Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Finding God's Grace to Parent

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Parenting is probably the most important job many of us face. Some days, it’s also the most difficult. It never lets up. A parent is on call 24/7, requiring unending self-sacrifice, wisdom, love, patience, perseverance, and much more.

One difficulty in parenting is that children seem to learn more by observation than by instruction. As the saying goes, more is caught than taught.

I recall one such incident when we were gathering potatoes from the garden. After briefly watching his father, our toddler picked up a clod of dirt from the freshly-turned soil, carried it down the row, and added it to the pile of potatoes his daddy was making. He didn’t distinguish between potatoes and dirt clods, but he caught on to the system and he copied what he saw his daddy doing.

Children catch our attitudes and our systems of interacting and problem solving too. If they only caught our good qualities, that would be wonderful. But it doesn’t work that way. Consequently, because we want our children to do well in life, we do our best to be strong, be wise, and set a good example.

Traci, mother of two, is concerned because she’s well aware that children learn by modeling after their parents. She’s afraid her children will learn anger through her example. That is not what she wants to teach her children.

Traci finally concluded, “I can’t seem to conquer my anger, but I can ask my children to forgive me when I speak to them in anger.”

It was difficult, but she began to go to Chad, her almost-4-year-old, and ask for forgiveness every time she reacted in anger. She soon realized, “When I ask forgiveness, it is immediately settled for him. He is much quicker to forgive, put it aside, and go on, than I am!”

Traci is learning from Chad to forgive quickly. She is challenged by Jesus’ words, “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

Recently, young friends came over to play. The mothers were visiting when Chad came to them crying and holding his hands over his face.

His playmate had spit in his face.

The friend’s mother had him apologize. Chad accepted the apology, but he didn’t quickly return to play. Instead, he stayed and held his hands over his face as if still troubled.

Traci asked him what was wrong.

“I got angry,” Chad dropped his head. “I was angry at him.” He was convicted of wrong.

Traci led Chad to apologize to his friend for being angry. Immediately afterward, he was fine and ran back to play.

As parents, we try to set a good example, but we rarely admit our failings.

Maybe instead of ignoring our faults, we need to be real, confessing our shortcomings and our need for God’s love and mercy. After all, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).

When Traci humbled herself, her son’s remorse when he responded to the Spirit of God brought honor to her.

As Traci continues to humble herself and ask forgiveness, she will find more grace to conquer her anger. James tells us, “He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).

Parenting is demanding and difficult, but the Lord is with us. If we humble ourselves instead of trying to appear perfect, we will find that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Copyright 2015, Kay Camenisch. Used by permission.

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