Friday, March 22, 2002

On being a rotten parent

Last night was a very frustrating night. My four-year-old daughter, Amanda, has pink-eye. She is supposed to receive drops in her eyes three times a day. Amanda doesn’t want drops in her eyes three times a day. She doesn’t want drops in her eyes once a day. She would rather be forced to sit still for ten straight hours than get drops in her eyes. (Actually, if given the choice between the two, she’d choose neither. She has yet to fully grasp the concept that a choice between several things you don’t like has to include one of the things you don’t like. But I digress.)

I tried a variety of tactics to get the drops in her eyes, but they all boiled down to bribery, threats, or force. Last night, none of them worked. (I didn’t really try force. I made her sit in my lap, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make her hold her eye open against her will.) She kept getting more and more upset, taking more and more time. Eventually I had to give up. By that time it was also time for Emily, my six-year-old, to also go to bed, so they both went without our usual long story time. I really didn’t know what to do in this situation. I felt bad for Emily since she missed out on the story and had to put up with all the screaming from Amanda. I felt bad for Amanda because she needs the medicine, plus it does her no good to win fights with me. (More on that thought later.) And I felt bad for me because it put the whole evening in a depressing mode.

I am glad that I had the grace to not try to really force her to take the drops. In a situation like this it is very hard to tell how much of her behavior is motivated by fear and how much is willful disobedience.

A good friend and I were talking yesterday about how much our image of God comes from our fathers. It is an awesome responsibility. I realize that I fail miserably in that responsibility in many ways. Yet, I also have many times where I can see that Jesus gave me the grace to do the right thing, say the right word, and show my children the love of the Father.

We have to be really humble, begging God to make us the parents we should be and to protect our children from our failings.

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