Ep #150: The Difference Between Love and Connection Part 2

Real World Peaceful Parenting with Lisa Smith | The Difference Between Love and Connection Part 2

If you’re currently on the pendulum, flipping between dominant and permissive parenting, and finding it difficult to make deep connections with your children, today’s episode is for you. We’re joined by recurring guest Hannah to expand upon our conversation about connection. Hannah is here to demonstrate what prioritizing connection looks like in practice, and show us why love and connection aren’t the same thing.

Hannah is the mother of four children, all aged nine and under, and through coaching, she’s managed to reach a space of healthy and supportive balance in her parenting. She has done the work of connecting with her children deeply and consistently, so they feel seen, heard, and valued, and she’s here to share how she’s done it.

Tune in this week to discover the three most important steps to creating connection with your children. Hannah and I discuss why you should never shame yourself if you’re struggling to connect with your children, and share our best advice for creating an environment where your children run toward you for connection, instead of trying it find it elsewhere.

If you want to take the next step to become a better parent, come and check out The Hive. It’s a one-of-a-kind community that serves parents who want ongoing support with their peaceful parenting journey and gives you everything you need to move along the path to peaceful parenting. Ready to become the parent you’ve always wanted to be? Click here to join The Hive now, I cannot wait to welcome you to the community.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why parents often confuse love with connection and why they’re not the same thing.
  • What it looks like when you connect deeply with your children.
  • How to show your kids that they matter to you and your family exactly as they are right now.
  • Why connecting with your child doesn’t mean they’ll always get their way.
  • What’s possible when you can create deeper connection with your children.
  • Why you should ever shame yourself if you’re struggling to connect with your child.
  • 3 steps to creating connection with your children.


Listen to the Full Episode:


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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Real World Peaceful Parenting, a podcast for parents that are tired of yelling, threatening, and punishing their kids. Join mom and master certified parent coach Lisa Smith as she gives you actionable step-by-step strategies that’ll help you transform your household from chaos to cooperation. Let’s dive in.

Lisa Smith: Welcome, welcome, welcome. Welcome to today’s episode. Now you know I’m going to say how excited I am to be here with you today because that’s true every week. But today, my excitement is doubled, if you can believe that, because we have one of our favorite, at least I know it’s my favorite recurring guest, Hannah. Hannah is joining us today to have a very important conversation, which, like me, she feels very passionate about. that’s a continuation of podcast episode 148, where we talk about love isn’t connection.

Now, Hannah is a mother of four children nine and under. So to say she has her hands full is an understatement. she’s had a massive transformation in her parenting. Hannah, I would say and she’ll correct me where I’m wrong here, but Hannah used to swing on the pendulum of parenting between dominant and permissive.

through coaching, I was able to help her step off that pendulum, which I know that pendulum too. that’s a painful ride. That is not like a fun ride like It’s a Small World or Space Mountain at Disney World. The pendulum of swinging between dominant and permissive back and forth, back and forth, is utterly painful. Hannah’s really passionate about paying it forward to help other people step off that pendulum. So first, let me say welcome, Hanna. We’re thrilled to have you back again today.

Hannah: Thank you, Lisa. I am super excited to be here today. everything that you said was spot on. So no correction needed.

Lisa: Okay, good. Yes. Yes. So, I know Hannah well and her children. So yeah. So I think that stepping off that pendulum just to kind of play off of that. When we see the pendulum we’re on, when we’re swinging back and forth between dominant do it my way, do it my way command and compliance, then we get frustrated with that command and compliance. we swing all the way back into permissive where the child’s running the show. that doesn’t feel good either.

Eventually, we stumble upon a podcast or a book or coaching, I highly recommend. we get into the peaceful parenting paradigm. we get into the tools of peaceful parenting, which is using your power to come alongside your child and be the peaceful leader of the household because we’re emotionally intelligent, most of us anyway, at times, and we have a fully developed brain.

part of, I feel like, stepping into that new way of parenting is really understanding connection. we’ve been talking a lot in The Hive, which Hannah is a member of, that love and connection are not the same thing, right? We’ve been talking about how I know everybody loves their children.

Listen, if you didn’t love your kid or kids, you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast. If you didn’t love your grandkids or your step-kids, you wouldn’t be making the effort. I am fully aware of this showing up here and dedicating 20, 30, 40 minutes a week to your kids is an incredible exemplification of your love for them. So we’re not discussing whether people love their kids or not.

But what people sometimes confuse is love with connection. what I’m very clear about having been a parent coach for over 15 years and worked with thousands of families around the world is the love and connection are not the same thing. Wouldn’t you agree, Hannah?

Hannah: Absolutely. 100%.

Lisa: Yeah. So I would say that when we connect with our children, things happen like when they make a mistake, they run to us not away from us. When they’re hurt or they need assistance, we’re who they turn to, to help solve the problems. I would say that when you’re connected to your children, your children feel like they matter. It doesn’t mean they’re going to get their way all the time, but they feel like they matter.

Hannah and I were talking about this at the beginning. This feeling like you matter as a child is really near and dear to my own heart. I want to sort of out myself here or share the lens that I look through it with you all. You know for me personally growing up, I didn’t feel like I mattered. I felt like I was there to assist other people. I was a burden. My feelings weren’t even in the room, let alone cared about. What I wanted didn’t matter to anybody. What I needed, what I was passionate about.

There was a lot of conversation about the size of my body and in front of me. My feelings about all that conversation didn’t matter. I felt like I was a trophy to be carted around when I did something well or got good grades. I remember I used to say all the time. I chuckle about it now, but I remember when I was about 12 or 13 I started seeing kids are people too you know to myself, and it was kind of my theme.

Which is probably how I ended up parent coach because I do feel passionately that kids are people too. I think sometimes we feel so much responsibility when we’re caring for them, and we feel our own feelings of frustration and dismay and irritation that they want us put their shoes on and get in the car that they feel like they don’t matter to us.

I think at the end of the day, connection, the underbelly if you will, of connection, is when the other person feels seen, heard, and valued. Right? That’s the definition. Thank you. Brené Brown. I feel seen, heard, and valued as a child in this family.

People listen to me to relieve my suffering. Not listen, which is Thich Nhat Hanh’s definition of empathetic listening. People aren’t listening to fix or correct or change my opinion. They’re listening first with the intention of easing my suffering. I know that I matter. I matter to my parents. I matter in this world. I matter to my family as I am right now. I matter when I show you my light side. I matter when I show you my shadow side.

So that is what I invited Hannah to come and talk about with me today from a parent’s perspective as someone who works a lot on connecting with each of her children in different ways, and has some examples of when things are working and connection doesn’t happen. So, share with us your thoughts on all that, Hannah?

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. I love all of that. I think that it’s spot on. also, as you were talking, I was getting the imagery as you talk about how peaceful parenting is when we use our power to come alongside our children. that image of connection, and it’s not you against your child. It doesn’t, like you said, it doesn’t always mean that they’re going to get their way. But you’re together working towards something.

If you have to get to school and they don’t want to get to school, and they say I don’t want to go. I’m not going to get dressed. You hear that. You hear what they’re saying. You have a little conversation. Tell me more. What’s going on for you? You’re still going to get them to school, but you’re working together. You both have the goal of getting somewhere, moving forward. it’s not get dressed because I told you so. I don’t care. This is what we’re going to do. This is what we have to do. It’s you working with them. It really helps both the parent and the child.

I think what podcast episode 148 beautifully illustrated what’s possible when you have connection. I think you also did a good job in not shaming the parent that maybe struggles with connection. So I kind of want to speak to this a little bit.

If you are a parent listening to this, and you struggle with connection with your child, this is also to show you what’s possible. That nothing’s gone wrong. You can still foster this beautiful, deep connection with your child. It just shows you what can happen when you don’t prioritize connection. It can show you a road that you might not want to find yourself on later on in life.

Lisa: I agree with that. The example that’s emblazoned in my mind is my son, who’s a freshman in college ,having some typical college struggles, classes are hard. He might have over indexed on a couple of them. He has a very busy schedule, playing a sport at school and taking classes. When he has challenges and struggles, I’m the first person he runs towards just to feel seen, heard, and value. Just to get that validation that it’s hard, just to have that empathetic listening.

I work hard to reinforce that. I love him for who he is and the effort he’s putting in, not the result. every time we have a conversation around his struggles, I think about my own experience at that age and how when I made mistakes or didn’t know what to do or felt in over my head or felt confused by something, home didn’t feel like the place that I wanted to go towards. Because my mistakes were not accepted. I didn’t feel like I mattered. I felt like I was there for only the good times. Only the A’s, never the lower grades. Only the victories, never the defeats.

You’re probably too young, but there used to be this beautiful ABC Worldwide Sports commercial. They did this Saturday news show or sports show well before ESPN. there was this disc, Dick Musburger had this really distinctive voice would say we’re going to celebrate the victories and watch the agony of defeat. he said and the agony of defeat. Those of you that are my age and older will remember that because it was iconic.

You want to be the safe place your children can run in the agony of defeat day in and day out. Remember, you hold the family values. You hold the fully developed brain. You hold the emotional intelligence. So when your child is struggling with something, a conflict at school, something they don’t know what to do about. They’ve been playing soccer for a while, and they want to quit. They want to try something.

They notice that their body may not look the same as other peoples, and they want to have an open conversation about it. You want them to run towards you, not away from you. especially not running to peers the same age as your child, right? If you have a nine year old daughter, you don’t want her seeking the advice of the other nine year olds.

at the underbelly or the prerequisite of your child running to you in the agony of defeat, let’s say, is connection. They have to feel they matter. they have to feel seen, heard, and valued.

Harriet: Yes. it is something that is fostered every day and is built upon. As you’ve talked about with your son, this is something that you worked on for years, really building that connection and deepening it and strengthening it. now you’re seeing fruits of it. not that you haven’t seen fruits of it before, but it’s something that you’ve worked hard for.

Yeah, I wouldn’t say hard. I would say I worked consistently at it over time. It did not come natural to me. I know it doesn’t come natural to you either. It takes consistent thoughts and effort. I’ve had to remind myself what connection is. There’s many times I’ve wanted to jump in and snowplow, go in front of my son and make everything better, or tell him exactly what to do. That puts my son and I into a command and compliance cycle rather than connection and cooperation.

So I’ve had to learn things like editing myself. Being the watcher of myself while I’m parenting, asking if he feels connected to me. Oh, there’s a crazy idea. Asking do you feel seen, heard, and valued? Do you know that you matter to me right now as you are? Those constant tools are what create the connection.

let’s talk about this. I think a lot of parents think, and I understand the genesis of this. My kid knows I love them. They know it. therefore we’re connected. I think you have an example to share with us, Hannah, but this is where I circled back to A, your kids might know you love them. They might. They probably do. But just because they know you love them doesn’t mean they know you’re connected to them and doesn’t automatically mean they feel connected to you.

Let me say that one more time because I feel like that bears repeating. it’s, I want to slow down, and I want you all to really hear this. A lot of us think love and connection are the same thing. Lisa, my kid knows that I love her. She knows it. I tell her all the time. She knows it. If she knows I love her, she knows we’re connected. Ah my friend. Ah, that may not be true, grasshopper. That may not be true.

A child can know the parent loves them, but a child might not feel, and that’s the operative word here, feel seen, heard, and valued by the parent. love and connection are not the same thing. They require different activities in parenting. That’s the point I’m trying to get across. They require different activities.

Love is I love you. I do nice things for you. I hug you. I kiss you. I tell you you’re amazing. That is love, right? Love language. We all know that. Connection is I see you, I hear you, I value you. I empathetically listen to you when you have something on your mind. I communicate to you that you matter to me as a human being.

Hannah: Definitely. I do have an example to share with that. So my seven year old, Carmela, had a loose tooth. she, like me, does not tolerate pain very well. We don’t like splinters. We don’t like paper cuts. We do not like to be in pain. So this made what is about to unfold so much more meaningful to me.

So my husband is really good at pulling teeth. He’s strong. He can do it quickly. He did my nephew’s, and he didn’t even know it had come out, right? So when it was time to pull her tooth, my husband said, “You know Carmela, come on. Let’s do it.” she said, “No. No way. I don’t want you to touch my tooth. We’re not doing this. I want Mommy to do it.” I don’t have much experience pulling teeth, and I was kind of like okay, well Daddy’s really good at this. Remember when he did it for your cousin?

She just kept saying no, I do not want daddy to pull my tooth. we both were kind of looking at her, and she was kind of looking down. I said well, why not? After a minute she said, “Daddy, I think you’re a little bit too rough with me, and I’m scared that you’re going to pull it with without me asking or without me letting you. I’m scared that you’re going to put your hand in my mouth and just pull it.”

I could kind of see this in her eyes that it was he actually was kind of getting ready to. We could kind of sense he was moving forward. So we kind of paused and let some air in the room because my daughter loves my husband, and my husband loves my daughter. I want that to be very clear. They love each other.

But my daughter would rather have me try to pull her to five or six times because we have a connection and a trust. she knows that she matters to me, and that I’m going to respect her thoughts and feelings. So when she asks me to take a break, we take a break. Or when she asks me anything or tells me how she’s feeling, I validate that for her before we move on.

So it didn’t happen that morning. Actually we had to wait until after school. But even after school, she just kept reiterating. She said, “Mom, I don’t care how much it hurts. I don’t care how many times you have to try. I want you to be the one to do this.”

So my husband, I think, was able to see in real time, because he was so confused. He’s like, “It won’t hurt if I do it. Why won’t you just let me do it? I’m just going to put my hand in and pull it out.” when he and I were talking, I said gently when he was regulated and I was regulated, I said honey, Carmela does love you and you love her. But she doesn’t feel seen, heard, and valued by you.

She said please don’t touch my tooth earlier, and you went and you grabbed it. You were showing her that what she’s saying to you doesn’t matter. we know that you want the best for her, but the delivery is all wrong. you haven’t used the tools that I have to make that connection with her.

So it ended up being a good thing. I was able to pull the tooth, but it was also really good for my husband to see that. I could see it in his eyes. I could see a change, a shift. even this morning, we started having more conversations about okay how can Carmela feel more connected to me? It affected him. He saw my seven year old doesn’t feel connected to me. this is not what I want. This is not how I want to parent or show up.

Lisa: I think prior to this conversation, or the tooth gate we’ll call it, he would have thought he was connected to his daughter because he knows how much he loves her. he was definitely driving in the lane of love and connection are the same thing.

Hannah: Yep.

Lisa: they’re not. There’s plenty of you all listening to this podcast episode. You love your parents, but you do not feel connected to them. I have a couple of friends. That, one I’m thinking of in particular, that grew up very connected to her parents. both of her parents have passed now. But that connection, watching it, I’ve known her since college and getting to know her and her parents. It’s a beautiful thing. I mean, it’s beautiful. I want it for Malcolm and I. For as many days as I roam this earth, I want it for the two of us.

sometimes when I see it with people, it looks so foreign to me. Because I don’t know that I ever felt connected to either of my parents. I love them. I think in their own way they loved me. But I didn’t feel connected because I didn’t feel seen, heard, and valued.

I didn’t feel like anyone had the patience or time to listen to me empathetically, to ease my suffering. It was listen to tell me what to do. Stop that. Don’t feel that way. Get over that. Lose weight. Get better grades. It was always a command. Listen, to tell me what to do. Dictate the right behavior. I didn’t know I mattered.

I really didn’t know that I mattered. I had to work on that to raise my self-esteem as an adult to know that I mattered in this world, not because of what I performed or produced or did but I mattered because I was here. so I am super passionate about helping parents everywhere create that connection with your children. we have to create it as the parents, right?

I mean as you beautifully exemplified, a seven year old is not going to create the connection with an adult because they don’t know how. The parent has to start the connection with the child. So now your husband’s on his way. He’s figuring out what does connection look like. it looks different with every person, right? Feeling seen, heard, and valued is a unique recipe.

Hannah: Yes. As you touched on in episode 148, this is a new way of thinking for a lot of parents. A lot of parents think if my kids grow up and they have a beautiful house and a great job and a spouse and their life looks good on the outside, I’ve done my job. That’s the goal. But more and more we’re seeing I think sometimes it’s just also a lack of awareness of you know, what does it really mean to be an adult that feels connected, feels seen, heard, and valued, has emotional intelligence.

Lisa: It’s a new way of parenting. It’s a new way of approaching relationships. It’s investing in the connection as well as guiding the child around the family values. If all we do is guide the child around the values but they don’t know they matter, that’s not going to get the job done. if all we do is tell the kid they matter without guiding them with values, that’s not going to get the job done, right. One is sort of a version of dominant parenting and the other is permissive. Back to that pendulum that you swung on.

Connection is in the middle. I’m going to guide you. You matter. You matter doesn’t mean you’re going to get your way. we can have ice cream for breakfast, and you can just go to school whenever you want and not put your shoes on and never have a curfew. I’m not saying that I know I matter means that your children get their way.

We’re still setting limits, peacefully setting limits as the fully developed brain and leaders of the household. I’ve said this on a different podcast. Rules help kids feel safe, know what’s expected of them, and loved. So when I say helping a child know they matter, that doesn’t mean they’re getting away with that whatever they want, right?

It doesn’t mean we’re not pulling the tooth. We’re still pulling the tooth. We’re just not holding her down, putting our hand in her mouth, and ripping the tooth out without her consent with the idea that well, she’ll get over it. It’ll be fine. It won’t matter. I know best. Ripping it out in one fell swoop, it doesn’t hurt and get it over with and done.

Your daughter was saying I don’t want to go that way. I’m not consenting to that. I don’t want you to just randomly put your hand in my mouth and rip the tooth out before I’m ready. So it doesn’t mean that Carmela got her way. we let that you dangle there and go to school with the tooth hanging down. We’re still, as the peaceful leaders of household, taking the tooth out. The tooth is ready. It needs to come out. We need to get it out.

But we don’t need to be disregarding your daughter’s request and the fact that she’s sensitive to pain, that she doesn’t want it ripped out without her agreement. She’s signaling this is what I want. what you did is you had her feel seen, heard. You valued that she has a low pain tolerance, which is not a bad thing in the world. You valued that.

She explicitly said I don’t want it just randomly ripped out without me being prepared for it. I don’t want it to be a rough situation that traumatizes me now for the rest of my teeth, and I’m upset with the level of pain. This is how I would like it to go. You connected with her through that removal of the tooth.

You connected with her rather than just I know better. Let me shove my way in here and do it my way regardless. That’s not connection. That’s love, for sure. I know your husband well. I know he loves his daughter a lot. So that’s love, but it’s not connection.

connection also wouldn’t have been not taking the tooth out. Connection is the tooth needs to come out. I know this because I’m the adult, and I can see it, and it’s time, and we need to get it out. Right? So that’s connection. But connection is also all right. I don’t need to ignore everything you’re asking me to do, put my fingers in, and rip the tooth out. Right?

she probably wanted you to give her a heads up, wiggle it back and forth, give her a minute to gather itself, and pull it out. when you honored that, she felt really connected with you. Such a good example, Hannah. Thank you so much for bringing it to us and sharing it with us today because I think it really drives the point home, and it really helps, I think, the listener understand when we’re talking about connection what exactly do we mean.

So let me wrap up with just reviewing again. I feel like a broken record, but I think it bears repeating. For those of you wanting to get on the path to real connection with your children, I would offer these three steps. Step one is help your child feel, and that’s the operative word, feel seen, heard, and valued.

Step two, listen to relieve the suffering. Not to correct, not to fix, not to train, not to guide in the beginning. We’re listening to relieve the suffering. Mommy, I’m scared. I’m scared of my tooth. I’m scared it’s going to hurt. I know sweetheart. Yes. Tell me all about it. Right? We’re listening. It’s not oh, get over it. You’ll be fine. You’ll survive. It’s she was stressed about the pain. Listening to relieve the suffering.

step three is helping our kids know they matter. They matter in the family. They matter to you. They matter in their loud, messy, storming, insecure, quiet, shy, selfishness they matter. They matter to the earth. They matter to the universe. They matter to you. They fit into the family. They matter.

Kids want to know this. I matter to you. I don’t just matter to you when I’m getting it right. When I’m getting my shoes on and standing by the back door. I matter to you all the time even when I’m making mistakes, even when I’m messing up. We’re still guiding them, right? They’re not getting their way, but they get the message that they matter just because they’re here. So Malcolm, if by chance you’re listening to this, please know that you matter to me deeply. I love you, son, I love you.

All right, and here’s the deal. If this stirs something up inside of you, listener. If you’re like whoa, this was impactful. I need to do a better job of this, or I want to learn more about this, or I want more support, or I want to practice this, or I just want to be in community with other people that are doing this work, then I want to invite you to join us inside The Hive.

You’ll join myself and Hannah and other moms and dads all over the world, grandparents, foster parents, parents of one kid, parents of multiple children, single parents, you name it, we’ve got a little bit of everything in The Hive. what we’re united in is our desire to connect deeply with our children.

So if this speaks to you then I really, really, really want to personally invite you to join us. To learn more and sign up, I want you to go to thehivecoaching.com. You’ll get all the information about what you can expect once you join The Hive. there’s a link there where you can join.

Don’t wait, go and join us. Join us right now so you can be a part of the community that’s learning to connect with our children. Hannah, thank you so much for being here. I love having you on the podcast. Your willingness to pay it forward to other parents and join in, in changing the world one family at a time just warms my heart. I’m really grateful for you and your participation in real world peaceful parenting.

Hannah: Thank you, Lisa. listener, I cannot wait to welcome you into The Hive.

Lisa: Yay. All right, everybody sending you lots of love and connection. I see you. I hear you. I value you. I value you as a parent. I value you as a listener. I know you love your kids. Go home tonight and connect with them. That’s your homework assignment. Connect, connect, connect. until we meet again, I’m wishing you peaceful parenting.

Thank you so much for listening today. I want to personally invite you to head over to thepeacefulparent.com/welcome and sign up for my free peaceful parenting minicourse. You’ll find everything you need to get started on the path to peaceful parenting just waiting for you over there at www.thepeacefulparent.com/welcome. I can’t wait for you to get started.

Thanks for listening to Real World Peaceful Parenting. If you want more info on how you can transform your parenting, visit thepeacefulparent.com. See you soon.


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Lisa Smith

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