She’s been rather sour since we got back from vacation.
We were all tired and grouchy and off our routines, but Wednesday evening, she crossed the line after having toed it all week long. She was mean-spirited and hurtful and greedy and selfish and we had to do something.
When I initially sat her down Wednesday night and talked (who? Me? Yell? That must have been some other mom that just looked like me.) with her she said the one thing that could completely crushed me.
“Nothing I ever do will be good enough for you.”
I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy my whole life. Whatever the reasons for my own issues, I’ve been bound and determined to make sure that my girl gets lots of praise and love so that she doesn’t end up dealing with the same baggage. (She’ll get new baggage of her own. Entirely unique to her. hahaha).
I was crushed. I sent her to bed and told her we’d deal with it the next day.
Then I wrote crazy dramatic emails to my big sisters because they always know the right things to say.
They both said, basically, the same thing. “She knows you love her. You can not let her get away with bad behavior.”
And they were right, of course.
Handsome Hippie Hubby and I decided that Thursday would be a day for her to focus on giving thanks for her blessings, for talking about her feelings, and for apologizing to people she’d hurt. And she would be grounded from all her favorite things until further notice, depending on behavior.
Did she like it?
Of course not!
But, as parents, particularly as Christian parents, letting her get away with bad behavior is simply not an option.
What does the Bible say?
Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
Hebrews 12:11 says, “For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
There are countless more examples but, clearly, God expects parents to be firm in instructing their children. Loving? Yes! These aren’t instructions to beat or abuse a child, as some have so grossly made them out to be. These are instructions to care about the well-being of your child enough to always do what’s right for them. Even when it’s unpleasant.
However, we are cautioned in Deuteronomy, Galatians, Ephesians (and probably elsewhere) not to “exasperate” our children or “provoke them to anger.”
To me, this means that a child should never feel like they just can’t be good enough.
But, this week, we learned the difference between making our girl feel like she can’t be good enough and saying to her, we love you with all our hearts, but this behavior was not good enough. You can do better.
And then we must show her how to do better… equip her with the skills to deal with her feelings of anger, hurt, unfairness, etc. Because, let’s face it, we all have those feelings. I think I have them every day at some point. But we can’t throw ourselves on the ground screaming or lash out toward others or we just get trapped in a vicious, unproductive cycle. Plus, at my age, throwing myself on the ground could result in major injury.
This week, my daughter learned an important lesson. It was hard to teach and unpleasant to learn but we both came out of it better people.
All that made me think… how often do I get myself into a mess and then cry to God to save me?
I spend foolishly and then moan about not having enough money to cover my expenses.
I eat poorly and then complain about not feeling well.
I covet the possessions of others and then wonder why I feel depressed.
I don’t believe for a second that every bad thing that happens in the world is brought on by the Wrath of God. On the other hand, if we are to believe, as the Bible tells us, that God is a loving Father then wouldn’t He sometimes allow us to experience something painful for a time, in order that we are brought to a better, stronger, more healthy place in the long run?
Whoever loves discipline, loves wisdom but he who hates reproof is stupid.