Sitting in the Generations Class, Felicia had her homework assignment. She just didn’t know how comfortable she felt doing it. Ask my 12 and 15 year old to give me feedback on how I react to them during the day…especially in times of conflict? She just knew it was certainly going to be a time of frustration for her. She was worried that she might not hold up under the pressure of all the negative feedback she was sure to get from her kids.
Felicia took notes as the trainer gave them suggestions in how to set up the assignment.
- Make sure that you and your kids have a relationship where you can talk and have fun together before you begin.
Well, that was something she had been working on since she had started the class. She felt like there had been quite a bit of improvement. Angela seemed to want to hang around the house more than she used to and would talk to Felicia more about what was going on at school. Those homework assignments had certainly done wonders for their relationship.
- Tell your kids that this is a homework assignment for your class. You want their feedback so that you can improve as a mom or dad. Let them know you’d like to know about some of the things you do right as a parent as well as areas where you could improve. Let them know that it is always hard to receive negative feedback and that you hope they will say the things they want to say as nicely as possible. Regardless of what they tell you, thank them for the feedback.
I hope I can do this. Treat it like a class assignment…no emotion…just an exercise.
- If something they say to you makes you emotional, thank them for the feedback and ask if you can get back together again to discuss it when you’ve got your emotions better under control. Whatever you do, do not react in a negative way to the feedback. I know this is where I’ll mess it up. I can be just like my parents. When someone tells me something I don’t want to hear, words can come spewing out of my mouth.
- If you can emotionally handle it at the time, apologize for the reactions you’ve had in the past. Thank them for the feedback you’ve given them and tell them you want to think and pray about it. Also let them know that there will be a follow-up assignment next week. If you get emotional, tell them that this is a really difficult assignment for you and that you need to think about what they’ve said and pray about it. Let them know you’ll follow up with them later. When emotional, exit the conversation by apologizing and telling them I’ll get back to them. Keep it like an exercise. It’s homework…nothing more.
- Pray that God will be with you through the exercise. Maybe even pray before you begin the conversation together. Yea, this is going to need lots of prayer!
Felicia spent several days praying about the assignment and trying to get up her nerve. She decided to try it with Ben, her 12 year old. He’d probably be a little more lenient with her. The two of them weren’t nearly as reactionary together as she was with Angela.
She had survived! By Friday, she had sat down with both of her children. As she was mulling over her conversations with her children while cleaning the bathroom, she realized that just like the mirror she was cleaning, her kids had given her a true reflection of how they saw her. The verse of the week was something she needed to focus on and incorporate in her own life.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Both Ben and Angela had mentioned numerous times when she had pounced on them with her words, even when sometimes all they were doing was making a simple request. When they had replayed the scenario from their perspectives, Felicia realized how her reaction had actually been the catalyst to set off the explosive words from each of them. They had also reminded her how she was always telling them what they weren’t doing right rather than giving them encouragement for what they were doing. “What my kids need is for me to be their cheerleader!”
Walking into class on Tuesday evening Felicia felt confident in her role as a parent. She might not get everything right, but she was learning so much about the things she did…her words and her reactions. She knew after this last assignment…
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Sometimes as parents our kids want to give us feedback. We welcome anything positive, but are ready to tell them why they are wrong when they want to tell us the negative. Sometimes I wonder if that might be the reason for the saying that I grew up with; ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ When emotions get high, feelings get hurt, or negative comments come our way, that’s when we need to listen more intently. Our children see our weaknesses. We may not be able to change their behavior, but maybe if they see us want to grow in our role as parents, they will be more open to working in areas where they need to change.
Dare you to ask for feedback on how your kids see you as a parent. You might learn something valuable that could change the family dynamic.
“Let go…and let God”,