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Karen Brennan
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True, Kind, Necessary—the wise use of words

Monday, May 19, 2014

This week we come to one of my favorite sections (I’m not sure how many times I’ve said that this year, but I know this isn’t the first time, but it really is a favorite!) of Simplicity Parenting, called “True, Kind, Necessary”. These principles are found in some form in many religions, cultures and spiritual paths.  “Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Is is True? Asking if what you are about to say is true will keep out most gossip and hearsay.  When your children are young, you can do this by example, and as the children get older you can use it as a guide for the children, as well.

Is it Kind? Just because something is true doesn’t mean it has to be said, especially if it would be truthful.  I also think that we do sometimes have to say difficult things to our children or others and then it is important to find a way to say it kindly (this leads us to the next question—is it necessary?).  Bullying often comes out of speaking the truth without kindness.  One of the tools Kim mentions in the book—for the adults to use—is the “Put-Down Diet.”  You will find a description of it on pages 15 and 16 of  “Justice without Blame—the social inclusion approach.”  He describes this exercise in terms of the eightfold path of Buddhism.  This exercise takes three weeks, and all of it comes under the aspect of Right Endeavor.  Also, each night of the three weeks, we are to reflect, in a self-forgiving way, on our progress (Right Remembrance).  The first week involves right speaking, both verbal and nonverbal.  In the second week, we work on Right Thinking, and strive to become aware of putdowns that form in our thinking and feeling, as well as in our verbal and non-verbal communication.  The third week brings us to Right Action, where we become conscious of the putdowns we hear around us and try to intercede and shift the conversation—of course we need to decide where that is appropriate—this was intended for use in schools and with families where we are responsible for what others say.  I’ve done this exercise before and will do it again for the next three weeks.  I invite you to join me.

Is it necessary?  Kim defines necessary as “more important that silence.”  This particular filter will probably lead us to talk less—it does for me when I remember it.  Kim also points out that this is mostly a filter for us to use on ourselves rather than with our children. (Although it might help when they have asked for ice cream for the third time after two no’s.)

Next week we’ll finish the chapter, “Filtering out the adult world,” by looking at the sections on “backing off.”  The following week we’ll look at the last chapter, which is a summary/review of the book—“Simplicity Parenting to Go”