Let ’em Stew

Let ’em Stew

Your grandmother probably said it. My mom did, too.

When your little one–or your teenager–has stomped with their full weight on your last nerve, channel your inner Default Mom and take a breath.

Don’t Lose Your Sh–I Mean, Stuff

Let me tell you the most effective tool in your secret closet of parenting equipment: Letting them stew in their own juices.

Miriam-Webster defines “stew in one’s own juices” as “to worry and suffer because of something that one did.” Remorse has to be taught. It is not natural to sinful human beings.

You can call it a cooling-off period or delayed punishment, but an effective parenting tool when your child has done something wrong–and they know it–is to give them time to wait for you to respond. They know they’re in trouble, so a delayed response can be far more effective than losing your marbles in the heat of the moment. By speaking in the moment, you won’t be as effective.

Having the Last Word

“the last word was the prize we vied for…”

In his column for the Chicago Tribune, Psychologist John Rosemond writes, “the last word was the prize we [Rosemond and his son Eric] vied for in any disagreement.”

This is often the case with pre-adolescents and teens who believe that they “win” an argument by having the last word. The key, here, is to let them have the last word. Let them say it as they storm off, then…let them stew.

If you are like most parents, this pause in the conflict is the last thing you want. You are irritated, even angry, and you want your child to know that you–and not they–should have the ultimate last word.

Why? Let them pout while you calm down and think about what the most logical and effective response is to their misbehavior. This will give you the chance to act, and not react. Calmly and with deliberation, you can then speak with your child and give them your response.

If they launch into another tirade, give them the last word by walking calmly away. Come back when they’ve cooled off, and speak calmly while you deliver the news that they knew would come sooner or later.

What About Other Situations?

Let’s say your young child seriously misbehaved or broke a rule. I’m assuming there are specific consequences for specific behaviors, such as running out into the street. Your child just scared the daylights out of you, and you really want to read them the riot act. Don’t. Send them to their room, take a long moment, and let them stew.

When you are ready, calmly go to them, tell them how you felt when they ran out into the street, and then deliver the news that they have to play in the backyard for the rest of the week.

As Usual, God Has the Last Word

My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. — Proverbs 3:11-12 (ESV0

Grace is real–

Judy, the Default Mom

2 thoughts on “Let ’em Stew

    1. I feel your pain! The short answer is still the same. Leave them to their own devices. If your 42-year-old always has to have the last word, let him. As you know, I come from a family of right-fighters, and it took me a large part of my life to come to the Dr. Phil Conclusion: Do I want to have the last word and be right or do I want to let it go and be happy? Choose to be happy. Grace is real–Judy

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