Real Family Case Studies

Kathy & Steve Haskell- Three kids, ages 7, 6, & 3.

Kathy and Steve are busy, active, family oriented parents raising three delightful, happy, curious children. Kathy is a full-time mom, part-time ski coach and a small business owner. Both Kathy and Steve are committed to raising independent, self-reliant, resilient children and have been using my Less is More approach since their oldest was an infant.

Kathy’s Introduction:

I met Kathy before she had children at an in-service where she was, if nothing else, reluctant to consider giving up time-outs as a viable classroom management tool. She shares her “a-ha” moment in the classroom and how she changed her entire approach to working with kids.

From the Beginning:

The three concepts that resonated the most and Kathy and Steve incorporated into their family immediately were:

  • Inviting kids to participate as active members of the family which builds cooperation and a strong sense of belong.
  • Applying my “if they can walk, they can work” motto when her oldest was up on her feet and able to help out around the home.
  • Finding opportunities for each of her children to contribute in meaningful ways to the success of the family as a whole.

A Busy Lifestyle:

Living a busy lifestyle doesn’t include being out of balance for Kathy and Steve. They attribute this to their decision to include the kids in the planning and executing of their lives together. The techniques I share made it easy for them all.

Benefits of Incorporating a Less is More Approach:

  • Kathy and Steve ignore the pesky behavior and instead put their focus and energy on the positive attributes their kids exhibit.
  • They give reasonable choices to avoid power struggles and to send the message that they trust their kids and their choices, which translates into kids who have more confidence in their abilities.
  • They focus more on the process and less on outcomes. This supports the work of Carol Dweck, author of Mindset. More resilient children who, when they fall, literally or figuratively, have what it takes to get back up and try again. As a result, they are far more flexible than many of their peers who are easily overwhelmed.

Finally, I asked Kathy to share what the impact might be in both schools and within the home if the trend towards a more hands off approach to parenting continued. Her answers were music to my soul. Enjoy this honest and informative conversation with Kathy. Listen to her interview.

[hr]Lindsay & Matt Hay- Three boys, ages 7, 5, & 18 months.

HaysLindsay and Matt are low-key, quiet, “chill” parents raising three energetic, curious and precious boys. They are a close-knit family that is learning to balance two different styles – calm and centered with curious and high energy.


Dad have used time-outs, nagging, micro-managing and other “band-aid tactics in an attempt to maintain order and consistency within the home. As a result, they saw an increase in power struggles, sibling squabbles and frustration.

A New Approach:

When Lindsay and Matt learned that they could replace band-aid tactics with relationship strategies and create the kind of balanced lifestyle they were looking for, they said a big “YES” to my Less is More approach to parenting. They put their focus on inviting the kids to play a more active role in the family and gave up their roles as maids.


After only a year, Lindsay and Matt along with their three bright–eyed and eager boys are creating a home that works for them all. The boys help out on a regular basis, are more cooperative with each other, are learning to solve their own problems and the family is creating routines that support all the different personalities.

Going Forward:

This family of five is looking forward to growing together and supporting each other by focusing on each other strengths, remembering the important of the relationships and remaining flexible with their routines.Listen to the interview with Lindsay.  



GilmansChristina & Mark Gilman- Two kids, ages 13 & 10.

Chris and Mark are committed, creative and active parents raising two independent, self-sufficient and motivated children. The entire family loves the outdoors and their idea of the perfect vacation is to spend two weeks on the road together making memories – in very close quarters.


Chris and Mark were introduced to the Less is More approach to parenting when their kids were three-years and eighteen-months old. Eight years later they can attest to the many benefits this approach to parenting has for every member of the family.

A “Just Right” Approach:

Focusing on building a strong relationship with the kids, inviting them to participate in family decisions, helping them become independent, supporting their choices (even if they ended in disaster) were all instrumental in their adopting an approach to parenting that Chris says, “is more like a lifestyle than a way of raising kids”.


Because the kids were raised with this approach, they embody many adult character traits (respectful, responsible, cooperative, independent and kind) yet remain vibrant young people interested and curious about the world they live in.


Chris has a strong financial background and wanted to her ensure that her kids developed a healthy relationship with money. Even at the children’s young ages, they are becoming financially savvy with a clear understanding of how to save, spend and give away through experience.

Biggest Hurdle:

Challenging your beliefs about what it means to be a “good mom or dad” is the most challenging. Discover how Chris and Mark challenged their beliefs and what happened for their kids and their family as a result. Listen to the interview.


Shalagh & Jeff – Two daughters, ages 9 & 7

BlancksShalagh and Jeff were introduced to a more “hands off approach” to parenting nearly four years ago when their daughters were 5 and 3. Jeff admits to talking too much and feeling frustrated with all the time the girls wasted “noodling around” and Shalagh (who I nicknamed Sassy during a class she attended) was a self proclaimed micro managing Monster. Oh how things have changed.


Imagining the potential for a long and grueling adolescence with 2 daughters 18 months apart, Shalagh and Jeff went on a quest to find a parenting approach that would ensure their girls would enter the tween years feeling confident, happy and engaged in their world.

The Introduction of a New Style:

Shalagh admits that the girls were a bit confused by the sudden change in their parents approach. Where once mom managed every aspect of their lives – picking out clothes, packing lunches, organizing activities and time – suddenly they were given a chance to jump in and take control. Shalagh and Jeff share stories about the shift from a micro-managing style of parenting to a less-is-more approach to parenting.

The Girls Today:

Both Jeff and Shalagh are delighted with the progress their girls have made in developing confidence in their abilities, watching as their unique personalities emerge and witnessing first hand how the relationship between the girls has shifted from contentious to FRIENDLY, something every parent hopes for for their kids.

Mom and Dad Today:

For Shalagh it’s been a subtle journey that required a shift in thinking. She has become a quieter presence in the home and allowed her girls to take more control in their lives. Jeff has become a constant supporter and encourager of their independence and their desire to make more decisions on their own. Hear how this dynamic duo is empowering their girls and enjoying their new roles as “get out of the way” parents.

A-ha Moments:

They include: “What works for me doesn’t work for them, and that’s okay with me”. “Say what you mean, mean what you say and then do it – without judgment of course”. “Empty threats are just that – empty.”

Final thoughts:

Shalagh and Jeff share their hopes and dreams for the girls and how Family Meetings have transformed them all bringing out the best in each of them (and some other benefits as well). We share a very candid conversation with two very savvy and thoughtful parents as they share a snapshot of life with us.
Listen to the Interview. [hr]

Pierce-lingelbachCindy Pierce and Bruce Lingelbach- Three kids, ages 14, 12, 10.

Cindy and Bruce are juggling a full schedule while raising three children. Cindy is an, Author, Professional Speaker and Comedian and Full-Time Inn Keeper. Bruce is a full-time Inn Keeper and ski coach.

A Wild Life:

In her typically hilarious style Cindy shares her life which in her words, goes something like this, “Life is random. Guests are either coming or going. I’m hanging with the kids in the kitchen chatting around the butcher block, then it’s off to sports, or preparing food for guests, then cleaning toilets and making beds, throw off the apron and get in a car or on a plane for my next speaking engagement. There is the potential for life to be out of control with that schedule, but it isn’t. It sounds crazy, but it works for us.”

A Mere Three Years Ago:

The story of her youngest child’s conversion from sitting on the sidelines acting like the “crowned prince” as everyone around waited on him to engaged and empowered participator will have you in stitches. You’ll have to listen to the story in her own words.

Reluctant but Determined:

Cindy and Bruce were concerned that adding contributions into the family mix would only complicate matters, but were pleasantly surprised when just the opposite happened. How they opened up the conversation with their kids can only be described as inspirational brilliance.

Analogies and Personal Style:

An avid football fan, Cindy uses football analogies to talk about kids and the world of contributions. Respecting her children’s personal rhythms and styles helped transition all of them from “hideous mornings” to “moving the chains down the field.”

Cindy’s comedic style comes out in the last portion of the interview. Enjoy her perspective, warmth and honest words about parenting in the 21st century is a delight. Listen and Enjoy.

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