Monday, January 14, 2013


I've had occasion to think about the difference between being mean and offering constructive criticism. Too often, we take things personally that are meant with the best of intentions. It's easy to misconstrue something because perhaps it hits a little too close to home. This is especially true when the advice is coming from someone close to us, a husband perhaps. Not that I would know or anything...

If we as adults have a difficult time separating our feelings from feedback that is meant to help us, then how much harder is it for our children? How difficult must it be for them to understand that what is being said is not meant to hurt them?

It's too easy to speak harshly to a child, I think. Or maybe it's just me. "Julia, you need to STOP acting like that!" "Damien, that room is disgusting. Clean it up!" But do I stop to think about how the tone of my words affects my children? Not until after the damage is done, if at all. The words are necessary, but the tone cuts. As adults, we usually have the tools to deal with situations like this, but children don't. They take it personally. They think we're angry, we're being mean, even that we hate them. How heartbreaking it is to hear that "Momma is mean." Silly words and probably not truly believed, but let that silly thought fester, even reinforce it with continuous disregard for innocent feelings? Soon the rift between Momma and son will be very wide indeed. And he will be a teenager who hates his mom.

Children don't understand. It's up to us as adults to A) equip our children with the tools they need to deal with criticism and correction and B) to temper our tone towards them, so they know that they are being treated with respect and love, even in the midst of correction or discipline. I don't know about you, but B is really hard for me. I get exasperated and frustrated. But Colossians 3:21 says:

"Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."

My children shouldn't have to deal with my frustration. They're not equipped for it. I don't want to cause my children discouragement. I want to encourage them! I want to teach them! I want them to know I correct them and discipline because I love them and I want them to feel that love even in the midst of "trouble."

Guess I have a bit of work to do. What about you? Do you find it easy to temper your own emotions when dealing with your kids or do you struggle like me? What tips do you have to help?

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