“Don’t jump to conclusions – there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you saw,” (Proverbs 25:8).
If you have been a parent very long you know the truth of this Proverb. I remember one instance where my wife Debi reported an incident to me about the kids, and when I followed up on it there was a completely sensible reason for the incident. I know on many occasions when my kids have argued I’ve considered it the worse case scenario, and then upon investigation I found out they were trying to convince one another holding to their beliefs.
As a young minster, I learned in counseling folks, you usually have to hear both sides before drawing a conclusion. It’s easy to visit with a wife, who’s suffering in her marriage, and conclude her husband bears the blame for everything. Once I’ve interviewed the husband, I find out there are explanations for the difficulties.
One of the most effective means to avoid hasty decisions is simply to listen and be patient. If I walk into a room and my kids are arguing and I start barking out orders and discipline them without explanation – it would be wrong. I should first observed what was going on, listened to the disagreement or argument and then took action. I don’t always move forward with caution like this. Besides, I am the dad and when I come upon a situation where there is strife, everyone should jump to attention and immediately cease their foolishness – right? Wrong!
I don’t want my kids to fear me. There is a healthy respect I want them to have, but fear that I will smack them or lose my temper and go off on them is simply unhealthy.
As a dad, listening and waiting are two responses you need to learn and learn quickly. No matter what age your kids are they deserve a dad who will hear them out and wait before concluding.
With all due respect, it is important that you are the balancing referee when your wife brings a situation to you. If your wife is distraught because she caught the kids in something, listen to her concern before you deal with the kids. The situation may not be as bad as she is reporting it simply because she is momentarily full of emotions. Take time to hear your wife’s concerns and talk to your kids before you decide on the consequences.
In the NFL, when a coach asked for a play to be reviewed the referee goes to the sidelines stares into a camera and takes one or two looks at the play that just ended. Based on what he sees in the review process he may or may not change the call on the field. There are times our children need swift and clear consequences for their actions. But, there are those occasions when we need to check out the details, investigate what took place and make sure we are making the right call before we lay down the law!