Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revolutionizing My Example

I heard the phrase once and claimed it for myself that “I’m not yelling. I’m Italian. This is how we talk.” It gets a few laughs and casually excuses my lack of self-control. Unfortunately, when I look in the mirror of my children, I realize my response pattern is in no way a laughing matter. As Karol Ladd states in her book, The Power of a Positive Mom, “Like it or not, our life is an open book, continually read by the little eyes in our homes.”

I went into this year’s Hearts at Home conference this past weekend with a picture of my defiant 2-year-old daughter in my mind. My little girl will cross her arms as she places a scowl on her face and looks crossly down at the carpet and exclaims “I not pick up the toys!” She often yells at her sisters in an attempt to convince them to do what she desires. When they do not respond in agreeable fashion, she will yell louder and meaner hoping to get her point across. I often think about how exasperated I am with her behavior and realize that, sadly, I am looking into a mirror.

It is commonplace for me to attempt to diffuse fights between my girls or discipline through a strong, authoritative voice (read: yelling). When that does nothing to achieve my desired results, I raise my voice thinking the louder and meaner I yell; the more likely they are to obey. Dr. Julianna Slattery in her workshop, “More Than a Spanking?” shared how yelling is compared to the new spanking as we act out in frustration towards our children. “Yelling is the #1 source of guilt with moms as we realize how ineffective we are.” She spoke a message straight to my heart as I continued to look in the mirror of my angry 2-year-old knowing that she simply lives out the example she sees every day in me.

Jill Savage spoke about revolutionizing our motherhood. That was the theme of the conference this year. She shared that “God can revolutionize our mothering one wrong choice at a time.” It is in our wrong choices that we see a need for change. “As we own our wrong choices, we can move forward.” Jill brought her mother, daughter and granddaughter on the stage with her to stress the reason as to why we should revolutionize our mothering. Seeing the generations there on the stage, I heard her say, “The decision you and I make as moms effect generations to come!” As we look into the mirror of our children every day, we need to remember her next point, “Our children are our message that we send to a world we cannot see.” There certainly is power in our example.

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