Thursday, June 23, 2011

Polarity Management

Polarity management?  What?  Isn't this blog about cooking?  Polarity management sounds about as foreign as braising mix, but a lot more boring.

That's what I thought too.  I've spent the last four days attending education graduate classes at the NMU Summer Institute.  I walked into the cavernous lecture hall at Jamrich Hall early this morning with a steaming cup of green tea in my hand.  This was the first room I sat in as a freshman nearly 12 years ago for Biology 101.  This morning's key note topic- Polarity Management.  Well, that sounded only slightly more interesting than the biology of single celled animals.  I settled in, brainstorming strategies to keep my eyes propped open and appear at least semi interested for the hour and half to come.

The topic of polarity management is anything but boring to this self professed analytical over-thinker.  Polarity management is basically looking at a problem or issue as not as something with  a "right" or "wrong" solution, rather something that needs to be weighed and balanced.  Clear as mud? 

This one is for the parents (and or teachers!)- Discipline Style

Many would agree that a tight disciplinarian is best.  The rules are clear.  The limits are set.  The follow through is consistent.  But, the risk of becoming too tight is that it can result in power struggles, confrontation, winner-loser battles, and rebellion.

On the other hand, some might believe that it's better to be loose and flexible.  The benefit is that you respond to individual needs and circumstances.  You are responsive.  You are creative, adaptable, and caring.  But, too much looseness can create a situation where you're being taken advantage of.  You can become inconsistent in your follow-through.  You can become too emotional and your life can become chaotic.

So, why on earth am a writing about this in a cooking blog?  What is the connection?  Don't worry, I'm getting there.

This information led me to rethink the events from last night.  Basic run down- Bryce was disappointed that we had mac-and-cheese when he was expecting garlic noodles.  This led to a huge meltdown.  The strict side of me was thinking- "This place isn't a restaurant.  Eat what's in front of you.  The adults make the decisions here.  This fussing is not ok at the table.  This kind of behavior means absolutely no dessert"  The loose side of me said, "Poor kid, he's really disappointed.  He's had a long week with no naps. I don't want him to go to bed hungry.  He needs to eat something."  There were two voices on my shoulder- only one wasn't a devil and the other wasn't an angel.  They were just two poles pulling at each other and trying to find that balance.

We ended up allowing him to leave the table without eating.  He took a bath and crawled into his pajamas. I had a calm conversation with him, explaining that home is different than a restaurant.  At restaurants you can look at the menu and make a choice.  At home, whatever mom cooks is what we eat.   He then decided, on his own, that he would give his dinner a try.  After cleaning his plate, he was rewarded with a cookie.  Did he deserve a cookie after that melt-down?  Does a kid deserve another chance to get it right?  I say yes.  I could've "stuck it to him" and said no dessert, or I could allow him to have the cookie and thank him for making a better choice.  Now this can't happen every night.  He needs to learn how to deal with his disappointment in a calmer way.  But the poor kid is not even quite four- for now my polarity tips in favor of second chances and chocolate chip cookies.

What would other moms and dads do?

By the way- we went to the Border Grill tonight, so you only get a recipe of my thoughts!


  1. I would have given the cookie too!

  2. I think you struck a good balance. You handled it better than I would have!

  3. The fact that you didn't play short order cook for him makes me think that YOU should have gotten that cookie! I know far too many parents who will make three different meals, just to please each and every family member!? What you did was right on, according to my personal parenting manual. Pick your battles, for sure!
    I would have given him the cookie, too!