When my kids came home from college they had one question and one question only: “Why don’t you make the dogs mind?” This complaint from one son, who as a child, flailed a royal fit in a measly ten minute timeout. A-parent-ly I need to toughen up on our pets. And childhood, replayed by my three, registered as hours with their faces pressed against the corner while the dogs get to eat treats dropped from the table. And sometimes dropped in the corner. The nerve of us.
True. The babies of the family shed a few hairballs now and then. My parenting skills have evolved. Or have gone to the dogs? Either way—I’ve changed. Some of it’s my age—less like wine and more like cider though—I grew tired of long nights where I tossed and fermented in my own upset. I must say, I’m pretty comfortable as I walk bare-footed down the path of least resistance.
For me, regret and healing can be summed up with two words—more grace. If there is any lesson I’ve learned from bringing up kids, and a barn full of fury things, it’s that I am a kid myself and am in need of more of what I absolutely do not deserve. Grace and a lint roller. I see it now. I see it as I pick pet hair off my shirt along with some of the hair I’ve involuntarily lost from fret—I leaned heavy on rules and lost sight of relationships. I wanted my kids to behave and look good while they were doing it. Shame on me!
Where is the fine line between loving and condoning? Empowering and enabling? Somewhere between a timeout chair and prayer, that’s where. The problem with all this rule following dear mamas, is that when our children break rules—and they will break them—they feel as though they cannot sit in the church pew they’ve indented with time and their heavy hearts. Or worse. They may feel unworthy to run into the presence of God.
Again, I’m not suggesting you allow your babies (fury or not fury), to bound onto the furniture and run wild over to the neighbor’s house? Or even get kicked out of preschool for acting out? (And they have puppy pre-school now too, did ya know that?!) Make no mistake—correction is secure love with intentional action. What I am suggesting, however, is that we pray and rollout Romans 5:20, Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ. Sin is death. Sin is bad. Christ died so that we can be forgiven for our badness. That is the good news! More good news…more grace. Grace abounds all the more. Make them mind, but love them when they don’t.
Do I have all the parenting answers tucked behind my big box of Milkbones? I wish I did. I’m still learning and growing and occasionally tossing tiny bits of stuff to the dogs. Don’t worry…my kids put the dogs in a timeout when they misbehave. Then they also tell me things like the ruin of a child is to cut the crust off of their peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for them. Too funny. If only I’d have known these things when they were younger. Sigh.