A couple weeks ago, I noticed a certain sass in one of my kids. I told my husband about the situation and how I was worried about the attitude. He politely and calmly said, “Honey, I don’t think that’s sass. I think it’s tone. It sounds like you.”
I wanted to go ballistic. Crazy wife mode was imminent!
Thankfully, I’ve learned to control what I say on this journey and did not respond with the first influx of feelings. I refrained. I was ticked off, though. Defensive in my head. I felt like he had no idea how much I was juggling. I actually thought, “Even if I have tone, cut me some slack!”
A couple days later, I was still internally struggling with that conversation. TBH, reeling. Anger building in my head that would explode, if left unchecked.
I had to stop the unhealthy cycle. It was time to pause and pray. I said something like this, “God, please show me the tone, if I actually have it.”
(Don’t you love the “if I actually have it” line I added to that prayer? So humanlike. So me.)
After that prayer, it was like my blinders were taken off. I could see myself clearly, and it hurt. There were multiple times when I was talking to my children, and I witnessed the unflattering tone he had been referring to. It wasn’t yelling. It wasn’t anger. It was condescending and downright rude.
Oh, it hurts to write that. Deeply.
One day, I asked my son to roll down the window when we were parked in the driveway so I could give him something. He opened the door (and nearly hit me in the gut at the same time). I didn’t yell, but I responded with the tone. I didn’t call him stupid, but my tone implied it. I saw the hurt in his eyes.
Hours later, I apologized to my son.
There have been more instances with both my teen daughter and my husband. I’ll spare you the details, but it became very apparent to me — I have a problem with tone. And, I’m passing it onto my children.
I became emotional telling my husband that God had clearly shown me a fault I needed to fix. Fighting back the tears, I said, “I can’t believe you’ve had to live with this for twenty years, and you’ve never pointed it out to me.”
He said, “You’re worth it. Besides, I’m working on my own faults.”
Was that it? A recognition of a fault and then I fixed it? I wish it were that simple.
I’m still struggling with tone. It is so difficult to break a habit that you didn’t even realize you had. It’s THAT engrained in my personality.
Can we just stop right here?
Old Me would’ve swept this under the rug and chalked it up to “It’s just who I am.”
New Me can’t because I know the stakes are too high.
You see, if I don’t change this flaw, it creates walls in my relationships.
I want my kids to tell me everything they’re seeing and hearing in their online worlds. No time in history is the relationship between parent and child so important. Remember when I wrote in my book, “God showed me that if I wanted my whole family dynamic to change, it was going to require me to look in the mirror.”
This is yet another example of what that looks like. It stings.
I need to be able to identify my flaws and fix them. Or else, I pass them onto my kids.
Flaws can be little things or HUGE things — bad spending habits, tone, addiction, cussing, unhealthy relationships, RACISM. What bad things are you passing onto your kids?
This. is. important.
We must be able to recognize cycles or patterns we’ve picked up that need to change. Many of us (me!) don’t want to change because it requires hard work.
You may not want to do the hard work for yourself. I’m asking you do it for your kids.
One evening during dinner, I told my kids that I recognized my condescending tone. I was vulnerable. Open and honest. They knew it truly bothered me. I let them in on my struggle, and I asked them to hold me accountable.
Guess what happened? My kids followed my lead and recognized things they needed to work on too! Do you see how this works?
Kids model us. They watch. They listen. They repeat. Even the flaws.
Since then, it’s been tough. I cringe when my kids point out the tone. I’m thankful for my husband. The other day, I had to put on my disciplinarian face because my kids weren’t doing what I asked (we are all ready for school to start). I didn’t yell, but I had to be stern. My husband later told me, “You disciplined without tone. That was perfect!”
And I completely recognized the difference.
So my challenge to you is: what are you passing down to your kids that you don’t want to? Now’s the time to face it and put in the hard work. Your kids are worth it. And always know, I’m facing my own things right along with you. In it, together.