Supporting Siblings of Neurodiverse Kids Part 2: Lynn McLean, LCSW-S

Supporting Siblings of Neurodiverse Kids Part 2 with Lynn McLean, LCSW-S

This episode continues our discussion on supporting siblings with input from a mental health professional. Our guest, Lynn McLean, LCSW-S, RPT-S, gives advice on how to talk to children about struggles one child may have and gives ideas for supporting families as they navigate family dynamics and emotions. During our conversation Lynn not only gives specific strategies and tips, but also encourages parents and caregivers to hold space for big emotions and lean into hard conversations even when they make us uncomfortable. She also shares a bit of her experience as a parent who has navigated this herself.

Lynn McLean, LCSW-S, RPT-S is a licensed clinical social worker. She received her master’s in social work from the University of Houston and started her career at Texas Children’s Hospital. In 2004, she opened her own private practice, Houston Family Therapy Associates, giving her the opportunity to focus 100% on children and families. Lynn specializes in play therapy and is certified through the Association of Play Therapy as a Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor. She offers play therapy training, supervision, and consultation to other professionals who serve children and families.



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Stephanie Landis (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled. A podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays, and learning differences. We are your hosts, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at The Parish School of Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them. In this week's episode, we continue our discussion on supporting siblings this time with input from a mental health professional, our guests Lynn McLean gives advice on how to talk to children about struggles and difficulties one child may be having and gives ideas to help the whole family navigate emotions and family dynamics. Lynn McLean is a licensed clinical social worker and registered play therapist. She owns a private practice in Houston, Texas with a focus on supporting children and the whole family. Throughout the episode. Lynn not only gives specific strategies and tips, but she also encourages parents and caregivers to hold space for big emotions and lean into hard conversations, even when they make us uncomfortable. Lynn also shares a bit of her experience as a parent who has navigated this herself.

Stephanie Landis (01:12):

Welcome, we have our special guest today is Lynn McLean. We are so excited to have her here today to continue our discussion on supporting siblings and sibling dynamics. So welcome and thank you for being here.

Lynn McLean (01:24):

Thanks for having me. I love your podcast.

Stephanie Landis (01:27):

Well, we, this has been one of the topics that has come up a lot for parents and something that they've requested that, you know, having siblings and helping and supporting them is it's complicated with siblings in general. And then when you have a child that may have a diagnosis or just need a little bit of extra support, and it just makes things even luckier to be technical

Lynn McLean (01:51):

Clinical term yuckier. Yeah,

Stephanie Landis (01:53):

Exactly more difficult. One of the things we get asked about most frequently is how to talk to one sibling about the other sibling and what their different needs might be and how to support them. Do you have any tips for that? That's a huge general broad question, but.

Lynn McLean (02:12):

You're starting off with the easy one. Stephanie,

Stephanie Landis (02:14):

You know, I don't throw any softballs here.

Lynn McLean (02:18):

That's okay. I'm ready. What I would say is it's so hard for us as parents to acknowledge for ourselves that one of our kids needs some extra support. And I find that with the parents I work with and actually for me as a parent the process of getting used to that concept of one of our own kids is a lot. And so then we don't want the kid who needs extra support or the siblings to think that they're not able to do stuff or that they're gonna have a harder time in life. And so what I find is that a lot of parents will shy away and they don't want to talk about a diagnosis and they don't want the kid who needs help to feel different. And they don't want the sibs to think of that child as being deficient in any way. And what we do as parents, when we don't know what to say is we tend not to say anything. So my first big tip is to say, mention it, start talking about it, open the conversation. Sometimes you don't know exactly what to say when in doubt be truthful. So yeah, you know, we went and PS kids always know something is up. They may not know exactly what it is, but they know that brother has been to see a bunch of people. Mom and dad took off work and he was out of school and they know something's up. So you can usually start with that. So, you know, we've been going to a lot of people for some questions about why brothers not talking as much as you are. And what we found out is let's just say in the case of an autism spectrum diagnosis, what we found out is his brain works a little differently than yours does. And so he, his brain is working. It's doing great and he needs a little help. And sometimes his is not going to work the same way that your says when you're playing with friends or when you were calling down, after you've been upset and using these concrete terms can really help kids understand what's happening. It's not in a judgemental way, it's in a very clear and truthful way. And it helps fill in the blanks because when we leave that task to kids, they tend to fill it in with like really frightening and sometimes really wrong information. So when we're truthful with them and we tell them pretty concretely what's happening, then they're like, oh, okay. And they tend to have much less reaction to it in my experience than we do as parents or as adults.

Stephanie Landis (05:28):

Yeah. I love that. Something we use a lot here at The Parish School is that like, this is just the way my brain works. My brain makes this really easy for me. My brain makes this really hard for me. And this is just the way my brain works. That same language. Like we found out that this is what their brain makes this hard for them. Their brain makes this easy for them. They may need help with that. Just keeping it concrete and you're right, because kids do notice. And when you don't, then they start thinking that like, maybe there is something really, really wrong and it's the brain is just working a little different. And that could go for any diagnosis on campus that we see frequently, like with dyslexia or receptive expressive language disorder or apraxia, we've a lot of kids that have aproxia on campus or anxiety like that kind of covers a whole broad thing. You just need something different.

Lynn McLean (06:20):

Absolutely. And you can be specific to whatever the challenge is. So my older child had sensory needs and I was able to describe it in those terms. So for that child and for the sibling, I was able to say, yeah, you know what? Your body could just use a little extra pressure sensations seeking kid. I was able to interpret for my husband because the older would just take and push the top of the head into my husband's chest. And he was like, what is happening? And I'd say, so that feels great to your body. It releases endorphins. And instead of just sucking your head into your dad, you could say, Hey, I could use an endorphin hug. And it really helped him know like what the deal was. So that there was not that missed communication opportunity.

Meredith Kremmel (07:16):

I love being honest and open about how we all need different things. And how would you kind of taking that another step? How would you talk to siblings about how they should talk about their, their sibling who might need more support in public or with their friends? You know, if they have friends over for a play date going back to your example with a child who's been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you know, how would you talk to their sibling about how to talk about their brother or sister to their friends?

Lynn McLean (07:43):

I love that you are bringing up that you can help your kids prepare for that. Because again, a lot of times I think the parental idea is there's nothing wrong with them. You don't have to tell your friends anything, and actually they could use some help understanding what's up. Why isn't your brother playing with us during your birthday party? And you can ask your kid what their friends are wondering about. You can ask your kid depending on their age, developmental level, what they might worry about with respect to their siblings. So start with are and then you can help provide them the language that they feel comfortable using. So it might be the language that we use with them. Oh, you know what? His brain just works a little differently. And it's hard for him to play with other kids. You might find that that doesn't really work so well for them. And so maybe you can role play with them a little bit. Oh, okay. I'll be, so-and-so you be you, I'm going to ask and you can tell me what you think and we can practice. And that way they can have some ideas about what to say. And if our attitude is very matter of fact, this just the way it is, the sky is blue, they will take that on and have that same attitude. Oh yeah. That's my brother. This is the way he is.

Meredith Kremmel (09:03):

That's great. Great advice. And I feel like just creating an environment where this is just who we are and there's, and just acceptance and love for how we're different and building that environment in your home can be so helpful because if we see our sibling as this is just who they are, and we love them for who they are, then that kind of gets projected outward to other people as well. A lot of times when, when a child in your home needs more support or maybe sees more therapists you might see some jealousy or resentment come out with the, with the sibling. Do you have any tips or strategies that people can use with their kids to build more empathy and maybe get away from resentment and jealousy? Or maybe just acknowledging the jealousy and resentment?

Lynn McLean (09:47):

Yeah, I think I had a percent just acknowledging it first. Actually it was a great opportunity to be with one of my kids while their sibling was in with like the super fun grownups with the sensory gym and all the treats and stickers. And there was back-to-back OT and then speech therapy. And I was in the waiting room with my kid, my other kid, and then all the sibs. Right. And so I would think of them as the kids in the waiting room and they would see there's their siblings who often, I mean, let's be honest, are harder. Behaviorally harder to communicate with, not as easy to play with. And they'd see the hard kid go in and get all the good stuff. And so just acknowledging that that's really tricky and it feels rotten a lot of times deciding how you can make that time in the waiting room, special to the siblings can be really great. We, as parents used to bring in all the snacks that we knew everybody could eat and the kids would just sort of make the rounds and we knew what everybody was allergic to and he'd be like, oh, I have the popcorn today. Great. Do you have the just bucks? Yeah. And so we formed like this little community in the waiting room and made that special for the sibs who were out there. I think acknowledging that it doesn't feel fair is a big deal and something that we tend to hesitate to do as parents, kids will lurk in my waiting room and like try to peek in at the playroom to see what toys I have and to see what their siblings have done and to try to gain access in some way. And it feels written for me to say, you know, shocks, this is his time, but empathizing with that desire and saying like, I know you really wish you could have that. You really wish you could. And it's different

Stephanie Landis (11:43):

We were speaking with a mom recently. And she was talking about it from the parental aspect. And she said, one of the things she started doing was setting like a specific play date. All right. Now it's just, this is our time like that was there time for me to go do therapy. And like, this is our special time. Is that something that would work as well?

Lynn McLean (12:05):

Yeah. If you can swing that, it's amazing. Maybe having activities that you only do when that sibling is in treatment. Maybe having something that you can do, if you don't have to stay on site, maybe you can take a walk around the grounds. Maybe you can do a task that feels kind of gross and then something special after. So let's knock out your math homework and then we can play this game that you love. So anything that helps that time feel less exclusionary and more like a special time that you get this parent to yourself, if you can,

Stephanie Landis (12:47):

The thing that comes up with a lot of siblings, all siblings is the idea of fairness. How do you talk to siblings about, about how fairness and how fair doesn't always equal the same, or like just fairness in general? Because you're right. It's like it isn't fair.

Lynn McLean (13:04):

And the hard truth is that it's not fair. And again, so circling back to where we started truth as a hard as it is, is something that kids recognize and they tend to respect. And so saying, I know it's not fair. I had a sib in the waiting room and they were the middle. And so there was the hard kid with a lot of needs who was the oldest and then cutesy Bootsy, little sibling, and who got a lot of attention. And so middle was in and just screaming their head off and trying to grab the baby toy away from the little one. And I just stopped and dropped to the carpet and lifted their eyes. And I said, I think you wish you were still the baby and the look of recognition on their face and the look of like absolute yes, I do. It went a long way to calming them down to helping them feel heard and seen. I think as parents, sometimes we shy away from that because we want to feel like everybody is good. Well, they love their baby siblings. They do. And they also love their older sibling. Who's having a hard time. It still is not fair. And it feels rotten. So being truthful about that processing about that, the other term that we've talked about today that we talked about a lot at the practice is kids are different. So as you mentioned, equity, I know you're different. So you are going to get this time with me. You were going to get this special snack that you love. You're probably going to get a ring pop when Ms. So-And-So brings your sibling out and they get to go in. So you're different. And I think sometimes it feels good and some times it does not.

Meredith Kremmel (14:58):

Yeah, absolutely. We've been talking a lot about how to talk to the sibling of a child who needs a little extra support. How do we talk to the child who needs more support about why maybe their sibling who maybe is younger, is doing things that they still can't do, or maybe why their sibling gets invited places that they can't go to, or that they don't get invited to?

Lynn McLean (15:18):

Oh, that's the one that gets me in the heart. It just, oh, it hurts so bad for them and for us. And I think acknowledging that hurt is where we don't want to go, but I think it's really important to do that and to empathize with them. I think we can never make it up enough. So in the same way that we try to offer something special for the kid who doesn't get to go to all the fun looking therapies, try to offer something that feels special to the kid who needs support, who can't go to all the things. And I also think to your point about a younger sub who might be mastering some developmental tasks quicker or doing better, going back to that truth and just saying it out loud and empathizing very specifically. I know, I know they already know how to add stuff and they're your little sister and you feel like you should be able to do it. And that feels really yucky. And just sitting with them in that because there's no way wherever you're going to be able to make it different. We, we can't so owning that and helping them acknowledge, which is what we want for them anyway. Right. We want them to be able to recognize their feelings, express them in an appropriate way, and to understand that their support for them, even in spite of those difficulties. And that's what you're doing. And that simple act of just empathizing.

Meredith Kremmel (16:56):

Yeah. You talked about supporting their sibling. I know when we spoke with the parent a couple of weeks ago about her child, how her younger daughter struggled with almost too much responsibility to support their siblings you know, how do you find that balance of I empathize and support my sibling, but at the same time, like I'm still a kid and I need to be a kid and know that it's not fully my responsibility. Do you have any tips that you could share around that?

Lynn McLean (17:27):

Yeah, golly, I wish I had the magic wand. I keep trying to develop it, but I haven't, I haven't mastered it yet. One of the things that we do in the practice is we focus on the whole family versus just the kid who's brought in for treatment. And so, first of all, a pet peeve, I hate that terms like good kids and bad kids, because there's no bad kids. Like some of them are struggling a little bit. So the ones that come in that are the harder kids, I always ask about the easy kid. Okay. So tell me what's happening for siblings. I'm wondering if this outburst delay time spent with older sibling, it's hard for them, or okay. So tell me what so-and-so is doing when a kid who needs support is having a tantrum, whereas needing this. And a lot of times I get kind of pushback from parents. Well, they're fine. They're fine. They're not, there's no trouble with them. I don't know. I'm wondering, I think that there's probably a big effect for them. And I think that they they could probably use some attention around that. And so just sometimes calling attention to that kid is a different idea because we, as parents are put under so much pressure for all of our kids to be amazing and geniuses. And so then when we have one who we feel like is struggling, we put all of our resources there. And so swinging that attention to the kid, who's not having as many troubles at that time can be a shift in consciousness. And then if I need to, I actually will assign special playtime with the other kid. Sometimes I will give specific recommendations. Part of the reason I added peer coaching to my practice was so I could give very specific feedback to help parents get to their goals. And so sometimes I'll be really blunt and say, so so-and-so should not be in charge of their brother. You're the parent and they're the sibling and they get to be a kid. So sometimes I'm just really blunt about that. And then sometimes I'm able to just say, Hmm, I wonder what's going on with easier kid and parents can start to make that little shift themselves.

Stephanie Landis (19:50):

Yeah, it's hard because I mean, we, we feel responsibility for our siblings, no matter what and protective of our siblings. And then you add on a layer of maybe noticing that the other child is getting left out or that the other kids might be like teasing them. And they don't notice the kids have to feel like it's a, it's an extra layer. And they appreciate that. You bring that to the attention because if the kid's feeling it young, it's only going to build as they get older and older and older now, or like teenagers or adults, they're still feeling like a burden of years of feeling like they have to take care of and look out for their sibling with that. Is there, I mean, like we have kids here that range all the way from like little itty bitties, like two year olds all the way to like pre-teens, if someone's, this is coming out as preteens, is it like too late to bring topics up or is now the best time is any,

Lynn McLean (20:51):

It's never too late to start talking about the stuff that they need help with and stuff they need to know about. And as I mentioned earlier, I think always starting where they are can give you so much amazing information unrelated to this particular topic. But I asked a kid recently what they thought it meant that their parents were getting divorced. And they said, they thought it meant that their parents would not be their parents anymore. And it just broke my heart. Like what a different, wrong perspective. I would never have known if I had just taken it for granted that they knew what all this meant, because that's what we think. So starting where they are and just saying, I know, what do you think is happening here? What, what do you feel like you need help with? Why do you think your brother gets mad at you sometimes? It could really yield a lot of, a lot of very helpful information for us because then we know how to tell the truth to empathize with them, to help them maybe give them some strategies in terms of the older kids, maybe help them role-play some ideas for how to manage these things.

Meredith Kremmel (22:06):

Yeah. I love that idea of meeting the sibling where they are, because we talk a lot about meeting the child who might have different needs or mean more support. We always talk about meeting them where they are, but you know, the, the same is true for the siblings. Sometimes I think we forget that they don't have the same knowledge that we do our background that we do. So backing it up, you know, what does this mean to you? Where, where, what are your feelings about it right now?

Stephanie Landis (22:31):

They just feel things in when there's gaps in knowledge that you're like, where did that come from? But they just, it applies to every different part of, part of life that like, you think you mean one thing and they fill in the gap when it's ambiguous with a totally different meeting. And usually it's something like negative. Yeah. I like being open and direct. It feels uncomfortable as a parent to be open and direct because you want to protect, but it's the way to go. That kids don't have the same negative perceptions of diagnoses or other things that parents might have. Like they don't have that burden like a four year old. They don't know that like society might think that like, that's a bad thing that like, so just being open indirect seems like a way to, to go with four year olds, five year old, six year olds, even nine year olds.

Lynn McLean (23:22):

Yeah. And think of the relief that that little person has when you ask what they think. And then if they can tell you, cause some of the little ones, obviously can't formulate that verbally, but saying, oh yeah, you know, you're not, there's nothing wrong with you that you don't get to go back and play with Ms. So-And-So and get treats and stickers that you're you, you weren't bad. Like maybe they think I'm, you got mad at me that time on the way to school. And so then you, my sibling go back and play in that sensory gym and get goldfish, you know? So finding out what they think and what a relief it is to them to say, oh, okay. All right. It still doesn't feel that much better, but okay. I understand that.

Meredith Kremmel (24:14):

Talking and leaning into the discomfort. I mean, that's so hard, but it sounds like, you know, if anything, that's a good place to start because we want, like you mentioned earlier, we want to protect our kids or preserve their innocence or whatever it is that we're trying to do, but, you know, leaning in and just talking can really prepare them and remembering that just because you had one conversation about it doesn't mean that, that, that that's covered at all. I mean, I just think about with my son when we lost our dog, you know, we had the whole talk and I act hook Sesame street's advice and I was very direct and very honest and very concrete. And then the next day he asked me when Sadie was going to come home. So then it, you know, there we were, we had to kind of start all over, but just that one conversation might not be enough.

Lynn McLean (25:04):

Oh, that's absolutely true. As an adult, it's so hard to be with them in that place of the hard feelings and to have those big conversations that we dread, like you just are just so keyed up and then you have it and there's this sense of relief, like, okay, all right. We had the death and dying talk, click, cross that one off the list. And then the next day for them to come up and say, so when am I going to see her again? You're like, great. Here we go. Again. They just, they don't take it in the same way. Like we feel they should. And so that's why thinking about it, talking about it, continuing to talk about it. If you get to the point that they're rolling their eyes and saying, I get it, Sadie died, then you can say, okay, my work here is done, but if they don't, then you're, you know, okay, great. We're still talking about it

Meredith Kremmel (26:00):

And we did get there.

Lynn McLean (26:03):

So I think one of the reasons leaning into these things is uncomfortable is that sometimes as parents, we have a hard time taking apart, like our child's actions and like what they see on the outside and their behavior from like the child themselves. So if we acknowledged that this is hard, their actions, their diagnosis, their needing more therapies is hard than we are acknowledging something bad about the child. And so it just feels like we can't say that this is difficult without saying that the child is difficult. Do you have tips for parents to like parse that apart to be able to be like, you know, our child, isn't this, like, there's still really a great, good inside child.

Lynn McLean (26:52):

That's such a good question. And a, an important piece of work for we parents to do. I think, as we mentioned earlier, we are really put in the position of having all the responsibility and virtually none of the control for what our kids can do. So we're already at this disadvantage because we're thinking, okay, a kid who needs support is automatically coming in with a deficit. So that's how our school systems are set up. That's how our societal expectations are set up. So you're already coming in with this idea that if I can get my kid out of the red, so to speak out of the deficit, then I will have done what I'm supposed to do as a parent. So all of that is all wrapped up within us. And so becoming aware that our kids are who they are and they are who they are with whatever needs they have. So that's the thing that I think is one of the hardest things to understand about our reactions to them.

Meredith Kremmel (28:11):

Yeah. Separating the behavior from the person and how we feel about the behavior is not the same of how we feel about the person. And I sure I'm sure siblings struggle with that too. I love my sibling, but I don't like that. You know, he does X, Y, or Z, or that he prevents me from doing X, Y, and Z, and trying to separate that can be really I'm sure, really challenging for a young mind.

Lynn McLean (28:41):

I think that's absolutely true. And I think one of the most profound things I heard from a mom whose child has down syndrome was that they prayed for years for their child to be delivered from the challenges that came with down syndrome. And finally they received some peace and some measure of comfort in realizing that their child would not be who they were if they didn't have down syndrome. And so it helped incorporate all of that. So the lovely parts of that kid's personality and the loving heart and the amazing place they had in the family, along with the challenges and the health difficulties and all of those things, we're all part of the same kid. And I think that's what I was thinking of in terms of our work, as parents is coming to that true acceptance of the whole kid, including the things that are challenging for them.

Meredith Kremmel (29:54):

And honestly, there's not a child out there that doesn't have challenging moments. Even if we're using the term neuro-typical, whatever that really is. I don't think you could ever meet a parent who said, oh no, there's nothing about my child that's, that's challenging. I mean, we love them for who they are and accept them for who they are.

Lynn McLean (30:14):

Absolutely. And seeing in ourselves, I mean, I don't, I don't know about y'all, but I can be pretty challenging sometimes. And so one of the things I'll tell parents, and especially in parent coaching is you know, they'll say, well, they didn't do what they were supposed to do. Like we've taken them to these specialists and we've done all these things and they're still not fill in the blank. And I'll say, yeah. And you know, I know I'm not really supposed to talk on the phone in my car because it diverts my attention from my driving. And let me tell you, if I've been trying, trying to get in touch with somebody and I see their name come up, I'm going to answer the phone, even if I'm driving. And I got a few years on your kid, so I know what I'm supposed to do and I still not do it. So I think we might have unrealistic expectations of them. So when you put into context, the things we do as adults and excuse all the time and then apply that to a child and especially a child who needs some extra support, it can be a great flip. It can be a different lens to look through.

Stephanie Landis (31:18):

Yeah. I like that. And especially when talking about siblings, that sometimes we come down on the other sibling and be like, well, you know, that they up, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's like, well, knowing it and having the impulse control, not to act on it or get angry about it in the moment is totally different things. Yeah. So one of the things we found really helps parents is like specific scripts. Do you have a few key phrases that you give for like in the moment when say like the sibling is feeling really frustrated of like, you always pay attention to them and you're never thinking about me or like, you know, don't go to this therapy. I just want you to stay with me or something like that. Do you have something that parents can go to, to say in the moment?

Lynn McLean (32:04):

I think when in doubt, just reflect that feeling or that wish back to them because a lot of times kids just want to know that we're hearing them. So I know, I know you're mad at me because I'm leaving again to take them to therapy. I know. What we tend to do is rush on to the next thing, because we don't want them to fill in the blank, have a tantrum feel bad. Hate us any of those things. And so what we rush into, but I'm going to be home and I'm going to bring you ice cream, or I'm going to, you know, like, but you'll get to go with me next time. And we'll have special play time in the waiting room. We rush right past their feelings. So backup say how they're feeling be with them in it. And that I think is the most powerful first step that you can take.

Meredith Kremmel (33:00):

I just feel like we've been hitting this theme over and over again, even when discussing different topics of just not trying to rush in and save them or solve the problem and just being there with them in that moment, we went, that came up in a, in another episode, we were recording just being there with children and not trying to rush in and save them. Because as a parent, you just, you want to make it better. You just, oh, don't cry. Don't cry here, here. Do you want this? Yeah.

Lynn McLean (33:28):

Yeah. And it's not a bad thing to want your kids to be happier at all. I mean, right. It's what we want. We want to fix it for them. We want them to be okay. And in rushing to that, as you say, we are, a lot of times, I think it feels to them like we're negating where they are. And so just the first go-to is just being with them where they are and just replanting that feeling. I know you're really mad at him. He broke your legos again. Yeah. I'm sorry. That feels rotten.

Stephanie Landis (34:02):

Yeah. I like that. Because with siblings in general, you want to rush past the conflict and go right into the light, but you love each other. You love each other. Be nice to each other. They're the only person you got, there'll be with you forever. Like you're stuck with them. You love each other. We want to jump past the like, but yeah, like I'm legitimately mad and you have a reason to be mad to just straight to the like fixing or the forced get along. And, and that it can be not so fun for the kids cause they're like, but I'm not sorry. And I'm still mad.

Lynn McLean (34:35):

Absolutely. And they're thinking, oh great. For the love they're going to be with me forever. Fabulous. Great. One of the best things I ever heard T Berry Brazelton said that we never get over the birth of a sibling. And I have parents like want to rush past that shock to the system of, for the olders of having a little one born. And oh, but they love them. They're so good with the baby. And it's like, I know they love them and they just are so glad they're here. And a sibling enriches our lives in so many ways. And as Dr. Brazelton would say, they are fierce competition for the most precious resources that we have. So I mean, your toys, your parents, the snacks, all the things. And when you're little, you can't put all that together. And so, yeah, you're right. You rushing past and saying, I know, but you're supposed to love them and treasure them. And they're your family. They do. And it's still a really tricky thing to have this human now attached to you.

Stephanie Landis (35:39):

So it's not just my house where there's an actual fight over who can sit closest or more on top of mom's lap. No? Okay.

Meredith Kremmel (35:46):

Yeah. We've got that in our house too. Or dads or whoever it is in the moment or the dog. I mean, you know, always competing over attention.

Lynn McLean (35:57):

Oh. Who can be first used to be the big deal we used to have to have a plan for who could be first down the stairs to the car. And that did include the dogs. The dogs were fierce competition. So my husband actually invented this genius idea that they're born on, on odd and even days. And so if it was an odd day, that kid got all the good stuff, but also all the bad stuff had to feed the dog, had to shower first. And to this day, they're in their twenties and they still go by that system, like who gets to sit shotgun if we're all going somewhere together. Oh, it's my day. I get to sit in the front. So it was a really good way to help my brain remember who could go first, who had to feed the dog? So

Meredith Kremmel (36:46):

That's genius. I was just thinking, but my kids are both on odd days, so I'll have to come up with a different metric, but that's such a good idea. I love that. It's the good and the like, not so good. Like you can try and try shotgun, but you also have to feed the dog like,

Lynn McLean (37:00):

And who would've thought showering first would be the thing like now, you know? Yeah. Why, why the, why is that a problem to get first shot at all the hot water, but then they were like, oh no, I don't want to, I know you got to

Stephanie Landis (37:15):

Thank you so much for your time. We could chat with you all day and all day and pick your brain and keep going. But at the end of every podcast, we ask our guests one giant question. If you had one piece of advice to give to our listeners and it could be on this topic or really any advice that's on your brain right now, what would you give?

Lynn McLean (37:38):

Oh yeah, yeah. You don't go softball days. Do you Stephanie?

Stephanie Landis (37:41):

We put people in the hot seat and on the spot,

Lynn McLean (37:45):

You know, I think what I would say is for parents, nothing is more important than your relationship and that you could fill in the blank with that with your child, with your significant other, when you are feeling the pressure from school, from therapists, from your other kids. And you really, I mean, when we're pressured, we don't tend to be our best selves. And so sometimes instead of thinking about the timeout, we need to put our kids in, put yourself in timeout give that space to the relationships so that you can go back and come from a place of breath, right? Take a breath. Don't say, or do anything. That's gonna jeopardize that relationship because homework in the backpack, shoes on and ready to go to school on time. None of that is worth more than your relationship with your kids. And so taking the time to put that first, when you need to that, that's really what I wish more of us could do in all of our relationships, but especially parents who are juggling so many things.

Meredith Kremmel (38:58):

Great advice.

Stephanie Landis (39:01):

I feel like you were talking to me. Thank you.

Meredith Kremmel (39:04):

It's like you're in my house this morning.

Lynn McLean (39:09):

Well, I've had to follow that advice myself. And so I've seen it. I've seen it work if parenting has taught me anything. It's humility. Yeah.

Stephanie Landis (39:19):

Well, thank you so so much. We truly appreciated this. Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was really fun to talk to you all.

Speaker 6 (39:30):

Thank you for listening to the Unbabbled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on the parish school, visit If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the Unbabbled podcast on your app of choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to Stig Daniels, Andy Williams, Patty Henson and Molly Weisselberg for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.