I’ve been traveling this week and randomly encountered two very different approaches to parenting. I even thought of titling this and my next post as “The Tale of Two Mothers”. The way these two moms approach life caused me to do a double take wondering how far I’ve come in my own parenting.
The truth is that our communication with our kids means everything. I wish I could say I’ve reached the “wisdom” status of Mom #2 and I’ll admit I’m still a work in process–but wow. Just wow!
Mom #1 didn’t raise her voice. She spoke her mind. As the conversation ensued in the middle of the airport terminal, I saw her daughter go from a place of enjoying all that life had to offer in the moment to a “why do I even try, she’s always upset about something” look of disconnection. Mom was traveling with her daughter and her daughter’s friend when I overheard the conversation.
“Why didn’t Lindsay tell me she broke my sunglasses?” mom sternly asked her daughter while Lindsay was getting a snack from a nearby merchant’s stand. “I’m really disappointed in her.”
“Are you sure they are broken? Maybe they just came apart.”
“They are broken and Lindsay did it and stuck them back in the case without saying anything.”
“Mom, she only had them for a few minutes. I can’t imagine her breaking them and not saying anything. That’s not how she operates. Maybe something accidentally shoved against them in your purse?”
“No. There is no way that happened. Lindsay broke them. I’m sure of it. Those were my best sunglasses and I paid a lot of money for them. I just can’t believe she would do that (to me). All she had to do was say something.”
“Mom, maybe it was an accident and she didn’t even realize they were broken. Regardless, I’m so sorry they’re broken. You are obviously upset about it.”
“There is no way she didn’t know about it. I know she broke them. I’m so disappointed in her.”
A long pause ensued. At this point I watched the daughter totally disengage.
“Don’t you dare ask her about it,” mom went on. “I don’t want you to hurt her feelings; but I can’t believe she would break my sunglasses and then put them in the case as if nothing happened.
“Mom, if you want I’ll buy you a new pair of sunglasses with the money I’m saving from babysitting.” (I could only imagine the inner working of the daughter’s mind saying, “I’ll do anything to get you to stop talking about this. You are obviously the only person who can possibly be right.”)
“No, you didn’t break them. Lindsey did. She just isn’t aware of what she does to other people.”
As I listened to the mother rant, I kept wondering what she had been accused of as a child. To not be able to let go of something as simple as broken sunglasses, made me feel sorry for her. She has a place of brokenness where she has never matured enough to be able to put other people above her “things”. It was as if something was out of place and someone needed to be blamed.
I know that in the past, I’ve been known to blame people and sometimes even my own kids for things that I should have considered letting go of. And I’m learning, slowly at times, but I am learning.
People matter over things. Relationships are more important than being right. And with God’s help I can be reminded in the moment when I want to blame someone else that there are questions I can ask myself to determine whether I should keep my mouth shut or it is a time to speak up.
- Why am I so upset in this current NOW that I’m in?
- Will my speaking up about this situation help or hurt the relationship?
- If I choose to speak up, what is it I really want from the other person? Retribution? Make them feel guilty? An apology?
- Am I speaking to the person I’m upset with or to someone who knows the person who upset me?
- What am I modeling for my teen in this situation?
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Dear Heavenly Father,
So many times it is about me and not the people I’m supposed to love. I let “things” get in the way of what is really important. Help me to learn to love others by being silent when I want to accuse. Unless there is learning for the other person or I need the other person to do something in return for the wrong they’ve done to me, please help me to “let it go”. Help me to think the best in the other person, especially when I don’t have all the evidence. Sometimes things just happen. And unless I know there was evil intent, help me to focus on the “good” in the other person. Your word says to focus on what is good, lovely, true, noble, and praiseworthy. Help my heart be open to seeing that accusing others sets me up for distance instead of relationship. Help me to pause and ask the difficult questions so that I will see a glimpse of what is in me that needs to change.
In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Next week you’ll hear about Mom #2 and how she handled a difficult situation. I know that you’ll be as blown away as I am.
Until next time…
“Let go…and Let God”,
Raising our awareness of communication with our teens can add so much to the relationship. Sometimes a few tweaks or thinking about things from a different perspective can change the outcome to become so much more positive. I would know. I was challenged to do it with one of my own kids.
We hope you will grab a copy of With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens and join us in our on-line eCourse. There you will meet other seasoned moms who have been where you are as you parent your teens. You’ll also have opportunity to learn from video teaching as well as interact with moms who are right where you are in the parenting stage of life.
Hope you will join us!