This morning as I’m taking a shower, the door opens and an amplified small voice begins a tale of what his sister has done. I gave him a message, “Tell her when I get out of the shower, she is getting disciplined.” His response was “ummmmm, do I have to tell her that?” I really was just buying time to get to finish my shower by even suggesting that he deliver the message. I blurted out “No, you just have to trust that I will take care of it.”
I have been at this parenting gig for nearly 23 years and somehow, I still don’t have a cure for tattling. There are times when a report is helpful if it is keeping a person from harm and there are times when it is self serving. It seems to me that if this is just part of parenting, and it can’t be completely eliminated, we should learn to utilize it well. The situations our children encounter in our home are the building blocks that will prepare them to navigate their future adult years.
How many times has someone come to me with report about another child quickly followed by a demand to know, what I am going to do about it. So many times! Sometimes I have heard, “They didn’t even get in trouble!” My kids have a high justice quotient and they want to know that I am not slacking in my parental duty to impart discipline on the oh, so obvious guilty party.
Are you curious about what my answer is when my children confront me about another person’s consequence or assumed lack thereof? I ask them, “Do I invite people to watch you be disciplined?” Followed by, “Do you want me to invite others to observe your discipline or would you rather keep it between us?” It is then that they agree that maybe I really am working it out as they have also in the past been pulled aside for a private talk.
Now lets step back for a minute and think, why do we discipline our children in the first place? Parenting isn’t just playing referee and making it through until bedtime. We do discipline them but the greater goal is to disciple them. There is a definite connection between the two. The way that we correct our children can bring life and springboard them into teachable adulthood. There is a greater picture being worked out and the small things in parenting make deposits into the final outcome for our children.
The more years we walk through life as parents, the more we see the parallel with God being our father and we His children. We mess up, and we see others mess up. He deals with each of us uniquely doesn’t He? Sometimes I need discipline, sometimes it’s someone else who needs it. Sometimes we just need love, patience and grace as we, in time, come to more maturity. (Sometimes our kids just need to know we love them as they grow into more maturity).
There are times when it seems that God isn’t noticing what’s going on, even when we come to Him and tell Him about the obvious guilty party. But just like the reminder I gave to my son this morning, we need to trust God and know that he will take care of it. Nothing goes without His knowledge. He is discipling us, His people, but in ways as unique as we are. Sometimes we might feel like He is standing by, not carrying out the justice we expect, but we must trust Him, because He has the greater picture worked out.