My daughter Isabella had an old ratty looking gray sweatshirt with a hood. She wanted to wear it every day. This sweatshirt caused the two of us several arguments. I was so frustrated. I felt like it wasn’t appropriate for her to wear it constantly especially to church and nicer social functions. I had to force her to take it off to wash it. I had to pull the “mom card” and make her change to what I thought were more suitable sweaters for certain events; she would sigh and roll her eyes.

This stupid sweatshirt caused a rift in our relationship for a while. I just assumed this sweatshirt was her way of rebelling and trying to exert her independence. I felt disrespected that she would continue to wear it places she knew I thought it was inappropriate.

Maybe you’ve been there. So frustrated about a continued behavior exhibited by your child or teenager. Maybe you have reached your wits end fighting about the same issue over and over again. You ma be feeling disrespected and dishonored by certain actions or attitudes from your kids. I know it can be exhausting feeling like you’re having the same discussion time and again. I know that’s how I felt about the gray sweatshirt!

It was two years later 11:00 at night after a long day at a conference trying to find food in an ice storm in Dallas, Texas. I was never as happy to be eating at a Taco Bell late that night even though it was my birthday. We sat around the table reminiscing about memories coming up on Facebook. We were reminded how two years ago I was rushed into an emergency room to receive four blood transfusions, four iron infusions, and emergency surgery to save my life.

My sweet Isabella spoke up, “Mommy, that was why I wore your old gray sweatshirt every day for such a long time. I was so happy you didn’t die, and I wanted to feel near you.”

Tears immediately filled and overflowed my eyes. “Oh, Isabella, I had no idea. I love you sweetie.”

Truthfully, two years previous, I had totally forgotten Isabella stole that old ratty gray sweatshirt out of my closet. She had it in her possession long enough, I viewed it as her sweatshirt. I didn’t understand why she loved that stupid sweatshirt so much. It turned out it was her way of expressing her love for me. She didn’t have the ability to tell me how she felt or why she wanted to wear the sweatshirt and I didn’t have the wisdom to ask her.

When I read Proverbs 18:13. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” I realize the mistake was mine. I should have taken time to ask and listen to my daughter to understand the feelings behind the sweatshirt battle.

This late night interaction with Isabella has taught me to stop making assumptions, ask better questions, and have real conversations with my children about why certain things are so important to them or why they do what they do.

It’s not that I will always give into my children once I understand why they feel the way they feel but it will give me a greater understanding of their feelings. If I can understand their feelings, I can then help them navigate the situation and walk them through how to handle things in a better way. I can possibly find a solution with which we can both be pleased.

I want to encourage you to ask your children good questions about why they do what they do, it may surprise you!