Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. That means, I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. Read my full disclosure here.
Before adopting our son, I read The Connected Child. I attended the weekend-long Empowered to Connect Conference. In addition, I spent a year as a therapist, training to work with children who had been abused.
I knew the right things to do, yet, after becoming a mother, I found myself doing the right things with the wrong motives.
If I was to describe my parenting style for the first 6+ months, I would call myself the angry attachment parenting mama.
Instead of viewing “time-in” as a way to bring my son closer in the midst of his big emotions, I used it as a way to control him and the situation.
My actions lacked mercy.
What is Mercy?
“An outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and the resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.”
Our children’s behaviors come from a place of sin and brokenness. Our appropriate response as mothers should not be anger, but pity.
Give What You Have Received
I talk much of looking to Jesus for His glory and our joy, but, as mothers, we see this vertical relationship transform the horizontal relationships of those around us. When we are made new by Jesus, receiving the ultimate gift of mercy, we are also equipped (and continually being equipped) to show mercy to our children.
In Matthew 18:21-35, Peter asks Jesus how often we should forgive others. Jesus responds with a parable about a man who owed a king an inordinate amount of money. After the king requested for payment to be made, the man found himself and his family being sold into slavery due to his inability to pay. In desperation, he asked the king for patience. Matthew 18:27 says that the king had pity on the man. The king did not just extend the deadline for payment, but forgave the debt all together!
After being released, the man found someone who owed him a significantly smaller amount of money and physically assaulted this debtor while requesting payment. Also unable to pay, the man sent his debtor to prison. News spread of what happened, finally reaching the ears of the king. The king told the man, “And should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33 ESV)
As God has forgiven you, so you should compassionately forgive your children. No matter the offense. Are you struggling with showing mercy to your child? Remember the ultimate standard of mercy in our King and the ways He has extended it to you. Recognize the enormous, impossible-to-pay debt for which you were mercifully forgiven and display it to your child.
What a beautiful opportunity we have to demonstrate the Gospel to our children! My son may only be two, but I pray I use these moments of training and correction wisely and for God’s glory.
May I no longer be the angry attachment parenting mama, but a mother who looks to Christ in all things, acting as His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) in my home and in the world.