Relationships can live or die based on the timing of your actions and comments. A comment or observation stated at the wrong time can be devastating, often more so than an untruth. It is a wise person who can hold their thoughts until the time is right, and there may never be a time that is right. This is certainly true as a parent.
Your relationship with your children is critically tied to timing.
- You reward your child after a good deed, or goal, is accomplished--not prior.
- When your child misbehaves, you must attempt to correct that behavior in association with, and immediately after the behavior.
- When your child is too upset, lessons can wait for calmer times.
- You would never show a toddler their favorite treat before you introduce them to a new vegetable.
- Naps should be scheduled about the same time every day. Otherwise, you will confuse your child and you will struggle with them to get the rest they need.
These thoughts about timing came to me with the news that our Secretary of Defense and others have decided to tell certain of our service men and women that they will no longer be needed when returning home as they serve in combat and other vital areas in Afghanistan.
It’s no surprise to anyone paying attention that the military was going to cut back the number of forces with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars winding down. But the decision to send ‘pink slips’ to service personnel while still serving in a war zone is unconscionable.
As stated by Jonathan Hendershott, in an article in the New York Post, “What is astonishing is that the Defense Department thought it would be appropriate to notify deployed soldiers — men and women risking their lives daily in combat zones — that they’ll be laid off after their current deployment.”
When a decision, based on facts and needs, is correct, you still may have other considerations to address. Those considerations include when the decision is to be announced to those affected, and the appropriateness of how it is done. This is true whether you are a parent, or the Secretary of Defense.
The appropriateness of the current drawdown of forces is not the issue. But how it is done matters to many. Imagine coming in from a patrol in god-forsaken Afghanistan, having seen things you never wanted to see, or doing things you never imagined you would ever do, and then opening a letter telling you that, ‘thanks, but when you get home, we’re letting you go’.
Would you tell your daughter she could have done better after completing a marathon? Would you remove your son from his little league team after striking out three times? No! If you see an issue with your child, you find a better time and a better way to approach them.
Common Sense and Awareness
You don’t need an Ivy League education to know the importance of timing. All you need is common sense. I would have thought that the Pentagon would have had enough common sense not to send a negative message to a soldier in a combat zone. But it happened! I can only imagine the lack of a sense of timing many parents must have.
It will be impossible for the Defense Department to undo this wrong for this particular incident. Hopefully, they will learn from it and never do it again. It’s the same with parenting. I’ve often made mistakes in the timing of my comments. It’s comes mostly from not being aware of the situation or not having empathy for others. While timing is common sense, maybe it can also be learned by having more awareness.
Be aware of your parenting. Know the tremendous influence you have with your kids. If you want that influence to remain and flourish as they grow into young adults, be mindful of your comments and treatment of them. Usually that includes the timing and nature of those comments or lessons. Relations can live or die based on your awareness and timing.