In this episode of the parenting manual, we discuss how to show interest in your kids. One of the things that I love about our two young kids is that they are congruence seeking machines, meaning that they are always seeking to match up what we as their parents or other adults in their life say with the reality of whatever situation is presented to them. What do I mean by that?
Well, if I give my kid a box that has candy in it. And I say, Hey, here's a box of candy. And he opens that box up and there is some toy matchbox cars in there, or there's an empty box. He's gonna call me out on that right away. Perhaps more accurate than saying they're congruent seeking machines is they are, master detectors of anything that is incongruous with what you're saying versus how you're acting so.
Summary and Quotes
Quotes from the Episode:
“One of the things that we could do to really connect more with our children is to try and view the world through their eyes of that sort of congruence seeking machines.” [00:03:48]
“Whatever delights our children, we take joy in the fact that they are delighted by it.” [00:04:39]
“So that's where the congruence lies, is that you don't actually have to do the same activity as your child to show them that you care.” [00:07:47]
As we grow and as we mature our interactions with other people and our cultural norms can tend to mute this and grew witty seeking effect. What do I mean by this? If you've ever been out to lunch with a group of colleagues or perhaps even family members, aunts, uncles, cousins, or something like that, depending on your background.
You may when the bill comes, if you pay the whole bill and then people reimburse you for that. Somebody may give you an envelope that has some money in it, and they may say, Hey, there's 50 bucks in there. It's all set. Thank you so much. Now you may not actually open that envelope at the time, and let's say that you do, and instead of finding $50 in there, you find $45 in there.
Now, do you note that incongruity or do you. Make up a reason why there might not be that amount of money in the envelope that the person stated was in the envelope. But if you are a three-year-old kid, you are going to call out that incongruity a hundred times out of a hundred times. And it's also situationally dependent as well.
Let's say that someone is working as a cashier and they are checking out a client, it's their job. Make sure that the cash is registered to the penny and make sure that the change is given back to the penny as well. Contrast that with a social environment where you've just gone out to lunch with a bunch of coworkers and maybe some clients that same envelope as past, and instead of there being $50 in there as the client just told you there was going to be, there is $45 in there. That's when we start to make up reasons why in our head there is an incongruity. They're supposed to be $50 in here. There's only 45 in here. What are the reasons why? Now, it may vary from culture to culture as well. There are [people from] some cultures that would never even open up the envelope until they get back, into the privacy of, their own home or office.
There are other social settings where you would open up that envelope right there and you'd count out that money on the table. The point being that as adults, we have the ability to lie to ourselves and to tell ourselves that there's a reason or justification or rationalization for something.
Whereas young children don't have that ability yet. They haven't developed that ability yet. This is where the magic comes in for us that we. Figure it out. One of the things that we could do to really connect more with our children is to try and view the world through their eyes of that sort of congruence seeking machines.
And so how this manifests itself, and this is a great way as well, because it also works for adults, especially in the workplace, but also with, with family, matching someone's. Actions, the what they state their intentions are. A lot of times we will say that we care about someone, but our actions do not reflect that because as adults, we have conditioned ourselves to rationalize that we run into a lot of problems because we trust the words that are coming out of their mouth with the actions that they are.
Demonstrating don't align with that. Here is how we work this out with kids, and here's what's really worked for us is whatever delights our children, we take joy in the fact that they are delighted by it. So for instance, with my daughter, I'm not really interested in dolls. I'm not really interested.
In playing house. However, I delight in the fact that playing with dolls and playing house brings my little girl joy. I demonstrate to her that I see that this is important to you. I see that this brings you joy and I revel in the joy that it brings her. Same thing with my son. He loves building these ornate forts in our house here.
He'll get a few chairs together. He'll find an old bed sheet, and 20 minutes later he will have taken over the living room with this Fort that he wants me to come and play with him in for hours and hours. Now, sometimes I will play with him, but let's face it, most of the time I don't have that ability.
However. I see the joy that building that Fort and designing that Fort in his head brings him. And I, I revel in that joy and I demonstrate to him that even though I can't play in this Fort with him because I don't fit in it, I'm curious about what brings him joy and that demonstrates congruence of, I care about you.
Therefore. Even if I don't care about the particular act that you're doing or the particular activity that you're involved in. I mean, if I cared deeply about the fact that it brings you joy. So that's the bottom line is that, and this is, this was really confusing to me and my wife because it's like, I don't, I don't really care about what you're doing, right?
Like for example, we had a challenge kind of as a couple because my wife did not. Particularly she, she just was not interested in the type of work that I did. It would do. It's not something that was intriguing to her. I will say it, it's fairly technical, somewhat dry. but I enjoy it and I'm good at it.
And so it took us a while to figure out, she doesn't have to learn about my job, but it began to delight her over how excited I would get about what I was doing, even if she didn't understand what I was doing. She became engaged in the fact that the work that I was doing was something that it was meaningful to me.
The same thing with her. I, she works in the medical industry, so a lot of times she can't even share the details of what it is that she's working on. But I know that she is impacting people's lives in a positive manner. And so even though I, I don't have the level of expertise that she has. It brings me great joy to see that the work that she does that I don't understand is something that is meaningful to her.
So that's where the congruence lies, is that you don't actually have to do the same activity as your child to show them that you care. It's much more important to show them that you are delighted that what they are doing brings joy to them. And that is the end of this episode. Let me know if you have any comments or questions, please send an email and we'll see you in the next episode.