I Am Not A Referee

I am not a referee. I am a mom. And I refuse to change that.

What do I mean?

I mean when my daughter comes up yelling, “Sarah keeps taking my toy and not giving it back!” or her cousin comes up yelling, “Mahlie won’t share her seagull feather!”, I am not going to get in between the 2 and help them work things out. Because do you know how many times a day I would need to get up off the couch interrupt my chores to “referee” the disagreements between my kids, their cousins, their friends, the dog…

No. Not doing it.

First, why anyone would be fighting over a disease ridden, beach rat with wings feather is beyond me, so unless they want that thing tossed away, they’ll need to figure things out. On their own.


Let me tell you how this one played out.

Cousin: “Mahlie won’t share her feather with me!”

Me: “First, that thing is gross. MAH-LIE! Come here with that infected feather!”

I take the feather, put it in the sand next to me. Both girls standing there with scowls on their face, arms crossed, not looking at or talking to each other.

Me: “You are cousins and you love each other. Go and come up with a plan on how you are going to work this out, come back to me and tell me what it is and you’ll get your nasty smelling feather back.”

A few seconds go by and Mahlie comes up.

Mahlie: “My plan is to cover you up and sneak the feather back.”

Me: “You are a sneaky and conniving bitch. Go back and WITH your cousin come to me with your plan.”

A few minutes later her cousin comes up without Mahlie.

Cousin: “My plan is that Mahlie goes and finds another feather.”

Me: “That is not in the spirit of cooperative problem solving I had in mind. Go back and come back TO-GETH-ER with your plan.”

A few minutes later, they are both back and tell me their plan.

Both of them: “We are going to each play with it for a few minutes and share. We’ll take turns.”

Me: “Perfect! Here is your disgusting feather. Enjoy!”

“Could you hold it for us? We’re going in the water!”

Me: “Before you leave: Look at each other.”

They turn and look at each other.

Me: “Say: You are my cousin and I’ll always love you”

They smile and giggle, but they say it.

Me: “Now, hug each other and go play.”

They give each other full body hugs that only little kids enjoy these days and run off, feather totally forgotten.

My point is, they don’t need me. They already KNOW what the right thing to do is, they just need to take a minute and think about it. While that example may have been me refing a little, I didn’t tell them what to do. I didn’t pit them against each other and make them come up with a decision I told them to come up with.

When Sarah has issues with friends or her sister I send her away to figure it out on her own. Unless there is any physical harm being done, I don’t like to intervene. Mommy is not always coming to the rescue.

And honestly, Mommy doesn’t need to. Moms may feel that they need to reach out and solve all the problems, but we don’t need to. They’ll be fine without us. I know that’s not what moms like to hear, but it is true.

Even at 5, kids can work things out themselves.

So sit back, get a glass of wine, and let the kids work it out.

How do you manage kid arguments in your house?

Have a great crazy day!


2 thoughts on “I Am Not A Referee

  1. If one comes to tattle, oops, I mean complain about a grave injustice, I call them both over to me (yep, momma’s not movin’) and make them explain the whole story in front of each other. Because, believe me, NOTHING brings out the truth faster than trying to explain your side of the story in front of another person who will. not. hesitate. to. rat. you. out.

    Also, and my kids have yet to figure this out, but I know that if Thing 1 (or vice versa) has hit/poked/kicked/shoved Thing 2, and Thing 2 comes to tell on Thing 1, then Thing 2 has almost always done something to “deserve it”. I start with the presumption that no one is innocent and will often dole out the same punishment for both of them. They are more likely to deal with minor issues on their own if there is no assumption that they can get the other one in trouble without coming out unscathed themselves.

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