I recently came across a bit of parenting wisdom that went something like this: one of the keys to raising kids of character is being present with them in the midst of intense emotion and not giving in.
If you have kids, I bet you can see the truth of this idea. With kids, emotions run high – for them and for you. A toddler’s scream and cry can literally make your blood boil. Okay, maybe not literally, but it can cause a very visceral, vomit inducing reaction.
The key to parenting well is keeping our cool in those situations. It’s fighting the impulse to just react in the moment. Now, as you might notice – this principle is true for dealing with kids, but it’s also true for dealing with ourselves.
Throughout our lives, we find ourselves in tense situations – both exterior and interior struggles. The key to living well is keeping our wits in the moment, in the midst of intense emotions, during these trials. This is living a life of virtue.
This is also where we can see the power in doing a nightly Examen – or mentally recapping your day, calling to mind the good and the bad. By recognizing where we fell short after the fact, we can learn to see trials as they’re coming, and plan our response. We can train ourselves to be more present instead of being impulsive.
We ourselves can grow in virtue, maintaining our composure in whatever comes our way – and, if you’re a parent, you can model that virtuous wisdom for your kids.