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With Love and Respect

2016 June 29



My kids get along tremendously well. For a boy and a girl who are almost four years apart, we are frankly in awe of their relationship, of their friendship, of their mutual adoration.

But they, like any siblings, aren’t perfect.

My daughter is nine. My son is five. Some days, they may as well live on different planets. And sometimes, they are speaking two different languages. Not often, but sometimes.

I started to notice how these challenging moments would take shape and it was often through words.

“You’re bugging me.” “You can’t do that.” “You need to do this.” “Stop that.” “Don’t do that.” “You’re bugging me.”

It’s the behavior we expect of siblings, I suppose. But it was hurting my heart to see them throw these random thoughts at each other, never thinking of what their words meant or how they might bounce back. And frankly, I was getting tired of trying to interject. So rather than try to correct all these emotions and all these expressions one at a time, I introduced a general rule instead:

You must speak to each other with love and respect. 

It doesn’t mean you can’t get annoyed or frustrated or even angry. But you must communicate with each other with love and respect. I am not telling them what not to say, I am telling them what to say (kind of like at the swimming pool – I never yell at my kids to stop running…instead I yell at them to walk). And it’s a concept that even my five-year-old can understand. Two simple words, one simple mantra, easily adoptable in most any situation:

You must speak to each other with love and respect.

When they’re in the moment, when they start to snap at each other, when “you’re bugging me” rears its ugly little head, I don’t jump in to referee or to pass out punishment or to take sides.

I remind them to speak to each other with love and respect. And most of the time (most…), they do. They take back their words and rephrase them. They slow down their pace and soften their tone. They find another way to say “you’re bugging me” and move on with their moment.

And I stand back and watch it all.

You guessed it, with love and respect.

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