It’s a season of milestones.
My eight-and-a-half-year-old son began third grade this week. He looks so grown up. He’s turning into a young man.
Along with the transitions, he’s learning additional ways of interacting with me. To state things simply, he’s learned to talk back. And, actually, he’s quite skilled at it! We’ve had a couple of run-ins in recent weeks during which he’s launched some startling verbal tirades. A few exchanges during which I’ve had to lay down the law or take away a privilege have prompted some you’re-a-mean-daddy responses.
As I’ve thought about this new arrangement, I’ve realized a few things.
Four truth’s about a father’s love
1. His words don’t alarm me.
I’m not surprised about the strength of his emotions. He’s frustrated. He’s not sure what to do with what he’s feeling. And, he’s my son! I’ve lost my temper and said things I regret one or two [thousand] times before. His words don’t alarm me.
2. His words don’t hurt me.
I know who I am. I know I’m not awful, bad, or a stinker head. And, because I know him and can see beyond the moment, I don’t take things personally. I’m neither broken nor shaken. I don’t wonder, at the core of my being, Maybe I really am a meanie. I’m secure enough not to run headlong into crisis because of my son’s words.
3. His words don’t diminish my love.
Even when he’s rattling off insults, I can still look at him and absolutely love him. Sure, I get frustrated and disappointed. I want more for him. In fact, I love him enough to hold firm, to continue to provide the structure and discipline he needs. But, even when he’s as angry as a hornet, I love that little boy so much. Nothing is going to change that. None of his words or actions are going to make me love him less.
4. These struggles provide an opportunity for growth.
I actually believe these confrontations are an opportunity for him to learn that no matter what he says, no matter what he does, no matter how many times we go head to head, I’m still going to love him. I’m praying that he learns—and learns well—that he can’t make me love him less.
As I’ve thought more deeply about all of this, I’ve realized some things I believe God has wanted me to learn. This season isn’t just teaching me how to be a better parent, this season is teaching me about my Father’s love. It’s teaching me about grace. I hope I can help to set the stage so Owen can learn the same lessons as he grows.
You see, I’ve struggled with God. I’ve doubted. I’ve rebelled. I’ve been a prodigal. And, in the process, I’ve thought and said some things to him that even I have been surprised to hear. But, he’s not alarmed. Heaven’s foundations aren’t shaken. His love hasn’t changed. And, each struggle has enabled me to grow. That’s what God’s grace does. It transforms us.
A Father’s love!
My prayer is that I would experience God’s grace even as I attempt to show it to that wonderful young man who’s sleeping in the next room. I pray the same for you as you parent your kids and as you’re raised by your Heavenly Father.