I like being liked, doesn’t everyone? The people I want to like me most are my family. So when my kids are having an off day and decide I’m a convenient target, an entire slew of emotions come into play. How did we get here, and why are my kids mad at me?
Just like us, kids have hard days. It can be all too easy to take on personal guilt when these feelings in them bother us. There is a series of emotions and steps my mind seems to run through every time this happens. Perhaps some of these resonate with you, too?
Getting Over the Hurt – My heart is immediately saddened. The kids are mad because I’m parenting them? My mind can’t seem to compute how they could be upset when I want them to brush their teeth, make their beds, study their schoolwork… The hurt turns to a moment of guilt, wondering if I’m asking too much or doing something wrong.
Seeing Past the Red – Then the hurt turns to anger. I know I’m doing my job and they are making it hard; very hard. My pride kicks in, hating the disrespect being shown and the sharp replies I am receiving when I’m doing my best to remain calm and collected.
Learning to Pray – It’s in the midst of the anger, however, I am filled with the overwhelming need to pray. I don’t want to speak out in anger – while it might be righteous indignation, my reaction affects everything – hurting my children and doing further damage. I’m learning to ask the Lord to speak to their hearts, softening them to His will and obedience. I seek His will in my response and calmness for my heart.
Extending Understanding – While my children shouldn’t have acted out, and consequences will need to be given, the Lord is helping me see through my children’s eyes. Perhaps they have had a busy morning and feel overwhelmed. Maybe they were already frustrated and I’ve unintentionally poked at them. Their actions are not justified, but it’s good to know why this happened so we can move forward and work on removing this barrier in the future.
Holding Firm – Once my children have calmed down, they inevitably feel sorry for their actions. It might take a while, but it always comes around. It would be all too easy to write off their consequences and call it a day; everything is good now. That would be a mistake on my part. While I appreciate their repentance, my children also need to learn justice. It hurts to follow through, but it is necessary and important.
Tying Strings – We could leave it at repentance – it’s not a bad place to stop – but I want more. I need to rebuild the relationship which might be torn or bruised. A hug might be the answer, working together on a project, reading a story, watching a movie, talking during a walk, and more. At times this is harder than others, but worth the effort.
More than being liked, I want to be righteous. This means I need to set a good example for my children in moments of hurt and anger. It also means I need to stand firm in building their character.
When my children are mad, I need to remove myself from the picture, take a step back, evaluate what is going on beneath the surface, and ask the Lord for wisdom. This is not a personal affront, but a personal attack upon my child. The question is will I help or cause more hurt?
“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
~ Psalm 103:13
Your Turn!: What is your favorite way to “tie strings” with your children?