Finding a Feel-Good Solution

by Ruthie on April 8, 2010

Every Thursday, we hope that you enjoy “The Joy Factory: Insights on Joyful Parenting (Among Other Things)” by Ruthie Yarme.  More about Ruthie below.

As a mother, I am often confronted with two children vehemently convinced that one’s needs are clashing with the other’s.  They usually make a pretty compelling argument.  Isabella needs to be left alone; Andre needs her to play with him…RIGHT NOW.

There have been times where I am almost convinced and have come this close to believing that one child’s interest really is pitted against the other’s in a painful-to-watch zero-sum game. And yet, I cling to the belief that there is always a solution that allows everyone feel good; and I trust us all to find it.

I am not talking about compromise where one person concedes something they never wanted to concede just to keep the peace.  Convincing Isabella to come out of her room to play with Andre, against her will, would cause more problems than the original shouting match; I assure you.

I am talking about digging deep, finding our true needs and working together with love to see how we can all feel good about the solution. And that solution may look much different than we ever anticipated; it may even surprise us; it certainly takes a bit of time to find….but it is a solution that always works, because we all create it and own it and feel good about it.

Those two words, feel good, are the key.  We threw “fair” solutions out the window years ago.  There is nothing inherently “fair” about being almost 5 years old when your sister is almost 8.  She’s tall enough to go on all of the fun rides, old enough to go to overnight circus camp…NO FAIR!

On the flip side, there is always the chance that some woman at the Boardwalk may give Andre a really cool toy for no apparent reason (being little and cute has some advantages).  Clearly, NO FAIR!

So how do we reach these “feel good solutions”?  The most important thing we do is look past the surface need and find the deep one.  Does Andre “need” to play with Isabella right now, or does he just need to know that she still loves him and values him and enjoys playing with him? Once he feels that, does he even need her presence…or maybe someone else could be play?  How about you, Mommy?  Will you play Sleeping Queens with Andre?

And does Isabella “need” to be alone or does she just need to feel as if she has some control over what she does?  She might even decide that she, too, would like to play Sleeping Queens.

And what about Mommy?  Do you really need to finish cleaning (or cooking or writing or reading or facebook-ing or whatever it is you are busily doing) right now or would it feel good to play a card game with your delightful kids?  Sleeping Queens, it is!  Mission accomplished…a solution that makes everyone feel good!  I knew we could do it!

Ruthie Yarme is a homeschooling mom, living in Santa Cruz, CA. She delights in walking among the towering Redwoods; watching her dog, Ginger, romp along the Pacific; listening to her husband play music of all styles; and pretty much doing anything with her two amazing gurus, Isabella and Andre.

You can find Ruthie’s essays here every Thursday. She would love to hear your thoughts on parenting, partnering and joyful living.  Feel free to contact her at moc.camnull@emray

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

StaceyNo Gravatar April 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

Hi Ruthie!

Thanks so much for this post! Finding “feel-good” solutions that meet everyone’s needs continues to be one of the most challenging I do, but the time and effort is SO worth it.

There was a time when it felt too hard and I talked about it with my friend, Anna, and she pointed out that I am going to be expending energy anyway (dealing with anger or hurt feelings), so why not expend it in the direction of finding a solution that actually feels good in the end?

It reminds me of a great quote from Sophocles, “Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.”

Thanks so much, again, for this thoughtful and helpful essay! Much love, Stacey


RuthieNo Gravatar April 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

“Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected” is PERFECT here. Really, if you believe that you can meet everyone’s needs, you can! But if you don’t even try, you will never find that out!! I totally agree with Anna….she is always such a wonderful source of wisdom.

Anna, if you are out there today, I wanted to let you know that you are probably responsible for 3/4 of the parenting successes that I have. I always learn so much from you (via Stacey). Thank you!!


StaceyNo Gravatar April 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Hi Ruthie!

Thanks so much for your kind note about Anna! I will make sure she sees it! She also taught me that finding solutions that meet everyone’s needs is not just about our relationship with our kids or “closest” relationships, but *all* our relationships.

I once dealt with a contentious scheduling issue at work and it seemed like every one of my co-workers and I had different needs and tempers were really high. At one point I said, “I know we can all get our needs met if we just keep communicating.” and my administrator said, “I know *you* believe that, Stacey, but I don’t think it’s true here.” But we all stuck with it – and although no one got their “ideal” schedule, we were *all* satisfied in the end that we were seen and heard. In the end, that always helps me feel better – whether I get “my way” or not – and I think that’s true for everyone.

Thanks again, Ruthie, for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post! Much love, Stacey


AnnaNo Gravatar April 8, 2010 at 6:55 pm


I enjoyed your post! Thank you for the kind words as well. I have found so much joy in finding solutions. They really are always there, trusting that is the key for me too. ~Anna


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