Constructive Kidicism

My 2 oldest boys, 17 and 19 are very smart. Obviously, most parents would SAY that. But those 2 suckers did something this weekend SO smart that they had me questioning myself. Here’s the most interesting thing. They were so “productive” in the way they approached their criticism of me that I didn’t know what they had done UNTIL I started looking in to how to fix myself.

First, let me tell you about the flaw in my character they exposed.

After some conversations/discussions I was alerted to the fact that I have 2 distinct “discussion angles” I take. The first one, Alek and Zak referred to as, “the louder than YOU discussion technique.” It goes like this: If Dad talks louder than anyone else in the discussion, Dad can usually “sway” others to his point of view. Personally I refer to that as my “Alpha-Maleism” technique. However, until Alek and Zak brought it to my attention, I did not know I was doing it at home… with my family… OOPS!

The second one, Alek and Zak referred to as, “the trail-off technique.” This is when – again, according to Alek and Zak – I don’t care enough to discuss what it is being discussed and I state a simple opinion and then trail off in to nothingness. Alek gave me an example of this when he said that I said, “I really don’t like the way Obama is doing nothing to… and then I just fade in to silence. This one just made me laugh as they kept catching me doing it and mimicked me the rest of the evening.

So, that night, I found myself researching “the louder than YOU discussion technique” to try and understand – really to FIX – what I’m not too proud to say was “very accurate” in describing my discussion techniques. Was I thwarting good, interesting dialogue with my wife and kids?

Here’s what I found. A quote from Victor Hugo that read, “Strong words indicate a weak cause.”

Say what?

Then I started to open my eyes to 2 revealing ideas. The first is this: Very rarely had I EVER seen anyone “convince” another through “the louder than YOU discussion technique.” Mostly I had seen people get more and more agitated and “hold more tightly” to their prescribed point of view.  More and more of people’s conviction these days stems from disoriented reasoning and is held on to tighter and tighter as their opinions are questioned.

The LAST thing I want to do – especially with my family – is disregard their point of view or question what they believe… especially if I’d like to have any influence with them… and I would.

The second revealing idea was that my 2 sons had powerfully “INFLUENCED” me without me even recognizing it. They had questioned my techniques in a way that was so inoffensive and effective that I found myself looking to change the way I did things. They HADN’T used “the louder than YOU discussion technique” or the “the trail-off technique” yet HAD convinced me – through their “the way you do things is interesting and needs to be brought to your attention technique” to help me change my ways.

Well, what do you know? Thanks, boys. I’ll be now using THEIR “effective” techniques.

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