I Struggle Every Day With Being a Good Mom

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Fitness trainer Jillian Michaels shares her number one principle when it comes to parenting: always lead by example. She tries to set a good example for her kids in every aspect of life, not just with fitness and nutrition, but with the hard stuff, too – like owning up to your mistakes or knowing when to say sorry. “I find that if I want my kids to be polite, say please and thank you, look people in the eye when they greet them, I have to do the exact same.” Plus, hear about one of Jillian’s “colossal” parenting mistakes, and how she recovered with grace.


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Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels  00:04

Hi, I’m Jillian Michaels, and you’re listening to GOOD KIDS. I am a fitness trainer and certified nutritionist and I’m going to talk about how to lead by example.

Jillian Michaels 

I actually grew up in the Valley of Los Angeles, California. I’m a Valley girl born and bred. I was an only child for a really long time. My mother is a psychoanalyst, and my father was a lawyer,  bit of a latchkey kid Gen Xers, you know, we’re kind of that, that sort of bitter, rugged individualist on my own kind of kid. And I think that’s served me in a lot of ways that it’s also led to a lot of things I had to work through. As a kid, they were, you know, my childhood wasn’t horrendous, it also wasn’t perfect. But it made me who I am in a lot of ways. And I hope that I take the good stuff and give that to my kids and work on some of the bad stuff to not impart that to my kids.

Jillian Michaels 

One of the biggest things that I try to do when it comes to parenting my kids is to lead by example. I remember as a kid, and I don’t want to make this a bummer episode. But it just I remember, there were certain things, certain hypocrisies, that really shook me, you know, when I was a child, it was, you know, we don’t do drugs. And we don’t do this. And we don’t do that. And all of that is great, right? It’s these are all lessons you want to give your kids only to find out, you know, that my dad ended up having a drug problem, I didn’t know as a kid I learned as a 12-year-old. And I remember thinking like, “wait, what has all of this been a lie.”

Jillian Michaels  02:06

And you can’t expect your children to engage in the behaviors, habits, lifestyle choices, you wish, if you don’t do that yourself. So for me, I find that if I want my kids to be polite, say please, and thank you, look people in the eye, greet them, I have to do the exact same. If I want my kids to value their health, I need to value mine. If I want my kids to have a good work ethic, I need to show them a good work ethic and so on. Fitness and nutrition would be the obvious ways that I lead by example. Incorporating activity into my life in a joyful way, right? Whether it’s snowboarding, martial arts, or horseback riding, or surfing, taking my kids to the skate park, being healthy, being active, constantly challenging myself.

Jillian Michaels 

I want them to see that, I want them to admire that in me, I want them to look back and be like my mom was such a badass. But most importantly, I find that leading by example, with the things that are harder is key. And that’s you know, apologizing. Taking responsibility for where you screwed up. You know, showing your kids that vulnerability is strength. These things are hard. They’re hard for me. So if I’m asking my kids to apologize to someone, or to take responsibility for screwing up or hurting someone’s feelings, if I can’t do that, how can I ask them to? So those are the areas that I find that much more important, you know?

Jillian Michaels  04:05

Oh, my, I’ve made so many mistakes as a parent. There’s one where many years ago, I want to say, I want to say my daughter was five, she could have been six. It’s possible. She was six. And she said, gay is gross. And I lost my [BLEE] on this poor kid. And I was like, “How could you say that? I didn’t raise you this way. What if somebody said black is gross?” Because my daughter’s Haitian and I was like what, you know, flipped out, flipped out on her got on the phone with my mom. And I was like, “Where’s this come from? This has to be..”

Jillian Michaels 

My mom was like, sweetheart, she’s six years old. And I was like so and she’s like, well, that’s pushy, and I was like she doesn’t understand sex. She’s like, but unconsciously she does. And to make a long story short, I was an [BLEEP]. And I had to turn around, apologize. Explain my behavior, you know it like completely, like, try to help her understand that it’s okay to feel that it’s not for her. These are the reasons we don’t use these words.

Jillian Michaels 

But [BLEEP] bet. So in such a colossal fashion, and it is not the first time and it’s not the last time and I’m sure it won’t be the last time. So, you know, being able to say like I was wrong, really wrong. I’m so sorry. And this is how I’m going to change that behavior now, and going forward. So that’s, you know, that’s just if I can’t do that, how can I ever expect my kids to do anything even remotely close? I struggle every day to model these behaviors for my kids. And I struggle every day with being a good mom. I mean, I just do, I think that there are people that were born to do it, you know, that were just born to be moms or dads, I am not one of them.

Jillian Michaels  06:22

It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children; I love them with every cell in my body, I would literally lay down on a train track for them. But it doesn’t come naturally to me. It never has. And I constantly, constantly struggle with my own issues from childhood and trying to outgrow those things for their sake. Honestly, because if I didn’t have kids, I could just be selfish, narcissistic, you know, whatever, for years ago, but like with kids, it’s like that Jack Nicholson line and as good as he gets like they make you want to be a better person. But it doesn’t mean you don’t struggle to get there. My advice is that we are not perfect people and our kids we’re not perfect people being perfect is not any component of the human condition.

Jillian Michaels 

So teach your kids how to be human, teach your kids how to fail, how to fall, how to learn from failures and setbacks, with grace and poise and find the opportunities in our flaws, right? Is there an evolution there? Is there a growth there? You know, what does it mean to make a mistake and learn from it so that you can reproach the right person, place opportunity or thing that’s waiting just around the corner in life for you to be ready for it. And I think that’s paramount is fail in front of them be vulnerable in front of them and then show them how to recover from that. I am currently working on growing our fitness nutrition and mindfulness platform called The Fitness App. You can follow me at @JillianMichaels or JillianMichaels.com and thank you for listening to GOOD KIDS.


GOOD KIDS is a Lemonada Media Original. Supervising producer is Kryssy Pease. Associate producer is Alex McOwen and Kegan Zema is our engineer. The show is executive produced by Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. The music is by Dan Molad with additional music courtesy of APM music. Check us out on social at @LemonadaMedia, recommend us to a friend and rate and review us wherever you listen to podcast. If you want to submit a show idea, email us at hey@lemonadamedia.com. Until next week, stay good.

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