How This Parent Will Strive to Disagree Better

On the way to school this morning, the girls and I had a great interaction about how we treat one another. It began as they were talking about a t-shirt that they often wear to school that has the phrase on the front, “I love Lola” followed by the definition of “Lola” . . . “grandmother ” in Tagalog.

Middle, “When people read my ‘I love Lola’ shirt they think I’m talking about my dog.”

Youngest, “Seriously, don’t people bother to read?”

Eldest, you should totally say, “You know I enjoy careful reading . . . you should try it.”

Laugh, giggle and then Daaaad had to talk . . .

What followed was a great conversation about how some comebacks may seem really funny, and may even be clever, but that using cut downs meant to humiliate or demean was not okay.

“Go ahead, let your inside voice say it, but please don’t actually say it outloud. Deal?”

“Deal.”

No major eye-rolling. Just another teachable moment as they say.

Some of you are reading this and may be thinking this was not the best advice. You may be right, but it did get me thinking about how we parents model interaction in times of conflict and disagreement.

As a person who has the privilege of having a writing and speaking platform from which I can raise issues that are important to me, it’s not a surprise that I get a good deal of nastiness directed my way. Don’t worry, I let most of it roll off of me . . . though don’t let my momma find out who you are ;-) I’m not naive and I know that the big bad evil trolls are out there lurking. Waiting. At the same time, just because they are out there, does not mean that we should now abdicate public discourse to those who seek and reap division; accept this posture as the new normal or resort to the same kind of tactics.

Yes, this is one more post pleading for all of us to rise above the fray and choose to disagree differently. And I will say until I am blue the face that my commitment to remove tactics of humiliation, destruction and dehumanization from our interaction is not one that leads to a weakness in fortitude, devaluation of truth or limited impact. In fact, I would contend that in today’s hyper-snarky, techo-crazy world, I think people who have the discipline to exhibit unexpected humility, excruciating graciousness and passionate love of the other are the architects, curators and builders of a better tomorrow.

With my interaction with the kids and comments from this post and this update fresh in mind mind, I posed this question on my Facebook Page:

I wonder if most parents would be proud if their children interacted the same way at school during passionate disagreements about playground life as the parents do during passionate disagreements about politics?

If you take the time to read through the comments on the above links, I think you get a good sense of where I probably am in my own modeling: most of the time I feel okay about how I respond to others in the heat of the debate, but every so often, I resort to tactics that are patronizing, humiliating and destructive to the body as a whole.

These are not traits I want to pass on to my children.

So for my daughters’ sake and all who may observe me, I will strive to be and do better.

Anyone else?

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  • kalimsaki

    Hi Bruce

    Said Nursi had proved the existence of God in his
    books.

    I want to share some part From
    Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi (23th word)

    Man is such an antique work of art of Almighty God. He
    is a most subtle and graceful miracle of His power whom He created to manifest
    all his Names and their inscriptions, in the form of a miniature specimen of
    the universe. If the light of belief enters his being, all the meaningful
    inscriptions on him may be read. As one who believes, he reads them
    consciously, and through that relation, causes others to read them. That is to
    say, the dominical art in man becomes apparent through meanings like, “I am the
    creature and artefact of the All-Glorious Maker. I manifest His mercy and
    munificence.” That is, belief, which consists of being connected to the Maker,
    makes apparent all the works of art in man. Man’s value is in accordance with
    that dominical art and by virtue of being a mirror to the Eternally Besought
    One. In this respect insignificant man becomes God’s addressee and a guest of
    the Sustainer worthy of Paradise superior to all other creatures.

    However, should unbelief, which consists of the
    severance of the relation, enter man’s being, then all those meaningful
    inscriptions of the Divine Names are plunged into darkness and become
    illegible. For if the Maker is forgotten, the spiritual aspects which look to
    Him will not be comprehended, they will be as though reversed. The majority of
    those meaningful sublime arts and elevated inscriptions will be hidden. The
    remainder, those that may be seen with the eye, will be attributed to lowly
    causes, nature, and chance, and will become utterly devoid of value. While they
    are all brilliant diamonds, they become dull pieces of glass. His importance
    looks only to his animal, physical being. And as we said, the aim and fruit of
    his physical being is only to pass a brief and partial life as the most
    impotent, needy, and grieving of animals. Then it decays and departs. See how
    unbelief destroys human nature, and transforms it from diamonds into coal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carriesc Carrie Smith-Coons

    Bruce, thanks for giving me some things to think about in my own parenting. I thought of your post when I saw this video :): http://www.values.com/inspirational-stories-tv-spots/121-Timeout

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/breyeschow/ Bruce Reyes-Chow

    Yes, I have also lamented out ability to engage in playful banter that reminds us of our own humanity, the humanity of the other and the ultimate insignificance of most of our conversations. Good smack talk is born out of some relationship, but just not sure that we are always willing to do the work to have them. *sigh*

  • http://www.facebook.com/planey1 Patrick Laney

    Great reflections. The question for me is where is the space between being obnoxiously politically correct and point-scoring trash talk. I think about this a lot in our very important conversations about bullying, because a lot that is now being labeled as bullying is not quite that. And dadgum it if it does not always end up back somewhere around “speaking the truth in love.”


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