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Reacting vs. Responding as a Parent

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“I want that toy!” “He hit me!”

“I don’t want to leave. I am having too much fun!” (Shortly after darting away from you.)

“Dad, I scratched the car.”

“I spilled the finger nail polish on the carpet.”

Do you respond or react to such episodes?

Far too often, Sarah and I used to find ourselves wired way too tight with our kids.

We would have a knee-jerk reaction instead of a response. Instead of “ready, aim, fire,” we would fire, aim and then think about getting ready!

We found ourselves:

  • Being negative, instead of positive, first.
  • Presuming we knew the facts, even though we did not know all the facts.
  • Taking our eyes off the Lord and failing to see Him using our kids to mature us into responders, not reactors.

I can remember saying, “We should deal with these situations more like my mom. She would stay quiet and thoughtful before she spoke or acted.”

At the same time, we did not blow it every day!

One mom, who we have known for years, said: “From watching you two, I learned to say to my kids before reacting, ‘Let me think about this.’”

Indeed, that was one technique we introduced. Instead of blurting out, “No,” to a selfish or childish request, we’d say, “Let me think about this.”

This kept us calm and it reduced the immediate clamoring.

But here’s the deal: we would, in fact, think about it. When appropriate, we made sure that we granted their request.

Kids are smart. If they think the statement, “Let me think about it,” equals, “No,” then they will not cease to relentlessly petition us for whatever it is that they want. They need to know we are sincere in the words we are saying.

One mother commented, “I have learned that, in that moment of deep breathing, God gives me the words to say to get to the heart of my children. I have coined the phrase, ‘Power in the pauses.’”

As simple as this sounds, one woman said she just tries to listen, which enables her to respond and not react.

A father writes, “I realized through prayer that we have to be humble and act with humility. We have to answer for how we raise our children.” He then comments, “I say this having not done well in the past. It takes one day at a time.”

-Dr. E

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. What do you do in order to respond and not react?