A couple of weeks ago my daughter started this new thing where when she gets in trouble, she says "You hurt my feelings". I have been trying to figure out where she learned this. Maybe they are discussing feelings in school, but I haven't seen any progress sheets showing that on the curriculum lately. I have tried asking her but she is not giving it up. My guess would be that is comes from my well meaning Mother who often wears her feelings outside of her body where they are easilty injured.
The first time she used this statement, I tried not to laugh. After all, she was getting in trouble for something she had done wrong. How did that hurt her feelings? I asked her if me disciplining her was hurting her feelings and if she thought that I should just let her do everything she was not supposed to do because preventing mischief was hurting her feelings, to which she naturally said yes.
Last night as we were snuggling on the couch watching DWTS, she started kicking the dog lightly with her foot. I asked her nicely "please stop kicking the dog". She immediately acted like she had no idea what I was talking about. "I'm not kicking the dog". We repeated this process several times and finally I had to ask her "does that foot belong to someone else and/or are you currently under the control of aliens". Her response, "you hurt my feelings". I told her if she kicked the dog again, she would be off the sofa. The dog kicking immediately stopped.
Next, we had a dance-a-thon where she whirled frantically around the room trying to imitate the dancers on TV. This is a normal occurrence during this program so I wasn't overly concerned until she did a Flying Wallenda leap onto the dog who was quietly sleeping on the sofa.
At this point I snapped. I hoisted her off the dog and sofa and asked her just what in the hell she thought she was doing. I know, I know, strong language but sometimes that will get her attention. Immediately, I get "you hurt my feelings" followed by copious amounts of tears. I think I really scared her more than I hurt her feelings. She wasn't expecting to be flying again quite so soon.
I knew I had to put a stop to this attempted play on my emotions. I asked her how she felt about hurting the dog. The dog had run away and was hiding under the bed at this point. Poor thing. He is not a big dog in any way. He runs about 15-16 lbs and most of that is fur. She responded by asking me how I felt about hurting her feelings. I do deserve some extra "good mom" points for not throttling her on the spot.
I redirected with my concern about her lack of compassion for her poor dog that had just been traumatized and asked how she felt about hurting him AND his feeling. I think I got her attention here as the sobbing started to subside. Then we talked about the Chihuahua she wants me to get for her (which she has already been told "NO WAY") and how tiny and fragile a little Chihuahua is and how irresponsible she had been with the dog we already have.
In the end, she coaxed the dog out from under the bed and apologized to him, but I could not get her to understand that saying "you hurt my feelings" was not how we deflect away from what we have done wrong. Sometimes your feelings are going to get hurt, but before you blame someone else, you have to look at your own actions first.
Then it hit me - EPIPHANY
How many times have my feelings been hurt as a direct result of my actions? How many times have I blamed others for responding poorly when my approach was at fault? In the end, I am the only one responsible for my feelings and I can choose whether or not to be hurt by the actions of others.
We had a long talk about feelings after the calamity of the situation had died down. I think we are both onto a better understanding about the responsibility we hold in deciding which emotions we are going to use. The good news is that before the last good night was said, we had settled our differences and promised to be more careful with the dog. I am sure HE is happy about that too.