Blog

How to Win at Arguing With Your Partner or Anyone Else (for that Matter)

The other day, I wandered across a post in a social media group that caught my attention. Like most posts on these platforms, it starts with someone sharing their perspective of an experience that they had. In most cases, they’re not really interested in hearing another perspective on their issue. Usually, validation and approval is what they’re seeking. They want to let others know, exactly, what they’re feeling. Their retelling of the experience might include little detail, which doesn’t give the onlookers much satisfaction. However, letting it all out or venting is the way (in my Mandalorian voice) in which these things work.

WE WANT THE FULL EXPERIENCE.

The readers wants all of the juicy details to decide on whether or not to fully invest time and energy into reading the post (and the comments). That post, in particular, just so happened to be one of those posts, that had the necessary elements to draw others into the fray. As I read the post, I asked a clarifying question to determine how clear I was in understanding the poster’s point of view. I didn’t want to assume that I had all of the information based on what I had read in front of me.

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT ASSUMING!!!

The issue with assuming that we know what the other person is thinking is a recipe for disaster, which leads to further disconnection and misunderstanding between those involved. In my opinion, it’s a lack of respect for the other person. I believe that we owe it to ourselves to put ourselves in a position of receiving what we need from the other person. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree. Simply, that we’re open to hearing their perspective. Hence, the clarifying question is bringing clarity and understanding into the mix. Ultimately, landing us in a position of alignment and improved connection.

Often it requires time to disrupt and interrupt the chaos created by disagreements in our relationships. A willingness to engage from a place of curiosity is important to building a bridge. Without this bridge, the flow of traffic is non existent. What happens when traffic is not moving?

Photo by Aayush Srivastava on Pexels.com

It leads to anger, frustration, resentment, anxiety, etc. These feelings cause us to go into fight or flight mode. That’s right the stress response kicks in, which impacts the ability to communicate our feelings and needs with a level of reason. When reason goes out the door, you can forget about a reasonable resolution. If we’re not in tune with ourselves, we’ll continue to spiral out of control until we return to ourselves. If you struggle with staying caught in your emotions, listen to my podcast episode on releasing negative emotions.

As that energy subsides, we have the ability to return to listening for understanding, clarifying for understanding, and providing our point of view to bring about a resolution for the situation. At the end of the day, a resolution is the what we want. Working towards that resolution with a win-win in mind is the way for winning the arguments, which doesn’t fit the social media drama model. And, there’s nothing wrong with that!

Blessed to Be a Blessing

In an earlier post, I discussed the importance of providing affirmations to our children. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check it out, click on the link to enhance the power of your voice to boost your child’s self worth. I know that you will reap the rewards in your relationship with your family.

What does bless mean, exactly? In my mind, the word “bless” is to provide something of value to someone else, i.e. kind words, a gift, a smile, money, etc. It’s an endless list of what and how we can go about blessing others in this world. It doesn’t need a million dollar price tag on it to prove it’s worth and value. All it needs is a loving and willing heart distributing it to someone, which validates its worth on its own.

Recently a friend of mine, reached out for some help to serve the homeless in our community. Without hesitation, I let him know that I was on board to link up with him to help distribute meals to this growing population in our community. I didn’t know what to expect by signing on to help. I knew that I’ve been on the receiving end of so much goodness in my life, that I wanted to bless someone else by serving in the community with no expectation of anything in return.

My wife and I showed up to our friend’s home a little after 9AM on a Sunday morning, which means I woke up way earlier than I care to wake up on a weekend. Normally during this time, I’m watching an online service from the School of the Hebrews. In the last few weeks, I felt the need for something more than just being a consumer of the sermon. I strongly felt the need to produce fruit (so to speak) for others to consume. Immediately, I transformed from consuming to producing from being blessed to blessing others.

All too often, it’s easy to limit our thinking to our 4 walls and nothing else beyond those boundaries. It’s easy to open the garage door, close the garage door, and enter the home after a day’s work ends. I believe that there’s more in life than this simple, unimpactful transaction with life.

Yes, work is important! It’s how we provide for our self and our family.

Yes, rest is important! It helps us to have the necessary energy for life.

However, the act of being a blessing to someone has the potential to do far more than we will ever know for someone else.

While we were serving, we met a man who had fallen on tough times. His father, a minister for 37 years, no longer on this side of eternity. He lives in a tent community at a busy intersection in our city. The man didn’t want anything that we had to offer in terms of the warm meal. His requests were a pair of pants, and continue to keep coming to ’till the soil.’

In our interaction with him, I learned more about and from him in 10 mins than I expected.

Often times in our desire to serve, we approach it with this self-serving mindset. We feel that we are doing things for the right reasons, and there are times when ulterior motives lie underneath the surface, whether we’re aware or unaware of them.

In this interaction, I’m pretty sure that I came pure of heart to be a blessing. Was my desire to produce more about me or more about the community? I believe a little of both existed inside of me. The hesitancy to engage at times was definitely about my comfort and safety. The desire to give and fulfill a need, definitely played a huge part in the day. However, my desire to produce for this man transformed me into a consumer once again.

This homeless man living on the street “ministered” to my friend and I, in such a way, that the posture of my heart changed. It was truly a remarkable moment to experience, to say the least. We never know what others are dealing with in this life. It’s not my place to pass judgement or condemn. It’s my place to learn and understand, if my desire is living out the call of being blessed to bless others. I believe this desire is in all of our lives. The way that each of us fulfills this calling looks different from one person to the next.

Too Spank or Not Too Spank!

Let’s take a look at one of the most misquoted scriptures in the entire Bible. If you read the title, then you know that I’m not referring to money is the root of all evil. That’s another post for another day. Based on the title, I’m referring to Proverbs 13:24.

When it comes to physical discipline, have you ever heard someone say, “Well in the Bible, it says ‘spare the rod, spoil the child” as their justification for using the proverbial rod of correction? I’m sure that you have someone in mind, who has made that statement on an occasion or two. Perhaps, you have uttered those words as well. For the record, the scripture states “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Before we dive into the idea of spanking or not spanking, let me share this with you first. I’m not going to tell you to spank or not to spank. It’s not my place to tell you what to do with your child. However, my stance on the issue leans heavily on using alternatives to corporal punishment. With that said, let’s get it started.

I want you to look at the scripture one more time.

You’re probably thinking a few things right about now after re-reading the scripture. More than likely, you’re not asking yourself how this misinterpretation could be so rampant in our world. I’m sure some of you will chalk it up to the game. Some of you are willing to let this error slide. That’s fine by me if you take that route. However, I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to challenge some of the belief systems that I have about certain things. I don’t do it, per se, to poke holes into my beliefs and ideas. I do it more so to strengthen those things that I believe in by having a valid reason for continuing to go along with my belief system. However, I don’t have a problem with dismantling it once I see that the idea no longer serves me. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done. But, that’s my goal.

Let’s get back on track with this “sparing of the rod and spoiling of the child” business at hand. Let’s start with looking at the origin, which has been around since 1664. That’s right 1664! It showed up in the narrative poem entitled Hudibras written by Samuel Butler.

We don’t have to be a master in theology or biblical studies to know that the Bible pre-dates the 1600s. But, I digress.

Let’s see what Samuel Butler wrote: “If matrimony and hanging go/By dest’ny, why not whipping too?/What med’cine else can cure the fits/Of lovers when they lose their wits?/Love is a boy, by poets styl’d/Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.”

Wait! What just happened?

This might be a good place to breathe. I’m still trying to figure out what happened as well. That quote has, absolutely, nothing to do with discipling children. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to engage in that deep dive of history. If you’re interested in more details, you’re welcome to engage in that endeavor on your own. From what I gathered, their was a belief by early Europeans that children are were easily spoiled by things that time and research in parenting has provided alternative information, i.e. feeding babies on demand, picking up babies when they cry, spanking to discipline.

When presented with new information, we have a choice to continue to walk in darkness or walk in light. If you’ve made it this far with me, I’m guessing that you want to enjoy the light. But, your eyes are still trying to adjust to the new setting.

Let’s go back to the scripture at hand, which reads “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” In my opinion, the text is more focused on applying discipline than exacting punishment. Some of you are wondering if there’s a difference between the two. Yes, there is a huge difference. The difference is found in the outcome that each produces in the child. The difference is found in the motivation of the parents.

Here’s a good spot to give meaning to discipline and punishment.

  • Discipline is teaching and guiding, which provides the child with information on how they are to behave or not behave.
  • Punishment is applying shame, fear, or guilt to your child as a means of correcting their behavior.

Here’s an example of punishment: I yell at my 4 year old for spilling milk all over the counter. My goal isn’t to help her understand how to pour the milk. It’s to point out how not to pour the milk by use of the condemning message or worse.

Here’s an example of discipline: I remind my 4 year old that “toys are for sitting and not for throwing at others.” Once the child uses the toy correctly, I provide encouragement and acknowledgement of the use of the toy. If the child does not use it properly, then toy is removed from a play for a certain amount of time.

If love is the motivating factor in how I raise my children, then I believe that I must role model love for them in all of my interactions with them including discipline. I love my children enough to not leave them in their mess. At the same time, I recognize that they’re children and messing up comes with the territory. If a child messing up is a guarantee, then leading them into understanding through my teaching and guidance is a must.

For more on my thoughts about disciplining, you can check out a series of episodes on the topic starting with Wait Until Your Dad Gets Home, which was the first of a 4-week discussion on discipline versus punishment.

Top 10 Tips for Raising Great Kids

As parents we all desire that our kids will grow up to be happy, healthy responsible adults, don’t we?

I know I do! I want for mine to do more good than harm in this world. And, I am going to do everything in my power to make it happen.

It is important to make a conscientious effort to encourage our children to develop independence and strong character, which empowers them to successfully navigate through life. If we are waiting until the teen years to start preparing them, then we are setting them up for failure. Character development of children starts on day one.

However, our job as parents is not to tell our children how to live their life. Our job is simply to encourage them to develop sufficient strength of character and independence to figure it things out for themselves. In doing so, they have what it takes to avoid the costly mistakes that so many others make in life. The sooner that they learn the skills means less hand-holding by the adults.

Here are 10 tips to guide them toward the proverbial, straight and narrow.

  1. Lead by example. All children are strongly influenced by their parents’ example. Therefore, it is important to teach what we want to see by ensuring that the example you set is worthy of following.

    • You cannot expect them to learn and grow just from being told what they should do. You have to do it yourself. Kids always tend to do what you do and not just blindly follow what you say.

  2. Get your children out into nature. Let them see how the world works. Take them to the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Encourage them to have an interest in their natural environment and in wildlife.

    • Show them how food is grown and how it gets from the field to the table. Let them try growing some simple vegetables themselves so they can appreciate the time and energy that nature puts into food production.

  1. Give them as much interaction with animals as possible, especially those in the wild. Cultivate their interest in all living beings, their environment, and the fine balance of the ecosystem that supports them.

  2. Teach your children about negotiation and consequences. Use their daily routine as a platform.

    • For example, if they have to do chores to earn a trip to the movies, discuss the consequences of not getting the chores done beforehand. Then, there will never be any surprises for them if things don’t work out.

    • If you are consistent, your kids will soon come to you to negotiate, with their own terms and conditions about everything that’s important for them.

    • They can learn and understand value, truth, punctuality, and reward just by applying the principles to regular household chores or pocket money.

  1. Encourage them to speak up about things that are important to them. Better yet, encourage them to think through an issue and write out a statement expressing their opinion on the matter. If they need to address an issue with them, have them talk it through and practice it with you.

  2. Encourage them to question everything. We live in a world where profit, power, and control seem to dominate every topic and every world leaders’ agenda. Teach your children to think critically rather than just believing whatever they see or hear. It is not hard to look around us, and see the hive mind operating at full strength.

    • If your child can develop the habit of receiving information, questioning it, forming their own opinion based on the facts presented, and then challenging the status quo, you will be well on the road to developing a young leader yourself! The world needs more critical thinkers.

  3. Teach them about peer pressure and how to resist it before they ever get subjected to the consequences of it. Just because a majority of individuals engage in the same thought or action, it doesn’t make it right. Help them that fitting in is not always the best option.

    • Likewise, if you stand alone against the majority, it doesn’t make you wrong. Resisting following the crowd for all the right reasons is a powerful learning process.

  4. Encourage them to explore everything that interests them, fascinates them or causes an emotional reaction in them. Sadly, this is lacking in most school curriculums where the dominant methodology is to make all children dress the same, learn the same, and be the same.

    • The education system is designed to strip the uniqueness out of young people. What we really need is more unique individuals in society, who follow their passion, whether or not it may be on the school agenda.

  1. Ensure that they understand what social media really is: a mild form of entertainment with very little value in the real world. Explain where it came from, what it does, and how you can have fun with it, but ensure that they also know that what they see there usually isn’t reality.

  2. Enroll them in some form of self-defense. The world seems to be becoming an ever more violent place. The chances of your child being in the wrong place at the wrong time is much greater today than when you were a child. Martial arts provides children with the necessary skills for protection; as well as, teaches them important values to build on their independence and character.

    • It’s important for them to understand how to evaluate any given situation they may find themselves caught up in and how to remove themselves from it as rapidly as possible.

    • They also need to learn what they can do if they are forced to engage with an assailant, and then remove themselves from that situation as rapidly as possible.

It’s the school’s job to teach your children about learning, and it’s your job as a parent to teach them about life. If you teach them well, they will grow up to be of strong character and become independent thinkers.

With that as a foundation, they can set out on their life journey with confidence, courage, and inspiration to create a successful and fulfilling life.

Eight Simple (& Powerful) Affirmations from Dads to their Children

A few weeks ago, I posed this question online: “When you look back at your childhood, what did you need to hear from your father?” The 100+ responses from men and women, let me know that these adults placed a certain amount of value, whether it was high or low, upon what their fathers said and didn’t say to them as they were growing up with or without the presence of their father.

Based upon the response, I heard the pain and anguish associated with not receiving positive words from their father or I heard the strength and resolve connected to uplifting words. It’s not uncommon knowledge that children want the approval of their parents; and specifically, approval of their fathers. There’s plenty of data to suggest the magnitude of a father’s presence.

When a father understands his worth, he conducts himself differently for his children’s livelihood in an effort to build self worth in his children. It extends further than making sure that food is on the table, clothes are on the back, and a roof is over the head. The lens through which our children see the world is, directly, tied to the deposits of a lifetime overflowing with praise or criticism.

He recognizes the lie of “Sticks and stones may break my bones. But, names will never hurt me.” He understands that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” according to Proverbs 15:1. He remembers the connection between his legacy and his behavior are interwoven.

What he says matters!

How he says it matters!

When he says it matters!

Why he says it matters!

When the what, how, when, and why are in alignment, trust his child’s world is better off for it! As an adult, when his child answers a random question online, positive memories bring tears of joy. Well done, Dad! Well done!