WAIT-ing helps us connect with our kids
It was later than I was planning to wake on a weeknight and yet there I was, in the kitchen arguing. Somehow I had gotten myself sucked in and was fully engaged with an unreasonable 14-year-old boy. Truth be told, I probably wasn’t about to win any awards for being very reasonable myself. I had offered to help him with his paper until 10:30. He started working on it at 10:20. Being a good mom, I stayed up, begrudgingly. It would have been better if I had kept my word and gone to bed.
I wish I had known about the acronym W.A.I.T.
WAIT means to ask me, “Why Am I Talking?”
Reasons I kept talking, even though my son wasn’t listening:
- I wanted to feel right.
- I felt out of control of the situation and I wanted to get things calmed down.
- I hadn’t kept my boundaries. I was tired and grumpy, and I wanted him to feel grateful for my late-night sacrifice.
- I wanted to teach. But he wasn’t in a learning headspace.
- Sometimes I talk because that’s how I think. But it’s no good to ask my tired, stressed, teenage boy to listen kindly while I process my thoughts and feelings through lots of spoken words.
- I wanted to feel seen as human. But it’s not our kids’ job to validate or pat us on the back for how hard we are working to be good parenting.
How We Can Connect with Our Kids
I had a lot of my own needs going on at that moment. It was not thrilling how I handled the evening. What if I could have been conscious about WHY I was talking? What if we all could recognize when our talking is to meet our own needs rather than our kids’?
With six kids, I’ve learned that there ARE times for me to express my needs and requests. 100%. But the WAIT acronym helps me be more clear about recognizing why I am talking. This helps me avoid confusion, like giving a lecture that I think is for my teen’s benefit but that causes him to disconnect from me and end up feeling distant.
I’d love to hear (I mean I’d love for you to email me!): what would change if you become more conscious of why you are talking?
With love and laughter (‘cause wow, do we ever need a sense of humor if we are living with young people!),