Flexibility, understanding, pushing, pressure, grace, growth… all these words have been floating around in my mind the last couple of days. I was giving one kiddo a math test. It was a fairly simple test for him, reviewing concepts he has been familiar with for a couple of years just packaged in a different format. He excels at math, it just makes sense to him. But on this day about half way through the test, he started melting down. He was trying. He was putting in effort. He wasn’t quitting. But mentally and emotionally he was really struggling.
I went through a mental battle…we all have bad days and having a bad day on a test day is just how it goes sometimes, you don’t do well and that’s the grade you have to live with. On the other hand, it seemed to me that something was off, more than just a bad day. So, do I give him a break and have him continue later? Or do I push him through the whole test now?
These mental battles we wage in our minds. When to push, when to let up, when to discipline, when to give grace, when to force them into change and when to adapt the environment around them to accommodate them. There is a time that each of these is the right thing, and there are times when each of these could be the wrong thing. Different kids and different stages of development require differing amounts of pressure to grow and do new or challenging things.
As I look at God the Father’s example of parenting, this is what I see: He is love. He gives grace. He is patient. He is a God of second, third, and fourth chances. He forgives. He redeems. He also disciplines because He loves us and calls us to be like Him.
Sometimes He asks really hard things of His children like Jesus and the cross or Joseph who was sold as a slave, falsely accused, put in jail, and then became a ruler. He also realizes when we just need a break like Elijah who after defeating the prophets of Baal and escaping Jezebel is burned out and feels alone and God sends an angel to care for him and tells him to sleep and eat. He parents each person individually according to their needs and through all of it he never abandons them. He is always with them providing support; love; direction; help; provision; and, greatest of all, salvation and an eternal hope.
Sometimes being a parent means pushing our kids to do things that are hard. But it also means that we do all we can to prepare them, to provide coping mechanisms, to teach them how to navigate new places and situations, to provide a safety net that they know they can come back to us for help, that we are cheering them on wanting them to succeed, loving them whether they succeed or not.
What did I do with the math test? I told my dear son that I was proud of him because he was working hard and not giving up even when he was frustrated, and for his self-control and not getting overly angry or blowing up. I told him I could see he was struggling and I thought it was time to put it away for today, we’d finish the test tomorrow.
Written by Sarah McGuire Co-Founder of Hope Anew