Friday, October 21, 2016


My older daughter's latest thing is accusing me of not being genuine.  Like, she got angry at me because she showed me her drawing and she felt that my "oooh" sounded phony.  Well, it was kind of phony.  But what the hell was I supposed to do?  It was a drawing of a cat.

Mel: "You know what? My teacher was telling us about how if the whole class does really well on the spelling test, we're going to get to have a party next week."

Me: "Great."

Mel: "You weren't listening to me!"

Me: "Yes, I was!"

Mel: "Then what did I say?"

Me: "You said your teacher was telling you about how if the whole class does well on the spelling test, you're going to get to have a party next week."

Mel: "NO."

Me: "Uh, yes."

Mel: "I said if we do really well on the spelling test."

Me: "Ugh!  I was obviously listening."

Mel: "No, you weren't.  You were just repeating back what I said."

Aaaaaand that was the end of that argument.


  1. Well she's trying to tell you something but maybe not in a way that's clear to you.

    When she showed you her drawing do you think she wanted some connection, attention or warmth? If you're not sure, you could ask.

    And if what she needs isn't doable at the moment, I think it's fair for her to expect to hear from you when you'll set aside time for her.

    Sometimes we're not feeling lovey dovey,but it's still important to show we care and our children are not inappropriate or inadequate for having those feelings or needs.

  2. Worth a read:

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  4. There's a difference between hearing and memorizing what a person says and actively listening, demonstrating interest and showing it appropriately.

    It seems like you didn't do that on the second interaction with her.

  5. At my daughter's cooperative preschool we learned to say things like: "I can see you used a lot of purple in your drawing." "I see a cat and two dogs here, what are they doing?" and the ever flexible, "I can see you worked very hard on that." These comments are more likely to encourage a discussion and show that you are really seeing the work. And once you learn them you'll find yourself using them everywhere. The school encouraged us to not just say, "that's pretty," or "I like it," but I found that my daughter appreciated that sort of feedback as well.

    I second the recommendation of "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk." It's a great book and short. Part of what was going on is it appears your daughter is at that exacting, literal stage of development where nothing but the exact thing will do. It's frustrating but it will pass. But she might have been pointing out that while you heard what she said, she didn't feel like you were listening to her. You may have been listening to her while doing something else and she wanted your full attention. If you can't give it at that moment you can tell her that and say when you can give her your full attention. And you could also say, "I can see you are feeling frustrated with me, why is that?" And then you can share what's making you feel frustrated with the situation.

  6. I really was listening to her, but she was right that my comment wasn't genuine. It's hard to fake enthusiasm for something when your kid is old enough to notice that you're faking it. I mean, how many of us have expressed fake delight at a random scribble?

    1. That's the point. Don't fake it if you don't have the interest or the enthusiasm. Faking it is an insult and demeaning.

      Instead show her you care about her by letting her know you can't do it right now but you'll give her some time after you take care of whatever your need is. Maybe you just need a rest or some food or some self pampering.

      It's also helpful for her to see you taking care of yourself rather than playing the martyr and giving her the half hearted replies.

      When you're feeling up to it, it would also be helpful to discuss ways for her to meet her own needs when other people aren't available. It's never to early to start practicing self acknowledgement and self soothing. If this isn't one of your strong points, it's never too late to learn and/or at least find someone to help her do it if you're not ready.

  7. I'm sure you were doing your best in the setting of things competing for your attention. I feel like I had this conversation with my mother several times while growing up...and I turned out just fine ;)

  8. Lol to this. I had this conversation with my parents too, except they weren't even able to repeat back what I said. I turned out ok I guess, perhaps a little more sensitive to being ignored than I might otherwise have been.

  9. Sounds like a conversation between my hubby and I, LOL.