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240: The Best Parenting Book Ever Written, with Author Michaeleen Doucleff

By May 30, 2023November 7th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

This week we’re revisiting one of my all-time favorite conversations. If you’re a parent, especially one raising a strong-willed child, it’s a must-listen! 

Michaeleen Doucleff is the author of “Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans.” She’s also a lovely human who shares her wisdom in the unpreachy-est and most beautiful way.

“Hunt, Gather, Parent” is unlike any other parenting book I’ve ever read. It has quickly become required reading for every parent I work with one-on-one. It’s a fascinating anthropological study of human behavior. The oldest cultures in the world have mastered the art of raising happy, well-adjusted children. What can we learn from them?

In this episode, we break down what we are getting wrong when it comes to parenting in our mainstream culture, and celebrate the ancient wisdom of our foremothers in a very practical and relatable way. Get ready to learn from Michaeleen. She is absolutely delightful! I definitely have a mom crush on her, and you will too.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. The practices of sustainable parenting that run through cultures around the world.
  2. The qualities we celebrate in adults that we too often discourage in our kids.
  3. How an investment of time and persistence can change behaviors for the better – and for the long term.
  4. Why taking time for yourself and your own interests is good for you AND your kiddos. 

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!


About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

Randi’s Web and Social Links

Links & Resources

Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans, by Michaleen Doucleff: 

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[00:00:00] Randi Rubenstein: My name is Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them.

[00:00:10] Hi, everyone. How are you? I cannot believe we are wrapping up this school year. Maybe your kids have already finished school. My kids, well, my kid who is still in high school, he finishes like, I think it’s like June the 9th, right? Like so crazy. So late.

[00:00:35] Um, this week I want you to listen, and if you’ve already listened to this conversation, I encourage you to listen to it again. I had the most amazing woman on my podcast a little bit ago and it was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with someone. And she is the author, author of “Hunt Gather Parent.” Her name is Michaeleen Doucleff, and I consider “Hunt Gather Parent” to be the best parenting book that was ever written. (Not that I’ve read every single parenting book that was ever written.)

[00:01:12] It was such a surprise to read this book and the interesting thing is, is that she’s a journalist, she’s not a parenting expert, and this book is incredible. I make it basically required reading for anyone that I work with. I think that it is just a phenomenal book and sitting down and talking with her, she was just, you know, she’s lovely first of all, but she also just knows her shit. And she, she really dug into what she was experiencing as a parent in Western society and the stress she was under.

[00:02:00] And then as a journalist, what she, what she discovered in going and living with these three different indigenous groups of people and really just studying how they were parenting their kids and how it differed from the way we’re parenting our kids here in. You know, in, in more Western cultures.

[00:02:24] And so I find her work to be fascinating. The conversation with her, I thought was just really engaging. I mean, I was captivated by her. So, um, if you haven’t listened to this, but even if you have, I encourage you to listen to it again and, uh, to consider picking up “Hunt Gather Parent,” or listening to it on Audible.

[00:02:48] I just think it’s, it’s like an important read or listen for every parent. Because I think quite often, we’re overthinking so much and I think what Michaeleen did for me. I mean, a lot of what she did for me was she just, she validated some of the choices that I had made that I was, I had beat myself up over. Right? 

[00:03:14] Like not being the kind of parent that plays with my kids like that. I like, I was so like many of you, right? There was so, I mean they have to eat so much, like there’s so many food to prepare and all of their needs and the care, like now I have to like freaking play with them, too? LIke I was tired. I didn’t want to I wanted a break.

[00:03:41] And so there was so much that I think she helped me realize like you don’t need to feel guilty about this. Yeah, it was never meant to be this way and And I just find her work fascinating. So enjoy the conversation with the author of “Hunt, Gather, Parent”,” Michaeleen Doucleff.

[00:04:03] You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast with Randi Rubenstein, episode 184.

[00:04:11] Well, hi guys. I have a really exciting episode today. Today on the podcast, I have Michaeleen Doucleff. She is the author of the New York times bestseller “Hunt, Gather, Parent.” The book describes a way of raising helpful and confident children, which moms and dads have turned to for millennia. It also explains how American families can incorporate this approach into their busy lives.

[00:04:34] Doucleff wrote the book after traveling to three continents with her three year old daughter, Rosie. Maya, Inuit, and Hadzabi family showed her how to tame tantrums, motivate kids to be helpful and build children’s confidence and self sufficiency. Doucleff’s also a global health correspondent for NPR Science Desk, where she reports about disease outbreaks and children’s health.

[00:04:54] In 2015, Doucleff was part of the team that earned a George Foster Peabody Award for its coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. She has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Berkeley, California, a master’s degree in viticulture and oenology.

[00:05:10] I don’t even know what that is, you guys, um, from the University of California, Davis and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Caltech. She lives in Alpine, Texas with her husband, daughter, and German shepherd Savannah. Uh, you guys are going to love this week. So here’s my conversation with Michaeleen.

[00:05:38] Okay. I’m sitting here with Michaeleen. Virtually, sitting here with Michaeleen and we were just chatting, meeting each other for the first time. And I was telling her that I’m going to try not to super fan girl over her, but I am such a super fan. And the way I want to start off this conversation is that I haven’t read a parenting book in a long time because now I’m kind of the person who’s teaching the things, right? Or, and I read parenting books for so many years that I finally realized like I couldn’t find exactly the recipe, so I just like, I kind of created something the way I cook where, God forbid I should just have one recipe. And so I have to mix a little of this and a little of that and created my own parenting method, Mastermind Parenting.

[00:06:26] And then I heard you, I think it was right after you wrote the book, I heard you on a podcast interview, I want to say maybe it was like “The Broken Brain” or were you on that podcast?

[00:06:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, I think so. 

[00:06:38] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I heard you, and it was so compelling what you had to say that I went and I bought this, “Hunt Gather, Parent” is now I’m telling every parent it is required reading. I didn’t even buy it as a supplement to my group or like, I bought it to read for fun.

[00:07:00] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, that’s great. 

[00:07:01] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. I bought it to read for fun. Like my, I like, I have parenting programs. I have a podcast. I teach these things. My kids are, two of them are sort of grown and flown. Like I’m now, if I’m reading things, I’m reading either great fiction books or like business books. 

[00:07:16] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. 

[00:07:17] Randi Rubenstein: So, and so I bought it to read for fun. I have like downright, like scribble scrabble notes all over it. And then I became so obsessed about it that I started making videos for my group just based on the things that I was learning from you. And, and so then they all were intrigued and they were like, “well, can we do this as a book club selection?”

[00:07:40] And so I said, “Yeah, we can do this as a book club selection.” So then we did it as a book club selection, but I reached out to your people cause I was like, okay, there’s so much in here. Do you have anything? Cause I kind of feel like I need to teach a workshop about it. Cause there, you know, and, and you guys were like, no, we really don’t.

[00:07:58] So then I had to study it because my people, once, once they started reading it, they were also obsessed that they were like, okay, we want you to go more into this and more into that. 

[00:08:08] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. 

[00:08:09] Randi Rubenstein: So then I created a whole workshop. Now “Hunt, Gather, Parent” has become a verb in Mastermind Parenting. 

[00:08:16] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s fantastic!

[00:08:18] Randi Rubenstein: Yes, it’s become a verb.

[00:08:19] I’m telling y’all, I couldn’t help myself. fangirl. It’s become a verb because what I constantly am helping the parents in my community realize is, guess what? Put the people to work and stop being so kid-centric and spending your entire weekends doing nothing for yourself. 

[00:08:43] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. 

[00:08:44] Randi Rubenstein: You’ve got this list of chores and things to do. And if you lead them, I call it pack leadership, that’s how I sort of.

[00:08:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s good. I’m writing that down! 

[00:08:55] Randi Rubenstein: There’s so much alignment in what you wrote and with what, with my method and what I teach that I’ll say like, okay, you’re going to have to “Hunt, Gather, Parent” this shit. Like,

[00:09:08] Michaeleen Doucleff: That is great. I mean, I mean the pack is so great because kids love that kids want to be in a pack. They do. Right. Like you think even like in the U. S. like not that long ago, kids roam around the town in packs, right? Multiple age groups and the little ones looking up to the medium ones and the mediums ones like, you know, so it is like, that’s the perfect mentality. That’s their mentality all the way. I love it. 

[00:09:31] Randi Rubenstein: And I think, you know, I like, it’s like, we are pack animals. We are meant to be in community and be in tribes. And I think that’s the part that I just loved so much that. You were writing this as a journalist, you know, like, I mean, go a little bit more into it for everyone because I have so many questions like you work for NPR and you went on assignment and when you went on your assignment to it, to research these different indigenous cultures, you started realizing that like, they had their shit together way more than we do as parents. Is that basically what happened? 

[00:10:07] Michaeleen Doucleff: I mean, you know, so in the book I start off when I, when I go down, I go down to the Yucatan to the little Maya village. And that’s where like, my eyes like really opened, and were like, what you just said, like, holy shit, like. This parenting is way better than our parenting.

[00:10:22] There’s just no question. Like you can criticize me as much as you want, but if you go and down there, you will see. And I mean, there’s a lot of research too, but actually before that I had been up in the Arctic a few times and I’d been to West Africa and I, and I had seen it, but I didn’t, it wasn’t super conscious.

[00:10:39] It was like, I came back from those trips being like, I think something’s going on, you know, like, especially I went up to the Alaska and I talked to a bunch of parents. And I was just really like, what’s going on? Why are, why are their lives so much easier when it comes to children? You know, every culture has problems and issues, but you know, dealing with children just wasn’t one of them.

[00:11:02] And so, yeah, like I just kind of started noticing it. And then when I went to the Yucatan, that was when I was like, okay, this is real. And these moms have these skills and this knowledge that my culture just hasn’t given me. It was the first time I felt really excited as a parent, like really hopeful, like, oh, wait a second, there’s this whole set of knowledge that maybe if I learned, I could enjoy this thing. I couldn’t, I could have a really loving relationship with my daughter. I love her, but like our relationship was so full of conflict and strife. Right? But like, maybe if I learned these tools from, from other cultures and communities that, you know, it could really improve my relationship with her and I could enjoy being with her, which I really had never really done in her two and a half years of existence, which is horrible to say, but it’s the truth.

[00:11:51] Randi Rubenstein: Well, it’s, I mean, you’re a truth teller and I appreciate that. And I think that. So many of us, like I said this somewhere recently where I said, you love your kids, but when they are acting like terrorists and dictators, like how on Earth could you possibly like someone who’s behaving that way?

[00:12:13] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. Yeah. And just the stress of it, the stress like. There was just, my whole body was like tense around her because it was like, when is this thing going to explode on me and do things that I can’t help, I can’t fix, you know? And, and I knew that she didn’t enjoy having a tantrum. She didn’t enjoy the state she was getting in, you know, yelling and screaming at me. And yet I felt so helpless to fix it and like, do something. 

[00:12:39] And so, yeah, it was completely stressful. Like I say in the book, I would, I would sit in bed in the mornings and just kind of one like, you know, strategize about what I’m going to do when she wakes up and gets angry, but also dreading it really dreading it.

[00:12:53] And, um, and I have to say the book is not an exaggeration. And even my, my sister-in-law said to me, wow, you’ve really gotten better, Michaeleen. You know, like it really. The knowledge that mostly women, some, some men, um, gave me, it really transformed our lives and our relationship. And, um, and that’s why I wrote the book. Cause I was just like, I think this could really help. This could really help people generally. 

[00:13:17] Randi Rubenstein: I mean, look, the book validated me in a lot of ways, because I’ve been trying to reverse engineer this certain recipe, basically also had a strong-willed kid when he ,was about three realized, like, I got to do something different. I thought this was going to be more enjoyable and, and just somewhere I knew, I think innately, I don’t think I could have put words to it, but I think I was like, if he doesn’t become more enjoyable. Then he’s not going to feel enjoyed. 

[00:13:53] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

[00:13:54] Randi Rubenstein: Right. And so there was like a guilt, like if I’m not, if I’m faking it and if I’m just like through gritted teeth, trying to make it through the day, but not actually enjoying him, he’s going to suffer, like he’s going to grow up, not being a celebrated, enjoyed human. And so that was like a tremendous amount of guilt for me. And I knew I had to figure it out. I knew something wasn’t adding up. And that’s why I like to say to people who have, you know, we say strong-willed kids, which the truth of the matter is, is al, humans can display a strong will when, when, you know, they act on the outside, the way they’re feeling on the inside, so it’s like, there’s something to figure out.

[00:14:36] But strong-willed kids, I always say are like our canaries in the coal mine. Like they’re trying to alert us that there’s some thing that’s dangerous and not working. 

[00:14:46] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right.

[00:14:47] Randi Rubenstein: And they’re calling us to more, you know, they’re calling us to figure this out because it’s not working, and I’m just not going to wait until I’m a teenager to rebel. I’m going to start doing it right now. At three.

[00:15:00] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right I, I say that it’s like Rosie was like, my daughter Rosie, she was like forcing me to find a better way. She really was. She would, you’re right. she’s like a truthsayer.

[00:15:09] She’s like, and we say strong-willed, but I don’t think a lot of cultures would put it that way. I think it’s like enthusiastic, determined, I mean, and in an adult, we want strong world, right? We want our kids to go get go after it and be persistent. But in our toddlers, we’re like afraid of it. And, and I’ve been trying, you know, I think it’s a great quality, and I think she is, I’m so thankful to her because if she was an easier kid, like I would have never written this book. I would have never found this better way. 

[00:15:35] And yet, my life is better, not just with Rosie. I say this a lot, but with my, my, my husband, my mom, I’m working on that relationship. I’m trying really hard. That one’s harder, but you know, at work, like all of the things that are in the book, learning to cooperate, reducing conflict. Seeing people like really seeing their contributions and what they’re trying to do that has made me such a happier person and such a less angry person. And so it’s really because of Rosie being strong-willed, as you say, you know, so. 

[00:16:04] Randi Rubenstein: Okay, so if you had to, if you had to say, what do you think the main shift that happened within you is? 

[00:16:15] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, you know, I think there’s a couple of things. I think number one, like the Inuit parents really taught me that children are these incredibly loving, empathetic creatures. They’re just like irrational, illogical and clumsy and have no clue how to behave. So every time Rosie was getting really upset at me, hitting me, biting me. I mean, really extreme things. I was so angry at her, like just so angry and so full of wanting to lash out at her because I felt attacked, right? I felt like she was attacking me and hated me and pushing buttons and manipulating me and all these things that our culture assumes young children are.

[00:16:58] The Inuit parents really told me like, that’s BS, Michaeleen, like she’s a baby. She doesn’t know what she’s doing and you just have to show her. And if you assume she’s doing all these bad things, you’re going to just come at her in this way that creates conflict and you’re going to be angry at her. But if you come at her, it’s like, she’s trying, she wants to love me. She wants to do what’s right, she just doesn’t know how, then you’re going to have so much more sympathy for her and be so much more gentle with her. 

[00:17:25] And once I started, that shift in me happened. Oh, my God, Rosie’s behavior got so much better. It was incredible. Like, she was just responding to me being angry and, you know, she would have a tantrum and then I would get kind of in a tantrum myself, right? And when I stopped doing that and became calm and I would just say to Matt, my husband, like, she doesn’t understand. That’s what often the parents would say. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t know. She’s trying and I would just say it and she’d be sitting there like hitting me and like screaming at us and I’d be like, she doesn’t understand.

[00:17:57] When she started to see that I wasn’t going to get angry at her anymore, she started calming down. It was, it was really incredible. It was really fast, but it took me time to change, right? 

[00:18:08] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I just want to now translate everything you just said. This is why it was so validating. I teach a tool called the Q tip, Quit Taking It Personally. So you just modeled that. You just modeled that like we, we define children’s behavior with adult meaning and it’s just not fair. All right. And so, and so these ancient, you know, mostly women, some men taught you, Hey, you think that you’re studying,hyou know, for a math test. But you, you have an English book out, like it’s, it doesn’t even like, it’s not going to work here. Like you’re like her behavior. She does not understand. She’s just learning how to be alive.

[00:18:47] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right.

[00:18:47] Randi Rubenstein: So you’ve got to quit taking this personally. Kids are another, another thing that I say a lot, like. Kids can’t be responsible for adult emotions. 

[00:18:56] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s, that’s so right. 

[00:18:58] Randi Rubenstein: Right? 

[00:18:58] Michaeleen Doucleff: Exactly. What somebody told me after the book came out, they said, you know, we think we have a shared reality with them, right? We think our reality is their reality, but they are just like in a totally different reality and we can’t put that on them. Right? And, and having those words of like, they’re illogical, they’re irrational, which is totally true, helped me be able to say, and the other thing is they would always allow the parents to say, you know, you’ve got to expect them to mistake. You expect them to be crazy. You expect them to hit you because they are these, you know, irrational creatures.

[00:19:30] And if you’re setting yourself up for them not to do that, you’re just setting up for conflict to be angry, and right, and so it was like expecting bad behavior. And then really, really believing that, um, she’s trying, she is trying, you know, it doesn’t seem that way, but she is trying her best.

[00:19:48] You know, a couple, a couple weeks ago, we were in the post office and she’s starting to learn to write. She’s 6 now, and she wanted to write all of the, address all the envelopes. Right? And it was just a hot mess, right? It was just like, you know, these huge letters and, you know, we were running out of time and it was just, I was getting, and I, and I lashed out at her and I was like, let me just do it. And, um, just like my dad would do, right? Pulled it from her hands and everything. I don’t want to do right?

[00:20:13] And I got in the car with her and I was like, you know what, Rosie, I’m really sorry I did that. I shouldn’t, you know, I just owned up to it. I was like, which my dad would never do. Um, but you know, and I just like, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have taken that away from you and gotten angry. And she just said to me in like the sweetest little voice, she’s like, it’s okay, mama, you know, but I was just trying.

[00:20:35] I was like, and that’s it. That is, I mean, she just told me she was just trying and she’s two or when she was two or three, she was trying and she just, you know, she had no clue how to handle, like you said, adult emotions, these big emotions and these situations. And so I really try to think that even when my husband, even my mom, I just try to think we are, we’re, we’re both trying, we’re both trying our hardest, you know, and it doesn’t always come out right.

[00:21:03] Randi Rubenstein: You know, I think a lot of what you have described is it’s like, if you allow parenting, if we stop like resisting it being hard and we accept and lean in, and it sounds like that ancient wisdom from the people who still, you know, who are modern societies, but they still hold on to a lot of the hunter gatherer rituals from, you know, yesteryear.

[00:21:30] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. And they value the parenting knowledge from the past, which I think is. It’s so important, right? They value these tools that have worked for centuries, thousands of years and like, why not keep those tools, right? Like, 

[00:21:46] Randi Rubenstein: I feel like it’s, you’re like, yeah, I went to all these ancient cultures and they helped me realize where we were throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

[00:21:55] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes, exactly, exactly.

[00:21:58] Randi Rubenstein: So I was going to say that when we allow parenting to be hard or to realize, like 

[00:22:05] kids are not meant to be obedient, you know, they’re, just meant to be humans that get to be fully expressed and alive. And we’re teaching them, like they’re learning how to be alive and we’re, teaching them the rules of our pack, the rules of our tribe. Right?

[00:22:19] And so, we learn. I mean, if you think back in your life, like when did you have the most impactful experiences? It usually is when something was really hard or you made a mistake and you had to recover and you had to figure it out. You had to problem solve. And so we learn through mistakes. 

[00:22:36] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:22:36] Randi Rubenstein: And if we allow parenting to serve in this way, it really becomes the ultimate personal development program for all of us. 

[00:22:48] Michaeleen Doucleff: It really is. But you know, we’re also then modeling that for them, right? When Rosie lashes out at me and gets angry or a friend or a dad, she’s seen like, how do you handle that? Oh, you hold up to it and you say, I’m sorry, and I didn’t mean to. And like, right. It’s like, it becomes like this, this beautiful kind of. Sharing of mistakes, right? And sharing of how you handle the mistakes. 

[00:23:10] And Corinna Kramer, she’s a, oh, Inuit woman in Alaska. She told me this. She’s like, you know, anytime I make, I get upset, I get angry, she’s like, I just sit down and I just tell him, like, you know, I didn’t handle that right. I’m sorry. And like, or I’ll ask them, like, what could I have done better? Right? So it’s this very, like, two way sharing of information and two way learning, right? 

[00:23:33] Which I really, there’s a piece in the book about that, right? The information just doesn’t come from the parent to the child, in many societies, the children are sources of knowledge and information. And, and the wonderfulness of that is the child feels so proud, right? When they’ve taught their mom something and they’ve like contributed, right? Like that’s, you can’t. That you can’t have a bigger motivating force and connecting force with a child than having them feel like they’ve contributed to you and your life, you know? 

[00:24:04] Randi Rubenstein: Oh, 100% because then they get to be a valuable member of the pack.

[00:24:07] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right. I love this pack. Oh my God, I might have, we might have to write something with this and I will credit you. Absolutely. Because I love this idea because that’s exactly what we are. We are pack animals and children are, they just want that. They want that, but that’s comfortable to them, right? To have all these people around and stimulating-

[00:24:27] Randi Rubenstein: Well, think about the natural dopamine hits you get when you, I mean, even if you think about, you know, a work team or a volunteer team, and when people are like, Oh, let MIchaeleen handle the coordinating of the people, cause she’s so good with people and she always just puts all the right people together.

[00:24:43] And you’re like, I do. You see me, you know, like it feels so good to have other people see you and allow you to bring value. And, and you, I mean, you get those natural dopamine hits from that, and so I think when we allow our kids to teach us things, I mean, that’s such a confidence builder for them too. 

[00:25:02] Michaeleen Doucleff: So big, right. Like, sometimes I listen to tape from when we were in the little, uh, Yucatan village. There’s so much hidden gems in there. And in one of the pieces of tape, one of the moms is saying how the family looks to the six year old to get the homework done because the little six year old comes home and does her homework right away, and she’s like, so we look to her, she’s our guide. 

[00:25:22] And it’s just so beautiful, right? That like, here’s a family with five kids from 16 to six. And then the mom is, you know, propping the six year old up as this guide and this like, helper with the homework. And I just, I think about that often, like, you know, how is Rosie our guide and, you know, how’s my, my husband, our guide in, in, in giving that, that power to them.

[00:25:45] Randi Rubenstein: Well, she’s your guide. I can say that Rosie’s been your, I mean, everything that you just described, like in terms of like it impacting your marriage, the skills that you’ve learned by being Rosie’s mother and it’s impacting, you know, your other relationships. She helped you to learn true empathy, because when you’re, you’re seeing all these other people’s perspectives, which is like, everyone’s doing the best that they can. And we have to get curious about what’s really going on for them. And that’s how we huge it. That’s how we quit taking it personally, but it’s all empathy. It’s emotional intelligence. 

[00:26:17] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right. It is. You’re exactly, you’re exactly right. Seeing other person. Other person’s side being in their shoes and, and also just kind of having a much more prosocial ,as a psychologist would say, but just a much better, nicer view of children and other people’s motivations, right? Instead of constantly thinking that they have some nefarious motivation and they’re out to get me this thinking that they’re, they want to help. They love us so much and they really want to do what’s right. And they really want to contribute and they just don’t know right?

[00:26:48] Randi Rubenstein: And it takes us more time to teach them.

[00:26:50] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. 

[00:26:51] Randi Rubenstein: Right, and so I think there has to be some ownership on, uh, I’ll just do it myself. I mean, I’m guilty. I’m so guilty of that when it comes to, like, I don’t love cooking. but you know, it’s like when you’ve got kids and then all of a sudden they show up several times a day and they’re like hungry and then you have to like figure out what to feed them.

[00:27:10] And so finally I was like, okay, I’m just going to suck it up and feed these people. So I always was just really kind of utilitarian about it. But unfortunately in doing that, because I didn’t bring any joy to it, I didn’t, I just wanted to get through it as quickly, as quickly as possible. So I wasn’t including them.

[00:27:32] And then all of a sudden I’ve got a 16 year old and he’s like. You know, it’s two o’clock he slept till whatever. And I’m like, have you eaten anything today? He’s like, no, because he doesn’t know how to make himself a freaking sandwich because I’m like, let me just make you something real quick. then I’m over here going, how come you guys go off to college? Cause I have two older ones and you all of a sudden are cooking and feeding yourself and like, and then you come home. And it’s all again, like y’all are toddlers and I’m in the kitchen, like feeding. I don’t even like feeding people. 

[00:28:04] And uh, and it’s like, I created that because I didn’t take the time to include them and show them. This is the way we’re going to do it. This is the way we’re going to work as a team, as a pack. 

[00:28:14] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right, right, right, right. Work as a pack. Well, I love this. It’s so great. You know, I could tell you that my husband told me. Actually, a couple of nights ago, he said, yeah, he was like, you know, I was like 30 and I didn’t really know how to cook and he started cooking when I was pregnant and I was too tired to cook. And I came home and I was like, I’m sorry, I’m too tired to, you’re going to have to cook. And he like taught himself at the ripe old age of like 36 or something. 

[00:28:38] Randi Rubenstein: My husband’s like, you totally know how to cook. I’m like, well, cause for many years I had all the people showing up freaking hungry. So I had to figure it out. So I know, I just told him this the other day. He’s like, he goes, remember when I bought you for a birthday or something lessons at that cooking school and you never used them. And I was like, what kind of a birthday present is that?

[00:28:56] Michaeleen Doucleff: It’s so true, right? Is that for him or for you?

[00:29:02] Randi Rubenstein: Right. He was like, you never used it. You, they, they, because they were expensive and they went to waste. I was like, because I watched. I said, I think it was even before the food network. I used to watch, I think they had cooking shows on like HGTV way back when. I was like, I used to watch the cooking shows and that’s how I learned how to do, you know, that’s the way I learned all the, you know, different techniques or whatever.

[00:29:21] He’s like, you did you watch those? I was like, yeah, where were you? Like, I was like researching and I was like, okay, I gotta figure out how to do this cooking thing. So I’m just going to watch TV. I love laying in bed and watching TV. I can learn that way. 

[00:29:34] Michaeleen Doucleff: Life teaches you, Maria in the Yucatan said that to me. Life teaches you, you know, life teaches you. It’s the same with kids, right? You got to throw them out there. Life teaches them. 

[00:29:44] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I’ll tell you one of the most impactful stories was. I think it was Maria’s daughter when you were there and the girls were off from school and all of a sudden you’d be like, tell that story. I love that story.

[00:29:55] Michaeleen Doucleff: So this was like a turning point in my life. We were, it was spring break and Maria has three girls, uh, I think at the time they were like four to 12 and they were on spring break and they’d stayed up late watching a shark movie. I don’t know if I mentioned that in the book, but they. She found them all in the same hammock, cuddled together that night because they were like scared.

[00:30:13] And so they were sleeping in. She told me she was permitting them to sleep in. Otherwise they would be up doing, helping her. Um, but then around, it was like 10 or so, the oldest 12 year old, Angela gets up, walks past me and her mom, you know, I knew her at that point, the girls, but not well. And we were chatting and she walks past us and just starts doing the dishes from breakfast, like right away.

[00:30:35] And I was just like, What is going on? Like, there’s no chore chart. There’s no, they don’t get an allowance and you know, nobody told her to do it. And I was really surprised and Maria wasn’t really surprised at all. You know, she told me she said she’s 12. She should know what needs to be done and she should know when to do it.

[00:30:52] And then she also said, which was really interesting. She said, it’s not every day. So it’s not like she’s expecting this every day. There’s none of this. Like everybody has to do something every day. Right. And then I went over and I asked, I don’t know, like, you know, in really like, why, why did you do the dishes?

[00:31:07] And she told me because she, she loves helping her mom. And, you know, I’m sure there’s some elements to that, that, you know, I’m sure, but it was genuine. It was, you could feel that she really genuinely enjoys and wants to help her family. And this is not exceptional in the sense that like there’s studies on Maya communities and other indigenous communities in Mexico where they ask kids this and kids will say this, kids will say I help because you know I’m, I’m part of a team. You know, I want to help my family my family feeds me, ,you know?

[00:31:38] One of the kids said you know like I’m a family member I eat here I live, I sleep here like this is part of being a family member, you know, so this this sense of like you say like we’re part of a pack. Is very common in many, many communities around the world and the parents intentionally instill this idea in the kids.

[00:31:54] This isn’t something that like it’s just like teaching kids to read or do math. There’s, you know, there’s an intentional process of instilling this idea and this value that I’m still learning. The book goes into a lot of it, but it’s a really complex idea, right, to teach a kid this idea. And unfortunately, a lot of the things that we’re taught in parenting books and blogs, kind of are the opposite of this.,

[00:32:18] Like for instance, giving kids a chore chart seems like a great idea. Right? Like, you know, how many books tell you this, but like a lot of psychologists that study Maya parenting will tell you. That actually goes against this idea because it basically tells the kid, I’m only supposed to do this one thing on Mondays and this one thing on right and it isn’t, it’s, it’s my job and it’s my task, and it’s an individualistic goal right?

[00:32:46] So one, you’re like, basically giving a kid a pass on everything else, right? And so if you try to get them to do anything else, why would they do it? Right? But two, again, it’s the focus on the individual, right? Like, the individual has a task and the accomplishment and accomplish it. And that’s their, their job, right? Um, whereas this other approach is, is all the tasks are for everyone and their shared goals, right?

[00:33:11] So. Instead of you go make your bed, we’re going to all make each other’s beds together. Um, instead of like you clean up, it’s your turn to do the dishes tonight. We all do the dishes together every night and we do the laundry together and, and, and then tasks become shared tasks, but they also become these social tasks, these social moments, you know, where like, It’s going to sound really hokey, but like cleaning up after dinner can be fun sometimes because Rosie and I turn the music on and we kind of dance around and it becomes, especially for little kids, this, this wonderful moment to be with your family after being at school all day.

[00:33:47] So there’s tons of things that we do that kind of focus on the individual and the individual accomplishments. And this disconnects the child from the path mentality like you’re talking about. All the child centered activities that we do right ,birthday parties, lesson mandarin lessons, violin lessons zoo trips all these wonderful things that we’re told to do for children. Does the opposite of what we’re talking about, right?

[00:34:11] It tells them that they are their purpose in life are these parties and child-centered activities and kind of strips away from them, that membership in the team. Um, with Rosie, I saw a big difference when we stopped doing those things and, and, you know, focused more on these like family focused activities. 

[00:34:28] Randi Rubenstein: I wish I would have gotten that memo when my kids were little, like my husband got that memo. He was like, I’m not going to any more kid birthday parties. And it was actually a source of resentment with me. Like, he’s like, I will be a co-parent on everything else, but I’m not going to kids birthday parties anymore. I’m not spending my weekends doing that. And I was like,

[00:34:49] Michaeleen Doucleff: Good for him!

[00:34:50] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, and I made it really a negative, I was like, that’s your, you know, gross male privilege. Like- 

[00:34:57] Michaeleen Doucleff: RIght. I mean, and society accepts it way more from the father, right, than from the mom, there’s no question about that. The guy is always, 

[00:35:04] Randi Rubenstein: But I was, but I was thinking about it wrong because I was like, well, they’re going to want to go, and so now it’s going to all be on me, but I’m going to be the one that has to take them. So thanks a lot. Now it’s going to all fall on me. And he’s like, they don’t have to go. And so he actually got it. And I was like, that is so selfish. Of course they have to go see. So I was thinking about it wrong instead of realizing if I really look back at all the years and especially because two of my kids are highly sensitive for sure. It was always overstimulating. 

[00:35:38] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh my God. Same with Rosie. Oh, so bad.

[00:35:40] Randi Rubenstein: Especially with my son. I had a pit in my stomach. Was he going to want to leave immediately? Was he going to have a meltdown? Was he going to ever warm up, were all the other kids going to go and do the gymnastics thing? And he was just going to want to be with me. Was I going to have to go in there with him? You know?

[00:35:55] So, it was nerve wracking, but I was just like, no, they’re birthday parties, of course they have to go, these are their classmates. And my husband was like, no, they don’t. This is nonsense. 

[00:36:05] Michaeleen Doucleff: It’s nonsense. I mean, it’s, I remember Rosie’s third birthday party. We had this big thing with some friends. It was this massive thing. It was at a park, thank God, otherwise it would have been even worse. But I looked over at her after the cake was done and everything, and she was just sitting there screaming, like literally like screaming and crying. And I was just like, this is, this is not the point of this. And why are we doing this? 

[00:36:29] And that was the end for me. I was like, no, no more of this. Like we can have a couple of friends over, we can have a cake, but that is the end of it. And like, I don’t know when this happened because even I’m 40, 45 and, like, we had birthday parties, but they weren’t so big. And like, there weren’t so many too. Like, I felt like there were like two a year, you know, I don’t know. We’ve become so far skewed to think.

[00:36:51] I think we, a lot of parents just, and I was like this, like, there’s just this fear of like, how do you fill the time? Right. That I had, and it actually took like a year and a half or two to get rid of this fear of like, it’s Saturday, what do I do with her? You know? And this is completely unnatural and weird.

[00:37:09] And like, You don’t have to fill the time you just do what you want to do and figure out a way that she comes with you or she stays home with somebody else, you know, and like, it’s your life and she’s she’s included in as much as she can. And, you know, you have to make some accommodations for them, but you kind of move on with your life and that’s how parents have done it for like, two hundred thousand years.

[00:37:32] Randi Rubenstein: Wow.

[00:37:32] Michaeleen Doucleff: There’s no doubt there were not birthday parties in zoos, you know, in Africa when we were all hunter gatherers.

[00:37:46] Thanks for joining me on the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. If you have a strong-willed child, you’re in the right place. I invite you to join our free Facebook group where we continue the conversations sparked here on the podcast. Go to to join.

[00:38:09] Randi Rubenstein: You know, the Inuit people in the Arctic I think are fascinating and I had read something or listened to something about them. I don’t know, maybe five years ago. And I actually created a tool based on something I’d learned and I call it the tall tale tool. And the tool really was with, I thought, cause as I’m reverse engineering my process, I was thinking back to my youngest child who went through that phase that I think a lot of kids go through where they don’t want you to brush their teeth.

[00:38:35] They don’t want to brush their teeth. They don’t want you to brush their teeth. They still need assistance and whatever. And so I used to go on a hunt for sugar bugs. 

[00:38:42] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, this is good. 

[00:38:45] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. And so I’d be like, okay, open up really big. And he’d like, open his mouth as big as I was like, oh my! I was like, you had some cookies today. I see a little black one lurking. 

[00:38:54] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s so good!

[00:38:56] Randi Rubenstein: So I would be like, oh my, there’s a purple one. Wait, I’ve never seen an aqua. What? Hold on. Let me get him. He’s right over. So I do not be on this heading. He’d like be opening it. He’s so cooperative. And I really based it on how it’s just such emotional intelligence that has been around since ancient times, which is like, know your audience, like,

[00:39:15] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes!

[00:39:16] Randi Rubenstein: Right, like speak to your audience. Like, if you were right now having a conversation with an academic audience, I’m sure there would be different language being used or, you know, right, like, you know, your audience. If I’m, if I’m giving my talk that I give, to like I gave it recently and the audience was very heavy with men and like, you know, like CEO businessmen. Well, guess what? I kept using a lot of examples of, you know, employees and in business and whatever, because you have to know your audience.

[00:39:46] So I love the part in the book where you kind of you where you talk about that and I would love for you just to even speak more to what you’ve learned from them. 

[00:39:55] Michaeleen Doucleff: You mean, in terms of storytelling.

[00:39:57] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah.

[00:39:57] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. So, um, of all the things in the book, this is probably the most universal practice. Like, I’m Irish, and the, the stories in Ireland are almost like so similar to the stories in the Arctic. And like, you can find a water story, like every culture, like, and there’s a big argument to be made that young children up until about six or seven really are evolved, their brains evolved to learn through story. Some scientists actually think that this is what makes us human that the way we can cooperate with each other is through story.

[00:40:28] So like if I’m hunting, you know, when we were all hunter gatherers, we did cooperative hunting and it’s one of the things that kept us humans alive. And to do that, you had to tell each other stories. So like, if I’m hunting, I’ll tell you like, go down to the river, turn right, I’ll meet you over there, you know, and that’s like a story. That’s the, that’s like the has the elements of a story. And so storytelling is this deep, deep human thing.

[00:40:51] And you’ll find everywhere stories to teach children how to be safe outside. So the Inuit have a water monster, Qalupalik, the Irish have like a water horse. Um, and it basically is like, you know, if you go too close to the water, the ocean, which will kill children, you know, this, this Qalupalik monster will come and put you on his back and then take you down into the water. Um, but they have all these amazing, amazing stories. Some of them are quite, are quite scary.

[00:41:18] And the Irish I was, I learned had all these stories for the marshes or the swamps because the land would turn into water and suck children up. And so they taught children about fairies in the forest and monsters and all this stuff. And, but it is just the best way to get a young child to do what you want them to do and to cooperate.

[00:41:41] And it turns these moments that are incredibly stressful, like brushing teeth or I couldn’t get Rosie to change her dress. She wore the same dress for, like, three weeks at one point, but like, and it was just this, we were nagging, we were arguing. And then I finally said to her – she’s afraid of spiders – suddenly I got close to her and I whispered her in her ears, Rosie, if you don’t change that dress, spiders are going to come and crawl all over it. And like, she like looked at me like this, like big eyes and just like took the dress off and like threw it in the hamper. I mean, we had spent like days trying to get her to take this dress off. And, um, it was incredible. It was just like, boom.

[00:42:16] And it’s like, you’re speaking their language, you know, it’s like you were talking about before, like, you know, we put the adult mind on them, and the child’s mind is a story, right? That’s, that’s how they think, that’s how they learn. And I say, one of the dads actually told me, like, you know, I’d much rather my kid be afraid of some monster in the forest than afraid of me, right? With anger and threats and punishments, right? And so it’s kind of also a way of like, teaching the child so that it’s not coming from you. It’s coming from kind of the world, right? 

[00:42:46] And like I say in the book, I feel like storytelling is a way of disciplining and teaching that builds communication instead of like building walls and, and really pitting the child against the parents because, oh my God, Rosie loves the story. So Rosie’s six now and she knows, she kind of knows all the stories are fake now and like, they’re not real. She still loves them. We were still we were having this whole monster conversation on the way home from school yesterday about like the screaming monster, the selfish monster, the lazy monster, like all of these very complex ideas, right?

[00:43:17] But she understands through these stories and the stories have were a big turning point in our lives. Because they, they like decreased so much conflict in our house, like so much.

[00:43:28] Randi Rubenstein: Well, and you know, I like the playfulness of it. It’s like, it doesn’t have to be so freaking serious all the time. 

[00:43:34] Michaeleen Doucleff: Exactly! It’s like, it’s just their teeth, you know, or it’s just some pink dress. 

[00:43:38] Randi Rubenstein: Like, it doesn’t have to be all serious. And, and I feel like that’s when you were talking about, like, the parenting books and the, now I have to figure out how to do a chore chart. Like, I think we had a wheel when I was at camp in my bunk, but like, that’s not my thing. Like what? And so it’s like, it’s giving you all of, like now I have to like be this crafty person and I have to – 

[00:43:58] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right, and it’s super, like, complex. Like even the, the Maya parents, you tell them about a chore chart. They’re like. You have to do all that to get a child to like clean up after dinner? No, you don’t need to do all that.

[00:44:09] Randi Rubenstein: Right.

[00:44:10] Michaeleen Doucleff: You just need to like do it with them like, and you know, like, 

[00:44:13] Randi Rubenstein: And have fun and like

[00:44:14] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:44:14] Randi Rubenstein: And bond and connect and now they all of a sudden they associate a positive memory 

[00:44:18] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:44:18] Randi Rubenstein: wIth, you know, and with being helpful. And then you’re like, gosh, we got this done in half the time that it would’ve taken me without you.

[00:44:25] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, exactly.

[00:44:25] Randi Rubenstein: We’re awesome.

[00:44:26] Michaeleen Doucleff: And they learn fast. You know, people always say like, it takes me more time when they’re with me. And it’s like, it’s true. At the beginning it does, but it will save you time very quickly. 

[00:44:35] Randi Rubenstein: Well, they learn way faster. It’s also amazing. Like I’ll say to my kids something and they’re like, yeah, I got it. Really? I don’t need to repeat it four times. And they’re like, it’s almost like they’re saying like, no, my brain is young. It doesn’t have all the cobwebs on it. Like I, like you said it, I was actually engaged in listening. You don’t have to repeat it four times.

[00:44:56] Michaeleen Doucleff: That is such good. I mean, that is like such a big difference in so many cultures is that parents will just say something once and that’s it. If the kid doesn’t do it right away, they wait like 10, 15 minutes and then maybe repeat it. And then. And sometimes they just don’t even repeat it. It’s like, they just go get your shoes. And that’s it. 

[00:45:15] Randi Rubenstein: Well, it’s okay. So I, I asked my group, I said, okay, I will ask Michaeleen a few questions because as I said, we’re all obsessed with your book. So I want to ask a few of the questions that people submit. before we get there, I do want to ask one thing about the shift in you.

[00:45:36] I love all the stories about how you kind of realize like in all these other cultures, parenting doesn’t just fall on the mom or the mom and the dad, right? And so there’s this whole support network. And I think that parenting has, you know, in our modern world or here in America, I think in the mainstream culture, it can be a lonely endeavor. Like hugely, right.

[00:46:06] It can feel so lonely and it can feel unsafe emotionally to like really tell people what’s going on behind the curtains of your home because it seems like that’s not going on in their house or at least their pictures on social media tell you,

[00:46:19] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right.

[00:46:20] Randi Rubenstein: that they’ve just got their shit together and, and it just makes you feel terrible and like a failure. So you, and then you’re worried that maybe if you tell somebody what’s really going on, what if they judge your kid and what if they don’t want,

[00:46:32] Michaeleen Doucleff: And they can be mean, the parents are mean to each other. Like. 

[00:46:36] Randi Rubenstein: Right. They’ll judge you. They’ll judge your kid. They’ll, what if they then go and spread rumors and then other parents hear that your kid’s a nightmare and then they’re not going to let their kid play with your kid. So you’re like, okay, well I better just keep it to myself. And so it seems like you went ,and tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems like a lot of the shift within you was going and having this sort of circle of sisterhood embrace you.

[00:46:58] Michaeleen Doucleff: Mmm, I haven’t thought of that like that, but it’s right. Like having these. The support right from these other women and and tie the men in Tanzania. Yeah, absolutely. \

[00:47:10] You know, it’s really interesting because I mean, I think parents are judgmental everywhere but not like here and it comes back to that idea that children are expected to be hellions, right? They’re expected to misbehave. They’re these illogical, irrational creatures. So it’s not the parents fault. Like it’s not on the parents, right? And I think that shifts the mentality a lot.

[00:47:31] But then again, you know, it goes also back to what are we teaching? Are we teaching kids to be these little individual islands with individual accomplishments? That’s kind of how the parents treat each other. Right? Are we teaching kids to work together and support each other? And you know, that’s how the parents treat each other in these other cultures. 

[00:47:48] Randi Rubenstein: And I guess the thing that I kind of also, I want to leave the listeners with is I feel like especially being a mom, because in America, in most families that I have known or experienced, it seems like a lot of the childcare still does fall on the mom,

[00:48:06] Michaeleen Doucleff: Absolutely.

[00:48:06] Randi Rubenstein: Right? More than the dad. And if we’re feeling isolated and alone and worried about being judged, our kids being judged. So we might as well just keep it quiet and grin and bear it really through our gritted teeth, deal with whatever’s going on. It feels like it’s got patriarchal roots, you know,

[00:48:27] Michaeleen Doucleff: It does, absolutely.

[00:48:28] Randi Rubenstein: And I’m, I think this is kind of all coming together. I’ve been very obsessed with this. Have you seen Mrs. America on Hulu, the series? I think it was on. Have you watched it?

[00:48:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes. 

[00:48:38] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. So I’m obsessed with it. I’m on, I think I’m on episode seven and did you like it?

[00:48:44] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. For sure.

[00:48:45] Randi Rubenstein: so I’ve just been watching it and just kind of like studying, you know, it’s really interesting. These, uh, docudramas, I think they’re so interesting in teaching history because, for anybody that doesn’t know, it’s all about like the rise of the feminist movement. And I love the lens of looking at the Stop ERA movement,

[00:49:03] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right? Phyllis Schlafly, right?

[00:49:05] Randi Rubenstein: Yes. Yes. And so, and it’s just a star studded cast. It’s really fun to watch, but I’ve been thinking that the patriarchal roots that we can control society, if we control the women and there’s strength in numbers, there’s strength in packs. So if, within our culture, the women aren’t allowed to really band together in sisterhood.

[00:49:30] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes.

[00:49:31] Randi Rubenstein: Nothing’s really going to change. It’s almost like there’s been so much masculine leadership, and the feminine leadership that only really like, I think, you know, not only women, because lots of men, you know, it’s like we all have feminine and masculine qualities, but it seems like you went to these ancient cultures and the women showed up with that sort of divine feminine leadership and they, and they embraced you and they modeled that for you and they taught you how to tap into that within yourself.

[00:50:03] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. I think you’re, I mean, I think what you just said is like incredible. I think. Absolutely right by, by dividing women, the power structure stays, right, with the men. Right? It’s a way of perpetuating the power structure by pitting women against each other, and nowhere more fierce is in the parenting realm. Right?

[00:50:21] Because it is like, and you’re absolutely like, right. I mean, I just think back to when we were, the second day in the Arctic, I put this in the story and this mom ran out of her house. And she said to us, she said to me, she said, I see you here with your daughter by yourself. You can’t be here by yourself with your daughter. You need help. You need a break. I will take her for you.

[00:50:41] And like, I was just like, wow. Right. Like, and then they all kind of, I didn’t put this in the book, but they all kind of three of them came together and had this like intervention when they’re like, we’re going to take Rosie for the afternoon, Michaeleen needs a break. And like, they got her finally to go with them. And, but it was. You’re right. It’s this incredible,

[00:50:59] Randi Rubenstein: But I love what they said to you. You don’t just need a break. She needs a break from you.

[00:51:04] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes. This is what Sally said one day. She’s like, it’s, they get tired. She gets tired of you just as much as you’re tired of her. And that is so right. Right? It’s not just about me. Like Sally said, like, that’s why she’s so grumpy. She needs a break from you. 

[00:51:19] Randi Rubenstein: I loved that part. And I was like such a good point, you know?

[00:51:24] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. Yeah. We think of like outsourcing our childcare is so poo pooed in our, like, we think it’s not the idea or hurt. I mean, there’s still even like, you know, a lot of people think this, that when you outsource it and other people take care of your kids, you’re somehow doing something wrong. When in fact, like. Data say that kids need that and kids do better when they’re, you know, off with another family, off with the other kids, off with the grandma, like, so it’s, I’m always encouraging Rosie, like every moment go, go with other people, like that’s where they stretch their wings.

[00:51:56] And they also get this like support, right? They feel like, okay, something happens to mom and dad. They know that like, I’ve got this, you know, people have got my back and, and I feel the safety net. You know, 

[00:52:08] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I also think that when they go off with other people, I think that it teaches them. I think it kind of is like the opposite of codependency.

[00:52:19] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:52:20] Randi Rubenstein: Right.

[00:52:20] Michaeleen Doucleff: For sure. For sure. Absolutely.

[00:52:23] Randi Rubenstein: We can love each other the most and we can come back together and be so happy to be together. And we don’t have to be together every single second. It’s actually not healthy. We need to all have, like, we have our lives together and we have our lives separately.

[00:52:38] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah.

[00:52:39] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. I think it’s so healthy.

[00:52:41] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. And for the parents too, right. Cause then it’s kind of like, like having, I call them like the aunt, the auntie network. And it’s like having that, it’s like, okay, if I need, you know, something comes up or we need something really quick and we’ve got this. Someone has my back.

[00:52:53] And like, there’s studies that show that that’s more important in life, like for your health, than like not smoking, tahn eating right, it’s just feeling like if something goes wrong, I have support. somebody has my back. And, and again, we’re teaching the kid the same thing, right? How to create these strong relationships and reach out and get help and give help. And, um, yeah, this nuclear family thing is crazy. And like I say, hasn’t been around very long, not time tested and really not the way kids are designed to be raised.

[00:53:25] But you don’t need a village. You just really need like one or two other families or, you know, one or two really strong people in your in your life, right? Besides you’re you’re the nuclear family. You just need one or two. It makes a huge difference.

[00:53:40] Randi Rubenstein: That’s what a lot of a lot of the members in my group said, like that sounds like heaven on Earth. How do we do that? How do we create that? It’s, it feels so elusive because, and I think it might geographically, it might, depend on where you live. I mean, I always felt like that. Like we went one summer and we stay, we rented a house for a month in Boulder, Colorado, me and my youngest son at the end of that month, I said, I feel like if we had lived here, if you guys had been raised here, things would be different. And we live in Houston. We live in a big city. It just is a different culture.

[00:54:16] Michaeleen Doucleff: It’s harder. It’s harder, but in San Francisco, so we live in Texas now too, we moved, but in San Francisco, it is harder. There’s no doubt. It’s harder, but I do think you can do it. I think it’s. For me, it boiled down to being very selective. Like, I really pruned back. The Inuit moms taught me this too. Like I really pruned back. We don’t, it’s not about abundance of a friendships. It really is about like having people that share your thoughts on kids and really share the desire to build this network and really.

[00:54:47] So we ended up really just with two families that we shared the child care pickup and the dinners and the weekends and, and so it was a very, it was very small, but very like robust and strong connection and it helped a lot. It helped a huge amount.

[00:55:03] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, I think it’s, I, I have somebody who works with me, a coworker who lives in San Francisco and, um, she has that there. So I know it’s, it’s not just a big city thing, of course, in my brain, I’m like, yeah, but it’s California and – 

[00:55:20] Michaeleen Doucleff: But now we’re in we’re in Alpine, Texas, like super rural and it’s a lot easier here. I mean,

[00:55:26] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah.

[00:55:27] Michaeleen Doucleff: Rosie can just walk around.

[00:55:29] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so awesome.

[00:55:30] Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, so it’s, I, I do see though, I do see that the city is harder. There’s no, there’s no doubt, but I think it’s doable. And you, and you know, just one, just one extra person that really cares for the child and really cares for you is. There’s data that show it makes a huge difference in a child’s like mental health growing as they grow up. Just one person, like

[00:55:51] Randi Rubenstein: Just one other, one other family. Yeah. I mean, we have that, we have that, and it just kind of haphazardly happened. But it’s interesting because it’s like everyone. We, it just works together, you know,

[00:56:03] Michaeleen Doucleff: right? It’s kind of like, it’s easy, right? In San Francisco. That’s kind of what happened. I was like, okay, the ones that I have to work a lot for, I’m just gonna like, let them fall off, you know, and, and really invest the time and the energy to the ones that feel easy and I’m not forcing things.

[00:56:18] And, I had to make the conscious effort to value it and put the time in, right? Like, okay, I’m not going to like do this extra thing at work because, you know, we’ve got this, you know, I want to help with the other family’s kids, and like, you know, really kind of prioritizing it makes it makes a big difference. But it brings so much joy, right? It brings so much joy to help each other. To Rosie, it brings joy to me it brings joy. Like it just feels good. Right? 

[00:56:40] Randi Rubenstein: Yes. 

[00:56:41] Michaeleen Doucleff: To help each other.

[00:56:41] Randi Rubenstein: And it gives everyone a break from each other too, right? 

[00:56:44] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, exactly. And I enjoy the relationship with the other kids too, right? Like really getting to know them and yeah, it’s been, it’s what we really need.

[00:56:53] And it’s interesting because in those little communities in the book, the families are the same. They don’t have this like massive network of friends. They have like one or two families that they’re sometimes related, sometimes not, that they’re really close to. And it’s even though they live in this really small place, right. But the moms in in Tanzania, it was just incredible how much time they spend together.

[00:57:13] So I described a little bit in the book, but just every day, like eight moms just spend the entire day together, like from basically fire, sun up fire to like sundown fire. They’re like with each other chatting, socializing, foraging, like just, and it just struck me as like, wow, this is an enormous amount of socializing and what that must do to them. Like they must never feel like alone, you know, and isolated and – 

[00:57:41] Randi Rubenstein: Mm-hmm, yeah, it’s almost like their version of a kibbutz. 

[00:57:45] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. And it’s like, okay, I’m never going to get to that level, but like, I can add a little bit more of that and really value it and see the value of it and the importance of it.

[00:57:54] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. I think it sounds heavenly. Okay. Let me get to the

[00:57:56] Michaeleen Doucleff: Okay, questions! 

[00:57:57] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. I know. I’m so fascinated with everything that you learned from all, you know, I could just listen to stories forever. Um, Aaron says, my question is related to our post pandemic times. From your travels in the villages, what have you changed in terms of your rituals and your habits and how has your village families adapted? I don’t know exactly what that means.

[00:58:22] Michaeleen Doucleff: To the pandemic.

[00:58:23] Randi Rubenstein: Oh, yeah.

[00:58:24] Michaeleen Doucleff: I think the Inuit town was really spared, um, because they were so isolated physically they could block off and they’ve been doing great, but I think that the village in the, I don’t know about, the Tanzania village.

[00:58:35] Actually, this is about all of them. They’ve all done really well. Both the Inuit and the Tanzania communities were really isolated physically. And so they could just kind of block it off and and the last I heard from the Maya village that they were doing well that the elderly people got vaccinated. And, you know, the Mexican government did a good job of, I think, vaccinating some of the rural communities. And so I think they’ve done well. 

[00:59:00] So the routines changed enormously. I mean, the big thing is like it took about six months, I’d say to do this, but I just got rid of really all child-centered activities that I didn’t want to do. So sometimes I take Rosie to this farm, this kid farm, because I like seeing the animals, you know, but no birthday parties, unless I like the parents and I want to be with the parents, you know, you know, no zoos, none of this stuff, not the weekends are like, I do what I want to do and I need to do and I figure out a way that Rosie can join me and if she can’t join me, you know, then, then I find somebody to watch her or, you know, find something else for her to do.

[00:59:39] But most of the time she can join me and we figure out ways. And the same thing with after school, we do nothing, we do nothing. Like we come home. Actually, now we all come home and we all garden. We’ve been like making this massive garden in our yard. And, um, but it’s like, I just do my stuff.

[00:59:55] And you know, like Thanksgiving, I was solo parenting for like three months in the winter, and I still just did my stuff. Over the Thanksgiving break I had to work and Rosie just sat there and did her stuff while I was working and it’s not very exciting work. I mean, sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s me typing on the computer. And that really changed that perspective of like what the kid needs and what’s really good for her. And what’s good for her is to just be with me and enjoy me.

[01:00:22] Randi Rubenstein: And, she’s welcome.

[01:00:25] Michaeleen Doucleff: She is totally welcomed. Oh, exactly. It’s not just like forced. It’s like, I like, I like her company. 

[01:00:31] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, right. Because you know what? Because you don’t have to change. Like, you’re like, I, I, I have a job, like I have to get some work done and you are more than welcome to be here with me.

[01:00:44] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right.

[01:00:44] Randi Rubenstein: Um, that’s a beautiful thing, right? Like – 

[01:00:47] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right. It’s this coexistence, right? It’s not me sitting there, like teaching her and talking to her and this really intense interaction. No, it’s just us doing our thing. A lot of times she’s coloring and she wants to go outside. She can ride her bike outside. Let me have the space. you know, she can be there. She can not be there. And we’ve trained her, like I’ve trained her so that she can take care of 

[01:01:05] Randi Rubenstein: Thank you for saying that.

[01:01:06] Michaeleen Doucleff: herself in this environment. 

[01:01:07] Randi Rubenstein: No, because I know people are like, okay, but how do I get there? And what I want y’all to see is, where you are now, if you’re like how on Earth, I know what you’re saying, what you’re thinking, listener, my kid would never, right? Every second it’s I’m bored and yada, yada, yada. And so what Michaeleen just said is she trained her. And that’s loaded because you know, we can know that. But then the reality of actually doing that.

[01:01:41] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. 

[01:01:42] Randi Rubenstein: Right? It takes, a lot of confidence in showing up and knowing like, 

[01:01:47] if your child has been trained to live in a kid-centric family and now all of a sudden you’re changing the rules, just know that when you’re changing the rules, it’s going to get terrible for a sec. Right.

[01:01:59] Like, like it’s going to take a minute and. If you can adopt like what all the different indigenous women taught you, it’s just like, of course they’re going to lose their minds.

[01:02:09] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right. Right. Right.

[01:02:11] Randi Rubenstein: You know, when, when they have to experience boredom and you’ve been entertaining them every second, of course, like, well, doesn’t that make perfect sense?

[01:02:17] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right. Cause I mean, we’re the same way, right? Like when we can’t text on our phone.

[01:02:21] Randi Rubenstein: Right!

[01:02:22] Michaeleen Doucleff: We get upset intense, right? And it’s the same feeling they’re having. The dopamine isn’t there. They got to come off the dopamine.

[01:02:28] Randi Rubenstein: They got to detox.

[01:02:29] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s exactly right.

[01:02:31] Randi Rubenstein: Right. So, I just want people to kind of like, just, just be inspired and see themselves. Like it was just three years ago, you know, that you were like, I’m sort of dreading the day and now you’re like, and my child’s welcome everywhere with me. And I still get, I garden, I work, I like, I’m not going to birthday parties. I don’t have to like go to one of those terrible children’s museum or whatever it is.

[01:02:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: Chuck E. Cheese’s

[01:02:53] Randi Rubenstein: No, none of that. Like, I just get my stuff done and I, I, it’s wonderful. 

[01:02:57] My kid can be with me coloring and like, it’s great. 

[01:03:01] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah. And I mean, she says to me sometimes like, I’m bored. I don’t know what to do. I mean, I mean, it’s not every second. I mean, there was one day, like she was doing like 10 hours and of course there’s like moments where she’s angsty, but like, so am I, you know, and we just deal with it and like, and it moves past it.

[01:03:16] And, but you’re right. I mean, I’ve written about this. I think it took, when the pandemic hit and she had to sit with me because there was nothing we could do. And I was solo parenting then too. She was mad for like a week. Oh my God. She was pissed. She was four, and she was like throwing furniture and like, it was terrible, but it passed literally like a week.

[01:03:34] And we did it in little chunks too. Like that’s another really like big piece of the book is this idea that go in steps, right? Like if you need to, like, you rarely need to rip the bandaid off with kids, right? You can like. So we would do like 20 minutes, okay, I’m going to work 20 minutes and then we’ll go walk outside or I’ll go read outside, you know, and then we worked up to an hour and then, you know, over the course of a week, we worked up to like a couple hours and it was –

[01:03:55] Randi Rubenstein: That’s not a lot of time. I mean, that’s, that’s what I’m saying is- 

[01:03:58] Michaeleen Doucleff: They learn fast. But you can’t give in. 

[01:04:03] Randi Rubenstein: Right! So you had to be confident. And I think it was the circle of sisterhood. That was like, 

[01:04:09] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh yeah, for sure.

[01:04:11] Randi Rubenstein: Right. Like, like, like let us really tell you and you’re like, okay, well, the proof’s in the pudding. I’m seeing your 12-year-old just show up and do the dishes because she loves being helpful. All right. I believe you keep bringing, you know, all the advice and guidance. And so you were obviously a willing student and coachable and-

[01:04:31] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, so coachable. I’m ready for more!

[01:04:33] Randi Rubenstein: I just want everyone else. I mean, I want everyone, I want everyone to realize there is hope. Okay. I’m going to get, to one more. Cause this was, this came up a lot for people. It said, you touch a little bit on technology. I think that you said that it’s, it’s not really an issue in some of the other cultures that have it. The kids just don’t get it until they can afford to buy it themselves and they manage it themselves. She goes, I wonder if that’s still her take as her daughter is getting older.

[01:05:00] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, that’s a great question. So the Maya village is the. They don’t have it. I mean, they all have TVs in their home, but that’s like the family TV, but yeah, they don’t have phones or anything if they can’t buy it and pay for the plans and everything. So most of the kids get a phone like 14, 15, 16 when they start to work, work in a house, take care of kids, you know, babysit.

[01:05:20] So yes, that is still my take at Rosie age six. Rosie is not going to get a phone until Rosie pays for the phone. I’ll let you know how that goes, but that is the plan. And I really, I really respect that idea for lots of reasons.

[01:05:34] Now that in the Arctic, the kids had tons of video games. No phones, too expensive. But tons of video games and the kids played tons of video games. And, um, I thought a lot about this. The parent didn’t police it. There wasn’t this like time limits and basically anything that any item that caused conflict in a lot of those homes, they would get rid of. And they even told me this, like, we don’t argue over property. We don’t argue over things, which is so interesting in itself. But interestingly, the kids also played outside six, seven hours a day.

[01:06:09] So they would be on the video games. This is the summer and they weren’t at school. They’d be on video games four or five hours a day, but they’d also be outside like enormous amounts of time. And I think I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I think it’s because the parents were outside so much too.

[01:06:23] Right? And so the parents weren’t on their device the whole day, all day. They were like out fishing, hunting, collecting berries out on the water. Like the parents had these big lives outside and the kids just kind of did too. And I think that that helped balance out a lot of the video gaming. But they did a lot of video gaming.

[01:06:41] The grandma in the book, uh, Maria, she came back from like a seven day, 10 day hunting trip and she got back and she was like, Oh my God, I have so much CSI I have to catch up on. And I think that that like showed the mixture of it. It was like, I just spent seven days camping outside. Um, but I got to sit here and watch CSI for like four hours, you know,

[01:07:01] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, I love that.

[01:07:02] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, it was a big mix and I’m really inspired by that because it’s like it doesn’t have to be all or one, but I think the parents have to kind of also show the kid there’s a life outside, right? There’s all this fun stuff to do outside and we have this big relationship with nature and we also watch TV. And, you know, play video games.

[01:07:17] Randi Rubenstein: Right. Right. No, that’s a great point. Um, okay. Well, this may end up being a two parter because we went, so thank you 

[01:07:23] Michaeleen Doucleff: Sorry for being so-

[01:07:25] Randi Rubenstein: No, I was about to say thank you for being so generous with your time.

[01:07:28] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, of course. I want to write something on the pack, so I will contact you because I want to make sure I credit everything that you, that is, I love that. 

[01:07:36] Randi Rubenstein: Good, good. Yes, absolutely. Contact me. And for everyone, which is all of you who are going to go and get this, I’m, I’m calling it required reading for every parent. Has it come out in paperback yet?

[01:07:48] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. It just came out like last month. 

[01:07:51] Randi Rubenstein: So, “Hunt, Gather, Parent,” and even though I do read a lot of books on my Kindle, and I do also listen to a lot of books on Audible, I invite everyone to buy the actual, physical copy of this book, because you’re going to want to be able to refer to it easily. You’re going to want, I’m telling you, mine is all marked up. You’re going to want to take notes and highlight, and you will be referring back to this again and again, and you’ll be teaching other people about it. So you’re going to like, want to sound educated and you’re going to just want it as an easy reference. So I think the physical copy is, definitely worth getting. 

[01:08:26] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, you know, when I first wrote the Inuit part, when I would get really angry at Rosie, I would go back and read it to, to calm myself down and like recenter myself. So I even read parts of it like over and over again, because it’s. It’s a lot, you know, it’s a lot to take in.

[01:08:42] Randi Rubenstein: Well, the story, I mean, there’s so much for us, like the minute we get to remember storytelling is how they learn. And then all of a sudden that taps into the creative part, you know? So it’s like, okay, so now I have to access the creative part of my brain. Oh, I can’t stay in this angry limits,

[01:09:04] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s true! 

[01:09:05] Randi Rubenstein: You know, and so it’s like, it might just be an amazing tool, like you might’ve been using that tool as a way to just like quickly kind of get yourself out of that triggered moment.

[01:09:15] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, like move from, like you say, like the reactive brain to the creative brain. I hadn’t thought of it like that. That’s so true.

[01:09:21] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. That’s so cool. 

[01:09:22] Michaeleen Doucleff: Which is what we want them to do right. Eventually.

[01:09:25] Randi Rubenstein: And they learn by what we model. So-

[01:09:27] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right, exactly.

[01:09:28] Randi Rubenstein: There you go. Okay. So much fun. So much fun. Thanks for listening guys. 

[01:09:33] Michaeleen Doucleff: Thank you so much guys. 

[01:09:35] Randi Rubenstein: Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs and if you need some accountability and more support, then please, look for the one that would be a good fit for you. 

[01:10:09] Um, and as always, we’re on all the social channels under Mastermind Parenting. On Instagram it’s @mastermind_parenting. Um, and you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live, to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better. Because when they feel better, they do better.

[01:10:39] And, um, I love, love, love getting to know you guys. So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super, super appreciative.

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein