Friday, April 08, 2011

Parenting Moment of the Day

Sometimes I get a reminder that my kids really do pay attention to the way I behave and the things I say, and they really do copy me.

We were in the car this afternoon and everyone was requesting that I play their favorite songs for them. (If you're wondering, the current favorites are: Sean--"Eight Days a Week" aka "Hold Me," Morgan--"Brown-Eyed Girl," and Ryan--"Fire in Cairo.")

Morgan and I had a misunderstanding about which song I was to play next, which was mostly my fault as I was really actually trying to pay more attention to traffic than song requests (my bad, I know!). I interrupted her complaint to try to tell her what I thought I'd heard.


Wisely (and for once), I said nothing as I moved into a turning lane and tried to figure out where I could pull the car over because I can't stand people shouting at me while I'm driving. Then, while I was waiting for the light to change, she said in a teary voice:

"Mom, I'm sorry I yelled at you. I just get SO frustrated when you interrupt me."

Wow. How many times have I said the same exact thing to them? For example:

"I'm sorry I yelled at you. I feel frustrated when I have to repeat myself because it makes me think you're not listening to me."

This six year old child recognized that she had been unfair and unkind and readily acknowledged it using appropriate language ("I-language"). In those two sentences, she used a couple Positive Discipline tools (Three Rs of Recovery and Emotional Honesty which I'll write about soon) and those tools helped her act virtuously (with justice, honesty, integrity), too.

Which is great because when I use those tools I'm acting virtuously, too. Even after a mistake like losing my temper and shouting, I can always choose to behave like a grownup virtuous person. And how extra happy I was that I've modeled this particular thing for her (sadly, lots of times).

Hearing my very same words come out of her mouth was wonderful, not just because I wanted an apology from her in that moment, but because it was evidence that even in my mistakes, I'm doing something right. And I can see that she's the kind of person who wants to do the right thing when she makes a mistake and has learned a way (from me!) to do that. She has tools she can use ready and waiting for when she needs them. And she will use them.

In case you're wondering what I said back to her, it was something like this:

"Thanks for telling me you're sorry. I know it's frustrating to be interrupted and I did interrupt you. I'm sorry about that. Now can we figure out what to do next?"

And then things went on in our usual hunky-dory way.

What an awesome moment. I am very proud of both of us!


Roberto Sarrionandia said...

This made me think of all the parents you see having screaming matches with their kids, or resorting to violence. They might think they're taking the easiest option now, but it's at the expense of a long term, sustainable solution.

Awesome work :)

Anonymous said...

Fire in Cairo, really? As a morose teenager I had one wall of my room wallpapered in Cure posters, so I did a double take at this — as well as the fact I don't think I've heard that song in over two decades. Time to dig up the old LPs. Bloody righteous, Ryan!

maryallene said...

Very cool. Yay, Morgan and Yay, Jenn!!

Jenn Casey said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! It was a good moment and I'm still thinking it over. Yay for a parenting WIN.

Yeah, Fire in Cairo--my husband added that to a mixed CD of songs he thought the kids would like because everyone likes fire, they know where Cairo is, and then also, bonus homeschool spelling. :D 10:15 Saturday Night is also on the same disk. Yeah, we're a little eclectic, musically.