A frustrated mom shared her story with me of the bedwetting battle that was happening in her home. Every night, she argued with her daughter. She tried to limit her liquid intake in the evenings, and her daughter would sneak drinks. She reminded her to go to the bathroom before she went to bed, and her daughter say she didn’t have to go. She would wake her up before she went to bed to try one last time, and her daughter would give her attitude. And, inevitably, every morning, the bed was wet, and there would be an argument about who was going to change the sheets.
They were definitely going toe to toe. This was a power struggle extraordinaire!
So, I shared some Restitution principles with her. I explained that in Restitution, we avoid going toe to toe, and try to move to a position of shoulder to shoulder instead. This means that we tackle problems as a team; one that has a common goal and is working together instead of against each other. Instead of forcing your will on another person, we ask questions and try to understand what is happening from the other person’s perspective.
Mom came to see me the very next day. She was SO excited! She had gone home and asked her daughter if they could talk about this problem. She started by saying “I know we both are upset about this, and that we both want to find a solution.” This simple statement shifted the interaction completely. They were now partners, not enemies.
She asked her daughter what she could do to help her in this difficult situation. She was shocked when, after careful consideration, her daughter replied, “Well, I think I need to stop drinking after supper, and it would help me if you woke me up before you went to bed so I could use the bathroom.”
And the next morning, the bed was dry.
Now, this seems a bit ridiculous. I mean, the daughter’s solution was exactly what mom had been preaching at her forever! But this mom was very insightful. Instead of being upset by this, she had a different take on it.
She said to me, “I think what made the difference was that our battles were causing a huge amount of stress for my daughter. I wanted compliance and she was pushing back. I think that by working together and agreeing on a plan, she felt more positive, hopeful, and relaxed about it.”
And, since it was her daughter’s plan, instead of mom’s plan, she also stopped trying to sneak drinks.
Not every story has such an immediate happy ending. But stopping the fighting and moving to solving problems together will never make things worse!
Have you got a story to share of the difference that occurs when you shift from going toe-to-toe to shoulder-to-shoulder?