Episode 163: Integrating work and parenthood in dual-income families – with Andy Goldstrom of Parents Journey Coaching

In a world of dual-income families, managing the stress and strain of bringing up your children at the same time as pursuing your career can seem impossible. 

Andy Goldstrom is a parent coach and founder of Parents Journey Coaching, where he works with parents across the globe.

He explains the different challenges dual-income families face, the four key styles of parenting, and the ways couples can balance the demands of parenthood and professional life.

Today’s guest

Andy Goldstrom of Parents Journey Coaching

Website: Parents Journey Coaching

Instagram: Parents Journey Coaching

Facebook: Parents Journey Coaching

LinkedIn: Andy Goldstrom

Andy Goldstrom is a parent coach and founder of Parents Journey Coaching.  He works with struggling parents helping them regain confidence and joy both in person in Atlanta, GA and across the country and world virtually.

Andy became a parent coach after spending a couple of decades as a successful business entrepreneur.  He made this pivot after his younger daughter entered her teenage years and became very anxious and depressed.

Andy and his wife Lori were distraught and didn’t know where to turn, but when they hired a parent coach, they were able to find solutions for both their daughter and, just as importantly, themselves.

Inspired, Andy pivoted and became certified as a parent coach, developing a proprietary framework, called the 4A FrameworkTM, that has generated great results, including an average 4.9/5.0 on Google reviews, the best measure of success.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:40] Why it’s so challenging to balance work and family life.
  • [3:25] Navigating tech and social media with your children.
  • [7:18] The four different types of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved.
  • [11:00] At what age children become mature enough to make their own decisions.
  • [17:00] How to balance a child’s autonomy and well-being.
  • [20:33] Ways to balance the demands of parenthood and professional life.
  • [22.03] The danger of taking on the emotional burden of your child’s happiness, and why after-school clubs and wrap-around care are no bad thing.
  • [23:20] How to maintain the connection with your spouse throughout parenthood.
  • [24:30] The most important aspects of being a parent.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 163: Integrating work and parenthood in dual-income families - with Andy Goldstrom of Parents Journey Coaching

Jeremy Cline 0:00
Work can be hard. Parenting can be hard. Combining the two, well, that can just get even harder. How can you integrate work, childcare, and being a good partner or spouse? That's what we're going to find out in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:35
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. You want to feel like you're doing well in your job. You also want to feel like you're a good parent. But sometimes you just don't feel like you're being very good at either. And let's not talk about whether you're being a good spouse or partner. In the world of dual income families where both parents work, how would you manage the stresses and strains of bringing up your kids at the same time as working a demanding job? To help us navigate the path, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Andy Goldstrom. Andy became a parent coach after his daughter entered her teenage years and became anxious and depressed. He now helps other struggling parents regain their confidence and joy. Andy, welcome to the podcast.

Andy Goldstrom 1:25
Well, thank you very much, Jeremy. It's great to be here.

Jeremy Cline 1:28
So, this question of balancing work and family life, it doesn't feel like it's a new problem. So, why is it so difficult? Why hasn't anyone found a solution?

Andy Goldstrom 1:39
Well, there are several reasons. First reason is dual income families, as you mentioned. So, both parents, given the cost of living or having to contribute financially to the family, that makes them have to make choices relating to their childcare and how they raise their kids and how they balance things. And it's not always so easy, given this 24/7 nature, with email and texting and everything else that's going on. So, balancing that, as opposed to having one parent be at home more frequently, or just being able to afford childcare has changed the dynamic. 55% of households are traditional households with two parents. 45%, or almost half are single parents or co-parenting households.

Jeremy Cline 2:30
Is that in the US, or is that a global figure?

Andy Goldstrom 2:32
It's a global figure. When you have dual income parents, which is about half, potentially up to half of the traditional families, they're obviously not all dual income, you're having to battle things, but it becomes twice as hard when you're a single parent having to make income for your entire family, and certainly, when you're co-parenting, when you're having to deal with a parent, a spouse or a partner that you didn't get along with, you're not there together with them, and then you're trying to solve the problems of parenting when you're separate, which is quite challenging.

Jeremy Cline 3:09
I didn't realise the percentage was so high. But that's fascinating. Sorry, I cut you off.

Andy Goldstrom 3:13
No, no, no, it's a high number, and it's been trending worse. The third thing that I discussed with a lot of parents is, we've had other forms of media come into our lives over time, started with the printing press, hundreds of years ago, but then there's been TV, video games, streaming, all these other things, but the social media aspect of things has made it a 24/7, where you have to be on, where it's hard to turn it off, where you're comparing yourself to others. Parents having to manage that with their children, given their other responsibilities, and manage it for themselves to set a good example for their kids, it's addictive, it's meant to be addictive, all the algorithms do that, so no matter what age your kid is, that has become quite a large challenge in terms of being able to manage your children.

Jeremy Cline 4:16
Just on that point, this is a debate that we sometimes have in our household, what guidance can you give as to when a child is old enough to get their own smartphone? I mean, I'm kind of saying she can have it when she's 18. All right, maybe 16. But frankly, that's not particularly realistic. Is there any kind of guidance or best practice that people can think about?

Andy Goldstrom 4:45
I get asked that question a lot. And it's a really good question. And it's applicable given what we just talked about. And my answer is, I can't tell you, to be honest with you. There's no one age that our kids should get a smartphone, like the number 12 or the number 10 or the number 16, or whatever it is. My guidance is, you don't want to be the first, and you don't want to be the last in your kid's peer group, your class or whatever, you want to be somewhere in the middle. But the key thing that's so important, that's kind of overriding this whole thing, is how do parents interact with their kids. So, if the parents actually empower their kids, as opposed to push down and lecture their kids and lead their kids and rescue their kids all the time, then they have a relationship where they can set boundaries, understand how to use different tools, and engage in certain things and take responsibility and accountability. And then, you have a relationship where you know what's appropriate in terms of phone usage. If the child can respect that because they've made that choice, then they'll have a good balance with the phone and be able to use it for what's appropriate. And there's a lot of good in having these phones; they're safety things, there's access to information, there is entertainment value. I mean, there's a lot of good there. But there's obviously a lot of bad. So, when a family is able to have an open conversation about it proactively and say, 'I know you've wanted a phone, can we set some ground rules together and understand what the consequences are of not following those ground rules?' If you have a nine-year-old kid that you can talk to and have an open conversation about that, and you as the parent can enforce those rules if they get broken, then nine is okay. If it's 12, it's 12. If it's 14, it's 14. So, it depends upon the type of kid you have, the type of parenting you implement or have in your family. And then, the day-to-day dynamics of managing through that, if you have a good understanding upfront, it's not a battle all the time.

Jeremy Cline 7:00
Can you talk a bit more about setting up this situation, this environment where you can have those sorts of conversations? And you talked about not being directive, not rescuing, being empowering. Can you just go into a bit more about that, please?

Andy Goldstrom 7:16
Sure. Well, there are four types of parenting styles. There's one that's called authoritative, in which you can be demanding, but also sensitive and responsive. There's an authoritarian style, not authoritative, an authoritarian style, where you're also demanding and have boundaries, but you're insensitive and punitive. Then, there's one where you're permissive, where you're sensitive, but you don't enforce boundaries, you let everything go, and you rescue. And then, there's the fourth one, in which you're uninvolved, in which you're punitive, and you're not following through on boundaries. And so, the best style is the authoritative style, the first one that I mentioned, because it's good to have boundaries, but it's good to be attuned to your kid, as opposed to just imposing things on them. And so, not every family has to have both authoritative parents. It's just that it would be good if one of them was, and then both the parents are able to align proactively, so that their parenting styles mesh, and that the parents are unified. Most of the time I work with parents, one of them is authoritarian, and the other one's permissive. And that's what happened in my family. I was the authoritarian parent, and my wife was permissive. So, what did we have to do? We had to learn both how to work together, communicate better and move towards a more authoritative parenting style. Now, to answer your question more directly, you have to understand and put yourself in the shoes of others. If you're in the business world, and I had a long successful business career before I became a parent coach, you have to understand the nature of your customer, the nature of your prospect, and you have to do the same thing with your child. Your child just wants a sense of control and a sense of understanding. So, control doesn't mean they get to dictate, it means they get to make choices. Understanding means you're curious, and you're willing to listen to your kid without judgement. So, I'll give an example of a sense of control. A sense of control is, we talked about the smartphone, let's talk together about what benefits or why you should get a smartphone, and let's talk about some of the rules about having a smartphone, and let's talk about it together and write it down and then put it on the refrigerator or whatever, and adhere to it. Another sense of control is, if you want to talk to your kid about something, you tell your kid, let's say it's Sally, and she's a young kid, six years old, you say, 'Sally, we need to talk about you keeping your room clean or doing your homework or something like that, I'd like to talk to you about it now, if you're okay with that. If not, we can talk after dinner tonight at seven o'clock.' So, what you're doing is you're giving your kid a choice about the timing, and you're actually informing them about what you're talking about. So, actually, even though you're getting your agenda solved, you're giving your child choice in terms of when you're going to meet, and you're reducing the anxiety, because you're telling your child what it's going to be that you're going to talk about. And you can even tell them it's only going to be a 10- or 15-minute discussion, so they kind of have it in their head. And you would do the same thing in a business meeting, or you would do the same thing with your spouse when you want to talk to them about something, give them a heads up. Before we started this podcast, you kind of gave me some ideas about what we might talk about and what that first question was. Right? So, that eased my anxiety and helped me engage better.

Jeremy Cline 11:05
That's really interesting, because I had an interview a while ago, in an episode a few months back, about setting up these conversations, particularly between spouses. So, in like a career change context, you might want to say, 'Look, this is something I want to discuss with you, I haven't done anything, everything's okay. This is just something I'd like to talk to you about, and can we set up a time that we can do that?' Which I know from personal experience, that's something that can work really well and doesn't work if you don't do it, as I have had experience of. But I've never really thought about doing this with a child. I suppose one of the questions I have is, I mean, you talk there about a child aged six, which is still quite young. Is there an age or a level of understanding that you're looking for where you can have this same approach? I mean, obviously, there's got to be, you can't do this with a toddler who can't speak yet, but at what point... I think of asking, at what point can you assume that your child has the right level of maturity? And I hate myself for asking that question, because it sounds wrong, but it's the best I can come up with.

Andy Goldstrom 12:24
I'll give you an example. Well, the answer is, obviously, the child has to be able to make some decisions in his or her own best interest and be able to communicate. But an example is, somebody I've talked to recently focuses on something called the law of attraction. So, the kind of vibe you put out is the kind of vibe you'd put back. And it sounds kind of flooffy and fluffy and abstract. But the example is pretty darn good one, I think. She had a young child, and the child was three years old, maybe, very young. And the child was on a series of steps. And the mother was at the bottom of the steps. And the child said, 'I want to jump, Mom, will you catch me?' And the mom said, 'Sure, I will, happy to catch you.' She didn't say, 'That's dangerous, or don't think of doing that, or don't take risks, or don't understand.' She just said, 'I'm here for you providing safety.' Then, the child came back and said, 'I'm a little nervous at this height', said it in his own way at three years old, 'I'm going to go down a couple steps. If I go down a couple steps, and I jump, will you catch me? And will I be safe?' And the mom said, 'I'll catch you. What do you think? Do you think you'll be safe? Do you think it'll be okay?' The kid thought about for a couple minutes and went down two more steps, said the same thing, and then decided it was okay to jump at that point. But the whole point is, the kid was very young, the mother was empowering the kid to make his own decisions and understand his own consequences. And if he jumped from the top of the steps and fell and hurt himself, he would have learned the lesson. And obviously, you don't want to put your kids in peril, but I think that was a good example of how you listen to your kids and how you empower your kids and how they learn to think through things and how they learn how to make choices. This is what happens normally, most parents, and it's just human nature, you're brought up in a certain way, it influences the way you view life, it influences the way you parent, and it influences the way you engage with people. And when you impose that on others who have a different view and a different path and a different way of seeing the world, it doesn't work. I can tell you this from first-hand experience. My parents divorced when I was a young kid, I was 12. It had a real impact on me, financially as well as emotionally. And I became very independent to overcome the adversity, and I actually didn't enjoy it, but embraced it, because I didn't know any different. My kids, I have two girls who are a little bit more emotional and don't just face things head on. They need a little bit more support, they need a little bit more understanding, they need a little bit more help. So, there's me telling them, 'Just suck it up and do it', is it going to resonate with them because I did that as a kid, and that's my view on the world? It did not work. Right? So, the best thing is to be curious with your kids and just ask them. Most parents, when a kid comes home or a kid gets picked up in school, and they've got an A on their test, or a good score, the parent just says, 'Hey, that's great. I'm proud of you.' What that does is it doesn't spark an emotion or spark a connection. An appropriate response or a better response is, 'I'm proud of your effort, because that effort led to a good outcome, and it led to something you should feel good about. And tell me how do you feel about getting a good grade. Do you feel relieved? Do you feel happy? Do you feel proud? How do you feel?' And because you're curious, when a kid is able to share that with you, they trust you more, they'll confide in you more without judgement, and they'll share more about themselves that reveal more about their interests, their anxieties, their passions, their ambitions, their challenges and their struggles that most parents are not attuned to.

Jeremy Cline 12:24
This is really interesting, this idea of choice, and going back to your example of the three-year-old and the steps and the child figuring out what's safe for them. I'm just thinking, as you were saying that, that kind of made me think, 'Well, yeah, but how does that extend to dietary choices, for example?' I mean, if I gave my daughter free rein of what she ate every day, my feeling is that it would probably be something like chicken nuggets and chips, and not a hint of a vegetable in sight, or quite possibly pasta every day. So, I'm curious as to this line between letting a child decide, giving them some kind of empowerment, versus they really do need to get some vitamins inside them.

Andy Goldstrom 17:55
With no disrespect intended at all, you're speaking as if it's a parent who understands good nutrition and a long lifespan, and understands that eight hours of sleep or longer is necessary, and that exercise is good, and all the things that a mature person might understand. A kid has a developing brain, and a kid is trying to figure out their path and their way in the world, in terms of how to navigate and negotiate with others, how to feel good about themselves. And the front part of their brain seeks serotonin and seeks positive stimulation more quickly than a mature mind does. And so, sometimes different kinds of food help them stimulate that. Now, a sugar kick, or a pasta which turns to sugar, are the things. That's why kids don't eat as well when they're younger. It's not because they are silly or stupid or don't understand or whatever. It's because of what they're trying to do to help their growing brain. And so, how do you combat that? Well, you don't just tell your kid, 'You can't eat any of that.' What you do is you only provide certain things in the house, depending upon what's age appropriate. If there aren't sugary snacks in the house, they're going to have to choose something else. And the next thing is to have a conversation with them. Again, I know you like pasta. Pasta has these benefits and these detriments. If you continue to eat pasta, this is what may happen. It might be good to have a more balanced approach. What would you like to do? And then, give them a choice. And I think that's a more collaborative approach than forcing somebody. You eat your broccoli or I'm taking your phone away! That's a more combative or authoritarian approach. It's better to explain things to kids, let them make choices. I'd rather have a kid who is a little less healthy in the short term, from a nutritional standpoint, but has a better relationship with their parents and is more settled emotionally as a result of being able to regulate. And then, they mature and understand and are able to figure out those habits, and hopefully, have a better nutrition plan in the first place.

Jeremy Cline 20:31
Let's talk a little bit about balancing the demands of parenthood versus the demands of professional life. And we talked earlier about these dual income families. And I've been told recently that sometimes balance isn't the right word, but that integrate is, in fact, a better word. Parenthood, I've certainly found, I think others have found, tends to be characterised by guilt. So, if both of you in a relationship are working full time, and there are good reasons, like income and that kind of thing, cost of living, for doing so, what are some of the things that you can do to integrate that with the fact that you are also a parent, and the fact that you have got these feelings of just not spending time with a child, and maybe if they're at school, then they're going to before-school clubs, and after-school clubs, where maybe they're getting their evening meals there, and you're seeing all these other parents who are at the school gates at three o'clock, and there's all these feelings of guilt, in particular, coming out, that somehow you're neglecting a child, not being a good parent, I mean, just how on earth do you navigate all this? Is it something that you can practically do, or is it just kind of accepting that it is what it is?

Andy Goldstrom 22:03
Good question. It's a little bit of both. At a higher level, the reason parents feel guilty often is not because they put their kids in after school care. It's more because they take on the emotional burden of the kid's happiness every day. My kid isn't happy, I'm not happy. I need to make sure that they're happy. I need to figure out how they need to be happy. And they carry that burden with them, because that's what a good parent is supposed to do, as opposed to letting a kid be unhappy at times, face adversity at times. After school care isn't the worst thing. You have to learn maybe how to work and talk with other kids, you have to respect adults, you have to be able to sometimes play by yourself and learn how to occupy yourself. It's not the worst thing in the world. The answer, I think, is not that, it's actually spending quality time with your kids when you have the time, whatever your job is. And then, the second thing, again, is giving them a sense of control and understanding, in terms of the way you communicate with them. The third thing is, too many marriages get wrecked because their kids become the centre of the universe for them for 20 years. What really needs to happen is, the reason a husband and wife get together in the first place is because they have a connection. And they need to maintain that connection and find ways to enjoy each other's company, spend time together. And it could be something as simply as playing a game when the kids have gone to sleep, or just having a chat, as opposed to just being on your phones or watching a TV show or talking more about your kids and their struggles. So, if parents connect, and they communicate better, and they align better, then the decisions and the burden that they carry is far less, and they navigate a lot better in terms of whatever choices they make, depending upon their income levels and their jobs and all the rest. It's all about your energy and attitude around it. I know you're going to ask me about some resources, I'm going to share one early on. There's a book called The Four Agreements. I don't know if you've ever heard of it. But it's a really good, short book, that basically talks about four things that are really important in life. One is, be impeccable with your word. So, if you want people to trust you, including your kids, including your wife, including your colleagues and friends and family, do what you're going to say, say what you're going to do, and be trustworthy. Second thing is, don't take anything too personally. Life has its tough moments, and everybody's got to experience that kind of thing. And usually, when you have a bad interaction, it's not necessarily about you, it's about them. They may have something going on, they may have something that they're struggling with. So, if you don't take anything too personally, you're probably going to survive and prosper a little bit better. Third thing is, don't make assumptions. Don't assume that your kid's a bad kid, don't assume that your kid made a mistake. Be curious and ask, don't assume that the other kid is better than your kid and make comparisons. Don't assume that your wife was too much of a rescuer when she had a different intent and then followed through in a different way than you're assuming. And the fourth one is, always do your best. If you're having to put your kid in after school care or before school care, if you can't make the one recital or sporting event that you really wanted to go to, don't carry that guilt with you. Just do your best and move on. Learn from it and move on. And I really liked this book, because these are things that lighten the burden on being humans and on being parents.

Jeremy Cline 26:01
Andy, I'm conscious that we're a bit pressed for time here, and we have only scratched the surface of an enormous topic, which I think is a great setup for your own podcast, if you'd like to tell people about that.

Andy Goldstrom 26:13
Yeah, sure, I've got a podcast called Winning Parenting. If you listened and got to this point in the podcast, I thank you, and you can see that my point of view is not your typical point of view, but it works. And in the parent coaching world, I'm a parent coach, you could find out more about me at parentsjourneycoaching.net. I've worked with people across the globe, not just in the US where I'm based. But Winning Parenting gives you some insights in terms of some of the things we talked about today and how to apply it in your own world. And so, you can find it on all the different apps, Spotify and Google and Apple and several others, to tune in and get some more tips, because most of us are working, and most of us are parents in one way, shape or form at some point in our journey, and a lot of our happiness and a lot of our fulfilment comes from doing well at both. And there are a lot of manuals and a lot of training, in terms of how to succeed in your job, there are a lot of mentors, and a lot of bosses. When it comes to parenting, it's probably your most important job, but there's really no manual. People kind of figure it out and compare themselves and see what they can do and make mistakes. I work with parents who have kids who are in their 20s, who are failing to launch and have always struggled, and it's never too late to change your pattern. And frankly, it's a lot about how the parent interacts with the kid. It's not about fixing the kid. The kid will do okay, in most circumstances. But the kid looks up to the parent, and if the parent's not going to be curious and understand the kid, they're not going to connect well. And most parents tell me, when they first engage, they're like, 'I want my kid to be able to come up to me and ask me anything they want, realise that I'm always there for them.' And I basically say, 'Why are you asking that?' And it's like, 'Because I want to be a good parent, and I want to be helpful to my kid, and I want my kid to be happy and independent.' And then, we dig a little bit deeper, and some of their behaviours don't cater to that. So, that's where the coaching comes in, so that that can align better.

Jeremy Cline 28:31
Fantastic. Well, I'll put links to all of those in the show notes. And even in this brief conversation, you've given me pause for thought about how I approach parenting. So, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Andy Goldstrom 28:42
Thanks for having me. Great talking to you.

Jeremy Cline 28:45
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Andy Goldstrom. We really could only scratch the surface of this topic with the limited time Andy and I had available. But even in that short time, I hope you agree that Andy had some great tips on parenting and integrating parenting with work. The biggest takeaway for me was what Andy said about our propensity as parents to carry the emotional burden of our child's happiness. Yes, as parents, we want to see our kids flourish and be happy and do well. But it's okay if there are times when that's not happening, and it doesn't necessarily reflect on us as parents. And also, as Andy mentioned, the fact is that kids can flourish when they are in situations where they're not necessarily being looked after by their parents. I definitely sometimes have feelings of guilt around sending my daughter to school wraparound care or to school holiday camps during the summer vacations. But I rather suspect that, with the activities they have on offer, she's probably having rather a better time at those activities than she would be just staying with her parents. So, do check out Andy's podcast, and you can find a link to that, along with show notes, transcript and links to other resources mentioned, which are all add to changeworklife.com/163, that's changeworklife.com/163. This is another of those episodes that bears sharing. If you're a stressed-out parent, then I will bet that you know other stressed out parents. So, why not pass this episode on to them? Because I reckon that some of the tips might just help them a bit. There's another great interview coming out in two weeks' time, so make sure that you have subscribed to the show if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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