New Episode! Why Kids Won't Wear Coats with Sara Kostelnik
Jan. 31, 2023

The Stories Behind Why We Choose How We Parent

This week is all about how parents make choices - and (sometimes) there are more meaningful stories behind them. 

Join me this week in a heartfelt and vulnerable conversation with Kristina Driscoll - a mother, pension consultant and financial advisor, and host of the wonderful podcast; She’s Brave. Kristina’s show focuses on helping women to find their paths - how to become brave, resilient, and authentic.   

Kristina share’s her very personal story about how she had to make nontraditional parenting decisions after her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's when their son was 5 years old. 


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Instagram: @shesbravepodcast 


She's Brave Podcast 

Real Life Momz Website: 

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Hi, and welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about connecting moms through real parenting conversations. I believe that moms have so much insight and knowledge, and together we are powerful. On this podcast, we give moms a voice to tell their stories and share their expertise and resources through real conversations. And this week we are joined by Christina Driscoll, a mother, pension consultant and financial advisor and host of She's Brave Podcast, where she helps women find their path to becoming brave, resilient, and authentic. 

Christina is here today to share her story about how she had to make unconventional parenting decisions after her husband was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's when their son was five years old. 

Hi. Kristina. Welcome to Real Life Momz. I am so glad you reached out to me, and wanted to share your parenting story on our show. And why I love your story so much is that I think it shows as a parent, we need to do what we need to do for our families under the circumstances that we are in, and we have to sometimes make choices that just best fit our family at that time. So thank you for coming on today. 

You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me, Lisa. I'm super excited to be here. Parenting is, you know, it's such a, it's just one of the hardest things that we will ever do in our life. Even Eckhart Toll has said that, and Oprah has said that as well. Uh, the hardest calling in life is being a parent, and it's, uh, it's obviously the hardest, but also the most rewarding. And there are; it's just not black and white, right? No. Like, there's just, it's, it's so different for all of us and I think that the more information we have, the better parent we can be. 

For sure. And I love that you said it's not black and white because, Yeah. There are so many shades and so many reasons why we do things for our family as a parent. Right. So, I know you have a story, and as I said, I'm so glad you're willing to share it with my audience. So tell us a little bit about yourself and just your parenting journey. 

My parenting journey is definitely unconventional. It starts out unconventional because I met my husband, he was the hike leader on a hike on Mount Rainier, which is near Seattle. And we both loved hiking. Wow. And, but here's the thing. He was 24 years older than me, so that's, that's, that's a bit of a time stretch. He had never been married before, but we hit it off instantly. We were both financial advisors. We both loved hiking and nature and had so much in common that we got married. 

And it really was an amazing, wonderful marriage. Um, we did have some infertility issues. So after being married for four years, our son was born, he was born in 2003, and life was really, really good. We had moved to a small town in Oregon to raise our son, and it was a wonderful environment to be in. 

And when our son was about five, my husband started repeating things and forgetting things. And Alzheimer's does run in his family to some degree. So, uh, we, we got a diagnosis. He had developed early-onset Alzheimer's. You know, children are just so remarkably resilient. And so at first with my son, he, I think I did explain it to him, Lisa. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like I did say, Hey, you know, the reason why dad asks a question sometimes more than once is, and why he forgets things is that he has something called Alzheimer's. That means that he forgets things. And you know, I, I had been told by somebody at some point, um, before that, that, you know, children will ask you the right questions. They'll ask you what they wanna know when they're ready. So you don't need to necessarily push information on them. 

Um, they will ask when they're ready. So he, he just accepted that, and he really embraced the journey. That was his normal, that dad was forgetful, and that was, dad was getting more forgetful by the time my son was six. Um, my husband couldn't remember how to operate the microwave. So my son would say, Hey dad can I, can I help you? How about I heat up that soup in the microwave for you for lunch? Mm. 

Yeah. Yeah. 

But that was just normal for my son. 

Yeah. And I mean, wow. I, I love, I have to just say, I love how you just said, like, when the child's ready, they'll ask more questions. Cuz I feel, as a parent, like I would feel that I have to explain everything of what's gonna happen, Uhhuh, <affirmative>, and what to expect when you don't even probably even know what to expect at that point. So that was so beautiful and just reassuring, um, for I think myself and other parents to hear that whatever comes along. Right. You don't necessarily have to have all those answers. 

You just answer their questions. 


So this seemed to have sped up pretty quickly cuz you kind of found out when he was five that it was early onset, but by six, he was already really forgetting significant things. 

Yes. Yes. And that's the really tough thing about Alzheimer's disease is that it's, there's no way to predict it is so variable. So you can't, uh, it's not linear. So, for example, there can be a really, uh, steep decline for maybe a few weeks, and then there can be stability for even years mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and then another steep decline. Um, it looks different for every single person. So there's really no way to, um, you know, try to prepare for it in, in any way, shape or form. 

You have to, you learn quite quickly how to live more in the present and just really embrace, um, today, today's a gift, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, today's definitely a gift. Um, but that, that day did come when our son was maybe five or 10, and he, he's just out of the blue, said to me, mom, I know that dad has Alzheimer's, but I, I wanna know more. 

And, like, what does that mean? And what's gonna happen, and when is he gonna die? He literally said that. Wow. And I said, well, it's, it's a journey of where he just, he's gonna get more and more forgetful, and eventually he won't recognize us. Um, and yes, this is, this is something that he will eventually die from. But I said we don't know the answer to that. And you know, Lisa did sound like it was progressing quickly at age six, but then he did have literally like years where it kind of stayed at a certain level. 

And he, this Alzheimer's journey was actually 12 years. That's a long time. It's a long time. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It took me a caregiver. Um, and so I said to our son, you know, I, I can only guess how long dad is gonna live, but I think based on the way it's progressing for hi him, I think he, he, he will probably pass away right around the end of high school. And my son was really at peace with that. He really was. 

That's huge. What a conversation you have to have with it. Sounds like he's around 10 at this time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I learned, um, I learned a lot, uh, about parenting. I, I wasn't afraid to get help.Right. Not long after that, um, he was wandering at night. I tried to bring in a caregiver into our home to help me, but he was combative with them. And, um, he was wandering at night one night, and there was a loud thud, and he had, you know, fallen and, and hit his head. 

He went unconscious. Um, and um, long story short, he, the doctors told me that he, he needed to be put into a care home. And, our son was 10 at the time, and I didn't, Lisa; I didn't know how to handle that with my son. And I am deeply grateful to a, um, Ph.D. psychologist who that I, that I scheduled time with and went, went to see a therapist who specializes in working with families who have a family member with Alzheimer's. 

So I went and scheduled some time with her and got some advice from her. And she gave me some really interesting advice that I would've never thought of, but I think she was right on it. She said to me, so your husband needs to go into a care home. And she said you can't tell your son ahead of time that dad is going to a care home. Because she said, think about it this way. If you say, Hey, wills tomorrow, dad is going into a care home, I'm taking dad to the care home, it's time, but don't tell dad. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, well, if he doesn't tell dad, he's gonna feel like he betrayed his father, but if he does tell dad, he's gonna feel like he betrayed me. So she said there's absolutely no way to, um, tell him ahead of time, unfortunately, like he, you're gonna have to take him to the care home and break the news when he gets home from school. 

I'm very, very blessed and fortunate to have a father, uh, my father, who was a great role model, not only to me but has been a great role model to my son. Um, my father was born in a little tiny country called Estonia near Finland, and had to go through World War II as a child and moved to four different countries, learned four different languages, went to school in four countries, and ended up in Canada at age 17, learned English and Bec I got a degree in chemical engineering. 

So he overcame a lot. And he grew up without a father because his father was off fighting in, World War ii it was very chaotic. There were no cell phones and computers. People would go years without knowing whether their family member was dead or alive. So there were stretches of years throughout my father's childhood. 

They, assumed that, that his father was dead. So he grew up without a father, essentially. Yeah. And so I, I was talking to my dad on the phone and I, and I said, dad, you know, I want you to come down and, and help me with this process. And cause I knew that he was the right person. And so my dad came down, we took my son to school, took my husband to the care home. My husband was actually quite happy to be there because there were some fun things going on. And that part went very smoothly. 

But yes, my son came home from school, and burst into tears when I broke the news. Um, I held him, I hugged him, my dad held him and hugged him. And my dad, you know, told him the story that I just told you and said, I grew up without a father, and I have had a really incredible happy life, and so will you. Oh. And, ever since then, Lisa, my son, really strongly, he's really close with my dad. 

My dad is now 88, no, he's 89 sharp as a tack mm-hmm. <affirmative> sharp as a attack, <laugh>. And to this day, my son, um, says that he feels like he's a lot like his grandfather, which is mm-hmm. <affirmative> special. 

Yeah. Yeah. Oh my gosh. That is, I got tears <laugh>, I'll be 

Honest. Yeah. So did I, 

Um, so how did you, you had your dad to help the situation, but was there also therapy involved for your son? I mean, was there just these visitations that you would do with your son so that he could be going to see his dad often? Like how did you handle that whole process? 

Yeah, great. Great question. Great question. So the care home was not very far away. Like 10 to 15 minutes drive. And, you know, at first we visited, um, my husband a lot. Um, my therapist, the one that I mentioned previously, she sheets explained to me that children live very much in the present. And when a parent gets sick and or slash dies, uh, they just move on. Um, that's just how they operate. 

That's how their brain works. And it's, it's probably a survival evolutionary thing or a god thing, if you will, or both. Um, but, you know, uh, she said he, I wanna prepare you that, you know, he will eventually stop visiting his dad because he wants to live his life. And that's what children do. Cuz he wants to live in the present. He doesn't wanna live in the past. And, and, um, she said, I don't want you to think that, that he's, you know, an uncaring, um, child. 

You know this is actually the normal thing that a child does. So he, he did that did happen with him where he gradually began to, uh, visit his father less and less. And honestly, um, when his father did eventually when my husband did eventually pass away, my son was 17. Uh, he was a junior in high school; actually, it was the spring of that year. And, um, he, he hadn't been visiting his dad, uh, almost at all, you know, for, for a couple of years. 

But that was okay. Um, Lisa, where I think I made a mistake is, um, my husband's family; we lived very, very close. We had moved up to the Seattle area to be very close to my husband's large family. And they were wonderful. They were very supportive. Um, I'm still in touch with them. I just got a text from my sister-in-law saying, Hey, you wanna go to Taco Tuesday? <laugh> <laugh>. 

So I'm still very close with my, with my late husband's family. But, um, you know, they were wonderful in spending time with my son, um, because my husband has two brothers and a sister and everybody lives in the area close by, uh, well actually most of them. And they were really visiting, but, uh, they brought up a point, you said therapy sometimes they would say maybe he needs to be in therapy. And I don't know why, Lisa, I, I kind of resisted that, and I, I think that that was a bit of a mistake. 

I did. I kind of got blessed because, um, by the time my son was about 14, I think he was 14, he, he became very curious about therapy because a lot of his friends were in therapy. Like, for various reasons. You know, lots of kids are in therapy these days. 

I think it's great. And, um, he said, mom, I think I think I wanna be a therapist when I grow up. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I said, you know, if you really wanna be a therapist, like the best way to find out is for you to go into therapy. Like give it a try, see what you think of it. If you like it, like maybe you can find out whether you would like to be a therapist. And, um, word of mouth, you know, how we moms are, that's like, it's so powerful. The networks, the friendships that we have with each other. I I had a, not a close friend, but you know, just a friend who had been really open and honest with me about our son. 

And she's like, he's, you know, he's 15, and he's smoking pot. And I just, I, I had him go to this therapist, and this guy is amazing. So I called her up, and I said, I want the name of that male therapist that Cindy's fifties, cuz I think that my son needs to see a male therapist. And, um, and so my son was basically in therapy for, uh, the next probably four years. And w I'm deeply grateful that that happened, Lisa, because, you know, as we all know, a couple years later, the pandemic happened. 


And I don't know if you were aware of this, but most parents were aware of this. You couldn't get a therapy appointment to save your life during the pandemic. Like every therapist was, at least from the west coast, was booked to the max. They were; nobody was taking new clients. But my son had been in weekly therapy with this, this 50-year-old therapist, you know, for years. And so he was able to continue with his therapy all through the pandemic, which I just am so thankful for. 

Yeah. No, they were in high demand, and it was very hard to get a therapist during and after like yeah, after the initial hit. Yeah. We had just got back in with my daughter, who, um, had been in therapy for a while when she was younger for multiple reasons and so helpful. So I do highly recommend therapy for your child if, if they need it, but especially after the pandemic, because kids really fell into this hole, you know? And the, now that we're kind of branching out to more of a new norm, there are still struggling kids. 

I feel like kids are still struggling. And so yes, we're back in finally. We're super excited about it, and it has been extremely helpful. So just my plug for therapy as well. And and don't be ashamed because it is; that's what it's there for. It's to help us. It's to help our children. Yeah. So, okay. So wow, this whole story, I'm glad your son finally found, uh, a therapist that could help him. And did you feel that some of those issues that you were dealing with, you know, as his dad was sick, um, came out in those sessions? 

I know he went into exploring maybe becoming a therapist, but did he really find that that was what he actually needed? 

Oh, yeah. I mean, and I knew that too. Like, I was just like, he's gonna grow and learn, and it's gonna make him a better person. For sure. I was actually very excited, and he did, like, he was learning and growing, um, in so many ways from it. And then there were bumps along the road. There always are like, there's just not, you know, parenting is never smooth. And so the fact that he was in therapy already, it's like we could just kind of like work through issues. 

I, I'm just, I'm a huge fan of therapy. As I said, I, if I could do it over again, I would've put in therapy much younger. Like, why not? What do you have to lose? 

You know, why not? Yeah, why not? Yeah. And, and we don't know. We, we learn. We're, we're always in progress of learning and, and bettering ourselves. Right? Yeah. So, with all this, what did you feel was kind of the hardest situation you encountered as a parent? 

Yeah. Um, yeah, this story gets really deep and really personal and really spiritual. So, um, it's just my perspective and, and I, I do believe in God, and that comes into this story. So I'm gonna share this story because this is how it played out. The very, very hardest part for me was we were living in the Seattle area, my husband's family around, um, we'd moved here. It's a very, uh, tech, you know, culture. Um, we were in a suburb of Seattle. 

People here are hired from all over the world. For example, my next-door neighbor, he grew up in a tiny town, um, community in the, in China, in a hut with a dirt floor. But he was the smartest kid in the village. So he got to go to the best middle school and fast forward, he got a PhD, you know, here in America and worked for Microsoft. 

And that kind of apparent is gonna push their kid really hard because that parent, he was a wonderful man who had had to overcome so much to make it here, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and have a good life. You know. And, and so what happens is a lot of times with, in that kind of situation is, you know, he was pushing his child really, really hard to be the top of the class. Well, we all can't be the top of the class, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, that's, um, but this was a culture where every child or most children were, were pushed to try to be at the top of the class. 

So there was a, we were in an environment where there was a lot of academic pressure. I'm not angry at anybody over that. I am not pointing fingers. It was just a fact. 

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And my son was always a very outdoorsy, he was that kid that liked to roam around the neighborhood with all the kids and ride his bike and skateboard and, you know, he was, he was a good student, but he, he also didn't, um, he wasn't a huge video game player, which I know is a big issue for boys these days, but he never that into the video games. So we, when we moved to Seattle, um, to be closer to my husband's family, it was wonderful for my husband because he had all this family visiting, but it was really hard on my son. 

And he wanted to go back to Oregon. Mm-hmm. And that's, that's a six-hour drive. And he pestered me about it for quite a long time, at least a year. Um, he was 12, he was 13, and right around 13, 14, he came to me one day and he said, mom, I, I really, really, really hate it here. 

He said, I have four suicidal friends that I'm helping, and it's really hard. And I just, my jaw just kind of dropped. And, you know, one of the things that had happened to him, I think, was that he had become used to being a helper, right? Because mm-hmm. <affirmative> helping his father all these years. And so he, he's a very empathetic child, which I think is, is a superpower, you know, I think you can take out of adversity. We get strength. So I, I feel that he had all this empathy, and he was trying to help these four suicidal friends, but obviously, that really disturbed me. 

This was like, I think the most scary moment of raising him. I mean, there were, there are lots of scary moments we could talk about other ones too. <laugh>. Yeah. This one was probably the most scary because I just, he was really, really unhappy himself too. Right. 

And he was surrounded by this and, probably felt a lot of pressure Yeah. To help all these people. 

Yeah. Yeah. So I did something that I had never done before. Um, and I'm not a particularly super religious person, but I literally, that night, I just like looked up at the ceiling in my bed, and I said a prayer. And I just, I just was said, I demanded like I said, God, I, I don't know what to do in this situation because I know that I sense that Eugene Oregon is like where he was born, you know, all the friends and family that he's known since he was a baby. 

They're all, uh, not family, sorry, just, but friends, a very loving, supportive, amazing community. Um, he would thrive there. He always thrived there and, that would be a better place for him. But on the, on the one hand, and I, I didn't feel like I could move my husband Lisa, because there would only be me to visit him. 

And it's, it's a lot. And he had here in Seattle, he had the love and support and vis visiting of all of his family. So he had lots of people visiting him. And, and I didn't wanna move him. You know, I didn't wanna take that away from them. And so what was I to do? You know? I mean, did I, would I stay in Seattle in this environment that my son was super unhappy with? They also had a sense that my son wasn't gonna do very well in a, in a really huge high school. The, the high school he was, was getting ready to go to was, uh, had 3000 kids. 

And I just sensed that wasn't gonna be good for him either. He needed a smaller environment. So I demanded, I, I did a prayer that was a demand. I mean, is that ridiculous or what? It kind of is <laugh>, but No, 

No, I mean, seriously, you, you were needing, you were looking out to the universe, God, whatever you wanna call it, for like a sign of Yeah. What to do. 

Yeah. I just said, please God, I need a sign, and I need it to be like a hundred percent clear. Not just like a little tiny sign, like a very, very clear sign if, uh, if my son should go down to Oregon to live to, if he should go to high school in Oregon, I need a clear sign. So the next morning I woke up, I went out to my mailbox and my next-door neighbor was getting his mail. And I said, Hey, how are you doing? And he said, I am, I'm doing awful, actually. And I said, well, what's going on? And he said, oh, it's my daughter. 

Well, his daughter, he has a daughter who's a couple years older than my son. And it was always at the very, very top of the class from the time she started at kindergarten, she was always in the accelerated program. 

So, brilliant child. Well, she had cracked under the pressure, under the academic pressure. And he said, she's in the hospital, she's in the psychiatric ward because she's had a nervous breakdown. She's got depression and anxiety from all the academic pressure. And he said, I think we're gonna, he actually, he just looked at me straight in the eyes and he said, I think we're gonna move back to Oregon. Yeah, we're gonna move back to Oregon. And he's just like, looking at me and he's just saying that. And I just, I, it was just this feeling that overcame me. 

And a voice shouts in my head. There it is. That's the answer. 


<affirmative>, he's telling you that his daughter is not thriving here and he's gonna move his whole family back to Oregon, where they were from, and that I needed to do the, the same thing. But then how am I gonna do this? How am I possibly gonna figure this out? So what do we do as moms? This is what we always have to do. I called my best friend in Eugene, Oregon. She's Brazilian. And I said, Will's really? I need to get him back to Oregon, but I don't know how to do this. I don't wanna move my husband, he needs to stay here. 

How is this gonna work? She says, don't worry about a thing, Christina. Just have him come down, move in with me. Cuz her son was my son's best friend and she was my best friend. And we met in baby class and she said, we do this all the time in Brazil. 

Isn't it funny how cultures are different parenting in so funny. Yeah, so funny. You know, cause in her case, like, she came from a very small town and she was really smart. And so she had lived with various family members and friends and grown up a lot without her mother. And she's really close with her mother. Uh, they're her mother's awesome to this day. They're super close, but they didn't, she didn't actually really grow up with her mother because they wanted her to have the higher education. And so she, she lived with different, she's like, Kristina, you remember this? 

I grew up with all these different family members and even friends so that I could become a dentist in Brazil, which is what she did. And she's like, just have 'em come down. You know, Blaine will love it. And she has two boys and my son, you know, always wanted a sibling. 

Um, within infertility, we, we couldn't have any more children. So he was always an only child, but who loved to be around other children. So he was in seventh heaven. She said, just come on, have him give it a try. What's the worst thing that can happen? It doesn't work. He comes back home, just send him down. So I did, so was the end of eighth grade for him. I sent him down and there was no turning back, Lisa. He just, he just jumped right in. He connected with all of his friends. He was, went to a very small middle school and a very small high school. 

And he set a all time, uh, long distance running record at his high school. He thrived in, in, um, cross country and track. He thrived in academics. He was in what was called the International Baccalaureate Program and graduated with a full international baccalaureate degree. 

And he just killed it. He thrived. And it's just interesting on a gut level, I knew that Lisa, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like that's why I prayed about it because I was like, oh, I just know in my gut that Eugene is the right place for him to be. Um, but I don't know how to do this. And so sometimes, like our friends, you know, I mean that's why talking about things like, it was just so, it was so easy for my friend. Like she just said, let him come down. And he just had a ball. Lisa, like, it was so funny because he had two siblings, right? 

He has two brothers, you know, one the same age as him and the other one, two years younger. And then her boyfriend moved in with Hi his son, who was a year older, four boys in one tiny house sharing a bathroom. It was wonderful. He was just in his element and he just arrived. 

Well, and I think we have to give a shout out on this podcast for your friend who totally came through for you Yes. And made you feel like, cuz this is not a typical parenting move. Right. <laugh> 

Totally not. 

And could be looked at in many different ways. And she just said, no, this is totally normal. Yeah. Let's just take them in. I mean, so we're gonna shout her out on this podcast right now, and lemme 

Tell you her name. Her name is Alinne Cabral She's a real estate agent in Eugene, Oregon. I'm gonna send this to her to listen <laugh>. And, uh, you know, I, I re I just recently got remarried, um, and she was my maid of honor, of course. Oh, 

<laugh> of course. <laugh>. Yes. And we need more parent friends, mom friends that are willing to step up, have your back, and, and just be like, yeah, that's a great decision. Right? It's so nice to have that. Yeah. 

And you know, Lisa, I was able to make it really work out because, um, I just, I ended up buying like a tiny condo. Like it was tiny, but it was, it was mine. And I, I spent about halftime down there mm-hmm. <affirmative> and then halftime up here with my husband, and then he had the rest of his family too. And Lisa, it worked out so well. But I have to say, like in that moment where I got really clear, you know, uh, message from God like that this was the right thing for me to do, for him to send it back to Oregon, I did go through that whole thing as a mom. 

Like, oh no, what is everyone gonna think? They're gonna think I'm a crappy mom. Here's this mom sending her kid to another state to go to high school. Like, what is she thinking? 

She's a bad mom. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I had to just say, they don't know my situation. They don't know me, and I'm doing what's best for my ha family. And I just had to not worry about what other people thought about my decision. And Lisa, that was really, really empowering for me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was really empowering. Like it kind of brought on a whole new phase of like, wow, when I make decisions based on what's right for me, and I really don't let other people's opinions affect, you know, my decisions, I just feel so free. 

And that is really, that was really the beginning of what is now my podcast, which is called She's Brave. It's all about doing what's right for you and being authentic and true yourself. And the other question you probably have, um, but I think, I think you would ask me this anyway, is, you know, well what did people think? 

I mean, did they, they, did they question my decision? Did anybody challenge me? Did anybody say, you're a jerk, you're a bad mom, not one person. Nobody ever challenged me on the decision. I was up for the challenge. I was honest. I wasn't shouting it out to the world. I didn't make a Facebook announcement that my son was moving to Eugene. But I just allowed it to be found out organically. If I ran into a, another mom in the grocery store, it was like, oh, by the way, this is what I've decided to do. And this is why I thank Lisa, that when we're really, really in touch with our authentic selves and we're doing what's right for our family, I think people know it and they sense it and they don't, they, there's nothing for them to even question or push back. 

I think people, they, I'd run into them, I'd tell them what, what, what was going on? And then every time they'd be like, that makes sense. Yeah. 

Yes. Yeah. And I think, I think it's also because you're so open to telling your story, right? It's like, not only this is what I'm doing, but this is why I'm doing it. Right? 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is why I'm doing it. Yeah. 

Yeah. And I think that's so important that you bring that up because, you know, I do think there's a lot of judging, or at least we feel that there is a lot of judging. Like, I'm gonna be a bad mom if I do this or this looks like, you know, I, my son had a sleepover last night, which is why we backed up this podcast a little bit, right? <laugh> time wise. Cause I had like three boys in my, you know, basement. What? And, and it, you know, it's like they get dropped off and they don't sleep all night. And I'm up, I'm okay. He's my second kid. 

I know they don't sleep all night. I don't even expect them to sleep all night. It's a sleep, it's a wake over, right? But my daughter, you know, she's older and I always like, oh my God, when she had sleepovers, I'm like, oh, if they don't go to sleep, I'm a bad mom sending them home like a mess. 

Right? It's just this judgment, you know, of. And now I don't care. It's my second child. So I, I know they're not gonna sleep and you know that, that's fine. But I think it's that judgment of feeling like you're gonna be a bad mom. And there was a story that I heard, I think it was from a book. I, I listened to a lot of audio books, so I don't, can't tell you where it's from, but it really changed my perspective on judgment. And it kind of goes like this, you know, there's this, there's this man, he's in New York, he's in on the subway with these two kids and he has these kids running all over the subway. 

I mean, they're bouncing off the walls, they're, you know, definitely disturbing <laugh>, the commuters. And there's another guy just looking on at what's going on. And in his head he's like, well, why, why is he doing this? This doesn't this father even care that these kids are just a mess? Isn't this embarrassing? Right. That judging, right. 

Uhhuh <affirmative> 

Only to find out, you know, he came, he sat down next to the guy and he kind of asked him, and, and the guy's like, oh God, these are not my kids. I'm so sorry. Their mom just passed away. Oh. And right. Oh, and I, and I'm just helping out, but I'm trying to make funeral arrangements and I feel so terrible about these kids. Right. All of a sudden, right when I first said, these kids are all over our initial reactions, like, why are these kids all over who is paying like bad parenting? Right? But as soon as you hear what the story is, you're like, oh my God, how can I help? 

You know? 

And my wonder is like, how can we move to the, oh my God, how can we help before judging, right. Before even judging the story. I love 


And so I love what you did and your story, because first of all, you're sharing it to show that, okay, this is why I am doing what I did. You know, so we don't even need to judge because how can I help you? You're already sharing that. But I think we all need to think about like the next time we are going to judge somebody, right. Say I wonder what their story is and do they need help? 

Yeah. Well said. Yeah. Well said. I love that. So true. You know, I, I, I think, I think I was just gonna add one more thing. I, I have done that to some extent because nowadays there's so many children on, on the spectrum, like in different, you know, they're at various places on, on a, on the, the spectrum. And so, you know, anytime there's a child, um, on a plane or in the supermarket that's, that's having a meltdown. I don't judge, I don't judge. 

Cuz I think to myself, that child could be on, on the spectrum. This could be a medical thing. There's absolutely, why would I judge a child? You know? 

Yeah. Once again, we don't know their story. Whether they're, we dunno their story. There's a medical issue. Whether they just lost somebody, whether Right, right. 

That like the mother died, like that's gigantic. Like that flips everything on its head. And I think, I think anybody listening today, it, myself included, I just learned something so incredibly powerful from you. It's just a great reminder. But, and to even just take it further, you know, it, it might not even be, you know, a medical thing or whatever, it, it could be their parent died, you know, if we just don't know, 

Or the parent is having a bad day, or this is their daily routine, and like, why are we judging that anyway? Because Yeah. You know, that sounds hard enough to deal with if your kid is always having tantrums, <laugh>, uh, you know, that's hard. So like, instead of judging like, how can we help, you know, can I hold the door for you? Can I actually grab that off the shelf for you? It seems like you have your hands full. Like what can we do in that moment? So I, I think I'm gonna challenge the listeners today. Love it. I always love challenges to say that next time we're in a situation that maybe our mind goes to a judgment sl. 

Like just switch it and say, how can I help? 

Ah, so good. Lisa. 

Yeah. <laugh>. And thank you. Thank you. Because your story inspired that, you know, it, it inspired me to also see a different perspective. So yeah. So, so much to think about. But what if you can tell parents the kind of like one thing that's listening that you've learned from your journey, what would you like them to hear? 

Well, I think I have said a lot already, like, about the teen years and, and counseling and really listening to my gut on knowing what was right for my son. But here's a piece, a piece of advice that I received when my son was a year old from a friend at church, no less an elderly lady. And I was pulling my hair out because he was at that age where they are, you know, pulling things out of the pantry and dumping flour all over the floor and getting into everything. And it, it's so hard. We remember those days mm-hmm. 

<affirmative>. And, um, she said to me, Christina, I just want you to remember a couple of things about Wills. My son's name is William, but he goes by Wills. She said I want you to remember that he's a scientist and an explorer. Hmm. And that, for me changed everything. 


Because he was not, you know, a naughty child dumping the flower on the floor. He was a scientist trying to figure out how this world works. And so I became more relaxed and I allowed him to explore more and I allowed him to be a scientist. And it really, and it really worked out great. 

Ugh, so much. Oh my gosh. Oh goodness. Well, thank you so much for just sharing, just so openly sharing your story with us and just making us really have a wider lens on just parenting and what, and asking maybe what's going on behind the scenes. 

You're welcome. Lisa, I loved being on your podcast. 

Thank you for listening to this episode. As parents, we need to make the best decisions for our families. I love that Kristina shared her personal journey with us. And if you'd like to learn more about Christina and our podcast, She's Brave is now available on Apple and Spotify. Or you can visit her website at she's brave And remember, next time we start to judge someone, stop and ask, how can I help instead. 


Kristina DriscollProfile Photo

Kristina Driscoll

Podcaster of the She's Brave Podcast

Kristina Driscoll trained for a career in finance, working over 10 years in pension consulting and as a financial advisor. She's a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University with a Bachelor's of Business Administration (BBA).
Kristina Driscoll's husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's when their son was 5 years old. She was the caregiver to her husband and young son for 12 years. She continued to manage their investments throughout her husband's journey. Kristina is also on the board of directors for the animal rescue group Sanctuary One. In 2015 she built a cottage for FIV positive cats and continues to fully fund the cottage each year.
Kristina has a podcast called "She's Brave" on Apple and Spotify. She helps women find their path to become brave, resilient and authentic. You can follow her on Instagram @shesbravepodcast or on Facebook or join her Facebook group at, or find her at her website at