Thursday, November 8, 2018

Don't ask me. Look at the map.

It is one of the supreme ironies of parenting that your ability to influence fades to insignificance just as your child's challenges are most overwhelming.

How can one doubt that God has a sense of humor?

The crux of the problem resides in us, the parents. Tactics that worked when our child was four and six and ten no longer work. But we continue to use them because we mastered them. What is that saying about hammers and nails?

So we need to learn some new skills. This is not insurmountable. Skills improve with use. You can practice in front of a mirror.

The first skill you need to learn is to say "Hmmm!!?"

Hmmm!!? is two-thirds amazement and one-third bewilderment.  You can make a half million dollars a year dispensing therapy if you can master "Hmmm!!"  Start with "Amaze" and end with "But I don't quite understand?"

Child: "And then the steering wheel was ripped from my hands, the truck leaped across six lanes of traffic and then went head-first into a ditch and the responding policeman found, gasp!, five grams of cannabis in my truck."

You: "Hmmmm!!?"

The other skill you need to learn is to start your "advice" with, "And what do you think I am going to say?"

There is an 80% chance they know exactly what you are going to say. If you go ahead and say it then you are training them to not listen to you.  You did your job. They are carrying you, whether mom or dad, around in their head.

The next part of your job, after embedding your value-landscape in their heads, is to train them to access that value map. You do that by asking them, "And what do you think I am going to say?"

Just when we, as parents, think our job is to give 'micro' advice, our job is to tell them to look at the map.

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