Do you struggle to put your shoes on before leaving the house every morning?
How about the wearing of pants? Do you find that challenging?
Is it tricky for you to remember to brush your teeth, or hair?
What about eating breakfast? If someone made you a piping hot piece of toast with your favourite topping on it and brought it to you exactly where you were, would you find it too difficult to eat it before it congealed into a freezing slab?
Simple tasks. Repeated daily. Not that tricky, right?
Except… in my house. For my two children to tick off these simple tasks, each day, is a challenge so great, an ask so unreasonable, a mission so impossible, that it cannot be achieved without one of the adults in the house constantly hovering, supervising, directing. And, let’s face it, shouting our freaking heads off.
This morning, mid-scream, I thought about Brene Brown. Yes, the Texan research professor who has possibly the most watched Ted Talk of all time (haven’t seen it? Where have you been? watch it, here), five best-selling books under her belt and a Netflix Special that’s all anyone’s talking about. I thought about her because I’d just listened to a podcast where she and Russell Brand shared parenting tips, among many other things. Brand has recently discovered fatherhood and domesticity, and he wanted to pump Brene for tips because: a) Her kids are 14 and 20, so, experience and b) She’s a guru, and you don’t get to sit down with one of those every day.
WATCH: Watch the trailer for Brené Brown Netflix Special: The Call To Courage..
Brene Brown told Brand that she and her husband were “Choice Parents”. I had to Google that, but when I did, I realised I’m one, too. Choice Parents aim for personal accountability in their kids. So, for example, to a stubborn toddler they might say:
“Joaquin, you have two choices right now. You can choose to put your trousers on, or you can choose to be shut in the cupboard with the lights off.”
When Joaquin, inevitably, does not put on his trousers, the Choice Parent shuts them in the cupboard. But as they do it, they say, with an appropriate degree of supportive disappointment in their voice, “This was your choice, Joaquin. I really hoped you would have made the other choice, Joaquin.”
Timely disclaimer: Neither the legendary Brene Brown or I endorse shutting kids in cupboards. It’s just a slightly disturbing metaphor for ‘Something the kid doesn’t want to happen’. Don’t @ me.