Welcome Interruptions: The Discipline of Instructing Your Children
If you are anything like me (Type A, a little tightly wound and productivity-oriented—but in the most lovable and laid-back way), interruptions are most likely not your favorite thing. Providentially, I am at a point in my life in which I am not working outside of the home, and I have two young children at my heels all day, ages two and four. Some days it feels like my whole day was an interruption. I wake up in the morning with a very productive day planned out in front of me, and often times find myself struggling to recall at the end of the day what I “accomplished.”
It is at these times we need to be reminded of the vital importance of loving, nurturing, and caring for our children, even when doing so seems to “get in the way” of the many tasks and duties that are required of a parent every day. Children are needy, easily distracted, and in constant need of correction. As much as we love our children with all that we are, sometimes it is tempting to long for the luxury of just being left alone. Correcting little ones for the same things over and over gets exhausting. Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Why are my children doing this again? They were just disciplined for this yesterday!” How quickly we forget that as parents, we often battle the same sins again and again as well. Children have a way of exposing our own sin.
Discipline should be an opportunity for a moment of grace.
I have been reading a book on parenting that I highly recommend, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family (Crossway, 2016) by Paul Tripp. The book reminded me of my calling to my children and not only encouraged me to endure these interruptions, but also to thank God for them and to see them as moments of grace. Tripp reminds us that we are the first experience with authority our children have. We set the tone in their lives with what it looks like to have authority and how they are expected to submit to it. As tempting as it is to simply set rules, play judge, and then throw down the hammer, overlooking loving, biblical instruction is a huge opportunity missed. Tripp reminds us that this authority we are given is ambassadorial authority from the King himself—we have no authority of our own. These precious lambs in our care are not ours but belong to God. Therefore, we are to reflect the authority of our heavenly Father.
In the lives of your children, you are the look of God’s face, you are the touch of his hand, and you are the tone of his voice. (Tripp, p. 116)
Wow, that thought alone caused me to pause. How often does my correction of my children meet that definition? Less often than I would like, to say the least.
Discipline should be a good moment of parenting.
Tripp goes on to explain how these constant interruptions should be welcomed:
Be thankful for these little moments. Don’t look at them as the bad moments of parenting, as hassles and interruptions; these are the good moments of parenting. These are moments of grace. (Tripp, p. 118)
These seemingly insignificant battles over sharing toys or finishing chores or arguing with siblings are the everyday moments in which our children are exposing their sinful hearts and giving us opportunities to lovingly correct and instruct them. As tempting as it is to address the behavior itself and leave it at that, there is such an opportunity missed to get at the heart of the real issue and explain to them why they act the way they do and why they have hope to conquer the sin that is within them.
May we all learn to slow down, embrace these moments of grace, and point our children to their Savior with every opportunity we are given.
Related Article: The Power of Habit in Teaching Our Children About God