July 20, 2021

Cooking is connecting. Kibby's story on the theraputic connecting power that can take place in the kitchen to help children break through the barriers of trauma and maladaptive behaviors.


Kibby has been cooking in the kitchen for over 25 years. In his role as a biological, foster, and adoptive parent, he has seen first-hand the affects that trauma can have on a child’s relationships and their ability to receive love, regulation, and support - even from the most well-meaning of caregivers. Over the last year he has became more trauma informed to better understand  all of this. During this time, something amazing happened and he saw first hand the power of connecting in the kitchen and the benefits it can have on breaking through the barriers of trauma and maladaptive behaviors in children. Not only does cooking and connecting have that power, but it also  gives caregivers and parents a voice that speaks love, acceptance, and safety. Somethiing that children need when they have experienced trauma.

Connect with Kibby: https://www.cookinwithkibby.com/cooking-is-connecting
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Transcript

Kibby:

It was the changing point. In my relationship with myself and with my children and with cooking to understand the connecting power that takes place, it was the yes that I was giving her to say that you are valid, and that I want you to be present in my life right now.

Melissa Bright:

Welcome to The Bright Side of Life, a podcast where people share their personal stories of struggles, pain and grief. But through all of that, they are still able to find the joys in life. Hello, hello, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I'm your host, Melissa Bright. And today we have a very, very exciting guest on here. I'm excited because I feel like he has such a unique perspective on just on what he's doing. And we have today, we have Chef kibi cooking with kibby. And what he does is he helps foster adoptive parents connect with their kids through the shared act of cooking and eating together. Now, before we really get to that, we're going to kind of break down how everything kind of came together because this is, I think, a new adventure, or at least you know, in the last year or so. So I kind of want to just put it all together. Carrie, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Kibby:

I'm doing great, Melissa, I'm so glad that we finally get an opportunity to connect. I feel like we've chatted, you know, slid into DMS for a while and I think we initially hooked up on clubhouse a few months ago. So I'm glad that we finally have an opportunity to sit down virtually face to face and have this conversation. So thanks for having me.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, absolutely. Okay, so we're just gonna get right into it. And I like I said, I'm gonna break kind of things down into a couple ways. So you are a personal chef. Is that correct? Right.

Kibby:

I am a professional chef. I've been in the foodservice industry for over 25 years, that role in the industry has taken on different perspectives over the years, everything from a chef in restaurants to having my own catering business to now also being a culinary instructor for a community college here in Central Ohio. So it's looked a little bit different over the years. But suffice it to say I consider myself a professional chef.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, that is awesome. And that's kind of how everything has has came together. So you've been cooking for over 25 years, which by the way, you don't look old enough to be cooking for 25 years unless you started cooking. When you were like five making hotdogs and macaroni and cheese.

Kibby:

No, I used to wear my college ring to prove to people I was out of high school. So I appreciate that. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

Can you kind of tell me how you got into even cooking and what what made you fall in love with with the art of cooking? Well,

Kibby:

that's an interesting story in and of itself, because I actually grew up a very picky eater. I mean, I grew up in small town, Ohio, my parents were really weren't all that big into food and cooking. It was just kind of a necessity. It's something you do, they would take me to the local pizza place. And I would eat the crew times off the salad bar. I was that picky of an eater. And so it's kind of interesting the things that happened in my life, just getting me to that point where I fell in love with food and cooking. And a couple of things I can point back to that took place. One of them was when I was about 16 years old, I went on a short term trip to Japan, my small town here in Ohio had a sister city. And so I had the opportunity to travel to Japan to to see some of the historical sites and then stay with host families for about seven days. And I looking back, Melissa, I really not sure why it is I decided to do that. But I'm glad that I did because it took me out of not only my cultural comfort zone, but also my my food comfort zone, although I did have McDonald's while I was there. And it's tasted strangely exactly the same as it does here in the States. So whatever they're doing, they've they've got it down. They got it down. Yeah. But then later on just a few. A couple years later, I left the small town and went to the big city of Columbus, Ohio to begin my studies at The Ohio State University. And for those people who aren't familiar with Columbus, and just think it's a big small town in the Midwest, it's actually a really, it's a very diverse city and has a diverse selection of cultures and nationalities and viewpoints and perspectives. And that is very much represented in the food. And so when I came to Columbus, I became aware of and was able to to consume and enjoy foods from so many different cultures, I mean, everything from Lebanese to Thai to Korean, Ethiopian, you name it. And so when you put those two things together, all of a sudden, I discovered this new kind of passion and excitement about food and cooking, because I was cooking for myself for the first time. And then the meantime also working in food service just as a job as something to make money while I was studying. And after college, I went into mortgage sales for about a year and I absolutely hated it. And I fell back into food service. And quite frankly, I never left.

Melissa Bright:

That is awesome. And yeah, I feel like everybody should probably work in like the food industry at some capacity, whether you're a server, your back of the house, you're a bartender, something you really get some amazing skills from people skills to learning how to cook, too. I mean, I worked in the restaurant industry for several several years, and just everything that you learn is incredible.

Kibby:

Being in hospitality, hospitality is all about serving, it's all about putting the needs of others before yourself. And so especially in a culture where we're very divided, it was in the food service industry that I first began to realize and appreciate the connecting power of food, not necessarily cooking at that point. But just food is something that brings everybody together, it is a language that we all speak it is a need that we all have. And so it's a way that we can embrace one another respect each other, and and feed each other not only physically, but also from an emotional and connection standpoint. And so that's why I feel like this beginning of the journey really happened. But it wasn't until some events later on in life where the picture started to come into a more clear focus.

Melissa Bright:

And it's so important to point out of like how important food is in our culture and bringing us together a lot of celebration, think of everything that we do Fourth of July, Christmas Thanksgivings everything is about that, that big meal, and you get to have it with friends, family, whoever you're eating with. And the center is is around food, obviously, there's like other ideas around it, but you know that you're going to have a meal with it. So we're going to kind of switch gears a little bit because we've we've talked about how cooking has, you know, became part of your life and everything like that. But now we have another aspect of your life. Have you are a foster parent? And I kind of want to hear the story of that. And what made you make the decision that you wanted to be a foster parent? Was that something that you had to decide? Or was it kind of? Yeah, I'm gonna let you answer that.

Kibby:

Sure. It's a great question. And a lot of people have a hard time kind of framing that question because not everybody is fully familiar with what foster care is and how it works. Which is why I actually recently on my podcast, went through a short series of kind of some some answering some popular questions, some common questions around foster care and how it works. So if you want to learn more about that, be sure to check out the the short series I did back in in May, which is National foster care Awareness Month. But to answer your question, how we got involved, my wife and I got involved in foster care. inviting other children into our home and into our family was a conversation that began during our engagement process. It was something that had always been on our hearts. To that that was going to be how our family was going to look that was deeply rooted in my wife's experience growing up, she was a missionary kid and part of her experience overseas. She spent many years in Spain, but also some time down in Venezuela. And down in Venezuela, she saw firsthand the the effect of children who did not have stable housing, they did not have attachments to primary caregivers. There. It's not very widely known that because it's not very widely publicized a number of street children there are in Central America, and specifically in countries like Venezuela. And so that was something that an experience that really affected her emotionally, that she knew that someday when she was going to have a family of her own, that adopting and bringing in children from outside of her home, or outside of her, you know, blood relation was something that was important to her. And I was fully on board with that and wanted to honor that, after we began to start having our own family looked into different options with with regards to adoption, and decided that we weren't in a financial place at that time to adopt. And so in the meantime, we would go through the process of becoming foster parents, which I want to be clear going into fostering with the intent of adopting children. They can set you up for a little bit of a, an improper expectation because children are in the foster care system not to be adopted, but to be cared for. It's a stewardship. While they are awaiting a permanency plan, many of those children do get reunited with their biological parents. And when that is possible, that is a that is the best outcome. That's not always the best outcome for every child. And that's not up for the foster parents to determine that's for, you know, the legal team and children, Child Welfare Services, to make that determination. Just want to, you know, put that caveat in just so that the you know, there's a lot of people out there that have breed sensitivities when it comes to foster and adoption. Suffice it to say we got licensed to be foster parents, as a way of kind of guiding us into that process with the potential of perhaps adopting a child or two at some point. And and right off the bat, we knew that we were in in over our heads, because I don't know that anyone is fully prepared for what foster care brings children from hard places, as much as you love them and care for them and support them. It it takes something a little bit different because children from hard places as the late Karen Purvis often described them, bring with them trauma, and trauma disrupts it disrupts so much of their, their mental states and their mental health and well being. And what I've come to learn as I've progressed in my own personal knowledge and understanding of things like interpersonal neurobiology, and brain chemistry, and things of that nature, which, you know, we can go into a whole other podcast episode on that could, is that what trauma does to the brain, it inhibits their ability to form healthy attachments with their caregivers, no matter how loving and compassionate and how much you pour yourself out to them. It takes a certain kind of mentality and framework to be able to look past all of these, what we would see as negative or maladaptive or unhealthy behaviors, and to see the needs that they're trying to express behind them. We didn't fully understand that at first, and we had to, we went through a lot of hardship, which I'm sure a lot of your audience who have gone through foster care and adoption, can empathize with that experience. It's it's been a hard road.

Melissa Bright:

Oh, my goodness, I like so excited even more for our conversation just because of how much you know about all this. So you and I had had a conversation about a month ago on clubhouse because I myself was a little bit uninformed about the difference between adoption and foster parents, I really was I kind of thought that they were one in the same. Never really put much thought to it. So if there's anybody else out there that might be like me, that doesn't really understand what foster parents are. I know you kind of gave a little bit description. But can you explain the biggest difference between what adoption is and fostering and like I said, everybody else in the world might know, but I really didn't think about it too much.

Kibby:

Honestly, there are aspects of foster care that when my wife and I began training, we didn't know. I mean, one of the things I will admit, one of the first things that we did, when we went to our first foster parent training, I was asked how much it costs, and everybody in the room just kind of turned around and looked at us and like, what do you mean costs, you're, you're gonna get paid for this. And we're like, why. And so just to take a step back foster care. As a foster caregiver, you are licensed through a either a private or public agency to provide care for a child who has been separated from their parents. So child welfare systems, whatever nomenclature is used in your particular county has seen a potential danger or neglect or abuse for that child or for that sibling group, and have decided that it was necessary to remove the child or children from that home, in order to go through a process of allowing the biological family to demonstrate that they can then provide a safe and healthy home for that child. Now, that doesn't mean that this was the first call. It doesn't mean that, you know, it could be one call, it could be two, it could be 30 times before a child is actually removed. But for whatever the circumstances may be, that child was removed from their home, in order to determine what needs to happen to demonstrate that that child can or should be brought back into their home. In that interim process, the child needs to be cared for their basic needs the food, and clothing and education, and mental health, all those things need to be cared for. And what most of our country here in the States has moved to rather than placing children into foster facilities like group homes, it they have found it more beneficial to give children a more, for lack of better terms, a normal living experience with a family. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean a mom and a dad that the foster families and foster caregivers look very diverse in many different ways. The difference between that and adoption is a child who is being adopted, has had, there's been a severing of the parental rights, whether that be voluntarily we're a family or a mother gives that child up for adoption, or through the foster care process in which Child Services and the courts have determined this child cannot be placed, reunified with their biological family and need to be in indifferent. A family situation whether it be kinship, you know another member of the family, like a you know, brother or sister or cousin or grandparents or with a loss a licensed parent, whether it be a foster parent or adoptive. And so that's kind of the difference foster care. The best way I can describe it is stewardship. You're stewarding these children, you are caring for them while they wait for a plan of permanency while as with adoption. That is the permanency plan.

Melissa Bright:

Okay, gosh, you explain this. So Well, that makes 100% sense so great with with fostering, is there foster parenting is there ever. I know the end goal, you said is usually to go back with their biological parents. But if in fact that that cannot be the case that they don't ever get to the point where they can go back there, then is the option adoption. That just rhymed? Is that what they would do? In any cases? Yes,

Kibby:

in many cases, that is the case. And that has been the case for us. We have we have had children placed in our home, where the courts eventually decided that permanent custody with from the biological parents would be would be severed and removed. And that custody would be taken by the state at which point the child would be made available to adoption. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that the foster parents would adopt them. There is that is, in most cases, what can happen. It's really up to the the foster parents to say, Yes, we want to keep this child in our home to give them permanency. And so there's a whole there's another kind of stage in the process that has to take place a whole kind of a an application process, if you will, similar to a standard kind of straightforward adoption.

Melissa Bright:

Okay. Does that make sense? That makes great sense. Thank you. So how many kids? Have you fostered? Is that the right way? I think we've had 13 different placements. Okay. 13 different placements and adoption. Have you adopted? We have adopted one so far? Yes. Amazing. So and how long have you you said over the years? How long has it been since you fostered your first child?

Kibby:

Let's see, I believe we started this process, probably about I'll say about 10 years ago was when we first started our trainings and became licensed. So it's been about a 10 year process, and placements can last 24 hours. They can last, you know, two or three years there. It's there's no kind of set answer for how long a foster placement will last. It really depends on the case and the court system. And it can be a very unpredictable process, which in and of itself can create a whole level of secondary trauma for the caregivers for other children in the home, whether they be biological or other foster placements or even children you've adopted out of foster care, there's a level of secondary trauma that can take place as a result of that process. And I think, again, that can be a whole other episode as well, because I think that's something that a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about because in some way to talk about the the negative results on the foster family could be interpreted as painting a less than rosy picture around foster care and we want to be encouraging families to take part in in foster care because it is very, very important and there are foster families that are needed. No matter where you live,

Melissa Bright:

right, am I able to ask that question? Because I know, when we talked last time, you know, you said placement can happen for 24 hours, it can happen for two or three years. If you have somebody that has been living with you that you have formed a relationship a bond with has, you have loved them as your own. And then they, they have to leave, like, that's not your choice. That's kind of what you sign up for fostering. Um, can you kind of talk I mean, that really takes a really, really strong person to to know, like, yeah, there is a potential that I could always be giving up this child, I know my role. But that doesn't mean you're acclimated every time like, okay, I knew my role here. They gotta go now. So can you kind of talk about like you said it has it can have effects on the the caregivers. So what kind of effects has it had, you know, on you? If that's an okay question like you and your family. And I don't want to talk about the negatives because but this isn't a negative. This is kind of just the reality of it, and something that people should consider if they are considering fostering.

Kibby:

I think the most important thing to consider if someone in your audience is currently currently in the process of being a foster parent, or getting licensed to be a foster parent, or is considering foster parenting, the best thing you can do, and this is what we've had to learn the hard way, is, again, understanding trauma, understanding what trauma is what it does to the brain, what it does, to the child's ability to form healthy attachments with their caregivers, how it affects their perception of the way you were trying to parent them. And because that reframes everything, it reframes when when reunification takes place, because I think a lot of us in the foster care space, we feel, again, inhibited to talk about those, that the hardship that takes place when reunification takes place. It's natural, it is healthy. It is, it is biological, for us when a child is living with us, and we are caring for their needs, and we're in relation with them, to feel an attachment to them. And for them neurologically to have a connection to us. I mean, this is what science is telling us about the brain is telling us that not only are we learning things from our primary caregivers, we are learning who we are through their eyes. And so whatever we could see as them being able to regulate themselves and regulate their own emotions, is actually an internalization of me and my wife, and, and their siblings, everything happens in relationship. And when that relationship is sever, or the relationship a child has with their foster caregivers, it is completely natural and healthy, for there to be a pain. Because there is a there is a disruption that took place. And, you know, like it or not, there are a lot of studies out there that have also shown that a disruption in foster care so that a child can be reunified with their biological family can still have some negative mental health consequences down the road. And I think the system needs to have a holistic perspective on that. Yes, there needs to be support for the biological families during the process of discovering whether or not reunification can take place, but also afterwards, both for the foster family and for the biological family to be able to deal in a healthy and constructive way. The the natural consequences of that transition that takes place.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Are you able to? Do you have communication, say, child gets re unified? Is that that's the right is that the right word? We're unified with their biological parent? Are you able to have a relationship with that those biological parents, like if it's, let's say local, or is that something that's not really a thing?

Kibby:

It is a thing, not in all cases. Again, every case is different. Sometimes it depends on the jurisdiction. Sometimes it depends on the biological family because every unification has taken place, then then the foster parents really aren't involved anymore and they don't have the biological parents don't really owe it Anything to the foster family, you know, the foster family is working for the county to care for the child's needs. And so they don't necessarily owe anything whether or not that that feels good to hear that from a foster caregiver. That's kind of the reality of this situation. And, again, that's something that we you sign up for in you accept, because it is about the parents rights, and it's also about what's in the child's best interest. And that's where things can get kind of fuzzy and gray and uncomfortable, and where we need to be having honest discussions about this from every stage, because any system, I mean, any system, whether it be governmental agencies or organizations, they're all they're all based on people and people trying to make rules and decisions based on the best information that they have and their own personal perspectives and biases. And they're not always going to get it right and not everyone's going to be happy with the outcome. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for for changes and improvements to be made. I can't improve everything about the foster care system, whether locally or nationally. But I'm trying the best I can with the platform that I have, and specifically with my mentality around food and cooking, to be able to empower as many people to with whatever time that they have with these children, whether foster or adoptive to give them a healthy experience, and to be able to work past the effects of trauma to create the connection and attachment that's necessary for them to be as healthy and resilient as possible. Yeah.

Melissa Bright:

So let's start let's start talking about the trauma because I feel like this is definitely newer, I feel that a lot of people might have not be not know what really trauma is they might not even realize that they have themselves experienced trauma. They think the only traumatic events that could happen with somebody going off to war. I've talked about this several times. So the first question would be what is trauma? And then the second part of that question is, how did you come to realize, and really start to understand you as a foster parent was really about to start dealing with kids that have had trauma, like hands down, that's what they've been experiencing. Thank you to better help for sponsoring this podcast. I have been using better help for almost a year now. And the progress that I have made in my mental health has been incredible. I just want to tell you, my listeners a little bit about better help to see if it might be a great fit for you. Their mission is making professional counseling accessible, affordable and convenient. So anyone who struggles with life challenges can get help anywhere, anytime. They offer four ways to get counseling, from video sessions, phone calls to live chat and messaging. It's also available worldwide, you will be matched with your counselor and 24 hours or less better help offers a broad expertise in their network. So it provides users with access to specialists, they might not be able to find locally. Financial Aid is also available for those who qualify. So visit better help.com slash bright side of life, that's better help.com slash bright side of life, join over 500,000 people taking charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. And for your first month you're going to receive 10% off by being a listener of the bright side of life. So let them know that I sent you by using the link better help.com forward slash bright side of life. That's better help.com forward slash b r i g h t side of life. The link will also be in the description section of this episode.

Kibby:

I am a chef and a dad, I am not a I am not a licensed clinician or an expert in interpersonal neurobiology or brain chemistry. But I have read a lot of books and I've taken some trainings and I've listened to a lot of podcasts. And there's some great podcasts out there from people who are licensed clinicians and are providing very specific information about trauma and trauma informed care. So I'm sure we can probably throw some of those in the show notes not to throw anything your way. to that. But to my my best description of trauma is a disruption in the brain. It's a it's a physical disruption in the brain. A lot of times when we think of trauma, we think of like a car accident where the you know, the head kind of gets knocked around or maybe you know football injury or something like that, that can be traumatic in the same way that Have a child who was removed from their home, it can be traumatic, or a young person who for for weeks or months or even years have not had their basic needs met, as far as being shown love being fed regularly. Being in close contact with other children, there's a lot of different ways that neglect and abuse can come about. So it's not always just kind of a, a flash in the pan specific moment where trauma can happen. There's such a thing as complex trauma, which has kind of this snowball effect of little things that the result is always the same. The result is that inside a person's brain, there is a disruption or an inhibit a inhibition for what we would consider to be normal neural pathways to be created. And what that does, it creates fear. It creates anxiety, it creates worry, at a very chronic level, we take for granted those of us who have had healthy upbringings and healthy attachments, that we can trust other people that I can trust my wife that I can trust my parents that I can trust, that when I hit the gas on the car, that it's going to move in this direction, there's so many things that are built on trust. And that trust is based on these neural pathways that have been made in our minds over and over and over again, these kind of ruts in the road that we have made, that allow us to live kind of calm, and know that certain things are true. Trauma disrupts that from happening. And the effect of that is just chronic levels of anxiety and worry and frustration that especially for young people is very hard because they don't have the the textual and emotional maturity to be able to express that. And even even I am still coming to grips with being able to express that for myself. So what happens if you have tantrums? You have outbursts? Yep, you have negative behaviors, and some of which can be very unpredictable. And that I believe, I firmly believe is why so many people go into foster and adoptive parenting and leave beyond that they didn't fully understand what trauma does to these children going into the process? Does that make sense? Or kind of follow up questions?

Melissa Bright:

Is that makes 100% sense. I have recently read the book. Have you read the book? What happened to you? By Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey? No, I have it. It's amazing. So Dr. Bruce Perry is a neurological science doctor, something I'm gonna butcher that but it just came out a month ago. And it is literally everything that you were talking about, about the pathways in the brain. And the crazy thing that I discovered in the book is the most times like, if you are two months old, and you are not getting proper care you're being neglected, can have more traumatic effects on you. Then, a 12 year old saying they only experienced trauma for or they experienced trauma for like two years, somebody that is two months old that only experienced it, let's say for a month can be can they grow up complete, I don't want to say completely different. But it can have much more of an effect because of the brain. And this is all the stuff that that book talks about. And something else I wanted to mention is his trauma experiences are different for everybody. And in this book, they gave a really, really good example of what that means. So if you think about a school that's on fire, okay, you're going to have certain amount of people involved, you're going to have the firefighters that are involved, you're going to have the people that were witnessing that the fire was really close to them, maybe perhaps even in their classroom. It was in a kindergarten classroom, let's say. And then the sixth grader down the hall that just hears a fire alarm. So every single one of those people are going to experience this differently. A little kindergartner who sees huge flames coming up in his classroom that are 15 feet high, is going to be scared that something's going to happen to them. Where the firefighter This is his everyday job. He's like, okay, they're flames. I'm going to go put him out. That's not a traumatic experience for him. For the sixth grader down the hall that just heard the fire alarm but doesn't really He's like, okay, like, I just had to go outside. He's not gonna experience as much trauma as that little kindergartner. So when the outside people are like, Oh, well, what's That wasn't that big of a deal. There was just a little fire in the kindergarten classroom. You weren't that little kindergartener that was three feet tall that seeing these huge flames, that it's a different experience. And that's what I feel like. People need to understand about trauma, it is how the person the individual experience themselves, because you might not think that that's a traumatic experience when it absolutely was for that person. And that's really important to comment on.

Kibby:

There's a lot of truth in that. And I think when you begin to understand that, then you realize that when your natural reaction to someone who has experienced something, that when you react and say, oh, it wasn't that bad, that's not really healthy, that's not helping them to move past it. Because a lot of what trauma does, and a lot of what our body does, and our brain does in reaction to events that have triggered something, is this trigger is actually taking us from our, our more logical parts of our brain up in the prefrontal cortex, the more complex parts of our brains where we can think logically and moving us down into the lower parts of our brain, you know, the, what they call the polyvagal. ladder, you're going into your fight and flight and freeze mode. And so much of that is not done intentionally. It is done, just based on your body's sense of attachment and awareness to what's going on around you. Yeah. And when we begin to understand that, and I think, Dr. Dan Siegel's work, and Tina Payne Bryson with the whole brain child and the yes brain have done some great work and helping me to understand that, that there's kind of this spectrum within a child's mind of how much they can handle emotionally, before they become triggered and get sent into these lower parts of their brain where they are kind of losing logical control over things. And we're relying more on their innate kind of gut reactions to things and then you can't judge them for for gut reactions, we have to be able to move, help them work past it, so they can get back into a sense of regulation.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, and two things I want to make sure I don't forget to talk about is regulation. And then the other thing is these these behaviors and these things that you're talking about. So often, kids are late, I don't want to say labeled, but kind of labeled for the way that they're acting or they might have they say they have ADHD, or they have behavioral problems, or Johnny just doesn't listen in class, or he's disruptive or whatever it is. There is more than likely something going on, like, like trauma going on with them. And but people because they don't know and they're not informed. They just think oh, Johnny's just disruptive, he's just a little, for lack of better word shit starter or something. That's not it, there is something has happened to him. Recently, when he was two months old, whatever, that that this is the way he's acting. He might not even he more than likely doesn't understand why he's acting this way himself. But he doesn't know how to verbalize that. I'm telling you, you got to read this book kibby. It's amazing. It explains all these things. And this doctor would, you know, often do these things with him, he found a guy, a kid that had was acting out in school a lot, but only with this one male teacher and he could not understand why, like over and over, he kept getting in trouble. The male teacher would come over to him he'd get really uncomfortable. Through having conversations with this kid, he found out that this teacher was wearing the same cologne that his abusive father wore. And the kid didn't even understand he did not make that correlation at all. So if he doesn't even understand how is anybody else and through that the doctor the conversation, that's what he realized. So it could be things like that. And I just think that's so important to point out to really think about when you see a kid acting out or with these behavioral issues. It can be something much deeper than them just wanting to to act out or

Kibby:

be able to put on these x ray goggles as Robin Goble on her podcast, parenting after trauma, she often describes this, being able to put on X ray goggles and look past behavior and to see the needs behind the behavior. It takes work. It takes effort, it takes discipline. And honestly it takes some vulnerability because it's a lot easier to put the blame on the child and to say that they have a condition that needs to be medicated, it's a lot harder to look past it, and to see what work needs to be done to help them frame their mind in a more healthy fashion. And, you know, in a way that that may seem a little unfair to be able to put that on, you know, on schools and caseworkers and things of that nature. And it may be it's a result of kind of the way things are in our culture right now that more children than ever before are being affected by trauma, that it's almost becoming a epidemic in and of itself, right. And it is hard. And we all have to bond together parents, educators, people in the mental health space, to reform all of our mentalities around how these children are growing up their, their level of healthy attachment, and what those attachment styles look like. So that we can begin to do the hard work of reframing their minds so that they can be of good mental health and resilience, and to thrive independently in society. And it's, it's gonna be a process, but I am so grateful that there are people like you and others in the space that are that are talking about it and normalizing it, so that we can we can start seeing some progress.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, absolutely. Before we get into talking all about your your cooking show and your your podcast, I want to ask you, can you kind of explain what regulate means for people. It's something that I am, I mean, it sounds obvious, but some people might not truly understand what that means. And I just recently learned like, how important being regulated means not even just for little kids, that means for us adults to there, there needs to be regulation. So can you kind of explain that

Kibby:

regulation is the ability to kind of stay calm and focused and be making decisions out of our logical part of our brain, rather than being kind of sent into these these areas of our brain and in our body, where we're not making decisions very clearly. Now, there are some cases when having those kind of instinctual reactions are completely necessary. You know, when a ball rolls in front of your car, you immediately you're you're sent into this, this place where, you know, it's a gut reaction, it's instinctual. And so those are very healthy things. But sometimes it can be very unhealthy, for example, when a child is is having a tantrum, and you're not fully attuned to what's going on in that moment, you personally could be sent into this flight fight or freeze area in yourself flight, meaning, I gotta get out of here, I can't handle this, somebody else take care of it, fight being arguing, yelling, blaming, shaming, go to your room, you know, going even further than that, or freeze, just kind of being in this kind of panic mode of just kind of watching it happen in front of you and saying, I really don't know what to do here. And I can personally say I've been through all three of those stages at various times of my life, or perhaps various parts of this morning. We all have different levels in which we can kind of stay level headed, and our attunement with ourselves in our own emotions. And that can fluctuate throughout the day. It's affected by our metabolism, it's affected by our sleep. And it's affected by the other interactions we've had with people throughout the day, that can affect our attunement with our own state of regulation and how we can offer that regulation to our children. So it's, it's really complex, it can seem complex from the get go. But once you begin to, to understand that language, you begin to see it in yourself. And I think that's been the turning point for me is when I've begun to see it in myself. That's when I can begin to offer something better to my children, because for a long time, I think I'm with a lot of parents, who see children who are acting out and acting out of their trauma, and kind of, in a way, blaming them and saying, well, I've been consistent with the way I've parented you. I've been consistent with the expectations I've had for you. Why don't you get it? Yep. And this whole time, it's about I'm not the one who's been getting it.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah. Yep, exactly. Oh, my gosh. And, you know, it takes a lot of time to learn all this stuff like now just at the age of 35. And being on my mental health journey for the last year. I've learned so much about myself. And, you know, there's a lot of stuff that I probably did wrong with raising my daughter. She's a wonderful child. But there was a lot of stuff that now looking back on how I was raised, I know wasn't the right thing. Some stuff was obvious, like I've talked about before, I really wasn't good with patients. And that's something that I wanted to kind of talk to you about. Because the easiest thing I can remember is like, anytime I was cooking with my daughter, and she didn't get it, or she didn't know how to do something, I would lose my patience. Like, how does she not know? Like, why does she doesn't she understand this? When now looking back? I'm like, why would she know how to cut this? She's never cut an apple in her life ever before? Why would she just know how to pick up a knife and cut an apple, Melissa. But it's kind of noticing yourself to then be able to empathize with with your with your children, because that's been the biggest thing for me is now that I understand myself and my trauma, it's so much easier to look back at how I raised my daughter things I want to do differently. Now even though she is grown. That doesn't mean I still can't change, you know, my parenting habits. But now Okay, now we're going to switch gears. Now we're going to talk all about cooking with kibby. So I want to hear so basically, you have a podcast called cooking with kibby. And it is all where you want to teach parents how to connect with their kids to the art of cooking. How did this whole idea come about that you wanted to have a podcast to kind of mesh both things together of mental health. And also with your cooking background.

Kibby:

It didn't start that way. I had started a podcast cooking with kibby began several years ago, just out of an understanding that I am I'm somebody that is good at putting on presentations and demonstrations, I love to share my passion with food and cooking. And so this goes back several years to back when, you know, back in BC, before COVID when I still had a catering business, and I was doing cooking demonstrations at the farmers market. And I was doing hands on kitchen sessions where groups of people would be cooking and eating together, you know, back in the good old days. Yeah. And and so cooking with kibby began as just an outgrowth of my passion for food and wine to share that with other people. But that has evolved over the years, and I would say even now is evolving to the point where there's probably going to be another transition happening in the very near future. But we'll we'll get to that. So COVID happened March of last year, catering kind of disappeared. overnight. Yeah, eating together, and large groups of people disappeared. So the catering business folded Event Center where we were hosting events and holding kitchen sessions, we we had to leave and sell off equipment and all that good stuff. And I was thrown into a state of trauma personally. Because as the as a chef and as a guy, I really attached a lot of what I do professionally to my own self worth. And honestly to my ability to say that I am a chef like that, that was validation of me being able to even say that I'm Chef kibby. And so that was a really hard transition to go through. And so I retreated back home, to my home kitchen where I felt safe. And where I felt like I had some control over my life that was my place of comfort and control in this out of control experience that I was undergoing. And it was in that process of getting into the kitchen that I began to share more time with with my kiddos in the kitchen, which I had wanted to do for a long time and perhaps my professional pursuits sometimes got in the way of doing that as a caterer trying to make help other people to be present for the people that matter to them oftentimes meant I wasn't as present for my own family. So that in a sense was a blessing in disguise, but also at that same time again, being at home more being present more being more tuned to what was going on in my life. I I reached a point Melissa where I could no longer kind of sweep it under the rug, that that things were hard in our family and that to expect my wife to be able to handle all of this on her own from an emotional standpoint was unfair. And I knew that I had to kind of come off the sidelines come off the bench and begin to take a more active role in helping my family and helping my my biological foster and adoptive children to to Have a healthier life to have the fruit of the Spirit, you know, these, the these signs, these symbols that we had all around our house reminding us of the kind of life that we want to have in Christ, and not experiencing that. And that's when I began to do the research and starting to get the books and listening to the podcasts and doing the trainings. And I would say the thing that really began, that process was learning about tbri, which if you don't know about it, it is trust based relational intervention, I'll send you all the information so you can get more they have their own podcast as well. But tbri is a is a methodology and a framework that absolutely changed our family's life, we have a tbri practitioner, who is our family counselor who works with us on a regular basis, we have a group coaching with her as well. And it's a framework that helped us to understand trauma fully for the first time. And that's what really got me down this rabbit trail of understanding trauma and finding these other people, these other voices in the space. And so I kind of had these two parallel things happening simultaneously, learning more and seeing more of the connecting power of the kitchen, and then also understanding trauma. And all of that kind of came together in a moment. And I mean, a single moment that I can point back to very vividly and I am so blessed, I actually have a picture of this moment of when I had a child, one of my foster adoptive children come up to me and asked me if she could chop vegetable scraps with me in the kitchen, like the waste products of what I was doing for food prep that evening. Yeah. Any other time, I might have said no, for a multitude of reasons. Like that's, that's a waste of time is just going to the chickens, it doesn't matter. It's going to be a distraction, I need to focus, yada, yada, yada, yada. But the attunement had begun to take place in me, God began to speak these things into my heart. And I started to internalize it to the point where at that moment, I said, Sure, kiddo, let's put on an apron, let's get you a cutting board, let's get you a knife that is appropriate for your level of skill. And let's do it. And it was, it was the changing point in my relationship with myself and with my children and with cooking to understand the connecting power that takes place that in that moment, it wasn't about the chicken scraps, it wasn't about her creating the salad that later on that evening, we were just going to toss in the yard for the chickens to eat. It was the connection, it was the modeling. It was the it was the attachment that was coming about as a part of that process. It was the yes that I was giving her to say that you are valid, and that I want you to be present in my life right now. And that is the power that I want to give to everybody who is listening right now. And the great thing about that example, Melissa, is that I didn't have to teach her anything fancy from a culinary standpoint, in order to make that happen. You don't have to be a certified chef, or a culinary instructor or YouTuber, or any of those things, in order to take what you have in your kitchen, and what experience you have had in your life, to be able to create opportunities like that, or to make yourself available to your children through the shared act of cooking, and eating together to begin to form those new, more healthy neural pathways in your child to know that they are safe, that they are loved, that they are valuable, that they are worthy, and that they are capable of doing things. And that's the whole centerpiece behind what I am now transitioning to and creating in what I'm calling cooking is connecting, which is probably going to be the name of a new podcast that should be coming out soon. And is the name of my framework that I'm creating as something that I can actually offer to not only families, but also to train others in the mental health space to help their clients to take advantage of this connecting pattern of power, no matter what your skill level is in the kitchen. Understanding of course, that if you have a therapist or a family that isn't very comfortable in the kitchen, but they've bought into this idea that I can come alongside of them, whether it be through online courses, like my knife skills course, or through group or one on one coaching to be able to answer those questions as well and to take them through that process. You know, kind of being able to wear both hats. So that's kind of where things are right now.

Melissa Bright:

Oh my gosh, that you just worded that So, so beautifully. And it's just incredible to think about and like we all I don't want it's just becoming a Where Of what? What can happen. Like you said, that moment was like probably several other moments that she might have came in and asked, Hey, can I help you cut something? And like you said, you could have dismissed her but something then God was telling, you know, this moment needs to happen. And it's crazy first, because of the pandemic, the pandemic really set people in this total, like panic mode, what am I going to do? We all felt like we lost our identity. It was a scary freakin time. But something that I feel like you and I both have in common, because I started my podcast, too, last year when I was super depressed, and I felt like, what is my purpose here on earth? You know, I didn't feel like it was selling travel. It got us uncomfortable, it got us to ask these questions, something bad had to happen. So we could get out of our comfort zones, which is what we were doing before. And we had to shift, we either had to shift or we were going to sink and we were going to be depressed. And we were going to whatever. And we might have done that for a couple months. But through everything we kind of became aware experiences happen for you, and you're like this, this is what I'm gonna do this is, and it's just beautiful. You know, like, as much as last year was such a curse for people. I'm calling it a blessing. Because if last year didn't happen, would we be what we're where we are now doing what we're doing? I don't know. You know? And that's, that's absolutely beautiful.

Kibby:

Thank you, yeah, you, you don't wish a pandemic on anyone. But to be able to, for lack of better terms, look on the bright side of life, to see what good has come about as a result of it is very rewarding and meaningful. And, you know, it's easy to kind of step back and think, was it necessary? Would I have gotten to this place without it? I don't know. But I'm glad that it happened. And I'm glad for the transformation that has taken place, and that I do now have something that brings me such encouragement and affirmation. And like you said, kind of a sense of feeling like you know, your place in the world, the voice that you have the unique perspective that you have, and how much it could potentially help others to get to that point in their lives?

Melissa Bright:

Absolutely, absolutely. So with your cooking, do you mind if I ask you like what? A couple simple tasks that you could do with your child in the kitchen, child, children, however many you want to do? Like what are some simple things that you could do to help set up whatever if you're looking to I know you're saying connecting, but if you're looking to connect or you're looking to, I know on your podcast, there's stuff like where you can set boundaries where you can do respect. So you want to pick one of those, like whatever goal it is that you're trying to achieve, and what kind of cool things in the kitchen can you do?

Kibby:

Well, there, there's kind of two different directions where we can take this on. So I'm going to take both of them very quickly. First of all, if you're looking for just simple tasks, like actual kitchen tasks to do, I have a list of YouTube shorts that I've put out kind of describing some different tasks that you might be able to do. And some of the benefits in them. You know, things like just scrubbing potatoes, or setting the table or peeling carrots, there's a lot of really simple tasks depending on a child's physical and mental abilities that you can do to begin to take advantage of that process. Alternatively, there is the kind of what I would say is even the more important thing that needs to take place for parents. And that's seeing kind of the developmental assets that we can be giving our children through the kitchen, and what activities we can do to make that happen. And that's kind of the framework behind my cooking is connecting the 20 Day Challenge, which is an email challenge that your listeners can sign up for. And it's also the 20 activities that I'm put together in my most recent series on my podcast. So I'm going through these 20 activities, which I personally did not come up with. It's actually a framework developed by search Institute called the developmental relationships framework. And it's taking these 20 activities that through research they have discovered, are important for a child's mental health and development and resilience and putting them in the context of the kitchen. And so it's not necessarily what what kitchen activity do I need to do. As much as what is the mindset I need to begin to form in myself so that I can see the kitchen in a different way. That's what's happened to have. That's what had to happen to me. Not only getting rid of the negative things like cooking takes too long or it's hard, right? Don't have time, right? Don't have patience and also actually putting a science Some of the good things about it like, it gives me personal fulfillment, and it's something I could do for my, my family and for my kids, and instead looking at through the lens of connection, and I think that's what my cooking is connecting program that I'm putting together will help parents to be able to do, and so that they will be able to see there's a lot of things that they already do and already know how to do that they can begin to use that for a different purpose. Yeah,

Melissa Bright:

so I'm going to ask this question, it might throw you off a little bit, but it's kind of the reality of things. What if parents? Yeah, okay, fair enough? Yeah. What if parents don't have, they're just saying, kibby, I don't, I don't have time, I don't have time to go in the kitchen to I just want to get in and get out, I really don't have time to do connecting in the kitchen. Um, what kinds of things is there simple things they could make, that they could do, that could really still connect with their kids, even if they don't have a lot of time.

Kibby:

I would say to anyone who tells me that they don't have time to cook, I would say they're wrong, I would say that they're coming at it again, from a frame of limiting belief. Now, what I'm about to say is probably going to trigger some people. I'm not I'm not scared to do that. Because it's what needs to happen. If your child, if you talk, if you brought your child to a doctor, or to a mental health professional, and they said, your child has this and in order to help them to move past it, you need to do X, Y, Z, would you? Would you shift your would you shift your priorities? Would you shift the way you spend your time and your resources in order to give that child what they need? I think most parents would say yes, absolutely. I firmly believe that if you want to heal your child from from trauma and build a deeper sense of connection, that cooking cooperatively with them on a regular basis, putting these connecting activities into practice, will create results in your family. And we all have the same amount of time every day. It's just how we prioritize that time how we create balance in that time. And so it's not a matter of having time, it's a matter of how you're going to make that time. And I can't answer that for every family, you know, every family has, as different things going on. And so it's a matter of not starting from a from a place of what recipe can I give you? It's how can I help you to reframe the kitchen and the benefit, the power that it can give you as a mother, as a father as a foster adoptive caregiver, to be able to create an environment where that child can experience healing? If you've bought into that concept, then everything else is just kind of falls into place.

Melissa Bright:

Yeah, that's such a great answer. And it's such a great answer. And the one thing I mean, it might not be able to happen every single day, you know, people have sports and all kinds of stuff. But even one one day out of the week, and I'll tell you, my boyfriend, so he owns a painting business, and he's extremely busy. And he's out all the time. And he like he's tired. So I'm doing most of the cooking, which is unfortunate because he is way better cooker than I am. But I've accepted it he he owns a painting business. He can't do it all. But when we do grill when we're outside grilling together, or we're making a meal together, or whatever. I mean, there was a time where we made Beef Wellington that took I swear to God, like four hours because we did a whole elaborate thing. It was a whole meal, drank two bottles of wine, I will never forget that meal. We had so much fun making it, we had no idea it was gonna take four hours, but we were at our kitchen for literally four hours. And it We had so much fun, literally to the point where we asked his parents, Hey, can we make this meal for our Christmas dinner this year, like we'd love to make it for you guys and go and have two more bottles of wine. But it's just, I mean, how important it is to even meet for like relationships, adults to have that cooking time with them. Imagine what it can do for for children that are really trying to seek out anything from their parents, you know, just that one on one time and you got to cook anyway. Why not? involve your kids with it?

Kibby:

Yeah, I think for too long, we've overlooked the relational aspect, not just a food, which is again where I was earlier on in my career, but the actual process of cooking and the power that that gives to us as people and I think our children realize it because I've seen it time and time again. If my child simply set the table or you know, scrub the potatoes Ito's they will take ownership of the entire meal, they will say, Oh, I helped. Yep, it is so incredibly powerful. And again, it's just something so simple and so powerful. I don't know what parent would not want to have that as a part of their their arsenal of tools in order to give this child the the the mental health and resilience that we all really desire for our train.

Melissa Bright:

Right? Because at the end of the day, boy, you keep saying it's not about the food that's on the table. It's about everything that comes other than the food, the relationships. And just really quickly, I'll never forget my daughter's 19 now, but when she was a little kid, my stepdad and her made pancakes every single Saturday morning, and they always had this secret ingredient. And nobody can know what the secret ingredient was. All it literally was, was a little squirt of lime juice, just so my daughter felt important to be putting in this secret ingredient. I mean, it didn't make them taste any different. But she got to go in the fridge and she got to get it out. And she got to put in the secret ingredient that grandpa letter, she still talks about that to this day, and she's 19 years old. That's what she got to do with her grandpa every Saturday. Pancakes don't take long to make it all. But she loves it and she'll remember it forever, you know.

Unknown:

And that's what's the other great thing about that is it doesn't have to be even a positive experience. It can be a negative experience, you could have something threw up in the kitchen. But if you're doing it from a lens of connection with your child, it actually gives you the opportunity to allow them to empathize with you. I mean, how often do I get an opportunity to screw up in front of my kids to model how I am regulating myself or better yet to give them an opportunity to empathize with me and to help me work things, the power that that gives to us to give them those coping skills and mechanisms and ability to empathize with us as their caregivers. I, I can't say it enough, Melissa. It's just I am so honored and so blessed that I have come to this realization, and that I have platforms like yours to be able to share that with other people.

Melissa Bright:

I love it. I love it. I love it. So really quickly, what kind of things do you cover on your podcast cookin with kibby.

Kibby:

Right now, as we're recording this in the middle of the summer time of 2021, I am in the process of wrapping up this 20 part series on the cooking is connecting framework. When that framework comes to an end, there is a good chance that I'm going to be putting at least a pause if not a complete halt on the cooking with kibby podcast. And moving into this new direction of kind of fully embracing this idea of cooking is connecting, creating a podcast around that I am creating a family workbook that will take these activities and practices into something concrete an actual workbook that can be either downloaded or at some point hopefully purchased as an actual book that parents can use to say, you know, these are the activities available to us. Let's put it on the calendar. This is what we're going to do. This is the mindset I want to have as we move into this week of cooking and eating together. And then from there, creating a training that again, I can give or offer to families, to agencies to mental health workers, to kind of help them to frame their minds and their approaches from a trauma therapy standpoint, around the power of connecting through the kitchen. And I'm really excited. I'm really excited about what the future holds. And I'm so I'm so blessed that there's so many people that I'm speaking to on podcasts like yourself and others in the mental health space that have offered me so much encouragement in making this transition and taking this leap of faith and really putting myself out there and stepping into my into my truth if you will. Yep and making this making this framework making this concept available to as many people as possible. So at this present time you can still find me on all the socials and at cookin with kibby calm. I'm sure you'll leave a link in the show notes. Yeah, but expect there to be some changes along the way.

Melissa Bright:

Awesome. And then when those changes happen, I will absolutely update the show notes to go along with his his new adventures that he'll be doing with is it connecting his cook no cooking is connect cooking is connecting? Yes. And so I'll make sure I update all of those. But in the meantime, where all Can people connect with you. And then also I know you mentioned is your 20 day email thing is that available yet

Kibby:

Yes, it is available, you can find it on my website cooking with kibby. calm. That's also where you'll find information about my podcast, my YouTube channel. Also have a one online course that's available for folks. It's called knife skills for busy families. It's a 10 week course, one menu every week videos that walk you through the skills to make it super easy to kind of incorporate into your weekly process of cooking and eating together. And that's where you can also sign up for my email list so that you can be notified when these transitions are taking place. And of course, as you already know, you can slide into my DMS on Instagram.

Melissa Bright:

Yes, and just really quickly KB is spelled k i BB y, just in case I don't know if anybody thinks it might be with the seat. But I just want to make sure you if you have trouble finding it, that's what it is. I just have one last question for you, kb. And I asked all my guests this, what does the bright side of life mean to you?

Unknown:

I think it's very similar to what we talked about with with trauma, it's being able to look past what's happening, and see the the meaning and the purpose behind it, the knees, the beard is being expressed. And how we can meet those needs more fully. It's its attunement, seeing things in perspective. And for me personally, as someone who has come to know and love and accept the love that God has given me, and the experience of salvation through through Jesus, it is living that out and seeing life from that perspective, that connection is something that was intended from very beginning. And suffice it to say that, my my mindset around life is framed by my relationship with with God, and that that connecting power that was knit into us and into our minds, has, has really informed everything that I do. And I want to share that with my family and with everyone with whom I come in contact. And understanding trauma has actually given me a deeper faith and a deeper ability to share that love with others. And I'm so grateful for that.

Melissa Bright:

kb you are doing such amazing things, I am so happy that you are stepping into your truth because you are really, really helping so many people, so many families, so many kids. So I want to thank you for taking the time to come onto my show to share what it is that you're doing. Because I was like, I gotta get him on my show. I love what he's doing. It's amazing. And you are just doing wonderful things. So thank you.

Kibby:

Thank you. That means so very much to me. And I've really enjoyed this conversation.

Melissa Bright:

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the bright side of life. I hope you enjoyed cubies and I's conversation. I was extremely honored to have him on my podcast because he is truly making the world a better place. And he is doing so by living his purpose. He brought up so many great points about the connection of cooking and how it can play such a big role and the relationships we have with our kids, especially if those kids have experienced any kind of trauma. And if you would like to check out all of the amazing things kibby is doing. Maybe you want to take his course or sign up for his 20 day challenge or listen to his podcast. You can do all of that at cookin with kibby calm and that link will be in the show notes. If you would like to share any of your thoughts on today's episode, feel free to reach out to me at the bright side of life podcast calm and as always, if you know someone that may need to hear Kebbi story, please share it with them because we never know if this is the one that puts hope back in their heart.

Chef Kibby

Chef / Instructor / Content Creator

If you don’t know Chef Kibby, he’s a professional chef, culinary instructor, and online content creator. He has combined his 25 years of food experience with 12 years as a biological, foster, and adoptive parent to create Cookin’ with Kibby, a personal brand dedicated to demonstrating the connecting power of cooking and eating with our children. He has a YouTube channel, a podcast, online courses, and so much more.