You know what I love about this man? He is emotionally intelligent.
The other night I told him (my husband) that I thought I could have handled a situation better. We had put our daughter in private, indoor soccer lessons, and the building was getting too hot for her in these last days of July. Before going to the lesson, I got in my kids’ faces and told the if they were too hot, they should sit down, drink water, and otherwise alert the instructor or me. Well, then my daughter did exactly this. In the middle, she started crying that someone “didn’t care” about her over something. She was flustered–and hot. I took her out of class, which only had 15 minutes in it. But I told my husband that I thought I might have riled her up. By getting in her face beforehand, I planted the idea in her head, and maybe I shouldn’t have done that. He said, “Well. That’s ok. You have the emotional intelligence to realize something went wrong and you can handle it differently next time.” I had the emotional intelligence. My husband is the kind of guy that talks about emotional intelligence.
If we are rushing out the door, say indeed to soccer practice, and my daughter is crying over something, instead of telling her to hurry up because we’re late, my husband is the kind of guy who says, “We need to go but what you need right now is a hug.” When one of our kids can’t find something, he says, calmly, “It’s really crappy when you can’t find something. We’ll help you find it.” When our kids want to be carried to bed, he does. When they are scared at night, he comes right by them and talks to them until they are comfortable. All of this makes a huge difference for me. I’m not the only one doing the emotional labor. It sets the tone in the house, to one that has a certain sweetness to it. I would have a high propensity to spin into craziness otherwise.
Emotionally intelligent husbands are key. Why am I targeting husbands specifically? Because the data is there. This article, “Emotionally Intelligent Husbands Are Key to a Lasting Marriage,” by Kyle Benson states, “Men, you have the power to make or break a relationship.” The article describes that when men let their wives influence them, it results in happier marriages that are less prone to divorce. It describes this “yielding” as, “accepting, understanding, and allowing your partner’s perspective, feelings, and needs into your decision-making process as a couple.” And the article describes that it targets men largely because women already do this, by default. The article describes that 65% of men will counter attack during arguments, which is to say, the opposite of listening (“yielding”). Emotional intelligence seems to be something that a majority of men have to learn.
When people ask me, “My child is throwing balls and it’s really annoying his aunt, what can I do?” I always want to answer, “Get his aunt to have some emotional fortitude to deal with it.” We expect children to bend–to yield–to adults almost all the time. The current parenting scene prides itself on being positive and gentle. I take it one level deeper: I want children to be another respected person in the house. This means we don’t immediately try to stop them from throwing the ball in the house, even if we are gentle in doing it. It means the child has some need, and we can work to find a solution. Maybe there is a special ball throwing area. Maybe they go outside. Maybe you actually go and play catch with the kid. But I am advocating for less of an expectation that the child always be the one to yield and a bit more of an expectation that adults yield. And, so, yes, perhaps an emotionally intelligent society is key.
My books, Misbehavior is Growth, revolve around this idea that we don’t “discipline” a child but rather we go into conflict resolution mode with them. I document the age-related stages go through. My work is at the main site of this site. At each of the developmental milestones, I have conflict resolution ideas. How can we let children be the free, wild little creatures they are while also not knocking over the tv? Isolating the real issues, we can get better answers.
See some of my articles about emotional intelligence such as how I used a negative review to talk to my kids about emotional intelligence and how we can still coach and teach children, even in competitive environments, without being emotionally abusive.