parental whiplash

Sometimes we do things right. Sometimes we make big mistakes.

I think that our Father is not so much concerned with the weight of one to the other, as how we respond in each of the situations.

A week or so ago I got a text about one of my kids from their teacher. They had stood up for a friend who was being picked on at school. My mommy’s heart was so proud…  I have been talking to them both about being more than kids who do the right thing… but being kids who stand up against the wrong thing. And so it was such an encouragement to see in action the words spoken into my kiddos' hearts, affirmation that something might actually be going right at home… which is always great because no one knows better than me how messed up things can be there at times!

I was on a mommy high. The kind where your heart is full of pride at the people your kids are growing into being. I may or may not have made a Facebook status to that end.

And then, literally minutes later, the phone rang. My husband asked “Which of the kids have been buying things with their Kindles?”… wha? huh? seriously? The kids that I may or may not have just posted about being incredible kids… have overdrawn his checking account?

Talk about parental whiplash.

The rest of the phone conversation was a mix of “I-can’t-believes” and “Surely-there’s-a-mistakes”… but the proof was there, in his hands. A bank statement with not one, or two, or four “Amazon Digital” charges. 

But twenty-nine.

Hanging up the phone, I quietly asked “who has been buying things with their kindle???”

One small hand silently raised to shoulder level.

My heart sunk. The “surely not’s” became reality. Twenty-nine times my child had pressed buy to the tune of $183.40. Plus fees for the overdrawn account.

I may or may not have removed a facebook status about being proud of the incredible people my children were growing into being. One had stood up to a bully at school, the other had overdrawn our checking account. Life has a way of leveling the parental teeter-totter.

That evening turned into a lecture/fact-finding mission that would not end.  Surely they were confused and did not realize what they were doing? Surely they forgot that the kindle fire was tied to our checking account? Surely??

But when it all boiled down, and I asked the simple question “Did you know you were doing something wrong when you hit buy?”, and two big, sad brown eyes peered back at me with a quiet but honest “yes”… there was no longer any question.

At that moment my heart was flooded with a swell of emotions.

Disappointment… they knew better. They had been warned, threatened, and reminded.

Frustration… did I mention they knew better? Seriously, I could imagine once, or twice… but twenty-nine times! In 24 hours?! And they didn’t even buy apps, just upgrades to a game they were playing…

Hurt… because they were so disappointed in themselves. So embarrassed. So sad. The tears flowed steadily all night long and it always hurts to see your child hurting.

But more surprising than any other emotion was the…


Not one time did they deny their actions, or make excuses. No whining about consequences or punishments. In fact they had volunteered to sell something near and dear to their heart in order to pay daddy back. They agreed without question to using their chore money to pay him back in the meantime. The kindle was handed over, without the weeping and gnashing of teeth that have accompanied its restriction in the past.  When we explained that they would have to go into the banker and apologize for overdrawing daddy’s account, they looked me right in the eye with an “okay”, and then dropping their chin to their chest, cried silently.

The consequences hurt, but they have walked through each one of them without question. Without whining. Without excuses or blame shifting or fit throwing.

And there is a part me that knows… the lesson has been learned. Neither of my children will ever, ever, ever make a Kindle transaction without our express written consent in the future.  The lesson was learned the moment they were caught and that hand rose slowly into the air.

But there still must be discipline. There still must be consequence.  What would be learned if we covered the mistake with no price to pay? With no sacrifice?

I think of the passage of scripture that says our Father “disciplines those He loves”.  It is a good thing to have a Father who loves you enough to discipline you. To sit, as Jim did with our child, and say “I love you so much. SO MUCH. Had you just asked I would have given you an amount you could spend. But this is unacceptable. You took more than your daddy had to give you…”

My mom cautioned me when my daughter was a toddler and my son was just a baby- ”Becky, you aren’t raising children. You are raising adults… keep that in mind”

It’s good to have a Daddy who will discipline you. It’s good to know the Father’s love. Love that is deep enough He can not be satisfied with you being anything less than mature and complete. Who is raising us up to be a people set apart, different. That loves us enough to walk us through difficult times... times that refine us and grow us.

It’s also good to know, that in the moments of our greatest triumphs and our greatest mistakes… the Father is still proud. That He never gets parental whiplash. He is never surprised by anything we do, or do not do. That when we walk in obedience, or disobedience... He loves us just the same. Just as I love my kids... when they are right and when they are wrong. Just as I have been so proud of them over this last week, of their courage and humility and integrity in the face of major consequences.

And so, tonight I can say with no wavering, with no doubt… how incredibly proud I am of my children. How blessed I am to have the opportunity to be their mommy, and how proud I am of the people they are becoming. Not because they are perfect… but because of who they are, even in the midst of major league mistakes.

And no matter what you have done... right or wrong... I can so easily hear Daddy God saying the same thing… about you.

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