The Sauce in the Room - January 5, 2023 | Kids Out and About Phoenix

The Sauce in the Room

January 5, 2023

Debra Ross

My column a few weeks ago, "Sell, Don't Tell," described how I learned as a kid that parents can choose to be either dictators or salespeople, and I decided my parenting future was in sales. After the column was published, my kids pointed out that I should probably add one more profession to that list: manager.

I think I first adopted the "manager" role when it came time for them to learn to pick up after themselves. To a young person, a room out of control is a lot more than the sum of the number of LEGOs on the floor: It's a mountain they have no idea how to climb. After all, no one—especially someone on Earth only a short time—knows how to do something until they know how to do something.

My secret sauce was to act as though they already owned the process.

When my kids were young and would become overwhelmed by the state of their rooms, their schoolwork, or whatever, I'd offer my services as a manager rather than tell them what to do directly. "Hire me!" I'd say, cheerfully. "I can show you how to break this into manageable pieces. Seriously, I am so happy to help."

See what I did there? I acted as though they already had signed on to the idea that the room needed to be tidied, not "because Mom said so," but because the universe requires an orderly environment for getting things done. Deciding whether or not to "hire" me both helped them feel like they owned what they were doing and reassured them that they weren't alone unless they wanted to be. I've asked Madison and Ella whether they were wise to what I was doing back then, whether they could tell when the secret sauce was in the mix. "Hard to tell," they said. "You were always so annoyingly cheerful."
Debra Ross, publisher
I count it as a win for the sales team!