I saw the attitude creep in.
At first, it was a proclivity to preferring me over dad. That’s normal for a 13 year old, right? But soon it was, “I don’t want dad” and “he can’t do it right” and shrugging off hugs and kisses. It was eye rolling and snarky come backs and at times, downright sass.
My husband, being the gentle, easy going guy that he is, was good natured about it at first. But over time, I began to observe the hurt in his eyes, the rejection he felt from his little girl. I thought, “When did this happen? And what do we do to make it stop?”
And then I started looking at myself. I noticed the words that came out of my mouth when her dad was home late from work, a “you know your dad” comment thrown carelessly in front of her. I caught my tendency to jump in to her issues when I could have left space for her to turn to him instead. I heard my sarcastic responses to him at dinner. In a hundred little ways, I had set the example in how I was treating her father. She was just copying what she saw.
Alright, then. If she can copy me at my worst, she can copy me at my best.
So I began an all out offensive. I held my tongue when she baited me to complain about him coming home late. I talked about his positive traits, his good character, how blessed we are to have him. I made a big deal about him coming home (not as excited as our dog is, but heading that direction).
At first, I got suspicious sideways glances, “Seriously? This guy?” Yeah, this guy. This guy who loves, protects, provides for, encourages and builds us all. This guy who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves – I see how I have the power to shape how you view him and I am determined to do just that.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. The attitude changed. She’s the one running to greet him. She smiles at his corny jokes (most of the time). She wants him to say goodnight too. Her words are different. So is her heart.
I have to keep a watch though. How I talk becomes how she talks. My attitude becomes hers – not just toward her father but everything. How we talk to children becomes not only their inner voice but the voice they use with others. We must be conscious to speak to them and in front of them the way we hope they will speak to others.
There is power in our words, friends. Power to shape hearts that form words that become attitudes that affect relationships.
Let’s use that power to bless.