The subtle difference between "understanding" and "agreeing" - Mothering Forums

 
Thread Tools
#1 of 5 Old 03-14-2014, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 6,272
Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 232 Post(s)

Posting this here because you ladies rock!

 

My 7yo and I are in a dizzy, neverending dance.  If the metaphor were still apt, I'd say we sound like a broken record (*what* is the modern substitute for such a useful comparison??)

 

According to her and the fights we wind up in, if I'm not agreeing with her and giving her what she wants*, I am not "understanding" her.  I want to understand her, I think I understand her, but if I don't agree with her, the tears start up all over again "You don't UNDERSTAAAAAAAAND!!!!!!"  Apparently I don't understand.

 

I try to demonstrate that I do understand.  I repeat back what she says.  I nod and try to listen without blowing up (it is hard to be screamed at, and I have tried addressing this, but usually the volume is just the expression of the intensity and I try to listen for as long as I can and ask her to tone the volume down, etc.)  

 

I've tried in the past to talk about the difference between understanding and agreeing, but that conversation was a dead end.  

 

She doesn't understand me because she doesn't agree with me.  I don't agree with her, therefore I don't understand her.

 

Help?

 

*I know unschooling families might have something to say about this.  What could she want that she won't get if I don't give it to her?  Usually my participation in an activity that she has thrown a tizzy fit over--like today hitting her sister twice setting up for TakeOff because her sister chose the yellow planes.  Now, I have my suspicions as to *why* she chose that color.  It is dd2's favorite color.  


"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
SweetSilver is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 5 Old 03-14-2014, 12:27 PM
 
moominmamma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: In the middle of nowhere, at the centre of everything.
Posts: 7,471
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 530 Post(s)

I tried to write a post giving you different ways of explaining the difference between understanding and agreeing. But I gave up. Not that it's all that tricky, but I wonder if it's worth trying to get her to stop using the phrase "You don't understand..." in that way. I think the main problem is that her mis-use of the word "understand" is pushing your buttons. She's wrong when she uses the word in that context: you do understand her perspective. And you want to explain that to her, and have her believe it. But really, in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot worse things she could be saying to express her anger, frustration and disappointment. 

 

So maybe the simplest solution isn't to try and get her to use the word differently. Maybe the simplest solution is just to hear what she means, rather than what she says. And what she means is probably along the lines of "I'm angry that you don't attach as much importance to my immediate wants as I do." Or "I'm frustrated by the fact that the world can't always revolve around me." Or "It is hard for me to come to terms with the fact that other people's wants are as important as mine."

 

It might help both of you if you reflected back what she's saying using just 'you' statements and no 'buts.' Don't make it about yourself and your understanding at all. She might gradually learn to frame her complaints differently, and it would serve as a reminder to you that you don't have to convince her that you do actually understand her perspective. "You're angry that your sister got the yellow pieces." "This is really important to you." "The world seems really mean right now. This is really hard for you." That sort of thing. 

 

Just a thought.

 

Miranda


Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
moominmamma is offline  
#3 of 5 Old 03-14-2014, 04:31 PM
 
onatightrope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 305
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I agree with Miranda's approach, but I think it's worth mentioning that it's possible that you don't understand completely, even if you think you do. She may not be able to verbalize what she wants you to understand, and so, even if you do understand what she has said, you don't fully understand how she feels. I think it's ok if you don't always understand -- it's hard to avoid, IME. 

 

So, in addition to what Miranda is saying, I would stop disputing whether or not you understand her, because you can't ever prove that you do, and it becomes something for her to argue about instead of talking about whatever happened to begin the upset. She may be doing it subconsciously because she's more comfortable talking about how you don't understand her, than about the thing she did that she knew she should not have done. No one likes talking about their own faults. 

onatightrope is offline  
 
#4 of 5 Old 03-14-2014, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
SweetSilver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Westfarthing
Posts: 6,272
Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 232 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post
 

She may be doing it subconsciously because she's more comfortable talking about how you don't understand her, than about the thing she did that she knew she should not have done. No one likes talking about their own faults. 

Great insight.  It is always my fault, you know, and they are more comfortable when it stays that way.  :p  I knew I could get off on the right foot by posting. 

 

Thanks, everyone.


"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
SweetSilver is offline  
#5 of 5 Old 03-15-2014, 06:49 AM
 
smartmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Florida
Posts: 75
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)

This one doesn't always work, but this is what I've tried with my son when he gives me the "you don't understand" bit.

 

"I understand what you have told me. I disagree with you, however, and that's why ________. If there's something else you haven't told me, then no, I don't understand that, but I can't understand it unless you tell me. If you want to tell me something else, you can, but you must understand that it won't necessarily change my mind."

 

I also make a point of telling them that "I don't have to agree with you to understand you." Just like they don't have to agree with me to understand me. Kind of like when you make a rule: they don't have to agree with you that running out in the street is a bad idea, but they have to follow the rule anyway. We're talking understanding rather than rules in this case, but it's the same basic idea.

 

You may not be able to get her to realize that agreement and understanding are two different things that, depending on the circumstances, may or may not be mutually exclusive. I would say, if all else fails, stop trying to make her realize that difference. Have it be like the running out in the road rule: you don't have to agree, you don't even have to understand, but you have to accept what I have said. I only give my kids so much time to argue/persuade me. Otherwise, we'd be stuck in that neverending loop of them trying to make me understand and nothing would ever get done. So there comes a point where I just make the executive decision that it's time to move on and they simply have to accept what I've decided/said.

smartmama is offline  
Reply

Tags
Unschooling


User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Online Users: 15,370

27 members and 15,343 guests
Beemo3780 , BirthFree , Dovenoir , girlspn , hillymum , jamesmorrow , Kelleybug , LibraSun , lisak1234 , MamaNika , manyhatsmom , MartinaTempleton , Michele123 , Mirzam , MountainMamaGC , MylittleTiger , PortlandRose , RollerCoasterMama , samaxtics , sciencemum , Skippy918 , stellakelly , summer19 , thefragile7393 , zebra15
Most users ever online was 449,755, 06-25-2014 at 12:21 PM.