Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Little Red Flags


In January I picked a word that I hoped would shape and inform my year: kindness.

The main reason I picked that word is because I have this sinful tendency to speak harshly and very unkindly towards the people I love most; my husband and children.

I could make a lot of excuses along the lines of sleep deprivation, hormones, or the just provocation I often encounter. Every mama knows that the 4 and under crowd can be R.I.D.I.C.U.L.O.U.S at times.

Ultimately though, the problem is my own sin. I want people to do things my way, on my terms, immediately. When I don't get what I want, I betray my own idolatry with sinful, angry responses.

I have two choices. I can make excuses, hurt my husband and children profoundly, and pay the dear price of havoc wrecked on relationships. Or {by the grace of God} I can call my sin what it is, repent of it, ask forgiveness of those I've hurt, and keep striving to speak kindly.

Recently I've observed little red flags my children wave when my tone is getting out of control. It's painful to realize they are aware of my unkindness, hurt by it, and responding negatively to it... but I'm thankful, because when I see these red flags they serve as checks and balances for my heart.

When I say something to her and notice my four year old scrunching up her face in a sour, rebellious look- I've noticed that it is always because I spoke to her unkindly. My initial nastiness evokes nastiness in her, and sets the tone entirely wrong for further interactions.

Certainly she needs to obey my instructions with a respectful, joyful attitude... but I provoke her unnecessarily when I speak unkindly. She is an individual that ought to be shown respect and consideration. When I speak harshly to her, I am being disrespectful.

My two year old son's tell is different, much as his personality differs from his sister's. If I catch him saying "I sorry Mommy!" when he hasn't done anything that warrants an apology, I can be sure that it is me, not him, who is out of line.

Yes, childish behavior can be frustrating. Messes made, new no-no's discovered, and general ruckus add to my work load and stress me out. But my son needs my kind and patient guidance, not a mommy temper tantrum.

These are my kids' red flags: sour expressions and unnecessary apologies. I'm thankful for a new awareness of them. Now to remedy the triggering offense!

How do your kids let you know when you are in the wrong? What has helped you to develop patience and kindness in parenting?


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