Some days, parenting feels a little more like refereeing. In this corner, we have tearful Tess. She claims her doll has been stolen. In the other corner, we have the accused, looking innocent as the day she was born. Who's the most likely contender to take home the prize? If I've done my job, it's anyone's fight. That's because I believe in judging kids' battles as fairly as possible, or not at all. Can it be done? Of course. They don't call me Grandma for nothing. I know what I'm doing. So, what's my secret?
Shh.... I don't have one.
Life isn't always fair; therefore, parents can't always be fair. Sometimes, you just have to let them battle it out. When kids first start quarreling, I stand back a bit. If things get out of control, I do a little more refereeing. Still, I try to let them work it out on their own. This sends the message that learning to get along is more important than who's right or wrong.
What if I have to pick a side?
In the case of arguments where my help is clearly needed, each child is given an equal opportunity to present their case before I make a decision. Not only that, the other person has to remain silent during their speech, and so do I. You see, even if I know exactly who the guilty party is, I try my best to stay neutral. That's not just to be fair. It also keeps me from getting overly involved in the argument.
I stick to the facts.
I do my best to weigh the evidence presented without bias. I hold court. I write everything down. In other words, I take both kids seriously. Sometimes they find my courtroom approach so amusing, they forget what they were arguing about. On the other hand, if they insist on a verdict, my sense of fair play is right there in black and white. It can't be denied.
I don't let anyone off the hook.
When kids' arguments become so intense that I have to step in, they're both in trouble. That's pretty fair, isn't it? One may have wronged the other, but they're both disrupting the family peace. I make the punishment fit the crime. Why do I take this approach? It's not only fair; it keeps them from being so quick to quarrel next time.
I keep love in my heart for both kids.
When kids are doing their worst, I remember their best. While I listen to their pleas, I picture them as adorable babies or focus on a happy memory. I know they love each other. I know they'll be sorry later. I know they're both capable of doing better. I don't make presumptions based on bad experiences. I come from a positive place. Kids' battles can be judged fairly. You just have to hold onto the love.
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