Being a Parent is a funny gig! I am always learning things about myself, and constantly being reminded of my own selfishness and at times, hardness of heart. I was reminded of this yet again recently, when I walked into a Service Station to pay for Petrol and groceries. While waiting in line, listening and observing the conversations and interactions going on around me, I noticed a little boy of around four years old waiting in line with his dad. After devouring the counter with his eyes, taking in the heady sight of chocolates and sweets, the little boy looks up at his Dad and says
“Can I have a chocolate Dad”
“Sure mate, what would you like?”
At this point, it’s no surprise that the little guy went to town! After picking up and then putting down roughly a dozen chocolates and sweets, he finally set his delight on a snickers bar. He carefully picked one from the box, and then proudly plopped it on the counter for his Dad to pay.
I loved watching this Father & Son moment, but at the same time found myself thinking of my own relationship with my kids. Both the ease with which the little boy asked his Father for something he wanted, and the eagerness with which the Father responded, challenged my own parenting. I thought for a moment about the way I would have related to my kids had that been them asking for something as ordinary as sweets. Would they have asked me so easily for something, and would I have responded so eagerly? You see I think I often relate to my kids as “the parent”, eager to keep them on the straight and narrow, being sure to correct them at every opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am simply too a harsh parent, but I think at times I relate to my kids in a far too monochromatic way.
Reflecting upon this a few days later, it made me think of how I understand and know God as my Father. Far from being monochromatic, our Heavenly Father parents his children in many & varied ways that reflect all aspects of his character and love towards them. For instance, in Hebrews 12:6 we read that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Yet Matthew 6:26 also shows that God graciously provides for his children, who are worth far more than the birds of the air. Romans 8:15 says that God has gifted his children with the Holy Spirit who confirms their adoption into his family, and because his kids are adopted into his family, they are now heirs to the family estate!
As I sit and “chew on” these three verses it is clear that my understanding of God as my Heavenly Father, must translate into how I parent my own kids. These three verses model to me a love seen in many “colors” and ways. My parenting will involve loving discipline, but will also involve generous and gracious giving to my kids. Funny how spending twenty bucks on fuel, can end up challenging my parenting. My hope and prayer is that I can love my kids in the same boundless way my Heavenly Father loves me. Even (and maybe especially) in the little things like walking into a service station and eagerly sharing the joy of chocolate with my kids, rather than being so wrapped up in distant danger of dental bills.
For those of you with kids, what have you been challenged about recently with regards to raising your kids? Any words of advice, pearls of wisdom, or funny observations?