Compassion

Expecting Your Child to Act Like an Adult

By Brittany Rust

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It was time to change yet another diaper and I certainly didn’t enjoy it any more than he did, but it’s part of the life of a toddler. Roman hates—and I mean HATES—diaper changes. It was a poopy one and as I opened up the diaper, Roman started flopping around in protest. I then proceeded to say, “You do know that when you fight me it takes longer, right.”

You can fit on both hands the number of words he can say so expecting him to understand the complexity of what was happening was too much to ask for this 19 month old.

So often I find myself expecting Roman to act older than he really is. I attempt to rationalize and convince him to be beyond his years. At times, I snap or yell in frustration because he doesn’t understand. I’m expecting him to act like an adult and in response, often end up acting like a child.

How often have you found yourself treating your child beyond his or her years? We don’t plan on it, do we? But in the trenches when patience wears thin, sometimes we find ourselves expecting too much from our little ones. Or our children or even teenagers. We want them to be on our level—or at least, on a more mature level—that they just aren’t at yet. And in response to their lack of maturity, we lash out with an attitude that is more like that of a child.

Remember: you are the parent. You are the mature one. You mustn’t expect your child to be beyond their years and act in a way you struggle to act yourself at that moment. I’m not an expert in maintaining poise in these tense moments but I do know we must watch our responses. Walk away, take a deep breath, and return to respond appropriately.

Your child is but a child for a short time—don’t make them grow up too soon. Let them live in their child-like wonder while they can. And you—well, if you want to embrace the posture of a child in any way, then do so with the faith and humility a child has. Now that would be the exception.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’
— Matthew 18:1-4

Parenting is hard and we all have our moments that we’d like to redo or at least, forget. But as we talk about often here, there is grace and strength for your moments of weakness. Let your kid be a kid. And act like a child in faith and humility.


God's Compassion Towards His Children

By CarrieBeth Sherwood

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A few weeks ago I was lying between both of my boys; my husband was out of town so they seized the opportunity for a sleepover. I have two, one 6 and one 7. They are total opposites in every way. While both are incredibly sweet, one tends to have more trouble obeying and doing the right thing (with a happy heart).

While I was between them--one curling up and falling straight to sleep and the other one pretty much happily jumping on the bed, not doing what he was supposed to do--I had a thought. Technically, the one who obeys most of the time should be my favorite. Now, I know parents don’t choose favorites, but some demeanors and attitudes are just easier to work with. Anyway, it would seem that a child who was obeying and trying to please should be the most appreciated, but what I noted at that moment was that, although it is nice to have a child who obeys, I also feel so much compassion and love toward the one who struggles to obey. It sometimes breaks my heart, but in the sweetest way, prompting me to pray for him often and seek out wisdom on the best way to parent him. One of the children is easy, but one of them causes me to seek after God in an even more real and desperate way.

One of my favorite parenting books ever is “Give Them Grace” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. She says,

We think that compliant children will teach us about his grace and the gospel, and they can. Compliant, believing children are frequently reflections of his great kindness. But The Lord also teaches us of his grace and the gospel through difficult children. We learn what it is like to love like he loved. We learn to walk in his footsteps, and it is there, in our personal 'upper room', where we learn how to wash the feet of those who are betraying us. It is there, kneeling before our rebellious children, that the real power of God is demonstrated.”

Parenting a difficult child is a perfect reflection of how God feels about parenting us, his adult children who are often just as difficult, if not more, as a rebellious child. Psalms 86:15 says,

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.

We can take away two things from this verse and this lesson that the Lord revealed to me.

  1. God’s unconditional love and compassion for us does not depend on if we act perfectly or not. He loves us and wants to be with us even, and especially when, we are struggling to obey or live the life He has called us to live.

  2. It is also a great reminder that when our children aren’t being perfect (isn’t that daily???), that God loves us in our imperfections so we can let that love flow through us to our children.