• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

The Messages We Give Our Children -- Part 3



When my kids were young, they were very aware that I taught Judo on certain days at certain times.


They knew that the soup (or whatever I cooked) was waiting for them in the refrigerator.


And they also knew that I left my phone on during class. I had to. I was a single parent with tween children keeping an eye on not-yet-tween kids alone in the house.


When my phone rang while I was teaching, I checked to see who was calling. If it was my kids, I’d find a moment that I could call them back. If they called again, okay. But if they called three times in a row, now I was worried and I would run to pick up.


And.....


Too many times, the calls were along the lines of, “We can’t find any ketchup!” They didn’t understand that I answered because I was worried and thought something was wrong.


Too many times, the calls were along the lines of, “We can’t find any ketchup!” They didn’t understand that I answered because I was worried and thought something was wrong.

Not only did they know when I was teaching, they had it hanging right next to the phone. Yes, remember when phones had a permanent place in the house?


I realized that I needed to get them to pause and think before they called and the only way to do that was to let them see that calling me repeatedly made me frantic with worry.


Between you and me, I knew it was really about ketchup and yet, they needed to learn the boundary. Yes, you can interrupt me any time that it is urgent, but you need to think carefully before you use that because urgent means urgent.


So I learned to answer the phone by anxiously asking, “What?!? What?!? What’s the matter? What’s going on?”


They’d say, “Oh. Nothing. Wait, are you teaching? I forgot.”


Okay. So this sounds funny. Maybe even unusual. But this got my kids to stop and think about whether their situation was urgent enough to interrupt me while I was teaching.


Okay. So this sounds funny. Maybe even unusual. But this got my kids to stop and think about whether their situation was urgent enough to interrupt me while I was teaching.

And it taught them to find solutions to their small problems on their own. No ketchup in the house? Get on your bike and go to the store. Someone ate the last of the pasta? Make more.


The most important thing is that I did keep answering the phone. To this day, they continue to trust me, and they don’t doubt that I’m there for them. And, I am proud to say, all of them really know how to cook!


<<< Part 2

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