December 24, 2007

Feeling Respected

There was one little hiccup last week with Jerry from which I learned a valuable lesson--two lessons, actually.

Adriana had taken the kids to the zoo while I went to a doctor's appointment (the third one in a week!). When they got into the car Jerry wanted to know if he could go back in and buy something from the gift shop. I said no because we had just bought three things at the Science Center and I wasn't feeling well and just wanted to get home. Once we got home everyone went inside except Jerry. He stayed in the front yard on the hammock.

I went over to talk to him and he said he was feeling like the whole week had been all about the guests and he wasn't getting any respect. He was really upset. We talked about how the week had gone and throughout our conversation I pointed out ways in which I had gone out of my way that week to make sure Jerry had felt respected and heard.

Twice he said "But I FEEL like I'm not getting any respect."

The third time he finally said "Mom, I know you haven't done anything to disrespect me. What I'm saying is I FEEL like I'm not getting any respect."


I was all worried about proving to him that I hadn't been overlooking his needs but it wasn't about me. It was about Jerry and what he was feeling. And whether or not I did anything to make him feel bad, he was still feeling bad. It was such a wake up call for me.

What did I learn? First off, I learned it's not all about me.(What a shock!) Second, I learned to listen. Jerry had been telling me all along that his problem was not about anything I did or didn't do. It was about a feeling he was having. And whether or not I (or Jerry) could find sufficient cause for his feeling disrespected, he was most certainly experiencing the feeling.

So, I stopped trying to prove that he had no cause for feeling disrespected and just listened. That was all he wanted really.

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