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October 19, 2011 - Michelle Oliver
So, two weeks ago when I attempted to upload my blog something went awry and I have no idea which little magical beings were taking a coffee break, but somewhere between my computer and this website some little imp or fairy or giga-gnome was slacking and my blog would not load. Actually I think it was fate intervening because I was so hopping mad about a particular topic that I probably wasn't lucid enough to have presented a well written blog – it definitely would have looked more like a rant.
Two weeks has been enough time for me to calm down – but I’m still really upset about the event I witnessed and even more upset that there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it except to petition, admonish, endorse, plead and beg everyone who reads this to remember the admonition of Thumper:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
As parents we bear a heavy and sometimes lopsided burden of "what is appropriate" when speaking to our children. There are times, read: Every.Single.Day., when we have to correct or discipline our children – that’s pretty much the primary objective of being a responsible parent. And sometimes we do have to raise our voices in order to get their attention. I’ve yet to hear a mother softly coo to their 4 year old while he is sprinting for the road.
We also need to be kind, respectful, patient, and aware while we are speaking. Never should sarcasm or intentionally hurtful words be used, but there is always a time and a place for making your standards, expectations and house rules known in a clear and firm fashion.
In my advancing years I’ve discovered that it was a whole lot easier to speak nicely to my children when they were younger. Once they hit the teenage years it was all too easy to mimic their sarcastic speech patterns and let “that tone” come out when getting into a verbal tussle with them.
How can I expect them to “not take that tone with me” if I’m throwing it right back at them at the first sign of defiance or agitation?
Unlike Thumper, there are times when we have to speak up as a parent to change behaviors, and that means addressing topics that require us to say things that may not be "nice", but they are essential to our being responsible parents. Having been through "Parenting Lab: Birth to 20" four times and still doing an advanced class on "How to Hug 2 Teenage Porcupines", I am still convinced theoretically and practically that our ‘corrective conversations’ can be done without the foul language, the demeaning tones, the belittling put-downs and the supposed witty sarcasm.
I believe in our ability to speak plainly, firmly, concisely and showing an increase of love after the fact to assure them that, while behaviors may have to change, we love them today; not tomorrow or next week IF they change, but here and now. And always.
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