Whose Problem Is That?!
Joey approached his mom at ten o’clock last night and said, “Mom, I need a poster board to do my school project. It’s due tomorrow. You need to go to Wal-Mart and get me the poster board?” He had never mentioned this project to his mother before last night. Whose problem is that?
Susie, on the other hand, loves to practice her violin. She practices for hours every day. Unfortunately, she likes to practice in the family room. When she does, her mother cannot watch TV, work on the computer, or get her work done in the family room. Whose problem is that?
Two scenarios and two problems. Whose problems were they? That is a good question to answer before delving into a solution. The person who discovers their needs are unmet or finds themselves unhappy, frustrated, or in trouble owns the problem. And, the person who owns the problem is the one to fix it.
In the first scenario, Joey has a problem and it will not help him if his mother fixes it for him. He will not learn responsibility and planning ahead. In the second scenario, Susie’s mother has a problem. It will only lead to frustration on her part if she assumes Susie will figure it out and fix it. Instead, the person who owns the problem needs to take the responsibility to fix it.
Loving parents hate to see their children uncomfortable and, as a result, often have the desire to fix their children’s problems for them…and all children, like all adults, encounter problems. In an effort to ease their children’s discomfort, parents often try to fix it. This robs their children of the opportunity to develop effective problem-solving skills. It keeps their children dependent on them. It also prevents parents from observing their child’s amazing potential to find creative solutions to various problems.
So, when a problem comes up, step back and consider…”whose problem is that?” If you find your own needs unmet…or you find yourself frustrated or unhappy…or you discover something interfering with getting a genuine need met, suck it up, own the problem, and fix it. If, on the other hand, you discover your child has encountered a frustration, an unmet need, or a consequence, let them own the problem and fix it. Give your child a gift—the opportunity to learn responsibility and creative problem-solving skills.