Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Podcast: Work, Parent, Thrive with Dr. Yael Schonbrun

Brave Writer Podcast

While educating children is a job of its own, many homeschooling parents also have a full-time job or side gig on top of that. You deserve support in all of those roles.

Dr. Yael Schonbrun is a clinical psychologist, an assistant professor at Brown University, and co-host of Psychologists Off the Clock, a podcast about the science and practice of living well. She’s also the mother of three.

Her academic research explores the interaction between relationship problems and mental health conditions and has a brand new book coming out called, Work, Parent, Thrive: 12 Science-Based Strategies to Ditch Guilt, Manage Overwhelm, and Grow Connection (When Everything Feels Like Too Much).

Dr. Yael Schonbrun
Dr. Yael Schonbrun

In today’s podcast, we talk about:

  • why she wrote the book,
  • how parents can balance the different roles they play in life,
  • the value stress can play in our lives,
  • using your values to guide your decisions,
  • and more!

Show Notes

Why Yael needed to write this book

Being a working parent is hard. Yes, much of that stems from systemic issues in the workplace and marital inequality, but as a psychologist and someone interested in the concepts of positive psychology, Yael wanted a book that spoke to the things we could actually do to make things easier. She couldn’t find one, so she wrote it.

Systemic problems are real, and we do need to bring awareness to them, but having that as our only focus leads to us feeling like we have no power or agency over our lives. You probably won’t individually change how much maternity leave the government dictates you get to take, but there are things you can do today to deal with the realities of our current situation. While researching, she found evidence in academic research that our roles have an interactive relationship that can make every aspect of our lives better.

The importance of role switching

Most homeschooling parents are torn between three roles: The educator, the parent, and the worker. We want to teach our children. We also want to nurture them, play with them, and get to know them from parent to child. And, as if that weren’t draining enough, many of us also have to find time to work a job. Juggling all of those pieces is a struggle—but it is possible, not only to do it but to do it well.

We know that multitasking, in the way most people understand it, isn’t real. But task switching is. The most effective way to balance these roles is to focus on one at a time. If you have thoughts related to another role while deep in the midst of your current one, write it down and get it out of your head. Creating rituals around task switching can also make the transitions happen smoothly by cueing our minds and body for the new role.

Being able to turn off from a role completely when you aren’t actively in that role is incredibly helpful for recharging. If our mind lingers on work while we’re supposed to be educating, we not only give less attention to our current task, we rob ourselves of the rest we need from our work and have less energy for when we return to it.

Embracing lousy

Our lowest moments in life are often our best teachers. They help us grow, give us new insights, and allow us to connect with others. When we adopt this attitude of embracing lousy moments, it not only enhances the benefits that come from them but makes them easier to endure as well.

Life is full of discomfort. When we go through our lives fighting that reality, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. This applies especially to working parents who believe that if some things changed—better social infrastructure, more flexible workplaces, better marriages, easier children, more money—all of our conflict would just disappear. The problem is that it’s not true. Any time you have multiple roles in your life, you’re going to have moments where you wish you could be in two places at once. Rather than wishing that discomfort would go away, you can take it as a sign that your life is so rich and so full that you want to live more of it.

Being a working parent is hard. Thankfully, there are ways to make it easier to balance, and even ways to let our multiple roles support each other. Yael’s book “Work, Parent, Thrive” will transform your experience as a parent that works.


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Podcast: How Emily and Liam Wound Up on LEGO Masters

Brave Writer Podcast

Our guest on the podcast today is a Brave Writer mom, Emily Mohajeri Norris. She homeschooled her kids, using our Brave Writer program extensively. She and her children have taken online classes and used our writing manuals to boost their skills. She’s also read my books and applied what she learned there to her teaching and parenting while personalizing it to the needs of her and her family.

But that’s not the most amazing thing about her. Both Emily and her son, Liam, are contestants in the third season of LEGO Masters! Season 3 of LEGO Masters features 24 contestants competing in pairs against the show’s most ambitious challenges to date, with the hopes of winning a $100,000 dollar cash prize.

In this podcast episode, we go into the story of how Emily built a family culture that allowed her son to dive deeply into his passion for LEGO building—and how investing deeply in any subject allows you to:

  • grow a rich vocabulary,
  • develop cross-disciplinary skills,
  • and create a rich, meaningful life.

Show Notes

When passion seems like distraction

While Emily was always supportive of Liam’s LEGO interests, there was a time when his love and passion were so strong that he wouldn’t want to do anything else. At first, Emily was forced to limit the LEGO to one room and lock the door when it was off-limits to get Liam to do the things she thought he ought to do. Eventually, Emily’s perspective changed when she realized that integrating his passions into their homeschooling efforts was the quickest route to teaching everything he needed to learn.

The value in hardship

Following your passion isn’t always easy, however. There were plenty of setbacks along the way. Liam had set himself a personal project to build a mythical lion—a massive, five thousand-plus pieces build—that he decided to enter into a LEGO fan exhibition. On the night before the exhibition, as he brought his original LEGO creation into the living room, it toppled, breaking into many pieces. He and Emily spent hours frantically reattaching pieces before the exhibition, but they managed to rebuild it in time.

At the LEGO fan exhibition, they found out LEGO Masters season one was being cast. They had never heard of it before, but a casting director reached out to them. You may have already put together that since they are now on season three, Liam did not get into season one of the show, as they decided not to include minors. While the story does have a happy ending, it goes to show that there was plenty of hardship along the way—much of it necessary for teaching Liam valuable lessons. But being passionate about something gives kids the necessary motivation to push through those setbacks.

The opportunities a passion provides

Not only has his passion for LEGO taught Liam about engineering, design, art, history, and more—it has opened up new opportunities for his future. Liam is currently at university on scholarship and may seek (or apply) to do an internship with LEGO in Denmark. All of that came to be because he went all-in on his interests and because Emily was there to support, encourage, and lead him.

Pay attention to those early passions in your child’s life. Lean in with curiosity and see where they take you.


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Brave Writer Podcast

Podcast: The Peril of Trusting Your Child

Brave Writer Podcast

I am recording some of my Tea with Julie emails for the podcast for those of you who prefer to listen. These are brief messages of support for parents and educators. If you’d like to receive the weekly emails, they are free. Sign up at

As parents and caretakers, we are often torn between the trust we feel for our children and the worry that something will go wrong. These two are intrinsically opposed: Trust is the act of letting go of worry. That’s difficult to do when so much of parenting is wrapped up in worry—it gives us value.

On today’s podcast, we discuss:

  • the risks of trusting your child,
  • the dangers of worrying too much,
  • and some tips on how you can let go of a little more worry.

Show Notes

Complete Tea with Julie notes can be found HERE.


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Podcast: Raising Kids When You Question Your Faith with Bekah McNeel

Brave Writer Podcast

Content warning: In today’s podcast, we deal with topics of evangelical Christianity and parenting in the United States. While this conversation may be welcoming for some, it could be triggering for others. Despite any personal views expressed by myself or our guest Bekah McNeel, know that Brave Writer is a non-sectarian company that happily celebrates and includes members who hold a wide variety of worldviews, religious beliefs, non-religious beliefs, backgrounds, and political perspectives.

Bekah McNeel is the author of Bringing Up Kids When Church Lets You Down: A Guide for Parents Questioning Their Faith. She’s a native of San Antonio, Texas where she’s been a reporter for nine years. Her work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Public Justice Review, Christian Science Monitor, Texas Tribune, and numerous other outlets. She’s a graduate of the London School of Economics where she earned an MSC in Media Studies. She’s also a wife and mother of two very busy boys.

Here’s what you can expect in this episode:

  • Why has Christianity fallen for Millennials and what role do their parents play in that?
  • Should children be baptized as a baby or only when they are old enough to consent?
  • Why does Christianity push us to rely on authority figures—and why do many who leave the church never learn to shed that reliance?

I know this is a difficult topic for many people. Whether you grew up religious and found yourself drifting away from the church, or you are still devoted and find it painful to hear these stories, know that the end goal here is for all of us to be able to move forward together.

Show Notes

Why are Millennials leaving the church in droves?

As our understanding and acceptance of trauma and mental health increases, more and more of us are finding therapy an essential part of adult life. There, we begin to unpack the messages we picked up from our family—whether explicit or intentional. For many of us, the language we saw around religion was the same as the language used by politicians, commercials, and other arms of the culture wars to manipulate us. And when we start to ask questions, we only get pushed further away. Ultimately, at a time when many wanted to be affirmed, they were instead exiled.

The over-reliance on authority figures

One of the overarching themes in Bekah’s book is how Christianity teaches its theology through a religious, spiritual authority figure. Rather than allowing people to see themselves as part of the spirit and be validated in making their own decisions, it trained them to look for an external authority to tell them what to do. Not only has this led to a generation of people who can no longer make decisions for themselves, but it gives an excess amount of power to whoever holds those positions of authority.

Being more inclusive, regardless of beliefs

While understanding trauma is a great thing, it’s only the first step in a process—one that we’re not taught what comes next. It can feel great to cut toxic people out of our lives, but that’s not what leads to healing. How do we learn to bring people back to the table instead of constantly cutting them out?

First, we have to recognize the difference between animosity and apathy. Some beliefs will fundamentally make peace impossible, such as believing a certain race or skin color makes someone inferior. But someone not believing—or understanding—how systems in our country disadvantage some people and advantage others is something that can be approached with grace, patience, and deep discussions.


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Podcast: Raising Kids Who Are Good Inside with Dr. Becky Kennedy

Brave Writer Podcast

Dr. Becky Kennedy is a clinical psychologist and the founder and CEO of Good Inside, as well as a mom of three, and she’s rethinking the way we raise our kids. Her goal: To empower parents to feel sturdier and more equipped to manage all the challenges every parent faces.

As home educators, we know that you’ve compounded the challenge of parenting by spending every waking moment (and those rare times you’re actually getting some sleep) with your precious ones.

In this Brave Writer podcast, we tackle all the topics from video games to tolerating frustration to thinking through how to deal with a child that expresses a lot of resistance and anger. Dr. Becky Kennedy brings an internal family systems perspective to the job of parenting but offers us so many practical tools. She’s never one to offer advice without breaking down exactly how to implement it in your home.

Show Notes

What does it mean to be “Good Inside”?

We all tend to incorrectly correlate behavior with identity. There are certain behaviors that are just not acceptable, like a child hitting a sibling or lying to their parents’ face—but someone can perform those “bad” behaviors without being “bad” inside. When we approach parenting—and even our own lives—with the belief that people are inherently good inside, we can approach our behavior with a sense of curiosity. Where does the gap between our identity and our behavior come from? And how does that change the way we intervene when undesirable behaviors emerge?

For one thing, it changes the way we view how an action comes to pass. In their hardest moments, children aren’t deciding to act out. Decisions require regulation, control, and forward-thinking—things that no child has in the midst of a difficult situation. As adults, we would rarely decide to yell at our kids, but sometimes it may happen, and that’s with decades of practice and development beyond what our kids have. Kids deserve our compassion when acting out, because it’s something that is beyond their control.

The importance of sturdiness

As a homeschooling parent, you have a lot of responsibility on your plate. You are directly responsible for your child’s education, such as teaching reading, writing, and math. But what do you do when your child says they hate math? That’s where this concept of sturdiness comes in.

Sturdiness is about embodying your authority as a parent. It’s a balance of boundaries and having respect for your child. By being able to create that balance, we are able to answer a vital question our kids have: “Am I safe?”

When kids see that their emotions are out of control—and those feelings are so overwhelming that they cause a parent or teacher to feel out of control—that makes them feel more afraid of those feelings. They start to believe they will never be able to control them. That’s why we set boundaries. And empathy and validation are best friends to boundaries. Because we can keep our boundaries and still let our kids feel as if we are working with them instead of against them.

Creating the right relationship to technology

Technology has changed the way that we think. It’s shortened our ability to focus—or rather, it’s made focusing on anything other than hyper-stimulating activities to be more difficult.

We are building a blueprint of expectations from life at an early age. Part of that is how much challenge we have to tolerate before seeing a reward. One thing technology has done is make it incredibly easy to get satisfaction with minimal effort. When we think about all of the difficult things we have to teach our kids, such as reading, it can take a tremendous amount of effort in order to see some results.

Nothing else is going to be a direct replacement to video games or technology to your kids. We don’t want to trick them into thinking that reading will be just as easy and stimulating as their iPad. But we do have to set boundaries, say no, tolerate their pushback when we have to make that decision, and help them move forward.

Becky wants us to remember that, above all else, parenting is hard. It is objectively too much work for one person, or even two, to take on alone. Have faith in yourself, give yourself grace, and be willing to rest and reset when needed.


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