Teaching communicationFriday, October 07, 2011
The Self-Aware Parent
I totally rushed my daughter this morning. Todd is traveling and I had to teach a class at 8:30 a.m., so from the moment she got up I was moving her along.
She's not comfortable moving quickly. She moves slowly, she's an observer. She needs time to eat, she needs time to space out, she needs time to figure out what she is going to wear.
She didn't like rushing, it made her uncomfortable. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable, too. But I had to go; I wanted to be on time for my class.
My other two were already in the car, but she took awhile to get there. I felt frustrated. I took breaths and tried to be quiet. But my agitation got the best of me and I started asking questions:
Why don't you pick out your clothes at night?
Why does it take you so long to eat your breakfast?
She was quiet; she has heard these things before. I say them a lot.
I dropped her off at school and her energy was low. It's not the greatest way to start a morning.
I drove to my class and pondered how I could have handled things differently.
Yes, we need to go, yes I want to be on time, but is there a different way to motivate her, a different way to handle this situation?
I picked her up from school and it seemed like she had forgotten all about it.
But when we got home I gave her some space to relax and then asked her to lay down with me so we could talk.
How can we make the morning go smoother? How can we do it differently? I didn't like the way I felt when I dropped you off. I want to leave you at school feeling good, not low.
At first she was hesitant to respond, but then some ideas started to flow.
Not sure if any of the ideas were new, but finding a solution was only part of the reason I wanted to have this conversation.
I didn't want to pretend that this morning didn't happen. I didn't want to sweep this issue under the rug.
I am the parent and I am the adult, which means I need to take the lead when it comes to communication.
Do we pretend that nothing is wrong, or do we engage in conversation and practice openness?
Pretending may seem easier, but it eats away at the relationship. It becomes a heavy burden that creates discomfort and frustration. Over time it's hard to remember why and when the frustration began.
And it's never too late to start a conversation - something that happened this morning, something that happened last week, something that happened a long time ago.
It needs to be brought up. It needs to be discussed. Both people need to be heard, both people need to be validated, both people need to be respected.
It's not always comfortable. It takes bravery to initiate these conversations.
But as you know, bravery does not mean being free of fear, it means being afraid and moving forward anyway.
Dismissing and pretending something didn't happen is simply that - it's pretending.
Let's be real, let's make an effort. Even if we can't find a solution immediately, at least we opened up a discussion.
There is no need for passive aggressive behavior from either of us. There is no reason for guilt trips.
Let's find a win/win. Let's teach each other. Let's learn together.