89: Are you Controlling or Respecting your Child’s Path through College?

College transition expert, Annmarie Chereso shares common mistakes parents make for kids in the college journey. Listen in to help you be even better at respecting your child’s journey. Are you overseeing your kids’ grades in college?

   

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Annmarie’s BIO:

Annmarie is devoted to raising the next generation of leaders to be conscious and mindful. A masterful teacher, coach, and facilitator, Annmarie has taught mindfulness and conscious leadership to thousands of students, educators, and parents in both public and private schools over the last decade, including Chicago Public Schools, New Trier High School, KIPP, the University of Chicago Laboratory School, Francis W Parker School, and the Latin School of Chicago.  

Annmarie founded BringIt! Home in 2015 to empower her clients to be authentically successful and live to their fullest potential. BringtIt! Home, offers in-person and online programs to increase wellbeing and promote conscious leadership in school communities and families.  

In 2015, Annmarie hosted the city’s first conscious parenting conference. Her first children’s book, Little Seed’s Journey, is a beautiful tool to support parents and educators in planting the seeds of self-empowerment and reminding children of their interconnection to all things.  

In 2019 Annmarie started the Youniversity Podcast to support college students on a path to navigating college consciously.    

 

Links to Annmarie:

 

Books recommended by Annmarie:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE:

Mike Domitrz:
Welcome to the respect podcast. I’m your host Mike Domitrz from Mikespeaks.com but we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military create a culture of respect and respect is exactly what we discussed on this show. So let’s get started. We have Annmarie Teresso and Annmarie is a leadership coach focused on helping college students navigate the college transition consciously. She hosts the Youniversity now that’s Y-O-U, Youniversity podcast and facilitates trainings for college students live and online. So Annmarie, thank you for joining us.

Annmarie:
Thanks for having me, so fun to be here.

Mike Domitrz:
Oh, absolutely. I know some of you might be thinking, “Well Mike, how many college students listen to you?” Actually, I do a lot of work on college campuses, so that is very possible. But the other half of that is parents are listening and they need to know how to best support those college students in those transitions. So we’re going to dive right into that aspect. Annmarie, what happens when adults do not respect their kids’ individual process of college, of choosing colleges, choosing their major as they navigate that path?

Annmarie:
Yeah, that’s such a great question and I talk to so many parents about this because, and educators. I think what the biggest problem is when we’re not paying attention to or respecting the feedback that we’re getting from our students, our young adults, our kids. They are out of integrity with who they are and we’re not paying attention and we’re getting all sorts of signals, right? Kids are suffering from stress and anxiety and depression and drug use and alcohol abuse and lack of motivation and all of these things are coming back at us as the adults supporting kids in the world. We then begin to start to treat the symptoms rather than pay attention to what’s at the core, what’s really going on.

Annmarie:
And often what’s going on is some of our students, some of our young adults are not quite ready for the steps that we want them to be ready for right? That we feel like they should be doing in that now moment, such as going to college or such as studying a particular career path or such as pursuing something that they might not want to pursue. So when we don’t actually respect the process. Their organic process, we can send them in the wrong direction and create some suffering and pain or co-create some pain and suffering for them.

Mike Domitrz:
And so what are key steps or triggers parents can be aware of to watch out for along that journey?

Annmarie:
Yeah. Great, great question. So I think the thing we need to do as parents is really pay attention to the results. So when our kids are showing up with something like bad grades or they’re using drugs and alcohol, or they’re presenting with a lot of anxiety, or they’re disrespectful or disobedient towards us. Rather than look at them as having a problem, my invitation to parents is, let’s get curious. Let’s get curious and wonder “huh, what’s behind that behavior?” Right? Because we’re not naturally disrespectful, right? We come into the world wanting connection with one another. So when something like that shows up, I want to invite parents to trigger curiosity and take a look at, “huh, I wonder what can be going on that I’m not paying attention to,” and really invite their children into a conversation about what’s going on consciously.

Mike Domitrz:
And so what does that look like? What would be the exact language a parent would have on what’s going on consciously?

Annmarie:
Yeah. So when I talk about the word consciously, I just mean with awareness, right? We’re always looking at are we in relationship to what’s occurring from a place of fear or from trust? And most often when our kids are presenting in a way that we don’t like, we as parents go into fear. And so I invite parents to get really aware or awake to, “okay, I notice you’re behaving in this particular way. And it brings up fear in me.” What happens when we’re afraid is we start to try and control, my kid is failing the class, my kid’s acting out, my kid’s lying, my kid’s doing whatever it is that they’re doing, which are typically all avoidance patterns. We start to want to control them because we’re afraid.

Annmarie:
So my invitation is to parents is hey, stay over in your lane, get present to what’s occurring for you, and then reveal yourself honestly over there to your young adult, to your student, to your child and say, “hey, I’m noticing when you fail that test or fail that class or don’t come home or are using drugs,” or whatever it is that it’s showing up over there in that world, “I notice I get scared and I’m wondering if you have a conversation with me about it, I’m wondering what’s going on for you,” And really start to model this idea of showing up authentically, right? “Wow, I’m scared. What’s really beneath all this is fear and I love you and I want you to succeed and do well and I want to be here to support you. And I don’t know what to do right now,” because most of the time his parents, we really don’t know what to do to support our kids. They’re showing up in all sorts of ways and we don’t know how to help them all the time.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. And any parent who has more than one child knows what I’m about to say is true, everyone is so different.

Annmarie:
Yes.

Mike Domitrz:
And we’ve had four sons go through this. They’re either in college or out of college, go through this journey and it’s completely different. So what about the kid who says, “no, I’m not talking to you about this.” You do it they exactly the way you say. It’s loving, it’s here’s what’s… and they’re like, “nope, not having the conversation. It’s not happening.”

Annmarie:
This happens. This totally happens.

Mike Domitrz:
It absolutely happens. Yes.

Annmarie:
There’s two things I say about that. One is back to this idea of respect. So respecting their boundary so that if they have a no, once again, it’s the invitation for the parent to to check in and go, “Okay, what happens over here in me when they are resisting me, when they’re pushing me away, when I have a no. It’ll probably once again bring up fear and control. Great, good to notice. Stay with yourself in all of that.” And the second thing is give them the space they’re asking for from a place of love and acceptance. So accept where they’re at, don’t try and change or control them, and create lots of space for them to want to come back, right? You know as well as I do, nobody likes to be forced into anything, particularly our young people and most young adults feel like their whole life has been carved out for them and they’re starting to individuate. They want to start to feel in control of something. So the more control we give them, the more willing they often are to come back.

Mike Domitrz:
That makes total sense. Now, there’s always a debate out there and I’ve had it with friends of mine. I’ve had it with colleagues of mine and it is about, “Look, if I’m paying for college, I’m seeing those grades.”

Annmarie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Domitrz:
I remember our first son was in college, we’re sitting there at a parent welcome session and the school said, “Look they’re here as adults. And so it’s time for you to treat them with the independence of a grown adult and therefore they’re going to be disappointed if their grades go down. They don’t necessarily need a parent to tell them that that’s not right. They know that. They were probably not trying to fail. They were probably trying not to struggle. So you need to be able to give up that control factor, parents, so that they can learn that prospect without you over their shoulders that that’s how life works.

Mike Domitrz:
If you fail, hey, here’s the consequences without mom and dad adding additional consequences. The consequences are they’re failing. They’re going to take that class over or they’re going to not make it in school and but I am paying for it. So how do you respond to that argument? Because a few of my friends are like, “I appreciate that Mike.” What I say back to my friends who push back and go, but I’m paying for it. I go, so you’re paying for control, the only reason you chose to pay, not so your kid came to learn, grow, develop. You paid to control. In the end what’s interesting is some will be like, “well, if it comes down to that, yes.” So how do you respond to that because isn’t that really what they’re referring to? If they did pay for the kids’ education, a lot of parents aren’t able to, and so that kid’s paying for it on their own, which makes us even worse when we double down on it because they’re taking all the heat already.

Annmarie:
They’re already feeling like they have to do something. Most students feel like they have to go to college or else their future is just a complete mess. That’s the starting point. And many kids are very excited to go to college and excited about pursuing whatever it is they want to pursue and who they want to be in the world, and that’s fantastic. And then there’s these kids that you’re talking about who aren’t getting the grade and parents are saying, “I pay for this, so I demand this,” as if it’s a customer relationship, right? Now I go to Starbucks and I want a giant latte and I paid $4 for it and I expect to get it. Our kids are saying, “wait a minute, you can’t buy me,” and there there’s a lot of resistance out there to this. I’m paying for it mentality.

Annmarie:
Now, what I’ll say as a parent is, I’ve got a couple of kids going to college, and I like to talk about it in terms of agreements. I want to support you in creating what you most desire for your life. What is that? Do you have an idea of what it is you want? Do you want to go to college? Do you want to have this experience or do you not? If it’s a yes, great, fantastic, what can I do to support you? Can I help you get financial aid? Can I pay for it if I can afford to pay for it. Let’s create agreements, really clean and clear agreements around what we each want and what we’re willing to do to support it. And then when you’re not meeting your end of the deal, I change my part of the agreement, which is I might choose if you’re not getting the grades, I might choose not to continue to support you in the ways that we’ve agreed to.

Annmarie:
And that’s a huge life lesson. It’s a huge and a really important life lesson, but it’s often one most parents aren’t willing to take because we as parents, we’re so bought into this idea that our kids have to go to college and get a college degree. That we are unwilling to not pay for it. We’re unwilling not to do it. So I think this idea, Mike, that you’re talking about paying for control is so right on, and we have to be willing, again to respect what our kids are saying to us by the results, not by the words, but by the results. If our kids aren’t getting the grade, there’s something there to get curious about.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah, that’s a great point too. So now let’s say they’re on campus, how do you teach for your kids to build their own culture of respect in the college environment, which is not always as someone who works… I work with over 40 campuses around North America every year. Not all campuses are the same when it comes to this. No one’s perfect, the campuses would admit that, but some have less of a culture of respect than others do. So how do you help that student create a culture of respect within their own world in a college environment?

Annmarie:
Okay, this is such a hot topic for me right now. I just had… my son who’s 20 came back from school this year. He’s a freshmen, just finishing up his freshman year and he took a gap year. So he’s a little bit older. And in any case, we had lots of conversations about this. He’s at a big school, lots of different kinds of social things going on. And I see how much of a struggle it can be for so many students to stay in integrity with their own values, with who they are as they’re navigating this experience, right. So they’re going to school, they’re trying to build community, they want to fit in. They’re trying to figure out who they are, admits this whole big new sea of people and it’s hard. It’s really, really hard for these kids.

Annmarie:
And so one of the things that I do is support students as they’re navigating this so they can really engage more consciously so they can stay really connected to themselves and build those muscles of saying no and understand why they often will resist boundaries around who they are and the types of activities they engage in, who they spend time with, et cetera, so that they can stay true to who they really are and respect themselves and stay in integrity with their own values.

Annmarie:
This is hard to do at this age, at this time in your life when you go out into the world and you’re moving into this community and you know hardly anyone if anyone and you’re trying to find yourself. I think it’s the single most challenging thing kids at this stage in life face, it’s really, really challenging.

Mike Domitrz:
So what are specific skills you can give that kid to help them in those moments?

Annmarie:
So one of the things I love to teach is just this big idea of self awareness and one skill we teach is this idea of a check-in. And a check-in is a simple three step process where we teach students to slow down in the moment and really get present. So getting present, right? It’s just be here now in a non triggered, nonjudgmental way. And we do that by checking in with the body and slowing down and just looking. What’s going on in this now moment in the body, head to toe? And we just start to notice like I’m noticing right now my fingertips are a little cold and clammy. My shoulders are a little tight and stiff, my breath is moving kind of quickly. So I just notice that.

Annmarie:
And then the next thing I do after I check out my body is I check out my emotions. So I notice in this now moment, there’s some joy. There’s probably a little fear here. And I actually am noticing a little sadness occurring in my experience. I take another breath and I slow down and I’m just paying attention to my next thought. My next thought is what are you next going to say to Mike? And I just use that three step process to check in and that check in helps me reconnect to myself. So I’m in a situation or an experience or a conversation with another, I can do that in two seconds flat and really reconnect with myself. And once I reconnect with myself, I’ve just empowered myself to make conscious choices. So often we’re caught up in whatever’s occurring and we go with the flow of what’s out there around us rather than really staying in integrity with who we are at our core. And that’s a tricky thing to do.

Mike Domitrz:
And you just referenced conscious choices. You’re a big believer in conscious listening. So what does that mean in this parent child relationship or what does it mean for the child in that college environment, which no longer are they a minor, right? We’re talking about an adult now, an adult child. What is conscious listening?

Annmarie:
Yeah, I love talking about conscious listening. So conscious listening, conscious, the word conscious just means to be awake or aware. So when we’re listening consciously, we’re actually paying attention with all three centers of intelligence. We’re listening with our head, our heart, and our gut. When we listen with our head, we’re listening, what is the mental content? What’s the message? The word, the thoughts, the ideas, the beliefs that are coming at us. When we’re listening from our heart, we’re really listening for the emotional content. What’s the emotion that’s fueling the outward expression? And then with the gut we’re talking about what’s the desire, what’s the base desire behind the content? What’s really being wanted or long for or needed. So we teach how to learn to listen consciously. It’s a skill. It’s a really deeply developed skill.

Mike Domitrz:
And so now you have the conscious listening. You also believe in mindful breathing. How is that different than the mindful breathing?

Annmarie:
Yeah, so the check in goes a little bit deeper than mindful breathing. So mindful breathing is something we we can integrate into every moment of every day. Standing in line at Starbucks or the post office or sitting in class before an exam or right before we’re going to have a big conversation with one of our children or our significant other, right before an interview. Whatever you’re doing in the moment, you just pause and notice your breath. Notice how it’s living in your body and just take a slow, deep, intentional breath. What we’re doing is we’re resetting our nervous system. We’re calming the brain down and what I tell students that I work with, it’s like turning your phone off and then on again, when it gets kind of glitchy, it’s just rebooting the system and all it is is one or two deep mindful breaths. Super simple. When we’re doing the check-in, we’re adding a few other elements to that. We’re adding the conscious piece to it. It’s like, “I’m going to use my breath to do the check-in and the check-in’s going to go in a little bit more deeper inquiry.”

Mike Domitrz:
Well that, that makes a lot of sense. Now gen Z gets a bad rep and I think parents forget every generation gets a bad rep including their own did.

Annmarie:
It’s true.

Mike Domitrz:
So I fortunate, like you, get to work with tens of thousands of college students every year. I get to see amazing college students, no different than previous generations as far as they do care, they are respectful. Now they might show it different ways. They might care more deeply about certain things than past generations did. Why do you think the current parent generation struggles to understand generation Z?

Annmarie:
First of all, technology. We as parents don’t understand their relationship to technology and we demonize it. I’m raising my hand over here because I know I do. So we don’t actually respect their relationship to their technology and how they’re using it. I talked to a lot of students who say, “you guys don’t actually even know how we’re using our technology, even though we’re on it all the time.” So I think there’s a lot of fear running in adults and parents around the damaging pieces around technology and we don’t actually respect how valuable that technology has become to that generation. They’ve grown up with it and they’re using it. We don’t understand, we’re not paying close enough attention to who gen Z really is. We have our own ideas and constructs about who we think they should be, but we’re not actually paying attention to who they really are and I don’t think they’re feeling really fully seen and fully heard. I think those are two of the biggest reasons.

Mike Domitrz:
Well on that walks us right in the conversation is as connected as they are and they can be very socially active as far as believing in issues. With all this connectedness, why do we see, why do you believe we see the increase in mental health concerns, mental health illness concerns? Do you think there’s a connection there in the social media and that, or do you think it’s other things or is it just that we’ve created a safe environment to have these discussions and it’s not that they’re more in this generation, it’s that this generation is allowed to talk about it.

Annmarie:
Oh, that’s such a good question and you used the word connection a couple times. And it’s ironic because the answers in both the question and to me it’s all about connection. And I really think that gen Z has possibly lost respect for the importance of human connection, given that they are growing up in this technology based life. And I have a 15 year old daughter whose entire social life is pretty much based on Snapchat and Instagram and their friends all come over and they’re connecting with one another through their devices while they’re sitting in the room together.

Annmarie:
And I do think that this lack of connection, this human connection, this looking in the eye of another human being, feeling them, sensing into them that there’s something that we’re longing for, that we’re missing, that we’re not even aware of. And I can speak a little anecdotally about it because I was running some groups with college students that they were groups of 10 to 15 students coming together weekly. And the feedback I got was, “wow, we really valued showing up together and sharing honestly with one another and being real.” And it’s not an experience… they’re not having enough of those experiences to even know that they’re missing it. But there’s something underneath that they’re longing for and that they’re missing. And the behaviors are indicative of it, but they’re not actually understanding what’s missing.

Mike Domitrz:
So what do you do then as a parent? Are you trying to create more experiences with vulnerability where as a family you talk from a place of vulnerability about times where I struggled or emotions that I have felt? Do you feel that? What’s the right, because you don’t want to do the mistake? I talked to parents… a lot of us parents make the mistake of, “well let me tell you what I went through.”

Annmarie:
They don’t want to hear it.

Mike Domitrz:
And they over reveal and create a very awkward, uncomfortable situation. And it also makes it, actually green lights a kid to make lots of bad choices because the kid sits there and goes, you’re just telling me all your bad choices and I’m here, which means everything worked out. So what’s the balance of creating vulnerable group discussion without over revealing, which is a struggle gen Z has too, over revealing.

Annmarie:
Yeah. I’m curious about the over reveal. I’m an over reveler. I don’t know that I have a judgment about it being good or bad or right or wrong. I don’t know, I question it at times for myself. The most important thing we can do is show up authentically in the moment and just model what it means in the moment. Not even worried about the past, but we as the adults in young people’s lives need to model what it’s like to authentically connect to one another and give them that felt experience so that they can bookmark it, right? So they know what they’re looking for out in the world, so they know what they’re missing. It’s like you’re going to a buffet and you have a taste of everything, and this tastes really good, so you’re going to go back for more of it.

Annmarie:
And so giving them that experience, I think is really fundamentally the most important thing we can do. And that’s just modeling and taking the time to do it and creating boundaries. In our house, we have a couple of times where we get together, one time a day where we get together that’s device free, that’s meal time. It’s just no devices and we do our best to show up authentically in those moments together and they’re few and far between, right? You’ve got older boys-

Mike Domitrz:
Right, that’s correct.

Annmarie:
You don’t spend very much time with your kids these days, everyone’s busy. But the moments where together, which I try and show up as honestly as authentically as possible, one of the things that I think parents do is they try really hard not to be whatever they are in the moment. They believe this idea that our kids shouldn’t see struggle, they shouldn’t see suffering, they shouldn’t see us upset or whatever’s occurring. That there’s this facade that we present to our children and I encourage parents to show up real. If you’re having a bad day, if you’re having a dispute with your spouse, your ex spouse, if you’re feeling sad, if you’re feeling angry, show up, let your children see that.

Annmarie:
That is human, it’s normal and we are so craving it, and we’re not only craving it, our children need that to learn how to do that themselves and feel safe to also do that themselves and right now, I’ll tell you, they don’t. Our kids are not knowing, they don’t know how to show their vulnerability. They don’t know how to be authentically sad with one another. They don’t know how to properly express their anger. They don’t even know how to actually properly express their joys. I think it’s something we have to practice first, get really good at, model, be willing to model with them and then create space for them to do it in return. Which is another thing we’re really bad at as parents is letting our kids have their authentic experience without trying to fix them, change them, control them in any way, shape or form.

Mike Domitrz:
Well and Annmarie, that’s a great place for us to wrap up, for parents to think about, how can I be me, be authentic in a loving way. Look, if you is mean and cruel, don’t be you. That’s not healthy for anybody. Be a better you, right? But otherwise, be your loving, your best loving self. And that doesn’t mean that you’re not in pain at times, that you’re not struggling at times. I know we’ve said to our sons, “I screwed up here, or I didn’t realize,” just be honest versus, “how could you?” How could I sometimes, right? That absolutely happens. I want to thank you for sharing all these insights. I want to make sure people can find you. Your website is bringithome.me.

Annmarie:
That’s it.

Mike Domitrz:
Bringithome.me and then on Instagram you are You, youniversity.you, which is, Y-O-U-N-I-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y .you.

Annmarie:
Got it.

Mike Domitrz:
So awesome, those will all be in the show notes too. Thank you so much for joining us.

Annmarie:
Thank you so much, what a fun talk.

Mike Domitrz:
Well thanks. And for our listeners, you know what’s next? It is question of the week. Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question, would you please subscribe to this podcast? The Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz. By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact? Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines. So for people who care about respect, like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcasts, they’re more likely to find this show, thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast. Plus the second benefit is, by subscribing you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you’re listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. So subscribing also makes your life easier.

Mike Domitrz:
Now let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook in our discussion group. It’s called the Respect Podcast discussion group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and or address in this segment of the show and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included. This week’s question is, Mike, how do you better account for your hormones? Now, I love this question because it was asked to me right after I had spoke in an evening program in a community of parents, preteens and teenagers.

Mike Domitrz:
And so when it comes to trying to better account for your hormones, when you’re experiencing those hormones, those rush of feelings coming through, you might be thinking, “I can’t control these feelings.” What you can control are your choices in that moment. What you’re going to choose to do now that you’re having those feelings or what you’re going to choose not to do in those moments you’re having those feelings. What questions you’re going to choose to ask yourself in those moments to help you make the best choices going forward. So what I want you to do is instead of thinking how do I control my hormones, which can be confusing at times, ask yourself, how am I going to make better choices in those moments? What questions am I going to ask myself in those moments to make the best choices?

Mike Domitrz:
Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. So would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show, all you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect Podcast discussion group. So the Respect Podcast discussion group and share with us what would your answer of been to this week’s question, the week and take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect Podcast discussion group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:
Thank you for joining us in this episode of the Respect Podcast, exploring work, love, and life, and this episode, like every episode is brought to you by our organization, The Center for Respect, which you can find at, centerforrespect.com and of course you can find me, your host, Mike Domitrz at mikespeaks.com Thank you so much for joining us.

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