Ep 118: Lying, Stealing, and Power Struggles

Episode Summary

Paul Podolsky, author of Raising a Thief, goes in depth on his journey raising a traumatized daughter. Paul describes how to spot the signs and tells us what parents can do to help troubled teens heal and transition into adulthood.

Show NotesParenting ScriptsInterview TranscriptGuest Bio

Full Show Notes

With teens  dangling somewhere between childhood and adulthood, it can be hard to negotiate control as a parent–control over how late they can stay out, how much time they spend doing their homework, how much junk food they eat. Although they’re not kids anymore, they likely still live under your roof, meaning things can sometimes get heated when it comes to setting the rules.

In certain cases, this battle over control can drive your kid to do some seriously bad stuff. When they feel powerless, they might turn to stealing, lying, and emotional manipulation to reclaim their sense of authority. 

Today I’m talking to Paul Podolsky, author of Raising a Thief: a Memoir. Paul is here to talk about what happens when kids take their need for control too far. After he and his wife adopted a six month old child from Russia, they discovered that they were in for more than they bargained for. Paul has a lot to teach us about the psychology of control, and how to work through the power struggles you might be having with your kid.

By telling his own personal parenting story, Paul shines light on why teens sometimes feel powerless, what causes this troubling crisis of power in kids’ heads, and what you can do to gain back the control in your home.

Paul’s Powerful Story

When Paul’s daughter began stealing things from her Pre-K classroom, lying through her teeth and even exposing herself to other members of the class, Paul and his wife just weren’t sure what was going on. After adopting her at just six months old, they had provided her with a loving home and had raised her just like any other young girl…so why was she acting up so much? It turns out, the problems could be traced back to before the young girl was adopted.

Although Paul and his wife knew that their daughter had been through some rough times before being placed in an orphanage, they didn’t know just how deeply affected she was. Because this trauma occurred for such a brief period of her life, and because she was now in a safe and stable home, Paul and his wife were certain that the psychological damage wouldn’t be so deep. 

However, because her birth mother failed to feed or hold her, she developed a feeling of stress and instability that would lead to a lifetime of control issues. Because her trauma was created so early in her life and was so severe, it’s effects were irreversible. When she was nine, a doctor diagnosed her with reactive attachment disorder. Over the next few years, the problems became so intense that they had to place her in a specialized institution. 

Although he’s been on a challenging journey, Paul is here to educate and share what he learned along the way.  He wants parents to be aware of signs that their kid might have some deeper issues that need to be taken care of. In the episode, he talks further about his daughter’s troubling childhood, before dissecting just what is going on inside the heads of kids like her.

How Trauma Leads to Trouble

So why would a kid who’s experienced trauma want to steal, lie, and cause a ruckus? It goes beyond just a need for attention, Paul explains. When a kid takes something that isn’t theirs, they suddenly have control over the situation, of the item they’ve taken. When they lie and twist the narrative in their favor, they’re able to reclaim power. It’s about filling a void, says Paul. 

Even if they’re only causing a small, inconsequential disruption, they’re able to feel powerful for a brief period of time. For many kids who’ve felt powerless or like they’ve been mistreated, causing trouble is a way for them to strike back at the world. 

In the episode, Paul shares a story that demonstrates this unhealthy need for control. His family planned to go to the beach, with the ultimatum that his daughter had to finish her homework. Because his daughter had a fixation with control, she dawdled through her homework while her family waited, enjoying the power she held over them. 

You may have found yourself in a similar situation, like when a kid just won’t stop screaming until they get ice cream. Paul talked about how he didnt’ know what to do. If she kept them from going to the beach, she won. If he said, “forget the homework, let’s just go,” then she also won.

Paul reveals in the episode how he eventually put an end to the situation. It has a lot to do with remaining ambivalent, so as to restrict your child from gaining too much power over you. 

Sound difficult? It is. Paul shares how he often struggles with it, and how you can take steps to make this process easier on yourself. In addition to ambivalence, Paul shares some other actions and preventative measures parents can take when kids become manipulative.

Parenting through the Problems

Dealing with kids who act this way is no easy task. Paul says that if these types of behaviors are occurring regularly and causing serious damage to your family, you shouldn’t be afraid to seek help. He recalls checking his daughter into an institution when things were getting far too difficult for he and his wife to handle alone, and how it was tough because it made him feel like a failure. However, when he realized she would be with professionals who knew how to help her, he was able to understand just how necessary it was.

Paul also recommends unity with your partner, if you have one. By binding together, the two of you create a stronger force. Manipulative kids might target one parent to try and pull you apart, creating a rift and weakening your power. But by listening to and valuing your partner’s opinions, and having their back in a tough spot, Paul believes you’ll be able to keep your family in better shape.

Another important thing Paul says to remember is to always be blunt with kids who act up. If you dilly dally around the point, you’ll create more of an opportunity for kids to make excuses or tell lies. Additionally, you’ve got to have kids meet you halfway, says Paul. If they’re not putting in the effort, then you have to show them that you won’t do it all for them. In the episode, Paul talks extensively about what he and his wife did on a daily basis to mitigate their daughters manipulative behaviors.

There’s so much to deal with, Paul expresses, and it’s ok to not always have a perfect day. No matter the kid, parenting is tough. All you can do is love unconditionally and work to make sure your kids are as happy and healthy as possible.

In the Episode…

We’re so glad to have Paul on today’s episode to share his story and give advice for what to do when kids struggle with control. In addition to the topics above, we talk about:

  • Why it can be hard for troubled kids to get accurate diagnoses
  • How to detect Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • How we can prevent these behaviors from developing in the first place
  • Why it can be very effective to present kids with choices
  • What  Paul’s relationship is like with his daughter now that she’s in adulthood

While kids might act out when feeling powerless, there’s ways you can challenge their difficult behavior. If you liked what Paul had to say, check out his bio for links to his website and social media. Thanks for listening and see you next year!

Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of what to say to your teen

1. Hold firm to your rules and boundaries even when you’re triggered:

“This is hard for me, and still things stand. If you’re not doing the homework, I’m just gonna sit here and be quiet for a little bit and work through that. But it still stands, Mom and I have agreed that no homework, no beach.”

-Paul Podolsky

2. Connect healthy eating choices to freedom and safety:

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Complete Interview Transcript

Andy: The book is Raising a Thief: A Memoir, and it’s a story of you really struggling with your adopted daughter and her lying and stealing and this really emotional rollercoaster ride that you’re taken on. Trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on with this and why is she doing this and how can I be the best parent I can be for her? And I found a lot of, there’s actually psychology in here. You go into some of the theorists, who have done work on attachment and issues like this and you have some really interesting insights about parenting and about dealing with difficult kids like this, and also really beautifully written. So can’t wait to talk all about that and more. Can you just orient us a little bit on where you come from and what inspired you to write this book?

Paul: Sure. My name is Paul Podolsky and I always was actually interested in stories and writing a story, but I didn’t feel like when I graduated college, I had anything to write about. I don’t know how thoughtful people write books in their twenties, because there are people who do, but I couldn’t.

Paul: So, I basically said, “Well, I need to go out on an adventure and then I will have material to write this book.” So the adventure I went on, is when I graduated college, it was a same year that the Soviet Union was collapsing. And while, for younger people, the Soviet Union is like a matter of history. For me, it was something I grew up with. It was like North Korea was covering half the world and I was really interested to go there and see what it was like.

Paul: So I did go on an adventure, but I also, the process of living there for three years, met my wife and had a son. And so I got plenty of material to write about, but what I came back, I needed to support a family and I was worried that the book wouldn’t provide any money. And so I went to graduate school and worked initially as a reporter. And then I worked in finance for 22 years to raise my family.

Paul: We wanted to have a bigger family. Couldn’t have a second child on our own and are also, were really in favor of adoption, just as a process. So we adopted a wonderful, charming 16 month old girl, from a place called Kaliningrad, Russia and took her into our home and then raising her turned out to be way, way harder than my wife or I had ever bargained for. And so as the kids got older, that desire to tell a story was still very strong in me. And I was like, “Well, the materials right in front of me, I just have to get the ideas and put them down.”

Paul: And you’re right. It’s a story about a child who was treated terribly, before we adopted her. She was starved. She turns out to be very difficult to raise for reasons we can get into. And we went on a discovery process of how early trauma can really jangle a kid’s nerves and how you parent such a kid. And I didn’t feel like the story was well told or if it was told it was sometimes a very academichy type of books. And I wanted a story that both parents who are dealing with this and people like you, who I’m guessing do not have a reactive attachment disorder kid at home could access and understand and know what it was like to be at our shoes. So that’s why I wrote it.

Andy: You mentioned in here that you were her fourth home, so she’d been bouncing around for those 16 months. And what, what did you know when you got her, about what her past was?

Paul: Yep. So, she was born in what’s called a communal apartment in Russia. So, this is for basically the poorest people in Russia. You have a shared kitchen and everybody has their own rooms, a shared bathroom too. That’s where she was born and her birth mother, and we don’t know why, did not feed her. So for anybody to spend time with an infant, you know that the most basic needs for an infant is basically to be held and fed.

Paul: And our daughter did not experience this. She almost died. She was screaming so loudly that the neighbors called the police on the birth mom, saying something terrible is going on. Having spent three years in Russia and my wife having grown up in Russia. The police in Russia, certainly at that time are not very hands-on, “Well, we’re going to come in, be helpful.” For them to remove a child from the home, means it’s desperate.

Paul: So, they took the child from the mom. They put her in a hospital, where she could recover her weight at also she was struggling with pneumonia. And then she went from there to an orphanage. And that’s where we met her. You’re not told that much about a child when you adopt. The adoptive people get a lot of information about adoptive parents, which makes sense because you’re very concerned about the child being in a safe home. So when we adopted, the court system in Russia and the social service agency who gave us the okay in the United States, they knew everything. They had a binder, three inch thick. School records, tax records, employment records, every possible piece of documentation about a person that can be put down on paper, they had. What we knew from our daughter, from speaking with a person who was our escort in the city of Kaliningrad, was those facts I’ve shared with you and not much more.

Paul: And so, when we adopted our daughter, she seemed wonderful. She was chubby and cheerful and smiley. And the first night we were all the same room in Kaliningrad, she was playing peek-a-boo with us at night. So she seemed very, very convivial and we were elated. And then when we brought her back to the United States, we were living in Boston at the time. We had her checked out by a team of people at Boston Children’s Hospital. And they also said, “Oh my goodness, you’re so fortunate. She’s healthy.”

Paul: So, we considered ourselves blessed. But soon after that, we began to notice peculiar things with her behavior. And that really were different than what our biological son was like. And so, that is really where the questions began. And this began almost on day one, but because we never dealt with a severely traumatized child and it turns out many of the professionals we looked for help for, also had not dealt with it. They didn’t recognize what was going on. And reason number one I wrote the book, was to try to tell a story that would stick in people’s minds, clinicians, and parents, to help them recognize the signs early on. Because like anything else, half the battle is getting the appropriate diagnosis. And the earlier you can get the diagnosis, the better. If you’re treating somebody for a broken arm, when in fact they have a broken leg, you’re going to run into problems.

Andy: Yeah. So some of these early signs that you talk about in the book, there’s a lot of things happening, but one thing is the stealing starts.

Paul: So, kids like this, will try to control what they can. Which makes sense actually, because early on, when a child is in distress and the parent is holding the child and calling them, that gives the child trust in the world. And this is my theory. This is what leading psychiatrists and also now, that they can do MRIs and brain scans of kids, they can see that if you don’t hold a child, you begin to see a deterioration in these faculties early on. Little kids, of course don’t have much they can control, but they can control what they put in their mouth. And often what comes out the other side. So very early on, she ran away from us and also would either refuse certain things like refuse to drink or on the other side would eat so much, that she would literally vomit, because her body would reject the food.

Paul: These were the early sides of her internal system, the wiring being off and her operating at a reality of deep deprivation that didn’t exist. Adding on to that, once she started going to pre-K, which we put her in, because we were like, “Well, maybe socialization will help her.”

Andy: Yeah. Get her around some other kids.

Paul: Exactly. And other caretakers and stuff like that. She began to steal. And the stealing is an effort also to exert control and leverage over her situation, because it turns things upside down. And this kid becomes the person who’s organizing everything as opposed to the kid who’s participating in it. The other thing about her is that when you’d ask her about the stealing, she would lie beautifully. So much so that you begin to think that you’re going crazy.

Andy: “Am I crazy?”

Paul: Exactly. And you also don’t want to be… Listen, you are talking about a four year old, a three year old, you don’t want to be a hammer, you ought to be gentle. But then they’re telling you. But then the school saw her, caught her red handed doing it. And she would literally wait until the kids napped, wait till the caretaker she thought were out of the room, and then she would get out of her cot and go start to steal stuff from kids.

Paul: And it’s amazing. Another thing that she did early on is, of course, very young children know about the concept that there’s certain parts of their body that are private, that you might take a bath. So she would expose herself both to neighbors and to pre-K. Again, this is a shocking thing that scares other kids. They know what’s not supposed to be done and she would be caught in it. And that she would be caught literally red-handed with her pants down. And then she would stare at the caretaker’s person at her pre-K and say, “I didn’t do it.”

Paul: So, one of the symptoms of this early on, is you begin to get crazy lying. On the one hand it a little kid, it’s not that threatening, but on the other hand, it really is a side of very, very deep pathology. And the key thing is getting this diagnosis of attachment disorder, would have helped. We didn’t get it until she was nine. This whole time, when she began to do this, we began to reach out. We are just two parents, trying to raise two kids. And they didn’t recognize it.

Paul: Now, why they didn’t recognize it, is fascinating. Because, kids who are going to be more likely to experience this, are people who are experiencing massive disruption.

Andy: Another thing that you point out that I found really interesting about how she would gain leverage and these power struggles that started so early on. And one of them was where you’re trying to find a consequence that would click with her. And so, you tell her you’re going to take away her prized stuffy from her bed. And she just looks you straight in the eye and says, flatly, “I never liked it anyways.” And so she’s programming herself not to get attached to anything, because anything that she gets attached to, then you can take it away. And that gives you leverage over her. And so even from this very early age, she’s already starting to detach so that you will never be able to have the upper hand over her.

Paul: Correct, correct. So your normal connection with the person, and again, this stuff can seem like you’re on Mars, if you haven’t experienced it.

Paul: And I would have had trouble believing this stuff, lest I’ve seen it firsthand. By the way, you can look, there’s groups on Facebook, for reactive attachment disorder parents in the United States and the UK. There’s thousands and thousands of families dealing with this type of thing.

Paul: You’re right, that they shield themselves from exactly this type of experience, because they don’t want to experience that pain. Normally, your connection with another human being is your leverage. So for our son, we experienced very high levels of trust early on. Not because we were exceptional parents, we just did what most parents do with the young kid, which is you hold them, you feed them, you play with them. And I was, as a first time dad, not thinking I was doing anything particularly exceptional.

Paul: It literally changes the wiring of these kids. Because of our experience, I wrote a book about this. My wife changed careers and became a licensed marriage and family therapist. And now she is sought out, all over our area, by people that are dealing with this. It’s not only parents of adopted kids. So, if you think about parents are military deployment, kids who are losing parents due to COVID. This is a very widespread thing. And the parents shorthand to the likelihood of a kid having this is A, the timing, when it occurs and B, the severity of the trauma they undergo.

Paul: So I had thought that, “Hey, this happened to her before she’s 16 months old. Everybody has difficult things in their lives.” “Everybody has difficult stuff. Life isn’t easy.” But I had thought, “Well, because it happened so early, we bring her into a home. We love her. We do a bunch of family activities.” Presto, it’s solved. And, “Hey, by the way, my wife had to some degree… Me like everybody else, we’d had some difficult things happen in our lives.” I mention in the book, my wife had been kidnapped, as a child, in Pakistan. And so I was like, “Listen, she’d bounce back from this. We can do…” But it turns out we were wrong and overconfident.

Andy: Yeah, right.

Paul: What the research shows, is that the early stuff actually disrupts the brain more.

Andy: That first year [of life] is so important for your confidence [in the safety of the world].

Paul: Critical and even pre-natal. So one big public policy thing that came out of this was… I know it’s a long-winded answer to your question is… Boy, an ounce of prevention is worth pounds and pounds of cure. Because once the kid is like this, they have this strange wiring. And you said it. You said, she said, “I never liked stuff anyways.” That, literally she’s staring at me. I’m like, “You think about a small kid, I’m taking away your stuffy. Most kids would burst into tears.” And she looks at me absolutely flat, cold and says, “I never liked it anyway.”

Andy: “Don’t care.” Yeah.

Paul: It’s brilliant.

Andy: So brilliant.

Paul: It’s brilliant, unless you want to have a happy life.

Andy: So cunning and manipulative.

Paul: Yeah. And cunning and manipulative. And she’s so quick at the stuff, which is so strange, because if you measure a kid’s IQ. Her IQ has been measured. She sort of has an absolutely average IQ, but in the areas of manipulation, it’s like evil genius. And you just wonder, “Boy, could you direct it elsewhere?”

Paul: And I say the title of the book is a little bit provocative. Some people are like, “Wow, raising a thief. How can you say that?” And I said, “Well, you know, it’s metaphorical for a bunch of things, but I want it to be a little bit shocking.” Because, I want it to engender a degree of empathy for the parents and the families and the kids that are all dealing with this.

Paul: Because in addition to the challenges of raising this kid, you run into a lot of, “Well, every kid lies. Every kid steals.” Yes, kids do lie and kids do steal, but what distinguishes these kids, is that they don’t lose the behaviors. They don’t grow out of them. And they also don’t know another way of engaging with you. It’s not like they switched to warm and loving and trusting. There is always an angle.

Andy: Yeah. For, if they are acting that way, what are they trying to do? What’s the–why are you–there’s something going on.

Paul: Yeah. Which is also a very challenge. Think about your close relationships. It’s very hard to have a relationship with somebody, when you have to begin assuming that they’re not telling you the truth, all the time.

Andy: Right. I love this line that you have on page 115; Parenting was predicated on feeling, that the kid and parent both felt something intensely strong for each other. Indifference or in her case, antipathy is ruinous to a family. Just so important, the bond. And when there isn’t just the fundamental level of caring or connection, what do you do? That’s what everything is built on.

Paul: Yes. A lot of people ask that and like you, I found podcast incredibly powerful technique to share information. So I created a podcast related to the book called: Things I didn’t learn in school. Because this was a big thing, I didn’t learn in school. And on it, I’ve had a number of mental health professionals who have way more expertise in this than I do. I’m just a dad. And one thing they will tell you, is that you cannot offer a blanket prognosis for kids like this. It’s too individual. You really need to look at the specifics. And it depends on so many factors. How resilient is the kid? Is there fetal alcohol syndrome? Do they have other interests that pull them out of this? What’s the family structure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Andy: Yeah.

Paul: But, I think what you do is a couple of broad things. A, do you try to prevent it in the first place? And I don’t think this is like a left right issue. I think that parents all over the political spectrum would be like, “Listen, investing in early childhood, doesn’t cost a lot, compared to other things.” And the return on invest… We invest a lot more on old people, than we do at young people. A lot more. Look at Medicare’s budget compared to early childhood. So, that’s prevention is first thing.

Paul: Second thing is diagnosis. You want to get this word out to clinicians? I would love for this type of people to read this book so that when they see it, particularly in certain communities and in our area, there hasn’t been big Wars and disruptions for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s fallen from people’s memory, even though there’s a rich literature about this. So diagnoses, again.

Paul: Then things that I think that you can do very different depending on the kid. I’d say early childhood is number one, awareness of clinicians is number two. And then, as the kids get older, I think you really need a total surrounding environment to try to strengthen these kids.

Paul: I talk in the book, I did a lot of adventures with Nicole, hiking and skiing and surfing. That was great. But what would have made a big difference is if I’d had the cooperation and attention of her swim team, of her counselor at school. Of her school teacher, of the parents of other families, because a lot of those people, frankly, doubted this. And when we asked for…

Andy: Hey, she seems great. She’s really independent. And she’s a really…talks very mature.

Paul: All superficial charm and they wouldn’t help out. And so we were, as you know, reading the book, we took the step at nine, of institutionalizing her. But I think that, that possibly could have been avoided, if the community were much more attentive to actually saying, “Wait a minute, Paul, Marina have got a real bundle they’re dealing with. They need help.”

Andy: Talk to me about that decision to institutionalize. And specifically you talk about the conversation, where you have to break the news to Sonya. What was that like?

Paul: Oh, it was so heartbreaking. And finally, when I dropped her off at the school, as I write about it in the book, I just wept and wept and wept. Like I hadn’t wept really, since I was a small child. I had no idea that residential treatment even exists. But basically the concept is, “Listen, if you get very sick with a terrible infection, you’re going to be hospitalized.” People know that if they don’t get better, seeing their primary care physician, there are higher threshold facilities for physical ailments, for cancer, for whatever.

Paul: The same thing exists in mental health. And what happened with us is that she began acting worse and worse and worse. And we felt like she was spinning out of control. And our counselor we were seeing said, consider residential treatment. Residential treatment is basically a combination school / mental health facility. And what they can do there is exert way more leverage on a child than you ever could as a parent.

Andy: Right.

Paul: It’s complete environment and following really my wife’s lead, she said, “I think that she needs this.” We found a spot in New Mexico. We took her out there, for preteen girls. And once we were there, that was the first time that we were like, we’re not crazy. First of all, the people out there, very well-educated credentialed.

Paul: They have consulting, literally with the lead trauma person, I think, in the United States. With Dr. Bruce Perry. He would call in and help them on cases, et cetera. And they also were like, “Oh, she’s a classic case.” It was like, “Oh, she is?” I was like the first time, I didn’t feel that I was totally goofing off.

Paul: But the process of taking her out of our home was so hard, because I remember in the book, when the adoption papers were signed and the woman handed her to be at 16 months, in Russia, at night. And she said in Russian to me, she goes, “[speaking Russian].” Which is ‘protect and hold her.’ And I took that as my mission. I never distinguished between her and my biological son. I still don’t, to this day. And then when we dropped her off, it was like admitting defeat. It was like, we’re up against something here, bigger than I know what to do with. And then once she was there, they said, not only did she have attachment disorder, they said that she has a pretty severe case.

Andy: Something I found interesting was a quote that you put in here from John Bowlby, which says, “Stealing not only enriches one’s self, but impoverishes and hurts others.” And that was a revelation for you. Why is that?

Paul: I was trying to… So, Bowlby is the one I mentioned. He’s the psychiatrist of the 1930s, who first creates this. And he has this unbelievable study. This book here, 44 Juvenile Thieves, which is his, their characters and home lives. So this is the original books that he writes, where he is studying these kids. And at the time, everybody’s in the thrall of Sigmund Freud and they’re like, “Well if kids are stealing, they’re doing it because of repressed sexual fantasy.”

Paul: And he goes, “Well, let’s interview them.” And then he interviews them. And he goes through all their case studies, I share some of them in the book. But he’s like, “No, this kid lost their mother. This kid lost their father. This person’s caretaker got terrible things happening to people.” And he realizes that the stealing is a characteristic of these children. They go stealing right away and he hypothesizes about what the stealing accomplishes.

Paul: And it’s really a way of striking back at the world. And it’s very pathological, because the stuff our daughter stole, until she became an adult and then she committed a more serious theft and was actually charged for the felony once she was already over the age of 18. But the stuff she stole was very, very inconsequential, generally, constantly stealing money and food and misplacing phones and stuff like that. But it is a way to hurt the world. And what Bowlby made sense of it is, “Listen, somebody had done a great injustice to my daughter early on. True. It’s not my daughter’s fault. She was treated terribly and lots of kids get treated so awfully. It’s ugh.” And then, there’s a response back to the world. And the response back is, a little bit of an F you, to the rest of the world. And that’s a great way of executing it.

Paul: And particularly again, what can the kid control to strike back? And it asks a lot of a parent, because when you’re getting robbed, you have to have that higher level person in you. Well, this is what a traumatized kid does, but I think that the parent tries their best, but to stay calm relentlessly when you’re targeted is very, very, very hard. But that’s why I thought the Bowlby comment was so insightful.

Paul: The other comment that I put in there, that I found insightful and I’ve shared on a few chat rooms, is: To write this memoir, I read a lot of memoirs. And one of them I read is Gandhi’s. And Gandhi, the father of non-violence, describes losing his cool with a kid in South Africa. And I wondered if, reading the book, could this kid have had an attachment disorder. A kid, cause Gandhi would let any kid into a school and was teaching him. The kids were being, I guess, behaving terribly and Gandhi freaks out and smacks one of the kids with a ruler. And I was like, listen, if the father of non-violence lost his cool…

Andy: Right. The most Zen person on the planet.

Paul: These kids can really turn you upside down. And I think Bowlby hit the nail on the head, when he described what the social function of the robbing is.

Andy: Hmm. And that’s also a form of manipulation, if they can make you so angry and you lose your cool, then they win. And they beat you.

Paul: Yes.

Andy: And it’s just like playing a game of chess kind of, but it’s emotional. It’s emotional manipulation. And yeah, when you don’t have that much control, any of those ways that you can gain upper hand are really appealing.

Paul: Oh my goodness, they are. And I thought I was so impressed by people at the school. About how Zen they were with dealing with the kids and some of the tricks they used. And I see with my wife now, it’s a lot easier to do when it’s not your kid.

Andy: Yeah. When you can detach that a little bit extra that’s… Yeah.

Paul: My wife, she gets these rad families. Because, it’s confidential, I don’t know anything about the specifics. But, she comes back. I’m like, “How was work?” “Work was fine.” But dealing with our own daughter, I spoke with her yesterday. It’s tough.

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About Paul Podolsky

Paul Podolsky is the author of the memoir, Raising A Thief. For over 20 years he worked on Wall Street, most of that time with Bridgewater Associates, a macro hedge fund. Prior to that he worked as a journalist where his writing appeared in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and aired on National Public Radio. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. In 2020, Paul retired from Bridgewater and launched the podcast, Things I Didn’t Learn in School. He has also contributed opinion pieces to Bloomberg Opinion and Medium.

A former journalist and Wall Street investment manager, Paul lives in Westport, Connecticut with his wife Marina, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist.

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