Be the Adult
Over the years I have carried a small newspaper clipping in my pocket about the role as a teacher. I have altered it for us as parents. The small quote reads:
“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the family.
It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my mood that makes the weather.
As the parent, I possess a tremendous power to make my child’s life miserable or joyous. It can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations in our home, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalate it. My response will determine if my child is humiliated or lifted up.”
Here you are. You are at dinner and one of your children throws you a disrespectful bomb in an attempt to derail and disrupt the unity of the moment. The choice now sits before you. A literal fork in the road.
You could respond and say, “You’re messing with the wrong dad today bud!” And then proceed to toss a bomb right back at them and return evil for evil.
This public maligning of my child will certainly shut them up for the moment. When my flesh rises and I flash back, I am not walking in accordance to what God lays out for my role as a parent. A flash of my flesh does nothing but cause more difficulties. Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult. Don’t do that. Give a blessing instead. Extend grace. Be the adult. Address it as an adult.
Your initial reaction is going to be an indication of how the rest of the situation is going to play out. Crushing the spirit of my child is a poor trade-off to somehow put this kid in their place.
Worse yet, when I act out in the flesh and verbally retaliate, at some point my kids will begin to seek to one up me, further escalating the situation. At this point, things have gone from bad to worse.
Publicly humiliating and blowing up at our kids, regardless of their inappropriate actions, just isn’t helpful. If necessary, take them aside, address it individually and carry on.
Jesus gave us the example to follow. When reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten. What did Jesus do under the painful remarks, ridicule and even torture? He kept entrusting himself to Him who judges righteously.
Be like Jesus. Don’t lash back and crush your kid. Don’t return evil for evil, but give a blessing instead. In doing so, you are actually embodying the attributes of God.
- Recall: Who sets the mood and climate in the family?
- Reflect: Have you recently handled a situation poorly and crushed your child’s spirit instead of extending grace?
- Respond: What steps do you need to take to remind yourself to handle situations with your children with grace? (Counting to three before you respond, etc.)
- Rethink: What are you doing right now to set a climate of grace in your home?