No doubt about it, moms are the thermostat of the house, we set the temperature, the mood. When I am sick, tired, or crabby, my family feels it, and everyone suffers for it. My friend Glenda says it’s our job to set the temperature on the thermostat instead of being the thermometer that just reads what the temperature is. One is a conscious choice and takes effort, the other is a response to what is already happening. One is proactive, one is reactive.
When my kids behaviors are acting up, systems are being disregarded, and attitude is flying, I can 100% say that the result of those circumstances is based entirely on how I handle it. Whether I respond well, or poorly.
My kids can be wrecks, they bring in the chaos, no doubt, but I am the thermostat. I am the one they are begging inwardly for stability. I am the one they are already convinced will, “not be able to handle them either," I am the one they are trying to push away. Their RAD targets me. Every time.
One of my kids confessed once that when things are out of his control, he does the one thing he can control, and he makes me angry. For a long time it worked. I reacted in anger, and as a result, he “won." Though I know for certainty when our RAD kids “win”, they’re losing, we’re losing, and the relationship is losing. When they fight for control in an unhealthy way, and “win” it, there is loss. The stable ground we have worked hard to build under them, shakes every so slightly, or maybe even trembles rapidly. Either way, there is a threat in their hearts and minds to undo all that we have so diligently poured in.
When my perspective shifted, after learning this truth about my son, everything changed. I stopped letting him “win”. Just like I don’t let my kids manipulate me, or lie and get away with it, just like I don’t let them disrespect without correction, or treat another rudely, I refuse to let him “win” in this area. It simply leads to more loss in his life, and our relationship.
A long time ago I decided I would not lie to my kids. It is cut and dry in my mind: they don’t trust parents, so if I give them even ONE legitimate reason to not trust me, I can damage all that I have built up with them. That is a similar logic that I have latched onto with my kids trying to heat up the thermometer. If I refuse to let them “win”, if I kick in like a thermostat, set the temp, maintain it, work overtime for it, and beg God for the strength, there is true winning for my kids. Keeping the situation calm and cool, at least from my end, is true winning. It is loving them well.
This has been a game changer for me. In the past I could always point to their behaviors, seeing the hundred ways they made things go poorly, because let’s be honest, without their chaos, we would probably be outstanding moms all the time! However, in the end, when I went to God and asked him to search my heart, and see any offensive way in me (Psalm 139:23-24), this is what He showed me. When things escalate and get way out of hand, it’s me. I commit the final offense, the final blow that sends them running, that doesn't cool things down.
I cannot change their behaviors, I cannot control them, but I am in charge of me, and THAT is what I can work on. Daily I am praying, “more of you Lord, less of me." In my flesh, in my reactions, I can do a lot of damage to an already broken situation. I don’t want to play the damaging role in my kids’ lives! I want to be involved in the healing and redemption; the beauty on the other side! So it is imperative that I keep myself under control, and it is only through the power of Christ I can do that. By His sweet graces, he is teaching me how! One day at a time.
Rachel is a 32 year old mom with 6 kids married to the best man she knows, Joey. Her kids are 2,4,7,16,20, and 21. God keeps bringing them teens and asking them to adopt them. Like crazy people, they keep saying yes. What could seem like the worst possible age to adopt in the world, has become God's beautiful redemption story playing out right before their very eyes. And it is good.