Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I promised my 9-year-old I wouldn’t pepper her with questions about school. She was totally relieved, and hates being questioned.
I confess, I hoped she would volunteer more if I didn’t ask, but nope. She’s not saying much, but generally seems OK.
Because she’s had problems with being bullied in the past, and is generally super awkward socially, it is so hard to bite my tongue. After a few days of keeping my promise I said, “Aren’t you going to tell me anything of your own free will?” Her answer, “If I do, won’t you just start asking me questions about whatever I say?” Good point.
Part of me thinks 9 is too young for me to step back, part of me worries about her skills, but part of me also thinks insisting on answers isn’t really a good idea, because it’s not like more information will give me a route to help her out anyway. I’m guessing you’ll say butt out, but when your kid is super awkward and tends to irritate people, what can you do to help?
Dear Buttinsky: I might have said to butt out, but your anticipating that sent me down a different road — one your daughter waved you toward herself.
“If I do, won’t you just start asking me questions about whatever I say?” You said it was a good point, which it no doubt was, but it was also a crystal-clear set of instructions for how to help your daughter.
You can respond: “Good point. I’m learning from you, though, and I understand you’re not comfortable with my way of doing things. What if I let you just tell me things of your own free will, and I promise not to ask you follow-up questions?”
It’s not only a way for you to get some peek at her life at school, but also a way for her to practice, on you, a relationship where you both make adjustments out of respect for each other’s natures.
Here’s some unsolicited bonus advice, with apologies: I hope you’ve also looked into some more formal social-skills interventions for your daughter: therapy, a social-skills group, etc. The more educators understand about the challenges of being “super awkward,” the better the interventions get. Ask the counselor at school.
Dear Carolyn: I was deeply hurt by my brother. I told him, he took responsibility and apologized. Sounds simple. But where do I put the hurt? How do I let go and move on? Why does it feel so scary to let go?
Dear Forgiveness: What about the apology fell short, or what did it leave unaddressed?
That’s usually why the hurt outlasts the apology.
Re: Forgiveness: Sometimes what has to be let go is the fear of the future. In this instance, it might just be a matter of trusting that it will never happen again.
Dear Anonymous: Well said, thank you.
Since you can’t necessarily trust anyone else to do something for you, it can also help to trust yourself — to handle if it does happen again. Forgiveness helps: Through a decision to renounce anger, and to stop waiting to be made whole, you take your power back.
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