Is it better to confront the problem with a blowout or to show restraint and let things go? The answer may surprise you. Listen in to today’s episode to learn how you can effectively deal with conflict in your family.
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Doug: Is it better to be nice and just kind of let the thing hopefully get better, or do I get to come out with a shotgun and blast them? What does it mean that blowouts are way better than slow leaks? Who wants to cause a blowout, all the shrapnel, and all the craziness of it? It’s better to be nice and hope it goes away. Well, that’s the question we get ask Dr. Leman. What’s his crazy phrase that he uses that blowouts are way better than slow leaks?
Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: I and Andrea, Dr. Leman, are so glad that you are with us today. Welcome. If this happens to be your first time we want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you, or your child, please go seek a local professional for help.
Well, Dr. Leman, one of your favorite things to tell us all the time is, Hey, is it better to slow leak it to death or is it better to just have a big blowout?” But, blowouts cause shrapnel, and all sorts of craziness out there? So my question is, A. What does that phrase mean, and why am I going to use it in parenting?
Dr. Leman: Let me start with this. For you parents who had a rough school year last year, or you had a rough time with your child’s smart mouth last year, or your husband continued to dish you, or your wife continually hammered you for every small indiscretion on your part, any kind of a booboo you were hammered. I want you to think about that. Now, that was a year ago. Now, is there any difference in any of those relationships today? My point is that whatever was in the past is going to continue, so if you have a kid who is smart mouthed and disrespectful chances are he, or she, is going to continue to be disrespectful and mouthy, or they’ll even increase their maladaptive behaviors.
So, my point is, if you’re going to deal with it let’s bring it to a head. Let’s have that blowout. Let’s have that. “Hey, I’m done,” because the other things that you’ve tried, and you talked in your introduction, Doug, about being nice, just letting things go. How’s that working out for you, parent? So, when all of a sudden you hit a kid where it hurts, and that is you don’t let him go to the ballgame. You don’t let him go with his Friends. You don’t let him play next door with his favorite playmate. He doesn’t get to watch whatever. You really, to use a colloquial term, you lower the boom on him, you’re going to get his attention. You’re going to blindside him. He’s going to say, “What the heck is going on here?” At that point, at that blowout, from then on you have to be really consistent, because if you just have a big blowout and get mad and think that somehow that that’s going to turn around behavior you’re mistaken.
You have to follow up with sticking to your guns, as I like to say, “without shooting yourself in the foot,” which means your decisions are deliberate, they’re calculated, vitamin N is distributed profusely within your family, which is “no” for you new listeners. Saying no to a child is a wonderful disciplinary measure. So, we have the vitamin E which we talk about a lot, encouraging your child. You want to be an encourager but, again, God did not put you on this earth to be walked over by a smart-mouth, 13-year old, or 11-year old, or 9-year old. So, that’s where forcing the blowout comes from, Doug. It just says, enough is enough, we’re going to turn the good ship family in a new direction. Guess what, parents, you’re the captain, or co-captains, of that family. That’s your job.
Doug: So, Andrea, again, you’re the resident mom, and you like to be nice, a lot.
Andrea: Well, I don’t think it’s just moms that like to be nice. To me this sounds like starting a fight.
Andrea: So, how is that different, Dr. Leman, than either blowing up in anger, because this sounds like, Okay, we’re going have this big, it’s okay for me to blow up in anger and start a fight. How is this different?”
Dr. Leman: Well, a couple of things. Remember, fighting’s an act of cooperation. There could be no fight unless two people want a fight. Number two, we’re not talking about anger, we’re talking about an abrupt change in your demeanor, and your behavior. So, it’s not a matter of fighting. Is that child, young lady or young man, are they going to like this? No, because you’ve blindsided them, and for 9 years, or 11 years, you’ve tolerated this. You’ve done everything. You’ve been that kind, wonderful mom who’s probably, in retrospect, done way too much for that young woman or young man. Now they’re getting into those years where, and by the way if you’ve never read Planet Middle School, that’s a wonderful read for you parents who are getting into the 6th, 7th, 8th grades, the middle school wonder years. That’ll help set you straight. There’s also a book called Have a New Teenager By Friday, which is an award-winning book that everybody loves.
So, there are ways to get the kid’s attention, or the person’s attention, that says, “I’m done. I’ve had it. I am very unhappy.” So, there’s a difference between being mad and blowing up and telling your kids. “I am very unhappy with what’s happening in this home,” because kids don’t like that. That’s what you have to keep in mind.
Doug: So, Dr. Leman, there’s some people that they can’t get there until they’re so wound up that they have had enough of this, right? How does that person address this without the anger part coming with it, or not even the anger part just the, what is that, the poor delivery of it?
Andrea: Just the emotional outburst.
Dr. Leman: Well, again, if you’re lucky enough to have a partner in life, and you’ve got that husband, or your wife, this is a time where if you know that you have a short fuse, and your way of dealing things is to tuck things under, tuck things under, and then have the big explosion, you are not the person to be able to throw that switch, it’s got to be your mate. The one that has a much more tempered approach to life who has to say, “I’m done. I’m unhappy.” In fact, you can replace the I with the we. A wound-up person can take some notes from the more level-headed, even-tempered mate, to be the forerunner here, because what you don’t want to do is just spark rebellion in a kid’s life who’s already got a rebellious streak.
Andrea: So, you wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who already has a short temper?
Dr. Leman: Well, let’s take the single mom who has a short temper. She doesn’t have any choice, but she better do some, whatever it takes. When something starts to happen with the children, okay, single mom, you’re a veteran mom, you’ve been a mom for nine years. You’ve seen how these things escalate. So, as soon as something starts I want you to act, because if you wait your rubber band is just going to get wound up tighter and tighter and it’s not going to have a good result. So, it’s action, not words. The more action you make as a parent, and you show the kids that things are changing, the more they’re going to pay attention to what you have to say. So, it’s action, and then words.
Andrea: What you’re advocating is that you’re forcing a blowout. What do you mean by that?
Dr. Leman: When do you want this to end? Do you want this bickering that gives you a lump in your stomach every night and a headache, do you want it to continue the next 30 days, or would you rather have it end tonight? That’s my question. That’s why I advocate the blowout, because the quicker the better.
Doug: Why are we as parents so reticent for the blowouts, or really to just confront them, that we just hope it kind of goes away?
Dr. Leman: Well, I think because we want to be our child’s best friends. That’s prevalent in our society. Most kids are reared to think they’re the center of the universe. Some of these kids, I mean, they ought to be in drama in school, because they’re drama queens and drama kings. They play you like a fiddle. My latest book, Why Kids Misbehave and What To Do About It, is loaded with example after example about how parents just cave in. They’re actually the ones that teach their kids how to misbehave. Now, think about that what I’m saying. Hey parent, you’re the one that has taught your kid to misbehave through faulty parenting, through faulty assumptions on your part. You’re the creator of this. You’re the conductor of the family orchestra. When you owe up to that then you’ll be ready to pull off the blowout and feel better about it.
Doug: Well, I think we should give people an example of what a blowout would look like versus a slow leak. Before we do that, this is like perfect timing to be honest, the ebook for this week is Have a New Kid by Friday. So, wherever you get your eBooks, however, you get them, from Kindle’s, through NOOK’s, to whatever, for $2.99 you can get it between now and the end of December 2020. This is perfect if you’re trying to figure out how to do blowouts. What did they say about it, Andrea?
Andrea: Evan says, “Possibly the last parenting book you will need. If you have a child who challenges every aspect of your parenting, or even any aspect of your parenting, I highly recommend this book. This quite possibly will be the last parenting book you will need. I’m pretty sure it’s the last one I will need. My young twins, age four, were transformed in about a week, and others who know them well commented on it.”
Doug: So, this is the book that got us launched down this road. I cannot say enough good things about it, that if you want the confidence to have the blowouts get the book. Now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Parents, one of the smartest things I ever did was take my daughter out of the gifted program at school. I know there’s parents right now are cringing hearing me say that, because you’re so proud that your little Drucilla is gifted. Well, one of the things we know about gifted children is that they have the highest incidence of mental illness, there’s a corollary there between the two. In my estimation, if a son or daughter has to travel to another school that would be lockdown, “No, it’s not going to happen.” I’m going to keep my child in the local school. I think gifted programs are overblown. Are some of them great? They are, but there’s an awful lot of them that I don’t think do your son or daughter a great service. Is your son or daughter a reader, do they achieve on their own, do they dig for information? Keep them where they are.
Doug: Dr. Leman, so let’s do an example, a role-playing, of how a slow leak would look different to a parent. So, let’s say, what’s a good example, Andrea, chores?
Andrea: Chores are always great.
Doug: Chores are always great.
Andrea: Not doing their chores.
Doug: Not do their chores. Sally is supposed to always be doing the dishes, and she’s a one out of seven days kind of a dishes person. So, if you’re the parent, and you’re going to do a blowout instead of just doing the dishes yourself, how would this sound and what would it look like?
Dr. Leman: Well, let’s set up the situation where mom comes in and the dishes, which were not done last night, are still sitting there. Let’s start with that.
Dr. Leman: The kids are home. The daughter just came in from volleyball practice, and the son just came in from his activity, and everybody is glad it’s the end of the day. What everybody’s got on their mind is food, hunger, and maybe it’s 14-year-old son that goes bouncing in and says, “Mom, mom, I’m starving. What’s for dinner?” Now, here’s the blowout. “Honey. I don’t have a clue what’s your dinner, but I am very, very upset to walk in here and see these dishes still here. I work all day, so does your dad. To come home to this really makes me angry. Your dad and I are going out,” and get in the car and leave. I don’t care if you have to go down to Denny’s and get the Grand Slam. That forces a blowout. How do the kids feel? Do the kids feel good about themselves? Do they have positive regard? Good self-esteem? No, they’re very upset because mom just laid it on the line and said, “Hey, I am very unhappy.” That’s all she had to say. She didn’t have to start a fight. She didn’t have to lose her temper. She just said it with authority and, again, that’s a God-given right, parent, that you get from Almighty God to be in healthy authority over your children.
So, let’s fast forward after we’ve had our little treat down at Denny’s, and an hour and a half later you come home. Here’s my question. Are the dishes cleaned?
Doug: Did the kids do them?
Andrea: Yeah, they did.
Doug: Oh yeah, they did.
Dr. Leman: Oh yeah. Well, that’s what I’m saying. In 99% of those cases those dishes will be cleaned. Now, if they weren’t cleaned, ut oh, now we really are setting into a power struggle here. Again, you got to be careful how you do this one. Trust me kids love maid service, and that’s what many kids get in our homes across America is maid service. Parents do way too much for their kids. Their laundry is laundered perfectly and put in their drawers, and all that. When all those things come together and start stopping, the kid is really going to notice. Is he going to be happy about this? No, but you continue to express your dissatisfaction with their willingness to pull their weight in your home. So again, usually with most kids when you just pull a rug out and let that little buzzard tumble at that point. Like, “Hey, we’re out of here,” and they know that you’re upset, usually that will take that kid who’s been lazy, to call a spade a spade, and they’ve shirken their responsibilities, that alone will usually get a kid back in line.
Doug: So Dr. Leman, I got a little confession here. Why does that sound so harsh to even me, just to be like, “Wow, we’re disappointed and we’re going to dinner.”
Dr. Leman: Some of you are thinking, “Hey, Leman, couldn’t you do better than Denny’s?” Yeah, go wherever you want. Name the kid’s favorite restaurant if you want, I don’t care. It sounds rough, I guess, because that’s not what parents do today. They’re into, “Brittany, have you chosen to go to bed yet?” I mean, it’s crazy. We’re permissive parents for the most part, and within the Christian community there’s a lot of authoritarian parents around who are just way over the top. They try to just control everything their kids do, and that does, as we’ve talked about many times, plant the seeds of rebellion in a child’s life.
You said it before, Doug, about Have a New Kid by Friday. Hey, parents, I’ve written a lot of books on parenting, but what that one person said is, “Hey, you’ll never need another parenting book if you read Have a New Kid by Friday.” I believe it’s true. That’s a book that will get your child’s attention. It’ll empower you to realize that you are in healthy authority over your kids. It’s jammed full of examples of how to handle about everything that’s going to come your way. So, we’re downloading it for 2.99 to you. My goodness, take advantage of that. Tell your friends about that one.
Doug: You know, the other thing … Yeah, it’s, oh it’s phenomenal, and the whole back half is great. The other thing that I think that parents need to know, because Andrea and I have done a couple of blowouts with our kids, is how many times do you have to do it to get the kids’ attention? Is it 1, 20, 100?
Dr. Leman: I think your average is once. It’s not many. I mean, I think you get a kid’s attention real quickly when you stick to your guns.
Doug: Well, that’s what I was going to say. Most of our blowouts, we’ve only had to do it one time. The interesting thing you say about that is, now that our kids are a little bit older they’ll even reference that blowout time as the time to be like, “Yeah, that’s when we realized we were doing something wrong.”
Dr. Leman: Let me add one other thing. I know a lot of people are not avid readers, to read a book for them is sort of a chore. I’ll just make mention of this, if you would like a DVD, we have a six-part DVD on Have a New Kid by Friday. It’s available at drleman.com. I think the cost is $25, drleman.com. You just got to spell Leman right, L-E-M-A-N. So, you might have a spouse who isn’t going to read that book, and you’d love them to read it, but they might take a look at this DVD series. It’s been very, very popular. The nice thing about DVDs is you can play them over, and over, and over again till you get it down.
Andrea: So, I’m just trying to replay how this blow out goes in my mind, to wrap things up for myself, and for everyone. The key is that you are making a change in the way you normally treat a situation, and that you are going to just be abrupt, and you’re going to be authoritative about your decision, and you’re not going to let them drag you into a fight. Did I get that right?
Dr. Leman: You got a five star on that one, Miss Andrea.
Doug: Andrea, we’re going to Denny’s after that. Way to go, Sweetie.
Dr. Leman: That’s one of my favorite jokes, by the way. Sometimes I’ll tell people. “Yeah. I took my wife out to dinner to a really nice restaurant, and it really ticked me off she ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. Yeah, she ordered the Grand Slam.”
Doug: Well, for all you parents out there, this is one of those phrases that helped Andrea and I. We even know it works and yet we still need to be re-reminded blowouts are way better than slow leaks. Slow leaks don’t work. You think you’re hinting at your children, and you think you’re hinting at your mate. It doesn’t work. Be direct. Blowouts are beautiful, and you only have to do them once.
Andrea: I don’t know if beautiful is the way I would describe them.
Doug: It’s not the word you would describe them?
Doug: Yeah. But you only have to do them once, and it doesn’t harm your relationship with your kids and all that craziness that we’re afraid of. So, great. Well, and honestly to feel even more confident about blowouts go get the book, Have a New Kid by Friday. It’s fabulous to give you confidence on how to stick to your guns to do the right thing. So, it was great to be with you and add to that parenting toolbox. If you want the DVDs, go to drleman.com and get them there, as well. If someone’s not a reader and wants to watch it while they’re running on the treadmill, or on a Saturday night, I highly recommend it. Well, it’s great to be with you to add to your parenting toolbox.
Andrea: Have a great week.
Doug: Take care. Bye-bye.