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Video Interview: Parenting and The End of Blame

Parenting and The End of Blame

Nicole Telfer of interviews Byron Katie on parenting:

Q: Can you help us understand what lies beneath those emotional triggers? Why are kids so good at pushing our buttons?

Katie: If I see them the way they are, then we’re connected. If I see the old them of the past, it influences the way I see them now. The problem lies with me, not with my child. When we stop blaming the child and look to ourselves, that’s when real change begins.

Q: My kids don’t listen to me. The only way I can get them to do as I say is to yell and scream.

Katie: When I think they’re not listening to me, am I listening to them? No one is guilty. There are just two people who love each other trying to communicate.

Q: How can we tell when we’re observing behavior, that is something they need to address, or if it’s something they’re mirroring in us that we need to address?


Q: How can I use The Work so that I can stay grounded? Sometimes I just lose it.

Katie: Sometimes we can’t connect. Later, I’d get a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, I’d close my eyes, and I’d imagine myself back into that situation when I was frustrated with my child. I’d imagine us, just the way we were, and I would identify thoughts I was thinking in that situation. The Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is made for this. It wasn’t my child who caused my anger; it’s what I was thinking and believing.

Then I would question each thought, using the four questions and the turnarounds.

Example: He doesn’t listen to me.

1. Is it true? (Yes or no.)

I’d close my eyes and I witness what I said to them, the emotions I felt.

2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do I react, what happens, when I believe that thought?

I see that I put my hands on my hips. I gave my child “the look.”
I threw up my hands.
I can see so clearly how I reacted when I believed the thought “He doesn’t listen to me.”

4. Who would I be without the thought?

The Turnarounds:
I don’t listen to me. I wasn’t listening to the things I was saying. I wasn’t taking my own advise. I just kept talking to him in that oblivious way.

I don’t listen to him.

He does listen to me.

Then I look at that situation and it shows me examples of how the turnaround is as true or truer.

Even if a child is trying to drown me out, he hears me. By going back to situation and witnessing, I can always see where that child is listening.

When we really listen, we can hear the signals that our children are giving us, and they wake us up.


If there’s a problem in my house, I look to myself. That’s very empowering, because no one has to change other than me. That’s what husbands and children are for; they push our buttons so that we can get free.

Q: As parents, how can we continue to teach our kids to keep practicing The Work, so they can find the peace within themselves?

Q: How can I use The Work to deal with my need for approval so I don’t put that onto my kids?

Q: My twelve-year-old daughter has become very closed. She won’t open up and tell me about her day or her interactions with her friends. I feel like I’m locked out of her life. How can I find my way back in?

Nicole: The biggest life lesson I’ve taken away from your Work is that the whole purpose for these close, connected relationships is to teach me more about myself. They stand up and show me where I need to grow. And your book for children, Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? allowed me to introduce the whole process to my kids at a really young age.

“If think they need to turn it around, I need to turn it around.
If I think someone should question their thoughts, I need to question my thoughts.” —Byron Katie

Video: Socks, Ex Husbands, Fears, and Screaming Little Girls—The Work on Parenting

Socks, Ex Husbands, Fears, and Screaming Little Girls—The Work on Parenting

In this third and final session of The Work on Parenting, Susan Stiffelman and Byron Katie begin with a conversation about specifics like chores and rants about our children: “They don’t listen to me; they’re so ungrateful; how can they live in such a pig sty?”

These beliefs create a disconnect and power struggles with our kids. “The Work,” Susan says, “is a powerful tool to liberate us from all the thoughts that cause us to come at someone instead of alongside them. When children withdraw and defy, they’re letting us know that we’ve disconnected from them.”

Katie then guides Amber from Ithaca in doing The Work on “He’s going to move to California” and “The move is not best for my daughter.” After questioning these thoughts and turning them around, Amber finds the possibility of a lasting peace and connection with her ex-husband and their daughter.

Jamie, a mother of three from Canada, says “Amy is an over-the-top, screaming little girl. She is not the little girl I imagined I would have.” After inquiry, Jamie notices that she is not the mother she imagined she would be and discovers that when she is not busy thinking that Amy should be different, she can be fully connected and compassionate with her.

Ina from Japan is concerned that her daughter is adopting all her fears and lack of boundaries. She questions the concept “My daughter is fearful of life” and quickly finds that when she believes this thought, she become more fearful and unable to help her daughter. “If we take care of ourselves,” Katie says, “our children follow” Ina also questions the thought “I need her to be a fearless and happy person.” Without the expectations we have for our children, we can relax, be present, hear them, and be fearless with them. ”I can’t expect my children to live what I can’t live,” Katie says.

“When we parent ourselves, parenting our children is effortless.” —Byron Katie

Interested in learning more about The Work, find us at for more information. To download a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, click here.

Video: The Work on Parenting—Trash, Working-Mother Guilt, and Bedtime Crashers

Susan Stiffelman and Byron Katie appear together in the second of three sessions of The Work on Parenting. “In these webcasts,” Susan explains, “we discover how we can use The Work to step into a place with our children that is not fueled by our stressful beliefs and stories, the ones that disempower us as parents and keep us from really showing up for our kids.” “As parents,” Katie adds, “we can feel like such failures and experience so much guilt about the things we say and do to our children, and it’s always a result of what we’re thinking and believing.”

Katie uses the example of asking a child to take out the trash to illustrate how we can better interact with our kids when it comes to these common requests for their help.

April, a working mother, joins Katie and Susan to question her upsetting thoughts about being away from her children all day. The most poignant example for her is when she drops her child off at daycare and he cries. She feels guilty that she is choosing work over him. “He should know that I care.” “He should understand that I’m doing something important.” As she questions these thoughts, April begins to be aware of what separates her from her son.

Another mother, Cynthia from Hawaii, does a Worksheet on “Asher the nighttime crasher.” She is frustrated with her son because he won’t go to sleep on his own. After doing The Work, she finds, to her embarrassment and laughter, that she won’t go to sleep on her own.

There are many gems in this ninety-minute webcast. Don’t miss the opportunity for more freedom.


The Work on Parenting webcasts will continue with part 3 on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 at 10 a.m. PDT. For more information, visit


Video: The Work on Parenting—Impossible and Needy Children

Susan Stiffelman and Byron Katie appear together in the first of three sessions of the Work on Parenting. By way of introduction to the series, Susan explains how we can take what Katie has understood and apply it to parenting. Katie describes her experience of waking up to reality in terms of her relationships with her children.”Through inquiry, I came to see that my children were fine. It’s what I was thinking and believing about them that needed a little work.”

Katie uses the example of a child being at a party where illegal drugs are present to show how The Work untangles the confusion often experienced in dealing with these situations. “We inform our children how much they can tell us by how we react to what they share,” Susan says.

A caller from the UK asks, “How can I have a loving and mutually respectful relationship with my twenty-year-old son, who is impossible to live with?” Katie helps her to view this situation from a fresh perspective.

Kristen from Minnesota asks, “How do I give my children the individual attention they need, and how do I know it’s enough?” Katie guides her to fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and question the concepts she has written down. After careful inquiry, Kristen sees that she is the one who is needy, and finds great compassion and love for her son in the moment of his perceived neediness.

“If we argue with our children, we teach them to argue as a way of life.” —Byron Katie

The Work on Parenting webcasts will continue for parts 2 and 3 on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 and Wednesday, 27 May 2015 at 10 a.m. PDT. For more information, visit


Letter from Australia

Dear Katie,

I write to you with some news about the work in my school in New South Wales, Australia. I have been working as a Pastor Care worker for 9 years now in a Catholic primary school with over 600 students. The role name has been my cover and I have been using The Work now for some years. Early this year, my work (with The Work) at the school was noticed. It was noticed first through a programme I had created, using a scenario for year 6 students, using The Work to form a complete process, 30-minute sessions in 3 classes.

I had already been using The Work to support change with behavior issues, anxiety and family issues, the whole family approach. I have been taking Tiger-Tiger through the whole school for maybe 4 years. Every story I read has a reflection time where I bring in The Work. I was supporting teachers and all the community but since the recognition it has had good viral effect. I have presented to school psychologists, 2 time slots now in staff meetings (50 on staff). I have run 5 parent workshops and touched maybe 25 parents and running another 2 this school term. I work privately with mums to support change in their perceptions in parenting and sometimes with nasty separations. Been doing that for a long while using The Work. I now have teachers seeking real support with me doing The Work. Possibly teaching psychologists tools of The Work (it has been requested).

Today my school ran a professional development day with all staff attending. For the first time we ran 4 different workshops where staff had to choose 3. My workshop was called “reality corner,” and I had 2 time slots filled. How can you figure? They had The Work all along, knew something was going on because healing was taking place in all areas. They used to say “I don’t know what she does but it works,” and still there was no movement or room for growing, although I stepped up many times. I even began to tire in it all.

It took an outside psychologist who knew The Work to get things moving.

He has to follow protocol but supports me to bring the change. His words to staff, about The Work being done through me, helped stir the pot. I have applied for community funding and am waiting to know if I have won funding to come to the School for The Work. Might know by November. I have been trying since last year and maybe will make the next March if accepted.

Love and blessing to you, dear soul.

P.S. I have experienced the weirdness of my being used this way. If there was a person most unlikely, it was me. (Is that true?)


Popsicles Past, Present, and Future: The Ploy of Consistency

This is from Jaya Walsh. It came with a note: “To my imagination, this could be used to stir up more interest in the upcoming Workshop for parents and children.”

Children are very good at following the simple directions: “I’m hot, I’m thirsty, there are popsicles in the freezer—let’s ask Mom.” It’s a simple question: “Can we have a Popsicle?” But Mom has no simple answer because she is operating under the delusion “I should be consistent with my children.”

She leaves the present and travels to the past: What do I know about Popsicles? What have I told them before about Popsicles? What have we said about when we can have them and when we can’t? She travels to the future: What will happen later if I give them a Popsicle now? What will happen if this isn’t when I said I’d give them a Popsicle? What patterns are being created or broken here?

Mom looks down at the children’s little faces and sees the enemy looking back. They will run over me if I don’t defend myself against them with consistency. I must maintain a sense of power and control with consistency. I know what they’re thinking: “We want as many Popsicles as we can get, no matter what it does to our relationship.” They don’t know any better.

She is now totally disconnected from them and totally disconnected from herself. The search engine of her brain is so muddled as it sifts through the data around “Popsicles and consistency” that she can’t make a simple decision. She can’t trust herself as a parent to make a good decision—about Popsicles—and she has a moral imperative to make a good decision, because the ramifications are huge and far-reaching and she needs to weigh them out carefully before she can give a balanced answer.

Chances are good that by the time she chokes out an answer through the clutter of thoughts—“Well, no, this doesn’t seem like the right time”—it’s going to feel disconnected to the children. So they ask a question to get clarity—“Isn’t this when we always have a snack?” They might even add more data because, obviously, Mom needs help here—“It’s really hot and we haven’t had any sweets yet today.” Now, anything they say becomes the proof that they’re manipulating her!

What’s really going on here? They asked a simple question and their mother left the planet. She’s trying to show she’s a reliable person by being consistent about Popsicles but all they’re seeing is a total lack of presence. Is it any wonder everyone’s confused and cross?

A Canadian mom named Caitlin, who loves questioning her parenting notions with The Work, noticed that her stance on consistency was creating what she was trying to avoid: internal muddle, confused, combative discussions, stern tones in her voice, and whining, complaining tones in her children’s. What she was especially after was being present, staying connected to her children, and living out of integrity. Instead, she was gone, disconnected, confused.

She took the statement “I should be consistent with my children” to The Work. This exploration revealed to her all the behaviors and thoughts from the Popsicle story above. She found that the belief was founded on distrust: she couldn’t trust her children to have authentic interactions with her, and she couldn’t trust herself to be a good parent to her children in the moment. As she witnessed her life following this session of inquiry, she noticed how many times a day a new opportunity arose for “I should be consistent.” Only now she was no longer believing the thought.

Caitlin’s inquiry led her to trust herself to simply check in and give an answer in the moment. “I can be consistently myself,” she realized. “I can show up in each moment and trust that.” What followed was a new ease in her interactions with her children. The ease was in herself, with a huge reduction in mental work and no more separation—which feels dense and heavy. Now her children ask a question and she gives a response after a two-second check-in. Caitlin’s new modus operandi is “Put in the question and see what it says. It knows the answer.”

In the moments when the answer doesn’t come right away, she notices that now curiosity arises instead of confusion and panic. She tells her children, “I don’t know yet. Can you come ask again in about ten minutes?” Then she does The Work to get back to clarity. The children respond well to this: they, too, seem to prefer the clear mother with the clear answers.

Caitlin marvels at how often her children simply trust her answer these days. When they get a no, they’re more likely to carry right on with what they were doing than to argue about it. Sometimes they do have a response: “I’ll say, ‘No, I don’t want you to have a Popsicle.’ They’ll say, ‘We didn’t have one in the last couple of days, what do you think?’” Then she checks in again—new moment, new information. In her mind, she doesn’t go to, I’ve answered. I have to be consistent or it will mean . . . What she loves is that her children present the new information in a very peaceful way. They don’t speak with the charge they used to put into it, with a torrent of “It’s not fair . . . You said . . . We never get . . . That’s not the way . . .”

And then there are still those moments when a child really doesn’t like the parental answer and responds with tears, anger, and accusations. Even this has become welcome in Caitlin’s world because she doesn’t feel instant anger well up inside herself, worry about or judge the child, question her decision or whether or not she’s a good parent—all the confused craziness this response used to yield for her. Her daughter was raging recently when Caitlin’s answer was “Yes, in ten minutes,” instead of the desired “Yes, I’m jumping up right away.” Caitlin found no judgment or anger in herself as she met her daughter’s response. What she found was true love for her daughter and a clear holding to her true “Yes, in ten minutes.” Her daughter’s emotions spent themselves quickly and, ten minutes later, both were happily engaged in their shared activity. And Caitlin spent the interim ten minutes at peace in her own mind.

A bonus she has discovered in her new way of being is that her children involve her more in their processes. They trust her to be present and simply curious with them about whatever they’re dealing with. Together, they come up with ideas and create solutions to problems and conflicts. “They know I’m with them—present in the moment and not gone, lost in all those thoughts as I search for my Parenting Plan and Theory on Popsicles. In that clear place we can really hear each other and connect, and there are so many more options and possibilities.”

Finally, trust has moved into their home: mom trusting herself, children trusting themselves, and all trusting one another. It’s a good life—and it’s amazing how consistent it looks once the religion of consistency is dropped.