We’ve all heard this saying “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” in other words as human beings and even animals we respond better to love. In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) says And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Everything we are is based on love, so why shouldn’t our discipline.
This week I read a quote that literally changed my life in regards to how to deal with people and I felt convicted in my relationships and mostly how I choose to raise my children.
“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.”
― Dave Willis
I read this quote over and again, I wrote it twice, once in my notebook, and once on a purple sticky note that to this day is still on my car console. Love is just that important, and I felt it was important and something I needed to be reminded of daily.
How many times do I choose love over criticism?
Do I criticize more than I compliment?
Do I acknowledge more of what people do the right way or give more life to what they do incorrectly?
Last week my Grandmother surprised us with a visit on her way back home to Chicago from visiting my Aunt and Cousin in Arizona. We went to Chick-fil-A for restaurant night to support my daughter’s school and as we sat across the table from one another eating chicken sandwiches and kids meals she blurted out…you’re a really good mother, you’re very patient and you don’t do a lot of fussing. It felt really good coming from a woman who raised 7 children, grandchildren and lived in an era that said you do as I say and not as I do and when I spank you I do it because I love you.
While the complement felt great, I still couldn’t help but think about that quote and how in more areas than one I could stand to be more of an encourager and less of a critic. As a parent, there are two areas that get under my skin, and I haven’t even made it to the teenage years yet…disrespect and ungratefulness. When my kid’s behaviors venture over into those two categories, you can forget it…criticism comes first and encouragement last.
What would happen if I chose encouragement over criticism? What would that teach my child about conflict? What would happen if in most situations I chose love over punishment…punishment, not discipline? I can think back to plenty of cases where I gave punishment when I should’ve given love. Does it mean that I won’t punish my children…Absolutely not! It just means I will be more conscious of the times I use punishment and the times I just need to show extra love and attention.
“Parenting is not about being the perfect parent, but finding the perfect method to raise your child.”
1. Listen. Sometimes children just want to be heard and understood. Whether they are 5 or 45, they just want to know that someone is this enormous and sometimes unfair world hears them.
2. Choose your words. Words have power. I can remember most of the negative words that have been said to me over time more than the positive ones. Alter your language and tone, many times it’s how you say something versus what you actually say.
3. Be open. Could it be that our kids lie to us because they are afraid of the criticism that comes along with telling the truth. Punishment creates fear and closes the door to future conversations.
Love is an open language, criticism closes the door and stops up our ears and clouds are hearts. Encouragement breathes life. What am I teaching my kids about love? How am I teaching them about love outside of what I say, but in my actions?
Choose to uplift.
Choose to see the best.
Choose to accept.
Choose to listen.
Choose to find the good.
Choose to speak life.
Choose to encourage.
Choose to love.
Love could be the difference maker in a parent-child relationship, it could be the difference maker in a broken marriage. It has the power to mend a friendship. Love could make someone’s day and cause them not to give up. There are enough critics, be an encourager.