Obedience

I’m off work with flu today (with a direct instruction not to go in), and after spending the morning in bed I’ve just got up for a bit. I think I might go back to bed fairly soon, though.

But, since I have a bit of time, I want to write a bit about Mayuki.

On Tuesday, Yuriko went to the parent-teacher interview at Mayuki’s kindergarten. I was in work, so I couldn’t go, but that doesn’t seem to have been a problem. Apparently, Mayuki’s teacher started off by saying “I don’t have any concerns, and I don’t really have anything to discuss”. Mayuki is, apparently, enthusiastic about the activities, doesn’t demand the teacher’s attention all the time, does as she is told, and loves pretend play.

And then there was the restaurant visit a little while ago where Mayuki finished up by announcing, “I’ve had enough dessert now. I want more broccoli!”.

Of course, Mayuki isn’t perfect. I’d like her to realise how much it upsets Yuriko when she doesn’t eat the food cooked for her, and participate a bit more enthusiastically in video chats with the rest of my family, but I think those will get better as she gets older.

Talking of eating, there was an incident a little while ago that made me very happy.

Mayuki wanted to eat pancakes for breakfast, and Yuriko was making them. I also wanted to eat breakfast, but Mayuki was sitting in my chair.

“Mayuki, can you move to your chair so I can sit down?”

“But I want to sit here!”

“I can’t sit down if you do.”

“I sat here last time.”

“Daddy wasn’t here then,” Yuriko reminded her.

“You can sit in my chair,” Mayuki suggested.

“No, I can’t. It’s too small. Please move to your chair.”

“No, I want to sit here.”

At this point, the pancake was ready, and got served. Mayuki ate in silence for a little while.

“I’ve just had an idea!” she suddenly said. “Why don’t you bring the chair your students sit on?”

So, we moved Mayuki’s chair out of the way and brought one of the folding chairs I use for my students, and we all ate breakfast at the table.

The reason I was so happy about this was that Mayuki thought about the problem and came up with a solution that got everyone what they wanted. I didn’t particularly want to sit in my chair (I’m a grown adult, I don’t have “special chairs” any more), I just wanted to sit at the table to eat. Mayuki did want to sit in that chair, though, and her solution solved the problem. It also involved thinking about things that were not immediately in front of her, and doing proper problem solving, which is an important skill.

I think this sort of negotiated solution to disagreements is much better than Mayuki simply doing as she is told. It’s a technique that she can use as an adult, and that I can use when she grows up. It also teaches Mayuki to think about what other people want, and how she can make that happen. So, I like the fact that she talks back and makes alternative suggestions.

Basically, I don’t want her to be obedient, I want her to be considerate.

The report from kindergarten is very reassuring in this respect, because it suggests that the way we are raising her is actually working.

Posted in Our Child.

2 Comments

  1. Congratulations! It sounds like you are doing a great job. Mayuki seems to be demonstrating very advanced problem solving and “people skills” that will undoubtedly give her many advantages throughout her life. I usually feel awkward commenting on the parenting of others, never having been a parent myself, but I am really impressed by your approach. Far too many of the parents I know take, to my mind, an overly authoritarian “because I said so” approach, demanding instant, unquestioning obedience and becoming very upset when they don’t receive it.

    Like you, my parents expected me to ask questions, to try to understand why certain rules exist and to try to follow the meaning and spirit behind the rules rather than just memorizing and following a list of the rules themselves.

  2. Craig,

    Thanks for the comment. I guess we won’t really know how well I’m doing for another twenty years, but it seems to be going OK so far.

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