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Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning to Lead The Family

A Mother necessarily has a leadership role to play in a family. She leads children. As far as I am concerned, leadership is stressful. I have to worry about what each person likes... how they get along... whether they're hurt, lost, tired. I have to delegate tasks and use my Mother Authority to get it done. The mantle of leadership looks ill upon my shoulders.

Last year, in Tasmania, I tried a new concept. I decided NOT to lead. I figured that The Daughter was old enough to lead us. So, I put her in the passenger seat next to her Father and sat behind in the car to vegetate. Let someone else worry about everyone else in the family eh? The Daughter decided where we would go... where we would eat... what we would do. I made some specific requests for my own selfish reasons (e.g., I want to go to at least ONE museum)... but I left everything else to The Daughter and basically did as I was told. I played the role of Follower, right down to the occasional grumble... and I made The Daughter worry about me, and what I liked or if I were tired.

How's that for a reversal of roles?

I loved it. She loved it. She loved not being told what to do. I loved not having to tell anyone what to do and have to bear with sulks. It was much easier to get what I wanted by being The Daughter's follower, than her leader. I got my museum visits and my trip to the grocery store but this time, no one complained about any of my decisions, because I made no decisions. Instead, I got to complain about HER decisions.


This time, in Penang, I was afraid of Little Boy's sulks. Little Boy hates walking in the hot sun. When we went to Malacca a couple of years ago, he dragged his feet the whole time. It was a nightmare for me. So this time, I asked him to lead. I refused to research the sites in Penang. I went to Penang prepared to do what my son wanted us all to do. Little Boy did everything. He did extensive internet search. He discussed the options with us... and then developed a schedule. He downloaded maps and deciphered them. We all pitched in to help us navigate but it was Little Boy who consultatively decided where to go and what to do. I just walked behind with my brain switched off.

Since Little Boy couldn't manage researching both sites and food. He delegated food research to The Daughter. Between the 2 of them, I experienced the most stress free holiday ever. I didn't have to change diapers. There was no need to scramble for food that the children insisted they wanted. I didn't have to keep looking around to ensure they hadn't somehow gotten lost. Instead, I let them worry about whether I was lost.

It's funny really. When I put the kids in a position to lead me, they behave so much better! They're more adult than I am. And I can afford to just enjoy myself. From now on, I formally resign from Family Leadership. Being a follower is far more pleasant indeed.


Blur Ting said...

That is so clever of you! It's true that kids are the first to find fault with the mother. Now that my kids are older, I also let them lead during our travels, which explains why I find myself in strange jungles places of late.

curioxete said...

Oh you are blessed indeed. How I wish that day will come for me soon too! *daydreams

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Clever mum!

petunialee said...

Ting - You are very brave leh... I don't think I would follow anyone into a jungle.

petunialee said...

curioxete - Heh! Jiayou!

petunialee said...

OKC - Yeah... the kids say "tricksy mom" but by and large they love being in charge. I have such bossy kids.

Wen-ai said...

What a great idea! Such a brilliant mum!