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The New Family Podcast

The New Family Podcast is the show that explores what families really look like today and the issues that matter to us most. Twice a week we interview some of the most compelling people whose stories represent the many forms family can take today. And we chat with top parenting experts with great insights on the challenges of raising kids in these interesting times. This podcast comes from the creators of the popular website, thenewfamily.com, which explores and celebrates modern family life. Our series, the 1,000 Families Project, tells the first-person stories of people with families of every shape and size. In this show we interview some of the most interesting people who contribute to the #1000families series, as well as authors, family therapists, parent educators and other experts with practical advice to share that's relevant to families of every kind.
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Jun 2, 2018

In this episode we welcome back guests Sadie Epstein-Fine and Makeda Zook. We first heard a little from these two a year ago in a Pride-month episode called Growing Up with Same-Sex Parents, a special collaboration with TVO and the documentary Gayby Baby. But there is so much more I want to share with you from those conversations. And now these two friends have co-edited a book called Spawning Generations: Rants and Reflections on Growing up with LGBTQ+ Parents. We get into the complicated phenomenon of the “Poster Child Syndrome” experienced by some of the kids who grew up with the first generation of out and proud same-sex parents. And we talk about why it’s so important to centre the stories of so-called Queerspawn, the children of LGBTQ+ parents whose perspectives we haven’t heard enough.

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May 28, 2018

I’m joined on this episode by John Allcock. He’s the founder of a prep school called Sea Change Academy and the author of a great little book called Forty Things I Wish I’d Told My Kids. Mindfulness is the underlying theme here, and John’s book presents it in practical, simple principles for living that you can communicate to your kids on the stuff that really matters.

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May 21, 2018

In a world of entrenched positions and prescribed roles, expanding our definitions of gender requires the courage to dive deep into understanding and acceptance. On this episode, we meet the subjects of Christina Willings’ new documentary Beauty, which explores the lives of five gender-creative kids, each uniquely engaged in shaping their ideas of what it means to be fully human. For these kids, claiming their own sense of gender when everything around them insists that they comply and conform can be challenging — even scary. We also hear from Christina about what compelled her to the make the film, and what grown-ups can do to ensure a safer and more accepting world for these young people.

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May 14, 2018

In our culture, we don't like talking about death. Most of us will do almost anything to avoid broaching the subject, and when we do we use a lot of euphemisms to avoid words like dead or dying, preferring terms like “passed away” or “gone” instead. But my guest on today's show really wants to help us get over our qualms about discussing this important aspect of the human experience. Dr. Kathy Kortes Miller has devoted her professional life to death and dying. She's a leading expert on end of life care, a TEDx speaker, a professor, a mom, and now author of a new book called, Talking About Death Won't Kill You, The Essential Guide to End of Life Conversations. Our jobs as parents entail us to prepare our kids to face and understand various aspects of life, and sooner or later, that's gonna include the death of a loved one. Kathy gives us some guidance on how we can explain death to our children in age appropriate ways.

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May 7, 2018

You know my guest, acclaimed comedian and actor Jessica Holmes, from her work on The Royal Canadian Air Farce or CTV’s The Holmes Show. She’s even opened for Jerry Seinfeld and for Ellen DeGeneres. But Jessica is here to day to talk about something that isn’t much fun to go through, but from which she still manages to find some good material. You see, as Jessica’s career was really taking off, she was privately wrestling with depression. She’s now chronicled that experience in a great new book called Depression the Comedy: A Tale of Perseverance. A mom of two, Jessica’s first experience with mental health challenges began with postpartum depression, and she and I talk candidly about how she got through that and her subsequent bout of depression.

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Apr 30, 2018

There’s a reckoning underway that’s calling attention to ages old pattern of systemic sexual abuse and harassment. The #MeToo movement is simply bringing it to light. While a lot of the conversation we’re having about this centres on the organizations — the companies, the industries — that have either turned a blind eye or simply not done enough to address the issue, we haven’t talked a lot about the role of families in all of this. My guest for this episode has some very clear ideas about how we can begin conversations about consent when our kids are very young. Emilia Symington Fredy is the creator of a genre-defying audio book that’s really a radio-play/memoir. It’s called Trying To Be Good, and in it she tackles with radical candour some complex aspects of girlhood and womanhood, including sexual experiences she had as a teen. She and I talk about how she’s raising her boys with feminist values, strong female role models and a clear understanding of consent.

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Apr 23, 2018

Could you go a year buying only consumables? You know, just the food, medicine and toiletries your family needed, replacing items like, say, outgrown snow pants, but otherwise opting out of those routine purchases many of us make without really thinking? Here’s another question: Could you give away 70 per cent of your belongings, and if you could, how would it make you feel? My guest for this episode can answer those questions with a resounding yes. Cait Flanders is a freelance writer and personal finance blogger who has written a really compelling memoir called The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store. This ended up being a profound exercise for Cait that dramatically changed the way she lives. She shares advice on how we can shift our relationship with consuming in this compelling chat.

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Apr 16, 2018

Today’s episode is fun one because I get to speak with a dynamic husband-and-wife team who are not only award-winning journalists but smart and funny people. Sue Allen is a journalist, yoga teacher and hockey mom who now works for a non-profit. Her husband Scott Feschuk is the author of three previous books, including How Not to Completely Suck as a New Parent and has written for publications like Maclean’s, Sportsnet and The Globe and Mail. Scott and Sue have two kids, but they’re latest collaboration is a parody board book called Baby’s First Hashtag, which introduces babies to the hip world of hashtags, memes, manbuns, quinoa and organically sourced plaid into which they have arrived. Scott and Sue join me to have a little fun with the painfully self-conscious world of hipster parenting, as well as to talk about the role that humour can play in how we raise our kids.

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Apr 9, 2018

My guest for this episode shares my mission to promote positive co-parenting. Karen Kristjanson is the author of a new book called Co-Parenting From the Inside Out: Voices of Moms and Dads. In addition to being a writer, Karen is a life coach who has more than 30 years experience supporting adults while they tackle change. She writes candidly about her own co-parenting experience and the personal growth it inspired. She’s here to talk to us about how families can not only survive a separation, but persevere and find new possibilities for themselves and their children.

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Apr 2, 2018

While we know that we are living in a time with more opportunity for women than ever before, we can’t pretend that the playing field has entirely leveled. Women still earn an average of about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, and are still woefully underrepresented among high-ranking executives. A significant part of that picture, of course, is motherhood. As my guest on this episode points out, about 43 percent of highly qualified mothers off-ramp or leave their careers for a period of time, limiting both the available talent in the workplace and opportunities for themselves. Lisa Durante is a passionate advocate for empowering women to create a life that works — at home and in their careers. Lisa consults both with moms to help them optimize career satisfaction and with companies to help retain female talent. We talk about how the steps companies can take to keep their female talent, and how women can negotiate a more balanced partnership at home.

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Mar 26, 2018

For this episode we welcome child and adolescent psychotherapist, Katie Hurley, back to the show. We first heard from Katie way back on episode 31 when we discussed her insightful book, The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World. Her new book is called No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident and Compassionate Girls. Katie explains that she’s seeing a pattern of Mean-Girl behaviour we typically associate with high school or middle school cropping up more often in the elementary years. We talk about why when girls are flourishing academically are they engaged in toxic competition with one another, and critically, what we can do about it.

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Mar 19, 2018

Today’s episode is a unique one, recorded on site at Lillian H. Smith public library in Toronto where a book club called A Room of Your Own has gathered to talk with bestselling young adult fiction author Jennifer Niven, who is in town from Los Angeles. This book club, founded by Tanya Marie Lee, is just for teen girls from under-privileged communities. At each event members get in a room with the authors of the books they read, which are supplied ahead of the time by the authors and their publishers. Here they’re talking about Niven’s book All the Bright Places, which is being made into a film starring Elle Fanning. The book is the story of two Indiana teenagers who become companions after finding themselves at the same spot contemplating suicide. The book club is also joined by Dr. Karen Wang, a child and youth psychologist, who we talk to for some advice for parents on how to handle the difficult topics of teen suicide and mental illness. We also capture the stories of some of the students who share their own struggles in brave and inspiring ways.

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Mar 12, 2018

It takes a lot of bravery to defy the expectations of the people around us in our families and places of origin. My guest for this episode has a beautiful story to tell about grappling with her small-town upbringing, busting away to explore the world and finding love in a very unexpected way. Natalie Appleton first shared her story with The New York Times’s popular Modern Love column. It was such a hit that readers began asking where to find her book. She’s now written a gorgeous literary memoir called I Have Something To Tell You. She and I discuss the positive and negatives aspects of small-town living and how those shape the way she’s raising her own children today.

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Mar 5, 2018

Life is an unpredictable ride and sometimes we find ourselves — and our families — in really difficult times. You might be dealing with a death in the family, a job loss, a divorce, a natural disaster or a bankruptcy. Or maybe your family situation has not ever been a peaceful and happy one and you need to move all of you to a healthier place. As some of you know, one of my mandates is to help people find their way to a happy family life after going through a major transition related to separation and divorce. But there are lots of different shapes that these challenges can take, and in fact, sometimes life hands you a couple of real doozies at once. My guest on today’s episode is Carrie Anne Killeen, a parenting coach, former teacher and single mom of three girls. Her work as The Nourished Mama takes a whole being approach to family wellness. She has also been through some very challenging times herself as a survivor of an abusive relationship. Carrie Anne talks with us about healing her own family from difficult circumstances and how you can do the same.

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Feb 26, 2018

All around us there are signs of a city bursting at the seams. Migration to major urban centres sees this playing out in metropolitan areas all over. Cranes dot the sky line, and everywhere you go there’s another billboard promoting a new development, promising a toe hold in a real estate market that’s become out of reach to most people. But where those developments are replacing rental housing, what happens to the families that call those places home? This is a special episode that explores the consequences of a city’s growth that most of us don’t consider carefully enough. Made in partnership with award-winning documentary filmmaker Charles Officer and TV Ontario, we meet some of the young people who called Toronto’s The Villaways housing community home.

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Feb 19, 2018

This podcast and The New Family website are all about the many forms that families take, which includes the way those families are created. We’ve discussed the surrogacy on a number of occasions. It’s a compelling topic, especially given that Canada has become what some call a medical tourism destination for surrogacy. Yet there are a lot of misconceptions about surrogacy and a lot of grey area that my guest on this episode wants to see change. Leia Swanberg is the founder and owner of Canadian Fertility Consulting, a prominent surrogacy consulting agency, and an outspoken advocate for decriminalizing surrogacy. She shares her own experience with surrogacy, personally and professionally, including a news-making run-in with the law.

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Feb 12, 2018

My guest for this episode is one of the most popular we’ve ever hosted on the show. Sexuality expert Amy Lang helps parents talk to their kids about sex, love and relationships. She first joined us on to tell us how to talk to our kids about where babies comes from. Amy has a great website called Birds and Bees and Kids, and I invited her back to answer a question that crosses a lot of people’s minds: Is there sex after kids? She and I take a look at what’s involved in having a sex life through some of the different seasons of our own lives, including rough patches in our relationships, times of overwhelm between work and home and also through single parenthood. Amy shares some pragmatic advice for making space for intimacy in a busy family life and for reconnecting romantically after a period of disconnection.

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Feb 5, 2018

Like many parents of boys, I’m sure, I’ve noticed that — while globally there’s a long way to go to level the playing field for girls — here at home boys are more likely to be medicated for attention deficit disorder and more likely to drop out of school, while the girls are the more likely to be the ones standing at the front of the assembly collecting most of the academic awards. And young women are now out-graduating men from university at considerable rates and have been for some time. It seems that, as a whole, boys may be needing some clearer direction and better messages about what it means to be a boy. I’m joined today by Janet Allison of Boys Alive. Janet is an educator and parent coach with a specialty in helping parents and teachers to nurture boys. She’s also the author of Boys Alive: Bring Out Their Best.

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Jan 29, 2018

My guest on this episode shares my passion for expanding narratives around what a happy family can look like, especially in co-parenting and blended-family situations. Colleen LeMaire is a writer, author and stepmom. She writes kid-friendly books on grown-up topics in her I Have Series, starting with I Have Two Homes, I Have a Stepmom and I Have a Stepdad.

Colleen and I talk about how stepmoms are portrayed in everything from fairy tales to pop culture, and why those sorely need an update. Colleen shares her own experience adjusting to being a step-parent and why she was inspired to create resources to help kids adjust to changes in the family.

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Jan 22, 2018

I’m so delighted to have my friend and colleague Rick Clemons back on the show this episode. He was first with us way back on Episode 91 for an episode about his process of coming out later in life. Rick is a father of two and the author of a book called Frankly My Dear, I’m Gay: A Late-bloomers Guide to Coming Out. He’s also the host of a great podcast called The Coming Out Lounge and he’s a life coach. One of his specialties is helping people through their coming out journeys. Today Rick is back to help us learn how best to support friends and family members as they come out. We’re going to talk about what to say, what not to say, and what people really need from us when they’re revealing this important information about themselves.

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Jan 15, 2018

For this episode I speak to a couple of women with a remarkable personal story to tell. You see, Lindsey Phillips and Jesse Enander are best friends who many people would assume couldn’t be friends at all.

Indeed, they were once married to each other’s husbands, a complicated love story that started out with the four of them as couple friends. Lindsey and Jesse are here to tell me about how this unique situation has come to be, and about how they managed to make what could have been a difficult and acrimonious situation into something great. In fact, Jesse and Lindsey have now created a YouTube channel called TeamMom Official to share their stories and inspire others to find a path to great co-parenting and even friendship.

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Jan 8, 2018

I’m really delighted to open the year a discussion that's insightful in setting intentions for what we want to accomplish during the year as parents. And I’m not talking about tidy mudrooms or perfect photo albums. I’m talking about the approaches we take to cultivating the traits in our kids that are going to help them steer themselves well in a changing world.

My guest for this episode is Amy Morin, a therapeutic foster parent, a social worker, a psychotherapist with a specialty in family and teen therapy. She has given one of the most popular TedX talks of all time. Her first book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do was an international bestseller and she’s now expanded on those ideas with a special focus on raising kids in her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do.

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Dec 18, 2017

If you listen to the show regularly, you’ll know that almost every episode ends with the question, “What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received.” As you can imagine, over the course of a year we gather a lot of sage words from parents just like you and me. My team and I have gone through all those pearls of wisdom and put together this round up of some of the best parenting advice we heard in 2017. We thought that would be a good way to look back on the year we’ve had while highlighting some good things to keep in mind as we go forward with our families into a new year. Thank you everyone for listening over the course of this year. I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year.

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Dec 11, 2017

I’m joined today by a woman who has a very personal story to share about her daughter’s journey with the school system. Leslie Gavel’s daughter began to disengage from the school system when she was in Grade 7, and eventually dropped out. She and I talk about the school system’s role in this and about how Leslie's daughter eventually found her way again. Leslie writes about this in a new book called Dropout: How School Is Failing Our Kids (and What We Can Do about It).

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Dec 4, 2017

This is a special episode exploring some concrete ideas for simplifying the holiday season. I asked a bunch of different people to tell me what they’ve done to adapt their holidays to be less stressful and more meaningful. We hope you’ll find something here that you can adapt to your own holiday routines. Sometimes it’s just about giving ourselves permission to take something off our plate or make some aspect of the holidays less elaborate. So let’s all give ourselves permission to keep the calendar a little clearer, the bank account a little fuller and most importantly, ourselves a little happier this time of year.

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