The other day I did what any mature mother of almost forty years of age would do. I stomped up the stairs behind the young offender I was having to discipline, saying loudly in my most sarcastic tone (for the whole house to hear),
“I’m just SO happy this is my life now. It’s just SO awesome!!!”
It had been a rough week with 4 of our 8 kids, and I was flat over it.
Their sin was strangling me and my sin was building on top of theirs. It was a bad situation.
I can easily deal with a child’s sin without getting too involved when the particular behavior they’re caught in isn’t habitual. They said they put away their laundry, but didn’t. I can deal. We’ll have a quick chat. They’ll receive a consequence for lying. Then repentance and restoration usually follow soon after. Truly, it’s no biggie.
But what I’m talking about, and where the bulk, if not all of my parenting struggles lie is the sin that goes on and on for years on end. The habitual lying. The non-stop selfishness. The outright disobedience. It’s those behaviors that don’t seem to go away and the child who doesn’t seem to care that gets to me.
This is also where my rule-following self is seriously messed with. If I’m told not to do something, you’d better believe I will do all within my power to not do it. It’s the way I was made, so sometimes I just don’t understand how some of my kids tick.
Doesn’t everyone want to do the right thing? Every mom laughs the crazy laugh at that.
Each time I get in this sort of funk, a change in my heart doesn’t happen until I remember (again) to take the burden of their sin off of myself. My frustration over their choices was leading me into sin. Was that really going to help? No, not at all.
Some of my kids are still struggling this week, even though I’m handling it better. One of them came home just today with behavioral warnings at school. But do you know what Jeremy and I decided to do (again)? Sometimes we forget the healthy way to do things because we get stuck in an unhealthy rut because it starts to feel comfortable. That was us.
So now it’s less talking about what they did wrong (because they’ve already heard all the speeches) and moving right to the consequences in love with grace. The consequences aren’t fun for them, and it’s not fun for us to have to give them, but we’re keeping our feelings about their behavior out of the picture.
It’s how it’s meant to be, but sometimes we forget.
Our kids’ behavior is going to affect us. Absolutely it will. But the more we remember their behavior isn’t about us in the first place, the more we can train them from a place of love, rather than frustration.
It feels like an attack on us, but it just isn’t. We all sin and we all need a savior from it.
That’s where Jesus comes in. May we spend more time teaching our kids about God’s unending mercy and love in Jesus than spent upset about the way they act. I could use more of this in my life, how about you?