Parenting Responsibilities: What We Believe Shouts

parenting struggles, patience, patience with teens, communicating with teens, war of wordsThis guest post is by Michele. She is the author of eleven books for women and has published over 1300 articles, reviews, and curriculum to more than 100 different publications. After having undergone five shoulder surgeries, Michele saw the need for a women’s inspirational health-related book co-authored with her orthopedic surgeon titled, Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength (and Soul), released in 2010 and from whichPrescription for Life, their health, medical and surgical informational book is based. Read more of Michele’s work at http://michelehowe.wordpress.com/

Talk is not cheap because interpretation is not cheap. The way we interpret life determines how we will respond to it.”
Paul David Tripp in War of Words

What we expect as normal behavior for children when they are young; we come to resent as they grow older and this orientation of our heart (as parents), shows up most clearly through our words. A small child who speaks before thinking, even when he says something hurtful, is excused with a gentle reprimand and a caution to think before he talks next time around. Grace just seems to comes easily to parents of younger children because parents know over time and with maturity, they can expect more of their youngsters.

Nothing wrong with this line of thinking until the young children reach an age where parents know they (the kids) know better…but instead choose irresponsibility, laziness, selfishness, or foolishness. Swiftly, parental patience descends into impatience, irritation, and all out war of words. Communication breaks down, or fails completely. Words become weapons. Both parents and their kids quickly draw lines of combat and neither side emerges unscathed.

The truth is, parents expect something out of parenting that doesn’t happen. Kids don’t suddenly make the transformation from delightful, fun-loving (non-offensive) children into delightful, mature (non-offensive) young adults. There is a whole continuum of parenting and parental responsibility that lay between these two spectrums. Our misconception then, is that as parents, we believe we can pass over this great divide with minimal conflict and sacrifice to our own parental comfort. Be honest, it’s true.

As kids reach their teen years, a sudden shift takes place in a parent’s heart and mind…we say (in our hearts), our job is just about over and our kids’ behavior better reflect this faulty but desperately coveted desire. Sure, we want our children to evidence ever-growing steps toward maturity and they should do so, but when they don’t keep in step, how do we react? Do we respond in anger when they interrupt our desire for a peaceful evening? Are we visibly upset that they are requiring our time when we’re already exhausted and spent? Can they see our irritation spill over when they didn’t listen (again) and we have to implement the needed corrective discipline?

This raging conflict between our expectations and the reality of parenting children through to adulthood is where many moms and dads give up before the job is done. Clearly, one of the most obvious methods parents use to employ their dissatisfaction (and give their termination notice) is through their words. What lies in the heart, truly does come out of the mouth, often gushing forth during moments of physical and emotional exhaustion (the parents). It’s wearying to contemplate let alone discuss. But discuss we must. First in our hearts and minds, then through our words and deeds.

Author Paul Tripp explains this important link between heart and mouth, “Whatever controls our hearts will control our words. In fact, you could argue that if a certain desire controls my heart, there are only two ways I can respond to you. If you help me get what I want, I will enjoy and appreciate you. But if you stand in my way, I will experience (and probably express) anger when you are around.”

So the question is, will parents willingly re-enter the fray of parenting uncomfortable though it may be or will their words communicate their desire to abdicate their parental responsibility too soon? When kids get in the way, and especially then, they will recognize the difference between a parent’s cheaply offered lip service and the costly, sacrificially offered alternative. As the writer of Proverbs states, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.”

Takeaway Action Thought:  The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” could use a revision, “Actions speak equally as loud as words.” Our words matter.

This guest post is by Michele. She is the author of eleven books for women and has published over 1300 articles, reviews, and curriculum to more than 100 different publications. After having undergone five shoulder surgeries, Michele saw the need for a women’s inspirational health-related book co-authored with her orthopedic surgeon titled, Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength (and Soul), released in 2010 and from whichPrescription for Life, their health, medical and surgical informational book is based. Read more of Michele’s work at http://michelehowe.wordpress.com/

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