I could tell the tears were ready to flow.
The other day I was relaxing in the living room when Daughter #2 pushed open the door and made a beeline for the sofa. She’d been outside with her sisters playing in the yard. I knew immediately by the look on her face that something had happened.
Apparently, #2 was asking too many questions of #1 which annoyed #1 and when #2 asked why #1 was annoyed #1 said it was because #2 was asking “stupid questions.”
Yeah, it took me another go around too.
There are things we don’t tolerate in our family and belittling is one of them. Daughter #1 was called in and seated in front of me. Rather than sternly scolding her for the insensitivity she showed her sister I decided to use the incident as a teaching opportunity and gave her four reasons why you never tell someone her questions are stupid.
1. People ask questions because they are seeking information they don’t already know. While you may know the answer and it may seem like a no-brainer to you, to the questioner it’s not so obvious.
2. To the questioner, the information is important enough to ask for it. You may think it’s not but it’s not really about what you think, it’s about what the inquirer wants (or needs).
3. To say a question is stupid is to dismiss the questioner as a person and disregard her feelings. This, plainly put, is rude.
4. Declaring questions as stupid won’t fly in the real world. Tell someone one time that her question is stupid and she’ll never ask you another question again. And that’s not a good thing.
Now, like any self-respecting teenager will do, she attempted to defend herself by saying she doesn’t act like that outside our family. I informed her that how she acts within our family reveals her real character and sooner or later it will show outside the family and others won’t be as patient as I’ve been. ‘Nuff said.
What I learned from all this: rather than letting emotions rule and defaulting to scolding and/or hollering when a child messes up, the situation can be used as a teaching moment to instruct children in how to properly behave, how to respect others, and how to live godly lives.
When was the last time you used a negative situation as a teaching moment?