Temper vs Temperament

Have you ever seen someone else’s kids and thought, “I wish my kids were that “chill?” My kids are loud and throw fits, and run all over the place out of control…?”   I’ve thought that.   The reality that I’ve come to know is that your kids are as chill as you are! Remember those kids  … look at their parents, they are like them.  It comes down to temperament.  There is a difference between temper and temperament.

Now you may say, “Temper? I read your last post and I don’t have an explosive temper.” And if this is the case, great! But know that the explosion is only the expression of what is happening inside. I know parents that don’t explode, but they say things to their children that are harsher than me raising my voice.

Using the word temperament I am talking about habits in how you speak, and what/when you choose to speak. Vengeful, or vindictive, words can cut to the core before you realize it and sarcasm can be a double-edged sword. Depending on your child’s temperament you might be doing damage similar to an explosion of your temper simply by the words you choose to use.

Vengeful, or vindictive, words tear down and can be spoken in a very plain tone yet destroy the hearer more than a punch in the face. My wife has a person in her life that does this on a very regular basis, and it is very, very, difficult for my wife to be in this person’s presence. Often this comes from the need to build themselves up at the expense of the person they are talking to… this is obviously not something we want to teach our children to do by our unspoken example.

Sarcasm is a double-edged sword. Do you use sarcasm to mask the disbelief that your child could have been so foolish!? I have found that often sarcasm used at an inappropriate time provokes more anger in my children than it lightens the situation.

My oldest son Wesley and me posing with replica weaponry.

Sarcasm can be used to enjoy, improve, and foster a relationship by using the opposite side of well-known truths. However, and it’s a big HOWEVER, on the other side of the coin it can be used as a passive-aggressive vent for very valid issues that need a real voice. I have found in my own life that the latter is more often true.

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!”

Proverbs 26:18-19

If this quote from God’s word hit home rather harshly to you, then you may need to rethink how you are using sarcasm with your family. Don’t be afraid to do this. Realizing the issue is the first step to change, and I want to encourage you to take the steps necessary, for your family’s sake. After all, working for the good of your family, and the glory of God, is exactly the course we should be on as fathers!

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

Do your words build your children up, or simply express your displeasure? At the same time, we are also instructed, as fathers not to provoke our children to anger. Take an authentic look at your response to their foolishness and be honest with yourself if you provoke or exasperate them. If your brave enough… ask your wife.

I want to encourage you, here, to look into the way you do react to the foolishness of your children. Do you use edifying words or harsh words? Bursts of anger, harsh words and sarcasm are all temptations we are saddled with as parents, and each of them can drive our children further away, rather than guiding them toward becoming well-rounded adults. We are all tempted to each of these at one point or another, and we most likely have fallen victim to all of them… you are in good company.

Above all, know that your kids will model their temperament after yours. Yes, that can and does mean a temper, but it also means the temperament with which you handle everyday situations will, most likely, be the temperament your children will use when handling the same type of situations. Are you passionate about the things you love, well don’t be surprised if your children talk passionately about the things they love. It also works with things you don’t like. …that’s how it works… it’s how it’s meant to work.

Your children are watching. Demonstrate the temperament you want to see in them (odds are, that is the temperament you want for yourself anyway). This is how you can guide them to be men, or women, of God, treating others the way they want to be treated. This is how you equip your children to be poised to make a difference in this world. Much of the world that will surround them, by the time they become adults, will behave in a manner contrary to these truths. It is your job, Dad, to set your children up for success. Again, (as if I could say it enough) when you fail, allowing your children to see that struggle will give them hope of defeating it themselves when they fail.

You can do this! When you seek your families good, God will strengthen you (he’s already done it) for the work.