So, we disengage.
We call it “Planned Ignoring”: I plan to ignore you when you are unreasonable.
I know, this goes against our grain when a kid is disrespectful. We feel the need to stop them in their tracks. But, have you been in a power play with a teen (or a toddler) who wants to be in control of everything? It is a lose-lose situation.
The mouthy attitude is an attempt to derail us; if we engage the word choices we are distracted from the initial issue at hand. So we plan to ignore the words –for now.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly,lest you be like him yourself,” Proverbs 26:4. I’m not saying my kid is a fool, but he definitely has his foolish moments—as do I.
We wanted to get away from him. But, the truth is, he needed to get away from the rest of us. So, he was sent to his room.
Calmly I said, “Go to your room now”.
Off he went while the rest of the family was able to continue on with dinner and homework and conversation.
The son who was silenced took out his phone weapon and began texting his attitude. The words were unkind for a usually kind boy. The words hurt.
But, we planned to ignore, “Answer not a fool according to his folly”. We had to give each other pep talks, “Don’t engage, wait until tomorrow”.
Engaging in the folly increases the fight and the need for both to win.
Waiting is difficult. We second guess ourselves in the recesses of our mind. But tomorrow, he will wake up calm. Tomorrow he will no longer be in fight-mode.
Early in the morning, I walked into his room and sat beside him in bed as I usually do. I played with his hair and spoke in a loving voice, “Are you up, son?” I rubbed his back. Love is unconditional.
When a child hurts a parent, a parent must love unconditionally. Besides, kindness is received unexpectedly when we know we deserve the opposite. Kindness heaps hot coals on our heads.
“I am taking your phone away for a few days”.
“You were disrespectful to your parents last night. You used your phone to send abusive messages.”
“You know what you did. You may have thought you could get away with talking like that last night, but you did not. There are consequences. You will receive your phone in a few days.”
Peacefully, I walked out of the room.
It was the right moment to address his folly, “lest he becomes wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:5).
Planned ignoring is difficult. Finding the right consequences to fit the crime is not always easy. But probably the hardest thing for me as a parent, is not reacting in anger or hurt feelings in the heat of the moment.
Someone has to remain in control of the situation, and it is good to have a plan—a team-parent plan—to remain calm, steady and focused.
I spent the next 24 hours in prayer. I’m praying for wisdom in our interactions, praying our boy will have a repentant heart so he can grow forward.
I’m praying for the prime moments to instruct a child about responding with respect next time he is in the heat of the moment.
Are you interested in knowing more about “Planned Ignoring” or would you benefit from support in your parenting choices? These resources may help you:
“The Secrets to Modern Day Parenting” linking modern solutions to everyday problems. Series information: http://www.womangonewise.com/2012/01/12/bible-and-family-life-speaker/
Exceptional Families Coaching: Practical and personal coaching to support you and give you tools for a flourishing family life: www.exceptionalfamiliescoaching.com