Monday, December 5, 2011

I got my heart broke today

I took the boys to the store this morning. They both needed various articles of warm clothing, because now that it's almost Christmas we're finally getting some chilly weather :) This particular consignment store has a nifty little play-place for the kiddoes to hang out while I shop. Another little girl was in there with the two boys and, as you might expect, I had to intervene to keep the peace a few times. The little girl's grandmother (I assume the older woman who brought her in was her grandmother) pretty much stared and ignored the little squabbles, tossing an occasional, token "Share with the little boy, Girlie." Oh well. No biggie. It's not like it's the first time we've run across other parents who don't make their kids behave in public places. I can cope with that.

But as we were leaving, things took a harsher turn. The little girl whined to get out. Grandma grabbed her arm and hauled her out over the wall and set her in the stroller. She stubbornly stood, refusing to sit on command.

"Siddown right now!"

*silent defiance*


*more silence, more defiance*

"If you don't siddown right now, I'm gonna hit you. You want me to hit you? I'll hit you. I don't care. You better sit down. RIGHT. NOW."

I can hardly describe the pure mean-ness of the tone of voice, or the effect of those words on my heart. Hearing such harsh ugliness come out of the mouth of an otherwise kindly -looking, grandmotherly woman was chilling-- along the lines of those horror movies where the kid or baby is possessed, or something. Evil spewing out of something you expected to be innocent and good. White-washed sepulchers.

It also made me so very more conscious and careful how my words come out to my own children. Am I disciplining and correcting in LOVE? So, so important. This is an important verse for me to remember as I go about instructing my children by the grace, and through the wisdom of my Heavenly Father.

James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

It is significant to me that "unwavering" is at the very tail end of that list. It's an important part of parenting, but it comes after purity, peace, gentleness, reason, mercy and good fruit. I tend to reverse that all too often. I start out unwavering; bossing my children around without proper consideration of their needs, venting my stress and frustration with their slow-ness and childish behaviors.

But I need to reverse that. First, what is my motive in this situation? Is my heart pure right now? Or am I rushing, worried and stressy? Am I promoting peace in this situation? Or am I just escalating the conflict between us with my own bad attitudes. Is my voice gentle and reasonable? Or am I just being bossy and unnecessarily harsh. Am I showing mercy to my child? Or am I insisting on my "just" pound of flesh. And finally, is good fruit being produced in the life of my child?

And after I get the right answers to all those questions, then I can go ahead and unwaveringly require obedience, respect and right behavior from my child. And finally, I need to be sure (oh so sure) that my motives for all this are for the benefit of my child and not to make myself look like a good parent. Children can sniff out even the barest whiff of hypocrisy. They're like little Pride Bloodhounds. And just when you're the most determined to make a good impression, they will throw a hissy fit in the middle of Taco Bell. Screaming and throwing their burrito across the dining room in a rage, and generally behaving like a Holy Terror.

Ask me how I know this.


Jenn and Casey said...

It's really hard to see people "disciplining" their children that way :( I work with it alot in my line of work, and try to help parents see how that approach looks to a child. And I'm sure that you have no experience with any tantrum in Taco Bell ;)

Denise said...

Oh Lisi, thank you thank you for those thoughts on the Scripture. This is exactly the encouragement from Scripture I need.... Refreshes my motherly soul!!