesome Online Parenting Support (OPS) group too.
For the past six years, I've been a part of a very special community event called The All Kids Included Family Arts Festival or AKI for short. It's presented by the Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and South Miami Dade Cultural Art Center with the support from the Children's Trust. This year, I got to Emcee the first ever digital AKI and I'm so excited to share that it's launching this Friday September 4th, and it's continuing for several weeks!
This one of the kind digital AKI event features storytelling, art making activities, performances, sing alongs, magic and so much more, absolutely FREE for kids of all ages and abilities. For details, just click the digital AKI event flyer for direct link to participate and invite all the parents you know, they'll love you for Performing Acts of Random Kindness. #wePARK
[28:09] Thank you for listening. If you're inspired to make a little more time to be kind, please subscribe, leave a kind review and share with a friend who would appreciate this podcast too. Thank you for being the spark of kindness. See you next time. [28:21]