Have you ever had to make a U-turn as a parent?
Maybe you had a moment where you wished you had hit the verbal brakes on your words harder than you did or needed to downshift a gear or two in your tone of voice. Perhaps you over-corrected on a turn by nagging or missed the off-ramp because you didn’t exit a conversation sooner than you should have. As moms, we have countless moments of regret and “would, coulda, shouldas” in our thinking. Even though a moment may have passed and it seems too late to rectify a situation, when we submit to God, He provides the ultimate map and course that gets us turned around so we can head in a direction with clear, purpose and Godly intention.
When it comes to a harsh tone of voice or negativity expressed, we can apologize to our children. An apology with no buts, explanations or anything that diminishes or takes away from the focus that you are sorry while affirming your child’s feelings. “I am sorry. I know that I upset you and I see that you are really sad.” When we offer empathy and affirm what our children are feeling, they relax and become non-defensive because they are receiving understanding and permission to feel their feelings without judgment.
We also need to humbly come before God with a submissive attitude and confess our sin to Him.
In the case of nagging, when we are exhausted from repeating ourselves, which often leads to tension and arguments, suggest a game plan with your child so that you don’t put yourself into frustrating, verbal dialogues that can be trigger points in tempers flaring. I grew tired of reminding my 8 year-old daughter to put what she needed for school inside her backpack and having her forget. I asked her for her ideas. Making a list, she said. Great. I purchased a set of 8×10 sticky sheets and she wrote down what she needed to remember to include in her backpack and we stuck it on the door so she could read the list before leaving. This has saved me lectures on the way to school where I would break connection with her due to my stress. Finding a system that works for your child puts them in the driver’s seat of being in charge of their responsibilities (when and if appropriate).
For the bigger issues, it’s okay to go back to your child and let him or her know that you thought about the incident or the conversation you might be regretting and are thinking about how you can handle it differently next time, or that you aware that the position you took on the matter might have been ____________ and are praying about it. We are going to falter many times or handle a situation in a way we are not proud of or that we question. That’s actually a great opportunity for change and growth. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26). How comforting to know that we can rest in God’s strength and the wisdom that He imparts to give us discernment and instruction. “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into your glory.” (Psalm 73:23-24)
Being honest and vulnerable before our children and God is an opportunity for change and restoration while modeling and practicing submissiveness and humility with our Father. What an example for our kids to witness for their own walk as they grow in faith and how pleasing to God when we succumb to His ways, giving Him an opportunity to transform us into the parents and people He intended us to become.
This summer, as you spend time with your kids with the potential of an increase in U-turns, remember that God is in the passenger seat alongside you. And U-turns are often where He does His best work–in each of us.