When Your Child Never Learns
I wondered if my son would ever learn. He came home from school in tears, lamenting about yet another situation where he followed the crowd.
When the teacher caught wind of the situation, everyone around him lied. He told the truth--and received consequences. I believed him when he said he didn’t know what he was doing wrong. The whole big mess was clearly a misunderstanding. This particular group of troublemakers was one I had warned him to steer clear of, but in his immaturity and desire to be a good friend, he took the fall.
Parenting is hard, isn’t it? I find that I get most exasperated when my child struggles to learn a lesson I have taught him repeatedly. In these difficult moments,I’ve learned that my own feelings are best kept under the wraps of self-control. Instead of lecturing, The Lord has slowly refined me to show empathy and loving-kindness toward my son in these moments. At times, the tape in my head wants to say…
“Why did you do that?!”
“What were you thinking?!”
“Haven’t I told you not to do that 100 times before?!”
None of these questions helps my son or makes me feel better when they have come out of my mouth. My co-author, Wendy Speake says that we don’t need to need to berate our kids when they have done wrong. “They know.” She’s right. They do. I could see it in my son’s tear-filled eyes and in the slump of his shoulders. I don’t need to break someone who is already broken. Even though I’m saddened that this lesson seems so long in it’s teaching, what my boy needs from me is my compassion. Prayerfully, in the days ahead, I can find a calm and teachable moment to talk it through with him. To teach the lesson, again. In the heat of the moment, I offer words of peace instead:
“Son, I’m sorry this happened. That must feel pretty awful.”
“Let me hug you. We can talk more about this later.”
“I can see how upset you are. I would be too.”
Moms, when our kids seem to be so far from transformation, when a lesson we want them to learn never seems to take root, or when the monotony of parenting in hard moments threatens to overwhelm, let’s remember this encouragement from God:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:58)
I admit, all those times before when I warned my son about keeping company with kids who have a bent for conflict, felt wasted when he fell for their tricks again. But God doesn’t waste anything and His Word always effects change. It may not be in the time frame I desire, but motherhood requires perseverance. Personally, God allows these opportunities to work on me too. It’s the perfect time for me to grow in patience, kindness, and compassion.
Moms, your work in your home is never in vain when your heart desires to honor the Lord. The choices our kids make are not a reflection of us. They are a map of the progress of their heart which needs our constant guidance. My child’s maturity is not on my timetable, but God’s. Let’s remember the calling of parenting takes a childhood. No one is a hopeless case when the God of all hope is on our side. Let’s persevere, together, another day, another lesson, as long as it takes.
Are there some hard lessons your child is learning? Do you sometimes feel like a broken record? How can you persevere with joy in your challenging parenting moments? Comment below, I'd love to hear!
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