Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Action-Reaction Merry-Go-Round

Today's host: Jennifer Slattery

The other day, after tripping over one too many messes, mentally adding them to my "could you please..." list, I bided my time waiting for our daughter (the mess-maker) to come home. She walked through the door with a scowl, shoulders slumped. (Turns out, she'd taken a three hour algebra test and had a major headache. Which I didn't find out until quite some time later.) Had I been a loving and observant mom in that moment, I would have switched gears--from task-oriented to nurturing. Unfortunately, I didn't and launched into the long "honey-can-you-do-list."

The results were less than optimal and initially I was shocked by our daughters angry reaction...until I simmered down and reviewed our interaction. Had I given her a few moments to unwind, she likely would have reacted better. Had I not reacted to her reaction, likely our spat wouldn't have erupted. Hannah's sewing bee story in chapter eleven reminded me of all the times my reactions create and expand problems.

Hannah said, "Emily might have been guilty of instigating the trouble, but my reaction to her is what caused the situation to escalate out of control...."

Charles Swindoll often says that life is 90% how we take it. The Bible tells us a gentle answer turns away wrath. Have you found this to be true? Any stories to share?

I also liked how Hannah used a story from her life to speak truth to young Tessa. By doing so, she turned the situation into a joint effort, communicating to Tessa that she was on her team, that she understood her and wanted to help.

How might Tessa have reacted had Hannah launched into lecture mode?

I'm reading Boundaries With Teens by Dr. Townsend, for a contemporary youth series I'm working on for Christ to the World. In the book, Dr. Townsend reiterates the importance of empathy in parenting. How does parenting change when we remember our experiences, thoughts, and feelings from our teen years?

I imagine the same principle applies to any relationship. Empathy and finding ways to relate to others always seems an effective approach. Do you agree? Any examples to share? Any times when this is not true?

What are your thoughts regarding Hannah? What do you find most endearing about her? What do you think her greatest challenge is? What do you think is her greatest strength?

Last question: Are you ready for July? We're diving into Eleanor Gustafson's The Stones.

And...there's still time to vote for our next literary champion! You might even win a free book in the process!

Next week I'll be in El Salvador leading a children's conference and ministering to orphan girls recovering from sexual abuse, so April and Michelle will facilitate the discussion. But, if I can find internet access on occasion, I'll pop in to join the fun. Happy reading, all!

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