by Rod Smith

Tenderness can be very helpful. If I can be tender in my response to my sons when something is brewing in me, annoying me, rather than be bullheaded and confrontational, the outcome can be remarkably positive. When I am hot on an issue, no matter how significant or insignificant, I can see the rising resistance in my son (either son) before he’s even aware of what I am on about. It seems instinctual. 

If I am pursuing an apology, or if I express the mistaken idea that I am the only one who ever does anything around the house, it becomes rapidly evident that my zeal stimulates an equal and opposite reaction and things can escalate. 

My forcefulness, willfulness, my zeal, is met with an equal and opposite reaction. 

If I am tender, if I ask about things that are important to my son and if I take time to listen, and then carefully express what it is that is bugging me, the entire exchange quickly shifts. 

Tenderness dismounts me from my high horse and reason prevails. 

When I am tender my son is always willing to put his most cooperative foot forward and resistance flees, reason prevails, and neither one of us comes out hurting.

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