Saturday, 15 April 2017

A Teachable Moment

Do you ever have those parenting moment so when your child says something that stops you mid-discussion & makes you realize that you don't really know what the hell you are doing? I know you do, we all do. Today I had one of those moments. In fact I've been having more & more of them as my children get older, they challenge me as a mom & my thinking in ways I never know they were capable of.

The girls have been fighting ALOT lately & I often find myself unsure of how to handle it, so I go to my automatic responses without really thinking about it, usually facing a sea self-doubt. It usually results in one of them coming to me, tattling on the other & me contemplating whether it is worth intervening & proceeding from there. Today Lucy came to me with a complaint that Scarlett pushed her & she fell & hit her head. I called Scarlett up to discuss, learnt the other side of the story& deemed them both guilty parties. So I concluded the fairest way to settle it would be by having them apologize to each other & move on. Sounds pretty simple, right? After Lucy's somewhat genuine apology, Scarlett snarled "I'm sorry" with that six-going-on-thirteen attitude that she's perfected as of late. I 'told' her to say it like she meant it, & she offered a half-hearted obligatory apology to suffice. Then she turned to me & said, "You shouldn't make someone say they are sorry." I felt my guard creep up and asked, "Oh? Why's that?" "Because it doesn't come from the heart." Floored. I knew she was right but all I could do to reply was mumble something about manners & how she should try harder to feel sorry then. I'm sure this could have been a great teaching moment. I'm sure there were a dozen or alternate responses that would have been better choices. My parenting abilities had been challenged by my six year old.  I took the  shame I felt for myself & redirected it towards her.  Not my proudest parenting moment.

So fast forward to the end of the day, the kids are in a deep sleep & the husband is on night shift. I find myself reflecting on this incident & feeling pretty crummy how it all went down. When confronted, I struggle with responding & find myself frozen in place when I don't know how to handle a situation. Looking for help, I turn to the internet for answers (my critical awareness goggles in tact) & am seeing some consistency in answers to my search: forcing your child apologize. Ok in retrospect, I realize this wording is going to lead to some one sided results, but I guess I was seeking some alternative solutions for my situation. The one that struck me most, & most fitting in the current direction I am striving toward as a parent, was to model apology for your children. I am coming to understand that the most important & effective way to raise our children is to model within ourselves the values we want to teach them. Or as Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly (which, coincidently, I just finished reading today), 'to be the adults we want our children to grow up to be.'

So I'm still not really sure exactly how I should have responded to my child's statement but I think it has something to do with admitting that she was right & that I should have handled it differently (I guess I mean with an apology?) And perhaps involving the two of them in a brainstorming session about how we can do it differently in the future (empathy). Maybe this is a discussion to extend into tomorrow. As for today...I suppose this teachable moment was actually meant for me.


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