The other day as we were all standing around the kitchen after dinner, I posed a question to each family member. “Who in this family do you think likes you the least and why do you think that?” I hear Ethan say sarcastically, “This isn’t going to end well.” For a half a second I thought about recanting the question, but I didn’t, I felt like this would be an insightful discussion. I felt that everyone was in the right state of mind to have the discussion.
It was probably one of the best discussions this family has had. Remember the kids are 9-16. Both of the older boys thought their sister liked them the least and as they each said her name, she instantly brought her hands to her cheeks and exclaimed, “WHAT!?!” As they explained their choice, Maya was actually able to hear the reasons why. She heard how much her actions and the treatment of others could even affect her older brothers. I think the younger kids forget that they can make someone older feel unliked.
Of course the kids turned it on Joe and me. They wanted us to do it too… that is when I really rethought the question. I’m mom… They all like me. 😉 Except for when they don’t. (Sorry that’s a common joke around this house). I had to say Ethan. He was shocked, as a matter of fact I was shocked too. He’s so easy to get a long with. It’s just one degree difference. Later Ethan asked, “Mom, what can I do so that I’m not the one.” I thought about it for a minute and I said, “You know Ethan, I don’t think it’s you… I think it’s something I need to change.” When I get frustrated with him I do something that pushes his buttons. I need to be more aware of his feelings and triggers.
Of course we all agreed that Ethan gets annoyed a little to easy and he promised to work on that. In fact, everyone came away with more self-awareness. Feeling more empowered in their relationships. Maya didn’t get down in the dumps, in fact I think she was a little lighter knowing that her brothers care and want to be liked by her. Everyone admitted their faults and everyone had a better understanding of how to improve the family dynamic.
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions… just make sure everyone is in a good mood and ready to have the discussion.