Taking Off My Referee Hat

Whether you stay-at-home, work-from-home, work part-time, full-time to list out the number of hats a mother wears on any given day could make “War and Peace” look like a short story. 

Executive chef, personal driver, stylist, dentist, hair dresser, therapist, teacher, laundress, nurturer, cleaning lady, budget committee – this just covers the hats I wear while trying to get everyone out the door and to school in the morning. Some of these titles I enjoy more than others, and these do not even cover the other relationships we balance as mothers. Ultimately we are still someone’s daughter, sister, wife, friend, employee or employer. Just re-reading that list and I’m starting to feel like the cap peddler in the story “Caps for Sale.” I even have my own circus of monkeys that test my patience everyday. 

There is one hat I am ready to hang up.

I am tired of being my kids’ referee. 

As I enter a new stage of parenting with my girls being pre-school and grade school ages, I am exhausted by the number of times I get called in to break-up a spat over the angle of someone’s head that is inhibiting the other from watching “Trolls” for the 200th time, or the shrieks of injustice as they both reach for the same pink marker – even though we have about five different versions of the said marker. Looking over all the other responsibilities of my day, mama ain’t got time for that anymore.

So I’m handing over some of the responsibility of resolving their differences to my two strong-minded, smart and independent little women. 

Negotiating a tense situation and finding a solution that benefits both parties is a life skill I find worth cultivating in my girls at a young age. After stepping back from resolving every “mean look” or who gets to play “Chef SpiderBelle” in their rendition of “Princess-Superhero-Cafe-Hairdresser shop,” I’ve noticed that they are getting better at recognizing what is frustrating them and communicating it to each other. They are also learning to have more patience with each other in the spirit of sometimes you get to do it your way, sometimes you’ve got to compromise.

Now before I’m chastised for my approach to parenting regarding conflict resolution, please note I am aware that it would be irresponsible for me to think that at the tender ages of four and almost seven my girls are capable of resolving all their disagreements. Safety and common sense are two of the founding principles on how we parent. However, giving my girls the opportunity and responsibility of working out their issues before putting my two sense in has truly allowed their self-confidence and respect for one another to grow. 

I would be remiss if I did not admit that stepping away and keeping my mouth shut is a lot harder than it looks. When they disagree, I know what the fair and peacekeeping solution should be and it takes all of my self-control to step away and wait for them to figure it out. It is my hope that in the long-run their ability to mediate, empathize and compromise will empower them to be more open-minded and patient adults.

So I’m hanging up my referee hat for now and watching as two little ladies take charge of their own minds.


  1. I completely agree with this and do it myself with my and 4 and 5 year old. I tell them they are old enough to handle these kind of disagreements, but do get involved if there are more substantial issues, such as hitting or name calling. It teaches them a valuable life skill and makes them less dependent on me.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here