Episode 279 Transcript (Amanda Carrara)

Episode 279 (Amanda Carrara)

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] Welcome back to dadAWESOME. My name is Jeff Zaugg and today, episode 279, I have Amanda Carrara joining. And you’re like, Wait a second, I thought this was a dad podcast. I thought dadAWESOME interviews, dads. Well, it’s the month of May and this is the fourth installment of this year, the year 2023, the fourth installment of Mom Month. So I’m reaching out to moms, amazing moms who can drop wisdom bombs for us dads. So, Amanda Carrara, I’ve known of Amanda and her family for probably five or six years, but I’ve had several of my buddies reach out to me because they’ve been a part of some of her coaching. So Revival Parenting is her kind of focus on serving parents through local churches, but also individual coaching, cultivating peaceful parenting. So this conversation, it’s only like 27 minutes long, it is loaded with wisdom. Amanda, she coached me during this conversation. So welcome back to Mom Month. This is episode 279 of dadAWESOME with Amanda Carrara. This week on dadAWESOME continuing Mom Month. So this happens once a year, I grab some moms to join the conversation. I’m thankful to be joined by Amanda Carrara. Welcome to the show.

Amanda Carrara: [00:02:14] Thank you so much, Jeff. It is an honor to be here for a Mom Month.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:02:18] Well, and we we know, Zaugg family, we know your family from back when we lived in Minnesota. We’ve been on the road, as you know, and you guys had a chapter of living abroad as well in Costa Rica, which maybe that’ll come in the in the in the chat. But could you help us introduce your family to all the dads listening?

Amanda Carrara: [00:02:35] My husband, Matt and I live in Minnesota. We are high school sweethearts, so we’ve been together since we were 15. We have a daughter turning 15 next month. So talk about Trippy like…

Jeff Zaugg: [00:02:49] Yeah.

Amanda Carrara: [00:02:50] That’s when we got together. So our oldest, Julia, will be turning 15 and we have another daughter, Elsa, she’s 12. And we have a son, David, who’s six. And we did travel to Costa Rica. We lived there for three years. And that really defined who the Carrara family is. It really reshaped us in hard, beautiful ways, as only God can do. And so it did bring us on on this journey as a I’m a parent coach. And the start of that did happen in Costa Rica with just this deep desire when we got a picture of this connectedness with our family together in unknown lands and unknown language and unknown culture, it really brought us together. And I was just curious for more so in all the best ways, like I said, and hard, it has brought us to this this spot here back in Minnesota.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:03:52] Wow. Well, I think in the Bible it talks about when you first get married, you should go take a year, don’t work, and just like build the foundation of your marriage and in three years, distant lands, new language like you say, unknown language, new place, away from friends and family. How would you, let’s just go a step deeper into how that shaped you guys, but also any parallels that would impact a young family who can’t take three years and relocate for various reasons. So I’d like to hear kind of both sides, how it affected you guys and some ideas on how we could experience some of that without moving?

Amanda Carrara: [00:04:25] We, like I said, we had a different culture and I had to tell people that the culture was harder than the language because people just value different things. And so we felt like foreigners, we were foreigners, and so it forced us to really look at who God made our family. What were our values? Who are the Carrara’s and where did He want to take our family? Like, God, what do you have for us? So it brought up all those questions because we were forced to do it. And that’s why I keep saying it was hard. But yeah, I just want to invite the listeners, they can do this introspective, you can have this intentionality at home, right? So I always talk to my client and I say, Who told you that? So oftentimes it’s like, Well, I’m so busy this weekend. You know, you have this kid in this sport and I need to do this. And I said yes to serving. I have all these things I have to do. And I say, Who told you that? Because so often we’re living in the hustle culture. That’s what’s around us. There is no shame or negativity to that. That is what we see and experience every day. I want to give you an invitation to pause, and ask, Did God say this for your life? Where does God want your family to go? Because He can speak to you and give you those directions and help me with those shifts, right wherever you live, you don’t have to go to a foreign land.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:05:58] Yeah. The the value process. We’ve taken a few swings at that. One, before we became parents, Michelle and I came together and we’re like, Okay, what are our values as a family to help? And then we did another round last summer of like, okay, we needed less. We had nine things, we were going, actually, we need less.

Amanda Carrara: [00:06:14] Yes. Too many.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:06:14] We have five values now that we’re trying to bring in. But any advice coaching for us dads around like a step towards identifying and then putting systems in place that that actually reinforce family values?

Amanda Carrara: [00:06:29] Yeah, I think a great strategy, specifically, I’ve heard for dads, right, we know that we are we have different brains. What helps with dads is thinking with the end in mind. So oftentimes in business and work we do that, we think, where are we going? We can do the same thing in our family. So when your children successfully launch from your house, what traits do you want them to have? Picture it, learn all about it, dream about each child, and then go down from there. What characteristics, what values do I need to have center to instill in them today? So the training ground so that when they launch they have that. So working backwards for values I think is really supportive.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:07:16] And then then you work backwards. So you’re today what do we need today? And then at least for me, it’s like, how do you move that today into actionable, Like this is what we do on Tuesday morning to like the rhythms, right. That enforce and it’s I know it’s not a one size fits all by any means but I do think it’s important for myself. I need to get back into not putting that in an Evernote file and saying, Well, we’ve landed on it. I need to I need to bring action, action to the intent. So, I wanted to read this quote that I know means a lot to you, and many of our listeners have heard it before, but C.S. Lewis said children are not a distraction from, I’m sorry, let me start over. “Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work.” And of all of all the couples you get a chance to coach and lead and classes you instruct in, like just imagining us dads today. How do you think like like what’s your what’s your encouragement to not get stuck where the world’s pulling us, but to come back to this quote and like look up from the busyness? How would you coach us around this?

Amanda Carrara: [00:08:27] Yeah. Yeah. That’s so good. So I always say that parenting begins within us. So I think about the scripture from 1 John 4 that we love because He first loved us. And so as a parent we actually don’t have the capacity to show up for our kids the way that we really want the desire that we have until we’ve received that from the Father. And so being a parent is actually a gift and an invitation to lean in your relationship with your Heavenly Father. And so it’s all of that outpouring of receiving from Him that we can give to our kids. We so often, you know, when we want our kids to calm down, if they’re if they’re having that big experience, but they don’t have the capacity to do that unless you as their father can. And the same thing, you don’t have capacity unless you received it from your Father. So when I’m looking at parenting, or look at it as this beautiful opportunity to go deeper into who God made me first and then steward that well with my children.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:09:43] And part of, part of that start with yourself, like start with being a son of God before trying to move into, I think about self-awareness and and I know this is an area that you coach on is if I’m not self-aware, how can I step in with any sense of leadership, maturity, strength into the dad role? Could you give us some of your insights around self-awareness?

Amanda Carrara: [00:10:09] Yeah, and particularly with dads, there is a misnomer that men don’t have emotions. It is scientifically proven that we, all men and women, have the same experiences in our bodies, their physical sensations, their responses in our bodies based on what’s happening around us, right. But most, many, many guys, men, women, too, were not conditioned to notice that. And so a big piece of self-awareness is acknowledging that you have feelings. That you are frustrated at your kid when they’re not listening, that you are agitated, that you are exhausted, you are overwhelmed, you are joyful, right. Science says that we can’t feel these emotions of high joy and elation unless we’re also letting ourselves feel those negative, those lower emotions of sadness and grief, right. So we’re actually keeping ourselves from experiencing the joys of parenthood when we keep ourselves from also saying, No, I’m not frustrated, I’m not angry. So leaning into that self-awareness and accepting yourself, it’s okay, right. Scripture in Ephesians says in your anger, Do not sin. It’s not a sin to have the emotions. It’s your response to it. But recognizing self-awareness that I do, do have very big feelings. That gives you access to respond in the way that you want to.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:11:55] Is that when you use the expression your hidden parenting partner, is that is that emotions, is that what you’re referring to, the hidden partner?

Amanda Carrara: [00:12:03] Yeah. Yeah. Your number one tool, related to self-awareness, is noticing emotions. So I think probably every parent can relate to this, you’re at the park, with your child and they go down the slide and they fall and they hurt their knee, but you saw it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. They’re fine. Maybe you’re flustered, or it’s time to go and you’re like, It’s okay, you’re fine, let’s go, come on. That is not noticing your child’s experience. So if I can pause, when I can, where’s my hidden parenting tool? You go, wow, that must have hurt. But then they feel seen, heard and understood. And I tell you, you can see their little bodies exhaling. Yes. Someone gets me. And then you’re like, let’s move on. Whatever is needed next. But there is so much power in the pause. Your tool is noticing your child’s experience.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:13:07] Well, let me jump into a failure then, because you just like it, you’ve lobbed a bit of wisdom my way, and I’m like, Oh, no, I don’t use that. So I often, when I compare and contrast my fatherhood strategy with Michelle, my wife, her motherhood strategy, I’m like, I can move at such an efficient pace because we declare this is where we’re going as a family, and I can get all four girls just come along and there’s not this like wondering or second guessing or questioning because they just know Dad’s got clear leadership. We’re going with dad and I make it fun. I make it fun whether it’s chores or whether it’s loading up to do this or that. And I’ll look on with criticism at my wife or just feeling like, What are you doing? You’re like having conversations, right. Every decision that leads and things take three times as long because the girls have a little emotion and they push back from, well we’re loading the car, well, they’re pushing back. But they want this or they want this or they want this and this ping pong game between all four of my daughters. And and what you’re saying is I’m actually running over, I mean, this is the way I’m hearing it, is like like I can still bring some pause to show their value and show that I care. Is that is that right? Is this accurate?

Amanda Carrara: [00:14:18] Yeah. I like to call it two phase parenting. And so often we want to jump to fix it or move the needle forward.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:28] Yeah.

Amanda Carrara: [00:14:28] But we’re jumping over phase one, which is I can just recognize, acknowledge and notice, which brings connection with your child. And we keep going like, and we problem solve and we don’t linger in this moment, but we have two phases.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:14:48] That’s really helpful because it’s not a you have to scrap the where you’re headed or like if one child disrupts like stops all the other kids from getting what they need. You’re saying that you just have to do the step, the two stages.

Amanda Carrara: [00:15:02] Yeah.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:15:03] I think this this actually dovetails a little bit with these conversation starters. You had these sentence starters statements and questions that I think help bring more connection, at least they would with myself and my daughters, you know, dads and dads and kids. So some of them were I imagine, I noticed, I’m curious and there’s like seven or eight more. Could you help just explain why these starters could be a tool that would be helpful for us?

Amanda Carrara: [00:15:29] Yeah. And this is these are great, I call them sometimes I call them scripts. So we are I am proposing parenting in a different way. I am proposing that you parent your child the way God parents you. So when we get to these moments, I think at the end of the slide, you know, God notices that we fell down. He’s so tender. He’s so patient. And so it’s much different in the way that we lack general parenting. So I have these scripts, these prompts to help. And so I imagine that’s an actual, that’s an empathy statement. So your child comes home at the end of the day and they’re upset and they’re telling you about, you know, their best friend didn’t want to sit with them at lunch, you can say, I imagine you were sad, right? Or you could say, I wonder if you were really frustrated because she did this to you last week. So you’re just prompting with curiosity. Curiosity and compassion took you really far in parenting. So I am getting my child to talk and open up. Another one on that list is tell me more. This is golden with the kids probably around 8-10 to teenagers because sometimes they start talking less to you. So when they do talk to you, instead of jumping in and fixing it, right, going right to phase two of parenting, we just sit back and say, Tell me more. How was that for you? More opening up dialog.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:17:10] Yep. So helpful and I will include in the show notes the list of those prompts because that could just be so helpful. And of course, your website, which has so many other resources for all the dads, all the families. One of the sections that you coach parents on is discipline. And you wrote down “leaving behind punishments, bribery, manipulation.” We’ve created, I think I shared this before on the podcast, The ZIP’s. ZIP, Zaugg Incredible Points. So we’ve got a point system you can win ZIP’s and you actually can never ask for it, we to spot things that we like to really see. We don’t necessarily like, I wouldn’t say it’s full on bribery, but there’s elements of using this system, this point system, to really bring direct rewards or or they lose it for this this behavior. How how would you just bring like and it could be analyzing our ZIPs, Zaugg Incredible Points system it doesn’t have to be that. But just how would you guide us when it comes to avoiding punishments, bribery, manipulation?

Amanda Carrara: [00:18:18] Yeah. So when we talk about discipline, I encourage parents, go for their heart. At the end of the day, we’re going for our kids hearts and so we want intrinsically motivated children to do the right thing. You know, we have all witnessed the, go tell your brother you’re sorry. I’m sorry. Okay. We’ve all been there. What’s going on with their heart? God says we look at the inward and not the outward. And so I really coach parents, and we’re talking about this this apology, well, I want restoration. I want the sister to say sorry to the brother when they’ve thought about it, when they process it, when they’re ready, when their hearts are open and they’re like, I’m sorry. What can I do to fix it? So even just going how you like, I don’t think it’s bribery. The word that I would use and this is a reframe and it is nuanced, these things are nuance, and it really does connect you with the Holy Spirit and going for the kids heart, but is incentive. And so it’s different. Listen to these two phrases. If I say, okay, go clean your room and then we’re going to go get ice cream, you have to clean your room, and then we’re getting ice cream. You’re like, Yes. You’re like, this room has to be clean as opposed to I’m regulated, I know what I want and I say to my kid, as soon as the rooms are done, we’re going to get ice cream together. So one is like this desperate plea and it’s bribing like, I going to get you a toy. Just do what I’m asking. And one is like this connective activity. Like, we live in a world where we’re going to be good stewards. We need to get the room done and I want to spend time with you afterwards and we’re going to grab ice cream and connect.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:11] Yeah.

Amanda Carrara: [00:20:12] So that’s why I say it’s nuance, but it it starts within you as a parent, how you’re bringing the discipline to your child.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:21] Yeah, that’s that’s really helpful. I want to pan out, away from the tactical kind of coaching topics for just a moment, into story. And this could be, Amanda, this could be your husband, Matt, that you’re think of a story about him or your dad. Looking at it, is there any like you’ve spotted something that you’re like, Oh, I’m so glad that he brings that level of intentionality to fatherhood in that area? And this is why it’s a big deal that he brings, so really looking for the gold nuggets in either something you spotted from your dad or you spot from your husband that you’d want to celebrate and share with us as a takeaway.

Amanda Carrara: [00:21:00] Yeah, absolutely. I’ll talk about my husband here. He has a way, and it’s right connected to keeping our girls hearts open. He does the same with our son but these tender teenage years that it is our child’s job to start to separate. And that can be scary. And so a lot of times we power over that, out of fear. And Matt has a way of keeping his heart open with the girls and giving them space and time. So when there is conflict, rupture happens in your home, there is disconnection. There is no perfect home. In fact, science says the power, the strength of the bond of a relationship is the coming back, is the repairing. So giving grace to our girls where they mess up, when they have attitude, when they have the eye roll. Giving grace just like God gives us space and grace and having an open heart when they come back to reconnect and you will see its magic because the girls want, we want restoration our dad. We want to say Sorry I was like that in the car this morning. They don’t need him to lay on the guilt, right. The world is hard enough on its own. He steps up as their father, as they’re like number one cheerleader, like I am here unconditionally. And yes we have some work to do, but I’m going to do it beside you and I’m going to give you space.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:22:48] Going in a little further to that, if there was like a hurtful thing shared or there’s disrespect shown or whatever the thing was that caused the rift. The giving time space, just continuing to show love is what I think I’m hearing is just stay, stay loving, stay soft, stay patient all these. And then, and then, it’s actually allowing, are you saying it’s actually even allowing like, time to pass before he waits for them to come or he like, could you go with just a little more details of what that might look like for for us to implement?

Amanda Carrara: [00:23:21] Yes, for sure. And this would depend greatly on the modeling of parenting that has already been established. And so I would say if you’re starting this journey and you’re like, how do I do that? Because my child, we don’t talk about conflict. My child’s not going to come back. They were going to pretend like it didn’t happen. So we’ll do a little bit more scaffolding. So what that would look like is let’s say there was know back talking, attitude, walks out, slams the door. Okay. Your child is showing you they need space. You are not a bad parent for not swooping in and fixing it instantly. There is no race for them to be perfect now. We’re not perfect. We have moments of bad attitude. We have moments where we need restoration. So we’re extending grace. And so if this is the first time you’re ever doing it, I would suggest to you, go up the steps, after 3 minutes knock on the door and you’d say, I’m here for you when you want to talk. In a calm and neutral voice. That is step one. Then you’re not gonna let it slip under the carpet. So if the next morning your child doesn’t come to you, in a calm, neutral voice, we need to talk about what happened. So my example that I gave to you, it has been years and seasons of these interactions because a lot of times our kids, it’s really hard for parents to hear this, but they have lost trust in us. They’ve lost trust, but they can come back. And so they stay disconnected, which is, I think what happens a lot when the kids get older. So we can continue to pursue, we can continue to be available to them. And along the lines of this, and Matt does this way better than an do, is being available for sacred interruptions. So even if you’ve had a long day, even if you want to go to bed, when the when you’re tucking your ten year old in and you pray for them and they want to talk. That’s a goal. That’s a nugget.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:25:39] Yeah.

Amanda Carrara: [00:25:40] So do you have margin in your lives for the sacred interruptions? Because our child wants to connect with us sometimes when we don’t want to connect with them. When if they’re leaning in, now’s the time for us to lean in.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:25:57] Maybe our landing the conversation question is going to be set up here with a story of, if you’re watching on YouTube, but there’s a a mark in the middle of my forehead. And this, this happened yesterday, was not my RV, it was the neighbor’s RV. I was unloading the car fast. I walked around the corner and I ran my forehead right into the edge of the slide of their RV. Thankfully, I had a snapback hat on and the most of the impact was absorbed by the plastic, a piece of my forehead. So it probably would have been a potentially stitches or a hospital run. But my girl saw the whole thing happen. That dad just smoked his head on it. And the reason I share the setup story is it’s almost the opposite of what you shared with with Matt. I’m looking at broadly the dads that you’ve had a chance to work with. What are the areas, so there are a couple that we are just like we’re it’s like the head slap into the RV, like, what am I doing? Like the things that, oh man, just duck, just duck. It’s broad fatherhood advice that’s that really would make an impact immediately if we just we just make these little changes. Are there a couple things in kind of parting that you’d be like, I want to encourage you dads to duck in this way? [00:27:08][70.7]

Amanda Carrara: [00:27:10] Yeah. Yeah, that’s really a great question. And some things that we’ve kind of already have talked about before. The things that I notice are the biggest hurdles with dads are noticing that they have emotions. The second thing is we need to fix it instantly and that drums some desire to be your fix it.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:27:38] Yeah. ]

Amanda Carrara: [00:27:40] And so noticing in that moment, we use the same example of my child disrespecting Matt, this is not a personal offense with him. So I want the dads and moms to break apart, this is my child having an experience, they don’t have the tools yet because they are developing. This is not a personal offense against me. Separating it is really valuable. And then the third thing is to notice that we live out of our patterns. And are you brave enough to pause and notice that you are parenting out of past patterns? And you get to choose with God how to change those patterns.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:28:39] Amanda, thank you for those three bits of wisdom in parting. But also, I mean, this whole conversation has been so helpful. And the dads listening, the families listening, I’m going to make sure our linked for whether it’s coaching or the resources you’ve created on your website, like they follow up. Would you say a short prayer for all of us dads?

Amanda Carrara: [00:28:59] I would love to. Thank you, Jesus, for these dads that have chosen to carve out time, to listen, to get curious or lean into international fatherhood. Lord, I just pray that you would speak one small piece, one take away, one softening onto their heart, and that you would empower them to step into their role. Their role as a side by side parent. Posturing their children, stewarding them to who God created them to be. We pray this in your holy name, with gratitude. Amen.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:29:47] Thank you for being a part of this week’s episode, episode 279, with Amanda Carrara. The conversation notes, the links to her website, coaching resources are all going to be at dadawesome.org/279. Guys, I want to remind you, Fathers for the Fatherless, our largest event of the year is our 100 mile bike ride on August 5th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And the registration deadline is just two weeks away on June 11th. Just want to remind you guys about that registration deadline. We’re already well over a hundred guys signed up to ride in Minnesota. But guys want to invite you in. If you know any any cyclists or any men who you’re like, they take on new challenges. Half of our guys, we’ve had over 700 guys join us on this initiative to raise awareness, raise funds for local and global partners who directly serve the fatherless. We, half these guys are not cyclists, they were not cyclists, and they join the mission because they care deeply about the mission. So simply pass along letter F number four letter F dot bike. f4f.bike to get registered before June 11th. Guys, have an amazing rest of your week. I’m cheering for you guys. Praying for you guys. Thank you for being dadAWESOME.