Two of my best friends have boys who are just a half-year or so younger than Avery. We get together often to play during the week. One of these boys, especially, is naturally more aggressive than my daughter. It’s been an issue in the past because he likes to push her buttons and she likes to scream. It’s one of those love-hate relationships for sure. We’ve noticed lately, however, that they have been getting along great. Either way, they’ve always loved to play together and often ask about each other.
Suprisingly, my daughter recently said she didn’t want to play with him because “sometimes he hits.” It was a tremendous opportunity to teach her to pray for her oppressors–although his actions usually aren’t malicious, Avery just seems to get in the way when he’s excited or intense. Then, on Friday, my daughter was on the bully side of this equation, in a sense. At Target, we passed a 1-year-old girl being pushed in a cart by her mom. She had long wispy hair, no doubt her mom was growing it out, and a rather large head, but nothing unsightly. As we turned the corner to the next aisle–thankfully!–Avery commented, “That girl looked like Eyore.” What?!?!? “Eyore. The donkey.” I was so shocked that it was only by God’s grace I was able to hold it together and say simply, “That’s an interesting observation, but you have to be careful how you talk about other people because you might hurt their feelings. Everybody is different.” Obviously, no maliciuos intent here, but it was an opportunity to guide Avery’s thinking toward God’s standards and seeing people as God sees them.
No matter the circumstance, we need to take these opportunities to teach our children. Parents sometimes give children a keepable standard, but the Bible says to do good to those who mistreat you, instead of ignoring the behavior, laughing at others or–gasp!–fighting back. It requires God’s help to do that sometimes. But when you fail to hold children to God’s standard, you rob them of learning the mercy of the Gospel.
Read more about this kind of life lesson in Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. It’s a must-read for all parents of preschoolers!
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44