When my son was 3 or 4 and his behavior would start that quick slide downhill, we could begin to rein it in by rubbing his back. He would balk or resist but eventually he would ease into our touch. He’s 11 now and that still works. We rub his back and his arm and the stiffness begins to soften and his icy stare melts. Not always quickly but always eventually.
The problem? It’s harder to do this when he is being extra ornery and I am extra annoyed. But I’ve learned when I feel it the least is when I need to do it the most, to pull close when I want to push away.
My friend Cheryl says that when her young’uns most misbehave, she grabs them bear-hug style and says,
“I’m gonna hug the mean right outta you!”
I love it.
I picture God saying, “You’re behaving pretty mean right now, and I’m gonna love it right outta you!”
Another benefit of physical touch at the times I least feel like giving it? It tells my kids they remain in my good graces. It shows love, teaches forgiveness and invites restoration.
I don’t want to be the parent who simmers and brews and ruminates in my anger causing my kids to walk on eggshells while they wonder if I’m over it. I don’t want my kids to feel they are locked in the doghouse indiscriminately.
Sometimes I model this well, sometimes not.
Sometimes we need a cooling off period. Sometimes we need breathing room. But kids always need assurance that while some behavior is intolerable, they are wholly supported and accepted. And loved.
I want to pass the grace I desperately need onto them.
Lord, help me to do this today, to pass onto them a grace legacy.