One morning while the girls were playing, I tuned in to a reality show called Starting Over. I’d read an article about one of the hosts, Rhonda Britten, and was curious to see how she helped individuals dig out from past mistakes and present circumstances.
In the episode that aired that day, Rhonda instructed one of the cast members to not speak to anyone unless what she had to say was: 1) necessary, 2) true, 3) helpful, and 4) kind. Wanting to share these communication guidelines with my daughters, I made up a rhyme to help them remember:
Only speak what comes to mind, if it’s necessary, true, helpful, and kind.
Less than an hour after memorizing my new communication mantra, I overheard my six-year-old talking negatively to her sister.
“What you said was not necessary or kind,” I said as I patted myself on the back for a parenting job well done.
Much to the girls’ delight, my rhyme was a bit more difficult to call upon after a gas station clerk refused to help me with an invalid car wash code. I also struggled to take my own advice when Katie proved incapable of getting ready for a birthday party, even though she knew we were running late.
Why is advice so much easier to give than it is to receive? I didn’t have an answer as I struggled to keep my cool. What I did have was a reminder to be careful about what I wish for in the future, because I might just get it. And all God’s children (even grown ones) can benefit from rhyming their way to respectable behavior, one conflict at a time.