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Feb 13, 2013

Help for Stormy Attitudes

Tracy Klicka

Wow! In the last week, we’ve gone from warm, balmy weather with lots of sunshine (about 25 degrees higher than the average for this time of year), to blustery snow with high winds and a wind chill of 15 degrees, to torrential rain, pouring down nonstop for 24 hours and causing flash flooding in several areas in our county. Just when you think you get used to one type of weather, it suddenly changes and you’re adjusting all over again!

This crazy up-and-down weather reminds me of how some days are with my kids. We can start out our day warm and balmy, with sunny attitudes to match, and all too quickly find stormy tempers and cranky dispositions, not to mention flash flooding with amount of crying my girls can engage in!

Just like the rapid changes in the weather are hard to adjust to, so is a rapid downward spiral in my children’s attitudes and our conversations. I have to admit that responding as negatively as my children are acting at times is a temptation for me, maybe more with teenagers than with little ones. I get discouraged more easily and lose a faith perspective when my teens get as emotional as thunder is loud.

What are my priorities when this happens in our home? How do I keep a faith perspective? Where do I find encouragement to respond in humility and trust in God?

  1. When in the midst of a conflict, I must be willing to walk away for a time if the conversation gets heated and emotional—When a discussion moves from rational to highly emotional, it’s okay to say, “You know, God says in His Word that only what is done in faith pleases Him. [Hebrews 11:6] Right now, I think we both having a hard time speaking with faith and trust in God. Let’s take a break from this topic and come back to it later, after we’ve had time to ask the Lord to help us keep our eyes fixed on Him.” Don’t let it drop, but find a time when hearts (theirs and yours) are calmer. Pray together before discussing again, and ask for God to help. He is faithful to hear and answer this kind of prayer.
  2. Ask the Lord to search my heart first for wrong attitudes and desires before addressing your children’s—Sometimes I’ve gotten frustrated with our homeschooling day because things weren’t going the way I wanted. In this scenario, God might want me to yield to His better plan for us than our school day going the way I’d like. Other times, I respond in fear for my children, especially when they seem hard-hearted to my words. In this case, their hearts may be far from God, but He wants me nonetheless to trust that He is sovereign and fully capable of helping us; His perfect love can cast our fear. Starting with our own hearts helps us see where we might be contributing to the problem at hand and opens the door for God’s grace to be poured out on us, moms!
  3. Be willing to discipline my kids if they need it, but ask for God’s help to do so with humility and love—for example, when I’ve told a child (several times usually) that I will have to enforce their tardiness, laziness, or forgetfulness concerning a chore they are responsible for with some measure of discipline (whether it’s grounding, or taking something away, fining them or something else), I need to follow through and do what I’ve said I would, yet not with anger or harshness. With the help of God’s Spirit, we can be gracious and kind even when we need to enforce discipline.

I’m not going into details about what our past week has been like (think rain, wind, sunny, sleeting!), but just like we can’t control the weather, the negative attitudes our children sometimes exhibit serve to remind all of us of our need for God and just how glorious the gospel really is. Christ died for sinners, not only to forgive sin, but to reconcile a people to Himself. It is a great reassurance to know that God not only controls the weather, but because of His great love for us in Christ, is also actively at work in our children’s hearts…and ours.

"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."  ~2 Corinthians 12:9

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