Dr. Robin Stern: Welcome to The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm Robin Stern, co-founder and associate director of the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence and author of the bestselling book, The Gaslight Effect. I'm an educator and a psychoanalyst, but first and foremost, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, aunt, and healer. And just like many of you, I was a victim of gaslighting. Please join me for each episode as I interview fascinating guests and explore the concept of gaslighting. You'll learn what it truly means to be gaslighted, how it feels, how to recognize it, and how to understand it, and ultimately how to get out of it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Before we begin, I want you to know that talking about gaslighting can bring up challenging and painful emotions. Give yourself permission to feel them. Some of you may wanna go more deeply with your emotions. While some of you may hold them more lightly, no matter what you're feeling, know that your emotions are a guide to your inner life. Your emotions are sacred and uniquely you respect and embrace them for they have information to give you. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect Podcast, you can find them robinsstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for being here with me. Welcome to this episode of The Gaslight Effect podcast. I'm honored and delighted to be with Dr. Lisa Damour, whose latest book The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, is for you to read. And Lisa, please tell us about your book, your work with girls, how you came to write for all teenagers and for parents of all teenagers, not just girls.
Dr. Lisa Damour: So thank you so much for having me. I'm honored to be with you and have so much respect for the work, um, that you do. And also of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It's just absolutely at the vanguard of helping adults everywhere support young people as they come into their emotional lives and develop healthy ones. So my most recent book focuses on teenagers of all genders, and it was, um, very much inspired by the pandemic and how hard the pandemic was on teenagers and their families, and really aims to address where we sit now, which is that it's very hard for parents to know what is typical unexpectable emotionality in teenagers when it's time to worry, and really for both how to respond most useful. Previously, um, my two previous commercial books were about centered on girls untangled and under pressure, though I hear all the time, 80% applies to boys and kids of all genders. Um, and then, um, I've written for the New York Times for a long time, and that work has always been all genders. And then my podcast, ask Lisa, um, answers questions about, you know, from families with all kinds of kids.
Dr. Robin Stern: Thank you, Lisa. So we'll jump into it now and then we'll, I'll revisit where people can find you at the end of this session.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Terrific.
Dr. Robin Stern: Work is fascinating to me because not only did I raise two children who were not, uh, who are now adults. My son is 36 and my daughter is 33. And of course, I didn't have your books then, but, um, it would've been wonderful. And I, um, I work at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where we are in about 5,000 schools around the world and mostly in America. And we see just horrific rise in mental health issues. And so of course, your book, your books are a tremendous resource for our parents and for teachers as well. Uh, and today I'm hoping we can focus specifically on relational abuse and gaslighting and, uh, maybe broaden it out to some of the things that we know teens are dealing with and whether the gaslighting and they lose happens within those different contexts, which I think so. Um, but I'd really love to hear, uh, why you said yes to coming on a podcast about gaslighting.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Well, I'm fascinated by the term, you know, it's one of those things, especially someone who cares for teenagers. Teenagers use the term a lot, and I think it's an extraordinarily valuable term. I also think, as with many terms in the realm of psychology and diagnosis, teens are using terms very elastically to describe a wide range of experiences. Um, so I, I was very eager also just to talk with a colleague. I always love talking with, um, people who have the same training I do, who do work very similar to mine. And then also, um, just the depth of my respect for what you're doing at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is just, I, I can't overstate it. I, I'm, so I feel like you guys are just really at the vanguard of trying to help people, um, normalize emotions and then know how to respond to them effectively.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yes. Thank you. Well, we are, and thank you for your kind words. We do say over and over again that, um, all emotions matter and there are no good and bad emotions. There are pleasant emotions, unpleasant emotions, but giving yourself permission to feel all your emotions is what we're after. And then managing them, of course. Um, and, uh, so when I first wrote my book in 2007, one of the people I spent a lot of time talking to was Rachel Simmons. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern:
Dr. Lisa Damour: It is, I'll tell you the form I'm hearing about right this minute. Um, I was in a recent conversation with a cohort of ninth grade girls who, um, had a lot that was on their minds, but the conversation turned to, um, the behavior of the boys in their cohort. And I had been given the heads up that, um, the boys in their cohort, some of them were parroting the language of Andrew Tate, who is, um, theoretically de platformed, but you may know him. He had a very, very large and robust and severely misogynistic, um, universe online where he was really saying things that are, you know, flagrantly sexist and very, um, you know, I don't tend to use the word toxic masculinity, but if you're gonna use it, this would be a good place to use it. And, and he's in jail now, um, and, you know, so has been sanctioned publicly, but of course his message is out there, and I'm sure there's plenty of other people who are carrying his message.
Dr. Lisa Damour: So I'd been given the heads up that, um, some of the ninth grade boys in their cohort were into his work, or talking in that language or throwing around very, very sexist phrasing. And I asked the girls if that were true, and they nodded. And then I said, but if a guy says something at a line and you push back, does he say, oh, I was just joking, or You're overreacting. And they nodded, like wide-eyed and vigorously. And I wasn't surprised by that. But you could tell that that was the place where they really felt most helpless, you know, that, you know that it was clearly bad behavior. And yet when they tried to defend themselves or be assertive in all the ways that we tell girls to be assertive, it would backfire on them. And, um, it was interesting. There was a teacher there, uh, I was visiting a school and she said, what do you think they should do?
Dr. Lisa Damour: What do you think they should do? And I said, well, you know, I'm not gonna send you back into a buzz saw. You know, I, I, I think that, um, and, and what I said to them is, you know, you're in an interaction where somebody's already made it clear they will cross a line. So that's information to start with. And then they've made it clear that when you push back on them, they will stand up for what they've done. I said, you're getting information that this is not safe. Right? I mean, that this is really, um, you've gotten two pieces of information that I don't want you to ignore. But then what I did say, and this isn't the, this is not actually by any means a complete solution, but it was who was in the room. I said, you all need to be looking out for one another.
Dr. Lisa Damour: That when this happens to somebody, the person on the receiving end is often quite unable to do much to defend themselves, but the people who are standing around watching it have tremendous power. So if you witness this, you need to say to, you know, and this was a particularly very particularly gendered interaction, you need to say to the guy, you need to stop, or She's right, or, you know, but don't leave it, um, to your friend who has been twice offended to try to defend herself. Now, of course, what's missing from the conversation is where all the other kids are, the girl, the kids who are not girls, where the adults are, you know, why these guys are even feeling that it is remotely acceptable to say stuff like this, much less think it.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. Or what do you do if you feel unsafe? So you're, yeah. You're getting this information from your own, from your body. You're, and you're fearful, um, and you maybe make that one foray and you say, Hey, you know, that doesn't feel very good. And then you get back like, oh, yeah, you know, man, you really know what feels good. Like, who the hell are you? Or You're so stupid, or you're, so, um, uh, did you just go to your therapist? Is that why you worked with that? Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Well, I think safety first, right? I mean, I really, I, I'm very pragmatic, you know, I, having done so much work around girls and being, you know, a feminist to the core, I am still very rarely gonna say, well, that girl should just say it again and say it louder. I mean, I, I think it may sound good, but that's not how the world works. And I don't know that we would want anyone to ignore the amount of evidence they just got, that the person they're dealing with does not play by the rules. And, and so what I would say is take good care of oneself, get out of that situation, and then go find someone to talk to about it and get a reality check and make a plan. And it was so, um, interesting. I mean, I didn't know these students. I was just visiting the school for the day, and so interesting, um, to see how wide-eyed and vigorously nodding they were when I said, do they tell you that you're overreacting?
Dr. Lisa Damour: Or they were just kidding. And like, it was so clear like that it was, that they were glad for the validation that this was happening, you know, that they were trying to stand up as they have been taught to do, and then they were running into a second buzz saw. And so I think the more those of us who kind of have a sense of what may be unfolding can be asking questions, can be, um, making clear that we kn we know that these kinds of things go on and making space to talk about them, but then not, not responding with unrealistic advice. I, I, I think that that's for me in the care of teenage girls, I will sometimes look at advice and think, it doesn't work like that, though. That's, it's, that's not really gonna happen.
Dr. Robin Stern: Sure. Because they have no control over what's gonna come out of the mouth of the o other person, nor do the people giving advice. So, yeah.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. And, and I agree safety first. One of the things that, um, I I find really interesting about gaslighting between boys and girls, or girls and girls, or boys and boys, is this what is really illogical, but seems like a logical loop that people get into like this. Um, for instance, so, uh, I was treating someone who had a boyfriend, um, and can translate to teenage life. I would think some, I guess this is my question to you if you see this. Um, and when they would walk down the street together, he would be upset if she said hello to anyone on the street, and then she would, he would consider that maybe flirting with other people. And even if she wasn't flirting, she, he liked all of her attention on him. He was possessive, he was controlling, and he would even say, I am possessive, but you know, that's a good thing. He thought. And then they would go to grab coffee or have dinner, and he would instruct her to sit in a, uh, chair facing the wall. And that, that was, um, much better for the relationship because then she wouldn't be in a position where she would have to engage with anyone else.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: And so she did those things, even though initially she thought, that's crazy. I don't wanna do that. Like, why should I look at the sidewalk when I'm walking down the street? I'm a friendly person. I'm not really doing anything bad. But over time, she became convinced that it was really much better for the relationship. And when she came to my office, she said to me, well, but Dr. Stern, like, it just makes sense because, you know, when I wasn't looking down at the ground, then we were fighting. Now I'm not looking down at the ground and we, we are fighting. And so I, that's not a big deal for me to do. Like, I'll just look down at the ground mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Yeah. So one of the benefits of working in an school environment, and for a long, long time I've consulted to a school in my community, is that I get to do programming. And some of my favorite programming that, um, I've shared with students and tends to be the senior girls, comes from a group called One Love Foundation, which is a really brilliant and well organized group that addresses relational violence. And, um, there's a few things to say on this. So the first is that with the senior girls, we have routinely showed them a video called escalation, which, um, is about a relationship that starts very sweetly and then becomes increasingly controlling and then becomes completely out of control. Um, and there's two things to note. First, that it was not unusual when we were just showing this to seniors, that students were coming to us saying, um, Dr.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Damour, this has been, there have been relationships like this going on since at least the eighth or ninth grade, not necessarily violent at the level shown in the video, but certainly controlling. And so, of course, we then integrated much better and earlier versions of we know what to look out for in terms of what constitutes a healthy relationship. But the second thing is, you know, we watched the video and it all comes out awful. I mean, it's terrible, but very compelling and, and certainly grounded in reality about, you know, how dangerous relationships that are that controlling can become. And I've often had the honor of guiding the discussion conversation afterwards. And so, you know, we start with saying, okay, what were the early signs? What were the things you saw? And of course, these are incredibly smart kids, and they're like, you know, he wouldn't let her, you know, choose this.
Dr. Lisa Damour: He wouldn't let her, she told her, told her what to wear, you know, I mean, the kinds of things you're describing. And then I said, okay, how does a smart girl find herself in a relationship like this anyway, you know? And the students are so smart and they're like, oh my gosh, it would feel so good to have someone care that much about the details of your life or where you were, what you were wearing, or how you were, what you were looking at. And they were really able, in this very unguarded way to talk about the reality that the controlling piece, as much as they can appreciate, you know, when they see the whole story unfold, how destructive and dangerous and problematic it is, they also could say, in all honesty, you know, to have someone who wants you entirely to themselves does play to a sort of a fantasy of, of, of feeling loved in a very particular way. And I always felt like that was the richest part of the conversation, you know, because the flags are the flags, like we can all point to them, especially in retrospect, but to really help those students grapple with how things that feel really good, um, may actually be problematic in their own right. And, and we wanna interrogate those and be cautious of those.
Dr. Robin Stern: It reminds me of, uh, one of the videos that I listened to that you had done, um, where I also have the same feeling that you're, so, your positive take on what's going on for people or you are, um, elevating the positive. So these are not girls who are looking to do bad things to themselves. So girls who are wanting something really special and spectacular and exquisite in connection, right. And they found it in this guy, and then things start to happen that, that are not okay. But that helping girls to know, or helping anyone to know that it's a, what you're looking for is wonderful. You want someone to focus on you, and then, but as you said, to interrogate it and to notice that that's not the whole picture, that wonderful piece about that Right. Or that wonderful feeling you get. Um, and yet that wonderful feeling you get is maybe something that you can look for in a healthier context.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the other things they would always point out in the, in the video was, um, that the, the relationship got off to a very fast start. You know, that he was, he was immediately enthralled with her and wanted to spend all of his time with her. And, and we could talk about right, how good that would feel and how, you know, how one should keep a close eye on that, you know, both accepting that like, there is a lot of thrill at the beginning of a relationship, but how do you make a distinction between that kind of, you know, the thrill of just, you know, getting very excited about me being with someone new from, um, you know, did real relationships unfold in ways that are, um, you know, a little, sometimes a little more plotting, a little more cautious, you know, you don't, um, reveal all of yourself to somebody,
Dr. Robin Stern: Right. But maybe that's not the fairytale because Yeah. Tale is like that magic Yeah. That the movie Magic Hollywood, oh, you people see each other, the music store, it's the spark store, you know, and it, if it's not like that, then maybe it's not real love. And if it is like that, maybe it is real love. And so,
Dr. Lisa Damour: Yeah. So just try to unpack that and the messaging they get about what constitutes a healthy or a, you know, thrilling relationship. Um, there's a lot of good work to be done and, um, the, the resources from one level are available to schools everywhere they're there. There's no charge for them. I mean, they're really, their work is top-notch.
Dr. Robin Stern: Yeah. That's great. I mean, I have another question for you, um, related but not, uh, a continuation of this particular lane. I'm really curious about your take on dating sites and digital, um, relationships for teens.
Dr. Lisa Damour: I'm not sure how much teens are using digital dating sites. Um, my sense is that teens tend to be dating kids they know, right? Or that the, or that the action is within their own school environments. Um, I, I think it may be something that's more common in young adulthood. And, you know, I think it's probably one of those things like everything where like it's complicated, right? That there can be wonderful opportunities to meet someone you would've otherwise never meet. There can also be ways in which, you know, I think it can get very base very fast.
Dr. Robin Stern: And what would you say about social media and its impact on team life, which is really more to the point I think of where I would, yeah,
Dr. Lisa Damour: Yeah. Well, okay. So I think I'm really glad you're asking. I think there's two things that get collapsed that are worth actually articulating in much more detailed ways. The first is teen, and the second is social media. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour: When we study this systematically, what we see is that it's complicated that for some kids it is a good experience. For some kids, it is a bad experience for a lot of kids. It is both simultaneously. And we also see that whatever's happening on social media just tends to amplify what's happening in real life. So kids who have rich and healthy happy friendships tend to carry that over to their social media activity and build and enrich it there. Kids who are struggling in their social interactions tend to struggle in their social interactions online. Um, we also know that kids who feel very marginalized can find communities online that they don't find in their real life. So that piece is complex. The thing I would say by way of social media in terms of how can adults approach this helpfully, right? Because that's the question. Like the, if we're gonna give advice, if we're gonna talk about social media, we wanna talk it about it in a way that is actually helpful to the people who are trying to help young people. So the first thing I would say is there need to be limits about where it is physically in a kid's life. And, um, I feel very strongly that kids don't need phones in their bedrooms, I think ever, and certainly not overnight. Um, there's no reason for overnight. There's a million reasons not to have it overnight. And um, and I also think there's a lot of reasons why kids should just not have their phones in their rooms during the day and hopefully their computers. But some kids use their computers for school.
Dr. Robin Stern: So I think this is great and I'm gonna ask you to say it again because
Dr. Lisa Damour: Okay. So lemme put it this way. I have two teenagers. I have a 12 year old and a 19 year old. And because of what I do, I happen to know. And I think a lot of times parents just don't know. I happen to know that at the moment when it be made sense for them to have phones, that it was really helpful to say, okay, here's your phone. It will never cross the threshold of your bedroom. Like, it does not belong in there. It lives in the public spaces at our house. Just as whatever you do on there is fundamentally a public thing. Like, and to me, just bedrooms feel squirrely. Like, it just feels like it's a setup, right?
Dr. Robin Stern: So you didn't have to take away the privilege. You never
Dr. Lisa Damour: No, I never gave it. And I think, you know, that's the part I think which is so hard, is that we're not talking often enough to parents of kids who have third and fourth and fifth graders and helping them set it up in this particular way. And the thing that is most true about kids and technology is that at the moment, a kid is asking for a phone, they will agree to anything, and we need to make the most of it, right? They will. And also, I don't take my phone in my room and my husband doesn't take his phone in our room. Like, it's just, it's a family rule. And we have, there's phenomenal research about how disruptive it is to sleep and you know, how connected sleep and mental health are. So they're basic things like that just about where the phone belongs. That I think go very, very far.
Dr. Robin Stern: I'm actually ticking off in my mind the numbers of parents who would be happy to make that role for their kids. But whether they could live with it themselves is another story. And that, I bet, is a key piece of why it works at your house.
Dr. Lisa Damour: It is a key piece. And here's the research that I would want everyone to know, which is we have studies showing that you just don't even sleep as well in a room with a phone because, and then this is what the researchers infer, and I think it's sounds right to me. We are also Pavlovian attached to our phones that when we are aj, like when is proximal to us and we're not using it, a degree of our energy is being deployed to not engage it. And they think that even carries over to when we're sleeping. So given how profoundly linked sleep quality and mental health are, it's something we do for ourselves as adults in this home. And, you know, I didn't have to make the case for my, cuz I don't set it up from the beginning, but if I did, if I were a parent listening to this thinking, all right, how do I get it out of everybody's rooms?
Dr. Lisa Damour: I think one way to say it is to say, look, if we take it out of our bedrooms and we don't take it out of your bedrooms, it's like we got in the car and we put our seat belts on, but we didn't ask you to put your seat belts on. Like, this is a health mental health issue. There's no reason for us to have phones in our room overnight. So that's a place to start. The other thing that I want families to be really, really attuned to when it comes to the world of social media, and this is a conversation that I don't hear enough, and I'm hoping, you know, I'm so glad to have
Dr. Lisa Damour: The algorithms create norms in social media environments. The algorithms figure out what any one person is gonna wanna see, and then they show them tons and tons of that. Now, norms can be all over the map. There are norms where people are looking at lots of cat videos, okay. Or goofy dance videos, okay? There are also norms that get created where kids are looking at, or people are looking at all sorts of content around dieting and fitness and exercise or, you know, potent misogyny, right? Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour: We wanna think about it in terms of their digital environments. And so parents wanna know this. Either it's looking at their kids for you page on YouTube or just having, or on TikTok or just having the conversation with them. But I worry we are not talking enough about how the norms not only shape mood, we are studying that to a degree. They actually shape real world behavior. I mean, I think these boys, back to those boys who were showing up at school saying Andrew Tate type stuff, I think maybe they were a little offended or like founded a little strange the first time they heard it. But if they hear it thousands of times over their social media, it becomes normed. And then it doesn't seem so strange to show up and say it at school. So I think that's the way I would slice the social media stuff, keep it out of kids' rooms, um, certainly overnight, and then know where they're going from a norms standpoint. Like what are they seeing tons of. I think we wanna know. I,
Dr. Robin Stern: I think that that's, um, so important. And it does, uh, flirt with the edges of gaslighting as well. Because once you feel like there, there's a world you're living in that has this norm and you feel like that's not who you are, do you then have to second guess yourself? Or do you, are you able to at a very young age say, no, that that's not cool. Well maybe you can't when that's the norm and that's what you're expected to digest. So I think it's very dangerous actually. And I think so too. I'm so glad that you brought that you're, we're talking about it. I mean, it's really, um, you can have profound impact on the way people feel, way teens feel about their sense of reality. Yep.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Yep.
Dr. Robin Stern: And then altering their sense of reality.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Absolutely. I mean, so I'll give you an example. And again, this is hard because if we u if we apply our most rigorous methods, you cannot make a causal claim. And, and I know that. And yet at the same time, I don't wanna ignore what I'm hearing anecdotally all around me. And, um, so for example, in the pandemic we saw this enormous spike in eating disordered behavior mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern: It absolutely does. I mean, uh, we, I didn't do a statistical analysis on this, but I did do, um, a series of experiments years ago with, um, uh, teens. Um, I would, I was gonna say, uh, adolescents, but teens, adolescents, teens, uh, older teens, right? And, um, asking them to keep track of what they were doing when they picked up their phone and, um, how they felt at the same time. So they used our tool, the mood meter, and they kept track of whether they were feeling pleasant feelings with high energy or low energy or unpleasant feelings. And, um, undeniably there, most of them felt, I would say 95% of them felt that when they were scrolling, they were in what we call the red quadrant high energy, um, and low and high and high unpleasantness,
Dr. Robin Stern: Um, or the low quadrant, the, I'm sorry, the blue quadrant, which is low energy and low pleasantness, the feelings of envy, feelings of missing out feelings of, um, not of being isolated or alone or sad or, um, and all of that happened when they were scrolling and looking at these images. So then to your point about eating disorders, uh, a se a number of students from New York private schools were telling me that among their friends, people just didn't even wanna go outside. So they were saying that they, uh, didn't wanna go out without makeup and doing something to their face because if somebody took a picture, they wouldn't have had the opportunity that they normally have to fake tune it.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Interesting.
Dr. Robin Stern: These people, these girls were beautiful and lovely and, um, vibrant girls who didn't want to leave their house to walk on the street, which of course, during the pandemic they were only at home. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Lisa Damour:
Dr. Robin Stern: Right? So they, either they were walking the street or they weren't going out at all. And I, I just found that devastating that that what they were supposed to look like was unattainable. So I'm not surprised to hear what you're saying at all.
Dr. Lisa Damour: So that's something I'm hearing too. But that's, and then here's, I think what's key is that's a subset. There are other girls who are totally into the books side of TikTok, you know, they use the term side to describe the algorithm. So they're looking at books or they're having a really good time with their friends. Um, and I know we have some research showing that, you know, the mindless scrolling is associated with more negative affect, whereas commenting on and posting and playing with one's friends, you know, is associated with more positive. So I think that's why I, I, um, always work to not collapse social media as, you know, a single thing, um, because it's such a varied experience. But I think watch the norms. Watch the norms. Is your kid in the makeup side or is your kid in the book side? Are they in the misogyny side? Are they in the cat video side? Right? I mean, like, we wanna know, it's very different right? Their experience
Dr. Robin Stern: Bullying or are they interacting? Yeah. Because to the point, the girls who were, was mostly girls in this study, the girls who were interacting felt great. Yeah.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Yeah. So it's complicated. And then just to return to the question of like collapsing the Charma lesson, right? Our teens, right. So what I find concerning is that 12, 13, 14 year olds are not as, um, aware of the degree to which they're being manipulated as older teenagers are and can be more concrete in their thinking, especially 13 and younger. And so they don't necessarily bring the caution or I would say the healthy cynicism to the online environment that I would wanna see, whereas older teenagers, I think even though there certainly can be harms that come with their heavy involvement in social media, I think they have, um, got a little bit more perspective on the way in which they are very much, um, being played by social media environments and they're making their choices about where they wanna spend their time in light of this particular interaction. So I, um, I always advise families to delay social media as long as possible and see how long their kid can go on texting. You know, the goal is that kids stay connected socially to their friends and kids can have a phone that has no browser and no social media apps that lets them stay connected. And if they happen to be in a social group where that still means they're included and they get to know what's going on and be part of activity on the weekends, see how long you can ride that train.
Dr. Robin Stern: I think that's, that's definitely great advice. I have one other question, and it's about academics. So I as a parent, uh, experienced complete untruth when I went to my kids' schools and the, um, leaders of the schools would say, don't worry about your kids' grades.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Robin Stern:
Dr. Lisa Damour: So the question of grades and college admissions is a really big and complex one. And I think, um, the question I always wonder is like, who's the one who really cares about where this kid goes to college? Is it the kid? Is it the family? You know? And, and schools can also have opinions about, you know, the kinds of rosters they'd like to put up at the end of the year about where their graduates went. Um, when we look at the research on this, what we see in terms of wellbeing for young people is that being in alignment with parents is actually critical. So if the parents are relaxed about it and the kids relaxed about it, it goes well, if the parents are, you know, feeling very pressured about where the kid goes and the kid doesn't feel that way, it doesn't go so well.
Dr. Lisa Damour: If the parents and the kid are feeling a lot of pressure in terms of their relationship, it tends to go well because they're all aligned about the, you know, desired outcome. But it's still a lot of pressure on the kid. So there's a lot of ways to slice it. I think for me, the, um, the piece that feels most gas lady, um, around the girls and, and you're gesturing at this in terms of like, they don't wanna disappoint something i I write about in this most recent book, I think in schools we can sort of have a quietly shaming stance towards kids who don't like the work. And I think even in the language around intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which, you know, in our sciences how we just think about motivation, there's a judgment value that the good, the good students have intrinsic motivation and the b you know, the less good students need, you know, rewards or punishments to do their work in intrinsic, meaning you just wanna do it for its own sake.
Dr. Lisa Damour: And I think, um, girls especially are highly attuned to this, right? Not wanting to disappoint adults. And so they get this message, which is subtle or not so subtle that, you know, the good students really love the work, they want lots of it, they find every class fascinating. They, you know, are extraordinarily gratifying to the adult who's is is at the front of the room. So a lot of my work, both in under pressure and then in this most recent book is to be like, okay, this is nonsense and unnecessary. And I bring across in this new book a metaphor that I think we should treat school like a buffet where students are required to eat everything and they're not gonna like it all. And it is not a comment on their character, right? Like, so as adults, we go to the buffet, we get our favorite food, we come back to the table where kids were like, all right, go fill your plate with every last bit of it.
Dr. Lisa Damour: You have to eat it all, whether you like it or not. Like that doesn't really come into the equation for us. And my goal in this is to actually kind of pull back the veil of kind of like baloney about kids. And I would say girls especially needing to pretend like they like everything they're asked to do and to create a more neutral language around like, look, if this class is like broccoli to you, I will work with you. Here's how many bites you have to eat to get the grade you want or the mastery you need, but you don't even have to, like, you can make a face while you eat it. Like, I'm good with that. That for me is a low hanging fruit of reducing stress in kids and especially girls, but even any highly conscientious student. So that's the part, like when I get to go to schools and talk about like unnecessary bologna that goes down in schools, the, um, intrinsic motivation being the good and, and the better kind. I'm like, that is nonsense. We all use extrinsic all the time, and kids can have both at the same time. And what's the benefit of a value judgment on that? And also, of course, they're not gonna like it all, they did not choose it for themselves. So I think there's good work to be done in, um, just having more direct conversations in schools.
Dr. Robin Stern: Lisa, thank you. I mean, this is, I think a, a great place for us to, to end for today and I hope to see you at another time here. Um, and I, I'd love for you to tell people where they can find you. Where can they find your books? Where can they, do you have, uh, your podcast on your website? Tell people, because after listening to you for the last 45 minutes, people will wanna find you. Oh, that's
Dr. Lisa Damour: Very kind. So I have a website, it's dr lisa damour.com, so d r l i s A d A M O u r.com. Um, I have three New York Times bestsellers untangled under pressure and the most recent emotional lives of children of, of teenagers. And I have a podcast called Ask Lisa the Psychology of Parenting, which I do with a my phenomenal co-host re ninan, who's a journalist. And every week we answer a question from a parent. Um, our episodes are all about 25 to 30 minutes long. We just take a deep dive topic by topic, some upcoming episodes. We have one about, um, high school seniors soiling the nest on the way out the door. We have one coming up about cutting and how to understand that as a parent and how to intervene. But we just try to cover a very wide range of topics, um, that do come up in family life and, and try to make ourselves useful in that way. And I'm also on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook,
Dr. Robin Stern: Please go find Dr. Lisa. Thank you very much. It's been an honor to to talk with you and thank you for the work you're doing for the children, teens, adolescents, whatever the right name for the child you are thinking about is. Thank you.
Dr. Lisa Damour: Thank you.
Dr. Robin Stern: And thank you everyone for listening to us today, and I know it was a meaningful session, meaningful episode with, uh, Dr. Lisa Damour, and please find her in her books and on her website. Thanks for joining me for today's episode. I hope you found it helpful and meaningful. If you want to listen to other episodes of The Gaslight Effect podcast, you can find them robinstern.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. And please leave a rating and a review. I also invite you to follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is produced by Mel Yellen, Ryan Changcoco, Mike lens, and me. The podcast is supported by Gabby Kaoagas and Solar Karangi. All of my work and my upcoming book is supported by Suzen Pettit Marcus Estevez and Omaginarium, also by Sally McCarton and Jackie Daniels. I'm so grateful to have many people supporting me and especially grateful for all of you, my listeners.