We’ve explored the common reasons we may start yelling when it comes to our children – they may not be listening or they’ve made a poor choice – we’ve even explored the idea that we don’t always take care of ourselves enough. Today, I want to talk to you about something you might not have thought of before…
From Linda Popov’s book, A Pace of Grace…
Today, reflect on the idea of “cultivating the gift of your assertiveness.”
As women, we don’t tend to like conflict or confrontation. “Assertiveness is the virtue that helps us establish what we will stand for and what we will not stand for.” If you can think of activities or people that consistently drain you, perhaps it is time to figure out what you can do to bring more energy into your life by nurturing your assertiveness so you give yourself permission to say “no”.
“Being assertive helps us avoid both aggression and passivity. It doesn’t mean being selfish and pushy. It is having the self-confidence to tell the truth about what is just, to say what we think and ask for what we need. The key to effectively practicing assertiveness is to balance it with tact.
Here are a few assertive statements you may find useful:
“I’m quite involved right now. Thanks for asking.”
“My schedule is full at the moment. Please ask me again.” (Only if you want them to!)
“I’d love to talk but I only have a few minutes. How can I help?”
“It would be great to see you, but I’m sticking close to home these days, needing a lot of quiet time. I appreciate your asking.”
“I’ve already contributed my quotient to charities this year. Good luck with your campaign.”
“Mom, my life is really full right now, so I can’t spend as much time with you as I have been. I’ll be visiting once a month and I’ll call you every week.”
“I’d be happy to help you with this new project. Which of my other jobs would you like me to put on the back burner?”
“Let me give it some thought.”
“I’ll think it over and let you know.”
“I’ll give it careful consideration.”
The last three phrases are particularly helpful in responding to children’s many requests and demands. Assertiveness is essential in parenting. When we appease our children by complying with their demands in the moment, promising something we later cannot fulfill, we destroy their trust and model dishonesty. We are teaching them to lie to avoid confrontation. Peace at any price is very expensive. It costs us our integrity and robs our children of trust. Be sure to be trustworthy – as well as assertive – and after you have thought it over, let them know what you have decided” (pp 177-8 Pace of Grace).
When we yell, we are expressing aggressiveness in order to get what we want, when we want it. Mothers who don’t express their own power over decisions, requests, and demands put on them, can easily become overwhelmed, resentful, and reach their tipping point with the little people in their lives instead of with the actual stressors. Acknowledge that you possess the virtue of assertiveness; take back your power and decide what you can put on your plate. Perhaps this is just one more piece of the puzzle in helping support your desire to communicate to your children more effectively.
Let me know what you think!