The other day our oldest child, Chloe, was playing in the dining room while I was scrubbing dishes. She loves to play with the blinds on the sliding glass door. However, her parents–who don’t want to pay out the nose to replace the casualties of a toddler’s fun time–aren’t too fond of her love for
She’s holding a blind in one hand, watching me for a reaction. I shook my head with an I-love-you-but-I-don’t-want-you-doing-that smile and calmly said, “No, Chloe, I don’t want you playing with blinds.”
What does she do? She lets go, squats down out of sight behind her sister’s playpen, and grabs it again.
My first thought was “Wow. She’s smart.” (She’s only 23 months.) My second thought was that her cuteness was not a license to disobey.
I believe we raise our kids to obey their parents not for the sake of Mom and Dad, but so that they learn how to obey God. That’s a tall order to fill, but I’ve found one way to go about this is to treat my children how God treats me. So as I walked to my daughter, I thought about times God has told me to do or not do something, and I’ve deliberately disobeyed Him. He’s always gentle with me, and even when my decisions landed me in grave danger, He’s rescued me from harm and was still gentle with me. In other words, He extends grace. A lot.
So I did the same.
I walked over to Chloe and leaned over the playpen. In a quiet but firm voice, I said: Chloe, just because Mommy can’t see you doesn’t make it right to do what is wrong.
The look on her face? Guilt.
She turned and walked away from me. I got on one knee, opened my arms wide with a tender smile, and called her name. She peeked over her shoulder, wondering if she was in trouble. But when she saw my face, she froze.
“Come here,” I said.
She walked into my embrace. I kissed her hair and whispered in her ear. I don’t want you playing with the blinds, alright? and I followed with another kiss. It’s been a few days, and she hasn’t touched them at all.
Everything has a time and a place. There are occasions for timeouts. There are times to spend in their rooms. But there are also times for gentle correction.
I love how God treats us with grace so we never fear coming to Him, no matter what we’ve done. And I love that He taught me such an important lesson for every parent:
If my kids are scared of me, they’re going to run to somebody else for comfort–and there are plenty of hungry wolves in the world, waiting to devour my children.