“I’m sorry I just don’t think I can do this anymore.” Those weren’t the words I wanted to hear coming out of the woman I planned to spend the rest of my life with. Our relationship was great (I thought). We were in love and planning to marry in a few months. This conversation took place while visiting my parent’s home, the house I grew up in. How could things be that bad and why now of all times.
The day that might never have happened!
Kelli proceeded to tell me how our family’s humor, ok more specifically my humor, hurt her feelings. I should explain; I grew up in a home where sarcasm was somewhat a way of life. My best friend in high school and I were hilarious, you just had to ask us. Unfortunately, much of our humor was at someone else’s expense. It honestly was meant innocently enough. And until this moment with my fiancé, it didn’t occur to me I was hurting anyone.
It shouldn’t have surprised me. After all, the root word for sarcasm means the ripping and tearing of flesh. So with that conversation as a wake-up call, I committed to make some changes. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure I had many slip ups. Almost overnight, I found I didn’t need to hurt someone to be funny. The truth is, I was never all that funny; now I was also not all that mean.
More importantly, on June 26, 1982 I had the privilege of marrying my best friend. As we started our family, we did so without sarcasm as the norm. Instead we worked hard to replace it with the Godly character quality of kindness. We haven’t been perfect by any stretch, but it would have been impossible had Kelli and I not worked it out first. Here are a few practical tips if you want to make some changes in this area.
- For inspiration read Ephesians 4:32, Proverbs 11:17, and Colossians 3:12. There are many others but that’s a good start.
- Consider creating a “DIS” jar. Every time someone says something mean (DIS-paraging), you have to drop a quarter in the jar. Use the money for a family ice cream outing.
- If you are married the two of you commit to being kind to each other. Make it a game you can extend to your kids. If either of you says something mean (even in jest) you have to say two nice things about the other.
- Family Meeting. This is always the best place to cast vision and give some initial instruction. Read our blog about family meetings.
- Teach kind ways to have fun and to laugh (ie. laughing at traits common to man)
The most important thing is don’t lose heart and don’t give up. You won’t change overnight, but from experience I can tell you it’s worth it. Does your family have some fun ideas to encourage kindness? What was your experience growing up? Make sure you register to follow our blog. You will receive an email when new articles post.