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Category Archives: Unconditional Love

Taking Back Their Right to Talk Back

This morning I was in a rush,  not all morning, it just sort of crept up on me and before I knew it, there was little time left in the morning.  I’d had my shower, I had to braid my daughter’s glorious head of hair, and we had to get out the door.  My mind was dwelling on other things… I was not present… I was mentally worrying my “TO DO LIST”

Exam… tax return due… groceries needing to be done… sheets on bed needing to be changed… load of washing to hang out… a few bills to pay… pay for my yoga lessons… and don’t forget Master 7′s school assembly…

I was certainly not present, too busy mired in the future to recognise the gifts of the present.

My daughter sat in front of me, we were already late.  She had selected her hair ties and I was braiding her hair.  I asked Master 7 to go and get Miss 5′s school bag, because we really needed to be motor.  He did.  He plonked it down in front of her and declared that her bag was overly heavy.

I cracked.

The morning before Miss 5 had had a major problem finding some “news” to take to school.  She wanted to take toys, toys is not really the done thing, and she and I had had to compromise over the “news” item.  I berated her because I was tired of having to come up with last minute news items five minutes before walking out the door, and this seemed to me to be a normal occurrence putting a fly in the morning ointment.  I had spoken with her about being more organised and muttered inwardly about priorities etc.  I was not being a very mindful Mummy at all.

Then yesterday… as we were leaving school, I noticed that Miss 5′s bag was inordinately heavy.  I commented on it, and she promised to empty it when we got home.

So when I saw the heavy bag plonked in front of me, I didn’t see a bag.

I didn’t see a moment of forgetfulness.

I didn’t see my beautiful daughter.

I morphed into an angry bull with a red flag waving obnoxiously in front of me, I dug in my heels, I roared and I CHARGED!!!

“If you weren’t so lazy last night then you would have emptied your bag and it wouldn’t be so heavy right now”.

Yeah, I said that.

Miss 5 promptly burst into tears.

“Mummy, we don’t say those sort of words” she sobbed.  ”Mummy, I am not lazy, that was not nice”

Master 7 stood.  He looked at me right in the eyes, and he said.
“Mummy, that was really mean what you just said”  he paused.  He looked right into me again, and then he dealt me the kicker.  ”Mummy, that does not fit with the values in our house, we don’t say things like that in this family”.

Cut. Down. To. Size.

By my SEVEN year old.

Did I get angry that he had talked back to me?  That they had BOTH talked back to me.

No.  NOT. FOR. ONE. SECOND.

I felt like laughing, I felt like cheering, I felt like I had run a marathon and I was passing the finishing line, my kids had talked BACK TO ME.  YUSSSSSSS!!!!!  Why did I feel so fantastic, why did my heart then swell with love.  Why did I then pull my daughter in and apologise to her profusely, and hug her tightly?

Because of this.

My children do not fear me.  They know what is right and what is wrong, and they have NO FEAR in telling me when I get it wrong.  They know our family values so clearly, so profoundly that they can talk back to me when I get it wrong.

In that moment, my love for them was so fierce that I could have cried, and for the rest of this day you have not been able to wipe the grin off my face.  My kids GET IT.  They get that labelling people is not ok, and they know that I love them so unconditionally that when I label them, they are not afraid to call me on it.

Let your kids talk back.  They need to know how to.  If they can’t talk back to you, then how on EARTH will they be able to talk back to the kid who is telling them to do something that they know they shouldn’t.  Let them talk back to you, let them tell you all about it, let them know you love them so much that they need not fear your response.

Happy-Hugging-Helpful-House-217x300

Time to rethink family rules

Do you have rules in your family?

Do they sound a little like this?

Don’t hit

Don’t jump on the bed

Don’t do this…

Don’t do that…

In my family we’ve gone through different incarnations of family rules.  We started out with a set that looked a little like the ones above.  It was, no hurting people or animals, using polite words… there were a couple of other things, and then the last one was to have fun.  We wrote them on a list and put them on the fridge.  Even though our eldest, at that stage, was pre reading age, he knew those rules off the top of his head and was able to point to the fridge in reference of the rules.

Did those rules help family life?  Not really, not one iota.  They were just something to pull out like a stick to say, “you haven’t been following the rules”.   Are the rules effective?  Do they advise you what to do?  When we say don’t hit, don’t hurt, what do we end up thinking about, hitting and hurting obviously.  It’s like saying, don’t think about the elephant in the corner of the room.  It’s impossible to not think of it, it’s there!!
Elephant in the room

When we take something away, when we say that you “can’t” do something, we don’t put something in place to say this is what you CAN do.  Children find it far easier to accept something when we tell them what they can do, in fact adults do too.  So there’s no point in saying, you can’t hit, it leaves a vacuum.  Ok, so I can’t hit, what do I do instead?  You’ve taken away what I thought was my response to a situation, but help, what can I do instead!

This is the problem with rules.  They’re inflexible, they tell us what we can’t do, and they don’t help to create a climate of trust.  They can’t be used for all situations.  And if we have a list of rules for a toddler, pre-reading child, they are very hard for them to get to grips with.  In short, they’re a bit limiting :)

What can we do instead?

In the last two years my family has adopted something a little different.  It was inspired in part by seeing these pics come up frequently on Facebook posts:

Family Rules

Family Rules

I love both of these images.  In fact, I have the second one as a decal,  which I haven’t put up yet.  But, I noticed there were still a few problems with these.  Chiefly being that they were quite wordy and hard for little kids to remember.

So that’s when I hit on something else, something far simpler, something that would last forever, and that my kids could easily remember.

We are… the:

HAPPY

HUGGING

HELPING

HOUSE.

That was it.  Simple right.  There was not much I couldn’t fit into that.  Hitting someone, well, that’s not gentle touch (hugging) and it certainly wouldn’t help someone to be happy would it, not to mention not helping the situation.  However there were a couple of things that I had failed to add to it.  My son, being the wordsmith that he is added two more words to it.

HEARING

HEALTHY.

There.  It was perfect.  We don’t jump up and down on the bed, (most of the time) because it’s not healthy to do so (dirty feet on the covers and you run the danger of hurting yourself).  We try to really *hear* people when they speak to us.  Not just their words, but we really try to hear what they are saying too.

In fact in the two years we’ve been using these words, I haven’t come up with a situation that I can’t use them in.  Quite simply they cover everything.

And recently, that’s when it hit me.  They aren’t rules at all.  These are family values.  Values that can be as old as time.  These are the things that we VALUE in our house.  These are the things we WANT in our house.  We don’t want to harp on about the things we don’t want – that’s what rules do.  We want to celebrate the VALUES of our house.

What do you think are the values in your house?  Do you think you are celebrating them?
5 Hs Happy Hugging Helpful Hearing Healthy House