Monday, January 07, 2008

A Sweet Moment

One night last week, Pamela told us she was going to bed. Yes, I failed my personal parent RDI objective to prevent Pamela from bolting without closure. I was exhausted from entertaining company over the holidays, and my feet stayed glued to the floor. Yes, I am human.

As she left the room, Steve requested a goodnight kiss, which she ignored. We were too exhausted to trail her like RDI Superparents and allow face-to-face interaction. So, Steve got demanding, "Pamela, you get in here and give me a kiss."

She still ignored him. Then, he fell into his behavioral, forced compliance mode, "Pamela, come here right now. That's one. . . That's two!"

Now, I have been reading a wonderful book lately called Desiring God. This interaction reminded me of an analogy used in the book about duty and love. Will Steve feel loved if the only reason why I tidy up the house is because he will get upset? Will David be inspired when we discuss a book because it is my duty as a teacher? Will I feel joy because the only reason why Steve watches a movie with me is because he has nothing better to do?

Dwelling on that analogy, I asked Steve what a kiss would mean from someone coerced to do it. I asked him to let me handle it in a relational way with the caveat that Pamela could choose not to come back. He agreed.

Now, I should have gotten my carcass off the couch and talked to Pamela faced to face. I was just too tired. I called out, "Pamela, Daddy looks so sad. All he wants is a goodnight kiss. He is broken-hearted."

Then, we waited.

And, we waited.

We waited for about a minute when she burst into the room with a happy look on her face, and she kissed him goodnight. And, that kiss was sweeter than honey.


poohder said...

Tammy, this example is exactly like God. My dd asks why God doesn't just
spare everyone. I always tell her that we have to CHOOSE to love God because if He MADE us love Him then we would just be His puppets.
BTW, sweet story about Pamela. Speaking declaratively and then WAITING also gave her the processing time SHE needed to make the choice on her own without prompts. Very cool!! Rhonda

Mary said...

Dear Tammy,
What a great RDI moment. I am going to try it when I want the trash taken out to the outside trash bins. I can try. I can try to figure out ways to be relational.

Anonymous said...

What a great ending-I just want to know what you would have done if she didn't come back and continued to ignore you-I'm currently doing rdi with my 5yo son and you brought up a great point-you want your child to be motivated to interact w/you-it loses something if you have to coerce it out of them-thankyou, i enjoy your site

it loses something

The Glasers said...

I would probably encourage Steve to get off the couch and follow her. He could close the zone of connection by going to her room and then sit by the side of her bed. He could smile expectantly and wait for her to take the next move. At that point, I have no doubt she would have given him a good night kiss.