{grace learned the hard way}

“I HATE YOU”

The three words every parent dreads hearing.

It seems almost impossible that this once adorable little bundle of joy that smelled of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and captured your heart a little more with each new expression…..could turn around and shatter that same heart into a million tiny pieces.

But let me tell you friends, it’s possible.

And it hurts.

As a Christian parent I am constantly reassessing my “technique”.  Am I being consistent?  Am I being fair?  Do I have realistic expectations for my children?  Are my expectations too lenient?  How do I feel about discipline, and more specifically how do I feel about spanking?  So many questions.  And not enough answers.

Being a mom is hard.

Recently I’ve been reading a couple of parenting books that I honestly believe helped me get through the massive tantrum that took place at my house today.

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel is truly an amazing book that speaks right into my soul.  Without some of the insightful words found within these pages, I’m not sure that I could have handled myself today in a way that I could later say I am proud of.

Now at this point, I know beyond any doubt that the Lord was in that room with me leading and guiding me, because instead of grabbing my daughter by the arm and dragging her into another room to “show her who’s boss” (which by the way, was my first instinct), I was able to calmly look her in the eye and tell her that I’m sorry she felt that way, but that I loved her regardless and I was sorry that she made choices that landed her in a position she was GREATLY unhappy about.  And although she wasn’t interested in anything I had to say, I let her know that I was also sad she was going to miss out on activities that had been previously planned.  Just as she was.

And then I walked away.

Grace.Listen for God's Voice

Within seconds of walking into the kitchen, I heard the front door slam and realized my nine year old daughter was pushing to see just how far I would let her go.

But to her surprise, that’s exactly what I did.  I let her go.  She walked out of our house and down the street (which is actually a circle) in her bare feet and proceeded to plop herself down onto the grass to cry.

At this point, the old me would have panicked.  Seriously!!  But instead, I asked my father-in-law to keep an eye on her from a distance and make sure she was safe.  In the meantime, I loaded up my two other littles and let them know that we were leaving for soccer practice.  They were still sitting in stunned silence and what they had just witnessed.  No one has EVER been allowed to behave that way in our family.  It just isn’t permitted.  Period.

The nine year old was of course very aware that we were loading up into the car, but remained planted in what was, to her, a comfortable distance from me.  So, I did what any parent who has clearly lost her marbles would do.  I started to leave.  I drove within several feet of where my daughter was sitting and let her know that we were leaving with or without her and that we would like to have her join us if she chose to do so.  I said this hoping and praying that I would have the strength to stick to it if she refused.

I was actually very surprised when she hopped up and came straight to the car without any argument.  She was still visibly upset, but at least now I knew she would be safe.   Whew!  Disaster averted.

While on our way to our destination, she called out to me from the backseat and wanted to let me know that she was deeply sorry for how she acted.  “I have no idea why I said those things, Mommy.  I didn’t mean any of them”.

That apology, given without coercion or prompting was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard from my child.  Upon hearing it I did what I had managed to hold back until that moment.  I cried.  Softly and quietly.  You know, the kind you do when you don’t want anyone to hear you.

Knowing that the Holy Spirit had convicted her heart and given her the courage to ask for forgiveness was a moment I don’t know if I’ll ever forget.  It’s certainly not an afternoon that either of us will quickly forget.

Do I think that this will be the last tantrum or fight we will have to endure together?  Definitely not.  She’s only nine.  I’m not that naïve.

But I know that we made it through this one.  And with the help of The Lord and some grace extended to myself and my daughter, we were able to walk away from this encounter with some valuable lessons learned.

Grace.

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