That's Good Parenting

6-Steps for Parenting with More Joy & Less Yelling with Susan Morley

June 26, 2023 Dori Durbin Season 2 Episode 8
That's Good Parenting
6-Steps for Parenting with More Joy & Less Yelling with Susan Morley
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Listen to today's episode,  "6-Steps for Parenting with More Joy & Less Yelling with Susan Morley" as Parenting Coach, Susan Morley joins Dori Durbin. Susan shares:

  • Susan's Career "Why"
  • Busy Lives, Shorter Patience, More Clients 
  • The Six-Step Plan
  • The Vision & Mission Statement 
  • Parenting Seasons
  • Running From Responsibility
  • Meeting Kids' Needs
  • Steps 4-6
  • Common "Problem" Themes By Age
  • Family Happiness
  • How to Reach Susan
  • Piece of Parental Advice

Did you love this episode? Discover more here:

More about Susan:
Susan Morley is a Certified Elementary Educator and Parenting Coach with over 10 years experience helping moms end constant power struggles with their children, get on the same page as their parenting partners, and start having more fun with their families.
As a mom of two young adult women, one of whom was “spirited” from the moment she took her first breath, Susan created a Six Step system to help parents of spirited children set healthy limits and boundaries so they can feel confident that they are raising successful and happy adults.
It is Susan’s passion to help create new, deeper connections as they create a family legacy of love and success for generations to come.
When not on Zoom or on the phone with clients, Susan enjoys her new phase of parenting, “empty nester” and can be found on tennis courts around Atlanta or spending time with her husband Dean in the North Georgia mountains.

Follow Susan:

More about Dori Durbin:
Dori Durbin is a Christian wife, mom, author, illustrator, and a kids’ book coach who after experiencing a life-changing illness, quickly switched gears to follow her dream. She creates kids’ books to provide a fun and safe passageway for kids and parents to dig deeper and experience empowered lives. Dori also coaches non-fiction authors and aspiring authors to “kid-size” their content into informational and engaging kids’ books!
Buy Dori's Kids' Books:

Follow Dori

[00:00:07.750] - Dori Durbin

Hello, and welcome to The Power of Kids Books, where we believe books are catalysts to inspire and empower change. Today's podcast is an expert edition. And you know, on these podcasts, I love to discover what professionals would love for kids to know about what they do. Today, we are speaking to a guest who is a certified elementary teacher and a parenting coach for moms who want to end the constant power struggles with their kids, be on the same page with their partners, and have more fun with their family. She also has a six step system to create healthy limits and boundaries to raise kids to grow into successful and happy adults. Well, welcome, Susan Morley.


[00:00:50.530] - Susan Morley

Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here today.


[00:00:53.640] - Dori Durbin

We are so grateful you're here. I appreciate all the sacrifices you're making to be here.


[00:01:00.310] - Susan Morley

It's easy for you.


[00:01:03.430] - Dori Durbin

Well, thank you. So tell us a little bit about what you do and who you work with.


[00:01:08.410] - Susan Morley

So, mainly my clients are parents, mostly moms. They call me because they are extraordinarily frustrated not with their kids. They're frustrated that they don't get the same respect, compliance, and positive attitude from their kids that teachers, coaches, and other adults do. And they are like, what am I doing wrong? I see that I've taught them how to behave and how to respect adults, but why am I not getting any of it? And so they're very frustrated, and they find themselves in constant power struggles with their children. And I help them break that, establish healthy communication, and it really creates opportunities so that they can spend time together having fun instead of fighting all the time.


[00:02:04.730] - Dori Durbin

Sadly, I'm sure you see a lot of clients then.


[00:02:08.010] - Susan Morley

I'm pretty busy, yes.


[00:02:11.450] - Dori Durbin

And is it there, like, a particular age group that you tend to get more clients from?


[00:02:17.070] - Susan Morley

Yeah. So typically, it's going to be your school age kids right up to those Tween years. I do have some clients with teenage clients, but it's typically about first grade to that fifth, 6th grade.


[00:02:30.910] - Dori Durbin

Okay. And probably gender doesn't matter.


[00:02:34.630] - Susan Morley

Gender does not matter at all.


[00:02:38.470] - Dori Durbin

Interesting. So are these parents who have multiple kids on top of that?


[00:02:43.270] - Susan Morley

Typically, they have, like if I were to average it out, they have two kids. Both parents work. Both parents have what they would describe as careers. So they're very busy, and at least one parent is working more than 40 hours a week. They do take scheduled vacations, so they definitely have time off, but there's a lot of pressure at work.


[00:03:09.010] - Dori Durbin

Yeah. And it's probably one of the major complaints is they come home and it's more stress, more chaos for them.


[00:03:17.570] - Susan Morley

Yes. My clients, they come home and they're like, come on, I've been working all day. Make sure you have these nice clothes and these nice devices and this food, and all you do is complain, and you won't even help take out the trash or set the table to ask them to unload the dishwasher. Seems like trying to do a peace treaty in the Middle East. They just are so frustrated.


[00:03:44.330] - Dori Durbin

Oh, I shouldn't laugh, because I'm sure it really is that frustrating for them. So when you work with them, what are some of the first steps that you use to kind of find what it is that they really need?


[00:03:58.270] - Susan Morley

Yeah, I came up with this six step plan that you mentioned out of coaching my clients. Well, two things. One, out of my own monumental failures as a mom, and then I really kind of solidified it and ordered it once I was working with clients. So the first thing is, as an elementary school teacher, I know a lot about childhood development and parents. Even though we read a lot of parenting books, we might not really understand childhood development and then where our child is in their own personal childhood development because we can only make kind of guesses or generalizations. So the very first step is, where are my kids? And there are three phases to parenting. So the first one is when your babies are little and you're just taking care of their every need. Sometimes as parents, when we have a third grader, we're still operating out of that, my child's a baby, I'm taking care of their every need parenting phase. So I call it the seasons of parenting because that's the way it was taught to me. So we need to make sure we're parenting out of the right season. The second thing is create a mission statement and a vision for each child.


[00:05:26.910] - Susan Morley

And those are the three first it's really just two steps, but those are the first three homework assignments I give to my clients because they need to understand, well, what do they say? Before you know where you're going, you have to know where you are. And so it really gets their parents on the same page. If you're, a single parent, still works for you because it keeps you grounded, and then you know why you're saying yes and why you're saying no.


[00:05:54.530] - Dori Durbin

That's a great idea. I was trying to think of what my mission statement would be for my own kids. Do you have ways to help people figure that out?


[00:06:03.400] - Susan Morley

Yes. My clients get a worksheet. I'm not going to lie. If you did the worksheet with your partner, it's probably a two hour process, so break it up. I do really want my clients to do it. My clients who do that work communicate with their partner and really ask those deep questions. The results that they get are so much better than my clients who just don't get it done. So it's hard work. I did it with my husband. It's not the easiest. And some of the conversations that come up can be a little uncomfortable because your partner might share with you something that maybe you don't want to hear, but you need to hear. You need to be honest and you need to know, what am I doing that's working and what am I doing that's not that effective? Because we all grow up and our parents weren't perfect either. And so we might be doing things that just really aren't helpful. So the mission statement, they have that work and then I give them a sample. But here's the key to a great mission statement is that it can fit on the front of a T shirt.


[00:07:10.810] - Susan Morley

Not too long, not too complicated. You want to kind of simplify.


[00:07:15.870] - Dori Durbin

I love that because it's almost like well, it's a mission statement, but it's almost like a slogan also.


[00:07:22.670] - Susan Morley

Exactly. And it really helps you feel unified. And I recommend post your mission statement. You don't have to discuss it with your kids, but if it's sitting there on the wall, they're going to read it.


[00:07:34.930] - Dori Durbin

Yeah. I wondered if they knew what their own mission statement was, since you do one for each kid.


[00:07:40.550] - Susan Morley

Well, we do it. The mission statement. I say you could probably just do it as a family, but then you do the vision for each child, and that I don't really think sharing it with the kid is that helpful, because it's just for you and your partner to know where do we want our child to be by the time they're 30? And what do we need to do to help them get there?


[00:08:05.070] - Dori Durbin

I love that I have a high schooler and a college student and I can see benefits for having just even those visions up to those points. Even.


[00:08:16.270] - Susan Morley



[00:08:18.850] - Dori Durbin

So you said there were three phases that parents go through, and the first one was the overcoddling, basically.


[00:08:25.890] - Susan Morley

Yeah. So I call it the season of service, where parents are basically a servant to their baby. If the baby cries, oh, what's wrong with the baby? Then there's a transition phase, which is commonly known as the terrible twos. And that's the transition from the child being the center of the family, which is totally appropriate. Then we transition that child to where the parents resume being the center of the family and the child starts to listen to the parents instead of the parents always listening out for a whimper or a cry. So the child quite naturally is not too pleased with this and they're going to rebel. But that's why it's the terrible twos. But they learn to just really respect or acknowledge that their parents are in charge. And by the way, parents, you're not going to get there by being very bossy and demanding. It's a more subtle approach and a loving, authoritative approach. And then the third dory you're in that phase where you are probably noticing you're like a mentor. You're having moments with your college age child for sure, and maybe even your teenager where you guys are just laughing or kind of yucking it up, like almost friendship and that's the beauty of this is that you do.


[00:09:58.470] - Susan Morley

I mean, if your personality is aligned, an opportunity to really feel like you develop sort of like a friendship with your older children, those adult children.


[00:10:09.670] - Dori Durbin

That makes sense. That makes sense.


[00:10:11.540] - Susan Morley



[00:10:11.900] - Dori Durbin

And it's such a difference between where you started and where you end up and I can see where it's a conflict.


[00:10:19.650] - Susan Morley

Amazing. Yeah. And if you try to treat your 13 year old like they're ten or eight and well, no, I don't want you doing that and no, you better not do that, that teenager is not going to like that. It's just not going to work. So you give those teenagers in the emancipation and mentorship phase, you give them freedom to make choices on their own, but you're still holding that other end of the rope that they're tethered to. There's a lot of slack. They have freedom, but when they get all tangled up, you just reel them in, help them dust themselves off and then give them some more slack again so they can try again.


[00:11:05.030] - Dori Durbin

So where do you think most parents have the biggest issues? That's a big question. Yeah. In their parenting and in their relationships with their kids. What are they trying to is it that desire to overtake care of them that is still there or is it some other areas that they really struggle?


[00:11:28.510] - Susan Morley

Okay, I'm going to say it the way it's in my head, but I want your listeners to just don't get upset. Just hear me out. Okay?


[00:11:37.810] - Dori Durbin

Nobody can get upset.


[00:11:39.110] - Susan Morley

Okay? Don't get upset. So I think a lot of times what happens, and I'm speaking for personal experience too, this is not a judgment, but a lot of times as parents, we tend to run away from some of the responsibilities of parenting. Now there are lots of reasons. Almost every household or two parents working very hard. And we care about our careers, we care about our financial future, we want to provide for our children and that's the way we make it work. Unless we're really lucky and we just need one income or we're independently wealthy. Good for you all. But most of us have to work really hard. Another thing is when we come home after working all day, the expectations are wrong. We expect that our five and seven year olds can play quietly and give mommy and daddy a few minutes so that we can cook dinner, but they missed us during the day. And here's the big thing. We have to put our computers and our iPad and our iPhones away. It's just for two or 3 hours so that we can really engage with our children. And if we focus on them and focus on the family just two or 3 hours in the evening, you're not going to believe the difference.


[00:13:06.190] - Susan Morley

Because children, they misbehave for one reason. Well, mostly for one reason, because they are trying to get a need met. And if their needs are met, then they probably don't have to misbehave. Sometimes they still will because developmentally, et cetera. But a lot of the power struggles will go away. We just have to learn how to meet those needs. And that's the third step, by the way.


[00:13:35.830] - Dori Durbin

Okay, that makes sense because they're just trying to cry out and get that attention that they really want, and you're trying to finish off whatever you're trying to get done, and it's a crossover, right.


[00:13:49.360] - Susan Morley

And telling your child, okay, I need 25 minutes to get dinner done and then we'll talk. Well, how about inviting your child to do something in the kitchen to help you get dinner done? Now, I don't like a mess, so I'm not the kind of mom that's going to say, oh, let's make cookies and have a flower fight. No, I'm not the crafty mom. I can't do that. That's cute on TV, but I cannot handle that. But you can say, you know what would really help? Mom or dad. Go ahead, open up the tupperware drawer and try to put a lid on every container while I am making spaghetti. Give them something meaningful and purposeful. Not a fluff job, but a real responsibility, which is another one of my steps, because they need to feel like they matter, and that what they do, is participating in the running of the household.


[00:14:48.050] - Dori Durbin

Yeah. So by giving them steps, you're giving them a voice in the actions that the parents are currently doing.


[00:14:55.570] - Susan Morley

Yeah, it's helping them build their self esteem because they know that they're important, but they're not over important. And it's giving them self worth because they're like, hey, I can do these hard things, and what would my family do if I weren't here? Nobody would be around to take care of the dog. That's my job.


[00:15:15.140] - Dori Durbin

Yeah, I love that. Okay, you said that was one of your steps. Tell us your other steps.


[00:15:21.150] - Susan Morley

Okay, so it's the seasons of parenting. Then it's the mission and vision. Then it's the five needs figuring out what need is my child trying to meet? And we're going to try to meet that need to reduce the misbehavior. And then it's family responsibilities, which is really just chores. Everybody needs to have chores, and that's going to build the self esteem and really help the family that way. Then we have family meetings, which is step five. And this is so important that I provide a very good structure that I got as an elementary school teacher. We use something called responsive classroom, and I adopted that for use in the families to create a very cohesive family and to help with communication. And then the very last step is usually what people call me for, and that's discipline. They are like, I want to know what I need to do to my kids so that they listen to me. That discipline is plan B. Plan A is all the work we have to do as parents, which isn't that hard. It can be also a lot of fun. And while we do that work, we're creating opportunities to bond with our children, and then there's a less need for the discipline, which makes sense.


[00:16:50.040] - Dori Durbin

It really does, because you've established that relationship between yourself and the kids. They know that you respect them and see them. And so then you probably don't have to do nearly the amount of disciplining or combative behavior that you exactly.


[00:17:07.850] - Susan Morley

When you get to that step and your child is misbehaving, you get to say, dory, we talked about that. Your responsibility is taking out the trash. And you agreed that you would bring the trash cans up by 05:00 p.m. Every Friday. It's 515. And then, Dory, you would say, I forgot. Let me go do it right now, mom. Thank you. Now that is avoiding a huge power struggle and fight. Because, Lori, I'm assuming in this situation that we had already had a conversation in our family meeting that you agreed that you would take the responsibility of trash, and then I can just give you a nice reminder of that instead of, you didn't take out the trash again, I'm having to do it for you. No drama, just, hey, we have this agreement. What happened? I forgot. Okay, get it done. No fight, no power struggle, no tears, no guilt.


[00:18:13.710] - Dori Durbin

So how long do you think it takes for a family to kind of work through some of these processes?


[00:18:19.970] - Susan Morley

Well, it depends on the family, but I work with families for four months because the research says there is something magic about three months. When you are doing something new and you're doing it for three months, it's really now a habit. So a lot of our parenting problems come from habits that are not very effective or good. And so when you get those new habits now, you're like rocking and rolling. And then I like to give my clients one more month of support just to see if there are other things that have come up or just to tighten it up. And then I rarely have clients come back. Sometimes if a special issue comes up, a change in the family or something, a big event, sure, maybe they need some support, but typically they don't even need me just because they become teenagers, because they already have that foundation.


[00:19:20.150] - Dori Durbin

That's amazing. That's just evidence that it's working.


[00:19:23.900] - Susan Morley

Right, exactly right.


[00:19:27.670] - Dori Durbin

So this is probably a tough question. I know you said discipline for the parents. What about are there common themes that you see by kind of like elementary, middle school, and then into that? I think you'd see some early high schoolers in there too.


[00:19:43.870] - Susan Morley

Yeah. So for the school age children, I'll say up to fifth grade, we'll say kindergarten through fifth. It's really parents are coming to me saying, my kid isn't listening to me. That's the biggest frustration or they're just refusing to do what I say. And at the same time at the teacher conference, the teacher is saying, oh, my gosh, your child is such a leader in the classroom. I really appreciate they always have something so interesting to say in class. And then the parents are like, Wait, check the folder. Are you talking about my kid? Because they just can't believe it. Because what they get is a grumpy child that fastes and talks back. And they might describe their child as spirited. These are very high energy, kind of easy to love, tough to discipline, bright child. Really, that's really it for the elementary school. That's who I usually see, the middle school. If the parents are coming to middle school, they just are kind of shell shocked. They're like, I don't know what happened to my child, but I think an alien took over my child's body because I don't recognize and really, that is more me giving a lot of support and teaching these parents how to communicate in a way that isn't fixing bossing or telling.


[00:21:23.050] - Susan Morley

That's a whole different way. So it's middle school and the high school young adult. I have clients that have young adults that are already in college. So we really talk about the balance of how much rope do we give them before we reel it back? How do we communicate with these teenagers and emerging adults in a way that is respectful but boundaried?


[00:21:47.910] - Dori Durbin

It could be kind of hard for parents to think that they can have it almost seems like control, but really it's like a plan, right?


[00:21:55.700] - Susan Morley

Right. It is definitely a plan if you have a parenting partner, married or not. And they can be on the same page with you. I'm telling you, two heads are better than one. It can happen just with one parent. I was a single mom, so it can happen. But I'm a realist. It's harder when it's just you. And that's where a coach really comes in handy because it's nice to bounce something off of somebody. And then one more thing. Also, a lot of times we grow up certain ways. So usually I have one parent who's like my way or the highway, and then the other parent who's like, oh, but I don't know. I just can't stand it when they get upset. And they're not trying to be too soft, but they're kind of the softer parent. They usually marry each other. I don't know why, but it's the way it is. And so I come in and I can really support them. And we can take what works from both philosophy and then the parents create their own parenting philosophy together so they're on the same page. And then what their children see is, oh, this is what marriage is.


[00:23:08.530] - Susan Morley

Marriage is that you're on the same page with someone. Marriages that even though you have differences, you can come together and create a plan and create stability in a family. What a beautiful thing to teach your children.


[00:23:22.450] - Dori Durbin

Yeah. And that's so true, because working together as parents, as a unit and progressing to a goal for your kids, that's huge. It's really a gift for the kids, really, if you think about it.


[00:23:38.170] - Susan Morley

Absolutely. Because we learned things by watching our parents, and they made mistakes. Okay, normal. We're making mistakes, too. Even if you do this six steps, you're going to make mistakes because we're human, but we can do it just a little bit better to give our kids a chance to have a really good time. Even if they don't have children, or even if they decide they want to have a fabulous life and never partner, have a romantic partner, that's fine. But we want them to have the ability for those deep, effective relationships in their life, a successful career, however they define success, and really experience happiness as an adult because there are plenty of unhappy things that happen. But if we can have a general sense of well being and happiness, I think it's a pretty good goal.


[00:24:29.520] - Dori Durbin

Yeah, that's a huge goal. I think that's one thing that as a parent, at least the people I know, we all kind of went in saying we want our kids happy and basically fulfilling their passions, following what they really want to do in life. And you can't do that if you're stuck fighting back in high school and stuck in that same kind of mentality of elementary. So that's huge.


[00:24:53.410] - Susan Morley

Yeah. And then one more thing about that. Being happy in general doesn't mean never having bad spells. And I structured the six steps in such a way that it allows children to feel how they feel. And one of the techniques I use that aren't necessarily sped out in six steps, because I've got a lot of different discipline techniques that I teach my clients. But to give when the child is having a tantrum or whatever, you're allowed to feel how you're feeling, and you're allowed to express it how you need to express it. You're not going to express it here in the living room while we're trying to have a conversation. So it's really more about those boundaries. You're allowed to do it. You can't do it here. You can be in a bad mood. I'm not going to join you. I'm going to choose to be happy. So you're letting your children know, no shame in being upset and being angry and feeling sad. Whatever floats your boat, but I'm going to do me, and we can still be a family. I don't have to lose my mind because you're losing yours.


[00:26:04.470] - Dori Durbin

That should be on a T shirt.


[00:26:07.450] - Susan Morley

Maybe that's somebody's mission statement.


[00:26:11.450] - Dori Durbin

I think it should be at least a gift of some kind.


[00:26:16.010] - Susan Morley

I should start selling merch.


[00:26:18.080] - Dori Durbin

Yes, you should. So if somebody wanted to work with you, how would they go about getting a hold of you.


[00:26:26.510] - Susan Morley

Okay, so the easiest way is just go to my website. And I live in Atlanta, Georgia, so I decided that would reflect in my business name. So it's really simple. It's And that's how you can if you go on there, I have a very annoying pop up. It's going to come on. I apologize, but I don't know, it just happens. So web people, what can I say? So it'll pop up, put in your name and your email address, and then you'll get the six steps PDF. Nice. Now, if you don't want to get a weekly email from me, you're not going to hurt my feelings. I'm telling you right now. Just unsubscribe. I do not want people on my list who don't want to be there. So you can just unsubscribe. It doesn't matter. It's a free gift for you. But if you want to check out my emails, I do send an email every Friday. And I mean, I think they're good, I work on them. And that gives you some parenting tips as well.


[00:27:32.900] - Dori Durbin

That's awesome. That is awesome. Well, any last advice you have for parents about raising their kids?


[00:27:39.430] - Susan Morley

Yeah. Don't take yourself too seriously. Parenting is serious business, but don't take yourself too seriously.


[00:27:47.830] - Dori Durbin

I love it. I absolutely love that. Well, Susan, thank you so much for your time today and your commitment to our audience. I appreciate it. We will drop your website and your connections on underneath in the show notes, but I appreciate all your time today.


[00:28:03.500] - Susan Morley

Thank you. Dori have a wonderful day.


[00:28:05.790] - Dori Durbin

You too. Thank you. Bye.


Susan's Career "Why"
Busy Lives, Shorter Patience, More Clients
The Six-Step Plan
The Vision & Mission Statement
Parenting Seasons
Running From Responsibility
Meeting Kids' Needs
Steps 4-6
Common "Problem" Themes By Age
Family Happiness
How to Reach Susan
Piece of Parental Advice