Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thanks, but No Thanks for your unsolicited advice!

It's that time of year again, when it's almost Spring, and it seems like we're all wanting something new. Gardeners look forward to new seeds, home educators look forward to new books, and I think Dads are looking forward to some more time doing anything- OUTSIDE!
As your exuberance spills forth, and you're wanting to try something new, or maybe just do the same thing again that worked before, please remember to tread lightly where others are involved. Especially in the home schooling community, we seem to love to talk about what works well for us. While that is a great thing most of the time, sometimes our exuberance gets us in trouble because we offer unsolicited advice. 
If you ruminate about this long enough, I think you'll understand where I'm coming from. Have you ever had a time where you just wanted to politely tell someone "enough already- I don't want your advice!" There is a fine line between sharing what has worked well for you, whether it be a curriculum, a new stove, a type of tomato, a lifestyle/ fitness change, or a new car, and advising someone else that they should follow your example. 
How many times in the past can you remember, when you've been at the store, and one of your kids is having a meltdown, has some older lady come up and not-so-politely told you what worked for her 'in that same exact situation'??? Yet you've never seen her before, and all you really want is to get home and have your own nap time, and you're thinking 'I'm a little busy here!' Or maybe another Mom at the playground sees your child having a fit (let's be honest here, we all have fits sometimes!) and the Mom says something like 'you know, my little Johnny had the SAME temper problems until I started him on XYZ.' 
I think we all struggle with this at times. Our words DO mean something, and it is important to choose them wisely. If you're wanting a reminder about how powerful words can be, read through the book of James (you know- those 5 chapters in the Bible that come just after Hebrews.) 
Our Women's Bible study group at church has been studying James for the past few weeks. It has been a good reminder for me about choosing my words carefully. For those past times when I've chosen the wrong words, I'm sorry, please forgive me. Let's choose together to remember for the future to find the line between sharing with others and offering unsolicited advise.
One of my friends is extremely discerning about this. I appreciate that a lot about her! She is very knowledgeable, especially about home schooling, but she always listens first! Her advise is only given after truly listening to what you're talking about, and some discerning prayers about what she should share. I'm praying to be made more Christ-like in this area. I would hate for someone to say "Boy- she's pushy! Does she really think we should all be doing things just like her?" about me.
Yet, sadly, that is often said about many Moms. Moms who didn't choose their words wisely. Moms who told someone else how they should raise their children, or which curriculum is the BEST one out there, or which co-op class they NEED to enroll their children in, or which Dentist is the ONLY place in town they would take their children to. 
So please, before you offer that next piece of advise- stop, think, pray! Then listen and see if that other person is soliciting your advise. If they are- then share freely, both what works and what doesn't for your family. If not- then politely smile, and keep it to yourself. 
When we stop talking, it's amazing what we'll hear!

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