Overcoming The Mean Parent Voice

OS02003If you are a parent, you have done it. If you have a newborn, it’s not a matter of if, but when it happens.

Your precious child will stir anger up within you and you will use the mean parent voice. I really don’t know what else to call it because it sounds different in all of us, but the overarching fact is that it flat out sounds, well…mean. Some parents are screamers and yellers. Some are sarcastic or rude. Some parents belittle and accuse or are passively mean with their tone. Some parents have great self-control most of the time, but have random moments where like volcanoes they just erupt. It may not happen often, but when it does, everything in its path gets burned.

And why on earth would we parents, who love our children so deeply, speak anything but words of affirmation and use anything but a loving tone when addressing them? There are many reasons, really. Being tired, frustrated, stressed & overwhelmed are just a few. And just maybe, you had parents that talked to you in a harsh way.

But no matter how or why you do it, it’s not good. James 1:20 says that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”. And don’t we all want our children to grow and bear righteous fruit? Think of your children as little plants. In the same way a sapling does not thrive in harsh conditions, neither do our children. It would be foolish for us to expect to see good fruit come from their lives if we are consistently using a harsh tone or speaking out of anger towards them. It would be like planting tomato seeds and praying for a harvest of green beans. We simply cannot sow anger and expect to reap a good harvest!

So, whether or not this is a habit or something that rarely happens, I’d like to present some tips on how we can overcome it.

Recognize. Just like any addiction or bad habit, you first need to recognize that you do it if you want to stop. Once you acknowledge it, ask God to strengthen you and help you overcome. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Realize. Realize that kind words will achieve the results you are looking for far more effectively than loud, harsh or angry words ever will. Kind words are actually very powerful and don’t carry negative side effects! Proverbs 25:15 (MSG) says that “…gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”

Respond. Respond to your children rather than carelessly reacting when something they do frustrates you. The following verse is the foundation to one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received surrounding this topic: Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs us anger.” (ESV) When you feel angry, your initial reaction is to (insert whichever ‘mean parent voice’ applies to you), but in that moment, purpose to make a habit of lowering your voice and using a gentle tone. Responding with a soft and gentle voice when we are angry isn’t easy and requires lots of practice, strength, maturity and self-control! But the benefits are priceless and well worth the effort. You will find that responding this way calms you and your children, it lends to them listening to you better, and you can sleep at night knowing you have been a godly example to your children in this area throughout the day.

I pray you have been able to walk away with some new “tools” for your parenting toolbox! Now go out there and build your kiddos up with some kind & loving words!

Written by Shirley Clark

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Intentional Parenting

IMG_0183_2I started out my parenting journey in survival mode: survive the pain, survive the nights, survive the long days when she wouldn’t nap, the unending feedings, the screaming…it was hard! No, of course it wasn’t all that way, but it was definitely an awakening! Not all the rainbows and unicorns I imagined! But somewhere after those first few crazy months, we realized we were going to have to stop just surviving and be more intentional about raising our child: from the simple things like sleep and eating habits to some of the really important ones like character development, correction, etc. It wasn’t just going to magically happen…at least not for us! So we got more deliberate about it. Not overnight – we never sat down and made a list or anything. It’s just been an ongoing dialogue about who God wants them to be and how to best train them for life. But what are the true differences between those “Survival Mode” parents and the Deliberate or Intentional Parents? Here are some of my observations and experiences:

The Survival Mode Parents are directed by their children – their likes and dislikes, their emotions, fits, etc. Often, these are the parents that, sometimes even unintentionally, bribe their children to get “good behavior,” but often overlook the deeper heart issues for a quick resolution in the moment. I’ve done it- more times than I care to admit, honestly. I still have those days sometimes – those days where I just want a quick solution for the sanity. I get it! Maybe it’s because we feel overwhelmed with life and just need compliance, peace, quiet; Maybe it’s because we feel unprepared to deal with our kid’s behavior – knowing the right thing to do in the moment; Maybe we just don’t feel like we have the time to deal with it. Whatever the reason is, it eventually backfires; it snowballs. The demands get bigger; the fits get bigger and forget obedience! After awhile you look up and realize your once small, fit throwing child is now a teenager still throwing those same fits, making bigger demands and ignoring all parental efforts to correct. They’re just bigger and can now get into ALOT more trouble.

By contrast, the intentional parent has great deliberateness in what they are doing. They have a purpose or plan in mind; there is a goal. They know their “why.” Their what?!? Their “why.” They know why they are doing what they are doing. Their why keeps them focused on the goal. It reminds them in weak moments why they have chosen that path; made that decision. It whispers to them when they make a mistake and stands ever more boldly when they see the fruit of their efforts – though it may not be seen in the here and now. It’s the basis of being a deliberate or intentional parent. Let me warn you: this requires HARD decisions. Your kids won’t always be happy with them. Honestly, they might be downright mad about a lot of them, but the deliberate parent knows they aren’t there make their kids “happy.” They are called to train them in the way they SHOULD go, not the way they want to. Our decisions for our children won’t always be understood by friends and family, but your children were entrusted to you; not your family; not your friends. You must make the best decisions you can for them; Spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical decisions with the “why” ever present. It will keep you committed to the journey, the decisions that you make for them.

So where do you fall in this? What’s your “why?” I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Written by Amy Pino

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