Your daughter asked for permission to go to her friend's house after school. You gave it. Later, you realized she might be able to run an errand for you on her way home so you called the friend's house to ask to speak to your daughter. You were shocked to discover that she never arrived at the house and that, as far as this mom knows, the two girls went to the mall to meet some friends.

Fast forward two hours. Your daughter arrives home. Do you:

  1. Immediately send her to her room.
  2. Greet her by yelling at her for lying to you.
  3. Ask her where she went after school.
  4. Ignore her and refuse to speak to her for several days.
  5. All of the above.
  6. None of the above.

What you decide to do depends largely on what you did during the intervening two hours. Did you:

  1. Call your spouse and rant about your daughter's horrible personality.
  2. Go to your private inner space and berate yourself for being such a failure of a parent to have such a daughter.
  3. Go to your private inner space and sink into despair and/or depression.
  4. Replay in your mind all the things your daughter ever did wrong.
  5. Use a special technique to calm your nerves.
  6. Ask someone you trust for advice.
  7. Search the web for interventions for lying children.
  8. Remember what you learned from the last parenting book you read and/or at the last parenting class you attended.
  9. 5, 6, 7, and/or 8.

It's really hard to solve parenting problems when we're upset. When a child "pushes our buttons" to "on" we have to push them back to "off." We don't want our childhood failures, betrayals and other wounds flashing past our eyes when our actual child needs us to be in adult mode. Although kids routinely do things that trigger our strong emotions, we need to explore those emotions and release them before we attempt to deal with the child. Otherwise, we will just be "acting out." Screaming at a child, insulting her, heaping huge negative consequences upon her and other acts of irrationality not only hurt the child and our relationship with her, but they also hurt us. We know we're out of control and it doesn't feel good at all.

It's far better for us to deal with our upset and then approach the parenting dilemma intelligently and calmly. As the Torah teaches us, "the words of the wise are heard softly"; meaning that if you want someone to really hear you, you need to be speaking calmly and quietly to them. That's really hard to do if you're very upset.

There is, fortunately for us, an easy, powerful technique for emotional release called WHEE (Whole Healing Easily and Effectively). Although it looks too simple to be of any real value, WHEE actually goes right to the heart of our parenting pain and rapidly (within minutes) releases it and restores us to calm. WHEE works on the level of the mind, transforming memories, feelings, body sensations and neural pathways. Here is a short description of how to do the technique:

  1. Rate how upset you are between 1 and 10.
  2. Say (out loud or silently) "Even though I'm so upset about… (name your problem in lots of detail)… I love and accept myself completely and G‑d loves and accepts me too." For example, "Even though I'm really upset that my daughter didn't tell me the truth and this reminds me of how difficult she's been for 12 years now and how tired I am of having to deal with it, I love and accept myself completely and G‑d loves me too."
  3. Fold your arms so that both hands are top of your arms (this is called the Butterfly Position). Tap your hands alternately left/right, left/right and think about the troubling situation and your upset feelings in as much detail as you can. Continue tapping and thinking for about 20 seconds. E.g. tapping while thinking, "I can't believe she tried to pull this off… I'm so tired of her behavior… I can't take it anymore… I'm going to let her have it..."
  4. Keep tapping but now think a positive thought pertaining to the subject at hand. Tap for another 10 seconds. E.g. "G‑d will help me to get through this."
  5. Rest your hands on your lap. Take a deep breath in and out and relax. Now rate the problem again between 1 and 10.
  6. Keep doing rounds of tapping on whatever thoughts and feelings are coming up until you are completely calm—at a "zero."

The whole WHEE process usually takes just a few minutes. Once you are calm, you'll be able to find an appropriate solution to your parenting challenge and carry it out with composure and confidence. WHEE is like a fast ride downhill from a high peak of frustration, fear, grief or other upset. Use it whenever you want your parenting brain to function at its very best!