The Collaborator Parenting Role: Visiting
Grandma versus the Movies Conflict Example
Parents and children commonly experience conflicts on how to spend the weekends. As kids mature, they want more time with friends than with the family. When they are young, your parenting role is more often as a director where you decide what to do. As kids mature and express their individuality and needs more, the problem of what to do becomes a joint ownership problem. Your role shifts to being a collaborator so you can find solutions together that you both agree on.
Here is an example of a parent following the 5-Step problem-solving process of 1. Stop blocking communication, 2. Listen openly to Feelings, 3. Discuss and evaluate ideas, 4. Make a plan together, and 5. Follow-up to determine success as they decide on how to allow their child to go to the movies and also visit grandma.
When you stop blocking communication, you learn what not to say because it feels hurtful to your child. When you have an urge to say something that you know will make your kid mad, instead use an empathetic phrase. If you can’t figure out what to say, use the tried-and-true “hmmm, I see.” You can even add on “tell me more. I’m listening” and be quiet! Give your child time to talk. The best way to build a connection and influence with your children is to listen with curiosity and acceptance without the judgment.
For a complete description of how to do each step, consider purchasing my book, Ally Parenting: A Non Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. Book purchase links are below.
|Child: I don’t want to go to Grandma’s because I want to go to the movies with my friends instead.
Adult: Don’t ask questions at first. Look at your child’s body language for cues of what the child might be feeling. Remember to first connect with feelings not logic. Refrain from interrogating or psychologizing to “get to the bottom of it.” This is not the time to lecture on the value of family and on how lucky they are to have a grandmother. Stay in a supportive listening mode so your child feels heard and accepted. Your loving attention will encourage better communication and trust. This is your goal of the first two steps.
Avoid Communication Blocks. Commanding, giving unwanted advice, sarcasm, placating, interrogating, me-tooism.
| Adult: I see. I didn’t realize you had your heart set on being with your friends.
Child: It’s important that I go. You don’t understand.
Adult: (Don’t take the bait and defend yourself.) So I’ve disrupted your plans by making family plans and not asking you.
Child: Yeah. You make plans all the time without even asking. I’m getting older, you know and I want to make my own plans.
Adult: You are right. You are getting older and I need to start asking you. Pause. This time I already made plans and I don’t think it’s fair to disappoint grandma, do you?
Child: No, I guess not, but you should have asked me first.
Adult: Can we figure out how to solve this so maybe you can do both the movies and visit grandma?
Child: Ok, I’ll talk about it.
It’s important to first connect on an emotional level. This emotional bond of safety, warmth and confidence will give permission to release feelings. This leads to clearer thinking later.
| Parent: Great. Thank you. Did you already have a set time to go to the movies?
Child: No, but everyone wants to go together.
Parent: Who’s in charge of picking the movie and setting the time?
Child: Well, most of us want to see that new action movie that just came out.
Parent: Is it showing at different times? In the late afternoon and evening?
Child: I’m sure it is. I haven’t checked.
Parent: You know that it’s best to visit grandma early in the day.
Child: I know.
Parent: What do you think about going to a movie around 5:00 or 6:00? Could you suggest this time?
Child: Well, (grumble). I guess I could call up my two best friends and ask them to go then. Maybe if they go, then the others will, too.
Parent: I realize this is a tricky situation. I appreciate your efforts to work with me on this problem.
Child: Well, I do like to visit grandma. I really like her dog and she has great cookies.
Parent: She loves you very much and seeing you makes her very happy.
Child: OK. I’ll work it out. Even if only one or two of my friends will go at that time, it will be OK.
Parent: Thanks so much. I’ll make sure and discuss plans with you ahead of time in the future.
Child: I hope so.
Parent: Avoid getting defensive with this response. Your child is still feeling hurt so just ignore this jab. Let me know after you call your friends what you have figured out.
Parent: (After the calls) I’d like to hear if you came up with a plan or if you need my help.
Child: Rob can go at 5:00 if you call his Mom and figure out how we get there and get home.
Parent: Great. I’ll call Patty now.
This dialogue may sound easy. You would be amazed how responsive kids are to discussing ideas when they feel that their feelings and thoughts are heard and considered. You will learn how to effectively do the five steps in my book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation.
Purchase it in soft cover or eBook format at many online locations.
When you have a joint problem to solve, it is important that you keep working at finding a resolution that both of you can agree on.
Copyright 2017 Cynthia Klein, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, 650.679.8138. Cynthia is a Certified Parenting Educator teaching parents how to build cooperation with their children.