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Thursday, April 18, 2013

You're right and I'm wrong - Respecting children

Keeping in the theme of raising kids to be confident and secure, I want to talk about my kids' favorite sentence.   It is :

You're right, and I'm wrong.  

I've always thought it was the good and proper thing to say to a kid when it turned out that they were right, and I was wrong.  ... Because, well, it is the truth and they needed to be validated that they were in fact the correct and informed person in whatever conversation we were having.

I guess I am pretty dense, because I thought everyone said these things to their kids (though I can count on two fingers the times my parents said it).  But I had a girl visiting with me, the daughter of someone very visible and quite spiritual, and she nearly fainted when she heard those words come from my mouth.  This child, about 12 at the time, turned to me and said, "what did you say?"  I repeated myself and she looked at me in wide-eyed amazement.  "Parents don't have to say that," she said.  Wow, I thought.

I replied,  "well, if you and I are on opposite sides of a disagreement, and you're right, and I'm wrong, then I will say it to you too."

It's been several years, and I am still dumbfounded by that conversation.

So that line is still my kid's favorite, and as they got older, we have found new lines, such as:

  • Agreeing to disagree
  • Let's look at it from a different viewpoint
  • You might have a point there
  • I'm going to give this one to you and save my fight for another day. 

In the end, it is about allowing a kid to have his own mind and to validate his or her thoughts and feelings.  Failure to do so will SHOOT THEM DOWN,  as my husband is fond of saying.  And a child who is constantly shot down, will be an adult who doesn't know how to speak up for themselves.  Or even worse, they will bide their time until they have people they can shoot down, and the cycle will continue.


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