V Interesting

Whole Parenting with Jon Fogel, FDA Says Gay, Beneficial Intelligence

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It’s true! The Food and Drug Administration has moved to allow gay and bisexual men to once again donate blood, and V explains exactly what’s changed. Plus, how one congressman is schooling us on what it means to outsmart AI. Then, adults rejoice! We’re talking through a more effective and less stressful parenting strategy that everyone can learn from. V chats with “whole parenting” expert Jon Fogel about relinquishing control of kids’ every move and embracing the idea that they are whole people who can make their own decisions — even if that means more bedtime boycotts.

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V Spehar, Jon Fogel

V Spehar  00:01

Hey friends, it’s Friday, May 19th 2023. Welcome to V INTERESTING, where we break down the viral and very interesting news you might have missed. I’m V Spehar, and today, a new policy change means gay men are no longer banned from donating blood. Finally, one congressman is going back to college to get schooled on AI. And John Fogel is here to talk about parenting and for me on teaching strategies that will help you raise emotionally intelligent children. All that more on today’s V INTERESTING from Lemonada Media. Let’s be smart together. Let’s start today with some good news. The FDA has eased up on being homophobic when it comes to donating blood hooray. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced it would formally end the agency’s policy banning gay and bisexual men from contributing to the nation’s blood supply. That is right up until now, if you were a man who had sex with men, or a woman who had sex with bisexual men, you are not allowed to donate blood. The policy has long been called outdated, fear based and discriminatory. And it dates back to 1983 the early days of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. At that time, health officials were afraid that disease would accidentally enter the nation’s blood bank and spread to more people. Fast forward to today when the FDA finally realized that their old school logic is just bananas. Anyone can get HIV, not just gay men. And this is a not so fun fact. Well, you may have thought that HIV was hitting gay men in places like New York City the hardest. In fact, according to a report from Gilead, the leading researchers on HIV in 2019, more than half of HIV diagnoses occurred in people living in Southern states, even though only 38% of the US population lives in that region. Don’t worry, though, friends, all donated blood is tested for HIV before it enters the nation’s supply, even that Crimson Tide of Alabama blood. The FDA is still pretty proof though, the policies still state that you’ll be turned away from giving blood if you’ve had new or multiple sex partners and anal sex within the last three months. The agency says this is only to prevent folks who are newly infected but don’t know they’ve contracted the virus from giving blood. Additionally, those taking medication to treat or prevent HIV like folks who take PrEP will also be denied. The agency says that because even though those on PrEP can have safe and undetectable viral loads when having sex, a full blood transfusion carries high risk of infection. My friends at the LGBTQ advocacy group glad praised the change and called it an end to quote a dark and discriminatory past rooted in fear and homophobia. But they said the FDA ‘s decision to ban donors taking prep medication would add quote, unnecessary stigma. The FDA says its updated policy is based on the best available scientific evidence and mirrors similar policies in places like the UK and Canada. It hopes the change will expand the number of people eligible to donate blood while keeping strict safeguards in place to protect the safety of our blood supply. The change comes at a time when blood is desperately needed. The New York Times reports that donations dropped significantly during the pandemic when schools and offices stopped doing blood drives. And it has yet to return to pre pandemic levels. So let’s change that by going out and donating blood if you can, I mean who among us can turn down a free juice box and a cookie.

V Spehar  04:00

Speaking of blood, I just learned an interesting factoid about blood donors in upstate New York. Did you know that the one human genome that scientists use to understand our DNA was based on a dozen random blood donors from Buffalo? That’s right, Buffalo, New York, where much of the population has half a chicken wing drenched in blue cheese and half sponge candy. Now you may have heard of the Human Genome Project. It was a scientific research project in the 1990s that successfully mapped out a complete set of human genes. It basically acts as a baseline DNA structure used to better understand humans. But there is a problem with it. Although more than 99.6% of our DNA is the exact same as the person in line with us at Wegmans. That 0.4% of diversity is important. And let’s just say those of us who hail from the city of good neighbors probably weren’t the most diverse bunch of folks to sample well there. some exciting news on that front. Last week, a group of scientists published genome sequences of 47 people from four different continents. The scientists are part of a group called the human pan Genome Project, which believes rather than relying on a single reference genome from Buffalo, we need to capture as much genetic diversity of humans as we can. According to The Economist recent genetic mutation show how important it is to gather a diverse sample of DNA. For example, they wrote that people with ancestors from Northern Europe or parts of India and the Middle East are more likely to easily digest lactose than people with ancestors from other parts of the world. And some gene variants associated with cancer that are found in people with African ancestry are poorly understood. Because the one reference genome we’ve been using is again from a dozen Buffalo Bill fans. The Pan Genome Project says it aims to increase the number of genome sequences from 47 to 350. By the middle of next year. The Economist did point out some ongoing issues though. For example, the collection does not include many people from the Pacific Islands and the Middle East. And the group needs to get more samples from Africa, where the most human genetic diversity is found. Since you know, it’s the home of the human race. Moving on now, from human intelligence to artificial intelligence, we all know that AI is dramatically changing our world from politics to the porn industry. And while many politicians bury their head in the sand or talk out their ass on Capitol Hill about a topic they know nothing about. One lawmaker is taking a more learned approach. Virginia Congressman Don buyer is going back to school to get a degree in machine learning. That’s right. The 72 year old is hanging out in the lecture halls of George Mason University, with his 18 year old classmates pursuing a master’s degree to help inform his work on AI in Congress. And y’all I absolutely loved the story. It not only shows that you never have to stop learning, but hopefully it impresses upon other lawmakers that they too need to step up. buyer is vice president of the Bipartisan Congressional artificial intelligence caucus, and he served for eight years on the House Committee on Science, Space and technology. He told The Washington Post he does his homework from nine to 11pm at night, right after he gets home from the hill and before he goes to bed, college courses, the machine learning and AI are becoming more and more popular, and even mandatory for certain degrees. If you want to learn about AI, you can do that at any age, Fortune magazine gathered a few opportunities online. Google offers the free beginner course called Google AI for everyone that you can take at your own pace. IBM offers three courses on AI and chatbots that you can audit for free. And the University of California Davis offers a four week course called big data, artificial intelligence and ethics. If you pay for it and complete the class, you earn a certificate that you can share on LinkedIn. I love certificates. It’s like a little prize and who doesn’t feel inspired by that. And you’re basically guaranteed an A plus put it up on the refrigerator. And Congressman buyer, I’ll be cheering you on as you walk across that stage at your graduation ceremony. Thank you so much for taking this seriously. And getting yourself back into school to better understand AI. Don buyer told CBS News he’s more excited about AI than he is nervous. And he’s got reason to be for as much scary stuff as we hear about AI like deep fakes national security threats or robots taking our jobs. There are plenty of positives to take the beauty industry for example, a recent CNN article showcased the many ways in which AI is changing the way we think about our bodies, our style and ourselves for the better. Like bold glamour, one of our favorite filters on tick tock that uses machine learning technology to automatically edit your facial features. It might thin your nose or plump your cheeks or get rid of acne. Some critics say it reinforces unrealistic beauty standards, but supporters say if it helps people feel more confident, well then what’s wrong with it? Let people live. Proponents also point out that AI filters can help you easily and more affordably experiment with your hair color, your makeup, or even your gender expression. Avatars are another great example of how AI is changing our looks. Once only popular in video games, avatars are now being used by people in all sorts of virtual environments and becoming increasingly customizable. A wheelchair user can deck out their avatar chair with shiny blue lights or ditch the chair altogether if they prefer. The Sims game just came out with an insulin pump you can put on your avatar to increase awareness around diabetes. Another big AI change entering the beauty industry has to do with accessibility. CNN pointed out that many big name brands are developing technologies that help more people use their products. For example, Estee Lauder launched a makeup assistant app for people who are visually impaired. It uses your smartphone camera to identify makeup on your face, and an audio guide that describes where touch ups might be needed. Or take L’Oreal, which recently unveiled a handheld makeup applicator for those with mobility issues like tremors or arthritis. Sure, there is still plenty to be concerned about, like catfishing, or how striving for perfection online can impact our mental health. But it’s not like beauty standards, were working out all that well for us before AI, right? If we’re intentional about the way in which the tools are created and used, it could be a whole new age of beauty. Okay, that was the headlines and up next we have an amazing interview for you today. It’s all about kids, and how to raise amazing tiny humans and how to do that without losing yourself in the mix. And even if you’re not a parent or you don’t plan on being a parent, the advice that you’re going to hear translates to anyone with a child in their life. John Fogle is a whole parenting expert who uses child psychology and neuroscience to help you understand and work with your kid’s brain, not against it. And he’s here to share more effective, less stressful and overall better ways to parent. We’ll have that right after the break.

V Spehar  11:40

Hey, friends, today we are talking about parenting. And I know you’re probably like V. You don’t have any kids. And while that is true, I am an auntie. And that is basically the same thing. No. It’s of course not the same thing. But I do feel very privy to the obstacles that moms and dads face when being responsible for a whole little human. There are so many questions in the air that parents are just supposed to figure out by themselves. Like how do we feel about sleepovers at other people’s houses? Should we put our kids in timeout when they misbehave? Is it too early to talk about gender and sexuality? Jon Fogle was extremely overwhelmed and stressed when he became a new dad. As a father of three boys. He turned to quick fixes and false promises, but nothing ever gave him a clear answer. If anything, it just added more confusion and hassle. He explains this phase of his life as just trying to survive. That was until he took it upon himself to research child psychology and neuroscience and eventually launched his company whole parent. Jon created what he calls the first ever counseling based membership program with online courses, weekly coaching calls and monthly workshops. He helps people who are looking for a less stressful and more effective approach to parenting, and gives them step by step solutions to problems like sibling fights and bedtime boycotts. A lot of times when parents lack patience, they turn to yelling and try to control their child’s behavior. Does that sound familiar? Because you are not alone? Well, Jon says he found a better way. And according to him, it all starts with understanding your child and treating them like a whole human, a whole human deserving of respect and dignity. So you can be the whole parent they deserve. So Jon, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here.

Jon Fogel  13:30

Yeah. Thanks for having me, V.

V Spehar  13:31

So straight off the bat. When did you know you wanted to be a dad?

Jon Fogel  13:35

This is an interesting question. I think I always knew that I wanted to be a dad, I definitely did not know that I was going to enjoy the parts of fatherhood that I currently enjoy. So I thought that I wanted to be a dad of seven year olds and above. So I got married in my high school sweetheart. So like, first of all, yeah, I know. Yeah. But um, no, we like that. But we got this like, kind of starter house when we got our jobs and you know, really far away from our families. And I used to look out the front window and see this, like, seven year old nine year old playing with their dad. And I was like, I could, that’s what I want to do. Like, I want to like teach a kid how to throw a ball, like just the classic like white picket fence stuff. What I didn’t know was that when we started having kids, that I was going to be, like, simultaneously, absolutely, emphatically in love with my new baby boy, at the time was my son map, and also kind of hate my life as a new parent. So like this is it’s always both. It’s never just always good. It’s always both. That’s the complexity and nuance of life. So I always knew that I wanted to be a dad, but I had no idea that I wanted to care about parenting this much. Does that make sense?

V Spehar  14:53

Yeah, it absolutely does. So what was the moment that you felt like I’m a dad now was it when you got the Pregnancy Test or was it when you first held the baby?

Jon Fogel  15:02

So I think there’s so many moments where you think that I know what being a parent is, right? I think this goes for both men and women. But like when you first get the pregnancy test you Okay, now I’m a dad. But there’s this aspect of like, but I don’t have any clue what that means. I wouldn’t say even today, I’m like, Man, I really know what being a dad is. I have three kids, but I’ve never been a parent to a teenager. And so like, I don’t know what being a dad is to a teenager, like, so I would say that, like, the moment is perpetually happening, which is kind of meta and woowoo. But the moment is, every day I wake up, and I’m surprised in a way that I’m adapt. And it’s normal. Now. It’s every day and it’s normal life, but also, yeah, there’s just new challenges every day. And there’s new ways of thinking about it. And for sure, like, I still wake up some days. And I’m just like, who gave me a baby? I thought I was in high school, like eight minutes ago, which people who are maybe you’ve seen my face or like, you look like you’re in high school, high school. But like I always had a baby face like, but like, you know, this is just the reality. I think that we don’t ever really know until it’s there. And it’s happening. And I would say probably the big moment, if there was a moment, doing the skin to skin thing with the newborn on day two. Like, we had way too many people come visit us on the first day, like, strong do not recommend don’t tell people that you gave birth for like, at least today secret.

V Spehar  16:33

After you had your first child. Were you feeling like an eagerness to have a sibling for them? Or did you guys want to give yourself a bunch of time to kind of like, stretch out and figure this out?

Jon Fogel  16:44

Yeah, you know, I know. We I mean, so here’s the truth. Like, if you want to know, like the whole parent origin story, like, I did not think through parenting, like I was not this person on day one at all. I had not done any processing of my own childhood whatsoever. I had not done any, well, how should we raise our kids? Like, I have so many people now that are in my membership, or that I work with who are like, they’re like expecting their first and I’m like, You are so ahead of where I was. So if you’re listening to this, and you’re like, I don’t even have a kid yet. But like we’re thinking about it well, like so ahead, if you’re even having these conversations. So I would say like, yeah, like we had not done any sort of processing or any of that. And so we were just like floored by the first one. And so there was no immediacy of like, we need to have another sibling. Now we also had kids young, in comparison to a lot of millennials, who have kids starting at 3435. Where there’s, I mean, there’s a biological immediacy that happens. And so we did the two under two thing, we just didn’t do it. First. And second, we did it second, and third. But for the first like three years, we were like, I don’t think we’re ready to have another kid. And even when we decided that we were ready. Like we didn’t know that we in many ways weren’t.

V Spehar  18:03

So you’re the father of three boys. Now, do you think raising boys is different than raising girls? I mean, you don’t have much like raising girls to compare it to. But is there something really unique about being the dad of three boys?

Jon Fogel  18:16

You know, so I come from the school of thought that the vast majority of what we believe about gender is, is cultural and social. Right? So do I think it’s different raising girls? Yes. Because I think that girls are socialized by their broader community. You are, you know, our perception is our reality. We feel things and people don’t really understand that, you know, I talk a lot about the brain and parenting, we are making sense of our feelings. That’s how humans, we’re not going through the world, rationally, we’re rationalizing. And so, you know, like, this is the reality for all of us psychologically. And so I think that it’s different raising girls, because you’re told that it’s going to be different. And so then your experience validates that. But I, you know, I can’t speak to raising girls, I can, I can definitely say that. You know, people say that girls are more sensitive and less rambunctious. All three of my boards are very sensitive and very rambunctious. So I don’t know, you know, and there are friends who are girls, who are been socialized as girls, especially when it’s, you know, I tend to surround myself by people who are kind of trying to buck gender norms in general. Those girls are rambunctious too, and sensitive to so I think that kids will just this is my whole thing. Kids will respond in the way that we raise them they will, you know, we define their reality for them. And so I think that if you are really intentional about raising girls to feel confident and strong and active and that they don’t have to fit into this like you have, you can’t get dirty like whatever. I know that some of this stuff is like very 90s but like if you are really intentional in raising girls that way I think that you will probably experience that differently than some of the socialization. But I’ve also read psychologists and psychiatrists who say, it is different. You know, there’s just different stuff early on. So, so I would imagine that there’s, it’s kind of both it’s, that’s, you know?

V Spehar  20:16

I am hopeful to hear these things. Because I don’t remember gender like necessarily being such a huge deal in the 80s, even when I was raised, because my dad was like, well, we want to play baseball, you play baseball, you want to come outside with me and work on the truck, you work on the truck, like my parents didn’t gender raise us either, which I think was very helpful in many ways. But there’s so much conversation now about gender about expectations, how we should socialize our kids. Is that something that the kids are dealing with? Are they hearing this kind of conversation? And like, how are they reacting to that?

Jon Fogel  20:49

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So you know, I think in the 80s, and 90s, parents were responding to feminism, right? Women’s Liberation Movement. And so it was common. And actually, a lot of moms in the 90s, who might have been stay at home moms were not stay at home moms, because they were like, No, we fought too hard to go back to work. And even if I want to be a stay at home, mom, I can’t be right. But I think today, I think and I think that all of that is interpreted and internalized by our kids. Like I just wanted to say that like 80% of all communication between humans is nonverbal. I think 95, 90 at least percent of the relational learning that you do as a child, is what your parents are modeling. So you can say until you’re blue in the face, girls are allowed to go outside and work on the tractor and girls are allowed to play baseball. But if you have a ick factor, when your daughter asks you to go work on the tractor, if you’re, you know, if you turn away or if you have your face twitches, right? Like they pick that stuff up. Yeah, because these little humans like, they create neural pathways like you wouldn’t believe. And so like they pick that stuff up. And so I do think that the conversation surrounding gender and, and this kind of doubling down of the old guard as they’re trying to maintain a way of life, a lot of my study V, you don’t know this, but a lot of my background is actually in religious trauma, and helping people through like the evangelical space and the problems with that. And so a lot of the stuff I see is reactionary, and I just go, yeah, like it does deeply affect our kids. And I think everybody’s talking about what’s good for kids right now. But very few people are actually speaking from an informed perspective about what’s good for kids. Because the answer is, what’s good for kids is just kind of saying yes, and just saying, What are you feeling? Okay, like, I’m gonna approach that non-judgmentally. And that’s what’s good for kids. And so if your kid is expressing desires to go outside of some socialized construct, like saying yes to that is the most helpful and healthy thing for them. Every single psychologist that I’ve ever read, who’s mainstream and reasonable, not trying to push an agenda agrees on that right, no matter how they fall on any social issue. So I think I think it does, though, I think it does affect kids. And I hear parents coming to me saying, there are kids in my kid’s class, who are telling him things about gender, things about sexuality. So like, like, these are the conversations that are happening between peers, because they go home and they hear about the hear dad or mom ranting about the people who believe this. They go to school, they internalize that, and they’re looking for that. I just had a mom telling me today that she was talking to her son’s friend who is a girl and said to her, like, okay, girlfriend, you’re all set. And a kid in the class said it’ll girlfriend what? Why are you saying girlfriend, you’re like, that kid is not having those thoughts independent of their childhood home, right? Right. Like that is just parroting what’s being heard at home, right? That five year old does not have those thoughts. So are they affected they have to be there’s no other way to view it in my opinion.

V Spehar  24:23

So often, the early ways that we parent our children is based on the ways that we were parented, like you said, Yes. Were there things from your childhood that you were like, I’m gonna not do that one. I’m gonna go ahead and cut that one out, like structuring out before you were the whole parents those early days. What was your ideology on parenting in the beginning?

Jon Fogel  24:45

So my ideology on parenting or in the early days was actually doing exactly what my parents did. Because here’s the reality we make meaning like our brains are meaning making machines, and like we make meaning based on our circumstances. And so, in order to love myself, I had to say that my parents did a great job. That was like the paradigm that I was coming from. And so of course, I’m gonna raise my kids, like my parents raised me, because if I raised them differently than I’m saying that I didn’t turn out well. But this is a very child centered, you know, you can tell how a good parent is based on how the kid turns out, right? Instead of a parent centric model where you say, no, my parents actually did things that were not great. My parents did things. I think, by and large, my parents actually raised me pretty progressively in comparison to a lot of my peers. But there’s still stuff that I look at all the time. And I told a story in an email that I sent out today, to my followers about how, like, when I was growing up envy, because of our religious framework, and envy is like, no, that’s a bad feeling. And so when I’m envious, even today, uh, you know, in my 30s, I am envious of something, I have to tear that thing down, because I can’t feel that feeling that feeling is a sign of my brokenness and badness. So, obviously, you know, I don’t know, obviously, I’m doing my absolute damnedest to not raise my kids to believe that their feelings are bad, wrong in those ways. So in many ways, I’m doing things differently than my parents. But you know, I don’t do timeouts my parents absolutely utilize the timeout stool when it was unnecessary solitary

V Spehar  26:25

Confinement, great for kids. Not a great punishment, not a great punishment. So what does it mean to be a hole parent, tell me about this program that you’ve built this ideology that you’ve built in, that you’re helping people learn from? What is the whole parent?

Jon Fogel  26:41

Yeah, you know, for me, it started out by saying, okay, so once I really started getting into understanding parenting, and once my educational background, I have a master’s degree. And in the process of that, I had to take courses that focused on counseling, like in the counseling department at the school that I was that I was attending. And so that stuff kind of ran in tandem with when I started to have kids. So I was having kids, and I’m learning all the psychology, we also entered the foster care system as parents, foster parents. I’m a very, like, trihard person. And so I was like, man, if I’m going to have some kid in my home, who potentially comes from a tragic background, I have to learn everything there is to know right, so I just consumed and consumed books about this stuff. And I found myself at the end of it looking around and going. Okay, so which parenting philosophy do I fit into? Am I a respectful parent, by my conscious parent? Am I gentle parent? Like, what is this all about? And I was like, man, about nine out of 10 days, I’m a gentle parent, about nine out of 10 days, I’m a conscious parent, about nine out of 10 days, I could be defined as a respectful, I hope 10 out of 10 is a respectful parent. But ultimately, I’m just a whole human being, which includes flaws and which includes my trauma and my background. And I think at its core, our kids are whole people, too, we don’t want waiting for them to someday become a whole person. Like their whole, like, they’re deserving of respect and dignity and autonomy, and belonging and love unconditionally. When they’re born, I mean, like, when they’re there, when they’re in the world, that’s when their dessert like that’s when that stuff gets assigned, not when they’re, you know, at the age of accountability, or when they’re an adult, or some sort of other religious or social framework that we put on it. My belief is that they’re, they’re ready to go on day one, like, they’re, that’s how we should be raising them as a whole person. And so this idea of like, being a whole parent, to a whole person, that like, I was like, Man, that just encompasses all of it. And so it encompasses the neuroscience and encompasses the psychology and encompasses the philosophy. That’s what conscious parenting is really a philosophy more than anything else encompasses all those things. And it takes the good, and it doesn’t take anything to an extreme, because I think we have enough extremism, V. So it doesn’t take anything to an extreme, and it’s just honest, it’s honest about struggles. It’s honest about like, today, I had a bad day. And I was like, that’s a whole person. And I think that if we could love ourselves and love our kids as whole people, the world I mean, that’s, that’s the whole thing. But ultimately, it comes down to like art. Do you believe that your child’s a whole person worthy of dignity, respect, okay, then you’re gonna probably do okay. And if you don’t, then like let’s talk about

V Spehar  29:32

we do see a lot of gentle parenting content on social media, and whether that’s effective or not, I gotta tell you, John, I find it. I find it very annoying some of the gentle parenting. Now I’m obviously not a parent. I don’t have sure a lot of parent friends. But there are some times that I’m watching gentle parenting, and I’m only watching through the lens of social media. And like, Man, if I were a kid, I would feel gas lit to hell by my parent who’s like, oh, PV. Well, let’s talk about that big feeling you have Why do you think you have that? They feel and they’re doing it in like kind of a condescending, you know, gentle voice. That’s not what gentle parenting is for real, though, is, or well,

Jon Fogel  30:08

So here’s the problem. There’s no definition of what gentle parenting is. Right. So, is that gentle parenting? Well, for those parents that are not if

V Spehar  30:15

It frustrates the child, I would imagine.

Jon Fogel  30:18

Sure, sure. Well, I think, again, it still comes from that same thing, right? Yeah, my big issue, I have many issues with the gentle parenting that I see on social media. But my biggest issue with the gentle parenting that I see on social media is twofold. Number one, it’s still that compliance model, right? So it’s still by whatever metric you’re using, if you’re still trying to create a little compliant robot, I’m not here for it, I’m not interested, I am looking for a critical thinker who is going to push back because also, I look at this from the lens of their whole life, not like until they’re seven, or until the ten, I look at, like, what does it look like for your teenage son or daughter to be completely and totally compliant to authority? Like, bat? Like, you don’t want that like, like, okay, so now a predator comes into their life, who’s able to do predator prey on them gently? And they’re just like, Okay, I’m compliant to that, like, I want to teach my kid to be, like, autonomous and also be able to vet the, you know, okay, that’s why saying no, like, those are the things that I want my kid to be trained to do, to trust their feelings and trust themselves. And I think some of the gentle parenting advice is trying to do that. But as you say, you can’t gaslight someone into trusting their own feelings. Like, you can’t do it. So that’s one part of it. And the second piece of it is that a lot of the gentle parenting advice that I see, it’s trying to do away with the concept of shaming our kids into compliance. But it’s all presented from the framework of I’m going to shame other parents into agreeing with me to not shame their kids into compliance. So the thing that I that bugs me the most V out of all the advice is the like, I’m going to make other parents feel like total shit, so that they’ll gently parent. And I’m like, you can’t say we have to treat kids with respect and dignity and love and belonging, and then treat adults like garbage. Because if you treat those adults like garbage, number one, it’s ineffective. They’re gonna get defensive, they’re never going to do what you’re asking. But number two, like, if they feel like garbage, their kid is going to feel like garbage. But this is the nonverbal thing that we’re talking about. Right? So like, whatever you want to see in a kid, have the parent do so like that, to me, like, that’s the yuck on gentle parenting. For me, it’s just like, it’s a compliance driven, and it’s still utilizing shame. It’s just now we’re just moving the target. Right? We’re just gonna go shame adults and stuff.

V Spehar  32:46

So for folks who are looking for better ways to parents, and are out there listening right now, where can somebody get started?

Jon Fogel  32:54

Yeah, they can read. So I would say I have like five parenting books that I recommend to everyone. And all of them, I would say, with the exception of one are like, I don’t take everything I pick through. But I would say if you’re really starting out, this is kind of the cliche answer. But cliches are cliches for a reason. Like, if you read the whole brainchild, which I realized, saying whole parent like no, I did not write this book. But his book came along a long time before me because I published 2012. If you read the whole brainchild, and you start from there, and understand that Tina Paine, Bryson and what Dan Siegel talks about in that book is ultimately just parenting your kid from the perspective of like, we’re just going to do this better. Like that book, I think gets you 80% of the way to parenting better, and you can follow all the social media influencers that you want. We’re going to give you conflicting advice, like stick to trusting your gut. So I would say number one, you have to do your own work. But beyond that, like once you read some of these kinds of books, they’ve Tina Payne Bryson, density or other books, like no drama, discipline, the aspirin, child, others, those are all really, really good too. I think there are other books that are kind of in the same vein, books like simplicity parenting, unconditional parenting is a really woke book. If you’re into that. By Alfie Kohn. Anything Alfie Kohn wrote is like, woke philosophy of parenting, and even older stuff, like books like Attachment Parenting, they just assume that you should treat kids with respect. And so if you read enough people who are treating kids with respect, you’re going to start to do that, I think. But then also, you have to get into a community of people who are not going to shame you for raising your kids. That’s why and I think that, like beyond the reading, like you have to have a group of people and it’s probably not your family. Here’s the truth. You have to have a group of people who you can go to and go, hey, I don’t like I don’t know what to do with my kid right now, but I know that I can’t duel is done to me. What can I do? Or I just had a really rough night last night and I just want to give up on all this stuff. Can you just tell me that I shouldn’t stop? And that having your village like that? That’s the real deal.

V Spehar  35:15

We have a couple of questions from the audience who knew that you were going to be here today? So would you be open to just answer? Sometimes I try to build questions. And other times I’m like, I’m not apparent. Let me just read some of these questions that we got from listeners. Rapid fire. Okay, here we go. So the first one is, John, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and trying to employ gentle parenting tactics, but I still feel completely overwhelmed by my child’s behavior. I feel like it’s more work for me than it is effective for them. What can I do?

Jon Fogel  35:45

Yeah, so number one, kids are overwhelming. I really do think this is okay. So this is V. This is the third problem central parenting as they make it look just like everything on social media. They make it look like it’s gonna work. Yeah. The first time. Yeah. So. So here’s what I would say this parents say, okay, parenting is like growing a field of bamboo. It takes six months to a year, to get the root system established, nothing comes up. And if you continually water it, and if you continually tend to it and care for it, and weed it, and it just looks like a big ol patch of dirt. One day, the chutes are going to pop up. And then they’re gonna grow four feet in a day. And then they’re gonna grow four feet every day after that. This is what gentle parent or effective, let’s call it whole parenting is. So it does feel like you’re beating your head against a wall. It’s not working. But what you’re doing is you’re building neural pathways in your kid, that they learn to trust you, they learn to trust themselves. And once your kid trusts you in themselves, you can do amazing, amazing things. So give me an example. I, when my son was really young, like four years old, he fell. And everything in my house is like got this foam wraps on it, except for two inches at the bottom of the coffee table. And somehow he was able to slip fall and slide face first into the coffee table had to get stitches in his forehead, highly sensitive kid, deeply traumatized, it had to be, you know, very specialized stitches from a plastic surgeon deeply traumatized. And we were like, This is it, it’s over. And so the processing for that took months and months and months of retelling that story. And I talked about this with parents all the time. But it’s it was we did it from a therapy driven, evidence based approach to how we’re going to process this. And it required having him tell the story, which just brought it all back up again, all the time. And it was just messy. And it was like just not fun to do. Well, eventually, he got through it to the extent where he could talk to other people about it, random strangers in the grocery store, he would tell them about his scar, he made meaning out of it. I look like Harry Potter, like it was the whole the whole thing, right? Well, you could say, but John, you could have just avoided it. And it’s just we could have just made our life easier. And I understand that parents are overworked and underpaid, and just overwhelmed. And I understand why many people would choose to do that. But about two years later, he had to have a dental procedure where he had to go under anesthesia, general anesthesia. And unfortunately, some hospitals are just not good at dealing with kids. They don’t have people like me to kind of process through. And so they took him in a room he was ready and prepped to go through the steps to be put under. And they were just like, we don’t trust that he’s going to do this. And they jumped on top and held him down and shoved a gas mask over his face. Super traumatizing again. So bright light in his face, all the stuff from getting the stitches. He comes out of that. By the time we get home that day. He’s told the story twice, all the way through and said, Dad, I don’t think this is going to take me six months to get over this again. Because I already know how to do Wow. So this is what I’m saying is that like of course it’s hard. Of course, it’s overwhelming. Of course, it doesn’t feel like it works. I give people quick, easy wins a lot of time to convince them to do this. But ultimately, once you get past the surface level, this is deep work. This is work that requires so much of parents doing their own work. But the fruit of that is that down the road when they come into contact with the next thing right when you have to handle the next problematic behavior when you have to handle the next social ostracization, or the next adult who shames them or the next traumatic experience. They’re going to have the building blocks the pegs on which to hang those experiences and move through this. Now he can go through life and traumatic things aren’t quite as sticky, because he can process through them effectively. And so this is the whole thing right? Trying to help you, it’s the law. This this parenting thing I’m talking about is the absolute long game. And there are short things and quick things that we can do that are more effective than screaming at your kid in the moment.

V Spehar  40:07

Yeah, well, that’s all the next question. The next question is, as a parent, I only really know what happened to me. And a lot of that was based in bribes, threats, timeouts and spanking. I don’t think those aren’t punishments that I want to give my child, what can I do instead?

Jon Fogel  40:21

Yeah, so this is some Alfie Kohn woke parenting here. So I think that all punishments and all rewards, caveat with rewards, there is data to support that with neurodivergent kids rewards can be effective for neurotypical kids, I think all rewards, bribes, threats, and punishments are ineffective, that ultimately, place the awareness of the child away from whatever they’re doing. And they place it on to the I need to avoid this punishment, I need to gain this reward. And so punishments and rewards really are very similar to the brain. In fact, we now know that where we used to think that the amygdala handled all of our big, big feelings, it’s part of your limbic system, and it handles our fight or flight response. It also is activated in really positive, overly positive feelings, too. So the literally the same part of your brain is activated when you threaten a kid. And when you promise them the world, they’re going into the same kind of escalated state. So what I would say is, start by just removing this concept that you want to punish your kid at all that punishing is going to be effective in any way, and instead, draw their conscious attention to the natural outcomes of their actions. So when a kid hits another kid, it’s really easy to say, I’m going to hit you back spanking, or I’m going to isolate you away from other people timeout, or I’m just gonna scream at you and make you feel bad, right? Shame. All of those ineffective ultimately, what you want to do is you want to draw the child’s attention to why potentially hitting another person is not going to be good for them in the long term. And it’s not because you’re gonna get mad at them. It’s because the person who they’re playing with when they grabbed the toy sword and whacked him upside the head, does not want to continue to play with, like, that’s a social rule, like why does V not walk around being a jerk?

V Spehar  42:21

Because they have a deep need to be liked. That’s why, it’s almost like I perfectly curated this version of myself to not be bullied. That’s an extra.

Jon Fogel  42:35

That’s an extra. But you know, but I mean, I would, I would argue it’s not because you think that somebody’s going to punish you as a result, I would hope. It’s because you know that the natural outcome of being a jerk and walking around as a jerk is not going to lead to the outcomes that you desire, by the way not to get into politics. But I know you’re big into politics. This is why it’s so problematic is that people act in really abusive, harmful ways. And it gets them reelected. Yeah, it’s very consequences of those actions. Right? It’s extremely lonely, but the consequences of their actions are desirable, right. So what you have to do is, you have to understand that if, number one, if you’re going to approach a punishment, free and reward free parenting, then you have to be willing to just direct the conscious attention of your child to the consequences of the action. And here’s the real kicker, this is the gut check. If your child is willing to accept the consequence, you have to be willing to let them within reason, do the thing. You have to be willing to let them disagree with you, you have to be willing and not see that as a sign of inherent disrespect, you have to do your own work, where you’re not going to say to your six year old who doesn’t want to go to bed, when I say, look, you’re not going to feel good. If you don’t go to bed, you’re gonna you’re this is this is all the reasons that it’s not good for your brand. If your kid trusts you, they’re gonna go, Okay, I trust you, we’re going to but if your kid doesn’t trust you, then or if you’re on the path to this, then they may just say, I’m willing to deal. I’m willing to do that. And I think in so many ways, and so many times, the most effective parenting that you’re going to do is not heaping a punishment, that’s going to distract them away from the consequences. It’s actually letting them live the real actionable consequences when they’re stalling bedtime, and they’re not wanting to do their bedtime routine. And that means there’s no time to read a book. That’s not a punishment. That’s just, we’re at time certain. Now we got to go to bed. Parents want to scream, they want to yell they want to punish, because that was done to them. And because it seems and feels easier. And by the way, you’re an emotional person, too, as a parent, and it’s really nice to get all that energy out on a little human who’s driving up the wall, right?

V Spehar  44:43

Yeah, it sounds like the difference between punishment and consequences just puts the onus on that whole child to recognize that they have a part in this too. And when they do certain things, other things happen.

Jon Fogel  44:53

Yeah, you’re not the boss or the consultant. This is what I try and tell parents right like, like the number one, you’re the consultant no matter what you try and do, because as soon as they’re 15, you’re the consultant. Yeah, whether you’re able to be the boss until they’re 15 or not, you’re the consultant at 15. Anyway. So I like to start being the consultant at about age four or five, yeah, and start to be the, hey, look, I have more experience in life than you, I have more experience and feelings than you, my brain is more developed than yours. So I’m going to tell you and help you understand this. Versus the, I’m your boss, and you do it because I said, so. Like, doesn’t work long term.

V Spehar  45:33

One thing I love about your whole parenting theories and just system is that you talk a lot about building a family culture. So tell me what building family culture means.

Jon Fogel  45:44

So this is just a piggyback I mean, we can just go right from the last into this, right. So family culture is all about. Number one, it starts with understanding that as a person, who if you value everyone in your household as full, you know, whole humans, like that’s step one, you can’t do this, you know, but it’s an equity model, family culture is an equity model where everybody gets what they need. And so that’s really what this is. And then so you add to everybody, as a whole human who gets what they need. And then you add to that we are people who are on, you know, have fun together and are on a mission together. I think everybody wants their children to internalize their values. I don’t think that that’s an unusual thing. I think every basically, every culture in history has tried to have the next generation internalize the values of that culture. The way that you do that effectively and well, is being willing to look at the next culture and actually collaboratively, figure out how those values can connect well, and so like, I think the problem that we’re having right now is that the generation that’s moving on and moving hopefully soon out of the decision making policymaking, you know, space, that generation really wants the next generation to agree uncompromisingly with their perspective, right? They don’t want a collaborative model where together, we come up with our values, they want my values to be fully and completely embraced, you know, no edits. And that, by the way, comes exactly what we’re talking from where the highest good for a kid in the 70s, 80s, and 90s was totally in complete obedience to their parents, unquestioningly, you know, religious systems, Honor your father and mother. But like, you know, that was an honor was not, you know, okay. Collaborate. It was like, no, you listen, right, right. Like you’ve shut up and you do what we say. And because I said, So Steve Harvey says this still to this day? Where do because I said, so good, right. So like, you have that. And that’s coming conflict. So I think that building a family culture looks collaborative. So it looks like okay, I have values. My wife has values, we have shared values, many shared values. We also have values where we differ, how can we actually collaborate with our kids? And having creating new values?

V Spehar  48:09

There’s also this bigger question as the kids get older of whose houses they’re allowed to play at. And like, my mother was very suspicious of everyone. And I’m very appreciative of that, because I’m sure it’s shielded me from a lot of stuff, even though I felt left out of a lot of stuff. But now parents have all of these additional things to consider like, is there a gun in the house? Is it who’s in the house? Or they’re older adults in the house? Like what’s going on? How do you approach the idea of allowing your children to be whole people allowing them to build their own friendships at school and then cross that boundary into, you know, having private unsupervised in some ways time away from you at someone else’s family’s culture? And, you know, dwelling? How do you do that?

Jon Fogel  48:49

Yeah, I mean, that is the question. I think of this generation. I think what every psychiatrists that I work with and talk to says is that don’t let your kids have sleepovers with at other people’s houses. That’s where so many first experiences are with abuse, or first experiences with topics and materials that are just disconcerting and disquieting to kids. I think that we should allow our kids to be exposed kind of to whatever, in our presence, so that we can be involved in those conversations as a parent. So I think the sleepover thing I would say, you know, the data just supports that we don’t do that. Like that’s just maybe a thing that this generation we’re just not going to do. As far as the unsupervised thing. All of this parenting is going to make you seem like a crazy person to people like if you’re following the whole parent thing, this is what I tell all my members first day as I go, okay, so you’re now you’re a member. Number one, you’re gonna get calls from the school that your kid doesn’t fit that your kids misbehaving because you’re that’s a paradigm. You’re raising this you know, confident, whole questioning Critical Thinking Child schools don’t, they can’t love that. They, they can’t they can’t deal with that, because they’re looking for the compliance model. So if you’re not doing the compliance model, you’re gonna get caught. So that’s number one. Number two, your family is going to look at you like you’re crazy. And then number three, your kids, friends, parents are going to go like, I don’t get it. I don’t get it. So what you need to do is you need to make sure before your kid goes over, and here’s the thing, you can always just have them come over to your house. Right? So like, it’s not like you can’t play with them. It’s just like, well, if their parents don’t care where you are, and I do them like that’s right. But and you might seem like a psycho to their parents, but like.

V Spehar  50:44

My mother did not care. She’s like, you can play here we have a pool. If you want to go to a party, I’ll pick you up at 11 I’ll bring you back at seven in the morning. But you’re not sleeping over. It’s not a thing.

Jon Fogel  50:54

This is like, so I’m sure we could we could deconstruct much of your parenting but in that one aspect, like that’s, like, I don’t give a she was like, asked like, I’m like I just I’m gonna protect my kids. Good parent. Yeah. So I think doing that, but then also knowing the people who you can trust to uphold your boundaries for your kid. And you know what you should ask every single button, this is what I’ve learned. You should ask every single parent if they have a gun in the house, you should ask every single parent if they have illegal drugs in the house. So like, it’s harm reduction. So let’s say and V, I know that you have a pool, but like, I would have a lot of questions about that pool. And I have a lot of questions about who’s supervising that pool? Yeah, like, this ain’t the 90s and 80s anymore. Like we don’t just let kids learn how to swim.

V Spehar  51:42

Where my 11 year old cousin was in charge of us for the whole summer.

Jon Fogel  51:47

So I think that you have to be willing and like, I understand that this is crazy. And people are gonna listen to you. They’re like, Oh, my gosh, that’s so extra. But like, man, like when you’ve seen what I’ve seen, when you’ve processed the trauma with parents of something that like they just didn’t ask the question, because they were afraid of being socially ostracized, which, by the way, if your parents had raised you the same way that you’re raising your kids, if you’re following me, and you’re following some of these other creators that are similar, like, they’re not gonna have any problem asking their kids friend, whether there’s a good amount zero, because they’re not going to be validated by other people’s thoughts about that. They’re going to be internally validated. So I think that that’s the whole thing. It’s hard. It’s doing it this way. It’s hard.

V Spehar  52:28

Parenting, it’s awkward. It doesn’t always go well. There’s a lot of smells that we don’t expect to happen.

Jon Fogel  52:37

Coming from us and other kids.

V Spehar  52:40

there’s a whole lot to it, but it I mean, you’ve certainly made it seem possible and very exciting. What’s your advice to folks who want to be a dad?

Jon Fogel  52:50

If you want to be a dad, just know that there’s going to be so much stuff that you don’t know and you don’t understand, and no one expects you to be perfect. No one expects you to keep your composure 100% of the time. If you’re willing to try and do the work, and be honest with yourself about your own shit, I think you are going to wind up being a great dad. And if you’re not willing to do that, maybe think maybe think about other hobbies that you can take on.

V Spehar  53:27

Other hobbies. Absolutely. Jon, tell people where they can find you and your whole parent work.

Jon Fogel  53:33

Yeah, you can find me on basically every social media platform, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, YouTube, the best way to get in touch with me and connect with me is on my email list where you know, 1000 parents, on a weekly basis, get access to an unlisted YouTube video about a topic and basically a chapter of a book that I think about that topic. Yeah, that is the best way to grow if you’re interested the whole parent, barring actually becoming a member of my membership.

V Spehar  54:04

And its whole parents again, Jon, thank you so much for being here. We’re gonna have to have you back to talk about older kids next, because we barely even scratched the surface of something as big as parenting. Thank you so much for being here, Jon.

Jon Fogel  54:17

Thank you, V.

CREDITS  54:19

Wow, that was a wealth of information and inspiration that I cannot wait to put into practice. The next time I see my perfect little baby niece, the theme, and I’m sure my sister is gonna love me telling her that I have now figured out parenting. I especially love the part about building a family culture that’s collaborative and understanding of one another, even if that means compromising with a five year old because as Jon said, it’s not long before you’re the consultant, not the boss, so you might as well start prepping now. I’m so grateful. John was here to share some time with us and I hope that you’ll tune into next Friday’s episode, where we cover the stories that you care most about and have another incredible guest. Leave us a five star rating on whatever platform you’re listening on. Follow me at @underthedesknews on TikTok Instagram and YouTube. And guess what friends? There’s even more V INTERESTING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like former MTV news reporter SuChin Pak on the importance of self-care. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts. V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts

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