I absolutely loved this conversation with Alli Worthington. We get so real about the toxic traps all around and how to stay sane as a parent. From "parenting book trauma" to bad advice about friendships, we’ve got you covered.
You'll learn practical tips & fascinating research from Alli's new book, Remaining You While Raising Them. Alli’s a business owner, podcast host, and the mom of 6 kids. Here’s what we cover:
1. The #1 source of mom guilt
2. The most important question to ask yourself each day
3. How parenting failures actually help kids
4. The surprising research on which relationships are happiest
5. Which friends to keep, and which ones to release
Do you have questions about friendship for Dr. Alison? Leave them here.
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Music by Andy Luiten
Sound editing by Kelly Kramarik
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
Listen to The Alli Worthington Show
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Alison: Hey, everyone, and welcome back to this week's episode of the best of you podcast where we are rounding out and closing out this little series on back to school where we're talking all about parenting and kids and how to just be present and attuned to the different things that the young ones in our lives are struggling with and how to bring our best selves into those conversations and into those roles, whether it's as a mom, a big sister, a grandma, an aunt, a godparent, whatever the role is that you have in front of you, maybe you're just someone who is fairly young yourself and just feels like some of this relates to you.
And how do you begin to learn? Whatever role in whatever capacity that you are, where you are trying to, and you'll whatever role you're in this whole series, if you've noticed a theme, the theme is the more we become whole ourselves, the more we become The people that God wants us to be healthy, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually.
The more we're tending to our own heart, souls, mind, emotion, becoming clear, capable, confident, courageous in our own lives. The better we're going to be for the people who we love, especially our kids. And that's why I'm so excited to round this out with a conversation with a new friend of mine, Alli Worthington.
And Alli has a new book out and the title just really speaks for itself. The title of this book is Remaining You While Raising Them.
And I just, I love the idea behind everything Alli is doing, which is the more we are ourselves, the more we are caring for and attuning to and healing and becoming more and more clear about the people that God made us to be, the more we're going to be able to show up for our kids in an effective way.
It's really hard to shepherd, to lead others. It's really hard to lead. Others through the challenges that they face if we haven't done our own work, right? If we haven't navigated, if we haven't blazed those trails first. And so in today's conversation, I'm so excited. I'm so thrilled to introduce you to today's conversation.
Today's conversation is for every mom who's felt overwhelmed or frankly, a little bit overwrought by all of the information that's out there for parents. Alli just has a great way. You'll hear it in today's episode of just applying practical tips to everyday life. And she's come by her wisdom the hard way. She will tell a little bit about her story in the episode, but she really had to go back to work after a financial crisis in her own family while parenting five boys and a stepdaughter.
So she has lived what she talks to us about every single day. Alli Worthington lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, their five sons, and their five sons, she with their, with her husband, Mark, and their five sons. She's a popular Christian woman speaker who travels the country sharing practical advice and encouragement.
She hosts. It's a weekly podcast called the Alli Worthington show. And she's a sought after coach and consultant who has worked with individuals, small business owners and fortune 500 companies. She built her business in 2008 after her family went bankrupt with 42 in the bank and here she is. And she had to do all of that while taking care of these precious babies all around her.
I am so thrilled for this conversation today on how to remain yourself while raising them with Alli Worthington.
Alison: Thank you so much, Alli, for being here today. I'm just super excited about this new book and I love the title: Remaining You While Raising Them. You have five boys and a stepdaughter. Is that right, Alli?
Alli: Yep. A lot of children.
Alison: Yes. So I would love to start there. Actually you tell a story in the book about early on in parenting when a teacher reprimanded you a little bit for not having looked in the proper folder for one of your And you had, you talk in the story about how you had gone back to work, you and your husband had lost a home, you'd had a financial crisis, you had, I don't know how many kids you had at this point of this story and you'd started working and I love the picture that you paint.
You had literally set up a business kind of in the middle of your home and I'm just imagining all the chaos around it and you'd really struggled with beating yourself up. And I'd love to just start there for a moment. What were some myths that you still believed as a mom at that point in your early parenting ?
Alli: Yeah. Such a great question. So all five boys were here on earth at this point. This was my middle son. He's in preschool and in preschool they give you a folder full of nonsense and it's, what time did they go to potty, and some scribble that they did and who knows what else, right?
It's not nuclear codes that they're sending home every day as my husband reminded me. The teacher took it very seriously as you want a preschool teacher to do, but I'm coming in, I have all these children. I have a newborn on my arm. I have a business that I have that I'm working on my computer in my living room because I can't even get to my home office, because I'm always with the kids. And this sweet teacher says, I know you don't look in the yellow folder, but there's something really important for you to look at today.
She didn't just say it to me. She said it with all the other moms around. So I just have this weight of mom guilt that my work that I'm doing, my job, the company I'm building, it is ruining my children. I am a terrible mom. My children are suffering. And what stopped me from quitting is we didn't have the financial privilege for me to quit. As you mentioned, I was a stay home mom, and was very happy in the stay home mom role in 2008.
My husband lost his job. We ended up losing our home. We lost almost everything except what fit into two storage units. And I knew after that it was going to take my husband's job plus me starting my company to make sure that we were okay. But had I not had the financial pressure, I think I would have quit.
And I think I wouldn't have followed my calling to build what I built through the years. Now I can look back now and go, he was fine. There weren't any nuclear codes in the folder. It was just to make sure he wore a certain color of socks the next day. But we as moms are so hard on ourselves. And we sometimes think that every little decision we make and every little thing we do is make or break for our children's lives.
Alison: Yeah, I just love the benefit of hindsight, right? You can look back and go, it was a yellow folder. It was a pair of socks, but it doesn't feel that way in the moment. And I think the more you're juggling in a way, the more pressure you can put on yourself. You say in the book, you say, thank God I didn't have the financial privilege to quit.
And I thought that was such a provocative statement that in the moment, and you might have had that been an option for you, but with hindsight, what is it about juggling both the work that you ended up doing in the parenting that you're grateful for looking back, even though perhaps at the moment you felt like the guilt of it's taking me away from my kids, or it's taking me away from the yellow folder.
Alli: I can look back now that I have most of my children at adulthood or beyond. I have two that are still in high school, a freshman in high school and a junior. And I can look back on my work through the years. And no, for sure it didn't harm them. But I was convinced at the time I was harming them. My youngest used to come up to me in the living room when they were all playing and smack my MacBook closed and say, no more work, mommy. And I would go, oh, I'm damaging him forever.
He's just fine. So the stories that I told myself of, I'm hurting my children, my attention is divided, I'm going to have so much in therapy bills just because I was building this company when they were little. None of that happened.
That it is for us to be great moms. We need to model emotional health. We need to take care of ourselves as we're taking care of them. Being a great mom doesn't mean I sat around on the floor and braided everyone's hair and taught them Latin and we knitted socks for the poor. Now, if some moms have the time to do that, that's great.
But sometimes we think that we have to go over and above to be good moms. There are moms who grow their own organic wheat in the backyard and make fresh sandwiches every day. And if it makes them happy, that's great, but it's not what every mom has to do.
Alison: That's right. And you're making such a good point here that if you're doing that because it lights up your own heart, that will spill over to the kids as well, right? Because the kids will pick up, are you doing this because this is just what brings you joy, therefore vicariously it brings all of us joy, whether it's whatever the work is, or are you doing this out of some guilt?
You talk about as a little girl watching, and this really stood out to me because I related to it, watching the women in your family, the older women in your family, just killing themselves to put on these lavish holiday meals and being bitter and resentful.
And you do a great job of implying they didn't feel as if they could give themselves permission not to do it, but there were a lot of ways in which they were doing that not because it lit up their own hearts. They were doing that because they felt like they had to. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Alli: Yeah, I'll never forget. I was eight years old. The first time I noticed it and it was my great aunt, Shirley. She had everyone over for a Christmas celebration, and she's loving, and she's kind, and she's nice, and she's doing everything right, and she had cooked for days. And she told everyone she cooked for days, often.
And I couldn't tell at eight because she was smiling and her words were coming out sweet, but I knew something was wrong. And I knew whatever was going on, I did not want to be a part of. So even though this Christmas celebration with amazing food and presents, even though it was a “happy time”, I wasn't happy being there because I could feel the tension.
It wasn't until I got older and after she passed away, some family members said, oh, she hated cooking all that time. She hated hosting. But she did not feel like she could say anything because she felt like the way for her to be a quote unquote good mom, good family member, was to do all this.
When she felt like she had permission, she could have raised her hand and said, hey, everybody bring a dish. Or I'll do it this year, you guys do it next year. But she felt like that was her role. And as much as she tried to be loving, the resentment and the bitterness came out. And so we can quote unquote, do all the right things. But if it doesn't light our soul on fire, everybody's going to know it.
Alison: Yeah. They'll pick that up. When did you start throughout this journey of parenting, when did you start to arrive at some of these conclusions that you're walking us through in the book –taking good care of yourself, being your most healthy version of you and who God made you to be? When did you begin to really lean into that as a mom and how did you come to that?
Alli: I think it was slow, a lot of it did have to do with watching the women in my family. I grew up with a family who is relatively poor. And I remember when I was getting ready to have my first child, making the decision that for as much as I could, I didn't want to be a mom that didn't take care of herself.
I didn't want to be a mom who had holes in her shoes and her kids didn't. Not that I wanted to force everybody, but I saw how the women in my family had struggled financially, and I knew that I wanted to do everything I could to not just take care of my children, but to make sure that I, as a mom, was taken care of too.
That I didn't have to be a martyr as a mother, and that's just a from a practical sense of growing up in poverty and that slowly just through reading a lot of books and a lot of therapy that I had, they ended up getting through the years turned into I not only need to make sure that I'm okay physically, I need to make sure that I'm okay emotionally because everybody has an Aunt Shirley in their family that feels like she can't speak up for her needs and she's bitter about it.
I didn't want to turn into Aunt Shirley in whatever way that happened because it happens to women really dangerously easily. And I wanted to protect myself from that.
Alison: Yeah. That's interesting. So you had a template in your mind that you very consciously were trying to counter in your own life and which led you to just continually work against that guilt tripping voice in your head. You had it initially, the guilt tripping voice, but you were able to counter it along the way.
Tell us a little bit about these myths. These guilting myths that so many moms, your friends, people in your life, people you work with, that you see time and again.
Alli: Two of the biggest ones are that if we are good moms, our children should be well behaved. That one is huge. And the second one is that we should get it all right. We should essentially be super moms. And the super mom one is so interesting. I'm a huge fan of the Wonder Woman movies. Love them. Love the gold cuffs. Love her whole vibe.
But I was thinking about how if Wonder Woman were a mother, she would completely ruin her child's ability to deal with anybody in the real world because she'd be perfect. She wouldn't struggle. She wouldn't mess up. She wouldn't have to go to her kids and apologize for losing her temper. She wouldn't have to repair a relationship because she does everything right. So her kids go out in the world and they have no ability to deal with real people.
And so that changed my perspective to a mom who does work to be healthy in the sense that yes, we're going to lose our temper and we're going to apologize. We're going to repair a relationship. We are going to verbalize when we have needs. We're going to be able to have boundaries and let our children watch us grow.
We're setting our kids up to be able to be in real healthy relationships when they're older. And if we did everything perfect, we wouldn't. If we did everything perfect, they would go away to college and just be a mess because they couldn't deal with the fallibility of humans.
Alison: I love that. I never thought about it that way, but I often say to people, in the therapy world, sometimes I feel like we put a number on parents because we talk a lot about the importance of parents, that we are the first secure attachment. We are the first place where our kids experience presence.
In fact, a lot of research in the psychology of religion talks about how we are the first glimpse of how kids conceptualize God, right? Because we're that first safe figure. That can put a lot of pressure on parents, but I love what you're saying. Cause in a way, what you're saying is we're also their first glimpse of what a human is.
And how to deal with a human. And so both things can be true. We're incredibly important in providing that first glimpse of safety, that first glimpse of love and presence and unconditional regard. And we're also that first opportunity to work out things that are hard, to see when someone messes up, what they do with it. I love that perspective.
Alli: Yeah, and you can really think about it in terms of when a child is very small, that's when we're always there to comfort and we're building that secure attachment. But as a child gets bigger between years, teen years, especially even elementary years, your child needs to slowly see you as more and more of a human because you are setting that child up for successful relationships in the future. And if we have this mask of perfection, it's not going to help them deal with people in the real world.
Alison: You're right that especially as they age and especially as they develop, we're coming alongside them, another set of eyeballs on the realities of life and a lot of modeling. And again, which gets to the topic of your book, which is the more we've done the work of becoming healthy, the more we've done the work of making peace with the things about ourselves that we don't like with other people, with challenges, with complexities, the more we're going to be able to lead them through their own challenges and frustrations.
Alli: Yeah. And it's been so interesting as people are reading the book, I've heard a couple of different things that have been very surprising. One is that I don't want to negate the importance of the word trauma, but I've nicknamed it parenting book trauma. So many women who've said, oh, I read this parenting book and I couldn't finish it. I wish I never read it. I felt ashamed because I couldn't live up to these standards.
So even talking about motherhood brings up a lot of really triggering feelings for women. And then another thing that I've heard often is, oh, I wish I would've had this book when my kids were young, but really this book is as much for women who have teens and tweens and adult children because for me, what my what my husband and I discovered having adult children is we can't really guilt them into coming to see us.
We have to make sure we're the best versions of us possible to woo them to us, so it’s interesting, just the conversations of all of the terrible experiences that women have had reading parenting books in the past, but also the fact that for some women, we really put ourselves on the shelf and don't work on ourselves in terms of our motherhood after the first year of having our babies.
Alison: Paradoxically, it's not only harmful for us, it does a disservice to our kids. We actually aren't servicing them. I love what you're saying about being the parent of adult children. I found that to be true in my life. And I say this a lot that one of the things you want to do to have a healthy relationship with your kids all the way into your old age as they become adults is frankly, to be so okay with yourself that you're right there when they come back with you to tell you the things that you didn't do quite right,
Alison: –because the more they grow and the more they change and the more they get a little bit of their own perspective on life, they're going to come back and say, wait, why did you do that thing? Or what was that? Or this is what, and the more we've done the work and we can go, yeah.
And we're not triggered by that and we just sit with them and let them process that with us. That's where that connection stays alive. It's not through trying to be perfect or trying to avoid that conversation, right? That's where intimacy comes in. That's the good stuff in any relationship. It's not that we never have the rupture. It's that we really know how to lean into that repair.
Alli: Oh, yeah, or at least we can pretend we aren't too triggered and then we can go deal with it later.
Alison: We can do our deep breathing
Alison: Tell us about, you talk a little bit in the book about different types of moms. Tell me a little bit about that.
Alli: I think that for most of us, we have this idea in our head of what a quote unquote good mom is. And we've all picked that up. Maybe we saw something in childhood or it's just from the awful social media messaging that we're getting all the time. But it is not as if our children are in our lives accidentally.
We are placed together in families by divine design, whether adoption or by birth. And once we look at ourselves and go, what are my strengths? What kind of mom am I? What am I leaning into? Once we can do that, we can stop beating ourselves up for the strengths we don't have. Like me, I'm not outdoorsy.
My cousin, she's an outdoorsy mom. They're always hiking or kayaking. I only want to be outdoors if I'm at an amusement park. Or I'm at Disney World or something luxurious. That's my outdoors, and that's my thing. I like to ride roller coasters with kids, and I like to do fun things like that. My cousin would never do that in a million years.
She wants to be in a kayak. There are moms who love crafts. There are moms who have an organic garden, and they're teaching kids about growing your own food and homesteading. And once we look at how we go about life, what our strengths are, what our passions are, and then go, this is who I am. And this is actually good for my kids.
Because my kids are placed with me by divine design. It's not like us leaning into the fullness of who we are is going to hurt our children unless the fullness of who we are is to be an assassin. But my guess is no one listening right now is gosh, my, the fullness of my life is an assassin, but we really look at our personalities and go, this is my design. My kids will benefit from this. I don't need to mother in any way that isn't natural for me. I think that's really powerful for women.
Alison: It's almost like a strength based approach to parenting. You think about the strengthsfinder, we've talked about that here, where you identify what I have to bring and you do better if you lean into your strengths versus beating yourself up for the things that are not your natural strengths, a great way to look at it.
And I think it's interesting, you've got the parenting book trauma that you described. And also, if you add on to that, the social media comparison trap. Because that's where you're seeing all of that, right? You're seeing all the pictures of all the things you're not doing.
Alli: Oh, yeah. I think social media is such a driver of mom guilt. I did a survey of over a thousand women before I wrote this book to find out what's the biggest trigger of mom guilt. How often do you have it? What's the trigger? It's not us. It's not our spouses. It's not our friends. The number one individual trigger is social media, where you feel like you're doing okay, life is okay, and then all of a sudden you open it up and there's this beautiful video of someone growing organic wheat and you're like darn it.
Alli: Look at that. I'm not growing organic wheat. I guess I'm a terrible mom after all or whatever it is. We know that social media is a highlight reel, but there is something that happens in our brain. Our brain doesn't know because if we look at family pictures where everyone's dressed in matching clothes and the dog is smiling, and then you look around your house and your teenager's mad or your toddler's having a tantrum and your dog's throwing up in the carpet, something happens in our brain and we can't help but compare.
It's just what happens.
Alison: Yeah. It's that negative voice, right? That cannot see, in that moment, all they see is the perfection in that image and cannot see all those moments, right? That no matter how glamorous or unglamorous they were, that you as a mom were with your child in a moment of need that didn't get captured.
And it's such an important thing that you're naming there to really know and lean into your own strengths. This is not being arrogant. This is healthy pride. Take pride in your own work, take pride in what you're doing. Make a list of it every single day. Write it on your mirror, especially when you're in the weeds of parenting.
Alli: Oh, yeah. And also, I think it is important for us to have conversations like this about the danger of social media. Now, I love social media. I built my company on it. However, if we don't know someone personally and we are following accounts with images and videos of perfection. I am of the belief they should be unfollowed.
Especially because we now have an influencer culture and I'm never going to say, hey, you shouldn't make money however you want to make money. But there are huge accounts out there with images and videos of perfection. And it is all a business. It is not real. If people are selling or people are saying like, here's my outfit and here's a 20% off code, it is a business. It's not natural. And we can't compare our real life to someone else's business model.
Alison: That's a good word. It's a good word. I agree with you. It is just the data on it. The research on it is just unequivocal that it's just not healthy. It's not healthy for our kids to see all the comparison traps. It's not healthy for us. You talk a lot in the book about different habits. What are some things in your own life that have helped you just, again, you've got these five boys, you're running this business, you're in the weeds. What are some of the most helpful tips that have just kept you balanced in those moments?
Alli: That's a great question. One of them, I put in that back section of the book about habits to help us thrive. And it's a simple question that I've learned to ask myself a few times a day. I have pop up reminders that come up on my phone and I ask myself, what do you need right now? Because that question, what do I need?
Most of us go, I have no idea, I haven't thought about myself in so long, but just changing it to what do I need right now has been a game changer for me because sometimes I need a glass of water. Sometimes I need to make lunch plans with a girlfriend because research shows healthy friendships are so important for moms so we don't get taken out by loneliness.
Sometimes I need a housekeeper. Sometimes I need to plan a trip, sometimes I need a snack, it can be big, it can be little, but it keeps me checking in with myself so I don't run myself ragged as a mom and as a business owner. And it lets me check in with myself and also it models for my children that I'm worthy of care.
They are worthy of care and one day they are going to marry women. And we want them to know their wives are worthy of care. They, as their husbands, are worthy of care. We should all be checking in with ourselves every day and going, What do I need right now? What do I need? And give ourselves permission. It's the permission that Aunt Shirley didn't have. And it's the permission that most of us, at different parts in our life, don't feel like we have.
Alison: Yeah, I was just thinking that. Can you imagine if Aunt Shirley had been able to say, what do I need right now? I need someone to get in the kitchen and help me, or whatever it might have been?
The other thing that came to my mind as you were talking was that isn't that what we're trying to teach our children? Learn to ask for what you need, learn to use your words. And so if we're not doing that for ourselves, as they say, more is caught than taught, with kids. So if they don't see us saying, hey, here's what I need right now, how do they learn that's what they need to do?
Alli: Yeah, I could think about so many times in my life I have wanted to play the perfect mom role and I've just sacrificed and then finally I just lose my mind and blow up because I'm so angry because I've just been stuffing my needs for too long. You play nice and you play nice and you play nice and finally you explode and if we can make sure every woman has permission to go, hey, what do I need right now, so we don't have to just play nice.
So we can just continually take care of ourselves, so we don't have to explode. That's the game changer.
Alison: What does it look like for you when you've lost it in a moment with one of your boys? How do you go about the process? This is one of the things women often ask me, how do I apologize to my child? How do I make it right? What do you do when you have had a moment with your kids that you need to go back and repair?
Alli: Oh, it's “I'm so sorry that I did that. I was a jerk in that moment. This is what was going on inside of me”. So I can explain it had nothing to do with them. But it's just, you were unlucky in that moment. And you were part of that moment with me. But I was just like a ticking bomb. And I ask for forgiveness, but just own it.
Alison: Yeah, I love that. I love the modeling for kids when we get it wrong and we go back and let them know because they're going to get it wrong too.
Alli: Oh, yeah. Every day they get it wrong.
Alison: Yeah. And so they're learning. Oh, that's what you do. When you mess up, you just go back and you say, hey, you take responsibility again.
It's not that we're after perfection. It's that we're after that awareness or, again, when you think about that question, what do I need? What do I need right now? I might need a timeout from my kids so I don't explode on them in that moment. And you can say that too to your kids, right now what I need is to just take a little timeout. I'll be back.
Alli: When they were little, I used to do this thing where I would start at 10 and just start counting back to one and they all knew, oh that's mom trying to get ahold of herself and we should scatter or we should be real quiet. Because I was either going to yell at them or I was going to count from ten to one.
And sometimes I counted from ten to one very aggressively. And I didn't understand at the time that it was me regulating my emotions. So I didn't lose it. So I was regulating myself, but it was also a warning to them, hey, we're out of control. Let's give her a moment.
Alison: That's another spin on the counting, the counting to 10. Usually, we're giving kids the time to behave, but we're really giving ourselves the opportunity to stay calm so that when we do enter in, it will not be from that activated place. I love that. What are some other habits? What are some other tips that you found to be particularly helpful in your own parenting?
Alli: Investing in friendships was surprisingly powerful research. I found research that showed that friendships are the happiest relationships, and that our families give us joy and great meaning. But friendships are just happiest because we choose friends because we like them, not because we have to be around them.
And for a friend of mine, author Eric Barker said 30s is where your 30s is where friendship goes to die. And for so many of us, it's true–between our careers and families and so much going on. So I use the concept of bundling friend-time when I'm very busy with my real life and can't get together with friends, that I will find things that I have to do and I'll include friend time with that.
Whether it's talking to a friend on the phone on a commute. I have two friends who make dinner together every Tuesday night in their own homes. So they set up an iPad and AirPods and they talk to each other Tuesday night from five to six while they make dinner. Their families know that's their time.
So it's something they already have to do and it's boring, but they use that to bundle friend time. So for me, I bundle friend time into all sorts of things. I have a business with a friend of mine and we have taken our strategy weekends to Disney. So we're having friend time and work time so I'm always looking at all the things that I have to do. How can I include friends and how can I make it more fun?
Alison: Yeah, I love that bundling friend time. That's great, just being smart so that you don't lose touch with your friends. You build them into your life as best you can. I love that. That's a great tip. I often talk about structuring it, right? So for me, sometimes I'll put it on the calendar so at least it's there on the calendar, like another date, like something I have to do, but I love the idea of bundling it into something else you're already doing. That's great.
Alli: Yeah, I have one friend who loves to organize and she will come over sometimes and go, let's visit but let me work on your closet. And I don't enjoy that at all. So it's fun letting our hair down and finding friends. The key is finding friends who are helping our lives in a positive way.
And that's not necessarily the friend, I use air quotes around friends, that is sitting next to you at PTO or even sitting next to you at church or your neighbor, but really identifying the friends who get you, who you can be your real self with, who you feel better after you interact with them than before.
Investing in those friendships because I hear a lot of advice about friendship lately and it's basically, whoever you're next to is who you should be friends with and I feel like that's a really dangerous concept for women. We need to be selective and thoughtful about who we let into our inner friendship circles.
Alison: I agree with you. I love that litmus test of, do you feel better about yourself after you've spent time with them? Because you can fall into the comparison trap with friends and you can start pursuing a life that isn't a life you actually want. And it comes back to those gifts as you're saying, like I've noticed.
In my own life, I'm not really a great home decorator. It's not something I enjoy. It's a patchwork quilt. I love it, but I used to feel really bad about it. And you know what I've discovered, Alli, to your point is, friends of mine that are really great at it or good at it.
If someone's really into it, it's all about the attitude. If that's really what they care about, I will feel it the second they leave my home.
Alison: And that's just, it's okay, that I don't want to have to feel that way. That's not going to work. On the other hand, I have friends who are also really into it. And I don't feel that at all because they fully accept me. I fully accept them.
And I think that's really wise, especially when you're in the weeds of parenting and when we're so vulnerable to feeling we're not maybe as good as because we're all gonna feel that we're all so vulnerable in parenting.
Alli: Yeah, we've all had friends who make the little comments and they sting and after we're around those friends, we go, oh, that was awful. Those are the people you need to spend less time with.
Alison: Yeah, it's a really good point about our kids, about anything because it's just it's tender. If you think about this idea of these vulnerable parts of us, boy, being a parent brings out that vulnerability like nothing else. And it is the time you don't want to be erred toward loneliness, of course, but gosh, sometimes really befriending your own company is healthier than exposing yourself to folks who are going to make you feel constantly judged and criticized.
Alison: Tell us a little bit before we close here, Alli. What would you want the younger you to know about parenting that you know now if you could go back and spend just a few minutes with her.
Alli: Oh gosh, that is an amazing question. I would tell myself that what mattered was the emotional climate of the home. That having my children feel safe and secure and fully loved is what matters most. And I would have myself dive into a lot of the genetic research about children. That children are really coded in their DNA to be who they're going to be.
And as long as we provide them a healthy home, and nothing horrible happens to get things off track, they're going to be who they're going to be. You can look at twin studies of twins, divided, separated at birth, and they grow up to be pretty similar. And it is fascinating. I think that I fell into some early parenting advice when I was a young mom, religious parenting advice, especially, that almost tricked me accidentally into believing that I was God to my children, that every little thing I did mattered and if I didn't do everything right, their whole future was gone.
But the truth is God and I am their mother and I'm there to love them and discipline them and disciple them and give them something great that I'm modeling. But I don't have the power in one little mistake to ruin their lives. And there's a lot of pressure that's put on moms unnecessarily. That's what I would tell myself.
Alison: I love that. Yeah, we are not God.
Alli: How about you? What would you tell a younger you?
Alison: Oh gosh. I think I would tell myself kind of along the lines of what you're saying about strength, that who I am is exactly what they need. Who I am is exactly what they need. No more and no less. And be that. Because that's what they need. And it's not everything, but thankfully they don't only need me.
They do need me to be fully me. And so who I am is what they need. And I think that's where trying to make up for things in myself that I feel like I didn't have could sometimes trip me up. I had to really work hard on Inhabiting who I am.
I think also, and again, what we've touched on is just the incredible value of modeling–more is caught than taught. The more I show what you do. I love what you said, what you do when you make a mistake, the more you show your own ability to course correct, the more you show when you get it wrong, you name it. You don't blame someone else.
Those kinds of things really are what kids pick up. They're just smart. They see through your words. They see our actions. They see how we're living. They just pick up what's real. Which is incredible, really. It's very freeing in many ways.
Alli: Because all the parenting books that say you have to do these 10 things to be a good parent. No, to be a good parent you work on yourself and the natural overflow of that is a happier healthier household and happier healthier kids. That's what just hasn't been taught to mothers yet, until now.
Alison: Yeah. Thanks. And on that note, tell everybody how they can find your book, your work and all that you're putting into the world.
Alli: Oh thank you. I'm Alli Worthington everywhere. Alli Worthington dot com. Alli Worthington show. The book, Remaining You While Raising Them. It's great in paperback, but I will say, we threw in an audible bonus about the mental load, which I call the mother load. And we even threw in some scripts for how to ask for what you need, how to identify and ask for what you need, whether it's your spouse or other people in your life.
So it's just a fun little bonus in the audible version.
Alison: Oh, that's great. It's a great book. I'm so glad you're saying all these wise things for so many women to benefit from. I have one last question for you, which I ask all my guests, which is what is bringing out the best of you right now?
Alli: I love that question. In my 40s, I decided to prioritize fun. So I'm 47 right now. And I love taking vacations. I have a business coach with business clients. I've been doing retreats for them. I'm taking my team on trips.
I will probably be in Orlando at a theme park six times this year. I was just riding roller coasters a couple of days ago in Orlando, so anytime I get a chance, I'm prioritizing fun, whether it's with my kids or with clients or people on my team. I'm going all out in my 40s.
Alison: I love that. So you're being very literal. You like amusement parks.
Alli: Oh, yeah. So sometimes I take my kids, but sometimes I take my team. Yeah, we're having a blast.
Alison: That's great. I love that. Thank you so much, Alli, for joining us and just sharing your wisdom with us. It's great to have you.
Alli: Thank you so much. It's been great to join you.