Friday, May 22, 2015

The Greatest Is Love

One thing Damek really struggles with is knowing how to interact in positive ways with people, especially when he thinks he is right and the other person is wrong. Especially when the other person is his little brother. One thing Damek really needs is someone to come alongside him and explain and model what are appropriate ways to interact with people. One thing Damek really hates is to be wrong. He has been known to adjust facts in order to appear right when he is found to be wrong. And so we have started to teach him based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
 If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.
The repeated phrase usually goes something like this: Damek, when you are rude you are wrong, regardless of whether your facts or right or not. How can you say what you're saying in a way that is not rude or mean?

This usually gets us into a lively discussion because, as previously mentioned, he hates to be wrong. And some days he will try again and do a fantastic job of rephrasing what he's saying and some days he will get frustrated and agitated. But we keep trying. That's all we can do as parents, teachers, adults in the lives of kids, just keep trying, keep modeling, keep repeating. Don't give up.

I have met people in real life and on-line who I wished had had someone in their lives to teach them these basic principles. John Viscount Morley once said
You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
Yelling louder, being ruder, taking over, showing physical aggression does not make one right no matter how correct that person's view might be. And it does not teach or earn converts, it simply makes what one has to say of no value whatever.

Of course, as parents we can be guilty of this kind of behavior ourselves. Sometimes when I am dealing with a 3 year old who has his own thoughts on what needs to be happening right now or a 6 year old who is asking a million questions to avoid a consequence or a 9 year old who is questioning every decision I make in a day, the easiest thing to do is to yell louder, be rude, take over, be physically powerful. The hardest thing to do is to take a step back, regroup, try again, use love, and continue to show respect even when I have to be firm.

And if that is so hard for me to do as an adult, how much harder for a 9 year old with a learning disorder? Maybe I should have said 'one thing that we both really struggle with'.