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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hurt Teaches

As a mom of preschoolers, I would easily slip into thinking my entire job as a parent is to protect. When we have babies, we protect them so much, because they need us to stay alive! Then as toddlers & preschoolers, they actively try to kill themselves everyday by jumping down the stairs, or walking into the street. Protect, protect, protect.

But somewhere along the line, protection no longer becomes our main goal. Complete protection can become detrimental to their growth.

Recently one of my sons was crying during a consequence for being too rough with his brother. He looked at me and forcefully said, "You hurt my feelings!"

 This isn't new from him. As a recovering yelling mom, I have given my kids permission to tell me if my anger has turned to yelling. Please note that I mean out of control yelling, not the slightly raised Mom voice you occasionally need with your kids.

But as kids do, he has taken this permission and pushed it too far on many occasions. Several times before he has told us his feelings are hurt when he gets a negative consequence.

But this time, I knew I hadn't lost my temper, and he was just upset at being disciplined. His consequences included not only a loss of privileges, but he wasn't allowed to play with his brother for 20 minutes. I looked into his eyes as he cried about how sad he was about not being able to play with his best friend (his brother) and God prompted me to say,

"Sometimes the hurt feelings are the consequence."

The moment it left my mouth I knew my Heavenly Father was wanting me to hear this truth in my own heart. He had already whispered this truth to me in my own feelings, in times I have cried out to Him.

Sometimes the hurt isn't even from a choice we made ourselves, but it is no less instructive about how we proceed in the future.

Hurt teaches.

I am not talking physical hurt either, because how quick are we to tell our kids that touching the stove with make them burn? But do we stress the emotional consequences of being mean to a friend,  that their friend may not want to play with them anymore?    Do we discuss how if a friend lies to them, that feeling of betrayal then teaches them to put trust in someone else more worthy?  Do we stress how if they break the confidence of a friend, their friend then loses precious trust in them?

 It is easy to say with my head that my kids need to feel consequences of their actions, but sometimes my mama's heart revolts.  We want to protect.  We want to protect them from friends who hurt them, or from the pain of loss. Sometimes we protect them with a more selfish motivation, knowing their consequences will also effect us in some way we'd prefer not to deal with. To shield my child from consequences of his actions would be to render him powerless. He has power over his actions,  and must therefore feel their consequences.

Our role as parents is not to inflict hurt or completely shield them from it, but to help them try to understand the lesson the hurt is teaching.

Hurt teaches.

When we feel the pain of our own actions, we repent. We chose our actions more wisely the next time.  We learn the healing power of when we are forgiven.

When we feel the pain of someone else's actions, we can learn how hard it is to forgive, and how freeing it is to forgive. We learn how to choose friends wisely.  We learn how to not let bitterness take root.

Hurt teaches. LORD, help me learn the lesson it's teaching.

This a picture of my boys sitting in time-out at my in-laws Christmas Tree Farm.
Their disobedience led to them missing a fun  wagon ride to the tree fields and they were so cute while sulking that  I couldn't help but snap a picture.

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