This blog was originally posted in September 2014.
How many times have you heard that today? We all do our best as parents to make things fair. If you have multiple children you try to keep things even – everyone gets the same number of chips/cookies on their plate or if one picked the movie last week, then it’s the others turn to pick this time. In an effort to keep things balanced and make sure everyone feels equal treatment we subconsciously devise a system where we keep score.
Keeping score is a natural part of any sport or game. By keeping score, you are able to measure your success and identify where you or your team needs work. In baseball if you not scoring enough runs then the team can work on their hitting. If a football or basketball team is allowing too many points, then defense can be the focus. Having a target for improvement is always a positive when you are trying to get better at something.
However, keeping score has extended way beyond the sports arena and now can be seen in so many aspects of our lives. We may use it at home to track good behavior or to keep things “fair”. Schools use grades to track performance, to identify who needs more help and who is excelling. In the work place we score employees based on how they perform in their job. On social media, we track how many likes we get on a certain post or picture. We even use it in our relationships – I called them last time, it’s their turn to call me or we invited them to our house, now it’s their turn to invite us or they drove the carpool last week, it’s my turn this week.
Keeping score does two things. The first thing is that when we keep score we subliminally start to measure a person’s effort or investment in the relationship. We have this inherent feeling within us that things need to be “even” and by even we mean equal effort. But is there really such a thing as equal effort? Does it/should it even matter? We should think about the motivation behind why we are doing something. Are you doing it because of what you are going to get in return? Or are you doing it because you want to do it? If you are doing it because you want to do it, or because you can do it, then it shouldn’t matter if it’s the first time or the fiftieth time that you are doing it. You’ve made the choice to do it. Own that choice and don’t sit and wait to be repaid.
The second aspect of keeping score is what some people call the “lack mentality”. It’s the idea that there is a limited amount, so if someone else gets it then there will not be enough for me. On paper, it sounds very simplistic and irrational, but if you watch for it, chances are you will see it’s more prevalent than you think. You’ll see that many people with a lack mentality only look out for themselves. They have little to no regard to those around them. They “score” as many points as they can on their own. When you utilize the strengths of the people around you and work as a team, not only will you “score” more points, but you will gain so much more from the experience.
It’s fun to play games, keep score and celebrate accomplishments and improvements. But keep it within the game; don’t create a scoring gap in your relationships where one doesn’t exist.
Do you have trouble keeping score? Let’s talk, direct message or email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up time this week
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.