Here at Rooster Acres, we are in the business of growing things. For example, I have a 12 year old daughter… and she’s growing.
As soon as she became a “tween,” her answers changed.
Suddenly it was “Huh” and “I don’t know” and in various contexts, mere shoulder shrugs.
I’m the adult: Not a chance my sweet little girl is going to outsmart me on this stuff.
Wrong guy.
My daughter CLEARLY has low agreeableness. She has no idea.
As a father, I can’t tell you how much this makes me happy. Every time she gives me a surly answer expressing her uncooperative self…
I secretly rejoice. Shhh! Don’t tell her that.
It goes: connection = feeling valued = possibility of influence. That formula works on kids (or even adults).
Our need to belong is paramount. And children desperately want to be parented.
So, I paraphrase… a lot. With what? “Oh, you don’t know?” I smile and gently use something I learned from Tony Robbins and say, “What if you DID know, how would you answer?” and wait…
(Keeping in mind what I learned in sales: whoever speaks first after a closing question is asked generally loses).
Or, I pretend we were asking someone else and conjecture what their answer might be. I might say, “If you had to guess, what do you think so and so would say.” No wrong answers.
“What do you think Remington the dog would answer” is a great pattern interrupt. She can’t resist cute.
In reverse and in reserve, though unnecessary, I can ask her, “Good question, who would you like me to answer you as? Your dad, a forest wizard, the King of England?”
If necessary, and just for the hell of it, I can answer “Well, as the King of England, I say this _____; as a wizard, I say this______; as your dad I say this _____, and this______.”
I can use that to provoke her imagination in a myriad of ways…
Hold that one back on a “just in case” basis. It will take a little more time but it’s worth it.
She knows I have unlimited conjurable strategies at the ready. I am not going anywhere. I’m her dad.
Sometimes I act oblivious and ask for her help. “I’m having a hard time with something and I need a younger person’s perspective, would you mind helping me?”
Then I make sure to say there is no wrong answers and I’m looking for whatever strikes you.
That sometimes works. Truth is she loves it. The trick is patience. The second trick is to reinforce her answer so she feels connected.
It’s worth remembering that what looks like helplessness (feigned or real) is most likely immobilization. It’s the lower vagus nerve “freeze” response.
By a dozen years of age, little girls are highly attuned to “safety in numbers” and the harsh judgments of everyone around them. It’s part of the burdened female.
No, it’s not the damned Patriarchy.
Blame nature: higher negative emotion leaves her emotionally vulnerable but also helps her spot sickness in people and danger in her environment. This helps her survive and will be especially critical later on if she chooses to have children of her own..
Parents, mostly innocently and always imperfectly, leverage abandonment fear in children for the sake of survivability and socialization.
To that end, we caregivers install a second operating system in little ones full of judgment of the self, others and circumstances… which displaces the intuitive, creative, curious, imaginative and exploratory operating system present at birth.
Therefore, if I speak to my daughter’s secondary consciousness, I’m speaking mostly to myself. Think about that one.
I’m projecting upon her all of my own judgments and expecting they will be reflected back. Somehow, this is suppose to reassure me. While justified at times, it’s also all left brain servant self instead of master self.
I find it’s better when I do my best to communicate to the part of my daughter that holds her potential, her possibilities, and her promise. (3Ps)
It’s where all the fun is anyway.
When I am not sure, I ask myself, “Is what I am about to do or say going to maintain or diminish connection?”
I do my best to choose connection, for everyone’s sake.
Recently, Missus tells me my little girl suggested that when she hits age 13, she be allowed to swear.
Her Grandpa Howie, may he rest in peace, would be proud. He let his nine kids swear. As a writer/editor he declared cussing to be “Good old fashioned Anglo-Saxon expressions of emotions.”
Though he reserved blasphemies for speech only, not for the written word. Not a chance we could swear at him or ma.
Wise Missus enquired with curiousity and patience at the reasons for daughter’s request to cuss.
Not a word of a lie, daughter straight facedly answered:
“For one thing, it would help me increase my vocabulary,”
She had a point there.
That’s my girl.
This is the day…

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