I do not want to get all of you new dieters, runners, and organizers depressed. But the odds of your New Year’s Resolution coming true are not in your favor. (Sorry Hunger Game Fans.) Eight percent. That’s right. According to Statistic Brain only 8% of those self-starters will accomplish their 2017 mid-night goals by 2018. In other words if you and nine of your best friends all made resolutions, there is a chance that all ten of you will fail. How’s that for 2017? Yikes!
Change is hard. And substantial, demonstrative character change is all but impossible when left up to you and me. Sure we might be able to put aside soda for 365 days, but we cannot be nicer, kinder, or wiser on our own. Such goals always end in disappointment. Perhaps this is why 51% of us completely forgo all pretense at change and didn’t even bother to make a New Year’s resolution.
So what do all these dour New Year’s Eve stats have to do with parenting? Everything.
We tend to get angry, disappointed, and loud with our children because they fail to change. Our kids fail to understand that biting the furniture is bad idea; they fail to see that skipping their homework is foolish; and, they fail to grasp arguing over their choirs is pointless. In short, our kids refuse to change. We tell them again and again to do better, to trust more, or to listen close. And yet, they still refuse to comply to our standards, to our hopes, and to our goals. And when we have had enough, we lose it. We shout, pound our fist, and begin the lecture series anew, wondering, “Why won’t those losers change?”
Sadly, we don’t have to look far for the reason. We just have to peer inside our own hearts.
The reason our kids do not change is the same reason we cannot achieve our New Year’s Resolutions. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot make ourselves better people on our own. Likewise, our kids are powerless to change themselves. They are powerless to change their hearts.
When our kids mess up for the umpteenth time, we should not get mad. We should not blow up. Rather, we should extend mercy and grace as we correct them. We need to approach our children with humble hearts that our ready to forgive. As the Scripture says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Eph. 4:32. Nothing your children have done or will do, we compare to what God has done for us.
God has forgiven us. And now, we can forgive our kids over and over again. We can patiently contend with them, seeking to lead them to Christ. And though the days can appear dark (horrible dark at times) we know that we can survive, because parenting is not up to us. God is working through us. He gives us to the power to hold our tongue, to ask our children’s forgiveness for our sin, and to patiently endure our kids’ new haircut.As Pastor and author Paul David Tripp said,
If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation.
If we try to parent in our own strength, our parent success rate will probably resemble that our New Year’s resolutions. But if we rely upon our heavenly Father recognizing that we are sinners in need of mercy parenting smaller sinners in need of mercy, we will succeed. We will succeed in becoming more patient, kind, and wise. The more we look to Christ and meditate and him and his work, the more we will become like Christ! Are you ready to shift your focus from you and your kids to the God of the universe?