Written by Robin Blumenthal
When my kids were young, Roger and I talked to them about how smoking was bad for your health. Then one day, as we were driving to the store, they saw someone smoking in the car next to us on the road. One of them yelled “Smoker!” with their finger pointing to the offender in the next car. I quickly sped off and had to have several other conversations!
It is so easy to judge the behaviors and actions of people around us. It is easy to stand, point, and yell about what we think they are doing wrong. But often, there is more to their story than we know. What if we stopped and asked, “I wonder what led this person to this choice?” instead of “What is wrong with them!” What if, instead of only seeing what is wrong with someone, we were able to see what is strong first?
Does that sound hard? It is!
But, is it empowering and life changing? Absolutely!
Seeking out “what’s strong” instead of “what’s wrong” can help us to show up differently in our interactions with the people around us. The person experiencing homelessness or hardship. The teenager who is angry and defiant. The person smoking in the car next to you. Pause for a minute. Ask yourself, what have they lived through, and how could that be influencing their current beliefs, emotions, and choices? If we can start with what’s strong before we even attempt to deal with what we see as wrong, how could that change our relationships with others?
Every behavior and action communicates something. If we really want to help children, families, and those around us, we must first stop, pause, and become curious before we get furious. If we want to transform our families and communities, we need to first show that we are on the same team as they are. That we are for them, not against them. We need to start with what is strong in them, rather than what is wrong with them.
Robin is a trauma-informed trainer, parenting coach, speaker, and writer. She also serves as the Outreach Pastor at Pantano Christian Church in Tucson, AZ. She has a passion for partnering with schools and churches. She believes that when our churches, schools, and communities understand the effects of trauma, it changes how we respond and show up for others. When we respond to those around us with compassion and empathy, we help build bridges of connection and healing.
Robin and her husband, Roger, have been married 30 years and have 6 daughters who call them mom and dad, including 4 biological, 1 adopted and 1 unofficially adopted, ranging in age from 18-36. Her life is full with family, grandkids, church, and ministry. She is a certified trainer with the ACEs Consortium and a Trained Independent Facilitator of the Love and Logic® Curriculum (having taught well over 4,000 parents and educators these amazing tools.) She has a B.S. in Child Development and an M.A. in Human Resource Leadership.
Robin published her first book in November of 2020 - Where in the Zoo Are You? - a children’s book with resources to help children talk about their emotions concerning traumatic events like COVID-19.