Thursday, May 10, 2012

The simple story {and some of your answers} behind the questions: Giving and taking suggestions


You readers are terrific!

Last week, I asked you if you give advice to other parents. Then, I asked you how well you take suggestions.

You all gave some great feedback! *smile*

Be ye kind, one to another.” {Ephesians 4:32

What started this series of posts was my husband’s recollection of an incident at a place where you would expect most everyone to be somewhat-committed Christians.

A lot of my questions are hypothetical, but the diaper rash question was almost exact. My husband suggested our favorite brand of diaper rash cream, saying that it would make the baby a lot less fussy. The other father didn’t respond verbally but gave my husband a sideways, incriminating look of mind-your-own-business.

The baby’s father could have been having a bad day. Maybe he had forgotten his diaper rash cream. Maybe the baby had been crying through the museum and the father was worn out. Maybe his lunch wasn’t sitting very well. Maybe he had a headache. I don’t know.

Was my husband wrong to offer the suggestion of our preferred diaper rash cream? I don’t think so. Some new parents are naïve. I certainly was! They may not know of a product like that. And my husband said it, he thought, without an incriminating tone. Just friendly. Conversational. (And if you know my husband, you realize that if the other father had responded kindly, it would have turned into a 30-minute give-and-take conversation on topics ranging from children to exhibits at the museum to our most recent vacation to physics.)

Would I have said something? Probably not. But I would have wanted to. However, I’ve been burned too many times by nasty looks or comments even though I knew my heart was in the right place. So it’s easier just to stay quiet.

So, what to do? Is it acceptable to offer a helpful suggestion?

But, I wonder….

If we aren’t open to suggestion, does that mean everything we do is right?

If we aren’t open to suggestion, how do our marriages survive?

If we aren’t open to suggestion, how did we ever hear about Jesus and grace and salvation?

Isn’t that, to some extent, why we read blogs? I keep tabs on over 30 different blogs. Some I read just because they are interesting and I want to keep up with that person or family. But many are because I am hoping to glean a helpful suggestion from them.

And I know I give suggestion in my blog – like this post. But you can do what you want with it. I’m just glad to be having this conversation with you.

Crystal replied, “…we should all be so willing to reach out in KINDNESS to others.”

I don’t think Crystal is advocating a continual spouting off of suggestions to everyone we meet. My take on her comment is that kindness should be at the forefront of our interactions with others.

Trish commented, “I talk to everyone and anyone who will stay long enough to listen. Please she is not trying to be mean or intrusive. I have 4 kids, I hardly have conversations with other adults and when I do it is usually in the midst of some errand, so I have to take what I can get. I really think she is just one mom reaching out to another as a kindred spirit.”

I love Trish’s heart. I completely understand the need for adult conversation! (Can I get an amen?) Sometimes a comment or suggestion is just the opener.

Kelli wrote, “Comments like that are kind and are really what I would hope society would be more like. Just being friendly and thoughtful. Maybe its a southern thing, like waving at passing cars down the country roads where I grew up. Sigh - I miss that.”

I share Kelli’s sigh. Friendliness is a rare commodity in our world. I’m barely in my forties, but I remember going across the street to borrow a cup of sugar, neighbors talking across their backyards, and sales people who smiled and asked how they could help you.

If advice is offered in a friendly tone from a stranger, why not accept it politely? With a smile even? Whether we use it or not is up to us. But it might actually open up a whole new friendship.

~Meghan

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2 comments:

  1. I think you are encouraging the less friendly ones with your posts. :) keep it up!

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    Replies
    1. I really appreciate your encouragement, Tereza. Thank you!

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