Untangling the Rat's Nest

My youngest daughter has curly hair. Now, I have stick straight hair so it has taken me most of her eight years of life to figure out what to do with her hair. We've finally reached a point where most days her hair looks pretty decent. Yesterday morning, though, we ran into a snag, actually, it was more of a rat's nest. It took me a good 20 minutes to work the snarls out of the thick hair at the back of her neck. It was a test of my patience and the thickness of her scalp. Needless to say, the end result was a frustrated mom and a sobbing child.

That rat's nest in my daughter's hair shouldn't have degenerated into the sobfest it became. After nearly three weeks of Christmas break, my patience was wearing thin. My youngest daughter has struggled with maintaining a respectful attitude over the entire break. The rat's nest in her hair was the breaking point for both of us. She ended up in her room for 10 minutes while I took a little mommy break.

Neither of us reacted in the way we should have. I absolutely should not have yelled at her for fussing when I pulled her hair, but she definitely over-reacted to the hair pulling. Not my finest moment in motherhood, but not my daughter's finest moment either.

Our morning turned out to be something like that rat's nest in her hair -- a big mess. Frayed tempers and frustrated tears weren't solving the problem either. We needed an attitude change for both of us.

So we sat in our recliner, wiped the tears away and took a new approach. Instead of talking about changing our words or changing our attitude, we talked about what it takes to be a good leader. We talked about the natural leadership qualities that my daughter has. We talked about how a good leader needs to be an encourager, with words and actions. We also talked about how good leaders lead by example.

The tears dried up and we had a good conversation about how God wants us to be leaders for Him. We want our actions to reflect His priorities, and one of God's priorities is for us to treat others with respect. 1 Peter 2:17 says "Show proper respect to everyone." Words and actions are all about respect. When we choose to treat others with respect, we are following God's priorities.

It's too soon to tell if our little chat yesterday morning will have a direct effect on my daughter's actions and words, but when our mommy tempers fray and our children's frustration reaches a tipping point, it can never hurt try something different.