I think a lot about what I say to the boys, the words I use and how I use them. I also think about the things I heard when I was a child. I think about the things that had a positive impact on me and my self worth, and I also think about the things that were hurtful. Things like hearing people say, 'You should be ashamed of yourself.' Now I cringe at those words. How does assigning shame motivate someone to change behavior or even understand how to improve? It doesn't—and I think phrases like that are intended to hurt, and do nothing more.
I don't want to emotionally manipulate my children by using words that make them question their value. Instead when they do something hurtful, I want to communicate that what they did is bad, but not that they are bad. I want them to understand consequences and pain, in a way that teaches them empathy, but not in a way that makes them feel embarrassed or overwhelmed by guilt. In The Heretic, Rob Bell says, "The fundamental good news is that you are loved exactly as you are." Because ultimately, despite our behavior, we are loved. It's this idea that I belong, you belong, we belong... And I think if we can rest in this, then we can learn how to better love ourselves and others, and create a world that respectful and generous.