Say Hard Things When You Get To and Not When You Have To
Preventative confrontation is the best kind of confrontation. What I mean is this. If you can anticipate a potential problem and confront it before it happens, then you are better off than having to confront the problem itself. It is better to say, “Don’t do this and this is why.” Than to say, “Why did you do this?”
For example, last night I was helping Luke get ready for bed and because we were getting home late from church I told him that he could read one chapter out of a book. The potential snag was that he likes to read three or four, if not all the chapters. With his zeal for reading in mind I told him that he should read only one, and I wanted him to be honest about reading only one. I went on to intentionally say that if he read only one and was honest with me then I would be able to trust him in the future and next time maybe he could read more chapters.
He was listening intently and this was an opportunity that was too good to pass up. To make a conversation short, I simply said to him, “Son, if you always tell daddy the truth then you will always have my trust and support, even when you do something wrong. But if you lie, daddy won’t know if he can trust you and it will be hard for daddy to help you when you get in trouble. Always tell the truth son; even when it is hard and you have done something you know you should not have done. Do you understand daddy? I love you son and want what is best for you.”
Lacey walked in on the end of our conversation and asked, “What was that all about? Did he do something?” To which I responded, “No, it was just a good opportunity for a teachable moment that might help us down the road.”
This preventative, preemptive idea of confrontation applies to all facets of life including: leadership, marriages, friendships, work relationships and especially parenting. As with all of life, it won’t happen by itself but will require foresight and initiative. A lazy mind and a passive demeanor will save you from doing the hard thing now, but will only be creating a deluge of hardship for the future when the dam of “should haves” and “would haves” collapses under the stress of bad decisions. Don’t wait for relationship problems to happen but anticipate and confront them. If you do, perhaps you will get to say hard things instead of having to say harder things. There is a big difference.