Dead Stop: An Extremely Useful Action

Not long ago, I came home from work tired and hungry, and my wife hadn’t started dinner yet, even though I thought it was her turn to cook. I began to complain and rag on her. And I kept at it while she was fixing the meal. Our 15-year-old daughter was doing her homework at the dining room table. Finally my wife said, “Are you just going to keep complaining?” I was about to answer in the affirmative when my daughter looked at me and said, “Stop, Dad!”

stop signI stopped dead in my tracks. A dead stop.

(By way of information: a dead stop can be an extremely useful action, especially when you are heading for a precipice!)

I realized I had been behaving offensively; I apologized to my wife, and she apologized for getting a late start on the meal.

But that wasn’t all.

A little later, I told my daughter that I had an appreciation for her (she loves appreciations). I told her how grateful I was that she felt safe to call me on my behavior. I told her how glad I was that she spoke up to me when she didn’t like what I was doing. And I told her that I had this powerful realization that she would always be willing to speak up in situations when she needed to do so, and I was so very proud of her.

By the way, complaining, besides being whining and offensive, is not an effective strategy for getting one’s needs met. As far as I can tell, I didn’t get my dinner one minute sooner, and I am very thankful that my wife is not a person who likes to throw things.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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