To my surprise, my child reached out and stroked my hair softly. She said reassuring words like, “Computers can be so frustrating,” and “I could take a look at the time machine to see if I can fix the backup.” And then finally, “Mama, you can do this. You’re the best writer I know,” and “I’ll help you however I can.”
In my time of “trouble,” there she was, a patient and compassionate encourager who wouldn’t think of kicking me when I was already down.
My child would not have learned this empathetic response if I had remained a yeller. Because yelling shuts down the communication; it severs the bond; it causes people to separate — instead of come closer.
“The important thing is my mom is always there for me, even when I get in trouble.”
My child wrote that about me, the woman who went through a difficult period that she’s not proud of, but she learned from. And in my daughter’s words, I see hope for others.
The important thing is it’s not too late to stop yelling.
The important thing is children forgive ± especially if they see the person they love trying to change.
The important thing is life is too short to get upset over spilled cereal and misplaced shoes.
The important thing is no matter what happened yesterday, today is a new day.
Today we can choose a peaceful response.
And in doing so, we can teach our children that peace builds bridges — bridges that can carry us over in times of trouble.
Rachel Macy Stafford is a certified special education teacher with a masters degree in education and 10 years of experience working with parents and children. In December 2010, she felt compelled to share her journey to let go of distraction and grasp what really matters by creating the blog Hands Free Mama. Her work has been featured in USA Today, TIME.com, MSN.com, PBS.org, The Huffington Post and Reader's Digest. Rachel recently released her first book, "Hands Free Mama," which is a New York Times best-seller.
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