The other night my wife and I went out to visit my mom. While we were there the ladies started talking about the length of my beard. They said things such as, “I think he would look better with it shorter,” and “he should cut at least 3 inches off of it.” I shared my feelings about wanting to pay homage to my Viking ancestors by letting my beard grow. My mom wasn’t having any of that. She told us of a man she knows who has been training my nephew with weight lifting, (so you know, this guy is buff and much stronger than I am). She said that he has a long beard, but that it grows in straight and looks good. She said mine just looks like a hobo.
A hobo, I thought to myself, “well I am the best-dressed hobo she has ever seen.” The rest of the conversation could have been in Greek for all I know. Because all I thought about was, “my mom thinks I am a hobo.” I have 3 degrees, a license to practice psychotherapy, a successful private practice, an awesome dog, the best wife in the world and five great kids. I shouldn’t have allowed her hobo comment to bug me. I should have some self-respect and some self-esteem. I couldn’t shake that thought. Then I wondered, “if I was so affected, I wonder how much the things I say to my kids affect them.” I got worried. My mind ran through the past several interactions between myself and my kids and my worry became fear. Have I done the same thing to my kids that my mom did to me?
Don’t get me wrong I know my mom loves me. She has done so much for me that I will never be able to thank her for it or pay her back in a million years.
I put on my therapist hat and decided to figure out a better way to talk to my kids so they don’t inadvertently feel like hobos. It dawned on me that I already knew what to do I just needed to put my knowledge into practice.
One of the ways to give a potentially negative comment or should we say a carefully thought out constructive criticism is the compliment sandwich. This is where you give a compliment (the bread), followed by the bad news or the constructive criticism (the meat) and top it off with another compliment (the last slice of bread). This is not to be confused with the “but sandwich,” this is a completely different thing where you give a small compliment and then a big “but,” and commence with verbally thrashing the individual. This happens a lot in the corporate or even the production world.