My wife and I have two boys under two years old, and our home feels a bit crazy. Our oldest has entered the “terrible twos,” where he demands what he wants and throws a tantrum if you don’t give in. It really is overwhelming when you hear your kids screaming for extended periods of time. The temptation to give in is strong. Despite the chaos at times, we love both our boys more than I can express and wouldn’t trade this time for anything.
The reality is that parenting isn’t the most glamorous, nor does it fit with the Instagram or Facebook family you see online. It is easy to think that we are the only ones having these problems because of how we tend to project our best self on social media.
As we move into the new year, we will encounter new challenges and opportunities in our parenting. Trusting God during these times will be difficult, but trusting God in the hard times is what it means to truly trust him. We must believe him when things are hard and seem to be falling apart, not just when everything is going the way we want.
We are all children
When your child is having a meltdown or throwing a fit, it is easy to get angry and annoyed at them. But as the parent, you often know what is best for them even if they don’t understand. For example, my oldest son doesn’t understand that he isn’t able to take all of his beloved stuff animals into the tub with him each night. This has led to a few outbursts when we don’t follow his directions. He doesn’t have the categories or even the language for me to rationalize my decision to him, much less explain that it is bedtime.
During these moments, God has been reminding me that I am a child, too. I am a child of God and often react with anger and sadness when I don’t get my way. My plans are usually different from God’s plans. I know there have been multiple times that I acted like my son does. I may not have thrown a tantrum, but I have acted like I was right and he was wrong. God doesn’t always give me what I want, nor what I think is best most of the time. This is pure grace though. I need to be reminded in those moments that God is sovereign, and I am not. He is ultimately wise, and I am not. He has my best interest at heart; I often do not. While I don’t claim to be sovereign in relation to my kids, I do know a little more than they think I do.
This is a sobering thought and a reminder to trust God during the tantrums. God doesn’t lose his cool with me, nor does he get angry with me when I rebel against him. That anger and wrath has already been poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross, and God sits patiently beside me. He is inviting me to trust him. He is infinitely patient, loving, and merciful when I don’t deserve anything of the sort. He is leading me to something greater than what I am fixated on in the moment. He is pointing me back to Jesus as my only hope, just as we are called to do for our own children.
Our children are gifts
In parenting, we are tasked with more than just taking care of our children and making sure they don’t do something dumb that could hurt them. Our peripheral goal as parents is protecting our kids from something that will hurt them, but our ultimate goal goes much further than that. We are called to disciple our children and point them back to the Lord as the one who knows all things. They are given to us as a stewardship and a gift that is meant to be used to glorify our Father in heaven. When my kids seem to be losing their minds, however, it is easy to forget this truth.
Kids are a gift to us, and we need to be reminded that God has designated us to be a part of their sanctification process. He chose us and is using us to guide, lead, and discipline them in ways that honor God and point them back to him as their only hope in this life. We are to steward the gift of our children because they are, in the end, not ours but God’s. We are entrusted with them for a time in order to help them grow and mature. As parents, this role and responsibility uniquely falls to us and cannot be passed on to anyone else.
Parenting is hard, yet it is extremely rewarding. For years, my wife and I struggled to have children. We longed for the euphoric days and the perfect family we often saw on social media. We wanted it so badly. After a series of fertility appointments and treatments, God blessed us with our first son and then another soon after that. This side of parenthood isn’t as dreamy as it seemed but it is definitely a blessing. This is true even when I’m being yelled at during bath time.
Tantrums are a part of parenting our kids, and our jobs are to remember that we are all children ourselves and that we are instrumental to our children’s sanctification. Long after the water-soaked clothes dry from angry splashes in the bathtub and after our ears stop ringing from the screams, we will remember that God has called us to this task and that he provides for us in the midst of the hard times. As we start a new year with unforeseen blessings and challenges, let’s stand firm and remember the truth of our calling.