Angry. Selfish. Closed. Unsure. Silent. Argumentative.

In last Monday’s post, I suggested you create a mission statement for your family’s communication. It’s a way to decide and communicate what you want to prioritize and what you won’t tolerate.

I wonder if you included anything about how you’d handle advice and opinions. If we don’t handle advice and opinions well at home, our kids won’t learn how to do the same. They may handle both badly elsewhere.

  • We must model well how to share advice and opinions with confidence and not arrogance.
  • We must model well how to listen to advice and opinions from others with  humility and to demonstrate appropriate teachability.
  • We must model well how to decline someone’s advice and to disagree with someone’s opinion.
  • We must also clearly distinguish between instruction and advice when offering both.

There’s way too much disagreeing and arguing going on around us. There are several reasons. Technology, driven by drop-down-menus. is teaching children they have a right to choice. It’s also causing them to believe happiness is essential. Selfishness and pride are also common. Somehow our worth has become wrapped up in being right. Bullying others to agree is far too common. I see and read about it in the news, observe it during television shows and movies, and hear it when I’m out-and-about.

Would I hear and see it in your home? In your car while running errands with your kids? I hope not, but I understand if it’s a pattern that’s developed. You can choose to work to break it.

Because an arguing (and even mean) culture may be common around us, cooperation and peace at home is an essential contrast.

If our children observe and experience strong disagreements about opinions and advice, especially at home, some will learn to no longer trust themselves. They’ll edit their thoughts in their minds and never speak them out loud, believing they’ll be quickly rejected. They may become robots doing whatever they’re told. Although you want them to be obedient, you don’t want them to become non-thinking robots at the mercy of others.

Do you occasionally ask for your children’s opinions and advice? You’re the adult, but asking them and really being willing to learn from them is right. It’s honoring and wise because they will have a different perspective you may want to consider. And, when their ideas disappoint or concern you because they don’t line up with the values and beliefs you’re raising them with, you now can talk with them. If you never ask, you won’t have this chance. And, if you never ask for their advice and opinion they may not ask for yours.

A climate full of disagreements and arguments may also result in children who argue against anyone else’s opinion and reject all advice. So, not only may this climate cause them to not share any of their own ideas, they’ll reject everyone else’s. But, not politely or quietly. No, they may degrade the thought and even the person. And, it’s not because they value their own opinions and advice more. Remember, they’ve decided their own ideas don’t count. They just argue for the sake of arguing and to put others down because they’ve seen it modeled as the normal thing to do.

We have a right to our opinions and to give advice. So do children. We have a right to agree with opinions or not and to take advice or not. So do children. They need to do so with respect and that’s more likely to happen when we’re respectful. How’s it going in your home?

Remember, instruction and advice are two different things. Think about and talk about that. What else from this post do you want to think more about and talk with family members about? I hope you make the time to do it and it helps.

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Next Monday, I’ll address more about how I believe social media and search engines are adding to the reality of everyone having opinions and not everyone offering or accepting them well. So you don’t miss it, consider subscribing to my blog in the sidebar (right above the graphic for my Finding Authentic Hope & Wholeness book) so you get an email when the blog is posted.

[callout]Every Monday, I’ll post about discovering genuine hope and authentic answers for living a healthy life.[/callout]