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244: My Mothering Missteps

By June 27, 2023November 6th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

My brilliant, beautiful daughter Avery is turning 22. I’m so proud of the woman she’s become, and the relationship we’ve built. I’m celebrating her by opening up about all the ways I screwed up raising her. Avery grew up as the younger sibling of a strong-willed older brother, so she experienced it all. But we’ve proven that being human and making mistakes doesn’t have to drive a wedge between mother and daughter. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How honesty and humility about your mistakes can help you build a close, resilient relationship with your kids, from childhood through adulthood.
  2. That it’s possible to break cycles of trauma and mistreatment even if you’re not a perfect parent.
  3. How the relationships you had – or wanted to have – with your parents inform the relationships you have with your kids.

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

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Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, by Mary Pipher

Queen Bees and Wannabees, by Rosalind Wiseman:

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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 there. How are you guys this week? This episode is gonna be all about that mother daughter dynamic relationship. 

[00:00:24] I know it’s loaded. I don’t know why it’s loaded for most of us. The day that this episode is dropping is June 26th, 2023, and it just so happens to be my daughter Avery’s 22nd birthday. She was born 22 years ago, 22 years ago, 2001, on June 26th. So I’m gonna talk about Avery in this episode. I’m gonna talk about mothers and daughters. I’m gonna talk about cycle breaking, doing it differently than, and doing it also the same as was done for us. I’m gonna share some vulnerable things because that’s who I am and that’s how I roll.

[00:01:19] My daughter Avery has, obviously she’s been here for all of it, but she really has been here as I’ve gone through this process of doing the work that I do, growing my coaching practice, just, my whole evolution over the last 22 years. I almost feel like I’ve sort of grown up alongside her. And there are positives and negatives to that. 

[00:01:50] One of, I think the greatest things about my daughter is, um, she tells me, she tells me, she loves to tell me about all of my missteps, and I love hearing about it. I don’t love it when she’s telling me – I don’t love it when she tells me when I take a deep breath, it sort of makes her wanna throat punch me. I don’t love it. I don’t love when I get on my kids’ nerves. 

[00:02:14] I do love that we have a relationship where she can say those things. RIght? Like, I do love that we have a relationship where, when we have a productive conversation, right, where she’s sharing her truth and I’m seeing her perspective and I’m sharing elements of my truth or whatever, whatever is going on.

[00:02:41] Usually after, things went sideways and, you know, we had a big disagreement. I love when she then will, cuz she really, she’s actually sweeter than I am. and so she’ll like be like, no, it’s okay. And then I have to remind her, whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m the mom. I take care of me and I take care of you. I do not need you taking care of me. Like, I’m a grown ass woman. I can hear it. I can take the truth. 

[00:03:10] I love having the relationship with my daughter that I don’t have to wait till she’s 40 for her to, tell me all of the things that I did wrong, like she tells me now. And I love that dynamic.

[00:03:24] So I thought it would be kind of fun to talk about my relationship with Avery and a lot of the mistakes that I’ve made. Are y’all, don’t y’all think it’s kind of fun to hear, about the mistakes? So then maybe if you’re making mistakes that are way less bad than the mistakes I made, you’ll feel better about yourself.

[00:03:48] I, I think it’s just like a, a win for you, right? Like, you’ll feel better about yourself cuz you probably didn’t fuck it up as much as I have. maybe it’ll inspire you, because even though I’ve made all these mistakes, I still have a really connected relationship with my daughter, and I still consider myself a cycle breaker, even though I have accidentally and unconsciously passed on some fucked up cycles. and we’re working through it together. Right? 

[00:04:19] Like, so many of us carry this, the weight and the pressure of thinking that we need to get it all right so that our kids don’t grow up and feel about us the way we feel about our parents a lot of the times. It’s just like the dynamic and I, feel like, it’s like, we can talk about this stuff.

[00:04:39] And what if we just allowed messy humanness? What if we just allowed it? What if we just said it’s all allowed? We get to be whole humans. We all have light parts. We all have dark parts and, perfection is not, it’s not the goal. And, we don’t like perfect people. No one wants to hang out with perfect people because perfect people are just phony people. No one’s perfect. And so we’re just dropping that. 

[00:05:12] What if we aimed for connected? What if we aimed for just like, two humans, mother and daughter, who truly knew each other and didn’t get along all the time, right? Didn’t see eye to eye on everything and all opinions were allowed, right? Like, what if we had that kind of safety in our relationships?

[00:05:43] gonna go through this and I’m gonna read a few things to you. And what I’ll say is that my relationship, my relationship with my daughter has been one of the greatest joys of my life. It’s been one of my hardest relationships for sure. It’s been a relationship where I have faced myself like no other relationship. It truly has been one of the biggest love affairs of my life. And, I hate that I’m getting emotional, but I guess that’s what this, see, here it all is. You know, I had a compli, my mom passed away in, um, July of 2021. And my mom was a really nice lady, really nice lady, and I did not have a deep connection with my mom. I didn’t, I didn’t even know I wanted it. I didn’t even know I wanted it. You know, it just wasn’t, that just wasn’t in the cards for us, ever. I didn’t have it when I was a kid. I didn’t have it as an adult. 

[00:07:03] And because I coach so many women, and, we talk about, you know, the relationships that we dream of having with our kids. And, and quite often what comes up is the relationships that we wanted but didn’t have with our own parents, specifically our moms.

[00:07:23] And I think the relationship that I have with my daughter,today, and it, and we did go through rocky times is truly, she has been one of the greatest loves of my life. And that’s what I want for all of you. That’s what I want for everyone. 

[00:07:44] So my daughter – I refer to the strong-willed child, why you’re listening to this podcast is cuz you have a strong-willed child, right? And then we have our air quotes “other children.” So my daughter Avery, her older brother was my complicated, highly sensitive, strong-willed child. And Avery was my other child. 

[00:08:14] There’s a video from when Avery was really little, I don’t even think she was a year. And I, I guess I used to have like one of those old school video cameras and I was videoing her as a baby. She was like eating, she had the one of those high chairs that like attached to the counter and she was eating and I guess I had it set up and I was just kind of like videoing, I don’t know, just like a, a day in the life. And she’s eating and all of a sudden I get, you hear me get called away. 

[00:08:46] And Alec, at the time he was probably like, four and a half or so, and he was, you know, it was like our kitchen was attached to kind of our playroom area. So I’m like around the corner and she’s just – in the video, I leave the video on, and you just hear me interacting with Alec, and it, this went on for like 10 minutes. You hear me dealing with Alec and a, I don’t know, whatever Alec, Alec was having a moment or needed something. I don’t even know what it was.

[00:09:15] And you just see Avery and she’s just like, she finishes eating and she’s got like a little spoon and a little bowl and she just like proceeds for 10 minutes just to like play with the spoon and the bowl. Just entertain herself, occupy herself. She was just easy.

[00:09:34] And maybe it was because she had to be, because Alec was, you know, Avery, when we watched this footage years later, Avery, I was like, look how adorable you are. And you’re just like playing for 10 minutes, occupying yourself. And she picked up, I wasn’t even listening to what was going on in the background and she was like, mom, man, Alec was a lot.

[00:09:56] And I was like, yeah. She’s like, you were really patient. And I was like, I was? She was like, yeah. And I was like, well, you were really patient, the way, and she was like, I think I was really neglected. And I was like, yeah, maybe that too. Maybe that too. So Avery played with a empty bowl and a spoon for 10 minutes. And I made a lot of missteps with Avery.

[00:10:27] We found some other footage that was her playing with her younger brother Corey. And then Alec kind of was, sneaked up. They were playing, there was a dog crate, and they were like, Avery, Avery and Corey were like playing. And Avery was like, Corey, Corey, come on, come on. They were like putting each other in the dog crate, like they were locking each other in jail and they were playing and, and then you see Alec creep up around the corner and jump out and scare her and she screams. 

[00:10:55] And you hear me and Scott go, Avery, settle down. And Alec has a smile on his face. And so it was like I was constantly scanning the environment for, if Alec was happy, then I felt like, okay, everything’s good. And so if anyone disrupted that moment where Alec was happy, god forbid, I was like, ugh. 

[00:11:21] So you hear me and Scott, especially me, gaslighting Avery. He was constantly kind of creeping up and scaring her, jumping out from around the corner, but then he would have a smile on his face, and so I didn’t even realize that, like, I was being played. Because as long as he had a smile on his face, you know, Avery was easy. If he had a smile on his face than all was well, and so I didn’t even realize that we were constantly gaslighting Avery. She was trying to let us know he’s scaring me, but she didn’t know how to articulate it. I think it was just such a part of her norm. 

[00:12:05] So yeah, so there’s that misstep, a pretty big one. We basically conditioned her to question whether she should trust when something feels scary. And when she screams out because she’s alarmed, we basically gaslit her to just suck it up. That conditioning has, the damage of that has been, we’ve been working through. It’s pretty fucked up, right? Like I would consider that a pretty big misstep. 

[00:12:36] Another big misstep that I made was, Avery was an avid reader. She would read and read, and read, and read and read, and she didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until she was in seventh grade. Just totally missed it. And by the time she was diagnosed, the diagnostician, I remember saying like, the engine, like her brain is a Ferrari. And it’s like sitting in traditional, a traditional classroom is like the engine of a Ferrari being in a Mack truck trying to go up a steep hill.

[00:13:11] So I should have had the balls to move her when I wanted to in third grade to a Montessori, this really cool Montessori environment. my gut told me to do it, and I just, I, I don’t know. I chickened out at the last minute. You know, she was in a mainstream school, she looked the part, but like I knew in my gut that she beat to her own drum. I knew that, even though she wasn’t squeaking, right, she was just had her nose in a book.

[00:13:43] And did, you know, she was easy, she was an easy kid, just kind of had her head down doing her thing. But I knew she needed something different and I didn’t move her to a different school that she would’ve been stimulated in a different way. Right? And I, I kept her in that mainstream classroom. 

[00:14:06] And she did fine. You know, she always figured it out. She did fine. But her whole life, she didn’t, I mean, she’s a girl who her brain is working. Like, this is a girl who wants to be thinking and doing. Andshe was like, yeah, school’s like stifling. It felt like a straight jacket to sit in the classroom. And this is a girl that loved to learn, loved to feel alive, loves adventure. 

[00:14:38] You know, now as a 22 year old, because she’s in college, and she’s always doing cool things and and adventurous things, and she’s made this amazing group of friends and she’s just always into something interesting, and we just kept her in this kind of traditional setting, and it was stifling for her. 

[00:14:59] So yeah, I don’t think I had her in the right school. I gas lit her, I mean, these are pretty big missteps, right? Pretty big missteps. Like lots of reasons why my daughter could be like, yeah, my mom, like she’s a parenting coach, and wait till you hear all the mistakes she made with me. I mean, I couldn’t blame her if she did. Right?

[00:15:26] I passed down some of my like fucked up body stuff to her. Like I have this whole story that I’ve written about, I may have even told it on the podcast, I call seven pairs of pants. I’m not gonna tell it again because it may go into a future book one day. 

[00:15:43] but yeah, like me realizing that, 

[00:15:48] this was a girl that I raised that anytime anyone ever said she was pretty, I was like, oh, and she can run really fast. And she loves to read. You know, I was determined I was not going to raise a female that felt validated by her external beauty. I was determined we weren’t gonna talk about any body stuff. We weren’t gonna pass down any of that nonsense.

[00:16:19] And when she was like 13 or 14, she was like, do you think I’m pretty? And I was like, beautiful. Inside and out. She was like, no, outside. I know you think I’m beautiful inside. Do you think I’m pretty on the outside? I was like, gorgeous. What are you talking about?

[00:16:33] She was like, you never tell me. That’s what she said. You never tell me. And I was like, okay, I took it too far. 

[00:16:43] I took it too far. And by anyone’s standards, probably not anyone, I shouldn’t say because beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but she’s beautiful. She’s beautiful, but she is truly beautiful in inside and out. 

[00:16:54] So, even though I was so determined, that I was never gonna make her feel like her worth was about her, outer appearance, there was a pattern that I passed down and I didn’t become aware of until her freshman year in college. And we’ve been working through that. We’ve been working through that.

[00:17:17] The other thing that wasn’t even on my radar that she had to let me know is that I also really screwed up in terms of like the way I educated her about sex. And, I somehow like missed the whole chapter on masturbation. Don’t even get me started. I can’t even talk about it. But she now will tell you that – well, now she tells me that, thank God, UCSB, her college, um, has an amazing human sexuality class that she took and she ha one of her roommates also happens to be a TA for the class. So she’s like, don’t worry. Between Aiden and UCSB’s human sexuality, they filled in the holes like, you’re good mom. It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re good.

[00:18:01] You know, she loved a lot of aspects, like she loved some teachers that she had, she loved some coaches that she had. She loved playing sports. and she has a lot of loyalty for the schools that she went to because she did have some great adults in her life. but socially it wasn’t a great fit for her. And that was really hard. That was really hard. 

[00:18:26] So I made a lot of missteps with my daughter, and yet she and I, I don’t keep track of how often we talk. And we talk all the time. About nothing. And about everything. And you know, I think she would tell you that I’m her person. And we have a beautiful relationship, even though she’s the “other child,” who we accidentally gaslit, and I apparently neglected for, since she was a baby, to deal with her more demanding older brother. And she’s thriving in her life. 

[00:19:11] So I wanna read y’all. now it’s June 26th. I’m not gonna be blowing the surprise, but her boyfriend, he is putting together the sweetest birthday present for her, and so he asked all of us if we – to answer two questions, and he’s making her a birthday book. And so, the first was what’s, what’s your favorite memory of Avery, and why do you love her?

[00:19:34] Okay, so I wrote, wow, just one memory? My absolute favorite memory of Avery was watching her race the two fastest boys during her fifth grade Maccabi games at school. And yes, she smoked them. Avery became the real life version of Atalanta from the Free To Be You and Me story that she loved. She looked and felt like a female warrior when she was named the Fastest Kid at Beth Yushurun Day School circus, circa 2013. 

[00:20:01] Why I love her. I never could have dreamed of ha of a daughter that has brought me as as much joy as I’ve had watching Avery grow up. She’s a magical human and a truly beautiful person inside and out. I never imagined a mother-daughter bond like I have with Avery, and I treasure that more than words can explain. I just love her so much. 

[00:20:20] So, I’ve heard a lot of mom-fluencers and different kind of pop psychologists on, on the socials, talk about cycle breaking, right? Like it’s thrown around. But if we really think about being a cycle breaker. What does that look like and what does that sound like?

[00:20:41] And, I don’t think I could have known all those years ago when I found out that I was pregnant with a daughter and I started reading Raising Ophelia, and, and when she was like two, I was reading Queen Bees and Wannabees. I don’t think I knew that I had this desire to have a mother daughter bond like I had never felt with my own mom. I don’t think I could have identified it. And frankly, I don’t think I would’ve identified it because I think it would’ve felt disloyal. 

[00:21:15] ,Like I said, like my mom was a really nice lady and she loved us a lot. She loved me a lot you know, and I think she even liked me. And, we did not have the connection that I craved. I think I craved with her when I was young and then I think I gave that up and I didn’t crave it with her at all. By the time I was teen, a teenager, I didn’t crave it with her. I didn’t want it. And in having my own daughter, I’ve been able to have that relationship.

[00:21:54] And so, you know, when you think about cycle breaking, I think that, identifying what is your relationship like with your mom? And if you can go back and remember when you were a kid, what did you really want? What did you really want? Did you want a mom who, like, I remember like silly things. 

[00:22:20] Like, I remember one time saying to my mom, my mom was always a working mom, which I was actually proud of her for being a working mom. Like I knew my mom was smart and hard working and successful, and it always felt like she was kind of important. But I remember saying to her, mom, do you think on my birthday, I was in elementary school, do you think on my birthday you could come and have lunch with me at school? And she was like, Randy, I have a job. I have a job. 

[00:22:46] And I was like, okay. And she’s like, yeah, no, I have a job. And, yeah, I wanted my mom to come and have lunch with me, not every week, but on my birthday, maybe once or twice a year. Like, that would’ve been super special. And that was not in the cards for me. 

[00:23:08] And I did feel envy towards other kids that I felt had moms that were there a lot. I felt envy for, you know, friends that I had that had moms that like, they called all the time and they wanted to talk to, and, to have now created that with my own daughter. I think this is called reparenting yourself, right?

[00:23:36] So 

[00:23:37] in many ways I do feel like I have grown up alongside my daughter, and I hope that hearing about all of my screwups, which me and my daughter openly talk about. I hope that it inspires you to know, like you don’t have to be perfect. You’re probably not gonna get it as wrong as I have. And, you can still break cycles. You can still have a connected, beautiful relationship.

[00:24:12] And something that my daughter often repeats back to me that I said to her during the seven pairs of pants episode when I realized I’d passed, somehow, I don’t even know how I did it, passed down some of my body crap to her.

[00:24:28] So now she’ll repeat back, mom, you did it better than your mom and I’m gonna do it even better than you. Right? This is evolution. You know, God willing, she’ll do it better than me. And I think when we all understand like, this is just the way it works. Like, we don’t have to be mad necessarily at our parents. And we don’t have to wait for our kids to grow up and then tell us all the resentment they’ve been harboring for years. Like, why can’t they tell us about it now?

[00:25:06] It’s like when she said, yeah, remember when you sent me to that camp and I got bullied the whole time and this one stole letters from me, and made fun of the love letters you sent me? And, I’m like, well, that’s terrible. She’s like, I hated that camp. I’m like, well, that was a terrible decision. She’s like, yeah, it was. I’m like, yeah, it was. And then we move on, like productive conversations every damn time. Every damn time, right? 

[00:25:35] When you’re not scared to own your role and you’re allowing your own messy humanness to come into the equation, like everything shifts and changes. So happy 22nd birthday to my beautiful daughter, and I am wishing all of you an amazing week. Bye for now. 

[00:26:03] 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.

[00:26:38] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. 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, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:27:11] 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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by Randi Rubenstein