A dear friend of mine has an autistic grandson. I know this boy. When he was a toddler, I took care of him two hours each week during church so his parents could attend classes. I did that for year. This little boy really struggled. He would have terrible outbursts and sometimes scream and cry and kick violently until we would remove him and take him to his parents.
I remember feeling frustrated and helpless, because I had other children to care for at the same time, and he was a full-time job all by himself. Each week I tried different things to help this little boy feel comfortable in the nursery. Each week I went home exhausted. By adding helpers we got through it all right, and eventually his parents moved.
A few years later his grandmother pulled me aside and told me he had been diagnosed with autism. His grandmother was an experienced school teacher and had been doing some additional training in special needs. Her big takeaway was… to whisper.
She tried it with her grandson. Instead of reminding him or telling him to do something, she would whisper it in his ear. The results were dramatic, and profoundly changed her relationship with him.
It has been years since I worked with this little boy, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of parents who deal with special situations where the regular tried-and-true techniques of child rearing don’t seem to work. At least, not as easily.
When someone is upset, explosive, or angry, regardless of the reason, we can bring peace and love to the situation by using a soft answer. That soft voice needs to be motivated by a soft heart. Because a soft voice motivated by a proud or hard heart is like hearing something from a scary robot monster.
May our words to someone who is explosive or upset be motivated by love. And may that love direct our minds and hearts to present to them in a way that demonstrates how we really want our relationships to look and feel. A soft answer really does turn away wrath.