August 1, 2011 by rebelwithalabelmaker
Spiritual Wisdom comes from all kinds of places. One of my favourite guiding mantras comes from www.suvdriving.net. ("What are you doing reading "suvdriving.net?" you might ask. I would respond: "Have you seen my new bike? It is totally an SUVcycle.")
They have a pamphlet on what to do when you lose control of your vehicle in a skid. (But none on what to do when you are rolling your vehicle–hmm…).
The rule is simple! Look where you want to go and steer there. Do not look at the tree you want to avoid, look at the gap you want to get through.
This is great child raising advice. I always find that "Don't lie–you don't want people to think of you as a liar, do you?" is not nearly as effective as "If you're always very honest, people will trust your word. Why would that be important?"
I use this myself, too. I try to picture with great detail the thing I am working towards. This is important, because the metaphorical tree I am avoiding is usually much easier to picture…
Occasionally, though, I will try to vividly picture something I don't want–or ask my kids to do the same. I find that it's better to ask questions about the worst case scenario than make statements. Nobody listens to my statements–not even me… …but when someone really thinks through a question, they paint a vivid picture for themselves.
When one of my sons was 13, he got into rollerblading. Gary gets nervous when we rollerblade, because of all the shattered faces and broken wrists he sees at work. Due to the fact that I routinely injure myself going up and down the stairs and Anthony prefers to look at the faces of people when he is walking instead of at the poles in front of him, and the time Nathan cut himself on his glue stick, Gary feels strongly about safety precautions. My 13 year old put on the rollerblading helmet without complaint, but flatly refused the wrist guards.
"Those look stupid." he said. Good point.
"You'll break your wrists." I said. (Making a statement. Also, making a false statement–he probably won't break anything, and he knows it).
"I have a right to take risks that would result in pain, but not permanent damage." he says. "That's the family rule." (He is right. This is why I don't like to argue with him. He has a memory like an Autistic Elephant).
"Okay, you're right." I said, trying frantically to think of a question to ask that will get him thinking through and picturing all the potential outcomes of his actions…
"You don't have to wear the wrist guards." I said. "But before you go out, I was wondering–who is going to help you pee at school if your wrists are broken? I'm happy to help you at home, but at school someone will have to get things pointed in the right direction for you. Do your teachers do that kind of thing, or would you prefer one of your friends? That Connor kid seems very nice."
That time, it worked beautifully. It doesn't always.
"If you keep failing to floss," says me, "you will get cavities. Don't you think those would be painful?"
"I don't know if it would be painful," said 15 year old son, "Since I've never had any ever. And since Dad doesn't get them either I figure I have his good enamel."
"But what if you do get a cavity?"
"Then I'll pay to have it filled, if you get off my back about flossing from now on."
"But you should floss! Everybody should floss!" I say stubbornly
"Don't you think it would be nice to be done this ten year argument about Oral Hygiene? What kinds of things could we be doing if we weren't having this debate? What kind of relationship would you like us to have?" says him…