Emotions...They can be my Downfall!
Are you good at hiding your emotions? Do you wear your feelings for all to see?
I’ve never been one who can hide my feelings or emotions. Even when I think I’m trying my darnedest to keep them hidden, my face and voice betray me. My children know when I’m upset. It’s a terrible habit that I’m trying to overcome (I’m sure my children would agree…I’ve not arrived yet).
I think they learned to decipher my emotions when they were growing up in my nest. Calling them by their first and middle name, giving them the snake-eye (that look that told them they were in deep do-do), and raising my voice were some of the ways they could discern that Momma was unhappy. They could read me like a book then, and they can still read me now.
TALK TO YOURSELF!
There are times when I’ve had to discipline my precious three-year-old grandson. Often, his reply to me is, “Talk to yourself, Nanny!” In other words, keep your opinion to yourself.
It’s no longer acceptable to unleash my feelings on my children whenever I feel like it. I need to ‘talk to myself,’ and just leave it at that. My children are not little anymore and don’t have to respond to my ‘look’ of disapproval or displeasure. They are adults who have to make decisions with which I may not always agree (and, understandably, they usually don’t seek my agreement).
They may unintentionally say or do things that hurt or disappoint me. Perhaps, due to the busyness of their lives, they don’t have as much time to spend with me as I’d like them to. These things can bring on a pity party with Satan if I’m not careful, causing me to wear my emotions on my sleeve. If I’m honest (might as well be), I know that my visual display of emotion is often meant to stir guilty feelings within them (something they’ve probably realized too). More often than not, I desire to get them to bend to my opinions and objectives (in other words, I’m trying to control them…ouch! Let’s get real here).
I remember when my daughter, as a new mom, posted on Facebook a question about something to do with raising her baby. I was incensed! How dare she not come to me. I, after all, had done a pretty good job raising two kids. I had wisdom and experience! Why on earth would she not want my opinion? (I and my seem to be a pretty common denominator here!) These were the thoughts running haphazardly through my head, keeping me up at night and causing vain imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5) to steal my peace and joy. Looking back, I realize that she was, and still is, trying to gain her independence apart from me.
If I’m honest with myself, I don’t remember asking my mom for her opinions. I dreaded when she freely gave them (I called it butting in) and insisted on my following her advice because, after all, she knew best. Ugh, I don’t want to be like my Mother! I want my children to be independent thinkers. I don’t want them dreading my calls or texts because they fear I’m about to vomit my emotions all over them. Sentiments they didn’t ask for, no less.
Often, when I say to my son or daughter (in that serious ‘Mom’ tone), “I need to talk to you about something,” their response is, “Oh Lord, what have I done now?” This response has come to be grievous to me. It tells me that I’ve made them feel like they have been bad, made me mad, and, worst of all, they dread confrontation with me because experience has shown it not to be pleasant. What am I doing? These are adults with families of their own.
Though it’s not an excuse to continue in bad behavior, I was raised to cower to my mother’s emotions. Realizing this, I have to be the one determined to break this destructive habit so that it doesn’t keep presenting itself in my lineage. God has shown me that it can do irreparable damage to my relationship with my children. To allow them to fly, I have to become better at hiding my negative emotions.
TAKE IT TO GOD!
It’s all so important to remember that our battle is never with flesh and blood (2 Corinthians 10:3). Our children are never our enemy! Our enemy, Satan, comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He hates healthy family relationships that reflect the loving heart of God.
The best way that I’ve learned to break this cycle of bad behavior is to talk to God about what is upsetting me. I put on my big girl panties and pray instead of displaying my emotions in the hopes of turning the tide my way (at least, most of the time…I’m still growing and learning). God knows my heart as well as the hearts of my children and their spouses. In prayer, He may tell me that I need to go to the one who has offended me. Or, He may tell me to pray for the situation and wait on Him. As I search His heart, I ask Him to change mine (or theirs if need be).
There is another thing the Lord has been doing in my life. He’s led me to go back to my roots in prayer. He’s reminded me of the power of the spoken Word. I’ve been praying His Word over my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. Some of my prayers are purposely crafted through a diligent search of the Word for the situation that is before me. Others come from prayer books by writers such as Stormie Omartian, author of The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children and Germaine Copeland, the author of the Prayers That Avail Much series. I’ve seen subtle changes in my relationship with my children since praying these powerful prayers.
Here is a disclaimer, I do believe that there are legitimate times when we must lovingly confront issues (Matthew 5:23-24), but we cannot bully our children by constantly letting them know that we are angry or upset in an effort to manipulate their lives. We must choose our battles wisely, and realize that not every little upset in life necessitates confrontation.
James (James 3:5-10) compared our tongue to a fire that is difficult to tame. A small fire left to burn without supervision can destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of land before being brought under control. Likewise, our tongue, when allowed the freedom to speak its mind, can destroy our most important relationships. Therefore, we must learn when to speak and when to hold our tongue (Ecclesiastes 3:7). When we do speak, we must be women who speak in love so that our words bring healing to brokenness, build bridges instead of walls, and seek to understand rather than to only be understood.
I feel confrontation, on any level, should never be done by a text. When we choose to confront with a text, the receiver cannot decipher our true emotions nor can they hear the inflection of our intended voice. The message can be misconstrued and cause a bigger problem than actually exists.
I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has asked me if I was mad after sending her a text (and vice versa). My text may have been a simple short answer, but she took it to mean that I was upset or being short with her. Or, I may have been driving and not answered quickly enough, so she thought I was angry (I’ve done the same to her).
I’ve found that ignoring my children’s call or texts serves only to further division between us. It’s a sign of immaturity on my part, and a means of controlling my children. When I feel I absolutely must speak to one of my children about an offense that has occurred between us, I strive to do it in love, in person and, preferably, in private.
And, this shouldn’t have to be said, but we should never, ever, confront our children on social media. I’ve seen mothers disguise a post on Facebook that was meant to convey an angry or sarcastic message to their adult child. No one else may have understood the message, but you can bet their child did. This too serves only to bring division and embarrassment to our children.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
There are a small handful of dear friends (we don’t want to uncover our children with everyone and anyone we talk to) that I confide in as well. Friends that will speak truth to me and not just what I want to hear. Friends that understand my journey because they’re traveling (or have traveled) down the same road. We hold each other accountable to God’s Word and seek, together, to be molded and shaped into His image. We often cry on each other’s shoulders so that we are less likely to pour out our negative attitudes on our children. It’s been a huge blessing. I’d encourage you to find a tribe of women who are on the same journey as you and who’ll speak the truth in love and comfort and encourage you when needed, and help you walk as a victorious empty nester.
You are not alone. There are legions of others who’ve gone before us and done this empty nest thing well. I would like to be one of them, but I still struggle and work diligently to do better. I also believe that we can learn from the mistakes of others.
Don’t get me wrong; I now have a fairly good relationship with my mom. But remembering what it felt like when I was trying desperately to get out from under her manipulative, emotional control causes me to strive to do better with my children. I want to break that mold and allow my children the liberty to be gone from the nest and out from under their mom’s emotions.
I’d love for you to share with me ways that you have overcome in this area. If you struggle, I’d love to hear from you as well. Let’s grow in our journey together.
Feel free to email me and share with me some of your trials, lessons learned, and the experiences you’ve had as your children have left the nest. I’d love to include them on my blog (without names of course).
Leave a comment, and please…share with friends that, along with us, need strength for the journey!
Learning to soar,
Connect with Cindy at Sftjm7@yahoo.com
Cindy Schroppel is an author, blogger and speaker
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