How to Choose Peace Instead of Anger

A mom, in a heated moment, slows down and prays over a situation with her teenage son.

Posted in , May 29, 2019

Mom talks to teen son.

Saturday morning, I was on a roll. By 10 a.m. I’d already taken a shower, cleaned out the fridge, made breakfast for my kid with a special diet, been to the bank and picked up produce at the farmer’s market. Before heading to the laundromat, I decided to dust the living room.

I worked my way steadily around the room until I got to the window. As I wiped the sash I noticed, with some alarm, that the window was unlatched. I knew the culprit: my 15-year old had put something out on the fire escape to dry the week before. I’d instructed him to re-lock the window, telling him that the #1 point of entry for robbery in NYC is open windows by fire escapes.

Seriously unhappy with my son, I considered waking him from his teen-deep Saturday morning slumber to make him latch the window. Before I did so I noted I was also grateful to have discovered the unlocked window before an intruder did. Faced with mixed feelings, I opted to focus first on thanking God for the crisis averted, and to speak to my son when I was less annoyed.

Giving myself time turned out to be a good choice. Over the years I’ve learned (the hard way) that anger is rarely an effective lesson plan for teaching responsibility. So I did my laundry and pondered what to say to my son, and how, and when. I prayed a bit more as I folded clothes. By the time I was done, my mixed feelings had shifted: I was far more thankful for my unlocked-window discovery than irritated by it. And I had a plan that allowed me to talk to my son calmly, so he could hear my words instead of react to my emotion.

All of which gave me something else for which to be thankful. So as I moved on to the next item on my to-do list I tossed up another prayer of gratitude. Yep–I was, indeed, on a roll.

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