Monday, March 12, 2012

Parenting Answer

So, I asked a question last week about Frances being teased at school and got some good feedback. I have been thinking about it a lot and came up with a solution that I am hoping will work.

Ken and I are doing a bible study at church and last week we discussed what Jesus meant when he said “turn the other cheek.”  We talked about that he didn’t mean to run away or to fight back, but to stand your ground and let the other person know that you find their behavior unacceptable.
Two stories we talked about in class were about modern people who were used to being treated poorly and unfairly.  First was Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The story goes that he was walking by a construction site and came to a narrow sidewalk made for one person at a time. A white man came to the other end of the sidewalk, also intending to cross. He looked at Archbishop Tutu and said, "I don't make way for gorillas." Archbishop Tutu moved out of the way and said, "Neither do I."
The other story is about Blessed Mother Teresa. There is a good retelling of it here.  Basically, while begging, Mother Teresa went to a bakery to beg for some bread for the orphans she helped.  The baker refused and spat in her face.  Mother Teresa calmly wiped her face and said, "That was for me. Now how about something for the orphans."
Neither of these actions could be seen as running away. These people did not ignore the injustice done to them.  Neither did they fight against or attack the offenders.
We also had an issue last week at home. Frances and Henry were both supposed to be putting away laundry in their room.  Henry was singing loudly (some nonsense song) and Frances was whining at him to stop.  Finally she came out to tell me about it.  I asked her what Henry's job is. "To annoy me. <sigh; eyeroll>"  Yes, Frances. And is he doing a good job?  "Yes <sigh>"  (Can you tell we've had this conversation multiple times??)  I encouraged her to stop whining and sing along with Henry. She looked at me like I was crazy.  I reminded her that if his job is to annoy, and he tried but it doesn't work, then he will stop.  Sure enough she went in to her room and when he started singing, she joined right in.  It didn't exactly make him stop singing, but it did lead to lots of giggling and laughing as they make up some unintelliglble song together.
These are the stories I was thinking of as I was trying to solve Frances' teasing problem.  Here is the solution I came up with:
When kids start singing the “k-i-s-s-i-n-g” song to her and to *R*, she is going to sing along with them and laugh. When the song is finished, she is supposed to laugh and say, “That’s fun! Let’s do you next. Who do you want to marry?” The other issue is when they come and tell her that she loves *R*. I told her to respond with a smile and say, “Yes, and Jesus tells me to love you too.”  We discussed the importance of doing both of these things in a lighthearted way and to not be mean about either one. We talked about it a lot this weekend and she seems really on board. She thinks it is funny and she also thinks it will work. She is supposed to tell *R* the plan when they see each other on Monday.  I am guessing it will either take the fun out of it for the kids so they will stop, or it will change Frances’ attitude about the teasing so that it doesn’t bother her anymore.  I will keep you posted.

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