Our parenting script for tricky situations
When we were up in the mountains last week with some friends, the kids got envious of a another friend’s Fire tablet. Their instinct was to ask me for one (they’re human, I get it). I replied with my answer, they said “OK” and went on their way. No whining, no screaming just acceptance. The other parent was shocked at how compliant my kids were and it reminded me of how these three little words have got us out of countless situations with the kids and just saved so much drama. (I have our parenting coach to thank for this gem). Meanwhile, I’ve collected a few other sayings that have been ever so helpful.
1. In our family, we…
This phrase has seriously been a life-saver in our household. Every family is different. What one child is allowed to do, is not necessarily the right thing to do for a child in another family. The sooner children learn this lesson, the better. This also saves you from embarrassing another parent who has chosen to buy a life-sized mechanical pony for their child. Every single time our children ask for something that is not aligned with how we do things, we just reinforce with "In our family…”. You can maybe choose to explain it further at home later as to why you don’t just buy things whenever they want, by explaining the concept of working/making money/budgeting for things we need/want. This phrase is also really helpful in avoiding conflict with other adults. I swear that half of the drama that arise from fb mom groups could be eliminated, if everyone just started their comments with “In our family,…” or “In my experience…”. It’s the generalizing sweeping statements (E.g. “Everyone should breastfeed. Breast is best HANDS DOWN!”) that reallllly piss people off.
2. You’re right - it’s not always fair.
We hear this a lot with our kids these days. “No fair!! Why does Emmy get a stuffy and I don’t?”. I used to have to try and convince them that I was being fair, and that in fact the bear was purchased because it was on sale and Emmy has been sick for week. Now, I tell them that I love them both the same but it doesn’t mean I can always be fair. Sometimes, someone is going to get something the other doesn’t. And the other way around. The instinct for them is still to feel hurt and air their injustices but once I remind them of situations when things were tipped in their favor/not, they get it. Life isn’t always going to be fair. The way you say this one is important though - say it with compassion and #allthelove.
3. We all have our jobs. It’s what we do.
I actually grew up in a very sheltered home. My parents both worked and they had the means to hire a domestic helper who cooked, cleaned and took care of us. I had to learn how to take care of a home much later as an adult and this is one thing I want to be different for our kids. In our family, nobody gets a free pass from chores. If they ever complain about chores, I remind them that we all have jobs. We review the list of “work” that has to be done around the house and remind them of their role in it. The more matter of fact you say this one, the better.
4. Yes, you can have this on your birthday!
When we hit Target, the kids LOVE to go to the toy department. I don’t dread it all because we have already established that they don’t get to buy anything, unless it was their birthday. If anyone whines or asks to buy something, the consequence is we leave, no second chances. They still get a ton of fun “touching” the toys and playing with some of them and making up their dream list for their birthdays. We have recently instituted half-birthday presents as well because they have been so great with complying with this rule. But honestly, It’a not hard to chuckle every time I hear “Mama, can we go to Target today to touch the toys?”
5. If you have nothing kind to say, don’t say it.
I picked this one up from my friend, Lindsay. It’s nothing new but something her family grew up saying and has passed through the generations. Even though one of our family mantras is “Be Kind”, they don’t always remember it in the heat of the moment. This is a great quip to remind them of what behaviors not to do. Our 6 year old actually immediately catches herself and searches for something kind to say to reverse her actions.