Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 23: #SOL16- Control vs Influence


The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by the inspirational writers of Two Writing Teachers. Each March, they invite people to join them in a commitment to write every day. Here's to another year of daily slicing!


Last night was not my finest hour of parenting. I have one daughter who especially knows, finds, and pushes my buttons as a mother and as a person. I work hard to balance what I control and what I influence with her. I try to stay within the realm of influence, but sometimes it's hard. Last night she was pushing, and in the land of controlling and influencing, I ventured far into control territory. 

It was after nine when we got home from her concert. In between a meeting, tennis practice, and a workout session, she dashed in, took a shower, raided my closet for a white shirt, grabbed a plate of food, and headed to the high school. From downstairs, I heard her yell at my younger daughter to help her with her hair.

I could go on, but I'll summarize: It got ugly when she got home because I brought up her lack of kindness with her family. "You're crazy," she said. "I have homework, and you always do this. You never focus on anything I do right." It went on. I went from calm to mad, but a quieter mad than usual. However, a mad that walked out of her room with her cell phone and her computer.

"Fine Mom," she called. "I just won't do my homework."

She did do her homework on the family computer, and I did try to go back and fix things, but she wouldn't do any sort of reflection. I'll never force my girls to apologize, but I do expect them to be able to process a situation. Not happening. At least not last night. Her cell phone still sits beside me as I write this post.

Recently, I had a conversation with one of our principals about leadership and the balance of control and influence. I don't think there's a balance, actually. It's all about influence, or it's not leading. But sometimes, when we are stressed, when we are unsure of ourselves, when the task on hand is hard, we revert to practices we might not like, the ones that are more about control than about influence--like taking a daughter's phone or telling a colleague to just do something, or taking away recess or free time. These practices might work at that moment in time, but in the long run, probably not so much.

So what to do about this phone? It's 6:25 am. I have about a half hour to figure that out...

Happy slicing,


13 comments:

  1. Raising moody daughters isn't easy. I've been exactly where you are, and yet, I believe there are times when control is the only answer. At least until some reflection can happen. When they are grown ups, however, and treat you or their family with disrespect, you can't take the phone away. You have no control. This is usually not a problem, but my oldest daughter lives with us part time. This week she has cooked two nights in a row. That tells me that she has reflected and realizes she was wrong. She speaks with her actions, not her words. It took me a long time to learn this about her.

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  2. I do not envy you. I know I was hard to deal with as a teenager, so I can imagine what you are going through. Try to talk it out with her. Hopefully she'll be more reflective today.

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  3. A day without a phone won't kill her. I'd keep it until she can have a civil conversation with you. Yes, the teenage years are fraught with this nonsense, but she needs to learn to treat her family kindly. She won't learn otherwise.

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  4. Parenting a headstrong teen daughter comes with many such moments. One of our daughters spent more time without her car/phone/screen time than with them. I wonder what that says about my control, especially since we took away things so often yet the behaviors did not subside...
    Much to contemplate here. Thanks for your honest post. And good luck with your situation!

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  5. She will benefit from your strength especially through these tough moments..even though she can't see it now.

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  6. She will benefit from your strength especially through these tough moments..even though she can't see it now.

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  7. It is hard and I didn't have the cell phone to deal with in my daughter's teen years. Trying to talk felt right to me as I remember, & you did, & I bet you'll try again, just as we do with students too. They want to be so grown up, but don't always remember all the "other" parts of being one, like being kind. Best wishes, Melanie.

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  8. Real relationships blow up, yell, cry, laugh and forgive. She knows you love her and you are not going anywhere. I believe that is why they push back - they know they can. Home is where it is safe to be our "worst selves." I do want to know what you did with the cell phone -- I will file it away for future blow ups with my sons! Hang in there.
    Clare

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  9. Being a parent is the most challenging thing. And . . . I think we make a lot of mistakes but . . . we get more right in the end. There is lots of time to talk, make peace ant continue to try and figure it out. I appreciate your honesty here.

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  10. Sigh. I've been here more often than I care to admit, and looking back I wish I had been more forgiving in those heated times...very often, in those high school years, there were underlying issues that I was unaware of at the time, pressures and friend issues that I just did not know about. Our kids often are at their worst in the places they feel safest - home. I wish I had understood that better then.

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  11. Sigh. I've been here more often than I care to admit, and looking back I wish I had been more forgiving in those heated times...very often, in those high school years, there were underlying issues that I was unaware of at the time, pressures and friend issues that I just did not know about. Our kids often are at their worst in the places they feel safest - home. I wish I had understood that better then.

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  12. Oh my. These words ring in my ears. So familiar. Your ideas about influence versus control are so true. It makes me think of Elisabeth's Ellingtion's post on Root Beer floats. Did you see it? https://thedirigibleplum.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/root-beer-floats-slice-of-life-2031-sol16/

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