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261: But Really… Turning Judgment Into Compassion

Judging other parents is so natural, so human, and so not helpful. I can tell you from experience. When you learn a better way to do things, it’s really challenging to not give side-eye to those who haven’t gotten on your level. Which is why I had to have Masterminder Samantha on to tell this story she shared in a recent call.

Sam was caught up in a situation where someone else’s kiddo took a tumble and, even though they weren’t hurt, their father reacted with anger and scolding. It would have been very easy to write that dad off as a jerk or a bully, Sam had sympathy for him. She saw the fear that was motivating his response. She didn’t excuse his behavior, but she was able to give him the benefit of the doubt. Please join us as we talk about how to stay in a compassionate state of mind, instead of giving in to our inner judge.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. Why frustration and anger can so easily grow out of concern for a kiddo’s safety.
  2. Where the impulse to judge comes from, and what it has to do with our own sense of self-worth.
  3. Why compassion for other parents starts with getting real about our own parenting missteps.

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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[00:00:00] Samantha: I probably would have been like this jerk, you know? Wonder what he does at home, you know? And now it’s like no, we just… wouldn’t it be better, wouldn’t it be great if you could just not think that way?

[00:00:13] Randi Rubenstein: Mm hm.

[00:00:14] Samantha: I just want them to all to have that gift, to have that little nugget because here, particularly with the hurt one. Kids get hurt a lot. So there’s a really good way to practice You’re gonna get that opportunity all the time. 

[00:00:26] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so true. Where were you all those years ago? Avery would have loved if you could have talked some sense into me. My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them.

[00:00:42] Okay, listeners, anybody watching the video, I’m here with this gorgeous, amazing woman, Samantha, and she’s one of my Masterminders, and this is another episode of my new, But Really, dot, dot, dot series, and I am inviting Masterminders on to talk about scenarios and break things down and really unpack what is really going on. Because a lot of times it’s it’s different and when I say but really it’s like, but really, what’s going on in your own mind, right?

[00:01:27] you know, I’ve been talking on the podcast a lot lately about um performative parenting, perfectionistic parenting, you know for so many years. I mean you’ve heard it right when people are like, what do I say? You know, people…

[00:01:41] Samantha: I think I am it.

[00:01:42] Randi Rubenstein: yeah, like everybody’s like, just tell me what to say. Just tell me what to say. I think you should, you know, have a thing of just the right scripts and, and even you guys like, have copied. I mean, think about the app, how many people have told stories where they use my, absolutely not when they’re, you know, bringing in the pack leadership and they’re learning pack leadership. So there are a lot of people who I work with who do end up kind of copying my speech for a little bit just because they’re trying it on, right? 

[00:02:14] So I understand wanting to just have the script, but whenever I look at like the reels on Instagram by all the different professionals… and right now I’m in such a rebellious stage. I’ve decided I’m like, like for the first 10 years of growing Mastermind Parenting, I was like a business baby. And now I’ve moved into the double digits, so I’m an adolescent. So I’m super rebellious right now. And I’m really bugged by lots of the things I’m seeing out there.

[00:02:44] And I know it’s just me going through teenage rebellion, but like all of these professionals that show up and just, they’re just focused on the scripts, but nobody’s telling you, nobody’s really unpacking, what do you actually think about this? Like, let’s focus on the mind mastery. Because you can know all the best scripts in the world, but they’re not going to work if you aren’t thinking different thoughts about it. 

[00:03:08] So the But Really series is, is let’s lift the hood of these, intricate things people call minds or brains, where you have like 60 to 90,000 swirling thoughts a day. And let’s really unpack what we are really thinking and how we really affect change in our lives.

[00:03:32] So I thought you would be a good person to have on.

[00:03:37] Samantha: I’m up to the task.

[00:03:38] Randi Rubenstein: You’re up to the task, because you shared a story recently in the Mastermind about the Swimming Lessons Dad. And I thought this is such a good story that I want to kind of break it down in this But Really series here. So tell us about, about Swimming Lessons Dad and what happened.

[00:03:57] Samantha: So we were at a swimming lesson with both my children and my son was in his lesson. So my younger daughter and I have to go upstairs in the bleachers and look down over the pool. And it’s like metal bleachers and then there’s a large, clear, plexiglass barrier. And it’s pretty high. It’s like up to my waist. So it’s, you’re safe. 

[00:04:18] And, uh. Lakshmi, my daughter, and, the other little girl about the same age are just kind of like hanging out, they’re looking at books, they’re walking around, Lakshmi’s having her snack. And the other child’s parents were not with her. One was up high, and the other, the dad, was in a deep conversation with someone else further down the bleachers.

[00:04:42] And so, she was reading with Lakshmi, and they were sharing their books, and she was kind of hovering, I think. And then she just tumbled. She tumbled off a bleacher. And my first instinct was to jump up to her. And I hopped over the bleacher and I went down and touched her and I said, did that scare you or are you hurt? And she kind of just like looked at me and said, I’m okay. 

[00:05:06] And then that’s when her dad swooped in from his conversation and just said, I told you not to be on these bleachers. Get up here. Go by your mother. what are you thinking? And then swooped her away. 

[00:05:18] And I shared it with the Mastermind because it was so jarring to me that I felt kind of sad for the dad that his first instinct was to yell at this kid who was probably very scared. And he was also probably scared and that’s why he did it. You know, he wasn’t watching her. Whatever, she could have been hurt. It’s a scary thing. You’re up over a pool. 

[00:05:43] And then also I was proud of myself for remembering in the moment to go up and check her first And to make sure she was okay and then go back to Lakshmi and make sure she was okay So I just thought like, wow, look at in the real world when you see someone who’s not doing it right, but also trying to say well what was going on for them? And why were they struggling in that moment?

[00:06:06] Randi Rubenstein: So when you shared the story, it sort of seemed… at first glance, it’s like a story, and, and I hear this all the time from Masterminders, you know, it’s like once, once you see things, you can’t unsee it. So once you start to learn how to do things differently and you are doing things differently, and you see how, you know, all the positive results from doing it exactly the way you just described, rather than your first response being to yell at your kid and scare them more because you’re scared, which, I’ve done. Like, I did unconsciously. Avery would tell you that she, yeah, like I remember when she was, I can’t remember how old she was, but she said, why do you yell at me when I hurt myself?

[00:07:03] Samantha: Yeah, exactly. 

[00:07:04] Randi Rubenstein: was that dad. So I was that dad. I was like, what are you talking about, baby? I don’t, I would never yell at you. Like, am I a yeller? 

[00:07:12] She’s like, well, you get really angry when I hurt myself. And I, I want to say she was like 12 or 13 when she told me this. I was like, okay, explain. She’s like, like, if I’m running and you’re like, slow down, slow down, slow down, and I don’t slow down and then I fall, um, and I am bleeding. She’s like, your voice, it sounds mad to me. 

[00:07:42] And so she was picking up on my fear because, you know, we always called her knees and elbows. Like she’s just all over the place and she just goes full steam ahead. You know, that did turn into, um, a really competitive, amazing soccer player who was small, but mighty in her high school years. But when she was little, she just kind of looked out of control and I knew she, there was a pretty decent possibility she was going to hurt herself. 

[00:08:10] And so I think I was like trying to warn her and trying to warn her and trying to warn her. And I didn’t know how to, to say it like, remember, watch where you’re going. Watch where you’re going. You got this. You got this. 

[00:08:21] I didn’t know how to encourage her because she was going to go no matter what. And so I was just sort of like bracing for impact and then it would happen. And then I was like, fuck, I knew it. I knew that was going to happen. And so she… 

[00:08:34] Samantha: I told you! 

[00:08:34] Randi Rubenstein: would say, yeah, but I would never say, I told you, I would just, she would hear… she would hear the anger in my voice or the, you know, rather than compassion. And so she did perceive that, that I was pissed at her. I wasn’t pissed. I was just scared exactly like this dad. So I just want to put that out there that I, in some way, shape or form have been this dad. 

[00:09:00] And I think many Masterminders, you see a parent out in the world, clearly doing it wrong, getting angry and, really like this guy made his kid more scared. I would be in full judgment. I would make it mean, in that moment, I’d be making it mean that he was so busy in his conversation, even though again, that has been me many times

[00:09:24] Samantha: Right.

[00:09:25] Randi Rubenstein: when my kids were little, right?

[00:09:27] So. I would be saying like, oh, he probably was just so consumed and you know, he’s taking up all the air in the room. I could hear his booming voice, probably a freaky misogynist. I’d be judging the shit out of that guy. And I’d be thinking, this is all about this guy, this egotistical misogynistic guy, I’d have a whole narrative about this dude. And now he’s just blasting his little tiny three year old when she needs daddy hugs. So I’d be in full judgment and I think I’d feel justified about it, right? 

[00:10:03] But really, but really what, what is all that judgment about? Well, but really that judgment is always about yourself. Because we’re always looking for people to judge that are clearly doing it wronger than we are to make ourselves feel temporarily better. 

[00:10:21] Which no one is doing consciously. And judgment is, it’s hard. It’s hard to look at that stuff, right? So, but really all judgment is actually you saying to yourself, hey, Randi. Okay, you’re judging this person for doing it wrong, but really where do you judge yourself for being, you know, not the person who is doing all the comforting things when your kid hurts themselves? And, maybe wasn’t paying as close attention and you know, all the different things. And so that’s super hard to look at. 

[00:10:58] But in this situation, your story to me was the, but really what this is about is how the hell you have retrained your brain to go to that compassionate place. Like when you relayed the story, you were not in judgment about this guy. You were just relaying a story and celebrating a few wins and some noticings. Right?

[00:11:29] Samantha: Right.

[00:11:30] Randi Rubenstein: And you described him at, like, you had compassion for him from the get go. You’re like, it was just so sad because his first go to was anger, which actually just scared his kid more. And so you weren’t in judgment, you were in a totally compassionate place.

[00:11:47] So how the hell did you… how did you retrain your brain? How is that automatically coming online for you in these situations? Because I think that is, I think that is what is missing in most of us, that automatic compassionate response. Have you always been this compassionate person or is this a learned skill? Like, tell me more about that.

[00:12:13] Samantha: I wouldn’t think I, I wouldn’t think I was always compassionate on instinct. Like I’ve had a deep seated, you know, kind of service oriented lifestyle my whole life and have always looked for where I could be a helper or uplift, you know, through service and things like that. 

[00:12:36] And I think once I had my kids, I felt like I was really bad at it. Like I was, oh, I’m good with other people, but not with my own. And so I started to have to practice a lot more at home of going from authoritarian – which was my instinct, which is a lot more on backed on my family of origin is a very authoritarian – to actively practicing compassion with my kids in 1 million tiny ways to get, to be able to do it in the big way, in the big moments. 

[00:13:05] And one of the ones I started with was actually physical danger or physical harm. That one came easiest to me, to pick a script of like, were you scared? Or are you hurt? I started that one when we first started working together. 

[00:13:21] Randi Rubenstein: Okay, let’s pause that. Let’s pause that. Everybody needs to take that in because that is, that’s the script that everybody wants. Okay. Are you scared or are you hurt? Like, checking in right away. What are you thinking… like for me, you know, I went into reactivity because I was, I was scared. So I when I go, I would just like scoop her up and start looking at it, but she even… you know, if I was like,

[00:13:54] I don’t even know if I said anything. Like, it was probably a sigh. It was probably an energy. It was probably she sensed, she was attuned to me. So she probably sensed how scared I was and she. You know, maybe I had a little bit of a Like I probably was like exasperated. That’s what I’m thinking. 

[00:14:18] But for you to jump into hey, are you scared or are you hurt? Are you scared or are you hurt? What are you thinking to get to that?

[00:14:28] Samantha: I think one, I have a like an edge because I am just good in a crisis. I am good at keeping a level head in a crisis. It’s one of my natural talents. And I remember when Linus was 18 months old, he was playing peekaboo with his mother, my mother in law by the stairs and he hit the corner and split his eyebrow. And everybody panicked. There’s blood, whatever. He’s a baby. It’s scary. 

[00:14:52] And that was the first time really where I remember just being like, give me him. I got this. We went and we sat and like, panic around me, and I was just like you look at me. I’ve got this. Are you okay? Are you hurt? He, it didn’t actually hurt, but he was really scared because everyone else was scared.

[00:15:10] Randi Rubenstein: Okay, that’s your sentence. That’s the sentence going through your head. Tell me where i’m wrong. I’ve got this

[00:15:20] Samantha: Well, I’m not hurt.

[00:15:21] Randi Rubenstein: But wait. You know how sometimes when you’re in a genius zone? Like y’all say this stuff to me all the time and it’s like that stupid homework call that I was like, oh, that homework call, I wanted to kill myself. And Lindsey’s like, yeah, because you’re not even seeing how much you taught us in that call. I was just like, I like who wants to talk about homework? Like, she’s like, you’re too close to it. So this is where you’re too close to this.

[00:15:52] I’m really good in a crisis. There’s one thought. There’s one empowering thought, okay? There’s one empowering… actually, belief. Because I’m looking at your face and I can tell you’re like, no, I am really good in a crisis. I’ve got this. 

[00:16:09] And so I want everyone even more than the takeaway of, are you scared or are you hurt? You’re not going to be able to remember those words. This is what’s made me so rebellious against all these, you know, parenting professionals on, on the socials telling you what to say, telling you what to say.

[00:16:31] You’re not going to freaking remember what to say unless you practice what to think, and you truly lawyer up and prove to yourself why that’s true. Which I know comes easy for you as an actual lawyer. So, that’s Samantha. So she’s, you know, like it, it doesn’t hurt that, you know, when you go to law school and you practice, you know, problem solving and critical thinking for three years.

[00:16:58] So, so, so really, proving to yourself, I’ve got this, right? I’ve got this. I’m really good in a crisis. And y’all might be saying, well, I’m not really good in a crisis and, but think about a time when there was a crisis and you were really good. 

[00:17:21] And so, so thinking that thought, I’m really good in a crisis. And then you go into, rather than swooping up, rather than bringing all the intensity like I did, like this dad did at the swimming lessons and then scaring the shit out of your kid. And then your kid, not only are they hurt, it’s like what Avery shared with me. Not only was she hurt, she also felt like she was in trouble. 

[00:17:44] Samantha: Yeah. 

[00:17:44] Randi Rubenstein: Right. Like, and that’s just, so now it’s like physical and emotional pain. It’s like the opposite of, I think, what any parent wants to accomplish when your kid’s actually hurt, right? I mean, we don’t want to cause them emotional pain ever, and we don’t want them to experience physical pain. So it’s just like, double whammo. So, so yeah, I’ve got this. I’m really good in a crisis. 

[00:18:09] Do you think that you would have always been able to see Swimming Lessons Dad in such a compassionate way and see him as the guy that jumped like, that’s so sad that he jumped straight to anger and just made this situation worse? Or do you think there’s a time that you would have judged him?

[00:18:30] Samantha: I think all those judgments flew through my head. Oh, he’s very important with his conversation. He’s letting me watch his child. There’s two parents here, you know, but my time’s not important. All those things flew through there, but it’s not what matters. 

[00:18:45] And I think it got to the feeling bad for the dad that he reacted in a fear mode because I was able to feel compassion for the kid because you don’t want her to feel that, right? And you can’t… they go hand in hand. Oh, this poor baby, she just needs her dad. Oh, this poor dad, he’s too scared to even calm down and help her. So I think they go a little bit hand in hand. And in the past… 

[00:19:10] Randi Rubenstein: That’s a good point. 

[00:19:11] Samantha: No, probably would, 

[00:19:12] I probably would have been like this jerk, you know? Wonder what he does at home. And now it’s like no, we just… wouldn’t it be great if you could just not think that way?

[00:19:25] Randi Rubenstein: Mm hm.

[00:19:25] Samantha: I just want them to all to have that gift, to have that little nugget because here, with the, particularly with the hurt one. Kids get hurt a lot. So there’s a really good way to practice You’re gonna get that opportunity all the time, 

[00:19:38] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so true.

[00:19:40] It’s so true. Where were you all those years ago? Avery would have loved if you could have talked some sense into me. I, I was in my own blind spot. I had no idea I was even doing that. Right? 

[00:19:51] So I’m hoping that somebody is going to hear this and think, I wonder if I do that, you know, and maybe even go ask your kids. When you feel like you fall down or hurt yourself, you know, do you feel like ever like, like you’re in trouble with me? 

[00:20:07] Like ask your kids. It’s not asking your kid to stroke and coddle you and to say, no mom, you’re really a good mom. Um, it’s really, if you come to it from a place of curiosity, like you’re an investigative journalist.

[00:20:24] Like, ask them. Because kids are truthful. I mean, if I would have known to ask seven year old Avery knees and elbows that, she would have said, yeah, it seems like you get mad at me when I hurt myself. And if your kid does say, yes, I actually, yeah, you get mad at me when I hurt myself, chances are you’re going to want to argue with them, you know, or convince them why you’re not mad at them.

[00:20:52] No, well, I don’t ever yell. I mean, that’s what I would want to do. Like I was like, I like, yell? Really, I’m a yeller? Am I, am I a yeller? You know, Or, you might want to say like, please just know you’re never in trouble. And then you want to really convince them. And that could be important, like reassuring them that they’re not in trouble.

[00:21:15] But before you do that, you have to own what you have done. You have to just believe them. Right? So if your kid’s like, yeah, I feel like you’re mad at me. Like if it was me, Avery saying, yeah, I feel like whenever I hurt myself, you’re mad at me. You get mad at me. And I’m like, I do? This is what, if I could go back to younger me. I do, I, yeah, I get, I get scared and then my voice is not loving and comforting and let me just get you the boo boo bear kind of nurturing thing. it’s like, I am angry that you just hurt yourself and that probably makes it all even worse. Is that, am I getting this right?

[00:22:00] if you just state the obvious and believe your kid and then sort of mirror back what you think they’re saying. And then if you get, if your kid, and this is actually something that, um… a lot of people have been talking about that Never Split The Difference author, who apparently was just on Andrew Huberman, um, Chris Voss, he talks about this in his book. 

[00:22:24] If you get a “that’s right,” then you know you just nailed empathy. Right? So it’s true in a business negotiation and it’s true when you’re having a conversation, you’re trying to have a productive conversation with your kid and be on the same team and on the same page. 

[00:22:42] So if I were to say, oh, so then you hurt yourself and now your mom’s over here seeming mad at you or upset and that probably just makes the pain even worse. Am I getting that right? Or… and if she were to say yeah, that’s right, then I know I just accomplished what I want to accomplish 

[00:23:08] And then when you move on to, okay, so I’m seeing that is not helpful. That is actually the last thing I want to do when you hurt yourself. It doesn’t even make sense. Like, I’m your mom. I want to make you feel better when you hurt yourself, not worse. Right? 

[00:23:25] Okay. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am working on this. So what happens if next time you hurt yourself and I have a mean face on or something, you know, how do you think you could tell me, like, what do you think you could say so it reminds me of this conversation? Because I don’t want to be that mom anymore. I don’t want to make your pain worse. What do you think you could say to remind me? 

[00:23:55] And your kid might look at you like, I don’t know. Like, you know what, something that I think would be great. You could even just look at me and say not helpful. And that will remind me that however I am looking at you, whatever I am doing is not helpful because I’m committed to getting better at this. Like, yeah. 

[00:24:20] So then that just, that situation just becomes a productive conversation and you’ve planned for next time, right? Yeah, I love this, I loved that story and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure exactly why I loved it so much. But I wanted that’s why I knew that we needed to unpack it here. I think… I think we talked about some really good concepts and I think a lot of people are probably in their own blind spots about this like I was, so thank you for coming and talking about it with me. Do you have any last final thoughts about it?

[00:24:58] Samantha: Well, I think it’s like I said, it’s something that’s going to give you a lot of practice because kids fall all the time. So you can only get better right and I think there’s a good way to learn about ourselves Like to know that 

[00:25:11] once you get used to it, we’re not hurt. We’re okay. Our kid is hurt and so your instinct is to be like angry because something hurt them but not angry at them. So I think once you recognize that and then you can re channel it.

[00:25:25] Randi Rubenstein: That just, that just made me think about even a more in depth, but really, really, really. Your kid is hurt. You are not hurt. You and your child are separate entities. Right? So now all of a sudden the but really, really, really is, talk about those of us who grew up with a whole lot of codependence on the scene

[00:25:57] Samantha: Yeah.

[00:25:58] Randi Rubenstein: and we’re, you know, accidentally thinking about our kids as an appendage of us, right?

[00:26:05] Now all of a sudden we have this very real life example of how to remind yourself; my kid is hurt. Are you hurt or scared? You know, it’s like this practice of, they are separate from me. I don’t have to be mad at them and so scared because I think we are one and the same. We are two separate beings. How do I show up for this separate being in a way that is loving and supportive right now?

[00:26:37] Samantha: Yeah

[00:26:38] Randi Rubenstein: That’s so good. So good. Okay. Um, you’re the best. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[00:26:46] Samantha: Thank you, it was so fun.

[00:26:47] Randi Rubenstein: So fun. So fun. Okay, everyone have a great week. Bye for now.

[00:26:52] Samantha: Bye.

[00:26:53] 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.

[00:27:28] And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

[00:28:01] 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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