Periodically, Edric and I will ask our children how we can improve. Most of the time the kids will say, “you guys are great!” or “I can’t really think of anything right now.”
Well, this morning, while having breakfast, Edric and I ventured to ask again, “Is there any way I can improve or change?” Elijah looked at Edric and said, “You are fine, dad. But I have something to say about mom.” Gulp. Okay, I knew I had this coming. Pregnancy hormones have made me more volatile lately so I expected to hear this.
“Mom, you can improve by changing your temper. Like when you got irritated at daddy in the car and you didn’t change your attitude.”
It was time to eat humble pie. He was right. A few days ago, on our way home from Baguio, I was frustrated because Edric was correcting me about making wrong orders from KFC. I thought he was overreacting and I started crying because I was so annoyed. Elijah was seated right behind us and witnessed the whole drama. He tried correcting me then by saying, “Mom, remember what you wrote about in your blog about serving dad…” Darn! Why does he have to be a follower of my blog?! I explained to him that I felt hurt but I didn’t say sorry right away for my attitude.
The next day after Sunday worship, Elijah held my hand and asked, “Have you changed your attitude yet, mom?” I started laughing and apologized to him.
Fast forward to four days later and Edric and I are having a conversation with him about “how we can improve.” He remembered the car incident and cited it as an example of why I need to be better about my temper. Correction accepted. I had to say sorry again. I really appreciated that he was able to identify this character weakness in me. Pregnancy or no pregnancy, my example is important. I have to remain on the alert about my responses and reactions to people and situations. God used Elijah to convict me. I hugged him and said, “I am so sorry. Will you forgive me? I will try to change and improve.”
Without hesitation, he accepted my apology with grace. I saw Edric trying to mask his snickering. I knew he wanted to rub it in but he didn’t insert a single comment. That was grace, too.
This habit of asking our children this “dangerous question” really keeps us on our toes. It is a good exercise in accountability. Of all people that know us, our children have front row seats to our mistakes. We don’t want them to develop resentment by making it difficult for them to open up to us when they see areas we should improve in.
When I was growing up, my parents applied this kind of culture in our home. They let us correct them and they would humbly receive this correction without trying to put up a defense for their actions. This left an impression on me because my dad is a church leader and yet he valued our input and our perspective on his character. He always wanted to know how he could be more Christ-like and more spirit-filled.
Edric and I decided we would have the same culture in our family. Our children have permission to freely correct us. It is not always easy to listen to what they have to say, but the key is to remember that God uses those closest to us to reveal our flaws and weaknesses. When we are willing to humble ourselves and listen, the blessing is spiritual growth and healthy relationships with our kids. And the added blessing is they learn to listen to us when we need to tell them how the can change and improve!
It may seem like a dangerous question when we ask our kids how we can change and improve, but the real danger is refusing to listen to people whom God uses to help us grow in character. How pitiful it would be if our children felt like they could not open up to us when they have been hurt by our actions or stumbled in their faith because of our example.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:6 NASB)