Disappointment :: day 4
Showing concern over a human being and reinforcing integrity in character for telling the truth should always trump any response of disappointment over a broken item or any questioning as to how or why they broke the item.
I posted this earlier this year and I have fallen back on this over and over again – having scripted a response with which to respond to the children in light of disappointment has been an anchor for me. I originally wrote about this idea in my post When Things Break. I want to share a bit more about it, because there is so much that can be communicated to children in the light of our own hurts and disappointments and if we aren’t careful and calculated we may not be communicating what we intend to.
It might seem like a silly thing to take an entire days post to talk about how we should communicate to our children when we are disappointed or sad because of something they have broken, but it has been something that I have had to think a lot about given the fact that my two young men have broken many an item over this past year of added responsibilities. This may not be a struggle for other moms, but correctly responding to my children in light of my own disappointment has been something the Lord has been teaching me over the last while and I wanted to share some of those thoughts.
There is no getting around the disappointment that arises when things break; I have the items in our home because we enjoy them, find them useful, or they provide a link to the past. I want what is in our house to be in our house. When those things break there is a sense of sadness, and often frustration.
But in no way do the things we possess take a higher importance to my children – and I never want them to feel that way, even in light of my own disappointment over cherished items breaking.
I know with certainty if I did not have a pre-planned script on which to spit out when something like this happens it would not be nice what came out of my mouth. Planning how to respond to disappointments does not make the loss of the item easier, but it allows me to respond consistently, which prioritizes the relationship and strengthens the bond with the child.
Each and every time something breaks I get down on eye level with them and ask them if they’re ok, if they got any cuts or scrapes and I thank them for telling me the truth.
Over the last couple years of exercising this I have noticed a few strengths exhibited in my children;
I have been pleasantly surprised to observe their ability to show compassion when they do break something – there is a genuine and sincere apology and sensitivity to my feelings that I think they are free to express because they aren’t hiding under a load of shame.
Secondly, they are quick to tell us the truth. If they break something – from their own foolish playing or completely by accident (we have ceramic tile in a couple rooms – there’s no hope for anything that slips from fingers in those rooms!) they come and tell us before there is even an opportunity for them to be “caught.”
And thirdly, though it could simply come with age, they are well versed in handling china and crystal and while I understand accidents can and may happen, I trust them completely to handle fragile dishes.
I hadn’t considered how my deliberate reaction might affect them – it was strictly to ensure I never said anything in an emotional state that I wouldn’t otherwise say – so it has been a pleasant byproduct to see these strengths exhibited in the boys as a result of me following in obedience something I felt the Lord laying on my heart and I hope too that it communicates to them that relationships trump things. Always.
Day 4 of 31 Days of Communicating With Our Children. Click here to see all posts in this series.