A Good Mom and a Challenge for Dads.

I was in Walmart looking for the game, Mousetrap (A great game to help kids learn social rules like taking turns, working together, etc.).

I overheard and began watching a mother with her two sons…ages approximately 8 and 5.  I came to understand the boys had earned some money by doing extra work around the house and were in the process of spending it.  The mother was wonderful in facilitating this process.

She insisted they both had to agree what to buy.  They could divide their money but equally, buying two items or spend it together and buy one big item. She kept encouraging the younger (apparently a quiet child) to speak up, give his opinion even if it disagreed with the preferences of the older (a more verbal) boy. She gave them a specific time limit to look and decide (She was waiting for a third child to return from another part of the store.). She pointed out a variety of other items related to their interests (They seemed stuck in one section of an isle.) but assured them they could pick what they wanted.  She suggested they think about how they could play with different items once they had made some preliminary choices. She left them alone but stayed within ear-shot and watched as they worked to decide/select/discuss, stepping in only when one tried to demand their way. She helped the older boy once when he got upset struggling with the concept of sales tax.  She offered to give the boys a few extra dollars provided they work around the house that afternoon to work off her contribution (She made them agree, “Ok, we have an agreement then that if I contribute $10.00, you will work it off this afternoon?). She took time to do this…a good 10 minutes.  She stayed focused…the mother was always watching; at times she was in the mix with the boys; at other times, she steped away and let them struggle with making their own decisions.

I didn’t find Mousetrap (If any of you know where I could find it, I’d appreciate you letting me know.) but bought Chutes and Ladders and Operation.  As I passed her, I told her she was a very good mom. And she was/is!

She was firm…kept the boys focused on their problem…insisted they work together, agree to contingencies if they had to borrow from her, insisted on fairness, encouraged each to speak their opinions, provided some assistance (sales tax), focused them on the present and future (Can you play with this with your friends?, Will you want to play with this in a few weeks?, etc.

Boys need these circumstances created for them to help them develop basic social skills. This was tough for the boys, especially the older one.  He really struggled with trying to be fair and controlling a natural tendency to force the younger to go along with his wishes.

She did GOOD!

Here’s the challenge for Dads….do you do this with your sons? I challenge you to do this with your sons.

Why should I if my wife is?  First, parenting is a shared responsibility. Second, it helps the boys to see their father in a new/different light (We men tend to make decisions for others instead of setting up circumstances for others to make decisions, especially our own family/sons.). Third, it helps the sons see, possibly, where their father learned his skills. Fourth, it allows the boys to see their father be empathetic, firm, encouraging, concerned about the lives of their sons, and all at the same time.


More later….