MEAN WHAT YOU SAY WITH YOUR KIDS
Nina Roesner & Debbie Hitchcock
Loretta and Jacob pulled nto the driveway. Immediately Jacob scurried from the car and commanded, “Be ready in 10 minutes! And I’m hungry. Make me a sandwich!”
Loretta wondered if aliens had abducted her 14-year-old and replaced his brain with someone else’s. Her family never treated each other like that. Loretta decided not to respond while she was irritated and instead chose to wait before addressing the issue. Giving herself that time helped her stay calm.
Knowing that teenagers are frequently in phases of hormonal flux, she also chose not to take his behavior personally. Loretta sensed the Lord’s prompting for a teachable moment, and instead of carrying out her son’s request, she went upstairs, lay down on her bed, and started reading a magazine.
Jacob burst into her room. “We have to leave! We’re going to be late. What are you doing? Where’s my sandwich?”
Oh my, Father, help me be Your love to this man/boy.
It was time to push the reset button.
“Jacob, I love that you have all these friends and fun things to do,” she said. “I usually enjoy taking you places, and I love to see you spend time with your friends. However, I have noticed that you have been increasingly bossy the last few weeks, and though I’ve talked to you about this a few times, you haven’t changed your behavior. As a result, I’m not going to make you a sandwich, nor am I going to drive you over to your friend’s house. You can go, but I won’t be the one getting you there. If you want to walk, that’s fine,” she told him.
His mouth fell open, eyes wide, “But…”
Then she got up, left the room, and went out the front door to get the mail. She knew he needed to chew on what had just happened. She chose to give him space to process.
When she came back in, Jacob was waiting. “You’re right, Mom. I’ve been really rude and bossy. I’m sorry. I haven’t been respectful, and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. It must make you feel like I take you for granted. I really appreciate your driving me around and stuff. Will you forgive me?”
“Of course I forgive you,” she said. “Thank you for understanding how I feel. I do feel taken for granted. I don’t want to feel that way in our relationship, and your apology and how you treat me in the future will impact that. Thank you,” she replied.
“So can we go?” he asked.
“Honey, you can go, but like I said, I’m not going to drive you over there. Let’s see how things go, and maybe tomorrow or the next day I’ll feel like driving you around again.”
“But you forgave me. I’m confused,” Jacob replied.
“I love you and I do forgive you, but there are consequences.”
Jacob eventually managed to talk his friend’s mom into coming to get him, and when he returned, he was a kinder, more respectful young man.
Bottom line: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and keep your commitments. This will change your relationships!
There is a line we walk daily as we interact with our children—between respecting the temple of the Holy Spirit (ourselves) and serving our family. Sometimes our children don’t fully understand our role in their lives, and expectations can creep in that don’t lead to mature behavior. It is important that we don’t allow our children to manipulate us into getting their way.
Once we state that we are not going to do something, we shouldn’t let them tug on our heartstrings to make us back down on our decisions. Simply let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no,” without emotion. Accept their apology, but once you’ve stated a consequence, follow through. This will give them time to process their mistakes.
Remember, too, that it is important to develop your own relationship with God so you know how to handle the situations that present themselves to you daily. If you stay connected to God, you’ll be wise to the enemy’s lie that you are a doormat when you serve. As a mom, you have the opportunity to gently teach the next generation to respectfully treat you with dignity.