A number of years ago I went for a checkup with my doctor. She was at a new practice and when I asked her why she switched from the old practice she told me that she hadn’t been happy there for a while. She was having trouble putting her finger on why and had a conversation with her sister to try to talk it through. Her sister asked:
- whether she was having conflicts with the other doctors, staff or the patients?
- had the work lost its luster for her?
- was the job interfering with her family life?
- The answer to all of those questions was no.
When the sister then asked, “Do you feel respected in the practice?” The doctor replied, “yes”. Then, “Do you feel valued?”. The doctor thought a moment and said, “That’s it! I’m just another good doctor that works here. I am not a part of things, I’m not asked about my opinion of where we are going or what we are doing as a practice. I don’t belong, I just follow instructions and that is not OK with me. I want to be important, I want my opinion to matter, I want to help improve the way we all work together.”
Don’t we all want to make a difference? To belong to the group? To have a say in things, a say that matters? I venture to say that your children (and partners) feel the same. We are social creatures living in a social world. That requires us to set a course, get along, create together, and be important. How are you valuing your family members today?
Here are some suggested ways to value the contributions made by the individuals in your family:
Express your appreciation
for who they are as well as for the things they do to help. Illustrate how it benefits the whole group. “Cleaning up all those toys in the family room made it a lot more comfortable for everyone when we watched the movie last night. Thanks.”
Ask for input and consider everyone’s opinion without judgment.
“So I hear 4 ideas for how to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s anniversary: Make them a special card, have a party, take them to dinner, make up a play and act it out for them.”
Take turns with chores
or picking out what’s for dinner, or deciding who gets which seat in the car and follow through with the choices. (Adults take a turn too).
Children will be a lot more flexible when they know that they get to make contributions too and that those contributions are valued.