Mom, You’re Not the Boss of My Body

Oh, the joys of being a mom. My four-year-old’s newest response to pretty much anything I say is, “You’re not the boss of my body.”

“It’s time to clean the living room.”

“You’re not the boss of my body!”

“I need you to get dressed and eat breakfast.”

“You’re not the boss of my body!”

“Would you like a cookie?”

“You’re not the boss of my — Oh. Yeah, sure!”

I gotta admit, COVID-19 is bringing out a little bit of my own feelings of “you’re not the boss of my body.” It’s not easy to stay home and reinvent life. It’s not easy to see people lose jobs and struggle. Sometimes it’s hard to see if this is all really necessary. 

You know what, though? I’ve been trying to take a step back and understand things in a better way. For example, when my daughter says “you’re not the boss” I’ve been trying to remind myself that it’s coming from a deeper place. In those words she’s expressing her struggle to accept what she’s got to do. She doesn’t like the fact that I am, indeed, the boss. It’s frustrating. That makes sense. She’s also saying that she wants to feel in charge and in control of what’s going on around her. She wants to have a say and be heard.

Having this perspective when she’s upset helps me react better. 

I have a few ways I can deal with her stubborn expression of autonomy and rebellion. I can explain the facts and say, “Sorry kid, but too bad. You have to do what I say.” Obviously there are some days when it comes to that, depending on how willing she is to listen. 

Generally, though, I find that the more I’m willing to discuss with her, include her, and make her part of the process, the better things go. That includes reminding her what she can do, and what is within her control. I try my best to listen to her concerns, even if they are concerns I can’t fix. I also take the time to explain why I’m making my request. We might still struggle to see eye to eye, but taking this approach does a lot more to build a positive relationship, one filled with trust and respect.

This is hard for all of us. We might struggle to agree with and accept government imposed measures in response to the pandemic. We may be upset by this whole thing and how powerless it makes us feel. Regardless of the struggle, though, we really are all in this together. We are all doing our best and trying to make sense of what’s going on. It will take a lot of patience as people struggle to accept and understand. We might need to listen a little harder to hear what people are really trying to say, even when they reject our points and don’t want to listen. 

There are certain facts that can’t be ignored, but we can still do our best to build positive relationships that are filled with trust and respect.

One comment

  1. Hahaha ! You’ve captured the struggle we all go through, Emily, in learning to trust and follow the wisdom and leadership of another. While this is happening in your own home with your own child, you’ve correctly applied the same process to how we might see our local governments and our national leadership.

    I like your point that we all want to be heard and have an input in decision-making, especially decisions that directly affect us. And our democracy already allows for discussion between elected officials and their voters. Even if a person didn’t vote for the elected official, that official still has to listen to citizens because he/she is representing all those who live in their area.

    The question of trusting our officials…..hmm, that’s another thing altogether. To help build our trust, we can be proactive in getting to know our elected officials better by communicating our thoughts to them. That’s something we CAN DO. I find focusing on what I CAN DO takes away that uncomfortable feeling of powerlessness.

    I must admit to my own frustration when dealing with another segment of government: the unelected bureaucracy. These are the people who have been hired or appointed to keep the ponderous system going….the system that has been legislated by our elected lawmakers into existence. That’s a separate topic.

    If we all can celebrate the small victories, not expect perfection, and learn to listen to each other, which includes the bureaucrats, politicians, and citizens, we can gain the same insights as Emily did with her little child. We can come to understand that we want to be in charge while coming to grips with things not exactly the way we’d like them.

    As we become familiar with the mechanisms in place where our voices can be heard, we will find ways to work together to solve deeper problems.

    Liked by 1 person

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