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© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

I live here too

I don't know that it was so much a power struggle over the TV. My issue with all-night TV on is that I really do need it quiet and dark to sleep. I can understand that they might like the noise to lull them to sleep, but I live here, too.

 

That's the power struggle.

 

You state "I live here, too" as though that made your need greater so your need overrode his.

 

But he lives (lived?) there too. If his need to have the TV on to fall sleep was as great as your need to have it off, then you were using your power as an adult over him to get your way.

 

The answer isn't to let him have his way. It's to recognize that life is full of times when two needs conflict and people need to find ways to work it out so both needs get met.

 

I realize it's about competing needs and trying to be fair to everyone. In that case, what would make it fair for the TV watcher to have to wear headphones while the person who needs quiet doesn't have to wear anything? Sometimes there's just no way to be exactly fair to everyone.

 

Fair isn't always equal. And the goal isn't necessarily fair. Being respectful of each other is. Being respectful sometimes means one person choosing to do something less convenient so that both people can get their needs met.

 

If you say "Here's the headphones. You need to wear them so we can both get what we need," then that's not going to be perceived as respect for you. It's one person choosing a solution and imposing it on the other. In principle it's no different than turning off the TV as the imposed solution.

 

If headphones are suggested, other options are left open, and he's free to veto the headphones then he could choose headphones because it makes sense.

 

The one flaw in it is that if he's used to having solutions imposed on him, if he's used to having to fight and hold his ground to get what he wants, then giving something up is going to feel like he's losing. We teach our kids compassion for our feelings not by insisting on them acting compassionate but by being compassionate and generous and respectful of their needs, especially when we don't understand why those needs are important to the child.

 

 

Joyfully Rejoycing