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Two of our sons have already given (to parent) and received (from Mom) feedback about what each does well and should continue doing, and about one behavior to consider changing. (Catch the beginning of the discussion here).
Business Continues As Usual
We’re at the dinner table, getting close to dessert time, and it’s the turn of youngest of four sons. The meal keeps on flowing throughout the exchange.
Mom: “Darling, what would you like to tell me about what I do well and what I should think about changing?”
Son (12 years old): “Well, like, you know…”
Brothers: “No we don’t. Be specific.” It’s said with both a touch of impatience and sense of humor.
The Run Down
Son: “Well, like, you’re more flexible…”
Mom: “Flexible seems to be a key theme tonight…or last year! What do you mean, exactly?”
Son, after some more humming and hawing and searching for words and being teased by his siblings:“It’s like you can laugh more at yourself. “
Mom: “Thank you. And what about something where you want to see me change?”
Son: “Well, like, you know…”
Brothers: “No. We don’t. Move on.”
Mom: “I’ll give you some feedback about what you do really well. I’m so impressed by your insights into people. Sometimes you’ll come home from school and describe a situation and comment about how that reveals the person’s character. Wow. You are making connections between what people think and how they behave. It’s impressive.”
Son: Shy smile.
Mom, quickly so that the older ones don’t break the positive momentum with a questionable comment: “What you can do to change is to think before you speak.”
Guffaws in agreement from the boys.
“Sometimes you call my name, I answer, and you reply, ‘Nothing.’ It doesn’t happen just once…and we’ve already talked about it and you’re better not doing this as often. Yet now, you regularly react to your brothers by insulting them slightly. Not surprisingly, they respond. Then you reply, ‘Just joking.’”
Boys: “Yeah, you do it all the time… It sounds stupid. Either mean what you say or don’t. Dig, dude?”
Mom, talking right at Son 4 without paying attention to the siblings: “You don’t have to defend yourself, darling. If you think before you speak, you’ll avoid many slippery slopes.”
Dessert time = Hungry for closing time. Read here for our final exchange on the 2013 Family Annual Review.
My youngest son and I had not finished this conversation. So, the next afternoon, when the older boys were not around, I approached him again.
Mom: “I did not quite understand your feedback yesterday. Could you please tell me again what I do well and what I should think about changing?”
Son: “Mom, you are more flexible now. Before you used to be too intense. Now you can laugh at yourself.”
Mom: “Can you give me an example?”
Son: “Remember when (and he recalled a time when a friend of his described me as the ‘old lady’) Well, I remember not being embarrassed because you did not lecture him. (Was I THAT bad?!) Instead you laughed.”
Mom: “Thanks, darling. Now, what should I think about changing?”
Son 4: “Don’t be such a fashion victim.”
Mom: “ME!” (Are you kidding? My humble self thinks, “I make fashion; I don’t follow it.”) “Please, give me an example.”
Son: “Your nails. Stop wearing blue and green nail polish. (This past spring and summer, I adorned my fingertips in turquoise and spring green. In early fall, I opted for navy on my hands and a deep green metallic hue on the toes.)
“It’s just not you, Mom.” (When the kids were small, manicures were UNIMAGINABLE. I barely got to shave one leg at a time. So, this nail craze is new.)
Mom: “Thanks for letting me know. I see what you mean. I’ll think about it.”
I probably will give it up…and present him with my orange fingertips telling him how I hesitated on the purple and pink stripes but followed his advice instead.
Little bother for me. ‘Lotta meaning for him.
In this series: Family Annual Review Peek-a-boo
Enjoy the whole shebang!
- To Mom, be clear. To child, be humble.
- To Mom, be flexible. To child, go step by step.
- To Mom, stop being a fashion victim. To child, think before you speak.
- To Mom, be generous. To child, learn through a job.