This week’s question:
I can’t say my husband is abusive or that I have a destructive marriage, but we do have a very stained one. My husband is a very angry man. We have been together 32 years and it just gets harder to deal with his temper, outbursts, and horrible language. He has never been physically violent toward me or the kids (who are grown and on their own), but throws and slams things.
Parents usually love when their kids are outgoing and gregarious crowd-pleasers. But when kids clam up parents tend to get a bit anxious themselves and make the proclamation — or maybe more the apology — “Oh, he’s just a shy one.” The “shy” label may be somewhat accurate, but it does nothing to honor the child or help him become more confident about who he is.
The first step in helping these more sensitive kids grow in confidence is to be aware of and deal with our own anxiety about it. Children feel our anxiety and it adds to their aversion to social situations, because now everyone’s self-esteem rises and falls with the child’s sociability. My (Lynne’s) first attempt to help our anxious daughter Bethany meet new people, was to drag her out from behind me, and through gritted teeth command her to introduce herself with her 8-year-old voice. Like that’s gonna make her enjoy meeting people . . . Once I laid my frustration and embarrassment aside to focus on what she needed to feel confident, we began to make good progress.
Sometimes those we love most either get in a rut and seem unable to change or they refuse to change. Often we respond by “doubling down” and tirelessly try to change them by our own pleading and actions. But what if we are part of the problem? What if God has other ways to bring about change?