Nobody likes a bully.
Except, of course, the bully’s mother.
Recently my daughter brought a note home from school suggesting she’d become a little too “energetic” in the classroom. No big deal, kids learn as they go. But because her seven-year-old perception of the situation was somewhat sketchy, I decided to talk straight with her teacher.
And that’s when I heard the hard truth.
My child is not perfect.
Of course, I knew that already. But I assumed my daughter’s sometimes devilish behavior was reserved for home—for the natural resistance to Mom and Dad’s cruel demands to brush your hair and eat your broccoli. She might poke her sister in the head with a pencil, yeah, but surely she’d never do that to a classmate.
Let me assure you we handled it—swiftly. In our family, my husband and I place a huge emphasis on kindness, and our daughter knows that. She just needed to be reminded. Don’t we all?
But here’s my fear.
Nobody likes the naughty kid. You know, the kid who elicits raised eyebrows from other parents and sends the teacher digging for Excedrin in the bottom of her purse.
So what if your kid is that kid? Does that mean you failed?
“To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child” (Proverbs 29:15, NLT).
Contrary to popular belief, children are not born innocent. They’re born sinners. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” That means naughty behavior is congenital. We shouldn’t be surprised when it flares up from time to time.
Yet it’s our job as parents to spoon-feed the remedy.
We love them. We pray for them. Day in and day out, we teach and train and discipline. We model what it means to show kindness, grace, forgiveness and self-control. When they slip up, we remind them, again and again and again. When we slip up, we confess and apologize—again and again and again.
And through it all, we point our kids to Jesus—the only person who can ultimately free them from the junk inside and fill them with a lasting power to combat the naughtiness.
If you’re doing that, then you are not failing. You’re succeeding.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:11, NLT).
You know when I said nobody likes the naughty kid? That’s not actually true. Because God loves that kid. He is crazy over that kid just as much as he cherishes you and me and our sometimes-but-not-really-angelic sons and daughters. God sees all his children as a beautiful work in progress, and he detects the potential within us.
More than that—he has the power to realize our potential. And as parents, we get the privilege of joining him in the task.
So let’s all offer up a little more grace for each other, amen? For the mom struggling with a headstrong child. For the kid who tripped your kid at recess. For the little girl in every classroom who thought it would be funny to call her friend a booger head.
Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.
And it’s up to us to teach them. We parents really do have the power to change the world—one precious child at a time.
Are you with me?