Friday, October 25, 2013

Parenting: Mending Hands and Hearts

As I tried to chop an onion for dinner, I was interrupted again by the text message alert on my phone. Kevin and I were debating back and forth whether or not to take a child to the ER. Her piercing screams of intensity had not died down since a hand injury, more than 30 minutes beforehand. The text read something like this: "I don't know. Parenting can be so hard."

Hard got harder a few seconds later, when I opened an email from another child’s teacher stating that there was an incident of looking over at a friend’s paper and copying answers (i.e., cheating) and it was a second offense. We never knew about the first offense, so we had never addressed it.

Time stood still--except for the screams and onion smells swirling around me--as I thought about what punishment would fit the crime and how we could reach the heart of this child so she would truly understand the seriousness of what she had done. Part of the problem was my pride, because I couldn't believe my daughter had done this. She should have known better. I don't really want to be known as the mom with the kid who cheats. I find it really difficult to separate my pride and inconvenience from the equation, and just focus on reaching the child's heart with the correct form of discipline.

So often, parenting stretches me to the near-breaking point. If I were working for just a paycheck, I would have quit a long time ago. But this job is for keeps, and there are souls at stake, adorable souls whom you love, and so you steel yourself against the winds of opposition, try to swallow your pride, and keep marching onward.

The injured child was examined more closely and started calming down once her dad got home. Thank you, Lord, because, although it’s never a good day to go to the ER, we would really appreciate not having to go today.

The child in the moral quagmire was removed for private discussions. Where to begin? Cheating is lying and stealing. How do we make this child realize the gravity of this offense? Is she even listening? Are we getting through to her? I’m so glad I have an astute spouse to team-parent with or this all would be entirely too overwhelming. Kevin spent an hour or more sitting down with her and going over bible verses pertaining the offense. He also told her--and I thought this was so wise--that he loved her no matter what she did. Not that cheating is ever right, but it's important for a child to know they are loved unconditionally. After all, that's how our heavenly Father deals with us, when we sin.

As a parent, you give your life, not by dying, but by doing something that is arguably more difficult: denying yourself; living each day sacrificially.

These things are not fun. I don't enjoy them, really. But, I think to myself, "Should I SURVIVE, they are meaningful, constructive, and ultimately rewarding." They are necessary. They teach us humility. They teach us the meaning of grace. They are sanctifying.

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