Attending a business workshop with my husband is the last place I would expect to hear great parenting advice, but this particular nugget, said in passing, has stuck with me and helped me so much that I decided to blog about it.
Our mentor was sharing that his 13-year-old son was his "best buddy." Knowing these teen years to be quite difficult and distant (from what I hear) I was intrigued and wanted to know his secret. He shared two profound things:
1. For every word or action of discipline, you have to do at least 3 that show complete interaction. "Get on the floor and really play, listen, be present," he said.
2. Before you respond in a frustrating situation, ask yourself, "Where is my elevator?"
If you're not a visual person, what he meant was, if my elevator is already at a 7, it won't take much for me to reach my TOP FLOOR of angry tone, regrettable actions and rage. If, however, I realize that this child's behavior has nothing to do with where my elevator is at, I can take a moment, bring it down to the lobby and respond appropriately. Unfortunately for me, my children sometimes get a different reaction than they deserve because I already feel stressed from something else when they do something wrong.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this elevator principle truly applies to all areas of my life. I can be operating from the 7th floor and snap at my husband or I can take a little ride and save myself the pain of conflict. The same is true at the store, at church and in my personal relationships as well.
I guess to take it even further, EVERYONE is at a certain level in their personal elevator. It helps me guard my heart against taking things too personally (something I constantly work on) and to calm down and be a better listener, even when I am tempted to jump into their elevator and hash it out. It never does any good.
In the end, God's word says it perfectly.
Proverbs 14:29 A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
I want to give the gift of my elevator ride to the lobby, especially with my children. After all, I am their example, and I want them to learn that ride for themselves.