A Nasty Fit
Lord, help me respond to this in the right way!
That has been my desperate cry a lot lately. I have a preteen and a two-year-old…and three children between those ages…and a newborn…so yeah, I’m pretty exhausted and sleep deprived and don’t really trust my own judgement or initial reactions at the moment.
But I want to share a story with you that just happened yesterday. I think it’s pretty funny…
My oldest was not doing her morning chore (rotating laundry). Well, she had started it and then was somehow in the wrong room and teasing her sister. The rule around here is if you are dawdling (or complaining about your chore) you get an extra chore to do after you finish that one. So I asked her to empty the dishwasher.
“Me???” It’s usually not her chore.
She stomps into the kitchen and sassily asks, “Do you want me to do that before or after I finish the laundry?”
“Your choice.” I reply calmly and keep chopping veggies for the crockpot. She slams the laundry room door, which is right behind me. I want to rip that door open and say a few choice words, but I say a prayer instead. A few minutes later she stomps to her bedroom and slams the door.
She’s angry, I’ll give her five minutes to cool. After about that time the baby is starting to get dissatisfied with his rocking seat so I knock on my daughter’s door and tell her, very calmly, that I need to get the dishes washed and asks if she would like to empty the dishwasher or I empty it and she fills and starts it.
“I’ll empty it.” She replies, grouchily. She comes out and starts slamming things around. I want to respond, but leave the kitchen instead. I decide to ask my two-year-old to pick up the five items of dirty laundry that are on the living room floor as his morning chore. He melts into a puddle, face on the floor and booty in the air, throwing a fit.
I want to laugh as I try to decide which kid is having the worse tantrum. Then I’m inspired.
“I know you don’t want to do your chore. But everyone needs to help mama, and it’s not ok to throw a fit.” I say calmly but plenty loud enough to be heard in the kitchen, praying that my daughter will see her behavior from a different light.
Guess what? It worked! God provided the perfect rebuke in my daughter seeing my toddler throwing a fit. I think it allowed her to look at the situation outside her emotions. The slamming in the kitchen quieted down. After she was finished, I thanked her and went into the kitchen to do my chore. As I left the living room I saw her give her little brother a hug and say, “Thanks for doing your chore, bubba.”
I’ve never been the best at knowing when to hold my tongue, so I’m really thankful that I’m finally making a little progress in this area. I don’t know how people parent without the Holy Spirit! I am certain that nothing I would have hotly said to her would have been received as well as those calmly spoken words that she heard me say to her brother.
This isn’t a perfect story, and I wish I could say the rest of the day went smoothly. She had a nasty attitude later, when she didn’t understand something about her school and was impatient because I couldn’t come help her right away. But a bit later she did come apologize for that. I knew she was apologizing for that morning, too. I gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her and how amazing she is. I know she was feeling convicted about her behavior and that she knew what she had done wrong so left it at that. She didn’t need lectured to, she just needed to be forgiven.
In the past, I have thrown worse fits than my children. I am completely guilty of letting their bad attitudes or behaviors govern my reactions and judgement. This is something I am really trying to work on, because I don’t want to be that way!
I would say that the key to parenting well is asking the Holy Spirit to help you. Many, many times! After all…
And these are the prefect ingredients for parenting.
Lots of love, mamas!