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254: Hunt, Gather, Parent Your Family (September 2023)

By September 5, 2023November 6th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

Ever since I first read Hunt, Gather, Parent by award-winning journalist Michaleen Doucleff, I’ve felt the urge to change the conversation. So much parenting advice feels cursory and performative. What if we could move past the quick tips model, explore the real challenges and triumphs of raising kids, and what’s behind our ideas about what it means to be a good parent?

In many parts of the world, parents are raising families using traditional methods they learn from other parents, not from books or gurus. While we’re feeling pressure to optimize our interactions, they trust the wisdom they’ve learned from experience. With Michaeleen’s help, we’re going to start some real talk about what we can learn from these time-honored practices, and how to get back the self-confidence we’ve lost.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How parents train their kids to be unhelpful, and the simple ways to start undoing that programming.
  2. Why a sense of purpose might be more important for little ones than feeling happy. 
  3. Why we struggle to find parenting role models in our lives.
  4. How to do less without feeling guilty.   

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

About Our Guest

Michaleen Doucleff is an award-winning global health correspondent and the author of Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans.

Links & Resources

Thanks so much for listening to the Mastermind Parenting podcast, where we support the strong willed child and the families that love them!

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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. 

Well, hi everyone. Welcome to this week and this new series with Michaeleen Doucleff, the author of Hunt, Gather, Parent. She and I are going to be sitting down and having a series of conversations and we are open, our intentions are that we just want to… really, our intention is that we just want to hang out together. So, um, and we’re going to let all of you be a fly on the wall of us hanging out together and talking about parenting and hopefully talking about it in a way that maybe you haven’t heard before. Thanks for doing this with me. I’m super excited to hang out with you.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, gosh, Randi, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited, too. 

Randi Rubenstein: So my intention for this series is to begin a different conversation about parenting that goes beyond three tips. For anyone who’s been listening to the podcast or in any of my groups, you know that Michaeleen’s book, Hunt, Gather, Parent, is the only parenting book I recommend. Like, I hadn’t read a parenting book in years. I read it. I’m now listening to it on Audible. It’s so good. And you talk about parenting in a way that I hadn’t heard. 

And even as I’m reading it and listening to it, I’m cringing a little bit about me falling into that category of here’s 3 tips. Just say it like this, and I’m like, oh, I think I’ve been part of the problem. Like all of, you know, our Western culture where there’s just so many parents feel like we need to like, perform and try to be these perfect parents. It’s almost like, we’re playing the perfect parent on TV, but what happens behind the curtains when the camera’s not rolling? Like that’s when the shit hits the fan and everyone’s like pulling their hair out. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. 

Randi Rubenstein: You know, and so I’m like, I’m like, let’s have a meatier conversation that feels deeper, richer, and also like using real words that aren’t so clinical. Like, I loved reading the stories of you going in and living with these indigenous, you know, families – and if I say anything that is like the wrong way to phrase anything and it feels politically incorrect, please correct me.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Okay. 

Randi Rubenstein: Cause I’m a, I don’t want to, I don’t want to worry about it and I don’t want to be like too cautious about how I phrase things. And I may say something wrong because I do.

Michaeleen Doucleff: it, it changes all the time. What’s politically correct. So it’s a moving target. 

Randi Rubenstein: I know. I know. So yeah. So just correct me. But like you went in and you just like, observed them and learned from them on such a human level. And nobody was talking about you know, what the theory is necessarily behind this. Even though I know you went and you talked to all the anthropologists and the psychologists and you, did a lot of research, like, like the part that was so captivating to me about the book was the real stories in the trenches.

Michaeleen Doucleff: I mean, that’s the way parents have learned to interact with children, right? For, you know, a hundred thousand years, right? Is through interacting with real people, right? Your, your, your, your mom, your grandma, your, your neighbor. That’s the way parents are supposed to learn to parent, right?

It’s not through, ironically, a book, or, you know, a researcher, or a scientist, or a man, you know, a man that’s an expert. You know, I love in the book, I talk about this guy that wrote some of the early parenting books. And he was like a sports writer who was like all into guns. And like, he shot his, I think his hand or his finger off one time. And like, this guy is the guy that’s like giving parents advice. 

It’s like, you know, no, we’re supposed to learn by listening to other parents, watching other parents. And I think also what gets lost is kind of respecting the little voice inside you that says, you know, I don’t think this is quite right, or I want to do it this other way, you know, and kind of really being confident in, some of your instincts, I think is also what gets lost in there. 

Randi Rubenstein: if I even just think in my own community and also the parents that I’ve interacted with professionally. a lot of times when I’m working with people, I’ll say, like I try to pull out, what do you think a good mom looks like? You know, like if you had to have… describe a good mom in three adjectives, what would it be? And a lot of times when I asked them, like, who were your role models growing up? People don’t have role models, 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Mm. 

Randi Rubenstein: a lot of times they know that they don’t want to do it the way it was done for them, 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Mm.

Randi Rubenstein: but they don’t know exactly how they do want to do it. And so I’ll say, well, let’s think of a TV family. What was that TV family that just represented the family that you really wanted. And that’s when people were like, oh, well, I loved the mom on this show, or I loved the dad on this show.

And then we start talking about, well, what does that look like? And I think, you know, part of the problem is that, you know, 

we look around our current community and it’s hard to find the example, you know, that also appeals to your intuition, and I think that’s why so many people are confused and second guessing every decision and overthinking every decision. Like, what are your thoughts on that?

Michaeleen Doucleff: Definitely. We’ve lost the role models. Um, and, and I think we also give power to kind of the, the wrong people in some ways, right? I mean, this book is really about giving power to these people that, kind of we would think would be the last people to give us advice, right? Somebody that’s three, you know, 5, 000 miles away in a little tiny Inuit fishing village. And it, but it turns out they’re actually incredibly knowledgeable because they have this knowledge that’s been passed down, right? From, for generation to generation, they’ve held on to these traditional ways of interacting with children. 

I think something that’s important is that I think two things. I think one, we are all trying way too hard. Um, something that I realized when I was in Tanzania, actually, and I, you know, we had Rosie and I traveled for, you know, two months at that point, I was exhausted. Um, I, we were literally in a tent, and, and I would just lay there in the morning and I would realize like, I am trying way too hard. Just every moment I am trying to do something for my child. And what I saw these parents, these moms, mostly – and the dads, too – was just how simple the parenting was and how incredibly easy it was. 

For instance, like getting kids to help, right? Like, we do all this stuff, chore charts, all these scripts say this, say that bag nag, like there’s just an enormous amount of effort kind of, I think, spinning your wheels a lot. And literally what one of the moms in Tanzania, one of the Hadzabe moms would do is like, we go out into the bush to like collect water, say literally she would hand Rosie a bottle to carry, you know, or we’d be out in the bush, like, and then Rosie would carry it. Right? 

Like, there was no question of like, what am I doing? Who’s helping? Is everyone helping? You know, like, okay, everyone needs to take a bottle. Oh no, Rosie, you’re not taking a bottle. You need to take a bottle. There is not, none of this, like, kind of enormous amounts of energy happening. It was literally, take this bottle.

And then they would take a baby and put it on my back. You know, so it was like, it wasn’t like, Michaeleen, can you help with a child? Let’s plan this all out. It was like, carry the baby, you know, like stick it on my back. Or we would, we would go out to get collect firewood. And when we would come back, they’d hand Rosie a couple sticks to carry, you know, and it just… 

First of all, there was very little talking, very little instruction, and it all just kind of flowed. And I think that that’s what we’re missing is this like flow, right? This like, what is really just the minimal thing needed to get the kid going and every day to get the kid to school, to get the kid to sleep, to get the kids to do homework. What’s minimally kind of needed. And otherwise. You can stop. You can just watch. 

Randi Rubenstein: Mm 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You can just relax. What we think of as good parenting is like, doing something at every moment. 

Randi Rubenstein: Mm hmm. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Looking for things to say. Looking for things to fix. 

And actually, if you look around the world, and throughout time, and what a lot of psychologists would argue, a much better approach is the opposite. It’s actually pulling yourself back. Parents would even tell me, like, I intentionally don’t say something. And just, just watching, just being, you know? 

You still have to do some things, right? We do, and every parent does, but it’s, it’s, it’s like, you can just exhale and do nothing for a day. You could do nothing for an entire day, and your kid will be okay, I’m telling you. You know, if they’re over like three, they’ll be alright. Just do, just do nothing and see what happens, you know? 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, it’s interesting. I, when I, I, I looked on Tik Tok and searched “hunt gather parent,” cause I know that, like, you had heard from your publisher that there was, there was a bunch of people on Tik Tok that were reading the book. So I went and I did a search and I watched a couple of the videos.

And the thing that so many of the moms, especially the moms of little tiny kids were talking about was the exact same thing when I… I think it was the first thing that hooked me in truly into the book was, I don’t have to play with my kid. And they’re all talking about it on Tik Tok. They’re like, guess what? You don’t have to play with your kid.

Like you can include them in things that you need to do, that you’re doing for them or for the family. You know, you talk about it in the book, like togetherness. Right? Like, little kids just want to be with you all the time and they also are naturally inclined to be helpful. But we accidentally train… and I was guilty of this and I’m seeing, I like after listening to this part in the book last night, I noticed it with my 17 year old son at the dinner table that like, I literally trained him to be unhelpful. Right?

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. That is what we do. And that is something that’s been shown actually through not just like people looking at other cultures and looking at our culture, but also like, like lab experiments have shown that what we do actually teaches children not to help. 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, I mean, if I think about myself, by the time he came around, especially. I had 3 kids. I have a big gap between him, and like 8 years between my oldest and youngest. So, by the time Corey came around. Like I, especially at dinnertime, I’m exhausted. I’ve had a full day and I’m just trying to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. So the last thing I’m doing is including him. 

Instead, I’m usually pushing him to the side or putting him in front of… probably putting him in front of the television show. That was when I would say, you know, that’s when it worked for me, is I would put him in front of a show while I could do the mad scramble to try and get dinner on the table.

And so he’s in front of a screen. I’m not dealing with him. And y’all know what it’s like when you’re pushing your kid to play with toys or putting them in front of a screen. Before you know it, they’re like, mommy, play with me now. Are you done yet? Will you play with me? Will you play with me? Will you play with me? And so now not on top of all the things that you’re having to do, you’re also have this kid that you’re feeling guilty because they are begging you to be with them. And you’re pushing them off. 

And so what that looks like now in a 17 year old, dinner looks a little different now because it’s not a mad scramble. He’s the only kid at home and I’m like, finishing up dinner and the table is set and he’s now sitting waiting for his dad and waiting to start dinner. And he’s sitting there looking at his phone at the table. And because I just read the book, I’m like, Corey. Look around the table and see what needs to get done still. 

And he, like, looks around. He’s like, oh, water glasses. Are you asking me to do the water glasses? And this was so on my radar because I just listened to it and I was like, um, I don’t know. what do you see needs to still get done? Like you, we sit down to dinner and what is missing from the table? He’s like, if you want me to do the water glasses, just ask me to do the water glasses. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Fascinating. That’s so fascinating, Randi. 

Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, I mean, and I felt like I felt annoyance bubbling up inside of me and I’m like, well, I’m not asking you to do anything. You’re a full fledged member of this family and a 17 year old, you know, young man who has a job and is going to college next year. Like you’re fully capable human. You assess what needs to be done and then get it done. 

And he’s like, got it. He’s annoyed. I’m annoyed. Now he co, now he co regulates with me. He’s annoyed, but really, I trained him to be unhelpful.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Well, I think number one, he knew what was needed to be done, which is great. Right? He knew. He looked around and he knew. I think a lot of kids wouldn’t even know. So you trained him to know what was helpful. What’s missing is the initiation. Oh, I can do that on my own without you telling me. 

Randi Rubenstein: Yep. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Right. You kind of trained him to do what you say, which is, you know, that’s what a lot of parents want. Right. So, right. But, but what’s missing is that like self driven agency part. Now I will tell you that you can train him now to do that, to take initiative on his own, because I trained my husband to do it at 40. So it’s not lost. 

Randi Rubenstein: Right. It’s on my radar. And I’ve been, same, same, same. It’s like we’re, you know, humans are malleable and we can all continue learning. And it’s really, for the people surrounding you to have agency, which is a topic that I very much talked about, um, on the last Masterminding Monthly coaching call that I did all about like crazy school mornings and how to make them less crazy is helping your kids, or supporting your kids in having agency over their own lives where they feel in control. They’re not feeling controlled by you. They’re in the driver’s seat and they’re responsible for getting their tasks done and you support them in that. But ultimately when people have agency, then they own the task, right? Because they feel like they’re in the driver’s seat and they’re in control. 

So I know that it’s possible and I, and, and now that the, this is more on my radar, like Corey is… I mean, all my kids, I will say in other areas, like, they’re so helpful, you know? Like, whenever I’ve had an older kid that starts driving, I never have to ask them, will you go and take your brother? Will you do the… I remember when my daughter, like when Corey started, he was going to bar mitzvah parties at 13 and it’s like the worst because you all of a sudden realize that with teenagers, when they’re, they have their own social life, like you have to like, stay up. And like, some of these parties would end at like 11:30 and midnight. And so now you’re having to like go and pick them up at 11:30 and midnight. 

And I remember my daughter, she was driving by that point, she was like 17. And when Corey was in his bar mitzvah season, she’d be like, what bar mitzvahs does Corey have? I’ll drive him home. Like, you know, and I didn’t ask, I’d be like, that is so helpful. Thank you so much. And she’s like, no, my pleasure. Like I’m a teenager, I’m a night owl. I love driving. I’m a new driver. I’m always looking for excuses to drive. I don’t have big plans. I’m happy to do it.

You know, so in other ways they’ve been super helpful, but this helping around the house. And especially around, you know, the dinner table, not so much. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: This is a, I think a really beautiful example of, like, what happens when children, like, and I’m not saying you do this at all, Randi, I’m just saying this is what I see and, and what I’ve learned. You know, I really thought that I was giving Rosie, I call in the book autonomy, I think that’s what you’re calling agency, right? This is, so this is something that is probably, if you could give your child anything, and there’s a quote in the book from a psychologist that says if you could give your child anything that would change their lives, it’s autonomy. There’s just no other question, I mean, there’s just nothing that rises to this level of importance.

And American parents in studies will say that they, they value this, and they give their child this, but when you actually look at what they do, they don’t. So it’s very, it’s one of the big paradoxes of Western parenting is that parents value autonomy and think they give it to their children, but then in actuality they don’t.

And I would actually argue that most parents that I’ve interacted with in America don’t know how to give a child autonomy. 

Randi Rubenstein: Hmm. Hmm

Michaeleen Doucleff: And I think that this, this thing of like, well, do you want me, are you asking me to set the table, is example of kind of the result of like when a child has been like, been told what to do. Right. So much that it’s like they’re that like, I’m not even gonna do something unless you tell, you tell me what to do. Right? 

But I, I would say if, if I was coaching a parent, the first thing, one of the first things I would try to teach the parent is, is how to give a child autonomy. Because I thought I was giving Rosie autonomy. Um, when she was three and I thought I was, you know, this very relaxed, easygoing, let her choose. And then when I was traveling, especially in Tanzania, I realized I wasn’t even close to giving her autonomy. 

So I think it’s something that our society doesn’t teach us. We don’t have role models for what it looks like when a child is autonomous. But I, it’s very interesting cause it’s like, yeah, then at 17 it’s like, well, are you telling me to do it? 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, I can tell you where the, where it came from. I, and I, you know, I’ve taught other parents this. So for years, I don’t know, at some point I decided, oh gosh, I’m raising kids that don’t do anything. And so I started panicking as I do. And I’m like, must teach them not to be entitled, um, and, and think that they just have people serving them all the time, less ass wiping. 

And so I scrambled. And so we came up with, um, like a setting the dinner table schedule, right? And then things got in the way or people would have activities or whatever. So then I decided when I’m making dinner, if I ask you to set the table, there’s no arguing. You just set the table. And, um, if there’s any pushback or you just choose not to do it, just know, not only are you going to be asked to set the table, you’re also going to be asked to clear all the dishes, um, from the table. 

 I literally put this plan in place that you don’t have to do… you don’t have to be autonomous, like, like, you know, maybe cross your fingers and hope that you didn’t pick the short straw and mom doesn’t ask you to set the table, but like, like, this was me thinking that I was helping them to not be entitled and expect to be served. If I ask you, there is no arguing, just do it. Just be a team player and do it. But now I set them up to like, they need to be asked instead of just having the autonomy and the agency to just look at what needs to be done and get it done.

Michaeleen Doucleff: And I, I think it brings up a good point of, like, like a lot of Western psychologists would say autonomy and independence are like very, very similar things, but a lot of people that study other cultures, it’s, it’s different. It is freedom. It is this, like, you are choosing, but it is also you are turning inward towards the group a lot.

So you are, and this gets kind of to the core of like what you… and you asked me what does it mean, you know, to hunt gather parent, you know, it’s autonomy is not just you do whatever you want to do. It is, you are also linked to this group, your family, usually, Where you, your job is to be helpful in this group.

So you, you have freedom in how that is, how you do that, how you help the group, you know, you have freedom and when you help the group, you, you know, often most of the time, but you are, but you’re constantly turning towards the group and saying, how can I be helpful with the group, right? How can I, can I share, can I take care of a sibling?

You clearly taught them to take care of each other because they want to take care of each other. Right? So autonomy and agency from a cross cultural perspective, and what I would argue, kind of a, a more functional, a more a hunt, gather, parent family. Is it, it isn’t just like you, you, you have agency and freedom to do what you need to do. You are also constantly, not constantly, but like very frequently looking to how you can help the rest of the group. 

But there is some agency there in the sense that like you’re not being forced or you’re, you know, there’s some encouragement. Um, and so I think that’s a big piece that’s missing in Western parenting is is teaching a child to care about and motivating a child to want to help group. 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, can you talk about what that looks like in Tanzania? Like how they start to, how do they teach their kids that from a very young age? Do you have any like examples?

Michaeleen Doucleff: A lot of it has been studied in indigenous Mexico and Central America. So maybe we’ll start there. I think it’s, um, it’s easier. Parents all over the world start this at a very young age. But like I say, you can train it at any age because I literally trained a 40 year old. So, um, it’s incredible how, how well it works. 

Um, so it’s, first of all, it’s inclusion. You, you got to that point, um, very early, right? Even the babies, right, are sat next to the mom or the dad when they’re working. People always say, but, but, but my work is so boring. I’m just on the computer. My toddler can’t sit with me while I’m working. And I, and I say to them, well, you know, a lot of work in the Yucatan where we were by the women is weaving these beautiful, um, hammocks. Uh, and you think that that’s exciting? That is literally six hours of like, you know, sitting there weaving, and toddlers will be with the mom. Like sitting, like, there with them. They’ll be playing, they have autonomy, but they’re there. They’re with the parents. They’re included in the parents lives from, from day one. 

Randi Rubenstein: So when that mom, when that mom is weaving and she’s got like a two year old, 

Michaeleen Doucleff: yeah, I think he was like three. I, I watched this little boy for days. I think he was about three, three or four. 

Randi Rubenstein: Were there times where he was just like bored and like whining or what did it look like?

Michaeleen Doucleff: So he never whined, but he was like playing, he was playing with the, they had these little puppies, he was playing with them, you know, he was, he was entertaining himself. And there’s lots of documentation of like babies, from babies up, entertaining themselves. And I think that this actually gets at one of your questions, Randi, of like, what have we forgotten in the last hundred years?

And I think we have forgotten that kids do not need us to entertain them. They do not need us to play with them, you know, they don’t need a screen, they don’t need, they don’t need stimulation. They, at every moment, they do not. In fact, one could argue that it’s a disservice to them.

So he was entertaining himself. People would come by, buy, buy the hammocks, talk to the mom. He would help with some of the stuff. Maybe sometimes she’d ask him to go get something, you know? Um, and he’d, you know, go into the… kids love to go get something. If you want to help get your kid involved with helping, have ’em go get stuff. Cause I’m tired, you know? Rosie, go outside and get something from the garden. Rosie, go across the street. Rosie, go grab this, right? Like, they have energy. 

 Okay, so that’s really a big part, is like, having them there. So if the kid has not been with you when you’re cooking and cleaning, the first thing to do is just say, hey, come over and hang out with me while I’m doing it. We can talk about screens later, they’re hard, we have to deal with those on their own. But, you know, just come be with me and tell me, if they’re older, come tell me about your day. Come tell me about something that you know they like. Just, the first step is inclusion. 

And then the second step is getting them to do little tiny tasks, tiny, tiny, tiny tasks. And so like when the mom was cooking, you know, if the kid was there, so as kids get older, they tend to spend a lot of time with friends, right? So we’re talking about four or five, six, you start to get, the kid starts to get, um, less time with the parents and more time with, with friends. Right? 

But the parent tells the child, the older children, you need to look after your younger sibling while you’re out playing. So there is instruction on like, making sure that they don’t go into the fire pit, making sure that they, you know, they stay within a boundary. The older children are given these responsibilities to take care of the younger children.

And again, this is autonomy. You can go play. You can, you can go make your own decisions, you know, move freely about your environment, but you have a responsibility to the group of taking care of the little one. And this I think is so lost. And I, I didn’t write about siblings in the book, I, I really want to, but it’s a big part of, of bringing cohesion to the siblings. It’s giving this older kid this responsibility, right, to help the little one. And I think what it also does is then allows the little one to be more autonomous than they would be without the older helping them, right? So it’s like a win win situation, really. 

Then the mom, if she really needs help… in the Yucatan, what I saw, for instance, when she washes the corn, when she washes the corn, she like really needs help because she needs the water turned on and off, right? She’d have to walk back and forth or something. Um, she calls the kid over while they’re playing outside. Hey, Helme, come over here and help me with the hose. 

There’s these very small, small tasks, but they’re real, right? The child is really helping somehow, and they last, like, minutes. It’s not like, Helme, come here and wash the corn with me for an hour. You know? So it’s something that the kid can do very quickly, but it’s meaningful, and this, this is really autonomy. The kid is playing, the kid is, you know, and then I need this help, come over and help, you know, or if the kid is nearby in the, you know, if they’ll see something that their mom needs, then, I mean, eventually that’s what the mom wants is the mom wants the kid to hop off their bike on their own and come over and help. And the older children will do things like that. 

But in a Western home, you know, it’s like I’m making dinner and it’s like, I got like a giant thing of carrots to cut. Well, I don’t want to sit there and cut all the carrots for 15 minutes. So I’m like, Rosemary, help me cut the carrots. Come over and help me cut the carrots. And that’s like, that’s what she’ll do some nights. That’ll be it, you know, but it’s a real help, 

Randi Rubenstein: Can, can I pause you on that?

Michaeleen Doucleff: yeah, sure. 

Randi Rubenstein: Say, say that again? How you let her know that her help is needed. Just say that one line again.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Hey, Rosemary, come over here and help me cut the carrots.

Randi Rubenstein: So that right, and so much of like even things that you were talking about before, like when you guys were in Tanzania and you’re out in the bush and, and it’s like, Rosie, carry this. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, exactly. 

Randi Rubenstein: And then Michaeleen, you know, maybe they don’t even say anything. Next thing you know, they’re just strapping a baby on your back. All of that is assertiveness. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. 

Randi Rubenstein: And so when you are including a kid and giving them a job that actually is going to be helpful, right? Like it’s going to make your life easier… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: It has to really help you. Kids know if it’s just fake. 

Randi Rubenstein: Right. It’s a, yeah, it’s like participation trophies. It’s like, yeah, nobody feels proud of a participation trophy. So like, nobody feels, you know, nobody feels like they’re a valuable member, contributing member if it’s just like a BS job that you’re just trying to occupy them with. But if it’s something that they’re actually lightening your load, they feel that, they sense it.

But the way you, Rosie, come cut these carrots. There’s an assertiveness there and, and let’s talk about for a minute, you know, and that’s something that I picked out of your book as well is like we have lost in our Western society, female assertiveness. Right. I think it’s why so many women are so indecisive and so confused.

Um, and I think it’s, I mean, if I had to say what’s the main thing I do when I’m working with parents, the main thing I do is help women to become pack leaders, right? Helping women to become assertive. You know, cause quite often what happens is they come in and they would say that request that you made to Rosie, they wouldn’t say it in an assertive way. They’d be like, hey, Rosie, would you do me a favor? Could you come over here and help me for a sec? 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, oh, do you want to help me? I love that one. Like, do you want, do you want? Well, okay. I 

Randi Rubenstein: What do you think? You know, or they try to, or they try to sell it. Like, what do you think about, you know, you coming and chopping up some carrots? Like, does that sound fun? Um, you know, like they’re trying, like, it’s, it’s almost like a, like, please be my friend.

Please hang out with me. And there’s a graspiness there. And so little kids who are living in their present moment, and they now all of a sudden are given this choice, they’re like, oh, well, I’m happy over here doing this thing. Right. Or I’m happy watching this show. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Or they have to make the decision, right? If you say like, do you want to? Or do you think it would be fun? Then the little kid has to sit there and decide. Which is like a cognitive load, right? We know decisions are hard. They’re not, sometimes they’re not fun. And it’s like, it’s putting barriers in place, to for the kid to actually do the help. 

And I think what the parents in the book and what I learned is that the less barriers there are, the more likely the kids going to do it, right? And so, like, if Rosie is actually near me, it’s easier. That’s why I say the first thing is just get them there, right? Because if she’s standing right there, I’m like, oh, grab the carrots from the refrigerator. Think about how easy that is. Nobody would even think about it as like helping, right? 

And that’s actually what I did when my husband was like, just hang out with me in the kitchen. And so just the idea is to minimize the barriers and the stress that the child has to do it, right? It’s like you don’t even they don’t even realize they’re really helping until they do it and then they’re like, oh I cut all these carrots, you know?

Randi Rubenstein: And did, would they ever say anything, because I know like you talk a lot about how we’re like, we just praise too much. It’s just, it’s the praise is, is all the time. And because I think again, we’re all going back to that model of, a good mom, you know, a good parent really encourages their kids and, and, and celebrates them constantly and builds up their self esteem, right?

And so there’s all this over praising for… my son was recently, he did something and, and, my friend, who’s his friend’s mom, she sent me this text, like, Corey’s such a mensch, which is a Yiddish word for like a good deed doer. And um, cause he helped clean something up, and Corey… and so I sent, I sent Corey like a screenshot or something like that of it. I was like, look, you’re, were your ears burning? And he sends back a thing and he said, she really needs higher standards. Like I literally… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Well, actually that that is what I was thinking when you said like, you know, that we don’t assert ourselves. I mean, I think the problem is where the expectations are so low for the child. We’re actually expecting them not to want to help, not to want to contribute. And I think, I think that’s actually one of the things we’ve, we’ve, we’ve lost is this, this idea and this knowledge that like children want to contribute.

They want to have purpose in our families. They want to help. They totally do. Every human being wants to help. It’s what makes us humans, homo sapiens, is that we want to help each other and be cooperative. But we’ve decided that somehow that’s like a burden on them. And so we are like begging them to help when in actuality, them helping is helping themselves, helping them,

Randi Rubenstein: That’s right. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, I’m doing Rosie a favor when I say, come help me with the carrots. When I say, you know that’s a favor for her. And in fact, in some cultures, including the Maya culture, being included in an activity is somewhat of a reward. 

Randi Rubenstein: That’s interesting.

Michaeleen Doucleff: There’s actually this incredible study down in Southern Mexico, where the parents, she, this, Mayan researcher documents where the parents actually say no to the child who wants to help for a bit. Just every now and then, well, or just kind of a, I don’t know if you’re ready. You know, I don’t know if you’re old enough to do that. This is something I tell parents to do when they’re like, the kid is like, kind of refusing to do something. It’s like, well, just, oh, that’s because you’re not ready yet.

Randi Rubenstein: So good. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s because you’re not mature enough. So, and the parents say that this gets the child even wanting to help more, you know? And so, yeah, we need to raise our expectations for our they’re too low. 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, and what would you, and I can only imagine that people that have really been learning how to parent and specifically going by, you know, whatever the clinicians have told them is the right way to raise humans that aren’t going to have mental health problems. Um, they might say, well, isn’t that manipulative? Aren’t you just trying to manipulate them? 

Michaeleen Doucleff: I’m not sure, like, you’d have to define manipulation. I mean, basically you’re saying, I, there’s, I should never, like motivate my child, encourage my child to do what I know will make them feel good and grow up to be like a healthy human being. , right? I mean, you know, I, I, I think a manipulation is like something that’s like devious for, and I, I’m gaining and they’re losing, but I’m actually, 

Randi Rubenstein: That’s it. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: this is helping them, right? 

Randi Rubenstein: That right, right. There’s nothing devious about it. It’s actually tapping into human motivation, right, because because every little kid, you know… like if we’re not growing we’re dying So like I think there’s a primal part of us that knows, I am meant to get bigger. I am meant to get older. Right? Even though maybe when we become grown ass woman, women were like, wait, whoa, I don’t like all the gray hairs and the wrinkles that are happening.

But you know, but like we know from very tiny age that we’re meant to get older and we’re meant to grow. So when you tell a little kid that they seem like a bigger kid that they, you know, and you’re like giving, I don’t know if you can handle this responsibility. Like it’s a lot. And then all of a sudden the kid is motivated because it’s a challenge. And so then they do that thing and then they feel a sense of accomplishment. And then you’re like, well, you surprise, you know, I’m eating my words now. You really surprised me. I didn’t think you were ready for all that, but you showed me like, I think, yeah,

Michaeleen Doucleff: And you’ve given them like, okay, you’ve given them purpose, which I’d love to talk about more. You’ve given them connection to you. Right. Because when you help somebody, there’s tons of studies that show when you help somebody, it feels so good to you. It’s, one of the biggest joys of living is helping other people. Right.

You’ve given them an opportunity to grow. Like you said, you’ve given them so much. By challenging them in this way. I think maybe we have to stop thinking of it as like, they’re helping us. We’re helping them by, by teaching them how to contribute and be a contributing member of the family. 

A big thing, in psychology right now in um, education psychology is this thing eudaimonia. And I, I wrote a piece about it. a lot of psychologists have focused, positive psychology has focused on life satisfaction, happiness. Really, like, are children happy? And there’s a big thing rising up now in, in psychology, that’s like, we’ve forgotten about this thing of eudaimonia, which is purpose and having opportunities to fulfill your purpose and knowing what that is. And that this is just as important as feeling happy. 

And there’s all the studies that show you do better in school if you have eudaimonia and you feel better, it protects against anxiety. And when we’re not allowing the child to help at dinner, to help around the house, to help at work, with your work, to to have some purpose in the family. We are not giving them eudaimonia. And me saying, oh, I don’t know if you’re ready, to to motivate, with a little wink in my eye is actually offering of a route to eudaimonia for the child. 

And so it’s like, maybe the mindset needs to shift in the sense of like, you’re not just helping me with the carrots. I’m giving you an opportunity to help yourself in many, many ways. And I think what’s lost is this reciprocal relationship, right? 

This is a very common theme in indigenous communities that like the earth gives, the environment gives, nature gives, but it takes, you know, like, you know, one summer there could be no food. And so, you not only take from the environment, you give back. And it’s the same with the parent child relationship. The parent gives. Oh, the parent gives to the child, all giving. But the child needs to learn to give back to the parent as well. And that’s what you’re teaching, right? And some reciprocal relationship needs to happen for it to be healthy, and for it to grow, and for it to mature.

This is a very indigenous way of thinking. And we don’t give children the opportunity to reciprocate. By having them in front of a screen by saying, oh, they’re just doing their homework, you know by not valuing opportunities for eudaimonia really.

Randi Rubenstein: If you have a little tiny kid and you’re like, okay, I’m going to start including them and giving them actual jobs, like hold this thing. And, and, and it’s something that, that helps you out or could you go get my sweater, you know, or you’re, right and um, and what if you have a little kid, that you’re like hold this thing and you’re cooking and you’re trying to get them to hold the plate and they’re like no, hold me. Mommy. Mommy. Hold me. Hold me. Hold me.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, I was gonna say like you could say like, what do I do when Rosie doesn’t come over for the carrots? Right, you know? Yeah, so if the little baby is saying hold me hold me hold me and I don’t know how old is but I would say the baby needs more touch. The baby needs more physical, more physical love. I would say put that baby on your back.

 You know, and in the book I talk about, Rosie was, was three, three and a half, almost four. And that’s what the Inuit parent, the moms were like, that, Rosie needs to be packed. That’s what they call it when the kid is riding on the back. She needs more physical touch. That’s another thing we’ve lost, is like… 

Randi Rubenstein: I wore my babies, oh my gosh did I wear my babies, I was like… and back then it was… you know, and I live in Texas. So, I mean, when I went to California, I, I saw plenty of people wearing their babies, but you know, I, I loved, I wore the Baby Bjorn with all of them. But the main reason I wore them was actually because, um, I found strollers to be super cumbersome. And like, it was just like a lot taking it out and then doing the thing. And then when you’re trying to like, when you’re running errands, it’s like this whole extra thing. And you’re such a, like, I also felt like I was like in the way all the time. 

And so I just for convenience just started wearing them. And I remember with my daughter, she wasn’t, she was really small and she wasn’t walking and she was like 16 months old and we were traveling and I was wearing her in the Baby Bjorn and she hadn’t started walking yet. And then all of a sudden, like, like it was like a light bulb moment where I was like, Oh maybe she doesn’t walk because I wear her all the freaking time. Like, I think I got to stop wearing. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: But then she did walk.

Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. And then she started walking like immediately. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s so great. I mean, that’s when it turns into like your instincts, right? It’s like, if the baby’s screaming, I don’t want to hold the cup. Well, who cares if it’s holding the cup, you know? Like, like one of the moms said to me after she read the book, one of the moms in the Arctic, she’s like, yeah, the book is good. Cause I had a bunch of them read it and she says, it’s great, but you don’t really need all this. And this gets to like how complex we make things. Right. 

She’s like, you know, you just need to think, like, is this hurting my relationship with my child? Or is this helping my relationship with my child? And she’s like, if it’s hurting, try something else, don’t do it. And if it’s helping continue. And it’s like, you know, if the kid is screaming that they don’t want to help, this is not encouraging help, you know, this is only discouraging help, you know. If the kid’s saying hold me, hold me, definitely put the baby on and do all your chores. Like, just that inclusion is the… it sounds crazy, but it is the most important aspect of helping is just being there. 

And just try again, you know a lot of times out here like if a kid doesn’t do something, you know, they’re not ready for it. They’re doing something else. You know what I’ve learned with Rosie a lot of times I’ll just I’ll sometimes I’ll say when you’re ready, can you do this? You know, if she’s doing something, I respect, because you know, she’s older now and I respect that she’s like focusing on something or she’s reading or something, you know, like when you’re ready, you know? 

It’s about trying to create an environment where it’s not conflictual. Right? Like we think that conflict is kind of innate in the parent child relationship and of course there is some conflict in all relationships, but it can be very minimal and, and so it’s like, look, if this isn’t working, don’t force it, you know, forcing it is only going to make it not work more. 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, yeah, it’s, you know, you talk about in the book, like shifting from control to cooperation and you know, that’s what having a sense of agency is really all about is, you feel in control of your life and your decisions and, and you might think, well, this is a kid. Like there’s a reason why childhood is childhood, like they’re not ready to be in control, but if we give them all these little teeny tiny moments to feel in control and to get to contribute and to feel like a valuable member of the pack, 

um, that gives a person a sense of agency and that ultimately, you know, I want to say these moms that showed up in these different communities, like these moms sound like they are confident women who know who they are, right? Who do what they say they’re going do, right? And I’m like, where does that come from? And, I kind of think that’s the crux of the last, the last hundred years of where we have gotten it wrong and, and what the results of that have been. I think is that, you have, especially women who are still, in most households that I have interacted with, um, the women are still doing the majority of the parenting and, and the, and the majority of the caretaking. And yet the pack leadership piece and that, you know, that confidence, that assertiveness, that is what’s lacking. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: I think you are exact, I hadn’t thought of this before, but I think that’s why I love you, Randi. You always make me think of new things. Um, but I think women have, moms have been stripped confidence. I think society has stripped that away from us. And it makes us question and makes us feel like we have to do a hundred and a hundred thousand things every moment. And you’re exactly right, that is a big difference is the parents in the book, the moms in the book are like, they know what they do works. They’ve seen it work, they’ve… 

Randi Rubenstein: And they were raised that way!

Michaeleen Doucleff: And they were raised that way and they have this confidence in them. 

And I would argue that women in America, Western women in America, can have that. There’s a flame inside them. You know, it’s been like, it’s been, it’s smaller and it’s been, you know, but it’s in there. You know, you know that like, 

if your kid is screaming at you at eight o’clock every night, when it’s time to go to bed, and it’s just a total hot mess every night, and stressful, you know that that can’t be right. 

And maybe even though you’re following all the rules, right. And like, and you know that, that maybe, maybe if you just kind of did less. I’m telling you, just do less. Like, talking about helping. It’s like, you don’t even need to say anything. If the kid is there, give them the plate. 

Randi Rubenstein: That’s right. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, that’s what confidence is. Is this like, what I do is going to work and I don’t need to do anymore.

Randi Rubenstein: I don’t have to justify it. I don’t have to try to convince you. I don’t have to try to control you. Like this is just what we’re doing. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s just what we’re doing. And if you don’t do it at every moment, it’s alright. 

Randi Rubenstein: And, and… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, I’m not going to force it into you. 

Randi Rubenstein: And it doesn’t say anything about me if you’re choosing not to be cooperative right now. 

Like one thing I, right, like one thing I did, getting it wrong with the dinner table, um, setting the dinner table was if I had a kid that was in a mood and was like, no, ask someone else, I’m not doing it. Right. And then it was like, you know, at the end of dinner, it was like, okay, so, remember, you’re the one clearing the table. And if I did have a kid that was like, I’m not doing that, I was like, okay, well maybe tomorrow you’ll choose to be helpful. And we would just move on.

Michaeleen Doucleff: But you did point out to them that they weren’t helpful. Which which I think I think is key. You didn’t just say like, okay, that’s fine. You’re so good. You’re such a helpful person, you know, you didn’t just praise them which you know, you pointed out, I mean, we can be honest with kids. 

Randi Rubenstein: I was honest like I was honest and I wasn’t like, I wasn’t shaming I wasn’t mean about it, but I wasn’t happy. Yeah, and I wasn’t like I wasn’t particularly happy about it. Okay? Well, maybe tomorrow you’ll choose to be helpful. And then we just quickly move on. I wouldn’t give it any air time. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: The child knows. I think that that is so important I to point out, especially with younger kids, like what is helpful, what is not? What is expected, what is not. Not in an emotional way. Right? Because I think then you get into like shaming and all this, you know, but just factual. 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, and you know on those nights when I did have a kid that was just refusing to be helpful, especially when I would handle it like that and not give it any air time, it almost always turned into that kid going to bed and saying, mom, can you come here for a minute? And, um, and then telling me whatever it was that was eating at them.

You know, they had a shitty day, somebody hurt their feelings, there was a teacher that got mad at them, they got a bad score on something, whatever it was. And I was like, and, and it would turn into a conversation where I would say, um, I had a feeling there was something else going on. Yeah. That would, that would put me in a terrible mood too. I get it. You know, I’m sorry that that happened. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s a very fascinating observation of like when kids are demotivated, kind of going against you, if you have a real, if you already have a good relationship with them, right. then it’s, it’s a sign of something else. 

Randi Rubenstein: Right. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a sign. But I think so often because it’s, it goes back to the, where, you know, this, our Western culture has conditioned women not to be assertive, not to be confident, right? Not to know how to step into this, this style of pack leadership. And so what happens is, is when you have a kid that won’t listen, won’t cooperate, the mom who is already second guessing the way she’s doing it and feeling a bit insecure. She’s going to take that behavior very personally. She’s going to make it about her. She’s going to think, you know, it’s going to trigger her brain into all the times that she was dismissed, ignored, disrespected, and it turns a mountain…

It makes a, it turns it, uh, a mountain into a molehill, a molehill into a mountain Yes. A molehill into a mountain. Um, and then we miss, we miss the opportunity to, you know, to have that, that, that moment with our kids where they’re telling us what’s really at the root of this unhelpful behavior. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, it’s fascinating, um, I have a friend whose mom is a psychiatrist – a psychologist. And she was visiting and I was trying to, I was trying to get Rosie to do something and I forgot what it was, it doesn’t even matter, and Rosie didn’t do it. I was just like, okay, you know, it’s like, I didn’t really care, you know, like, I was just like, because yeah, I’m, I’m up, I’m up for the, like, the long haul here, you know, I, I’m not in it to like, this is not a sprint and the, the woman said, oh, you, she’s, she’s manipulating you. Because I didn’t like argue with her, but you know, I didn’t force her to do whatever I was asking, you know, she said, you just got pushed around and manipulated. And I was just like, wow, like, that’s the position that a parent is supposed to be in. That they, that everything they tell the child, the child has to do, or they’re being manipulated? 

Randi Rubenstein: Well, I can’t tell you, I, can’t tell you how many people have told me that they’ve gone to different psychologists and therapists who, and I’m, I know there’s a lot of amazing psychologists and therapists out there. I’m not, I’m not dissing the whole field here, but I can’t tell you how many are doling out outdated information and they are, they are telling parents to start bribing and using sticker charts and reward systems and incentivizing kids to be cooperative. So they, I think there are a decent amount of therapists who are still telling parents to manipulate kids to get them to be cooperative. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: There is this strong sense that like if the kid doesn’t do what you say, you’ve somehow lost. 

Randi Rubenstein: right. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: And they’ve won, right? It’s like there’s somehow there’s this competition between you two. And it’s like, who’s in control. There’s a, there’s a fascinating study from LA where the dad is argued, tells the child to put his shoelaces on and he’s eight years old getting ready for school. And, um, tie shoes, tie shoes. 

And, um, the kid doesn’t want to do it. And the, the, the dad is with this kid for like 15 minutes or 10 minutes in front of these researchers, right? This isn’t like behind doors. So it’s like, and the researcher discusses it, like what is happening here? And why is the parent feeling this need for the child to listen to everything the parent says in the moment?

This is something that is really different around the world. Like parents will just say things like. Tie your shoes, or they won’t even tell the eight year old to tie their shoes, right? It’s like the eight year old should know, but you know, go do this. And if they do this, and if the kid doesn’t do it, the parent just doesn’t care. 

But there is this sense in our society, I think, that the parent has lost. They’ve lost power, they’ve lost control, they’ve like, and I think that’s some of it where this, this, you know, these moles get turned into mountains, because we have this kind of false sense of like, everything we say, the child must do, or we aren’t in control. But in fact, you lose your power when you start to argue with a child. 

Randi Rubenstein: That’s exactly right, I teach this tool, big deal, little deal. And it’s like, really assess when you feel yourself getting all worked up. You know, a tool that you can use just like a mind mastery tool is to stop yourself and take a breath and say, okay, is this a big deal or a little deal. And if a little deal, then blow it off. Like, allow it to be little deal. Who, you know, who freaking cares? Why are you making, why, you’re going to damage your relationship over something ridiculous? Like no, we’re playing the long game here.

 Like it’s not. It’s, you know, if I saw an eight year old who was walking out the door without, you know, tied shoes, I’d be like, um, hello, you want to do something there? if I had a kid that was being lazy, which probably would have been my third child, he’d be like, it’s fine. I’d be like, okay, well my mama self is going to feel nervous that you’re going to eat it and knock your two front teeth out. And then I would just bend down and tie their shoes for them.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Well, mean, that’s the other thing, right? I mean, it’s just to do it. Like, who, I, mean, a lot of parents would just be like, well, if he falls, he falls he’s going to learn, right? 

Randi Rubenstein: I, I would know my anxiety would be like, those two front teeth are getting knocked out. I’m, I’m tying your shoes. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Right? then you’d have to pay for the dental. So, like, um, but yeah, but then a lot of parents would just tie the shoes. 

Randi Rubenstein: Right. Just like, just, I’m just going to tie the shoes. And you know what? It’s like when you come from a place of yes, and you don’t sweat the little deals, guess what, kids learn by what we model. So then next thing, you know, that’s what they’re doing for their siblings. That’s what they’re doing for their friends. That’s what they’re doing for you. It’s just, you know, it… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Exactly. Exactly. Instead of picking all the time and I have to win, right? You know, I was going to say that you’re been modeling like, like 90, I would argue that 98% of the things are little deals. 

Randi Rubenstein: Right. I would, I would, I would agree with you. There’s so… and I do this with my husband all the time because he can, you know, and now, you know, he has three young adult children where we all sort of gang up on him because his first response is always to kind of go to everything’s a big deal.

And, um, he’ll be like, what, I can’t believe you. And we’re like, Really?. All like, like, like everybody’s like, and now we just laugh. We just, although my daughter sometimes will bully him and she’s like, are you really crying about that dad? Like, really like ? And he’s like, you guys are so mean to me. Um, yeah, I know. We can’t help it. We can’t help him, ’cause he’s, you know, he was just conditioned to, you know, and, and he’s, he can’t help himself. And so now we just kinda laugh about it.

Okay, before we end, I would love for you to weigh in on one scenario from, um, from one of the participants of the Masterminding Monthly Call, which was all about school mornings, like craziness, and I know that like in the book you talk so, I love that story about the Maya mom who, how many kids did she have?

Michaeleen Doucleff: I was just thinking about her the other day.

Randi Rubenstein: Like six?

Michaeleen Doucleff: Let’s I think five… 

Randi Rubenstein: Five and, and, and it was a 20 minute. And for me, I also with my kids, um, it was a 30 minute from wake up to leave. Like we were like, let’s just get it done. Um, so I was thinking about how you observed this mom and just how she handled school mornings, um, and with five kids. Anyway, I would love for you to weigh in on Sarah’s question. She says, how do you get a kid to go to school that refuses to go? 

Michaeleen Doucleff: This is such a hard question right because because school is really non natural, I would say very for a lot of kids. It’s very new. You know, we did not evolve to go to school. It’s, it’s, and I, I mean, I would, I would first start there. I would first start with like, look, I get it. I mean, I think he’s in sixth grade, you know, middle school was like a nightmare for me.

I mean, like, I… 

Randi Rubenstein: Everyone.

Michaeleen Doucleff: hated every moment of you know? And it’s like, I get it. Like, I understand kids have to go to school. I’m not saying that they don’t, but I am very empathetic with this child. And I would start there. And then I would try to figure out what’s going on. There’s something, it kind of goes back to what you said with the kid who didn’t want to help clean up. There’s something deeper happening. that the kid is not sharing. I think, 

Randi Rubenstein: A hundred percent, yeah. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: I think that there’s, and I would start to try to figure that. I would first start to say, okay, look, I’m crazy. And I would even say, okay, you know what? Let’s take a day off. 

Randi Rubenstein: I would, too. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: You don’t wanna go to school. Let’s take a day off. I’m going to take a day off from work and we’re going to do something that we both want to do. You know that we’ve been, both of us would enjoy something like, here, it’s this, like, there’s like a spring here. I would, I did this with Rosie actually, when she first, when we first moved and I said, you know, I was having a hard time at work. I was like, we’re taking the day off. We’re going to this beautiful spring. We’re going to hang out. 

And then I would start trying during that day to figure out what is going on. And not deep, but just like while you’re driving, like, hey, you know, is there something at school that’s happening, or I, I would start to try to get this kid to open up a little bit about why they, they don’t want to go. That’s where I would start.

Randi Rubenstein: That’s, me too. Before we can get to the main point that I really was the main point that I taught on that call, which was all about helping kids to have agency over their mornings. And so, you know, it might involve them being late. It might involve them forgetting things.

Michaeleen Doucleff: Not having a lunch.

Randi Rubenstein: Um, right. Not having a lunch. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: They’re not going to starve.

Randi Rubenstein: Right. And, and really owning their mornings and, and how to have those conversations to help them own their mornings. But before you can have a kid that wants to have agency over how they get to school, you have to get to the root of why they, you know, why they’re so opposed to going. 

Because, kids naturally love to learn. Humans love to learn. And it might be that, I mean, I can’t tell you how many people their kids don’t get diagnosed with like, dyslexia, um, you know, until like eighth grade, like somehow, you know, this kid has figured out to do the bare minimum and no one realized how exhausting it all is and they’re not being taught to read in a, in the way that makes sense to their brain. I mean, that’s such an exhausting existence. 

So there could, it could go a number of different ways. It could be social issues. It could be a learning difference that hasn’t been flagged yet. Like, there’s something to figure out. And so if we’re just trying to control a kid and get them to do the thing without putting on our detective hat, right, like we’re missing something really critical, I think. So I think it’s so important. Yeah. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: I mean, hate is like such a strong, like, like we don’t even use that word in our house because I just, um, uh, very sparingly, right, because, you know, like, it’s like, we don’t go throw it around. I hate this. I hate that, you know, it’s a very strong word for a kid, 11 year old to say, and it’s like, for me, that’s a red flag. It’s like something deeper is happening here that would need to be, to be figured out. 

Yeah, I feel, I feel for the kid, you know, it’s school is hard. School is hard for a lot of kids. There’s a lot of kids that, you know, they’re just not built to sit down like that all day. 

Randi Rubenstein: Oh, my kids all hated school. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: And again go to eudaimonia, you know, like where’s the eudaimonia? What is my purpose here? A lot of it, they’re actually revamping, psychologists want to revamp the school system to make more purpose. right? And so it’s hard. I think we have to acknowledge that as parents. 

Randi Rubenstein: I say it all the time to parents. Like I think our education system is completely outdated and, It’s still based on the glorified daycare model from like the industrial revolution, you know, and it’s… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, training factory workers. I mean, that’s what middle school, I remember as like, whoa, now there’s bells and I have lockers and I have to rush and like, and I like look back on it, it’s like, I was absolutely being trained to like, work in the factory at some level. 

Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, it’s, it wasn’t, I mean, I am a person who is like, I love to learn and I loved to learn when I was little, when I was like, you know, in elementary, I remember loving to learn, loving to read. And then middle high school, college, even I was just doing what I had to do to get the hell out of there. I did not love to learn anymore. I did not find it engaging. 

I mean, I also like didn’t go to the, you know, I went to public school, like I’m sure they were fine, but I don’t remember any superstar teachers. Um, I, it wasn’t engaging to me at all. And I remember feeling like, I remember when I was in elementary school, my parents always thought, you know, they were always telling me how smart I was. And then middle high school, college, I was like, they’re going to find out that I’m not that smart. Like I, I actually, I actually don’t love to learn. Um, I don’t think I’m very good at this. Like I would just cram and pull it out at the 11th hour. 

And now as an adult, I love to learn, but I love to learn in an engaging way, the way humans were designed to learn. Right? And I just think that… 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, like through like practical things, right? Which school, like… 

Randi Rubenstein: It kicked, it like made me lose that for decades. I mean, because of that school model, I literally thought that I didn’t like to learn and it took me becoming an adult and then getting to learn in ways that sounded interesting to me, not through a textbook or sitting in a classroom. And so I’m like, Oh, isn’t that… isn’t that wonderful? Like school literally made me a non learner. And then I had to remember, oh, I do like learning. I just don’t like learning like a factory worker. 

Okay. So this, um, obviously we could talk and talk and talk, but we have to get on with our day. I love, I love this conversation. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, Randi, thank you so much. I hope it’s helpful. 

Randi Rubenstein: I hope so, too. It was helpful to me. It was fun to talk about. Um, and we’re going to do two more. So everybody get excited. And the next topic that I thought might be fun to touch on is, judgey adults, judgey relatives, judgey other parents. When you feel like you’re being judged. So for anybody who has a scenario about another parent or a relative or somebody who you feel like has said some super shitty judgey thing, um, we want to hear from you.

So send it to and send us your scenario. And we, we just might read it and talk about it on our next episode. Um, okay. Thanks for being here. 

Michaeleen Doucleff: Thank you so much.

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.

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 super appreciative 

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Creating A Happier Household

by Randi Rubenstein