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Dr. Bobbi Wegner is a MA and NY licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in health psychology and behavioral medicine.

Interview with Elizabeth Cronin: Emotion Is Temporary, You Will Be Okay

Interview with Elizabeth Cronin: Emotion Is Temporary, You Will Be Okay

Listen to the complete interview below and sorry for the mic flub up. #podcastrookie

Remember Tim The Toolman Taylor’s wise neighbor from Home Improvement (the amazing 90’s t.v. show)? Elizabeth Cronin is my current day version of Wilson, with a beautiful face I am lucky enough to see over the fence and much better style. She is an interior designer (owner of Abeille Occupeé) and a wonderful Mom. Her kids are older than mine and are absolutely lovely. Emme is 18 and a freshman at NYU, Caroline is 16 and is practically my kids' 2nd Mom, and Hugh is 13 - he is a smart, athletic, nice guy. They all undoubtedly meet the definition of ‘good kids’. Clearly, Elizabeth and her husband (Tim) have done something right. Hear how she creates space for an unconditionally loving, emotionally-focused, open home. She encourages her children to notice the normal, uncomfortable feelings associated with being a kid and remind them that they will always be alright. Emotion is temporary. Elizabeth and Tim encourage curiosity and exploration because they have “a wide safety net under them now”. Without knowing it, they are teaching major lessons in what psychologists call distress tolerance and anxiety management.  And, I’m lucky enough to live next door and learn.

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What guides your parenting?

My Mom and mother-in-law. My mother-in-law is more old school, stricter, she raised 7 kids. Our family was different. We travelled a lot, my Dad was a pilot, and we didn’t have family dinners often. We were always on the go. My husband’s family sat down every night with all 7 kids. Because they are so different, it has been really helpful. I’ve gotten a bigger picture of how you can parent. From my mother-in-law, I learned the value of family and how important is to be really close. My parents are younger and they travel a lot. It has been important for me to incorporate that too. Their relationship was the most important thing to them and has been a really good thing for me to see in my own relationship.

In my own family, we have an unwritten theme – take risks and try different things because there is a huge net underneath you when you are young. We are there to catch you and you will be fine. Challenge yourself and do things you might not be comfortable with.

How do you teach that?

In terms of Tim and me, we get so wrapped up in the kids so date nights are important, even just taking a walk after dinner to squeeze in 30 mins of together time.

In terms of parenting, we send the message that it is okay to be uncomfortable. Feel the feeling and do it anyway. Be brave, tolerate the emotion, and push yourself. We do a lot of walking through the scenario (before it happens) and role playing how they might handle the situation. Tim always says the opposite of fear is faith. Faith that things turn out the way they are supposed and you will be okay. Feelings are not facts.  We always let them know, no matter what, there is an unconditional love and support. We aren’t perfect, they aren’t perfect, life isn’t perfect but we are here for you.

What challenges you?

Letting them make mistakes has been hard. I aim not to be the rescuer. If I am always there to fix everything, how will they ever learn? If my kid is uncomfortable, I’m uncomfortable and I don’t want to be uncomfortable so the urge is to go in and rescue. I try to step back and let them live their own lives, make mistakes, and learn there are consequences to their actions.

 What do you do well as a parent?

We create a safe place for them to talk. Openly sharing is very important to us. We don’t have to have the answer, it’s not my role to fix the situation, but we create a space for them to feel what they are feeling, help them navigate through, and remind them that they will be okay no matter what. Always knowing they are okay within themselves.

What advice do you have for new Moms?

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Come from a place of love and give yourself a break. When I look back now, I realize all the smalls things don’t really matter.

What are your thoughts on family dinner?

When the kids were younger, Tim traveled a lot, and we were only together as a family 3-4 nights/week. But, the kids weren’t as busy so it was easier in some way. It didn’t have to be anything gourmet but we would regularly sit down together. As they have gotten older, they have activities. Now, we come together on Sundays. The big crowd pleaser is spaghetti and meatballs.


 Elizabeth’s Meatball and Sauce Recipe

1 lb. of ground beef

½ cup of breadcrumbs (the garlic ones at The Fruit Center are wonderful!)

¼ cup of milk

¼ cup of parmigiana cheese

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 egg

2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce

 

Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 400°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray.
  • 2 In large bowl, mix all ingredients. Shape mixture into 20 to 24 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Place 1 inch apart in pan.
  • 3 Bake uncovered 18 to 22 minutes or until no longer pink in center.
  • 4 In the meantime, heat the sauce in a large pot.
  • 5 Dump the meatballs into the pot and let simmer on low for at least 20 mins but up to a few hours. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with pasta. 
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