Raising Resilient Kids: Emotional Regulation and the Role of the Church (Episode 64 + transcript)
An Interview with Jessica Nagy
This was personally one of my (Geoff) favorite episodes because it is so important and because it was so fun. But, warning, I messed up my mic. Thankfully Cyd and Jess sound great.
DESCRIPTION (Transcript Below)
Is it possible to raise kids who are emotionally resilient within the dysfunctional dynamics of abuse, divorce, or shared custody? And how can the church be more supportive for children who have hidden trauma?
That's what we are talking about with Jessica Nagy, the founder of Mosaic Motherhood, a community of warrior moms who are navigating co-parenting with a destructive individual.
Join us as we weave through the complex labyrinth of childhood resilience. Break away from the commonly held notion of inherent resilience in kids. Instead, let's spotlight those hidden or adaptive strategies children develop, which can sometimes evolve into maladaptive traits as they grow older.
Resources: Four Keys to Resilient Kids (PDF)
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Need coaching or spiritual direction that aligns with this podcast? Connect with Cyd Holsclaw here.
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Geoff Holsclaw: 0:05
Is it possible to raise kids who are emotionally resilient, even within dysfunctional dynamics of abuse, divorce or shared custody? How can the church be more supportive for children and parents who have hidden trauma, for single moms and others who are trying to figure out a co-parenting situation? That's what we're talking about today here on the Embodied Faith podcast hosted by myself, jeff and St Holstgla helping you get unstuck through a science-informed spiritual formation and, as always, we're produced by grassroots Christianity which seeks to grow faith for everyday people. So today we're joined by Jessica Nagy, who's passionate about helping moms build community and empower their children to navigate destructive family systems. She's the founder of the Mosaic, a motherhood community of warrior moms who are navigating co-parenting with destructive individuals and partners. So, jessica, thank you so much for being on the show with us today. We're very excited to have you and everything that you are passionate about and to hear about it.
Jessica Nagy: 1:33
Yeah, thanks so much.
Geoff Holsclaw: 1:34
I love warrior moms I love that Yeah. So, before we go into the first main question, which is, should we call kids resilience, can you and before we even define what is resilience, can you just talk about a little bit of your story and how you got into the work that you do and why you feel it's so important?
Jessica Nagy: 1:56
Yeah, absolutely. So. I got into this because this is slash was my story, and a few years ago I remember I was sitting in church one Sunday and I was bawling. There were people all over the room and up on the screen there was a father that was swinging his little boy around like Superman, and it was this fantastic ad. And yet I remember thinking wish I had that, wish my kids had that, and I was surrounded by people, but the loneliest I've ever been. And nobody offered me a tissue, nobody asked if I was okay, and I just felt so, alone And fast forward. A few months from that, i was imagining myself on the freeway, pressing my foot against the gas, lifting my hands off the wheel, embracing for impact, and so I fantasized about driving my car off the road. But there were three reasons that I didn't do it An eight-month-old boy, a three-year-old girl and someone that I could call on to drive if I felt that way when I needed to go somewhere. And so that brought me to a place of needing resources. Now, the resources that I found for myself were fantastic There are tons out there But at the end of the day, i felt like I don't know that I would have gotten help for myself, just for myself. But when the dynamics in my marriage started affecting my ability to show up well as a mom, that's when I knew things had to change, when I felt like I could do something that would harm myself and therefore harm my children. That's when something needed to change And there were no resources. For how do I help myself to help my children? How do I help my children? What happens if I leave and I have to continue sending my children back into that situation, and I could not find any resources for that. So when I did finally decide to separate and divorce, this was still a passion deep within me. I feel like my children saved my life, and so when I was safe, it was my turn to save theirs, and so I got a lot of training and did a lot of research and created those resources.
Cyd Holsclaw: 4:36
So that's why I'm here, yeah, and I just want to. I know so many people, both women and men, who have had that experience of once you finally have separated from an environment that is dangerous, but then there's still a determination that custody will be shared and having to send your children back and forth and back into that environment, knowing how difficult it is for them to be there. And so, yeah, i just anybody who's listening, who's in that situation, just I'm so glad that we have Jess on today And I hope that you'll hear some things that are encouraging to you in that space. One question I just want to ask is you know we hear things all the time about like, well, kids are so resilient, they'll bounce back. You know they're made of cartilage, right? Like they'll be fine, like they'll figure it out. You're okay, you've tongue out, okay. So what would you say about that, about kids being resilient and they'll bounce back?
Jessica Nagy: 5:38
I have a lot to say about that. Kids are not resilient, and at least they're not inherently resilient, and the reason I say that is because we all have things that we don't like about ourselves or that we struggle with that have a root that goes back to childhood. So if kids were resilient, none of us would have any problems related to something that happened in our childhood, and we all know that's not true. So the second thing that I would say is this idea of resilience being bouncing back is a false dynamic. Now, our brains can bounce back. Our brains can rewire it themselves. Our bodies can bounce back with training and effort and work after an injury, but We don't, as humans with emotions and spirits, ever go back to a point before we knew something You know. It's like once you know Jesus, you can't unknow Jesus, and once you have trauma, you can't go back to a point where you did not have trauma. That position doesn't exist. So the way I like to look at resilience is a continually moving forward towards a place of being able to face hardship and difficulties which we're all going to do and not succumbing to pressure or other people's expectations in that Being able to move through that in a healthy way, and it's a process, it's a journey. We're never going to have arrived the side of heaven. So the two things you know, to recap, the two things that bother me about this idea that kids are resilient is that it's not inherent. The good news is that it can be built. We can build resilience in our kids and in the kids around us, and it's actually. It starts with something fairly simple, which is emotional regulation.
Geoff Holsclaw: 7:46
Well, i'm all about emotional regulation, which we want to get back to, but I just want to explore this idea of well, why do we say that kids are resilient? And while you were talking or thinking that a lot of times it's because, well, one, maybe that's just like a cop out, right, like parents just feel bad that they've let their kids down, and then which I understand that, right, we all feel bad because we have let our kids down, right, but but then it feels like, well, unlike a car or like your favorite coffee mug that you dropped and broke, like there's usually not a clear outside of, like very clear physical abuse. There's not a clear sense in which, oh, that child's broken, like you know, and now, at a day or two or a week or a month after a divorce or traumatizing events, oh, they're playing with their friends again, they still get up, they go right. So there's this sense that like they got through it, they made it, because it's the things are not visible in a way that, like a broken arm, you know that then heals kind of would be. And so I think a lot of times is that is that kind of you think kind of the reason why we talk that way is like oh, they're playing again, they're outside having fun, so not so like they made it, things are okay.
Jessica Nagy: 8:56
Yeah, i think that's part of it. I love the fact that you said you know it's kind of like a cop out and I would. I would take that and say it's not always a cop out For us as parents. Sometimes it's other people hearing stories and not knowing how to help. And therefore they just want to reassure a parent by saying oh, kids are resilient, it'll be fine. I don't know what else to tell you. So I'm just going to tell you the one thing that I've heard my whole life And that can be helpful to a certain extent. But anybody who's gone through hidden trauma or consistent trauma knows that that's not fully accurate and not always helpful, because sometimes it can feel like a brush off. But the other thing that you said, jeff, is that it's it's hidden, and that's kind of the point. We, as as human beings, are incredibly adept at creating workarounds and, you know, coming up with ways not to show what's really going on inside, and so we may see children that are playing with their friends again. We may see children who appear in a classroom to be very attentive or very compliant There's a big difference between compliant and healthy And so we have these defense mechanisms, these coping mechanisms, which aren't necessarily serving us or our children, and that's more the result of that's what we're seeing, whereas the hidden portions of what is really going on inside of a child, or what is really what has really been affected, we don't often see.
Geoff Holsclaw: 10:53
Yeah. So sometimes maybe it'd be better to say well, kids are adaptable, and part of that, part of those adaptations are coping mechanisms that over a lifetime become maladaptive, like adult responses. And so we are, we're all adaptable. Yes, but that's not the same thing as resilience, and we can adapt to a dangerous or difficult situation so that we survive it, but that doesn't mean that long term that's. Those are really good, healthy, positive adaptations that will help you in further relationships, will help you in your own parenting when you're a parent, right. So it's all these.
Cyd Holsclaw: 11:29
Right, And actually that's why most people, that's why most of my clients, come to me is these things, these strategies that are using my whole entire life, these workarounds, these adaptive things are no longer working. I've got to figure out a new way. So you're I absolutely concur with, like that idea that, like we don't bounce back, we carry it with us, And it is often hidden. So I just quickly I ended this as a very complicated topic and it's not going to have a simple answer But so you said it is kind of a cop out for people who hear the story from a parent, right, who is overwhelmed with everything that their kids are having to go through. And you said, you know, people don't know how to respond to that. They don't know what to do, they don't know what to say. So what might be like a baby step? that would be more supportive than saying something like kids are resilient, they'll be okay.
Geoff Holsclaw: 12:19
For friends and family, like church members and coworkers.
Jessica Nagy: 12:23
Yeah, i think it can be as simple as I'm so sorry, how can I help? And that the power in that belief because what's that? what that's indicating is that's validating that you're hearing their story and you're hearing their pain and then asking them what they need. When I was going through my situation and deciding whether or not to separate, i went into a period of isolation. Now, that's a lot of people's go-to, but it certainly was not mine. I was more of a verbal vomiter and try and tell everyone my story and like help me please. So that isolation was jarring to those who had eyes to see. And there was one woman in this group of moms that I was a part of who noticed And I kind of laugh about it now. I was super annoyed at the time but like she would not leave me alone, she showed up at my doorstep. She showed up and brought things. I remember she showed up one time and I wasn't home when my dad was visiting for whatever reason, and he let her in And she was like there when I got home And I was not ready to talk about that. But I tell you what, knowing that she was in my corner, no matter what, and when I was ready to share my story, even when I wasn't ready to share my story, actually she said I don't, i only know something to the effect of I only know how bad it is based on what you tell me. And that was really powerful for me, because what that told me was I'm listening. And what that showed me was I'm here And what eventually went on to happen is she became this incredible not just her, her entire family And she has a fantastic marriage. They became this incredible safety net and support system, not just for me but for my kids. That showed me the hands and feet of Jesus in a way that I did not find in the church building itself.
Cyd Holsclaw: 14:40
Yeah, so what are some thoughts you have for in the church building itself, like what are some ways that churches can be more supportive in these kinds of situations so that people don't have to feel so unseen and isolated?
Jessica Nagy: 14:56
Yeah, i think it starts with really observation and listening. I'm thinking, for example, if a church has a children's program where parents come and they drop their kids off or they send them to Sunday school while they go in and listen to the main message, if you have something like that, really imparting the the cruciality to those who are working in that setting to observe what does drop off look like? Is there a child who is super dysregulated every time it comes to drop off? Who drops off a child? And is it sometimes both parents? And if it's usually, both parents notice when one doesn't show up, or if it's usually one parent notice when one does show up. What are those? what do those dynamics look like? And there can be, there can be indications if, if you're observing and I don't even wanna say if you know what to look for, because I think an untrained eye can still see things. But oftentimes we're in such a rush to do the things that we have set out to do that we don't take the time to notice those things. And even there was a church. I was out of the country and so we went to visit a church recently in the last couple of weeks and it was fairly small and they did have a kids program, and my daughter was not having it. She said nope, i don't wanna go, i wanna sit here with you, and I knew that wasn't going to go well for anyone. Her brother didn't wanna go without her, and so there were two things that happened that I was so impressed with, and the first one was when I went in to say, okay, we're visiting my children, don't know for sure if they're gonna go to the children's program, but can we check them in anyway? I asked, they had it divided by like up to kindergarten, i think, and then first grade to whatever. And my son is five and a half, but he's going into kindergarten because he's a November birthday and my daughter is going into third grade. And so I said is there any way that they can be together? There was no problem with that, she just fudged the grade. She said well, typically we have them go over here, but yeah, they can be together.
Geoff Holsclaw: 17:21
There was no problem with that.
Jessica Nagy: 17:23
And they were willing to bend the rules to create a situation that was safe for my children. And the second thing that happened is when I walked them into the room, i just went in with them and sat down. Now my kids needed, especially my daughter, who is the only one who was in the room, and she was like, oh, i'm gonna go to the hospital. And so my daughter, who's the older one and has lived through a lot more than my son, was quite young when I separated. But again, there wasn't an issue. There were no major questions like why are you here and who are you? I came in with my kids, i just sat down sort of at the back of the room and everyone else was in the circle. I just didn't include myself in the circle. And now I know that that's not always possible because of safety considerations and regulations, and I get that. But can a church create scenarios where that sort of thing can happen to create the safety for the children? If there's a child who doesn't want to participate for whatever reason, are there enough leaders in that room that one person could just sit with them and snuggle them or take them aside and say are you okay? I think about the possibility that church could be the safest place or the only place that a child can feel safe. And so what can we do, as what can the church do, what can leaders do, helpers, volunteers do to make that the safest possible place, even if it's only that one day a week?
Cyd Holsclaw: 19:13
Yeah, yeah, I love that And I have such a heart for that. I agree with you on that.
Geoff Holsclaw: 19:20
So what I'm jumping in. I'm jumping in on this. Because I want to get back to the church questions, but I feel like maybe that conversation should be helped.
Cyd Holsclaw: 19:29
I was going to ask about emotional regulation.
Geoff Holsclaw: 19:30
Yes. So let's talk about, well, how do we foster this positive goal? So let's not assume that children just are resilient, but how do we foster resilience in children? And you were talking about, like emotional regulation. I was about to bring up attachment and all this stuff too, but maybe that'll come up, so I'll just throw it back to you, jess Like, how do we foster this resilience? And then, after we talk about that a bit, maybe we can come back to the kind of the church or extended kind of situations that we can kind of be with parents in.
Jessica Nagy: 20:05
Yeah, I think it's a handy thing. What's your need?
Geoff Holsclaw: 20:07
for respect for our parents. You know, give us the five minute outline, fix all the kids, no problem. What's the process?
Jessica Nagy: 20:15
So emotional regulation is super easy. There are tons of tools and techniques that can be used, and I think that we can marry these two ideas of you. Know how can we teach our kids, or how can a parent teach their kids emotional regulation? And how can a church help? So emotional regulation does not need to be taught by a parent. It can be taught by anyone, and so if a church leader or helper has the skills to be able to do this, i think that's fantastic Because, again, emotional regulation is not. It's not something that we're born with by any means, you know anyone who's been around a baby knows that But it's also not something that we tend to be taught at a young age. I was speaking in a conference recently and there were about 100 women in the room And I asked them raise your hand if you know how to regulate, and there were quite a few people maybe 30 or 40 that raised their hand And I said okay, of those of you with your hands up, how many of you learned as a child? And there was one hand that remained up, and so I would like to change that. Now. Emotional regulation, i think a lot of people think of as calm, and I don't agree that they're synonymous. Emotional regulation is not this emotional flat line. I think that's dead or way too medicated. But it's more of like this gentle sine wave. Or you could think about it like a thermostat, where you set your thermostat for, say, 74. If it's at zero right now and it's freezing outside, it's going to take a lot of work to get it up here. But if it's already at 70, it's going to come up to 75, 76 and then it's going to drop down to 71, 72. But it's this gentle sine wave, and so what that really means is the ability to encounter a difficult situation and remain in if we want to use a fancy word homeostasis or bring ourselves back to homeostasis.
Cyd Holsclaw: 22:35
Another fancy word for our audience too, anybody who's heard. We've talked about the window of tolerance before too, which is so staying within our window of tolerance. So keep going.
Jessica Nagy: 22:43
Absolutely And so.
Geoff Holsclaw: 22:45
Emotional regulation is staying within a range. It's not just like I don't feel emotion. I think sometimes that's how it's thought is like oh, emotional regulation means I just don't feel the emotions, but you're saying, well, it has like this healthy range, and then when we're within that range, we're not too excited or we're not too down, then we're within our window of tolerance and we can kind of function and be the kind of person we hope to be for something like that.
Jessica Nagy: 23:08
Absolutely, and using that window of tolerance idea, emotional regulation can help us widen that window of tolerance Right.
Geoff Holsclaw: 23:17
Yes. So what is? what are some of these? So my mom would just help the people out there. What are some skills or tools or practices or activities to help us regulate? So I'm feeling dysregulated. I'm feeling so active And I have like all this energy coursing through my body because an event or an idea that I'm brooding on is just freaking me out. Before I'm collapsing into dysregulation of, i just want to check out, i just want to stop, i just want to sit on my couch all day and be in Netflix So that would be the lower end. What are some activities or practices that us as adults could do, but also that we could lead children into?
Jessica Nagy: 23:56
Yeah that I'm so glad you asked. I have a couple of ideas that I can just walk people through there. Super simple, and there are things that adults or parents can do and also teach their children, and one of my kids favorites is the emotional countdown. And so that would be, if you've ever heard And this is fairly well known, i didn't invent this by any stretch of the imagination, but if you ground yourself five things that you can see, what are five things that you can see? What are four things that you can hear? Three things that you can feel with your body, two things that you can smell And one thing that you can taste, and that one's kind of a weird one. So when I'm doing this with my kid, the first thing that I'll do is I'll say, okay, pick a color. And they'll pick a color and I'll say, okay, find five things that are that color that you can see around you. And that kind of takes it one step further from five things that you can see, because it's really asking them to focus And they actually really respond well to that. So, five things you know, pick a color. Okay, red, what are five things that are red that you can see? What are four things that you can hear, and at that point I tend to get really quiet, because what I want them to say is something to the effect of, oh, the ice machine just dropped ice, or there's, you know, a loud car just went by, or, mommy, you're breathing really heavy, you know. And so that's kind of what I'm, what I'm looking for now, depending on the age of the kids. They're not always going to get that. They're going to say, oh well, you're talking and I'm thinking, no, not. But. And then the things that they can feel with their skin. And the reason I say that, rather than what can you feel with your body, is that I really also like to have children and adults, i think. I think our culture is really bad at knowing a checking in with our body and knowing what our body is trying to tell us. And so I am not looking for emotions here. I'm looking for you know my, my hands are sweating. Or you know my, my genes are uncomfortable, or something to that effect. I can feel you know your arms around me, mommy, and or you're you're squeezing me too tight, or something like that. That's so. That's why I distinguish between what are you know, three things that you can feel versus what are three things you can feel with your skin.
Cyd Holsclaw: 26:39
And taking it out of the internal feeling and into what do you feel in your external environment.
Jessica Nagy: 26:45
Yeah, Yeah, So that's one. And when it comes to taste, I can kind of say if you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be? And so what? what that's doing right? Yeah, Well, with one of my kids it's always a peanut butter sandwich, Where this kid would eat peanut butter morning, noon and night if I let him. But this also goes to my definition of emotional regulation, which is connected with myself and connected with the present moment. And so that's what they're doing. They're grounding themselves in the present moment, which is a great way, you know, in brain science, for us to pull ourselves out of a trigger or out of wherever we are in here and into what is happening around me. Am I safe right now? And oftentimes we can be safe right now even when we don't feel it. So that's one of one of the ones that I love. For older kids, it can be as simple as some sort of breath work, while I'm thinking of, for example, box breathing and I'll have them draw that square on their skin as they're doing their breaths.
Cyd Holsclaw: 28:01
Oh, that's helpful. I do it in the air, but that's helpful on the skin. I like that Yeah.
Jessica Nagy: 28:06
Right, So again you're. they're grounding themselves and they can do it, you know, under their desk at school, right? Nobody has to see what's going on.
Geoff Holsclaw: 28:17
We had. So could you I know Sid, or just could you explain just real quick you don't have to lead us through but what is box, breathing box, why they call that and what happens?
Jessica Nagy: 28:25
I know people can Google all these things, but yeah, so the way that I've been taught is for for breaths in or whatever number of breaths in, hold for that same number, exhale for the same number, hold for the same number, and there's so many different ways that it can be done.
Cyd Holsclaw: 28:45
And I've learned it that you breathe in through your nostrils, in through your nose and out through your mouth, because that helps synchronize your nervous system.
Geoff Holsclaw: 28:53
We do that oftentimes to begin kind of the more spiritual or reflective at our youth group with our teenagers. Yeah, we do this with teenagers to kind of like, okay, you've been ready, we've been playing games, now we're going to get in touch with ourselves. We're going to get in touch with the spirit. You know, we do box breathing, we do that regularly, but just back into the church we're all. any other, like you know, chose ministry workers. if you want to transition into from a rowdy to a calm moment, like box breathing is a great practice. I just want to throw that out there for everybody. So so, box breathing, was there another? just really quick one. So you mentioned the emotional countdown, the box breathing. then is there another one?
Jessica Nagy: 29:33
Yeah, there's a bunch of Sure. There's a bunch of really great breathing techniques, depending on the age of the kids that you're working with. So I'm thinking with littles you can have. You know, your hand is the bubble solution, your finger is the wand and you inhale when you dip the wand in the bubble solution and you exhale and you blow the bubble. And then I add to that you know I have kids, okay, show me how big your bubble's getting as you're exhaling. So, adding that additional movement, because motion changes emotion, adding that additional movement. And then if I really want to test if they have come out of that sort of heightened state or dysregulated state, then I'll say I'll, i'll just go like this, i'll go pop And I'll have them pretend that it's splattered all over them or splattered all over me, and then I'll say, okay, well, what color, like, what color is all over me now because of this bubble that I just burst And that usually sends them into a fit of giggles. So, if they were dysregulated before and we're doing this exercise, that's usually the point where, if they're laughing, then I know that they're back into the present moment, right. And then another another great one, and especially when you're talking about youth group or maybe middle school, is this idea of getting them to do the highs and lows. So you can do, you know, jumping jacks, and then have them finish in a yoga pose. And so you're doing jumping jacks. Let's say we're going to do 10 jumping jacks and then we're going to, you know, hold, i don't know, i don't know my yoga poses. But we're going to, we're going to hold and freeze in this one stance for 10 seconds. And so what's that's? what that's doing is it's training their brain, this gentle sine wave that we're wanting them to use or to to realize, to stay within that window of tolerance as they're regulating.
Cyd Holsclaw: 31:40
Yeah, those are great ideas. I bet you have so many more, so where can people find even more ideas?
Jessica Nagy: 31:48
Yeah, so I actually have a free download that has a couple of those and then a few others on my website And that is mosaicmotherhoodcom. Forward slash four dash keys And that would be the the like the word for fo you are spelled out, and that's four keys to raising emotionally resilient kids And it walks through some regulation techniques. I have another workshop that I teach on something called anchoring, which is fantastic for both adults and kids, and that in that handout, in that, in that freebie, there's also a model that I developed based on the book of Matthew and looking at the way that Jesus walks with his disciples and even even regulates them.
Cyd Holsclaw: 32:40
So right, so we've been talking about emotional regulation. I just thought I know we need to kind of come to go a little bit long today. Oh, okay good, He's usually always trying to cut me short So yeah, i wanted to ask, so you know, how does all of this emotional regulation help a kid who is going back and forth between a home that is a little more stable and a home that is highly destructive? How does this help the child?
Jessica Nagy: 33:07
Yeah, so there's a couple of things. The first thing is, if there's a home that is more stable, then typically that's going to mean that's a home that's regulated, and all of these tools and tips and techniques are great for your kids, but it has to start with you, because the first step in teaching children anything is to model it right, and then it's to come alongside and do it with them, and so I talk about co-regulating And that's when we're in a state of more regulation, then our brains and our bodies are going to help their brains and their bodies get into that state using mirror neurons and all of these really amazing brain science stuff. So that's the first thing is when a child has a safe place to land and fail and get support, then that is building their resilience and their window of tolerance, for when they have to go into a space that's not as safe, the second thing would be that when they have these tools in their toolbox, they take it with them. They are able to practice these things on their own, and I have seen this firsthand and it's amazing where even my daughter has taken a technique that I've shown her and applied it at her dad's house, even taught it to her dad.
Geoff Holsclaw: 34:30
Yeah, that's the best thing is when the kids start teaching other kids. Yeah, or parents, or parents. Yes, exactly.
Jessica Nagy: 34:37
Yeah and so, and then if there are siblings, you know they can co-regulate each other, they can help each other out. All of that is building their resilience, and I can only imagine how powerful it would be if they not only had those skills at home with one parent and took them with them into all other situations, but if they were able to have a church to land in that also used some of these tip tools and techniques. Just how much more powerful that would be for them.
Geoff Holsclaw: 35:10
Well, i just want to emphasize this for some who kind of follow this. We're talking about emotional regulation, and just you mentioned both these things, but emotional regulation isn't just something that's internal to me as a person, although it is. So you've been naming these skills, but what you said also is co-regulation, is that's another resource. So emotional regulation is both the regulation I can offer myself while alone through certain practices. Then it also comes through trusted people, safe havens or attachment relationships, however you think of those things. And so where we co-regulate and resilience emotional resilience actually comes from being competent in both things. I know how to help myself when I need to. I'm also confident that I can go to people and get help when I can no longer help myself, and it's actually those are the two skills, and so that's really where, like you said, extended friends and family that's where the church comes in is how can we be co-regulating spaces to help with kids, but also with adults? Adults get this regulated too, right. So how can we be those spaces co-regulate? Sometimes they're called trauma informer, but I think actually co-regulating actually gets an emotional regulation like gets right at that. What are we actually doing? And so, yeah, we need those two components to emotional regulation. So how can? we've been talking about the kids and how parents can help with the kids, but then there's a lot, like you know, moms, the single parents. How do you help, resource or help those parents in co-parenting relationships where you might feel like more of the functional one, but you're dealing with a dysfunctional or outright abusive co-parenting partner, either in the house or outside the house or sharing houses? How do you help moms Well, we'll say moms, although it's not always moms How do you help them? like, walk through that, although this could be a whole nother like episode, right?
Jessica Nagy: 37:04
I think it could, but I would also say that the first step is always just believe someone you know, validate their lived experience, be that safe place, be that person who is able to co-regulate with them. And then I think I mentioned earlier, you know, ask what is it that they need, and I think, especially in the church. Then the next step would be acknowledging what you don't know. You know leaders. We don't know it all, and I'm gonna include myself in that right. There are techniques that I have yet to learn about, there are things that I have yet to discover And, as church leaders, i think a lot of church leaders can get stuck in this idea that they have to have all the answers within themselves And that's just not possible. So, acknowledging what you don't know and finding resources to help build your knowledge And, if you're okay with it, i would recommend a few, and these are external- resources to me, but Call to Peace Ministries is a nonprofit organization headed by Joy Forrest, and they actually have a church partnership program where they will come into your church and teach your leaders and volunteers what it means to be a safe church for those who are in destructive relationships or abusive relationships. Another one is Leslie Vernick and Pastor Chris Moles have a membership for people, helpers and pastors and counselors and coaches called equip, and I'm actually a part of that membership and we get together every month. There's an intense library of video resources to help you with all different kinds of scenarios and build your knowledge and training, and then there's a monthly call where we get together and we can discuss cases or things that are happening in church that we don't quite know how to handle, and these two have both sides of the coin. So, for those who don't know, leslie Vernick is the author of the Emotionally Destructive Marriage And she has years and years of experience working with women and empowering women in that space, and then Pastor Chris has a ton of experience working with perpetrators, and so it creates this really great bookend where you know people helpers can come in and learn for themselves how to do better at this, and then another resource would be church cares, and I think that's churchcaresorg And that is a program that helps a church care well for the abused, and so those are some resources that I would highly recommend. The other thing that I would say is in if someone comes to you and has had physical or sexual abuse and it's very obvious, that is when I would recommend that a church or a friend or a family member would highly encourage getting law enforcement involved or documenting something legally, because when it happens, if there is documented legal evidence, then the courts can help, and I am not a huge advocate for the courts in a lot of these situations because I think the problem is that there's still so much shame and victim blaming around abuse, domestic violence and course of control, especially in Christian circles, unfortunately, that a lot of this doesn't get documented. But if you're helping someone walk through something like this and there is hard physical evidence that can be documented, i would say encourage them to do that process. Now, if you're coming in during a separation or a divorce and none of that has been documented, then I would say that you as a church or you as a leader or a friend or a helper, can be that safe place that co-regulated place where they can save their resources whether that's time, emotional, energy, finances and not necessarily take it through the courts, because we have in our country a system that's unfortunately very broken. And not to say that that's all family court judges or attorneys' faults there are good ones, but there's just so much more that goes into play with that, and I have seen the court do more harm than good in a lot of these situations when there isn't documented evidence. So again, that's validation admitting what you don't know, encouraging them to reach out to aid when necessary or when appropriate, encouraging them to save their resources when appropriate. And then the final thing that I would say is just get comfortable with the messy middle. I think churches do a really good job of understanding what is married and understanding what is divorced, and this period in the middle where there's separation or there's a process. I just don't see much comfort in that, and so people tend to just take their hands off, and so I would just really encourage anyone to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable and asking questions, being curious or being quiet.
Geoff Holsclaw: 43:03
Yeah, yeah, thank you so much for that, and it is messy When you read the gospels and how Jesus interacts with his disciples as well as all that. It's just it is messy. So I don't know why oftentimes we feel bad or expect the church not to be as messy as what we see Jesus getting into all the time. So let's just embrace the messy. Do you have one last thought or comment? where you're taking notes there? Yeah, i just well, i just wanna make sure we're gonna get all these notes and show notes.
Cyd Holsclaw: 43:32
I wanna make sure all the resources are in the show notes.
Geoff Holsclaw: 43:35
Yeah, the resources are gonna be in the show notes For sure, especially the keys for resilience that you mentioned from your own website.
Cyd Holsclaw: 43:43
I guess I would ask one more question, jess, if you could sort of cast a vision of hope for the church like what would you love to see in the church as the sort of body of Christ? What's something that you would love to see? I would love to see.
Jessica Nagy: 44:00
I would love to see. There's a lot that I would love to see. I would love to see the church being that safest place you know for a parent, for a child to know that they are seen and known and loved, regardless of how messy or uncomfortable their situation is. I would love to see churches respect a parent's choice and I would say a mother's choice, because that's typically who I work with. There are some women who choose to stay and a lot of people don't understand that. There are women who choose to leave and people don't understand that, and there's typically, you know, these two camps of why don't you leave and why don't you stay and just giving her that space to be. You know we're here for you whatever you decide to do, and we want to come alongside you and surround you with love and be the hands and feet whatever you decide to do. And I would love to see, you know, churches just becoming more trauma informed. And I think that's one of the fantastic things about this podcast is that you are combining these two things this faith and this, you know, brain science and being trauma informed, and you're merging it together. So you know, anyone who's already listening is well on the road to doing all of these things. And the last thing I would say, and I don't really know why this is stuck in my brain, but there are three words that can be so powerful in these situations, and those are I don't know.
Cyd Holsclaw: 45:47
Jessica Nagy: 45:48
I would love to see people just say I don't know how to help right now, But if you can tell me what you need, then I can mobilize. Or I don't know, but I know where to find the answers. Or I don't know, but let's look for the answers together.
Geoff Holsclaw: 46:07
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's so great. Well, thank you so much for taking some time to be on with us. Again, you can find Jess and everything she's doing at mosaicmotherhoodcom, as well as the resource in the show notes. I'll be sure to have the link to the free resource that she has put together, as well as some of the resources that she has mentioned. Please share this with all of your children's ministry leaders or your senior pastors that you know of or are a part of, or other people, all of you who are listening. Please like and subscribe and share this around. And again, thank you so much. Yeah, thank you, jess.
Cyd Holsclaw: 46:44
It's great to talk with you.
Geoff Holsclaw: 46:45
Talk more about this some other time in the future.
Cyd Holsclaw: 46:47
Thank you so much for everything you put together.
Geoff Holsclaw: 46:49
I forget Sorry. Were you writing a book or putting something together? or did I read that, or was that not you?
Jessica Nagy: 46:57
It is not in the works yet. It's one of those things that's on the mile long to do list and sorry.
Geoff Holsclaw: 47:04
Is that one of the things that people tell you you should do and you're like there's no way I'm doing that?
Jessica Nagy: 47:09
No, I mean I do want to, but it's just all right, i understand that.
Geoff Holsclaw: 47:17
Well, thanks again, and we will be talking to all of you soon again.