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245: The Kid That Can’t Sleep Without You

By July 4, 2023November 6th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

Every kiddo sometimes has a rough night and needs to crawl into bed with a parent. But what do you do when a rough night is every night for nine years? If you’re anything like a mom I’ve been coaching, you get caught up in self-doubt, and you blame yourself for not doing the thing. But a lot of the time, what’s getting in your way is a part of your personality that’s trying to protect you from hurt and fear. What if you could take a step back and think about your responses from a place of understanding rather than judgment?

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How self-criticism can short-circuit the learning process, and hold us back from the change we know we want.
  2. Why our yearning to not pass on our own trauma to our kids can lead us to give too much. 
  3. The possibilities that open up when we explore our inner patterns with compassion and curiosity.

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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No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model, by Dick Schwartz

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[00:00:00] 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. 

​Hi podcast listeners. How are you guys? I am recording this episode and I think you should be listening to it July 3rd. It’s a few weeks before that. So I’m in the middle of June right now and I’m recording several episodes because I’m going to be out of town. I live in Houston and – I know for those of you who’ve been listening for a long time, you’re like, no shit, Sherlock. 

So I live in Houston and you also know that when the summer comes, I am a complainer about Houston heat. So the last several years, as our kids are getting older, we’ve been going and escaping the heat and

[00:01:00] relocating in different areas in California.

And this summer we are going to be, my daughter goes to school in Santa Barbara and she is staying in Santa Barbara for the summer. And so since she’s not coming to us, we’re going to her, but we’ve been going to California anyway. And last summer she was with me in San Diego, she had an internship in San Diego. And this year we’re going to be in this, just outside Santa Barbara. We rented a house for a bit so I’m super excited. 

We are road tripping there. My husband has gotten a Sprinter van. Do you guys know about these things? They look like Amazon trucks. I guess this is like, what empty nesters do, but I am not real keen on the Sprinter van. To me, it is comfortable sleeping for one person. And I, he takes it and he goes on little adventures.

And I said, like, that

[00:02:00] Sprinter van will be great for transporting me and my dogs to California because it’s a big pain in the ass to get my dogs to California. So I was like, okay, it’ll be comfy, but I’m not hanging out in that Sprinter van for long. You can go on your little weekend adventures, but I have no plans to be a regular in the Sprinter van. He loves the sprint it, he’s named it Van Gogh. My brother actually named it, we’ll give him credit.

Yeah, so Scott loves his Sprinter van and I told him, I was like,we’re sleeping feet to head. Did y’all ever do that when you went to summer camp when for some reason you wanted to like sleep in the same bed as one of your friends? And so you’d sleep feet to head? I was like, we’re sleeping feet to head because the one night I spent the night in that thing, I felt so claustrophobic. I was like crunched in the corner. Anyway, so we’re going to California in Van Gogh and we leave next week and I’m really excited about it. And that’s

[00:03:00] what’s happening with me. 

This week I was thinking, what do I want to share with you? And I want to tell you about a story of a family that I worked with recently. And I’ve seen this a lot, but you know, it’s like where you’ve just like been in a habit or a pattern and all of a sudden you’re like, how are we still here? And then you just sort of feel like, you know better, but you’re not doing better? 

Well, this mom was in a situation where she came to me and she had learned Mastermind Parenting a long time ago. husband, he never really got on board. It was really mostly mom, and where she had modified lots of things in her life.

she came to me because her daughter who was, about to turn nine, her and the husband were very concerned that the daughter was

[00:04:00] heading down a path of disordered eating. And so she turned to me and she said, you know, I think we need help because I’m seeing some signs and it’s not good. And so they were taking the daughter to therapists and, one therapist even said that the daughter possibly had a psychiatric disorder. She does not. She doesn’t. But they were very concerned. They’re very concerned. 

And so now, the husband is like, he’s very concerned about the daughter who was, you know, saying things about her body and I feel like I’m chubby and my tummy and,and she was wanting to. eat a lot of, you know, just a lot of snacks and, you know, they’re real healthy minded people and they exercise and eat healthy and do all the things. And so they thought they were really being helpful by, you know, really pointing out that when you

[00:05:00] eat so many snacks, then… Anyway, it was kind of going, it was going down a bad path. So I said, okay, well let’s figure this out. 

So they thought they were coming to me because of their daughter’s fixation on food and her body and possible disordered eating at almost nine years old. And what we quickly found out, you know, once I did a little digging was, it had been almost nine years that since this mom had had a full night’s sleep because both her daughter and her son slept with her in her bed. And they had like a whole situation the daughter was in the bed with her the son they had like a pulled up mattress. And mom, like, in the medical profession, you know a big, like, working mom

[00:06:00] and they were just, getting by, right? Like doing whatever they could to get some sleep. But mom said, like, all night long, it’s like I have children like all over me. 

And so, tomorrow’s July 4th if you live in America and it’s all about independence and freedom. And you know what feels like the opposite of freedom? When you haven’t had a full night of sleep without children all over your body for nine years, right? Like, nine years. 

And when we would talk about it, I could tell that mom was embarrassed, a little ashamed, like, I know I shouldn’t be doing this, and we’re doing it. And we’ve had tiny

[00:07:00] moments of, getting out of this habit, like tiny moments. And then we’re very quickly back in this, it was like this boomerang pattern that just kept bringing them back to this shared bed. But it wasn’t like a share, you know, there are people that believe in, you know, shared sleeping spaces. and I’m not here to judge anyone, do what works for you.

This mom was exhausted and so they came to me because they thought they had a daughter that they need, they needed to tackle this mental health crisis and this possible disordered eating path that this child was on. And I said, I think that if we diagnose what the real problem is, if we get like underneath this constant snacking, snacking, snacking, I said, I think you have a sleep deprived child.

I mean, think about it. I mean, if you haven’t had a good night of sleep. Or if you’ve ever been

[00:08:00] hung over, if you are, if you think back to your college days, like what did you crave the next day? Right. You craved sugary or carby or greasy foods. I mean, most of us, we don’t even think about it, but like one of the quickest, fastest, easiest ways to feel better in your body you know, when you’re feeling dysregulated because you’re, you’re a little sleep deprived, or you didn’t get quality sleep, is food, right? So like, let’s talk about this sleep issue.

When we dug in, I could tell that mom was a little reluctant. She was like, well, you know, it’s just, you know, we’ve had sleep consultants before and I just never can stick with anything. And so I said, you know, let’s get curious about the part of you that I’m going to call a

[00:09:00] protector part.

And this is something that I’m not trained in. I’m not trained in Internal Family Systems. I highly encourage anyone interested in Internal Family Systems, or if you’ve been hearing people talk about it, it’s a therapeutic modality it’s an approach, where the therapist or the coach that has been trained in Internal Family Systems looks at all these different parts of us, and it’s really interesting. There’s a book, the creator of internal Family Systems, his name is 

Dick Schwartz. I am not a practitioner of Internal Family Systems. I just find it fascinating. And I read his book called No Bad Parts. I highly recommend it. 

And I said, so if we look at – you know, with kids, all behavior is, communication. So if we look at our own patterns and we can bring a little curiosity and we say, hmm, why is this pattern here? There’s a protector part

[00:10:00] that has somehow enabled this pattern. And so instead of making this mean something, terrible about you. Like, and I said, you know, how do you feel about this current sleep situation? 

And mom was like, I feel terrible about it. Like, we’ve hired sleep consultants. I know what to do. And then before I know it, I don’t even know what happens, and then we’re just right back here, right back where we started. And I’ve got children all over my body all night long and I’m exhausted.

And so I said, yeah, I’m curious about why this part of you has brought this pattern into your life and, I don’t know, I’m just curious to, like, find out a little bit more. So then we stopped talking about sleep. Okay, we stopped talking about sleep and we just started talking about, more about mom and her story. And I said,

[00:11:00] you know, I was like, what, tell me about your relationship with food. And did you, like most of us, did you ever have any disordered eating or disordered eating thinking or do you have any history with that?

And, you know, mom said, yeah, you know, I did have some disordered eating when I was a teenager. You know, it happened after my older sister was killed in a car accident. I was like, oh, okay. She’s like, yeah. So she tells me the story about her sister being killed in a car accident and,after her sister was killed, I mean, obviously her mom was in deep grief and she was in that state for, like, a few years afterwards, her mom.

So, very close to her older sister, older sister gets tragically killed in a car accident. And then mom, who she also was really close to and had been a real hands on mom, and now all of a sudden her mom’s kind of MIA.

[00:12:00] And her dad was sort of an absentee, you know, typical dad of the seventies and eighties. Just, I shouldn’t say typical, but for many of us, typical, just kind of hands off and she wasn’t really close to him. 

And so then I asked her, I said, you know, have you, gone through therapy? And she said, oh, I’ve been in therapy for years and years and years ever since the accident. And I said, okay, okay, good. And so she was really self aware and she, you know, she said, well, how does this tie in? I mean, I understand because I had the disordered eating. She’s like, but how are we going to fix my kid’s situation. I was like, well, I think it’s all connected, but let’s just be patient. Let’s just be patient. 

Okay. So, I said, you know, I have a hypothesis. I have a feeling like, like that, abandonment that happened when your big sister that you loved so much, when she tragically died. And then

[00:13:00] your mom, you know, emotionally, she’s gone too. That had to have felt like a pretty big sense of an abandonment or, you know, tell me if it’s different.

And she said, yeah, no, totally. I was on my own. Right? Even when I, you know, decided to face this, you know, I was kind of anorexic, like I was restricting food. And when I decided to, to face it and deal with it was because there was some people that had come and talked to our high school and I reached out to them and I worked with them without my parents even knowing. So, she just felt like all of a sudden she was kind of on her own. And she was like 14 or 15 at the time, like pretty, I was like, you were a child dealing with some big things, and you were doing it on your own. 

I said, my hypothesis is that this part of

[00:14:00] you that is protecting you from that pain you felt, when you were, when you felt so abandoned, right? Understandably. Right? Like you weren’t purposely abandoned by your sister. She died in a car accident. And you weren’t purposely abandoned by your mom. She was in deep grief. Her child had just died. Like things happen. It’s messy being a human and also you were a child.

My hunch is that, when your kids are feeling scared to sleep alone, right? That abandonment protector part causes you to cave every single time, right? So, what I was inviting her to do was, instead of continuing to feel like a failure, I know what to do. I’ve hired the sleep consultants. Right? Like she’s read books, she hired sleep consultants, she even learned things through my program. So it’s like, I

[00:15:00] know what to do and yet I’m not doing it. 

So it’s like, so instead of beating yourself up for allowing your kids to live, to, to sleep with you for so many years, I want to invite some love and some compassion and some understanding for this protector part, right? Like, rather than feeling like a failure for not following through, I want you to look at this trauma, right? This trauma from feeling abandoned, and that it was just too much. Like, and we’re not thinking about these things consciously, right? Like the thought of her children, I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared. Being in fear, being in pain and thinking that their mom refused to come and be with them. Right? 

Like, I think it was like this subconscious protector part that she would never want her children to go

[00:16:00] through the pain of abandonment like she felt. And so this is what caused this pattern to, to stay in her life where they were sleeping with her because, you know, it was like, she would just cave every single time.

Okay. And so once we found the pattern and I,I threw out that she was like, maybe that’s interesting. And I was like, but do you see, you do a lot of things in your life. You follow through on a lot of things, like, you went to medical school,you went through residency. I have enough doctors that I’ve worked with to know the trauma of that. 

Oh, and then you were, when you were in residency, you also had a little baby. You had a baby in residency and then you passed your medical boards. You have some follow through skills. And she’s like, yeah, I do. I was like, okay, so not following through on all the sleep protocols. Can we

[00:17:00] agree that there’s been a reason, right? There’s been a reason. 

We’ve got to get underneath these patterns and look at them from this compassionate lens. And when we understand it, when it starts to make sense, right? I think that what happens is we stop beating ourselves up, and then,we’re allowing ourself, we’re sort of like holding space for ourself and then we’re ready to release it. 


when we are telling ourselves, ugh, I’m such a loser, I know what to do, I’ve spent all this money on these sleep consultants, I read all these books, I did all the things, all these other people have kids who are just perfectly sleeping through the night in their own beds and here I am, can’t get my shit together.

Like, I think it’s really easy to go to that place where we tell ourselves those unhelpful messages.

[00:18:00] But if we think about, all behavior is communication, like all of these patterns are here because they represent something, and chances are there’s some protector part there, from some unhealed hurt. And it’s not serving us anymore, but we haven’t known yet how to release it.

 So it’s like, it’s kind of counterintuitive because it’s like, we have to make friends with it. We have to understand it. We have to bring some compassion for 14 year old, the 14 year old child in her that felt abandoned. We have to understand that she’s a very loving mother. So, anytime her kids are, I’m scared, I’m scared, I just need you, please can I sleep with you? Please? And they would cry and of course she would cave, right? Of course she would cave because that pain that she felt all those years ago was still

[00:19:00] somewhere in her body. And as a loving mother, she couldn’t imagine her kids feeling that pain.

And nobody is thinking this consciously, like, I guess my point is that I want you guys to all think about the places in your life, the patterns in your life, like here you are, you listen to parenting podcasts and you probably, like, follow all the tips and tricks on social, and you’re hearing from all the, you know, pop psychologists out there and,and mom influencers and, you know, maybe reading some of my posts and it’s like, here’s three tips to do this thing. And you’re like, I know what to do, and then I don’t do it. Right? And then I don’t do it. 


what I invite you to do is to bring a little more freedom into your life. Freedom

[00:20:00] to look at your patterns, freedom to know that they are here because they have served you in some way. They are trying to protect you. And the freedom to have a little curiosity about, hmm. Why are they here? What is this? It’s like, I want you to get curious about yourself and I like to call all the parts of our lives that have led up to where we are today, as puzzle pieces. Hmm. What are all these parts of me?

And if you’re,curious about learning more about understanding your parts and and what Internal Family Systems therapy is, read the book, it’s called No Bad Parts, and I encourage you to get support, right? I’m a big fan of the IFS approach. I encourage you to go on Google and look

[00:21:00] up Internal Family Systems therapists, and consider reading a book or looking into a therapist.

And I also, if you are thinking, I need to know more about how to change patterns in my life, patterns that are not working in my household, this is kind of my jam and I am working privately with people. And if you’d like to apply to work with me, there’s a link in the show notes for you to apply and I’d love for you to apply. I’d love to hear about your situation. 

And most importantly, 

I’d love for you to get curious from a compassionate place and to know that, the reason why you haven’t done the thing yet is because you haven’t been ready yet. Right? But you’re listening to this for a reason

[00:22:00] and you’re ready for more freedom in your life and there are resources and, you know, there’s people like me who are doing this type of work where it’s like, yeah, we’re going to come and we’re going to do this together.

And when we do it, especially when we do it in community, even if – like this is a suggestion. Even if you were curious about this book and you said, I’m going to do a book club and I’m going to read No Bad Parts with three of my friends. And then we’re going to discuss, or I’m going to read this book and have my partner read it too. And we’re going to talk, we’re going to go chapter by chapter, and then we’re going to discuss it. 

Like even doing little things like, I can’t even tell you how impactful. I remember me, my husband read a book. it was a short and sweet relationship book and we went chapter by chapter and then we discussed it. And it was so fun and it was like a, it was like a

[00:23:00] week long kind of, they were like short chapters in this, I think it was by the Gottmans, and they wanted you to, it was a seven day makeover, a relationship makeover, something like that. And you know, and so we each read a chapter. 

Actually, you know what we did? This is kind of fun. We used Voxer, which is an app that I use, in my private coaching all the time where it kind of allows us to give 24/7 coaching, Scott and I used Voxer and so we would trade off. So I would read a chapter and he would listen to me reading it. And then the next day he would read a chapter and I would listen to him reading it. And on Voxer you can speed everything up to like 3x, and we’re speed fanatics because we listen to so many things. And then we would discuss and we would discuss each chapter. We would do the exercises in each chapter. And it was really fun. It was, like, a fun little project. 

And so this stuff doesn’t have to be so serious, right? Like, I think what I want to

[00:24:00] urge you to do is, when you’re learning these things, find your resources and find your support people. And your support people can look like your spouse, can look like your best friend, can look like your sister. It’s not a one size fits all approach. 

 So that’s what I have for you this week. And, update, this mom, like once we dug into this and it took us about a month to really unpack all of that. We’re now, what is it? 10, 8 days? Nine days into the next month and, as of yesterday, the update was for four days, both kids sleeping in their own beds. Her little boy had woken them up, like briefly, called out for them twice during the night, but her husband went and attended to him. And her

[00:25:00] daughter went to sleep, woke up one time at 10:30, did not get out of her bed, called for them. They went, they gave her a quick kiss and then both, you know, mom was in bed by about 11, slept until seven. Both kids stayed in their beds all night. Pretty cool, but I don’t think she would have gotten there if we hadn’t spent a month really getting underneath why the pattern of her kids sleeping in the bed with her was really here.

So that’s what I have for you this week. Hope you have a good one. Bye for now.

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

[00:26:00] 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.

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. 

So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. super appreciative

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