“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
As my kids get older, I’m realizing more the need for compromise versus total control. Our goal is to raise self-sufficient individuals, not children who are great obeying but lack the skill to think for themselves. I never thought of myself as a very controlling person, but when I’m stressed and lots of responsibilities or demands are bombarding me at the same time, I tend to shift from negotiator to my “assembly line” mentality, when I focus more on the job at hand than on the humans involved in the process.
However, a good friend recently, gently I might add, reminded me about the gift of compromise. Compromise is defined by “…blending qualities of two different things” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) while control is described as “to have power over.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Compromise can be a win-win for each party. It approaches the issue with both people working together toward a solution that is at least partly agreeable to each one, keeping a positive relationship intact. Control tends to pit people against each other, and usually creates negative feelings and a tense atmosphere.
I realize having positive interactions with my kids, bringing us together working toward a common goal is what I ultimately want. I want to give them the gift of thinking through problems and growing their self esteem by figuring out a solution for themselves while I still provide the boundaries and structure they need. The structure and boundaries will obviously differ depending upon the stage of life they are in.
For instance, and this happens quite often, my daughter comes downstairs in the new clothes she was just given today, cleaning day. Instead of yelling at her to go change right now (setting up a defensive response from her), I could approach her with the question of, “Do you think that’s the best choice of outfits for cleaning the house?” Eventually we could come up with a compromise of older clothes to clean, but she can change if we go run errands later in the day.
I’m starting to realize (slowly) that most everything can be fixed. There are very few real disasters that occur in life. Work can be replaced if a computer crashes, houses rebuilt if there is a fire, objects replaced if broken, and clothes mended if ripped. However, it’s much more difficult to repair a relationship that has been negatively destroyed with harsh words or cruel statements. I want to make sure I keep in mind at all times. Other’s feelings are much more important than any goal, objective, or item I need to check off my list.
What works with my kids will work in other areas of life too. Most people we come in contact with on a regular basis have our best interest at heart, as do we (or we should) toward them. Using this mindset from the onset of our interactions sets up the structure for positive outcomes. I have faith that most of the time, we can figure out a solution that everyone will be able to agree with.