Emotions-Can You Fake ’em?

Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” Meg Ryan in that movie where she goes to Paris to chase after her ex-fiancé.

I’m one of those people who you can read like a book. If I’m happy, you’ll know it. If I’m confused, it’s written all over my face. If I’m mad, oh yeah, you’ll know it. That’s a good thing, right? I’m true. I’m real. I’m authentic. I’m transparent.

But I think it’s not always good. I know that sometimes when I’m angry–just for illustration purposes, let’s say I’m mad at my teenaged son–it does NOT help the situation for me to show anger. It communicates disapproval and disappointment. Which maybe I am, but my feelings are not the issue that needs to be dealt with or focused on. I read this several weeks ago and it stuck with me, even though I’m having trouble putting it into practice.

The anger of a parent confronted with a child’s poor choice shifts the focus from the child’s bad behavior to the parent’s angry response. Replace anger with empathy and see what happens. Responding to disobedience with empathy rather than anger is difficult, but the reward is great.

from Day 3 of the Parenting by Design devo on YouVersion.

Right. Empathy. Right. So….how exactly does that look?!

Mom: Well, hello, son. I see you are 20 minutes later than you said you’d be.

Son: Oh…sorry.

Mom (Option 1): Sorry?!? You’re sorry!?! You better be because I’ve been sitting here waiting and now I’m going to be really tired tomorrow! You bet you’re sorry, because now you’re grounded!!

Mom (Option 2): I can see that. I’m sorry that you couldn’t make it when we asked. Next time you go out you will have to make up that time. You’ll have to come home 20 minutes earlier than normal.

Yeah, I can see that would be a better response for parents who set firm rules and consequences (which we SUCK at). And also I know that…

human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:20 NIV)

Now I just have to figure out how to either not be mad–or hide it convincingly. Probably the former is more effective, although more difficult to achieve. Only complete reliance on God can bring about a miracle of this magnitude.

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One response to this post.

  1. So many things. First, I love French Kiss, the movie.

    Second, I used to have a boss that would tell me to fix my face because in a staff meeting you could tell exactly what I was thinking at every turn. And if the guy talking was an idiot, the look on my face would tell him so. Glad to know that’s a family trait.

    Third, I’ve GOT to start that reading plan. That’s an eye-opener to see how they see it when you’re mad. You have to read Have a New Teen in Five Days, it was amazing.

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