It has been awhile since we have had a rough Sunday. Life outside our 4 walls has been tough, but inside feels safe, protected and pretty genuinely happy. It wasn't always this way, but worked hard for it, so when Sunday was full of unkind words, fights, sarcasm, intentional annoyance, short tempers and downright rudeness, something was up.
My first thought was to give everyone a little "talking to" about attitudes and gratitude and shaping up and getting it together. I rehearsed every power packed, exclamatory sentence in my mind. It was good stuff. Biting. It would put them in their place. And, unfortunately, add to the contention.
But, my husband had a better idea, so we gathered them together and asked, one by one, what was going on that was making them each feel and act with such rudeness and anger. I was shocked as they willingly opened up with us and each other.
One said school was too stressful and he couldn't rise to his own expectations. He was overwhelmed, annoyed, short and mean. We talked about time management and perfectionism. He agreed to let go but keep trying and seemed visibly lighter from the support and love.
Another said he was off because of too little to do. Work and sports had been cancelled, so he had spent too much time in front of a screen. He wanted help using his time for the things that make him truly happy. He apologized to everyone and hugged his brothers.
A middle child was doing well, but did ask for help at getting his homework done early and getting to bed on time. We were able to thank him for keeping things happy and light when times get tough.
And one just wanted hugs when he gets home from school. A pretty simple request, but a good reminder that I need to do better at showing physical love to all my kids...something that doesn't come easily or naturally to me.
As I went to bed that night, I was content and happy instead of agitated and angry. I watched 3 teenagers and 1 caboose self reflect, share weakness, apologize, forgive, ask for help, and love each other in a group setting. I was grateful for a husband who took the higher road and has been a beautiful example of humility, growth and what a "real man" should be.
To the outside world, I am pretty sure we never look like we have it all together. We make so many mistakes, some embarrassingly glaring, but we push on. And what is going on inside these walls is the beginning of something good, and I am oh so grateful for it.
So, here is my encouragement for you to try the higher road with your family this week. Lower your voice, ask the question, let them talk, and prioritize connection so they feel safe to fail, share their worries, and have permission to change. It's never too late and never too early. This is family.