"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homemade Kindness

Just because they're my children does that mean I shouldn't say "Please" or "Thank you" to them?
Just because I'm their mother, does that mean I have the right to be short-tempered and rude to them?
Do I speak more kindly and patiently to a visiting niece, nephew, or neighbor child than to my own? 

I have acted many times as if I assumed a "yes" to each of those questions, but I am purposing, by God's grace and with His help, to be more aware of my tone and attitude in speaking to my children, and praying that I learn to be as kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving with them, for Christ's sake, as I would endeavor to be to any other person I encounter.

There is a passage from C. S. Lewis' The Four Loves that often comes to my mind on this subject -

"We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation... but in fact I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents.

....[Parents'] ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously.... provide an easy answer to the question, 'Why are they always out? Why do they like every other house better than their home?' Who does not prefers ability to barbarism?"

Lewis goes on to explain how people excuse their bad manners with,  

".... [O]f course we don't want company manners at home. We're a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand,"  to which Lewis explains, "Once again it is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong. Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers.  But old clothes are one thing: to wear the same shirt till it stank would be another.

The more intimate the occasion [at home every day], the less the formalization; but not therefore the less need of courtesy.  On the contrary, Affection at its best practices a courtesy which is incomparably more subtle, sensitive, and deep than the public kind.... 

Affection at its best wishes neither to wound nor to humiliate nor to dominate....
You may tease and hoax and banter.... You can do anything with the right tone and in the right moment - the tone and moment which are not intended to, and will not, hurt. The better the Affection the more unerringly it knows which these are (every love has its art of love)."  (from pgs 42, 43, 44)

The little people that are growing up in my house, under my charge for a time, are God's children first before they are mineMy sons and daughters will grow up to be men and women and will, God willing, have families of their own.  Much of the sensitivity and gentleness they will have toward their own spouses and children they will hopefully have learned at home. 

"She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31:26


  1. Thank you for such a good reminder. One way to look at it is, if my husband was kind to other people but not to me, I wouldn't really do very well with that.

  2. "Is the law of kindness in your mouth?" yelled the mother to her child :-) Convicting. Thank you Leah. It reminds me of how we "mothers ARE home", and I want to be the most loving, kind, and inviting home I can be.

  3. Thank you for this. I was convicted of this yesterday as well as in the the past few weeks, especially now that i have a 3ft nothin' little shadow who copies every word and reaction that comes out of my mouth!

  4. Cathy - Good point!

    Mary - In my first draft I had a line in there about yelling at your kids to stop yelling. :P

    Bethany - Don't you just love those shadows?