A few years ago, Jeff and I found ourselves on the local Dart rail to a football game. On the way back we were some of the only people on the train except for another couple & their son. The little boy was cute, probably 10 or 11. I noticed immediately that the boy was obviously very excited about whatever they had been doing that day. He couldn’t stop talking, asking questions, making observations. He was grinning ear to ear, smiling at everything that came to his mind.
I found it endearing, but the dad was NOT having it.
My heart broke for this sweet child. His father was now raising his voice telling him to "be quiet” and that "everyone wants to rest”. He would eventually turn to him and say "your voice is so annoying right now.”
We were both staring at this point. We had little ones at home, Brady our oldest was probably five or six at the time, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was everything I could do to not intervene.
The son was NOT being annoying, he was just being a little boy asking questions while on the train. I won't pretend to know how their day had been going up until that point. I remember reminding myself that it could have been an awful day with him. They could be going through something in their marriage. The circumstances certainly were not mind to judge, however it made me think about how I talk to my children.
I started to ask myself how I react to my kids when they ask questions, even when it’s been an incredibly long day. Do I get excited about their victory on the playground even when they have also been incredibly defiant at home. Will I address my children like human beings even when I am actually feeling bothered by them? Even when they are - dare I say it - annoying?
I suddenly felt extremely convicted about my tone with our kids, about my immediate reaction when they come to me with the same question I’ve answered a million times. I want my response to be one of encouragement, not discouragement and definitely not condescending.
As a matter of fact, I want to be a 'yes' mom.
I want to put my phone away when they are watching me. I want to give them 100% of my attention SEVERAL times a day. I am definitely not the mom that thinks they should get everything they want when they want it. But we are a family and I want them to not only be important but actually feel important.
I want to be Landry's biggest cheerleader when he colors inside the lines or when he pretends to be a super hero. I want to deeply encourage Charlotte when she strives to improve her volleyball skills or memorize something for school. I want to actually pay
attention when Brady talks to me about the ‘sick play’ he just made in Madden. i want to speak more words of 'yes' and encouragement than those of dissent or discipline.
I want to exert my focus on what our children do well, not just what needs correction. So, this week I’m going to set about operating from a posture of yes.
“Mom, can we go to the park?" Yes.
“Hey mom, can we play with the play dough even though it is messy and gets crumbs on your freshly cleaned floor?” Sure.
“Can we pretty please build a fort under the table and leave it there for three days?” Why not.
Our relationship with our children can change simply by going out of our way to encourage them, love on them, say yes to them. Life is busy, obligations take over and worry over discipline takes precedence. I get it. Heck, I am there! Sometimes it’s out of necessity, sometimes out of control and sometimes out of pure selfishness.
Look, we all have a lot going on and often the responsibility of life feels overwhelming. We have careers, volunteer positions, neighborhood events and that's not even mentioning what it takes to keep these little people alive. But these little people (even the not so little ones) are the greatest responsibility we have. Let’s go about making them feel special this week and then perhaps they will see what it takes to make someone else feel special.
Will you join me on this quest? I know it's not going to be easy & we're going to have hard days this week. But I also know that God will provide the strength and tenderness we need to love on our kids well. Praise Jesus.