We all have those days when we wonder if our parenting efforts are making a difference in our children's lives. But the fact is, it simply takes time for some lessons to have an impact. Kids rarely change overnight. But when we persist in looking for ways to help them grow, everyone wins.
Recently I walked into our basement and found my son Troy sitting on his older brother, Trent. "Stop it! Stop it!" Troy said. Trent, on the bottom, just laughed. When I asked what was going on, Troy said, "Trent's teasing me, and I want him to stop doing it!"
I don't recall saying anything especially wise at that moment. But over the next few weeks, it occurred to me that the teasing incident presented a chance to deepen the character of our boys. I began talking with them — sometimes individually, sometimes together — about how Jesus treated people with kindness and respect and how important it was for us to do the same.
I didn't know if any of my words were sinking in. Then came the evening when I was catching up on email and realized I'd forgotten to give the boys a cup of water at bedtime. I got up and discovered that Trent had just delivered a fresh sippy cup of water to Troy. It was a first. When I asked what motivated Trent to do it, he said, " 'Cause I love my brother."
Trent has a fabulously tender heart. He also can be strong-willed and often faces the temptation to be disrespectful toward others in the family. Yet more and more, I am seeing him resist that temptation and make good choices.
Worth the wait
The other day, an inappropriate outburst was clearly on the tip of his tongue. Yet he caught himself and said, "No, that is not how I should say it." Then he looked up at me and said, "Daddy, can I please go play?"
I was proud of Trent. I was also encouraged that our efforts seemed to be making a difference. It's never easy, but if you persevere through your parenting challenges, I believe you will see your kids develop a new level of maturity.
It might take a while, but it will be worth the wait.