When our youngest child was in school I dreaded parent-teacher conferences. His teachers always regaled us with his “litany of sins”. The teacher(s) felt compelled to tell us all the things that he had done wrong behaviorally and all of the things he hadn’t done academically. It was exhausting. And a little embarrassing. And more than a little disheartening. After all he was a very bright kid with a quick wit and tons of energy. Surely there was something good that they could tell us about our son. Then a friend (who was a family therapist by profession) suggested that we ask the teacher at the next conference to “tell us something good about our son”. And I did. And the teacher was stumped. Her response: “When he is disruptive or fails to complete his assignments he always takes his punishment well.” Wow – really??? That’s the best she could do???
But I kept asking. I asked her again and again. And I asked every teacher he had after that one.
Later he was blessed with better teachers who challenged him and developed his natural curiosity and helped channel his creativity into more positive results and he excelled, eventually becoming a National Merit Semi-Finalist.
And that’s whole thing – isn’t it? Tell me something good. Tell me that you like me. Tell me that I have value. Tell me that I matter. Tell me that I can be the best me that I can be. Tell me that my life matters.
We hear a lot in the media today and from politicians and from clergy about being PRO-LIFE. But how can we be pro-life if we’re not supporting the life that we have around us? Who decides which life is worthwhile? Who decides whose life matters? Is it only unborn babies? Shouldn’t we be supporting life in all forms? If we believe in a Creator, then isn’t all creation sacred?
So tell someone something good.
Whether it’s the old lady who slows down the ‘express lane’ at the supermarket because she actually writes a check or it’s the snarky teenager working at the convenience store whose response is never thank you but usually “here ya go” or “no prob” – Next time you encounter them, try smiling; try affirming their lives with a bit of kindness. When it’s the screaming toddler on a too-full flight or the rude telemarketer or the obnoxious co-worker, try to give them dignity; try to leave them with some peace.
Often it’s just the little things that make the difference: the smile, the kind word, a simple courtesy.
Sometimes we can even tell someone something good without saying a word. And we can make the world a better place one person at a time…