Saturday, December 10, 2005

Parenting and the fine art of thinking around corners

Our daughter just came down to show us the wonderful picture that she'd made by poking holes in a piece of paper with a pen. Amber was very encouraging and told Emma that she'd made a wonderful picture. My response wasn't as encouraging...

You see, she'd been poking holes in paper with a pen yesterday, on the carpet. I was concerned that this would leave marks in the carpet so I asked her not to do it. When I saw it again this morning, I felt upset that she'd gone and done what I asked her not to do. I asked her how she'd made her holes and she confirmed that it was by poking with a pen through on the carpet. Then I asked her what I'd said yesterday, and she said that yes, I'd asked her not to do it. Of course, then I asked her why she'd done it.
"Because I wanted to."

Hmm...well, I can ask her not to do it again but since that was a less than stellar success last time, I don't have much confidence in it working any better this time. Ok, time to be a parent. The action itself wasn't bad, it was just the way that she was doing it. A much better solution would be to find a way to facilitate what she wants to do in such a way that it doesn't damage the carpet. Aha! An old towel laid down under the paper would provide just the same environment that she gets from the carpet and who cares if an old towel gets a few ink stains!

Now, she's happy and can make her holes in the paper and I don't need to worry about the carpet. This really makes me think that our job as parents involves so much more than you'd originally think. It's easy to fall into the trap of simply delivering edicts from on high and creating unmanagable situations. We have to take a moment and think about the entire situation, look at it from all angles, consider the children's point of view and what our real issue with a specific task is. Once we've done that it's generally possible to find a solution to make everyone happy.


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