Have you ever had a disagreement with parents who see things differently?
My parenting style sent me to hell and back this week.
We were going through challenges with my child’s friend last weekend.
Has that ever happened to you?
I wish I hadn’t had to have gone through what I went through last week.
However, after sharing with a close friend what happened, I know that most parents will be faced with something similar at some stage or another.
This is why I want to share how I approached it.
When my child is with other children, I am usually grateful for them learning some important life skills by interacting with others.
This week things were very different.
What happened was that a neighbour’s child got upset by something that my child allegedly said to them.
I was told by this parent that my child is not to say anything that upsets or scares their child.
I will leave out what was said as nobody knows if you can repeat this online.
So just imagine something a child said that may not be true and another is offended by what they hear.
It was not an insult simply something that happens in some part of this world and not in this country.
My reaction was to ask my child if they had said this and to figure out if they were telling the truth or not.
Lying is something I am all too familiar with as I am being lied to sometimes about teeth being brushed, homework being done or screen time limits being adhered to.
I react to lying by ignoring it, taking it in my stride and I compliment my children children when they tell me the truth at other times.
What do you do when you find out that your child was lying to you?
Lying can easily become a means for children to gain undue attention.
What I mean by that is if we give it a lot of attention and the child feels discouraged in other ways of us interacting with them, then lying will give them this much needed attention that they crave so badly and otherwise don’t often receive in meaningful ways.
You may wonder what happened next?
This is something I am not proud of.
I replied to this parent’s text message and offered advice on how to deal with their child and this situation.
What I should have done is gone over with my child and resolved this conflict immediately by asking both children what the truth really was?
I have nobody to blame but myself.
Blame is not a good feeling, as you probably agree?
The way for me to deal with lying is normally to do some detective work, ask questions to get to the truth and listen to my gut feeling about where my truth lies.
Unfortunately, in my helplessness I involved another adult who saw this conflict through a different lens and the situations escalated quickly.
You solve problems best by calming down and then having a plan how to address it.
I am still learning this at my old age.
What I am also learning in the most painful way is that not everybody resonates with my parenting style.
As much as I convince myself that this is the best way forward, it can cause so much heartbreak when the old ways of needing to control others are still so dominant in our world.
What I took from this experience this week is that I have no right to tell anybody how they should or should not raise their child.
We are all just figuring this out and it is my job as a mother to role model to my children how to respect the opinion of others who think differently.
This sometimes requires to let people go who don’t share your values and set good boundaries so you can’t hurt each other anymore.
I would have been raised to be the good girl and not talking to somebody is just wrong and disrespectful, however, I have since changed my tune.
In the last year, I needed to learn that it is sometimes better to cut the cord than to be hurt over and over again.
Many of us are going through major changes in our lives and are leaving the old behind.
It no longer serves us to put on a brave face and go against our intuition just to keep others happy.
We are so terrified of showing who we really are because we were reprimanded as children when we wanted to be our authentic selves.
When we are truly ourselves, we don’t to give others advice - we know where we stand at all times.
What I have learned is to ask if somebody wants to hear my opinion.
If they say ‘No’, I won’t share it anymore.
What do you believe is the right way to go about when others disagree with you?
My take on difference of opinions has been harsh judgment and I always feel that it shoots me in the foot because nobody wants to be told what to do.
Many parents find it works to be non-confrontational and avoid addressing conflict, at least that’s what I hear when I ask about challenging the status quo of parenting.
How will we evolve as a species if we only allow one opinion and shame everyone who thinks the opposite?
You are probably wondering where I am going with this?
I am going to keep challenging this status quo every time but have adjusted my approach and I am going to be asking in future if the other is ready to hear it.
What have our children got to do with all of this?
They watch our every move in this world and call out our inconsistencies without fear.
Such as one of my children when I asked recently: What would you say to a parent when they say their child is lying?
My child asked: Is the parent sometimes lying?
And then I said: Parents call it a necessary white lie when they lie and children don’t need to know everything.
To that my wise child replied: Parents don’t need to know everything when children lie.
I burst out with laughter and hearing the truth felt so refreshing and good.
May I invite you to make a list of your white lies in the coming week?