Saturday, March 7
You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. (v 18)
The parenting resources I’ve read say consistency is key. Condition the child to a routine. If the child crawls out of bed at night, put him directly back in bed repeatedly until he remains. Repeat over and over again to establish firm boundaries. Teach children what to expect, and they’ll act accordingly. The problem with this method, I have found, is that it’s exhausting.
One of the things I wasn’t prepared for about parenting was that it gets harder, not easier. I would think, “This will be less demanding once I’m getting more than four hours of sleep…” Although we all sleep fine now, there are days I’d love to go back to the simplicity of infants! The bigger the child, the bigger the issues, and the more responsibility I bear.
As hard as it was to get my kids to sleep through the night, that was easy compared with potty training, which was much easier than stopping the temper tantrums of a strong-willed preschooler is proving to be.
My children don’t always mind me. I can get frustrated, yell and cave in. I have ignored behavior I’d normally correct out of sheer fatigue. What will we do when it’s time to address things like choosing friends, success in school, acting with compassion, drinking or using drugs? Are we raising children who will grow up to be good spouses and parents? Do I have the wherewithal to be consistent with my child when the outcome is even more critical than simply having good manners? Address, correct; address, correct. Over and over and over again. And somehow, love them still. Still? Wow, that is a tall order.
As Christians, we are like unruly children. We test limits. We put things over people, we act with selfishness. We negotiate what God would want in our minds and reconcile it against our own shortcomings. “God just wants me to be happy” has sadly become a modern excuse, though a poor mea culpa. But still, God loves us. His love is reliable; his forgiveness unwavering. Despite repeated failures, our Father’s presence remains.
There are days when I am drained. The two sons I adore have tried my patience. I want a break and long for some “me time”— a bubble bath (alone), a non-cartoon movie, a dinner out. It occurs to me that I’ve been testing God’s patience for 37 years now, and God has never — not once — needed “me time.” If I have to describe what God is, or how immense his love is for his children, it helps me to think about the kind of parent that I strive, and fail, to be and how undeserving, but humbled, I am to receive such commitment from God.
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