Correcting someone is no easy task. Correcting that someone who happens to be your own child, when they think they’ve ace’d a technique but haven’t, and the task can be downright painful.
When correcting a bad technique, it doesn’t matter how much planning is put into the delivery and tone, there is going to be drama because there’s no soft alternative to “you’re doing that the wrong way, here’s why.”
Correcting a bad technique is nowhere as difficult as landing a jet on a short metal strip floating in the ocean, but I think the analogy works.
The plane is lined up with the runway, we have green lights flashing back at us, the approach looks good, flaps are down, and everyone’s happy. This is until the actual landing, when your approach doesn’t go as well as first imagined. The landing is sloppy, the plane slams down on the runway, but the hook grabs the cable and violently snaps everything safely into place. You walk away with bruises, mission complete.
Correction works in a similar way. It involves confrontation and conflict. Tears and frustration are an almost unavoidable part of the job. It’s better to be aware of this, and plan to counter the reaction by making room for tears and frustration, than getting caught in the wave of emotions that will leave you feeling like the worst parent in the world.
Correction held in balance with compassion, is a loving act. It’s better to address the incorrect technique now, than ignore it, and let our children think they’ve got it right. I’d prefer a little heat to come my way now, after I’ve corrected our homeschooling child’s musical technique, than stay silent out of fear of hurting their feelings and have to deal with their sense of betrayal later. Better a little frustration with me now, than betrayal and anger born out of embarrassment, when they go to perform using that musical skill, thinking it’s correct, only to be told by others it’s not.
What would be wrong is me not loving my children enough, to tell them where, and when they have gotten something wrong. It’s self-serving to stay silent; to act out of self-preservation for fear hurting their feelings or fear of entering into an uncomfortable conversation, because of the inevitable conflict attached.
Correcting my kids is one of the hardest parts of being a homeschool dad. I don’t like the task and loathe being the “bad cop”. However, by taking on Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:15 and speaking the truth in love, I’m saying to my kids that I refuse to abandon them to the world, their mistakes, or to a life of avoidable failure. I’m showing them that I am fighting for them, not against them; that I will fight for them, even if it means saying “no” to them.
Correction develops resilience and character in both of us. This application of speaking truth in love transforms an awkward job into a learning opportunity; through the tears and frustration, we find a path towards setting up our homeschoolers for success.
Not every confrontation can be planned ahead in advance, this doesn’t have to mean that we are doomed to crash and burn as parents or home educators.
Going back to the plane analogy, have the courage to land, even when fear compels us to avoid the subject. Have the best approach possible and keep in mind the axiom, that any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
©Rod Lampard, 2019