My great grandmother died long before I was born. Before she died, she hid an important parenting lesson in the recipe for cooking a roast. I never met Caroline Murphy and have heard relatively few stories of the woman who's blood runs in my vein's and who lived in the Bronx, born of Irish immigrants.
Every year at Christmas, my mothers family had a tradition. This tradition had gone on for as long as my mother could remember. The tradition was to use Caroline Murphy's recipe to cook a juicy beef roast. The roast was always prepared the same way. Seasoned, tied and always, always, always, the round end of the roast was cut off. One Christmas, while still a child, my mother decided to ask the question that had never been asked. “Why do we cut the end off the roast?”. As the story goes; a pin drop could be heard in the kitchen that day as everyone looked at each other, staring blankly while scratching their heads. When everyone had sufficiently and completely exhausted their memories as to “why the end of the roast was cut off”, quite ceremoniously every year, they decided to summon "Ma" to pose the question.
“Ma, We can’t remember. Why do we cut off the round end of the roast?”
Ma’s big laugh shattered the silence until she calmed down enough to enlighten her brood; “Because we never had a pan big enough for it to fit in!”
Sometimes we do things just because “that’s how we’ve always seen it being done” or because other’s are doing it that way.
How many times do we parent, teach or mentor away from our own soul?
How often do we follow the grain when our little ones are grinding against it? Why do we do what we do?
How can you honor what is happening for the child in your care? Generally they are answering a developmental call in their wiring systems and behavior is a reflection of this drive. Can you have more yeses? Having more yeses with a child does not equate to "not saying no". It means' “Ask the question; Why?” Why no? Why stop? Why don't do that? Is it necessary? Is it valid in relation to the child’s developmental drives and direct safety? I agree that there are many times in life when “no” is not only appropriate, but necessary. Necessary for safety or sanity!
I am referring to all those times when there is not a significant reason to say no. Here are some examples of what I consider significant reasons for no:
No, stop, don’t run in the road. No, you can’t hit your sister. No, you can’t eat a quart of ice cream. No you can’t play another hour of video games. No you can't run away from school. No you can't throw those scissors.
Many times children are answering their inner drive and a no just confounds their neurological systems or confuses the ancient evolutionary “programming”. Some of these times look like the following:
No, don’t go up the slide
No you cant take your shoes off
No, don’t get wet
No, get down, no climbing
No put that stick down,
No, stay on the trail
No, go to sleep (although there are times when I would argue for this too)
No jumping from there
No running in here
You're too loud
No you can’t wear that
My parenting, therapy practice and mentoring has evolved from a “cut the round end of the roast off” kind of perspective to a “Why do we cut the round end of the roast off”.
To better facilitate a child's optimal developmental and learning potential, it's important to investigate their innate drive and developmental needs. Understanding these important underpinnings of behavior informs adult decisions to make logical demands, with appropriate expectations from a rapidly growing human.
Do you want to guide and foster growth? Or unknowingly stop or stunt it? Personally, I want the wings of the children in my care to spread as wide as the potential within their inherent capacity of their wingspan.
What can you say yes to today, that could previously have been a no? Where are you cutting the end of the roast because that is how it's always been done? Where are you limiting a child's developmental drive?