Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Earlier this week, one of my children was not exercising much self-control over his constant movements and noises. Then his anger when his brothers got frustrated with him boiled over. As he and I talked, I got more and more frustrated, too. At one point, the tone in my voice very much mirrored his. When I caught myself, quickly thankfully, I apologized. He responded with an almost yell, “Yeah, when you talk like that and when [brother’s names] talk like that, it just tells me it is okay to talk like this.” The honesty of children.
Mamas, if we do not step back and realize that our overly harsh tones are only adding more folly to the foolishness mix, we are going to be in big trouble. In this situation, I used fewer words, reduced to two what he felt were the fifty (50!) things he is always doing wrong down, and drew a picture to show him the timeline of what I was explaining. The idea of not answering the boys’ foolishness immediately goes against my quick-temper, controlling nature, but if we don’t gain control of our own emotions first, we will so easily sink into folly ourselves.
Now, if your folly errs on the side of disengagement, you will need to battle that, too. We each must find the balance of words and self-control, engagement and peace.