Monday, May 23, 2011

When Parenting Requires Inconvenience

It seemed like the obvious thing to do when she slammed the door on her baby sister, who was crawling into her room, and nailed her in the forehead. That is not when I decided to take action, however. I simply told her that the door had to remain open for the rest of the morning then I proceeded to prop it all the way open with her Barbie doll house, that normally sets right next to the door. A few minutes later, I went downstairs to find the door closed again. That is when I decided that the next logical thing to do would be to remove the door.

Her dad had not yet left for work so, he obliged to do the job. Half way into it he realized the job was messier than expected! He had black grease all over his hands while clothed in a nicely pressed shirt and slacks. She was balling. He was becoming frustrated. I remained quiet as I held her, fighting the temptation to say, "forget it!" from the guilt invading my rational thoughts, hammering in that going this far out of our way to teach a lesson was not worth it.

Constantly navigating my way through this parenting role, which does not come with a manual, I happened to come across the story of Jonah in scripture later in the morning, a study I recently completed. Some highlights I gleaned from it were the awareness that God did not simply dismiss Jonah's actions, threaten Jonah nor act on frustration when Jonah decided to disobey God's call and do his own thing. God went out of his way to pursue Jonah and reveal the intention of His discipline. We saw it first in the boat headed for Tarshish when the storm came. Next, we saw it when Jonah was swallowed up by the big fish. Finally, we saw it when God provided a vine to shade Jonah from the scorching sun, then sent a worm to attack the plant so that it whithered away. Although Jonah was given several opportunities to obey through each trial, it took many trials to begin to transform his heart, in which the outcome of his heart we never do find out. So then we pick the story up with our own.

Some of the most significant actions we will take with our children in raising them will not be the most convenient. I could have overlooked the situation with Alexa thinking it was not worth the fuss. I could have gotten frustrated and opened the door again barking an idol threat. The act of taking the door off its hinges could have been my last straw of anger. Yet, those choices would have cost me respect and her the love and discipline she needs to know I care and that her choices matter. Simply acting while still comforting, I am hopeful, got the point across in a way that did not shut her down, but allowed her - even in her disappointment - to remain open to the lesson to be learned. 

Just like God was pursuing a heart transformation in Jonah, although we may not know the outcome for the condition of their hearts, we as parents can pursue the hearts of our children through discipline that is intentional. The goal being, not simply obedience by our authority, but also discipline that fosters malleable hearts through relationship - even when it requires inconvenience.

The door came off. Rob washed his hands. And we all gave him a kiss goodbye as he headed off to work, including Alexa - with smiles.

#20-#40 of a heart of thanks to God for

malleable hearts
a willing husband
baseball in the rain
little hands rolling pizza dough
cooperation of Saturday cleaning
charts and incentives
whistles in party bags
soccer against my man and a little man refereeing with his new whistle
natures orchestra outside my window
submission acceptance
a few moments to snuggle with an early riser
two-and-a-half year old still needing held
nearly five-year-old occasionally wanting held
scripture and prayer around the table
the discovery of a belly button
sword fights with spaghetti noodles
a green earth and blossoms
sunshine breaking through the clouds
words of affirmation and encouragement

I'm working my way to One Thousand Gifts of gratitude and linking up with Multitudes on Mondays at Holy Experience and Sol Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven.


  1. This is really good. I need to be a lot better about "simply acting while still comforting." I really struggle to put my anger aside. This post helps me to remember the importance of refocusing while not giving up.

  2. great post, I love when you talk about Jonah and how the Lord kept persuing him even though he failed several times before getting it right. He never gives up on us, thank you Jesus, thank you JESUS!!

  3. I found you off of Jen's blog. What a great reminder that the most significant actions are not always going to be convenient. Discipline takes hard work and effort, doesn't it. But it's so worth it.

    Great pictures. I'm glad I found you off of Jen's blog. :)


  4. So glad to find your blog...I am a mom guilty of threatening not acting...thank you for the reminder!!!

  5. Wonderful reminder of intentional parenting, it takes a lot of creativity and persistence doesn't it! Thank you for coming by my blog and leaving a comment. I'm glad I'm not the only one early in the 1,000 Gifts count!

  6. Just like your other post Jen sent me, I needed this. Doing the right thing is often the hardest thing and quite inconvient at the present. So amen to this post. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  7. I pray God will bring to mind this post during those inconvenient moments of parenting. Brilliant wisdom and truth! Thank you for sharing!

  8. This parenting thing isn't always convenient that is for sure. Great post, such wise words!

  9. Hi Theresa - I wanted to stop by and thank you for visiting Reflections. I enjoyed reading your post and how God kept pursuing Jonah - He keeps pursuing us, even when we go our own way - never giving up. In my own life, I'm so thankful that He never gave up on me.


  10. I see this as the beautiful wisdom a mother has. Maybe it's more poignant to me because a boy in our (Christian) school locked his door so he would have to go to school one day. And his parents didn't know what to do about it. It seemed simple to me -- remove the door. Is it any wonder he struggles to obey authority? I believe if we ask of God He will give us wisdom--doesn't His Word promise exactly that? It doesn't mean we won't ever make parenting mistakes, but that He sees the trying and blesses accordingly.


  11. me too..Jonah and how I identify with him and thankful that God doesn't give up on us. Your kids are adorable and lucky to have a mommy that seeks His word...especially in parenting.

  12. This reminds me of what happened in our humble oldest boy wanted to be alone in the bedroom he shares with his he locked him out.

    My husband decided to take out the lock and now the door is always open.

    Yes, it is an inconvenience, but it is needed for them to know their actions have reactions.

    Mrs. M.


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