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The Niggles: Relational Edginess - Issue 339
April 25, 2014
Hi there! ....


It has been three weeks since I've written a newsletter - three weeks of family holiday. We had a great time though we packed a lot into that small amount of time - starting with travelling to the other side of Australia! We spent a week with my family on the Sunshine Coast celebrating my Mum's birthday. Then the kids went to a youth camp, and Pete and I spent a few child-free days with his parents. Then we joined the kids and went to a family camp where we met up with friends from all around Australia. Then over Easter the kids went to Easterfest (Christian music festival) and we spent a few more days with Peter's family. We've come home tired (and unfortunately with head colds) but also ready to do the things that are in front of us.

Live life with your kids!

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The Niggles: Relational Edginess

After 3 weeks of being together, lots of fun, lots of busy activity we get to our last day of our holiday and the Niggles set in. The Niggles are when things aren’t quite right, they aren’t obviously wrong either. There is an edginess, an awkwardness, a slight jarring. Things are said in jest but with a twinge of truth, people are irritable and lacking their usual patience and understanding.

When the Niggles set it it is time for a deep breath. It is easy just to react myself and tell the kids off but that isn’t helpful. That doesn’t give them any tool to help them either now or in the future. They need to be made aware of what is happening, and they need to be given strategies to do well in these situations. One day, they will find themselves in a Niggle and you won’t be there to tell them to snap out of it, they’ll have to make that call themselves. This is why continually teaching and guiding our kids is so important – they need to learn to take responsibility for their relationships themselves and they need to have the skills to do so.

The Niggles are a tricky one to address because nothing has really happened. No one has crossed the line, and no one has been hurt (emotionally or physically!) But your mother-heart knows that it won’t be long. So the first thing is to let the kids know that you are sensing the Niggles… you are sensing that things aren’t as peaceful as you’d like, as they’d like. This is just a warning, it is just sharing an observation, so watch how you say this to your kids – they haven’t done anything wrong necessarily, you are just helping them sense, or be aware of their responses to the people around them.

Then there are three things that can help us recalibrate:

  • Check your own attitude. The truth is we can only change ourselves, we are only responsible for ourselves. This means we need to have a little attitude check - am I being loving, gracious, kind, patient? Do I need to change my tone? Do I need a sleep? Maybe sleep isn't possible but maybe we can remove ourselves for a bit of space - read a book, zone out with music, or close your eyes and pretend, not because you are annoyed at others but because you need to regroup

  • Decide they have the best intentions towards you. If we could only face every relational struggle or conflict with this mindset. When we are tired or frustrated we tend to think the other person is out to get us - but really that is rarely the truth. The truth is they are just as tired or frustrated as you and they mean you no harm. When we pause and determine to believe the best of and from the other person it is easier to be gracious and forgiving.

  • Don't take offence. This is a commitment. Decide and stick to it that regardless of what comes out of their mouth, no matter how they respond (or react) I will not take offence. I will be like a shock absorber: I will take the shock of their comments or behaviour and not bounce off course in reaction myself. I will remain a true friend, brother or sister. I will be quick to offer forgiveness, even before it is asked for (or even if it isn't asked for).

So what do I do when I see the Niggles set in with my family? I call them to notice what is going on. I encourage them in these three points, and I leave it with them. Because my children are older I need to leave it with them. I need to trust that they too want to live in harmony with each other. My words to them are simply a signpost alerting them to what's happening and giving them a prompt to think about. Of course, if they didn’t heed my warning and concern and overstep the line, then that is another issue and it would be discussed as such.

When they were younger though I would have to help them process their choices as they dealt with it. Generally I would enforce a time of quiet reflection - giving them all the space they needed, even in a crowded airport, to recalibrate - time to find their loving side!

Romans 12:18 – If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all


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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!


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Live life with your Kids newsletter is about being a deliberate parent, about enjoying family life and using the opportunities that happen to teach and train your children in righteousness (right living with God). I hope that you will find regular encouragement as you live life with your kids!

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