My old friend Dr. John Duffy offers a funny and provocative post on his psychology and parenting blog in which he suggests that parents could borrow a trick or two from the martial arts and make like a sensei.
He writes of one client who describes her sensei as relentlessly demanding, but says she "does not feel discouraged or humiliated by these displays. . .Rather she sees each prodding statement as an indicator that the sensei believes in her and knows she can accomplish the task. . .Imagine if we could duplicate this dynamic in families."
If you're like me, you spend a lot of time feeling like you're walking a tightrope between a) encouraging your kid to do his best, and b) being a royal, nagging, helicoptering pain in the ass. So if there's a secret to being able to push without pushing too hard, I want to know it. Still, I have to wonder if the dynamic really can translate to families. I mean, I know even less about martial arts than I do about parenting, but is it possible that one of the factors that gives the sensei authority, one of the things that makes his students heed him, is precisely that he's not a parent, that he's something of a disinterested outsider?
And even more importantly, does this mean my kid and I have to bow to each other?