Updated: Jan 8
Click to Listen to Episode 37: Family communication habits, mutual respect, getting a new perspective on our kids' misbehavior, potty-training, getting littles to eat healthy... this is what we're talking about as we rejoin a conversation with Becca Hammond.
Mutual Respect between Parent and Child
We know it's important for our kids to show us respect, but how are we doing at showing our children respect? An example given in this episode is the issue of reprimanding a child in front of other people. When we do this, it causes complete distraction for our child -there's no way they're going to learn the lesson we want them to learn because they're only thinking about what everyone who is listening is thinking about your child. But if we learn to show our child mutual respect...
*The child is less likely to be disrespectful
*The child feels they can trust the parent to always have their best interest in mind'
*It protects the child from the humiliation of public reprimand, which means it also protects them from concentrating on what labels other people are placing on them
Likewise, we need to hold our child to respecting us. As children move through different stages of development, they will re-test the parents, determining if the parent no longer has a standard of respect. Recognize what's going on and keep sending the message that respect, in this family, goes both ways.
Opportunity or Opposition - How are you looking at the misbehavior of your child?
When I was a kid and was with my friends, there was this phrase that we’d use when talking about our moms. We’d say, "She needs to take a chill pill and be still." We wanted our moms to calm down and not over react. I’m sure that most of the time, we kids really deserved to experience some less than pleasant responses to our actions or attitudes. But I do think there’s a lesson in here for us moms – How are we looking at the misbehavior of our children? Is it a reason for conflict or an opportunity to explore their heart, to discover how they’re growing and developing and trying to figure out the world?
I wonder how different our relationships would look if we carefully guarded against anger and frustration and instead sought to figure out our kids’ hearts and perspectives and help them learn how to navigate their changes and perspectives and emotions, partnering with them, rather than arguing with them. Now, I know that sounds like unrealistic pie-in-the-sky ideas, especially if your relationship with your child is currently fractured. But as long as we are living, there is hope and there is time for growth and change and miraculous rebounds in your relationship!
Butting Heads or Habit Change? Cleaning Up Family Communication Habits
Today most of our examples are from the life of very young children, but if your kids are older, please listen up to what I’m about to share with you about a free resource on my website called a Family Communication Evaluation Form.
Some days I know it seems like it’s me against my kid - her irresponsibility, his bad attitude, her not following through and his clutter! It can be so frustrating. But when I have fallen into that trap, it’s not a trap that was set by my child. It was set by the enemy of our families who is known as the Father of Lies. He wants us to believe that our child is our enemy and our kids often find themselves thinking we’re their enemy. Thus we enter an unhealthy version of conflict against one another.
In my book, Clash In Your Home: Getting a Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict, I say that Satan hates all of God’s creation, anything that glorifies God, and one of the main entities in creation that reflects God’s glory best is a healthy loving family. So, Satan sets his aim on families and does whatever he can to steal their joy, kill their relationships, and destroy the family unit. Then I go on to tell about something I learned about 30 years ago...
In 1991 while Rich and I were engaged to be married, we attended a conference for engaged couples called, “A Weekend to Remember.” This God-centered weekend is designed to help the couple get a better understanding of healthy communication and identify points of conflict to deal with more effectively. One of the most impactful things that we learned that weekend, and I still remember today, is the concept of two warring animals who get their horns locked as they are head-butting each other. When it comes to families, Satan wants us to believe that our enemy is the other family member. He tries to get us to turn against one another like two stubborn animals instead of working together as a team. Think of oxen, yoked in the same direction to achieve mutual goals and that’s the picture that contrasts the two horn-locked beasts… Too easily, a member of our family can stand up against another family member, hands on hips, determined to hold their ground. And sometimes the person with their hands on their hips acting all defensive and arrogant, is us, the parent. Yikes!
I know, I know, when we hold that dear new little child in our arms and they wrap their little fingers around our finger, we think we will never be anything but adoring and blissful with our babies. But when those babies grow just a little and they throw a toy across the floor in anger, or grow a little more and slam their door shut in anger, or grow a little more and start to shut you out of their heart, it’s easy to think that growing big baby of ours is suddenly the enemy. Moms, guard against this lie! Protect the strength of your family by putting down your emotional weapons and take a fresh look at the situation.
In today’s podcast, while most of the scenarios about littles and their growth stages, if you have kids that are past these young ages, I talk about a free resource for you on my website. You may find the Family Communication Evaluation Form helpful in identifying some changes your family could make to get you all facing in the same direction (rather than warring against each other), working together for each other’s good.
And don’t keep this evaluation form to yourself! Show it to your family. Have each of them fill it out. Compare forms to see each other's perceptions on the different areas of common conflict. Help your kids to become more aware of the enemy’s tactics to breakdown the strength of your family.
At our house, that would sound something like, "Hey guys, I think we’re starting to attack one another instead of attacking the issue. This might even be spiritual battle that our enemy Satan is seeking to hurt our family relationships. Let’s take a step back from this and remember that we are not each other’s enemy and if we have a winner and a loser in this issue, then our relationship lost. We need to find the right answer for the situation, not a right person.” Stay on the alert for the tendency to be two warring animals and instead see yourself as one team, seeking the best good for all involved by solving problems together.’ Sometimes I'm pretty slow at catching on that we've gotten into an unnecessary and unhelpful and unhealthy argument, and the kids will be the one to point it out. Or sometimes I don't think about it until after the fact. When that happens
When our children are very young toddlers and preschoolers, they’re not ready to understand these concepts, but we still have to be on guard from getting frustrated at our child as they go through different stages. Some of those stages are exhausting for us as parents, but we need to spend our efforts and energy trying to identify what’s going on inside of our child’s heart, mind, and body that is impacting their behavior rather than spending our energy on frustration. Seek to discover and discern, rather than merely defeating the outward behavior. That doesn't mean ignoring the misbehavior. "Letting it go" often leads to seeing more and more of the same misbehavior.
Take the time necessary to