Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let my "yes" be "yes"

Wow, two blog posts in two days - a record!

Just some more thoughts about kids and charts and notes...

The main reason I love charts and lists for kids is that they help me clarify exactly what I expect. Because I'm not always so good at it verbally.

The other night Allie-15 wanted to spend the night at a friend's house. The mom was leaving on a trip early the next morning, so I suggested that the girls spend the night over here so the mom could get packed and get some rest. The girls were going to go hang out at another friend's house first, then the dad would bring them home.

We were at a football game, talking over cheering crowds, I was watching out for a few extra friends of my younger girls, but even through the noise, when the conversation ended, I thought we had an understanding.

A couple of hours later we called to check on them. Allie was getting ready for bed at the first friend's house - the one whose mom was trying to get out of town.

I said, "But you were supposed to spend the night here!"

Allie's comment was, "You never said I couldn't, and her mom said she didn't mind, so we just came over here."

Looking back on the conversation, neither the other mom nor I made ourselves clear. The other mom truly did not need a couple of girls spending the night there, so she could have easily said "NO."

And I, trying to teach my child consideration for others, should have said, "NO, you may not spend the night there. You MUST spend the night here."

All that to say, kids do not naturally catch "implication," "hints," "suggestions," "maybe," "I'll think about it," or "We'll see." These tend to postpone the conflict of the moment, but almost invariably make the conflict greater when we realize later our kids used our lack of backbone to push their own agenda!!

This does not matter whether you are dealing with a two-year-old or a thirteen-year-old! They are masters of manipulation!

If I want them to do chores, I can't say, "Man, this kitchen is a mess," (even when accompanied by heavy sighing and loud banging of pots and pans) and expect them to figure out I am wanting help. No. I need to say clearly, "Please load the dishwasher."

Okay, so back to notes and charts.

When I write things down,
  • it forces me to clarify exactly what I expect from my kids
  • it represents my authority, whether I am physically present or not - a big bonus when you have several kids!
  • it holds my kids accountable and minimizes the "I forgot" excuse
  • it keeps me from making decisions "in the moment," when I am weak, distracted, tired, surrounded by my kids' friends, or all of the above
  • it helps my kids succeed. How can they do a pleasing job if they don't know what "finished" looks like?
Think about why God chose to WRITE DOWN the words He inspired in the Bible.

He knew we are forgetful and would need to refer to them again and again. He knew we would try to say stuff like, "You never told me that!" or "I didn't know what you meant!"

Let's give our kids a really big gift. Let's let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no" be "no." And when possible, let's write it down. We'll all be much happier for it!!

There were a few people who requested the chore spec sheet who did not leave their email. Please email me if you would still like me to send it to you!


Unknown said...

Kids can be manipulative...I recently had a similar situation with my 16 year old...she asked if she could spend the night with one of her best friends from church, who happens to be a Freshmen in college at a neighboring town, I said sure...assuming that her friend was home for the weekend. I was wrong. She meant at the college dorm. It's a Christian college, but still...

And I'd like an email of your chore spec sheet. Thanks!

Susanne said...

"These tend to postpone the conflict of the moment, but almost invariably make the conflict greater when we realize later our kids used our lack of backbone to push their own agenda"

Isn't that the truth. It is about getting a backbone to say no when I have to and yes when I should. Deep down I want my kids to like me and I don't like making them upset, but really I am their parent, not their buddy.

Btw, can you email me that chore sheet, please? Thanks so much. Great post, Katherine.

Kelly said...

You are SO right! I am guilty of not being committed to what I am saying, and then getting frustrated because they didn't do what I wanted.

I am really working on making my mind up before I answer, which means often there is not an immediate yes or no. I find that I have fewer regrets / irritation when I wait to reply.

Maureen said...

Katherine, I really needed to hear that. I am in desperate need of some backbone. I like the analogy of how God had to write down his expectations for us. That really hit home. Ok, I am off to find my pen, paper and my backbone!


Enid said...

GREAT post are so right...!Thanks for sharing your toughts...and tks for the sheets.!

Andrea said...

I try to be very specific in WHAT I WANT FROM THEM. They are so good at finding the loopholes. Argh.
Email me a chore spec sheet so I can FEEL in control again! lol.

Mo said...

I've said it before, but I really can't say it enough. I love reading your blog. Love it.

You really have a gift of taking huge, important, and pressing matters, and putting them into words and tangible thoughts. And you do it in a way that's entertaining to read, and totally relatable- even to someone at a totally different stage of life or circumstance than you.

Awesome post and thanks for sharing! ... again :)

Collins Characters said...

I would love to have a copy of your chore sheet! Thank you!

Amie said...

I would love a copy! Thanks!


Barbie @ Mamaology said...

This is great stuff Katherine!!!!

thecoolmom said...

Awesome post and so true. The other lesson I'm learning is that it is not sufficient to say 'someone needs to do X' because when I say 'someone', the kids hear 'someone else'.