Monday was one of those really CRAPPY days!
Okay, so…. maybe it wasn’t the whole day, but the evening… It totally fell apart. I got into a spat with one of my sons, and I looking back I think that argument is what really precipitated the whole problem. There is nothing like contention to suck the spirit out of your home. Ever since my husband died, I am just so much more acutely aware of that. If the spirit goes out, my emotional state goes with it. Anyway, I won’t go into who the spat with was with or what it was about because my children are very sensitive to be singled out on my blog. Needless to say it was all based on the misunderstanding that started with a comment that I made. I tried to smooth things over and apologize, but I got a typical teenage response. You know…communication would be so much easier if my children were 40 like me! But unfortunately, I am working with pre-adult souls.
I’ve learned that communication with children/teens requires a LOT of extra patience.
Even though I’d like them to respond in a more adult manner, I can’t really expect that they will. Demanding it doesn’t work either. In my working opinion, the best way to smooth an apology over is to kill them with kindness.
Yep, that mean sucking up my own feelings and eating some humble pie.
Now, I’m not saying that parents should tolerate bad behavior. I set limits and there are consequences . But I don’t have to match bad behavior with my own bad behavior. I can choose how I am going to ACT in the situation and not REACT to it. We often forget that…
It’s more important to be nice than it is to be right
I have learned the importance of preserving the spirit at all costs. The spirit softens everyone’s hearts. It even makes suborn teens more susceptible to suggestions. Plus, the spirit puts those suggestions into my mind, and I have found that God’s ideas of how to parent my children generally work better than the ones that I come up with on my own.
Preserving the spirit, preserves the relationship.
MISTAKE 1: I should have swallowed my pride initially and empathetically apologized.
Instead I offered a trite apology, and then accused him of being too sensitive. when I should have expressed love, I looked for reason to prove that the misunderstanding was all his doing. If I had taken more ownership of the problem, I might have avoided the rest of the evening. My personal pride was really the problem that night.
It is okay for parents to admit that they are wrong.
So we had Family Home Evening (our family spiritual lesson night), in this particular child was grumpy and refused to participate. After FHE I was impatient with my other two children. They were messing around and interrupted a phone call and then spilt rice all over the floor. I got upset, I chewed them out, and I sent everyone to bed. Then I was alone…
Totally alone because my anger and irritation had banished the spirit.
MISTAKE 2: I REACTED instead of thinking and choosing to ACT.
Then the despair begin to set in. I looked up some news articles on the plane crash. I watched myself in an interview. Big mistake! Then I crawled in the tub, in the dark and began to cry in my loneliness. I had no one to talk to, so I begin to pray.
“Dear Father in Heaven, why do I have to feel so lonely?”
The answer was clear.
“You wanted to be more empathetic. Think about how many people spend all of their lives alone. You had a great marriage and a husband who loves you. You have children who love you. You have to experience this feeling so you can understand others.”
The answer humbled me and gave me some perspective. I began to wrap my head around the thought of needing to learn how it feels to be lonely. That thought gave my experience a purpose and some how made it easier to bear. With my heart softened, I realized that I had not handled the evening very well at all. I knew that I needed to fix things in the morning with my kiddos.
If I feel the need to justify myself,
I’m probably in the wrong.
At breakfast and scripture the next morning I apologized. My two rice spiller were easier appeased, but other child was still mad about the comment. I made his favorite lunch for him… Still no break in the sour mood. They left for school and I decided to write this post. As I began to write, I knew I needed to be as honest and open with him as I am in my posts. I texted him this message…
MOM: I really am sorry. And I want to be friends again 🙂 TEEN: Okay MOM: I made the peanut butter sandwiches as a peace offering this morning. I should’ve been more sensitive when you told me how your feelings were hurt. Instead of justifying my actions. I was wrong to say that even joking. I do trust you… Either way, I should’ve been more sensitive. I’m glad you told me how you were feeling. I will try better in the future to respond in a better way.
Then I did something else nice for him. The end result… That evening I had a super happy, helpful cooperative child!
To learn to deal with and be happy being lonely,….
Questions to Ponder:
- How can choosing to respond with patience improve your relationship? How does that improve the peace you feel?