Rudeness is a weak man’s imitation of strength.
Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own….
I Corinthians 13: 4-5
Rudeness is sadly all too common, even within our homes.
Yesterday morning I came face to face with this reality with my own actions toward my husband who merely wanted a few minutes of time to talk. I had woken up later than my usual 5 AM with self imposed deadlines weighing heavily on my mind. Rather than graciously giving up a few minutes of my “important” time, I abruptly let him know that I was not to be interrupted for any reason. I was “seeking my own” by making my time more important than his. How is that for putting into practice the elements of “love suffers long and is kind…love does not behave rudely” – toward the person I am to love the most? My thoughtless response to his simple request was a good reminder of how easily I can fail at being polite right within the walls of my own home.
What was I doing that was so important at the moment that I couldn’t give my husband a few minute of time? – I was writing this blog about love not being rude! Writing about the elements of love brings me humbly to my knees each week as I realize just how little about love I really comprehend!
To be “rude and to seek its own” is to be impolite, discourteous, bad mannered, unbecoming, which described me yesterday morning.
The opposite of rudeness is to be polite, gracious, respectful, gentle; to consider others.
When I am polite, I show love in little ways – in my conversations and in my treatment of others as I go about my day. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “good manners are made up of petty sacrifices” – waiting our turn, acknowledging others, not interrupting, and listening.
It’s easy to rationalize rude behavior at home, if our daily demands are viewed as inconveniences, and especially when our children behave inappropriately. Yet if we were to maintain a polite and respectful disposition in the midst of these daily challenges of life, our children would learn a great deal about politeness and what God’s love is really like. I thank God each day that the Holy Spirit teaches and admonishes me in gentle, patient ways, serving as a constant reminder of God’s love for me. Only as I rest in His love, am I able to truly love others.
Below, Connie Hagen shares a simple,yet powerful, idea that can turn those difficult conversations with your children into gentle, respectful moments that serve to maintain a loving connection between parent and child.
Time for Tea
by Connie Hagen
The white flag is nationally recognized as the symbol of surrender during times of war. Typically, the weaker side militarily calls for a cease fire by waving the white flag. Why? It is because they believe there is no way they can win the battle. Many times, as parents, we feel as though we are in battle with our own children and we are, either tempted to, or we actually wave the flag of surrender. We perceive the conflict in such a way that we are convinced we cannot win, so we simply give up. In reality, giving up is counterproductive when trying to work through conflict and build rapport with our children. It may bring a momentary cease fire, but underneath a bigger battle is usually brewing. Rather than concede, we as parents or officers in this military force called “Our Family”, need to extend an olive branch or make a peace treaty with our children. We need to find a way to connect to our children in an environment that is safe and non-threatening. Children need to know that they will be heard and understood without words of judgment or criticism. Often we are so concerned about correcting their offense that we forget to listen, sending the message that we only care about their behavior not about them. Certainly, there is a time for correction and admonishment, but too often we jump the gun and gear up for battle only to lose in the end. Years ago, in my family, I started a tradition of making tea as a symbol of peace and an invitation to reconnect. Whenever there has been a conflict, or if one of my children is feeling down or overwhelmed, I make tea. We usually sit on the porch and simply talk about anything other than the conflict at hand. It is not a time for negotiating or problem solving rather it is a time to reconnect in a peaceful way. My kids know when they see me coming with my tea cups in hand that I am in the frame of mind to listen and to enjoy their company. This sets the stage for more significant communication at a later time. Refraining from waving the flag of surrender and offering a gesture of peace will create a safe connection and will avoid further conflict. When our kids are connected to us their hearts are generally open and they are more willing to hear what it is we need to tell them. Consequently, we can approach them from a position of influence rather than a position of power. Having influence with our children avoids a battle, brings peace into our home, and establishes a bond that will last a lifetime.
Note: Connie has been married to her husband Jeff for 17 years and they have three children age 15, 13 and 8. She has worked in private practice as a marriage and family therapist and taught Early Childhood Growth and Development at the collegiate level.