Mornings are always busy here. We all get up early and, like it or not, seem to hit the ground running. Jobs, breakfast, usually more work, and then schooling. I try to balance the kids’ busy-ness with some little “breaks” built in, but sometimes there’s just too much to do!
When the children first get up, they’re expected to make their beds and get themselves presentable for the day, then have some Bible time or quiet reading time until we are all ready for family devotions. Lately, one of my children in particular has been absorbed in a personal reading book that apparently has been very captivating, so when we’ve asked them to “put the book down” to do the next thing, we’ve been met with a rather sour attitude in response. Unfortunately, the overtone tends to permeate the rest of the morning’s activities. Much gentle encouragement and prayer have been the general prescription, and usually after a while I get a hug and and apology.
Today, more of the same. After trying to get the kids to pitch in and work together to clear the table (while each one wanted to just do their own thing and let everyone else shoulder the burden), I assigned morning jobs and got some flack from said child who lately has been struggling to have a positive attitude about work responsibilities. After a short conversation (in which I didn’t really feel like being kind, but forced myself to anyway), the child said to me, “I’m sorry I had a bad attitude. It’s just that I was right in the middle of a chapter!” To which I could only express my agreement, because I’ve felt similar frustrations in being interrupted. Another opportunity to be reminded of the power of sympathy.
It has seemed to me that this particular child has had a bad attitude about work, and I’ve been trying to address it as such. Yet all the while I was missing the mark with my encouragements because I failed to see the “root cause.” It wasn’t laziness, as I assumed…it was just frustration in not getting to finish something started. Granted, we all must learn to sacrifice our personal preferences and serve others in love…but that is a process, isn’t it? So my lesson this morning is this: just as I need to address the “root causes” in my own spiritual growth in order to see victory, in the same way I need to commit my children to prayer and seek wisdom so that I can identify the root causes that drive their behavior, and address them effectively. Something else that I suppose I knew, but needs a reminder every once in a while.
(And, the “5-minute warning” prior to a change in activity never hurts, either. I tend to forget about that, too…)