Do your children see two types of parents? When things go well do they see parents that are content and pleased that things are under control? However, when things enter the twilight zone of disobedience and chaos do they see parents who are upset and whose only focus is to get things back under control, no matter what it takes? Kindness seems out of place in this twilight zone. But if God’s love for you is your model, kindness is always appropriate.
Being kind does not mean you don’t discipline or correct. It does not mean you roll over and give your kids control of the house. It does not mean lowering standards. Being kind means that you show God to your children. It means you follow God’s good example that he is always kind and compassionate with you, even when he disciplines you.
Love is kind. You are trusting that God will provide his wisdom in difficult situations. You are demonstrating the extraordinary holiness of God by the way you act. Your words are pleasant. Your focus is clear. Your manner is kind. Yes, there are consequences for sin. But the consequences are administered in light of the gospel grace that has been given to you.
Your five-year-old has once again forgotten to pick up his toys. You can “lose it” in frustration and tell him:
“How many times do I have to tell you to pick up your toys. It is not that hard! You pick up one toy at a time and carry it over to the toy box. Here, I’ll show you. Now you do it. Was that hard?”
“Good, now next time you know what to do. Mommy is tired telling you to do this everyday. Do you promise to pick up your toys, really promise?”
“Okay, don’t forget!”
This is one way to do it. But there is more frustration than kindness at work here.
Here is another way.
“Nathan, you forgot to pick up your toys. You know I love you. We have talked about your forgetting many times, haven’t we?”
“Yes, mommy. I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
“Honey I do forgive you! But you also know that mommy has to obey God and discipline you when your forget to obey. Come on with me. We will get the discipline over with and then we can pray and then I’ll work with you to get things put away. You will be doing this all by yourself in no time. Nathan, I love you so much.”
“Mommy, I love you, too.”
A combination of pleasant words, consistent discipline given with a kind and gentle spirit that honors God will help Nathan to become a young man who is responsible for what he does.