- How should we respond when children disagree with what's dearest to our heart? -
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At least once in just about every parent’s life they will hear a sassy, “You guys are so into _________. I hate it.” Or “I don’t know why you are so uptight about_________” or “I don’t know why you don’t like_________” or “I don’t believe in _________ like you do.”
As their neurons develop, why is it that many children find what’s dearest to our hearts and with spit and vinegar inform us that they disagree? More importantly, how might we respond in ways that maintain our relationship while increasing the odds that they will make healthy life choices?
While there are many possible reasons why a given child might toss one of these bombs, most do so because they are trying to see whether they’re being led by strong and capable people. If we lose our cool, they’ll need to test more. If we can handle such barbs without freaking out or launching into lectures, they will likely test less.
Let’s consider how Mom might reply to her momentarily sassy son, Jake.
Jake: “I don’t know why you guys believe_________.”
Mom (with calmness and sincerity): “I’m really interested in what you think, Jake. Tell me about it.”
Jake (describing something completely extreme): “Well… I think that_________.”
Mom (smiling and resting her hand on his shoulder): “I’m so glad you shared that with me. That’s a really interesting viewpoint. It doesn’t work for me, but who needs to decide what you think? Is that you or me?”
Jake: “Me!”
Mom: “You’re right. I love you.”
There’s good news! As long as we don’t lose it over these moments… and as long as we remain loving authority figures, it’s extremely likely they’ll wake up at age thirty and realize that they are just like us. Modeling really is powerful!
Charles Fay, Ph.D. - BiographyThanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Dr. Charles Fay
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