During the first 25 years of my life I can count how many times I lost my temper, really got angry, on one hand—then I got married. Hold on now, it’s not all my wife’s fault. In fact it’s my problem not hers. Before marriage I either ignored my emotions or withdrew from the irritant so that I wouldn’t lose my cool. Not so easy when this other person we marry invades our space resisting conforming to our demands.
Over 20 plus years of marriage I have given the Holy Spirit plenty of material to work with to teach me how to repair my relationship with Danielle quickly. Even though I still hurt Danielle by getting angry, making stupid decisions and committing hurtful actions, we are better at repairing our relationship.
Then about three years ago a little person entered into our little nuclear family, and the dynamics changed over night. He was eight-months-old when CPS placed him in our home, so he had the typical needs any baby has.
Then he began to talk. And express his opinions; then his demands. He now argues with us and throws full out tantrums when he doesn’t get his way.
You know what I am talking about. I know you do. Preschoolers try to take over the household; think they somehow know everything; act like little crazy people when they don’t get their way…and if I am not careful I join him. I make demands, argue and fall down on the floor kicking and screaming!
I truly go insane for a few moments. When I come back to my senses I realize that I have done more damage. I have blown it with my son.
I am trusting that if you are a parent, you know what I am talking about. It’s hard to admit, and I can easily feel as if I am the worst parent in the world. But I am learning that my blowing it can lead to something very good and healthy for me and my son—The opportunity to repair the relationship.
So how can we repair our relationship with our children when we blow it?
Own your wrong actions and ask your child for forgiveness. Simple and straight to the point.
Here is an exercise from Empowered to Connect that will help:
Practice making mistakes with your child (not intentionally, of course) and repairing them so that you and your child can grow and learn, and your connection will strengthen. Choose a two to three day period when you will be with your child for most of the day. Over the course of these days, be mindful to repair each and every mistake you make when interacting with your child. Whether you lose your temper, raise your voice, speak sarcastically, become frustrated, cut them off, fail to give them voice, ignore them, hurt their feeling, etc. Regardless of whether the mistake is big or small, intentional or unintentional, be sure to quickly, humbly, and sincerely repair each and every mistake you make.
As you do this, make a note of any observations that stand out, particularly in terms of your own feelings and your child’s response (to both your mistake and your repair). Also make a note of any changes in your relationship with your child that you witness throughout the course of this time.
Any time I humbly admit to my young son that my actions were wrong and ask him to forgive me, he quickly responds with child-like sweetness, “Yes Daddy, I forgive you”. Then he usually follows that with something like, “We don’t yell in this house!”
Yeah buddy, you are right, we shouldn’t yell in this house. But more importantly whenever we do, we quickly make it right in this house.
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Watch Amy Monroe, from Empowered to Connect share her experience with repairing her relationship with her children:
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