Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor. Only fools insist on quarreling.
But what do I do when he yells at my kids?
One of my class members in our Strength & Dignity
It is NORMAL to have the “Mama Bear” response get upset when anyone aggressively verbalizes and yells at our children. OF COURSE the hair on the back of our neck stands up and everything in us wants to defend our child! It doesn’t seem to matter who is being harsh with them, either. (Please note, I mean no offense with the term “Mama Bear” – I am also not implying that men don’t also love their children, nor do I wish to label women as anything negative as our protective instincts are wired into us by God. I also believe men also have protective instincts. My audience is primarily women, and so I was attempting to use a literary device to create an analogy that would validate the emotional response women normally have when anyone is harsh with their children.)
Instead of handling this natural response in an effective way, however, we too often jump into the fray, responding in kind, but without kindness, thereby modeling for our children how to argue with people we say we love. Some women, however, say nothing, feeling either helpless or powerless, or their own fear keeps them from speaking into the situation.
Online writers correctly state that whatever people allow, they endorse. I’m one of them. Unfortunately, the assumption is that “not allowing” equates to engaging in the same damaging behavior as the other person.
This is wrong.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
What’s missing are options that help the entire family. Usually the focus is how to get away from the abusing male. By the way, I’m not going to say that there aren’t bad men out there. I’ve been raped, sexually harassed, and I get it. I’m not going to judge all of mankind, however, and I’m pained by what I see in the media from both genders. More on that some other day…
Women also behave verbally similarly and think it is fine. It’s not. The following study was done by MentalHealth.net, an American Addiction Centers resource. Check the stats on the men – they are feeling afraid of their wives, too. Granted, they are bigger and when they express this fear as anger, it can seriously hurt or kill a woman.
As an aside, many men are taking their fears and frustrations out on themselves by choosing death over staying in what they view as hopeless situations.
Research shows verbal aggression and conflict damages kids (if you are also yelling, or even angry while speaking… you are contributing) – and it takes two to make it happen. Let’s become women of strength & dignity and raise the standard of behavior for ourselves and everyone around us, including our husbands.
What I don’t get is why so many people swing in this psychological space known as “Black and White Thinking,” which is super unhealthy and dangerous to our relationships. It makes me sad that more don’t know about the other choices available, and even more frustrated that we don’t see those fierce feelings as cues to deeper issues within ourselves. “Being a doormat” or “Standing up for my rights,” are both options with destructive outcomes, but they aren’t the only ones – there is a better way.
Have you ever thought about what it is like to be a hostage negotiator?
When you are doing what you have been trained to do, you are usually on a phone with a kidnapper, trying to keep the guy from killing the hostages. Think about what you have to be able to do to do that well…
- build trust between him and you
- empathize with his feelings and situation
- listen deeply so he feels heard and understood
- be patient with the process, allowing time
- encourage him in his struggle
- facilitate a change in his thinking
- change his behavior and have him let them go
There’s a lot more too it than that, but when you think about it, here’s a highly caustic situation that is life and death.. The hostage negotiator doesn’t agree with what the hostage taker is doing at all. NOT AT ALL. But the negotiator has to see the guy as a real person with real problems who
Think you could do that? If you think about what happens instead in some marriages and apply it here, the hostage taker would make his demands, the negotiator would argue with him, the hostage taker would get more upset, get more argument from the negotiator, and POP! one hostage gone. Now lines have been drawn in the sand, and it’s even harder to salvage things and start over.
Few of the people I know grew up where a different scenario was modeled for them. What if this were a possibility for the wife when her husband yells? Can you imagine your kids doing whatever it is they do that upsets your husband, he’s yelling at them, and this time you walk into his space, put a hand on his shoulder and sweetly say, “Hey babe, everything okay? Can I help?”
You begin by smiling at him, being soft, gentle, and sweet… And he might even say something like, “These kids
And at some
This type of behavior originates from our values. With solid values, we have boundaries around our own behavior that protects those values. If I value peace in my home, and I value mature behavior from myself, then these values can emerge as a boundary of, “I help my husband and my kids get along only when things are out of control (yelling, etc.) and my intervention is wanted.” This shows respect for others’ abilities to handle themselves, avoids meddling, controlling behavior, and creates trust by asking permission to speak into someone else’s life.
For this to even be an option, the relationship needs a lot of
I want to encourage us to think differently. Dr. John Gottman’s research shows 87% of conversations end the way they begin, and that a “harsh start-up” usually also ends badly. Given that we’re often not modeling the right things and conflict in the home can cause Type A trauma for kids, I want to encourage people to learn to do something different. Understand that we are literally physically harming our children – especially their developing brains – by not growing in these skills.
We have a proven method of helping women learn the steps to interaction in their relationships at a whole different level, all while learning to feel more confident in their identity. I hope you’ll consider joining us at the Deflating Defensiveness Retreat this year. It’s not easy work, but it’s eye-opening if you think you are up for it.
We want to change the world, one family at a time. If you are feeling led, we still have some room left. We haven’t been working on getting the word out much yet, so we actually have about 5 spots left at a lower rate than it shows on the website.
In the meantime, I am praying that we all have the “teaching of kindness on our tongue,” Proverbs 31-style.
Love to you,