Parenting is hard work most days. I'm tired. I'm out of ideas. I don't know what I'm doing.
In spite of how crazy difficult it is, I've learned one thing that has helped me perhaps more than any other bit of parenting wisdom I've ever gleaned.
I have learned (am still learning) to respond rather than to react.
When tensions are high:
- I react.
- I yell.
- I punish so that guilt is experienced.
- I continue my rant.
- Am caught up in the moment.
- Respond emotionally.
- Realize my motives are selfish (I want to be heard and obeyed).
All to no avail. While, in the moment, I may feel better, I generally end up escalating the situation.
When I am able to manage the tensions:
- I don't react. I respond.
- I am able to discuss without yelling.
- I discipline appropriately.
- I say what I need to say and am finished.
When I am able to respond:
- I can see the overall picture.
- I respond sensibly and reasonably.
- I can have motives that are pure.
- Recognize stress. We all tend to react rather than respond when we've reached our personal limits.
- Recognize that on our own strength, we are unable to control our emotions. Yield constantly to the will of God. Doing so allows us to have His motives.
- Recognize motives. If I were to be honest, sometimes I really want my kids to feel badly about what they've done. That's the job of the Holy Spirit and it is a necessary part of discipline but it's not my job. I correct and guide and institute discipline when needed. I don't shame.
- Limit distractions. When I am trying to multi task, I often find my patience is very limited. I am trying to accomplish too much at the same time and can't really understand what my child needs. When I limit my distractions, I am able to really see what's happened, listen with compassion, and guide and correct as needed.
How about you? What is the best parenting lesson you've learned lately?
Are you able to respond rather than react with your kids?
Any other thoughts on how to respond rather than react?