A frequent question that parents ask me concerning the CPS – collaborative problem solving approach is – are we not undermining our authority as parents if the focus is on cooperation and not Kibud Av ve'Eim
=complying with and respecting the wishes of parents.?
I don't think it is our purpose to raise kids who will jump through our hoops, but rather we should ask , what do they need from us , how can meet their basic needs of (a) autonomy = being connected to their inner beings and core values , feeling self –directed, (b) competence ( c) and relatedness = a feeling of belonging and connectedness. In this way we can raise God fearing, compotent , caring and responsible children.
The following is a story, an incident - which a Bnei Brak Rabbi and speaker shared with his audience.
I was sitting on my porch one afternoon , when my neighbor called out to me and said – Reb Dovid - your son is climbing the very dangerously high tree next to our apartment block. I said - that's OK , he has got my permission. The neighbor thought Reb Dovid was out of his mind – climbing that tree was dangerous! Reb Dovid then shared with his neighbor the CPS dialogue, he had with his son about climbing the tree.
A: Empathy + info gathering stage
Dad: ( neutral language ) I have noticed that you and your friends have been climbing that big tree , what's up ?
Son: We all love climbing the tree, it is great fun, also there is not so much to do around here.
Dad – reflective listening – I understand it is fun and not much around for you to do - I am just worried – here the dad puts his concern on the table and we have B: Define the problem stage . You guys are climbing pretty high, sometimes till the 3rd floor and without any ropes for protection. It is pretty dangerous, one small slip and you understand what will be the result ? I am concerned about your safety.
Invitation stage : I was wondering if we could brain storm a solution together where you could still climb the tree and enjoy it , and still be acceptably safe if something might happen ?
Son: Maybe someone could stand with a rope on the balcony of the 3rd floor and the boy climbing would be tied to it ?
Dad. I like the idea but I don't think it is realistic. We need a plan that would work all the time, even when you are alone.
Dad: I was wondering if you could still have fun climbing just up to the first floor. I am OK with this.
Son: I hear your concern and I can appreciate the danger, I am willing to give it a try.
Dad – so it is climbing till the 1st floor. I like your idea about the ropes, it reminded me about the climbing wall at Park Ha'yarkon , maybe we could go there in the school holidays or on Fridays during the summer.
Dad: Let's talk again about how this plan is working out in about 2 weeks from now .
Reb Dovid then turned to his neighbor . You forbade your son to climb the tree. He not only climbs the tree but climbs till the 3rd floor . He has thus transgressed the law to honor parents and also compromised his safety and put himself in a really dangerous situation.
Honoring parents is an important mitvah- commandment so parents should be careful not to be the cause of their kids not being compliant by demanding compliance. When parents' concerns are addressed by the solution , parents are actually setting limits. With CPS parents feel they are being ' heard' for the first time and kids feel that their concerns are not being ignored but taken seriously. When we work with kids, we foster cooperation and support , and solving problems in a collaborative way. In this way we not only nurture the relationship with our kids and build trust, but also teach them so many life and communication skills.