Homework can bring us to our knees — “Just, will you JUST, finish it ALREADY!?” It’s hard to like ourselves as we scream, judge, blame and compare when we’ve flipped our lid. And, once we’re calm, it’s difficult to let go of the guilt. It’s crazy making stuff that we want to be SO DONE with.
While my ire was directed at Trump (and, momentarily, his wife), I drew a line at my fellow Americans. I couldn’t in good conscience put down or label almost half of my country, or presume to know what was going on in their minds and hearts.
I still believed Thomas Gordon's assertion that all behavior seeks to meet needs. Their vote was doing something FOR themselves, and not TO me, and I wanted to understand what that something was.
As my husband talked about the strained relationship he had with Jake, I started itching to share something. Asking with my eyes and receiving his permission, I told everyone how we had received a letter from Jake last month in which he called his father his “best friend.”
From the state of affairs just a few years ago to "best friend!!!!!"
Watching Tracey Larcombe's Nobel Prize, I cringed, not only as a certified instructor of Parent Effectiveness Training but also as a mother who recognized her former self in the ordering around and the go-go-go. I may never have been quite so harsh, but I have said my fair share of things I regret.
So rather than just lambaste the characters, I thought it might be more helpful to turn a P.E.T. eye onto the situation and imagine another set of interactions.
After all, most of us are familiar with what we DON'T want to be doing when it comes to our kids. The trouble is knowing what better options would look like.
Last year, a friend described senior year (Year 13 in HK) as "excruciating," joking that she'd be relieved when her son, after dragging his feet for months on his college applications, finally took off. I just nodded nervously: would that be me?
Not so! I am deeply grateful I am enjoying Harrison's last year.
And then there's the Q & A session Jake held recently for my class participants . . .
I initially wanted to say that my values were:
- Punctuality shows respect for others
- Punctuality is a good sign of self-discipline
But there was more to it when I started thinking about where these values came from. My mother (I focus on her because my father passed away when I was two) did not model rigid punctuality.
I realized my strictness comes from the keen discomfort I feel (less and less now but it's still there!) when people are displeased with me.
As parents, it may be hard to shift to this place where we give it our best shot and then it's out of our hands. We feel locked in battle and "losing" is hard to swallow.
But let's zoom out and focus on this comforting fact: by refusing to use power, we are winning a truly important war, a war for a lasting positive relationship with our children.
We are motivated by love. We fervently want our children to adopt our closely held values to improve, not our lives, but THEIRS. But how best to pass them on? The problem is that most parents have never had a chance to think about or practice this. That's where P.E.T. can help, but it's hard stuff.
At the beginning of the summer, Claudia set herself to doing 20 minutes of Chinese a day and packed a fiction book and a fresh notebook for this purpose. Over one month in, she had done less than two hours.
Upon leaving the house, I kept my mouth shut and did not mention homework in any way, shape or form nor did I discuss League of Legends (you may remember from last week that L.O.L. was his siren call). I simply nonchalantly waved “Buh-bye!” to Harrison, who was still in his pajamas. Under my breath I repeated that day's mantras: "His homework is not my problem" and "I can choose to be a new kind of mom!"
Lucky for them that, about the time they started playing the game League of Legends, I started learning P.E.T. My transformation from a controlling and stressed-out crazy mom to a chill, “Yeah, I can be around her” kind of presence was due, in no small part, to the box at the bottom of P.E.T.’s Behavior Window.