One Strange Parenting Tip from the Italian Mama (It Works!)

My daughter granted permission to relate the following story:

I’m having dinner with the Italian Mama, and I explain how my daughter currently seems to enjoy disobeying me with emotional tantrums about everything.  

“You need to compliment her for what’s really happening in that tantrum.  Find something good about what she’s doing in that moment of frustration, and then redirect it.”

What?  You want me to reward the tantrum by praising my daughter while she’s exploding at me? Won’t this enable her?  Doesn’t this go against every parenting book?  Doesn’t this contradict all the parenting techniques about punishment and my authority?

But it’s the Italian Mama speaking.  I trust this woman. 

The next morning, my daughter just screams at me.  Instead of punishing her or sending her to her room, I say, “You know, you are really good at alerting me with a very loud voice when you want something.  That could come in handy if the house is on fire or if you fall out of a tree or if someone were in danger.  You actually have a fabulous screaming voice.”

She tilts her head, wide-eyed, and stares at me.

She hasn’t screamed or talked-back to me in 3 days.  In fact, at breakfast, she leans over and whispers to her sister, “Mom told me I have the best alert scream, and I could save the family one day.”

Have you ever found something good within a tantrum?


My Easter Tantrums

I could chronicle my life in tantrums.

Two years ago, I demanded new Easter dresses and complained that we didn’t have reservations at the expensive place where all the neighbors have Easter brunch.  Can you believe it?  We were miserable in those dresses, and we changed into our shorts and t-shirts and ended up having a brunch of juice and popcorn out in the woods together.  Easter rose up in my heart that afternoon.

Last Easter, God reminded me of his grace when I witnessed a flair disaster.  It was a great Easter, and I didn’t even think about dresses or brunches or new hats and shoes.  We didn’t need any of it.   I actually woke up this morning thinking about how far I’ve come

But just now, I find myself complaining to my husband that he didn’t get the Easter Egg Coloring Kit.  I fall apart because we haven’t colored our eggs yet.  I actually raise my voice.  I’m throwing a tantrum about coloring eggs.  I thought I had come so far! 

I apologize to my husband and children, and as I stand in the kitchen, worrying that Easter’s not going to be good enough because the cookies aren’t right and the eggs aren’t colored, I let out a huge sigh and cry out, “I need the real Easter!  I need it so badly.” 

The real Easter is Jesus rising to save us from ourselves.  And just when I think I’m finished with these tantrums, I find the old self oozing out.  I’m glad it did.   I won’t ever not need Him.  I won’t ever be strong enough, mature enough, or wise enough to not need Jesus.  

I need the real Easter!  I need it so badly.

Journal:  Will I find the real Easter?