While I was growing up, my parents constantly reminded me to remember my manners and to mind my attitude. Attitude. See, I’ve been “attitude – challenged” since an early age. When things go MY way I am as happy as a clam, but when things go differently or someone steps in my way, I get madder than a hornet and will make sure everyone knows it. Through the years I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude both outwardly and inwardly. Oh sure, I paint on a smile and pour out words sweet as honey when it benefits me (especially if money is involved — after all, I was not a top performing sales person by chance). Even so, when the door to the outside world shuts, I can be as negative and hard as they come.
My oldest daughter has a memory like an elephant; her retention is incredible, so learning her ABC’s and numbers proved a snap. Like a sponge she soaks up every word and action around her, and on top of that, she is a great mimic, sometimes to her own detriment. One evening at the dinner table she quipped to her father, addressing him by his first name, “You do not know what you are talking about.” Needless to say, I quickly reprimanded her and told her that was disrespectful, that we do not talk to Daddy that way. Her response: “That is what you say, Momma.” Excuse me, what did you just say?
After we put her to bed, I told my husband how shocked I was to hear M speak to him like that. Well, my more gentle spirited husband then informed me that M was correct — although I can be really kind, I can also be flat out rude — in front of our children. Ouch! That night I realized something — I spend a lot of time correcting her on how she responds to people, instructing her to be kind and gentle, yet I, myself, don’t always set a good example for her to follow.
For now, my daughter thinks I am the best thing she has in her life. She wants to act like me, dress like me, talk like me, and often tells me she wants to grow up and be me, bless her heart. We mistakenly assume that children are not listening or paying attention to us, but Momma, they are watching EVERYTHING we do. They are watching how we talk to our spouses, our friends, the cashiers at the grocery store and when someone cuts us off or we hit our toe, they notice how we respond. How many times do we tell our children to do one thing, only to turn around and act a different way ourselves? Guilty! My mother often reminds me that essentially, children are most influenced by what is caught, not taught, which is so true. In the home, Mothers are like rudders, who by their words and deeds, direct the course of their children.
Everyone has “off” days. We say the wrong thing, react badly, or just walk around in a funk. That is natural; we are human. Nevertheless, on days like this, it is important to ask for forgiveness from those we hurt, especially our children. After losing my temper or speaking in a condescending manner to my husband in front of my girls, (we all know that it’s not always what we say but how we say it that offends), I have apologized and told them that their momma was wrong, that I displeased God by not showing love to our family by what I said or by the way I said it.
God calls Believers to look at life differently, to accept each day as a gift from Him, realizing that nothing occurs by chance. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control our response. Next time you’re about to “lose it” or argue with your husband, ask yourself how you would feel if you heard your child do likewise. The results might surprise you as you find yourself reprimanding your children less and rewarding them more, not to mention reaping increased peace and harmony in your heart and in your home.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:14-15
Real Life Hacks:
- Fake it ‘til you make it. Not a genuinely upbeat person? Each day think of just one thing to be grateful for, and when you sense yourself growing negative, recall that one thing.
- Start a Complaining Jar. Every time you complain or say something negative put a dollar in the jar. If you are cheap like me, that will fix that problem real quick!
- Begin your day with a happy song, poem, verse, saying, something you can constantly repeat to yourself to lift your spirit throughout the day.
- When you feel yourself getting upset or frustrated, take a step back. Often I have to literally leave the room and calm down before I take on an issue or proceed with a subject.
- If you feel yourself getting into a funk, call a friend and grab coffee, ask your husband to watch your kids for a while and go out for some “you” time. We all need a change of scenery and to recharge from time to time.
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