There are days when we are more human that usual. On those days, our frustrations get the better of us, we give in to it and unleash on the child that is acting up usually through no fault of his, except that he too is feeling just like us, where a frustration in the corner of his emotional bank has taken centrestage.
Our end of day routine usually goes like this:
- Pick son from school, go home
- Son has dinner, parents take turns to eat
- Bathe son
- Family time
On some days though, we reach home later than usual, in which case, we become hard pressed for time. Coming home late also usually means we’ve had a longer and more exhausting day than usual, our defences are lowered.
On one such day, our son refused to bathe and put up a strong fight. We had no time, so used F.E.a.R.
There is this little robot toy that he is irrationally fearful of. We don’t know why or what caused it, but we keep use it as a scarecrow to keep him out of the kitchen and it has proven to be extremely effective.
So when raising my voice at him didn’t help. I decided to enlist the help of Mr Robot. I took it out and he IMMEDIATELY scooted off to the bathroom, occasionally peeking out to see if Mr Robot followed along.
I assured him that Mr Robot has withdraw and showed him my empty hands.
But here’s the thing: I’ve always been telling my wife that I don’t agree with the use of fear. And I felt bad about it. So after his bath, I sought to restore order to things with F.E.A.R.
While we achieved what we wanted him to do, I was truly the defeated one. But it doesn’t have to end in my defeat? We could still find victory as a family. I saw an opportunity to model apologising and an opportunity to illustrate empathy. So our family time became a processing time.
We sat down with him to explain why I raised my voice, that I did not want to use the Robot and apologised for doing so. I sought forgiveness from him and he said ok.
I wished I had some inspirational outcome to share with you about what happened there after, but no, it was uninspiring. We went to sleep and the next day, everything went on as usual.
But isn’t that consistent with what we’ve known about parenting? It is a marathon. Results come with consistency in actions. There is no shortcut or miracle strategy. The basic ingredient is building positive relationships.
We know that we facilitated empathy, we modelled apology, we taught forgiveness that night. We will continue to do so and wait for this investment to yield its return in the course of time.