Several years ago, my younger son was going through a rough patch at school. He just couldn’t seem to get his act together and fit the mold of how a kindergarten boy should behave. He would say silly things at the wrong times, poke or bother other kids in class, not pay attention to what he should be doing, and not follow the rules on the playground. He wasn’t a bad kid. But he was a slow learner, and he just was too impulsive. We tried and tried to talk to him and teach him, discipline him, and correct his poor behavior, but it seemed like he just kept making mistakes. I got calls all the time from school, sometimes from the teacher, and sometimes from the principal. Each one of these calls was devastating. I would be in tears, telling my husband that I’ve failed as a mother, and I would wonder what in the world was going to become of my son.
It was right around that time that I talked to a good friend from church. She was quite a bit older than me and had already raised her large family, including triplet boys. These boys were a handful, to say the least, all throughout their childhood and teenage years, and she had more than her fair share of calls from the principal and everyone else! She told me that the best thing she ever learned was to say, “Thank you for letting me know.” Whenever she heard any kind of negative feedback, she would say this, and it would completely defuse the situation. She wouldn’t get emotional or defensive. She wouldn’t try to argue, or explain, or apologize. She would take the feedback, acknowledge what the person was trying to communicate, and then end the conversation. This phrase was polite but made her feel more in control of the situation, and gave her power to decide what to do with the feedback on her own time and her own terms. She began to trust herself that she was doing her best, and that that was good enough.
Since that conversation, I have used the phrase “Thank you for letting me know” in more situations than I can count! I use it with teachers, school administrators, coaches, church leaders, dentists, doctors, and most recently with Kaitlyn’s endocrinologist.
We had had a rough visit and got some feedback about how we were managing Kaitlyn’s type 1 diabetes. While it was my gut reaction to feel horrible about myself as a mother and to make excuses or give explanations, I caught myself from being emotional and defensive, and I used my favorite phrase. “Thank you for letting me know!” This phrase let the doctor know that we cared about what she thought, and that we would try to do better. It’s often my reaction to get upset, overwhelmed, and almost paralyzed when I receive correction, but this time, we felt in control, and that we had the power to take her advice and build better habits.
There might be parents out there who never hear a single negative word about their child or what they need to improve in their parenting, and to you I would say, count your blessings! For the rest of us, who have children who struggle a little or maybe a lot, I would highly recommend using this phrase. “Thank you for letting me know.” Give it a try, and I bet you’ll be surprised at how much better your interactions go, and how much better you feel about your ability to move forward.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.