Tonight as I walked to my car I overheard a father speaking extremely harshly to his son. I looked over at the man and the child expecting to see a teenager sneering at his dad, and I was surprised to see that the recipient of the father's ire was a small boy probably 3 years old or less. The man was speaking so loudly and telling the child to 'quit crying or he wasn't getting anything.' I thought to myself, How lame that a grown man has to intimidate a child into submission through the BOOM of his voice. Then I remembered how lame I am as a father sometimes. God forgive me.
Let's all be honest. It is way easier to yell and scream when our children don't follow directions than it is to be graceful and understanding and long-suffering. Long-suffering, huh; that't not a word we use much anymore is it? No one wants to suffer for a long time. We want what we want, and we want it NOW! When it comes to our kids, we demand perfection and obedience in a millisecond, or else we fly off the handle with a ridiculous amount of horror at the way our kids are treating us. Well, maybe you don't Mr. Perfect, but that's the way I roll sometimes. God help me.
I don't know if there is a better picture of selfishness than an irascible and insolent parent. I see these people all the time while I'm at work, walking through the aisles of my retail store hollering at their kids. A part of my heart breaks for these kids as I imagine what kinds of impressions are being left on their tender little minds. Another part of my heart breaks as I consider all the times I've treated my own children in a similar fashion. God save me.
All this is to say, parents love your children well, continually. Cultivate the virtues of patience, kindness, and gentleness. Be characterized by your grace and error on the side of being too tolerant. You're not a drill Sargent, and you certainly aren't God, so let's all band together in the goal of not acting like we're him.