Sitting in a workshop several weeks ago with a group of women I witnessed the power in the word “you”. There were tears in women’s eyes as they heard words of affirmation spoken over them after they shared a story or A-Ha!
“You were brave to step into that situation in the moment.”
“You showed such a gentle spirit with your sister.”
“You used such good judgment in a difficult situation.”
“You demonstrated what it means to be supportive and caring in what must have been an exhausting time.”
All of us felt as if we were receiving a hug knowing that others were noticing the good in who we are.
And I thought about the power and life that we could speak into our teens if we would choose to use it. What if we would look for the good in our kids instead of using the word “you” in a condemning way.
“You didn’t clean your room like I asked you too.”
“You didn’t …”
What if, instead, we chose to take those “didn’t dos” and turn the communication into a positive?
“You have been working hard on your homework. Why don’t you take a break and run up and clean your room before dinner?”
“You are such an encourager with your little sister. Maybe the two of you could go upstairs and put the laundry away together.”
If we as parents could just take a moment each day to affirm the good in our children, what might change in our homes?
Hmm…definitely something to think about.
But there is another aspect of the word “you”.
I don’t know about your kids, but I’ve had my teens throw the word you at me in a screaming, blaming sort of way.
“You embarrassed me in front of …”
“How dare you take away my …”
“How could you?”
And in the heat of the moment with fury in our teen’s eyes they dump their bucket of all the pain they think we have caused them. With their emotion we can become overwhelmed and just want the onslaught to stop. And as parents most of us make the same mistake. It’s a mistake I’ve made on more than one occasion.
We look at our teen in disbelief that they can yield so much condemnation and say something in a stern voice like “Don’t you talk to me that way, young man. Go to your room.”
And we get so caught up in the anger and how we were spoken to that we might be missing something valuable in our parenting.
One technique I’ve used in the middle of these situations is to pause in the moment. “I can tell you are really upset and I want to hear you out. I’m feeling upset myself right now and I don’t want our emotions to get in the way of our communication. I’m going to take about 20 minutes to calm myself down and then we’ll talk.”
When frustration and the word “you” come rolling off our teen’s tongue, chances are there is pain in the middle of it.
Yes, you heard me right. Anger and the word “you” most likely means that someone is not listening to the pain that is inside of us.
What I’ve been learning is that when someone accuses me of something, that is a cue that I need to allow the Holy Spirit to help me discern the truth from the other person’s perspective. Here are some questions I ask myself during my 20 minute time out before talking with my teen:
- Is there any truth to what my teen is accusing me of doing?
- What pain might my teen be experiencing in the moment?
- What might my teen need from me to bring healing for the pain he is experiencing? A confession? An apology? A change in my behavior?
- What might God be trying to teach me in this situation?
- What might God be trying to teach my teen?
Oh my, this can be a humbling conversation that I have with God. As I pray and ask God to help me in the situation, many times I discover that there is some truth to what I’ve been accused of and God is using this situation to refine me. Not a pleasant place to be but it allows me to engage with my teen on a whole different level. It allows me to humbly admit where I was wrong. Once I’ve done that, it allows us to talk about the situation in a non-confrontational manner.
And when I can’t see where I am wrong in what my teen is blaming me for, I can then ask questions for further understanding. “Honey, thanks for giving me some space a moment ago. I can tell you are really upset. What happened today that made you so angry?”
And regardless of our teens response, regardless of the emotion, continue to ask God for discernment in the moment. Ask your teen to identify his feelings and affirm him. Share why you did what you did in terms of his maturity and why that is so important. Let him know what it is that he needs to learn. And then, if the timing is right, heap affirmation on him with you statements.
“I know that my decision was really difficult for you. You need to know that you are loved and your dad and I want the best for you. You feel passionately about justice and that’s a good thing. I’m glad you shared with me what you were feeling.”
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Dare you to take inventory of how the word “you” is used in your home. Is it a sword or used for edification?
“Let go…and Let God”,
Are you thinking about Fall Bible Study yet? Wish you could be in one but the time never seems quite right?
Or maybe you’d like to focus on your parenting?
Why not join a group of women in our With All Due Respect eCourse? We meet on Facebook (it’s a closed group) at your convenience. And we will go through the book together as we encourage each other, pray with each other, and support each other. There is extra video teaching and an opportunity to ask questions. We’ve even been known to take time time to chat on the phone with women in the class when parenting situations are really difficult and you could use someone to walk beside you.
As a bonus this fall, if you sign up for the With All Due Respect eCourse, you can also be part of Greater Impact’s Strength & Dignity eCourse for free. There you will find resources for respecting yourself in your defensive relationships and for help in your marriage.
We hope you will join us or do the study with a group of moms in the comfort of your home. Whether your kids are 9 or 29, you’ll be amazed at what God will do in your home as you go through the book.