Your kids will hurt or offend you on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it’s one of the crosses that parents must bare. Occasionally, they may intend to hurt you, but much of the time it is unintentional and you as a parent may wonder, “What’s the best way for me to respond?”
What are some behaviors that might offend you?
- Your child doesn’t listen.
- Your child says something mean to you.
- Your child doesn’t do what you ask them to do.
- Your child has forgotten about something that is important to you.
These actions are most often due to childishness. But does that excuse them? At what point should you let go of your parental expectations and just brush their behavior off? Conversely, when should you address the issue so that your own resentment does not grow?
Perhaps these guidelines will help next time your child offends or hurts you.
Remember who they are. They are kids, with immature emotions and responses. They do not always think about what they are saying and doing. It’s easy to misunderstand kids; messy behavior can look like deliberate disobedience, lack of respect, or spitefulness.
Don’t take their behavior personally. Most of the time your child is attacking you because they are angry about something else; perhaps they are not getting what they want or a situation did not go their way. I still have to remind myself of this truth when my grown kids snap at me. They are usually frustrated about something and I happen to be in the room to receive that frustration. When I take my child’s behavior personally, I’m assuming that this moment is somehow about me.
To let it go or not? As a parent, you must decide whether your child’s transgression is something that needs to be addressed or overlooked. And even if it needs to be addressed, it should be done in a spirit of love and discipline, not in a spirit of offense. Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t get offended by things your kids did? How different your response to your kids would be if you refused to be offended by them?
As a parent, you must discern when it is best to overlook an offense and when to address it. You basically have three options:
- Completely overlook the offense. When it is not worth the battle, when you know your child’s intentions were not deliberate and mean, when your child is simply being childish or forgetful, it may be time to move on.
- Overlook the offense initially, but address it later. If your child has spoken to you rudely or done something that you don’t want to see them do as a lifelong habit, then overlook it initially, but then address the situation when you and your child are both calm.
- Address the situation in a timely way. If you can respond calmly and feel that your child needs to be aware that their behavior was unacceptable, then don’t let the offense go unaddressed. If you feel it needs to be discussed, please give yourself a few minutes to calm down and think through the situation. What do I want my child to learn from this? What’s the best way for me to help them to learn it? Remember, this is not about YOU, but about your child’s need to learn how to communicate and deal with conflict.
I will admit that I let my kids’ actions offend or hurt me more than I should have. I would nurse my hurt feelings, which often led to feelings of resentment. But I learned that what my children needed most from me was the strength to overlook, and when called for, the calmness to deal with the problem in a way that helped my child learn and grow.
If you struggle with this challenge of overlooking/not overlooking an offense from your child and would like some help, please schedule a free consultation here.