Recently my son learned about predicting weather using barometric pressure. Here’s a sampling of what he learned:
- If pressure is rising, fair weather is ahead.
- If pressure is falling, you can expect a storm in the future.
- Rapidly falling pressure means that fierce storms are ahead.
Kind of makes you want to go out and buy a barometer, doesn’t it? I’m sure our predictions wouldn’t be any worse than those of the Weather Channel. But I digress . . .
All this talk of barometric pressure got me thinking about the differing levels of emotional pressure in a family. A family is an interconnected unit. People living in close proximity become tightly woven together and are impacted by the prevailing mood. Children, with their ever-present antennae, are not immune to the emotional barometric pressure in the home.
Have you ever noticed that Mom’s moods in particular tend to predict the climate of the home environment? I have. Sometimes, by simply choosing to be in a good mood, I can affect my children’s emotional responses. If I am high strung and stressed out, they pick up on that and respond in kind. If I am feeling angry and resentful, it has a way of spilling out into my interactions with my kids, even if that anger is not directed at them. Sometimes emotions don’t even have to be overtly expressed. They just know.
Previously, we talked about the importance of role modeling. I think that this holds true for behavior and emotions. Now I am not suggesting that you plaster on a fake smile and go through your day as if everything is fine. Your kids will see right through that. I am simply suggesting that the next time you find yourself in some sort of family conflict, step back and take an objective look at the emotional climate in your home and ask yourself these self-reflection questions:
- Is my mood in any way fostering or perpetuating a conflictual family atmosphere?
- Are my children feeding off any negativity that I am feeling?
- Can I find a way to constructively deal with my negative feelings so that they no longer affect others?
- If I were to use a barometer to measure my emotional pressure right now, what reading would I get?
- Is this bad mood due to unforgiveness or bruised pride?
- What can I do to make a positive mood contagious?
Sometimes the solution to our parenting woes is a good dose of self-examination. If we turn our eyes inward and humbly ask God to show us what’s really going on, our natural response will be to look upward – upward to our heavenly Father whose outstretched arms are waiting to help. But if we keep our eyes focused outward (on injustice, bitterness, unforgiveness or misunderstandings) it can be all too easy to fall prey to a negative mood that can adversely affect the emotional climate in our home.
Being a mom is a very big job – so big it can feel burdensome at times. But our burden can be lightened with the realization that we can use this inter-connectedness for the Lord. For just like Mom’s moods are contagious, so can a love and passion for the Lord. A family interwoven with that can withstand any stormy weather.
“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12