Quick Tip

Just Say, “Poor Baby”

Sometimes, we parents talk too much. We want to teach our kids, or we want them to listen to us – whatever the reason, we go on and on and begin to sound to them like Charlie Brown's teacher. Not only that, but when they're dealing with life, and we're trying to turn it into yet another life lesson, another learning opportunity, we rob them of the opportunity to experience the event itself, to be in the emotion of it.

My oldest kid figured this dynamic out, and taught me a valuable lesson about it. Being the self-advocator that years of special needs schooling taught her to be, during her junior year of high school she started looking at me and saying, “poor baby.” That was short for, “Mom, don't lecture me right now, please, I just need you to say poor baby and rub my back.” She was not saying it snidely, or even sarcastically. She was just communicating clearly what she needed – for me to just be supportive and not try to teach her anything.

With some effort, I learned to follow her lead. It wasn't easy, frankly – I hate missed learning opportunities, and I only had a few months left with her at home when this started. But if she's saturated and unable to hear what I'm saying, it doesn't matter how good my “life lessons” may be! Ah, well, I guess I might have to send this tip to my Mom. That way maybe I can get a “poor baby” or two, as well!

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