Sunday, January 22, 2012

Parenting Part 2:

Dawn is so lovely here. In the quiet hours of this morning God has shown me something very important. I see now that my frustration and disappointment over t's behavior and rebellion are evidence that my love for him has in many ways been selfish. My love for him has been for the sake of what I get out of the relationship—for the love I get back from him. This is exactly what Franz Kafka criticized as love that is not really love (and he's right), leading him to dismiss the concept of love altogether.  (He was wrong about that).

For the past year, t's behavior has gradually declined. His will has surfaced and his behavior has become more and more difficult to manage. But parenting is not at its core about managing behavior is it?

Years ago a missionary friend told me: “How I treat my kids and how they treat me, says more to this community than anything I ever say from the pulpit.” Intuitively I recognized this as true. But I've been repeating it for years without really understanding what it means. It does not mean that the people will listen to me because my kids respect me. It means loving my kids even when their behavior is atrocious—even when they are unfaithful to me—even when I am getting nothing back, or worse yet, getting frank rebellion in return. Is this not what Our Father has done for us? Is this not the best way to show people the gospel—what God has done for me? He has taken me back and comforted me and forgiven all that I have done and will do. How can I not do the same for t?

Even as I have been writing this, t has been totally unloveable. I stopped writing to make him a nice breakfast at his request. He promptly spent the next thirty minutes screaming, and wailing, and thrashing about because his scrambled eggs were “too big.” I was fairly patient with him, but he just got worse and worse. I gave him a lot of chances but eventually I had to walk away from him. Is he finding assurance of my love by pushing me away with bad behavior and then asking in effect, “Do you still love me?” More screaming. “Now do you still love me?”

I don't know if I'm over analyzing things (perhaps that's my form of comfort). Perhaps he's just having “normal” temper tantrums. But it has certainly caused me to wonder: “What does this reveal to me about how God handles my rebellion and tantrums?


  1. I pray the Lord gives you wisdom to hear and see as He does. I pray that you and J, all of you would get good sleep and find a rhythm in your days. I pray that T. would be filled with thankfulness in his heart, with songs and hymns on his lips to overflowing and constant. I pray that each morning the day would be filled with songs of praise - that eyes and hearts would be stayed on you.

    A couple of thoughts to consider (take or leave it): 1) screaming and thrashing shouldn't last longer than the moment it starts, leading to correction. Never let him win, it's rebellion. We say, "all the way, right away, and with a happy heart"; anything less needs training, 2) I can understand minor complaints about food in a foreign country, this point we probably would have our kids skip the next meal if they were complaining about the size of eggs. Our kids don't complain about their food or utensils anymore, that fire is out. Sheparding a child's heart is challenging and rewarding. Praise God for His paitence with us! And how thankful I am when He is swift to correct me when my tongue and temper get away from Him. Love you all. Constant in prayer. H

  2. Isn't it amazing how God uses our kids to show us the greatness of His love?
    No advice for you both - only to tell you that God used real down and dirty life with us to teach us our best lessons, and so many of them happened on the field. I feel your heart and want you to know that we are praying for you regularly - especially II Thess 2:16-17 and 3:5. Love you both!

  3. Yeah, whoever gives parenting advice in response to that post is totally missing the point! Sheesh! Ty, we are praying for you guys, and mostly, for God to teach you more about his love and draw your family closer to each other and to Him. I know that the heart of God is always more concerned about us learning how to love out of his love for us than any thing else. Keep writing! It's growing us all. -Jana