Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Parenting Strategy: Pretend They Belong to Someone Else!

We had a great afternoon with Dan's parents and his sister and her family. Much food was consumed, football was watched and it was mostly happy shrieks and thuds from the kids playing indoors and out (LOVE Oklahoma in the fall!). We got home about 7:30 and proceeded to veg away the evening. Before bed, a little tidying was in order, and it is Hannah's (age 17) week to keep the kitchen up so I reminded her to finish loading the dishwasher before turning in. When I went into the kitchen about 10 minutes later, there were many dirty dishes around the kitchen. I opened the door of the dishwasher and looked in to see that it was 2/3 full or so. This sort of thing happens with some regularity, and it is aggravating, to say the least.

The two older girls were in their room, but still very much awake. I went to inform Hannah that she had not fulfilled her duties. I've been known to "inform" rather unpleasantly. I mean, come ON. It's not as if the job is ambiguous, for cryin' out Pete. This time I decided to do it differently. I would treat her like she belonged to someone else. Like I would want someone to treat her.

"Oh, good. You're still awake. Come with me to the kitchen and let's get a few more of those dishes in the dishwasher." It almost didn't sound like me talking. Did I mention I can sometimes be unpleasant?

I encouraged her to rearrange the dishes and gave her some pointers. The same pointers I gave her when she got big enough to load the dishwasher. The same pointers I give her (unpleasantly) when she runs the half-empty dishwasher in the kitchen piled with dirty dishes. I instructed her to hand wash a couple of larger items, fill one side of the sink with hot, soapy water to soak some of the serving dishes from this afternoon, and wipe down the counter tops. I explained some of the whys and wherefores. Again. For the patrillionth time. I did not let one note of rancor into my voice, since I wouldn't do that with someone else's kid.

You know what? The kitchen is tidy. My daughter did the job and I don't feel like a giant, steaming pile of mean mom. You know what else? She is Someone Else's kid.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.


  1. oh, well done, momma...well done..

    good reminder for me everyday

  2. You've advanced farther than I, sister. I need to practice that myself.

  3. Great job and I needed to hear that. I usually yell and nag. I like that idea of treating her like someone else's kid. I really need to try that. Thank you for the idea.

  4. Good approach. One I may need to borrow. Thanks for the new strategy suggestion.



  5. Now how far can I take this? Can I look at them and say just wait until your mother hears about this? I'm thinking this could scar them for life. hee hee

    I need to record all your good advice and play it on a loop so I can remember to do it.

  6. Great advice! I have caught myself before speaking to my kids (not enough times, but it's happened...) and used this technique. Just not often enough...sigh...

    I also liked Joanna's comment! LOL