Every parent has their own plight of dealing with disciplining their child. We get frustrated with a display of bad attitude. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a toddler or a teenager – it’s inevitable that we go through these rough patches. As our child grows up, we also grow alongside them in the testing of our character.
I had related how I felt when my four-year-old acted up, and how that made me feel – as to how I must make God feel whenever I slip into an insensitive temperament myself. A display of ingratitude cause more than just a sting; it’s outright heartbreaking.
I labored in the kitchen to cook a delicious, organic meal for my family. Then after dinner, I started our nightly routine: I bathed my toddler, picked out PJs with her favorite Disney princess, brushed her teeth. Then I theatrically read her a bedtime story, pulling off both accent and emotions to personify the book characters. We said our bedtime prayers, soft lullabies imbued the quiet ambiance, and I held her hand waiting until she could fall asleep.
Without any warning though, she pulled away with a long face and articulated that she didn’t want to talk with me. I was baffled at the turn of events. I had no clue what triggered it. But if I had to guess, it might be because she wants to squeeze in on our bed, even though we’ve been sleep training for weeks and months to stay in her own bed through the night.
When she decided to act up, it did not matter any of the things I had done for her earlier. Her frustration from not getting her way crowded out her emotions, and it was all that she could communicate in both her speech and body language. I asked her why she was suddenly mad, and she admits that she doesn’t know. But she still stormed out to another room to sulk.
I tried to talk to her. I even sent her dad as an intermediary to lend a neutral tone. But he came back almost as frustrated as me. Sometimes there’s just no logical reasoning with a toddler in full-on tantrum mode. She eventually fell asleep. But we stayed awake, and my husband and I talked about how her behavior deeply hurt us.
When a conflict like this arises, I yearn these simple actions from my child:
1) Say Sorry
2) Say Thank You
3) Spend Time Together
What would make it all better for me is simple and straightforward. But these three things take so much effort for someone puffed up and blinded with pride. Drawing a comparison, if I were the subject wedging in place of the one who breaks the Father’s heart, I surmise that what I long from my child is likely what He is waiting for me to do as well.
Thankfully, we sorted this all out the next day when my kid woke up on a new landscape and was receptive of feedback and parental advice. I couldn’t help but be transparent and vulnerable with her. As she saw tears roll down my cheek, she was remorseful and sat still reflecting. Then she pounced toward me with an emphatic hug and vocalized her apology.
She stayed wherever I was and occupied the same space as me like she was my shadow. She really put in the effort to invest time in rebuilding our relationship in her own little ways. She expressed gratitude with full intent, as she made it a point to be obedient and respectful to me while we bonded together the entire day.
I put her to bed very differently today than I did yesterday, in terms of the state of her heart. So this assured me that she had learned her lesson.
If my daughter acts in a wrong way, I need to set her course straight and address that attitude. I always need to be the bigger person and be forbearing of her compulsive immaturity. Even if it’ so easy to blow up, I need to recognize that there are damaging consequences of lashing out in tempting situations, and displaying uncontrolled agitation because kids replicate what they see.
I realize too that if I humbled myself before God and did what He simply ask of me, my walk in obedience will be a blessing all around, and it may spare me of cataclysmic reproof. After all, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.