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Managing Disappointment: When FOMO becomes just MO

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When All The EVENTS Go ‘poof’

What important family event are you missing out on? All of these events, these milestones, these celebrations, they’re being canceled and postponed. And it’s not just the actual event. It’s all the fun, the excitement, all the preparation, all the anticipation.

In this episode, we find silver linings in ways to teach our kids critical life skills in adaptability and managing disappointment. We talk about why to put those perfection issues on the brakes and how to focus on creativity, silliness, and connection.

1:35 FEAR OF MISSING OUT VS. MISSING OUT

Lynn talks about all of the ritual that we are missing that mark birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, and births.

Lynn talks about how to be empathic for everyone missing out but still figure out a way to mark the celebration and give meaning to it.

3:20 Marking Milestones

Lynn suggests a way to acknowledge a milestone by changing something in the house or a family behavior or privilege when social gatherings can’t take place.

6:07 THE ROLE OF FLEXIBILITY

Lynn explains why flexibility is so critical to manage anxiety. Anxiety want rigidity. Lynn challenges the commonplace advice of our need for structure right now.

These new conditions are an opportunity to increase our kids’ skills in being adaptive and managing disappointment.

7:30 Managing Disappointment

Teaching our kids that things are bigger than they are and to manage disappointment can be a positive outcome of our social isolation. Life will be filled with disappointments and learning to adapt well to it is an important skill.

10:58 THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Lynn talks about the dangers social media can play now in making a parenting competition of how families are celebrating kids birthdays, for example. She warns that social media doesn’t foster social connection, but social comparison.

14:05 PROTECT JOY AND CREATIVITY

Focusing on creativity and silliness are balms for anxious states. Indulge in the creative work of others being shared online instead.

15:02 PERFECTION ISSUES

Lynn advises those with perfection issues to realize a pandemic is no time for striving for perfection. She advises those to use it as a time to work on authenticity and vulnerability. Perfection is a joy smusher, too, and it interferes with your ability to connect.

18:44 A humbling Moment For Lynn

Lynn talks about how great it is to have her two college-aged sons home from college now and how much laughter there is. I ask her to imagine these circumstances when her boys were both under the age of 8.

19:18 Facebook Group and Next Episodes

Thanks for listening and join the Facebook group for the podcast if you’d like to submit topics for us to talk about. We’re looking at all of that stuff coming in!

We discuss upcoming topics we’re planning on family sleep, regression, and losing it in front of your kids.

Episode Transcript

When events and celebrations cancel

Lynn Lyons  0:05 

What important family event are you missing out on? All of these events, these milestones, these celebrations, they’re being canceled and postponed. And it’s not just the actual event. It’s all the fun, the excitement, all the preparation, all the anticipation, all the shopping for the prom dress, all the cooking of the birthday cake. What do we have to look forward to right now in this time of isolation?

Hi, everybody, it’s Lynn Lyons and welcome you to A Mom’s Retreat. I am sitting here in my living room, of course, and I’m joined by my producer Robin. Hi, Robin!

Perfection Issues
Robin Hutson  1:01 

Hi, Lynn!

Lynn Lyons  1:02 

Where are you?

Robin Hutson  1:03 

I’m in our closet in the bedroom.

Lynn Lyons  1:08 

Because your kids are in the house and you need a quiet place? I’m happy to have you join me virtually, of course. We were just talking before we started recording about how we’re missing each other and how we haven’t seen the people that we want to see. And so, it’s nice to be with you virtually. But of course, you’re in your closet, and I’m in my living room. So, it’s a little tricky.

Fear of Missing Out vs. Missing Out

So, let’s talk about FOMO, “fear of missing out.” Because you know, it’s not really fear anymore. We’ve gotten rid of the FO. It’s not FOMO, it’s MO. This is really hard. I think this is hard on parents, too.

And, you know, as I said earlier, I have a senior in college and he’s home, and I don’t think he’s going to have graduation. He told me that he was saying goodbye to these people that he’s worked with, his professors that he’s created relationships with, his friends, underclassmen, and he said, ‘I just don’t know if I’m ever going to see these people ever again in my life.”

And I think that one of the things about all of these things being canceled is that we’re missing out on these opportunities to connect and to celebrate. These are rituals that are so important for us. So, we’re missing out on our kids’ milestones. They’re missing out on the milestones.

Sometimes, actually, I think that it might even be harder on us, especially if you have younger kids. A first birthday party, I think is much more memorable for you than for your child. They’re not even going to remember it. So, it feels really tricky.

I think I think we’re grieving the loss of those things. So, I think we need to pay attention to how we can celebrate these things, even though we can’t do it in the way that we normally would.

Parenting Podcast With Lynn Lyons
Robin Hutson  3:11 

So how do you think a family should do that? Especially considering the milestones are affecting family members of so many different ages?

Lynn Lyons  3:20

 That’s right. I don’t know. I would imagine there aren’t too many families who are going to get through this without missing something, particularly because it’s the time of year where at the end of the school year, we have all those graduations and celebrations and proms. But gosh, there’s going to be birthdays, there’s going to be anniversaries.

Mark your milestones in some way

So, I think the way we have to mark it is we have to do something. Right? So, there’s we’ve got to we’ve got a market by some sort of change. So of course, there’s the celebration that we have, but there’s also what the milestone means.

So how can we make it meaningful in other ways? So, I was thinking about that.

What could you change in your household that would actually make a differentiation between before the milestone and after the milestone?

So, for example, say you’ve got a five-year-old who’s celebrating a birthday. So of course, you want to have a birthday celebration. Of course, we’re all, you know, maybe there’s a zoom celebration, and you want to have cakes and balloons and all the things that you can have.

Cancelled Graduations

But I wonder, too, if you could then say that your five-year-old’s bedtime is now 10 minutes later, or they get to do something that they weren’t allowed to do. Whatever small little thing that is some they earn a privilege.

Practice driving with your teens

The other thing that I was thinking about, too, is I was driving to the grocery store the other morning, and it was completely deserted, is that if you’ve got—in New Hampshire, if you turn 15 and a half, then you’re allowed to start driving with an adult.

What if you’re turning 16? And it’s time to go and get your driver’s license? And you can’t do that right now, because you can’t go into the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It’s a wonderful time to start teaching your teenager to drive. I would take advantage of that. You can go out on the streets. There are no cars. You don’t have to go to the Kmart parking lot if you don’t want to. Go in your neighborhood.

Use change to mark milestones

So, how is it that we that we can mark this in making some change in the house, maybe you rearrange the furniture in your kid’s bedroom. Something. Something.

Robin Hutson  5:34 

What this is reminding me about is your tool that you always talk about in your talks and in your books, too, is the wall of flexibility. Because bending the rules or being flexible and going with the flow is such a critical skill to train your kids, but you have to model that, too.

So now is the time for parents to say, “We typically don’t allow this, but right now we’re going to.” Tell me a little bit more about why that’s so important.

The role of flexibility

Lynn Lyons  6:07 

Being flexible? Why being flexible is so important? Well, because in a time of change, and in a time of stress, anxiety really wants rigidity. That’s one of the things that it feeds off of. So, it wants, and of course, again‚ it’s not all or nothing. We’re not going to throw out predictability.

And you’ve heard probably a lot of people talking about the need for structure in our lives right now, because it just feels like the days are going on and on. So, breaking them up in some ways.

But this idea of flexibility, this idea of saying to your family, in these unusual circumstances, how is it that we can be flexible in a way that lets us know that that our normal life is continuing as much as it can, but that we’re not going to let worry show up. We’re not going to let anxiety show up and say “Things have to be a certain way!”

Because that’s anxiety demanding predictability, demanding certainty. And this is a time when we can’t have that.

So, we want to I often say to kids, “Look, you can either be rigidly flexible or flexibly rigid. You choose.” And they sort of go “What?”

But this is about helping kids be adaptive. And I think that one of the things that we’re learning through all of this is how do we adapt. And being adaptable is an enormously important skill.

Managing disappointment

Lynn Lyons  7:30 

So, it’s not just about flexibility. It’s about managing disappointment, as well. So how do we cope when things happen, when things get canceled, when we miss out, and when that happens, because there are situations that are greater than ourselves, right?

This is going to happen in the future in life.

So, this is an opportunity to talk about to kids about how we navigate our own disappointment when something bigger than ourselves happens.

When Disney trips can’t happen

I remember talking to a friend, and they had a trip planned to Disney. And the family was so excited. And then the grandfather died unexpectedly. And they had to cancel their trip. And of course, the kids were so disappointed.  They told the kids that this has happened and one of the first responses of one of the children was, “Well, that means we can’t go to Disney.”

That’s a very normal and natural response. And it offered an opportunity for the parents to talk and to educate kids.

Because kids tend to be a little self-absorbed. That’s a normal part of development. That’s okay.

So how are we managing our own disappointment? How are we managing the fact that we’re not going to be able to be in the play that we got the lead in? How are we going to be able to manage the fact that we found the perfect prom dress and now we can’t wear it? How are we going to manage the fact that we were planning a sweet 16 party? Or a bar mitzvah? Or a wedding? Or a baby shower?

I have a friend who has a sister who’s about to give birth to her first child within the next month, and they won’t be able to celebrate that together as a family.

So, there’s a lot of opportunity here, for kids to really be outside of themselves. And to recognize this in a way that I think is, hopefully, is going to help humanity. It’s going to help our connection to others, which is something that we really, really can experience during this time.

Robin Hutson  9:39 

That’s right. Do you think that there is a correlation that kids who might need extra modeling in flexibility might have a harder time managing disappointment? There’s a correlation, right?

Lynn Lyons  9:54 

Yes, certainly. Because remember, predictability is like, “This is how things have to happen. And so, disappointment shows up when things don’t go the way that they’re planned, right?

You don’t feel disappointed when everything turns out great. You don’t feel disappointed when the plan comes together. You feel disappointed when there is a shift, when there’s a change, right, when it rains on your parade?

Help your kids manage disappointment

And so, help kids to manage disappointment and to talk about flexibility and “What do we do now?” I think this is just going to happen on a regular basis, isn’t it? Day after day, week after week, as we go through this.  I don’t mean to say that this isn’t really hard and challenging for all of our families. I’m just trying to say that there are… there’s a lot of low hanging fruit here.

If we can pull up our parenting skills, we can look for opportunities to teach some valuable things to our children during this time.

The Role of Social Media

Robin Hutson  10:58 

What do you think about the role of social media and celebrating things? And we’ve… You and I’ve had a lot of conversations about Christmas cards, for example, and the desire of creating a perfect family, domestic, blissful image on a little piece of card stock.  So, what do you think the role— a healthy role— of social media can be right now and an unhealthy role?

Lynn Lyons  11:31 

Well, I think, here’s the thing, right? So, I’ve been noticing, and it’s only been, you know, we’re only a few weeks into this. But one of the things that I am a little worried about, if I may say that, is that we are going to turn this into milestone mania, right?

Avoid Milestone Mania

So, it’s going to become a competition just like Christmas cards are a competition, just like vacation photos can become a competition. Just like this idea that everything’s going great. I feel like there is going to be on social media, there is going to be this ratcheting up of what we’re doing to mark milestones.

So, we’re seeing these cute videos, I saw this one that was so sweet. This little boy is standing there, and the fire trucks are going by and the ambulances are going by. And then somebody else is going to think Oh, god, my kid’s parade outside won’t be good unless I could get that. I gotta find an elephant, right? There’s got to be a camel in my kid’s parade.

I always say it’s not about social connection. It’s about social comparison.

I just feel like it’s, we’re gonna just keep ratcheting it and ratcheting it up. I think we need to recognize that social media, you know, I always say it’s not about social connection. It’s about social comparison. I think we really need to pay attention to this comparison thing that can happen.

That you, as a parent, are going to start to feel crappy because you didn’t find a creative way to mark this milestone and share it on social media  so that everybody says, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she actually she painted her whole house pink.”

You know, I just think that that we really have to pay attention to that. We really have to make sure that we keep it in perspective as we’re as we’re doing this.

Looking Ahead

And you know, the other thing, too, is that we’re going to have other celebrations that are going to happen. It’s not that we are missing out on milestones forever and ever. It’s just that we’re missing out on this one.

We need to make room; we need to empathize like crazy, because these things are so important, particularly to teenagers. But I think we need to make sure that we don’t make it into a parenting competition. And I think I think it has a potential to do that. So, let’s just all pump the brakes where that’s concerned.

Robin Hutson  13:49 

Yeah, what will Christmas cards look like this year? The hairstyles.

Lynn Lyons  13:57

I know. Well, let’s please let’s not let’s not think that our Christmas cards are going to be taken during this. Could that happen? It’s only March. I guess it could. Yeah. I mean, there could be… it could be funny.

Protect Joy and Creativity

I think one of the things I’ve noticed through all of this, too, is—and I know that worry (we talked about this a little bit last time) that worry, and fear and anxiety are joy smushers. And they’re also create creativity crushers.

And so, I am so grateful for the people that are putting funny things out there that just make me giggle in all of this. That you can be going through this and you can still pull up some creativity, still pull up some joy, still pull up some silliness, because it really is okay to have those feelings too, as we’re going through all this.

I am I am so grateful for the funny people. I am so grateful for the creative people. I am so grateful for the person who put that little meme out there the other day that said “Just in case you’re wondering today is March 95th,” or something like that. Just makes me smile. Yeah.

Perfection Issues in A Pandemic

Perfectionism and parenting
Robin Hutson  15:02 

What would you say to the moms or teenagers who might have perfection issues, and social media was one of their tools of trying to create perfection?

Lynn Lyons  15:14 

Oh, that is such a good question.

This is not the time for perfection. I don’t think there’s ever the time for perfection.

Robin Hutson

Totally. I think perfection is so overrated.

Lynn Lyons  15:21 

Perfection is so overrated. Yeah. I always say there was a little boy in my office once that I said, “Do you think you’re a perfectionist?” And he said, “Not yet.” And I thought “Oh, you poor, little muffin.”

So being able to look at perfection, being able to examine perfection during this time where perfection is not our way out of this. And I think again, take it out of your immediate experience. And look at what people who are really on the front lines dealing with this are doing.  Is not about perfection. People are being adaptable; people are being flexible. People are figuring things out on the fly.

There is no room for perfection during a pandemic. And there is really no room for perfection when you, as a family, are trying to manage this pandemic, it’s a trap. It will make you crazy. It is the opposite of creativity and joy.

It is rigidity in all its glory. And really, if there’s ever been a time for you to step back and say, “How can I replace perfection with something like joy or silliness or playfulness?” that would be a wonderful thing for you to work on during this time as you parent.

Robin Hutson  16:45 

And vulnerability.

Lynn Lyons  16:46 

And vulnerability. Yeah, I mean, I just think we, you know, we were laughing. Everybody’s roots are gonna start to get a little showing. And I saw friend walking the other day, and honestly, I’ll just be honest with you, I saw hair. And I thought like, “Oh, she hasn’t been able to get her roots done, right?” I mean, we’re all in that place.

And it really just means it’s a way to connect, you know, perfection is the opposite of so many things. Like I said, it’s the opposite of joy. It’s the opposite of flexibility. And it really is the opposite of connection, too.

Trying to connect with someone who is presenting themselves as perfect is really, really hard to do.

Robin Hutson  17:29 

It would be so great if one of the cultural outcomes of this experience is embracing authenticity and human connection and vulnerability at a much greater level and rejecting Instagram influencer culture— that striving for creating perfect moments. I’d love to see that as a positive outcome of this.

Lynn Lyons  17:53 

Yeah. And isn’t it interesting that we use the term creating perfect moments. Right? So, we’re going to create…it’s all creation, isn’t it? And really, what we want to create is all sorts of wonderful moments.

Don’t create perfect moments, just connection

Just, you know, I mean, we have had in my household here, we have had so many belly laughs in the last few days. It’s the first time that we’ve— the four of us (because I have two college kids)— it’s the first time the four of us have spent this much time together.

And it is so wonderful to just laugh and to just enjoy. We aren’t trying to create any kind of perfection in this house. We’re just trying to create connection— and one moment, one moment, one moment, one moment. I would love that, too, Robin, wouldn’t that be great?

Robin Hutson  18:44 

Well, a humbling memory though is if this were happening to you when your boys were both under the age of eight.

Lynn Lyons  18:51 

That is a humbling moment, and I was I was thinking about that the other day, too. I was thinking about what it would be like— and I was talking about this with my friend, too— what it would be like when they were one and three.

When my boys were one and three, that was the year that nearly did me in. And I can’t imagine what this would be like, if they were one and three, it would be so, so hard.

Thank you for connecting with us

So, thank you so much for joining us as we navigate through this, I think that what Robin and I so clearly want to convey is that we want this to be a moment— or several moments— of connection for you.

So, wherever you’re listening to this, however it is that you are fitting us in, we want this to be your retreat. It certainly almost feels, well it does actually feel, like kind of a retreat for me.

As I said, Robin’s sitting in her closet, and I’m sitting in our living in my living room. And this is time that we’re spending together. too.

So, please join us on the Facebook group for the podcast if you’d like to submit topics for me to talk about. We’re looking at all of that stuff coming in.

We’re going to talk about things like how staying at home has disrupted family sleep. I really want to make sure we talk about how we can increase autonomy during this and to make sure that we don’t regress. I also want to talk about some of the normal things that we’ll see particularly in younger kids as this goes on— some of the regression you might see—and how you might handle that.

So, I thank you for joining us. And until next time, Robin, I hope I hope I’ll see you soon at least, at least virtually.

Robin Hutson  20:45 

That’s right. And next episode is how not to lose it in front of your kids.

Lynn Lyons  20:49 

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. How to not lose it. Yeah. Yeah. Screaming— the real contagion. (Giggles).
 

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