As a young child in an active family of eight, I often heard my mother plead, "Let's have peas and hominy!" Peas we had quite often but hominy--I wasn't sure what that was...until I had a family of my own.
Two very active, playful boys with one girl in the middle often produced squabbles and "dis-harmony." I longed for total happy, peaceful, quiet, pleasant times. I discovered that my mother had really meant "peace and harmony" and I also knew my little family didn't have it, particularly at the table during mealtimes. It was a matter that often frustrated me.
My twelve-year-old son, Kevin, could hardly tolerate his younger sister at the dinner table. One evening a kick under the table, an angry look, an elbow and a squeal punctuated the dinner hour and stimulated a sudden thought in my head,
"Why not seat the two boys next to each other and my daughter next to me?" Yes! that was the simple solution. As soon as I expressed the idea my husband picked up on it and wanted to make the switch right then and there.
What we hadn't counted on was the shock to our son, Klint. As the youngest child, his "place" at the table had always been next to me. He wasn't ready to move and I could immediately see that I would need to make it worth his while. Quickly I responded with, "We'll work something out a little later."
After dinner I took Klint aside and said,
"Kevin is having a real hard time with your sister right now. What could I do to make it worth your while to switch places with her?" A pout and no answer.
"I know you like money. How about a dollar?" Still no answer.
"How about three dollars?" A look of interest began to form on his little face.
"Four?" At that point, Klint smiled and said, "Well, I'll try it for two days."
He tried the switch, decided that it was okay and happily collected his four dollars. For me, that was the best four dollars I ever spent! It worked like a charm and was a beginning step on our children's road to "peas and hominy" between them.
The Doctor's Comments
Parents fail to recognize the wisdom and the power of making it worth while to their children to respond to the requests they make of them. They often interpret this as bribery but in reality, it's recognizing that besides being our children, they are also fellow human beings deserving of respect.
It shows a tremendous amount of respect for children when parents make something worth while to them. And a child is more than worthy of this kind of respect. The more respect we show our children, the more respect they give us.
All children, in any circumstance, have a choice whether we give it to them or not. It is a wise parent who provides circumstances whereby children are able to make wise choices.