The pain of parenting

As a father or 4 children with ages ranging from 7 to 1, I can honestly say that I am a radically different man now than I was almost 8 years ago anticipating the birth of my first-born. Being a parent is the ultimate paradox, a mixture of pure joy and absolute frustration. But it's the source of that frustration that has shaped me the most.

Go to any grocery/toy/big box store and you will see parents interacting with their children in ways that will make you cringe. When you see the fussing, yelling, nitpicking, and scolding, sometimes you want to intervene on behalf of the kids just to make sure they'll be okay. You tell yourself that would never be you.

But in the privacy of your own home, you realize that you, too, get just as frustrated at your children. Maybe you don't respond to them the way that you see others do publicly, but respond you do, whether it's blowing them off, spanking them, or speaking words of discouragement. But what is the source of this angst that as parents we sometimes feel?

The first thing I want to do is look at what my children have done wrong so that I can justify my frustration. Have they not listened? Have they been destructive? Have they been hateful to each other? Yet a closer look reveals a powerful truth to me: Much of what they do, they do because they've learned it from me.

When they raise their voices at each other is it because they've been the recipients of my loud rants? If they refuse to listen is it because they've been ignored by me when I've been "too busy" in the past? I sincerely believe that much of what my kids do "badly" is a directly result of what they've seen and heard their daddy do.

I know that we have to teach our children responsibility and character but it's hard for them to learn if I don't model it for them consistently. What pains me the most is when I fail my children in areas of discipline. They remember my harsh words and the times I mete out punishment rashly. Sure, I've apologized to my kids on several occasions for the times that I have blown it, yet I know that those mishaps have been seared into their little minds. My prayer is that they don't repeat some of the same mistakes that they've seen daddy stumble in.

Being a parent is incredible, but it is also painful. It's frustrating to "lose it" with your kids. However, some of the most incredible life lessons that I've learned come from those very moments where I have felt most inadequate as a dad. My children still need my counsel and my discipline, so I must strive daily to be a godly father who leads his children by example and not by error.

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