Life is all about asking good questions isn’t it? Like detectives, if we don’t ask the right question we may not get the answers we need.
In one of the first episodes of The Andy Griffith show, Opie is being reprimanded for not giving money to the charity drive at school. All the other children are giving 50 cents or a dollar but not Opie. Opie gives the huge amount of three cents. For 25 minutes Andy tries to convince Opie to give more money. Finally in the last scene, Andy gives up. He tells Opie that it doesn’t matter what he gives and that he will love him anyway.
“If you want to keep your money to take your little friend Charlotte to the movies, well, I guess that’s okay. Or even if you want to buy her candy or popcorn or a nice gift, that’s okay too.”
“I don’t want to do that Pa.”
“No, I want to buy her a coat. Her ma doesn’t have much money and I am saving up to buy her a winter coat. The one she has now has holes in it.”
“Well, Opie….you didn’t tell me that. Why didn’t you let me know that’s what you were saving for?”
“You never asked!”
Being a Mommy Detective is not about invading the privacy of your child’s space. Being a mommy detective is finding out as many clues as you can in order to provide a safe home and to help your child become all that God created him/her to be.
We must look at our child’s world with the fresh eyes of a detective – understanding that it’s the tiniest clues that make the difference in how our children perceive the world.
For a deeper understanding of this process you can order my book, Discipline exposed.
Let’s pretend you have to solve a mystery. Your child is acting out and you aren’t sure why. You know that if it continues it will damage his grades, relationships and his future.
If you decided to yell or spank, you may deter the problem for a moment but it will not address the underlying cause. If you want to eliminate the problem completely, you must find out what’s causing the bad behavior. Put on your detective star, get out your notepad and let’s get started.
The five points of a detective’s star stand for the following:
1. Any good detective will investigate the scene of the crime.
In other words, always place yourself in your child’s world. Try to see what they see, live with their problems and view their friends. I was counseling with a troubled teen and had a terrible time finding the source of the problem. Finally, I spent a day at the school. Watching her classmates and friends led me to the cause of her problems.
2. Watch body language.
Nothing tells you more about your child’s inner feelings than body language. Watch their face, eyes and hands. Watch as they interact with others. Are they nervous, do they fidget? Did you know that an abused child will use body language to tell an investigator who is doing the abuse? They are frightened to tell on the abuser so they usually sit in his/her lap. This way they assure the abuser that they are protecting them, but sub-consciously they are sending a message to the investigator – this is my abuser.
3. Make talking a comfortable experience.
Remember how Detective Columbo reassured the killer. He was always nice and did all he could to make the killer comfortable. I’m not suggesting that we look at our children as killers, but we will get more information with acceptance than if we blurt out our suspicions.
4. Listen for tiny clues.
Sometimes the smallest clue can be the most devastating. The human mind is like a detailed puzzle. Tiny bits of information can be tucked away in our memory cells and change our lives forever. Watch for the little clues your child uses to alert you to a problem.
A young teen was having a hard time at school. Her grades were plummeting. Her hygiene was suffering and her eating habits were changing. She was not on drugs and was somewhat popular. She was not being bullied and seemed content with school. A physical revealed she was healthy. Her parents were happily married and her home was safe. What could cause this drastic change?Mom listened for every tiny clue. It took several months of making sure she heard every word the young teen said.
One Saturday afternoon they were watching the Olympics. The teen expressed how much she liked sports. The conversation revealed that she believed she couldn’t marry and have a good relationship if she was involved in sports. “Women who have great lives are feminine.” Unlike her extremely feminine mother, this teen was equipped to play sports. The desire for a husband and children vs playing sports created a feeling that no matter which path she chose she would not be happy.
This young teen was denying her purpose in life because she was afraid of failing at her future marriage. When mom explained and assured her that she could have both, they opened a dialogue that eventually resolved the problem. She went on to be both feminine and successful at sports.
5. Check all related sources.
Detectives don’t stop at the crime scene they look for motives, causes, weapons and accomplices. Anything your child touches, breathes, reads, listens to, participates in, talks with, learns from or brushes against has the potential to change his thinking. Never rule out anything.
As we become good detectives we will have the information to help our children succeed. Wear the star proudly. Don’t be a bumbling goof, earn the right to be a respected parenting “Columbo”.