They were describing compromise, frustration and at times exhaustion as they recounted outings with their children that were intended to be enjoyable.
As we dug deeper we discovered something I also experience. Often parents and their children have different temperaments. I move more slowly and want to take the world in gradually, my two younger boys tend to be full steam ahead. The other parents I talked to had a similar experience.
As a result their outings with their children felt like a tug of war of needs with one or both feeling as though the other were standing in their way of having a good time.
Then at the height of frustration a parent would announce, “Look, we have to compromise here.” Then a discussion would ensue about how you can’t have everything you want and you need to agree to give up a few things.
Does this conversation sound familiar? What tends to happen is that both parent and child walk away feeling as though they had a “less than” experience because they had to compromise.
Might I offer an alternative to compromise that can make all the difference.
Compromise tends to have a focus on scarcity. Meaning that, “we both can’t have so one or both need to give up something.” The moment you have that conversation its important to realize that what needs to be a shared experience has become competing experiences.
Is this why you’re spending time together? Nooooooo. You’re spending time together because you want a shared experience. A shared experience with a child who lives at a different speed than you do most of the time.
So how do you meet in the middle so you can get your needs and your speeds to match a bit better?
By asking this all important question of each other as you plan your time together. Ready? “How do we take care of each other during our time together?”
This question shifts the focus back to where it needs to be, on each other. Our time together isn’t about the activity that we happen to be doing together.
Its all about us. We come first, the experience is second. If we both aren’t enjoying it, sharing it, then why are we doing it?
When we attend to each other as part of what makes our time together successful, it is difficult to get caught up in the me, me, me that can make compromise necessary.
What tends to happen then is a shift to the we that is the focus we wanted in the first place.
Thanks for being you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian R. King LCSW is a Relationship Breakthrough Specialist. His breakthrough strategies draw on his experience as a 24 year cancer survivor, adult with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, A.D.D., the father of three sons on the autism spectrum as well as someone who lives on the autism spectrum himself. His books and seminars have garnered him worldwide attention for his innovative communication and relationship strategies.