Growing Gentleness at Home

Our children fascinate themselves with fighting games, from "Super Smash Brothers" to "Grand Theft Auto." Our country is at war, and scenes of violence and devastation flash across the news screen for our children to see. We do not live in a gentle society or in gentle times.

Recently, an acquaintance said that her 16-year-old son slammed holes in the wall when she refused to let him drive her car. We have heard for so long, "If it feels good, do it," that when we become frustrated, we lash out in anger. Lack of self-control leads to violence, whether to a lesser or a greater degree.

Radios and televisions are turned up. Both children and adults talk louder to be heard above the noise. Gentleness is gone from our homes.

Paul and Timothy exercised gentleness. "As apostles of Christ," they said, "we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her children" (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7, NIV). Paul includes gentleness in the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Both Timothy and Titus exhort believers to be gentle (2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 3:2). James says, "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle" (3:17, KJV).

Christ exemplified gentleness. He said, "‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28, NIV). Hundreds of years before Christ's birth, it was prophesied that He would be gentle (Isaiah 53:7). At Jesus' trial, when men lied about Him, He refused to rail against them (Luke 22:63 to 23:9).

To bring gentleness back into our homes, let us try the following:

Monitor the volume on TVs and radios.

One young mother told her Nintendo-playing boys, "No louder than an eight." That way she didn't have to shout to be heard above their game. If the volume is so loud that we cannot be heard, we can take the remote and turn it down, so our instructions will be clear. Shouting only begets shouting.

Practice "quiet time."

Having the children rest and read books for half an hour in the early afternoon will benefit the whole family. Mother needs some rest by then, even if the children protest that they do not.

The parent needs to monitor his or her own tone of voice.

We need to ask ourselves, "Is my own voice showing gentleness to my children?" Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath" (NIV). A child will be less likely to continue shouting at a parent who refuses to shout back.

Even when discipline is required, what we have to say to our children is less important than how we say it. An angry tone expresses only anger. A gentle tone shows disapproval but hopes for better things. We cannot expect our children to be gentle and kind if we are not.

Samuel Smiles, an Englishman, said more than a hundred years ago, "Gentleness in society is like the silent influence of light, which gives color to all nature." It is still true today. Our gentleness will color the atmosphere of our homes, making them pleasant places to be.