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Criticism! Who Needs It?

2012 November 14

One of our favorite bands, King Crimson, has a song entitled “Elephant Talk”. The lyric is just words, each of the five verses being words that begin with A, B, etc. through E. In a live version when the singer gets to the word “criticism” he adds the question, “Who needs it?”

Well, for starters, you do. And that’s where it should begin.

“Mirror” by Maurizio Carta

Self criticism is different than being self-critical. The latter is an act of being down on you; dismissing your good qualities and victories as anomalies. People who do this are even unable to accept compliments and could benefit from some type of counseling or therapy. The former is an act of maturity and absolutely essential for success, particularly in foster parenting.

I’m sure this is important in parenting in general, but I don’t know anything about that. We have not had our kids from birth and so have no direct knowledge of how they were, as individuals, in their first seven, eight and sixteen years. Coming in cold, it takes a while to get to know them – how they interpret things, what they respond to and what they don’t, triggers they may have that you can’t predict – so finding what works takes some flexibility.

Practically speaking, this means shelving any “my way or the highway” predilections and resolving to help your kids, which is why you got into this in the first place.

If one way doesn’t work, whether in discipline or going over the math homework, and your response is, “That kid needs to straighten up and fly right,” then go ahead and give the standard thirty day notice now.

Paul exhorts fathers “do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instructions of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

That’s not your instructions, nor your discipline. It’s the Lord’s discipline and the Lord’s instruction. In other words, in a godly manner raising your kids (or someone else’s kids) doesn’t leave room for your ego to get in the way.

The wrong approach is the wrong approach.

The wrong approach leads to frustration and often to anger. The last emotion from you a child in foster care needs. They’ve already had enough of that, which is why they’re with you in the first place; and they have enough of their own without adding yours.

Take a look in the mirror. If that person doesn’t have the answer, then find someone who does. I write more about that next time.

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