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Dec 14, 201101:30 AMOKC Dad Connection

You Be the Judge…or Maybe Not.

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Dec 14, 2011 - 01:30 AM

My oldest daughter had my thumb in her hand and was pulling me toward her room as she explained that her younger sister was not acting right and that I should punish her. When I reached the room, after noticing that it was a wreck, I saw my youngest daughter on her bed with a look of, “But, Daddy, you don’t understand yet and please don’t get on to me.”

As I usually do, I let them both tell me their side of the story and also, as I usually do, I told them, “Work it out,” as I turned and walked away. I didn’t hear back from either one of them with a plea to intervene, again.

It is rare when I make the choice to be the judge and render a decision in a sibling dispute. Unless someone is really going to get hurt, I force the girls to work their way through it. I have explained to them that if I have to make a decision, someone is going to be unhappy, so I encourage them to search for common ground. It usually works and when it doesn’t, as predicted, one of the girls is unhappy. It’s something they remember.

I am trying to teach my kids that they have some control over their choices, even at their young ages of 10 and 7. I want them to realize that in the real world, the judge isn’t going to be Daddy. It will be a teacher, coach, officer, employer or real judge who may not take the time to discover the truth and weigh judgment without finding all the facts.

I want to teach them that in a dispute, when they leave it to the judge, it’s out of their control. They’ve given up the power to decide. The power to decide is called freedom and we all want that.

Look for opportunities to lead your kids away from looking for a judge or intermediary. Lead them to look to themselves and what choices they have to reach a win-win solution to their problem, even if it is just who gets to play with the doll this time.

Dec 14, 2011 02:18 pm
 Posted by  Kami

I agree 100%. My kids are 10 and 4, so I can't leave everything up to them to work out since my 4 yr old doesn't 100% understand the art of compromise yet. But as for learning to make their own choices and dealing with the fall out of that choice, be it good or bad, is something we are working very very very hard on right now with our 10 yr old. It is not easy at all, but we are doing are best to remain strong and consistent.

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About This Blog

Eric Urbach experiences fatherhood from a variety of perspectives. He is the father of three, ages 11, 8 and 6, sharing joint custody with their mother, and stepfather of two, ages 18 and 14. A practicing lawyer and active in the community, he lives with his family in Edmond, Oklahoma.

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