Do ask, don’t tell

I was impressed with Charlotte’s progress at karate today and I felt the urge to tell her how well I thought she was doing, but instead I said, “Charlotte I noticed you’ve learned a lot of different karate moves in just one month…what’s that one called where you bend your knees?” She groaned, “Mom, you always forget!” I laughed, “I know!” (She told me but I forget again.) “So what does it feel like when you’re doing all those punches and kicks?” I asked. “It feels good. … I feel strong….Mom, do you know why I wanted to do karate?” “Why?” “Because I felt crazy about it … I wanted to try it. … That’s what I’m going to do when I grow up — karate, singing, and an artist.” “So, three things. Your favorite things?” “Yeah… at 5am I’ll do karate fights … er well, I don’t know when I’ll do that … then, um, at night I’ll have a concert, and … in the morning time I’ll go to my art room.” “I see, so you’ll do karate early in the morning….” “No, mom, art room in the morning! I’ll do karate in the middle of the day….or maybe I’ll do them on different days…..hmm….”

I got all that great information and got her thinking about what she wants just by avoiding that age-old conversation stopper: “Good job! You did really well, I’m so proud of you!” Instead, I got to know what she’s feeling and thinking. I got to know more about who my daughter is right now, today, and what makes her tick.

Later, Jerry was playing basketball with Charlotte in the driveway and I was nearby with Ellen. A couple of times he said, “Good shot!” and then he winced and looked at me. “Honey, this will take time,” I said, “It can’t happen overnight.” A few minutes later I heard him say to her, “That one went in! How did it feel? Did it feel different when it left your hands?” What a great question, I thought.

I had another chance to practice my new skills after bedtime tonight. Fenner came down after we had said goodnight and said nervously, “Mom, I have something to ask you.” “Yes?” “Do you get mad about bad grades?” I thought for a moment and then said, “No.” “Ok, well, um, I got an 85% on my math test … so that’s a B.” I thought, a B? That’s not a bad grade! But I kept that opinion to myself and said,  “Oh! Tell me about the B.” “It was hard. I didn’t study.” “Ok, so what might you do differently next time?” “Study.” “Uh-huh…Hey, once, in college, I got a D because I didn’t study.” “Did Nana get mad?” “No. It wasn’t her D, it was my D.” “A lot of parents get mad about that stuff.” “Well, I’m me, I’m not them. … And, Fenner?” “Yeah?” I reached out and held both her hands. “I don’t care if you get a D or an F. I love you no matter what.” “Ok!” she said with a big smile, “Goodnight!” and trotted back up to her bed.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 7: The Art of Encouragement

2 Comments on “Do ask, don’t tell”

  1. Vicki Says:

    YOU ROCK!!!!!


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