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My Not-So-Great Parenting

My Not-So-Great Parenting

The LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty . . . Exodus 34:6-7

I love being a dad. Parenting has been one of my greatest joys in life. Still, I’ve not always been the greatest father. I’ve had my impatient moments that I look back on with regret. We laugh about some of these stories now, but if I could take them back, I would. Once, I was out moving snow with the snowblower to make a snow fort for the kids (and me), when my young daughter wanted to come out. She was a little needy though, and kept interrupting my work.

I was frustrated with my slow progress, pushing through hard, crusted snow and so, when she came to me the third or fourth time, interrupting my snowblowing, I impatiently sent her inside. Can’t you see that I’m trying to make you a snow pile? I later learned that while I was ignoring her, she’d gotten her tongue frozen to a metal post on our dock, which was sitting in the yard for the winter. She’d yelled for me to help, but I couldn’t hear. She eventually ripped her tongue free and came to me, but I impatiently dismissed her, sending her inside to her mother, who discovered her bleeding tongue. I felt terrible when I later found out. Like I said – not-so-great parenting.

This is what I thought of when I read today’s passage, in which God described himself to Moses. God declared that he is merciful, loving, and patient, but also just, not tolerating evil forever. God is the model of perfect parenting, the kind of parent we want as kids and the kind of parent we want to be for our children. God is everything I’m not. God’s perfection makes me aware of my imperfection.

When we struggle and fail, God patiently guides us, loving us even when we’re unlovable. He doesn’t tolerate our nonsense forever though, eventually disciplining us when we fail to repent. God is the perfect balance of patience and justice, of love and truth. In our own parenting, we should strive to be like him. Often though, we fail in one direction or another. In one extreme, we’re too merciful, never correcting bad behavior, thereby enabling it. In the other extreme, we’re too impatient, always angry and judgmental. If we desire to be the parents God desires though, we must emulate him – practicing both patience and justice. We must be slow to anger, but we must also call out self-destructive behavior when required. Good parenting, like God, is a perfect balance of love and truth.

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