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Talks You Need to Have With Your Middle Schooler and How to Have Them with Michelle Icard

Trying to convince a middle schooler to listen to you can be frustrating. They begin to pull away, don’t want to be seen with you, and often all they want to do is be with their friends or locked away in their room.

High school is just around the corner, and it can be scary for us. You know you need to have the important conversations to prepare them and keep them safe. But, how can we do this when they don’t want to talk to you? What do you do when you’ve you’ve tried, but it doesn’t go so well?

In my podcast, “Talks You Need To Have and How To Have Them,” I talked to Michelle Icard. She is a speaker, author, and educator who helps kids, parents, and teachers navigate early adolescence’s complicated social world.

Michelle shares some of the wisdom from her book, “Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen,” and the best approach to having these introductory talks.

Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed, if you don’t have time.

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Where To Find Michelle Icard: 

What You Will Learn: 

  • How to develop trust in your communication with your teen.
  • How to respond to your kid’s scary, lonely, or hurtful situations.
  • How to prepare conversations about difficult or uncomfortable topics.

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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you’re failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well, and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our family and to impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and to become more of the mom and the woman that you want to be welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL: Welcome, Michelle, and thank you for agreeing to be here today. I’m so excited to have you on the show. You just released this week your latest book, “14 Talks By Age 14,” where you share essential conversations you need to have with your kids before they start high school.

You cover all of the topics and the questions that I hear moms are asking. Before we start, what was middle school like for you?

MICHELLE: Oh, yeah, so middle school for me was awful. I felt like such an outsider. As an adult with perspective and somebody who works in this field, it’s easy for me to recognize that pretty much everyone feels like an outsider; even the kids who are presenting are super popular and likable. It’s just a phase of life where you really feel on the fringe somehow, or you suspect you might not be normal, you know, in some way, and kids are constantly questioning that.

So my situation was, I had started a private school in sixth grade, having moved from a public school. And in my mind, I had this image of what a kid would be like, who went to a private school, and that’s based entirely on a TV show, Silver Spoons starring Ricky Schroder, which was a popular sitcom when I was little. And this kid was so rich, and he had a little train that took him from room to room, you know.

And so I was like, I’ll never fit in with kids who go to a private school because that was my concept. So I showed up on the first day wearing business woman attire. And all the kids were just wearing regular clothes, of course. And that just like, it set my world upside down. And I was like, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to be a kid with these other kids. I’m so different.

The next couple of years, I spent floundering through friendships that didn’t connect and questioning myself if I would make friends and whether I was a misfit. And if you know, it’s just a big old, awkward mess for a few years. Luckily, in high school, I found theater and got into our drama program. And that was kind of my saving grace moment where I discovered confidence and friendship and all of that, but it was a rocky road for a little bit.

SHERYL: Yeah, I don’t know anybody that would want to go back to middle school, right? It’s such an awkward time and wanting to fit in and wanting to belong and feeling like you said, I thought I was kind of weird too and I switched schools and was looking at what all the other kids were wearing and just trying to mimic what they were saying. So I could kind of sound cool, right? So it is – it’s just an unusual time trying to figure all of this out. So tell everybody a little bit about your background and what led you to write this book.

MICHELLE:  I graduated college with a degree I was certified to teach, and I thought I would teach my certification for 7th through 12th grade. So it could have been middle school English, which I love. I did my student teaching and got my certificate, but I got a job at a big corporation instead.
So I worked as a business consultant for Arthur Andersen at the time. And I was like, Oh, you know, this is cool. This is a grown-up feeling, and I liked it.

Then, the Enron scandal hit, and then the whole company folded. And while I was there at Arthur Andersen, every job I had, I didn’t realize it at the time, I was turning into a teaching job again.
So I’d be like, in a meeting and raise my hand, Can I write a manual about this? Like, I feel like we need to explain this better, or can I run training on that? So I always really felt pulled to teach, even though I didn’t go in that direction as I thought I might. Anyway, the company folded, and 80,000 employees were without jobs. I was one of them. And I had an almost two-year-old and a seven-month-old.

So at that point, I said, Well, I need to reinvent myself, and I started a little tutoring business, and I worked with kids who were in middle school. I initially thought it would be an academic coach, you know, because the wheels kind of come off the cart in middle school for kids in terms of grades, and they don’t know how to study for tests, and they can’t multitask.

And I was trying to help them with that, or that was my intention. But so many kids were opening up to me about what was happening socially with their friends. And listening to those stories about not wanting to eat lunch in the cafeteria because you didn’t know who to sit with, or, you know, being afraid to raise your hand in class.
All of these stories I was hearing were my experience, too. So I just really pivoted and said, I want to do some research. And I want to focus on making this time of life a little bit easier for kids and their parents.

SHERYL: Wow. And being able to have your own story of struggle, which I imagine helped you to be able to listen to those kids. You could know where they were coming from, at least somewhat, because you had experienced it yourself?

MICHELLE: Yeah, I always say I think the best math teacher is the teacher who was terrible at math, you know because they know why you’re not getting it. And they’re not just like, just do it. So when I think you’ve struggled with something, you become a better teacher of that.

SHERYL: Yes. I think that’s why it’s so essential for us to remember our challenges and struggles.

MICHELLE: Absolutely.

SHERYL: What are you hoping some of the takeaways will be for parents when they read your book?

MICHELLE: For me, what I want parents to go in expecting is not that the book is there to give you all the right answers or that you should have the right answers. Because I know it’s daunting. You think about all the stuff you want to talk to your kid about. I mean, by the time they’re in middle school, the world opens up. And so parents freak out, like, “Danger, Danger.” There are so many possibilities — strangers on the internet, drinking at parties, and sexual exploration.

Parents think, I better clamp down for one thing, and then they think I know I need to talk about all this stuff. But I don’t know how and I don’t know what to say. So the book helps with that.

But honestly, we need to sort of unburdening ourselves of this perfectionism around how to talk to our kid because the real takeaway is that the book is about developing a rapport.

So you practice enough times you use the method that’s in the book. And you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re saying the right thing. It’s more about developing trust in your communication so that when your kid comes into a high school situation, that might be a little bit scary, or lonely, or hurtful for them. They know they can come to you because you’ve already established that you’re someone who can talk without freaking out and who is open to listening. And who respects what they have to say.

SHERYL: Well, I love that about your book. Because reading it, it’s very reassuring. And it sends a message to parents; you’re not alone. Each chapter is something that we struggle with when we have a middle school high schooler.

I just know that as you’re reading, it’s like, oh wow, you know, because what do we do when they hit those years? I certainly know for me. I freaked out, right?

And I had no idea, and you have those scripts in the book to help at least to give some guidelines to how you can talk about it, which are just very, very helpful.

What would you say are some of the biggest language barriers you mentioned that we do when we freak out? What are some of the other barriers?

MICHELLE: I think the biggest problem that I hear from parents, and I mean I can relate to this myself, is you’re afraid that your child will not listen to you.

Maybe historically, they stopped, and that’s very normal and natural at the beginning of early adolescence. So I always say the job of language is to tie groups of people together. And the job of tweens and teens is to break ties apart.

They are working developmentally on the process of becoming an individual. And so to become independent, it’s messy, and they have to separate from you. Sometimes, that feels like rejection or like they’re fighting with you or they’re contrarian on everything.

But that is a huge language barrier in and of itself. So then you have a parent who says, “Well, my kid is not listening to me anymore. They’re not talking to me as much. They only want to talk to their friends.”

I know I should be talking to them about these key safety and development issues and real growth. So what parents do is they just dive right into the deep end.

They’re like, “I might get 30 seconds before my kid walks away, freezes, or picks up their phone.” So they jump right in, and they very quickly will be like, “Hey, listen, I know you don’t like talking about this stuff. But quickly, I need to know, have you vaped before because we need to talk about it.

It’s like, what is happening? My suggestion is I give this model in the book of this thing called a brief.

It’s a five-step process. It’s an acronym and, instead of starting with the big dive into the deep end, you begin with B, which begins peacefully. That’s like, just having a little gentle curiosity about a subject with your kid. So not like, “Hey, have you ever been…?” But like, what are your thoughts on this topic?”
Like, are parents getting this right? Or do you think it’s overblown? You’re dipping your toe water-related to your kid. That’s an opportunity to show that you’re not trying to bust them.

You’re just developing a rapport. So you can say something that acknowledges that it’s a new kind of conversation for you, or you remember talking about this with your parents, and it was always weird. You’ll try not to make it weird. Like they did something to show that you’re on the same team.

In brief, you interview for data is where you can ask some questions. And really, it’s again, neutral, you’re not trying to be like, you know, “Have you done anything with your boyfriend?”, you know, overly personal, but you’re just exploring, like, “What are their values? And their thoughts and their beliefs on this? What do they do? What do they hear? And then echo what you hear.

So like, that’s, you know, what you hear every therapist, say, or a therapist on TV, say, “So it sounds like you’re saying this? Do I hear you, right?”

You’re just checking for comprehension. And then “f” is feedback. And that’s where you get the opportunity to give a little advice, offer your suggestions if you need to set limits or boundaries, that kind of thing, expectations. But that’s where most parents start. And that’s why kids don’t listen because they don’t build that rapport with the first four steps.

SHERYL: Yeah, I love that. And I just want our listeners to know each topic, like dating, and you have a method for talking about each one, which is how you can use that. Tell them just real quickly what the categories are?

MICHELLE: There are 14 chapters with 14 different sorts of broad topics that I would love for you to talk to your kids about, starting in middle school and then going on forever. I think it’s important to start if you can before they launch into high school. And they range, big sort of picture ideas like how to hang on to creativity in your life.

I know many parents are worried about screen time, or like their kids who used to be artistic or play music or like I quit, I’m not into it. I just want to, you know, look at myself in the mirror or play on my iPhone. Like how do you understand creativity and keep it alive for your kid? What does independence look like? How do you have conversations about your kid earning more independence? What’s appropriate at different ages and stages?

Technology is a big one – what kind of relationship do you want your kid to have with technology? In each of the broader topics, I know the stuff weighing heavy on parents’ minds. So like, there’s one about there’s a chapter about taking care of yourself. Yeah, in that chapter, that those conversations ranged from please, will you wear deodorant? How do you talk to your kid about suicide right? So like, taking care of yourself as a massive range of concepts. I cover them in the book from the sort of a high level what you need to know. And then give you some scripts so you can talk about them in a way that won’t freak your kid out. And you can let them know that you’re a safe person to come to talk about these difficult things.

SHERYL: You’re helping parents build that foundation before getting to these things in high school. And you don’t know how to talk, but you’ve already been laying this foundation that makes it easier, and you’re not like just reacting.

MICHELLE: I mean, it’s heartbreaking. Whenever we read a news story about a family who’s lost a child who’s died by suicide or a family, you know where a child has experienced what is not abnormal anymore. It’s like sending news to someone thinking they were safe in doing that as a teenager, and then their life is ruined because their peers ostracize them, and they end up having to switch schools, and it follows them around these news stories are happening all the time. And it breaks my heart when the parents are like, “I thought they would come to me to talk about this kind of thing.” This is not a guarantee that your kid will, but I think it’s greasing the wheels in a nice way. It’s increasing your opportunity tremendously, that your kid will feel safe coming to you if they feel so burdened.

SHERYL: Yeah. I love that being that safe place for them. I want to pick out just a few of the pain points that you discuss. One is independence.

You hear every scary story, like your kids riding their bikes, and they don’t have their helmets on. And then you know, before you know, a helicopter is coming. So moms are even scared to let their kids ride their bike outside, or you’re afraid to let them go to the mall. But you talk about how giving kids more independence in their tween years keeps them safer than clamping down. And I was like, wow, that’s important. So will you share a bit of what you mean by that?

MICHELLE: Yeah, I’d love to. So this is very counterintuitive for parents. But again, you know what the stuff you just listed in a million more worst-case scenarios pop into our head all the time. And we think, well, gosh, now’s the time. I need to clamp down because this is the point at which they can get very hurt going out into the world. And it’s true that safety is important, and we need to have boundaries for our kids, but your child’s brain at this point in their life, and that’s from like 11 ish on, is driven to take risks.

That is on purpose; your child will not be able to do the things they need to do developmentally to become an independent person if their brain doesn’t get super high on the idea of risk. I mean, otherwise, imagine your child being like, hmm, should I try to get good grades in school so that I could get into a decent college someday and then get a good job? No, that seems pretty risky. Because my parents pay my rent right now, and I have everything I need where I live. So why would I take that kind of risk of going out on my right?

Their brain doesn’t know the difference between a good risk and a bad risk. It’s just biologically and neurologically driven to take risks because becoming independent is a huge risk of becoming independent, knowing that we take away their opportunities to take a risk. They go underground because they are completely driven to explore this part of life. So we say like, there’s zero social media, you get it when you’re 18 years old, you’re not allowed to have it because it’s too risky. It damages your self-esteem. You might meet strangers, and it’s a waste of your time.

Kids are like, “Okay, let me go set up a little account that no one knows about because I have to go underground to do this and can’t do it out in the open,” or “Let me sneak out of my window at 2 am because I never get the chance to go out into the world on my own. And I need to explore it a little bit.”

So some measure of positive risk-taking and safe risk-taking. It’s super important that we allow that for kids. And I’m not saying like, open the floodgates. I don’t want them to be on every social media platform all at once with no instruction or mentoring or anything like that. But they need to get a sense of thrill in their lives. And if they don’t, they will go seeking it somewhere else.

SHERYL: Yes and not in the best places. You get that rebellion and your kid starts sneaking. I often know that I did this with my oldest; I didn’t know how to have these conversations.

So I was clamping down. And, you know, trying to protect her.

Because it didn’t seem like there was a middle ground, at that time I didn’t know. So it was like I was parenting more out of fear and wanting to clamp down and say no to things. But then it didn’t work. It backfired. But I think that it was because I didn’t know how to talk to her. And that’s so important. Like, how do we talk to our kids so we don’t jump in out of that fearful place and want to control everything?

MICHELLE: I love that you said that I love it for two reasons. One because people think that someone like you’re an expert here or someone like me, you know, we didn’t make mistakes, we just you know, and like I’m here because I have walked through the flames and I can tell you what works and what doesn’t.

And I think it’s important for other parents to hear the transparency in that a little bit like no one’s perfect. There’s no way to be a perfect parent, and you get the kid you get, and your kid will make mistakes. They’re human. So it’s all about how you talk about it. And we’re not going to talk about it perfectly either.

MICHELLE: You’re not going to talk about it perfectly. And no one who reads the book will come away from it being like now I know all the right words to say. You are going to develop a level of comfort with the conversation.

And even with the botched conversations, you’re like, “Oh, well, that one didn’t go right. But the next one might. I’m gonna keep trying.” I think that’s key. And finding that middle ground, like you said, Of, it’s not just, there’s like this sort of brand of parenting that is like, Well, my kid doesn’t need to be my friend.

I just need to be the warden of the jail. And that’s that. And that is where you get that sneaky rebellion. Often, your kids for sure need boundaries. They need you to put limits on their lives. And when their world gets a little too big, you’ve got to make it a little bit smaller. But it’s not the warden prison scenario. It’s like a boss at work. You care about them and want them to succeed and do well. But you have to provide guidance.

SHERYL: Exactly. Which makes me think about your racquetball. The walls of a racquetball court and creating boundaries and boundaries are so important. But we don’t know how to do that, either. Usually, I mean, nobody taught us how to do that. And many of us were raised, where this is what I say and what you do. And so it’s like, how do you do that?

So can you share a bit of the boundaries and the racquetball walls?

MICHELLE: Yeah, so that’s a metaphor that I introduced in this book, as I was thinking about the sort of fearfulness that we have around these conversations.

And I know for many parents that the concern is like, this conversation could go anywhere, and it might go somewhere that I can’t handle, right?

If we’re talking about some of these topics, like, “Well, I know I need to talk about pornography because my kid has an iPad,” or “I know I need to talk about drugs.” And what if my kid says, “Well, mom, what have you ever tried? So we’re terrified of where the conversations might go, and sometimes that causes us not to talk.

My analogy is to think of your family and their conversations as if you’re on a racquetball court. For me, racquetball is scary and loud. The ball could hurt you. It’s jarring and unexpected. And I’m like, the best I can do is a little light yoga, which is gentle and peaceful.

What makes racquetball safe is that you have these four walls. The ball will zoom everywhere. You understand that there is a level of boundaries and control around the system itself. That keeps it from going absolutely insane, right.

And what I recommend for parents is to take some time to sit quietly, or talk with your partner or a friend. Think about what, four walls for my family that I think, keep us safe, and they can be really specific to you. So I’ll tell you what mine was just by way of example. My first one is sleep. It is so important to me. I was not a terribly strict parent, except for bad times; I was guarded like a hawk.

So really important to me that I got a good amount of sleep and that my kids got a good amount of sleep. That was one. Autonomy was another one. I knew that it was important that my kids become independent and learn skills to become independent.

Starting early on, they packed their lunches. I had autonomy and had time to do the hobbies and things that I love. I wasn’t serving them all the time. That was important. This idea of like, dignity, and unconditional love was fundamental to me. And I think I have those listed as separate ones.

So those are my four. Dignity is not just us in this family, but we extend the idea of dignity to all human beings. No matter who we’re talking or thinking about, or angry with, there is inherent worth in that person we need to keep as part of the conversation.

So that was a big one in that the unconditional love piece was that I made it abundantly clear probably my kids were like, okay, we got it. I love them no matter what. It didn’t matter how they identified, who they were, or what mistakes they made. They could come to me and be well-loved despite any flaws they felt or any insecurities they had or problems they caused, which would never impact how I loved them. So those are my four.

And parents can just think about like, what are the four for our family that keeps our conversations safe?

SHERYL: I love that. Because of boundaries, we think about more out of fear. I have to protect them from all the bad things that can happen versus setting this vision and these values. And as this umbrella of how we choose to live and who we want to be. Yeah, but much more empowering. I love that. Thank you.

MICHELLE: I do think it’s like a bit of harness safety harness. You get to wear one of your zip linings, and you know what I mean? Do we need that comfort level?

SHERYL: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk about friendships. I was working with a mom yesterday, and after I read it, I emailed it to her.

“This is the age when your child becomes obsessed with their friends and classmates, to the exclusion of logic, reason, prior commitments, curfews, family time, and geographical restrictions. Between grade six and nine, kids will do just about anything to be brought into their peers’ social fold. I love this, and it does seem extreme at this age. With the pandemic, their kids are in their rooms and on their phones with their friends. The parents are like, “Oh my gosh, they take it personally. They don’t want to be with me anymore.” Can you bring some illumination to this whole thing and speak to this?

MICHELLE: Sure. And I will say that I had, I have two kids. And when they were this age, I had a kid who couldn’t spend more than five minutes with us at home, you know, was like constant FOMO and needed to be with friends All the time. And it was beyond frustrating, and one night, stay home one night. You don’t have to be with your friends.

And then I had another child who was the opposite, who likes to spend some time with friends, but ideally, would be on the couch with us watching TV at night. I know that some parents have that kid who is like, oh, is there something wrong with my kid that they don’t want to go out and be with their peers, you know what’s going on? I think that the need to be with friends is possibly a broader scope of the listeners.

So what I will say is that both are fine. The idea is that I call this phase of life the middle school construction project, a piece of that project that your child is building three things they need to become an adult, they need an adult body and adult brain and adult identity. And that identity piece is what comes into play here.

They have to figure out who they are apart from you.

Until this point, you as the parent have made all of the choices that encompass your kid’s brand, who they are, you’ve decided what activities you’ll sign them up for based on, like, what your friends were signing their kids up for. So you could carpool together, or you chose the clothes and had them in the closet. They could choose from those what to wear to school. You arrange the playdates. So you kind of structured their social group for them.

There is this deep burning need for a kid in middle school to establish those things for themselves.

“I want to choose how I look and present myself to the world. I want to choose what people I get to hang out with.”

I want to decide what hobbies I want to have, what people I want to hang out with.”

It’s a huge separation. And when a child separates like that from their family, they have this unconscious realization of, “Oh, I’m alone right now, right?”

Like I am not tucked under my parent’s wing anymore. I need a tribe. And they realize that that you sort of created the beginning for them but that you’re not their future, right. Their future is among their peers. That’s who they will partner with. That’s who they will be working with. That’s who they will be, you know, going through college with like all of that stuff. And they are at a deep level without being able to articulate it, and they are priming for that. And they know that, and so they will do just about anything to telegraph to their peers that they are, quote-unquote, normal and acceptable and should be welcomed into the tribe. And that’s what’s happening at this age.

SHERYL: Yeah, and it’s so important developmentally that for us to remember, they do need to do this, but it’s hard when each of my kids I stopped dressing, right? I was like, oh, man, that but you’re wearing all black and that’s bad, you know, like totally going against, or you would say black, they say white, right?

It’s just crazy how that starts happening at this age. And it can be very unsettling for us. But we have to remember this is necessary. And if we allow that, I found that, oh, my daughter’s kind of starting to add some color back in her wardrobe. Or she’s not wearing sweatpants every day to school.

I mean, they have to dress all like each other to belong. It’s the reason they start talking with slang. They’re forming ties as their little society or pre society, so they want to text. So, if everybody’s wearing a hoodie every day to school, they will wear a hoodie.

It has to be extra-large. Also, we have to touch on is hygiene, which is the self-care thing. It comes up so often in our community about my kid won’t wear deodorant. They won’t take a shower. Please help.

MICHELLE: This is one that I hear all the time, too. And it’s the reason that made it into the book is that right at the end of elementary school, the beginning of middle school, kids resist hygiene.

And I don’t know what scientific reasoning is for this, but, but mostly, it’s a new habit that’s hard to form. It’s just sort of laziness around it. And so I have parents who freak out and say, like, their peers will completely reject my kid. Are they socially weird? Is something wrong with them?

Do they have a moral flaw, that they cannot abide by the social contract that we all agree to not be stinky out in the world, and they worry about that in a long-term context? But it is mostly a matter of habit building. My advice to parents in this area is to go to the drugstore, buy about six deodorants, and keep them around your house.

Keep one in the kitchen, keep one in your car, keep one in the living room, keep one on the stairs, like scatter them around. And when your child needs to put on deodorant because usually the scenario is your kid comes downstairs, you’re walking out the door, and you’re like, oh, hey, did you put on deodorant, and they lie and say they did. And you know they did. But they’re too lazy to go back upstairs and do it.

So if you have access to it all over, and you say, Don’t worry, I have some in my car, you can put it on, and let’s try to remember to do it right after your shower next time. And you have some right outside of the shower. And on the bedroom dresser.

You just invest in scattering them around. And almost everyone figures this out naturally anyway. But very, very few adults are clueless about this. So they get it. You just have to make it easy for them to build the habit.

SHERYL: Yeah, I love this. Because they’re not used to putting deodorant.

MICHELLE: And they don’t break their stride. They are busy doing something going to a friend’s house.

SHERYL: Yes, exactly. So how do we say no when no is the best answer?

MICHELLE: Yeah, so the book is a gentle approach, but it does not say that kids don’t need boundaries or that you shouldn’t say no sometimes. So on the subject of saying no, I recommend that you set some goals for your kid that no isn’t just a complete sentence.

I know we say that a lot in our culture, like for women, especially it’s important that no is a complete sentence, and I like that.

But when it comes to your kid, if they’re asking for something, and it’s not the right time, they’re not ready for it. That’s fair. And you say, “No, you’ve got to do some work to think about what would make this the right time.”

What does my kid need to do to show me they can handle to do this to go to the mall without me getting a Tic Tock account to, you know, whatever it may be. Instead of saying when you’re a teen, I would love to have parents think about the qualities that I want them to have?

I want to know that they can say, No, if someone approaches them and asks them to do something they don’t want to do. They can use their voice in public to speak up if something bad is happening. And I include a list in the book of ways your child can demonstrate those things to you. So it helps a kid to hear not yet, you know?

SHERYL: Because we’re so quick to say no. Yeah, I was thinking it through. Right, then that I would get wishy-washy, I would say no, immediately. And then I would start doubting my, No, and then my teenager would be working me.

And I’d be like, oh, maybe I should have said no, you know, not that we can’t change our minds as parents. But I was doing that a little too much because I wasn’t thinking it through. So I like that you bring parents through that process. Yes, it’s a milestone. Well, tell parents, are there any parting words?

Any other encouragement that you could add before we go?

MICHELLE: If you’re listening and thinking, “Well, I’ve already screwed it up” or “We don’t have a good rapport right now.”

So you can come at them with a new approach and reinvent the way you’re communicating with them. And it will fall in line naturally, with where they are developmental. So it’s the perfect time to read the book. Think it through to establish, as we talked about what some of your thoughts are on these things, and start fresh.

SHERYL: Yeah, I love that. It’s never too late. Never. We’re learning like we’re learning right along with our kid. I love it. Yeah, yeah. So tell people where to find you. And I’ll put a link to your book. In, you know, the notes and everything to this so they can find it easily. But tell them, tell them where to see you.

MICHELLE: Yeah, so a couple of places. And you just need my name to find me. So my website is MichelleIcard.com, and I’ve got lots of stuff there, including a course you can take with your child.

So if you read the book, and you’re like, good, but also, I still want something to hold my hand at the beginning of these conversations, there’s a link to the course in there. And that’s a monthly module. You can sit down on each of these topics we’ve talked about today and do that with your kid.

So the website is there. And then you mentioned, you know, we know each other on Instagram. I’m having a lot of fun over there. A lot of 80s flashbacks, a lot of little parenting tips. So it’s just my name, Michelle Icard. And then my Facebook group for parents is Less Stressed Middle School Parents.

SHERYL: Oh, love that. I saw the course, but I didn’t look at it. That’s awesome.

MICHELLE: I mean, this is a new venture for me. But I like the idea of the parents reading the book but then bringing the kid into the process, too.

SHERYL: And did you say it’s once a month?

MICHELLE: Once a month, a module. Yeah, like you get the module, it’s only 30 minutes. So it’s just an opportunity for you to have fun together, you and your kid talking about these topics, connecting on it. And then you have the rest of the month to naturally just kind of explore where that topic takes you.

SHERYL: I love it. Well, Michelle, thank you. Thank you so much for this book. And thank you for being with us today.

MICHELLE: Sure. Thanks for having me!

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