Grace filled parenting. Sometimes this seems so easily obtainable and other times it seems to be the last thing I will ever achieve.
It’s so easy to show grace to our kids when they are displaying minor set backs, but I think the true test comes when you have that major melt down. You know the one I’m talking about, the one that makes you question whether or not any of your parenting decisions are making a difference in your child’s life. In that moment you have two decisions: completely fly off the handle and react to the situation or take the time and evaluate the situation to see what the actual culprit is to your child’s behavior. That is grace filled parenting.
I think it was just last night or maybe two nights ago (my days tend to run together a lot), my husband and I were talking about how we had yet to experience a major temper tantrum in public. Fox is a diva in her own right and pushes the envelope plenty of times, but no major tantrums. Moose has thrown some tantrums that definitely give us a run for our money, but never in public. Just like clockwork, he decided today would be the day to display his temper tantrum skills in public.
We love the zoo and Friday morning found us at our home away from home. In the middle of our adventure, Moose was not too happy about going to see the zebras for Fox rather than riding the train. He decided to voice his displeasure by kicking, screaming, and biting while I buckled him into the stroller. I tried reasoning with him, but he was not having it.
I’d love to say grace won in this situation, but I did start disciplining out of reaction. I quickly realized this was not benefiting either of us and chose to walk off my frustration. Once we got to the zebras, I could see on Moose’s face, the effect the heat had taken on my sweet boy. I should be well aware that I need to really monitor his water intake, but with all the distractions the zoo presents, I had failed to make sure he was hydrating properly. Once I got him to drink water and cool off enough, I was able to talk through the situation and we both realized our mistakes.
It’s hard to see these moments as opportunity for growth, but that’s exactly what they are. Romans 5:3-5 says, “More than that, we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces charcter, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” God knew we would face difficulties in our life, but he promises those difficulties will blossom into hope. As moms, I think we all hope for the day when our kids do as they are told, respect others, and are honest, kind and loving.
Reality is they are humans (in cute, compact, destructive form of course). Just like you and I- so why do we put so much pressure on them to perform better than ourselves? I constantly find myself questioning whether or not my expectations are realistic. Often I find that I expect my toddlers to behave as though they are 5-6 years older. If this is my expectations, I will continually find myself disappointed and more importantly my kids will grow up feeling as though they are not good enough.
Within this conviction, I am reminded how often I make mistakes, but also expect to be the recipient of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, ” For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We make mistakes day in and day out, but through God’s grace we are loved by our Heavenly Father. I am certainly not saying to let our kids have a free for all, but in the face of a frustrating circumstance, take a moment and show them love first and address discipline secondly. Perhaps, demonstrating this in our own lives will help relieve the pressure we put on youngsters to fit into our ideal mold and help us enjoy this time we have with them.
Please share how you find moments to extend grace to your kids. How do you show them love in the midst of discipline? What are your best practices for keeping your cool when you’re in the eye of the storm?