“Don’t give me any attitude!” “I don’t like your attitude.” “You have a really bad attitude right now.” “That attitude won’t help.” “Lose the attitude.”
Have you said things like this to your son or daughter? I have. More times than I care to remember. They might be struggling with alcohol or drugs, pornography, self-harm, depression or some other mental health issue.
Attitude. I’m referring to bad ones. They’re kinda hard to describe aren’t they? But you know when your child has one you don’t like. One that rubs the wrong way. One that angers you and pushes your hot buttons. One that stinks . . . okay, sucks. And then there’s the kind that hurt and wound. Ugh.
Attitude. It’s the non-verbal communication behind what’s actually said. It’s a tone of voice and the cloaked feelings dancing around the words spoken, or how a person acted. Like when your child says, “Whatever”. Double ugh. You can feel the rudeness, the disrespect and sass. It oozes out.
The slammed door. The frown. The lifted eyebrow. Body language. It speaks volumes. Not to mention their actual words. “I hate you!” “You’re ruining my life!” “I can’t wait to leave this place and be on my own.” “Just wait ’til I’m 18, you’ll be sorry.”
Attitude. It’s important in relationships, isn’t it? What about us? If we’re not careful, we can develop a not-so-good one ourselves. When you’ve been hurt repeatedly, rejected and lied to, it’s hard not to. Maybe your daughter stole from you or your son physically hurt you. If that happens, I hope you call the police and not let them get away with it. It’s not right. You need to be strong enough to let them face consequences. It’s brutally hard, but you’d be sending a message you can’t afford to send. One that says it doesn’t matter.
A better attitude is Gratitude. Your child probably has a lot of growing and maturing to do before they’ll have this. They’re attitude affects you, but it’s not your problem – unless they’re under eighteen. If so, please get some help for both of you. There’s plenty to be found in books, online, and there are many great counselors who love adolescents. But let’s look at you – the only one you do have control over. It’s Thanksgiving this Thursday. Will you be around someone who has a bad attitude? Maybe it’s your child – or maybe not. What can you do?
You can be a person of gratitude. It can make a huge difference. Start when you first wake up. What can you be grateful for? Maybe the people around you are grumpy, but you can still be thankful – for what? For God’s love, His constant presence, His strength and comfort; for Jesus and how he died for you; for your life, for your health, for what you can see and hear, feel and touch; for where you live, the food on your plate, clothes on your back, family and friends. You could even be grateful for your challenging son or daughter – God’s using them in your life in ways you might not have realized.
Go ahead – have an attitude this Thanksgiving – an attitude of gratitude. It helps. It’s highly contagious, too. You never know, it just might rub off on someone else in your world.
“I will sing a new song to you, O God . . . I will make music to you, to the One who gives victory. . .” (Psalm 144:9)