Dad Wins!

– Pastor Brandon’s article from the August 2016 Newsletter

This morning was an “I don’t want to go to school” morning.  After breakfast, we started getting ready for the day, and William wasn’t having any part of it. “I want to stay here with you,” he cried.  “Mommy and daddy are going to work, and you are going to school today, honey,” I said as I attempt-ted to console him.  He wasn’t interested, and the tears began to flow.  It didn’t take long for the pouting to transform into obstinacy.  The stubborn little thing fought off my attempts to take off his pajamas and launched into a full-throated argument about the outfit he wasn’t going to wear.  He was deter-mined to win out, and at one point, he triumphantly declared “I stay home by myself!”  I mean it’s almost as if the Lord knew I was planning on writing this article today and decided to give me a chance to practice what I’m about to preach.

So how did things turn out this morning?  You’re reading this article now, aren’t you?  In the end, daddy won out.  Of course, that’s going to happen, right?  He’s three and I’m thirty, and for the next fifteen years or so, William will be going to school on school days.  Yet, in the midst of these little struggles that occur from time to time, there is one thing that I must work hard to remember and live out: how daddy wins is just as important as that daddy wins.

As parents, getting our children to cooperate and do what’s best for them is only part of the battle.  The ways in which we go about this task is also vital to the healthy development of our children.  In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds children to obey their parents in the Lord.  Then he follows that with a command to fathers, saying, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Reflecting on this short verse, I’m reminded that parenting is not about getting my way with my child, but rather pointing my child to Christ.  Oh, how I need the Holy Spirit to help me live this out.  On mornings like the one I experienced today, there are times when I think “do not exasperate your children? Why not? He’s exasperating me! I should show him how it feels!”  But then, I’m reminded that I’m thirty and he’s three, and one of us needs to act like an adult.

Discipline in our home takes various forms.  There are talks, time outs, and spankings when appropriate.  As I navigate these varying circumstances, I try to keep my cool and do what’s best for William.  Any discipline that takes place should be carried out for the benefit of my child not for my own ego or satisfaction.  If I find myself punishing my child because it makes me feel better, then something is off in my heart.  In the heat of the moment, it’s difficult to keep myself in check.  It can be hard to stay under control and respond appropriately to his bad behavior. Sometimes I handle it well, and sometimes I blow it.  When I do mess up, I work to make sure William understands his wrong decisions, but I also apologize for my own immaturity as well.  I do want to teach William what is right and what is wrong, but I also desire to build a relationship with him based on love and not fear.  Most importantly, I want to represent the Father well and point William to Christ even in these difficult moments.

You may have little ones at home, your kids may be grown, or you may have no kids at all.  Whatever your situation, I invite you to contemplate the principles taught in this simple verse as they have important implications for all of our relationships.  Thanks for reading about the craziness of my home, and I pray that we can all learn from my successes and failures.