No matter how hard we try to keep calm, sometimes we blow it. When that happens, we can be open to ideas from the Holy Spirit, as was Brenda, a mom who receives our email tips. When we heard her story we invited her to write it to share. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we do!
It was another busy evening – kids home from school, parents home from work, dinner to make, homework to do – and tension was running high. Our three lively children aged 5, 9, and 12 were talking over each other and interrupting my husband and me. I strive to model the peace, patience, respect, and love that I want my children to experience and learn, but needless to say, this is easier at some times than others. Trying to keep our cool, we gently reminded them to speak one at a time and listen when someone else was speaking. This worked…for a bit.
When supper was over and the table was cleared, the rough-housing began as I did dishes. I stated that rough-housing often does not end well and reminded them to stop when anyone stated they want to stop. It seemed as though I was talking to myself, so I returned to my dishes, frustrated, but resigned to the fact that someone would get hurt. I hoped they might learn from their natural consequences. Inevitably, the crash came, quickly followed by the scream and the argument over who did what. I had had enough and stormed into the living room.
After yelling for a minute, I ordered everyone to sit down so we could talk about what happened. This quickly turned into a lecture. My anger was boiling over. I was on a roll, and then I saw their faces reflecting fear, sadness, guilt, and shame. Exactly what I did not want for them. Completely the opposite of what I strive to live. I realized I had the same feelings within me: fear that they would grow up angry, sadness that my heart seemed so heavy and black, guilt that I was asking them to behave in a way I was not, and shame for belittling them. Ugh! I took a few moments to pray for guidance on how to make this better.
Then, God planted an idea.
I apologized for losing my cool and told the kids I had something I wanted them to hear, something that would share what I was trying so miserably to convey. I found the song and cranked it up, then began dancing with abandon. The kids looked at me as though I had lost my mind. They were initially hesitant to join, and then slowly they stood, one by one, and began to dance with me.
As Aretha Franklin belted out the chorus, we all got the message and felt the darkness in our hearts be replaced by light: R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
The silliness and lightheartedness of the dancing, combined with the clear message of the song, was just what we needed to reconnect. Afterwards, we were able to sit down and write some ideas of what respect meant to us. Ideas included “only helping when someone asks”, “stopping when someone wants you to stop”, “not interrupting”, “using kind words”, and “treating each other like friends.” For times when it is hard to tell if a “stop” in play is a real “stop” or a play one, we came up with a special code word to mean “Stop-right-now-I’m-serious!”
Now when tensions rise, simply singing a few words of that song reminds each of us to pause and recalibrate our actions and words as appropriate. If it becomes necessary, we use our code word. What a blessing that God revealed just how to bring our hearts together in a much more effective way.
In her openness to God’s Spirit, Brenda communicated some important messages to her kids:
- You are safe with me – God gives me the humility and wisdom to bring peace.
- We all deserve respect.
- We all are capable of being respectful and can solve our problems together.
- God’s grace brings us Do-Overs.
What are messages you want to communicate to your children in conflict? How might you do that? Consider sharing your ideas below in the comments.
If you want help implementing these principles in your family, read more about our coaching packages!