I have to be honest. I’ve been really impatient with my son lately. And when I say impatient I mean, on a scale from 1 to 10, I’m somewhere between “STAHP!” and “What are you, a three-year-old?” (He is, by the way).
It’s easy to overanalyze and ask myself why I’m acting this way.
Maybe it’s because he’s a bit more defiant these days. Maybe it’s because he’s been reading too many Curious George books lately. Maybe I’m stressed with work or other things that occupy my mind. Or maybe it’s just because after you’ve been around someone for three years, you start getting annoyed with them.
But the reason doesn’t really matter.
What matters is that God has called me to to be understanding and patient as I teach my toddler how to be a human and navigate this planet. And instead, I’ve just been a jerk lately.
THE OPPORTUNITY THAT ONLY LOUSY PARENTS GET.
More than anything, I want my son to grow up to be a good man, and that means a lot of things.
It means that I want him to grow up to love God. It means that I want him to grow up to love others. It means I want him to be a hard worker. It means that I want him to be more patient than I’ve been lately.
But one of the most important things it means is that I want my son to be humble.
And every time I sin by being impatient with him and becoming frustrated with him, I have the opportunity to take him by the hand, get down on my knees to his level, look him in the eye and say:
“Buddy, I apologize for getting frustrated with you when you did _____________. You know how sometimes you disobey dad and I have to correct you? Well, I disobeyed God when I got frustrated with you. God doesn’t like it when daddy does that. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?”
And as a bonus, every time I do this—which is more often than I’d like to admit—my son ends up teaching me too, by modeling another virtue: Forgiveness.
He always forgives me immediately, without hesitation, without condition, and without keeping track of how many times I’ve wronged him this week.
He quickly says, “I forgive you, dad,” and gives me a hug.
YOUR PARENTING MISTAKES DO NOT MAKE YOU A FAILURE.
I tell you this to encourage you that, first of all, when you mess up with your kids, that doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you a human. And thankfully, Jesus died to redeem humans.
And second, I want to encourage you to always find the humility to apologize when you’ve wronged your kids. Some of the most important things they could ever learn from you are that they will never outgrow sin and they will never outgrow their need for grace.
We can teach them this by showing them that dad and mom are still sinners, we still screw up, and we still have a Parent that we answer to: God.
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