Dear Compassionate

So it’s Tuesday and I ate enough turkey this past weekend to feel like one… but I also feel like a turkey because I haven’t blogged since late June.  Yikes – what happened to once a week?!? I have to admit that I have had a little bit of writer’s block.  It’s ironic that I had nothing to say or write about, for those who know me it appears that I always have something to say.  At the very least my kids usually misbehave in some crazy fashion and hence provide me with blogging material.  I promise you they still misbehave – yet I have been washed with a wave of guilt as I picture them as adults reading my blog one day and then realizing I used them for shameless self promotion.  So all of this had me thinking of ways to keep this blog alive yet in a different format?  I have always loved those “Dear Abby” columns and I was thinking it would be so informative to have a “Dear Compassionate” one for parents.  It could be completely anonymous… no names at all… you could even frame your email under the guise of inquiry for a friend;“dear compassionate, I have this friend who needs your help…”  You get the drift.  So while dreaming all of this up I happened to have a friend post a parenting dilemma on Facebook.  I asked her if she would be willing to be my first dear compassionate blog inquiry.  She said yes and my idea is now coming to life!  I am feeling pretty grateful for her bravery and hoping anyone who reads this finds some comfort in knowing that they are not alone on this crazy journey of parenting.  As well, anything I write is intended to simply broaden your thought process and invite you to think about your relationship with your child(ren).  So grab a cup of tea, coffee, wine, tequila, (whatever you may need) and enjoy the read:


“I need some parenting advice.  How do you handle a teenager forgetting her hockey jersey for morning game?  The house got up early, got timetables all organized, asked her ‘do you have everything?’ and she replied lazily ‘yes’… got her to hockey on time and then got a call… ‘I forgot my jersey. Can you go home and get it so I can play?’ I’m beyond frustrated.  Need help so that this can become a teachable moment rather than me just losing my cool.  How would you handle it?”  


My response:  I want to start by saying that because this question was originally posted to Facebook I did get the pleasure to read numerous responses and I already know that almost everyone will disagree with me.  So I too am being brave in my response knowing I could stand alone in my opinion.  

The key part of the question was not so much, “how would you handle it”, but “need help so that this can become a teachable moment rather than me losing my cool.”  This is the part of the question that I want to address in two ways.  The first being the “teachable” part and the second being,“keeping her cool” – let’s start with the former.  This mom could either bring the jersey or not bring the jersey.  If she doesn’t bring the jersey we would all hope the daughter will learn something.  She will have to sit at the arena, watch the game, wait to be picked up and we would have taught her a lesson.  I invite you all to think about the last time someone “taught you a lesson” and what exact “lesson” that you didn’t already know, did you learn?  I will make the assumption that if you were ever put in this situation at work or as a child or even within a relationship that getting “taught a lesson” didn’t feel very good and it is quite possible you already knew what the person was trying to teach you.  You most likely just made a mistake and needed a little compassion?  So if the jersey stays at home the teachable moment can look like a daughter spending an hour plus on the bench feeling pretty mad and disappointed at possibly herself but more likely at mom for not helping her.  While she is in that headspace she most likely won’t be in the teachable one.  We all hope and wish she might be thinking, “gosh, I’m sure glad my mom didn’t bring me that jersey.  I’ve really learned that I must be more accountable and next time I won’t make that mistake again.  I sure have the best mom ever.”  If she was thinking that, our jobs would be so simple.

So how does this situation look different if the mom goes against what has been so ingrained in all of us and she actually brings her daughter the jersey?  What exists now?  She has a mom that just modeled compassion, understanding, love, kindness, caring… and that the mom supports her in her imperfections and her perfections.  Don’t we want our children to be those things?  What might her daughter be thinking now?  I can guarantee she will be the opposite of mad and angry.  Not only that, her daughter might now be open to having a conversation about ways to remember her jersey next time?  As well, if you can look to the bigger picture, the daughter will feel more inclined to approach her mom on other teenage issues that come up along the way, as she knows her mom supports her and is not out to “teach her a lesson.”  The “I’ll show you approach” is what we’ve been taught, it’s what we know, it’s our “go to” approach.  I think this approach comes from our fear.  Our fear that our children will never grow up and that we might be bringing them jerseys for the rest of their lives.  I understand that fear.  I guess I am asking parents to have faith that this won’t be the case and that in the meantime you might have an easier and more relaxed relationship with your child(ren).  

So let’s look at the latter part of the question regarding “keep our cool.” I wouldn’t be very compassionate if I didn’t invite this mom to find some time to do something amazing for herself, something that fills up her “patience tank”, that reminds her she was a person before a mother, something that celebrates all the hard work she has put into raising a beautiful daughter.  We all need more self care.  Life is busy and if we don’t take care of the person who is taking care of everyone else we will eventually lose our cool and only hope to find it buried beneath the couch cushions.  We all work so hard at parenting, so I invite you to take care of the captain in all the ways you take care of your crew.  

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson