“I don’t have time for this today!” I breathed out, annoyed by my son’s bad attitude.
He had buried his head in the pillow of our sofa and wasn’t budging because of his frustration with our homeschooling day.
He also told me how “mean” I was for making him do this worksheet.
“Would you please get up and come to do this work!” I raised my voice, more than a little exasperated.
He ignored my command and instead kept his ostrich posture.
“Fine, keep your head buried as long as you’d like. When you’re ready to talk, I’ll be over here working.” I returned to my computer screen, happy for a moment’s peace from my highly sensitive nine-year-old’s tantrum.
My boy buried his head in the pillow for roughly five minutes—I’ve got to hand it to him; that showed some serious commitment—while I fumed and typed.
As he finally emerged from his shell of a pillow, arm still covering his face, he let out a soft, “You weren’t listening to me; I was trying to ask you a question.”
You’re Right…I’m less Right.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Megamind, you’ll appreciate that little sub-heading. (I’m full of kids’ movie references if you’re searching for a great one and need somewhere to turn. I know this is an invaluable talent to have.)
I hate admitting when I’m wrong, and it’s especially hard admitting when you’re at fault to your nine-year-old son.
Letting out a deep sigh, I realized I wasn’t annoyed at him but more by my lack of time and hurried demeanor. If I was being frank with myself, I just wanted him to “do” and not feel today.
The push of my to-do list was being felt, and I was trying to do two things simultaneously, which, might I add, always ends so well. I wanted him to be quiet and do his work so I could get mine done. I was sure today didn’t allow for patient parenting and hundreds of questions while he decided to overcome his sour mood.
Long story short, he was right.
I was impatient and unkind to his sour mood because I had too many to-dos. My agenda certainly isn’t more important than those that I love. But far too often, that’s exactly how I behave. These realizations came suddenly while staring at the back of my little boy’s arm that presently covered his puffy tear-stained eyes. I was treating him like an unfeeling robot because I was overwhelmed by “busy.”
Nobody’s mind has ever been changed by freaking out and demanding they “do.” That tactic would work if my child were made of tin and wires.
But he’s not.
I have a real, living, thinking, feeling child. And I need to remember to treat him that way. Just like me, my son has off days. And just like me, he needs extra care and tenderness, particularly on those days.
I’m pretty sure you can relate if you’re a parent.
As parents, I am confident we will all come to this place of struggle with our children at many points on this journey. Perhaps today, you have a child walking away from the faith you have instilled in them, or maybe they’re at a highly rebellious stage. Perhaps you’re more like me right now, and it’s something more minor or day-to-day, like wrestling with a nine-year-old while homeschooling.
Regardless, we can’t expect them to change their minds because “we said so,” especially, I’m afraid, the older they get.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children to “do” while their hearts silently grow bitter.
As my children have grown, I realize their struggles are far more complex than when they were young, and parenting them with kindness is more important than ever. Parenting with kindness is extending grace and giving love despite the ugly that their sin-stained hearts may project. It instills an attitude of kindness that they can then spread to others.
I genuinely believe that in parenting, we are to emulate how God parents us:
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”Romans 2:4
A change of mind takes time and care. Our children deserve more than our rushed words and hurried admonition. They need our ears, attention, and time to change. They need our kindness to lead them to repentance. Kindness is what changes hearts, changes minds, and breaks down barriers. After all, it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Why would I ever think it would be any different with my children?
No matter the situation: I believe kindness, patience, prayer, and guidance should be extended while awaiting their hearts to soften is precisely what God ordered. Whether it’s in five minutes or five years.
If love is patient and kind and does not act unbecomingly, as I Corinthians 13 states, parenting and discipline should also be kind.
His Kindness Leads to Repentance
I always desire compassion, tolerance, and patience for my downfalls and shortcomings. Regretfully, I do not always allow the same for others, and certainly not for my children.
God spoke truth to me through my little boy, and as usual, His kindness led me to repentance.
Pushing my laptop aside, I slowly removed his arm from his face and whispered, “I’m sorry I wasn’t listening.” Craning my neck to reach him, I cradled his chin in my hand. “You hurt my feelings too when you weren’t listening to me,” I explained.
His sad countenance slipped away as he looked up with powder blue eyes and cautiously smiled. “It’s okay… I’m sorry too.”
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:23 NASB
Why Kindness is the Most Important Part of Parenting.