It was a typical morning before school, and we were on
schedule. Until things began unraveling
when I told my 8-year-old son he was pouring too much salt on his eggs. (We’re not talking a sprinkle or a light
dusting. He could’ve cured a ham.)
For whatever reason, my criticism pushed an ugly button with
my son, and he stormed out of the room. For the rest of our time before school, he unleashed an increasingly
mean-spirited verbal assault that eventually escalated to his saying, “Mom, you
are so mean. If I should even call you a mom.”
Looking back now, I can see the humor in this line. But after the barrage of attacks, I had a
hard time letting go of my anger toward my son. When I picked him up from school that
afternoon, he was happy and had forgotten about the whole thing. Clearly, he hadn’t been ruminating on our
conflict all day. He said, in a cheerful
voice, “Can we go get some ice cream?” But
I didn’t feel like taking him to get an ice cream. I was still hurt and mad.
Can you identify? Your child rages, maybe throws some verbal missiles your way,
deliberately trying to hurt your feelings. Then he calms down. Moves
on. All seems well from his point of
view. But what if you’re not ready to
turn the page?
When you fight with your sister or your spouse, you often end
the conflict with apologies, new insight and deeper understanding, and then feel ready to move on. But most kids don’t
consistently do this without prompting, so we’re frequently left to do some
internal repair work on our own.