Monday, May 21, 2012

Parenting Carnage

I don't know if I've ever done anything in life that is harder than parenting.

We all want to do it right. Some of us are even caught up in trying to be the perfect parent.  Like that's possible. I do at least understand that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We will all make mistakes of one kind or another.  But as we are not created to be perfect beings, that is just part of life.  Our job is to be the best we can be and constantly strive to improve on our short comings and adapt to each kid and situation.

So easy to say.

Not so easy to live.

And if you are anything like most parents, there is one really big area that we fail at over and over and over again.

That is -- how we talk to our children.  Or maybe I should say how we "raise our voice" or flat out yell. Or maybe its just the tone.  You know, that tone you would NEVER use on someone you valued, a friend, a co-worker, someone who worked for you -- but you don't think twice when using on your own child.  CHILD.  You wouldn't talk to an adult like that but you do it to your own child.  The child you supposedly love more than anyone else on the face of the earth? 

Tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. (And if you don't I really, really admire you because its not easy. I do have a few friends that have this almost completely mastered and it is awe inspiring.)

Yet we do it time and again.  And again.

Unhealthy or unhelpful criticism.

Unkind words.

Hurting feelings unnecessarily.

I'm happy to say that I am much better about this since joining the Christian ranks than I was before. Not that I've cured the problem. Hah.  Not even close.  Especially when I'm tired, sick or stressed. (Which defines my life right now.)

One thing that helps me is thinking WWJD.  Yes, the whole "What would Jesus do?"  Because lets face it, He would NEVER ever handle our children like we do.  And He would never scream, raise his voice or belittle our children to teach a lesson.

Because that is not teaching.  Think back to school (or for the unfortunate, your abusive parent or sibling or other family member).  Did you ever "learn" or strive to do better when you were treated that way?  Or where you determined not to comply or maybe just resent or even "hate" that person? I cannot think of a single time in life that being yelled at, or being talked to like I was less than dog dung EVER had the desired effect the adult was trying for.  NEVER ONCE.

So why would I fall into that same old trap and turn around and do the same thing to my own children? 

The children we are commanded to teach -- not verbally abuse or belittle.

The children we are supposed to be modeling for? Not pull the insulting "Do what I say, not what I do"?

The children that WILL resent us for being treated that way. Or think there is something unlovable about themselves and will hold their self worth in question.

The children that very well may reject being a Christian due to the Hippocracy in their own home. 

Concentrating on certain Bible verses does help me out on this issue.  Because I don't WANT to belittle my children. I don't want to talk to them like they are stupid.  I don't want them to think being yelled at is just "raising my voice" - its yelling.  I don't want my children to think I value others more than I value them... because I speak to them like they are less than but I'd never speak to others that way.  I don't want to ANGER my children into resentment or even hatred.  

Some of those verses:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go;
 even when he is old he will not depart from it.

You cannot train a child by "telling" (or yelling) you have to model.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Reproof is not is teaching.  It is not yelling, it is teaching. Not yelling or belittling is not the same as not teaching or disciplining.  You can reproof and disciple without ever treating your child like a less than. Reproof should not leave carnage.

Matthew 7:12  “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Do you want others to talk to you in that tone? Do you want others to yell at you?  Do you want others to "raise their voice" at you?  What do you feel when you are treated that way?

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

This is the one that comes to mind most often.  Some versions say do not anger your children.  This does not mean that we will never make our kids angry. It means we should not give them reason to be angry by HOW they were treated over an issue so that they can focus on the issue and teaching at hand. They might be angry for being disciplined for a transgression....but don't cancel out what you are trying to teach with bad behavior of your own.  Why should they listen to you at all if you do?

If we can't treat our own children with KINDNESS and love, what does that say about us?

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 

I think its pretty clear that in our dealings, if they aren't done with love I have completely missed the mark and wasted the effort. 

Sorry this is such a long post. Its and issue that has been on my mind or in my home way too much lately.  And if any of you has any advice or other verses to pass along I'd love to hear them. Because I love my kids.  More than anything.



  1. Call me. Talk about the kids. Talk about the other stress. Talk about nothing. Listen to me talk about the kids. Or my stress. Or nothing at all. It works for me. Always when I hang up I have a better perspective and don't say something I later regret.

  2. Beautiful!

    I am going to share this on my FB page. Hope that's okay. If not, it may be too late b/c I'm doing it right now. ;) heehee