The Last Word
I have been thinking lately about having the last word. Often when things get tense between parents and children, both sides want to get the last word. It’s a pretty normal impulse. But when parents insist on the last word, it doesn’t contribute either to problem solving or family harmony.
Say you have told your child for the third time to start his homework. You are pretty aggravated by now, and your voice shows it. He finally turns off the TV and stamps off to his room, saying, “Whatever you say, your majesty,” or worse. You see red (rightly so), and you have a choice. You could say, “Come back here, young man. You talk to me with respect.” Or you could take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and notice that he is complying (at last) with your request.
But, you say, “Didn’t he win? I don’t want him to think he can be fresh and get away with it.” I don’t think he won if he did what you asked. I agree that he shouldn’t be rude, and that’s an issue you still need to deal with. If you can work on compliance, so that you don’t have to ask three times, I’ll bet that you won’t have the problem with your child having the last word. In a conflict, no one wants to knuckle under and “say uncle.” For many children “the last word” is a way to comply and save face.
So, if your child does comply, but with the “last word,” it’s a step on the way. A good one. Enjoy.