Sunday, April 17

Acceptance and Difficult Others 4/17/11

In a previous post about acceptance, Thag said:
"Try doing having acceptance when your almost 8-year-old makes weekly mass an exercise in humiliation!"

     Dear Thag,
I imagine it must, at times, be frustrating, raising two young daughters, especially if one is strong-willed.  I'm not sure your oldest is, but she might be.  Fortunately, none of mine were.  I lucked out.

     There was a time, when I fathered  three teenage sons. That season required grace and wisdom I often lacked.

     Fortunately, they've turned out to be three magnificent sons.  I'm thankful for God's help.  I did my best and left the results to Him.  I find the following quote from Marshall Rosenberg helpful, I hope you do, too:
'Everything is in a constant process of discovery and creating. Life is intent on finding what works, not what's right'       Margaret Wheatley
It may be best to not look for the "bad," "wrong," or devious motivation for our children [or anyone's,] behaviors.  Our children are only and always trying to meet their human needs.  I train myself to look beneath the behavior for the need they are trying to meet, addressing that. In this way I will get to the reason they are doing what they're doing, and I'll also be able to help them choose actions that better serve their needs.
'Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mis-takes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible.'  
 Virginia Satir states: Parents are sometimes afraid to empathize with their children out of fear that they will then have to 'give in' and give their child what they ask for.  However, empathy doesn't mean you agree to do anything your child asks. It simply means 'I care about what's going on with you.'
As we know, the message we send is not always the message received.
Sometimes when we make a request, we can pick up on verbal cues or body  language to determine that the message we sent was received the way we intended.  But other times you can tell that whatever you said was "Greek" to the listener. 
To ensure a smooth exchange of information, try getting into the habit of asking the listener to reflect back what they heard you say.  They don't have to give a word-for-word recitation, but simply state what they think you said.  Incorporating this into your conversations, upsets and misunderstandings can be avoided.
It's important expressIng appreciation when your listener tries to meet your request for a reflection.  Answering with "That's not what I said" or  "You weren't listening to me" will have the opposite effect.  A simple, "I'm grateful to you for telling me what you heard, I can see I didn't make myself as clear as I'd like. Let me try again." No Greek there!
A Helpful Practice

       I ask others if they can tell me what they've heard me say.  Reflecting back what I hear, helps, too. It removes confusion. Again, what is communicated may not be what is heard.

       How many of my readers would like to join me, in exercising reflection this week?  May it be a great and grateful one, as a result!
Related Post:
Responding, Not Reacting


Thag Jones said...

My own special post! Thanks Paul. I was being a bit silly with that comment though, lol.

I don't think she's trying to wind me up, she just has trouble sitting still and following social cues and sometimes I just get myself wound up over it.

Paul NorthernCal said...

Oh, okay. It's hard to sense the tenor of a person's comments, at times. So, you didn't have to bind and gag her. That's good to know. :P

Paul NorthernCal said...

And yes, you are special.

Kelly said...


My son will be five, soon, and I swear he runs on five billion little bitty batteries. Mass is a true test of my patience, too.

I have found a few things that help me, especially with the social cues things. Like, if he is quiet, and kind of moving in his small space while facing forward (like slightly bouncing up and down as he likes/needs/wants to do), I tend to let him do that. I also try to remember that everyone was little once. And God probably has a soft spot in his heart for kids. And parents of kids.

It is hard for me because I go to church with my family (parents and sisters) and we were expected to sit still and be seen and not heard. We also got spankings and were pretty scared of what my mom would do if we didn't behave. I don't rule over my son with fear, so I don't have that same pull in church. Anyway, my family comments on the fact that I don't do anything and I let him get away with everything, etc, etc, when (in reality) I think he is pretty well behaved (just a little bit busy) for a child who does not fear his mother.

In summary ;) My goal for my son is that he faces forward and that he stands and kneels and does all that we do, at the same time, and he is quiet...but if he is moving in his personal space, I try to let it go.

It is stressful, though, isn't it? It can be, at least....

Paul NorthernCal said...


I definitely remember the unbearable tension of attending mass, as a child. I couldn't move or even scratch myself, if I itched. I had to look straight ahead without moving, like a soldier.

Ugh! That was not the loving experience I wanted, when I tried to worship God, as a child. I'm glad that's not the case, now. Knowing a gracious, loving, patient God, who loves me unconditionally is a great source of comfort.

Thanks for sharing your experience, strength and hope regarding this matter. I love it when we enjoy community, in this inn!

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From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

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From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

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From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

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From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.