Even when we are deeply committed to showing up for our partners, children, and loved ones, there are always ways to keep working on and improving our relationships. But learning how to be better friends, spouses, or parents can feel like a big task when we’re caught up in life’s demands, stressors, and routines.
That’s what I love about podcasts. They’re a powerful, yet enjoyable, way to learn that can fit into our busy, and sometimes hectic lifestyles — a relevant concern for everyone these days.
I am so grateful for podcasts as a medium for learning when reaching for a book doesn’t feel accessible. With a full home and work life, I’ve found podcasts to be an effective way to expand my knowledge on topics that challenge and inspire me, which often include parenting or relationships. I often listen while I’m driving, walking, or cooking — and find myself feeling expanded and enriched when a podcast hits home and challenges me.
I’ve put together this list of 10 exceptional podcasts and episodes that are great for self-guided learning.
Don’t-miss episodes: Conscious Parenting with Colleen Adrian; Healing the Abandonment Wound
The Numinous Podcast is a current favorite of mine. I love its spiritual, intuitive take on everyday topics and challenges. Hosted by Carmen Spagnola, a Somatic Trauma Recovery Practitioner, this podcast always offers up smart, articulate conversations with spiritually-connected people.
Don’t-miss episodes: How to be an antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi; I’m sorry: How to apologize and why it matters with Harriet Lerner
Unlocking Us is an incredibly popular podcast (it averages over a million downloads per episode) for a reason. Research and visiting professor Brené Brown has a talent for speaking in an honest, relatable way about courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
Don’t-miss episode: Are your relationships alive?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people turned to Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed. Her podcast continues the conversation, reminding us that yes, life can be hard, but we can do hard things.
We Can Do Hard Things is co-hosted by Doyle and her sister Amanda, and covers topics like caring for children and parents; forging and ending friendships; battling addiction, illness, and loneliness; struggling in marriages and divorces; setting boundaries; and fighting for equality, purpose, freedom, joy, and peace.
Don’t-miss episode: How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children with Dr. Gordon Neufeld
While I’m not overly familiar with Gordon Neufeld’s podcast appearances, I’ve read his book Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, and have been lucky enough to hear him speak in person. He’s an attachment-based developmental psychologist, and a well-respected authority on child development.
Don’t-miss episode: Young Love
“When you pick a partner, you pick a story. What story do you want to write? And do you have enough freedom to choose the story that you want to write?” ― Esther Perel
Described as “a podcast for anyone who has ever loved,” Where Should We Begin shares raw, intimate conversations about sex, love, marriage, and relationships from real, anonymous couples.
Perel is a veteran psychotherapist and bestselling author. Her books have been translated into 30 languages and her TED Talks have been viewed nearly 30 million times.
Don’t-miss episode: Flight, fight, and the Polyvagal Theory
The polyvagal theory proposes that our vagus nerve, and central nervous system in general, is deeply connected to our processes for emotional regulation, social connection, and fear response.
This podcast is hosted by Justin Sunseri, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is fascinated by exploring Polyvagal Theory and how it manifests in everyday life, including mental health, trauma, education, and parenting.
Don’t miss episode: Heal Your Past Through Self-Acceptance and Community with Christian Pankhurst
The Relationship School Podcast is exactly what it sounds like; a resource for anyone who wants to learn how to improve the strength and quality of their relationships.
In this episode, author Christian Pankhurst explores how our emotional triggers and sensitivities, which we develop in childhood, can shape our behaviours and triggers in adult relationships.
Discover Your Own Favourites
Think of this list as a starting place for your own research and exploration. You’ll likely find other podcasts with the potential to be very helpful.
I hope that the podcasts in this list — and your own new favourites — become a source of inspiration, comfort, and growth for you in the months and years ahead.