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Doing The Best You Can | Nellie Harden #638

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On the Regular Version …

Nellie Harden joins me as we have a conversation about marriage and family life and how in the midst of this time, important things get missed or lost. 

Learn more about Nellie on her site –

On the Xtended Version …

I ask Nellie a question based on something mentioned in the regular version of the show … Do parents really do the best they can?

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Corey Allan: So this is gonna be a fun conversation. Nellie Hardin deals with the whole, what did you just phrase? Let's turn over the small stone about, or the large stone of how

Nellie: Yeah.

Corey Allan: do we balance marriage and family life and multiple kids, different ages, different developmental things. So this could be, this episode, Nellie, I think of it this way, this could be as chaotic as family life could be, and

Nellie: Oh

Corey Allan: hopefully

Nellie: my.

Corey Allan: it lands well. So welcome to the show.

Nellie: Thank you so much for having me.

Corey Allan: So you've got the, I'm gonna let you kind of jump into what's the framework of how you look at life when it comes to particularly the whole of the family and with kids involved and launching and all of that. I mean, just kind of fill everybody in with where you are and then let's talk about the nuances of how do we make sure nothing gets missed, particularly

Nellie: Mm.

Corey Allan: with the marriage,

Nellie: Yeah.

Corey Allan: because we don't wanna go to either extreme, right? Where it. It's exclusive to the other because we went too far one way.

Nellie: So good. So the work that I do is really about, I mean, it started with this idea of, I truly believe that the best way to change the world is through one living room at a time. And so taking that then further saying, okay, well then what does that mean? What does that look like? Well, we have a lot of people, and I love that you said launched and just what you said there, right? Because we have a lot of... families in the chaos of today and the noise of today and the distraction of today that we are just Releasing our young adults into the world and we're not launching them into the world anymore. There's

Corey Allan: Big

Nellie: a

Corey Allan: difference,

Nellie: very

Corey Allan: sure.

Nellie: distinct difference, right? And so how can we then launch them into the world because then these are the young adults that are then going to go and you know be the leaders of the families in the living rooms and the corporations and the governments and all the things right and so really changing the world is the best way in the living room through those foundations. Now, what foundations then set them up for the best success? And success not meaning CEO position corner office,

Corey Allan: Right.

Nellie: right? Which a lot of people, you know, deem or associate with success or money or bank accounts or what have you. I really look at success as, are you fulfilling? your place in the world? Are you fulfilling your dreams? Are you using your gifts and your talents and you know what the good Lord gave you, right? Are you using those things in order to fill your spot in the story? And so then you peel that back and I see a lot of families because it's much easier, right, to say well they made the football team or the soccer team and they got an A in calculus and they, you know, were the star in the play so therefore they are ready for college. No, or wherever they go, right? It might be

Corey Allan: Right,

Nellie: college, military,

Corey Allan: right,

Nellie: work,

Corey Allan: right.

Nellie: you know, whatever that is, backpacking through your, whatever that is, right? But those things are very tactical things that you can check a box for, but it doesn't necessarily get them ready. In fact, it could be a deterrent for getting them ready, depending on how they prepared and went through those things. So peeling back those layers, it's like, what do they need? What do? we need as adults and what do we need to prepare our young adults with? Because we're not raising kids, we're raising people, right? And so it really comes down to this foundation that I started developing and working and giving feet to. And they're more abstract thoughts that we all know as parents, as families that we're supposed to build into our kids, but it's like one of those things that you're like, oh, I'll get to it or it'll happen. And that is the foundation of worth, self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence,

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: right? And just because they might be the star of the pick your whatever, the team or the club or what have you, doesn't actually mean that they have self-esteem or self-confidence, right?

Corey Allan: Absolutely.

Nellie: And so how can we build the foundations of those things and actually have like tactical means to do those? And that will then launch them into their future and set them up for the successes in their lives. They'll know how to approach a challenge and discipline themselves through figuring out a solution and getting to the other side, whether that means a failure or not. And failure is a good thing. Every

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: success is paved with failure. So just instilling these things along the way. So that's, you know, the cornerstone of my work is building this foundation of worth, esteem, and confidence. But here's the thing, this foundation comes at a very precise address. You know, it's like building a house on the corner of such and such and such and such.

Corey Allan: Okay.

Nellie: This address is right at the crosshairs of biology, psychology, faith. and culture, right? Because so many people, especially families and parents, there's so much noise today. I really feel like if parents knew a little bit more about the biology, about the functionality that's happening in their child's brain, they would have so much more grace and understanding of why their kid did that or made that decision or said that weird thing or did that weird thing, right? And you'd have so much less of this, well, I just don't understand why you did that, or I don't understand why you think that, or said that, or whatever, fill in the blank. And when we can have grace, we can build trust, and every relationship is built out of truth and trust. And so understanding the biology, understanding the psychology of what is, you know, their relationships that are going on, their relationship with their selves, their decision-making, all of these things. And then there's faith and the roots of where that is coming from and understanding that I am worthy from the inside out, not the outside in.

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: And then we have the culture piece and we have, you know, we are not of culture, but we live in culture. And so we have to learn how to work with people and actually how you know solve and get through challenges with people and communicate with people effectively. And so that's why this foundation of worth, esteem, and confidence is built exactly at that intersection right there and it really is imperative. And so I came from a perspective of I really I was 17 when I left home and went to went off to college and I looking back I really was not ready for that and when we are releasing our kids out into the world and no fault of the parent like parents I truly believe are doing the best they can with what they have So let's give them resources for this stage of life this training zone of adolescence, right? So when I left home I really wasn't ready and me like so many other adults that I know today and kids that are being released today are just Chasing worth everywhere that they can

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: find it and that leads down some really tough roads And that led down a really tough road for myself, decades of healing. And then I was given these four daughters. I have four daughters that are 18, 15, and 13 right now, twins

Corey Allan: Okay.

Nellie: in the middle. And so then I was given these four daughters and it was like, here you go. You know what was missing. You know what needs to be built because of your own experiences, your own everything you've gone through. So here you go. And here's these four young women. And so approaching life right now with four amazing teenage young women that are living life in this time, which is a different time than any other that we've experienced socially, globally, et cetera,

Corey Allan: Right.

Nellie: is very interesting knowing that this is the foundation that is and was and will be, need to be built. But how do we do that today? So that's what. That's the work that I do.

Corey Allan: No, that's so good. And so I guess there's a couple of questions that come right to mind. One, I think I want to save for the extended content because this could get in the weeds. But the first one that comes to mind is what does the role as we parents play? What's the, because I'm a believer in, I can't impart something I'm not living.

Nellie: Mm-hmm.

Corey Allan: Right? Because we, nothing is more evident and seen through easily than do as I say, not as I do.

Nellie: Right.

Corey Allan: Right? Because it's that whole, even the whole, but I want better for you, even though I'm over here being lazy and

Nellie: Right!

Corey Allan: undisciplined and letting things go. And it's kids pick up on that. Everybody picks up on that.

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: And so what's the role that as, as we're starting this conversation as a parent. or a married person that doesn't even have kids yet, or a married person that has kids, but they're all out of the house, because I think there's still a relationship here. What's the role we play to help impart these four dynamics at that intersection?

Nellie: So here's the thing, I mean, as parents, we have the humble, huge responsibility of training up our children. And so what they see from us is what they're going to live. I mean, there's the old adage, and you know, it's kind of funny, oh my goodness, I'm turning into my parents, right? And

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: there's a reason for that. And going back to that biology side of things, During adolescence, second half of childhood, there's a very big difference between parenting first half of childhood, when you're building everything for them, right? You're spoon feeding life to them. This is who your friends are, this is where you go to school, this is what you're eating, this is what you're wearing, all the things, et cetera. Second half of childhood, it's about as a parent, it's about coming alongside and partnering with your child in order to build life with them. in order to train them to build life for themselves after what I call

Corey Allan: Right.

Nellie: the 65-70. So that's how many days are in 18 years, 6,570, which really

Corey Allan: Okay.

Nellie: from a 35,000 foot view, feels like nothing.

Corey Allan: That's a short, short time. Yep.

Nellie: It really is short runway right there. And then they take off, right? And so we want to make sure that in the second half of childhood, I call it the great transition that happens in the middle because they will start to direct some things and you'll notice that there's some changes happening. Some things will feel like they happened overnight and some things you'll look back on and say, wow, that was a couple of years ago, but now we're here and it was so it was the slow boil, right? And

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: so you didn't realize it right away, but it is a great transition. And the more we can expect that and anticipate it in a good way, then we'll be able to be better prepared for it because then you can come alongside them, right? And so that looks like giving them more responsibilities, walking with them through those responsibilities, helping them do self-assessments. And so, you know, right now my twins in the middle 15, Oh Lord help us, we're doing driver's ed stuff. And so we, they've been through driver's ed, the written part and the driving part and they have their permit now. So now it's up to, you know, dad and

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: I, my husband and I to do all of these 120 hours because I have two of them, which is nerve wracking to me, but it's fine. And afterwards I talk with them after they do a drive and we have some time. It's like, okay, well, this is what I noticed. What did you notice? And in particular, if they've had a rougher drive or what have you, they'll be like, nothing. I didn't notice anything, right? I was like, well, I think you did, right? But talking with them about how they have to have some self-assessment there, because

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: self-assessment is mandatory on your way to being self-disciplined, and we wanna help them become a self-disciplined leader of their own lives. And so one of the sayings we have in our house is discipline yourself so others don't have to. Right? And so self-assessment right there is such a key and mandatory pit stop on the way to self-discipline. So that's just a small example and something I'm living through right now, right? Have

Corey Allan: I love

Nellie: some

Corey Allan: it.

Nellie: self-assessment. You tell me what you noticed about your behavior or your choices. And it's emotions, right? Because they don't like being told what to do. We don't as adults, they certainly don't as adolescents, right? And then these emotional walls can go up. But just talking with them through it, your emotional wall doesn't have to go up. Tell me what you're noticing. Tell me how you're making those decisions. Walk me through some things. And so they can start assessing themselves. So that's one way that we can come alongside them for sure. And then just helping them speak into our lives, I think is such a beautiful way. that we can as parents during the second half of childhood come up and help in that role. So example, maybe you're having an issue with somebody at work or an extended family member, what have you, and just being really vulnerable and honest and being like, yeah, well, my day was kind of rough because I'm having this. I don't know, do you have any ideas? Right? And that helps them right there know my opinion matters.

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: my ideas matter and I am worthy of being heard right

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: there. And so those, I mean, I could go on and on, but those

Corey Allan: No,

Nellie: are some

Corey Allan: there's,

Nellie: examples right

Corey Allan: yeah,

Nellie: there of how

Corey Allan: there's,

Nellie: you can

Corey Allan: there's

Nellie: come

Corey Allan: a

Nellie: alongside.

Corey Allan: bunch.

Nellie: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Yeah, there's a bunch because what comes to my mind is something. This is what I picked up from my sister. Just in a statement she made offhandedly several years back, we have the benefit of her kids are same gender and age as ours.

Nellie: Mmm.

Corey Allan: And so the cousins have grown up as friends

Nellie: Wow.

Corey Allan: all the way through, even though we're two states apart, they are still good, great friends with each other and love the chance to be with each other. But she would do a quick. something would get brought to her when they were younger and now for sure as teenagers, hey, this is the problem. And so rather than tell me more, whatever, it's just okay, so how would you like to solve it?

Nellie: Yeah.

Corey Allan: Let's kind of throw it right back at them because that's the shift like you described. The first half, we do a lot for them and help direct a whole lot more than we need to in the second half of the stage of their developing. And so it throws it back in their lap to figure it out. Because that's the one of the bigger things I see right now, thanks to the world of helicopter parenting and snowplow parenting, uh,

Nellie: Mm-hmm.

Corey Allan: problem solving skills are bad

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: in a lot of instances for people, and that's a bad thing for our world in the long run, because

Nellie: It's awful.

Corey Allan: problems

Nellie: Yeah.

Corey Allan: aren't going to go away. So how do we get better at. Wait, this isn't mine to solve, but I am here alongside you with it. That's what you're describing, right?

Nellie: Right.

Corey Allan: Is that I wanna partner with you. I wanna let, in your example of the driving, I wanna let you have the wheel.

Nellie: Mm-hmm

Corey Allan: I'm here pounding on the floorboard like there's a break sometimes, but

Nellie: Ha

Corey Allan: you know, it's still, I'm here to help and assist

Nellie: ha ha!

Corey Allan: as much as I can. But that's a real good metaphor, if you will,

Nellie: Mm hmm. Yeah.

Corey Allan: of that transition, which then I think then what you're describing, means I've got to learn to let go of the reins a little bit. I've

Nellie: Mm-hmm.

Corey Allan: got to learn to not be the important quote unquote person as they start to evolve into their own importance as they see it.

Nellie: Yes, yeah. I see them as maturing into their own creation, right? When they're little, right, you are creating this family, you know, with your spouse and you're creating this family and then great transition in the middle happens and then they start becoming their own creation. And that really, I mean, it goes on for the rest of their lives, to be sure, but especially during adolescence up to early 20s, right? When they are just evolving and really branching off from that trunk, right? That solid structure family that

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: you have created there. And it's a beautiful thing, but as parents to bring it back to the marriage, like we talked about, it can also be a really hard thing. There's a lot of mourning in there that happens. And, you know, even though... when we have kids or we adopt kids, kids come into our lives. We know that there's a point at which that, you know, prayerfully, that they will go off into their own lives and they'll have the opportunity and availability to do that. But just like, speaking as a woman, just like when you're pregnant, you know, birth is coming, right? It still does not make birth easy.

Corey Allan: Oh.

Nellie: Birth is never going to be easy and these big transitions are also never going to be easy even though we know they're coming. And so it's been interesting for me talking with other parents that have had their first born child go off to college and I hear some, oh, it'll be fine. You'll be fine, right? These more passive and then I get the, no, it was actually the hardest thing I've ever had to do, right?

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: I went in his or her room and I just melt and cried, right? And you get the really raw sense. But here's the thing, you can collect stories. I love to collect stories. I'm a story collector, storyteller, but live your own story and whatever

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: transition that you are going through, you know your kids best, you know your spouse best, you know your family best, and whatever's needed for that transition, Do that because you know what is needed.

Corey Allan: Yeah, and that's that concept of I can't sacrifice all of myself for the sake of somebody else indefinitely. I mean, we do that at the very beginning, right? Infant stage is all that.

Nellie: Mm.

Corey Allan: Their survival is contingent on other people making adjustments to them

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: in large part. And then if you think about it, that largely just goes less and less and less and less and less as

Nellie: Mm.

Corey Allan: it gets further along as

Nellie: Right.

Corey Allan: hopefully as a as a kid evolves. But because this is the one thing I keep coming back to and let's kind of land it here with the first segment. Any any thoughts on what about the marriage as you're going through this? Because that's the stuff that's so easy to get tossed aside in a lot of families because it's easier just to focus on parenting because. have a better bond with them or I want better for them than I have for myself. If they're of the same gender, you know, that's an easy kind of

Nellie: Right.

Corey Allan: whatever. But there's a cost to it. And what have you come across that really does help enhance the marriage alongside this whole process too?

Nellie: So here's the thing with that. A part of your child's life is going to be maybe or hopefully building a marriage someday or at the very least building relationships with other people. And the primary relationship that they see in your house is between you and your spouse.

Corey Allan: Mm-hmm.

Nellie: And so that being responsible and respectful to your marriage is just as important as being responsible and respectful toward your children, right? because it is not only for you, but it's also teaching them something. And to have the long view, right? Knowing it is going to be us. It's just going

Corey Allan: Right.

Nellie: to be us, right? This is a season of our lives that we are going through when we are in the diapers, in the middle school, in the high school doing all the things. This is a season of our lives, but it goes on. And so having respect and responsibility for that part too, of honoring your future today. You know, you want to be able to look at your spouse and say, I am honoring who you are and what we're doing right now, but I'm serving our future, right?

Corey Allan: Right, right.

Nellie: And that's the same that you want to do with our kids too. And so dates, super important to have dates, right? And we go, my husband and I, we have two to three dates a week we go on. And it is just really important. We don't. I mean, we talk about the kids sometimes, but we have big conversations on there. We, oh, I was just listening to this on, you know, whatever, what do you think about this? And we have these conversations, right? And then also communication, being able to keep stable communication throughout, even when it involves the kids. And so.

Corey Allan: Right.

Nellie: there's going to be challenges that come up with kids, right? And so you want to be able to come together, even if you have, you know, opposing views, come together and have those discussions and then approach the kids with a united front

Corey Allan: Yeah.

Nellie: and never go against one another. Uh, it, it will not only, uh, dismantle, you know, parts of your marriage, hopefully not completely, but also it for the kids, it does not show them what it looks like to be in a sacrificial marriage toward with another person.

Corey Allan: Yeah, I like that because I think there's that element of, like you just described, we will become our parents.

Nellie: Mm-hmm.

Corey Allan: I'm becoming my father. Well, I want to make sure, relationally speaking, when my son becomes me, whatever components of that it is, let's make sure that this relationship dynamic has been modeled as well, right?

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: That the importance of, no, this is priority. You guys are important, but my marriage is a priority. It matters in my life. And so I think when I can show that, not just say that, that goes a long way like you're describing.

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: Oh, very good. Well, Nellie, tell people how they can find you and the work that you do.

Nellie: Absolutely. I love to keep it super simple so you can find everything of mine on All my resources, master classes, communities that you can be connected with, all of that can be found on

Corey Allan: Perfect, and I'll throw all that in the show notes. So thank you so much for speaking into this aspect of life because, man, we all go through it. If we've created another life, we go through this.

Nellie: Yes.

Corey Allan: So it's such a vital resource. So thank you so much, Nellie.

Nellie: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.