Four Words Every Parent Needs to Hear


I blew my lid this morning. I’m not proud of it. It was quick. It happened. And then it was over.

And I felt awful.

I’m not defending myself but it wasn’t totally unprovoked. Nevertheless, the retaliation certainly wasn’t proportional to the infraction. I’d characterize Owen’s provocation at about Level Four. Mine? My response was at Level Eight.

Parent fail.

When I walked away (a tactic, by the way, best utilized between the moment when the blood pressure strikes and when the stack blows), I immediately wondered what was going on in my heart that made me lash out so abruptly. It’s never the surface cause. It’s almost always something deeper. Pain. Frustration. Work stress. Hunger. Tiredness. Fear. It’s obvious to me, someone who is usually pretty even-keeled and level-tempered, that it was probably a number of things. Whatever it was, I was clearly in the wrong.

Immediately, I got down on Owen’s level and apologized for raising my voice. It was all I could do.

Then he said something that, in an instant, straightened out all the jumbled mess in my heart.

Four words every parent needs to hear:

“I give you grace.”

There it is! The power of grace. In an instant, the loving, patient, forgiving, gracious heart of my son both firmly put me in my place and reminded me that I’m loved and accepted.

First of all, I’m so proud of him for being so composed, so kind. Secondly, I’m extremely glad he’s getting it! Most importantly, I’m grateful God does the same thing with me when I fail:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).

I’m supposed to be the one modeling the Father’s love to my child. This time, he modeled it for me.

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