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House Calls Podcast
Why Parent Mental Health is Essential for Our Kids
With guest Dr. Aliza Pressman,
Psychologist & Author

Description

As a parent, have you ever worried about whether you’re doing a good enough job? Do you feel the pressure to be perfect? Have you felt drained by the demands of parenting?

In this deeply personal conversation, the Surgeon General (and dad of 2) and psychologist Dr. Aliza Pressman put the spotlight on parent mental health. Dr. Pressman changes the conversation from trying to be the perfect parent to growing as a parent. To help our kids’ mental health, we also need to prioritize and care for parent mental health.

Drawing from her research, Dr. Pressman offers reassuring approaches to help parents find self-compassion and stay regulated so kids can better regulate themselves. She also shares how to turn moments when things go wrong into moments for repair and growth in parent-child relationships.

The conversation ends with a parenting Q&A, hosted by Dr. Murthy and surprise Q&A co-host Kate Bowler! 

We’d love to hear from you! Send us a note at ⁠housecalls@hhs.gov⁠ with your feedback & ideas. For more episodes, visit ⁠www.surgeongeneral.gov/housecalls⁠

Connect with Dr. Aliza Pressman

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Transcript

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Hello and welcome to House Calls. I'm Vivek Murthy and I have the honor of serving as U.S. Surgeon General. I'd like to introduce you to Aliza Pressman, psychologist and author. Today we talk about parenting and how focusing on the mental health of parents supports the well-being of our kids. If you're a parent or you're raising a child, have you ever worried about whether you're doing a good enough job? That's a question I sometimes ask myself. In this complicated world, am I raising my kids to become healthy and resilient adults? To explore these questions, I invited Dr. Aliza Pressman to House Calls. She's co founding director of the Mt. Sinai Parenting Center and is an assistant clinical professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital. She's also the author of the new book The Five Principles of Parenting and host of the parenting podcast Raising Good Humans. Speaking with Aliza is very reassuring, not because she told me I'm a perfect parent, but because she relieved me of the notion that I need to be one. Actually, Aliza told me that having imperfect parents means kids don't feel the pressure to be perfect either. And by that measure, my kids should be absolutely fine. Aliza sees parenting as a path for growth, and she brings a compelling perspective on why parent mental health is essential. The better we as adults can handle stress, worry, loneliness or isolation, the more easily our children will be able to navigate these challenges in their own lives. As Aliza and I discuss here, the keys to parenting resilient children are surprisingly simple and universal. It's less about a specific right or wrong parenting response to every calamity that arises and more about us, the adults grounding ourselves so we can parent in the ways we intend. Aliza shares some exercises I know I'll be using as a parent for my kids for years to come. Be sure to stay tuned in for our Q&A at the end. We bring in a surprise House Calls guest to join us. Well, Aliza, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. I'm really excited for our conversation today.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I am so honored. I'm so honored that I'm here. I'm so honored to be in conversation with you. And also, I'm blown away at the work that you are doing for everyone to see the urgency of our mental health and our parents and so much of the, so many of the things I just can't, I'm not saying this in a way, I'm not saying this in the way that I wanted to, because I'm too excited about it, but I'm just so moved. by how much is under the umbrella of health.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Thank you so much. That means a lot to me, especially given your background in health and everything you've been doing, you know, to help parents and kids. And so I really appreciate that. This has been for me, and I know a lot of people in my office, this has been a very personal labor of love, especially when it comes to youth mental health, because a lot of us have kids or we have kids we love in our life. Many of us are parents and we're grappling with so many of the issues that you've been writing about. And this is one of the reasons I'm just so excited to talk to you. I was thinking when I was preparing for our conversation, just in very personal terms about my own struggles with parenting. And I just, I'm blessed to have two kids who are six and seven. And I feel so much joy from parenting. I feel so lucky to be their parents. They make me laugh all the time. There's a lot of joy, but there's also a lot of worry. I feel like I'm constantly just wondering if I'm doing what I need to do for them to help them learn, to develop socially, to be healthy, to be the kind of human beings that I hope will be happy and fulfilled and have a foundation for that. And I suspect that I may not be the only parent out there who's worrying about this. But that's actually where I wanted to start with you, which is if you had to describe how parents are feeling today about their parenting, about the challenges of parenting, what would you say?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I would say today I'm hearing parents feeling overwhelmed, inundated, at maximum I would say today I'm hearing parents feeling overwhelmed, inundated, at maximum capacity, and a little bit scared. And that's the sort of more negative things that I'm hearing. And then on the other side of it, the most engaged, the most in love. the most excited to do right by our kids. So it's interesting because it's big feelings on both sides.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yes, I'm really glad you mentioned both sides because I have heard parents say to Yes, I'm really glad you mentioned both sides because I have heard parents say to me that at a time when it feels like everyone is so stressed and understandably so about the challenges of parenting in the 21st century that it feels almost hard to talk about the joy that you get from parenting because it almost feels like you're either out of touch or insensitive to other people's pain or that worse that you're naive in some way. I'm curious if you've heard that, if that resonates with you.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

One of the things that I hear so often, parents will say something that sounds like they're struggling. And then they'll say, but I know my kid is wonderful and I'm so lucky. Like they're apologizing for their stress. Or I know it could be so much worse. And we know this about adults too. That's no way to have a conversation, to feel like whatever you're struggling with is somehow being measured by the other person listening and is somehow has to have a caveat. So I really want parents to be able to both love and enjoy and find delight in their parenting and also be able to say, no matter what my circumstances are, these are the things that I'm struggling with. And I think it's kind of heartbreaking to imagine that, And this happens across the range of experiences people are having, no matter how challenging or maybe it seems like it's, how could this person be complaining? They've got so many things going on. But what also happens is parents apologize for talking about their child in a way that makes them sound like they're challenging, like as if they need to then say to me, but I really love them and they're wonderful kids. Of course they are. And it's just letting go of the myth that we wouldn't be able to see our kids and see that there are challenges and see that there are moments that are not delightful and not have to apologize for it and just be able to say, oh, we're in this together. We know that helps everyone. Everyone's mental health benefits when we can just name that.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, I think it absolutely does. And I think naming it has been one of the challenges, which is one of the reasons I'm glad that you wrote your book. Because as much as parents are often talking with one another, especially within parent groups, I do find that sometimes the sort of getting deeper into what is driving the stress in parenting is often challenging. So it feels a little bit harder. Because I've realized and I felt this at times myself that I do worry that parents carry a lot of shame when it comes to what they perceive as shortcomings in parenting or not knowing exactly what to do. Like I remember when I first became a parent, Aliza, which feels like forever ago, but honestly it was only about seven years ago. I remember when I found out that we were gonna have a baby, after the initial joy and excitement and just disbelief and everything, I started thinking, okay, how do I figure out everything I need to do and know in order to be a good parent? And this is something that I think is an impossible task, but it's one that you've spoken to really beautifully when you've talked about the actually gifts of imperfection and about the learning curve that we have to embrace as parents. Could you talk a bit about that? I found that very helpful.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Sure. I feel so passionately about this because one of the things which I didn't say before is we are striving for perfection, rightfully so. It is so developmentally appropriate to have the care of a human to want that to be your most perfect job. Why wouldn't you? If you are bringing a child into the world in whatever way this child comes to be your child, how could you not get this down so right? So I want to just say that it is developmentally appropriate to want that. And then I also want to encourage people to remember that not only is it not possible to be perfect, and I know there's that little tiny voice inside of people's heads saying, well, sure, but I can. Like this is, and I understand that it's so interesting because of the role that I am in, it sometimes feels like, well, Are you not telling us about best practices or whatever is going to best support our children's thriving? But one of the things that's important to remember is that even though it is developmentally appropriate to want to be perfect, it isn't good for our kids because not only is it burdensome, I mean, if anybody was raised by a perfect parent and perfect in quotes, they know that when you grow up and get out into the world, it does not feel good to think that your model was perfect because then you imagine you're supposed to be perfect. So you're already using voices inside of your head that are not kind. Who wants that? And separately, we grow from our mistakes and we grow from our discord and repair. So, how can we build strong muscles without having those tiny little ruptures in the muscles to grow the big muscles? And so those are the mistakes. The parenting mistakes are part of what makes us better parents. And in absence of those mistakes, we just can't grow our best version of humans.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, I think that really highlights the deep connection that you've underscored in I think that really highlights the deep connection that you've underscored in your book between the mental health and state of stress that parents experience and what their kids actually experience. Could you talk a little bit about that, about the interplay and influence of a parent's mental health on their kids?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

This is such a fine balance to say this, because I want to say this without burdening parents. More to inspire parents. But the most powerful environmental influence on our kids is having this parenting environment. Is this strong, ideally a strong close connection with your parent. One, it just takes one. It's so wonderful if there are more adults in our lives that are supportive and loving, but it just takes one. And knowing that the parenting environment is the most powerful environment, I find that heartening because we can control ourselves. We can't control the world. So when we're inundated with media saying the world is on fire, we can't control those things. But how heartening that those environmental influences, terrifying as they are, are not going to take over the buffering impact of having a close connected relationship with this one adult caregiver that is you. And so that means your mental health is crucial for your child's mental health because in a sense they borrow your nervous system. That's what co -regulation is. So you want a nervous system that is the kind of nervous system you want to be lending out to your kids when they are still growing and so they don't have capacity to have a fully developed nervous system. So we co -regulate with them and I want people to feel inspired by that, not terrified by that. And it means that sometimes you're going to fly off the handle, you're going to have that stress that makes it so that you are not making choices in an intentional way. It happens to all of us and also… What a wonderful time to practice taking care of our mental health so that we have a better chance at helping our kids have strong mental health. And of course, there's DNA. There's so many influences that are out of our control. And so I don't want people to blame themselves if things are not going beautifully, but I do want to inspire parents to know that we do make a difference.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Absolutely, I love the balanced way in which you put that because I certainly wouldn't want anyone to think that because you have a diagnosis of depression or because you struggle with anxiety that your kids are doomed. I think what, Aliza, you're saying is exactly the opposite, which is that we can use our journeys actually to benefit our children. And I think about even in my own life, it took me years to understand and recognize that my parents were on a growth journey as well while they were parenting me. I think as a little kid, and this wasn't something that we talked about a lot in my Indian immigrant family, but we didn’t talk about mental health, we didn’t talk about some of these different elements of development, but I realized in retrospect that even though I thought as a young kid that my parents must know everything and have everything figured out and they should be perfect, I realized in retrospect they were growing, that they were changing, that they were developing. And… I actually wondered what would it have been like if we had conversations about that earlier on. Maybe it would have set more realistic expectations for me as a child, but maybe it would have also led to conversations that could have been very helpful for both of us. So anyway, all that's just to say that I think this learning curve that you point to, that parents are on, my hope is that people can see that as a source of strength and as permission to develop and to evolve and to not be perfect. Because the truth is this is a journey, I think, for all of us.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

We have, when you walk into Mount Sinai in New York, when you're giving birth, it says parents are born here. So that was something that we, yeah, and it was something that we put there 10 years ago because we really wanted that journey to be abundantly clear. We just got here. We just got here when our kids did. And so that just offers us so much more self -compassion. And I think it's so interesting that you observed that about your parents. How attuned were you that you could recognize that?

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Well, it came about when I was older, though. I would say probably it took me until college or graduate school to recognize that as a kid growing up, I didn't fully see that because I didn't have context. And I just thought, your parents are supposed to be perfect and know everything. But clearly, that was not the case for them. And it has not been the case for me as a parent either. I think there's a frightening realization that almost every parent goes through when you realize as you get older that you're becoming your parents and doing the things that they did, saying the things that they said And as I've realized that it's given me, and as that's happened to me, it's given me a lot more empathy for my own parents. So.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

How did you, I'm just so curious because reflection is such a big part of our parenting. So how at such a young age, I know it doesn't seem so young when you say college or in your 20s, but how even then, because a lot of people don't reflect on this until they have kids and they think, oh, okay. Well, now that I'm at this point, I can recognize this can't have just happened so easily and naturally and my parents were on a journey, but to even get to that place of reflection in college or in your 20s before you had kids, to me, it says a lot.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Well, that's very kind of you. I think what happened is that when I was growing up, I think, you know, I was short tempered. And I think when you're angry, certainly when I was angry, anger clouds your vision and makes it hard to see what's really happening. And it was only years later when I started to get a little bit more control over my temper. But also when I went through life experiences that, um, helped me put things in perspective and realize just how important family was and how uncertain the future was and how important it was for us to focus on our relationships and embrace forgiveness and empathy. That's when like my vision started becoming a little more clear and I started to see, ah, you know, like there, there's, there was more going on, you know, during those moments in childhood, childhood perhaps than, than I realized. And, um, I think, but I would be remiss if I didn't say that it was. it didn't have to do with an influence of my parents themselves, which is that even when I would be just a terrible kid or would do like really dumb things or would disobey them, they never ever made me feel like they didn't love me. They may not have had all the solutions. They may have proposed rules that irritated me or angered me or made me resentful, but there was never a moment where I questioned their unconditional love for me. And that has been like a life jacket that I've worn like my entire life. And even in this job, I will tell you, like I, you know, it's my second time serving as Surgeon General and there are great days and there are tough days, you know, like they are in any job, in anyone's life. But even during really low points, like it'll be like a call from my mother out of the blue, you know, just to check on me or… I text from my dad saying, we're worried about you, want to know how you're doing. That'll just remind me of that warm blanket of unconditional love that they've always, always given me, you know? And that is what I try to remember in my own parenting with my kids when I feel like I'm screwing up or I'm not sure what I'm doing or uncertain. My hope is that, that they will feel the unconditional love that, that I feel so strongly for them.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I mean, that's that. That's just so, you know, that's what we hope for. We hope that our children believe they are loved for exactly who they are. Then, you know, we can delight in their accomplishments. I'm sure your parents are very proud of you. What more could they really, where do you go from here? And yet their love does not rest on that. and you knew that. And so I think that is my hope as well.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah. Thank you for giving me a chance to reflect on that. Speaking of being short tempered, which I admitted I was, there is something that you've spoken about, which I really loved about the importance of us as parents learning about self -regulation and how that's a really, really important tool to build a muscle to build a fuel. Can you talk a bit about? the importance of self -regulation. What is it and how do we cultivate that in our lives?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

So my non -scientific explanation of self -regulation is just to think, you know, we want to raise kids who aren't losing their temper when they got the wrong order at the coffee shop. You know, just like, it's not something that is unattainable, but it is something that we can catch in ourselves as we move through the world. So if everybody just spends this week paying attention to when they feel in their body, just like a clenched fist or a red face or… just those moments when you aren't making the choice that you would make if you paused. That's really it. And when you are self -regulated, you're intentional. Even if you yell at your kids, you paused and you said, what do I want in this moment? What is my goal? I'm going to yell. There's something about that that's just, it's unlikely that you will, but it is so different to make intentional choices. It feels so freeing that your nervous system didn't make a decision for you unless it needed to because there was something that was a real threat. And then of course we need to do the thing. We need to have a stress response. So regulation, it is such a skill that is growable. And that's why I talk about it so much, because it's not something that we have to think of as just you either have it or you don't. There are certainly people who are more, they sort of came into this world with a little bit more of an easy time with it. But we know that self -regulation is more highly linked with academic success, for example, than IQ. That's shocking. So, if you can focus on controlling where your attention is, it makes sense that it would If you can focus on controlling where your attention is, it makes sense that it would be more associated with academic success because you are not sort of at the whim of whatever it is that your brain wants to be doing and focusing on and remembering, but you actually are having intention. And since our brains are not fully developed, I know you know this, but until, you know, 18 to late 20s. That means that the part of our brain that has capacity for self -regulation just isn't fully developed. So we need, as parents, to support our children's developing regulation by self -regulating. And so often, parents ask, how do I get, if self -regulation is so important, how can I get my kids to be more self -regulated, which is a very natural question to ask. And certainly, there are many activities that you can do to practice growing those muscles. But the biggest thing that we can do is invest in our own capacity to self-regulate. So if you notice that you are short -tempered, that you make a decision to practice yourself so that you get a little bit better at being intentional, at pausing and having intentional responses instead of reactions. And just that change has a huge influence on your children's future self And just that change has a huge influence on your children's future self-regulation. It's a long game though, so you don't get the payoff right away.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

But it seems so vital, not just for our kids, but for our own happiness as well. And I say that as somebody who used to really struggle with their short temperedness. And I know one of the decisions I made, it was a very small thing, was that I was never going to send an email when I was angry. Because otherwise I'd write these long tomes full of emotion and anger and this and that and then sitting on it and being like, should I send this? And part of me would be like, no, I shouldn't send this. I shouldn't. Then I just realized, wait a minute. If I just walk away and then come back, like when I'm in a better place, and usually I don't need to send the email at all, or I send a one -liner, or I just pick up the phone and call. But you have these, a series of beautiful exercises that you have walked people through, breathing exercises and others, I think to help them move from a place of stress and anxiety to a place of calm. I think of them as small tools to help us actually with self -regulation. I was wondering if you might be able to share some of those tools with us, maybe even walk us through one of those exercises.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Sure. I feel the same way about those long, you know, never send an email when you're angry or, you know, fill in the blank for whatever it is when you're having that reactive state. What I think is wonderful is to get to a certain point in life where you've made that decision, you've gone past the place and be self -compassionate. I can look back too and I think to myself, oh, there are so many things that I have written or sent or said back when I was younger and didn't have as much of a commitment to this as I would say I do now. And, you know, it just always feels better to make intentional choices and to have the freedom to send the email because you want to and you believe it's really important and going to serve you and the other person, not because you just went on autopilot and that's just what happened. One of the exercises that I do, or that I talk about is really simple. It's finding the passcode to your particular alarm system. So I think of it as when I lived in New York. I lived in New York City and I went to high school in New York City and I lived in New York City until a few years ago. And then I moved to California and I moved into a house from an apartment where I had lots of neighbors around me and maybe this is just a New York thing but I feel much safer in an apartment with lots of neighbors around me in a smaller setting. It just feels like if I scream there's somebody right there. And so I got an alarm system and I remember walking into my house when I first had this alarm system and it made like a slow beeping sound that gives you time to punch in the passcode so that the alarm doesn't go off, so that the police don't come, the firetruck doesn't come, the ambulance doesn't come, whatever it is. And I had this moment when I did that of this is the key to self -regulation. We all just need to hear the beeping sound, the warning that it's going to, the alarm's going to go off and decide. Do I need this alarm to go off? Because sometimes you do. Sometimes you need the police to show up. But most of the time, hopefully, you can recognize, I don't. There are signs that I'm about to have a false emergency. And so learning that passcode, for me and for most people, it's taking a certain number of breaths, even one breath, so that you can ask yourself, Is this a real emergency? Meaning, is this a life or death issue that I can't think before I respond to? If your kid's running across the street, you're not going to have a deep breath and say like, I see you're in a rush and you really want to get across the street, but we have to stop and look at the light. No, by then she could be heaven forbid run over. So, practicing, is this real or imagined? Do I need to punch in the passcode? Okay, now I know for me, I take a deep breath in through the nose, out through the mouth. And right then, just from that, your shoulders lower, you can tell that there's no emergency. And so I tend to, and this is not me, this is pretty much anybody in this field, you put your hand on your heart because it just gives you a little boost and it tells you that you're safe. And you can even say through that breath, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I'm not being chased. I'm safe. My child is safe. What now? And just doing that, then you can decide. Then you might say, like, go clean your room. But in that moment, you have given your whole body a message. The alarm does not need to call the emergency services. Now there are other things that we can do, like if you're a little child, like practicing with kids, just walking around smelling a flower and you can just use a finger with younger kids, let's smell a flower. blow out a candle because that teaches younger kids the practice of in through the nose and out through the mouth. And when you practice these things every day, you can access them more quickly in the heat of the moment. I definitely wouldn't recommend saying that to someone in the heat of the moment. Like they're upset, the child is upset and you say like, let's breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. They might get really mad at you. But if it's been something they do every day because they're smelling a flower and blowing out a candle, that's just kind of when you're walking to school or outside or just part of your bedtime routine, it becomes something that we can access more easily. And those are small ways where you kind of punch in the passcode to your alarm system.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I love the simplicity of that. I was just doing that breathing with my hand over my heart as you were talking and just with a single breath I felt what you said, which is my shoulders lower and relaxed and I just felt less worried. You know, I woke up this morning and there were some things that were, you know, that some work -related things that I was worried about that were a bit stressful and I just, I wasn't thinking about that when I took that deep breath and let it out and that was a moment of relief. So… Thank you for that. It's very simple, but I like having that in our toolkit.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

It’s embarrassingly simple. Everything that, you know, parenting is so complicated because these are our children, there's so much at stake, we're humans, but the actual science of it is embarrassingly simple. It's just accessing it. Breath is so powerful. Taking a sip of a drink, putting your hands underwater, there are certain things that you can do that take just seconds. And they give your body the message that there isn't an emergency. And when there isn't an emergency, we regulate.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, I love that. I had a professor in medical school who used to be just so busy, like seeing patients, running a fellowship program, teaching medical students, taking care of her own two kids, that she was constantly running from place to place. But she was always very present with her patients. Even when there was an emergency, she was able to just be there and calmly guide them through whatever situation arose. And I remember asking her, her name is Peggy Bia. She's a nephrologist at Yale. And I used to often ask her, Dr. Bia, where do you get that calm, that centeredness from? And she had a small trick, which is that before she went to see a patient, she would wash her hands. But she would use that time with just 20 seconds or so of the water running over her hands to just feel the water, to close her eyes, and to take a deep breath. And in that 20 seconds, she would find her center again, and she would come back to that interaction with the patient, less burdened by everything that was swirling around her and able to be more present for that moment. It's not to say it got rid of all the stresses in her life, but it allowed her to be who she wanted to be in that moment. And I think what you're saying is so in parallel that as parents, I think we want, we have a certain idea of who we want to be for our kids. And so much of our pain, I think, comes from not being able to be that person, you know, from maybe… flying off the handle when we don't intend to or maybe saying something hurtful when that wasn't really our intent. These stresses though that you and I are talking about that parents are going through right now, in the beginning you said that so many parents are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and drained. What do you think is driving that feeling among parents these days?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I mean, part of it is just the existential what in the world is going on. That, you know, it's just the world has so much coming, going wrong. There's so much going wrong that it's hard to focus on what's going right. There's so many stressors from economic stressors to emotional stressors to physical stressors. We're trying to do so much, carry so much. And then there's information and the way we're getting information. Information is so valuable. And I mean, I don't know about you, but I for sure grew up learning that reading is power and information is power and we need to take all of it in. But now we've come to an era when we've grown up with that idea. And also there's Too much. There's too much. It's hard to figure out when we're supposed to say, I have enough information, and more is actually not serving me right now. And it's not serving my children, or it's not serving whoever. So I think part of the pressure today has to do, for parents in particular, with the sense that there is the answer out there, if I just spend enough time looking for it. And… That weighs heavily, and it weighs heavily across every community I've worked with, every community I've seen. It's the great universal equalizer is this parenting experience, because no matter what, we want to get it right, and we think there is a possibility for that, and it's just out of our reach, and we just can keep trying to figure it out. And what I hope parents can start to buy into is that, like most things, it's simpler What I hope parents can start to buy into is that, like most things, it's simpler than we think. And it doesn't require the level of noise and intensity. And sometimes that gets in the way of our just being able to put our hands under the water, wash them, and breathe, and just decide to be present no matter what the stressors are that are out there. And also, know that sometimes we can't be. And that's OK, too, because even in the research on attunement, it's about 33 % of the time that close connected relationships are really attuned, we're present, we're there. And the rest of the time is discord and repair. If it's all discord, that's a problem. But discord and repair is more than the attunement itself. So I think we have this fantasy of there's a parent that's less stressed, that's less overworked, that's less everything else that is able to just be sitting there staring, you know, gazing lovingly into their child's eyes. They're not dysregulated because they don't have piles of stress and they are getting it. They're nailing parenting, but that's just not so.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, gosh, it's definitely not so. And I mean, at least think about the thousands of parents I've met and talked around our country. I've yet to meet that perfect parent who's figured it all out. Yet I think that that person is someone we think of conceptually, and that's a dream that we chase, even though it's not realistic or desirable. You know, one of the things that you've brought up, which I would love for you to talk about here is, You said that part of what we've got to get clear on is what the goal of parenting is, right? Could you talk about that? I think that's such an important question to ask. It seems obvious, but I don't think it is.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Yes. And while you were saying that, I was thinking about even this conversation. Parents are so, to just name something that is so important to you, like so lonely. And I don't know if you're hearing that too, but I think that even having conversations and connecting, it's so lonely to feel like you can't share these struggles or these joys because one would be. you know, bragging and one would be shameful. And so we just tend to keep this stuff to ourselves. And if we know what our just to go to our parenting goals, if we have a sense of our And if we know what our just to go to our parenting goals. If we have a sense of our values, like we really know who we are as a family or just ourselves as a parent. One way to do that is to just ask yourself, it's so simple. Let's just envision my child or my children grown up, what are they saying to, what are the words they're using to describe me to my future grandchildren? Those are your parenting values, like what are your goals? They're in there, you know them, you just might not realize it. But when you start to think big picture, what really matters? I have an exercise that we could do if you are up for it.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, I’d love to.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

So, if this is too personal of an exercise, we can swap out, but this one…

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Personal's good. Dr. Aliza Pressman] So one thing that I like to do every once in a while, sometimes I do it daily, sometimes I do it yearly, it really depends, is you put your hand on your heart and you ask yourself, what really matters to me? and you picture your children's faces or your child's face. And now if I ask you this question. What are the words that come to mind? What really matters?

Dr. Vivek Murthy

The words that are coming to me, I mean the first word is just love. I want my kids to know that they are deeply loved. I want them to know that they are worthy of that love. And I want them to feel like they can give that love to other people. So love feels like a very strong value that's coming up. The other word that's coming up for me is joy. Like I… I want to experience joy with my children. I want them to cultivate joy in their own lives long after I'm gone and to see that not as a whatever, not as something that's nice to have, not a luxury, not an indulgence, but as something that's really central to their own wellbeing but also to what they can bring to the world. So joy comes up. And then the last word that's popping up is support. Like I want them to know that I'll always be there to support them, whether we agree on everything or not. I want them to know that, and while they need to build their own independence and their own skills and resilience, I want them to know what I know about my own parents, which is that… whatever may come, however close or far geographically we may be, however old we may be, that they will always be there to support me. And I want my kids to feel like they have that blanket of support from me and from my wife as well.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

So now, when you check in with yourself or when you're punching in the passcode, if you just even remind yourself by saying, love, joy, support, it's just a reminder. But these are the moments that we can zoom out so that we're not, because the day to day gets so important, the minutia ends up being so important. I mean, another thing that I think parents are like, Should I do this or that? Should I feed them this or that? Should they cry or not cry? Should I bring the backpack or not? Should I, you know, like there are just so many questions that we're asking ourselves as if each micro decision matters. But then every time we get too into that, we forget to see our kids, we forget to see ourselves. And so just checking in, and it's gonna happen a lot, but just checking in. And for you, it's love, joy. And for you, it's love, joy, support. It just takes you out of the minutia.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I love that, because I do think that I have at times found myself stuck in the I love that, because I do think that I have at times found myself stuck in the minutia, you know, and worrying a lot about the little things. And I think it's not good for me, it's not good for my kids, it's also not good for my wife, because I think I drive her crazy sometimes. Because I tend to, she's much more naturally inclined to do the things that you were mentioning, which I think are good grounding practices to zoom out, see the big picture. But sometimes, like with my son, for example, like… When he was born, we had a lot of challenges feeding him. He was a picky eater, it was hard to get him to, you know, starting him to eat. And so I realized even over the last seven years of his life, this has been a constant worry for me. How do we get him to eat? And it's largely become my job to coach him at the dinner table and make sure that he's eating and to follow him around sometimes trying to get him to eat. And you know, and and I've wondered so many times, I'm like, I must be doing something wrong here. I don't see other parents following their kids around with food, trying to get them to eat. What is going on here? How do I get them to eat more vegetables? It's like all of these things which I focus on and I realize sometimes if he just eats a piece of broccoli, my joy and happiness surge. If he runs away before he eats his vegetables, I'm like, oh my God. So yeah, I feel like my own happiness is tied to his food consumption. But I would love to zoom out and to do what you're doing. With this exercise, I will remember those three words, love, joy, and support, and take that breath and remember that that's the big picture. That's what really matters.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I mean, and that's easier said when your child is well fed and you know that they're not, you know, if they don't have that bite of broccoli, they're still going to be okay. So it's different depending on what your stress level is. And it depends on how your day was that day. But if you have on balance, if we can all zoom out, no matter what's going on, it just keeps us reminding ourselves to just not get too invested in these micro moments because that also just causes tension. in the relationship and then it's hard to eat.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Exactly. And the point about joy, which I think has come up a few times in this conversation, like when I think about like what I remember from my childhood, one of the things I remember most are the moments of joy, like when my parents and I were trucking around in a big Oldsmobile, if you remember those like, you know, station wagons.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

We had an Oldsmobile.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So then you and I probably both remember rolling around in the back of seat belts, wearing a thing and all that stuff. And, you know, please don't do that today everyone who's listening, but yeah, a lot of good thing. But like I remember these moments of joy, you know, and I realized like during the last seven years of parenting that I have become less like intentional about cultivating joy than I want to be. One of our previous House Call guests actually, who we had on the podcast is someone who I think you may know, Kate Bowler, who's a professor of divinity at Duke.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Oh yeah, I love Kate.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

She's like absolutely incredible. But one of the things that I always think about whenever I interact with Kate is just how she's just bubbling with joy and she brings joy to everyone around her. And it's not to say, I'm sure she has moments where she feels sad or she worries or she feels anxious, but it's sort of the light that she brings to all of her interactions is she manages to make people laugh. She manages to bring joy to their lives. And I think about that whenever I'm, you know, Kate and I have an exchange because I think like, that's actually what I want. my kids to experience, like from my interaction with them, is I want them to feel joy, you know, more than anything.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

What a nice, just imagining how if somebody could describe you as bringing What a nice, just imagining how if somebody could describe you as bringing joy, I mean, what a wonderful, I mean, to me, and we all have different values and we have different offerings for people, but that's a really wonderful thing to think about, especially because we forget to delight in this whole thing because it's just so hard.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

It is so hard. And I think that you pointed out that the information environment we're living in has in fact made it harder in some ways, right? Because we're constantly hearing about everything that is difficult and challenging about the world. And it's not that those aren't real, but it's almost like the magnifying glass on those is like 100x stronger than it was when I was growing up. And I really worry about kids and parents now because if you're getting 100x more focus on everything that's wrong, but you see so little of what is right about life in your community and the world, it's hard not to feel despondent. And I actually wanted to ask you on that point, how do you in your own life, and I know you have two teenagers as well, how have you approached managing that information environment, that flow of info into our kids' lives and into our lives so that we're not constantly pulled down by a disproportionate focus on what's wrong?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Well, I bend, but I would say my natural inclination is to, you know, like I, the horrible thing that happened in Baltimore, the bridge in Baltimore, I almost instantly, someone I love very much looked over at me and said, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, it hadn't occurred to me to worry about this. Now I have this to worry about too. So like instead of thinking about, and of course I was worried about the people and I was worried about just the event, we need to do that. We need to be able to sit with compassion so that we can be helpful in the world, but not go so far into all of it that it's all we think about. Mm -hmm. And worry about. And so one of the things that I try to do is just very from a practical standpoint, keep myself informed. I have, you know, I choose two sources. Everybody should have, you know, two sources that they really feel are reliable and valid to check in with what's going on in the news or what's the important information we need about parenting or what's the important information I need to know about fill in any blank, but not 20, not 40, and not limiting the amount of consumption so that we don't get 20, not 40, and not… limiting the amount of consumption so that we don't get overwhelmed. That's something that I have had to work very hard to do and to make decisions, to share with my children so that we are having conversations about what's happening in the world. I certainly wouldn't want them to just not have a clue. I want them to be very aware of what's going on in the world with the underlying message that there's always hope. I never want it to be so much information of what's so horrible that, you know, and I don't love even labeling that there's a crisis of any kind in any area of how we are because we need to know, like, if there's a crisis in mental health, we need to address the problem. But I don't want to, I think it's important to say from a… macro perspective, there's clearly something going wrong because we see so many people suffering. And also, let's remember that we have agency, that we can make change in the world, that we can help people, that we can make decisions about our day to day so that we can be better, more available to support others being, you know, when you feel hopeless, they say, I don't know who they are, but you know, when you feel hopeless, get helpful. So for me, limiting the information to really, to really valid and reliable sources, and thinking like, just paying attention to I'm feeling like things are sources, and thinking like, just paying attention to I'm feeling like things are bleak. What are two things that I can do to be helpful today to just change the narrative just a little bit so that we feel some sense of control. And I can only hope that, you know, that's part of it with my kids, we definitely talk about what's feeling crummy, what's feeling painful, what's feeling hard. But I don't, you know, there's a reason, there's a time limit of talking about these things. You know, we can have worry time. I'm setting aside 10 minutes to worry. I'm not setting aside co -ruminating for hours and that's how we're connecting, because that can happen. You know, you connect over how horrible things are. So those are just some of the small things. I think we have to work really hard in this world to… Make sure that we always hunt for the good, that we can find joy, and that when we're noticing that things are disastrously wrong, that we get the information in small enough doses that we take action, but not so much that we're just like, oh my god, there's no hope in the world. And you can see that happening. You can turn your screens off, and all of a sudden, you feel a little bit better. So if that happens, do it more. I mean, that's kind of how I… operate is just when I notice that I'm feeling, and I have, I've noticed that there are times when I get obsessive about the news, for example. I'll just obsessively consume content about a particular issue. And when I start to feel myself just, you know, you feel physically different. Your nervous system is out of, you could tell. Everybody can tell when they've hit that point. You have to go back to breath and remember there's a real difference in helping and getting to the place where you cannot be helpful because you are so frozen in panic. So I worry about that. I don't want people to be so terrified that they actually are so flooded with cortisol that they can't possibly be helpful.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

That's beautifully put and I'm worried that that's where many people feel right now they are. And I was even just at a roundtable not long ago with a group of young people who were telling me that they said that in their pockets they have these devices that are constantly shoving negative headlines at them 24 -7. And they said just being inundated with that all the time, they said it's hard to feel hopeful. It's hard to feel that the world isn't permanently and irreversibly broken and That really broke my heart to hear that because but I don't think it's just young people alone I think so many of us are inundated with this and it's, to your point, it's both the dose and the frequency of that negativity. I think that have been problems in our life I think the the headlines are more and more strident and especially the news that we see amplified on social media is it's often what is most extreme, what is most strident that's amplified. But it's also, it's just that constant dosing. It seems like there's no break from it. So I do think that I hear about more and more people drawing boundaries in their life to create zones that are free of the news, free of social media, free of tech, just so that they can focus on themselves, on each other, on being in nature, on finding joy. My hope is that people see that not as sticking your head in the sand and being oblivious to what's going on, but doing what we all need to do, which is to have moments and spaces in our life to heal, to recover, to experience joy. Otherwise, I worry that it's sapping us of our energy. Also, Aliza, speaking of resilience, you've put forward these five beautiful and powerful principles for how we can build resilience in our kids. And I was hoping you could talk a bit about those five principles because there's nobody I've met who does not want their children to be resilient, that doesn't want them to be able to manage in the face of adversity, to grow through challenging experiences. How to do that has been the big question and you have these five beautiful answers. Could you tell us about those?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Sure. And I will say they are rooted in science that is not mine. It's developmental science and it's so beautiful. I just distilled it down to five principles that begin with an R so that people can remember it. But it's relationship, reflection, regulation, rules, and repair. And we've really touched on most of those, all of those in fact, just naturally in our conversation because ultimately, When you think about it, it all comes back to these principles, whether you're talking about adult relationships or children and parent, the parent -child relationship. But what I think is so beautiful about the science of how humans develop is that we know that there are certain aspects of resilience that have nothing to do with us. There's so many things about the environment that are just not a choice. So I chose five principles that are most highly linked with resilience that are in our control. And so we know that if we are focused on that relationship, which, you know, so beautifully when you said love, joy, support, there you go, that's it. And then reflection, just pausing, just taking a moment to think about your parents' experience, to think about why you might have a reaction to something, to think about, to wonder and to name that in front of your kids so that they can begin to be reflective. And then that leads to this, I think, beautiful freedom of regulation. And I say regulation because I mean both co -regulation and self -regulation, that we know how highly linked regulation is with resilience, which in this conversation, it all kind of comes together. It makes sense that if you feel that love and support, that unconditional, not because of the splendor of your accomplishments or not because you're pleasing your parents, but just because they love you, that relationship is so strong and that you're thinking about who you are, how you came to be who you are, and you're wondering on behalf of and with your children, you're regulating. and helping them regulate. And then you have rules. Rules are very important and not super popular right now. But rules are the boundaries and the limits that keep us both emotionally and physically safe. So we need that. And as parents, I think, especially when the messaging is having close connected relationships, it can be hard to then know, well, if I'm seeing tears in my child's eyes and I have a rule, do I have to change the rule because that would hurt our relationship? But no, you have such a strong relationship that you have the confidence of knowing that regardless of how likable it is, that rule is so important to your values and to your child's safety and wellbeing that you're sticking with it. And then they know that your relationship is strong enough to withstand that as well and repair for when you blow it. And that is so… doable because every time you ask yourself a parenting question, you can keep kind of, did I think about those five principles in my response? And do I do that more often than not? Not all the time because then you'd be perfect, which would be problematic. But on balance, am I leaning into those principles? That is what we can do. And we know from the literature that even toxic stress moves into the category of tolerable stress in the context of having the buffering impact of one adult caregiver where you have that connection having the buffering impact of one adult caregiver where you have that connection with. We know this. We can do this. And it's actually, it's so simple that it's, you know, it's awkward.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yes. So, that’s my resilience pitch. I love it. And I especially love the distinction you're making between toxic and tolerable stress, which I think is, I worry sometimes that we think all stress is bad and you're clearly making the point that in the right doses and the right support, stress can help our kids grow. But without that, then they can be harmed.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Yes, and there's even positive stress as you, of course, you know this. We have to have bumps. We have to have bumps in the road in order to know that we can navigate that road. So the positive stressor is you don't even need the buffering impact of the relationship. It's just a bummer of a moment for your child, but it's in the safe context of an overall, you know, it's not getting picked for the soccer team. It's not getting invited to the… It's the stuff that it's having to get rid of the pacifier. It's not part of this sort of tolerable or toxic. And so that's something to just keep in mind too to bolster resilience is we're teaching our kids to dress for the weather, not trying to protect them from the weather. And in doing so, we're also teaching them as they get older to assess the weather, to look out the window, to make sure that they know that they have in the closet the rain gear. but that it's survivable, they don't have to avoid it. Or maybe they do, maybe they see that there's a tornado and they need to go underground. But these are all skills that we're building over time that are bolstering resilience in the context of these five principles.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I love that. That weather metaphor is actually very good. I'm going to remember that. There's actually a lot I'm going to remember from this conversation. I've been taking notes as we've gone along, but of the many things that you've talked about, Aliza, today, just the importance of compassion for ourselves as parents, recognizing that we are on a learning curve and a learning journey and that that's OK. We don't have to be perfect. I think your breathing exercise was so simple and so powerful and something I think that is we can all put in our pockets and keep with us. I think the family values, those I'm gonna keep in mind as an anchor to reach for, especially in those moments where I become really upset or worried or anxious about something that I'm doing as a parent. And this underlying theme throughout this of just how lonely parenting can be, especially when you don't have family or friends around you, especially when you're carrying around a lot of shame and guilt and feeling like you are somehow failing. as a parent and it's hard to admit that or talk about that with other parents. That loneliness, I think I worry about that a lot because I think parenting feels like a time where we need each other more than ever and parents needing other parents, but also parents needing their broader community of support. And I do worry that parenting can be a really isolating experience as it was for my wife and I, particularly in the earliest stages of parenting. As we come to a close, I do want to, we had a couple of questions from our staff that people have shared. Everyone was very excited about this podcast and about you being somebody whose wisdom we could draw on. But to help me with a couple of these rapid fire questions, I wanted to bring in somebody that you know, somebody who's a friend, somebody who happens to actually have walked into this room just a few minutes ago, and it is…

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Hey everyone, I’m interrupting here to introduce a previous House Calls guest, Kate Bowler.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

No Way!

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I invited Kate to come into my office to help Aliza and me with the Q & A portion of this conversation. Kate and Aliza know each other, but this is a surprise for Aliza.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Hey, Lovey, good to see you.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Oh my god, well, thank goodness that we said such wonderful things about you.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Can you imagine if you were like what a troll. She's such a jerk.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

That is just hi.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Hey love, we have so many questions for you. And we know that you have real answers. So prepare to be my only answer factory for the rest of my life.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I'm gonna pull up a chair here.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Answer factory.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

It's a Kate Bowlerism. There are a lot of those. There's a whole lexicon in fact. It's gonna be her next book.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Answer factory? No, I'm not one, but I know one.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Kate, did you have questions that came up that you wanna pose to Aliza on behalf of the world?

Prof. Kate Bowler

Oh, I will, I took so many notes. This was a very, oh sorry, I took so many notes. One of the things that drives me crazy when people say, and you never say this, all we can control is our response, as if control is a solution to the problem of pain. I think you're doing such a lovely job with your, everything you chose is already inside the box of possibility. What did you put outside of the box of what we can control?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I put outside the box that we cannot control our children, which is a real bummer to hear. We cannot control how other people feel. We cannot control just the outside world and the crap that comes our way. And I… I mean, honestly, there's nothing we can, I mean, I'm saying this to you, of all people, but there's nothing that we can control except for that we have capacity to make a decision about these principles and how we move through the world much, you know, again, more often than not, I expect the rest of the time to, you know, today I will. blow that many times. I'm really, as my children will say, I might be too good at self -compassion at this point. And they they're like, we could you could go for a little better than more often than not. But but I think that that's what what is outside of that box is kind of everything. And I think that's OK, even though it's scary. I think it's okay because if we can ground ourselves in a few of the things that we know, okay, well, I've got this sometimes. That's enough. It's just a matter of believing it. I also, to your point about, you know, the only thing we can control is our response. I mean, sometimes that's the dream. Yeah, yeah. So. I think that's, but that's just one of those things to remember that that's a more often than not thing too. And I don't want to beat myself up because my response was the worst response. I just want to learn from that and remember that that was an expected mistake that's going to happen. And I'm going to do better some of the time, but that's about the best we can do. Sorry. Lovely.

Prof. Kate Bowler

That's good.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

A couple of questions that our team sent in. One was, what is the best way to guide your kids when you're so scared they will make the same mistakes you made, like slacking off in school? I resonate with this one deeply because I missed a lot of school, grade school, when I was growing up. Is that OK to say publicly? Yeah, you know, not proud of it. Yeah, you know, I mean, I think it all depends on the definition of the word skip. You know, but I would say yes.

Prof. Kate Bowler

You're like, I took myself out of an obligatory environment.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

So it wasn't a Ferris Bueller. I was not in school a lot, but I was working. You know, I was doing independent sort of study. I was advancing my education. And yeah, you know, but you know, the point is, how do we guide our kids so they don't do the same things that we did that we regret?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

It's so hard when you're the Surgeon General to say to your kids, like this example would be tricky because I mean, I know you weren't using that exact example, but I would have trouble saying to my kids as the Surgeon General, I don't want you to make the same mistakes in school as I did. Because I'd be like, as your kid, I would say, I beg to differ. I could see a world where it sounds like I should follow that path exactly. But in general, I think one of the hardest things about parenting is just zipping it a little bit more and asking questions. So instead of saying, here's my wisdom, saying, you know, wondering a lot, wondering without being patronizing, like not like I wonder in a fake voice, but you're really telling them exactly how to feel and think, but wondering how we can imagine the future. of the choices that they're currently making? And is that a future that they're comfortable with? Because sometimes it's just really hard at a younger age to imagine how does this impact choices down the line? And are those the choices that you want to be making? What are your goals? So working backwards, let's think about how can you meet those goals? What's important to you? But then you're respecting your child enough to get a little feedback from them. There's a whole other side of that that's there are certain things in this house that I value above all else. Education is one of them. It's this is a non -negotiable. Totally also right. I think it's a very privileged perspective to give too much freedom of, you know, how's this going for you and what are your hopes and dreams. Sometimes it's just like we can pick a bunch of categories where you get to choose. This one's not one of them. So I would say choose your own adventure on that one depending on your circumstances.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

What do you think, Kate?

Prof. Kate Bowler

Oh, I'm into it.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Yeah.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

Kate's into rules.

Prof. Kate Bowler

I love rules. Yeah, I have had one. Lately, I've noticed that because one of the things that I wanted growing up was emotional validation. And that's such a big part to me learning to be an adult is recognizing that I am angry because something is unfair or as opposed to berating myself. But I notice that as a parent now, I can't tell if in my attempt to validate all feelings, I'm actually encouraging a lot of complaining. And like, what's the difference between honesty, appropriate honesty, and just like, oh my gosh, am I raising a complainer?

Dr. Aliza Pressman

That's so funny because I do think that sometimes it's, you know, the pendulum always just swings wildly. And right now we're in an era of almost what we talked about earlier, co -rumination, where it's just like, let's really bond over what's going wrong. And I'm here to receive all complaints, all feeling, I say all the time, all feelings are welcome, all behaviors are not. But sometimes I think it's OK to say either you set aside a time or you're allowed to complain. But I'm allowed to just say, the complaints department is closed right now, and we can get back to it tomorrow. But you could certainly write it down, just so you get into a habit of containing some of the constant, you know. We have to talk about what I'm experiencing exactly right now. We have to spend time on it. And I can't otherwise move forward. I think there's a real skill in saying, oof, I do not like that noted. Let me put it in a container. And we will get back to it. Because I think we want our kids to know that we are a great safe place to complain. It's just that there's a sometimes it's a not right now.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Yeah. I tried telling him there was the sandwich method and it could be good, bad, good. And then yesterday he just yelled in a really funny way, one really bad thing and tucked in a very minor good thing and yelled, open face sandwich and then ran away.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

You know what I love about that though? That there then is this connection and humor and like we get it and there's something that there's safe, like the safety of even being able to make fun of your parents for the things that they're, you know, the sandwich or what any of those things to me is just, those are the moments I love the most. Just like, oh yeah, we're good. We're all good. This is all good. Cause we are laughing.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, I mean, one of my takeaways from this is that Kate Bowler’s son, is just as hilarious as she is.

Prof. Kate Bowler

So I guess that's a good thing. He's got a bright future.

Prof. Kate Bowler

I'm raising someone who can best me with irony. That's what I'm. There we go.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

That’s my dream, just so we're clear. Somebody could best me with irony very easily, but if they could best me with your irony, oh my god, I would feel like such an awesome mom.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Well, speaking of ironic children, actually, one of the questions that you come in was about teenagers. And one of our staff members was asking, once you have teenagers and they roll their eyes at everything you say, how do you ensure that they take you seriously? She's asking on behalf of millions of teenage parents who are teenagers in America.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I think that the eye rolls are expected. We all did it. I prefer my kids to do it so I can't see it. I'm like, be smart about it. Roll your eyes. Turn to the side. Walk away and then roll your eyes. Do something that's not going to set me off. But in general, it gets in there. You don't even have to just keep being annoying. That's cool. I think we have to be a little bit annoying. If you're not getting eye rolls, what are you doing? What are you even doing? So I feel like it's more just knowing that it gets in there. We all know it gets in there, because we then grow up, have kids, and are rolling our eyes at ourselves for becoming people that are saying things that we're saying. Like, I don't love a lot of what I say. Like, I would roll my eyes at myself, too. But I kind of love that our kids can roll their eyes and know that we've got them. Like we're gonna be annoying anyway. We can tolerate feeling annoying and being like a dork. I'm fine with that at this age, at 50.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Oh, Aliza, this is so wonderful. I really enjoyed this conversation with you and I'm so glad that Kate joined us for this conversation too.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

I know.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

I was going to tell you that, you know, my son got a Harry Potter wand over the weekend from a friend and I was going to tell you that I used that wand to conjure Kate Bowler during this conversation.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Yeah, I was doing something else and then I was just suddenly here.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

And then you arrived.

Prof. Kate Bowler

Guys, the government is way ahead. Like, we don't even know what the stuff they're developing.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

But of course that wouldn't be true.

Dr. Aliza Pressman

We have a Harry Potter wand that has not been used in a while, so if you have a Harry Potter fan, just so you know, I can get you an extra one.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

You should pull out that wand and use it to conjure me and Kate at your next event gathering podcast and we'll all just do something together.

Prof. Kate Bowler

I think we're going to see each other soon. These are my deep beliefs. This is phenomenal. And also my daughter says that when when in doubt, read Harry Potter. And I feel like now I'm going to use the wand because I kind of didn't agree with her before, but now I'm so in and I'm going to make this happen. This was amazing. Also, I can't even I cannot express enough how blown away I am that both of you are right here, that we care so much about the state of how humans are doing, that the Surgeon General is like, we got to do something about this. Humans matter in such a deep way. So I have this is why I am I am an optimist. This is why I'm an optimist. Like the world is not on fire. We this is fine. We're good. This is so beautiful. I could cry. I'm so amazed. I'm amazed.

Prof. Kate Bowler

I love these tractor beams of empathy. This makes me so glad.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Yeah, these convos remind me that we, you know, there's tough things happening in the world. Like we have what it takes between all of us to support one another through that. And that's, that's really, really important. So I'm just grateful for this conversation. Aliza, I know we're going to stay in touch, all three of us. And just thank you for all the service you've been providing to families everywhere, especially as parents struggle. So just grateful for you.

Prof. Kate Bowler

It's so true. It's so true. I repeat you all the time as if it was my idea.

Dr. Vivek Murthy

This concludes my conversation with Aliza Pressman. Join us for our next episode of House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy. Wishing you all health and happiness.