Words of Hope: The Negative Spiral

One of my favorite times with Dad was to discuss poor coaching or poor parenting as they share similarities. Dad had incredible insights into how we contribute to the unconscious dissolution of a team or family. Consider a parenting failure. A parent is stuck at home because of the quarantine. The parent feels pressured and overwhelmed. He has a deadline and can’t get the work done because his two younger kids are fighting and yelling. At first, he tries to use rewards – “Hey, just a little longer, and we can go for a walk together.” As the fighting continues, his frustration escalates, “I told you guys to quit fighting. Now we aren’t going on a walk; I am taking away your iPad, and you will clean your rooms instead.” (He resorts to retribution). 

As the dad turns back to finish his work, one of the brothers starts blaming and shoving his sibling for losing privileges, and someone accidentally knocks over a lamp that shatters on the floor. The dad runs back to see the boys laughing over the mess, and he scolds, “You guys never do anything for me. All I ask for is some time to finish my work; you are just selfish children.” He heaps guilt and judgment on the boys by calling them hopeless and irresponsible. (Guilt and criticism) The boys, sulky now, start to head to their room. One kicks the other, and they punch each other in the face. The dad, exasperated, grabs both boys, screaming at them to stop. The family has now descended into violence, threats, fear, vitriol, and blame.

This is how a pressured situation can undiscerningly spiral from stress into retribution, then into guilt and manipulation, then finally into physical violence and harmful words. Dad clearly understood how the slide began. He understood when we awaken into a wiser understanding of how to motivate, we move from unconscious reaction to intentional wisdom. 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:12-14