Have you ever had this experience?
Your child complains that you did not attend the last all school assembly. Or, that you NEVER bring cupcakes to the bake sale or take her to gymnastics class.
This all flies in the face or real facts, of course. You try in vain to convince her that although you didn’t attend the last assembly, you did manage to sit through the 12 previous events (some of them mind-numbing – let’s face it!)
And, that although you couldn’t bring cupcakes to the bake sale, you did make popcorn for the entire first grade on her birthday.
These excuses are met with a sad shaking of the head and the response; “nope, you’re just never there.”
It is at this point, we have a choice. We can argue of course. But we all know where that leads and who has time anyway?
We can acquiesce to their version of reality – agreeing that we are living in an alternate universe and in this universe, we as mother’s, are “never there.”
Or, we can get to the heart of the matter and move the conversation in a different direction.
Coach Me Quick Idea of the week:
Forget the facts, ma’am, let’s just get to what’s needed. I have begun to short circuit this lose-lose proposition by a bit of acknowledgment and a few questions:
1. Acknowledge: Let your child know that you understand how they feel and that you would like to help them feel better if there is a way to do that and also meet the other commitments you have in life.
2. Question: Could I ever be around enough? (This question offers children an opportunity to see if it is possible for them to be satisfied. Often children (and adults) get into the habit of being dissatisfied.)
3. Question: Is there something I can do in the next week or so, that would feel like I was “around more?”
4. Question: Which of these events that I am missing, mean the most to you? In other words, if you have to choose between the bake sale and gymnastics, what would be most important?
This is really about helping your child clarify their needs so that you can meet them.
Just like adults, children get into the habit of wanting more and don’t often get the opportunity to identify exactly what they need and want so that they can ask for it.
Even if your children are clear, will you always be able to give them what they want? Probably not. But, this gives you a fighting chance of winning at the game of giving.