Friday, October 14, 2011

Grace and Damage Control

In case yesterday's post depressed you, I wanted to add a few quick positive thoughts.

I used to write between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM, when my husband worked nights. It gave me time to delve into long topics, especially those that required research or reading. I simply can't do that very often now. It would horrify my husband to find his wife sitting at the computer every night. I need to actively avoid that folly.

So forgive the poor editing and lack of thought put into any partial nighttime, partial daytime posts. They must be fast and furious.

The possibility that we're making the same mistakes we resented our own parents for, is depressing. But a few things come to mind regarding damage repair and perspective.


First, I recall a time when I had a very difficult student, in the year 1999-2000. My body and mind exuded stress. So much so, that I couldn't seem to get a lunch prepared the night before work, and I found myself frequenting a fast food restaurant during my lunch hour--always the drive thru. One day--one of my worst days--a fast food worker commented that I was always so happy, and how did I manage it?

I've told this story before, so forgive me for the repetition, but I think it illustrates the power and reign of the Holy Spirit in our bodies and lives. He decides what gets presented to the world. No, that doesn't mean we can be nasty and not suffer consequences, but it does mean there's always a softening and a grace administered by the Holy Spirit--especially when we're experiencing a trial (particularly trials not brought on by our own mistakes).

If you're ashamed of your behavior, remember that when trials come, so does grace.

Damage Control

My children recently cracked a library DVD, and after being lectured for that, continued, in the same week, to leave others out without cases. Also, we wasted time this same week looking for misplaced items. These circumstances left me concluding that my children weren't growing in maturity and responsibility. Hence, they got an earful that week. And a consequence.

Did I lecture them gracefully, mercifully?  No. My frustration and stress--all encouraged by Satan--won. (No, I didn't cuss at them--don't get a horror picture in your head.)

Did I, at the time, remember all the good things they do? No. Again, Satan's tactics won.

After repenting and asking for their forgiveness (without giving excuses), I set about controlling the damage. For every negative interaction, we have to increase the amount of positive interaction--not in a manipulative or contrived way, however, and not in a way that makes it seem like their behavior was acceptable.

Some ideas:

- Spend time painting or drawing or coloring with them ( in the same few days after a blow up)

- Write a nice note detailing all the reasons you're proud of them.

- Bake something with them, or read extra books.

- Take a walk, a bike ride, or make time for the park.

- Set aside a time every day, whether tuck-in time, or daytime rocking chair time, to speak love and encouragement into your children--each one separately. We should do this in good times and in bad--it should be a regular part of our parenting. Traditions like this are remembered and treasured. And, they can make up for other poorer parenting techniques. Love covers a multitude of sins.

I find it helpful to make myself a checklist of parenting/caretaking techniques and posting it somewhere like the fridge. Did I make time each day to cuddle, to cut fruit, to read stories, to just talk? Without such a list, I don't practice intentional parenting and my kids could go two days without fresh fruit for lunch or snack, or two days without a daytime story. It's far too easy to practice reactive parenting, especially when you're swamped.

Keeping outings at a minimum helps us practice intentional parenting. I find that when we have two whole days at home, consecutively, the week goes smoother. I don't get behind on chores, and my mind and body are more relaxed. My to-do list isn't overflowing.

The more we leave the house, the worse our parenting is, in some respects. We can't be hermits, but there's a delicate balance.

As much as kids think they like a lot going on, it's worth considering that time at home enhances creativity and fosters relaxation and bonding.

- The quieter children are more likely to grow up with resentments--the children who aren't trouble makers or consistently high maintenance. Be sensitive to them, knowing they may not always talk about their feelings. Draw them out, plan a fun outing with them, check in with them.

- Some children are peacemakers, and/or they put a burden on themselves to make everything better. That was me, growing up. It can lead to, in my opinion, co-dependent tendencies, if the child grows up with an identity that focuses primarily on rescuing others. (Not in a Compassion International kind of rescuing, but in a way that leaves them feeling unsatisfied when they're not "working" on someone.) I don't know how to remedy this, but keep it in prayer and keep a close watch. My husband and I find nothing in the Bible that addresses co-dependent behaviors, but it seems to both of us that they are, when taken to the extreme, unhealthy.

I hope this helps all the mommies out there!

Most importantly, remember this one thing. Recall the way Ann signs everything? Alls Grace. When you're a Christian, it's all about grace.


Laura said...

Hi, there, Christine. I so appreciate these thoughts. My boys have moved into adolescence and there are times when I think I might lose my mind. But other parts of this growing up are so rewarding and I love the suggestions you give at the end of your post. Just being together, really BEING together seems to be what feeds these boys.

Love to you, friend.

Terri H said...

I read this post on my phone as I was pushing my boy on the swing at the park. Then I put my phone away in shame. It's so easy to forget how short these moments are! Thanks for the reflections on loving our kids. I feel like I'm always correcting and I sure hope they remember the good times, too.

Christine said...

Thank you for saying hello you two! I appreciate the feedback.

And Terri, you'd get a kick out of a comment Peter made about multi-media phones. We aren't tech savvy here and wouldn't know the difference between an iphone, ipad, blackberry, etc. But, I was telling Peter what people use these for the other day, and he asked me if he could listen to itunes while he rode his tractor and plowed fields someday. :)

Terri H said...

Tell Peter that's a great use for an Iwhatever. ;) My husband is a software developer and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by screens and wish we could be a little less savvy.