A visual metaphor of parental patience!

A visual metaphor of parental patience!

Our legacy with our children is largely made up of the decisions we make in those inconvenient moments of everyday life.  Have you ever noticed how rarely your children desire/need/demand your attention when you are open for appointments and feel yourself brimming with inner spiritual energy enough to meet any and all challenges (See Picture!)?  

Yeah, right!  No, my children tend to come at the wrong time, and, I have observed, the more they come at the wrong time, the less and less they seem to come at the right time!  It's Yogi Berra logic in reverse ("The harder I work, the luckier I am!" becomes "The More frustrating they are the more frustrated I become" ad infinitum et ad nasuem!).  Thus angry responses from the parent tends, funnily enough, to produce an increasingly fraught relationship with the child.  This should hardly be surprising.  There is, after all, an unavoidable sowing and reaping logic to life.  As the Chinese sage noted:  

Sow a thought; reap a deed.
Sow a deed; reap a habit.
Sow a habit; reap a character.
Sow a character; reap a destiny.
— Anon

In all this, we do well to remember, God lets us  chose what we sow.  He does not let us chose our consequences.  We already made that decision for ourselves when we reached into the seed bucket of heaven or hell (Galatians 6:7-8).  

This came to mind today as I read more from Mr. Covey's Seven Habits...

Suppose, for example, that I am highly overreactive to my children. Suppose that whenever they begin to do something I feel is inappropriate, I sense an immediate tensing in the pit of my stomach. I feel defensive walls go up; I prepare for battle. My focus is not on the long-term growth and understanding but on the short-term behavior. I’m trying to win the battle, not the war. I pull out my ammunition—my superior size, my position of authority—and I yell or intimidate or I threaten or punish. And I win. I stand there, victorious, in the middle of the debris of a shattered relationship while my children are outwardly submissive and inwardly rebellious, suppressing feelings that will come out later in uglier ways. Now if I were sitting at the funeral we visualized earlier, and one of my children was about to speak about me, their father, I would want his life to represent the victory of teaching, training, and disciplining with love over a period of years rather than the battle scars of quick fix skirmishes. I would want his heart and mind to be filled with the pleasant memories of deep, meaningful times together. I would want him to remember me as a loving father who shared the fun and the pain of growing up. I would want him to remember the times he came to me with his problems and concerns. I would want to have listened and loved and helped. I would want him to know I wasn’t perfect, but that I had tried with everything I had. And that, perhaps more than anybody in the world, I loved him.
— Covey, Stephen R. (2009-12-02). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (pp. 104-105). RosettaBooks - A. Kindle Edition.

This is convicting, isn't it?  Before we close this brief blog post, let me challenge you to take personal responsibility for the legacy of your relationship with your children.  Think about the word: responsible.  You are response able.  Your words are not (or at least they should not be) reflex responses to environmental stressors (which being translated means: those who stress you out!). I often forget this?  How often I respond to  frustrating people with frustration.  Often I blame them for my response, as if they were responsible for "response-ability!"  This is not the case. I am not a venus fly trap with a reflex hair trigger.  I am a man made in the image of God, redeemed by the Son of God, and filled with the Spirit of God, I can chose to respond a better way if I want to!  And what is more, if I walk in the light of the loving, redeeming, life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, I will.  

We don't have to treat our children the way we find them.  The most powerful force in the universe is at work in the Christian's heart for life and for good.  Our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1).  At times we  might find our children annoying and frustrating, but we can treat them differently, acting as a principled God-filled leader directing them onwards and upwards to better things (Col 3:1ff).  And as we do, should keep James timeless spiritual wisdom front and center in our minds...

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
— (James 1:19–20, NASB95)

Now tell me again, what were we trying to achieve through our anger with our children?  I think we both forgot...