Only when you see someone else washing the dishes in a strange way do you notice that there is more than one way of doing things. When my mom came over to our place and watched a friend of mine washing the dishes, she almost fainted.
You see, she believes that for the dishes to be clean, you first have to soak a sponge with soap, scrub the dishes from both sides, wash them with running water until no soap is left and leave them to dry. My friend filled up the sink with warm soapy water, soaked the dirty dishes for a short time, then dipped them in clean soapy water and put them out to dry. When drying, the dishes were full of soap and my mom could not believe her eyes.
"The dishes are full of soap", my mom said in horror, "Don’t tell me you are going to eat from these dishes".
"You can’t get rid of the oil if you put all the dirty dishes together", she tried to convince me.
As someone who grew up without running water, she could not understand why anyone would dip dishes in soapy water when there was so much water for rinsing "properly".
I have to say that the first time I saw this dish washing method, I was surprised myself and wondered how people stayed alive when their dishes were washed like this.
In fact, millions of people around the world dip their dishes in soapy water and are still very much alive, whether my mom and I think they are doing it "right".
I tell my mom that watching people doing things differently is a good way of examining our beliefs about life. Some of our beliefs are so strong they seem like the ultimate truth to us. We are so convinced that there is one "right" way of doing things we do not allow ourselves to experience the world in new ways.
Think about it. How many things around you are done the wrong way? How many things do you observe and say are wrong? How many parenting behaviors make you look away and consider them the acts of bad parents? How many people at work do you watch and say they just do not know what they are doing?
People are trapped in the "right" and only way to wash the dishes in every area of life. In a way, repetition is the best way to program people to think that one way of doing things is the only way. When you do something over and over again, every time you get an opportunity to do it differently, but you do it the same way again, because you have enough support for the belief that your way is the best way – the only way.
When our belief in our method of doing something is strong, we say we know how to do it. In fact, we only know one way and this may not be the best one (only God knows how many good, effective and easy ways we skip on the way).
Just like my mom, when I first watched others dipping the dishes in water and leaving all the soap on it on the dish rack, I knew that washing the dishes so many years with running water contributed to my strong belief about the right way to wash the dishes. It is only the coach in me that questioned the "right" way.
In parenting, much like in life in general, we are programmed to believe in the "right" ways of doing things. In fact, that "right" way does not exist. It is amazing how many people with their beliefs are just like my mom, sticking to one way of washing the dishes. Each and every "right" way blocks their progress and development.
Whenever you respond to something by saying "that is wrong", question the "right" way and try to find out if you are saying it is right just because you have always done it like that. Then, find out if you are willing to explore a different way of doing it.
Oh, by the way, there are more ways than the two mentioned to wash the dishes – one of them is by using a dishwasher…