Persuasion means to win over with sweetness. A fine line divides persuasion and manipulation.
My mental wiring prohibits me from seeing a difference. I guess it comes down to motives. Since motives are a heart issue, persuasion and manipulation might look identical viewed by an outsider, thus my difficulty in distinguishing the two forces. I’ve also heard that manipulation is playing on the emotions of another for solely selfish gain. In contrast, to persuade another does involve an emotional interaction but the motives are for mutual benefit.
Emotions are the grays to my black and white brain. Yet brain matter is gray, you say. Ah ha. Very good. I do not deny the need for emotional connections with other humans. I simply confess that navigating the immense waters of emotions has been a learned practice, and I have fallen over board too many times to count. Growing up I had more guy friends than girls because I was more comfortable with the straightforward nature of the male. Girls and their unpredictable, undefinable, unsteady moods and emotional swings scared me.
Connect this rejection to emotional displays with parenting. I now understand that my tendencies to be firm and unwavering with my children can come off as cold. Yes, I know the strengths of being a dependable, predictable, stable parent. I am grateful for the good that has come from that aspect of my personality as I have been raising my kids. Yet, I understand that there are also downfalls to such a strict parenting method.
One of my children in particular has proven this. The pattern of defiance against my firmness has been a pain in the neck. I have developed a large bit of resentment towards this person as we butt heads in a way unlike I have ever known before. With my other children obedience is understood as a duty. They obey because it’s the right thing to do. For this other child, the rules are very low on the list of priorities. Obedience seems to be optional.
An ongoing discussion I have been having with friends and family has to do with the obedience of my children, especially in my absence. This one kid is pretty sneaky and tends to disobey when I cannot be seen. This has bugged me! So I have been talking about it every chance I get.
One person suggested I strip back the rules to only the very bare necessities. Yes, this was helpful. Not so many lines to defy has helped us to get along better.
Another observation came through on facebook that has stuck a profound chord with me.
“Obedience is a a heart issue. Disobedience means you haven’t gotten to [the child’s] heart.”
When I read that I knew instantly this was the key. Yes! Now the vital task: understand this and figure out how to apply it.
With a number of issues at hand the opportunity to learn a new facet of parenting presented itself quickly. The child misbehaved. Instead of reacting as I normally would I traded in firmness for sweetness. Oh my! It felt so disingenuous. So insincere. So fake and contrived! I thought to myself – who would ever fall for this load of crap! I thought for sure I would have a child laughing in my face.
I was so wrong. Instead of a defiant child the walls seemed to melt. Compliance came readily. The behavior began to turn around. Kindness connected our hearts. I now call this new learned method: Persuasion Obedience.
The key? I visualized other role models in my life being kind to their kids. I saw with my minds eye what they would do in my place – and I copied that. Because, I know that this Persuasion Obedience is very natural to many, many mothers.
This new approach, heavy on the emotional awareness side of human relations, did not come naturally to me, but the positive results in our family life have reinforced in MY behavior the usage of this method. Whereas before my focus with my children was on correct behavior we have entered into a more well rounded reality. Behavior is a result of a heart connection. The difference has brought more peace to our home.
Could this truth be carried into our relationship with our creator? You bet! Even though it comes naturally to me to obey out of a sense of duty, there is a more profound connection with God when I choose to hear His heart and become persuaded of His truth before I act. Performing out of a sense of duty can lead to pride. Being persuaded by the connection with my Father’s heart leads only to acts committed humbly from a place of love. I desire this deeper connection with God. I trust Him to teach me how to navigate these deep waters.