as a parent which side would I rather err on?
Too harsh or too loving?
I will err no matter what I believe, what country I am from, what books I read, who I follow, which method I choose etc; because I am human. But if I narrowed my focus simply to words, speech, tone of voice etc; I recently asked myself if I was going to err, which side would I rather err on? Speaking too loving, too gently or speaking too harshly, too severely?
It's not necessarily what I am going to say that will change, because right is still right and wrong is still wrong, the line doesn't scooch over whether I add a please on to it or I bark it out. The change comes in the underlying message that I communicate to my children. I know a lot of times in my own life, as a child, what the person(s) was saying was honorable and true and my heart was desperately in need of correction but they barked it out in such a way that I did not receive it. I was immature and needed to be loved more than I needed to be corrected at that moment - or perhaps needed to feel loved so that I could be corrected? But either way my heart hardened to their words. They yelled, threatened, and spoke harshly over and over until it was too late and nothing they could say or do would reach me. I shut down to them. How tragic is that? Now looking back as an adult I (mostly) have the maturity to look beyond how someone says something to the words they are speaking and glean from it, but as a child I did not. So it stands to reason that my children do not have the maturity either to glean from my words if I bark them out, it stands to reason that they too need to feel loved (even if I love them from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, if they don't feel loved...then what good does it do?), and it stands to reason that their hearts will close to me if I do not guard how I speak my words.
My husband recently reminded me, on a day in which every single thing that could go wrong went wrong, that teaching and parenting and raising kids is like painting. When you paint something there are a lot of tiny, almost imperceptibly small strokes from your brush over and over again. But when you step back from the canvas there appear to be one beautiful, strong, single, broad stroke. How I speak my words are the paint brush, the words themselves the paint. I want to brush them on lovingly, gently, consistently, so that when I step back the one, single, broad stroke is one of beauty.
So here is to a day in which I err on the side of being too loving. Where I keep the big picture in mind, but do not fail to keep in mind the teeniest of small beginnings and effort for good.