Have you ever been trying to teach your child a lesson you feel is important, when a person whose assistance you require either doesn’t catch on or doesn’t play along? I don’t know if it necessarily takes a village, but it does at times require some cooperation from others. Including strangers.
Let’s say, for example, your toddler grabs a toy from a younger child at the park and pushes the child to the ground. You step in and talk to your child about sharing and being nice, and the other parent says something like, “Oh, it’s no big deal. It’s normal for their age.”
Yes, it is typical behavior. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start teaching my child about being kind to others. That is something I want to do. And I find it frustrating when the other person doesn’t have my back.
What I want in those situations is for that person to be the parenting version of my wingman. Help me with a difficult “maneuver.” It doesn’t take much. Just follow my lead and nod at the appropriate times. And please don’t say something that runs counter to what I am trying to accomplish.
Here’s the perfect example. Recently, during quiet time, my preschooler ripped off part of the cover of a library book. When I discovered what she had done, I sat down with her and talked calmly about why that was not OK.
I told her we were going to go to the library, where she would have to show the librarian what she had done and apologize. I said the librarian would decide if the book needed to be replaced. And if it did, my daughter would pay for it with money from her piggy bank.
I worried on the way to the library that things would not go as I planned. Truth be told, the damage to the book was minor. I had checked out books in worse condition. That wasn’t the point, however. And I wondered if the librarian would understand what I was trying to do or leave me hanging in the wind with, “It’s OK. No big deal.”
It went exactly as I had hoped.
My daughter handed the librarian the book, looked her in the eye and said, "I rip it. I sorry." The librarian gave me a slight smile. Then she adopted a very serious demeanor. She inspected the book carefully and told my daughter, "It doesn't look like the book will need to be replaced. Thank you for telling me what you did. I accept your apology."
My daughter thanked the librarian. And then, because she had been such a big girl, taken responsibility for her actions and apologized, we went and picked out some new books to take home.
I finally had a parenting wingman. And it made such a difference.
Elizabeth blogs about her struggles and successes as a writer and a mom at The Writer Revived. She is the author of Cease Fire: A Call to End the War Between Women, which she is currently working to get published. In March 2011 she launched The Mom Pledge, an online campaign to eradicate cyber bullying among moms. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. She loves social media!