How you say it is everything
Remember when you went into labor (or if you adopted kids, remember the stories your mother and friends have told you)? Usually there’s quite a bit of emotion, physical pain, anxiety, and apprehension.
What if your husband or partner joined you during labor and said the following in a “take charge” (perhaps even coercive or condescending voice)?
“Sweetheart, I know this is scary and hard, but you have got to get a grip! Millions of women for thousands of years have given birth to babies. You’re no different. Now you get in there and have that baby. I don’t want to hear another word of complaint from you. I’ve got things to do and when I come back, I expect that baby to be here. Now get going.”
How would you feel? Would you be planning a call to the lawyer? Considering ways to short sheet the bed?
What if, instead, you heard these words, delivered in a sympathetic voice?
“Sweetheart, I know this is scary and hard. I see you are in pain. Millions of women for thousands of years have given birth to babies. They have all felt like you do right now. The baby will come. All you have to do is trust the process. I’ll be here, right by your side, holding your hand when it gets tough, distracting you when it helps. And I promise, at the end of this arduous process, there will be a baby so precious to us we’ll both declare that it was all worth it. No matter what, I’m here to support you.”
Which one do you want at your bedside? Husband A or Husband B?
Which type of parent do you think your children want when they embark on a writing project?
“Kids everywhere have to write and they all complain about it. That’s no excuse. I have things to do. Now you get in there and write three sentences. They had better be written by the time I get back! I don’t care that you hate writing. You just have to do it.”
“Kids everywhere have struggled to put pen to paper while thinking of things to write. You are just like them. It’s okay. I’ll be here with you, holding your hand, helping you think about what to say, how to say it, and reminding you of what you want to write so that you can get your wonderful thoughts out onto the page. We’ll do as much as we can today and take it up again tomorrow. I’m here to help. At the end, the writing product will be so worth it. You’ll see.”
Remember: don’t minimize pain or misinterpret it as laziness. Usually, the dawdling and whinging (love that word) is more about a lack of support in the process. Remind your child that the pain they feel is legitimate and natural, and that there are ways through the jungle to the other side. You are their companion for the journey, have tips and tricks to help, and that you don’t mind at all.
That’s a great place to start.
Image by wolfgangfoto