The Importance of Grace in Parenting
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I could hear my seven-year-old happily singing from the bathroom as I loaded the dishwasher. It was almost time to leave for school. His big sister pointed out that he’d been in there a long time, and that he was probably getting into stuff. It was the same suspicion I had. His bathroom shenanigans were usually no more harmful than the occasional overzealous application of his Daddy’s cologne- and sometimes, he used way too much toilet paper, causing the toilet to overflow. I’m an expert with the toilet plunger. I have a lot of practice.
Eventually, he returned and sat at the kitchen table to finish his breakfast. I walked back to my bedroom to put my shoes on. I heard the sound of water running from the bathroom. Not good. I was too late. Water was spilling out of the toilet and onto the floor when I opened the bathroom door. The first thing I needed to do was stop the water. So I devised a little invention (one I was quite proud of) using chopsticks to hold the chain up in the water tank, thus stopping the flow of water. While I was throwing towels on the floor, sopping up the mess, I heard my son’s sad, quiet voice, “Gracie says I broke the toilet.”
“No, no, no…you didn’t break the toilet,” I said, trying to comfort him.
Though I was also thinking that he “broke” the toilet.
“You do need to be more careful though. Try not to use so much toilet paper. Now go get your coat on, you’re going to be late for school!”
The walk to school was a quiet one. My thoughts were on the big mess I now had to clean up upon returning home. I didn’t say anything, though, as my son obviously felt badly about it. I’m not always so self-controlled with my words- but I was this time. Something held me back from opening my mouth. I kept thinking about a phrase I had read a few days earlier, in Kim John Payne's book, called,
The toilet situation got worse. One clogged toilet turned into two, and then the bathtub backed up! No amount of toilet plunging did a bit of good. After a few HOURS of trying to fix the problem, myself, sweaty, disgusted, and exhausted, I finally called the property manager for help.
Long story short, the drain issue stemmed from a full septic tank- something I hadn’t yet had any experience with. My son had nothing to do with the problem.
Being new renters, we didn’t realize that every once in awhile, the tank has to be emptied! It was a bad day, one I won’t soon forget, but I knew it would have been far worse had I lost my temper with my sweet boy. The mess in the house could be cleaned up, but the damage I would have done to his spirit, with careless words, spoken in anger, could have been far more destructive.
I thought I was showing grace to my son in that morning when I kept quiet. But grace, in this story, was that small voice in my spirit- the one that held me back from saying what I thought. By the grace of God, those words I had read a few days before came to mind at just the right time
I’m not a perfect parent (far from it), but God gives me (and all of us) grace in parenting. When I listen to that quiet voice, like I did on that day with the toilet fiasco, I’m protected. That's grace.
We need to extend grace to our kids, daily- and the ability to do that comes from the originator of grace, Christ Jesus. My kids extend grace to me, too, for which I’m humbled and grateful. Families need a whole lot of grace to function properly. I pray that Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts, showing us how generously grace has been given to us, so that we can, in turn, extend that same grace to each other.
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." -2 Corinthians 9:8