We have a saying in the south when it comes to dealing with people- “You get more with sugar than you do with salt.” Basically, people are more receptive to you when you’re sweet to them.
Unfortunately, I’ve been pouring a little too much salt on my parenting lately. Last night, I said to Jon, “I’ve been grumpier since we moved to Minnesota. I suspect it may have something to do with the cold.”
His reply, “Probably.”
No, “Oh Sweetie, you’re not grumpy,” just an affirmation for my self-awareness. Like salt, sometimes the truth stings a little.
The truth is- I raise my voice at the kids too much. I get impatient when they don’t obey immediately. I discipline more with frustration and agitation than I do with patience and kindness. Honestly, it’s just easier. It’s easier to embrace those impulses and emotions in the moment. Being patient, being compassionate, taking the time to lovingly instruct and guide are much more difficult responses. They are more difficult because they are not, by default, my nature. My nature is sinful. And unless I’m willing to put in the work and ask God for the strength and wisdom to act differently, I will continue to act out in more sinful responses.
So, I’m repenting and turning toward God for a different approach. Not just today, but in each moment when I feel that impatience and frustration rushing toward me. Taking a softer approach does not mean being soft on discipline. I believe in discipline. My children need discipline to guide them, teach them, keep them safe, and to mold them into healthy, responsible, and moral human beings. Using a little more sugar in my parenting doesn’t mean there will be no consequences or time outs- it just means that instead of pointing and yelling them there, I will calmly place them there with gentle instruction.
Will I ever lose it and yell at my kids again? Absolutely. But then I’ll repent again, and keeping asking God for help. And He’ll put me back on track. That’s the beauty of his mercy.
I suspect my kids will be happier with my new approach. And maybe, just maybe, the big and the little people in our home will be a little sweeter.