14 March 2014

love keeps no record, and how I discipline my kids

Having two four year olds under one roof can be a fairly refining thing. I love my boys to no end, they make me laugh every single day. They delight me. 

But also.

Four year olds test their limits. Or rather, they test my limits as a parent. For example, yesterday I was heading upstairs to change one of the baby's diapers, when I asked one of my boys to sit down and finish his lunch, and I'd be right back. I barely made it to the changing table when I heard a door slam and high pitched preschool laughter coming from the backyard. Immediately I was annoyed. Sure, they can go play outside and I want them to have fun, but I kind of want them to follow directions, too. 
Let it slide, I said to myself.
I finished up with the baby and headed back downstairs, peeking outside through our great big window halfway down the staircase. And there he was, my little adventurer, digging holes in the compost. With a saw. Here's the thing: this was the third day in a row this exact scenario had taken place. (Apparently we need a more creative place to store tools than the backyard shed with a the 50 pound door. Like I said, limits tested.)
Now I was really ticked. I marched outside and told him in a firm, yet calm, voice to get himself inside immediately. He looked at me, looked at the saw, sorrow crossing his brow, and walked into the house. I sent him to his room while I tended to his sister, all the while fuming inside.

I went into his room where he was throwing everything off his bed and stomping his feet in protest to his consequences and I started in. I told him, not calmly, how frustrated I was that this was the third day in a row I had to tell him not to touch the saw. That I was upset he didn't sit and finish his lunch like I'd asked, that when he does A, B, and C, I lose my patience.

And in that moment I felt God whispering some truth in my ear.
We've likely all heard or read 1 Corinthians 13 and Paul's description of real love. Yesterday one verse in particular came into my heart and mind: "it keeps no record of wrongs." How often, in the heat of the moment, do I remind my children of past offenses. Of what they'd done the day before, the week before, that they are doing again and again. Can you imagine if that's what God did with us? "Well, Carina, I know you're sorry that you messed up, but do you remember this is exactly what you did on Tuesday, too? When are you going to figure it out?" 

Galatians 5 says "it is for freedom that Christ set us free." Lamentations 3 tells us that "his mercies are new every morning." Psalm 103 says that He takes our sins and casts them "as far as the east is from the west." These are His promises. Can I offer the same to my children, to my husband, to my family and friends and neighbors?

It is my call as their mother to teach them right from wrong, to provide consequences when they do something that can harm them or cause harm to others. When they make bad choices and need redirection. Those are teaching moments. It is not my job to recall every wrong to prove a point. I am heaping a heavy, hopeless burden on them when I do that. It won't work with my children or in my marriage or in my friendships. I want to love them and help them thrive and lead them closer to Heaven, to Him. 

It's hard. Because I am a failing, flailing, winging it mother of five. Thank God He's with me in all of this. He can give me the strength and grace I need to do right by my kids. He can fill the (many) gaps and I take comfort in knowing that His promises are true, even for me.

*and just for everyone's peace of mind, the saw is now hidden at a great height, that I'm not sure even an adult can reach. 
always on my toes around here. (literally.)


  1. I feel the same with with just a single 18 month old in the beginning of tantrums, fits and defiance. I'm honestly so clueless about how to handle it--thank you for sharing this very real moment and what God's teaching you through it!

  2. it's so hard to discipline well and right. i get so angry, and i want everyone to know how angry i am. God has been and is so gracious to me, but i have such a hard time showing the same grace to those around me. i'm grateful that His mercies are new every morning and that He is an unchanging God!

  3. Oh my. Thanks for the wake-up call! I am going to have to remember this...but it won't be easy!!

  4. I absolutely love this. An idea that I apply to my marriage but not one I've thought to apply to parenting.

  5. Ugh. I'm guilty of the record keeping thing too. I hate it when I hear the list start coming out of my mouth when dealing with my children. I so want to be the mom who continually offers grace. When my kids were little and would get themselves in trouble, they'd ask me in the sweetest voice possible with smiles on their faces, "Grace and mercy, Momma?" How could I not say yes... There were often still consequences to their choices, but their question always drew me back to what was most important, what God so freely gives to us… grace and mercy. Beautiful post, Carina!