Never say, “I told you so!”

How to give advice that earns respect

How to give advice that earns respect

train tornado
Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay

The best advice I ever get, I ignore.

Of course, that makes the other guy right. But, respect equals a relationship. At least we’re talking again when they tell me they told me so.

No parent wants their child to fail. Neither does anyone want to see someone trip over something obvious.
Well, some people do…

I remember one of the high points of my training at the Naval Base in Chicago, Illinois was when we went out marching in the dregs of winter. The black ice was a real trip, and if you weren’t a ninja, you would never see it coming.

The thing about marching in uniform is that you can only see the guy in front of you, so unless that man slipped on the ice, you were gonna be the unlucky recruit.
Boy was it funny watching the guy in front of me slip; that prepared me to act natural over the ice, and then hear the guy behind me curse as he went down, literally falling for my seemingly ninja footwork.

So, I was guilty in that regard.

It can be scary, letting your own kid learn their lesson.
Today everyone is just so more willing to shelter their children, acting like they will better handle things when they are more grown-up.

Stuff happens. The first time we’re not there to put on the sunscreen, they’re gonna get burned.
Truth is, you can’t pull a plant to make it grow faster.

It’s gotta reach.

Friendly competition is real.

Especially in close friends.
Do you remember when we were kids? Man, we’d want a toy so bad we’d talk it up to all our buddies like it was already ours. Then some asshat shows up with it first, and it’s yesterday’s news.

I have found this to extend to anyone we truly respect.

Do we respect our friends, you ask? Of course. Who do you respect more? Someone you divulge your most personal desires and fears to, and they in-turn relate with you? Or your parents, who likely will tell you to just let it go, or possibly even try and give you advice… or worse, discipline!

My mom was truly hurting right alongside me when I got my worst sunburn in the Navy. She felt terrible when I told her I was purple, and then later peeling off whole human-shaped silhouettes of skin at a time.
But, it wasn’t her fault.

Well, now that I think of it, they did keep us pretty well lathered-up all the time. But, it could’ve had something to do with my drinking beer on the beach all day.

That’s what we do as parents. Protect… well, and drink beer on the beach all day.
All mothers know this and will defend it religiously. It is also why moms don’t like it when dads go and tell the kids things like, Grandma smoked off and on for eighty years, and she’s fine!

But, Dad is just trying to relate.
If he is a good father he will provide some context and fill them in on the fact that Grandma was also a marathon runner and a vegetarian… and that she’s probably not making it to one-twenty.
According to the bible, that’s our expiration; according to biology, it’s one-thirty.

It’s a way of showing that we have experience with the subject. Priming the pump.

This way, when and if the kid decides to smoke, he might later have a little respect and consideration for Dad when he tries to give advice. At the risk of a pun, this way our kid doesn’t think we’re just blowing smoke.

Advice without respect is useless. As a matter-of-fact it’s worse than useless. It’s self-defeating.

The ego develops just after birth, according to Brian Baulsom, a forty-year practitioner of spiritual well-being, and develops over the life-time until it can be controlled.

Everyone wants to be right. Especially the young.

Now, it has been said that the smartest people learn from another person’s mistakes. I find that absolutely true.

Every had an older brother?

But, you’re not gonna learn anything from someone who you think you could do it better than. Unless you’re busy teaching them something.

That’s why it’s important for me to be on a level with my children where I can tell them my horror stories. What overcomes the fear that they may make the same mistakes, is the fear that they will make the same mistakes and not even think of me.

Not that I’m cool because I’ve done these stupid things… but yeah, really, I am. In fact, I beat you to it kid, so lose interest in it now and move onto the next interesting rebellion.

We smoked. We ran away from home. We burned shit down!
Scary, right?!

If I tell my kid to not fight with other kids without putting my arm around him or showing him a scar, or tell him that I use to be bullied, or was a bully, without providing context. I’m wrong.

He then has every right to show up suspended from school.

If I tell him nothing. He still has the right.

But if I’ve had the foresight and the god-given father-son time to provide him a story of my experience, then if he finds himself in a situation where he has to make a choice; then, whatever choice he makes won’t be based on “Will dad kill me for getting in trouble?”

His decision will be centered on goodness and experience, and he will have someone to relate with if it befalls him.

Do we really put ideas in our kids’ heads?


I flick my spoon full of pudding and it slops across my son’s plate. He laughs.

Mom simmers.

The kid at least scoops some pudding up in the spoon to fire back. That’s one-step closer than just sitting there being told, “Eat your food.”

Now, we may end up in a food fight. And that would be the kid’s fault if Mom skins me alive. But, I forgive him, he’s just a kid.
I was just trying to get him to eat. But, if he’s laughing or at least looking at me he is kinda relating…

Then maybe we can eat?

Yes, we may end up with a couple more messy meals down the road, but the door is open to food and fun. And eventually food without too much fun. Way better than a door closed on a kid’s willingness to explore.
Who’s really in charge here? Does it matter?

Something about how real family always eats in the kitchen…
God gets food in good peoples’ mouths eventually.

Last time I invoked the name of Jesus around my household I was chased away with a broom, and could only come around when supervised by the church elders or local officials. Police is such a nasty word. But, we love them!

So, I’ve been a bit leery about using his name much.

Something about wives chasing husbands with brooms…
I’ve always been superstitious about brooms sweeping my feet. Maybe you’re not super-stitious… but I think everyone is maybe a little stitious?

I told my wife, “Aren’t you suppose to be the witch, and I the Priest?”

I’m not sure she laughed.

Did you know in Poland they have a day that celebrates this odd phenomena. It’s called Dingus day.
All the women grab up a broom of pussy willow and chase the guys around town who are relentlessly shooting them with water pistols. Or something to that regard.

Call it, The Renewal of the Flirt.

cool fact: stitious is defined as a diligent study and fondness for reading (where do these crazy people get all these ideas?!)

I also then told my wife we should try that.

Maybe she smiled.

My Pastor was telling me that he only sees my wife and I at different times, so he knows us individually. And that each of us are these really great people.
He said he hoped we could see that in each other, and that he often wondered that about a lot of couples.

Oh yes, he has reason.

Together my wife and I are can be a force to be reckoned with. A downright tornado.

But something else that Pastor Mark said was, “I believe in the Big Bang, even though the chances of it ever happening are something like a tornado hitting a library and constructing a thousand encyclopedias.”

It all only instills me with more belief in the divine order…

Because Angela and I’s kids are so great, it’s like the chances of a tornado sucking up a train yard and leaving behind a couple of perfectly crafted F-350's.

People laugh at that little observation, but it is deeply flawed. I mean, you couldn’t craft a bunch of encyclopedias out of mixed up libraries any better than you could those trucks from a junkyard because where’s the human element that programs the computers… the eyes to read and write the words?

Go back as far as you want. We’ve always been in this together.

Us and God.

So, I can take an I told you so. No big deal. But I’m a lover and a learner.

But most people are going to do anything they can to avoid that awkward conversation.

No one wants to be the lesser man.

Ever try and convince a kid to clean up a mess? There’s lot’s of ways to go about it, I know, and I’m no teacher.

I’m totally unsure that I really know a single one that works!

Yeah, it happens, most of the time. You make it fun, or offer candy, or threaten. Ever try to suggest?

Yeah, that never works! Depending on their age I mean. Little ones, lose you after six words and if they start cleaning up after your suggestion it’s out of total boredom from listening to you and there’s nothing better to do in the immediate area.

Then, they’re really just playing. Disorganizing the mess further into something you may think looks like cleaning so you walk away.

My wife’s loving this.

So, how do you convince a kid with a six-word-attention-span that cleaning up the mess is their bright idea?

Please, tell me!

I’m relatively sure it has something to do with making them flash respect you and then popping in a six word suggestion, but I could be wrong.

That would mean, further messing up the mess with them until you get their attention and we’re all on board together…

Then… real quick, hey let’s clean up?

Why do I see this going in the direction that I will be cleaning and the kid will still be dutifully destroying things?

So, give me ideas people! But, don’t try this at home and expect to find out that you’re a genius.

Or I may just have to say,

“I Told you so.”

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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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