Declining dinner and dealing with tween ‘tudes

Fiona Brown
Oregon Blog
Earth Monkey Moms

Welcome to the inaugural posting of ‘Ask Auntie Fi’, a weekly event where I try to answer your most burning questions, by researching and asking experts on your behalf. Remember, I ain’t the expert here, I’m just happy to do the legwork, cos you know who benefits the most from all of this – ME!

Our very first question concerns the matter of how to politely get out of a dinner invite..something we’ve all had to do – or have wanted to do at some stage……

‘What is the best way to politely decline a dinner invitation? We were invited to dinner by one of my husband’s co-workers and quite honestly neither of us want to go, however with them being co workers we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings’ – Mrs D
Well Mrs D to answer your question, I sought the advice of the one of the ultimate Queens of Hospitality and Entertaining, published author and blogger; Sandy Coughlin. Sandy is big on authentic entertaining and knows first hand about matters concerning dining etiquette. Sandy says:

The easiest way to decline is to say you have other plans (and make sure you do have other plans). But even then, there’s a chance you’ll get invited again. And most likely it’s because that family wants to get to know your family! It’s an honor to be invited to someone’s home for dinner, so why not go, and be prepared to have a good time!

For some reason if you don’t have a good time, and you get invited again, there’s no obligation on your part to keep returning. Deal with it as it comes though. For today: Don’t make Problem Soup.

Sometimes it’s getting out out our comfort zone–when we try something we don’t think we’ll enjoy–that we end up having a blast!

It’s an honor to be asked to someone’s home for dinner, so go and see if you’ll have a good time!”

And my own dime’s worth to add: If you don’t like the thought of actually going to someone else’s house; maybe they have big scary dogs, or could be featured in an episode of ‘Hoarders’ or the other extreme, if you have small children you may be scared that they could break something in a museum/ antique store type of home that is most definitely not childproof……..why not suggest meeting at a neutral spot for a meal? Now that we’re in Spring you could meet somewhere for a picnic or a barbeque.

Any other ideas or opinions out there, dear readers?

Our second question today is of particular interest to me, as I know I’ll be dealing with this same scenario very soon……

My 11 yr old son is going through “a stage”. One day he can be his normal happy self, and the next day he’s belligerent and talking back . How do I coach him through this stage without allowing the attitude to grow, or my reaction to it to escalate? – Mrs M

Ahhhhh. Yes. Tween ‘Tudes. Just another reason why God invented both the coffee bean and the cocoa bean.

I called on my friends Kev and Ian to help with this one. Actually I better give them all the respect and honour they deserve – they are amazing at what they do -make that Dr Kevin Leman and Mr Ian Grant. Dr Leman is an internationally renowned psychologist and New York Times Bestselling Author. He gives practical tips and common sense ideas to common problems found in parenting and marriage. Likewise Mr Ian Grant has many practical and positive tips on raising kids. He and his wife host parenting seminars and programmes throughout New Zealand.

I started off with researching this question by finding out when puberty is happening for kids these days….I knew it is happening earlier and earlier I found out that for girls puberty begins between ages 8 – 13 and for boys between ages 9 – 15. So I think it is fair to say to Mrs M that your young gent, is beginning to ‘go through the change’…..Ian Grant says:

“Twice in our lives we experience explosive brain growth over a relatively short period. One is during toddler time and the other happens during puberty…..Your feisty tweenagers are standing on the same developmental cliff’s edge as your toddler was when he threw tantrums and every second word he said was ‘No’.’

So this explains the ‘why’ a tween can be so reasonable one day and so icky the next. While a bad attitude is never ok, you can see why tweens react so explosively at times.

Now to get to the real nitty gritty of Mrs M’s question… do we coach our tweens through this stage and how do we keep our reactions to their attitudes in check, so that we don’t make things worse?

As far as reacting to what boys in particular do and types of discipline to use with this age group, Ian Grant says that what doesn’t work is:
Stand-over techniques
Threats and commands
Lectures and moralising
Martyrdom statements
Prophesy ‘You’ll have no friends..’
All these things lead to the boys going off to another world.

What does work:

Describe what you see
Give information (‘Milk turns sour’)
Say it with a word (‘Fridge’)
Write a note
Ian Grant also says that ‘Anger from our children often brings out the anger in us. Our response to them models to them what to do with anger. Give your child the gift of processing anger so they know they have options,

* When they feel angry, they can go somewhere to cool off
* Let your child know you are available to talk about their feelings
* Forcing a boy to talk while he is still flooded with hot emotions might escalate rather than calm 

   and clarify the situation.
* Give him a plan
* Go over the steps of what to do next time he feels so mad.’
Dr Leman re-iterates this. He says that ‘Your son will take his emotional cues from you. You, Mom, set the emotional thermostat in your home…..So stay calm. There’s already enough heat from your son’s hormones during these years to ratchet up the temperature in your house. Let the little stuff go and focus on the crucial issues’.
And finally, I’ll finish with this: Dr Leman says that our boys need these things from us – no matter what their ‘tudes are doing;

* Unconditional acceptance. Your son wants to please you. (Accomplishments need to be his, not  

   yours Mama!, that’s how you establish healthy self-worth).
* Belonging to your family group. (Your boy needs a group to identify with – a shared ID, if he 
   doesn’t find it with you, he’ll go elsewhere).
* To know you consider him competent and capable. (Expect the best, and you’ll most often get 
   the best).

How we treat our sons directly sets up their self-worth. 

If you’re interested in this topic and want to explore it more and if your kiddo is just sporting a ‘tude that is just not acceptable, I highly recommend Dr Leman’s book ‘How to have a New Kid by Friday’. He has also written ‘How to Have a new Husband by Friday’ ..just sayin’.

My final, final words are Dr Leman’s words “Always remember that love and discipline are a team – you can’t have one without the other’
Now what do you have to add? How do you keep your anger in check when dealing with kiddos and their unruly ‘tudes?

(Please feel free to email in your questions to: [email protected])

I am a legal alien in this amazing country (USA). I desire to be the best wife, mother and friend I can be. I love life and I want above all else, to be used by God. I write to encourage you – to be honest with you – to prove that we are not to ‘do this life’ alone. We have much to learn from each other.

You can read more about Fiona and her journey into the light on her blog: A Little Bit Of Honesty.

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