Friday, January 23, 2015

Communicating Differently

Can one over-communicate with one’s twelve year old daughter?

Tom and I each communicate with Alyssa differently. When I need her to do something, I explain what needs done, why it needs to be done and what will happen if it’s not done.

Tom issues orders.

Maybe that’s not fair. He tells her to do something and expects her to do it because he said so. There’s actually nothing really wrong with that in a parent/child interaction. I get that he expects her to do what he asks of her because he’s the parent, she’s the child and he’s made a request of her.

I, on the other hand, feel like explaining why I’m asking/telling her to do something makes her more likely to do it with minimal sighing and eye rolling. I want to respect that she’s a person too. Yes, a child-person who came out of me and so should respect my requests simply because I made them but I also feel like that’s not really fair. I don’t appreciate having orders barked at me with not reasoning behind it.

But when Tom does issue an order, I stand behind him (figuratively) and support his position. I might later talk to him about his technique but I try very hard not to undermine him with the girls.

I don’t think either way is right or wrong, they’re just different. But because they’re different, they get very different results.

Tom’s way gets snippy results from Alyssa.

Just last weekend, he asked her, “Do you snip at your mother the way you to at me?”

She looked from him to me and back again. She then replied, “No, but that’s because I like her more.”

Ouch. And…yikes.

To his credit, he actually didn’t take it personally or get mad at her. When she left the room, I took the opportunity to explain again my method of getting her to do what I want/need her to do with minimal resistance. He did mention that maybe I'm over-communicative with her. That because I explain everything, she thinks she can rationalize and even negotiate with him. I told him she doesn't usually try to negotiate with me, she listens to my reasons for asking her to do something then she does it.

We’ll see if it sinks in.

I also took the opportunity later that day to talk to Alyssa about her response and explain that while her dad didn’t take it personally, it was still a hurtful thin to say to him.

She asked, “But why? It’s the truth.”

Ahh, to see the world in black and white only the way kids do.

I told her that we know she loves me and her dad and that she could show her love for him by being more respectful of his requests (she stopped me there and said, “You mean orders?”)

I let that one go and explained that he and I just have different parenting techniques. Neither is right or wrong (she disagreed there too…sigh) but that she needs to understand that we’re both just trying to teach her, to guide her toward being a responsible adult.

We’ll see if it sinks in.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I'm more of the "ordering" then yelling type. Yikes. Maybe I should try it your way.