“Oh, what a cute little girl you have there! She looks a little cold. Have you thought maybe she might need a jacket?”
“Are we ready to go? You don’t look like you are quite ready. We will wait here while you change.”
“Just try a little harder, dear, to focus on the positive. Life can’t all be bad, can it?”
This can happen on accident or on purpose. I truly believe many people have good intentions. Good intentions though, are often wrought with grief and discouragement.
For example, last week, I learned that not only am I am a complete failure as a parent because I don’t have sit down meals with our whole family anymore, I also am to blame for many other issues because I allow screen time, and don’t share stories from life lessons I learned with my children enough.
I remember reading a book, one that was highly recommended in homeschool circles. My oldest son was 6 or 7 years old, and I was trying to learn all I could about this homeschooling thing. As I read, I learned that if I did not read aloud to him for 2-3 hours daily, I not only ruined his education, but at the age of seven, it was already too late. He was doomed to a life of mediocrity, because I had already failed him in his education. I got about halfway through the book, and ended up sobbing at my failures.
No doubt the author of the book was seeking to encourage parents to read to their children. I am sure of that. In her zeal, she discouraged me. What I didn’t see, was while I was not able to read aloud that many hours, my son did listen to books for 1-3 hours a day, on audio. Yes, they were not always the classics, but they were many times as well. The discouragement of parents is something that I find reprehensible, yet, I am sure I do it often myself.
When we hear blanket statements, or even backhanded compliments given to people, or remarks that are self serving or self righteous, (For example: “I am so thankful to have such wonderful children. Most parents don’t even teach their children how to have basic manners any more, and I am so blessed to have well mannered children.”) take time to stop and examine your life a bit.
- Is there something you can improve on a daily basis in your life?
- Is there a life lesson you can share with your children, family, friends without putting them down?
- Are your words seasoned with salt so that you are not lifting yourself up, while putting others down?
- If you have offended someone, can you apologize sincerely?
- Are we leaving people with encouragement or are we discouraging them by bragging about our triumphs?
In the end, we have to do the best we can do. Yes, it is a good idea to sit down to eat at the dinner table together. But sometimes when we spend all day together, talking, discussing and come time to eat, sometimes eating just has to happen without waiting for everyone to arrive. This is especially true when you have gone over 16 hours without eating, which happens often around here.
Table manners? Yes, they are a great thing to have. But don’t judge your neighbor as having never taught their children because their child made a major flub. It might be your child next and we totally know you have taught them all of it. Who knows if maybe that mom has as well?
I would encourage you to give grace, even when you are frustrated with others. Let us not judge so many times, and instead truly come along side people with encouragement, rather than encouragement that is backhanded discouragement.
We are never failures when we seek to do our best. We can always improve, yes, but as long as we are seeking to do our best, we will never fail completely.
Make mistakes? YES!
Perfection is overrated anyhow. We can always be improving, but just keep working towards a goal of doing our best.