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The Family Crazy Cycle: Stop The Ineffectiveness

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What do we think of a neighbor in an apartment complex who goes out at 5:30am to start his Ford pickup truck? Turning on the ignition, the starter cranks slowly---nothing. As first we don’t think much about it. We try to turn over and grab a few more winks before the alarm goes off. However, what if that neighbor sits there for 45 minutes, right under our window, turning the ignition while the starter cranks slowly away, again and again until the battery dies?

We think to ourselves, "This is crazy! I am trying to sleep! Where is this guy’s brain? That pickup isn’t going to start! Can’t he figure this out? This is madness! He may as well scream at the engine to get it to start!”

Craziness is when a guy like the owner of the pickup truck keeps doing the same thing over and over again with the same ill effect.  

Similarly, we can engage in such craziness in parenting. When we feel disrespected we seek to teach our child to show us respect with unloving confrontations. We crank away with harsh reprimands, increasing the decibels until we are shouting, screaming threats and possibly worse.

All to no avail.

Nothing positive happens.

Craziness reigns.

When our reactions feel unloving to our children, they don’t hear the message, “Be more respectful.”

Sadly, they only hear, “I don’t love you.”

To put it another way, we cannot start the engine of our child’s heart through constant unloving reactions. It will only backfire.

That’s comparable to teaching a child to be positive by being negative and pessimistic toward the child.

It’s like screaming at your child to get them to stop screaming.

Yet, here’s the point: some parents keep on reacting in negative, unloving ways to teach their child to be positive and respectful.

When a child feels unloved, that child can react in ways that feel disrespectful.

Round and round it goes, like the cranking of the Ford Pickup, and nothing positive happens. More often than not, things spin out of emotional control.

Still, some of us say to ourselves, “But maybe, just maybe, if I react in a negative and unloving way, my child will get the message about showing me respect. If I am really, really negative, my child will turn positive. If I crank the starter of his heart one more time, maybe it will ignite honor for me.”

When our methods do not work it is time to change our approach.  As for the Ford pickup truck, the owner needed to check to see if the gas tank was empty, or if the battery cables were connected properly or if the engine was worn out.

So, too, with our children.

Are they running on empty?

Are they not responding because they feel disconnected and unloved?

Or are they worn down by our unloving reactions?

For sure, parents that keep taking up offense, feeling disrespected, and reacting in unloving ways will only feed the family crazy cycle, and get nowhere.

They will go no farther than that pickup truck traveled.

-Dr. E

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

Questions to Consider