A few Sundays back, I said a cuss word under my breath on our way into church because my 3 year old traipsed his happy self through a puddle…in brand new shoes. Not like a little puddle….more like a small pond. And I was already mad we were late. And I didn’t have anything to change him into. And I was just sure his Sunday school teachers were going to look at him and think what a horrible mother I was for having my son out with wet shoes in the cold weather.
The very next day, my 7 year old was jumping on the trampoline and got hit by his brother in the face. I’m sure it hurt…but I promise you they heard him scream 3 counties over. And he just kept screaming. And kept screaming. And just when I thought he’d calmed down, he started screaming again, but not because he was hurt…because he was mad he’d been hit. After I was sure his face was fine (and it totally was), I tried to be the mature parent that I am and send him to his room to calm down for a few minutes. But when he looked back and yelled at me how mad he was again, I lost it…my patience was spent. And I hollered right back at him how he needed to calm the heck down and how yelling wasn’t going to do him any good. I know….the pot calling the kettle black, right?!? I’m seriously so embarrassed just seeing it written out on my computer screen.
Ironically my devotional that Sunday was about bridling my tongue. According to James 1:26, the one thing proving our level of spiritual maturity isn’t how religious we are – whether we go to church or can quote scripture or the good works we do – it is the words from our mouths.
So after everyone calmed down after the trampoline incident, those words came back to me. And I was immediately convicted and overwhelmed with guilt. Uuuuugggghhhh I hate it when that happens!!
Don’t get me wrong…I fully believe in consequences for poor behavior. I’m not always sure how to accomplish that, but I am sure hollering over my kids is not the solution. I always tell them to reserve yelling for gushing blood, broken bones, strangers, and emergencies. I am so patient 90% of the time, but then I can’t hold my tongue over wet shoes and well, yelling. It’s really no wonder my kids are so, ummmm….vocal.
I’m not really into New Years resolutions….because frankly, I’m not great at keeping them for long. But I decided to give it a go this year. I vowed to learn to hold my tongue through my frustrations…especially with my kids. I fully embraced the challenge of becoming a better example of how to handle emotions. Archbishop Desmond Tutu credits his father for saying, “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” I took that to heart, friends.
My husband and I have discussed in great length creative ways around yelling. My 2 year old daughter is completely fascinated with the movie Frozen, so we have seen it no less than 500 times during this nasty spell of winterish weather. So, now, when my oldest son gets angry or starts to pout about anything, we stop and calmly announce that he has to sing Let It Go…with gusto; hand motions encouraged. 9 out of 10 times, he just giggles and completely forgets what he was mad about in the first place. It’s a drastic improvement from the yelling matches that were taking place just a couple of weeks ago.
I’m sure the consequences will have to change and evolve as our kids grow (although seeing a 16 year old hairy boy sing Let It Go would be quite funny). For now, I’m so thankful for that conviction that led me to find a much more effective solution that makes my entire house more peaceful and calm. It’s amazing how quickly the kids are embracing our new tactics. I think we ALL feel better!