Do As I Say Not As I Do?

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us. Ephesians 5:1

I learned another important lesson of parenthood the other day, and like many other lessons this one was the direct result of something involving my child.  My family and I have had the wonderful blessing of spending this Christmas with my wife’s family.  Her brother is here, her sister’s family, parents, and of course, the associated kids.

One of the great things about visiting with family is watching the children play together.  They spend the days outside playing with bicycles, searching for treasures, and building friendships.  Two days ago however we ran into a little snag.

My wife and I had left the house to run an errand with two of our children.  We got a call from my mother in law that something had been broken at the house.  It appeared that one of the two boys we had with us was the culprit.  Driving home we decided that the “suspect” would have a private talk with grandma before he moved on to any play activities.   We knew that she was not upset but that she wanted to reinforce the lesson of confessing and apologizing if you have damaged a piece of someone else’s property.

As we pulled into the driveway I parked my father in laws truck next to my brother in laws relatively new car.  Since it was the holidays and we had two kids with us it was a bit of a struggle to get out of the car.  I opened the door and began unloading the boys and the packages.  As the “suspect” jumped out I leaned to my left and bumped the truck door pushing it further open into the passenger door of my brother in laws car.  I put down my belongings, pulled the door partially closed, and surveyed the damage.  I had left a dull silver/grey scratch the size of a quarter on the dark black paint.

My first thought was, “Oh Sh*t”. My second thought was, “he may never notice, maybe I could wipe it off.”   My third thought jumped right to my poor son marching his way to a private discussion with grandma about the stone cross he had broken.  To be a father with any integrity and character, to be the father that I claim to be, I must tell my brother in law what had happened.

I went inside and watched as my son sheepishly spoke with his grandmother telling the story of how the stone cross came to be broken.  As expected, she was not upset with him.  She only asked that next time he tell her when something at her house was broken.

Moments later my brother in law walked in the house and I sheepishly told him about his car.  I apologized as he walked outside to check on the damage done.  As expected, he was not upset with me and only thanked me for telling him that it had happened.

I wonder who learned the bigger lesson?  My son won’t remember this experience and I am pretty sure “not me” will be blamed again in the future.  I think this lesson was a Christmas gift for dad.  I learned that the way I live my life speaks much louder than the words I say.   This was a simple reminder that in order to raise children with integrity, honor, and love for Christ, I must first possess that which I hope to pass on.

I pray that my boys see more of Christ in me than they do of me.  I know that it is only through His grace that any child of mine will become a child of His.

 How do you experience God’s grace in parenting?

Hide ‘N’ Seek

We played a rousing game of hide ‘N’ seek at our house the other day.   The best part about this game for me is how the kids respond to being found.  As I begin to count they all run away squealing and laughing.  They find their spot to hide and wait.  I start to walk around the house saying loudly. “Where are my boys?” “I can’t find them, I wonder where they are?” “Oh, no where could they have gone”.  I look in the place next to where they are, and act surprised when I can’t find them.  All the while they giggle, whisper, and fidget fighting to contain their desire to call out, “I’m over here”.   If I take too long to find them they begin to make silly noises, knock on the wall, or laugh louder to give me hints as to their location.   When I finally find them they cannot contain their excitement.  They jump out of the hiding place yelling “surprise!” with a delighted and joyous scream.  I make a shocked face, and hug them as though it had been days since we had seen one another. 

Oh how wonderful it is to be discovered, to be lost, to be searched after, and to be found.  I wonder what goes through their minds while they are hiding?  Do they ask questions like, “will he remember me?”  “Do they miss me?” or “Do they love me?”   I believe that children do ask these questions.  I believe that in some small way hide and seek is a grand roleplay of the longing of every child’s heart.  The longing to have the hidden parts of themselves searched for and discovered by the adults in their life.  As parents find the hidden treasures within your children, then they discover these treasures in themselves.  Without the process of being discovered they may never uncover the gifts that are buried within.   As I experience my child, so they experience themselves.