Editor’s note: This week’s post was originally published as a Marriage Moat. Lori writes these messages and sends them as weekday emails as well as posting them on social media. Throughout the year we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites.
As words go, it has a bad reputation. Being presumptuous is lumped with self righteousness, and feeling entitled.
But what if what you are presuming is goodness?
A mother was describing a parenting theory in which you believe that your child is doing the best they can, and that their behavior is an effort to solve a problem. Perhaps they are anxious, or overly tired, or afraid of disappointing you. Then in the process they disappoint you.
She described how she tries not to compound her son’s anger with her own strong reaction, but instead backs off, and later tries to untangle the triggers. It may look as if she is caving to his stubbornness, but perhaps she is stepping aside while it whooshes past. She avoids the tempting tendency to tack on judgment like a dragon’s tail.
My sense is that children, even those with parents who struggle with addiction, often give their mothers the benefit of the doubt. I recall a scene from a movie with one of those emissaries of innocence- Shirley Temple, or Anne of Green Gables- when asked about the person tasked with caring for her.
“She meant to be kind to me. She wasn’t always but she meant to.”
Why do I find it hard to be as presumptuous? I’m referring to the respectable version. Instead of leaping off the dock of sensibility, plunging into the cold waters of blame, I could sit calmly. What if I were to consider the possibility, likelihood even, that the person I love is trying?
“Those who are guided by kindness, on the other hand, hardly even notice evil in another but pay attention instead to everything good and true in the person. When they do find anything bad or false, they put a good interpretation on it. This is a characteristic of all angels — one they acquire from the Lord, who bends everything bad toward good.” Heavenly Secrets 1079, Emanuel Swedenborg