I grew up in a house of yelling. We yelled when we were angry, happy, sad, or just having a normal conversation. My natural inclination when I feel frustrated, or like I’m being ignored by the children is to yell. I remember as a child getting yelled at and feeling like it was completely unjustified. I’m positive it was just my skewed childhood memory that makes me remember things that way, but it is how I remember it. So, how are my children going to look back and remember their childhood?
I remember two times my mom apologized to me without a “but.” The feeling of knowing she didn’t mean what she said, or how she behaved all hinged on whether or not there was a “but” involved (I think this goes for any apology). I was the oldest child, and as I mentioned in my post Introducing Us Part Three, as a parent we’re ever evolving. We’re always learning better ways to manage situations, and as I got older, my mom did just that. The oldest child witnesses more growth in their parents than any of the others. My poor Hayden knows this all too well!
When Herman and I first started going to church not a whole lot changed in our lives. We could feel the ever growing fire kindling, but it wasn’t fully blown or hot enough to make us take notice for some time. Once we became faithful followers, a lot of what we used to do changed. For Herman, yelling isn’t a go-to, so this isn’t a vice he had to overcome like me. He hardly ever raises his voice when he’s angry, and if he does, it’s probably because he picked it up from me.
“Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” Proverbs 29:11
One of the things that are constantly changing the more I grow in Christ is my parenting. I feel less like I have to control every single situation, and more like a moderator. Yes, I’m the parent. But my job is to guide them, not forcefully make them be the person I want them to be. I slip up daily, but God’s grace is never ending. Once more, His grace is NEVER ending. Ever. So why is mine?
It’s so easy to explode and once all is said and done continue on with life like nothing happened. As the parent, my anger was justified, right? I yelled because they wouldn’t listen. Simple as that. But, watching my children interact with each other showed me how damaging my thinking really was. So I started with apologies.
As children, we’re always told to apologize to each other, and it has to be sincere. We are told to look in their eyes, speak openly without anger in our voice, and not to justify our actions. Only to seek forgiveness. So why wasn’t I doing this with my kids? Every time I don’t handle a situation with grace, I apologize. Every. Time. If I’m short with all of them, I will apologize to them all together. If I yell at one of them, I will seek them out for a one-on-one. Apologies like, “I’m sorry I did that, but you…” are where it becomes a justification for the action and not a sincere apology. So I strive to make them as genuine as I possibly can. I ask for forgiveness, and then for them to pray with me, or for me.
My best friend always says, “it takes three generations to break a cycle.” My hope is that with sincere apologies, giving grace whenever I can, and aiming for more peaceful parenting I will give my children the building blocks they need to parent with grace from day one.