What do you say to your kids in that moment when you’re angry, caught off-guard, or worried? We use a few parenting “scripts” that have made a huge impact on our parenting — and our relationships with our kids.
A few years ago I wrote a series of posts on parenting phrases we use with our kids.
I’d find myself in different parenting situations feeling stunned, angry, disappointed, or shocked, and many of those times, I had no idea what to say.
I tend to be a slow processor. If my husband and I have an argument, I think of the perfect reply — three hours later. ;)
I’ve found the same to be true in parenting. Certain situations require a response from me, but I find myself at a complete loss for what to say. So I started collecting phrases that could help me in those moments.
I Hear You
“I hear you” has been the miracle phrase in our home lately with my two boys.
Our boys are only two years apart. They can be the best of friends and the worst enemies. When arguments come up, tensions turn into tussles, and those tussles often end in tears.
As our boys learn to work out their arguments and misunderstandings on their own, there are times they need our help.
The thunder of footsteps stampeding toward me is usually the first clue that they’re having trouble working things out. Words tumble out just as fast, and untangling the shouts, whines, and accusations leaves my head spinning!
In the past, it’s been easy to make a quick judgement. I’ve really been trying to respect the boys’ space to talk it out (without a sibling barging in with their side of the story). Even though the same brother is usually the instigator, there are always two sides to the story. How much I learn when I take the time to listen!
My boys now know that when they come to me, they will have a chance to tell their side of the story. Having their own space to talk has eliminated much of the interrupting and arguing because each son knows he’ll have a chance to tell his side.
Simply giving them an open heart and listening ear has helped SO much!!
What this looks like for us is when the boys come stomping in with a complaint, boy #1 gets to share his full side of the story.
I probe a little, with questions like :: “How did you respond?” “What happened when ___?” “So what you’re saying is ____.”
If boy #2 interjects with opposition or a clarification, I remind him that he’ll have his turn to share in a few minutes.
After boy #1 shares everything on his mind, I give boy #2 an opportunity to share (uninterrupted) as well.
I ask clarifying questions as needed, and help the boys own their part in the problem and take responsibility for what they’ve done (or not done).
One of the best parts about patiently implementing this process, is that my boys now know what to expect. They no longer rush to interject their opinions or fight to be heard first. They know I will listen and respond as fairly as I can. But maybe even better than that, they are learning to listen to one another and they are recognizing the role they played in the situation.
A lesson for us, too
We all want to be heard, don’t we? To say our part, express our feelings, to be understood?
Of course life isn’t always like that. How often we are misunderstood, misjudged, and mistaken!
But when our focus is on taking control of the narrative — when we manipulate, maneuver, and posture ourselves — we aren’t submitting to the lordship of Jesus Christ. We’re looking out for ourselves.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord (Micah 6:8). We can entrust ourselves (and our reputations) to the God who sees, the God who judges justly, the One did what was right despite what others thought of Him.
May we be women who “see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble…” (Hebrews 12:15).
May we be women who listen well, who are slow to judge (understanding that there two sides to every story), and who recognize we all have a part to play in reconciliation and responding rightly to others.
A Resource for Moms!
If you’re looking for more helpful parenting phrases, Wendy Speake and Amber Lia have just released a FABULOUS new book called Parenting Scripts.
Parenting Scripts is one of those books that I think every parent should own. Amber and Wendy’s heart is for Jesus, their boys, and equipping other mamas, and that mission is obvious in this book. Saturated with Scripture, prayer, and really applicable parenting scripts, this book is a tool you need!
Most of us have great difficulty thinking of an immediate response or consequence while we are in the moment with our kids, and as a result, we end up making threats we can’t back up or we damage our relationship with our kids.
Parenting Scripts gives you practical words to speak as you seek to teach and train your kids. In addition to personal reflection and application, every chapter includes a “prayer script,” a “parenting script,” and “Script-ure” to apply the truths in your own family.
Find out more and order your copy of Parenting Scripts!