Mia has asked her son James to start putting away his phone at 11PM. When she first told him, he was upset. Mia is revisiting the conversation with him.
Mia: James, I know you’re upset that we’re going to be putting our phones away at 11.
James: I’m not upset. It’s not going to happen.
Mia doesn’t respond for a moment.
Mia: I’d like to know… How would it affect you if you did put your phone away then?
James: I told you before! I won’t be able to finish my homework!
Mia: Yup, I remember that. Will it also mess up you talking to your friends?
James: Yes… NONE of them have to get off then.
Mia (knows that’s not true but doesn’t argue). So you’ll be the only one not talking…
Mia: I didn’t have phones when I was your age, so can you tell me… how does it mess things up, if you’re not talking at night?
James: I don’t know. Maybe they’ll be talking about stuff the next day that I wasn’t part of.
Mia (even though she doesn’t think that’s such a big deal, she doesn’t tell him that). And then you’d feel left out…
James: Well yeah. While we’re waiting for class to start, we’re usually laughing about stuff that happened the night before.
Mia: Yeah, I can see how it’d be hard not to be part of that. (She is quiet.)
James: So you’re going to change this dumb rule?
Mia (not letting James’ Yuck control her): No, sorry, we’re not, James. (She does not justify her decision.) I get why this will be hard. It’s OK for you to be mad… now I understand why.
James (frustrated): Ugh! This is so dumb!
Mia (not getting sucked in): Fair enough.
WHAT TO NOTICE IN THIS SCRIPT
- Even though Mia does not approve of a lot of what James is saying, she genuinely tries to put herself in his shoes.
- Mia’s goal isn’t to change James’ mind. She doesn’t defend or justify her rule.
- Her goal is to show James know that she’s on his side, even as she’s NOT changing the rule.
WHY BEING PROACTIVE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE
For this situation to go well, Mia must proactively:
- Feel firm in the decision she’s made about her rule or boundary so that she doesn’t become defensive.
- Understand that James’ perspective is different than hers, but not less important than hers… and that if she treats it like it’s less important, she’ll motivate defensiveness and resistance
- Recognize that respecting James is not the same as condoning his behavior. (When their relationship is positive, she can help him learn to handle his feelings in a more respectful way.)