Well, let's see, here is a quote from an email I received from a mom with a question about her 6th grader. She said that she was asking for my counsel, "because of your extensive experience in raising boys through the middle school years, and your exceptionally high standards, and your complete lack of accepting excuses..."
Not only did that line cause me pause but I also laughed out loud. I readily acknowledge that I have a reputation as a straight shooter of sorts who will cut the bull, land the punch, and say it like it is.
When I turned 40, I announced to some friends that I had decided to take my Mimi's tactic when she turned 80 to say what I thought and no more holding back. To which one of those friends responded, "And how would that be different than now?"
Regardless, it is true that through the years my telling it like it is has varied both in truth (that it is like I am telling it), in maturity (spiritual growth and using godly filtering), and timing (honesty is the best policy but timing is everything). And on many occasions, both at my fault and at no fault of my own, my speech has been interpreted as being without compassion, sympathy, and even gentleness.
And while I am not a touchy-feely girl, I do desire to evidence compassion, sympathy, and gentleness in my speech to others. I am very much a work in progress in all those things. Still.
So when someone comes to ask what I think about said child raising issues, I do not coddle the truth. I honestly do not think any mom has time or genuine need for less than the true truth. If she is brave enough to ask another mom what she thinks, while she certainly needs affirmation for her mothering, she also needs the truth she is asking to receive.
Affirmation for her mothering is firm love. I tell her what she is doing that accords with God's word, that demonstrates His grace to her, that speaks to her own spiritual growth, and is a blessing to the kingdom.
Affirmation is also bold truth to say and show her where she is coddling personal sin or denying what is really going on with her child. This is affirmation because it is God's grace when He shows us our sin and keeps us by His Spirit to confess, repent, and believe in truth. Over and over again.
It is not affirmation to falsely flatter a mom who is disregarding Biblical instruction regarding her child. For example, a child that is sassing his mom is not "just tired and needs a nap." He is being disrespectful and she is allowing that sin to continue by denying the sass (disrespect) as sin. Excuses are not a gentle restoring of the sinner (Gal. 6:1). When the Israelites were quarreling, grumbling, and complaining against Moses in the wilderness, did the Lord comfort Moses with the words, "They are just tired and need a nap."?
Of course not. The Lord dealt with the sin. And it was grace that He dealt with the sin in such a way as to point them to Christ. (Exo. 17)
Anyway, there are numerous examples of the sins of childhood and at least double that for the ways that moms (all of us) have wrongly excused the sin for an even greater number of reasons. Doing so will eventually lead a mom to the end of herself and when that mom asks me what to do, I tell her the truth.
Boldly. Firmly. Because it is how the Lord tells us the truth about Himself and His works in His word. Boldly. Firmly. There is no Book of Hesitations. No Book of Excuses. No Book of Denial. His Word is good and right and true and just and merciful and penetrating and sharper than a two-edged sword.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16
P.S. And lest anyone think that Jesus deviated from a bold and firm truth when it came to His words, remember that He was clear to say, "My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me." John 7:16 Numerous times Jesus repeated the statement that His words to His hearers were straight from the One who sent Him.
P.P.S. There is more to say on this I'm sure, but ending it here for now. I'll see what strikes next.