The Kindness Approach
Whoever said children are sweet, innocent little cherubs never had a preschooler and toddler planning world domination in their living room.”My kingdom for children who listen to me without me having to scream at them,” I messaged a girlfriend… and it wasn’t even 10am!! Her exasperation resonated with my own as her response came in, “I feel you on that!” Our collective sigh hung heavy in my hands before their fussing began to swell to the volume of a cheap motorcycle engine, causing me to finally combust with anger, “Will you two KNOCK IT OFF!?!”
Finally, my husband walked through the door. “Oh, thank God!” I exclaimed. He laughed, like he always does, as I detailed how I had been pleading with them for the better part of an hour to just be NICE to each other and keep their hands to themselves!
“Come on boys, let’s go get dressed.” They followed him to their room, laughing in tow. I burned against his mild, fresh demeanor. He might have been at work since before sun-up, but he didn’t KNOW that they are clearly little masterminds, bent on my insanity. How can he be so calm in the face of such villainy?
As they came back to the living room, I asked him the same question I ask every day: “What are we going to do about them?”
“You just need to be patient with them. Don’t escalate or yell. They’re good boys, and you love them. I’m sorry they drive you crazy. They’re not really trying to. They love you.” He then smiles and continues getting them ready to go to the park.
I started to think about of my discipline style of flying off the handle, needing to be bigger than defiance, being the loudest in the room compared to my husband’s: reserved, patient, firm but calm, and notice the boys’ responses to each of us, and how he doesn’t have HALF the trouble I have with them. Unexpectedly, a verse is pulled out of my heart: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
My husband is emulating our Father, ever patient with His creation, not desiring to unleash wrath but instead taking the time to redirect us once again because He knows first hand that shame, uncontrolled anger, and demanding obedience aren’t productive disciplinary styles, but love, consistency and the patience to wait us out are.
My anger fizzles as I sigh a final puff of smoke, realizing that my inability to show my children the same grace my husband does is that I don’t afford it to myself, and that the shame, uncontrolled anger and iron fist that demands obedience I attempt to control them with is the same damaging means I use to discipline myself.
Even in that revelation, His kindness is with me, as he again redirects me to his love, though I have chosen judgement for myself time and again and have projected that onto others, even those I love most. My prayer today is that given the next opportunity, which will probably be around dinner time, I will lean into His wisdom and remember it is His kindness that draws my heart and aligns my actions with His will.