When our five-year-old woke up this morning he told his Dad that he was going to try his best not to hurt his brother’s heart. By this he meant he was not going to take his brother’s toys, or cause distress, or hurt him in any way. His dad carefully explained what his promise entailed, and reminded him how he needs God’s help to truly bless his brother.
Unsurprisingly, he was unable to keep this promise for long. Only two hours later, he caused his brother to cry by grabbing away one of the toys his brother was playing with.
My response? I got really upset because everything was going fine and dandy until I had to step away for a mere minute to change his sister’s diaper. That one minute of unsupervised play was when my five-year-old committed the deed.
In the process of disciplining him (with me still steaming inside at his nerve!), I sat him down on a chair to further discuss what happened. I reminded him of the promise he made this morning by not wanting to hurt his brother, yet he went on to hurt him anyway shortly thereafter. I explained that I was perplexed why the disconnect between his promise and his actions. He had set out to do what was right, but his actions did not match up. In my frustration, I asked him why he did what he did. “Why the inconsistency?!” I demanded.
He looked down with shame and sadness and answered softly, “Because I’m a sinner.”
I was so struck by his answer. I certainly didn’t expect it. It was apparent that he understood his own sin nature and could properly relate his sinful state to his actions. This was the moment I calmed down and began to speak more softly to him. Matthew’s brokenness led me to see my own sin in how I was dealing with him. I had sinned against him by being impatient and angry.
Parenting is definitely difficult and extremely soul-searching. Often, the very thing we want to correct in our children’s character or behavior is the very thing we need to deal with in our own lives. One of the struggles I have in parenting is dealing with my own anger. It is far too easy to become irritated, frustrated, and angry, especially when your child commits the same sin for the umptieth time. However, I know that God desires holiness in me, and, in fact, parenting is one of the primary means he wants to use in my life to this end. Even as I yearn to teach my children daily how to be obedient, kind, and loving; I am learning to see how the Lord wants to do the same in my life as their mother, as a child of God.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.