How Do You Set Boundaries and Live With Natural Consequences When Your Child is Misusing Drugs or Alcohol? Real Talk with Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
How Do You Set Boundaries and Live With Natural Consequences When Your Child is Misusing Drugs or Alcohol? Real Talk with Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.

If you’ve spent any time learning ways to parent a child (adolescent or adult) who’s experimenting with drugs or alcohol, or who’s in active addiction, you’ve likely heard about the concept of setting and holding boundaries, and about letting natural consequences happen when your child makes a bad decision. But how do you actually do those things when they feel confusing and hard?

In this episode, I do a deep dive on these two strategies parents can use with Julie Jarvis,  a brilliant and compassionate psychologist who has seen just about everything when it comes to addiction and substance use. Julie is a consulting psychologist for CMC:FFC – the talented team who wrote the book Beyond Addiction which has helped my, and so many families, learn how to live and heal through addiction in the family. 

We do a deep dive into several difficult topics and provide insights including:

  • What makes Dr. Jarvis so passionate about working with people when they’re struggling with addiction
  • What is a parent’s role in the healing process when a teen or young adult child is misusing substances?
  • How the parenting skills that help a child in active addiction can also work with a teen who’s just starting to experiment with substances
  • Information on a hidden goldmine of resources parents can access free
  • Real-world scenarios dealing with boundaries and natural consequences
  • Boundaries – what they are, why they’re important, and how to use them in your family
  • Why a balance of boundaries and control are important for teens and young adults to have
  • Natural consequences – how they’re tied to boundaries, how to think about them, and how to live with them (it can be really hard)
  • How brain development plays a role in your teen or young adult’s substance use and decision making
  • The role of communication in making boundaries and natural consequences effective
  • The role and importance of self-care for parents


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SPEAKERS: Brenda Zane, Julie Jarvis
Brenda  02:45
Hello friends, we have made it to the end of 2020 if you’re listening in real-time, it’s December and I am closing out the year with a very, very special guest. She is a psychologist who specializes in treating addiction. And she is so incredibly compassionate and intuitive when it comes to helping people right where they are not expecting them to be somewhere that they’re not. She’s a licensed clinical psychologist specializing for over 20 years in the treatment of substance use disorders and also in mood and anxiety disorders. She obtained her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Long Island University and then went on to complete her postdoctoral fellowship in addiction psychology from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She has worked with pretty much everybody individuals, groups, couples families, as we know as a family disease in a variety of different treatment settings. So she’s worked with people in outpatient, intensive outpatient long-term residential care. So really seeing the spectrum of what goes on with this disease. She now serves as a consultant psychologist for CMC:FFC, a nonprofit organization that provides evidence-based skills training to family members who have a loved one struggling with substance issues. These are the same people who wrote the book Beyond Addiction and the 20-Minute Parent Guide, which I highly, highly, highly recommend to anybody if you’re looking for a way to influence your child’s choice around substances. I really can’t say enough about today’s guest. We talked about some really hard topics like boundaries, natural consequences, how you deal with those as a parent. So with that, I will let you listen in to this incredibly helpful and informative conversation with Dr. Julie Jarvis. 
Brenda  04:54
Welcome, Julie to Hopestream, I’m super excited to have you on because I think this is an opportunity that a lot of parents would kill for to have an hour of time with you, just your expertise and what you do every day. So thank you so much for blocking an hour in your schedule and coming on the podcast with me.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  05:16
Thank you so much for having me. It’s just an honor and a delight to be here. And I am so excited about what you’re doing here at Hopestream and happy to be a part of it. 
Brenda  05:30
Awesome. Thank you. Well, so just for the listeners, I had the good fortune of meeting Julie through a training program for the Partnership to End Addiction. And it’s a partnership between them and the CMC:FFC, which is a lot of acronyms, but it’s basically the Foundation for Change, do you want to just talk a little bit about what that is. And what that partnership is, because I think it’s super cool. And people just don’t know about it.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  06:00
Absolutely. So the Center for Motivation Change is the CMC part. And we are a for-profit treatment group of psychologists and clinicians who work together to really provide cutting edge evidence-based treatments for addictions. And our foundation really came out of deep passion from our founders, Carrie Wilkens and Jeff Foote, to get this information that we have, and that we’ve put together in our invitation to change model to really get this information out there all across the country. And we recognize that we’re able to offer our face to face services in a pretty limited way, right? It’s people who live in New York City, it’s people who can walk through the door. And there are so many people across the country and specifically families. So our foundation really focuses to help families, specifically families who are without options without people to talk to without resources and our mission. And that mission is also a very shared mission by the Partnership to End addiction. And so the mission is really to just get this information out there. And hopefully, you know, we’re doing it here with you today. And just another way to spread this mission and to spread this information to people who just really need the support, and are in a lot of pain.
Brenda  07:42
It is so it’s so true. There’s just such a limited… like you guys have so much knowledge and I interviewed Carrie, earlier in the podcast, and I just thought oh my gosh, there’s so much information and knowledge and experience in your head and her head and everybody and how do you get that out to the masses, because as we know, with the opioid crisis and everything else going on, there are literally millions of families out there who need help, and they can’t walk through the treatment doors of a practice somewhere. And either, you know, maybe logistically, they’re not near a place like that, or they don’t have the funding to do that. So I just think what you guys are doing is amazing. And I know you’re working on a lot of online resources. And then this partnership with the Partnership to End Addiction offers tons of information. And I’ll put all of this in the show notes for folks. So don’t try to don’t think you need to write it all down. But has tons of resources for you – free parent coaching, free parent online meetings. So yeah, it’s just it’s like a hidden goldmine. I feel like of information for parents and families who are struggling with somebody that they love, who is you know, in addiction.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  09:06
And I’m so grateful that you’re a part of it with us, Brenda. And I just want to add on that, you know, the opioid crisis, absolutely, without a doubt has, you know, captured and just so many of our hearts and so much loss, and so many scary things going on out there. And, you know, I just want to say that there are also parents who, maybe their kid’s picking up marijuana for the first time or you know, they find some little object and they don’t know what it is or they smell alcohol and they’re not sure what to do with it. So this really, we really want everyone who’s got any questions about any of this related to substance use to be able to feel like they can benefit from this invitation to change model and the skills that we are up on the website and some of the stuff that we’re going to talk about today, so just want to include everybody in this conversation, right?
Brenda  10:04
Yeah, no, it’s so true because I do, I think sometimes my brain just goes fast forward to full-on addiction in crisis mode. But I do sometimes forget that there is a starting point for all of that. And it is that first finding a little baggie that smells like weed in the backpack or finding the airplane size bottle of Jagermeister or whatever it is. And it’s like, then you just freak out like, oh, my gosh, what do I do? So I’m really glad that you said, yeah,
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  10:42
it is important. It is it is. And that’s and you know, at that stage, and at any stage, really, the stuff we’re going to talk about can be very helpful.
Brenda  10:52
So why don’t we just rewind for a second, I got so excited about, like, everything we’re working on. But let’s just rewind for a second. And I love to start out my podcast with just a question that I did not prepare you for and that is, what did you want to be when you were growing up? 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  11:13
What a great question. How old?  Wow, okay, okay. You know, yeah, I think I’ve always been a helper in some way, I think. Whatever form that took, I think some version of helping has always sort of been a natural tendency for me and wanted to be a veterinarian for a while. And thought about going to med school for a little while, but ultimately ended up pursuing the psychology route over the science, the physical sciences route, and some other things in there too. But mostly helping professions. So animals and humans, helping them.
Brenda  12:11
What was it about psychology that interested you more than like going the medical route into, you know, going to be an MD or whatever?
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  12:21
Yeah, that’s a great question. So I loved science, actually, chemistry was my favorite. And I was really, really into science. But there’s something about when I took my first psychology class, which for me was not until college I know. I mean, my, my school-aged children already know way more about psychology than I did until I was probably 18, 19 years old. But it was it just was so fascinating to me, I just got really, really interested in the material and just wanted to take more and more psych classes, and ultimately decided that that that was just what, what excited me the most. The other stuff, I could do it, I could do the work and I liked it. I liked being successful at it. But this really just touched me in a different way.
Brenda 13:10
Well, we’re very fortunate that you decided to focus on people versus animals. So the animal kingdom lost out on this, but I’m glad that we are benefiting from that. And so how did you end up sort of, you know, obviously, you went to college, you got your Ph.D., which I know is, well, I don’t know, because I’ve never done it. But I imagine it’s an amazingly huge amount of work. How did you navigate through that and then end up doing what you’re doing today?
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  13:44
It’s a great question, too. So I was in grad school in the 90’s out here on the east coast. And a lot of the training that I was getting was in more sort of psychodynamic long term psychotherapy. And again, I found that interesting. And I think it’s a really helpful model. And I think getting insight is really useful for people and I decided by the recommendation of someone that finding something to specialize in was going to be a really good idea. And so I came across addictions and one of my early training experiences and I just, I fell so in love with the work because when people get better, the change that happens is so observable, right? It’s not this quiet little, and it can be, it can be that too, but it can be so transformative and being a part of this world where people are just working so incredibly hard to let go of something that works for them so well, and they’re trying on new behaviors and ultimately, just finding a way to really build their lives over. It’s, it’s tremendously, just an honor to be a part of that and so inspiring to me all the time.
Brenda  15:29
That would be just, I mean, having seen it myself, just us in a small way. But to really kind of come alongside people during that time, because you’re right, it’s the contrast is so dramatic when you meet somebody who is active addiction, and just all of the things that go along with that. And what I find is that a lot of people, they hear, oh, this person is, you know, addicted to drugs, and they just think it’s the drugs, and they don’t realize that there’s that collateral damage that spreads throughout their life from a legal standpoint, and relationships, and then also out to the family, and the community and everywhere else. So while somebody might be struggling with using substances, it’s just not the substances, there’s so much that goes along with that.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  16:18
So many layers, and so then the other side of that being that all those layers have the potential to get better, and in the field, we get to be a part of that. And one of the really special things about CMC and the work that we do and FFC is that we really believe in people’s potential to get better, and we want to help them understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And I think people just really appreciate that as well and feel so heard and understood, because a lot of places that they’re getting treatment out there, they just feel judged or criticized or misunderstood. And we really try to do things differently.
Brenda 16:45
And so I should say too for people, for the parents who are listening that the book Beyond Addiction, which I think I might mention in almost every single podcast episode. I do, because it’s just, it’s so amazing. So Julie is with the organization that wrote that book, as well as the parent guide. There’s a 20-Minute Parent Guide that goes with that. And when I was talking with Carrie on the podcast, almost a year ago now I just remember getting this feeling from her. Like, it’s okay, we can figure this out. And there was no judgment, there was no stigma. It was like, well, yeah, of course, you’re doing that. That makes total sense. Let’s figure out a different way to do it. And it was so refreshing. And so different than what I had heard really, even from my own experience with therapists and, you know, counseling and my son’s programs, it was just it was a shift in the way my own body even like reacted and felt having that conversation. 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  18:12
Right. I agree with all that.
Brenda  18:15
Well, so I have so many things, so many questions for you. And I’ve had to narrow them down. I know, I sent you a list of like 18 things we had to focus on 2. But I think one question that I get a lot from parents is, “what is my role in this whole thing?” So whether like you said, you’re at the beginning stage of you just found something or you’re just starting to have kind of a sneaking suspicion that something might be going on all the way to I’ve got a kid who is in active addiction, what is kind of that role that parents can play with their kids, whether they’re 15 or 23, in this whole process of trying to figure out substance use and addiction? 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  19:04
Well, it’s such a complex answer.
Brenda  19:08
If only there was a simple one!
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  19:10
Right, wow. You know, I think my instinct, and I don’t know if this is exactly the answer to the question of what is their role, but what I might say the advice that I want to give is just don’t give up. And that you are probably the most impactful person in your child’s life. And that if you’ve been told that your only job is to step away and let them figure it out, then I really want you to consider and maybe reconsider. If that doesn’t feel right to you, for some people that actually might feel like the right solution. So I don’t want to say that that’s not a solution. I just want to say that for people who that doesn’t resonate with that, there’s so much else out there that I want to offer you and that we want to offer you and to know is that your role is incredibly, incredibly important. And yeah, and that you don’t have to be alone. Right, that there’s that there are resources out there that can be helpful for you. Yeah.
Brenda  20:27
Yeah. And that’s, it’s so good to hear that because what for just from my experience, what you’re hearing from your child during this time is, I hate you, or you’re the worst parent or whatever. So you, you don’t get this innate feeling that you are going to have an impact or that you can really influence them, you kind of get the feeling like, wow, I, I’m useless in this, or I’ve actually made it worse. So knowing that you do have that influence is really helpful. And kind of understanding the role of supporting and I love your the way that you guys talk about the invitation to change versus I’m going to fix you because I think there’s a lot of parents that, you know, it’s hard to go from you have an 8, 9, 10 year old, where you really can fix a lot of things in their life into that transition of I can’t fix this, they need to fix this, but I definitely impact how they go about doing that. Would you say that that’s true?
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  21:31
I would say that that’s absolutely true. And I appreciate that addition, that it’s not that you’re responsible for fixing it or that not in any way, when I say that you are the most important, does that mean that you are now the one and even you’re gonna drive this whole thing, it’s, it’s a much more quiet, it’s not necessarily quiet. But it’s a, it’s a much more collaborative process that you’re engaged in with your child. And so hence the word, invitation, right. And I also just appreciate you bringing up these ideas that it’s not easy, and that there is going to be times when they are going to give you every indication in the world that they don’t want your help. And that’s going to happen, and you’re going to make mistakes, too. So I guess the other thing that I might say is that that’s okay, too, that no one’s going to do this perfectly, that you’re going to stumble, and you’re gonna make mistakes, and there’s going to be room for the two. And they’re going to recognize that you’re in there with them and that you’re human and that you know that everybody is trying the best that they can. 
Brenda  22:40
It’s so hard. So yeah, hearing that, don’t give up. And I say that all the time too, don’t give up. It’s not easy to hang in there with it, but it is so important.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  22:54
And take a break if you need to, like, part of what we talk about is self-care. Like maybe you need to take a break, right? But then you come back when you felt ready.
Brenda  23:02
Yep. And so I work with moms day in and day out, I have a community of moms specifically. And so two of the things that come up over and over and over have been really, really hard for them to do and I know I struggled with it is this idea of I need to set some boundaries because my kid is you know, they get to an age where you can’t physically make them do anything. So if you say you can’t leave the house, and they look at you, and they give one finger and they walk out. It’s like, okay, well now what do I do? So the two things that I really hear a lot from them is this idea of how do I set boundaries? And how do I actually enforce them? And then how do I let both my kid live with the natural consequences that might happen and how do I accept and live with the natural consequences that might happen. Because sometimes I almost think it’s harder for us as parents to live with those consequences than it is for the kid. So if we could just explore those two areas, I think it would be really, really great and helpful for the listeners. So maybe we could start with boundaries. And I bet you have a really great kind of way of explaining that or thinking about it.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  24:29
Oh, well, you know, I told you I have an adolescent myself. So speaking to this, and I love that you work with moms, I’m living it every single day. I’m living it as we’re recording. I love that you work with moms and I love working with moms myself, and I love working with dads too. I have a special place in my heart for mom being one of them, and I get it so I just want to say that it’s I think the first thing I want to say is that it’s such a personal choice, right? Like, what might be a boundary in one family might be or what one parent needs to set as a boundary might be very different from what another family might need to set as a boundary. And so I think that there’s not a real clear answer on where the boundaries need to be right. It’s really personal to each particular family. And they also may change over time, there might be something that’s fine for you at one point and later becomes unacceptable or was unacceptable, and then you decide it’s actually not that urgent anymore, right. So this is all very fluid and ongoing. 
And one of the some of the stuff that we’ve been talking about in the training that we’ve been doing together, and that’s up on our, our resources on the CMC website is a lot of our communication skills. And I think that the extent to which parents can engage in conversations with their children around the boundaries that they need to set. And to, really, there’s going to be times where you’ll say, this is the thing that absolutely cannot happen, right? For example, drinking and driving, right? That might be a really hard “this can never happen.” And if it does, we have to really have serious consequences for that. There might be other things where it doesn’t feel so clear, and maybe it’s what time is curfew. And you might decide that that’s not something that you want a power struggle over, you might not need it to be exactly midnight if your child wants it to be 2 am. 
And so, I think these communication skills can be used. And as you said, as kids get bigger, this gets different – part of being a teenager, a part of being a young adult is pushing back against the system. That’s their developmental task. They’re doing that because they’re separating from you, and this is their job, as a teenager is to do this. And so you really have to figure out like, where is the line for you? And can you engage in a conversation with them and collaboration with them around setting up those boundaries? And so maybe you meet in the middle? And then maybe they don’t stick to that? And so then you got to pull it back? A little bit, right. So, but these communication skills allow you and, and you want to understand why do they want to stay out till two? What happens between 12 and two? And to honestly be curious with them? Right? Well, you know, Mom, like nobody even goes out to 11. If I go home it at 12. That’s so embarrassing. Like, that’s when my friends are just coming out. And so to really understand where their need is coming from, is I just think a recipe for a better collaborative conversation around where the boundaries are.
Brenda  28:13
Right? Right. That is to try and understand it to ask the question, instead of just saying it is this or it is that to understand why? Why is that? or How are you feeling about that? 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  28:27
Yeah, and it might be that you know that you understand why, and you still need to set your boundary where you said it, right, because but we all remember being a teenager. When your parents said, because I’m the parent it’s like, how did you like hearing that? And again, one of the things that we talk so much about is how do all of these decisions impact the relationship that you have with your child. And so if we’re going to zoom out, which I think is always so important to do every now and then, and we can get caught up in the weeds of the boundary, and kids need them, right? So I’m not saying they don’t need them. But we also want to zoom out and say, what, what impact is this going to have on my relationship? And I think that kids need both boundaries, and they need to feel some sense of control. So there needs to be a balance of both of those.
Brenda  29:22
And with boundaries, one of the most common ones that I hear is, “my kid comes home and I know they’re high. I know they’re high, or I smell weed from the basement. I can smell it and I know they’re smoking in the house. And I’m not okay with that.” And so if that’s a boundary and I said to my son or daughter, no smoking weed in the house, and don’t, I don’t want anybody in my house who is high. One of the things that I think helped me and I’d love to get your professional opinion on this is you to for, for me to understand that it wasn’t just my son that I didn’t want to have in the house high or drunk or whatever – it was anybody. So if there was an uncle who was going to come over would I allow him to come over high, or you know what I mean, it was. And so I think sometimes we think of boundaries as just applying to that one, you know, problem child, where maybe if we back up and say, well, wait a minute, what am I willing to accept in my world, my life from anybody? And then, that way, it kind of removes it, like I’m punishing you, or I’m doing this just because of you? Is that a way to think about it? Because sometimes it can just get so personal. And it’s like, you know,
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  30:49
I think it’s a great way to think about it, I think it’s an absolutely great way to think about it, right. And I and I think that this is where the communication skills come in, because when you have a relationship with your child, and again, we’re talking about young adults, there might even be a slight gender difference or personality difference in terms of how communicative or how willing your child is to engage in communication. And so you can use all these skills, and they still might not want to talk to you all that much. And if you’re creating this, this ambiance of communication or trying to then you can explain all that right. And so it does feel less personal, it does feel less arbitrary, it does feel less, like this is being done to me, and so they don’t have to like, it makes sense. Yeah. Right. I wouldn’t let anybody in the house this way. And that’s perfectly fine. And again, that’s one of those things where it’s so important for parents to really be in touch with what feels right and doesn’t in their own home, and they have every right to ask for that. And it might not be later till they think, 10 years from now, yeah, but it works. It does work.
Brenda  32:12
 That is really true. Because it does take time, I think for young adults, teens and young adults to have this catch up with them. And I have such a gift now of having a 23-year-old who I can talk to about this kind of thing. But if you don’t have that, if you’re in the moment with a 17-year-old, who’s just wreaking havoc in your house, you don’t have that. So appreciate hearing that also.

Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  32:43
Yeah, when the frontal lobes aren’t even developed, right. So if we think about this from a brain level, I mean, we talked about the teenage years ending at like 18 or 19. We know that and I don’t want to get the dates wrong. So I don’t want to misquote this, but it’s somewhere around 23-ish for girls and 25-ish for boys. And, again, I apologize for not knowing the exact number. But it’s much later than when that we expect that their brains are continuing to develop. And so all of those things like executive functioning, planning, thinking about consequences, all of that the brain is not even in a place where it can fully process, what is being asked of them. Right. So that’s the other complicated factor about just the neurobiology of a teenage brain is wired for impulsivity and wanting to feel good right now. 
Brenda  33:39
And I think that is something that at least there’s a lot of conversations in my community about is, should I just have this kind of mindset of trying to keep them alive until that brain development, you know, it kicks in, because they are just so wired for risk and don’t make good decisions, and they don’t think about the consequences. And I don’t know, you know, we can do as much as we can, in encouraging that. But if their brain just isn’t even capable of doing it…
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  34:12
well, it’s growing, right? It’s growing. So 17 is better than 14, and 20 is better than 17, right? And then, you know, the interaction of the substances in there does impact that. So that’s really why we want to kind of try just be mindful of that. 
Brenda  34:28
Right, you layer on substances over an already low functioning brain. It is not easy. And I think that’s important for parents to know and to remember is, you’re not just dealing with an adult who is, is potentially using substances and that you’re actually dealing with somebody whose brain is remodeling and getting, you know, having growth and also that you layer on substances, and it’s so complicated to understand what are you dealing with? Are you dealing with a normal, you know, developing teenage brain? Are you dealing with a brain that’s, you know, suffering from substances? So, if you are feeling crazy as a parent, it’s okay. Because you should be feeling crazy. Yeah, it’s very complicated. Okay, so the boundaries thing is, I guess that one way to think about what can you live with from anybody, not just from your problem-child, but anybody in your life and then the follow-on, kind of the back half, for me, at least the way I think about it is, if I am going to hold that boundary, there is going to be a consequence. So my son would always say, Well, if you don’t let me come home, I’m going to have to just be out, and then I’ll just be out all night with these people that you don’t like. And at first, I would say, Oh, no, like, you know, that can’t happen, I’ll just let him in and go to bed. And because that, to me, just seemed less dangerous. But then at a certain point, I had to start saying, Okay, I guess that’s what’s gonna happen, which was so hard.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  36:23
And how did that feel to you?
Brenda  36:24
Oh, it was horrible, it was horrible. Because I did know, okay, my 16-year-old is now going to be out all night, I don’t know where he’s going to be, his phone is dead. And I know, the people he hangs out with are horrible. But that was what I had to do at a certain point. But I think every, like you said, everybody is different. And what I did isn’t necessarily what someone else has to do. But the consequences that follow you holding a boundary are going to, most of the time be really painful.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  37:00
They are going to be really painful. So don’t set it if you don’t think you’re gonna follow through. Yeah, that’s really important, right? Because then you get into really tricky territory. So only set it if you plan to follow through with it. And so, for some kids that one night of not having a place to come home might be enough to say, okay, well, she means that. Others might continue to stay out many, many nights. And some parents might find like, okay, I need to reevaluate, this actually doesn’t feel safe to me, you know, to me anymore, right? So it’s this ongoing dialogue and conversation and check in with yourself, and whatever your support system is, like, don’t try to do this alone. It’s really too much to do alone. So I love that you have a community of moms and that, you know, for other people to just find that community because it’s just too much to do this alone. here’s,
Brenda  37:59
It is. And it’s good to have kind of a sounding board to say, here’s what I’m thinking I might do, you know, I think I’ll let him I mean, at one point I, I was so you know, I was all over the board. But at first, I would just say, okay, you can come home. And then I wasn’t okay with that. But I couldn’t stand having him outside. So I would let him sleep in the garage, like you can use the garage code to get into the garage. But I’m gonna lock the door into the house. So if it was really cold, or whatever, it’s then you can sleep in the garage. And you know, so there were just sort of there were different levels. And then eventually, I had to even take that away. 
But I think that’s, I love what you said about boundaries, being able to change, and being fluid because it isn’t the same from day to day or week to week. And I think it’s important to to be consistent, like you said, don’t say it if you’re not going to do it. And don’t be changing things every day. But if you do reevaluate and say, oh, this is just, I haven’t slept in two weeks. I can’t let him be out all night. Yes, then that could be a time then to make a change. But I think what you’re saying, and what I didn’t do, and what I would encourage people to do, what you’re saying is have the conversation with them. So it’s just not random. Like okay, today, here’s what it is. And then tomorrow, it’s different, right? But what I could have done is I could have said, I to my son, I can’t sleep at night when you’re out. So, therefore, I’m going to make this change. Whereas what I did is I just made the change, and I didn’t tell him anything. So he thought I was bananas. Right? 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  39:47
He might have thought even if you told him right, but right. Yes, making it all very on the table is a really important piece of it. And then and then they’re making a choice, right? They’re making a choice to experience this consequence.
Brenda  40:03
Right. What are other natural consequences that, let’s say we have somebody who’s kind of in that more beginning stage, so they’re starting to notice, getting that little twinge of mom knowledge, you know, that little intuition that saying something’s not right, maybe missing a few classes, maybe they’ve missed curfew a few times, or, you know, got caught shoplifting, some vodka, or whatever it is, what are some of the natural consequences that you typically either, you know, have heard from parents or that you kind of know, are ones that you could start out with it aren’t the, he’s gonna have to sleep outside, right? Because that’s pretty extreme.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  40:47
Right? So those were all such great examples, I might need you to run through them again. But I remember the last one, the last one was about they got caught shoplifting, some vodka or something, right. So, look, I mean, there’s potentially legal consequences of that, there’s potentially a missed soccer game because of a court appearance. So there are these ways in which the world will offer consequences to people’s missteps. And I think our urge as parents, because we love our children so much, and seeing them in pain, and seeing them frightened and seeing them suffer is so difficult for us, our urge is to come in, and to fix it. To hire the best lawyer, to try to get them off of that legal consequence to go in and talk to the store owner and say, Look, they’re just a kid, they’ve never done anything like this before, can you drop the charges, and again, this is very personal, are you willing for your child to have an arrest? That’s going to be up to you, but the more of these natural things in the world that we block our child from feeling, the less, they have to look at the impact of their substance use. 
And what happens in the brain with substance use is the brain, unfortunately, kind of wants you keep using the substance. It’s not necessarily on your side, because the primitive part of your brain doesn’t like feeling cravings. And so when those cravings happen, it’s going to tell you to use because it knows that using is going to make the craving go away. So it shuts off that information that there’s this consequence, it doesn’t want you to see it. That’s kind of what we call denial, I guess. But it’s this lack of access to the consequences. So when parents take those away, it makes it even more likely that the child is feeling like well, this is no big deal. And so when that craving comes up, and they have to think about it first, even if it’s a split second, should I do this? Should I not do this? And the memory comes up of oh, shoot last time I did this I got arrested. And if the next part of that is yes, but my parents bailed me out. That’s not gonna help. So we really, really want to let, and again, very personal, where are you comfortable? What are you letting them feel? We want to let those consequences happen because they’re the teachers in a really big way.
Brenda  43:34
Wow, I love those are like, I need to put those in quotes, that the world offers consequences. And that’s such a good way to look at it, because it does take away the feeling of I’m such a bad parent, I’m going to let this happen to my kid that it just reframes that. No, it’s not that I’m a bad parent letting this happen to my kid, it’s that my kid is experiencing what the world offers to anybody who does this.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  44:02
Absolutely, absolutely right. You steal vodka, you get in trouble. 
Brenda  44:05
Yeah, if you’re 38 and you steal vodka, and it’s actually worse when you’re 38. So maybe, maybe let them experience that at 16 when they’re not an adult, and it won’t be on their adult record. Because it does get worse as they get older. 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  44:25
Absolutely. And there’s something about you know, the consequences from the parents that’s in the nature of the relationship that just makes them different from the consequences of the world – like there’s just something to fight against when it’s your parents putting the consequences, it’s somehow their fault, but when it’s happening out there, it’s pretty impactful. 
Brenda  44:52
Yeah, and I know a lot of parents struggle with the school the natural consequences of not going to school. You know, just hanging out, I got a notice at one point that my son had been caught in a park after dark. And I was like, that sounds like a Dr. Seuss rhyme or something crazy. And I was thinking, is this for real, but you know, it really was, like he was caught in park after dark and, all of those things, if we try to just kind of buffer them, or remove them like you said, it just, it’s kind of like letting them live in Disneyland of, oh, oh, I can do all these amazing things. And nothing’s going to happen and, when you are talking, it just actually kind of hit me that, first of all, because of their brain development, they’re not thinking about consequences, that’s just, it’s just physiologically not within their realm of thinking. So if they’re not thinking about the consequences because of their brain, and then they don’t feel the consequences, because of the parents removing them. That’s like a double whammy, right?
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  46:07
Totally. And motivation is a very mathematical in some ways, combination, of costs and benefits, right? So they’re getting something out of the substance use, that’s why they’re doing it. Part of the communication skills you can use to help understand what they’re getting out of it. Don’t make assumptions. Be curious, really ask them and maybe they’ll tell you. So we already know that substances have benefits. So we need the consequences to outweigh the benefits for someone to be motivated to change behavior. So that’s the other piece of it is that if we take away the consequences, and all they’re getting is the benefits, they’re going to have absolutely no motivation to change, no matter how much you beg and plead and ask them and set boundaries if they’re not feeling the consequences. The math just doesn’t work. Right. You know, the math doesn’t work.
Brenda  47:06
And what if they’re, this is something that also I hear from, I call them my moms, I have, like, hundreds of moms. But what I hear is, especially in that earlier stage, or with kids, even like my own who was doing really bad things, but he was so smart and clever that for almost like a year and a half he didn’t have any, like legal consequences, because he was so sneaky. And so sometimes it can feel like, wait, I’m gonna let these natural consequences take place. Okay, I’m bought into that. But nothing’s happening. Like, he’s not, and especially now, when I’m hearing, I’d be curious to hear what you’re experiencing during COVID is because high schools, so many of these kids are going to school online, that the school is having a very hard time deciphering whether somebody is there or not. Or if they’re not doing their assignments, they’re still passing these kids, as long as they’ve logged on a certain number of times. So parents are saying, Well, my kids not even doing the classes, and he’s still passing. 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  48:18
Right, we could start a whole nother hour, right? You know, the impact of COVID, it’s gonna be a while before we even have any idea what the impact of all this is. But, but you’re right. And so so maybe they’re little. I mean, arrests don’t happen to everybody, maybe they’re small consequences. Maybe they oversleep or, maybe they, you know, it just might be that they’re little, or that there aren’t that many. And so that may not be a tool that’s actually available in the moment. And if it’s not, I would just say switch strategies, switch strategy is to what’s available, switch strategies to that, you know, positive reinforcement, really noticing the things that are going well, use the strategy of self-care, and really make sure that you’re taking care of yourself like you talked about, right? Like knowing I’m at my limit, I can’t take any more, switch to that strategy. 
Use some of the communication skills to ask them what COVID has been like for them and see what kind of opening you get there. And again, you might get nothing but this, just using the open-ended questions as a way to just get the communication going. So so the invitation to change is really, it’s a comprehensive model that includes lots of different elements. And so if one is not available at any particular time, then maybe it’s another one, you know, maybe it’s just a cold dinner, maybe it’s that, you know, they didn’t remember to do something and you know, so they don’t have lunch that day. And so they have to figure it out themselves, right. So maybe there are these small things, but maybe it’s just a different strategy.
Brenda  49:54
Definitely. And for anyone who’s listening who wants to kind of understand what some of these other strategies are we’ll put a link in the show notes to the CMC site because I know you have a lot of information there. As well as the 20-Minute Guide for parents, which is really, it’s more like a workbook, it’s really cool. So it’s not like this theoretical thing that you read through and then have to try to apply to your life, there’s actually like you write in it. And it’s, it’s very, very practical,
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  50:26
right. And if you can’t order the copy for yourself, for whatever reason, all of the PDFs of every single piece of the 20-Minute Guide is up on the website, under Resources, it’s all there. So you can print it all out if you can’t order it for yourself for whatever reason, or you can print out just a section.
Brenda  50:43
Right, right. No, it’s so good. It’s so helpful. And then, oh, gosh, there’s so much I have. But the last thing I wanted to say about natural consequences, just from personal experiences, I want to throw it out there for parents. And I’d love to get your thoughts on this, too, is when you are letting natural consequences take place with a teenager who is wreaking havoc from the outside looking in, it can look like you’re doing nothing. And people can judge you and say, Well, do you know your kids out doing this? Or do you know that your daughter’s, whatever. And it can be really, really hard as a parent, because what you want to scream at the top of your lungs is “I’m letting the natural consequences take place!” But people who don’t have kids that are getting in trouble and don’t kind of know your strategy, can look at that and think that you’re not doing anything as a parent. So I don’t know if you have thoughts on that. But I just want to throw that out there. For anybody who’s feeling that judgment from family, you know, grandparents or whoever. Just know that you’re doing the right thing. If you are holding those boundaries, and you are letting the natural consequences take place. It’s painful enough, just on your own, but then to be judged by other people and even siblings can look at it and be like, “Hello, are you gonna do anything about this?” So anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  52:10
Well, I think it’s such a great point. And I was actually talking to someone the other day, about my own experience being pregnant. And I think that that actually when the advice and judgment starts is when you’re pregnant. You’re getting unsolicited advice about your unborn child from people you’ve never met before, who think they can touch your belly and tell you how to raise your child. So, yes, you’re right. So that starts very early, and then and it continues for your entire time as a parent. I actually, I’ll just share this from personal experience, I find that moment when I sort of recognize that I’m pushing harder than my child is that and I decide to let go and just let the consequences happen. That is, I actually experienced that often as a tremendous relief. And it takes practice, but I think it eventually gets to this point where there’s like a real softness and real self-compassion. So that’s another component to all this, right is the self-compassion of saying like, okay, the best thing for both of us right now is that I just step away and let this happen. And it’s sort of like this, the problem just kind of vanishes. Like not completely but, but it’s this letting go of something that you’re pulling so hard on that I just think offers a bit of relief to parents and people are gonna judge just it’s just none of their business.
Brenda  53:45
Exactly. And that’s where it’s helpful to have a community to turn to because they know, and they won’t do that. And you can just say, you know what, yeah, it’s it sucks, but they’re gonna do it anyway. And just wait till their 17-year-old runs away. 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  54:00
Exactly. So someone who doesn’t understand either maybe hasn’t stepped in your shoes exactly, or isn’t there yet. So, and this is really a skill for all parenting, you know, it’s not even specific to substance use. It’s just for all of us any behavior that we want to change, we need to feel it like it’s worth it. So it’s kind of goes across all areas of behavior change.
Brenda  54:26
And is there something that every psychologist will have to say to parents maybe this is, you know, I have this picture in my mind of all you really smart people like at a coffee shop talking and they’re like, oh, if we could only say this to all of them that this is something super important for them to know? Is there something like that especially as we are in this really, really stressful time with COVID and such extreme substance use and things like fentanyl with are, you know, have just thrown such a wrench in what used to be a very dangerous situation even more dangerous? There’s something that that you all sit around and think, wow, we could just put this on a billboard in Times Square, this is what I would put on it.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  55:19
Oh, wow. Well, I don’t know how my billboard would do in Time Square, I think what I would like to say is that you’re doing the best you can. And that we’re all doing the best that we can in any moment. And any of us can know all the skills in the world, and we can be tired and overworked and our parents are sick, and they’re, you know, all these things are happening, and we don’t do it well, and that’s okay. And we can do it differently the next time. And, and all of this is a learning curve for all of us. And yeah, I think it would probably just be you’re doing the best you can. 
Brenda  56:04
Yeah, that’s so helpful. Well, what do you do for yourself, you’re in a very high-stress role, as a helper, you absorb other people’s problems and issues and concerns all day, what do you do for yourself to take care of yourself and, be okay with everything that you take in during the course of a day in a week?
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  56:29
So as a psychologist, as a parent, as a mom to two dogs, it’s important, and I really, I really believe in practicing what I preach, and I can start to tell very quickly when my own self-care is drifting because maybe I’m getting more tired, maybe I’m getting a little impatient, maybe I’m well, I don’t even know if that even means my self-care is drifting, that just might mean that we’re in a pandemic. You know, so but I find that all of the things that I advise my patients to do, or the same things that I do, I exercise, I don’t treat it like a luxury, I treat it like a medication- like it just has to happen. It’s not a this is kind of cute, maybe you can squeeze it in, it’s a deal-breaker. I do it very early in the morning. So it drives my son bananas because I like to go to bed around nine o’clock, and he doesn’t understand.
Brenda  57:28
You’re so old, mom!
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  57:32
And if I don’t do it first thing in the morning, the day is gone. And it’s never gonna happen. I also have a meditation practice that has been really important to me for about 20 years, I don’t know how anyone really can change their thinking or their actions. I personally have not been capable of it without meditation. So that’s something really important to me.
Brenda  57:58
Do you use an app or…
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  58:01
sometimes I use the Insight Timer app or the Calm app, I like that. But I’ve been practicing for a long time. So it’s just really like a mindfulness meditation, focus on the breath, and your thoughts wander, come back, and just sit there and do that for a while. And you know, people say sometimes it’s six minutes, sometimes it’s 20, my goal is at least 10 every day. And sometimes I don’t practice for weeks. And then I noticed I need to come back to it. So but that’s a real foundational thing for me. And I think what we talked about just having people in my life that I can talk to is so tremendously important, other parents, colleagues. When COVID started, a bunch of us colleagues got together on a group chat. And we’ve just been missing each other so tremendously, but really trying to stay connected with each other in that way. And we text each other all day long. So social support, I think is just a really tremendous, tremendously important self-care behavior. And yeah, trying to take downtime, right? Getting good sleep.
Brenda  59:05
Yes. That is a whole other episode.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  59:09
It is a whole other episode. My patients get so bored of me talking about sleep, but it’s another one like, if you need it, you know you need it. And in and you got to prioritize it because the world is not going to prioritize it for you. You have to prioritize it for yourself. Now, there’s always something else to do.
Brenda  59:27
Absolutely. Or another Netflix show. 
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D. 59:30
Totally, something else that wants your attention. I know I tell my kids all the time when I was young, like the show was over and then there was nothing else to watch.
Brenda  59:37
I think it was easier.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  59:40
It was so much easier. Like, there was the eight o’clock show and then the 8:30 show and then there was nothing else and we went to bed. Now it’s a constant stream of more that our culture is sort of obsessed with.
Brenda  59:55
Well, my goodness, I don’t think an hour’s ever gone so fast in my life. But I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and input because I know that you have a perspective where you see, when you see something over and over – over the course of years, it starts to just kind of show you, okay, these are the things that people are dealing with. And these are the ways that we have found to be really, really helpful and impactful in making change. So thank you for your time on a Friday afternoon.
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.  1:00:31
And thank you so much. It’s been so wonderful talk. Yes, absolutely.
Brenda  1:00:35
All right, well, we will put all of the resources for finding you and finding CMC, and all the partnership information and the trainings and the books, all of that will be in the show notes for people so you can always go there to find them. And thank you again, Julie, for joining me. And maybe we can find time again, to do another episode on one of these other amazing subjects. I would love it,
Julie Jarvis, Ph.D.
I’d be happy to come back anytime. Great.
If you’re a mom listening to this and thinking, there must be other moms out there listening to, I can tell you that there are thousands of other moms that are searching for this same information. And for a more personal connection. You can find me and a bunch of these moms by going to my website, And there you will get lots of information about a really special online community of moms called The Stream. We have regular calls and chat sessions. We do a monthly yoga class for stress and anxiety. And it’s all positively focused. It is not on Facebook, and it’s completely confidential. Membership is on a pay what you can model, so if you want to join this community, and you need the support, you are in. 
You might also want to download my free ebook called HINDSIGHT: Three Things I Wish I Knew When My Son Was Addicted To Drugs. It is packed with information that I truly wish I had known back in the darker years with my son. And so I share it now in case it might be helpful to you in your journey. You can get that at, and I will put a link to both of these resources in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll meet you right back here next week.

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