By Bruce Reyes-Chow
Yesterday I had one of the those “bad daddy” moments. You see, Youngest has a reputation for being a tad bit messier and all-over-the-place than the rest of the family. Now this could certainly be one of those situations where we have to question if this is truly who God has created her to be or whether this is the identity to which we have assigned her in the family. Whatever the case may be, Youngest is carefree, creative and, yes, a tad bit messy [see pic #1].
So last night during our bedtime ritual as she was getting her night-time cup of water, I hear this crash behind me and feel this wetness on my back. Yep, water spilled all over the kicthen, all over my bag and all over dad.
Dad did not respond well. With raised voice, the “Why did you . . .” admonitions began. All of the things we should not say to our kids because we know what will make them feel bad were said. You get the story.
And of course, the tears come, the “The world is against me” cries start and, quite frankly, I felt like crap. After all, I am the grown up in this scenario charged with helping my children develop good ways of handling frustration. But this time my frustration got the better of me and I did nothing at that particular moment to help her grow into the child that I think God intends her to be. In my frustration, I reminded her of the worst of what her daddy thinks of how she acts, mostly because it is different than my world.
Again, I felt like crap.
So . . . after a moment of deep breathing, I held her sweet face in my hands [see pic #2] and said these words – that were really more of a reminder to me – to her, “Sweetie, daddy is sorry he yelled at you. Sometimes I get frustrated with you just like you get frustrated with me, but I love you and my heart is full of joy knowing that I get to be your daddy.” I kissed her one more time and then said, “Now go to bed.”These are those moments when I am reminded to deeply that as parents – no matter how you define that: directly or indirectly raising the children of the world – we must see parenting as a gift and a calling. If we do not, then the frustration and resentment will overcome us and it will define the ways in which we raise our children . . . and in turn it will define the world of the future.
So . . . while getting frustrated is understandable and real in our lives when dealing with children, ultimately we must also be the grown-up’s and step back and remember that they have been given to our care. Many individuals did not choose this “gift” and may even resent it, but we as a society, if we care about the future of us all, we will embrace our the journey of raising our children as the wonderful gift that it is.
Bruce Reyes-Chow is the founding pastor of Mission Bay Community Church, a young, urban and quirky Presbyterian Church located in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. Bruce recently finished a two-year term as Moderator (the highest elected official) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination.
This article originally appeared at Bruce Reyes-Chow’s blog.