“Do you ever yell?” One young mommy asked me. “Because…I yell. I try not to, I’m working on it…but, do you ever do that?”
Of course I do. I am human. It happens. I have 15 kids and newsflash: between the ministry and the children’s activities, I am seriously sleep deprived! One thing I try to do when I hear myself getting amped up and know that I need to dial it down a notch (or ten!) is interject some humor. I guess it’s my way of laughing off the situation, or diffusing myself, but it definitely helps. Instead of sniveling kids who are fearful, they laugh out loud when they hear my silly end-of-rant joke.
“WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED IN THIS CLOSET?”
(Anger arising…it was just tidied yesterday, why didn’t the laundry team hang this stuff up? I have told them a hundred times and my vein is pumping in my forehead and I see their little eyes opening wider and wider…)
“You guys have three minutes to fix this tornado or you’ll be eating those clothes like goats for breakfast! Cotton is all natural and probably good fiber. Definitely filling.”
(I am serious about the three minutes, but obviously I won’t make them eat the clothing. They laugh…and move quickly.)
“This bed is made neatly? Really? Maybe the cover would be straight if it was a bedroom inside the Leaning Tower of Piza, but here in North Palm Beach it just looks sloppy! Try again!” They chuckle and get moving.
Again, I try not to yell. But I am not perfect. Not even close. And of course, I have said plenty of apologies…but if I catch myself amping up, I try to turn it to humor. As a bonus, I notice my kids are not afraid of people who are…”excitable”…or easily ruffled. And my big kiddos have learned to distinguish between my frustration at them, or “line of fire.” In other words, they can usually tell if my anger is their fault or if it is due to something else completely unrelated.
Bottom line, even if you handle all your children’s misbehavior absolutely spotlessly and never raise your voice, your children may have a boss one day or a spouse or an in-law whose fuse is short. Teaching them how to deal with conflict or even different temperaments is very important! So never be afraid to apologize for your outburst, but use it to encourage them to learn how to handle such challenges.