The morning started like any other. My youngest son began charging his iPod at the breakfast table but couldn’t establish a connection. Fiddling with the cord for 10 long minutes didn’t help.
Moments later my next older son had the exact same problem with his iPod – using a different cord. Their mounting frustration was readily apparent.
“Our iPods are broken,” said one of my sons with panic in his voice. “You need to buy us new ones?”
Both were about to blow – and say things they would regret later.
The reason for their angst was obvious. The iPods are their lifeline, since they’ve installed apps for texting. When hooked to wifi – in my home or elsewhere, the devices serve as their smart phones without the monthly cost. That’s something neither can afford – and something I’ve been unwilling to pay.
Knowing that both iPods are less than six months old, I surmised the problem had to be the cord – not the device. Shoving the cord repeatedly into their pocket has consequences, as I’ve tried to tell them.
Knowing, too, that my sons spent their own money, I understood their investment. To them, it’s huge – likely the most valuable thing in their possession.
At that moment a number of responses were available to me. But I had to act quickly for effectiveness. Which made the most sense?
- Ignore the situation and let them vent.
- Listen carefully and wait for an opportunity to start a constructive dialogue.
- Tell them the problem is theirs, not mine.
- Order new iPods through Amazon Prime for delivery the following day.
I chose number two. Here’s my reasoning.
In the case of my sons, the ignore-venting route typically leads to passive aggressiveness behavior – with them convinced I’m the bad guy. Although I’m thick-skinned, the fall-out can last for days, which is something I’ve learned to avoid for everyone’s sanity.
And it leads to their poor response becoming habitual.
As far as ownership, I embrace the concept whenever possible – but only if the problem is one they can fix themselves – without getting lost or making it bigger.
That approach can further erode limited self-confidence, if not handled carefully.
Ordering new iPods could instantly solve the dilemma. However, it would set a strong precedent for my sons to push – possibly demand – during the next personal crisis.
In other words, problems can’t always disappear at someone else’s expense.
That leaves one choice – active listening. By engaging them in a meaningful conversation, I then used their words to my advantage.
“I know you both need your iPods to work. Here’s what I am willing to do. Let me buy a new cord when returning from the grocery store later today. I will buy ONE that the TWO of you can share.”
In turn, my sons felt instantly validated – which enabled them to maintain self-control for the next four hours.
A HUGE win!
And when the new cord magically solved the charging issue for both iPods, I maintained – even increased – my credibility. I also built further trust – which was far more valuable than the price of the new cord.
Long story short – connections matter for portable devices. More importantly, connections matter for sustaining positive parent-child relationships.
Without them, families can’t survive.
With them, families thrive.
Since the relationship won’t necessarily happen on its own,
What are you doing to connect with your children today? DCP
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/EACH-Child-is-Special-Working-Smarter-Not-Harder-to-Raise-Every-ONE/132153890292369
To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adopting-Faith-A-Fathers-Unconditional-Love/297933993580946
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