By: Sarah Young
The yelling. The screaming. The tears. The temper tantrums. You would think I was talking about a three-year-old, when in fact it was me – a 37-year-old. Who had I become? It was about this time that it hit me that I did not like who I had become. Even worse. I did not like who my family had become.
If my kids didn’t listen, I would yell and demand actions. If my husband tried to offer solutions, I would assume he thought I was incapable of managing my own problems, or that I needed “rescuing.” I would feel a burning rage when it seemed like I was the only one who cared about the condition of our home or the state of our family.
I attempted to force my opinions and ideals onto the people I thought I was meant to shape and, in essence, control. I found, however, that the more I used anger and tried to use authority over my family, the less power I had, and it ultimately resulted in everything spiraling further out of control. I was literally tired of being mad at everything and everyone all the time, but what could I do to change it?
The first thing I did was begin to change the words I used. One such example was to start saying “please remember” in place of “don’t forget.” I realized the unintended result of the later seemed to undermine the listener and reinforced “forgetting” rather than “remembering.” I had many times that I still found the anger would still burn inside and demanded to be heard and released. One time as I was dealing with a situation with my kids, I found myself yelling: “You will learn how to become adults with me!!”
My greatest gift from God is my individual agency: my right and privilege to make choices for my own life. So, if I value my own so much, why wasn’t I respecting other’s agency or offering viable alternative solutions?
I made a conscious choice to change my words and my attitude, but change did not happen overnight. In truth, this is a process that continues today. My biggest realization is that my behavior is only a reflection of myself and no one else regardless of other people’s actions. This meant I had a choice in every interaction, and I could offer my own perspective, remove myself from the situation, or even simply listen.
I stopped feeling like my kids “deserved” to be yelled at for their insolence and, instead, I learned to ask more questions and make less assumptions. In fact, I began to see them as miniature adults, and I, as their mother, am tasked to merely guide them in becoming the best versions of themselves. I did not need to provide their solutions, instead I could help them to find their own.
As for my husband, I realized he was acting similarly to how I was with our kids. He truly comes from a place of love and desire to reduce my discomfort just as I was attempting with them. With this realization, it has allowed us to improve our communication and our understanding of each other.
It started with a simple choice – a desire to do better and be better. The effects of which continue to help my family to see each other as individuals rather than extensions of our own being. We are learning to truly thrive in our differences.
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