My toddler’s defiance is not about me. This is some of the best parenting advice I have ever received.
It is so difficult to avoid viewing my son’s misbehavior as an attack against me. When a child rebels, it is natural for a parent to feel offended, hurt, angry–and dare I say, inconvenienced. However, a child does not rebel to hurt his parents, he rebels because of his sinful nature. When I remember my son’s misbehavior is a product of his human sinfulness, instead of a personal attack on me, it is so much easier to keep my cool and discipline him appropriately.
This was something I had to remind myself of repeatedly yesterday. My three-year-old woke up with one goal in mind: do not listen to a single word mom says for the entire day.
At 39 weeks pregnant, I did not want to spend my day punishing, disciplining, detaining, and bargaining with my son, but this is what he needed from me. He needs me to mold his heart and his character into the heart and character of a man of God– a man who recognizes and repents of his sinfulness, and rests comfortably in the forgiveness of his Savior.
Teaching him to respect our home is the beginning of how we will teach him to respect others, himself, and someday, his wife.
Making him clean up his mess is the beginning of how we will teach him to correct bigger wrongs in his life, to own up to his more destructive mistakes.
Setting him in timeout while he thinks about what he has done will prepare his heart for when he must sit before the Lord and repent.
Parenting is not about me. My son did not draw on the wall yesterday to make me mad. He did not throw rocks at his brother to emphasize my bad parenting skills. He did not destroy his bedroom to give me even more to do.
My son is a sinner. He did these things because he is a victim of the evils in this world, just as I am. Christ died for for my son’s defiance and refusal to stop arguing with his parents, just as He died for my quick anger, harsh tongue, and love of the world.
For a little while, God has entrusted me with his small heart, and I will not let my selfishness get in the way of this profoundly important task.