Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pearl #2

In many families the problems are not deep-- bad, yes, but not deep. They don't have deep-seated hostilities or resentments, just chaos. Families without enforced boundaries are like intersection without traffic lights. The "me first" attitude rules relationships. When rules are not enforced so as to guarantee the rights of everyone, "road rage" comes home to the family. Like erecting a traffic light, when parents take authority and enforce boundaries, order is established, the tension leaves, and everything runs smoothly. When there is no adequate authority, children are generally too unruly and the home is too disorganized to permit positive interchange between family members. Frustrated parents develop permanent expressions of criticism. The family is marked by lack of joy.

I can identify with this pretty deeply. When chaos is reigning in our home, the joy goes out the window-- my joy and the kids'. I tend to lose my temper more easily and little things that would normally be slight traffic bumps turn into major issues.

That second-to-last sentence is really important to me-- "Frustrated parents develop permanent expressions of criticism." I know this happens. I can see my own attitude reflected in my children's sense of well-being on a given day. When I've become lax about behavior and attitudes, that leads to a sense of "out of control" around the house. This out-of-control-ness leaves us all feeling grouchy and irritated with each other. My irritatedness takes itself out on the kids in criticism of their behavior. My criticism creates an environment where my children do not feel "safe", because they are suddenly held responsible, not for their own actions, but for mommy's feelings. "You're making me crazy! Why can't you just behave!" Or, "Don't you see that your bad attitude is making Mommy feel sad? You don't want Mommy to be sad, do you?" (Bleh, that last one always makes me feel a little sick when I hear it coming out of my own mouth-- or anyone else's, for that matter.)

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