Sunday, March 13, 2011

At the end of a weekend of fasting failure

My pastor likes to say he’s broken more fasts than any of us have ever started with. I’m glad for that knowledge, because after a weekend spent with my kids I can’t even count the number of times I’ve broken my criticism fast! Because if the key characteristic of criticism is disapproval, I've got disapproval down like no other Mama out there.

I can spin things and say I wasn’t really criticizing anyone. I called no child a lazy bum this weekend. Nor did I attack any child's character. I just spent a huge amount of effort correcting kids and ordering them around—most often with a not very nice voice. So even if it wasn't "criticism" per se, I'm sure it felt critical to whoever got the brunt of it.

Here’s a very partial list of things I felt like I needed to correct:

· Kids calling each other fat

· Kids elbowing one another

· Kids eating junk

· Kids not putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher (what’s this with bringing dishes to the sink, expecting Mom to put them in the dishwasher?)

· Kids bickering

Here’s a very partial list of orders I gave:

· Please fold the laundry

· Please put your dishes in the dishwasher

· Turn off the TV and read a book!

· Fold the laundry!

· Eat your vegetables!

· Leave your sister alone!

· It’s 9:45, go to bed!

And here’s a very partial list of wheedling questions I asked that could also be construed as critical:

· Why is the laundry still not folded after I’ve asked you to fold it about 5 times?

· Where are you on the homework situation?

· Where are you on your English project?

· Have you practiced your entire 30 minutes of piano yet?

· Why are the dishes sitting next to the sink after I’ve asked you to put them in the dishwasher every day of your life?

· How many fruits or vegetables have you eaten today?

· Who left this mess of folded paper shapes on the floor?

· Why didn’t you put away your homework so you could find it in the morning?

I just asked Ling what I criticized her on today. She said, “You criticized me on something, and then you said it was a criticism so you were wrong, but I can’t remember what it was.”


“See? This shows us how much you criticize us. You criticize us so much we don’t even remember what you criticized us on.”

Yup. That’s me.

But what do I do? Do I stop correcting? Do I stop barking orders? Do I stop asking questions? Is it possible to parent and not criticize.

I’m musing on these questions. . . I’ll let you know if I come up with any answers. . .


gr8god said...

perhaps i am not a reliable witness, given my own proclivity for doling out the criticism, but given your reporting of what happened, i don't think you broke your fast nearly as often as you seem to think.

in my book, correcting is not automatically criticizing. intervening when kids insult each other, bicker, or otherwise harass each other is not criticizing -- it's parenting. asking (or even ordering) the kids to do their chores is not criticizing, depending on the tone of voice, nor is asking genuine questions about what is done/undone (the insinuating questions are a different subject altogether...).

isn't fault-finding the core of criticism, especially if it goes to attributing undesirable behavior to defects in character? if so, i certainly think we can, in theory, parent without criticizing. but i doubt that we can parent responsibly or lovingly without providing accountability, correcting, and even rebuking (in love, of course).

but then, my opinion and five dollars will get you a chai latte at starbuck's...


Kathy said...

I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. your kids are so funny!

Kathy C.

Kathy said...
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