In some way, shape or form, I’ve been a mediator my entire life: as a child, between playmates fighting over crayons; while co-captain of my high school volleyball team, between my teammates and our coaches; in college as the vice president of my sorority, between my fellow sisters and our executive board; and in my career as a PR professional, between my company and the media. Since I often came out on the winning side of things, I thought I was a pretty successful negotiator.
Since the moment they learned how to speak, my two kidlets have tried to bargain everything with me and The Hubs, from what kind of snack they can eat to when bath time is and from how many books they’re read before bedtime to how many “SpongeBob Squarepants” cartoons they can watch.
I’ve had to totally up my skills as a negotiator. I’ve even gone as far as to read several books on the subject. Every single one I read talked about strategies and tactics for getting to “yes” without ever giving in or making any type of concession. This often resulted in ridiculous ultimatums, raised voices and often someone running away in tears (mostly me for having been told I was such a “mean mommy”).
The best negotiating skill I’ve ever learned wasn’t something that came from one of those books. It is one thing, so simple too….COMPROMISE.
By definition compromise means an agreement/settlement of a dispute or differences in which two or more sides mutually agree to accept less than originally wanted to create peace/harmony. It’s a gentle and subtle art. As parents, I think compromise is one of the most fundamental lessons we can teach our children is how to compromise – about how to both give and take.
If my five year old son has a stellar week at school – all homework completed, sight words all practiced and a good behavior report (he’s a got a serious case of ants in the pants) from his teacher – he can stay up late on a Friday night and watch a Godzilla, Gamera, Ghidorah or other crazy monster film. Result: This has my son working hard and doing his best in school and no notes home from the teacher for mom!
As long as my kids at least take one bite of everything I’ve put in front of them, they don’t have to lick their dinner plate clean. This isn’t an issue so much for my three year old daughter. She’s got a healthy appetite and she’s always willing to try something new. My son though is a very picky eater. Telling them that they only have to try one bite of something and if they really don’t like it, they don’t have to finish the rest. Most times they realize that they like it (they liked cod and grilled pork last week) and eat their dinner all up. There haven’t been too many heave-hos – but spinach, mushrooms and roasted potatoes haven’t made the cut. Result: I spend less time in the kitchen since I don’t have to make separate meals for the kidlets and for me and The Hubs. My kids are eating healthier and there is less waste of food.
I allow my kidlets to play games on our iPads as long as they share and take care of our gadgets. Result: My kidlets play nicely and even take turns playing the game. They also play independently of The Hubs & I so we can get some peace and quiet, have time for a quality adult conversation or actually do something for ourselves (or more likely finish a household chore!).
When I go grocery shopping on a Sunday morning, one of my kidlets has to come with me. The one who does gets to pick out the first TV show we watch that morning after breakfast. Result: The kidlets take turns doing something that helps mom out, though it usually depends on what we have on the DVR or what’s on TV at that time that determines who goes with me.
I know there will be critics out there, but I don’t look at compromise as lowering my standards. To me compromise is a way for everyone to get along with one another. It’s a way that I can show my kidlets that I understand and appreciate their ideas and feelings, but that they also have to take mine into consideration. Compromise is the way I keep my kidlets being happy and pleasant without making me & The Hubs utterly miserable.
Now it’s your turn to share. When was the last time you compromised?
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