PRACTICAL PARENTING ◽ HOME
by Marcy Lytle
My son-in-law shared a story recently with our church about how he disciplined his youngest. The kids had gone out to play and had been instructed to clean up the dog poop in the yard, but the youngest DID NOT want to do it. He was not happy; in fact, he was angry and picked up a golf club in the backyard, and threw it – hard. It went right through the back window of the house!
Needless to say, Dad was upset and started out the back door to reprimand and scold, but he stopped. He saw his son in the corner of the yard crying, totally aware of what he’d done and he knew it was bad. My son-in-law said he stopped and felt a tug at his heart and in his mind that asked the question, “How are you going to represent Me to your son?”
Dad waited until his anger subsided and then exited the back door, and that 5 year old son was already repentant and sorry. Waiting it out, allowing Dad to calm down, and enabling Son to soak in, resulted in a moment of repentance, forgiveness and acceptance that MIGHT not have happened if Dad had screamed and slammed the door and railed in anger.
I’ve thought about his story now for days, and how we all have mispresented God to our children many times. We’re human. We get angry at disobedience, it upsets us that our kids don’t listen, and we get tired (so tired) when we are trying to work, raise a family, keep life going, and then…the kids! It’s normal for us to scream and lose it, BUT stopping to consider our representation of HIM to our kids is such a wonderful thing to do!
God says if we need wisdom, we can ask Him and he will give it to us – liberally. He also says to not provoke our kids to wrath. It’s hard to ask for wisdom when we’re in a rage, and it’s almost impossible to not provoke when glass shards are in the carpet.
But look again at this story and what happened when Dad stopped and heard His voice, and that question:
“How are you going to represent me to your son?”
I’ve found that lots of times the reason we mispresent God to our children is because we don’t know God’s character ourselves, or we had harsh parents, as well. But if we can stop and learn, ask for help, and grow in patience, our kids WILL respond.
God says a soft answer turns away wrath. We can’t give soft answers in the heat of a moment.
The father of the prodigal son welcomed him with a royal robe. If our fists are up, our arms are not open, and there’s no robe in sight.
A fruit of the spirit is gentleness. Rage and gentleness cannot exist together in the same boxing ring. The rage has to subside; lie down and surrender, so that gentleness wins.
We are to train up our children, because they’re going to mess up and step out of line. But our children are not lions to be whipped onto a podium. They are sheep that are to be led to green pastures and still waters.
We all know what we’re “supposed to do” and we fail. That’s okay. At those times, we can ask our kids to forgive us. That’s huge. But the more we practice stopping, listening and waiting before we react to disobedient children, the more repentance will take place before we ever say a word.