This week I had to have my first difficult conversation with the little man. I’m sure there will be plenty of chances for me to perfect this skill in the years to come. However, I’m not jumping at the opportunity to “master the art of difficult conversations with your child”. I’m conflict avoidant. When two roads diverge in a wood, I’ll take the easy one. I want to be liked. I want to retain my status as the “cool” parent. (Just kidding Travis).
I’d put it off long enough. It was time.
I was completely nervous. I did hours and hours of research. I called upon every corporate training I’ve ever been a part of, and I put together my list of how I would handle the situation. I was (still am) a ball of emotion around the topic.
I’ll share my list first. Then, I’ll painstakingly recount how I applied the list in my very first difficult convo with the kiddo.
Papa’s checklist for mastering the difficult conversation:
- Find the right time. Make sure that he is not playing with toys, distracted by stuffed animals, or climbing the bookcase while you talk.
- Acknowledge that it is uncomfortable.
- Tell the truth.
- Try hard to make sure he doesn’t feel defensive or blamed. You are the adult in the situation. You are there to listen as much as you talk.
- Show empathy.
- Manage your own feelings and emotions. Try not to laugh when you are getting on to him, and he does something hysterical in return. Try not to cry and show weakness when you need to be strong. Try to stay firm even when his puppy dog eyes melt your heart.
- Maintain your sense of humor.
- Close by asking him if he would like to express any feelings about the situation or has any questions.
- Hug him.
That should cover it right? There’s not an instruction book for being a parent. We’re doing the best we can as we go along and making it up as we go (some/most of the time).
I won’t keep you on pins and needles any longer. Here’s how the conversation went down with Parker.
the difficult convo
We were the only people at the park. It was early-ish in the morning, and no one else had arrived yet. This was it. It was now or never. It felt like the appropriate time.
“Parker, I need to share something with you about your life with two dads. You may not understand it right now, but you will in the future. I want you to know that we love you very much and we’re always here to support you.”
“This conversation may be a little uncomfortable. Mainly for me. You only say one word sentences at this point, and your attention span is practically non-existent.”
“This week, your dad forced me to give up my Equinox Wine Club (I love you Orin Swift). You can’t buy the wine in any store or restaurant, and there are only 500 members allowed in the club at one time. He says it isn’t a smart investment. I disagree. That’s the truth.”
“It’s not your fault. We’re no longer DINKS (Dual Income No Kids). If you didn’t require an education, then I would probably still be a member. BUT, all kids need a good education, so please don’t ever blame yourself for this unfortunate turn of events in Papa’s life.”
As he started to mumble through his list of words, (puppy, meow, tractor, train, sky, mimi, dada, papa, ba-poh, we-oh we-oh we-oh), my heart broke for my son. “I know you are trying to find the right words to comfort your Papa. It’s hard to know what to say, buddy. I completely get it. I’ve been there.”
“We can’t cry over spilt wine." Ha ha ha ha (We can’t cry over wine because we won’t get another shipment. Ever.)
(Repeat Step 6)
“Is there anything you want to say Parker? Would you like to express gratitude for your Papa sacrificing his absolute favorite wine club for your future happiness and education? I’ll wait. No?Ok.”
“Un abrazo fuerte, my love. I don’t like wine that much anyway. AND, your hugs are worth more than anything in this world. I would give up anything to see you happy and make sure you have the brightest future possible. Hugs and besos.”
It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do to date as a parent. Give up the wine club, not the conversation. I think I handled it pretty well. And, I put myself on the alert system for when a spot opens up in Equinox. Parker may decide he doesn’t like school.