That's not respect, that's control

Jacey and I on a bike ride – me in front, Jacey riding behind me…

Jacey: Mom, I want to ride along side you on the sidewalk.

Me: I don’t think there is enough room….I don’t want us to hit each other….by the way, you were riding side by side with your friend in front of the house today – you were pretty close to hitting each other!

Jacey: There’s enough room!  We won’t hit each other!

Me: OK (while nodding my head).

Jacey:  There’s plenty of room, see (as she rides up next to me)….

Me: I do see, but I don’t feel comfortable with you there - I am going to ride behind you – go ahead in front of me.

Jacey: OK, but there is plenty of room – I can ride along side my friends if I really want to.

Me: Alright (while nodding my head).

1 minute later:

Jacey: Whoa, I just moved my wheel back and forth and there isn’t a lot of room on this sidewalk.

Mom: I agree.

Jacey: It’s like super tight on the sidewalk!

Mom: I agree - it definitely feels that way.

Jacey: I fit on this sidewalk, but if there were two it would be tight!   If I ride next to someone, I could totally hit them if I fall over.

Mom: That’s true.

Jacey: I know, right?  Now I’m going to beat you home…

This conversation necessitates breathing and watching.

Not watching Jacey, but watching myself.

Between each line I feel something (frustration, annoyance), but I have to create space between my feeling and my response.

It’s like being in slow motion, a true practice in being present, a moving meditation.

I want her to listen to me (I’m the parent, I’m right!). I want her to agree and do what I say. I want her to “respect” me and not “talk back”.

But that’s not respect, that’s control.

I can offer a suggestion, but I can’t force her to do it.  I can share my feelings, but I can’t force her to agree.  But if I can share with love and detach from how she receives and processes it, she will hear me.

And then I can let go of needing to be “right”.

If I want her to hear me, I need to hear her.  If I want her to listen to others, I need to role model real listening.

Not always easy.

But it’s always a choice.  And it’s not about her, what she says, or what she does.  It’s only about me - my response.

My response is what could take it one way (calm) or another (a blow up).

And making the choice is not easy.  It’s a practice.  Sometimes the space between the feeling and the response is just too small, and I respond in a way I don’t like.

But that’s why it’s a practice.

I can always begin again.  Let go of what just happened and breathe.

And then make a different choice next time.


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    If we could create some space b/w feeling and response, we'd all be better parents. it starts with awareness.

  • oh, well done. i'd have been all "yeah! that's what i just said! i said it first! i know more!" well, not really, but that's the feeling that would have come up, i just know it. my stuff of not feeling heard can creep up on me with my work with kids. the breath before a response feels so unnatural, but there's such a shift when it's practiced. the impulsive response isn't always a good one. that impulse is usually a reaction rather than i mindful response. what's the urgency, anyway. i dunno. all i know is that i really like to try to control people. but it's so tiring because i don't have that kind of power. thanks for the reminder.

  • I love this...
    "If I want her to hear me, I need to hear her. If I want her to listen to others, I need to role model real listening."

    Just wanted to say I happened across your podcast on stitcher and have been listening for a couple of weeks. We share many interests. I am an avid Yogi, parent and student of life. I bought your books a few weeks ago and am working through those too! Thanks so much for starting the conversation!

  • In reply to ellamental:

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for listening! Glad we are connected. :)

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