The other day I was having dinner with friends, all parents of our son’s crew at school. (In order to protect the innocent, who might just want to have a cocktail on a school night, yet still share this story which is straightforward but confusing when everyone is called “friend,” I will call one Jane and one Emily.)
…So Jane was recalling a day when she had offered to cover school pick up for Emily, only to discover a conflict late in the day that left her unable to help out as planned. Being the generous and thoughtful person she is, Jane was recounting how badly she felt about her mistake, about letting Emily down. She then proceeded to tell us what happened next.
When she reached out to tell Emily that she could no longer help, Emily replied in a way that brought a healing and helpful frame. Her response was relevant to that day, and so useful in many of our daily interactions with others. She drew focus to intention. The intention was to help, not to inconvenience.
It seems so simple, but considering someone’s intention—particularly in the case where something hasn’t quite gone as planned—helps us to understand a context, be more empathetic, and see the good.
Rather than the one who messed up or lost track of a schedule, Emily saw Jane’s intention, which was one of kindness and generosity. Focusing on the positive elements was, and almost always is, a good thing for everyone.
As parents, when our kids miss the mark, or further, maybe don’t think before they do something that ends badly, it’s also helpful to think about intention. Instead of quickly finding fault, in considering a child’s intentions, we can often find patience and understanding, which is so important in supporting our children as they learn and grow. –t