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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

'Scuse me... I was talking to the other one

What do YOU think?
Just a brief thought... let people answer for themselves.  I met a couple yesterday and the wife kept telling me what the husband wanted.  He was standing right there!  I would ask him a question and the answer would pop right out of her mouth.  (sheesh)  I see this sometimes with parents and their children, and even with siblings, but not so much between grown people.  What IS that? The funny thing was that the wife wanted their kids to enroll because they won't stand up for themselves.  Hmm.  

When siblings do that to each other, it's usually a simple thing to make a joke about who's old enough to speak and who isn't, then to ask the answer-bot if her sibling could answer for herself.  Everyone giggles
and the no-talker gets a chance to be heard.  It's always a bit touchier when it's the parent talking over the child.

I try to recognize these dynamics before it becomes an issue.  Then I can pre-frame the family by saying, "Today I have some questions for the parents, and some for the kids.  It's important that everyone answer only their own questions.  Sound good?"  As a parent, I do not enjoy watching my child struggle.  At all.  But I know that she has to go through tough experiences, at her own pace, in order to process the lessons that are inherent in life's challenges.  If she doesn't learn how to speak to other people, then how is she going to function when she is away from us?   

So yesterday, I didn't catch it in time and there was no pre-frame... my bad.  Maybe this woman was just more comfortable doing the talking, and I understand that someone has to take the lead.  But it's just common courtesy to let an adult speak for themselves when someone asks a direct question.  In my experience, mom's and dad's usually have very different ideas about martial arts training, and I need to know where both of them are coming from.  That way, I can address their needs in the most complete way.

For this couple, I had to actually ask the wife to let me get her husband's answer.  Was I too direct?... maybe, but I did establish that everyone is expected to have a voice in the academy.  And I discovered a lot about why their kids may be having difficulty with their peers.  As for my husband... I always know what he's going to say, and I'm only wrong about half the time.   I guess that means I should only answer for him every other day.

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