The day after returning to Denver from the Philippines, I made my way down to Colorado Springs to attend a two-day conference. Jet lag was getting the best of me.
The cucumber and orange slices beckoned my weary self as they floated in the clear container of water. I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from the refreshment table and then pulled the silver spigot toward me to fill my thermos in preparation for my hour and a half drive back home. I reasoned, “The water plus the caffeine from the chocolate would keep me alert.”
“Am I taking too long filling my water bottle?” I wondered. A beautifully put together woman, with perfectly manicured red nails and lips to match saddled up alongside me. I smiled, letting her know I saw her. Apparently that smile was an invitation to talk.
“Oh honey,” her voice dripped with southern charm.
“Don’t you wish you could take those cucumber slices and put them on the bags under your eyes?”
I released the spigot, dropped my smile, crinkled my puffy eyes, and stepped away from the table. I felt unbalanced and blindsided. Her gentle tone didn’t match her nasty comment. I had no words.
Her unkind comment physically separated us. This interaction was a good reminder that I can also wield unkind words. I have said things that temporarily emotionally separate my children from me.
Whether unkindness comes in a southern drawl or a direct hit, the results are the same. Unkindness divides and constructs relational walls. Because I want a relationship with my kids that lasts a lifetime, I am choosing to dispose of these verbal weapons:
- Sarcasm: Instead I’ll say what I mean. I will be clear and direct with concerns.
- Historical remarks: I will remember my child’s challenges so prevention and training can take place but I will avoid the bad moment replay.
- Shaming comments: Woulda, shoulda, coulda. I will silence my, ”I told you so.”
- Always and never statements: If I want to get to the solution side of the issue, I must avoid these words. If spoken, the conversation becomes a fact checking session rather than a problem solving moment.
- Broadcasting humiliation: I must avoid disrespecting my kids by complaining about their struggles.
I want to provide an emotionally safe environment for my children. My home can be a place where kindness reigns, even when I’m jetlagged.
Kindness is respect clothed in love.
Love is kind.
1 Corinthians 13:4
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Parenting is Lori Wildenberg’s passion. She speaks nationally and has authored four, soon to be five, books. Those books include, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home and Raising Little Kids with BIG Love. Lori is the co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, a ministry for moms and dads. Her easily applicable, relevant, relatable, and cutting edge material is presented with warmth, humor, and transparency. She admits she is not the perfect mom and openly shares stories of parent fails and successes. Lori, a licensed parent and family educator, loves to coach parents to be the parents their kids need. The Wildenberg family resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her husband, five kids (four plus a daughter-in-love), and the family labradoodle, Murphy. You can find out more about Lori at www.loriwildenberg.com.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national organization headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that focuses on seeing no single mom walk alone. The organization serves more than 50,000 single mothers annually from around the United States and more than 2,000 in Greater Baton Rouge through their support group network, outreach event, educational classes, online communities, and more. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.