Question: I lost my patience and yelled at my child. How do I correct this?
Imagine the scene. It is 9:23 a.m. on Sunday. One child wants you to read a book. Another is dumping the cereal box upside down. Family members ask a barrage of questions: This shirt is wrinkled, do we own an iron? Weren’t you wearing socks? What is in your hair? Did I pack the snacks? The crayons? The books? Sunday school starts in 10 minutes! Let’s go! Let’s go!
Do your Sunday mornings look like this? Any parent will admit that getting out the door with children is an Olympic sport. Add the parents’ congregational involvement to that challenge and you have the picture of an overwhelmed family. Are there ways to stay organized and calm? Of course, and I’m sure you have tried them all.
But what happens when you aren’t calm? What happens when you respond to the stress of the situation with the negative behavior you hope your children will avoid? The answer is simple. You apologize.
As Martin Luther describes in the Augsburg Confession, we are both sinners and saints. A saint is the forgiven sinner. We are human so we sin, but we can ask for forgiveness and it will be given by the grace of God. Therefore, a powerful lesson to teach our children is to ask for forgiveness.
When your morning is stressful and your reaction ugly, correct it. First apologize to your child, explain your emotions, ask for forgiveness and then explain how you will do better. This response models how to seek forgiveness and learn from our reactions. It also teaches our children that we are all sinners just seeking to be saints.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Turn to the words of the Lord’s Prayer when your child is faced with relationship conflicts between family and friends. This simple phrase reminds children that we forgive because God first forgave us.
‘ The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.’