|Like two minutes ago i went to get an apple. DD saw it and asked for it. It's the only one, i can't go out for more right this second. I said it was the only one and said we could share and cut it in half. DD cried because she wanted the whole apple but then relented and is now munching happily. In CL who would have gotten the apple?
I'm CL, not bound by those guidelines I listed, but otherwise I am consensually living, so maybe my answer will count. I think this was a consensual solution executed very well. With the very young I find it useful to remind myself that knee jerk reactions in the face of “I want everything and you're not giving it to me” are just that – knee jerk reactions; she experienced one in this situation which is text book typical, so was the way she harnessed her joy fairly quickly thereafter.
I honestly, seriously, earnestly do not think that flapping around trying to appease or avoid the knee jerk reactions of a toddler or very young child when we are being reasonable is beneficial to anyone, including the child. You wanted the apple, but you were willing to share, this is beautiful, precious and rare and she will see it as such only when she is older. What you showed her this day is just one of the many times love and generosity will pour from you to her – it ain't about the apple
it's much more than that. Things like sharing, communing, accepting come to mind.
It may be a moment that is etched in her mind forever, the two of you, sharing the last apple... you never know. Would it be as beautiful an exchange had you handed over the apple? I see an image of you handing over the whole apple and her feeling a bittersweet victory she cannot yet articulate; I see an image of you cutting the apple and handing her half and both of you enjoying the apple and her joy is free and complete, for it is doubled in a way she cannot yet articulate. We cannot hog the joy of giving, our children deserve it too. Pouting cos we can't have “everything” is normal and expected little person behaviour (in our culture).
Like everything in life, compromise is how you look at it. You can choose to see you both lost half the apple, and apparently culturally that is how America is taught to see it (wiki
). However, I see you both gained
half an apple. Compromise is a win-win to me, not a lose-lose. That's probably why I think compromise is a very acceptable tool in negotiations.
If we look toward anthropology for some answers, we find that well connected/attached kids don't tend
to put up fights for more than equality. Wanting more of something - be it power, control, food, etc – than we're offered or than is fair isn't always directly related to a general sense within the child of feeling powerless or less than equal. Sometimes it is useful behaviour for adaptation to their cultural climate. Sometimes it is found in reverse power homes, in fact, you will find some of the most shocking cases of selfish power hungry children in homes where the parents give and give and give. It's like the kid is off his nut on power and confusion, and is completely unhappy in this role and cannot find his center or security. We must also acknowledge that this looks very much like the behaviour of a child with too little autonomy also.
When parents tend to “over parent” (usually the first and only child, it tends to wear off after subsequent kids if for no other reason than less time, less sleep... just so much LESS) it can be out of guilt, in which case there is another issue underlying it even further, but for some it is fear of breaking or damaging their children's emotional health. They really judge themselves harshly at the merest whimper from their child. There are many reasons why a child will react in the way you have described, and in our society it is accepted as normal behaviour - perhaps for them to develop in the cultural climate they instinctively feel they are in it is appropriate.
Children have amazing powers of subconscious awareness of their environment and adapt accordingly – they have to to survive. In another culture, it may not serve them to learn how to demand “more”, to learn how to want
more, and how to get
more, so they don't.
We tend to look on the surface of human behaviour and then look to the parenting and to the home and etc ad nauseum when we are so largely influenced by culture and this is overlooked. It doesn't matter how much a parent doesn't reward selfish behaviour if society rewards it in spades. Society will eventually win. Fitting in to the group is a psychological necessity, and this is already forming in infancy.
If you think society isn't in your home, influencing your children, think again. If you have no tv, you're off to a good start, but there are many other ways culture will ooze through the cracks. Our culture rewards male anger, and punishes female anger. It rewards female sensitivity and punishes male sensitivity. It rewards the loudest, the fastest, the strongest. It tells us “if you want it, go get it”.
Take some of the blame and place it firmly at the foot of modern Western society, and try to comfort yourself with the knowledge that kids may need these skills just to survive the culture we've unwittingly created for them. Parents like us at MDC shudder at this thought, we want more than this, and perhaps this is achievable but beyond the scope of this thread. For this example though, to expect consensual mutually satisfying agreement with a modern, western toddler is a good reason to have a plentiful supply of advil in the house and access to parenting forums on which to vent and seek – cos you're in for a disillusioning ride that will make yer skull throb.
The art will lay in working within this framework and producing self determining children who do not answer to society for the large part - in spite of it
. In my journey to do so, I have had to accept that my children are confronted daily with good reason to behave in ways other than ways I think are befitting non-conformist, culture averted, self determined, self actualised amazing human beings who would take their half of the apple and feed it to the homeless.