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291: The Kid Who Was His Worst Self Around Mom

Can we just be real for a minute, and admit that parenting is hard? Kids are wild and wonderful, but their behavior can sometimes be really confusing. That’s never more true than when a kiddo is a delight around one parent, but mean and antagonistic around the other. That’s the situation one of my Mastermind moms faced when she joined us. It’s been a process, for sure, but this week she shared with us how much things have improved. And it started with joining a safe, supportive community where she had permission to get to know herself better.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How much “quick fix” thinking can interfere with making positive change in your family dynamic.
  • Why we so often need to look inward to figure out what’s motivating challenging behavior in our children.
  • How important it is as a parent to know, embrace, and honor your own needs.

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.

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Links & Resources

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

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[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. 

Hello, hello, hello. Can y’all believe we are in June? I have two graduations in June, two, not one, but two. My youngest child is graduating from high school. Yes. I have, I’m about to have three that are no longer living full time in my house. Um, empty nesterhood. I think that’s what it’s called. Although. I think when you become a Mastermind family, they come back. They come back. It doesn’t feel so empty. 

Although It will be a lot emptier, which I, I had somebody asked me recently, wow, you’re about to enter into a whole new season of life. Do you think that you’re going to sort of lose your passion for working with families and kids? Like you’re in such a different stage. And Lindsey, who works with me, you know, she’s my Mastermind Parenting, co parent, uh, she said, I think if anything, it seems like you’re just getting more passionate. And I’m like, yeah, because now I have even more bandwidth to put on everyone else’s families because my kids are raised.

It doesn’t mean that my kids don’t still, you know, very much play a central part in my life, and I’m not a hundred percent here if they need me, they just don’t need me as much anymore. And they’re not living with me and I don’t have to, you know, well, pretty soon I won’t be feeding, I won’t have to have the dinner thing. Ugh, 26 years, y’all know what I’m talking about, feeding people is so exhausting. It’s so exhausting. Why can’t we just snap our fingers and have the dinner happen? Maybe some of you have figured that out. I never figured that out. 

Um, so yeah, I don’t seem to be losing my passion. Um, but definitely been going through a lot of processing. I’m sure that I will share that on upcoming episodes. It’s, been interesting. So I have my daughter graduating from college and my youngest son graduating from high school and going off to college in the fall. Um, so yeah, I’ve entered into a new season of life. 

Um, today I want to talk about, have a, a particular family in mind. One of, one of my moms shared an update and she was just, you know, kind of on a high after a weekend where they had been away visiting family friends. They have had other trips in the past where they visited with these friends and it didn’t, it was stressful. And this trip, it wasn’t stressful, it was actually delightful. And so she was just sort of on a high after this weekend and she gave us this beautiful update. 

And I was thinking about her story and I was thinking about just, other people’s stories and, um, so I’m going to share, I want to share a clip of, of her. She gave us permission to share this little update that she gave us, um, about her trip. There’s a little bit of background noise, but you know, I’m, I, I’m just going to let you guys be a fly on the wall of her update, cuz I think it’s a fun thing to hear, but I want to tell you a little bit about, um, her story. 

So what if you have a kid that hurts other kids sometimes. And maybe you have a kid that is, if you’re really honest, you understand that they might be hard to like. They do certain things, certain behaviors that’s hard to like. Even for his or her own mom, right? Like when you are really honest with yourself and you’re like, I didn’t like my kid today. Maybe they’re a little bit mean or a lotta bit mean, um, it seems like no matter what you do, it’s never enough. They just want more, more, more, it’s never enough. They, maybe feel not enough. 

I think people, kids, really humans big or small, it, you know the friend where no matter how, like you’re spending time with them and they’re trying to make plans for like, this time is never enough. They’re like, Oh my God, we need to do this again. How about next week? The people where it’s never enough, which I think is usually an indicator for, I don’t feel like I’m ever enough. So I’m sort of got this graspy energy where I want you to prove that you really want to be with me, that you want to be with me again and again and again and again. And it’s, it’s just not a good look. 

I mean, we know how that feels. Maybe we’ve been that person at times. I mean, I know I have. I, I know it’s not a good look. I know it doesn’t feel great, but what happens and why do we show up like that? Why do our kids show up like this? 

it comes from a place of my love cup is not full or I feel a bit, and or, I feel insecure about our relationship. Are we connected? I want to be connected, but I’m not sure if we’re connected. So I need you to prove, and prove, and prove, and prove that you really want to be connected to me. It’s like, so I think these are the kids that can quite often be mean when they’re just so frustrated and they feel like people don’t want to give them attention. People don’t want to play with them. And so they show up in mean ways and it’s sort of like that bullying mentality.

That doesn’t come, I mean, you know, we’ve, most of us have heard bullies are, are the people in the most pain. And it’s hard to have empathy and compassion for someone who’s mean to you or mean to someone you love. So if you have a kid that is mean around you, maybe they’re mean to you, they’re mean to their siblings. 

And it might feel perplexing as it did for this mom, because her kid, he acted like this when she was around, but he acted different for dad. He had stars in his eyes for his dad. He was a whole different child when he was just with his dad. He acted different at school. Super, super bright kid. He wasn’t a problem for his teachers. He didn’t have a hard time getting along with classmates, super popular kid, always had friends and was right there in the mix. But at home and to his siblings and to his mom, he was quite often mean I mean his behavior, you had to define it, it was mean a lot of the time.

So mom was scratching her head because she’s like, okay. When he’s around me, he’s his worst self. Like that feels terrible. So she was riddled with guilt, shame, often anger, resentment, like why is he so good for his dad? He’s not good, why is he so good for his teachers? I’m his mom. I’m the one doing 90 percent of the caretaking and why does he save all the good behavior for all these other people, right? 

And so what did that, leave her with? Quite often feeling not enough. So here’s the kid feeling not enough around the mom and here’s the mom feeling not enough as a mom around the kid. And as you’ll hear in her update, things have majorly shifted. It took a while and it was slow baby steps, slow baby steps, slow baby steps. 

So what shifted to lead to this kid? Not being the mean kid around his mom anymore. Actually being quite delightful most of the time. She had to start digging into her story, right? And, and, and again, it’s been a process. 

Recently we’ve been looking at who she was when she got pregnant and then had him and in his first years of life. Right? And, and who she was and what she was trying to prove and, and being a working mom and, and trying to prove to all her friends who, who, all their couple friends who didn’t have kids yet that they weren’t going to change that much and they were taking him with them to wherever and he was going to be the kind of baby that just fit into life. Um, there was a lot of proving energy coming from her that she can now see. 

 She’s had to go back and remember who she used to be, right? Like, who was she at her core? Like, who was she, we’ve looked at, like, who was she in high school? She was an athlete. She never really considered herself a girly girl. She liked to be outside. She liked to run. She liked to play. She liked to compete. And she’s really found herself in these last few years learning, growing. enough-ing, right? Filling herself up. So she, she, she’s remembering who she was to remember that she has always been enough, right? 

Now she’s adventure mom, right? She realized she was like, I’m always sitting around and I was like, she was bored a lot of time. And then she realized like, oh yeah, I used to like to play outside and so now she’s decided, she’s like this last season, she was the one that took her three boys skiing. She just ran a half marathon this last year. 

And so there was, there’s been many weekend mornings where even though she’s got three kids and busy family and three boys and lots of sports, she’s like, and I’m going for a run. She’s not constantly walk, going around, cleaning up after people every second of her life. She’s like, and, I’ll be going for a run. 

She’s realized that she’s also a highly sensitive person and she no longer, you know, she’s married to a really gregarious, extroverted, super smart, awesome guy, but she doesn’t spend her weekends over peopling anymore. There’s plenty of times where she’s like, you can go with the, with the big boys. I’ll come for an hour. Right? 

She has boundaries. She doesn’t feel like she has to say yes to everything. She, she likes to, she needs to, she’s like, less is more for me. And so, you know, when she used to spend her weekends over peopling, that usually led to over drinking to cope with the over peopling. And then she felt terrible day after day. And then she had these three kids who had a million activities and all this energy and she didn’t feel good in her body. 

Now instead she’s like, yeah, I’m not doing that. If I’m not over peopling, then I don’t have to over drink. Then I can have the energy to get up and go for a run and take some time to myself. And then, I’m ready to be Adventure Mom, outside with the boys, going to their things, enjoying them. Right? 

She also used to live with chronic back pain, and mm mm, it’s not chronic anymore. It rarely acts up, I’ll tell you, I used, I, I went through a bout of some pretty bad back pain and I believe in the school of thought by, uh, I saw a documentary and there’s a bunch of books by this Dr. Sarno that lower back pain is actually unprocessed rage and I believe it. I believe it, that there’s a, an, you know, an emotional reason and it’s been the case for this mom too. Right? 

Once she started remembering who she was, like understanding that she is a highly sensitive person, understanding that less is more, understanding that she loves her people. And she loves some peopling, but too much, not good for her nervous system. She likes to move her body. She likes to be outdoors. She likes to like have running dates with friends and sign up for, you know, different races, and take her kids skiing and, like she does a bunch of cool things where she used to be a mom that was like, oh I feel so gross in my body. I don’t have the energy to exercise. I know I should. I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it This didn’t happen overnight for her. 

So what does this have to do with her kid that used to be the kid? That was often his worst self around her. Well, once she remembered who she was and she started focusing more on getting back to that, honoring herself, working on her enoughness, she was able to show up differently with her son and he started responding. And now they’re just improving and improving and improving their relationship. 

It may still not be exactly where she’s hoping it will get to, but it’s improved a lot. His behavior has improved a lot. The climate in their household has improved tremendously. And, you know, this has been a big commitment. It has, it’s been a big commitment, but what I wanted, I think why I want to share her story with y’all is I think quite often we think it sounds like too much.

But I want you to know that like we make these changes in our lives and we do it through a series of teeny tiny baby steps. I tell all the parents that I work with all the time this, you know, I think a lot of times we’re just overambitious planners, you know, we’re like, I’m going to do all the things and then it’s overwhelming and we do nothing.

And I remember, um, a story from one of those, uh, like a book I read and it was, you know, like a psychologist and it was a book I read and she was talking about this woman who had MS and was in a wheelchair, was in her forties in a wheelchair, living with her mother. And um, I think it was Nicole LePera’s book.

And, and so she said this woman that had MS, she’s in her forties, she’s in a wheelchair and she starts working with Nicole and, as her therapist, and where they started was for the first 30 days, it was just about hydration. And so she had to drink like a glass of water every morning before she had her coffee. 

And so once she’s like, okay, that was easy, like, you know, a couple of days and she’s like, give me something else. What next? And, and Nicole said, for 30 days, this is all we’re doing. Just one glass of water. Let’s just make this a new habit. And then it’ll, we’ll move on to the next thing. 

And within 18 months, this woman had moved out of her mom’s house. She was no longer in a wheelchair. She’d lost a ton of weight. She wasn’t showing symptoms anymore of, you know, for MS. Um, I don’t know if it had gone into remission or what. And she had transformed her whole life, which when we look at it, we’re like 18 months, it’s nothing. But really, when you’re in the thick of things for 18 months and you’re just taking tiny incremental actions, right, teeny tiny, it might feel like, oh, is this ever going to add up? 

And I think it’s the same way when we’re transforming our families and our relationships. It might seem like a slow slog, but when you stick with learning, Um, and growing and working on your own a nothing, right? It adds up. And before you know it, you have an amazing update like the mom’s update that I just told you about. And now you’re going to hear from her. 

So that’s what I got for you this week. Enjoy this amazing mom’s update. 

[00:18:58] Masterminder Allison: Randi Wow. Look at that. I told you a long time ago when I joined, I was gonna like, quit my job, I have a horrible relationship with Henry, like, what is the point of all this? They’re gonna go off to college and leave me and I’m nothing. And I definitely don’t feel that way right now. 

My win from the weekend was similar to something you kind of reminded me of, like, looking back, um, a couple years compared to now. And we went out of town, all five of us, to D. C. this weekend to visit some friends. And we stayed with them, and they have three little girls that are couple years younger than Henry. 

Um, and I just remember, you know, two years ago we did the same trip, and Henry was really tough. We let him play iPad a lot, just to have him, like, check out and, like, not be a terror. and even John at the beginning of the week was like, Oh, I want to get a babysitter for Friday night, because, like, we were going to play tennis, the four of us, and, um, John was like, we can’t do that to Henry, those girls are younger than him, and maybe we should give him the iPad. 

I was like, no, no, no. Like, he’s, he’s capable of this stuff now. You make him feel like the big kid who can, you know, like, be in control and take charge, like, he’ll be fine. And, um, he was fine. He was fine, like, the weekend was fantastic. They never once play the iPad, and part of that’s helpful because the girls that we were staying with, they don’t do any iPad time, like it was never even mentioned. Um, I have so many cute pictures of him like giving little girls for piggyback rides. He was just, they’re all just great. 

Um, and just thinking about how far we have come. And then, you know, there was, obviously it’s not always perfect, but like, at one point in the weekend, late afternoon, um, Henry was starting to be a little difficult with one of the girls and they’re like fighting and I was like, Hey, Henry, come on in. Let’s uh, let’s get something to eat. So I just like give them all food and they were fine. It was like, you know, quickly, like, don’t shame them. This has been a lot. 

John and I were just saying recently, like, remember how family dinners on Sunday night were like the most stressful thing ever, because Henry had to be around other people, and actually younger girls, like, but he just, I don’t know, he just like fought with them non stop and did not know how to engage with them.

And it was like so much of focusing on the positive with him, like focusing, well, what you focus on grows, that’s what it was. So like, how good he is with little kids and little girls and how they look up to him and it was just such a good weekend. Uh, we’ve come so far and I have all the Mastermind to thank, so. 

[00:21:11] 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.

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

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

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