dear friend wrote to me recently, asking if I would address the issue of being kind and gentle with our children.
What a challenge this area can be! Let’s face it, life is full of opportunities for us to speak in ways that we can regret later.
- Children bicker and generally act like, well, children,
- things get broken,
- we are frequently kept from doing the things we would like to do
- what mother isn't sleep-deprived, often for years at a time,
- washers and other appliances break, most likely when company is coming and when funds are in short supply for repairs.
I have found that when I am tempted to be short-tempered with my children, there are three potential areas that I need to address:
1. Am I focusing on the Lord as I go throughout my day? He is abundantly kind and gentle with me, overlooking many of my faults. Thankfully, He doesn’t try to address all of my shortcomings at once, but deals lovingly and patiently with me. Oh how He loves us!
As I spend time each day in the Word (sometimes multiple times during the day), my heart needs are met and I am reminded of He sufficiency to address all of the difficulties that will come my way that day.
2. When I find myself getting irritated with the children it can be a good time for me to step back and evaluate if I have been lax in training them. I definitely have a tendency to focus too much on “getting things done,” and can inadvertently let bad attitudes slide.
When I mention “training,” please don’t have the mental image of me standing over my children, whip in hand! Not at all! It is my delight to make practicing obeying Mommy a game for all. Yes, there are times when I must address an issue with great seriousness, but oftentimes our “practice” will simply be a game, repeated throughout the day.
“Timmy, when Mommy calls you, you need to run in here to me! OK?” With a grin, Timmy goes into the next room, listening carefully for my call. When I call, and he comes running, there is great cheering and general fun.
My choice to live with general joy and delight in all that the Lord has given me tends to “rub off” on my children. Alas though, on the converse side, when I see bad attitudes reflected (or hear them!), I find the need to check my own attitude.
3. The other area that I find needful to address when I am tempted to be short-tempered with my children is how I am caring for myself physically. I think I have been sleep-deprived for the last 21 years, to one degree or another! Granted, at times my lack of sleep is self-induced, but many times, as moms of many little ones can attest, it can’t be helped. Thankfully I have a husband who does not mind me taking an occasional “power nap” for a few hours every week or so to recharge. It is amazing how my outlook changes when I’ve had enough sleep!
I don’t think that being tired is an excuse to be rude or short-tempered with those we live with, but being aware of our physical needs is important, not only for our sanity and general delight in life, but also as an example to our children.
Eating nutritionally and exercise also play a huge roll in my attitude. We most generally cook everything from scratch, grinding our own grains and are that way able to control the amount of preservatives and other unpronounceable additives that are consumed, in addition to significantly reducing or eliminating the amount of refined sugar in our diet.
Please don’t underestimate the effect that exercise plays in your life. Exercise “burns” not only calories, but stress too. When the temperature is below 45 F here I don’t usually go for a bike ride, but I can do step aerobics at home. When I exercise at home, it is not uncommon for several children to work alongside me. I’m sure we are a comical group, but hopefully I am creating beneficial lifelong habits.
Additionally, I find it helpful to strive to have a peaceful home. While things are not always totally clean, I do like to have a “place for everything” so we can pick up and straighten up in a short amount of time. Peaceful background music can also help everyone’s attitude. This time of year I *love* playing Christmas music~ instrumental music if we are working on school, more upbeat music if we are cleaning or cooking. A little silly dancing with the younger boys to praise and worship music only helps everyone’s attitude. Christ-honoring music can help me maintain a God-ward focus and remind me of truth.
The more I grow in my relationship with the Lord and am reminded of His deep, deep love for me, the more I can’t *help* but overflow that same love and grace and joy as I relate to my children.
Oh, how He loves us!
I stand amazed at His grace in my life and one of my deepest desires is to reflect Him to my children.
Delighting in all that has been given to me,
Tim and Dan playing with our Fisher Price Nativity set... note the car! : )