Being a mom is hard. Being a widowed mom is even harder, and it is truly no small feat.
Navigating your grief experience while being solely responsible for your kids can make feeling alive and excited about your life seem impossible. But this is exactly when taking care of you absolutely has to be the number one priority.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, episode 162, Struggling Less as a Mom: A Conversation with Molly Claire.
Welcome to The Widowed Mom Podcast, the only podcast that offers a proven process to help you work through your grief, to grow, evolve, and create a future you can truly look forward to. Here’s your host, Master Certified life coach, grief expert, widow, and mom, Krista St. Germain.
Hey there, welcome to another episode of the podcast. Hopefully as you hear this I am not in Kansas. I am in the gorgeous Collegiate Peaks area of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado at my family’s cabin. That was a trip that got cancelled in May and I’m really hoping that everything goes according to plan this time and we get out there. So hopefully that’s what’s happening in my neck of the woods when you listen to this podcast. And I’m really excited about introducing you to Molly Claire.
She’s someone that I have known for several years. Molly is a master certified coach and not only is she a brilliant coach. She is a mom of a blended family of eight, eight children you all. She wrote a book called The Happy Mom Mindset. And she’s also about to launch an advanced coaching certification for those who want to coach moms, for those who are coaching parenting and parenting issues and want to get better at that.
Before Molly came on I asked my Mom Goes On members to give me some of their biggest parenting challenges, parenting questions and that’s a lot of what Molly and I talked about. So, make sure you stay until the end. And I know it’s going to be super valuable to you because I know parenting is hard, being a mom is hard, especially being a widowed mom and so the more support the better.
So, before we get into that, a couple of other things I want to tell you. Molly and I are actually – I’ve mentioned on the podcast before, that I am working on an advanced certification in grief and posttraumatic growth. And Molly and I have been working together kind of keeping each other accountable and coaching each other as we create our own certifications. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before to have Molly on.
But in the process of working on our individual certification programs together we decided, wouldn’t it be a great idea if you came on the podcast and helped my people with your parenting wisdom? So, enjoy this interview with Molly and a reminder, the price of Mom Goes On is going up and it’s going up significantly at the end of July. So, if you’ve been considering Mom Goes On, if you’ve been thinking, I’ll get around to it, now is the time, get around to it, get your application in. Let’s see if it’s a good fit for you. And if it is we’ll get you into our August group before that price increase happens.
So got to coachingwithkrista.com and click on the Work With Me tab and you’ll find all the information there. Alright, let’s get into my interview with Molly.
Krista: Alright, welcome to the podcast Molly Claire, I’m excited you’re here.
Molly: Hello, yeah, thanks for having me. This is so fun. How have we not done this so far?
Krista: I know, how have we not done this so far? We’ve known each other for so long. In fact, I remember, random aside, but I remember, you won’t remember this, I remember meeting you way back in 2017 at coach certification. And you were trying to do all the things. I could tell you were very focused and very busy. And I was like, I kind of want to help her. But yeah, that was my first impression of you, was like, she’s a go getter, that one right there, yeah, so good.
So, okay, so instead of me introducing you, let me just go ahead and have you introduce you. So, tell us a little bit about you, how you got to do what you do and be where you are?
Molly: Yeah. So, I found coaching and fell in love with it at a time when I was going through a lot of personal things that were challenging for me. And it was actually, ended up being right before I went through my divorce. And just found it at a time that I really needed it, and experienced personal transformation from coaching. And just really knew that I had to do this work. And so, I am a coach now. I work with other coaches who are building their businesses.
But I started out working with women struggling in the mom space, women who were overwhelmed with life as a mom. And also spent some time working with women navigating being a single mom. So, I loved all of that work and now as I work with coaches building their businesses what I love about it is I feel like it’s just like that next step of helping to really help people in their personal lives because as I’m helping more people to spread their unique messages and gifts that they give, it just, together we can help solve all the world’s problems. We all band together and offer up support, yeah.
Krista: Yeah. And I can imagine too that even as you’re helping coaches on their business, probably lots of parenting and family issues come up in coaching anyway because so often what’s in our way of our business is something going on in our personal life.
Molly: Yeah, absolutely. Well, and even so personally I’m remarried. We have a blended family of eight kids, and I know, right.
Krista: I know, I just, I mean I watched it all happen but in my mind I have two kids and I find two overwhelming at times, so eight to me just kind of, yeah.
Molly: Yeah. And so, as I’ve continued to build my business and tried to find that balance with everything, I think a lot of women that come to me and want to work with me are navigating the mom space and family life. And kind of trying to find that balance. And so yeah, it’s very relevant in what I do for sure.
Krista: And that’s why I wanted to have you on the podcast because of course most of my listeners are moms obviously, the name of the podcast is called Widowed Mom Podcast. And so always looking for help frankly, is no small task to be the mom and the widow at the same time. And it really doesn’t even matter how old your children are. So, I know also, I don’t think you mentioned it, but you’ve written a book, The Happy Mom Mindset.
Molly: Yes. So, The Happy Mom Mindset which definitely I think, and especially in the context of some of the things we’re talking about today I think can be very applicable to your audience for sure. And then also of course you and I have both been doing our advanced certification that we’ve been working on. And so, I do have a certification for coaches that specifically help women with all the motherhood issues. So, this is definitely a space that I’m passionate about and hope to be able to bring something unique to your audience specifically.
Krista: Yeah, for sure. I know that you will or I would not have invited you. I know that you will. Okay, so I kind of pulled my Mom Goes On group for possible questions and concerns. And saw some pretty similar themes. So, I think we have a lot to talk about. I think since you’ve already mentioned eight kids and since I know that a lot of what my moms are struggling with is overwhelm and prioritizing themselves, and really just keeping their sanity, I’m sure that with eight children that requires some special skillsets. But how do you do that? What can we learn from you there?
Molly: Yeah. Well, I think, and just thinking about your audience and how do I take care of myself. I remember when I was going through my divorce and I know that you and I have talked about this before. There is a different experience for a widowed mom and the grieving that comes with that space, and going through a divorce. And there is a different type of grieving with that. And so, I think it’s a different experience. And I also think there are similar challenges that your audience is experiencing.
For example, how do I take care of myself and meet my own needs when I may feel like I’m falling apart, when I’m pretty sure my kids are in need and falling apart too. And I think oftentimes that’s part of where the overwhelm comes from. Would you agree with that, that that’s one source?
Krista: Yeah. And maybe perhaps under that too, this idea that our job is to take care of our kids and so then somehow we kind of make the leap and assume that means we have to not take care of ourselves. We take care of them but at our own expense. And almost think that that’s the right way to do it.
Molly: And I think also this idea that what does it mean to have your job be to take care of your kids? Because I think the mistake is we think, well, that means I have to solve all of their emotions, I have to solve all of their problems, I have to be anything and everything to them all the time. And that’s where it kind of crosses the line. And that’s where it seems to require us to let go of taking care of ourselves. And thinking about your audience, your self-care and carving out time to take care of yourself not only physically but mentally and emotionally has to be an absolute.
I don’t care how you make it happen, how you carve out the time, it absolutely has to happen because if you drown you cannot help anyone else. And I remember, for me what’s actually fascinating is as I was kind of navigating the space of being a single mom, ironically I had a little bit easier time in some ways with taking care of myself because something in my brain said to me, “You’ve got to take care of you. There’s no one else to help you out. There’s no one else to do it. You have to be solid.” And I think having that mindset served me really well because I did have absolutes.
Every Thursday I went and got my reflexology massage. Every day I carved out time and space. I carved out time to get good rest. And so, I think even just that, bringing that in and remembering that you have to have your needs taken care of so you can take care of everyone else allows you to make it a solid priority. And by the way, your feelings and needs really matter too. Just like what about that, forget the fact that it sets you up to be there for everyone else. You matter and what you’re going through really matters.
Krista: Yeah, 100%. Can we go a layer deeper there? Because, so for you it was reflexology and you said it was personal time and rest. I’ve love to get more tangible about that because I think sometimes when people hear take care of myself, all they think of is pedicures and manicures. And so, what else, so when we’re talking about, okay, if I am prioritizing myself and if I have decided that my feelings, and wants, and desires do matter, what can that look like? And can we expand people’s ideas here?
Molly: So, the first thing I want to say that I always teach my clients, and I think this can be a really important mind shift is I like this idea that for you as a mom, I don’t know how many of your audience is remarried or how much that plays into it. But either way, as a mom feeling responsible solely for these kids, your taking care of you absolutely has to be the number one priority. And just because it’s the number one priority doesn’t mean it gets the most time. It just means it gets enough time.
Krista: That’s big right there, I think.
Molly: Yes, because, right, if we think, well, if it’s the number one priority, then it trumps everything all the time and it takes up too much time. But that’s not true. It just has to have enough time, enough attention.
Krista: Yeah, okay. And how do we know if we’re giving it enough time and enough attention?
Molly: Yeah. And this is where I want to give some practical but also really put this back on your listeners with this. And sometimes we actually can think about what self-care means. And it ends up being a laundry list of things we think we’re supposed to.
Krista: Right. And then you’re just like, who has time for this? Yeah.
Molly: Right. You’re like, I know I should exercise. I know I should change my diet. I know I should go get a pedicure. I know I should do these things. But actually, what self-care looks like for you is whatever it is you need. What are the things that are going to help you feel alive, energized, whole, excited about your life? And so oftentimes when I’ve worked with women in this space, it’s like what self-care looks like to them is getting together with some friends and just going to get something to eat, which is much different than a big to-do list of things you’re supposed to do for yourself.
Krista: Yeah, one feels like way more fun and so much less like a should.
Molly: Yeah. So, it literally does not matter. I think more important than these are the things that you can do, it’s these are the questions you can ask. So, with regard to how much is enough time, just thinking about what is it that I really need to build into my day or in my week? What is it I need to be at my best time wise potentially? And what are three to five things that I can think of that bringing these things into my life feels good and positive for me and happy, and like taking care of myself?
And really expand the rules on what that can be. And I think that’s where the answer is, honestly.
Krista: I love that, yeah. What’s also coming to mind is that we could add three to five things. We could also probably subtract three to five things.
Molly: Absolutely. Right. And that’s the other side. What are the things in my life that are draining my energy and my happiness that I’m believing need to be on my list that are not serving me at all?
Krista: Yeah. And when we’re identifying those three things, I think too as you were saying, it could be going out with friends for a meal. I’m thinking of my audience too and also it’s really so much more about how you feel when you think of doing it than the actual event itself I think is what we’re saying here. Because sometimes the most healing thing might feel like being around other people. And sometimes being around other people will feel like a should and it won’t actually feel restorative or rejuvenating.
And so, we really have to use, what’s the feeling that makes me want to do this? Is this just another should, or an obligation, or something I’m telling myself I’m supposed to do to feel better? Or do I genuinely feel better when I do this and does it come from abundance and my true desire?
Molly: And I mean the reason I think that it’s really powerful and important for your listeners to even ask themselves, what do I need, what feels good, and energizing, and uplifting for me? Is that you’re really learning how to, I think, connect with yourself and your own emotions and needs. And I think that’s vital for any healing process, right?
Krista: Yeah, for sure.
Molly: Well, I was just going to say, speaking to how you feel about it and the specific example of reflexology massage. So, we have these reflexology massages, places all around here and I love them. I don’t know if you’ve ever, have you ever been to one before?
Krista: No. I mean I’ve had many massages but I don’t think it’s ever been reflexology.
Molly: Yeah, I love it. So, you put your feet in a foot soak and it’s kind of a different thing. It’s kind of a little funny because you’re all in this open room. So, you can go with a friend and kind of be next to each other if you want, or whatever. And I loved it. And here are the reasons why I loved it so much. When I made that appointment every single week at the time I did, on Thursdays and I would work into the evening Thursday nights. And it was kind of like my reward at the end of the night.
And so, I built it in, in a time that I really knew that I needed some reprieve and a break, so that was part of it. And when I set that appointment it was like, I am committing to myself that I’m going to take care of myself every single week. And what it symbolized to me is I would go and someone else was taking care of me, instead of me taking care of the kids, the house, my clients. And it was really a time for me to also have just that space and quiet. And so yes, it was reflexology massage but it was all of those things that actually sort of nurtured me and what I needed, and felt right for me.
Krista: I love that. I love it. So, I don’t even remember when I saw this.
Molly: You were going to say you saw something I posted the other day.
Krista: And I couldn’t even tell you exactly what it said but I will tell you what I remember and then you can take it from there. So, it was a post that you made on social about kind of seeing yourself as a separate role in your life and can you talk about that?
Molly: Yeah, I remember the post because I heard from a lot of people, yeah. It’s this idea. So, I of course help women to figure out their life business balance, how their life and personal things are getting priority and not that their business and life aren’t in competition. So, it’s this idea that, so there is business, or your job, or whatever, and then there is your personal life. And oftentimes we think about our life as kids, household, all of those family life kind of things or even friends.
But sometimes we don’t even put ourselves on that list of life because everything else drowns it out. And so, I really love this idea when we’re thinking about a work life balance, what about you as a category? There’s work and then there’s life even personal life, and then there’s you.
Krista: I love that so much. I actually use an app that kind of has you segment the roles of your life, all the different hats that you wear and I don’t have myself listed as one of those hats.
Molly: It’s so common, it’s this big mistake we make. We’re like, okay, I’ve got to have balance in my life. That’s what I need. But somehow we don’t make it on the list.
Krista: Yeah. So, thinking of it as its kind of own list or own category?
Molly: Yeah, absolutely.
Krista: Yeah, I like that, I like it a lot. Sometimes we’re really aware of what we’re struggling with. Sometimes we are struggling with things that we don’t even know we can change, maybe they’re self-inflicted or maybe we don’t even think to bring them up as struggles because we don’t think we have any ability to change anything. So, thinking back to the work that you’ve done with moms, where do you see us doing that to ourselves?
Molly: Tell me again, help me articulate what you mean, like self-sabotaging or doing something to ourselves that we don’t even realize?
Krista: Could be. And where are we trying to solve problems that aren’t problems? We’re trying to solve the problem in a way that isn’t actually addressing the root of the problem.
Molly: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean the biggest one that comes to mind right away is how much as women and as moms we can struggle when we see our kids struggling. And of course, we all want to be there for our kids and help them in ways that kids maybe sometimes aren’t able to help themselves as they’re growing up. But I think the biggest mistake we make often is taking on way too much, seeing negative emotions that our kids experience as a way bigger red flag than it needs to be sometimes. Because I think naturally we just want to go in and solve it.
Krista: Yeah. So, you’re watching your kid have a big emotion, how you get yourself back to that place where it’s less of a crisis and you aren’t trying to change their thoughts, how do you do it?
Molly: Yeah. Well, I think step one always, if you’re having a hard time with someone else having emotions I always think it’s a good idea to check in and connect with yourself and your own emotions with it. And now, oftentimes this can happen in a split second. Are we really going to be thinking about that at the time? But what I find is that my clients that have the hardest time tolerating or going with the flow, or whatever you want to call it, when their child is having big negative emotions. They also struggle with connecting with their own emotions.
And somewhere along the line when they were a kid their parents didn’t know how to handle those emotions either and so they would try to stop the emotions, fix the emotions. And so, I would say any time you’re struggling with your child having big emotions step aside for a minute. Be with yourself and really tune into and notice the feelings you’re having. And allow them to be there and to be okay. And there are a lot of ways we can do this. We can write them down. We can write down thoughts. We can write down feelings.
We can kind of get it out verbally or we can even just really kind of be in that space with ourselves. I know your audience can’t see me but I’m putting my hands over my heart.
Krista: I was just going to tell them that. Because yeah, I do that exact same thing, yeah, you put your hands over your heart.
Molly: Yeah, hands on your chest and just closing your eyes, and just really connecting with what you’re feeling. Because I think that that allows you to ground yourself so that there is at least a little bit of separation between the feelings you’re experiencing and what you see your child experiencing. And then when we’re grounded then I think it’s easier to hold that space for our child to be feeling what they are. And that’s when we can check in, hey, how are you doing? Is everything okay? And knowing that the answer may be yes and the answer may be no.
And either way it doesn’t mean it’s our job to solve it. And I think the more we can enquire, oftentimes our kids will give indications of what they really need from us or possibly nothing at all.
Krista: Yeah, or possibly nothing at all.
Krista: Yes, I love that you said that because so often the assumption, again, the assumption, if we perceive our children’s feelings or feelings in general as problems, then we think there is some sort of action on our part required to solve those problems which feelings aren’t problems. But even though you think your child might need something from you, what you just said is maybe they don’t.
Molly: I will never forget, I was doing a group where I was working with moms kind of getting out of some of these mom traps that I was teaching and talking with them about. And one of the women came and told me about this really upsetting situation where her son was, you know, she didn’t like the way her son was being treated by someone on the baseball team. And she asked me, “What do I do?” And I said, “Well, have you asked him if he wants your help?” And it was almost like, she was shocked that it wasn’t obvious that he needed her help.
It didn’t even occur to her and when she did of course he’s like, “No, I don’t need your help. I know how to handle this.” And so, I think that’s the first thing is oftentimes it doesn’t even occur to us that our kids might not even want anything from us. And so, I think asking and the other thing is sometimes what our kids need more than anything is just for us to care, just to listen sometimes.
Krista: Yeah. When you were talking earlier about checking in with how you feel and kind of putting your hand on your heart. I see so much value in that also from the perspective that it kind of helps you realize, okay, I see my child feeling angry and I notice myself feeling pressured or panicked. And then we can kind of see the difference between, the anger isn’t actually the problem that I’m experiencing right now. My problem that I’ve created for myself which is good news because that means I can change it if I want is that I’m maybe putting pressure on myself to solve my child’s feelings.
Or maybe I’m feeling powerless because I’m telling myself I can’t help or there’s nothing I can do, or this is bigger than me, or I’ve got some story in my own mind that’s making me have this emotional reaction to what I perceive emotionally from my child. And seeing those as two very different experiences.
And I see this with grief a lot too which is that the more we’re comfortable with our own negative emotion and I think I’m just kind of essentially saying it in a different way than you said it before. But the more comfortable we are with our own negative emotion the more comfortable we are with our children having those negative emotions.
Molly: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Krista: Yeah. And if we don’t believe our own emotions are problems then when we watch our children emoting it’s so much easier to see that, no, this is just part of the human experience. And it’s nothing has gone wrong here. I don’t need to change this because it’s not actually a problem. And I don’t know about you but there’s not much worse for me than when somebody jumps in and tries to minimize my feelings.
Molly: Absolutely, yes.
Molly: Yes, yes.
Krista: And so, but we do this with our kids. And we hate it when people do it with us. But we’re so uncomfortable sometimes with seeing our kids be sad, angry, whatever it is. It’s okay, don’t worry, you’re fine, it’ll be a better day tomorrow or whatever it is. Which is really just – I don’t know what you think about this but it’s really just our own discomfort with their discomfort.
Molly: Yeah. And believing even sometimes that they should think differently about it. They should feel differently. And I know as you were talking and I’m sure at least some of your listeners will relate to this. I know at times with my daughter I’ve wished that she would have a more positive view about things. Where she’ll be talking about something and it’s like I’m hearing her and what I’m hearing is she has this grass is always greener thing going on in her mind. And she’s focusing on all the negative and none of the positive.
And it’s like I can get swept up and caught up in that thinking, she should think differently. She should see the positive. I don’t want her thinking in these ways because then I think she’ll have more unhappiness in her life. And I want to fix that. I want to control this about her. And so, I don’t know. I know a lot of women can relate to that, a lot of moms to hearing the way their kids are experiencing their life. And wanting it so bad to be different and wanting to impart some wisdom on them.
But what ends up happening is just what you said, it ends up feeling to our kids like we’re dismissing their feelings or not listening to them. And I think with my daughter in particular, the more I’ve realized that usually what she is needing or wanting from me is to just be there and allow her to say what she thinks and say what she feels without me taking anything on at all or trying to fix it. It’s the nicest thing I can do for her.
Krista: Yeah, it really is because otherwise we’re sending the message that how you feel is a problem, it’s wrong, it should be different. As opposed to bring me your big feelings, they’re not a problem, I can handle them, I’m here.
Molly: Yeah. And kind of going back to what you were saying and bouncing off what I was saying earlier about our willingness to feel our own emotions. I think not only can that help us in the moment when that’s happening but as we go through life and we experience big emotions personally and as we experience grief, and loss, and sadness. How much time do we really give ourselves to just go and take care of our feelings?
And I had a client that I was working with for a while and she hadn’t really been taught how to handle emotions when she was younger because there was very much a dismissiveness of her feelings. And so, her feelings felt very scary to her. And she was uncomfortable being with her feelings. And so, she would be very reactive with her kids. She couldn’t stand it when her kids had tantrums, or feelings, or whatever. She was just like idling so high.
And so, the work that we did with her is her focus was taking time with herself several times a day just to put those hands on her chest, on her heart and just say, “What am I feeling? How can I be with myself in these feelings right now?” And sometimes that meant just feeling it, processing it, crying, whatever it is. So, I think also there is an element of doing that regularly proactively for all of your listeners. And it’s amazing at how when she did that it actually prepared her to do the same to be there with her kids’ emotions.
Krista: 100% with you. And it’s a really hard thing to do sometimes, or at least it’s an easy thing to put off because depending on what you were taught about feelings growing up. I think if you think it’s something scary which a lot of women do, if you think it’s a black hole that you’re going to fall down, of course you’re not going to want to – you don’t want to fall down a black hole. If you think it’s this pandora’s box that one thing is going to lead to the next and then all of a sudden you’re out of control.
It’s really easy to sell yourself on not making time for it. Plus, then you probably have all these stories about feelings should be felt alone and you don’t want to show that much emotion to your children because you may have been role modeled that kind of behavior too. So yeah, I love the idea of okay, first we’ve got to kind of sell ourselves and get some basic skills on how do I feel those feelings? I’m not going to fall in a black hole. It is something I can handle. It actually isn’t going to swallow me.
It’s better if I let myself feel it than it is if I shove it down and try to hold it under water. And then if I’m convinced of those things maybe even if it’s just when the kids go to bed, I can allow myself a little bit of time.
Molly: Yeah, absolutely. And I think about this idea of the emotions aren’t going to swallow me. I think it’s important to remember that. And to remember even if you can think of a time not so long ago that you were feeling totally differently than you are in this low moment. I remember just yesterday that there was this moment in time when I was feeling a joy, a lightness, whatever it is. And now I’m feeling this. So, if I felt that not that long ago, it’s also possible that I’ll feel that lightness again.
I think it gives you that perspective to be able to not be so afraid of those, you know, any negative thoughts or feelings in the moment.
Krista: It’s transitory essentially. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, with my kids, I’ve shared this on the podcast before but I love tapping. I know you love it too. But my kids, I taught them, or I used to tap on them when they were little, at bedtime when it was just, they were really wound up or stressed out, or upset. I would tap on the points and we would just tap with, “Let it go”, or whatever the emotion was.
And I think because they learned that skill at a pretty young age and because I had it for myself, it was a whole lot easier in those moments where maybe it wasn’t the peacefulness or opportunity of bedtime. When I’m in public, or in the car, or somewhere to still tap on the side of my hand or tap on the collarbone point. And give myself a moment where maybe it’s not a full cry session because other people are staring at me and I’m in a meeting.
But I still have a tool that allows me to create some calm in my nervous system and kind of to acknowledge what’s going on and to let it flow through as opposed to trying to shove it down.
Molly: And I know sometimes, and I don’t know how much you’ve talked with your people, your listeners here about tapping. But even pressing on the tapping points and breathing in and out on each one is something you can kind of do anywhere.
Krista: So inconspicuous, yeah. I find, I like the collarbone, the sore spot right here. I find that’s a really easy one because it just looks like maybe you have a muscle ache. And nobody is the wiser and I find a lot of power in that one, yeah, for sure.
Molly: I wanted to mention something you brought up because I know this is something that comes up a lot for the women that you work with is this idea of how do we, do I show my kids that I’m grieving, that I’m having all of these emotions or do I keep that from them? We don’t want to put this on our kids. And as you were talking about for you kind of tapping and almost modeling you attending to your feelings, that just kind of brought up for me how important it is for all of us to not hide our emotions or what’s hard for us from our kids.
But also, not put it on them to take care of for us. And I do think you can do both. I think it’s positive for our kids to know that we feel these hard things and for them to see and I’m taking care of myself within this so you don’t have to take it on.
Krista: Yes. It reminds me, so when Hugo died, Carson was nine and he had been saying things like this long before Hugo died because he’s just a very emotionally perceptive kid, he’s now 15. But if he perceived that I was not happy he would say, “Mommy, you’re not happy. I want to make you happy. What can I do to make you happy?” And fortunately, I wasn’t a coach at that point in time but I at least had the wherewithal to be able to say, “Buddy, you can’t make mommy happy. It’s not your job. The only person who can make mommy happy is mommy.
And it’s not a problem that I’m not happy and it’s nothing that you need to worry about or fix because you can’t. It’s only something mommy can do. So, you make you happy, mommy make mommy happy and however we feel is okay.” And man, we had that conversation over, and over, and over because he did not like to see me sad, or just even stressed. If I was just hurried he didn’t like it. Yeah.
Molly: Yeah. And I think there is range of how, of kids, how much of that they take on and how much of it they don’t like. But even though your kids don’t like to see you sad or upset, I think just like you said, I know, Krista, I would always say to my son, I would say, “Well, sometimes we all cry and I’m crying today. And that’s okay.” Yeah.
Krista: I love it. I love it. Okay, so can I read you some of these questions that some of my Mom Goes On members submitted?
Molly: Yeah, I love it.
Krista: So, we’ll just kind of rapid fire, Molly.
Molly: Yeah, let’s do it.
Krista: So, this one says, “I know there’s no parenting manual of what’s right and what’s wrong, and every child is different. But what do I do or what can I say to my teenage boy who seems to be having a difficult time with his dad’s death but refuses to talk about it? He doesn’t like to talk about his dad and he gets physically tight when I try to bring up memories or talk about him.” What do you think about that?
Molly: Yeah. I know it definitely, I think most moms relate to it being challenging when you perceive something you believe your kids need or that they’re struggling with, but there is resistance to it. And for me my view on this personally, you can disagree, Krista, or add to it. But I think that giving that space for the child to be where they are and to choose to not talk about it for as long as they need is the best approach and keeping that door open.
Because I think there are ways that we can model talking about it or acknowledge that talking about those things is an option. But truly letting it be on the child’s timeline because I think that actually if at some point in time the child is going to want to talk about it and open up to it, the best chance of that happening is you dropping the rope, dropping the desire to control it and just leaving that understanding space open.
Krista: I totally agree because otherwise you get into a kind of a tug-of-war and I think also this kind of presumes that talking about it is somehow better than not talking about it.
Molly: Totally, yes.
Krista: And that’s not necessarily the case at all. So just because a child isn’t talking doesn’t mean it would actually be better for them if they did.
Molly: Yes, 100%. Because we all have our own bias. For me talking about things, verbal processing is so helpful for me. And sometimes for my husband for example, that’s not really that helpful for him. And so, we really just, we don’t know. I love that you brought that up.
Krista: Yeah, totally. Okay, so that question was from Tiffany. This one’s from Amy. And she asked, “What do young children need most from the surviving parent? I know that’s kind of a big question but what comes to you when you think about that?
Molly: Well, I mean going back to what we started off with all of this. I think for you to take care of yourself I think not only does that allow you to be your best self. But I also think it models you taking care of yourself for your kids. And it shows them that, it’s almost like they can count on you. And they don’t have to pick up the pieces or the burden of your emotional mess as a mom if you’re taking care of you. So, I really think the biggest thing is you taking care of you and you being strong is the best thing for them.
Krista: I’m totally with you. To listeners, if you have never listened to The Widowed Parent Podcast, I highly recommend that one. And I know I have probably mentioned it before but Jenny Lisk who hosts that podcast, she is also a widow and a mom. And she does a lot of bringing experts in and interviewing. And she’s had a lot of conversations with children who lost their parents at a young age and are now adults.
And one of the things that I learned from Jenny is that in those conversations what has often come up is what a burden it was for the child when the parent didn’t take care of themselves. And how unnecessary that is for us knowing that, that if we know, okay, if I just take care of myself then I don’t ever let that burden be there for my child.
They never have to worry about oh, gosh, I’ve got to take care of myself without my dad, now I’ve got to take care of my mom without my dad, because we’re taking good care of ourselves. So yeah, I’ve heard that validated from kids who grew up and had that experience.
Molly: Yeah, 100%, yeah.
Krista: Okay. This one’s from Kerry and she asked, “Is counseling always necessary? And should you require it if they are resistant?”
Molly: Yeah. So, my answer is I don’t believe counseling is always necessary. I think there are many ways that we as humans can heal, and grow, and work through things, 100%. And as far as requiring it, I know we just talked a little bit about this, if there is resistance. But I mean I definitely think if a child is against it, I think holding that space for when they’re ready, and I also don’t think there’s any harm in having a child go and tiptoe into it and give it a try and see if it’s for them.
I know my daughter had some issues that she was dealing with and she was like, “I do not want to do this.” And I said, “We’re going to go, and we’re going to try it and we’re going to see. And then we’re going to leave it open.” And she fell in love with her counsellor. So, I do think it’s a personal choice.
Krista: Yeah. And I think that I totally agree with you. And I also think there are other options worth exploring too. You might find your child has no interest in talking to a ‘counsellor or therapist’ but they actually really appreciate being around other children who lost a parent. Or the opposite is true, we have no idea. And I don’t think that one is necessary but for certain there are lots of options available. And I think it’s good to give it a shot and let your child see what your child actually thinks is valuable to them.
Molly: Yeah, because there’s so many different threads of the emotions that your listeners are experiencing, and their kids. And Krista, as you know, my daughter wrote her book about…
Krista: It’s so good. I haven’t even spent five minutes in the same room with Daisy and you’ve got one heck of a little kid there.
Molly: She is something. So, she wrote this book, it’s like a kid’s guide to divorce and after it. And the things that she struggled with, a big part of it was feeling like she was so different. And I know that your listeners feel that way as a widowed mom and that their kids feel that way. And I know for my daughter when she was kind of going through the process of actually picking her book cover and stuff. And she got input from kids at school and she started to hear from all these other kids that were saying, “My parents are divorced.” “I didn’t know.”
And all of these kids were speaking up and didn’t realize that there were others. And there was so much power in that. And I think that’s really worth bringing up that a part of it is just feeling like you’re not really alone, having that sense of others share this can be really healing in and of itself.
Krista: Yeah. And that might be harder to find in your classroom. But it is for sure out there and there are so many online resources. So, there are so many camp experiences for kids who have lost a parent. There are lots of ways for children to connect with other children to see that they really aren’t the only ones even when it feels like that they are.
Molly: Yeah. And sometimes even just – I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this. But I remember reading this book in particular that I really felt like the author understood me and understood my personal struggles. And I felt it was very almost healing. And I felt very heard. And so, I think even in that, even your kids being able to read about and understand that some of the struggles they’re experiencing are normal and shared right there can be pretty powerful.
Krista: Yeah. I’m thinking about Daisy still. And I’m thinking about watching – I don’t know how old she was when I saw this video but I remember a video of her teaching the self-coaching model, the thought model that we use. One of my favorite things about helping moms and teaching them this work is that whether it’s because they’re explicitly teaching it to their children or just more often role modeling it to their children is seeing it kind of ripple. But I’m so curious how that happened with you and Daisy.
How did she come to be a little model expert at whatever young age she was, what was that like?
Molly: Well, I think just building my business with my toddler at my feet and her always being around and listening to conversations that I would have and everything. And I know what video you’re talking about. You know what it was? I remember thinking how easy the model is, how simple it is really. And I remember she and I started talking about it. And I was curious to see if I taught it to her if she would be able to use it.
And you know what’s funny is there were times when she would be mad at me and she would come and write her model out of what she was thinking, and then feeling, and then I’m going to do this. So yeah, that’s so funny that you remember that. But I think that’s really where that came about.
Krista: I love that. It’s your thoughts, mom, that coach.
Molly: I know.
Krista: Yeah, it’s so good.
Molly: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Krista: Okay, one more question. This one’s about dating and it’s from Amy, okay, because I know you’ve personally been here. “So how to talk to our kids when we start to date, what should we communicate to our kids when we start dating? Is it better to wait until we’re in a serious relationship to introduce our kids to the person we’re dating?” What do you think?
Molly: Okay, so this is my personal opinion obviously. I definitely think it’s a good idea to be upfront with your kids and let them know that you’re going to start dating. And give them the space to digest that. And remember that they may hate it. And so, your kids’ reaction, your kids’ thoughts and feelings about it is not a reason for you to change the course of what you’re doing. But I think being upfront about it I think is a positive thing. And I know for me personally I did not introduce my kids to anyone unless I felt like it might be serious.
Now, this can be a little bit tricky because part of blending a family and a second marriage is you do have to meet kids and have that experience. So, I think you have to find that blend of okay, if I think this might be going somewhere don’t be afraid to introduce them. Go ahead and introduce them to see if there might be a next step there. But I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea to do it too soon.
Krista: Yeah, I agree. And I think again, we can have our opinions, and listeners, you can totally have your own opinions and just because we have opinions doesn’t mean we’re right and you’re wrong. But with the talking about it ahead of time I do think especially when you are the only surviving parent that the trust that you have with your children and that they have in you is really hard to get back if it’s damaged. And so personally I believe in erring on the side of honesty.
Just because we’re honest doesn’t mean we have to give an inappropriate amount of detail or an amount of detail that we’re uncomfortable with. But just actually being honest I think is important in terms of trust.
Molly: And I think being strong too. Because it kind of goes back to this idea that what do our kids really need? What they don’t need is for us to put our emotions on them. And so, if you go to your kids and you’re kind of wanting permission or wanting their blessing, or you’re kind of wishy-washy or feeling guilty about dating. That’s not really going to be the best thing for them. That’s too much. Kids are pretty perceptive. And I don’t think it’s necessary to put that on them. So, I think it’s really important that if you decide you’re going to date, make sure you’re solid in that first.
Then when you do talk to your kids the stronger you can be, hey, I’ve decided this, I wanted to let you know, do you have questions about this? That’s when they can really rely on you and feel free to express whatever emotions they may have, right?
Krista: Yeah. And if those emotions then aren’t problems because you don’t need their approval, your experience will be so much easier. And I think that goes for grown children as well. I can’t tell you how many women I have coached that we start talking about dating and if you didn’t know better you would think that it’s a young child living at home throwing a tantrum. It’s actually a grown adult who is very offended or feels like their other parent is being replaced and they’re very upset and feeling very threatened. And how uncomfortable that can make us if we take it on.
Molly: Absolutely. I think oftentimes it’s the older kids that have a much harder time.
Krista: Yeah, agreed. Well, was there anything else that you wanted to cover that we may have missed, Molly?
Molly: No, I mean just going back to, I love whoever’s listening to this is obviously already seeking out support. And I think that’s the biggest thing. Figure out, what is the support system you need and want in your life? Not just now but forever, what is the support system you need in your life? What are the things that light you up, that bring you to life? How can you really take good care of you first and foremost and everything else I think can tend to fall into place and everything else can be figured out?
Krista: Yeah, 100%. I love it. If people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
Molly: Yeah. They can just go to mollyclaire.com so find out about my different programs that I offer. I primarily work with coaches and female entrepreneurs, that’s where you can find me. And of course, you can find my book, The Happy Mom Mindset on Amazon.
Krista: Love it. And you have a podcast?
Molly: I do have a podcast, The Masterful Coach Podcast. I talk about life, business and also coaching skill mastery. So, it’s kind of a three in one focus on my podcast.
Krista: I love it. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I honestly can’t believe we didn’t think about it sooner. But I’m so glad that we had a moment and realized you should come on the podcast.
Molly: Yes, definitely. Yes, yes. Thank you for having me.
Krista: Well, take care, Molly.
Molly: Thanks, you too.
Krista: Alright, bye.
If you like what you’ve been hearing on this podcast and want to create a future you can truly get excited about after the loss of your spouse, I invite you to join my Mom Goes On coaching program. It’s small group coaching just for widowed moms like you where I’ll help you figure out what’s holding you back and give you the tools and support you need so that you can move forward with confidence.
Please don’t settle for a new normal that’s less than you deserve. Go to coachingwithkrista.com and click work with me for details and the next steps. I can’t wait to meet you.