In Part 1 of 4 episodes on The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, Billy and Brian discuss the mommy brain, the little girl brain, and the teenage girl brain with Supermom Judie Goslin.
Judie is a mother of 2 teenage girls, owner and CEO of Spectrum Staffing/Personnel Plus as well as Beyond Impact--an IT consulting firm focused on cloud migrations, managed services, and data analytics. Judie is a member of The EQUIP training organization founded by John C Maxwell, which trains, equips, and mentors leaders in under-privileged countries. Judie holds a business degree in Marketing and Management from University of Hawaii and a masters degree in counseling. Judie is also the chairperson of the Parent Council Board at Maranatha Christian Academy, a board member of a non-profit organization that supports a village in Guatemala, and a supporter of a Rescue home in Moldova to save women and children from sex trafficking.
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Judie: As they are teens now, they certainly take opportunities to do things that can really make me mad. If I'm thinking about it, and I'm in another room, I will get so sure that I am going to be really upset about this thing. I see their face and I'd go, "Oh, my God. I love you so much." It's like, okay, I was going to be super stern. I can have that stern part of me, for sure. You can talk to my daughters about it. But there's something in me that when I see them or, again, even if they're near me — even as teenagers, they're not babies — I still feel that mother connection that I'd go, "I would die for you right now." No question about it. I don't care what. I would die for you in this moment even though I'm really mad at you right now.
Brian: I have a theory why they make children cute. Because if they were ugly, you'd just leave them in some place. You’ll be like, "I’m done with this."
Judie: Oh, yeah.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches, as we share our life experiences — both the good and the bad — in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to Season 2 of The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I'm your host, Billy. And as always, I'm joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how are you doing over there, man?
Brian: I am incredible.
Billy: Yeah, why are you so incredible today, Brian?
Brian: We're in Season 2, Billy.
Billy: Yeah, but here's the thing. I'm trying to figure out if you intentionally switched things up for me as I walked into the office today, because this is the experience you have thus far provided for me. First of all, your Young Living diffuser is just cranked right now and pumping toxins into the air right by me.
Brian: Actually, it's not toxins. That’s an anti, supposedly, antiviral concoction—
Billy: You keep telling yourself.
Brian: —so that it sticks on the surface. Actually, I've read the research. It steeps, yeah.
Billy: Okay. Alright. You also have oranges and plums. Are those a bowl of dates that you have over here, too?
Brian: No, that's just weird grapes. They're called moon drops.
Billy: Moon drops?
Brian: Moon drops. They're like long grapes. They're about two inches long. They're purple, like deep purple.
Billy: Yeah, they look like dead toads.
Brian: Yeah, they taste delicious. Try it.
Billy: I'm good. I'm good for right now. Here's the other thing, too. Usually, when I walk in here, there's some hardcore punk going on. But not today. Today I walked in to Groove Is in the Heart by Deee-Lite, followed by Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, and then Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain. So, what the fuck is going on here?
Brian: It's my '90s playlist, man. I'm just — '90s playlist ended up because I'm scouting for a new act I'm doing now.
Billy: Can you talk a little bit about what your new act is?
Brian: No, I'm not ready to talk about it.
Billy: Okay. All right. Fantastic. Well, that's a teaser then. We have a teaser. We also have new cover art.
Brian: That is a big deal.
Billy: That is a big deal.
Brian: Now that’s a big deal. There’s no episode next week.
Billy: Correct. Well, there was no episode last week.
Brian: Last week.
Brian: Got you.
Billy: There was no episode last week because we are transitioning to Season 2. We wanted you to miss us for a little bit.
Brian: Just a week though. Because if you go beyond a week, maybe you'll just forget. We are not that memorable. We’re memorable, but only like in the span of a week.
Billy: Exactly. Hopefully, to our dozens of listeners, we hope that you came back to listen to us. Thank you all for making Season 1 a juggernaut. We did take that week off. We needed to get our act together here. Because we are going to be talking about something over the next four episodes that Brian and I know absolutely nothing about.
Brian: No, we're lost. So, we brought in experts.
Billy: Yeah, we're going to be talking about women. Brian and I know nothing about women, especially when it comes to the female brain. So, we have reached out to four high-quality women that we know. They are going to be joining us over the course of the next four episodes.
Today's guest is Judie Goslin. Buckle up, because I'm going to read to you this non-stop list of credentials and achievements from Judie's life.
Brian: Lay it on me.
Billy: She is a mother of two teenage girls, a daughter of two amazing parents from Michigan. She has three older brothers. She is owner and CEO of not one, but two businesses.
Brian: Oh, you're just like, "Here I am, CEO of only one." I feel like I'm kind of slacking.
Billy: Yeah, get with it, dude. She is CEO over at Spectrum Staffing/Personnel Plus, which is a temporary staffing agency. She's also the CEO at Beyond Impact, which is an IT consulting firm focused on cloud migrations, managed services, and data analytics. How's your data analytics this year, Brian?
Brian: I don't know what data analytics is.
Billy: Alright. We may have someone who can help you with that. Judie is also a member of the EQUIP training organization founded by John C Maxwell, which trains, equips, and mentors leaders in under-privileged countries. She has her business degree in Marketing and Management from the University of Hawaii. She has a master’s degree in counseling. She is the chairperson of the Parent Council Board at Maranatha Christian Academy.
Brian: Is that all?
Billy: No, it's really not.
Brian: Okay. Keep going then.
Billy: She's also a board member of a non-profit organization that supports a village in Guatemala. She is a supporter of a rescue home in Moldova to save women and children from sex trafficking.
She somehow found time to be a guest on our show. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, Judie Goslin. Thank you for being here, Judie. Oh, my goodness.
Judie: It’s great to be here.
Billy: Thank you for taking time from saving the entire world and making a difference in millions of people's lives. So, here you are. You're here because you're a mom, right?
Judie: I am.
Billy: All right. We're very excited to talk to you about that. We like to have our guests share the roles that they play in their lives. So, could you talk to us what are the roles that you play in your life?
Judie: Sure. Well, some of those came out in what you were reading. I'm a daughter. I'm a mother of two teenage girls. God, help me. I'm a business owner. I have two companies that I run. I'm a leader. I feel like I'm a mentor in a lot of relationships that I have. I like to teach, so I'm a teacher. I'm a music lover. I have high interest in all types of music. I love to work out. So, that's also another part of me that I think is pretty prominent.
Billy: And you are engaged. Congratulations.
Judie: I am. Thank you.
Billy: Excellent. When is the wedding?
Judie: I don't know yet.
Billy: All right. Haven't got that for you.
Judie: It was supposed to be last August, but it got delayed.
Billy: Oh, yes, COVID. COVID is getting in the way of a lot of that stuff. As a music lover — today is April 23 — have you started listening to Christmas music yet?
Judie: You know me. It's scary. I didn't stop listening for it until a little while ago.
Brian: So, it's just in your regular rotation? My wife and you will get along great.
Judie: I can't wait to meet her. It is so scary and so funny. Yes, it is. I play it in July, because it's Christmas in July. There is the thing. That's the thing. Then my birthday is 9/11. So, I allow myself, for my birthday, to start playing Christmas music for the season. Because it's Christmas quarter. It's not just a day or a month. It's a quarter. Right?
Brian: You know, different strokes for different folks, I guess. I personally don't listen to Christmas music until the week before Christmas.
Judie: Oh, no. Yeah, I get it. But I'm a woman, so that's the thing. You want to learn about how we think.
Brian: That's right.
Billy: It's very true. That's very true. We appreciate you enlightening us on the female brain today.
Judie: Good luck.
Billy: So, we asked you to choose three of those roles. The three that you chose were mentor, traveler, and mother. Let's start with mentor. Why are you looking forward to that role in the second half of your life?
Judie: I think the first half, I've been trying to figure out who I want to be and what I want to do to give to the world and trying on a lot of different roles and fumbling around. I think that now I'm starting to get pieces of me that understand more, and I love to pass that forward.
Especially around the ages of teenagers, young adults, I have such a passion. Maybe because I have two of them of my own right now. But also business mentors, I feel like that's a really fun area for me to pass knowledge along, and be there to walk alongside someone that has a dream, has a passion for something, and just needs a good sounding board or some good person to sit and talk with, and dream and plan with.
So, I think a lot of the experiences I've come along with — I used to be a trainer for Tony Robbins. So, I've done a lot of fire walks. I've broken boards. I've done all kinds of really crazy things to break limits. I feel like I can teach people how to think that way and how to get outside of their limits.
Mentoring, really, is different from teaching, because you're walking alongside them and helping them personally to break those limits. That's fulfilling to me to be able to help someone else get there.
Billy: What's some advice that you would give your younger self? As you look back on the mistakes that you made, or you look back on, "I think I would do that a little bit differently," or, "This is how I used to operate, and I found that this is a more efficient way," I guess what's some advice that you would give to your younger self? If there's a 24-, 25-, 26-year-old aspiring entrepreneur, what would you suggest?
Judie: Actually, I've thought about that. I've written out a letter to my younger self, actually. Some of those things, I think, is, one is laugh at myself more, quicker. I do a lot now. But I used to take myself very seriously because I was such a striver. I didn't want to make mistakes, or I didn't want to mess it up. So, there was this perfectionist quality.
I think I would let that go. I would really learn to just let it go, and learn in the moment. My dad always taught me that as long as you're learning, you cannot fail. And so, all my life I learned. At dinner time, we would talk about, "What did you learn today?" He wanted to know what I learned about life, not necessarily in math or science. Sometimes it was that. But it was more, "What did you learn about life today?" So, every day, I knew I had to be looking for something because he was going to ask me, "What did you learn today?" Then he'd follow that up by saying, "You know what? You can never fail as long as you're learning."
So, I think that it's part of what I would do sooner in life as a younger me. It's just, keep learning from the moments and embracing the moments and laughing about things and going, "Hey, you know what? That didn't work. But so what?" It's not the end of the world. It's not a big deal. Now I can mess up very freely and be okay with it. It's still really myself and not have — it's easier to recover. I have a quicker recovery time from that.
Billy: I think that's a great conversation piece to have at the dinner table with your kids, so that there isn't so much pressure on the academics.
Billy: Where I work, I feel like that pressure to be a high-achieving student is so palpable. I feel that from my students. Guess who I got to see today, Brian?
Brian: Was it Tom Cody?
Billy: It was Tom Cody.
Billy: Yeah, Tom Cody was in the house today. I got to talk to him. It's one thing that he talked about in the episode when we met with him, Episode 10, where he said, "Listen, yeah, math is going to be important and science. You might remember that 10 years from now. But resiliency and grit, those are the things that you're really going to need in life as you age." You might not remember Sonnet 130 by Shakespeare, but you'll remember the time that you put into it and the commitment that you made to it, because that's something that you'll carry with you as a habit as you get older.
Brian: See, I disagree. Remember the Pythagorean Theorem? I've used that thing four or five times since I've graduated. So, just remember — a2 + b2 = c2.
Billy: You don't need to remember that.
Brian: Just watch. Next week, that's going to come in handy. Now that you know about it, I've broadened your awareness of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Billy: Unless the Pythagorean Theorem — Judie, as a mother, did the Pythagorean Theorem ever come into play during childbirth?
Billy: Okay. Alright. Because we're talking to our friend, Michelle, next week who is pregnant. So, I was just curious if the Pythagorean Theorem came into play during pregnancy. All right. Interesting. You also put down traveler?
Billy: So, where do you want to go? You've asked me. You said, do you want to go climb—
Billy: But don't you also want to do Everest?
Judie: I'd love to do Everest? I would, but I got to start somewhere. I'm not going to take that one on first.
Billy: I like that you're going to start with Kilimanjaro.
Judie: Right. Machu Picchu maybe, and then move up.
Billy: Do you have a list of places that you want to go, or do you just have them in your head?
Judie: I do have a list. I'm a list maker. I'm a goal setter. So, I have those things written down. I've traveled all over the United States. I've been in every state, except Alaska. When I say traveled, it's not just stopped in the airport. But I've been there. I've seen things. I've visited and got to know something about the place. So, I still need to finish Alaska off the list. Then I will have conquered the US, which is really cool.
Been through a lot of Mexico, and to Canada, quite a bit, dabbled around in places in Europe. I'd like to do more in Europe. Then I also have done some in Central America. I go there to do a lot of mission trips. So, I think I'd like to go do more in that area.
With the EQUIP training that I do with John Maxwell, we go to a lot of underprivileged countries and go train. So, I think I will have opportunities to go do that. It goes along with my mentoring — the traveling. Then exploring the world with my kids, I want to take them everywhere.
Billy: Can you talk a little bit how you got involved with the work that you're doing in Guatemala? Can you talk a little bit about the work that you're doing in Moldova? Can you talk a little bit about what that work with John Maxwell looks like?
Judie: Sure. The work I got involved in with Moldova was actually through a training at John Maxwell. I met another leader there. He started this conversation with me. I said, "Do you know anything about—" I've been having this desire. It's really crazy to get involved in how to help rescue out of sex trafficking. It's such a real thing in this world. It's appalling to me. My heart is yearning to try and find a way, but I have no idea how to plug in, what to do, where to start.
He looked at me and he said, "You got to be kidding me." I said, "Why?" He goes, "I'm trying to start a rescue home in Moldova right now. I'm looking for people to partner with me, that can help me launch this." I said, "Well, I'm your girl. Let's do this." So, we launched a home there to rescue kids from the streets. Then we also go into places where they've already been trafficked, and we get them out of there, which is a more dangerous mission. But that's how I got involved there.
It's been extremely rewarding, very eye-opening on what happens in this world. It makes my heart even yearn to do more. Every one of them that we can save, I wish I could rescue them all. So, that's that story. The Guatemala mission was mainly through my parents’ church back home where I was raised. They started working with a small village in Guatemala, and had a very high infant mortality rate. Slowly, I started getting involved in that program. Now they've got a great program that children thrive. We've built schools, hospitals. Now there's a university there so people can come and actually learn on their university campus. It’s amazing. It's been a great journey. It's been over a 20-year span of time that they've been doing this work.
Billy: Is that with John Maxwell, as well?
Judie: That is not. That's through my church back at home where I was raised. So, John Maxwell is a trainer of leadership. He's written over 70 books about leaders and teamwork.
Billy: I've read the 21 Laws of Leadership.
Judie: Yeah, that's one of them. That's a great one. Failing Forward is also a really great one. There's a lot of them. He has been a mentor of mine. I've gotten to meet him, talk with him, and learn from him personally as part of the training program, and become a trainer of his material. I think that came out of the fascination and interest I have in leadership in how to be a good leader. I'm always learning. How can I do it better? How can I learn from people that are great role models of that? I sought it out and learn from him.
Billy: Fascinating. So, Judie and I were neighbors at one time. That's how I know Judie. We've talked about this sort of stuff before, and you're just a fascinating person.
Judie: Thank you.
Billy: Yeah, absolutely. That's why we wanted to have you here. I know you are a supermom, as well. That's the other reason why I wanted to have you on here. Because I know you love your girls, and you go out of your way to give your girls an amazing experience, an amazing life. But at the same time, they are handful.
Judie: Oh, yes.
Billy: Especially now that they are teenagers.
Judie: Handful is a good word.
Billy: Yeah, I thought mother is another thing that you're looking forward to. So, I thought we just transitioned into what we're going to talk about today, which is the mommy brain, the little girl brain, and the teenage girl brain. This is all, once again, coming from The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. If you didn't listen to our three-part series on The Male Brain—
Brian: First off, shame on you.
Billy: But we'll forgive you if you go back and listen to it after this episode.
Brian: All is forgiven.
Billy: But go back and listen to those so that you can compare and contrast the daddy brain, the little boy brain, and the teenage boy brain to what we're going to talk about today. Again, all of this is coming from Louann Brizendine 's book, The Female Brain.
A little disclaimer here. Some of her peers disagree with what she has to say. Interesting. So, there is some pushback on it. There are some people who would think, "Well, this doesn't seem very progressive. It seems like there are some stereotyping going on here." I think Dr. Brizendine would say, "But this is based on our brain research." That's why we have Judie in here. Because we can say, "Hey, is this what you see in your girls, or do you think this is hogwash?" Good. All right.
Brian: Sounds good.
Billy: Here are just some fun female brain facts before we get into what it is to be a mom. 99% of male and female genetic coding is exactly the same, but they perform and accomplish goals using different circuits. Now, the male brain is 9% bigger than female brains. But we have the same number of brain cells. Here's the thing. Women have 11% more neurons for language and capacity. So, that would suggest that women are better communicators. As we talk about what we are finding here, you're going to see that as a recurring theme throughout.
The hippocampus, which is a memory formation, an emotion circuit, are part of the brain. It's larger in women than it is in men. As is the brain circuitry for language and reading other people's emotion. So, women are better at expressing emotions and remembering details of emotional moments. Sound legit so far?
Judie: That sounds good.
Billy: All right. This new surge in estrogen and progesterone — once again, we're going to get into some fancy-pantsy medical terms here that I'm going to mispronounce. So, if I do that, if you're an expert, please come on and say, "You sound dumb."
Anyway, the estrogen and progesterone, they have a significant impact on the hippocampus and the hypothalamus — which controls our body's organs — as well as the Amygdala, which is our fight, flight, and fright response. This surge also sharpens the woman's ability to think critically and fine tune emotional responsivity.
The brain, the female brain, is hardwired for emotion. That says here, that according to Brizendine, women do not lack the aptitude for science and mathematics, but prefer careers that are more social in nature. That might fall into a stereotype.
Brian: Part of the stereotype you were referring to earlier.
Billy: Yeah, and the female brain excels at verbal agility, connecting deeply in friendship, reading faces, and tone of voice for emotion, as well as defusing conflict.
Brian: I can speak to that verbal agility. I have been racked up pretty good by a few females. So, yeah, that's definitely true.
Billy: You've lost many of verbal spar.
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Billy: So, Judie, what are you thinking so far? Are you connecting with this?
Judie: I am. I think a lot of that sounds very, very true about women in general. But I do think that it is a generality, and there's definitely room for — I'm thinking of people I know that I go, I don't know that I'd say that necessarily about her. So, I'm interested to hear more.
Billy: Yeah, I'm always wondering, is there an exception to the norm, which I imagine there always is. Brian and I, when we were going through the male brain, a lot of those things didn't resonate with me. Brian was like, "Oh, yeah, me. Me that." He said it like that, too. He grunted it. Brian is a caveman. All right.
Here we go. Judie, when you first became a mother, do you think if you would have closed your eyes and there would have been a lineup of babies, do you think you would have been able to pick out your girls just based on their smell?
Billy: Just tell us more about that.
Brian: Absolutely. Because I was with them all the time. I would actually put them against my face and smell them. That was part of my connection with them. When they were near me, I could tell. I knew my child was there. I had other children around me, too, many times where I'd have friends over or whatever. I could always pick out my child. Always. It's amazing how you know that's your child. The smell of them and just a sound they might make, you'd go, "That one was mine." They could be in a whole room of other children, and you know that was your child that made that sound.
Billy: Brian, are you like that too with the boys?
Brian: No, not at all. But my wife is. She's in tune with how they sound. You're absolutely right. When we're sitting on the couch together and something happens, she knows better than I do whether we have to go respond to that noise or not. She's like, "Oh, that didn't sound good. We better go check it out."
Brian: Whereas I'm like, "oh, it just sounded normal."
Billy: Well, it's interesting that you mentioned that. Because this next part here says a woman's maternal aggression kicks into high gear, and the need to protect the child grabs the brain circuits completely. Her attitude towards the father's ability to provide for the family may become more intense as a result. Are you a mama bear? Are you a lioness?
Judie: I can be. Absolutely. I have been known to be a mama bear a few times. Do not mess with my children.
Billy: So, it says here that the dopamine and oxytocin released when we see our partner and our baby decreases our judgement of them, which creates that bond between mother and child. So, just even the sight of your child releases dopamine and oxytocin.
We're going to be talking about love languages here. When you're in love with somebody, dopamine and oxytocin are released. We talked about how in those two years, where you first are with that person, you are so blinded by love that you reject judgment. Then finally, you start realizing, "Oh, we've got to put in some work as far as communication," that sort of thing.
With your child though, your child, just the look of them in the same way, the look of them releases that dopamine and that oxytocin, and releases that judgment. You just love them unconditionally.
Judie: Right. Absolutely.
Billy: Says the guy who doesn't have kids.
Judie: It sounded right, though.
Billy: All right.
Judie: It's very good. It's amazing how that's so true. Because something can happen. As they are teens now,
they certainly take opportunities to do things that can really make me mad. If I'm thinking about it, and I'm in another room, I will get so sure that I am going to be really upset about this thing. I see their face and I'd go, "Oh, my God. I love you so much." It's like, okay, I was going to be super stern. I can have that stern part of me, for sure. You can talk to my daughters about it. But there's something in me that when I see them or, again, even if they're near me — even as teenagers, they're not babies — I still feel that mother connection that I'd go, "I would die for you right now." No question about it. I don't care what. I would die for you in this moment even though I'm really mad at you right now.
Brian: I have a theory why they make children cute. Because if they were ugly, you'd just leave them in some place. You’ll be like, "I’m done with this."
Judie: Oh, yeah.
Brian: That's why they make them that way. Because when you look at them, like you were saying, Ben will grab a glass vase and just throw it off at a deck, smash it all over the place. I'm like, "Oh my God. I can't believe you did that." Then he looked at me. "I can't stay at mad at you. You're too cute."
Judie: Yeah, I don't know how many times I've said to my daughters, "You are so lucky you are so cute."
Brian: That’s it. See?
Judie: You are so lucky right now. Because if you weren't, we'd be having another talk.
Brian: That's why they make them that way.
Judie: Absolutely. I tell them — actually, I just said this yesterday to one of my friends. I said, "Good thing my daughter didn't come with a receipt, because I would think about returning her right now."
Brian: You know what? As a parent, I don't fault you at all for this. Not even one damn. Preach, sister.
Judie: Thank you. No judgment. Thank you. I actually meant it at the moment. I'm like, man, if I had a receipt, I would turn her back right now. I'd return her to the store. For about three seconds, anyway.
Billy: It's good to know that parents have that moment of ugh.
Judie: Oh, God. Yes.
Brian: Oh, yeah, weekly.
Judie: Sometimes hourly.
Brian: Yeah, right. Exactly.
Judie: I have to talk myself happy every once in a while, because I just can't take another moment. You think you've seen it all. Then the next moment comes, and you — I haven't seen it all. I cannot believe this just happened, or that they just said that.
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Judie: Girls will say stuff and do things that you're like, "Where the heck did you come up with this? What just went through your brain that you felt you could say that to me?"
Brian: That's the thing. Boys will hurt you physically. Girls will send your soul into the pits of hell.
Judie: Down there, yeah. Oh, God. They are so good at it. The thing about it is they take pleasure in doing it to you.
Brian: Oh, yes.
Judie: Oh my gosh. These little precious little girls that were like, "Mommy, Mommy, I love you so much." All of a sudden, "Mommy, I hate you. I don't want to hear what you have to say. You know nothing," and slam the door. I'm like, "What just happened?" Who is this person in my house? I don't know who they are anymore.
Billy: But we're going to get into an explanation as to why that may happen biologically. It says here that new mothers lose, on average, 700 hours of sleep in the first year postpartum. It sounds like you're still losing 700 hours a year with your teenage girls at this point. Do you remember the sheer lack of sleep that you had the first year you had—
Judie: You know moms are not going to like to hear this, but my babies slept.
Brian: You are lucky.
Judie: I am so lucky. My babies, when they came home from the hospital, both of them slept six hours the first night I brought them home.
Judie: Yeah, and they ate every three hours through the day. They had a really good feeding, I made sure right before bed. They slept six hours, and they continue to sleep if I had sleepers. I would wake them up during the day. If they wanted to take a long nap, I'm like, "Oh, no, there is no long nap. You are going to get up right now, because you're taking that long one at night." It worked. They slept.
Billy: Did you guys sleep through the night, Brian?
Brian: First one was like — her girls, they slept great. The second one was a little less. Third one even lesser. So, it gradually devolved. Ben was not a good sleeper. At four, he still comes into our bedroom anywhere between 3 and 6 AM every night.
Judie: I think it really depends on the child. I don't know why that is, but I was lucky I got my sleep.
Brian: Then let me explain, Billy. When he comes into the bedroom, he just doesn't lay down and go to sleep. No, no, no, no, no. He's got to jump into the bed like he's got to take a running start and jump into the bed, and then make sure he lands on both of our heads.
Billy: Maybe Ben is like a baby rat. Here's what I mean by that. The book cites the study where it says, mother rats could either press a button for cocaine or for a baby rat to suck on their nipples. The sucking of nipples won out every single time. Because the closeness our mother rat feels is similar to the closeness a woman feels to their baby breastfeeding. That causes a burst of dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin.
Now here's what I'll tell you. I don't like my nipples licked or touched. So, I'm going to hit the cocaine button every time.
Brian: I was just going to ask what's your preference if two bowls are put out in front of you.
Billy: No, I'm going to do the cocaine button every single time because that's not for me at all. Judie, I won't ask you so.
Judie: Thank you.
Billy: But here, this connects to it. The separation from a nursing child can upset the levels of oxytocin and cause a mom to feel emotionally dysregulated, especially when they go back to work. So, is that something that you remember feeling when you had to go back to work, and you weren't around your girls as often? Did you feel emotionally dysregulated?
Judie: Yeah, I would say I did. Again, I was really lucky there because I own a business. So, I was able to bring my children to work with me until they are a year old — each of them. They could crawl at work and be safe. But once they start really walking, I'm like, okay, I'm working. They're walking, and there's a lot going on. Then I had a nanny that would help through the day. So, that time when I left them with a nanny, there was a separation for me that I felt it might have even been harder than me than for my child. My children seemed like, "See you mom." They were happy. I didn't want them to feel like they had separation anxiety with me. So, I purposely would take them places, let them not see me. I'd go out of the room. I let them hang out with somebody else when they were babies. Because I didn't want them to be afraid when I was gone. But I felt really sad. I missed them through the day.
Billy: That connects here to this next piece. It says researchers found that if mothers aren't able to spend time with their children, it can negatively affect the trust and security circuits in their kids. Now, I imagine that your kids felt secure with you.
Billy: I think that's interesting. I, myself, am an advocate for extended maternity leaves. I think six weeks is a ridiculous amount of time. I'm an advocate for it. I think that research shows it right there. Because it also says here that having a high nurturing adult, just any trusting or loving adult, may make babies smarter, healthier, and better equipped to handle stress. So, even the fact that you had a nanny available to them, provided them with a high nurturing adult that they could be around — because children with less maternal care end up easily stressed, inattentive, hyperactive, and sickly. It says in the book that just nurturing is nurturing. It really doesn't matter who that loving adult is in their life.
Judie: Yeah, and my children, the first year of each of their lives, they were with me almost always. I would take moments where I would let them be with someone else, just like I said, so they would start to feel like I'm okay if mom isn't in the room with me. But most of the time I was with them. Even in meetings, I would have them with me in a business meeting. My children were with me all the time. I held them. I played with them and tickled their feet and laughed with them. Even while I was at work, I would have that ability to do it. I think that made a huge connecting bond that I think even now, as teenagers, we still have that connection. I think we're very close, even with teens, and the things they're going through. They're very close to me.
Billy: It says here that they did research on monkeys. The young monkeys in the best environment with plenty of food got the most nurturing from their mothers. So, as long as their mothers were taken care of, then the mothers were able to take care of their young. If there was scarce food but it was steady, they got almost as much. But the unpredictable environments where there wasn't a lot of food and it came in irregularly, they actually saw that there wasn't a lot of nurturing but they also saw that there was abuse. There was aggression from the mothers towards the monkey.
So, it relates to humans, because mothers who are fearful and timid, they have babies that tend to show depression. We do our best when we're in a predictable, plentiful environment, obviously, where financial and emotional and social needs are met.
The book says here, if we can provide a reliable, secure environment for the mommy brain, we can stop the domino effect of stressed mothers and insecure, stressed children. What's interesting — I've just been learning about this. I need to do more research on this — is there's evidence that shows that trauma is genetically passed down from the parent.
Brian: I heard that, yeah.
Billy: So, when we think back to trauma that people have endured in their lives, for one reason or another, that trauma is being genetically passed down. We really need to think about how we are providing a safe space for all human beings, because it's not just that individual. There is that fear. There's that reality that it can be passed down genetically.
Judie: That's interesting.
Billy: For me, it goes back to the importance of, it does take a village to raise children. I think that's part of why I'm in education. It's because, for me, yeah, I don't have my own kids but I have thousands of kids.
Billy: I'm invested in all of them. I want them to strive and succeed in whatever that looks like in some way, shape, or form. It breaks my heart when they are experiencing depression, or they're experiencing anxiety, and they're experiencing trauma. Because those are things outside of the trauma that I've experienced, too. I think we all, when we see somebody in need, we want to support them. We want to help them in some way.
It says here that the greatest source of stress in a woman's brain is the fear of losing intimate relationships and social support. So, this goes away for maybe the mom. It talks about just socializing. Judie, do you have a stress about losing intimate relationships and having social support?
Judie: I wouldn't say I have a stress about that, no.
Billy: No? Is that because you have very strong relationships that you have built over the years?
Judie: I do.
Billy: So, I'm wondering, if you lost a connection with somebody, I imagine that that would cause a momentary stress. But you have such a vast network of supportive people around you that it would be like, "Oh, that's too bad. But I've got this group. I can't really wallow in this loss right here."
Judie: I don't know if it feels that way. I think because the relationships I do have are very deep — my family, my parents, my brothers, with my own girls, with some really close friends of mine — that I feel like those are very fulfilling for me. I feel very stable. I feel like I know where I am with them. I don't fear that I might lose one of them.
Even if somebody has a bad hair day or something just goes shit hits the fan, I don't go, "Oh, this relationship is in jeopardy." I feel very stable with those people. I see my life as like a series of circles. So, there's that inner circle, that inner core. Those people, I'm good with. I'm solid. I don't need more than them in my life. I'm not a person that needs multitudes of people to make me feel fulfilled. I need my core, and I'm happy. The next ring out is like—
Brian: Podcast hosts?
Judie: Yeah, exactly.
Brian: All right. We maybe second rings.
Judie: Exactly. See, you got it. It's kind of like, as the rings go out, it’s more acquaintances — friends that I love and care about. If something went wrong, or they got distanced, moved away, just got busy with life, and I didn't see them for a while, it doesn't shake me. I don't feel left or abandoned, or, "Wow, what happened?" Because, I guess, I have my core. That's what I really need. The rest of it is icing on the cake for me.
Billy: Did you feel a need to connect with other mothers once you became a mother?
Judie: Yes. Although, I find it interesting about me is I know a lot of moms find that a big need. They need to connect with other mommies and go, "What's going on? What stage are you at? How do I do this? What are you doing? How did you handle that?" Whatever. Or connect with their own mom and go, "What's going on?"
I didn't see myself connecting with my own mom sometimes. Nobody told me this. Is that normal? Am I supposed to be thinking that or doing that? Again, I don't need a whole tribe for me. I'm not that kind of person. Maybe it's partly I was brought up with three older brothers. It was like, I had that thinking about how guys relate to friends. Girls are way more like, "I need this tribe. We all got to be good with each other." If there's one drama thing, it's like the whole world shakes. I'm so not like that. I'm a low drama Mama. I don't like it. I don't engage in it. I'm a lot more like — I didn't need to have other moms approve of what I was doing or tell me what they're doing. I just needed to know what was good for me and my kids. I was good with that. I did a lot of reading. I'm an avid ferocious reader. So, I read a lot. That helped.
Billy: Yeah, it says here. The reason why I asked that is that the primitive female brain, it’s saying, "I need to connect with other moms in order to protect our young." It's part of that lioness, that mama bear mentality. You brought up here that you talked about reaching out to your own mom. It says here that the females inherit their mother's maternal behaviors and pass those on. So, I'm wondering how many times have you said to yourself, "Oh, my gosh, I'm turning into my mother"?
Judie: Many. Many times where I do something or I'll say something, I'll go, "That was exactly like my mom."
Billy: What's an example?
Judie: What has happened to me? Like things she'll do with the kitchen. When I was little, I remember being around her. All of a sudden, my kids were doing these things. I would say the same things to my kids. That just came out of my mouth. I didn't have to think about it. I didn't have to conjure it up. It just came out. I'm like, "That was my mom. Where did that — it was way down in there somewhere. It just came out. It made sense in that moment. I'm like, I can relate. That makes sense. I know why she said it now.
It's really amazing how much your mom does come back up the moment you need it. But I actually also have that with my dad. I have a lot of dad moments. My dad was a famous one liner. There's profound intelligence in one line. We're like, wow. The whole room of us could be talking for an hour trying to think about something, and my dad would throw out one line that put it to the bottom line. We're all like, "Why didn't you just say that an hour ago?" That was it. My dad has that. These things come up in my mind a lot of times. I'm like, "Oh, that was my dad. That totally was my dad right there." So, it's interesting that I do have that dad part of me, too.
Billy: Do you catalogue those moments of brilliance?
Judie: I do. I write them down. I want my kids to have them. I want them to remember what my parents taught me, things we did, and why I am so crazy because of what I've learned and why I've taught them.
Billy: We're going to take a break right now. Then when we come back, Judie is going to talk to us about the little girl brain. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
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Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Judie Goslin, who is Wonder Woman incarnate right here. She is talking to us about the female brain, particularly the mommy brain. Now we are going to get into the little girl brain.
So, it says here from the book The Female Brain by Dr. Louann Brizendine, girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. The parents respond to their children's preferences based on gender, education, and biology. When those collaborate, it makes us who we are.
Now, to me, that's very interesting, because it ties into what we discussed with Matt Hazard at the end of season one, where he talked about when we say daddy's little princess and that sort of thing, that we're almost assigning gender roles to children at such a young age while they're still figuring out what they enjoy. He talked about his son puts on a dress and plays with his sister. So, I'm curious, Judie, do you feel like girls come hardwired as girls, and boys arrive hardwired as boys? I guess, how much gender education did you do with your girls? Because you're a girly girl.
Judie: Yeah, I am.
Billy: You are very much a girly girl. Were you a girly girl with your girls?
Judie: I was a girly girl with them. But I feel like they had interest in girly girl things. From very young ages, they were very interested in playing with my jewelry, in trying to paint their nails and looking in the mirror, to do something with their hair. I don't know that it was necessarily me influencing them to do that. They would see me do things and want to do them. So, maybe that was part of that. They would see me do girly things. Maybe they're going, "Oh, mommy does it. I want to do it." But I also didn't notice them doing things that weren't girly or where I would take notice and go, "Oh, that was interesting." If they did, I never reacted to it in a negative way. I'm like, "Hey. Whatever. Let's just explore that. Let's explore what that is."
I'm the kind of girl that will wrestle with my girls on the floor. We would tickle. We would wrestle. I would take them out stomping around in the woods all the time, because that's what my dad did with me. I'm that kind of person. So, I think they got the chance. One of my girls loves to climb trees. We climb trees together. That was great with me. I don't know. I think one of my daughters is more girly girl than the other. So, that's interesting. They didn't come out with exactly the same balance of it. But they came out, I think, knowing something about themselves and what they wanted to explore. Because I really let them explore things and show me what they were interested in, versus me showing them they had to be interested in this toy or this doll or this color. I would let them look at colors and tell me. What do you like? If they wanted their room to be that, I'd be like, "Alright. Great. No problem with me." They don't have to be a pink room, but they liked girly colors. They put colors out, and they would color with them and paint with them. They liked girly colors.
Billy: Brian, you had talked about how you're just following your boys’ lead right now, in letting them help you show you what it is that they enjoy.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely.
Billy: We're going to come back because you do have two different daughter mindsets.
Judie: I do.
Billy: Very much so. So, we're going to come back to that here when we get to the teenage girl brain. Because as I was reading through this, I was like, oh, yeah, these are definitely two different girls. Here's what this information says. I can't wait to hear what you have to say about that.
It says here that until eight weeks old, every fetal brain looks female because that is nature's default setting. So, guys, all of us started out with the female brain. It's at eight weeks old when a huge flood of testosterone floods the male brain and kills off the communication centers and grows more cells in the sex and aggression centers.
Brian: That sounds accurate.
Billy: That sounds a 100% accurate. Absolutely. If that doesn't happen, then the female brain grows as normal by forming more cells for communication and processing emotion. So, are we seeing here that female brains are more capable of communication, and men are growing brains that are more geared towards sex and fighting?
Brian: Yeah, that seems reasonable.
Billy: That's also why we're really, really caveman dumb.
Brian: That's true. That's scientific proof that we are stupid or caveman dumb.
Billy: You can't argue science. It says here, there's something called infantile puberty. It's at nine months for boys, two years for girls. Now I'm going to try and explain this. Infantile puberty is when the ovaries start producing estrogen, which further develop the female brain circuits for observation, communication, and female intuition. Do you think you have good female intuition?
Billy: Why do you say that?
Judie: I just do. I can feel it. I sense things. I have a high perception of things going on in a room. If someone's feeling something I can, I have a really good intuition about what might be going on. A lot of times, it's accurate. Although, I'm aware that it can be wrong. So, I don't bank on it. I allow for possibility. But I do think that I have a pretty high intuition.
Billy: I feel like you are in tune with the universe. In our conversations, we've had deep conversations before that you seem very in tune with the universe.
Judie: Thank you.
Billy: It says here that estrogen ruled girls prefer to live harmoniously and avoid conflict. Now this is at a young age, Judie. So, in case you're like, "What the hell is he talking about—"
Judie: Yeah, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Back up.
Billy: It says here when they're younger, so they’re like 5, 6, 7 years old.
Billy: It says they usually make collaborative statements, like, "Let's play." Whereas boys just take what they want, and they don't listen to the request for cooperation by girls because they are not concerned with conflict. Because they are here to conquer. So, I'm curious, when you would hear your girls play when they were younger with their friends, was it a communal playing?
Judie: Yes, I think there was more of that. Again, one daughter more than the other probably. It's interesting, because it's flip flopped in probably the ones that you think it is.
Judie: Right. The one that was very communal and really wanted to engage in, "Let's play," was the younger one. Whereas the older one of my daughters was more independent and more singularly focused. Although she had friends and engaged as well, but it was not the same.
Billy: And now they flip flopped.
Billy: You've told me enough stories for me to recognize that there has been a flip in how they handle their time with friends.
Billy: Judie has got some funny stories.
Brian: Judie should tell a few funny stories. That’s good stuff.
Judie: That’s a whole other podcast.
Billy: Brian, I'm just curious. Are your boys just divide and conquer?
Brian: Oh, God. Yes, especially the littlest one. Yeah. Oh, yes.
Billy: You talked about he's a little tyrant.
Brian: Yeah, he's a maniac. I'm just anxious for toddler stage to be done. We're on the tail end of it now. I'm just like, please wake up tomorrow and have a conversation rather than jumping on me.
Billy: Do you think he's going to grow out of that?
Brian: I hope he does. Otherwise, he's got a future as a professional wrestler.
Billy: Because your two older boys seem like they've gathered the scientific side of you.
Brian: Oh, yeah, for sure. Definitely. They both did. But the little one, no. He's still a toddler.
Billy: Were your two older boys, did they show the same exuberance as the younger one?
Brian: For a period, yeah. I'd say, they were all like he is now for a brief period but not as long as him. This one is different
Billy: So, he must have had a surge in testosterone. Because as I'm reading through both of these books, I am learning the impact that testosterone has. It says here that low testosterone in four-year-olds generally means that they will have higher quality relationships. Higher testosterone may actually kill off their ability to be socially and emotionally sensible. So, what they're finding then is that autism is eight times more common in boys.
Billy: I wonder. Does that mean that children who have autism, do they have high levels of testosterone? I'd be very curious. Because Autism is a lack of social nuance. So, I'd be very curious. If you are an expert on testosterone or autism, reach out. Let us know. That's a question that I'm very curious about. It says here — Judie, you remember the good old days when your girls liked you?
Billy: When they were baby girls, did you find them gazing at you?
Judie: Yeah, they would follow me around the room. Their eyes would follow me wherever I was going. It was so precious.
Billy: It says that that's a skill based on observation. It's evidence that little girl brains are more mature and develop faster by one to two years than boy brains. It says here that boy brains, one-year-old boy brains, are compelled to investigate their environments even if they are forbidden to do so. Brian, how many times you have to tell the boys no, stop?
Brian: All the time.
Billy: Do they heed those warnings?
Brian: No, usually. Well, the older ones do. They know better now, and they know I can kick their butts. The little one just doesn't care. He's like, "Yeah, go ahead. Kick my butt. I know you're not really going to hurt me. He does whatever he wants.
Billy: Judie, when your girls were younger, did they seek your approval?
Billy: How so? What would be an example of they were going to do something, but they looked at mom first? Like, "Is this okay?"
Judie: Yep, they will look before they would leave to see, am I going to step into dangerous territory here or is this okay? They wanted me to see them. Do you see me? Do you think I'm pretty? Am I special? They would get dressed in their little outfits, and come out and twirl in front of me. Mommy, do you like my outfit? Mommy, look what I found. Mommy, look what I drew. Very much about mommy, do you see me? Am I pretty? Am I noticed? Do you like me? There was a lot of that kind of thing when they were little.
Billy: It says here that girls, as young as a year old, are more responsive to people in stress. So, could they see stress on you, and would they come and comfort you?
Judie: Yes, absolutely.
Billy: So, you’ve talked about that they would seek your approval, too. It says here that a young girl’s sense of self hinges on whether or not she believes people are listening to her and taking her seriously. So, would it be a lot of, "Mom, listen"?
Judie: Yeah, absolutely. It wouldn't matter what I was doing. I needed to stop and look at them, make eye contact, and listen, or else they would pursue me over and over until I would hear them and listen and look at them. It was important. They were persistent in knowing that I heard them and that it was important I listened and looked at them.
Billy: Brian or Judie, I'm curious, when the boys play around a group of girls or when the girls played around a group of boys, would they withdraw if the boys would get too rambunctious?
Judie: My older daughter would, and my younger daughter would engage.
Billy: Aha. That leads — I'm so glad you said that. Because here's the thing. It says that 1 in 10 girls are tomboys. Thanks to a congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), they produce more testosterone from their adrenal glands eight weeks after conception. Though the brain research isn't there, the hormone levels can be measured, and the behaviors witnessed are more similar to the way boys behave. So, there's less eye contact. They're more physical.
Now, that's what I wanted to get to. Are you seeing that? Do you think you've got a tomboy on your hands?
Billy: Can you talk a little bit about that?
Judie: Sure. It's funny because she still has a very strong girly girl part of her as well — likes to have the nails done and hair and clothes. And yet, she loves to climb trees, play lacrosse, be very physical. Her play is physical. She doesn't want — she loves to read. She loves music, things like that. But she loves to be physical. She's strong. She used to pick me up and carry me around the house as a little girl. I mean, super strong. She wanted to prove her physical strength to me, which I found really interesting.
My other daughter never even thought about picking me up and carrying me around. It never even occurred to her. But my little one, I can't even count the number of times she would come just grab me right by the knees and pick me up and carry me around. It was very physical. Her and I would wrestle. She plays sports. She's in a defense position in lacrosse. She loves the action. She loves that type of aggressive play. She wishes the girls could check harder. She's like, "I wish we could play like the boys." Because she loves and she excels at it. She's very good at it. But, yeah, she's got that girly girl side to her, too.
Billy: Would she like to play with the boys on lacrosse field, or would that be too much?
Judie: That might be too much. Because they are really aggressive, and they throw that ball really hard. Although, in her mind, she might go, "Well, that might be fun." She's off for the challenge. She has practiced. When there's boys around, she's not afraid to go, "Hey, let's go throw the ball for a while." She will do that, but I don't know that she would want to go and actually join a boys’ team and play. That might go beyond where she would be. But she definitely would practice in the yard with a boy and not feel intimidated by that.
She used to play hockey in the basement at, when they were little, one of the friends' houses. They had boys that would play hockey down there. She would be the one down there. They would text me and go, "Oh my God, Ellie scored more goals than the boys today." She’d come home. "Mom, I scored more goals than the boys. It was so awesome." She would jump right in there, be her and all the boys. My other daughter would be the cheerleader on the side, cheering them on and watching the action. But she would not jump into that. That wouldn't be her style.
Billy: Do you find that in their sense of style when it comes to clothes and how they make up their hair or their face or anything like that?
Judie: Yeah, I think so. I think they express it through that as well. Although they both are girly, they have a different style to the clothes they wear and the music they listen to and things like that. I think they do express it differently.
Billy: Do you think the younger one is a little bit more masculine, or do you think she's just more aggressive while out in a physical context?
Judie: Yeah, maybe just more physical aggressive in sports, just things like that. Also, interestingly, she's not overly talkative. With her friends, she is. But she won't sit in a room and chit chat with adults very much. She's a lot fewer words, where the other daughter would sit with us for hours and talk about anything and just enjoy that. So, she does have that side.
My younger one that is more aggressive is not one that would sit and love to talk. In fact, when we sit down and talk, she's like, "Do we have to talk, mom? How long is this going to take?" I'm just like, "This isn't a bad talk. This is just me checking in. How's it going?" Few words, fewer word answers. Then she's like, "Are we done?" Okay. We're done. Honey. I love you. "Okay. I love you, mom." So, she does have that part of her where she doesn't want to use those 10,000 words when she gets home, where the other girl uses 100,000 when she gets home.
Billy: She's using all the words that the younger one didn’t. So, we're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about those formidable teenage girl years. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Thanks for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to help get you over the midweek hump. If you'd like to contact us, or if you have suggestions about what you'd like us to discuss, feel free to email us at email@example.com or follow us on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. Check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Oh, and don't forget to show yourself some love every now and then, too. And now, back to the show.
Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with supermom, Judie Goslin. She has been sharing her experiences as a mom of two, now teenage girls. So, we're going to talk about those formidable teenage years. Brian, just a heads up. We are going to talk about teenage girl menstruation. Okay?
Brian: I'm perfectly comfortable with that.
Billy: Okay. All right. I just wanted to. Because I don't know that I am, so I just wanted to give heads up here. Judie, you talked about the differences between your girls — how one would use 100,000 words and the other one would use maybe 100 words at the end of the day when they come back home.
It says here that during the teen years, we see girls seek out socialization opportunities while boys become more solitary. I think that connects to, like, if you're seeing the younger one a bit more tomboyish and just isn't using as many words as the older one is.
Judie: She will with her friends though. She'll go on and on for hours. Social media and on chats with friends, no problem. But other than that, not so much.
Billy: She doesn't have much to say to mom anymore?
Judie: Not so much. I’m not so cool anymore.
Billy: Just knowing you, that drives you nuts, doesn’t it?
Judie: Oh, I hate that.
Brian: You're in the valley though, right now. You know what happens? When they're young, you're super cool. Then as they get to teenagers, you're not so cool. Then when they hit college, you're on the way back up.
Judie: Yeah, I can't wait.
Brian: You hope anyway, right?
Judie: I hope I’ll be cool mom again.
Brian: Yeah, I'm sure you will.
Judie: I am, in my own mind, anyway.
Brian: Hang in there. You're in the valley. It gets better.
Judie: Thanks for the hope.
Billy: It says here that — this is actually stuff that's been disputed by critics of the book. It says here that girls speak two to three times more words than boys per day. Girls speak earlier and have doubled or tripled the number of words in their vocabulary by 20 months than boys do. But that's actually been disputed by critics of the book. Even when your girls were young, were they chit chatty?
Judie: Yes, and they spoke very early. In fact, I started doing sign language with them when they were about six months old. So, they're really able to express their needs and their feelings through sign language.
Brian: We did that, too.
Judie: Did you notice that your boys spoke early, too?
Brian: Oh, yeah. Well, one of them did, yes. Or I should say two of them, we did. One of them, we didn't. We do the more and all that stuff, that sign language. My first one spoke at nine months. He was doing full sentences.
Judie: Isn’t that amazing? Yes.
Brian: That's crazy. Then the second one, he didn't talk till he was two.
Brian: Same with the last one.
Judie: Okay. Yeah, it was like that with my girls. At about 9 or 10 months, they started speaking sentences, full expressive ideas. It wasn't one word at a time almost. It just started to flow out of them.
Judie: Actually, on their one-year check, the doctor had people come in the room. He said, "You got to come check out this girl." Other nurses and doctors were coming in and talking to my daughter, because she was so expressive.
Judie: And she was one. She had so many words. They usually have those markers of how many words of vocabulary they should have at different — both of them had so many words at their disposal. They were just talking.
Billy: I'm curious. Why did you guys have them do sign language. I’m not a parent, so I'm curious why you went that route.
Brian: Because they might not be able to express themselves verbally, but they have the mental capacity to know. For example, when you're feeding them, "more," was a big one. Is that what you did, too?
Judie: Yeah, more.
Brian: Yeah, more, where you put your fingertips together. Then they could say, no, I want more spaghettis or no, I don't want any more.
Judie: All done.
Brian: All done, yeah. So, you go all done. It's been a while for me. All done or more. So, they can tell you what they want without being able to verbalize.
Billy: Is this common practice from parents?
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Judie: Yes, and I think it helps, at least from what I read. It helps children not to have tantrums because they’re understanding. They're communicating with you, and you're actually responding with the appropriate response. Because they're telling you, "I'm cold. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I don't feel good." They're actually telling you through sign language so you're not wondering what's going on. They don't need to have a tantrum because they're actually communicating with you.
Billy: That is fascinating.
Brian: I don't know if all parents do that. But parents as good as we are do.
Judie: Right. Outstanding, excellent parents.
Brian: Right. Exactly.
Judie: We do that. But what I found is that they say, because that's developing a part of their brain that brings language in, they will speak sooner. They will have more words sooner because that part of their brain has already been communicating at six months or so.
Billy: Interesting. I learned something new today.
Judie: Well, there you go.
Billy: Thank you very much for—
Judie: You can use that at the dinner table.
Billy: With myself? "Hey Bill, what did you learn today? Well, I'll tell you what I've learned today, Bill."
Brian: Would you like more?
Judie: All done.
Billy: You know what? I know help, because I saw the movie Project X with Matthew Broderick. They taught the chimpanzees sign language. I just know that this means help when you put the hand in your—
Judie: When you lift them up.
Billy: Yeah, and they also taught them how to fly airplanes or something like that. Remember Project X?
Brian: No, I remember Matthew Broderick, though.
Billy: Yeah, Matthew Broderick. Ferris Bueller, man. He's fantastic. All right. Sorry. We do that. Okay. I'm wondering, what's the response to social stress and obsessing over social acceptance for your teenage girls these days?
Judie: Oh, my. Yeah, it's a real thing, I mean. This social media has just invaded their world. I wish I could find a way to cut it off. It's pervasive. It's in every part of their day. It's in their thoughts. It's even through the night. I've literally had to take phones away through the night so they get sleep. Because their friends would be up, two, three, four in the morning, communicating. Their phones are buzzing. I'm like, you've got to be kidding me.
Brian: We have screen time. My nine-year-old, he was in quarantine because he had a close contact exposure. I looked at his — I usually monitor the time when they're on it pretty closely. We weren't paying attention on Tuesday. So, I bring up the screen time stats. It was 20 hours. I'm like, "What?" So, we had to have a little talk.
Judie: Oh, yeah. We did the screen time. I did. I was very strong about not too much screen time.
Brian: You have to be.
Judie: Yeah, but as they got older and older into their teen years, it became such a point of contention, with them and I, that it was harming our relationship.
Brian: Oh, you're coming between them and their friends. That's what it is. Because their friends become much more important as you get older. Their friends are much more important than parents even.
Judie: Right. I'm not one to just back down because they're going to have a fit or whatever. But on that point, I held out and I finally decided, "You know what? I got to pick my battles." I'm going to watch how much time, and I'm going to teach them why it's not good to just fry your brain on screen time all the time. Don't buy into the lie of everything that's so perfect on social media. Don't engage in bullying, all the stuff that goes on. But to fight the battle every day of how much screen time they had, it got so ugly. That consumed our relationship. Because it's an addiction. They have to have it.
Brian: Absolutely, yeah.
Judie: It truly showed me how much of a true addiction that thing was, and how ugly it made them when I took it away. It created this tension between us that was so bad, and it continued and persisted. It didn't matter what kind of consequence they got. It didn't matter how long it went for. It was ugly until they got what they needed. I went, "You know what? I don't think this is a battle that I want to ruin my relationship." I have to help build a bridge so we can communicate about drugs and sex and driving and responsibility and accountability. If I'm going to hold my battle on this one, they don't want to even be in the room with me. They are angry. You can't help teach them when they're hijacked, their amygdala is hijacked, because they're so angry. So, I finally gave up some ground on that one.
Billy: It's funny that you talked about that of being addiction, because that's really what it is. Because connecting and socializing stimulates dopamine and oxytocin, which is in the pleasure center of the brain. It's almost as euphoric as taking a drug like cocaine. Really, if you want your kids to stay off the phone at night, just feed them some cocaine.
Judie: There you go.
Billy: I don't know that that’s sound parenting advice.
Judie: No wonder you don’t have kids.
Billy: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I'm just saying. Listen, do you want them off the phone, or do you want them off drugs? Which one do you want? Frankly, you got to pick or choose here.
Brian: Billy, I'm a little disappointed in you, man. That's something I would say.
Judie: We have digressed.
Billy: It says here, sharing romantic and sexual secrets activates that pleasure center, and it's a massive rush of dopamine and oxytocin. So, gossiping is a rush.
Brian: I believe that.
Billy: That is a theory why girls go to bathrooms in groups.
Brian: To get the dopamine.
Billy: Yeah, because they're going to go into the bathroom, and they're going to talk about that cute boy that they saw this Saturday. They've got the latest gossip. Boys generally go to the bathroom together, unless they're going there to conjure up some nefarious plan.
Brian: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Billy: That's what I have noticed in my time at school, is that boys will text each other and be like, "Meet me in the bathroom because we're going to go get high, or we're going to do something ridiculous in the bathroom, and it's going to be funny." Whereas girls would be like, "Meet me in the bathroom, and get four of your friends because I got something funny to tell you. We're going to socialize about it."
It says here that teen girls react more to relationship stresses. We talked a little bit about that — being liked and respected. Whereas boys, they react more to challenges to their authority and independence. In the team void segment there that we talked about a few episodes ago, we talked about that pecking order and the hierarchy and how important that is. You don't want to challenge that hierarchy, especially whatever it is that the boys have perceived in their mind, where they fit in terms of being maybe in an alpha male. I know that we've disputed the alpha male idea in the past here. But boys, particularly, don't like that. Girls will stress out if you're interfering with those relationships, like we talked about. The book suggests here that girls would obsess over their looks even without the influence of media. That one I found very interesting.
Brian: I think that's right.
Billy: Why do you think that?
Judie: Because you don't need media to tell you. I mean, you're still out in public. People see you. Like I said, even my little girls would go into their closet and pull out clothes and twirl, and show me all their outfits. They wanted to be noticed and seen. They wanted to look good. They wanted to have a style and a fashion about them.
Media, I think, exaggerates it and exponentially makes it more important because it's just in front of you 24 hours a day. But I don't think if it was absence of media that they wouldn't still have that desire. I think they eventually want boys to notice them. Do I look right? Am I noticed? Am I pretty? Whatever it is, in my athletic. Whatever it might be that they want, they want to be noticed by boys at some point, too.
Billy: A lot of that I think comes from their need to be accepted.
Judie: For sure.
Billy: Yeah, exactly, which is natural for anybody. Exactly.
Billy: It says here that a surge of estrogen and progesterone fuels the teen girls' brains circuits, which makes them more sensitive to acceptance, rejection, approval and disapproval. So, seeking that — we talked about seeking that validation from mom or from their peers — that absolutely would make sense. Do I look pretty? That sort of thing that comes up in those situations.
So, it says here that it may be challenging when girls start to like boys, because teenage boys mostly just want to be left alone in their room so they can go masturbate. That's honestly what the book says.
Brian: Wait. Teenage boys?
Brian: Carry on. Carry on.
Judie: They’ll grow out of that.
Billy: You don't. You don't grow out of that. Teenage girls want to socialize. So, when they know a boy that they like, they want to socialize. Teenage boys might be like, "I'm not really into that, unless they're going to start talking about sex or sports." So, that may draw out a teenage boy to be a bit more social. Judie, I'm curious. Do you think either of your girls are mean girls?
Judie: I think it depends on the day.
Billy: Do you think that they're mean girls to you? Do you think they're mean girls to their peers?
Judie: I think they can be, but I don't think they always are. I think they have good solid friendships and can be very supportive, and be really good people, very good-hearted girls. But I think they can take shots at people. When they do, they will take them out. My girls can take them out. I’m like, "Wow. Where did that come from?" Yes, they have it in them. I'm not proud to say that, but they can take somebody out.
Billy: So, it says here that the reason why girls can get away with that is that they can manipulate it in the saying, "Oh, I didn't mean it like that." That way, what it does is, it preserves the social nuance of the group. It preserves the social acceptability within the group. It was like, "Oh, no, I didn't mean that like that."
Judie: Or, I was just kidding. That's another one. I'm just kidding.
Billy: I'm just kidding. Yeah, they didn't mean it in that way. So, that way, it preserves that connection within the group. Because they talk about social isolation. It's such a damning experience. To be ostracized from the group could easily be the worst punishment for a teenage girl.
Billy: Because they thrive on that — being connected with their peers.
Judie: On that note, the girls that are ostracizing the one can be really vicious, like piranhas just feeding off of that drama. The drama drives me insane. They feed off of it. That is the part where the mean girl comes in, where it's like, "Could you have just a moment of compassion here?" What if that was you? Two minutes ago, you were friends. What if you were the one that was on the outright now, how would that feel to you? But the mean can come out, and they will just feed a frenzy on that. They all join in. The social media part makes it worse, because they're all chatting. They're all on Instagram and TikTok, and doing all their stuff and seeing everything. It’s not like you're all home and you can't reach each other, and see what's going on until tomorrow. They're on each other 24 hours until they're done picking on somebody. That's just ugly.
Billy: Are the comments generally about their looks?
Judie: I wouldn't say that, no.
Billy: Okay. The reason why I asked that is because it says here that, when mean girls start competing over the sexual favor of boys, then they'll resort to commenting about another girl's body parts.
Judie: I actually think girls, my experience right now, is they have become very aware of not body shaming. So, they're pretty sensitive. At least the girls that my girls are around, they are very sensitive about anyone that wants to body shame someone. They want nothing to do with that. So, that seems to be a trend right now, which I think is good.
Brian: Yeah, that is good.
Judie: I think that's a good thing. So, I don't hear that kind of stuff very often. It’s more just other things they want to pick on, or make fun of, or single out. I just don't even get it. Then they get over it. Tomorrow, it'll be something else.
Billy: That may clue into why by age 15 girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression. The book suggests that menstruation might actually be part of the reason why girls suffer from depression. It says here, "The female brain is so deeply affected by hormones that their influence can be said to create a woman's reality. These reality shifts are more like the weather. Whereas for men, it's like a glacier."
Because of menstruation, your hormones are shifting and you are moody. It says that PMS is very real. The hormone shift is why women experienced this roller coaster of mood swings. This, I found interesting — that the female brain is sharper during the first two weeks of her cycle. It says here that hormone fluctuations during menstrual cycles activate brain circuit excitability, which is why women feel more irritable towards the end of their cycle.
Brian: How did they determine that? Is that standardized testing or something? You’re like, "Hey, take this test, by the way."
Billy: Here might be the answer. Estrogen levels are higher during the first two weeks. That's when women are more likely to be social, it’s when your estrogen is high. In the last two weeks, your estrogen is low and your progesterone is high, which is more likely to make a woman irritable.
Judie: I think there's a foggy brain factor to that, too. Pregnant women can have foggy brain, right? So, it probably goes along with that in the cycle. It’s not as dramatic because you're not pregnant. But in the cycle, there's probably that foggy brain that can settle in for a few weeks. Then it washes out. Your brain washes and now you're not. You're more clear. That one makes sense to me.
I don't know that I could say — personally, I could mark that distinction between myself. I'm foggy all the time. I just don't know that I noticed that much. Everybody's different. I don't feel like it's super fair to say in general. Maybe that's one area in that book. I would say, I don't know that I agree with that. Because I have plenty of women friends, and they don't all PMS. They don't all get irritable, and they don't all get cry and weepy and isolate during certain times, honestly. Some do. Some feel that way, and some absolutely do not. I just don't think you can generalize.
Billy: Here's a little research project for you.
Judie: All right.
Billy: Jot down when your girls — on a scale of 1 to 10 — are the most irritable, and then see if you can determine when those moods happened in their moon.
Judie: No, I think for them—
Billy: Did you like how I referred to it as a moon?
Judie: I liked that, yeah. That was very good.
Billy: To me, that's so disgusting.
Judie: You’re funny. That was funny.
Judie: I know my girls are more irritable right now. But they're teenagers, too. I think there's a lot more of a swing of hormonal stuff going on for them.
Billy: Oh, yeah, big time.
Judie: So, I think they are more — they'll even say to me, "You know what? I'm just super irritable right now." They will say right out loud. "I'm just crabby. Just don't talk to me because I'm really irritated." Everything we say today is not going to go well, because they just know.
Billy: Have either of you heard of premenstrual dysphoric disorder before?
Billy: Okay. So, PMDD — 10% of women have this. It's an extreme hormonal shift which cause their emotions to rage out of control. It is actually something that women who have committed crimes in France and England have used to plead temporary insanity.
Billy: That is fascinating to me.
Judie: That's pretty strong emotion.
Billy: Yeah, exactly. There are 10% of women out there whose menstrual cycle is so powerful, that it could lead them to murder. Oh, my God. That is insane to me.
Brian: Yeah, I am glad I don't think I've ever dated any of that 10%. Because, you know, wow.
Billy: Judie, do you find your girls, they get tunnel vision and they'll lash out at whoever standing in the way of their one-track ideas?
Judie: Sometimes, yeah.
Billy: Do you get the slamming of doors and the "I hate you," and that sort of stuff?
Judie: You know, actually, it's not too bad. I think I could count on one hand maybe the times either of them has ever said I hate you. In fact, it's very few if at all. There's only been a couple of slamming doors. I put an end to that because I'm like, "That is not going to happen in our house." They don't. They actually honored that rule for some reason. Maybe they didn't feel good about it either because they don't slam doors. Now they will be snarky. They will say things that you're just, like, "I cannot believe that just came out of your mouth."
But even that, honestly, when they get that way, I think they just go in their room. Because I don't think they want to be snarky. I don't think my girls have the intention and go, "I'm loving that I'm just screaming at my mom right now." I don't think they enjoy it. I think they do it, and then they go, "I'm just going to go to my room. This is just not going well." I'm like, "Bye, bye. Come back when you feel better." They don't slam doors. They don't say I hate you. But they certainly can be hurtful, for sure. I don't get it. I'm like, "Okay. I thought she loved me. Maybe not. Maybe I'm wrong."
Billy: I can remember a time when the younger one was snarky with me one time, and Judie made her write an apology note to me. Do you remember that?
Judie: I do. Absolutely, I do. Yep.
Billy: I think we can close on this here. The book says that parents have the cognitive ability to use good judgment, while teens are simply not hardwired to do so. They are teens. They don't have the brain capacity to use good judgment as often as we as adults do. Therefore, wait out the storm, and resist the urge to match their tantrums with your own tantrum.
Judie: Amen to that.
Billy: Judie, I think that just knowing you like I know you, you are an amazing mom.
Judie: Thank you.
Billy: You have raised two amazing young ladies. You're an amazing person. We really thank you for being part of this conversation today about the mommy brain, the little girl brain, and the teenage girl brain. Thank you so much.
Judie: Thank you for having me.
Brian: Thank you.
Judie: This has been really fun. Thanks
Billy: Absolutely. So, for Judie, for Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.
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