We often know what is best for our child. We know that if they just do this one thing that we’ve suggested not only will our lives be easier, but their lives will be easier. We have experience after all, years and years of experience that have taught us things like… showering as soon as we’re done swimming makes us feel better and keeps our skin from becoming itchy angry messes. That going to the bathroom before leaving the house is the best way to get to soccer practice on time and without an emergency. We know that following these suggestions will make everyone happier and less stressed. We explain our reasoning and we approach it in the least dictatorial way possible. So why or why “won’t you do what you are told?!”
You guys. I know that if I get up with my alarm instead of snoozing it we will get out of the house in a more peaceful, less tense manner. I know if I spend 10 minutes a night picking up and putting away I will feel better in the morning. I know that if I prep five salads for the week on Sunday I will eat healthier, feel better, and save money. I know these things. I have experience with these things. But I still have a tendency to hit snooze, to read a book instead of clean the house, and to skip the grocery store and spend the week eating PB&Js instead of salad. Y’all, why or why, “won’t I do what I am told?!”
In a post written by Dr. Venters, “It is noted that the most compliant child [like I was] will only follow directions 75% of the time. And an aggressive researcher [like my child is] will rarely follow directions without researching other options first.” When I stop and remember my own experiences following directions– most often my own these days, which you would think would be easier to follow than someone else’s, it gives me more perspective on my child. It doesn’t make me feel better about the fact that his skin is shriveling and flaking off as I watch him sit in still damp swim trunks on our recently(ish) cleaned sofa – with the smell of chlorine permeating through the house. But it does make me more sympathetic, less likely to enter a power struggle, and more likely to explain the consequences once and let him experience those natural consequences for himself – as I add intensive healing lotion to the store list.
One last thing I want to add about this, is as a usually compliant child I find myself often worrying about how my aggressive researcher child will do in the “real” world, as a grown up. How is he ever going to hold a job? Adulting is hard enough but is he going to consistently make his life even harder than it has to be?! I voiced these concerns to a few of my co-workers recently and was SHOCKED when a few of them fessed up to being a child just like my son. Tales of their parents being at the school every week for some behavior or another, detentions and groundings. And ya know, if my child turns out to be as successful and happy as them – well then that’ll be just fine.