194: Helping Your Child Discover Their Greatness, with Cathy Domoney

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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I truly believe that we all have greatness within us. Each and every one of us. My guest for this episode, Cathay Domoney, believes this wholeheartedly as well, and it’s one of the core tenets of her work with children and families. 

Listen in as Cathy shares her process to help kids discover their own individual greatness. We talk about the mindset and “pure filter of love and curiosity” required to truly allow our kids to discover their authentic selves and shine, which starts by stripping away the expectations of culture and others. You’ll learn how to build a relationship with your child that provides sacred space for exploration (and mistakes) so they can discover themselves… and their greatness.


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My Guest

With over 20 years of experience transforming the lives of countless families in her practice as a Legacy Architect, Cathy Domoney is now bringing her expertise to the masses. A steadfast advocate for the child, her core philosophy is based on the delicate balance between being our children’s voice while also holding them to a supremely high standard. She is paving the way for the next generation of parents who are raising resilient, inspirational, intelligent and paradigm-shifting humans – the greatest future leaders of our time. As the best-selling author of a kids book series, and a highly publicized thought leader seen on TED-Ed, Fox, NBC, CBS, BuzzFeed and the Today show, Cathy is making waves as a new generation parenting expert. Her 20+ years of experience in teaching, counseling, psychology, sociology, hypnotherapy, coaching, and raising her own five neurodivergent children has given her tremendous insight into parent-kid dynamics. Through her parenting empire, Parenting Evolution, Cathy empowers and supports the parents of children who are destined for greatness, helping them to unlock their children’s infinite potential so they can grow into the world-shaping leaders that humanity demands.



Cathy Domoney 0:03

Yes, we are honest. Yes, we are respectful. Yes, we are loving, those are the non negotiables. But within the scaffolding of that each child gets to unfold exactly the way they're supposed to unfold. And you know what? There's moments in that journey won't make sense to us, because it's not supposed to. It's supposed to make sense to them.

Penny Williams 0:30

Welcome to the beautifully complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Welcome back to the beautifully complex podcast, I am thrilled to have Cathy Domoney with me today. And we're gonna talk about how to discover your child's greatness and how to guide them to discovering that for themselves as well. And I'm really, really excited to really get into the nitty gritty of this conversation, because I feel so strongly that we all have greatness within us. And we just sometimes just need a little extra time and a little extra help to figure out that path. So Cathy, will you start by introducing yourself, let everyone listening know who you are and what you do?

Cathy Domoney 1:30

Absolutely. My name is Cathy Domoney. And I am the founder of parenting evolution, where we passionately empower parents to empower their children to the next level. So that's something that I'm very passionate about. And I'm the mother of five children, five extraordinary souls, three of whom are autistic, and two of whom have ADHD. So I'm very thrilled to be on this podcast, because the subject matter in the title in itself is something very, very close to my heart.

Penny Williams 2:02

Yeah, that's so exciting. I always love to talk to people who have families who are neurodiverse, because I think that it gives you a different perspective on so many things, and on the world in general. And I know that it's changed me as a parent, for sure. change for me as a person, really. And I'm so grateful for that. Do you want to start this conversation by talking about what we mean by greatness, it can be a very general term. And I think maybe we should sort of dig into what we're talking about there.

Cathy Domoney 2:35

Sure. Well, first, certainly for me, greatness is very individual to each soul that's traveling the planet. And the sooner that we connect ourselves to our own greatness, just the more fulfilling our life is, the happier our life is, the more visionary our lives can be. And I really discovered this before I became a parent when I was teaching very early on in my teaching career, where I realized if I wanted to get the best out of my class, I first had to introduce them to who they really were at their core. And I became very passionate about seeing the greatness within each child, which by the way, wasn't always academic. Yeah, and I think we sometimes misconstrue this beautiful beingness of greatness with academics. And that's not always the case. And even having an education background and being very passionate about education. Greatness is something more than that, greatness is, it's a souls journey. It's a soul's purpose. And the sooner we can unfold that within any soul, but particularly within children, it just helps them go through life without experiencing so much disconnect with themselves with each other. And what I found within my classroom certainly is once you really connected each child to their greatness, they just elevated to such an exquisite level. And I inherited classes that I was told not to expect too much, because they were really behaviorally very challenging, and they weren't academically brilliant. And I was told even before I met them to lower my expectations, which is heartbreaking. Yeah. And what I discovered very young before I even had children of my own, was once we look at each child with this pure filter of love and curiosity, what we are able to do is see beyond some behaviors that are labeled as challenging and create the environment in which that soul can really start to discover itself and thrive, and everything else falls into place.

Penny Williams 5:01

Yeah. And love that you brought up that greatness isn't just about academics, we have these very societal definitions of what success looks like. And we talked so often on this podcast about the fact that success has to be individualized, the definition of success has to be different for each individual. And I think that that same thread is true for greatness. It's not just about what society might deem as being successful or being part of the upper, I don't even know how to put out part of that piece that's rising above everyone else doing more than other people, right, maybe hustling, or an entrepreneur, or all these different ideas that we have of someone being better than another. And none of us are better than another. We're all just different. And I think this idea, in the way that you're explaining it about greatness is that it's different for each of us. And we all have some sort of greatness, but we have to figure out what that is for each person, and not kind of go in with this defined idea. And holding up a bar and hoping that our kids meet that bar. Right. And I think that's especially important when we're talking about neurodivergent kids who may get there later, or need the expectations adjusted for where they are. And that was the other thing that struck me as you were talking is you're really talking about meeting kids where they are, and giving them what they need, and seeing them for exactly who they are.

Cathy Domoney 6:40

Yeah, I do believe that there's a misconception of what our role is, as the guides have children. And it's not to predetermine, to prescribe. It's not for us to project our stuff. On to our kids. It's our role to hold a safe sacred space, where there are boundaries of the non negotiables which are yes, we are kind. Yes, we are honest, yes, we are respectful. Yes, we are loving, those are the non negotiables. But within the scaffolding of that each child gets to unfold exactly the way they're supposed to unfold. And you know, what, there's moments in that journey. That won't make sense to us, because it's not supposed to. It's supposed to make sense to them. Yeah. And I think we need to be visionary enough for our kids to understand that they need to be trusted in this process. So where my children, for example, we've always held them to a high standard of conduct, we are respectful, we are kind we are all of those amazing, gorgeous things. But we've watched with curiosity, as they've experimented with their characters with what they feel might be their strengths. And that is fluid, right? Because they are curious beings. And they're discovering themselves. And if we can step back, and just allow that to happen organically. Number one, they get there quicker. And number two, they start to shine. And that's the piece that I absolutely loved when I was teaching and I love working with my clients and I love raising children, is that point where they really get it, they really get that the reasons that they've tried to fit in those parts of themselves that they've made smaller to try and assimilate that actually their points of greatness. And if we can really encourage them to acknowledge that everything about them is perfection, and amplify that. Then they automatically are magnetic to others. Yeah, because they have no reason to be unkind. They have no reason to be in competition that just evaporates. Because they get to be so comfortable in their own skin, that they're just gorgeous, wonderful, uplifting individuals to be around.

Penny Williams 9:33

Yeah, yeah. Just the idea of acceptance within that, accepting that there are differences, there are challenges. Because when you don't accept that you can't get to the point where you can see all the positives. You know, that that thing that's troublesome, that's worrying you takes over and what you're talking Thinking about is just sort of this master acceptance of what is so that our kids have the space to figure things out for themselves and to recognize that they can. And they will. I think so often we get so bogged down in the struggle that we inadvertently make our kids feel like they're not capable. And what you're describing, it's just this environment where they are free to know that they're capable to discover it. And for that light bulb to go off, I can think of times for my own son where something clicked for him. And he felt good about himself and what he was able to do, or recognize that something was doable that he didn't think was and just the brightness that came to his face. And that moment, is astonishing. And we just want that for all the time for our kids, right? We want them to feel like they can.

Cathy Domoney 11:09

Absolutely, and to extend your point. The reason it's so important for us to hold that sacred space at home, is because often times it's not available outside of our homes. And the most difficult challenge I have faced as a parent who wants their children to become exactly who they were always meant to be, is the outside influences who are determined to make them smaller than they are. And that's a really difficult line to tread with your kids. And I remember my daughter went through a really hard time where she had these what we call frenemies where her friendship group was really not kind. And they would go out without her and post it all over social media. And she really didn't fit in. And she didn't really want to do a lot of the things they were doing because she's a big, deep thinker, and she's quite philosophy, philosophical and all of that sort of thing. And I would have this child that was taller than me at that stage because she was in her middle teens, every night lying on my lap in heaps of tears, because she said to me, once I came home after a meal out, and my husband said, You need to go and talk to, you need to go and talk to her. And it's like, I was one in the morning. I was like, okay, so get your jammies on, and you go down, and you get your hot chocolate and you're gonna talk, and will you listen. And she said, Mom, every time I go into school, I feel like I put on this huge straitjacket. And she says I do all day in the straitjacket. And then she said, Then I come home and I take it off at the door. And then I can be myself. And that was really heartbreaking.

And we had a talk about it. And she told me that she had this reoccurring dream, where she had wings. And all day she had these wings clipped behind her back. And then in the nighttime, in her dream, I would take her to this wide open space. And I would unclip her wings, and she would fly. And we really dug into that. And we really unpacked that together. And it was a hard conversation because you know what she knew at her core that she did not fit in? Yeah. And she knew at her core that her attempts to try to fit in, were actually taking its toll on her on a really profound soul level. And so what we did is we really unpacked that. And we decided together, that being a little bit lonely, and on your own but true to yourself, was actually easier than pretending to be something that you will not. Yeah. And so the lesson she learned there was she was unhappy. Was she going to be unhappy trying to fit in somewhere she didn't belong? Or was she going to be unhappy being a little bit lonely, but being absolutely true to herself. And that's not easy for anyone, let alone a child. But what she found was, the more she stepped into her full self and stopped making herself small to fit inside these prescribed boxes given to inspire others. Yeah, the more inner peace she had. And the more she had the courage because that's what it takes real courage to do that. The right people were magnetized to her and she started to shine, which is what every child is born to do.

Penny Williams 14:53

Yeah. 100% I love that she was able to share what the experience was like with you, because it's so hard for so many kids. And it was powerful just for me to hear that, it gave me goosebumps, because I can just imagine the pain that she was expressing and how hard those situations were for her. And I'm also hearing the wonderful relationship that you have with her. And the fact that she feels comfortable coming to you, oh, sharing her feelings, looking for guidance knowing that you are leaving the door open, for her to shine, you're not going to try to fix it necessarily, or try to say, well, that's just the way it is to grow up, or all these sort of things that we tend to say, to try to help kids feel better, but that she really feels so comfortable with you. It's a real testament to your parent child relationship and the work that you are doing as a parent.

Cathy Domoney 16:03

Thank you. I do feel that that has evolved from having neurodiverse children. Mm hmm. Because it pushed me to grow in ways that I never thought possible. And I really had to do a lot of work on myself, to show up to be the best possible parent I could for these gorgeous souls that deserve the best. So there's been a lot of self work, there's been a lot of self reflection. And it's not easy. Like, there's been times when I have felt overwhelmed, and I've gone into my wardrobe, shut the door and had a good cry. Because we think how am I best going to support these kids? How can I show up and be the best possible Mum, I can beat them? What do they need me to be? Who are they? And what we developed as a family is this radical empathy, when she's not seeing the experience, from my perspective, as an adult with more decades on them, and all of the things that we have as parents, really breaking it down looking at the society that they're growing up in, because it's different to the society that I grew up in? Absolutely understanding that I haven't got all the answers, and allowing my children to lead the way in their own evolution, with me, being there to support them. 100%, to love them 100%, to be with them to sit in it with them. And there is a difference between seeing your child in a dark place, which is excruciating for any parent, and pulling them out, as opposed to getting in that dark place with them and sitting with them and holding them while they find their own way out.

Penny Williams 18:03

I love that you highlighted that. Because I think that's so important in our sort of instinct as parents is to do for and to help and to protect. And often, then that never gives the opportunity for our kids to learn to be able to do it themselves. We need to give them the support, and the freedom really, to figure things out for themselves, so that they can shine. If you always need someone else, every time something goes wrong, it's really hard to feel good about yourself.

Cathy Domoney 18:36

Absolutely. And what, by sitting in that dark place with them, what you're actually communicating to them on every level is I trust you. You totally got this.

Penny Williams 18:50

Yeah, I want to circle back just a little bit, and talk about maybe some actionable steps for parents who are listening to take to sort of help their kids discover their greatness, right. And we've touched on some things. But I love to give just kind of a step by step in general terms. I know because this is going to be different for every kid in every family. And certainly first I think is that mindset piece as parents, right?

Cathy Domoney 19:19

It absolutely is. And the biggest point that I work with families on is trust of self. And now as parents, there's so much pressure on us. We have to be everything to everyone. Don't be too hard. Don't be too soft. Don't let your kids do nothing. Don't push too hard. We've got so many don'ts and we're so wanting to be the best possible parent we can be for our precious gorgeous, wonderful kids that we've wanted from before conception, we dreamed them into our lives, and we want them to have the most beautiful childhood and we want them to unfold as their The most gorgeous selves. But we also have a bit of resistance within us because we don't want to be judged as bad parents, we don't want to be seen as doing the wrong things, because it's our biggest fear. The first thing that I unpack when I work with families is this fear that they're doing something horrendously wrong, and they're messing up their kids, you have the very fact that they're talking to me in the first place.

And I can see that they're absolutely dedicated to their child's well being. But what we need to do is strip back all of that nonsense. And get back to our intuition. You have known this child, the best, the deepest, the most, at the most extraordinary level, no matter how that child came into your experience, I believe that you were meant to be their parent, you are their parent for a reason. So strip away all the shoulds could woods, all of the expectations of others, and just be a mirror for your child and remind them of who they are. And it's so important to do that, particularly when they're going through really difficult times. And there's times when we have to guide our children through things, and they actually don't like us for doing that. That's really, really hard. And I had a situation where one of my kids didn't really interact with me on a deep level for about two years. Because we could see that the school that they were in wasn't supportive, that they weren't achieving their greatness that they weren't having that well being support, which is so important to us as a family. And so we moved schools, and, man, I was so unpopular for such a long time. And it was heartbreaking. For me, it was absolutely heartbreaking, because I'm very, very close to my children. But there was just this sense of knowing within me that he was in the right place. And every time I was brought to the brink of going, You know what, this is so hard.

Let me just give up, let me just give him what he wants, and send him back to that crappy school. There was this whisper that went, No, this is the right thing. Everything's gonna be okay. Or we'll be well, and so we had to ride through that storm together. And it was actually gorgeous. Because a few weeks ago, he's 17. Now, and he's, most of my children are taller than me now, which is hilarious. And we were chatting in the car, and he's on his way to medical school. Now he's very set on being a doctor, which is amazing. And he was talking about this previous school, which he was so passionately wanting to stay in, because it was a within his comfort zone. I get it. I understand all the reasons why for me to move him, he felt unsafe, he felt angry, he was out of his depth he had to grow, which he didn't want to do. And it was really, really hard. And although we showed up and we fully supported him, it was torturous for him. And I totally, totally acknowledge that. Yeah, but the other day, we were driving along, and he is a strong, silent type. So he's a man of very few words.

As we were traveling along, he turned to me and said, you did the right thing. And he said, I hated you for it. But he said, now I can see. And he said, I would not be where I am today, if you'd left me where I was. Yeah. And this is the whole journey and the complexity of parenting, is we want to be so connected with our children. But we also are given that role of guiding them, because we can often see a bigger picture that they haven't got access to yet because of their development stage. And trusting your instinct, and making sometimes those unpopular decision because that it's for the greater good, not for your greater good. And this is that fine line that we tread as parents. Is it serving me to a higher level? Or is this really serving my child to a higher level? Is this my ego a little bit involved in this decision? Or is this me stepping back and going, Hey, this is the right path for this child. And that's something we need to be really mindful of as parents and certainly for me, having been brought up in England, where appearances are everything. And one of the biggest gifts that my neurodivergent children gave me was to break all of that. It just exploded, everything, all of the expectations, all of the social etiquette, everything that I've been brought up with in England, because my kids are fiercely honest, and they haven't got that social filter. And you know what? I first felt really, really uncomfortable with that. And now I feel like it's the only way that we can evolved as a species is to have this gorgeous, amazing level of heart felt honesty, and to gift that honesty, knowing that it's maybe going to be received in a way that we don't want it to be received. But we impart that truth with love. Because we love the person so much that we know this is their next step. Yeah. And that's not easy. Actually.

Penny Williams 25:27

No, no. And so often, the decisions that are the hardest, I think have the most reward at the end, when you can stick it out, as you were describing in that situation with your son, I keep hearing these opportunities, we're giving our kids opportunities, opportunities to be curious to explore who they are, and also opportunities to be authentically themselves, which in and of itself is super powerful, and really opens the door, I feel to discovering their greatness for themselves, when they feel like they can't be themselves. Again, they don't have any sort of confidence or competence, and they just sort of shrink away, I think instead of putting their foot forward and going forward to figuring themselves out and finding that greatness. And talking to you has been like a warm hug. It's been so amazing. Just the joy that you have for kids and for people. And sort of spreading that I really feel it, I think we're in different countries, right? And how and there's a long distance between us, but I really feel it from you. And I'm so appreciative of that. And of that joy that you find in helping kids succeed, and parents and families too. Anything else you want to talk about, before we close?

Cathy Domoney 27:02

The one piece that I would gift to the audience listening is if you truly want your child to become the fullest version of themselves that they can possibly be, you need to gift that to yourself first. And the non negotiable of me working with families is I work with the parents first. Because the parents over time have made themselves smaller to fit in. And so once we with love, allow them to become the biggest versions of themselves. Then the children watch in or an admiration and respect and love and it gives them permission to do the same.

Penny Williams 27:44

Yeah, it's about the energy, the shared energy, I think, too, between us. Well, thank you so much. I have really enjoyed this conversation. I know that those listening, have gotten so much out of it, and have some good steps to take forward to helping their child discover their greatness. And for everyone listening, please go to the show notes at parentingADHDand autism.com/194 for episode 194. And we will have links to Kathy's website and all the work that she's doing there, in addition to any resources that we've mentioned, and that includes the parenting evolution program that that Kathy has. So I really encourage you to go there and connect with her and learn more from her and her work in the world. I think you'll benefit from it. With that in the episode. I really appreciate you Kathy.

Cathy Domoney 28:42

Thank you so much. It's been a wonderful, gorgeous conversation and it's been my absolute thrill.

Penny Williams 28:48

Take good care, everyone. I'll see you next time. Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingADHDandautism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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