A grumpy son

Posted on · Posted in Communication, Parenting

Mom just asked nine-year-old Ryan to watch his two younger sisters while she finished getting ready for company dinner. Ryan responds slowly. Instead of forcing the issue in a way that would certainly lead to discipline, mom calls Ryan over to the couch to sit with her. (Parenting is not an automated routine. In another instance, pursuing direct discipline might have been appropriate. Here mom is exercising wisdom as to how to best help Ryan where he is right now.)

“Ryan, It is has been a hard day, huh?”

“I guess so”.

“Let me see, school didn’t go well, you don’t feel great, your favorite basketball team lost last night, the storm kept you from going outside, and now I want you to watch your sisters. Is that some of what has you down?”

“Yeah and Jason hasn’t wanted to hang-out much lately.”

“Ah, I wondered about that when I saw he was hanging out with some other guys at church on Sunday. That’s kind of hard, too, huh?”

“Yeah, mom. I didn’t know you knew about that stuff.”

“That’s my job, Ryan. What happens in your life matters to me.”

“Thanks, mom. Does this mean I still have watch Sarah and Michelle?”

“It does. But what is really important is for you know who is directing what happens in your life?”

“Yeah, I know, God. But it still seems unfair.”

“Sweetheart, I know that is how you feel. But, how you feel is not the most important thing in life, right?”

“I know, I know. That is what you and dad keep saying. But I know dad is not too happy about the basketball game either.”

“You are right about that! But he knows that God is good and he went to work just like he always does. And right now, you need to trust God and go play with your sisters while I finish getting ready. Okay.”

“Okay mom.”

Later, after dinner is over and the girls are in bed, dad comes over to Ryan.

“Hey kid, mom tells me you have had kind of a rough day.”

“Yeah, but she helped me get through it, even though I was kind of grumpy.”

“Your mom is like that. Hey, you want to try a little bit of the brownie that mom made for tomorrow?”

“Sure! But…”

“You are wondering why you should get a treat, when you have not exactly been the most pleasant kid on the planet today?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Ryan, God does not treat us as our sins deserve. If God treated you and me the way our sins deserve we would be in big trouble. You know that, right?”

“I know dad, you’re right.”

“Cool. Do you think there is something you need to talk to mom about?”

“Yeah, I need to ask her to forgive me for being so grumpy today. Thanks for understanding.”

Conversations like this do not happen by accident. There is no magic technique that can be employed. This kind of conversation is the result of praying and planning by mom and dad. It is the result of carefully observing the things going on in their children’s world. In this case, mom made a judgment call as to how best to address grumpiness with Ryan. This is the result of a consistent commitment to God being lived out in everyday life.

These conversations are part of a conscious effort by Ryan’s parents to make God’s wisdom attractive to their children. This is one way to adorn your children with beauty of the gospel.

Everyday Talk

Everyday Talk

Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.