It’s back to school season. There are many differing responses from parents and kids alike in regard to the return to school. For some the return of school brings bittersweet experience and tears. The coming of age of first days of kindergarten wets a Mom’s eyes as she sees her baby growing up and taking the first steps of independence. Or the silent tears for “last” first day for the Mom of the high-school student driving themselves to school and the realization at how quickly this summer and all the summers have gone by. Then there are the many parents I know whom are rejoicing to having their schedules back and some of their sanity, too because of the lack of squabbles and undesired behaviors. I admit that I am experiencing both. Although I am lamenting how quickly this summer flew by and the implementation of schedules thus the lack of time I will have with both my boys… I am also cherishing these quiet moments without my boys constantly squabbling which also brought bad choices due to boredom at the end of this summer. But that is just it… bad choices that begot bad behavior could have ruined our summer. But it is grace that saved our summer, even in the rough moments the last couple weeks. 🙂 How often I yelled (as my own bad choice) in response to the bad behavior instead of meeting them with the calm peace of grace. Yet grace met me there and rescued us.
Parenting is hard…yet it all comes down to this: Children whom put themselves under law with a bad choice need to be met with grace as a response. I mean… this IS how Jesus parents us…with grace and mercy. It is easier for our flesh as parents to respond with law; thinking it will garner the more desired behavior. And while this may be true for the short-term, what we are teaching in the long-term is what is more important. What we teach in our responses to our children’s behavior is how our children will expect how God will respond to their choices. And how we respond in grace, asking for forgiveness and exhibiting remorse when we make our own bad choices and bad behavior toward them shows them Jesus. It becomes a long-term lesson of grace…exhibiting why we need it…and them as well.
What I am learning is given law a child learns to live in and manipulate the law. Given grace a child lives in freedom of and by grace. Undesired behavior may not change in short-term, but they are given the freedom of the ability to change the behavior for the long-term. Same goes for us and our relationship with Christ.
As parents we desire behavior change because it makes our lives easier and there is less judgment from other parents, grandparents, teachers, etc… Yet how we react to a child’s behavior teaches our children more than if a behavior is acceptable or not. It teaches them who their God is and how he sees them. Our allowing them to experience grace teaches them their worth and identity as Christ sees them.
So, good-bye Summer. Good-bye to the last two weeks of squabbles and yelling and reacting without grace. Hello, fresh morning. Hello, school year and learning to parent out of expectation of grace rather than expectation of behavior. Hello, fresh grace. Grace for the long-term.