Episode 277 Transcript (Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield)

Episode 277 (Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield)

Podcast Intro: [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where He teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m gonna give it my all.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:00:39] Gentlemen, welcome back to dadAWESOME. Today, episode 277, I have the first half of my conversation with Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield. This is Mom Month, the second installment of Mom Month and Dr. Michelle, she wrote, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need From You: A Guide For Connecting With Your Daughter’s Heart. She wrote, Let’s Talk Conversation Starters For Dads And Daughters. She hosts The Dad Whisperer Podcast. She started The Abba Project, she’s been doing that for like 13 years. Guys, this conversation is packed with actionable, practical ways that you can connect with your kids heart. Doesn’t matter if you have daughters or sons, this is all content from a from a woman’s perspective. So she’s a daughter, she’s one of four girls. She’s a daughter, she’s just gifted her last 13 years to helping dads. So this is a unique opportunity to learn from a different perspective and you’re going to take away so much. So, guys, I’m glad you’re listening. Here’s the first half of my conversation, episode 277, with Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield. It is a pleasure to have you on because it was four or five years ago, Arman Assadi was like, How have you not talked to the, the dad whisperer, that’s what he said to me. And I was like, Well, because I interview dads, like, that’s kind of why I hadn’t had on ya yet. But today’s the day we’ve got you on the podcast. And and actually, before I even let you jump in to introduce yourself, I was thinking about the reasons this is fun for me, today’s conversation, and here, here are a few of them, there’s seven of them. You have a podcast for dads, so already I’m like, intrigued. You’ve written a couple fatherhood books, you’ve written two fatherhood books, do I have that right? Which is I can’t wait to dive into. You’ve got 13 years of like passion and heart helping dads in like, so I’m like, Well, that’s a lot more years than I do helping dads. You grew up in a four daughter family. You’re you’re the oldest of four sisters, right? Four of you girls. Which I’ve got four girls, everybody knows I have four girls.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:02:47] I know. I love it.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:02:48] And then, you just a lot of focus on dad, daughter, Dad, daughter. Like, I want to help dads with daughters, which is me, is me. So there’s another reason. Let’s see, then the last two you are you’re married to Dr. Ken Canfield. The legendary like just has done so much work in the area, like the ripple effect of his work in the area fatherhood. So that’s a reason to talk to you alone. And then and then the last, the seventh, was your passion for turning of the hearts, the fathers to their children, the heart turning, which comes from Luke 1:17 and talked about the Malachi mandate, the last verse of the Old Testament. So those are a lot of reasons that I get excited for this conversation. So welcome to dadAWESOME.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:03:26] Oh, I’m so glad to be here. Finally, where we’re meeting together. I love it.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:03:31] It’s on, it’s on. And this is this is going to be a fun conversation. So Luke 1:17, though, just to kind of launchpad in from what I just mentioned, he will be a man with the spirit of the power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children. Would you talk just a little bit about that part of your heart instead of turning off the minds of the heads? I’ve just heard you talk about this, it’s heart work that we’re doing. Would you talk about your passion for that?

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:03:58] You know it actually, I see “it” meaning this assignment, this calling, this passion from me, came out of Luke 1:17. So it was December 9, I’m reading in Luke 1, who doesn’t read in that part of scripture at Christmas, about how Zachariah was told, but is yet to be born, son John would help turn the hearts, not the heads of fathers to their children. Random day just heard God whispering, Michelle that’s what I want you to do. And I was like, Why? I mean, I’d always invested in women, not not fathers. Two days later, I’m blow drying my hair, I heard the name The Abba Project, Abba meaning Daddy in Arabic and then love a project. And there, there from there it was on, you know, I’m like, But I don’t have any curriculum. I don’t have anything. And what I can tell you, honestly, Jeff, is I would disqualify myself from this assignment. It’s not typical that women are talking to fathers about how to be a better dad. And yet I love the fact that we’re in it together. You would disqualify yourself, I’m sure, as a dad, many dads say, I don’t think I’m up for this job or look at the dad I’ve had, I wasn’t prepared or look at my addictions or my my trauma history or my patterns of anger or whatever it is. We’re all in it together saying, God, it’s by your might, by your power, apart from you, we can do nothing. So here I am in the space with men saying, I want to help you understand what a heart turn looks like to your daughter. And it’s very different than a head turn. We love your head connection, but heart turns are really about reading between the lines, I always say men read lines, women read between lines. Which is why sometimes men say, Why didn’t you say it that way and we’re like, Why did I have to, you should have known. And you’re like, you’re making me nuts. Because heart turns mean softer, more intuitive, between the lines, gentle, sensitive. And so what I love seeing happen with dads of daughters is they develop a whole other side, I would say a whole valve to their heart opens up in ways that make them stronger, healthier men because of their love for their daughters. So that’s kind of where I roll.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:05] Wow. And you’ve used the expression soft and you’ve used the expression whisper. That has actually started with God whispering to you in that moment and the name of your podcast, The Dad Whisperer, like, that’s part of, like, the posture just feels like like get in close and and you have something gently to say. And that that’s an area I struggle is is I find myself, my tone, you talked about between the lines and I’m I’m I’m using I’m not thinking about tone I’m using my how would you when it comes to like the softness and the whisper like how can we as dads just get on that side versus the direct, the strength, the loudness? Would you, would you coach me?

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:06:49] Well you think about the fact that the Holy Spirit is a whisperer, right. In Romans 8, it says, He calls out, so that’s a shouting. Holy Spirit, is like, He’s shouting Abba, Father, You’ve got a dad. So you’re like, okay, so I’ve got a shouting Holy Spirit and a whispering Holy Spirit. How do you balance it? Well, there really isn’t a balance. It’s both, and, all the time. So, Dad, the more you look into the eyes of your daughter when you’re talking to her, especially when you’re in an intense place and you’re wanting to set boundaries or guidelines and you want respect in your home. And yet I’ve found so often men aren’t modeling what they’re demanding of their kids. But when you look in the eyes of your daughters, especially, of course, it’s your sons, but you’re going to respond differently when you see that your anger scares her or your intensity shuts her down or brings on shame. But again, we all give out what we have. So if you are in a place where you don’t know how to be gentle with yourself or quiet before the Lord to let Him convict you or speak to you, it’s going to be harder to give that out. But it starts with you having times, I would say with God, where you listen and soften your heart. Because don’t we love how Proverbs 15 says, a soft answer turns away, what?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:08:13] Wrath. Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:08:15] Wrath. Right. And so, this whole idea of softness is not something that I’m just making up or you’re making up, as a girl dad. We’re saying God’s the one that said that’s an antidote to anger. And so, Ken and I found a practical way to coach dads, the whispering piece, which, by the way, Chris Fabry of Moody Radio, gave me that. He’s like, You should be called that. And then I’ve had men say, we don’t like women shouting at us and we don’t know how you do it. And I’m like, So as I whisper, and say, try it this way. I say, Don’t, don’t tell your girls where you got the idea, you can get full credit, but look in her eyes. Her eyes will tell you a lot. And if you’re in an angry place, you may find that you don’t want to look at her eyes. That might be a practical way that you begin to soften your tone by looking at the impact of your response to her face.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:09:09] Yeah. That’s so good and my daughter, my oldest daughter, has asked because she’ll be reading and I’ll say something, I’ll say it louder and I’ll say it louder. And she’s like, Dad, would you just come tap me on the hand, like, so there’s something about closeness that I’ve missed so many times. And I’ve also gotten more agitated every time I say the same thing to her, I’m becoming more agitated when she that she doesn’t need louder or stronger. She needs she actually needs a little bit of touch, as well, because it’s softer. 

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:09:38] It’s funny that you say that because if you ever noticed, like if you have someone from another country, is sometimes, we’re like we’re trying to communicate in two different languages or dialects and saying the same thing louder, it’s not going to help them understand any better. They don’t speak the same language or we don’t speak their language. And it’s Martian and Venusian, right? Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, two different languages. And so I love helping dads decode their daughters and teaching dads practical things like let me just So one is learn to read her eyes, because the research shows men do better with shoulder to shoulder orientation in terms of how they talk, women, more times than not, love face to face orientation. So we say the way I know you’re listening to me is that I can see your eyes. A lot of times men say, Actually, I listen better when I’m not looking at your eyes, because then I’m not distracted. So again, just looking at her face, looking at her eyes, reading between the lines is just ask your daughter a question that a pastor friend of mine said that a guy in his church, his daughter, was four at the time, every night he would tucker in bed, he would ask her this question, Has daddy been sharp with you today? Because he would want to make amends that day and make it right before she went to bed. Isn’t that brilliant? Like, hey, by and large, men are more prone to intensity. They’re like, You want to see anger? This isn’t me angry and she’s a puddle. So it’s a, have I been sharp with you today, because I want to ask you to forgive me. But before, here’s another little key dads, It’s easy to say I’m sorry, where’s the focus? On you. I’m sorry. But to say, How did Daddy hurt you, in the way I responded? Tell me, I want to understand the hurt and then when you say, Will you forgive me, it helps restore the bridge back, because I know that’s what you want, men. You want a heart connection with your daughter. And so that’s the turning of the heart. Help me understand how I hurt you. Tell me. I want to hear. And then will you forgive me? That’s kind of critical.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:11:48] Will you? Yeah. Will you forgive me? So again, the focus is on my precious little girl, not on me. Yeah. Yeah, too, so there is still an I’m sorry, but then you followed up with the you. Will you forgive me?

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:11:58] Help me understand how I’ve hurt you and will you forgive me? And that’s another way to connect at a heart level. Because you can tell women that have hurt hearts. Women with hurt hearts, especially from their dad. Dad avoids, where dad didn’t step in or dad wounds, make really poor choices, right, and start looking for love in all the wrong places because the player is like bonding with her over her hurt and oh, your dad. The best antidote to saving your daughter from the dudes and the duds is you engage at a heart level by asking her questions. How did my response impact you? How did that make you feel? All those heart words.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:12:43] Wow. I want to just call out your your resource section on your website. You have so many of these PDF one pagers or some are much longer of just like you’re here, this might help. This might help as an assessment in there, but the one that is ten dos and don’ts for navigating the dad daughter disagreement. I just thought this is so practical and it’s like the quickest 30 second read. But I love that you said, Hey, do this, take a time out that matches your age so your brain can, so I’m 41, so I got to take a I think 41 years means 41 minutes, right, to cool down. Is that right?

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:13:18] I am not kidding you, I just brought that up at a counseling session today.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:13:23] No way.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:13:24] I mean, literally, he said to me, oh, that’s going to be a really long time out because he’s like 60. I go, Exactly. Exactly. It takes longer because what happens is our brain develops brain stem first, right, heart and lungs. Then our cerebellum, which has to do with motor skills, then our limbic system, which is way inside, and that’s our emotional center where we attach. Probably not coincidence that God is saying, Dads, I want you to turn your hearts because that’s how your daughter is going to attach to you and a tune to you. So that limbic system, that midbrain, what happens when we get angry or have a big emotion of any kind, is it floods. We use that in my field of psychology, our prefrontal cortex, which this is where we think and have good judgment and reasoning, where we say irrational things.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:16] It all goes away. It all goes away.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:14:19] Yep. So when that midbrain is on fire and our frontal, prefrontal cortex goes offline, it takes longer to calm our arousal system when we’re all jacked up to calm again. And I’m telling you, men, you will never regret waiting to correct, to discipline till you’re calm down. You’ll never regret waiting. You’ll probably regret having stepped in before you were grounded. Got to get your feet on the ground first.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:45] Yeah, and that’s what I mean. All ten of these do’s and don’ts really got to keep the big picture in mind, the relationship. They’re all tools that help us, like, don’t act like, like, don’t put yourself in her level of maturity. Like, like, come on, come on. Like, let’s lead by example. How am I being? I even loved, like, like you said something about, Hey, stay calm. Like, like you can treat people in the workplace like this, why in the world would you treat a small child? I was so I was like, this is for me, this guy. So.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:15:19] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s for me to. I’m not kidding you, this is for me too. I tend to, I, my personality type is I can go to anger pretty easy. So I tell you, you guys, I am not just preaching at you, I am preaching to this choir right here.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:32] Well, the next section I want to jump forward to is just leading that we can be a leader on the home front. We can be a leader to our little, little girls, our precious daughters. And you had, I think there’s five of them, lead her to laugh, lead her to love. You know, I’m going to leader her, lead her to look, lead her to lament and lead her to listen. And I have not deeply dove into this concept, this framework, but right away I was intrigued, like, can you help me to share a little bit more with all of us around these these ways we can lead our daughters? 

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:16:03] So, so quick back story. Welcome to Venus. There’s always a backstory to the story. So, so the first book that I wrote was Dad, Here’s What I Really Need From You: A Guide For Connecting With Your Daughter’s Heart. And, you know, again, born out of the work, leading groups for dads every year called The Abba Project. So in the back, I have 8 dad daughter date questionnaires on different topics like body image. Most men are like, Oh, I’m not touching that one with a ten foot pole or sex, I’m not going there. So I say, Dad, I going to give you questions and then you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. And if your daughter says there’s stupid bond with her over making fun of me, I’m at the end of the bus, I’m your fall guy. And so, you know, one of the things I’ve often said from my planet of Venus to yours of Mars is here’s an observation I’ve made, which is that men would often rather do nothing than do it wrong. You get that doing nothing is doing it wrong. And I know you want to do it right, but that’s where I come in. So the lead into your question, I, I know this was the scenic route to get there. So in my work with these dads at the end of The Abba Project, this was maybe four years ago, one of them said, Michelle, every month you’ve given us questionnaires for our dad daughter dates on these topics. What do we do now? We’re out on our own. We’re graduating. We don’t have anything. And I said, Reid, you’ll never believe this, it was the weekend prior, God told me to write this book. The Let’s Talk Conversation Starters For Dads And Daughters with 60 questionnaires on topics. And I asked these men, I said, how many of you, if there was a book with questions, would buy that to give you more topics? Every hand went up. And I was like, okay, because I didn’t just want to write a book to write a book. I want to write a book that meets a felt need and changes and strengthens relationships for the better. So then I actually spent a whole day with the Lord, and he gave me these albums because I said, I don’t I don’t know how to let this idea take shape. So I started with lead Her to laugh, meaning whether or not you have a strong relationship with your daughter, even if the bridges bombed out and some dads listening are like, Yeah, I’m the dad, or due to divorce, I have so many men, probably 75% are the emails I get are from dads that are in estranged relationships with their daughters. Many of them due to divorce, right, where they’re now on the outs and they don’t know what to do. And so I say, okay, leading your daughter to laugh, to look at lighter hearted things is a great foundation, especially when she’s younger or if there’s been challenges between you. You don’t start with the heavy stuff, so that’s that. And then the second section is lead her to look. So now we’re looking at deeper things. We’re leading, then its lead her to love. Its ways to say, how can my life have an impact outside of me as a world changer? But some of these even look topics are body image, sexting, cyberbullying, depression, anxiety, suicide. You may be a dad that says, My daughter’s never been suicidal. You know what, depending on her age, there’s a really good chance that she has friends who have. So being able to talk with you, you can adapt the questions. Hey, what did you say to your friend? Or what would what would you like to have been able to say to her or him? Or What do you think they’ve needed? You can adapt the questions, but you’ve got a starting point and then lead her to lament. In fact, my husband Ken, who started the National Center for Fathering, said to me, I think that’s the most important section in the whole book, because, as we all know, our injuries and our wounds affect everything. Like, think of on your body, You know, you can get a little paper cut and your whole hand hurts because that injury affects how you move or don’t move, right, through life based on the injury. So when we have unhealed areas in our lives and our hearts, that’s where we go off the rails. And so that lead her to lament is even saying, what if you talked about loss of a pet, now you as a dad may go, that was five years ago. I think she’s over it. She may not be just because she hasn’t talked about it, you get to open up a conversation about, you know, death of a vision, loss of a parent or a pet or a friend. I had friendship wounds when I was in sixth grade, that young. My best friend picked a new best friend. I could still tell you about that now, these many decades later. It was horrible rejection at the time. But as I think about it, Jeff, not very many people really asking about it. And I think that’s why so many of these questions are even questions I wish my dad would have been able to ask me through the years. And then the last sections lead her to listen where you flip the script, you hand your daughter the book and she gets to ask you questions about your life, about your family of origin or relationship issues, or God as a Father. And let her begin practicing drawing you out. Because what I’ve seen and I’m sure you can relate, but so many younger kids now live with technology and so things are limited to 280 characters or what your thumbs can type. But to learn interpersonal skill building, to draw out you as a dad. Who better to teach you than you? So that’s kind of the progression through that book, and that’s why I wrote it that way. So it would be a MANuel, a practical, put it into action, men, book that builds your competence and it builds your confidence.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:21:37] And in those different categories, so helpful. I will, I’ll play a game on my daddy daughter dates and it’s it’s basically I asked two ridiculous questions and then one question…

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:21:48] Oh, I want to hear.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:21:49] Well, and then one question, I’m kind of like, seriously, I really want to know your heart on this one. And then two ridiculous things and then back to one that I really and that works because we’re laughing and then we’re getting after like, Hey, how have you felt hurt this past week? Or, Hey, what’s made your heart a little sad? Like, I’ll go after those. But I ask ridiculous stuff in between, but I’m making it up on the fly and I think there’s something to having, hey, let’s actually take a journey over the next 6, 18 months, whatever, and actually working through the questions that you’ve, in these categories, would be really helpful for, especially my older two daughters. So yeah, thanks for that. 

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:22:22] And you may have to adapt them because, because some of these obviously you have to make them age appropriate, in going, okay I’m going to take some of those out. But even I’d ask my publisher, like, I would love this to be more of a workbook with more space there for dads to literally write in the book. It becomes a playbook because if you think about as a, I mean, how many men have played sports? Did you have a playbook? Did you huddle? Did you strategize for the plays? Absolutely. You didn’t just all run out there and make it up. You knew where the end zone was and you knew where the ball was headed and how to use that strategy as a dad. So I so appreciate you, Jeff, saying use this. And I’m telling you, I’ve had dads say, you know, I am okay humbling myself to be coached, to admit I don’t know all the questions to ask, which is so meaningful for me because that’s why I wrote it. Not to say, you idiot, you don’t know how to do this yourself, but it’s to say, How about if I come alongside you and we partnered together and you model to your daughter that you’re still learning, you’re still teachable, You don’t know everything. And then I love the fact, even if you have a journal alongside of it, like a notebook, and write down what she says. Oh, my goodness. For a daughter to say my words are that important that my dad wants to write them down.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:23:45] Taking notes in the conversation. 

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:23:48] Yes. Taking notes. So I hope and trust that dad’s listening will take this action step because, I mean, who is your favorite, Jeff, who is your favorite superhero when you were a kid?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:23:59] Oh, man. I mean, Superman. I always drew back in his direction.

Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield: [00:24:06] Okay Superman. Would you have loved Superman if he didn’t take action? What if he was just this little figure that sat on your desk? He had to take action to be a hero. And Dad, you want to be a hero to your daughter. You want to step in and step up and be the man that she needs, the dad she needs. But it means you have to take action. So you could listen to Jeff and I today and go, Well, that’s cool. He does dad daughter dates and Michelle’s talking about them. But I would say that a minimum of once a month. Minimum with your daughter, depending as she gets older, sometimes I’ve had dads say, I can’t even get them once a month. I mean, I can find the time, she’s too busy. I’m like, Find a time. I’ve have Dads say, we went on front porch and did our dad daughter questions. I came into her room and brought her Starbucks or Jamba or Dutch Rose or whatever. Like I’m going to meet her where she’s at and say, Hey, how about we take a half hour for this whole week? I’m going to adjust it. But she’ll remember that forever, men. It’s a deposit into her heart space. And just like you do financially, when you put little deposits in over time, your account builds. You may not have a big lump sum to put in at one time, but sometimes it’s that steady deposit that creates more wealth, right? Financially and in your relationship with your daughter.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:25:32] Thank you so much for joining us for this first half of my conversation with Dr. Michelle Watson Canfield. Guys, the next half comes out in a week, here. Episode 278 is going to go much deeper into Dr. Michelle coaching me specifically around my relationship with one of my daughters. And she brings just so many like, Hey, I can do this today with my girls and it’ll make a difference. So she really just approaches, again with a gentle voice, really like these are game changing tactics that I can use as a dad to connect with the hearts of my kids. So, guys, thanks for listening today. The episode notes, The conversation notes are all at dadAWESOME.org/277. Have a great week, guys.