You see your child is presented with a difficult situation involving an adult. Examples include being asked/told to give a hug when they clearly do not want to, or being asked/told to participate in something they do not want to. This is a sticky situation because the adult has authority, so my kid feels a sense of obligation (since they are so used to listening to adults) but something in them is pulling them in the other direction or not wanting to do what the adult is telling them to do. Oftentimes, the adult will try to use guilt, manipulation, confusion or bribery to get my kid to acquiesce. This makes me really uncomfortable and I kind of want to crawl out of my skin.
I have witnessed some cringe-worthy scenarios with my daughters and I really want to jump in and take control of the situation. Inside I become very Mamabear protective and internally yell at the other adult “You’re a grownup! What are you doing?! She’s 4 years old, stop trying to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do.”
It’s a cliché for a reason; Jewish guilt is a real thing. I just happen to use other methods (like Positive Parenting) to get my kids to behave appropriately and listen to me. This doesn’t mean other adults will do the same thing though. I have to let go of control because I know I will not always be right next to my kids when these situations arise.
My first reaction is to intervene when a situation presents itself where I see my kid is clearly unsure of what to do. But what goal am I serving here?
What I do when I really want to take control of the situation, but I cannot:
Teach my kid how to respond on their own.
This is something I am constantly reminding myself because I am not doing the greatest good by fighting the battles for my kids. I told my daughter, ‘You can say “I need you to listen to me, I want to do ______.”’ Similarly, my daughter can say, “I don’t want to give a hug right now. I’ll give you a high five.”
As much as I may want to, I do not address the adult because I can influence my kid more than the grown-up (who probably will not change). So, I repeatedly tell my kid, “Tell them what you want to do.”
I know there will be many more experiences where I will so badly want to step in and take care of the situation for my child, but I know I am serving my kids better by giving them the skills, ability, and resolve to respond to the situation on their own. Letting go of control is a hard lesson for me to learn, but worth it.