#28 - Helping your children form a positive relationship with technology with psychotherapist Tom Kersting

August 29, 2023
Tom Kersting

Episode Summary

On this week’s episode of The Aro Podcast, we welcome Tom Kersting - an author, educator, family counselor, and licensed psychotherapist. Join us as Tom shares his unique insights into the changes he witnessed as a public high school counselor when children started using smartphones and how technology has impacted our brains. Joey and Tom explore practical strategies for parents to raise children in the digital age. Tom offers advice and guidance to help parents and kids achieve mental freedom and develop healthy habits in their relationship with technology. His wealth of knowledge will allow parents to gain valuable parenting techniques that will empower them to raise resilient and balanced teenagers. Don't miss this opportunity to navigate the complexities of the digital world with confidence and create a healthy environment for your family.

Spotify Icon- Radio Webflow TemplateApple Podcast Icon - Radio Webflow Template

Watch the Conversation

Episode Transcript

Tom Kersting (00:00):

Human beings are social and emotional creatures, and that's how we develop emotional intelligence, social skills, communication skills. It's how we develop an understanding of self thought. So I'm actually on the chapter right now. So one of the most important things that we can do with kids, so for example, play this is for younger kids. Play is down 70% in recent years. And every time a kid goes outside and plays, it activates something like 3000 genes in a cortex part of the brain, which is the part of the brain that shapes them socially. So a kid cannot actually. So becoming a social being and a person that can regulate their emotions and handle adversities and handle a ball being taken away from 'em at the playground and so forth requires practice and the practices being outside, replacing screen time with green time. And our kids, most kids nowadays prefer to be indoors, playing video games are going on their phone than they prefer being outdoors with their peers. And that's their, I call that their natural habitat. So we've removed them from their natural habitat. 

Joey Odom (01:11):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. It's Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro. And before we start, I want to ask a favor of you. Will everybody listening, especially you mom, will everybody listening, go to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and give us a five star rating. We want The Aro Podcast to reach as many people as possible, and that really does start with reviews. So if you just drop us five stars, that'd be great. If you want to leave a comment as well, that's fantastic, but please do go to Apple Podcast and or Spotify and leave us a five star rating. Today's episode, Tom Kersting, and this guy brought the pain. I'm telling you, he was good. He wrote a book. Raising healthy teenagers, raising healthy teenagers is especially poignant for me. My kids are 15 and 13 and he gave us some super, super practical insight and advice and wisdom. Anybody who's a parent of a human, whether teenager or preteen, you're going to love this episode. So please sit back, relax, and enjoy a great conversation with Tom Kersting.


Gang. In 2020, a chilling documentary called The Social Dilemma, hit Netflix and sent the world a buzz. Some called a groundbreaking, but the ground had actually already been broken by our guest column Nostradamus if you'd like. But our guest had been talking for years about the dangers of digital distraction and his first book disconnected. We should have listened to him then, but he's given us another chance now with his new book, raising Healthy Teenagers. I'm the dad of a 15 year old and a 13 year old. So you're now invited to listen in on basically a therapy session from our guest, Tom Kersting, Tom, welcome to The Aro Podcast, my friend. 

Tom Kersting (02:46):

Alright, Joey. Good to be here buddy. 

Joey Odom (02:48):

Man, it's good to talk to you. Really excited to have you. I have been, I mean when I just even seeing the title of your book enough, I had to have it and then had to talk to you. It's full of such great insight and I want to dive in and then hopefully this is a conversation that's very, very tactical for people out there on, Hey, I want to understand what's going on, but then what do I do about it? So you were a counselor for 25 years, right? 

Tom Kersting (03:14):

In a public high school? Yeah, public 

Joey Odom (03:15):

High school 25 years. So you started, when was that, 95, is that right? 

Tom Kersting (03:21):

Yeah, 95. And I got licensed as a private practice therapist in 2001. I've been doing Nat for 20, what is that, 22 years now. So now I retired from the high school. I'm doing just that and lecturing and everything else. 

Joey Odom (03:33):

Amazing. So in that time, so 1995 to 2020, what would you say in terms of just behavior, not necessarily external changes, but in the behavior you saw from kids, what were the biggest shifts you saw in behavior in that 25 years? 

Tom Kersting (03:49):

Well, it's interesting. I actually talk about that in the book when people say, Hey, what was it like being a school counselor back in the mid nineties, early two thousands compared to three years ago when I retired? I'm like, well, it went from high school being a place of educating students to being a place where it's now half educational and half mental health. And that really began, yeah, this mental health stuff really started primarily right up to 2012. 

Joey Odom (04:16):

Gosh, we'll get to why. I think we all know why. I'm curious, if you were to have written a book entitled Raising Healthy Teenagers, if you would've written that in 1995, what are maybe the top three things you would've written about at that time and raising healthy teenager? It's still hard no matter when the year is, it's very complicated now. But 1995, what would you have written about what those would've been the keys to raising healthy teenagers then? 

Tom Kersting (04:40):

I'm not sure I could have filled a book back then, but I mean, what was going on then? Stay away from marijuana, which is out of control. Do your homework, listen to your parents and go to church. 

Joey Odom (04:51):

Gosh, and that's it. And you'd be just fine. And it really is pretty true. I mean, I graduated from high school in 1999, and so it's not far from the truth. It was relatively easy compared to now, but even then, I mean it seemed very difficult. So you've seen a bunch change since then. We were talking right before here, your first book was called Disconnected. That was in 2016, and this was all about digital dependency and all of that. I'm interested in that. You told me something that blew my mind is that you had been talking about that issue since 2009. You gave your first lecture. So what did you see early on that sparked something that said, oh boy, this is trouble? 

Tom Kersting (05:36):

Well, that is how this book disconnected starts. So I was working at the public high school and then I ran a committee called the 5 0 4 committee. So we used to handle something called 5 0 4 accommodations, which is for regular education students that have some kind of an impairment. Then we give 'em accommodations. So sitting in a meeting September, 2008 and it's first week of September, and the protocol is the parents have to meet with the committee and then we determine if the child is eligible for accommodations. Parents come in and they go on to explain that their 14 year old son had been recently diagnosed with Attention deficit disorder. Okay, now hear me out on this one. People listening, all this is interesting stuff. So I remember sitting in a meeting saying, really? Wow, 14 years old being diagnosed with A D H D and this really good, how did this kid fall through the cracks? Because the average age of diagnosis for attention deficit disorder is eight years old, and if you have a child with A D H D, you can't not notice the symptoms by the time they're five. And it's a neurological condition that you are born with. You don't just all of a sudden get it when you're 14. 

Joey Odom (06:37):


Tom Kersting (06:38):

Yeah. So what I highlight, long story short, from that point on for the remainder of the school year, like 90% of the referrals that were coming into our committee were for students that had recently been diagnosed with A D H D, and I hadn't seen one of those in the previous 10 years. So that's what led me to start researching everything pointed. It came across some research by Gary Small, who's a renowned professor at U C L A, and in that research, one of his research, one of the guys on his team coined a term that he referred to as acquired Attention deficit disorder, not official term. So essentially what was happening is even back then from kids being on the internet and stuff like that, it causes something known as brain neuroplasticity. The brain actually rewires itself, grows new neuropathways prunes, those way that aren't being used. And essentially what was happening is that they, in that research, they believed that about 70% of kids that are older didn't actually have A D H D, they just had the symptoms of it because their brain had gotten confused and now it was incapable of using its executive functions properly because of constantly being distracted. So that's what prompted me to start getting out ahead of this. 

Joey Odom (07:45):

I'm curious on that. I actually didn't know that it was something you were born with and you show the symptoms. So the symptoms are what is diagnosed as the acquired a d D, right? So when you start seeing the symptoms, but you weren't necessarily born with it, is that accurate? 

Tom Kersting (07:58):

Yeah. So all of a sudden your child is inattentive, lack of focus, disorganized, maybe even a little rambunctious and so forth. Go to the pediatrician. It's not that hard to diagnose it. You just meet six of the 10 criteria. You have a D H, D, right? But there's countless people out there, kids being diagnosed with A D H D because they have the symptoms, but they actually don't have a D H D. 

Joey Odom (08:20):

So how does medication factor, I don't want to go to be too tangential, it's just interesting to me. So how does medication factor into that then with somebody who isn't actually born with A D H D, but is exhibiting the symptoms of IT medicine, is that still effective for the symptomatic without the actual true diagnosis? 

Tom Kersting (08:38):

Yeah. Well, it's something like Adderall is probably one of the biggest prescribed drugs and Adderall, even if you and I went and took that, we'd become laser focused. Right? 

Joey Odom (08:46):

Okay, got 

Tom Kersting (08:47):

It. But Ritalin, which was the premier one for many years, I remember reading once that basically Ritalin has a revert, it's a stimulant, but if somebody actually has a D H D, it has the opposite effect and allows you to be calm and focused and so forth. That's the big question because there really are probably thousands and thousands of kids that are on A D H D medication that actually don't have a D H adhd. And the only way you can know that when parents come into to my office, they have a 14 or 15 year old and they say, oh yeah, he's all of a sudden was diagnosed with a D h, ADHD from the pediatrician or whatever. I'll tell them before you go try any medication, unplug your kid for about a month as best you can, and I'll guarantee that all of a sudden the executive functions start to come back and kicking back into gear and that your kid, and if it doesn't, then maybe the kid does have a d h adhd. 

Joey Odom (09:31):

Right? That's amazing. So 2016 disconnected came out, and here we are, 2023. It seems like things have changed, just a tadd since then, and it was, I mentioned the social dilemma in the intro, people really became aware of it. And we talk about if we would've started RO five years ago, we would've had to convince people of a lot of things, and now everybody just understands it. But what are some things since then, since 2016 to now since you wrote disconnected, that you've learned the way things have evolved and what direction are things moving since then? 

Tom Kersting (10:05):

Well, interestingly, I'll actually go back a little bit earlier than that 2012, right? So I mentioned that 5 0 4 committee that I used to run the high school. So all these kids being diagnosed with a D h, ADHD were coming in right after 2012. That changed. And the predominant impairment that was coming into our committee was anxiety disorders, major anxiety, so bad. In fact, starting in 2012 that I would get more phone calls from the nurse's office per week for a kid that's having an emotional meltdown or a panic attack or something starting in 2012, I would get more of those calls from the nurse's office per week than I used to get per school year. And at my private practice, at my private practice starting in 2012, I started getting more referrals from middle school age kids with major anxiety issues weekly than I used to get per year. 


And I highlight that in the previous book disconnect. I call it acquired anxiety disorder. And essentially what happens is once these kids get their first phones, they're 10, 11 years old, everything was fine before that, then things start to kind of unravel. They start to fall behind in school and it starts to leave to a very hostile home environment, which is just tension, tension, tension, which is contagious. Kid falls behind in school. Then you get caught up with comparison culture, try to be noticed, get likes, followers, and this is during a very difficult stage of development called pre-adolescence or adolescents. That in and of itself is anxiety provoking. Now, you throw in all of this other content is comparing oneself to other, the lack of sleep that kids are getting, teenagers and so forth, and it's like the perfect storm that had to develop major anxiety plus all of the nonsense that's just being funneled over and over again through social media because everything is caught on camera nowadays and everybody's walking on eggshells as a result. 

Joey Odom (11:53):

That anxiety, you hit on it there. And I don't know that people talk about it a lot. I don't know that we're focusing enough on sleep, bro, if I get a bad night of sleep, I'm done. I'm toast. I can't imagine what it's like for a child to be sleep deprived. And I say this all the time, if I would've had the internet as a 14 year old boy, I would've never slept. There's nothing I wouldn't nefarious or not, I would've never slept because it's super interesting and you can go down a wormhole and it never ends. So it's just the sleep deprivation alone could cause a major trauma for people. 

Tom Kersting (12:28):

So I'll give you a good little stat. So my last year at the high school, so what was that, 2020? Yeah, we're in 2023. So I collected my own data. So we had a thousand kids in the high school and kids would come down to my office all the time, just sometimes just to hang out. They like to come lunch and chat. I'm a likable guy. I asked them over the course of the whole school year, I asked around a hundred kids. I said, listen, they're in my office. I got a question for you. I'm collecting data. I'm not going to use your name, not going to call your parents. Just answer this question for me. And they said, sure, Mr. K. They called me. I'm like, all right, what time do you go to sleep on weeknights? And I'm not kidding, Joey, 90 something. Out of those a hundred kids told me that they went to sleep between one and 4:00 AM every night, every night of the school week, and their parents had no idea. So I'm going to ask you a question. So what's my first tip to parents that are listening right now? 

Joey Odom (13:26):

Yeah, devices out of the room, right? 

Tom Kersting (13:28):

Get the darn devices out of those bedrooms, particularly at night. They should not be in there. Kids say Anita is an alarm clock. They're sneaking on 'em. They're looking at 'em, and you're talking about a kid. They don't think yet. They're impulsive. You know what I mean? And they're going to sneak on that phone when mom and dad are asleep and try to hide it and so forth. That's the rules I always had at my own house. My youngest is 16, my daughter, that phone comes down here at nine thirty, ten o'clock every night, no questions asked. 

Joey Odom (13:53):

Just that alone. I mean, think of the shift in that. What if we all just, there's a bunch of other stuff we should look at, but what if we just did that and just focused on the sleep side of things? That would be transformational, just that. So 2012, so that led you to writing the book disconnected. What was the reception, I'm curious at that time from people, was it this guy's crazy, this guy, Hey, I think you're onto something. How did people receive that at that time? Now, everybody would agree with everything in it, but what was the reception at that time? 

Tom Kersting (14:23):

So it was a mixed bag because a lot of times I was still continue to lecture. So a lot of the feedback I get is during lectures, people ask questions and answers. Most people walk out of there with their jaws dropping parents, but they also feel empowered. They know what to do. But then you get some parents that try to challenge you a little bit, and that's because they're defensive, because everything I just told them, they're living. And it's very hard for us to hear a reality without trying to deflect it. You feel like you're a bad parent, you're not a bad parent, you're just an uninformed parent. So a lot of the stuff I talked about in the first edition of disconnected, there wasn't even any research done when I was talking about anxiety being caused by the devices and so forth. There was no research to substantiate that, the mental health epidemic. There was no research. I knew this anecdotally because I was working. And yeah, like you said, now everything is real. Everything I've written about in that first edition, there's no debating any of it 

Joey Odom (15:20):

Since then. So you updated since 2016. You wrote it, you've updated it since. So now you've come out with raising healthy teenagers. And again, I've been so excited for this. I have a 15 year old and a 13 year old, and even as intentional parents, and we've done an okay job, I think. But there are things that I think the main thing that comes up to me, Tom, is where I think, okay, my son's 15. Have I done everything and what can I do now? Is it too late for me to implement new things that I need to? And it's all about the book's, all about equipping your child, the subtitles, equipping your child to navigate the pitfalls and dangers of teen lives. And you have a line in the intro. Your goal of the book you said, is to inform, not scare you of what's going on in our children's minds and lives and why. So as a dad who doesn't know what's going on my kids' minds most of the time, what is going on in our children's minds and lives and why is it going on? 

Tom Kersting (16:16):

I love that question. And I also love a quote by a famous German philosopher, Nishi, and he had a quote. He said, we're under the presumption that we're thinking, but in reality, we are being thought. So sort of a clay on words. So what does that mean being thought? What it means by that is we're being controlled by our thought rather than being in control of our thought. So you take a kid who spends on average nine to 10 hours a day being bombarded with content information, a lot of which is not healthy content, being bombarded with that, that now makes its way into their subconscious mind, becomes their reality. So they're now controlled by their thinking rather than being in control of their thinking. So when I'm speaking to kids, what I always tell them, I implore them. I say, this is what I want you to do, and if you can't do this, then you're a full blown addict. And what I implore them to do is to sit every day for 15 minutes in total silence without a single distraction and go deep within oneself. That's the rest of the iceberg. That's the depth of us. That's where all of our confidence, our joy and happiness is. And use your thinking instead of being used by it visualized, think about what you're grateful for. And it's a way of really just turning this around because 

Joey Odom (17:33):

I've heard, do you know Cal Newport wrote Digital minimalism? 

Tom Kersting (17:37):

Yeah, I think I've seen that before. Yeah. 

Joey Odom (17:40):

He talks about, and I love the concept you just mentioned, which was that 15 minutes, which by the way seems basic, but go ahead and try it. Anybody listening, try to have any amount of time without any inputs. A couple years ago I said, I'm going to do that. I'm going to go on a walk with no inputs. I was like, oh, you know what I should do? I should listen to podcast. Wait, wait, wait, no, that's an input. I can't do that. Oh, I'm going to listen to some music. Hold on. Even that's an input. That's something coming in to my mind instead of just having a blank canvas even, oh, I'm going to go read it. I'm going to go read. I'm going to do a devotional. Even that is an input. So it's a really challenging thing to do. So when kids start to do that, what happens? By the way, I found it was extraordinarily uncomfortable at first, and then it became very comfortable and wonderful after that. And then I had creative thoughts sparking all over the place. So what's that experience for kids when they begin to just have that 15 minutes? 

Tom Kersting (18:30):

So what's interesting is what you just mentioned is we have become so accustomed to distracting ourselves, and what we're ultimately distracting ourselves from is self, right? So what is self-esteem, right? I talk about that in my lecture is me. It's how I feel. It's not what other people think about me, but how do we even know what self is? And I'll ask kids in lectures, I'll say the following, Joey, when I get to this point of my lectures about self-esteem and so forth, what I call cyber self-esteem, I'll ask the kids in the front, I'll say, right, who are you? And I know what the answer's going to be. It's predictable. Every time the kid says, oh, hi, I'm John Smith. Hey John. And then I ask the next kid, who are you? And they tell me their name. And I'll ask another kid, and then I'll ask one of those kids. 


I'll say, ask me who I'm, and I'll say, who are you? And my response is, I'm not Tom Kirstin. That's just the name my parents gave me. Here's who I am. I am a caring, loving, motivated, determined, empathetic, powerful, spiritual being. And then I go on to say to the kids, I'm not saying that because I'm trying to boast. I'm saying that because every one of you in this room is also that, but you'll never know that if you never delve within yourself. And the only way to do that is in the silence. And if you never go into the silence, life is just a distraction and you're just controlled instead of being in control. 

Joey Odom (19:52):

I think whenever you have that strong sense of identity, that strong sense of self, then you start to act because you just said about yourself, you identify yourself as empathetic. I bet that makes you more empathetic just because identified yourself as being empathetic and you say, I'm caring. And then you think, well wait. I'm caring, so I need to do the things that a caring person does. It's almost like you become more like the person you say you are, right? 

Tom Kersting (20:14):

And you're experiencing it when you do this for 15 minutes a day and then you implement mindfulness where you're just in the moment when I drive my car and I go to my office later, I'm not going to blast the music. I'm going to be, that's why we're called human beings. I'm going to be here. I'm going to take in the beautiful spring weather and I'm going to use my thinking. I'm going to think about what I'm grateful for. I'm going to feel the emotions associated with that. And that's how we build as human beings from the inside out. But our kids today don't get those experiences. I say in the previous book that boredom is the miracle growth for the mind. And 

Joey Odom (20:47):

So true. It's so true. That's where all creativity starts. That's where everything begins. So life is, we've talked about it some, and life is different for kids today, you say it's harder than ever. And you say, and I want to hear more on this. You say more has changed in the last 10 years than the previous 10,000 years. Is that hyperbole? Is that true? And if so, give us a little bit of that. Seems like that's a lot to keep up with. 

Tom Kersting (21:14):

Yeah. So if you think about, right, so you go back 10, 20 years ago and previous, what did kids do? They spent time outside, constantly playing. Mom and dad had to drag them back inside. They talked to one another in school at the table. Instead of being distracted from their devices, we didn't have this never ending world of information and fear and everything else bombarding their brains. So a kid from 10 years ago, it was more like a kid from 2000 years before that, and a sense of freedom, mental freedom, and that's the first chapter of raising healthy teenagers about mental freedom. Kids don't really have any mental freedom because they're so addicted to these things, these devices, their games and so forth. They're distracted from themselves. They don't know how to use their mind and they don't know who they are. So for parents, the most important thing, you know what the most important thing is for a child's mental health outcomes? 

Joey Odom (22:07):

What's that? 

Tom Kersting (22:08):

Spending time with their parents. And I don't mean just being in the same room with everybody on a device, but one thing I advise parents to do as well, when you're at lectures and so forth, when you're driving your kid to school, just look in the rear view mirror when you get to the school, every kid in the passenger seat is like this. So there's no dialogue even during a five or 10 minute ride to school. And that is like fertile ground, 180 days a year of connecting with your child and your child connecting with you. It's just all those moments. And we really, parents need to practice what we preach when we're at home with our kids. We got to turn down our own stuff. We got to be among one another. We got to feel one another's energy and we got to love each other. 

Joey Odom (22:47):

So I want to make that really practical. I love the idea, something we should all do. A question we get a ton from people is, and it sounds very basic. Well, what do I talk about? I mean, literally we don't know exactly what to talk about, especially when our kids get into teenage years. Legitimately, my son and I are very close and he's 15, but sometimes it's like I don't want to just give 'em another lesson. I don't that, Hey, how was your day at school? Or how was tennis practice? That gets a little bit boring. So when you talk about spending time with your kids, what should we practically be doing? What should we be talking about? How can we make this really approachable for parents? 

Tom Kersting (23:25):

So it's very interesting that you say that because just think about that for a minute. The fact that we don't, 

Joey Odom (23:32):

It's ridiculous. Talk 

Tom Kersting (23:33):

About anymore. That is something that should be so organic that we shouldn't even have to think about and always has been up until recently. But if we have to consciously think about what we're going to talk about, it doesn't have to necessarily be like, how'd you do on a chemistry test this week? Did you hit off the tee today in baseball and so forth? It's a good idea to ask kids to speak with them instead of at them. And who's advising them? Just ask 'em open ended questions. Hey, what's new with you? How's your, your friend Luca doing anything new there? And then hear what they have to say, kind of let them lead a little bit. And if they get quiet, that's okay too. We can prompt. But I know that's an interesting factor is what are we talking about? But when we do it, when we make it mandatory on a daily basis, bring back family dinner and so forth in about a week, it becomes organic again. 

Joey Odom (24:26):

Yeah. What are some ways that can go sideways? And I don't want to be too leading with the question, but I'm just imagining myself hearing my son. Tell me something to me jump on, oh, you can't talk to your teacher like that, or what are those ways that, or even stealing a glance at a phone, that sort of thing. So what are some of those vulnerability killers that can kind of derail those efforts for you to talk and be close with your kids? 

Tom Kersting (24:51):

Yeah, so of course when you have teenagers, there's clashing, right? Yeah. So I'll give you an example. What I do with my daughter who's 16, I just know how she rolls. So she gives me, I remember a few weeks ago, I know she's got this hidden drawer with some candy in it. So I was looking for a little Reese's peanut butter cup. So I go in her room, she's doing her homework, and I'm like, Hey, her name's Ashlyn. I said, Hey Ash, you got any Reese's Peanut butter cups with that? And she snaps at me, right? She snaps at me and says, you always have to take my, so I paused and I said, all right. And I went back downstairs because I knew what the outcome was going to be and here's what the outcome was. About 10 minutes later, she came downstairs and gave me a hug and said, dad, I'm sorry for snapping at you. So little things like that, it really depends on who you did, but we do get in the habit of constantly going at our kids trying, make sure you do this. Don't talk to me like that. It's more good. You can never have a dialogue when one or both individuals are emotionally charged dialogue. Nobody could hear anything. So you got to let it diffuse. And then when the dust has settled, then you visit it. 

Joey Odom (26:03):

Story time. I got an email the other day from Cassie in Norman, Oklahoma, boomer sooner. Cassie said, hi, Joey. I thought I would report back on family evening number one with ro. The box arrived and I put my phone in it before my elementary age son got off the bus. I was still working from home, but had one distraction instead of two, and was able to wrap up my workday a little earlier, thanks to that focus. Spent a little time with him fully present before my daughter got home. She's 15 and has had her own phone for a while. I asked her to put it in the box for a few minutes and go do something, anything. You've got laundry to fold. Start there without your phone at your side. 40 minutes later with homework and some sketching complete, she retrieved it. Then my husband got home. 


Same thing. I asked him to put it in. We all for SAT talking a minute before I started dinner, and I let everyone know we would be putting phones in RO at dinner going forward. We used to never take 'em to the table. But over time, we've gotten lax. My son's eyes lit up. Do you think tonight you could all just leave your phones in the box? We all obliged. Once he was asleep a couple hours later, we all retrieved them. I let my family know I would be putting mine back in at bedtime. While I was typing this email, my daughter texted me, do I have to put my phone in the box when I go to bed? I told her, no, I'm going to, and I would like you to give it a try at some point, but I'm not going to force you. 


She said, okay, mom. I think I will tomorrow though. It's early. I know, but I think I may have finally found the way to break my 10 hour of phone screen time day addiction. That is humiliating. The type and the life I experienced with my family tonight alone is worth the cost. What a great story from Cassie. Cassie, thank you so much for sharing. If you have a story with aro, please share it with us. If you're interested in aro, just go to go aro.com. And now back to this week's episode, the co-founder of Aro Heath Wilson, he is, this is one of his cornerstone parenting things is just don't react. They tell you something shocking, don't react. They try. In some ways, they're probably testing you to some degree. I feel like my daughter sometimes it's kind of like, can I really be open with dad? 


So I'm going, whether pop off Adam similar to what Ashlyn did, or maybe tell me a little bit of shocking news from school and then to see if I react and if I can keep it, if I can stay. Oh, that's interesting. Then that really does. It always goes the longer way. And then to your point there on Ashlyn, if you were to have gone back at her, I find the storyline then becomes dad was mean to me, and that's it. That's all. And you can't talk about anything else other than the fact that dad was mean to me. Right? 

Tom Kersting (28:41):

That's the only thing you're going to remember and take away from that dialogue. That's the only thing. And it's like married couples, same thing. I counsel married couples too, and people get into a disagreement and an argument and it becomes right or wrong thing. The only thing that each party remembers is what the other person said to them or how they treated them. That's the only thing. They take a look from it. Then the message can't penetrate. So you got to let it settle and then have a conversation like we're having right now, and then we can hear and take in the message. 

Joey Odom (29:09):

So again, it's the couple things you've said, the 15 minutes of boredom, it's so simple, it's so approachable. Yet I wonder how many people will actually go do it, even though it's so simple, not reacting emotionally. It's so simple. It's so basic. It would solve so many problems if we did that. And it's amazing what would happen. And then in doing it, it's almost like a double benefit because in not emotionally responding back, the other person can then trust you a little bit more because they know, okay, dad can handle me being real. And then when you trust, then that makes them less likely to then pop off the next time they know they trust you. You have a good foundation there, 

Tom Kersting (29:46):

And it trains you to be present to live in now, to live in the moment, because we're never present. We're always somewhere else distracted. And when we can train ourselves to be in the present, we become less impulsive. One thing I see now, Joey is and I talk about it in raising healthy teenagers, I cannot believe in the last couple of years the amount of kids exhibiting oppositional defiant behavior towards their parents. And that's because they're impulsively reacting. And I have kids in my office and I train them that as soon as they feel an emotion come up, they have to pause. They have to remember to come into the present moment, take a breath of air, pause for a few seconds, and that's all it takes. So instead of just operating on pure raw emotion, you can now use intellect and think about, or a split second, what my reaction is going to lead to 

Joey Odom (30:37):

Because it is important to feel this a lot better than I do. But that's not a suppression of a feeling. That's actually the full feeling of a feeling. Isn't that what you're supposed to do and mindfulness is to feel all of your feelings. And then once you've fully felt them, only then are you able to process them mentally and decide what you do with the feeling, right? Yeah. And so in pausing that mindfulness allows you to then not back to the nietzche quote. It allows you to control the thought instead of the thought, or in this case, controlling the feeling instead of the feeling controlling you. 

Tom Kersting (31:11):

And furthermore, by doing that, if a kid actually really, really worked on that and getting into this present moment, eventually over time that hasty feeling wouldn't even manifest. It would be like a split second and then, okay, I'm calm. My emotions don't need to react to this trivial thing. So it's really, you build on it. It has a very positive snowball effect. 

Joey Odom (31:35):

Wow. I want to get into raising healthy teenagers. I have it right here. I've been devouring it. It's so good, Tom. And back to the what's going on in our children's minds and lives and why want to tell you, I want hit us with something, and it may be the same question, but I find that parents can be very naive, myself included. What would surprise parents of teenagers and maybe what would shock parents of teenagers and they realize, holy crap, they're experiencing that, or they're seeing that, or they're feeling that. What would be maybe a surprise or a shock to parents if you told a naive parent? 

Tom Kersting (32:13):

Well, one thing for me, something, I have a chapter on this in the book is marijuana smoking. So you take a teenager and no matter what they tell you, the kids are smoking more marijuana than they were 30 years ago. I don't care what the statistics said. I just see this stuff every day. And what people don't realize, and I've dealt with a lot of kids where their parents are okay with it. They're like, they don't have a problem with their kids smoking marijuana. Believe it not. Wow. But what a lot of people don't know is that there are more emergency room visits for people having something known as cannabis induced psychosis, a cannabis induced psychotic episode. There are more emergency room visits per day in the United States for marijuana than any other drug. 

Joey Odom (33:00):


Tom Kersting (33:02):

And it's because the t h c levels, back in 1990 when I graduated high school, the T H C levels were like three to 5%. And now since it's become legalized and regulated and all this stuff, it can be 80 to 90% and it's causing cyto effects and our kids. And the problem is our kids, our teenagers, and even pre teenagers think it's harmless what the message has been sent. It's harmless. Oh yeah. It's innocuous. It's harmless, and it's a wrecking ball for kids when they're younger. I see it every day, just destroys, strips everything away from 'em. 

Joey Odom (33:38):

Wow. And when you get into the substance abuse is alcohol typically? Well, actually maybe this isn't a foregone conclusion. I was going to say, is alcohol kind of the gateway into marijuana or does some kids actually understand the detrimental effects of alcohol and so they just go to marijuana instead? 

Tom Kersting (33:56):

A little bit of both. A little bit of both. They're kind of both. One doesn't necessarily lead to the other. In my experience. Those are just both substances that are legal and kids are like, I like to experiment and do stuff, but I've had kids that smoke marijuana and they're like, I don't need alcohol. But it has a different psychological impact long-term. Sure. 

Joey Odom (34:20):

That is very surprising, very shocking. You said, I say you go on Tom kering.com, you can see the top five questions you hear, and there's a question you had on there. It said, when should I get my kid a smartphone? And can you, how about you give your answer to that? This one did shock me. Yeah. 

Tom Kersting (34:39):

This is a little bit of an upper cut. So that question, every time I give a lecture, every time comes up, parent raises a hand and say, what is the right age to get my kid kid a smartphone? And my answer is this, Joey, when you feel comfortable with your child watching pornography, 

Joey Odom (34:59):

That's more than an upper cut. That's like body blow after body blow, my 

Tom Kersting (35:02):

Gosh. And right now we have the average age of first smartphone issuance is 10 and a half years old. And these are, I call them the modern day weapons of mass destruction. It's behind all the issues we're seeing. 

Joey Odom (35:16):

I think as I've learned more about the prevalence of pornography, that has shocked me most probably as apparent that it's, it's not specifically a boy issue, it's boys and girls. It's both genders and their exposure to it is very, very young. And they're seeing things that their minds are not equipped for, most peoples are not equipped for. And it is a very, very real thing. Is that a smartphone specific issue? I got to think that 1995 for you, you weren't hearing a lot of instances of pornography prevalence among teenage boys and girls. Is that a smartphone specific issue? 

Tom Kersting (35:58):

Well, kids always explored those things. You go back like the eighties and nineties, kids would put their Playboy magazines out in the woods and they'd grow on and they'd look at pictures. But now a kid gets a phone, they go on YouTube, there's going to be an ad of an attractive woman or whatever it is, and a kid is going to click on that. That's going to take them down a path when they're trying to figure things out, and they can really get sucked down that rabbit hole. So it's definitely more of a social media modern day problem, more so now than it was a problem in the past. 

Joey Odom (36:30):

That is shocking. It really is. So I going to go into, there are a couple chapters here that were really specifically poignant for me. I want to start with the mental freedom, mental freedom chapter. Will you talk a little bit about the mental freedom, what that means, and then what are some of these antidotes to what we can do to letting our kids experience mental freedom? 

Tom Kersting (36:54):

So again, the mental freedom, you look at Covid and everybody was mentally locked down. So part of mental freedom is that 15 minutes of silent time we talked about, but it's also engaging with other people. Human beings are social and emotional creatures, and that's how we develop emotional intelligence, social skills, communication skills. It's how we develop an understanding of self thought. So I'm actually on the chapter right now. So one of the most important things that we can do with kids, so for example, play this is for younger kids, play is down 70% in recent years. And every time a kid goes outside and plays, it activates something like 3000 genes in a cortex part of the brain, which is the part of the brain that shapes them socially. So a kid cannot actually learn. So becoming a social being and a person that can regulate their emotions and handle adversities and handle a ball being taken away from 'em at the playground and so forth requires practice. And the practice is being outside, replacing screen time with green time. And our kids, most kids nowadays prefer to be indoors, playing video games are going on their phone than they prefer being outdoors with their peers. And I feel that their natural habitat, so we've removed them from their natural habitat, that's really an important thing to get 'em out there. 

Joey Odom (38:19):

It's huge. And you talk about, I love this term, you talk about Nature deficit Disorder. Hit us a little bit with what that concept means, the Nature Deficit disorder. 

Tom Kersting (38:28):

So I stole that and I cited it in the book from the person You did 

Joey Odom (38:31):

Cite it. You did. That's true. 

Tom Kersting (38:34):

So I didn't really steal it. And so basically it's everything shows that the more time that kids spend outdoors in nature, whether it's playing whatever, it's something just being outside and the sun being out there where they go for a hike or you go the woods and so forth. All of the research shows that kids that spend a lot more time outside than they do inside their mental health outcomes are substantially better than the kids who are cooped up inside. 

Joey Odom (39:01):

I believe. Listen, yesterday after reading again, I was reading raising Healthy Teenagers, and so my daughter was feeling, she was feeling a little bit down. She was feeling a little bit, just maybe a little bit lethargic. I said, Hey, Gianna. I said, go outside. We're going to work on the back deck. I'm going to need to do some stuff, so I want you to be outside. She said, what kind of jump on the trampoline during that time? She did it for 25 minutes. Tom, I'm telling you, it was a different kid, just that 25. And it shouldn't be a shock. But those things happen and it's not, yes, sustained over time is great, but truly instant results. It was an amazing thing. 

Tom Kersting (39:36):

No question about it. So another thing people don't realize when it comes to mental health, we've become this pill popping nation. Everybody's on medication and what people don't know, and what Big Pharma doesn't want them to know is that physical exercise is scientifically proven to be more effective for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression than medication. So when I'm giving lectures, I tell kids, I'll tell the audience, they'll say, I'll tell the parents too. I'll say, if you do these two things, one is sit in silence and get to know yourself and do that on a daily basis basis. And number two is incorporate physical exercise activity, going for a run, a walk on a daily basis to incorporate those two things into your life. I predict, I hypothesize that the mental health epidemic would go down by 90%. 

Joey Odom (40:24):


Tom Kersting (40:24):

That's what I predict. I mean, I don't have any evidence to support that, but that's what I believe would happen. 

Joey Odom (40:32):

I believe it. Again, I'm taking copious notes here because it's sit in silence, spend time outside exercising. We talk about substance abuse. And when I think as a parent, especially when your kid's in their teenage years, you're still thinking about them as an adolescent 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 years old. And so it's easy to think, not my kid. And I think it probably becomes a shock. So who would you say is at risk here and then in the substance abuse, maybe, I'm sure that's everybody, but what are some things that would maybe indicate a higher incidence of someone being at risk? 

Tom Kersting (41:12):

Well, kids that actually have attention deficit disorder, because a lot of 'em, especially ones that have the impulsivity component, are more prone to engage in marijuana use and so forth. But I think just it's a social contagion in many ways. So kids tend to do what everybody else does. That's how we operate. Even adults go with the flow. It's this form of social conformity. And I talk about it in the book. So it starts off where a kid goes to high school and they start meeting other kids, and all of a sudden a kid whips out a joint or whatever, and they told not to do that, and they try it. And it wasn't as bad as mom and dad said and evolves into this very terrible snowball effect. But what I tell kids that I counsel and what I help parents to understand is if starting at a young age, I've always told my kids, you're a leader. You are not going to be a follower. You're a leader. And I drill that into their minds. So basically the definition of a leader, my favorite definition, there are many, is that a leader always does what is right even when it's not popular. 


And a follower is just going to go along and follow the crowd and do what everybody else does. And that's the leaders are the ones that live by principle, by virtue, by values. And we got to drill that into our kids. 

Joey Odom (42:37):

What about the parent who might be listening, who their kid has, they did find a vape pen and the kid has smoked a little bit of marijuana, or they found them, they realize they drank or they got drunk, or whatever it is. So how, as a parent then, how do you respond to that? Is it a punishment? Is it you pull 'em out of social circles? How should a parent handle a situation like that? 

Tom Kersting (43:03):

Yeah, so first of all, if the parent right now that's listening, who found some vape pens in their 14 or 15 year old son's drawer, it's not their friend stuff. That's what they told you. It's my friends. I'm holding it for a friend. 

Joey Odom (43:17):

Yeah, holding it, holding a vape pen for a, it's 

Tom Kersting (43:19):

Theirs. So what you want to do is you don't have to freak out and go crazy on your kid, but you want to let them know in a very stern way that in this household, we have a zero tolerance for that. So I told my kids, both of 'em. My son is going to be 20 years old next week. He is in college, and he's never had a sip of alcohol on his life. 

Joey Odom (43:39):


Tom Kersting (43:40):

I don't know where he got that from. I mean, I like to drink beers every now day, but he just hasn't. And his friends all drink and do that stuff, and they're all good kids, but he does not do, and I'm not being naive. His friends tell me all this. He's just not interested in it. He's a very social kid. And my daughter, to my knowledge, hasn't done anything yet. And so what I tell them, I have told them there's a zero tolerance for this in the household. If I catch you with marijuana, you're not allowed to live here. 

Joey Odom (44:08):


Tom Kersting (44:09):

You're not allowed to live here. You're going to have to live somewhere else. 

Joey Odom (44:11):

And you'd follow through on that. 

Tom Kersting (44:13):

Well, I haven't had to get to that point yet. Okay, 

Joey Odom (44:15):

Got it. Got it. 

Tom Kersting (44:16):

You know what I mean? I want them to know you're not going to tolerate that. Because in my profession, if people could shadow me for a day as a therapist and see the stuff I deal with, you know what I mean? That's why I have a very, very firm belief on that. And it just leads to other things. We have fentanyl making its way into marijuana even now. I use that as a motivational strategy. You're a leader. We're not going to allow this in this house. 

Joey Odom (44:43):

How about alcohol? How do you advise families to handle alcohol? So you said you do have the occasional beer. So growing up, when your kids were growing up, how did you handle alcohol in the house? How did you talk to them about that? How did that transition from when they were 5, 6, 7 years old to They were 15, 16, 17 years 

Tom Kersting (45:03):

Old. I always just told them at a young age, they said, the cursings are rule. Were rule followers. The drinking age is 21. You're not allowed to drink until you're 21. And so many parents, they feel like, all right, well, my kid's a senior in high school, they're going off to college anyway, so I see that side of it, but I want to get into their minds that we follow rules. You're not allowed to drink until you're 21 years old, legally, maybe. I think the law is you can drink with parental supervision under that age, but I'm sticking to that. And because the bottom line is the longer you can delay anything, the earlier that an individual starts drinking, the higher the risk of developing alcoholism is. 

Joey Odom (45:37):

See, that's huge. That line really stood out to me as well. And maybe it should be self-evident, but I don't know that I thought about it in those terms. The younger someone starts, more likely they are to form an addiction. And you just don't know if your child is predisposed to addiction. That is a thing. I mean, that's a chemical thing. And if you're predisposed to it and you get it early, that's just probably the worst possible thing you could do for your child, I would assume. Right? 

Tom Kersting (46:01):

Yeah. I mean, there is one way of knowing. If you look at your relatives and if you got a parent listening right now, if your brother's an alcoholic, your parents were alcoholics, your sister's an alcoholic, and all the uncles and everybody are alcoholics, your child is very likely going to become an alcoholic if they start drinking, particularly in earlier age. Yeah. There's actually some, I remember when I was back in graduate school a long time ago, I was taking a class called the bio-psychosocial Perspectives of drugs, and there were some professionals, some experts that stated that you can diagnose somebody with alcoholism that has never had a sip of alcohol. If they have such a strong family history of it, they can legitimately be diagnosed with alcohol even though they've never drank. 

Joey Odom (46:51):

Wow. I believe it. I really do. And so then why would we, especially in the name of, I think about this as a parent sometimes, especially in the name of fitting in to fold to that, to acquiesce, oh, all my friends are drinking. Yeah, I guess it's okay. That's the worst thing you could do. The greatest gift you could give them is laying down the principles in this home. We don't do this. Here are the principles we live by. We are rule followers, and here's why. What a great gift. And they may be mad about it, but you could also easily say, why on earth did they let me do that? And now I'm a full blown alcoholic. I mean, you play it out the nth degree. So I love 

Tom Kersting (47:31):

That they're going to push back. And I'll say one other thing. I remember 20 something years ago, I was in the audience of a guy giving a lecture about teenagers and teenagers. They can get a little nasty with the parents and push back. We know that. And he said, if your teenager doesn't hate you, you're doing something wrong. 

Joey Odom (47:53):

That's true. Because yeah, they want to do a bunch of stuff they shouldn't do for themselves right there if you're really truly thinking about their future. One thing I liked that you said at the end of the substance abuse chapter was, and it's basically you just said, you got to pay very close attention to your kids. And this goes back to your spending some time with them. And if you notice and taking notice of those subtle differences in the things that you're seeing, and that only comes if you're fully engaged, if your phone is away, you're fully locked in with them because then you can see if something different is happening. And so that's not only is it just good to spend time with your kids, build their self-worth, but then you're able to diagnose if something might be happening that's out of the ordinary. 

Tom Kersting (48:34):

Yeah. Another thing too, to that point is a lot of parents nowadays, I'll hear them say, well, should I check my kids' drawers and stuff like that? I don't want to invade their privacy. I want them to trust me. And I remember my dad, very spiritual guy would always say to us, whenever we pushed back and he said, no, he would say, God didn't give you to me for me to trust you. He gave you to me for you to trust me. 

Joey Odom (49:01):

God, that's good. 

Tom Kersting (49:02):

Yeah. So I think we need to, that's something we have to, I think that's just spot on. 

Joey Odom (49:08):

And I think sometimes as parents, we probably, because we see our own shortcomings and failures, inadequacies, it's probably easy to then think to yourself to some degree, well, who am I to be a moral authority here? But no, no, no. We have to, I'm speaking to myself here. We have to understand that this is our job. This is the most important thing we could do. We have to take it seriously, even if we know we're hypocritical, that okay. Does that mean your kids should suffer from that as well? No, we have to. And again, ideally we would continue to rise to the occasion and be the right type of person, but despite who we are, we have to step in and be right for our kids. I want to talk real quick about body image. You referenced it, and there's a chapter in the book, obesity and body Image. I'm curious, there's this balancing act. I feel like maybe there's not, but when we talk, how do we talk to our kids about healthy habits and nutrition and food without them developing an unhealthy relationship with food? Do you know what I mean? If the goal is like, well, you don't want to become overweight. Well, is that all of a sudden creating, I never know exactly how to talk about a good relationship with food and nutrition without it ultimately leading to some kind of body shaming. Does that question make sense? Yeah, 

Tom Kersting (50:25):

Yeah. I see what you're saying. So I think it really should start at a young age. Essentially, whatever foods our kids are eating is because of us. The ones bringing it in from the supermarket, right? That's fine. Kids, of course, are going to want some candy and junk food and so forth, and that's fine. But if it becomes the staple of their diet, that's when it becomes a problem. Right now we have a childhood. The number one problem in the country right now is a childhood obesity epidemic. And it's because kids are sedentary. They don't move as much, they're not outside running around and metabolisms aren't kicked in. They're sitting behind the screen. That's part one and all of the bad food. So the fast food marketing used to take place in TV and radio ads. Now it makes its way where the kids are on social media. 


So all the big fast food industries, that's where all this stuff is through sponsorships and marketing and so forth, is being directed to them. And we have this abundance of unhealthy food in our society and our kids. So it's really up to us to introduce healthier foods and let the junk food be like a treat, like a snack here and there, right? Yeah. Body image. But the body image part, lemme give you an example. A couple of years ago there was a story that came out where thousands of girls, teenage girls throughout the United States developed fine motor ticks. So they were going to their pediatricians because they had these motor ticks, little shakes and stuff, even though they didn't have Tourette syndrome. So when doctors collected the data in United States and in a couple of countries in Europe, they were blown away. They had no idea what was going on here, why was this happening? And the common denominator is that every one of those girls was watching hours and hours of TikTok videos of people with Tourette syndrome. 

Joey Odom (52:10):


Tom Kersting (52:10):

So just from doing that, that's how the brain works. Whatever our mind is immersed in, it becomes So they actually started physiologically, unintentionally mimicking those people on TikTok simply from being exposed to it. And how does that relate to body image? What are we exposed to all the time? What are kids seeing all the time? Perfect figures of people over and over again, comments back and forth, gets in their head just like those TikTok videos, and now they're identifying themselves as not being in good shape or whatever it might be. Again, it goes back to all this outside in stuff, and we got to get our kids working from the inside out. 

Joey Odom (52:55):

Yeah, absolutely. And then I've found myself even talking about, I got to be careful of just the way I talk about myself and making sure that I'm not becoming too obsessive about talking about exercising or eating well for myself. Not even projecting it upon them, just saying for myself. And they're starting to hear that, oh, well you must, sometimes it feels a little bit overwhelming. We just have to watch our every step, which is probably good, right? 

Tom Kersting (53:20):

Yeah. I'm a workout freak. That's why I worked out every day I hit the gym and I do it to keep myself in shape and alive so I don't drop that. Right. But even more importantly is if I decide to take a day off at the gym, it's a completely different day. 

Joey Odom (53:38):


Tom Kersting (53:39):

I am just mentally endorphin out feeling just I'm going to the gym. You know what I mean? Absolutely. If I skip a day, I feel like a flat tire. 

Joey Odom (53:48):


Tom Kersting (53:49):

So it's really just teaching our kids that working out and stuff. If you're obsessing over it and looking in the mirror because you're looking to get feedback for others, you're going about it the wrong way. That's not what self-esteem is. 

Joey Odom (53:59):

Interesting. That's that's a good distinction. Are you looking for external validation? Is that your goal? 

Tom Kersting (54:05):

Yeah, if that is the goal, that's not definitive of self-esteem, it would be called others esteem. 

Joey Odom (54:13):

Yeah. I'm curious, these are my own separate questions I've heard before, and maybe in all of this and these raising healthy teenagers, is it a safe assumption that you do these things so that you can release them into the wild? Well, is that why we do those things when it's time for them to go off on their own? Is this just all about how do you prepare them to live independently? 

Tom Kersting (54:37):

You mean in terms of doing what? Things like teach 'em the right lessons and values, 

Joey Odom (54:42):

Maybe all this, I mean, even the premise of the book. Oh yeah, yeah. Is that the goal is releasing them? Well, 

Tom Kersting (54:49):

Yeah. So I mean this book, we have chapters, it starts off with mental freedom, social nutrition, fear-filled nation, all the stuff with behavior and conduct issues, and then obesity, body image, substance abuse, and then school and learning and college admissions and so forth. So the answer is yes. Reading through this text of this book and utilizing the strategies is so that we can have our kids when they leave our house, be completely confident, motivated, independent, and insulated from all of the nonsense that's out there. So instead of walking into this fear world, walking in, not ego, I'm not talking about ego and cockiness. That's a lack of confidence. Talking about a self knowing, a self understanding, founded on thought, positive, emotion, depth, and bringing that into the fold. And the only thing that can come from that is success. Whatever one's definition of success is. 

Joey Odom (55:47):

Yeah. Yeah, that's right. What about for someone like me? So my son's 15, I think we've done a pretty good job, but then I have this internal asking myself, have I done enough? Is he really going to be able to be fine when he is confronted with the drugs and alcohol? Is he spiritually, does he have the right daily disciplines to set him up for success there? What kind of general advice would you have for someone like me? Hey, I'm looking down the barrel of him going away in a few years and I just want to make sure that I've done enough. 

Tom Kersting (56:18):

So I think it's really good. So I just shook the camera there. Sorry. So what we often, as parents, we are largely reactive. 


That's how we often communicate, where we react to our kids, Hey, why don't you put away the dishes and why don't you study for that test? So we're constantly reacting. A better strategy is being proactive. So just out of the blue, having a conversation like going up to your son saying, what's something I want to tell you? What is it? Do you know how proud I am of you? For what dad? For being you? That's what I'm proud of, for being a person that's a leader, that's kind, that's compassionate, and that is just said that that's proactive, but it's also positive reinforcement. Your kid's going to walk away and feeling like, wow, I want to keep doing more of that. 

Joey Odom (57:07):

Yeah, yeah, that's right. When something feels good, you're going to want to do more of it. That's such a basic concept, but it really is true. I want to close with one question. I didn't prep you for this, but I want you to hit us between the eyes. I want you to give us some truth that we need to hear, even if it feels inconvenient, even if it feels uncomfortable, even if we're defensive or offended by it. I just think you have so much. Plus you're a New Jersey guy. I mean, that's all you guys know how to do is just hit between people between the eyes. But I do hit us between the eyes with the truth bomb here that all of us need to hear today. 

Tom Kersting (57:45):

Alright, so we've got a parents' audience here. So the truth bomb is this, okay? The world out there is not a terrible place, okay? It's not a terrible place. It appears to be a terrible place because that's all we see is the terrible things. So if we keep our kids as much as possible away from all that stuff and keep 'em in our little world here under our roof, not lock and key, but just keep to our values and so forth, your children are going to thrive. Bottom line. And that's up to us. That's up to us. So the truth bomb is what we need to do right now, parents, is we got to change. And what we have to change is what we're doing when we're around our kids, and that is making sure we're having quality time with them and deep dialogue and not lost in our own computer and phone and TV and so forth. Our kids need us, they need our time is what they need. 

Joey Odom (58:48):

I didn't expect such a hopeful response to that. How hopeful is that is they're going, you didn't say then they're more likely to thrive. You said they're going to thrive if we do those things. I love that, Tom, thank you for that. That was really, really good. So people need to go to tom kering.com, K E R S T I N G. And I'm just telling you, I've read it, raising Healthy Teenagers, you got to go read it and I'm going to go read Disconnect as well. Disconnected or 

Tom Kersting (59:20):

Disconnected. Yeah, this is it right here. 

Joey Odom (59:21):

Yeah. Boom. 

Tom Kersting (59:22):


Joey Odom (59:23):

Disconnected. I'm going to go pick that up as well. Tom, what else are you on social media that people can follow you with? Where else can people go look into your work and interact with you? Yeah, 

Tom Kersting (59:31):

You just Google me. I mean, I go on TV a lot and stuff like that, but I'm not a big poster on Instagram at all. 

Joey Odom (59:38):

That doesn't shock me. 

Tom Kersting (59:39):

I tell I have people, I've publicists and so forth. You got to do more social media. I'm like, you know what? Screw social media. I know it helps me get my word out, but I'd rather go out in lecture and meet people that way. If I got something coming up, I post it on. I have some Instagram. I don't really use it. 

Joey Odom (59:59):

Facebook well, especially you can go deep. I mean, to put a post out there maybe changes something, but to have an hour long discussion like here where you have a captive audience and people really listening, hanging on your every word. That's really where the difference is made. 

Tom Kersting (01:00:10):

This is how I do it. I do a lot of podcasts. You guys will put it out there. People see it, and I can reach people. Yeah, and that's it. 

Joey Odom (01:00:19):

Tom, this is wonderful. Thank you. I feel like I owe you some money for this, but it's for the hour long session. I'll send you 

Tom Kersting (01:00:26):

Bill. Right, man. Yeah, 

Joey Odom (01:00:28):

Thank you. I appreciate it. Well, Tom Kirstin, thank you so much for joining the rro podcast. We're grateful for this conversation for your work, so thank you so much. 

Tom Kersting (01:00:35):

Alright, thank you, Joey. It was great. 

Joey Odom (01:00:37):

Okay, gang, go get a copy of Raising Healthy Teenagers by Tom Kering. What a great book. This is an investment in yourself, in your kids, in your family, and your kids' futures. Whether your kids are teenagers now or they're preteens, whatever they are, go get a copy of this book and check out our Instagram page. We're going to do a giveaway of a copy of this by Tom Kering. We're really excited for you to read this book. I'm going to leave you with one thing that Tom said at the end. I was expecting for him to give us a little bit of a doom and gloom message, but instead he said, the world out there is not a terrible place despite what we hear. And if we change what we're doing when we're around our kids, our kids are going to thrive. So here's what I believe. 


I believe my kids are going to thrive because what I'm doing when I'm around them, I believe your kids are going to thrive because of what you're doing when you're around them. What a hopeful message that we can go walk confidently in. Thank you so much for joining this week. Thank you for listening to my conversation with Tom Kirstin. We're super grateful for Tom for being part of the show. And hey, I'm super grateful for you for listening in. So thank you very, very much. I can't wait to see you next week. Thank you so much for joining us this week on The Aro Podcast. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support, and to our executive producer Aro’s own, Katelyn Farley.