This past week, we endured the passing of another dear family member, the third grandparent lost to us within the past year. In this time of grief, a great amount of family warmth, laughter, joy and memories were shared. The grief was real, and the reality was sad, but the time was good.
Today, as I was dealing with the poor attitude of one of our boys, I endured another time of grief, much less profound. And yet, this grief was also very real.
My son has been testing the waters of parent follow-through. Today, exasperated, I explained to him that he would lose a privilige this evening if he continued to react to others in so poor a manner. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was frustrated with myself for offering so thoughtless a punishment. For, in using this withdraw of privilege, I was offering something costly to both him and me. In that instant I couldn’t help but mentally plead with him, “Please don’t go there.”
But, sure enough, he did. It was not as on purpose so much as out of habit, for he has been in the habit as of late of not following directions. Sometimes, in these moments, I would “rescue him,” by offering a lesser sentence. But I have since realized that this is likely how we came to the place where he has little regard for obedience – for the punishment often did not end up hurting all too much.
And so today, I explained to him that he would have to endure the loss. He was upset and shed tears. Hearing him from the kitchen, I was sad at his loss. And we both grieved.
Sure, this is a temporary loss, unlike that of my grandfather who will forever be missed and live on in our hearts.
But there is real grief as a parent when your child hurts.
But, in the end, this small, temporary grief will be worth it. Someone said this weekend to me that all death leads to life. Plants die and give birth to seeds. Animals die and give nourishment to soil. We die and give way to a new life with Jesus. And, in the same way, the grief of our children, caused to purpose them to better lives as adults, gives way to life with better reason and preparedness.
In my son’s tears, the seeds of obedience spring forth.
And, in the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.”
And so, we press on with our kids, giving them “good grief.”