By Paige Trevor
Session 5, on Consequences, is over and the condition known as “the mid-PEP blues” has descended upon our circle. We started class last week with a hefty dose of discouragement. We know enough to see that bossing kids around, or letting them boss us around, is not effective. However, the skills that we are learning aren’t flowing naturally yet. It doesn’t even occur to us that we are in a power struggle until after we have yelled or shamed our beloved child AGAIN over teeth brushing, or manners, or homework.
I hear them, I get it, I feel it. People living with people is a lifelong learning process. We never really, completely get it and we are never gonna be our “ideal selves” for longer than a few hours.
As we are reviewing slides I read, “Consequences are administered in a kind and firm manner, without anger or hostility.” I hear an exasperated sigh and turn and see a fabulous, loving, engaged mom sort of grimacing. I think it’s because it’s so annoying that we have to be kind and firm when our kids are being so infuriating. In solidarity I proclaim, “I know, kids can be so excruciating!”
And this mom says something along the lines of, “No, it’s me. I’m always so impatient.” She was blaming herself for her kid’s misbehavior. The belief was, if only she dealt out consequences in a kind and firm way, then the kid would behave perfectly.
Dear parent, you are not to blame.
I thought about this all week, how we are always looking for someone to blame. We come to PEP blaming our kids and midway through a class we turn and start blaming ourselves.
This weekend I happened upon a story of a therapist asked to help a troubled neighborhood with teen delinquency and shoplifting. He said he’d work with this troubled neighborhood once everyone—police, parents, shop owners and teens—agreed to NOT blame anyone. No one could search or point fingers at the problem person or people. “Once everyone was released from blaming or being blamed for the problem of delinquency, they were free to open their minds and hearts and playfully collaborate on some very exciting innovative programs.”
AH HA! Once there is no blame, no one needs to feel any shame, and no one needs to be different from who they are. Creativity lies not in the blaming, but in the collaboration, in the joint ownership, in the opening up our hearts and our ears to hear everyone’s side of the story.
The mid-PEP blues are a natural stopping point on the way to real change in our families and in ourselves. Let’s not waste any time or energy blaming. Instead, let’s open our minds and hearts and playfully come up with exciting and innovative solutions!
Paige Trevor is a certified parent educator, writer, public speaker and founder of Balancing Act, LLC, an organizing consultancy providing tried-and-true methods for establishing efficient routines and a peaceful household. She is the mother of two teenagers.