Overcoming Frustrations with Jennifer Bryant, Practical Family Podcast

Jennifer Bryant is the founder of PracticalFamily.org, and host of the Practical Family Podcast. Trained in Christian theology, apologetics, and education.

Jenn encourages families to build practical skills for healthy communication, strengthens moms for real-life struggles, and helps women to discover their unique calling.

Jennifer Bryant is married to Bruce and the mom of two precious preteens and host of Practical Family Podcast. Her favorite things include reading, brainstorming, singing with her kids, laughing out loud with her husband, and making food for people. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and dreams of taking her family on marvelous adventures across the globe.

Jenn Bryant from Practical Family.Org

Be invested, don’t seek perfection.

Jennifer Bryant, Creator of Practical Family

Jennifer Bryant & I discuss:

  • Our role of coach as a mama to our kids in conflict management.
  • Reparenting ourselves, learning how to address our big emotions, and learning how to show up for ourselves and our kids, imperfectly.
  • Giving ourselves permission to give ourselves breaks.
  • Learning to handle our big emotions, like anger and frustration.
  • Practicing self-compassionate techniques to help us address our big emotions.
  • Knowing our strengths in how we engage our children.
  • Always returning to the question, is your homeschool is working for you?

Jenn encourages homeschool mamas to overcome homeschool frustrations:

  • How can you address interpersonal challenges or big emotions in your homeschool? With O.V.E.R.
  • O: observe, what is happening? (the story of the present experience and the possible triggers)
  • V: vent, say out loud, “What am I feeling?”
  • E: embrace what is true about the reality of your situation.
  • R: reframe, so you can cross over these bridges of struggle.
  • You need to know yourself outside of your relationship with your kids &/or partner.

You can find Jennifer Bryant, podcaster at Practical Family Podcast:

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the Transcript…

Teresa Wiedrick 0:01
Welcome to the homeschool mama self-care Podcast. I’m Teresa Wiedrick from capturing the charmed life.com If you are a homeschool mama challenged by doubt, not sure you can do this homeschool thing. If you’re a homeschool mama challenged by overwhelmed, there are just too many things to do. Or if you are a homeschool Mama, I’m sure that the way you’re showing up in your homeschool isn’t the way you want to be showing up in your homeschool, then this is the podcast for you. I’m here to encourage you in your homeschool journey to help you strategize ways to turn your homeschool challenges into your homeschool charms. So welcome homeschool mama. Today I get to introduce you to Jennifer Bryant. She is the founder of practical family.org and host of the practical family podcast. Jen is trained in Christian theology, apologetics, and education. She encourages families to build practical skills for healthy communication, strengthens moms for real-life struggles, and helps women to discover their unique calling. Jen is married to Bruce and she is mom to two precious preteens. Her favorite things include reading, brainstorming, singing with her kids laughing out loud with her husband, and making food for people. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and dreams of taking her family on marvelous adventures across the globe. I ironically dream of taking my family on marvelous adventures in Hawaii. But until then, let’s listen to a discussion between Jen and me on a very pertinent topic. And that discussion takes the form of discussing kids and dealing with conflict management in our homes, learning how to address our big emotions, which sometimes means we’re re-parenting ourselves, and learning how to show up for ourselves and our kids. Ever so imperfectly. Sometimes that means we need to give permission to ourselves to take breaks. Certainly, that means that we need to practice dealing with our frustrations and anger in our homeschool. Knowing our strengths and how we engage our kids. Always returning to the question is our homeschool actually working for us and practicing self-compassionate techniques that actually help us to deal with all of these frustrations. I’m really excited to share a very meaningful, very useful conversation with you that might impact your homeschool life. As a side note, I have recently released the big emotions journaling workbook for homeschool mamas, which I hope can be an extension of this conversation. So how can we address our interpersonal challenges are those big emotions in our homeschool? Well, Jen says with over O means observe the means meant he means to embrace and our means reframe a great way to remind us how we need to address our big emotions. To get the most out of this conversation. We got to listen to it. So let’s get started. It’s such a pleasure to have you here. And thank you for coming all the way from Hawaii.

Jenn Bryant 3:23
Oh, yes, sir. Well, I didn’t need to take a plane. So that was nice. Yes.

Teresa Wiedrick 3:28
Oh, Jen, would you introduce yourself to the listeners? You’re a homeschool mom in Hawaii?

Jenn Bryant 3:35
Yes, I am. Yes, I’m Jennifer Bryant. I founded practical family.org after coming home from working full time, and I didn’t decide to homeschool right away. In fact, I thought it was not something I would venture into. But it turns out that just got opened up doors for that. And I can share more of that story too. In a little bit. But for now, yes. We’re in Hawaii. I have two kids. They’re two ones a preteen and one just became a teen yesterday. So that

Teresa Wiedrick 4:10
saw that. Congratulations. That’s the anniversary of

Jenn Bryant 4:14
Thank you. It is thank you very much. It is a milestone for me, isn’t it? It is

Teresa Wiedrick 4:19
really thank you. I know we should like probably remember our oldest child’s birthdays. Remember them on their birthdays. But it is a significant moment for us. Everything changed. Everything changed in 15 hours or should we say in 10 months, but everything and in all the beauty and on all the challenge I think yeah, so congratulations, Chloe is your 13-year-old

Jenn Bryant 4:46
Yes Chloe’s 13 ASHER is 12 They’re only 11 months apart. So homeschooling them has been difficult and easier. I think in just a lot of ways, right? Because when you have kids who were who have larger age gaps, you have to accommodate all the ages at the same time. And I feel, I feel like, okay, God didn’t give me that. But the challenges of having to avoid a girl close together, come with its own issues. But overall, it’s been really fun. It’s been good to have them at home. Yeah,

Teresa Wiedrick 5:25
I actually identify a lot with what you just said, because there are so many freedoms and so much beauty in this lifestyle. And you get to know your kids in a way that you just don’t like, I’ve had people remark that you really know your child well. And true. Also, they’re opening up as like, a newly written book for me as well. Because they, I mean, it’s not just me that doesn’t fully know them, but they’re learning about who they are as they grew up as well. But there’s that beauty of being able to be with them in a very concerted way. And the obvious challenge in that is that sometimes, there’s stuff that’s happening, that’s not always perfect and pleasant, in our schools and in our homes. And we get to be very close to it. In fact, you had a very funny really, because you talked about which one was it? Oh, I think it was on tick-tock, you’re on tick-tock. Yeah. You said I’d like a break from helping kids feel their feelings. I’m like, Yeah,

Jenn Bryant 6:29
I get that. Yes. This is one of the issues. When I think about things I didn’t expect, out of my homeschool journey, I did not expect to teach less of the content, and so much more of the how, yep, this is how we approach not just subjects but life conversation, conflict. It’s incredible. How much coaching we have to do as parents and as they get older, it’s, it’s more of the mental gymnastics of helping them to understand I mean, and I have to give myself grace to for we will get angry. I mean, the Bible says God got angry when the Israelites walked away from him again. And so we can expect that of our kids, of course. So in my anger, do not send in my anger, do not, do not try not to yell at them too much. Of course, it happens, but it’s given me so much more opportunity to, sit and think about, okay, what’s really happening, am my goal just to make them stop fighting or make them be quiet? Sometimes, I love your goals. But if my larger goal is to raise humans is to raise people which will be adults in this world, I have to teach them to love their conflict. And, oh, it just took me back to school in a lot of ways.

Teresa Wiedrick 8:01
That is exactly the thing that I identify as the challenging part of homeschooling, it’s about how I’m relating to all of that, my big emotions in it because I’ve learned that my understanding of my own feelings with anger, or my own feelings with you fill in the blank, whatever feeling, how I’ve already learned about that, how I’ve already related to that, or not related to it and told myself, I’m not going to feel that feeling because it’s too complicated. That just gets all the layers to get pulled back from that, and I don’t have a choice but to deal with that. Or at least it feels that way. Because I’ve chosen to sign up to do what you’re saying, to address the big emotions, to help them understand themselves. And whatever extent I understand myself, I’m able to help them. And if I’m not, which is the case too because we’re all growing together, then I have to figure that out alongside them, or a lot in that the whole thing is just

Jenn Bryant 9:06
a lot of energy. It is it’s unexpected, right? It’s unexpected, that we have to expend this much and I think when things when circumstances like this hit us from any side as adults, whether it’s our own friendships or something going on at church or the in the community, we don’t feel prepared for what’s about to happen. Our humaneness will react in a way that shows us where our insecurities lie, you know, and we have to be willing to address those things, as you say, you know, admittedly, you know, we don’t want to go there. They’re either uncomfortable or we don’t, we just don’t know how to address them or we’re conflicted morally because Well, the Bible says this, or I think a good Christian mom should act like this. And it is convoluted if we’re not willing to really ask simple questions like What am I feeling? Why am I feeling it? What do you know, whose responsibility is this? Really, you know, and those are the steps that not everyone is taught. I didn’t grow up understanding. I don’t

Teresa Wiedrick 10:12
know a lot of people that had a real strong education in this when they were kids. And there’s a popular term right now called RE parenting. And often it’s related to like, trauma-based childhoods, but I think it’s everybody. And it’s everybody’s experience that we need to reparent ourselves and to show up for ourselves in a way that we need that maybe our parents didn’t show up. And when we say that, that actually assumes, too, that we aren’t going to perfectly show up for our kids either. Right? And it’s just part of the par for the course I guess. But it’s really hard to accept because we moms are like, how do I do this? Right? How do I make sure that they feel loved, that they get all the things, and then we take on as homeschool moms, all the different elements of homeschool, which just turns up the whole into, you know, energy or intention of motherhood to a whole different level? And then we have to, we have to say, Are we perfect human beings able to be God for our children? Or are we these human most invested human beings in these people’s lives, but not capable of doing everything perfectly? All the time?

Jenn Bryant 11:31
Right, right. That intentionality to be invested, rather than to seek perfection or to chase the right way to do it. I find that that is probably one of the biggest contentions in the spirit of the homeschool moms that I speak with. It’s, I want to make sure I’m doing this right. Am I doing this enough? am I teaching them enough? My wisdom enough, right? And that line is so elusive? Yeah, but it’s the feeling and it’s okay to express the feelings like gosh, I, I don’t feel like they are getting what they may get in a, in an institution, that has all the resources and multiple people to pour into them versus just me, just me, I’m at or me and my husband or, you know, whoever their community is. And that it’s a very real valid feeling that we don’t feel like we’re enough for our kids. But I would lean more and more toward what you said about the intentional investment because it takes seeing it takes being an observer and a student of your own students write a student of your children to choose to notice, you know, strengths to notice when things are getting out of hand to notice when we need a break. And I’m so glad your podcast is focused on, mama self-care in this way. Because not only do we need a break we need we need permission to give ourselves breaks. We need permission to give our kids permission. Sometimes I feel like we can be so driven by our schedules that there’s no room for that. No, we must finish the math page right now. Are we have to get through this experiment. I know it’s messy, but you have to learn a lot of money. I paid a lot for this.

Teresa Wiedrick 13:29
We are dissecting this thing.

Jenn Bryant 13:32
Yeah. Oh, yeah. No, it’s true. It’s true. So recognizing where those pressures are coming from, is key. And that’s why I love to focus on coaching or one on one or group coaching with moms because it’s really in small group times that we get to really unwrap what’s really happening. So we start with our feelings, right? And then and then there’s room to kind of get down to the core of where do you think this is coming from? You have the strength and the ability and the mind God’s given you to bring these things to the surface and deal with them, and this is when we pray, Lord, show me where it is. Show me why am I so overwhelmed? Why am I overworked, overtired? Why am I doing more and stressing myself out more? Then we can bring those things to the surface and deal with them in prayer with friends, meditation, you know, there are ways there’s hope is my point. And any of that. I didn’t see any of that. When I first started. When I started, it was more about the checklist and getting the things done, right.

Teresa Wiedrick 14:44
I sometimes think that I need to rebrand the entire podcast name and I haven’t figured out what the name is. Because I know even for myself that the self-care concept often triggers me to think about spa days, which I don’t have very many of maybe a couple of times in a decade. Not very often. But we’re, we’re all those kind of, you know, sweet, but not really all that effective self-care approaches. But for me, I think the biggest one is really that big emotions thing, big emotions for the homeschool mom. And or at least I’ll say that I think that we can understand ourselves more and grow in greater self-awareness when we pay attention to the uncomfortable emotions that we have spoken. Yeah, they speak to what we’re thinking because there are always thoughts behind those feelings. And it might reveal an entire childhood of, you know, a ribbon of something from childhood that we haven’t dealt with, or, you know, it doesn’t have to go to childhood. But there’s something there that we need to address. And that’s the hard stuff of homeschooling. The rest of it is actually, I think, fun, the learning. And the social conversation that everybody has about socialization, I’m just kind of over that one. doesn’t need any me anymore.

Jenn Bryant 16:04
Yes, the organic, teaching them how to have organic relationships is just in the daily practice of living, organic relationship. I mean, it doesn’t need to be more complicated, but we complicate it when we don’t know any other way. And you know, I grew up in public school, I went to the private Christian College. I almost went to a big secular college. So like, I’ve seen a lot of the sides of that. But anyway, socialization is what we get, we can stay here, we can come back to it. However, you want to

Teresa Wiedrick 16:37
know that you have this discussion about big emotions, though, or is it like, I’d love to, I’d love to hear what people think the right way of phrasing that concept is or how they understand it, but understanding yourself or self-awareness, whatever you know about yourself is how you’re going to engage your kids. And yet, I mean, I will say it, it doesn’t mean that just because you’re self-aware, and you know how to be familiar with your uncomfortable feelings and know why you’re triggered by certain scenarios, there won’t come a time where you like, great, the kids are fighting a learning opportunity and interpersonal conflict. Yay, let’s go.

Jenn Bryant 17:18
Oh, sure. Because, and I think it’s worth mentioning, too, that. You know, we know we’re human, we know, even as Christians that we’re going to react in our flesh, but Okay, let’s take it down to a behavioral, even scientific standpoint, like, our brains are going to automatically react to conflict, right? We all have that fight or flight tendency, even as parents when our kids are fighting. We sense danger, okay. And so let’s just look at it very simply like that, so as to not feel guilty for having feelings, when they come up, our brains are going to have this elevated sense of there’s danger. I’m the mother, I must protect, or I must make it stop or something. And then it’s not only that one, one conflict that’s happening. It’s usually a lot of other things like you’re trying to food, you’re trying to your phone’s ringing, people need you for things, you know. So it’s all of the things that are floating around us that we have to almost pre-decide that we’re going to stay as calm as possible, regardless of what’s leaving practice. Yeah, yes. Oh, yes. Yes, of course, that the next time this happens, I don’t have to flip out. I don’t have to, you know, that’s not the only tool in my toolbox is to just handle it and yell at people. And, you know, I’ve done my fair share of yelling. I mean, no, it’s not like it’s not gonna happen, and we need to get a monster break for that right now. Yeah. It’s, it’s crowd control, damage control. But it comes down to like, I need to control the situation. But the fact that there is hope in being able to control it in a more gentle way, right? Let’s just try. Let’s try it. It’s probably not going to work the first time. If we’re going from yelling to No, it’s not. But it’s possible. And the kids sense that and what we do, what is the scripture I love? You know, a gentle answer turns away wrath, right? Yeah. It’s true that people lean in and listen, the lower and the slower you speak. And if your goal is to just love your kids and help them along, as they’re feeling all these big feelings, then inevitably, it helps us to calm ourselves and the Lord

Teresa Wiedrick 19:53
rescuer, you know, or I even find in reverse that if I’m being self-compassionate, if I’m crying practicing, you know, hand on heart or looking into the mirror that was always very effective to me, because I can see that I’m in a person outside of me, which sounds weird. But at the same time, you see yourself and say, Oh, I’m sorry, you’re upset, or I’m sorry, you’re frustrated or in tears? Because if I’m looking at you, and you’re upset, and you may have been yelling at your child, I would be like, I’m sorry. So what was going on? Because there’s probably a good reason. And just like you said, there’s not just one reason there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on. And then even if you and I both know that that wasn’t the right way to approach that, I would still go, Yeah, I’m with you. I’m sorry, I know exactly how that feels. Because I’ve been there. And I know you don’t want to do this thing. I also know you love your child, you want the best for your child. You don’t want to counseling bills when they’re 25. But you’re willing to front it if you have to. You want to figure this out before then. And so then I look at you and I go I’m here with you, I feel for you. And I can accomplish that sometimes just by looking at the mirror for myself like I’m a separate

Jenn Bryant 21:12
person. That’s powerful. That’s well,

Teresa Wiedrick 21:16
how do you approach your children when they’re having conflict? Or what’s your ideal approach? Let’s just say it that way?

Jenn Bryant 21:25
Well, we compare reality to ideal.

Teresa Wiedrick 21:29
Yeah, thanks. So I really do. And I know that like, that’s why I practice because especially when you start in this, you think there is just no way I’m ever going to get out of this reactiveness. Or I’m always going to engage this way. And it’s kind of a form of self-shaming, I think like, you’re never gonna figure this out, you’re always going to engage in a way, you know, you don’t want the neighbors seeing or something but, or you don’t want a podcast. But we’re humans. And this is the reality of literally everyone, everywhere that they react to us as you said, so then what? What is the ideal approach to engaging it? In your opinion?

Jenn Bryant 22:11
Well, what I’m seeing develop is because of course, I don’t have the answer to what is the right way to engage us. It really depends on your kid’s personality, right? So I think knowing where they’re coming from, because my like my daughter has, she’s very competitive and very passionate and like, she, she needs to know the right way to do things. I don’t know if it’s the firstborn thing or whatever. My son is the second born, and he will argue to the cows come home and, you know, find his loopholes, and he’s very creative in finding loopholes. Okay. So even as they’re arguing, and she’s like, that you said this, and he’s like, okay, okay, so, I know I said that, but this is happening. And so. So he will, he will kind of attack her from the side and from behind, so I’m watching their tactics as individual people. Yeah. If I’m in a place where I’m distracted and busy, of course, I’ll react more like, immediately I’ll say something like, Hey, what are you doing? What? Come here? How are you? What are you saying to her right now? Stop, no, no, stop, stop. look a lot like that. But the times that I’ve gone in, and I, I’ve pre-decided even in the last five seconds, I pre-decided I’m going to go in not with the spirit of making the stock right now. I’m going to go in, and I’m going to look at them both. I’m here. Hold on. Hold on, stop talking. Listen to me for a second. What happened? So number one, what happens? What are the facts? Number two? How did what she said to make you feel or vice versa? Right. So ask them questions to get them to ask themselves. Why am I upset right now? Right? Exactly. Yeah, that goal that the goal of teaching them to critically think by modeling questions they need to ask themselves is, is what I do for myself now? Yeah, in that hot repairing thing? Yeah. What is the big deal? Where’s this coming from? Why did that upset you so much? Did that hurt your pride? Did that? Is there false information happening? Did she say something she didn’t say? Or, you know,

Teresa Wiedrick 24:35
you feel misrepresented somehow or misunderstood or

Jenn Bryant 24:39
disrespected? Right? We saw we named we try to name those feelings. Yeah. And especially in the mind of a preteen, they’re trying to find their sense of identity so that justice is really really important to them. So I have to remember that to justice rightness. What are you going to do to her? She proves that she did This to me so. So what’s gonna happen to her? Huh? Huh? What are you gonna do about it? And I know that they’re not asking me to challenge my parenting and I have to believe that they’re asking me because they need to see justice happen. And so approaching this, to answer your question, in an ideal sense, I think would be to come in as the coach instead of the dictator. Right, and to help them ask questions. And to know that I don’t need to squash this right now, this is not necessarily a time factor right now, if I’m focusing on building their character,

Teresa Wiedrick 25:37
yeah, the biggest challenge for me and I, and I ideally want to do this is instead of reacting to the anger, especially if it’s wildly inappropriate to stop and actually ask, so you’re feeling angry? Because of, or something like that? To first honor the I’m sorry? Do you feel angry? Or, Oh, do you need a hug or something. And it is like the last thing on my mind, if I see a child, mistreat another child, or someone speaks disrespectfully. And yet, at the core, there’s something that’s not quite like you said, sitting right, or it feels unjust or misrepresented, or so many possibilities. And they need to feel heard, they might not even know what they’re feeling. And so than helping to identify what they’re feeling. But just like you said, this is the work of homeschooling that I did not know, I signed up for, and it’s not the pretty stuff. I don’t even know how to capture it on Instagram, but I’m really sure that my almost 17-year-old and 13 year old wouldn’t let me. Sure,

Jenn Bryant 26:43
no. And that’s true, too, especially as you know, women in our position two, because we both of us, obviously feel strongly about helping other moms get through times. And we need to be honest about the conflicts we have without, you know, putting our kids as they say on blast or shaming them ugly, or something. But just approaching it from a this is a human condition. This isn’t just like, oh, I have I have these kinds of kids rolling my eyes all the time. I don’t want to be that mom in real life. Or, you know, in virtual life. It’s, it’s just, it’s just the stage of raising kids and being human. But more so recognizing our humaneness. So that’s why I forgot that lesson. This is how you homeschool. Right? Exactly. This is how you can respond when you feel the big feelings of motherhood while your homeschool.

Teresa Wiedrick 27:37
Yes, big feelings of motherhood. That’s so true. Not the ones I thought the ones I signed up for are watching them at that time and going, Oh, aren’t they so perfect, or them wanting to do things that are fun and create memories with me and their scrapbook bubble? Although I don’t scrapbook anymore, Instagram is accountable. You actually speak about helping moms discover their strengths and learn to live free from unrealistic expectations. I’d love to talk about how you encourage homeschool moms to do that,

Jenn Bryant 28:09
oh, it begins with just getting to know the individual person. I want to step away from stereotypical mother-woman behavior. I mean, because we were all made individually by hand. And we all have individual personalities and events and things in our lives that affect who we are today. Right? So getting to know ourselves and what we really excel at. Not everyone is that social-emotional awareness person. I mean, and I had to come to grips with that too, just because I saw certain things in a situation doesn’t mean that everyone thinks that way. And that just told me that. Okay, Jen, you’re more of a natural teacher, counselor. I talked to a mom recently, actually, I met her for the first time this week. And she says, Wow, I admire what you do, but that is not me. Right? And I said, I am glad to know that you know yourself, that you’re not a checklist person. You’re not to sit and teach the math person. She’s just like, No, I can’t I know myself and we’d have a much better relationship if we didn’t interact that way. And I said, okay, so knowing yourself is the first step. And so moving forward and interacting with the humans you’re responsible for. This is the next step. And so it depends where the mom is coming from because I get mostly homeschool moms on my platform because that’s, that’s who I am. But moms I mean, in the community or at my kids’ sports events who are not directly involved in their kids’ education, but they’re just as much Dedicated to it, right? I can see almost immediately what their strengths are when we talk for any length of time. Some moms are really, really good. With organization and numbers. Some moms are really great at playing with their kids and getting actively involved in sports and stuff.

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