When mom asks a question the first time, they may respond graciously.
But when she asks the same question again and again, they often respond with words like these:
- “I already told you …”
- “Didn’t you hear me?”
- “Why don’t you listen?”
- “What’s wrong with you?”
Each of these answers is like a slap in the face, especially when spoken with a sharp tone of voice.
Each answer says, “I’m unhappy with you. You are irritating me. You are doing something wrong.”
So instead of feeling safe and loved, mom feels like she’s a burden and wonders why she’s always in trouble.
Here is a vivid example of this dynamic, but with a surprising twist. Even though the son slaps his father harshly, the father responds with astonishing love and gentleness (if a video screen does not appear below click here).
Train Your Heart and Your Tongue Today
Would you like to avoid slapping your parents when they get older, especially if they one day suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia? Then start training your heart and tongue today.
Start by dwelling much on the gospel. Remember how forgiving, gentle and patient God is with you, not only when you’re forgetful but also when you’ve repeatedly sinned against him.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps. 103:8)
You can also program your heart and tongue with God’s Word by memorizing, meditating on, and obeying commands like these … especially as you engage your parents:
“‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” (Eph. 6:2-3).
“Love is patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12).
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle …” (James 3:17).
The more you practice these relational skills today, the more naturally you will respond with a gentle answer (leaving out a sharp “I just told you …”) if your mom or dad asks you the same question again and again someday.
– Ken Sande
- Watch A Letter From Mom and Dad to be reminded of how you can return to your parents the many kindnesses they gave to you.
- Read The Two Treasures to learn how you can cultivate attitudes and habits today that will make it easier for your children to treat you graciously, both now and in the years to come.
- Read Preparing for the End to learn how you can engage your entire family in a discussion of how you hope to handle issues of aging, infirmity, and death.
- Repeating information over and over is not necessarily the best way to respond to a person with memory loss. In some cases it’s helpful to gently remind a person that you just spoke about a matter and ask her if she recalls it. This can help her work her mind and not rely on others to refresh her memory (for related insights, see ALS Resources).
- When you speak to your parents, do you think they feel safe, loved and respected, or do they feel like they are wrong, stupid, and always in trouble?
- Do you have a habit of answering someone with the words, “I already told you …?” Who is it? Why do you use those words? What is going on in your heart? How do you think it makes the other person feel?
- How can reflecting on God’s patience, kindness, and gentleness strengthen your ability to treat others the same way?
- How would other relationships in your life be changed if you asked God to help you develop the habit of always speaking in a way the “gave grace to those who hear” your words (Eph. 4:29)?
Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.
© 2014 Ken Sande
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