I sat with a group of mamas yesterday morning, discussing a chapter in the book* we’ve been musing over the past couple of months. Even though most of us don’t have kids over the age of five or six, we take seriously the relationships we have with our children. We want to know how to be better mamas, so we ask each other questions and we tell stories about our own childhoods and we think about our own little San Francisco-based families. And for two hours every Wednesday morning, with coffee and tea, bagels and brie, scones and fruit, it becomes a free therapy session of sorts.
Really, it’s kind of miraculous and mind-boggling, all at the same time.
So yesterday morning, we found ourselves discussing how we might cultivate an atmosphere of candor in our households, allowing both children and parents to grasp honesty’s freedom. But before we could get too far, the following question had to be asked: What’s the difference between candor and honesty?
CANDOR: 1. whiteness, brilliance; unstained purity. 2. freedom from prejudice or malice; fairness. 3. archaic: kindliness. 4. unreserved, honest or sincere expression, forthrightness.
Because here’s what we realized: to be parents who cultivate candor toward their children, to be spouses who esteem candor to their “other,” and to be friends who hold candor as significant in their relationships, it doesn’t just mean we’re honest.
It means that we’re putting the other person before ourselves.
It means that we’re thinking before we speak.
It means that just because we can say something doesn’t mean we should say something.
And it means that we’re responding instead of reacting.
Now here’s the hard part of it for me: I want to be right. In fact, when I KNOW I’m right, it’s really, really hard to be wrong. I want to pull out all of my persuasive arguing skills, the ones that won’t take “no” for an answer, and the ones that show my strength in the face of weakness, exclamation point! What, you’ve hurt me? Well then, let me show you …and I pull out the punches. I ain’t no Candace Cameron Bure, if you know what I mean.**
I somehow begin to believe, just like my pre-adolescent self, X-number of years ago, that the world revolves around me.
And that’s great …when you’re 13.
But perhaps – just perhaps – by the time you enter your Dirty Thirties, you begin to realize that it’s not all about you. You begin to learn (maybe all over again, for the first time), what it means to put others first, that to love them well means letting Self’s Need to Win simmer on the back burner for a little while.
Sometimes it means telling myself that this too shall pass. Sometimes it means picking and choosing my battles. Sometimes it means holding my tongue and not digging up old wounds; it means remembering to shut my trap when an issue or argument is already over and done with, when resolution has come and reconciliation’s been made. And sometimes it means taking a deep breath and counting to three – or five or 100 – so that I can remember that there are two sides to every story.
So Friendlies, for today, and tomorrow and hopefully tomorrow’s tomorrow too, I’m practicing candor.
Because at the end of it all, I just want to ooze candor – and that is that.
What about you? Is there a difference between candor and honesty, if at all? And what, more importantly, do you want to OOZE this year?
*The book? Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Not my favorite of 2013, but it certainly merits strong points of learning and discussion.
**Sorry D.J. Tanner – love you, love your show.