Friday, July 26, 2013

Say What You Mean

It has been a frustrating couple of weeks in my house. It seems to be a pattern that I'm recognizing, now. Two years ago when we welcomed our youngest into our home, her older sisters regressed with the almost-4 year old biting her sister when frustrated or angry. Our current 4 year old is throwing 2 year old fits again. Every summer, mid-July, I think I'll just mark it on the calendar.

Our biggest regression that my husband and I detest is pottytraining regression.
*sigh* Somehow we have a fear in our minds that our children will NEVER outgrow this unpleasant behavior. The fear is unfounded, but presents itself again each time we have a mess to deal with. One child prefers the first type of mess, the other one, well, the other kind, naturally.

In all honesty, we go so long between the accidents (months at a time) that we've developed that position of "we're finally there!" "never again!" "yes! we did it!".

Our daughters are young. We forget that. One is not-quite 6, but will be soon. One just turned 4 and one just turned 2. We expect a lot of them, but it's because they're so capable.

When they are incessantly bickering and hurting each other, it's hot outside, and in general we're sleeping less because the sun's up later, we tend to parent in a louder tone of voice than is preferable for all of us.
This morning I made a pact with my 4 year old. No more yelling in our house. My vocal chords can't take it (I'm singing our National Anthem for a couple events this weekend) and it's hurting all our ears. Mostly though? It's just not working. She is my yeller. In fact, that's what is so silly. We are in some way so much alike that we are constantly butting heads. We're more physical than anyone else in our house. We get frustrated with each other and don't always communicate well. My other two are very verbal and we can usually talk it out.

It led me to think about what we say to others when we are upset. I am intentional about my words with my children, but in the past, I know I have said things that I didn't really mean.
It is much easier to lie to somebody than to state what is actually upsetting you.
If we were to look at what was really upsetting us, this is how it would sound out loud.

"I'm frustrated that you keep making the same mistake!"
"I wish I didn't get so upset by something silly like spilled milk!"
"I wish you would stop fighting with your sister because it makes me think I'm not a good parent!"
"I wish you would keep your clothes clean so we wouldn't have unsanitary messes in your clothes and on the floor!"
"I'm worried that kids won't like you if you keep doing this!"

"I'm yelling at you and your sister to stop because I'm tired and I really don't feel like coming all the way into your room to deal with it!"
"I'm lazy and selfish!" (ouch, right? But, so true.)

In the book of Psalms, there is a short prayer that has become my first sentence in the morning. I've had a couple weeks of not remembering to say it and that is why I'm typing all this today. We're going to remember and make a conscious effort. Is it work? Yes. Is it worthwhile? Yes. In the end will I be less mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted? I actually think that yes, I will, because I won't be depending on my mere mortal capability to handle the stresses life is throwing at me. I will be asking for help.
"Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me."
Psalm 51:9-11
The "short" prayer is verse ten, the second line, but I wanted to give you the verses in context. Truly, we need that clean slate each day, don't we? And so do our kids. :)


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