How Rude!

It’s no fun encountering someone who is rude, right? It can really throw off your day, and put you in a bad mood. No fun.

My husband and I have recently been experiencing rudeness at the hands of our oldest child. We’ve been working on manners for quite some time, and while there has been good progress there is still room for improvement. Our oldest is eight, and in a place where he is working through growing independence and experiencing emotions more intensely. It makes for a challenging environment.

After pointing out the rude behavior we were seeing to our son, and doling out consequences that did not appear to be deterring his behavior, my husband and I decided we had to come up with a new strategy. My husband suggested that our son might still not grasp what being rude really meant and that we should talk with him to make it clear. We sat down with our son to have the discussion. It started off with our son telling and showing us how much he didn’t want to have the conversation (e.g. he got upset, outwardly showed his disdain with a grunt, scrunched up face and balled up fists, and then tried to walk away). We sat our son down and began.

We talked to him about his behavior and how it was unacceptable, and asked if he understood what being rude meant, and what actions constituted being rude. Listening to his answers really helped. “Being rude is when you’re not nice to someone?” he said guessing. “It’s more than just not being nice,” my husband shared. We began a dialogue that lasted more than 20 minutes. We talked about what being rude meant (not acknowledging others when they are speaking to you, and exhibiting behaviors that imply your needs are more important than the other person’s). We asked him again to give his definition. He struggled to come up with an explanation that was simple and clear for him, so my husband and I invoked a role-playing session to show how he could better identify rudeness. Since we often associate respect as being the opposite of rude, we thought we should help clarify some nuances there as well. We shared that being respectful doesn’t mean you have to agree with someone or do what they ask you to do, it’s how you handle yourself in these situations.

He seemed to be grasping what we were talking about, and started to get down on himself for not recognizing how his behavior had come across and impacted others.  We stopped him before he got too far along in that line of thinking, and reminded him that our job is to teach him, and what he is going through is part of growing up. We told him that he was a really neat kid, and that it was important for us to talk to him about his behavior, because when he is rude, it takes away from how neat he is. We continued that if he wasn’t aware that he was being rude, and nothing changed, there might be people who miss out on understanding how much he has to offer, and that would have been a shame. He really seemed to understand what we were saying now.

My husband and I moved on from talking about being rude, and asked him how his day had gone. Our son started to tell us when my husband interrupted him to ask him for more details. My son called his father out on what he did, “Dad, you’re being rude! You just interrupted me.” My husband and I looked at each other with a mutual understanding — we got through to our son…he does understand what being rude means, yes! It felt like we’d really gotten through to him and helped our son learned. It felt great. I didn’t know rudeness could lead to such a place.

How do you help your child work through difficult behavior? When did you know you were getting through to your child?

Spring Break

With the brutal weather conditions that have plagued the northern half of the country this past winter: from snow storm after snow storm, to rain in record-breaking proportions, I am grateful for the ritual of Spring Break. The idea of going somewhere sunny and warm is very appealing.

It is a beautiful time of year where I live. There are tulips, daffodils, and trees blossoming. It helps get me through the dreary weather. I still long for some time away. For some rest, and a change in scenery where there are no work obligations and I can enjoy connected time with my family. It never seems long enough.

What does Spring Break mean for you? How do you rest, and recharge?

The News on Stay-at-Home Moms (and Dads)

It’s in the news again….this time the media is stating more women are staying at home to raise their children. If this really news? Sounds like someone is trying to start a debate, doesn’t it? Does it really matter if more women are staying home or going back to work? I think each woman’s (and man’s) decision is made for their own unique reasons and lumping parents into working or stay-at-home categories (and all the stereotypes that go with them) is a dangerous precedent. Aren’t we all trying to be the best parents we can be? My guess is, if we peeled back this observation, we’d find more parents are staying home — whether it’s the mom or the dad.

Every caring parent grapples with how to best raise their child, how to nuture them, and teach them. When it comes to deciding if a parent will stay at home or go back to work there is no easy decision, and in my experince, a whole lot of second guessing. When I speak to parenting groups, I talk about the phenomena of second guessing that occurs when you became a parent. It can feel like you’re getting your PhD whether you realize it or not. I was indoctrinated into second guessing just about everything within weeks of becoming a parent. Once I realized second guessing was becoming second nature, I started to push back against it. I found that when I was unsure, research, a discussion with my spouse, and sometimes others (when appropriate) helped me make decisions I felt good about. I also realized I had the opportunity to evaluate and course-correct when/if needed. It was liberating.

Only you know how to best raise your child. Staying at home versus going back to work is a personal decision. One isn’t better than the other.

If there is news in any of this, it’s that we, as parents, are constantly seeking to do what’s best for our child regardless of whether we stay home or not. That sounds like good news to me.

What do you parenting decisions have you struggled to make? How are combating second guessing?

Go Ahead Make My Day

Many of us are familiar with the Clint Eastwood character Dirty Harry who used the famous tagline, “Go ahead, make my day.” I was reminded of this phrase during a particularly tough week at work.  But not in the way you might think.

The work week started like many others, with a steady stream of work pouring in. I knew the week would be different, when the pouring didn’t stop. By mid-week, I knew there was still quite a mountain to climb before I could reach the end of the work week. It was not a good feeling.

I could have gotten overwhelmed or difficult to be around as my workload increased, but I knew that wouldn’t help me get to my goal of completion. Instead, I started seeking out “good moments” during the day. I found that when I allowed myself to notice them, and really take them in, it made what could have been a bad day, more than bearable, it actually turned it into a good day. These “good moments” were, in fact, making my day.

Finding the good moments weren’t particularly difficult, once I paid particular attention to finding them. The good moments came in various forms: sharing a joy with my kids, or us laughing together; my spouse and I connecting over something other than work or the kids; noticing fall colors; and having dinner with a friend. These good moments helped redefine what could have been a bad week to a pretty darn good one.

As a working parent, a terrible work week can sometimes spill over in your family life. I’m glad I sought the good moments to help defend against it happening in mine. When a bad work week starts to form, I’ve got my go-to phrase now: “Go ahead, make my day.” With good moments, of course.

How do you combat a tough work week? Where do find your good moments?