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277: The “Do Less” Approach To Raising Confident Kids with Michaeleen Doucleff

We all want our kids to grow up confident and self-sufficient. But by doing too much and protecting our kids from failure, so many well-meaning moms and dads end up discouraging the autonomy they want their kids to achieve. Welcome to the first episode of an ongoing conversation with my friend and fave, Michaeleen Doucleff, author of the phenomenal book Hunt, Gather, Parent. We use real stories from my Mastermind Parents to help us find antidotes to the performative, perfectionist parenting models we’re trying to overturn.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The key mindset shift that will help you develop a mutually respectful, collaborative connection with your children.
  • What happens when you stop trying to find the perfect script and start talking to your kids like full human beings.
  • Why parents who do the most for their kids wind up raising little anxious humans.
  • How the strategies we use to motivate and reward our kiddos actually push down their natural drive to help out.

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

About Michaleen Doucleff:

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!

If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the share button in the podcast player above.

Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher.


Audio MMP 277

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

[00:00:10] Well, hello, hello, I am here with my fave, Michaeleen, my friend Michaeleen, author of Hunt, Gather, Parent, and we were catching up recently and we decided afterwards, we’re just going to do our catch ups here on the podcast. So this is our first catch up conversation and we’ll see if it turns out to be anything interesting to any of you.

[00:00:36] Um, and we’re just, we’re unscripted. We sort of have an idea of what we think we’re going to talk about, but you never know what the two of us, cause it could go in a whole different direction. Um, so yeah, thanks for coming and I’m excited to talk to you like I always am.

[00:00:54] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, me too. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:56] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. So I sent Michaeleen this little thing I wrote that is going, that goes with a program that I’m in the sixth week of, this pack leadership program, which is a brand new program that I’ve been creating. I keep telling the participants I’m building the plane as we fly it. So I’m studying them and each week I write a little bit more.

[00:01:18] And so this week I shared with Michaeleen sort of the assignment for this week and it was all about planning. Right? Like pack leaders, we have a plan and we have to figure out what that plan is. And it sounds so simple. Um, and it actually is simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy.

[00:01:47] Um, and so I sent it to Michaeleen cause I was really like, I don’t know, read this thing. And then let’s discuss and see where it goes. And of course you emailed me back and you said, I have lots of thoughts. So now I’m so excited to hear your lots of thoughts about this thing that I sent you.

[00:02:06] Michaeleen Doucleff: well, do you wanna explain a little bit about, 

[00:02:08] Randi Rubenstein: Should I read a little bit?

[00:02:10] Michaeleen Doucleff: yeah. Like, tell me your kind of, um, thesis of it.

[00:02:15] Randi Rubenstein: Okay. So, so this is in week six of a nine week program. And so we’re just starting to talk about, hmm, pack leaders have a plan and we have to know what the plan is. And when you really think about that, it’s like, can you imagine going and working, getting hired for a company and you like, they’re, you’re like, well, so what time does work start? Like how do, what’s in there? People are like, I don’t know. Just come when you, you know, get up and get ready. 

[00:02:45] And you’re like, and so what usually happens first thing, what do people work on? And they’re like, you know, you’ll just have to see. We’re just going to take it as the day comes.

[00:02:54] I mean, I think it would be anxiety provoking for most of us because we want to know what to expect. Like we want the person in a leadership position to say, this is, we start work at eight o’clock. You’ll come in, you’ll check in, you’ll get your little badge, you’ll, we’ll show you where your desk is, you’ll get all set up. Um, people typically go to lunch at this time, they’ll get you trained. They’ll teach you the plan.

[00:03:19] But you need your leaders to be clear on what the plan is and then communicate it to you. And I think that although we’re not running businesses, we’re running families. But if you think about it in that way, it’s like we have to have a plan. And so in week six, why am I only talking about the plan in week six, week six and seven, like what the hell have I done for the last five weeks? Right? 

[00:03:47] And it’s interesting because we had to build up to this point, and really what we’ve been doing for the last five weeks is mostly unpacking all the un-pack-leadership patterns. Where they come from and why, why they’re here and really understanding. 

[00:04:06] Like one mom, it’s so interesting, this one mom, she grew up, and I like to call this a case of having too good a mom. Like she, she’s like, if I all of a sudden found out that I needed to be wearing a purple shirt for whatever thing at school the next day, you know, I would come home and my mom would have five purple shirts for me to choose from.

[00:04:27] Michaeleen Doucleff: Mm

[00:04:28] Randi Rubenstein: You know, if my mom had to bake a cake to take somewhere, she’s like, I remember her telling all like all my friends, their moms were going out to lunch and my mom was like, oh, we can’t, you know, I won’t be able to join them because I’ve got to bake a cake. 

[00:04:43] And. And she’s like, and it never occurred to me that like, why didn’t she bake the cake the night before? Why didn’t, like the only option in her mind was to bake the cake so it was fresh right before you were going to serve the cake. And so she said, I realize I never learned problem solving. And I never, 

[00:05:05] Michaeleen Doucleff: Or lots of things. I mean, many, many things, many things. Autonomy, confidence, self sufficiency. Like, I would not call that too good of a mom. I would put it on the scale of like, overdoing it. 

[00:05:20] Randi Rubenstein: Well, I call it too good of a mom in the sense that it’s sort of the mom was super well intentioned and I mean, without knowing her mom at all, I would say that she struggles with, she’s, you know, she’s imprisoned with perfectionism. Everything has to be done in just such a perfect way. And so she doesn’t want anything to ever. You know, she doesn’t want anything to ever not be perfect. 

[00:05:46] So like, what if she just picked up one purple shirt or what if they’d waited till the last minute and they went to the store and there wasn’t a purple shirt? Like so she’s going to like make sure that she goes and there’s five purple shirts to choose from. 

[00:05:59] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right. 

[00:06:00] Randi Rubenstein: And so I say too good of a mom because I know the intention is I just want to get this right. Right? Like I just don’t, you know, and we can look at it from our perspective, but I know that, that her mom had the best of intentions. She just didn’t know what she didn’t know. 

[00:06:19] And so now this mom in my pack leadership group, she’s like, I don’t do everything perfectly at all. In fact, I’m, we lack structure. It’s chaos. I’m always flying by the seat of my pants. I wait till the last minute on things. And, it was literally like a week ago. She’s like, I realized like, I have a hard time with problem solving. 

[00:06:41] She, it was interesting. She was sharing a story. She’s a speech therapist and she was, she, you know, goes and, and, and meets with kids at school. And so she meets with people and so she said, so I was running late and all of a sudden I realized after I dropped my boys off that, oh shit, I don’t have my supplies. You know, I don’t have my therapy supplies. She goes, we’re normally, I would just have like gone by the house and then been later and it would have been a whole thing. She goes, and all of a sudden I realized like, wait a minute, there’s got to be a way to get there on time, even though I don’t have the supplies, I’ve got to be able to figure this out.

[00:07:19] And she goes, and it just like, was like, it, you know, hit me like a ton of bricks, she said, I was like, oh, there’s a speech therapist on site for sure. She works with small kids for sure. She has supplies too. So I just contacted her and asked if I could borrow some of her materials and she was said no problem. And it was like problem solved. And she was like, that’s so simple. But what I realized is, I don’t naturally think that way. Like this is a new skill set that I’m thinking about. 

[00:07:48] And she was also the mom who was like, oh, I’m just unprepared and I’m unstructured. Can y’all give me some, some easy meals? You know, she thought that she was coming in to become a pack leader and really was about like meal planning, like better meal planning Yes, of course as pack leaders, we figure out what, you know, we find a system that somebody else is using. And we’re like, that sounds like a good one. I think I’m going to use that system if we’re not a systematic, like I’m not a systematic brain. 

[00:08:14] So we figure out our systems and we figure out our plan. Um, but we’re never going to execute on that plan. If we’re still stuck in our old patterns, so we got to bring those old patterns that have put us on this path of unpackleadership and probably a lot of chaos. And we’ve got to like pull them out of our blind spots and understand them better and study them better. 

[00:08:43] And then we’re like, oh, now it’s out of my blind spot. Now I can see it. So now I can start creating my systems and my plans and figure out what’s going to work for me. But you have to do so much, I think of that kind of excavation work first.

[00:09:00] Michaeleen Doucleff: Like self reflection. So I, I mean, I want to jump in here because I want to debunk a myth out there. I want to free every man and woman who thinks that like doing all that stuff makes you a good mom. I get that it’s well intentioned and like, comes with, you know, love and like, you’re doing your best and you’re doing, but at the end of the day, if you look around the world and you look at the past, that’s not what makes somebody a good mom. In fact, because she had a mom like that, she doesn’t have the, she, you know, you said like, she doesn’t have this problem solving doesn’t come right. 

[00:09:38] But, you know, what a mom, a good mom, round the world. And what I would argue is a good is the best mom, there is such thing is a mom’s that, that allows the child of autonomy in these situations. Calling this person, like the best mom or the perfect mom, or kind of plays into this myth of like the child’s life is the center. Right? This very child centered view of parenting where like, okay, the child needs a shirt, I’m going to get five shirts. The child needs a cake, I’m going to bake a cake and not do, right?

[00:10:11] But like, I would argue that the best mom or a better mom is when it goes on with their life and kind of integrates the child’s life into it and gives the child all this room to do these things for themselves. Right, like I would say you need to bake a cake. You know what, Rosie why don’t you figure out which cake you want to bake and I’m, I’ll support you. You need a, you need a purple shirt. You know what? You, you tell me when we’re gonna, why don’t you ride your bike to the store and get it? You know, depending on the age, right? 

[00:10:38] And it’s like, I think one of our problems in our society is that we, and I had this, I had this, and I still, I still fight this a lot. But like, is that we see the more we do as being the better. This, I remember in Tanzania, like in this tent, like laying there being like, oh my God, I am just trying way too hard and doing way too much and that actually what Rosie needs, my daughter, is like is is for me to stop doing so much for her. And like and I’m not like a very like aggressive woman like mom like but I was still doing way too much way too much.

[00:11:18] Randi Rubenstein: Wasn’t that your nickname? Wait a bit.

[00:11:20] Michaeleen Doucleff: Wait a bit. That’s right Yes, because I would kept getting my, uh, my sweaters caught on the acacia trees, which are like acacia trees, which have these thorns. And like, they were like, if you just keep running, you’re going to rip your sweater. But if you get caught in the thorns and you just wait, and then kind of undo it, your 

[00:11:42] sweater 

[00:11:44] Randi Rubenstein: Isn’t that a metaphor for 

[00:11:45] Michaeleen Doucleff: It a complete, metaphor. I was doing way too much!

[00:11:47] Randi Rubenstein: But it’s everything it’s, yeah, it’s like it’s like how brilliant was that? Wait, can,

[00:11:54] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh, they knew right away. They knew right away, like who, who I was. 

[00:11:59] Randi Rubenstein: Will you do that? Oh, like do that? How did they?

[00:12:03] Michaeleen Doucleff: So it’s the name of the tree and it’s like, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um. And so they named everybody that I was, we were with, there was another woman with a young girl that was with us and, um, and they named me and her and Rosie and, um, Westerners and Rosie’s name was, um, small wild cat, which is, which is like a civet cat, I guess, um, because she looked like a small wild cat running around the campsite. And then mine was, which was wait a bit. 

[00:12:35] And, um, that is the metaphor for parenting. It’s like it, and I, but I remember just sitting there being like, everything I do is so much more work than it needs to be done. I could do like 10 percent of what I’m doing and I would actually for Rosie, if I was like calculating mom level, you know, you know, how do you, how do you grade a mom or rank a mom? But if I was ranking it off of Rosie’s behavior and her wellbeing and our relationship, then me doing 10 percent of what I was doing would be way better mom.

[00:13:08] I think it’s really important. Because I think the pack leader, I love this idea of a pack leader. Because we are leading them. We are the ones that, whether we want to or not, we are the ones that they’re looking up to, right? Everything, everything we do, they look up to us. And so we are leading them.

[00:13:26] But as a pack leader, I want to be, I want to model to her just like you wrote in your, in your plan, to step back and let other people do and let them have a chance at doing these things and, and taking responsibility and problem solving and having purpose and having meaning. 

[00:13:42] I mean, we were just talking about like, it is, I think our job to give children the opportunity to contribute, and have jobs and have meaning and do have purposeful tasks as our, in our family. I think that is one of our key jobs as a pack leader. And that means stepping back and like being there to help them if they need us or they fall or, you know, to catch them if they fall metaphorically and like step in, but really like step back and, and do much, much less than we’re doing.

[00:14:15] So I just wanted to, like, I couldn’t, I couldn’t let it go.

[00:14:19] Randi Rubenstein: I say things like that for a reason. I 100 percent agree with you. I say it to soften, because I don’t think, I think that people who are still under the misconception of what our culture has sort of, I don’t know, conditioned us all to think, which is a mother being a selfless mother, being a mother who, she always puts her kids first being a mother who prides herself on perfectionism, who’s the kind of mom who, of course she’s always going to have whatever supply the school has asked for. And she’ll have extra so she can send those in just in case some of the kids who have the kind of moms who don’t provide, you know. 

[00:15:08] I think that so many people really believe that to be true. And I think that, that people don’t know what they don’t know. And I’m like, I get it. It comes from a beautiful intention. You really want to nail, you want to nail this thing. You, you want to put,

[00:15:30] Michaeleen Doucleff: You care so much. Like that’s how I felt like I cared so, I would, I traveled across the world for this child, right? There’s, there’s no doubt. But for me, it was freeing though, Randi, it was freeing to be like, okay, look, if, if I’m about optimizing this child in our, in, in, in us, and I’m about perfection, which I’m not saying I am, but if I was. That actually more perfect is letting go. 

[00:15:55] Randi Rubenstein: Yes. 

[00:15:55] Michaeleen Doucleff: There’s so much data on that, right? It’s like, and, I mean, I’m still stuck in this mindset of like, I want to do the best thing for her completely. It’s not about like lowering your standards. It’s about raising your standards. Right. And it’s like, but I want to teach her a healthy relationship. I want to have her autonomy, which we know is so important for like mental health. Right. 

[00:16:15] And, and so once I realized that all these things that we were kind of grading women on as good parent, best parent, better parent actually weren’t really kind of the right things to be grading us on. Right? It’s just made up. It kind of was, it was very freeing for me. It was a very much like, oh, if I relax and I kind of let go of this, then the result’s going to be better. 

[00:16:39] Randi Rubenstein: I will tell you that in my own personal community, like I was involved when they were in elementary school and preschool, you know, like I would, if they asked for somebody, you know, whatever I did, I was involved. Once my kids hit middle school, I’m out.

[00:17:00] And I would say probably the moms, the really involved moms in my, my community, they’re probably whispering that, Because I, and, and I’m aware of it, right? Like I, I’m, I’m not the mom who’s going to like bring the baked goods. I’m not the mom who’s going to volunteer for things. That’s not what I do. I did that in the early years that felt right for me. And once my kids hit middle school, that didn’t feel right anymore. My kids, frankly, they’re like, okay, we’re moving into adolescence. Like we got to figure this shit out. 

[00:17:36] And it’s funny because Corey, you know, is a senior in high school and um, he’s on the tennis team and tennis was a sport that he just started playing last year. And um, I think he should be, I think he is really proud of himself for it because to learn a brand new sport at 17 years old and like he was playing on, you know, last year, it was the JV team and he was playing with the kids that were much younger than him and they were better than him and um, and I’m like, it’s awesome, you know, it’s awesome. And he loved it. He’s like, this is the most fun game. Like I’m so mad at y’all that you didn’t insist that I play this game much younger and I’m like, well you can play it for the rest of your life. That’s good news.

[00:18:17] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right. You have a long time.

[00:18:19] Randi Rubenstein: Right. You have a long time. It’s all good. So anyway this year, he’s only been playing for one year, so he’s not that good. And, uh, and so he went and advocated to the coach and he was like, you know, I really want to be on the varsity team. I don’t need to be taken to any of the matches. I just want to, um, practice and like, I love this sport and I want to practice with kids that are really good. And, um, and he’s a, he’s an athletic kid, so I think he knew that like his skill would improve a lot if he played with, with better players.

[00:18:52] So he’s on the varsity. So I gave that whole preface to say he’s on the varsity tennis team, but don’t anyone get any ideas that he’s some tennis, that he’s Andre Agassi, you know, or whoever the latest and greatest tennis player is. 

[00:19:05] So they were new to this tennis situation and I started noticing I was getting these emails from the parents who are throwing like a team dinner on a Friday night. So nice. Like hosting it at their house and I guess providing the food. I don’t know if they collect money and the mom, the mom who’s coordinating it, asking for RSVPs and, um, and she’s sending it to me. And so I got a little confused. I was like, so are the families like, are we invited? At, this is confusing. 

[00:19:32] So I asked Corey, I’m like, do I, come to this? Do I need? He’s like, no, mom, it’s just for the players. No, you’re not invited. I was like, okay, I, I’m good with that. And I was like, well, did you RSVP? He was like, of course I RSVP’d. So this mom is sending to high school varsity players, you know, and she’s just a volunteer mom. She’s a super nice lady and giving her time to coordinate this effort. But that is the norm. We’re going to email the parents and have them RSVP for their high school aged kid for a dinner that the parent isn’t even invited to. 

[00:20:14] Michaeleen Doucleff: So the parent is like the executive assistant.

[00:20:17] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, yeah. Like we’re the,

[00:20:19] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s what I call it my book. Like I’m, I’m like an executive assistant to like a toddler 

[00:20:24] Randi Rubenstein: yeah. and that is the norm and, uh, and the mom who coordinated pictures for the school dance last weekend, which we were at, Scott and I were out of town and Corey, there was a school dance and all the parents go and they take pictures. And I was like, oh, we’re out of town. We won’t, I’m telling you, I think they all think we’re probably absentee parents at this point.

[00:20:44] But, he’s turning 18 on Friday, like he’s going to college next year and we had, we were going to see the U2 concert. I bought it for Scott’s birthday. Like I was taking him to that concert and we were like, oh you have a school dance. Have so much fun. And the school pictures parents, they were, the mom was like, you know, I need to get Corey’s money and this, that, and the other. And I’m going back to Corey and he’s like, I already paid that Like, yeah. 

[00:21:12] And then it turned out he sent it, he sent it to the wrong Venmo. He spelled her name with an a instead of an e. So there was a thing, but I’m over here going, wait, I’m out of the loop. Like, 

[00:21:24] Michaeleen Doucleff: But you don’t need to be in the loop. I don’t even think you need to be in the loop when they’re like 10, 11. I mean, like in many parts of the world, when you’re 10, 11, you’re like, you know, becoming self sufficient, like, hunting and building and working and you know? I mean, I think my point is like, we are not doing, we are doing children disservice by perception of like, you’re an absentee parent. No, you’re a good parent, who’s allowing the child to grow and develop as a child should.

[00:21:55] I have this book that’s coming out soon from Jon Haidt on my desk somewhere. Oh yeah, here, I’ll show you the cover. It’s like, I can describe it. It’s like this wo this young girl on a on a on her phone in these balls, and it’s called The Anxious Generation

Link – John Haig, anxious Generation

[00:22:09] Michaeleen Doucleff: And just looking at the cover makes me anxious. This book is very anxiety provoking. But it’s all about what we’re talking about. It’s how kids are anxious because they don’t feel like they have control over their lives, you know, at any stage.

[00:22:24] And, and this is talking a lot about teenagers and it’s like, this type of parenting where you’re doing everything for them. You’re RSVPing, you’re getting all their shirts, you’re making their cakes, like this makes an anxious child. I mean, there, that is what da, data show. I mean, out of all of the psychology on parenting, that is one of the strongest pieces of evidence is like this perfection parenting, which is not that at all, it’s increases the likelihood that the child will be anxious as they grow up.

[00:22:54] I’m trying to say this because I’m trying to say that if you’re anybody listening, who’s not like this, you know, to feel good about it, you know, like, feel good that you’re not like this because this is not, and if you are, then like. you can do less and, and that’s how I was. And I felt like I can do less and I can, and actually I think it will improve your relationship with your child, but it will also improve the child’s mental health over time. Because children are really made to have very, a lot of autonomy. And as they get older, like from tween to teenager, it’s supposed to explode in autonomy. Right.

[00:23:30] Randi Rubenstein: But think about it. If what’s being modeled is perfectionism,

[00:23:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes.

[00:23:38] Randi Rubenstein: then, you know, the human experience as we know is, is super imperfect. And so if your parent is always handling every single thing and they show up with perfectionism, then the child is going to be anxious because it, it’s an unattainable model. They know there’s no way they can ever be perfect. And so they have that inner desire to strive maybe for the perfectionism cause that’s what’s being modeled. And it’s anxiety provoking because they also, since so much is being done for them, they also, there’s an inner knowing that they don’t have the skills to do everything perfectly. 

[00:24:24] Michaeleen Doucleff: Well, I think, I think, so one of the things that makes us human is this like constant kind of desire and need to learn. This is some of the stuff I’ve been studying recently. It’s like, this is, incredibly important for us to explore and learn. I mean, I think it’s one of the reasons why video games are so, so exciting and so popular with, with boys is because this is their chance to feel this autonomous exploration, right? 

[00:24:49] So we, so human beings have this incredible need to learn and explore, like, in real life and physically and like, I, I think if the parent is doing everything for the child, then where’s the learning? And so I think that there’s this model of perfectionism that you can’t, ever attain, which I’m, I would argue is not really perfectionism. It’s just some made up view of what’s a perfect parenting. 

[00:25:14] But then there’s also a sense of agency that you’ve lost, right? That like people get anxious and depressed when they feel like they don’t have control over themselves, right? You know it, right? If you feel like the world is very uncertain or you have this very uncertain event in your life, you get anxious, right? Like what’s going to happen. Humans hate uncertainty. So that, so if you don’t feel like you get to choose what’s going on in your life, then can you imagine feeling that all the time? I think a lot of children feel that way all the time. I don’t know what’s next because my parents deciding for me. 

[00:25:46] So you have that, right? And then on top of it, you don’t have kind of this really required development stage of like learning to be self sufficient, learning to solve problems, learning to learn. Right. And so experts have known this for decades, and yet we still kind of go down it, is this, this very controlling, uh, version of parenting where we think perfection is doing everything for the child. When in fact, we could stop doing everything for the child, probably around four.

[00:26:19] And I know that sounds crazy, but like, that’s, I mean, I stopped doing everything for Rosie around age four, you know, and that doesn’t mean I don’t help her all the time. I help her all the time and we work together all the time, but like last week I was up here working at like five or six o’clock and she wanted to make cupcakes and she just made cupcakes. And like, nobody helped her, you know, and she’s eight. 

[00:26:40] Randi Rubenstein: So right. 

[00:26:41] Michaeleen Doucleff: I’m just saying like, you can pull back, like, so much. And I get, I get your point of like, other parents judging. There’s no doubt about that, right? That there’s, it’s not just, it’s the other parents that have this perception, right? And that put that on you. But it’s like what you said before, like, you know we’re, we’re the leaders of this. And like, but also at the end of the day, if you really wanted to do what’s best for your kids, then you just have to be strong and be like, look, I know this is actually better for my child. 

[00:27:12] I know for Rosie that if I treated her the way you’re talking about at the beginning of this, like getting the five purple shirts, making the cake, like if I did that, we would have a horrible relationship. So I know that.

[00:27:25] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah.

[00:27:26] Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, and maybe kids, some kids are different, but at the end of the day, like to me, better parenting, more perfect parenting, is doing less.

[00:27:36] Randi Rubenstein: I completely agree, and as you’ve said many times, it’s saying less, right? Saying less, it’s doing less. Like, and I can’t tell you how, I mean, I would say my number one request I’ve gotten from parents over the years when I’ve coached them, right? So the parents that come and they work with me and once, you know, they’ll run their scenarios by me and we’ll problem solve it and I’ll coach them.

[00:28:03] And so many times people are like, gosh. If only you could come up with something so that like we can just memorize your scripts like maybe a game or uh, some kind of a tool so we can say things just like how you say things and that has been the number one request. 

[00:28:24] And, and I think anyone who requests that is that parent that struggles with the perfectionism because, you know, they think there is a right way to say things and, and when I workshop and problem solve, you know, I give examples, but I let them know, this is my right way of saying things because it’s, you know, what’s coming out of my mouth. But I named this Mastermind Parenting because what I want you to do is I want you to get out of your own way, and understand what’s going on up here. 

[00:29:08] If you’re a person that struggles with perfectionism and you think you have to get your kid the five shirts and you’re practicing Mastermind Parenting, then you’re onto yourself and you’re like, why the fuck would I need to get five shirts? And I don’t even know what color purple she likes. And who knows, like we got to talk about this when she gets home and maybe tonight we’ll head over to Target and see if we can find a purple shirt together. Like I’m happy to drive her to Target, but it’s her body, it’s her school event. 

[00:29:41] Like, why would I think that this was my responsibility in the first place? Like, what is coming up for me here? What am I so worried about? Like, we’re asking ourselves those kinds of questions, because when you ask yourself those kinds of questions, then you’re just onto yourself. 

[00:29:57] Then you’re having a conversation with your kid. Then before you know it, you’re like, why did I think I needed the perfect script? I needed to just like, I know how to have a conversation. I’m actually pretty good with people. And so like I just treat my kid like, oh, they are a person and I am crazy about them. And so now I get to just talk to them like a human, like human to human, like there’s no, there’s no scripts to memorize.

[00:30:23] Michaeleen Doucleff: You know, it’s interesting cause I think this fits with, with your planning, right? I think when you talk about like, you need a plan, for me, this is like, I have kind of like two North stars. Two big ones, like they’re my two major goals as a parent and then I kind of, everything kind of comes from those, right? And so I don’t, I don’t really need a script and I don’t need a, you know, tip sheet and all this stuff because like, I just, is the action, is, are the words, the moment aligning with these goals? Or not, basically. 

[00:30:57] And so when I read your plan, it reminded me of one of my major goals is like to teach Rosie how to interact with people in a respectful way. You know, so it’s not about being selfish or being selfless, right? It’s about being respectful to her and treating her with respect, but also making sure she treats me with respect, right? And like teaching her that. Because I don’t think kids are born knowing that, so it’s like this is a process.

[00:31:24] And a lot of kids I can see this in the school that we have in the school I’ve worked with, but they want to know that. They want to know how to treat people with respect because then they get treated with respect back, right? There’s like a teaching her reciprocal relationship. 

[00:31:41] And a lot of, I think in your plan is that like, and what you’re talking about, it’s like talking to them as people. Is like, you’re teaching them to treat you respectful and you’re going to treat them with respect. And so hopefully as she, she grows up, she’s going to find friends and boyfriends and whoever that do the same, right? So that’s one of my like North stars is like teaching her to be respectful and then like to treat people with respect. 

[00:32:05] And then the second one is to learn, to be self sufficient and have the skills she needs to take care of herself. Right. And, and so if, if I bought the five shirts or I made the cake, or I’m just kind of this, it would go against that. It’s like, okay. I just ask myself, okay, well, what can I do here to support her, treat her respectfully, but, you know, help her learn to be self sufficient. 

[00:32:30] Because that’s, I mean, if you just look at the data, that is what makes kids feel good, you know mentally good. It’s like learning to be self sufficient so that’s when I think of like pack leadership, planning is kind of these like big goals and then what do I need to learn so I support these goals, as well as what do I need to teach her? 

[00:32:51] Randi Rubenstein: So good. I mean, you know, what’s interesting is like week five of the program, well, weeks four and five it’s the title of it was, what do I want? And what gets in the way? And we literally spent two weeks really having them walk through, I said, you know, and I explained and I taught them a whole class about, uh, basically the main premise of this one class was it’s super normal to focus on what you don’t want. And you know, because that human negativity bias, like it’s a survival instinct for us to scan for all the things that feel unsafe or dangerous. Right. And so I’m like, so does it mean you’re, it doesn’t mean you’re pessimistic. It doesn’t mean you’re negative Nelly. It just means you’re a human. 

[00:33:41] And so now we’re going to override that programming, that conditioning, and we’re going to say, what do I want? It’s a much harder question to answer. And I really gave them two weeks to really define what do they want. So like you having those North stars and, and I said, you know, you have to know what you want before you can create a plan.

[00:34:08] Michaeleen Doucleff: Right, exactly.

[00:34:10] Randi Rubenstein: Right. So you, so like this is what is going to anchor you. And most of us, especially women in our society, we’re not asking ourselves what we want, you know, what restaurant, what are you in the mood for to eat? I don’t know. What do you, whatever you’re in the mood for, you know, or, I mean, so like all that people pleasing and all that old conditioning, I, I’m like, yeah, that is unpackleadership. We as pack leaders, we have to ask ourselves, what’s important to me? What do I want?

[00:34:42] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, and our kids need that. They need that. They want that, right? They want us to be, I think it’s funny because I think our society actually teaches women, like, the opposite of what I’m talking about with like a reciprocal relationship. Right. And in a mutually respectful relationship, right? Like this, this kind of selflessness that you’re talking about in your, you know, this pleasing people doing everything is, that is not a reciprocal relationship. That’s what we’re taught, right? That’s what I, I grew up under and watched. 

[00:35:11] And that’s what I, you know, I saw at work at NPR, women were there to, for a long time, they even said like women were there to, you know, this is journalism. Women were there to take care of the men and do the work behind the scenes work or drink with the men when they were traveling. I’m not kidding. This was like said, like, not that far from my time. Right? So I think it’s good to like acknowledging this is what we’re taught, this is the programming. A lot of us have had, right? Is that like, when people ask us to do something, we jump, right? 

[00:35:40] I remember when I was first like kind of, well, what’s a reciprocal relationship? What’s mutual respect? I was like watching myself, like Rosie would say something or Matt, my husband would say something and I jump and like, what? Oh, you know, because this is how I was programmed to be, right, from society, my family, movies, books, you know?

[00:36:00] And it’s like, but that’s not, yes, we can help each other but we, we have to also like realize that people need to do things for themselves because that’s what makes them happy. And the other builds resentment in me over time. And then I get angry. Right? And it’s like, so I think so much of us are, are just programmed and taught not to do this. So it’s like, of course we don’t do this, right? Um, but I think we can definitely learn it. I definitely feel like I’ve learned it. And it, it just kind of comes from this idea of like, does that feel respectful? 

[00:36:35] You know, that’s a question I ask myself a lot. Like, does that feel respectful? Like, and I asked Rosie to ask herself that, you know, does, do you feel like the teacher respected you? Do you feel like your friend respect, was that respectful? And I mean, we’ve talked a lot about like what that means.

[00:36:50] And, um, and so I feel like that’s like, maybe this idea of like not being selfish or being selfless is, is it’s not so much about me being selfless, it’s more about me wanting her to treat me with respect because then she’s taught, right, to treat with respect and then the relationship deepens. I, I worry a little bit like, you know, couching it as like selfishness in some way, is missing kind of this deepened connection that can happen when you’re, when you’re working together. Right? 

[00:37:22] It’s like, I don’t know. I don’t see it as selfish. I think is what I’m trying to get at. I see it as like, actually, this is better for you, you know, for me to step back and me to have my own life and me to do my own stuff, but you’re welcome to come into it. Um, but also it’s teaching you like to not please other people all the time, but also to, to treat them well. Right. When they treat you well, you treat them well back. And so.

[00:37:47] Randi Rubenstein: Well, well for me when I write self dash ish.

[00:37:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes. Yes. Good to point that out. It is not self ish, it’s self dash ish.

[00:37:58] Randi Rubenstein: Right.

[00:37:59] Michaeleen Doucleff: And what does that mean? 

[00:38:00] Randi Rubenstein: Ish. To me, it’s when you want people to treat you with respect, you have to treat yourself with respect first. And so asking yourself, what do I want? You know, if somebody is like, hey, could you get me a glass of water? Could you do this thing? And like checking in with yourself first.

[00:38:22] And lots of the time, as you know, as I know. Because when we’re, we are in that pack leadership mindset, right? It is our pleasure. We come from a place of, yes. It’s like when that documentarian was staying at your house and you were, you got Rosie a bowl of cereal or something.

[00:38:39] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes. Yes.

[00:38:40] Randi Rubenstein: Why? She was like, why are you doing this for her? And you’re like, cause I want to help her. So, so that’s the thing is that when you check in with yourself first, it doesn’t, it’s the, it doesn’t mean you’re a selfish person. It means you have respect for yourself. You’re checking in with yourself and when you do for other people, it’s always coming from a place of generosity and because you actually want to do it because it feels good to be helpful. It feels good to be generous and to help somebody you love out. Right? 

[00:39:17] And so when I say the opposite of selfless is self dash ish, it’s starting with yourself. And then I think I said something like, yeah, but we’re not narcissistic assholes. Like we’re going to check in with ourself. And of course, It’s our pleasure to show up for people that we love, maybe not all the time, because we ourself won’t want to all the time, but a lot of the time ourself will. And so we start with ourself first and just check in and then we show up.

[00:39:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: That’s right. And I, I think there’s an element of also like, hey, let’s work together. I think that is missing in a lot of our conversation of, not our conversation, but our societies, our cultures conversation with parenting and when a kid asks for you to do something, you can say no, do it yourself. You can say yes and jump up and do it. Or you can also say, hey, let’s do it together, you know?

[00:40:17] And, and I think that, hey, let’s do it together, is like this sweet spot, right? It’s like, okay, I’m gonna get the pleasure of like helping her and supporting her, but I’m gonna like teach her how to do it and I’m gonna get this great like time with her where we’re like working towards her goal together. You know? 

[00:40:35] I mean, there’s so many times when we’re doing something together, like cooking, um, hanging up the laundry. I really like putting the laundry outside. I don’t always do it, but I like it because it’s, it’s pleasurable to me. I know that’s crazy. And if you have more than one kid, I get it. You would never want to do that. But, but for me, it’s a pleasure to hang the laundry on the line. 

[00:40:54] And you know, like the conversations Rosie and I’ve had during these times, they’re priceless, right? Because it’s just this is when she tells me everything, right, when she’s like, oh, I forgot to tell you about Jane. I mean, she’s only eight but I can imagine like because we’re relaxed and there’s no pressure and like and I realized that like, kind of getting rid of these times where parents and children are like, kind of doing these mindless tasks together, kind of, that seem stupid or that we’ve, it’s actually like this wonderful moment of connection and sharing in like, to me, I guess my point is like, it’s not you do it or I do it, but maybe, you know, hey, let’s do it together.

[00:41:32] And then it’s not so much like, a selfish, selfless task, right? It becomes, and then the beauty is that like, when you, sometime you’ll ask Rosie to do something and she’ll be like, together mom, together. I’m like, okay, got it. Together. You know? 

[00:41:50] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. 

[00:41:51] Michaeleen Doucleff: I’ve been thinking a lot about being a pack leader since you’ve taught. I love this idea. Sometimes I catch myself actually being like, because I’m the pack leader, in my mind. Even though I don’t think of myself that way, but it’s the truth. I am the pack leader and um, but I think it’s about really teaching them how, how to treat you right in a certain way and how to treat other people in a way where the relationship becomes meaningful and really close and loving and safe and um, something that my parents, my parents didn’t teach me. You know, society. I don’t just blame them. Society didn’t teach me and that’s what I want as a pack leader.

[00:42:33] Randi Rubenstein: But don’t you think that the real generational pattern. I mean, I know you read that book, you know, you’ve read 10 other books probably, and written too, since you read that Emotionally 

[00:42:46] Michaeleen Doucleff: Immature 

Link – Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents

[00:42:47] Michaeleen Doucleff: Parents Yes, it’s true. I mean, There’s definitely emotional immaturity at the root of this.

[00:42:54] Randi Rubenstein: I mean, how can people be truly be the kind of pack leaders we’re talking about if you’re still operating from that place where you were raised? You know, and maybe there was like, you know, toxic shame, all these big buzz terms, right? And, and so you’re living with that and it’s deeply rooted in your body and,

[00:43:15] Michaeleen Doucleff: Fear, lots of fear from anger, right?

[00:43:18] Randi Rubenstein: lots of fear, lots of feeling, lots of messaging that lives within your body that, that you’re not good enough or that you need to dance for your supper and prove your worth and all that, all that jazz. Right?

[00:43:32] Michaeleen Doucleff: And jump when people ask. 

[00:43:34] Randi Rubenstein: Yes. Yes. Make life easier. One of my big things was is be a no drama mama. Like do not bring your problems. Do not inconvenience other people’s lives with your problems.

[00:43:45] Michaeleen Doucleff: Mm hmm. 

[00:43:47] Randi Rubenstein: And so somewhere I got that message that, yeah, no, it’s not a big deal. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s, um, it’s all good. You know. 

[00:43:55] Michaeleen Doucleff: I, mean, I think there’s a lot of messages out there for moms not to bring their, you’re only, what does it say? You’re only, like, looking out from the castle. What is the term? Right? There’s no, you can’t look in. Nobody can look inside the castle. Only from the outside, you know? Um.

[00:44:10] Randi Rubenstein: But I think that’s the piece is that we, I like to call, those parts, like they’re just like, whatever your flavor of soundtrack is, you know, we all have them, right? And so we all have these old soundtracks and one of my old soundtracks was, yeah, don’t you know, it’s like gaslighting myself. Like it’s not that big of a deal. Come on now. 

[00:44:32] And so we all have these soundtracks and those soundtracks that’s what we started to kind of touch upon and do in the last five weeks of that pack leadership group is we’ve defined those soundtracks because there’s, there is a reason why you are in unpack leadership patterns.

[00:44:51] And so it’s like an archeological dig. Uh, you know, into yourself and we all have reasons. We all have familiar patterns. Most of us, because of what, you know, whatever the soundtrack is, it’s some, it’s most likely some flavor of, yeah, you’re screwing this up. You screw everything up. You’ll never figure this out. 

[00:45:16] And so when that soundtrack is playing in the back of your brain, even though nobody realizes it’s playing, you think you’re going to be showing up as the pack leader who’s like, well, I’ll tell you what, why don’t we do it together? And right, like, what do you think would be a good option?

[00:45:35] You know, are we coming up with the what and how questions? Are we prompting the child to, to start solving their own problem? Are we, you know, going and saying, I really love fresh clothes. My life is so unchaotic and cluttered. I am going to go and we’re going to just hang up the clothes and we’re going to bond while we…

[00:45:53] Michaeleen Doucleff: But that’s not how it works. Most of the time it’s like, you know 

[00:46:00] Randi Rubenstein: But you’ve done a lot of work. My point is, is that if we think about people that are listening right now, and I do think this is important conversation, I’m glad that you pushed on the too good of a mom, really perfectionism really? Because I’m like, no, I’m saying that shit tongue in cheek. 

[00:46:16] Like I know we, we are there, but I’m thinking of the people who are just coming into this conversation. And if you’re like, I don’t really get this. I can’t imagine me and my child just having a beautiful moment, hanging clothes or folding clothes. Like that sounds lovely, good for you, but my life, do you understand the shit show that I’m dealing with? 

[00:46:40] And so I’m like, but we all have these soundtracks and, and what we’re just giving anyone who’s listening to this, if you’re still listening it, we’re just giving you a window into what it looks like for us and, and we’re just trying to unpack it, but I want everyone out there to realize this process. Like Rosie’s only eight. Michaeleen, you started on this. I mean, when Rosie was like, what three?

[00:47:10] Michaeleen Doucleff: Two, two.

[00:47:11] Randi Rubenstein: Two. Okay. So in the scheme of things. You know, prior to six years ago, you were like, you were not where you are today. 

[00:47:23] Michaeleen Doucleff: Rosie, Rosie even says, like, she’ll tell people that my mom was really angry and, and yelled all the time until she wrote a book. She was a really mean mom. I think I’ve even heard her say. No, I, no, it’s, it’s, it’s It’s true. I, 

[00:47:38] Randi Rubenstein: Same with me though. No, it’s the same. I mean, look, I always, I tell all the moms I’m working with, you know, I share all the bits of my story and I’m like, no, my goal is for you guys to figure this shit out in way less time than it took me. I’ve been at this for 25 years. 

[00:47:54] Whenever they’re like, gosh, if you only, you had some, a card deck with all the scripts. I love the way you just said that. I’m like, okay, I have an almost 26 year old. Like, do you understand? Like, that’s like a quarter. It’s not like it is a quarter of a century. It’s a long freaking time. And so I’ve been at this for a bit. 

[00:48:17] And so I just want everyone to realize like, we’re sharing where we are now and the way we see it. And it wasn’t that long ago, even less time for Michaeleen, that we were where you are. And so it’s like, once we pull some of these patterns in these conversations and, and they’re out of your blind spot and you can see it, you’ll start to notice everywhere. You’re with a group of parents and you know, it’s like the humble bragging of who is doing the most shit for their kids or you know,

[00:48:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes, the competitive, the competitive parenting. I know. No, life is not perfect by any stretch of the, even the hang up the clothes isn’t. I’m just talking about like, you know, these very kind of, very small moments of life where, you know, where you see the child, like you say, as this human being, and they see you as this human being, and you’re just two human beings kind of there.

[00:49:19] And I, I think that’s, that’s like another goal is like, is like really seeing my child as this, like, vulnerable human being, right, and allowing her to see me as this vulnerable human being, like, right. That is kind of the, which 

Audiogram In?

[00:49:37] Michaeleen Doucleff: I think what we’re trying to get at is, like, that’s the genuine kind of talking to them. That’s off script, right? 

[00:49:45] There’s no script when you see a person, right? And you value and respect and love them as, as their vulnerabilities and their weaknesses and you just say, I love all of that. And, and I think I want Rosie to feel the same way about me. Which means I need to be vulnerable and I need to be, show weakness and, and be honest about my weakness, you know?

[00:50:11] Randi Rubenstein: And isn’t that just, I mean that’s connection. That’s what connection is. I mean, that’s why it feels so good.

[00:50:17] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yes.

Audiogram Out?

[00:50:18] Randi Rubenstein: That’s why I think it’s like, we’re like, when we see all of the pressure and the podcasts out there that are touting all these performative tactics, right? To be this kind of parent that knows just what to say. And I’m like, but you’re not supposed to know just what to say. You’re, you’re like, I, I hate being in conversations with other people where it’s just, how’s the weather conversation and…

[00:50:48] Michaeleen Doucleff: Or the HR conversation, which is like very common now where it’s like, I hear you. I understand you. I’m just like, no, I don’t want you to hear me and understand me in that way. Like, you know, like that is, there’s people that like adults that talk to me that way, like not in HR, you know, and I’m just like, this is, this is not, this is not friendship, you know? 

[00:51:08] You know, and I also want to say like, most of the time you don’t have to say anything to children, like nothing, you know, you just have to hug them, you know? That, like touching them and like holding them and hugging them. Again, just seeing them as this like vulnerable, you know, there’s a line, I think, maybe in The Whole Brain Child, 

Link – The Whole Brain Child –

[00:51:29] Michaeleen Doucleff: you know the famous book. I think it’s in that book I’m not sure but it is Tina Bryson, Payne Bryson talking about her own child and it’s it’s stuck in my mind for years where she talks about how he, the kid was upset in the backseat and about something. And she was getting ready to like explode on him because, you know, she was frustrated or whatever.

[00:51:51] And she just looked up in the rear view mirror and saw his face. And she just, there’s like a moment where she just saw him as this, like, who he was. This little child who’s trying hard and is like, you know, clearly not capable of holding in whatever is holding in and like, you know, she just, I forgot what she says, but it was just like, basically, like, in that moment, she’s, she saw him as a human being. Right?

[00:52:13] And who is this a young child, very vulnerable, very insecure, very needy, you know, and, and it stuck with me, because I started trying to see Rosie like that, you know? As is this like, and I, I’ve started trying to see my husband like that and my mom like that, like this, this kind of like a softer side, right. And just as a human being, who’s trying to connect and trying to do what’s right. 

[00:52:40] And I mean, some days I think about like, I’m all Rosie has, you know? Me and her dad, that’s it. Right. We are it. Like she has some friends and some teachers, but like at the end of the day, we are it. And so like, I just need to be softer, slower, gentler, you know, it’s like, there’s no script, it just is like compassion. And I think, like, can I see her like Tina Payne Bryson saw the kid, right? In those moments, can I be, and if I can’t, then maybe I walk away for a moment, you know? Or,

[00:53:17] Randi Rubenstein: Mm hmm. 

[00:53:18] Michaeleen Doucleff: Or I say something like, I’m getting grumpy. And I, that’s my new line at night. I’m getting, like, before I get really angry at night, when I’m like, I’m tired and I want to go to bed, you know? I feel it first, and I’m like, I’m getting grumpy. I’m getting grumpy. Like, I’m not blaming anybody, but the grump is coming.

[00:53:36] Randi Rubenstein: Mm hmm.

[00:53:38] Michaeleen Doucleff: And Rosie’s kind of like, okay, I, I understand that, you know, cause we do, we all get grumpy. So, I don’t know. That was a big digression. 

[00:53:45] Randi Rubenstein: No, I, I, I absolutely love that. Like, so, and I’ll share this little human story. Um, it’s actually something that Lindsey, you know, Lindsey, who works with me, you’ve heard me talk about Lindsey. She’s, I call it, yeah, I call her my Mastermind Parenting co-parent. 

[00:54:03] And so, um, Lindsey was sharing with one of our groups yesterday, so she’s got 3 boys and it’s her middle boy who was the reason that she originally joined my group. So she used to be a client. Now she has worked with me for like 6 years. Um, I wouldn’t still be doing what I do if I didn’t have a Lindsey like she’s, she’s my co-parent. 

[00:54:26] But anyway, so Lindsey’s son who she joined for is now in seventh grade. And all through elementary school, um, he never had a friend. And he didn’t act like it bothered him. You know, he has two brothers and he would come home and they’re all like two years apart or whatever. And he didn’t seem to mind. 

[00:54:48] And then he went to middle school and he’s at a small school and he’s made some friends and last night she, so she says, well, I just got home from doing a double header in baseball. Which years ago I, I gave Lindsey permission, she said this changed her life when I told her she doesn’t have to go to baseball games. and I, she was like, I never even considered that. And I’m like, yeah. 

[00:55:18] She’s like, what do I do when he gets home? I was like, you get to be excited to hear, you get to hear it firsthand from him, like, how was the game, what, tell me about it. Like, was it fun? What was your favorite part? Like, you get to hear about the game, you get the Cliff Notes from the game from your kid and if it was a disappointment, you get to sit with them in the disappointment, and if it was wonderful, you get to celebrate again with them. Like, it’s the best. You know, go if you want to go, but if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to go. 

[00:55:49] So for whatever reason, she went to two baseball games, I guess, two different kids, um, last night. And so she said, so I went and she’s, she’s like, I was freezing. I was hungry and I got home and I guess it was the oldest and the youngest. She said, she says she gets home and she’s like, yeah, it’s like, I’m grumpy, freezing. I spent all these hours. She was uncomfortable in her body. And so she sends pictures how, I guess she had taught, called Daniel, her seventh grader. When she got home, he had run her bath with and put Epsom salts in it.

[00:56:29] I mean, yeah. Um, and then he had made her a little snack and it was like a fruit medley. There was mango, there was all these different fruits and he put it in a little bowl and he put it next to the bathtub. And I think he even like set it up for her to like watch a show on whatever thing and like soak in the tub. 

[00:56:49] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh my gosh. Seventh grade boy? 

[00:56:50] Randi Rubenstein: Seventh grade, seventh grade boy. And I, my only response, she shared it with one of our groups. And my only response was, and you worried that he didn’t have empathy.

[00:56:59] Oh, was convinced that he. Oh, he was, he, literally was diagnosed with like depression, and I think they were hinting around at that ODD diagnosis. Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which is basically like, like, yeah, sorry, you’re, you’re screwed. Like your kids, like, like that ODD diagnosis is like a bullshit diagnosis. And so she lives five minutes from a Houston medical center. Like she has access to some of the, best doctors and she, and so depression and potentially ODD. And now we have a seventh grade boy and I’m like, yeah. And you thought he didn’t have empathy?

[00:57:39] Michaeleen Doucleff: Oh. I mean, I think that’s, people always ask like, what is like one thing that you learn from traveling? And, you know, I’ve been researching now parenting around the world for, like, 8 years. In one of the things that comes up over and over again is that we just underestimate our kids. We constantly underestimate them and it, and physically, mentally everything. I mean, like, when they’re little, we overestimate them emotionally, but as they get older, we underestimate them on everything. 

[00:58:08] And, um, and I think it goes back to this, like, pack leadership planning thing where we think we, we can’t take care of ourselves, because we need to take care of them all the time. That is underestimating them, right? And that they actually want to take care of us too. You know, that taking care of us feels good. 

[00:58:28] Randi Rubenstein: Mm-Hmm. 

[00:58:29] Michaeleen Doucleff: Like we said at the beginning, like when you help people and you help somebody that you love, it feels good. So why not have, give them the opportunities to help us? Like it’s not even just about us not doing things for them. It’s also about, teaching them to care for us and, and help us. And I think some of the most wonderful, like where Rosie feels like the most excitement and pride in herself is when she does things for me and my husband or my, my mom now. I mean, I think we’re denying them the opportunities to help us. 

[00:59:03] You know, it’s funny. There’s like one of my favorite stories of, I was talking to this researcher. She’s Mexican, Mexican American, a woman, and she said, when she, I might’ve told you this story, but when she was, when she was little, she watched The Brady Bunch and she was like, what’s this thing where, like, you help around the house and you get paid. And she was like, mom, there’s this amazing thing where you, like, help around the house and then the parent pays the children.

[00:59:26] And her mom said to her, Mexican immigrant, she said to her, she said, yeah, interesting. She said, you know, actually, do you live here? And yeah, do you eat here? And yeah, do you sleep here? And like. Okay, well, then you better start cleaning or I’m gonna charge you money or you better start helping, right? I’m gonna charge you money and it’s like kind of this like we have it kind of flipped around right that, that we’re supposed to be helping them so much, but actually they’re also supposed to be helping us.

[00:59:58] Randi Rubenstein: Yes.

[00:59:59] Michaeleen Doucleff: And that is really that like mutual respectable mutual respect relationship as we help each other. And so I think that’s kind of what we get at when we say like, selfless, selfish, but it’s, it’s like, it’s just like helping each other and like, and it feels good. It is an opportunity for the child to feel good, to grow, to, you know, like I said they’re, we are, we’re all they have. So imagine we’ve hung the moon, we’ve hung the stars and they get to help you, you know, and. 

[01:00:31] Randi Rubenstein: But isn’t it interesting because it’s kind of like people who kill intrinsic motivation by making it all about rewards and bribes, you know? Paying for grades and paying for chores and, and now all of a sudden you have a kid that, that they naturally want to help right? We come into this world being cooperative animals, right? So like, 

[01:00:59] Michaeleen Doucleff: It makes us human, 

[01:01:00] Randi Rubenstein: We’re meant, 

[01:01:00] Michaeleen Doucleff: that we are like the most cooperative monkey primate out there. That’s what being a human is, is this like drive to cooperate.

[01:01:09] Randi Rubenstein: Right. And so then we accidentally ruin it by making it about this external bribe. And then you have somebody who is not wanting to be cooperative anymore because they’ve been trained not to be cooperative. They’ve been trained. It’s like, they’re the animal at the zoo who’s just waiting to get, you know, somebody to throw him peanuts or whatever it is. It’s like they’re not doing what their natural instinct is designed to do. Instead, now they’ve just become about all this artificial thing. 

[01:01:40] And I think when parents, where I think they often kill this whole, like, I want to help you and, and you get to help me and we get to do it together and that beautiful feeling, right? When you, when you show up that way and you’re connected to someone. And so I think where a lot of parents get it wrong is they’re like, this is not a hotel. Really? I’m not paying you. In fact, you need to do this and this, or I’m docking you, your allowance. 

[01:02:12] Michaeleen Doucleff: I mean listen to that voice

[01:02:14] Randi Rubenstein: Yes.

[01:02:16] Michaeleen Doucleff: Like I mean like so that’s like when I get back to like this idea of like mutual respect. Like who would you ever talk to like that in a that you respected right? Like you would just know like that’s how my dad talked to me. And sometimes my mom talked to me too. And I will talk, and if I, if I get into it, I’ll talk like that to, to, to Rosie, you know, if I like really, Matt will be like, Michaeleen, you know, and I’m like, well, it’s in there, you know?

[01:02:42] But it’s like, it’s like, no matter what you say in that voice, whatever the script is that you, that somebody obtains from the web or from whatever book, in that voice, is never gonna work. Like it’s just gonna, it will cause fear. And maybe they’ll do what you say because they’re afraid. 

[01:03:00] But it’s, but it’s like, that’s what I kind of say. It’s like, it’s not about the script, but it’s about your feeling towards them, how you perceive them. Are you the person that’s like in charge and you’re gonna tell ’em, which is the voice I’ve just heard, right? Or is it like. Okay, we’re kind of a team and I probably know more than you about what’s good for you, you know, when you’re a little, maybe not, but like, I want to help, let’s do this together, you know? 

[01:03:24] It’s like, it’s funny because the people tell you, like, can you just have this, like, what did you say, this box of, like, cards that,

[01:03:30] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah, like a card deck with scripts.

[01:03:33] Michaeleen Doucleff: Yeah, and it’s like, because it doesn’t matter if you had that card deck, it’s, it’s your tone that you’re using is why it works. It’s the way you are perceiving the child and, um, feeling for the child that works. Because you’re not using that voice, you know?

[01:03:52] Randi Rubenstein: Right That’s it.

[01:03:52] Michaeleen Doucleff: Maybe that’s the training, is like just just like that’s why people also, I always say me and Rosie’s relationship changed when I started changing the way I thought of her.

[01:04:02] Randi Rubenstein: Mm hmm.

[01:04:03] Michaeleen Doucleff: As like what I said, as this little tiny human being that’s trying the best that she can and really wants to please me. Can I talk to her that way versus this kid that’s like manipulating me, pushing my buttons, just wants to like take as much as possible from me? 

[01:04:20] Then, you know, once it’s, once I shift my perspective of her and who she is, and I would argue like scientifically, it’s more accurate as this little tiny being that’s trying her best and really wants to help. Then I started talking to her in a different way, and then everything changed, right? So it’s like, okay, the deck of cards is not going to work if you don’t change how you see and think of the child, right?

[01:04:45] Randi Rubenstein: It’s so true. Um, okay. We’re going to put a pin in this one. And then we’re going to put it, I mean, we could riff on these things for a million hours, but we have to go make dinner for people. There’s like hungry people showing up at both of our houses soon.

[01:05:02] Michaeleen Doucleff: And I like making dinner for people. It feels, I mean, not every parent, but I, it’s one skill that is useful that I have. I don’t have a lot of them. 

[01:05:12] Randi Rubenstein: You know what? A mom said recently, she said something shifted for her when I shared at some point, that I feed people because it makes art, for me my anchor is, I just always wanted the night to run smoothly. And so if we, if there wasn’t a lot of like, oh gosh, what are we eating for dinner energy? If it was just like, yeah, here’s the dinner we’re doing it. I was like, um, it made our night run more smoothly and that’s what I actually cared about. 

[01:05:42] So I just sort of like found my systems. Um, I did not come up with them, but I found my systems over the years and I said, truly I feed people, it comes from a place of love. Because really, and I don’t love cooking and I don’t even think that I’m great at it. I would call myself more of a functional cook. Um. Although I am, I’m getting a little, my husband’s been doing it more with me lately. So that might be changing in empty nest hood, um, right on time, but I have always provided the dinner, and I do it from a place of love, because I want, like, I want this day to end and I want it to be a good day. And so when we, when the night goes smoothly, you know, it’s just like, that was a good day. That was another good day.

[01:06:35] Michaeleen Doucleff: I love that. And I will say that I cook, but in our house, the cook decides the food. It’s like, if you’re cooking it, then you decide what you get to eat. So in some ways it’s selfless. In some ways it’s selfish.

[01:06:48] Randi Rubenstein: Love it!

[01:06:49] Michaeleen Doucleff: It’s a good balance, right? It’s like, this is not input from the other people that are not cooking. No, no. You come in and, 

[01:06:56] Randi Rubenstein: That’s the rule. 

[01:06:57] Michaeleen Doucleff: You come in and start working you can make some input.

[01:06:58] Randi Rubenstein: Yeah. That’s so good. Um, okay. Well, thanks a million and thanks everyone for listening. And until next time, have a great, great week. Bye for now.

[01:07:09] Michaeleen Doucleff: Bye. 

[01:07:11] Randi Rubenstein: Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

[01:07:45] 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. 

[01:08:19] 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