Get Your Stories Straight

(This is a re-post for newer friends of this site.)

Like nearly all siblings, our sons sometimes got into quarrels. When that occurred, my Beloved and I attempted to unravel how it started so we could create learning lessons as well as determine fair and appropriate consequences for their actions.

Not surprisingly, their versions of what happened sometimes differed greatly. In those situations where it was clear to us that there were no innocent victims and that they’d both broken some rules, rather than try to unravel their stories (which often created more heat than light) we found what we considered to be a fairly elegant solution.

We sent them into a room and told them that they were to stay in there until they got their stories straight and agreed on what had taken place.

Then we closed the door and waited. At first we sometimes heard continued bickering, and then silence. But usually fairly quickly, negotiations began. They realized that the length of time they’d be stuck in the room with each other, and the severity of their other consequences-—if any—-became completely dependent on working together to create a story that got them both off the hook.

“Well maybe you weren’t trying to hit me with the ball, and I only shoved you a little bit just kinda playing around, right?”

“Maybe you didn’t eat my ice cream bar and I only thought you did, and maybe I got permission from you to eat your cookies and you just kinda forgot that you said it was ok, right?”

Once they got their stores straight, they came out and told their revised story.

It was interesting and humorous to my Beloved and me that to no matter how heated the original argument, or how mistreated by the other they felt they had been, that by the time they came out of the room they agreed that the situation had mostly been one big misunderstanding or that that the terrible wrongs that had been inflicted on each other weren’t nearly as bad as they’d originally thought!

Sometimes the stories were said with almost-gritted teeth, and sometimes they had to work through some amazing mental gymnastics to go from their original stories to the ones that they negotiated.

Sure, we knew that were probably weren’t getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but we figured that we probably weren’t getting it before either and that we’d only been getting their versions of the truth anyway.

At least with this “Get Your Stories Straight” strategy, they had to do the work to solve the problem–-instead of Beloved and me–-and they had to work together to do it!

Besides, it was fun to hear how much their stories changed when they worked together versus when they were each trying to get the other into trouble! The hardest part for my Beloved and I was to act serious during some very humorous story changes, especially as their faces and body language contorted along with their stories!

And harmony was more quickly restored in our home.

About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Challenges, Children, Family "Fun", Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Get Your Stories Straight

  1. mimijk says:

    I’m laughing at the memory, for it occurred here too. And the times when they’d end up giggling and forgot why they were sent somewhere to get their stories straight were pretty amusing as well..

    • russtowne says:

      (Laughing!) Ah, yes. Thank you for the reminder about that happening too, Mimi. Sometimes on our Sunday Family Nights one of the old stories will come up, eliciting much laughter and comments. There were times when we had very little money, but our lives never lacked for richness.

  2. utesmile says:

    Great idea, we can learn from you, it difused the situation rather well.:-)

  3. bulldog says:

    Impressive solution… to a fairly common problem in all households…

  4. Russ, I love this tactic! It fosters family love as well ~ you are so smart! xo

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