The verse about “love covering a multitude of sins” has been coming to mind a lot lately in relation to my parenting.
I had always thought about that verse referring to your love covering your sins… but I’ve been realizing how often my own love helps my children with theirs. (I’m not someone who’s super comfortable with the term “sin” cause I think it’s a whole other can of worms, but bare with me.) At the age my children are we have A LOT of sibling conflicts going on, like, a lot. Compared to other small children I think they actually get along really really well, but some days it still feels like one of them can’t breath without the other taking it as a personal insult.
If I respond in anger, like if I were to spank one of them (I feel very blessed to be able to say my children have never experienced physical violence at the hands of adults they trust) or by yelling at everyone to “Just. Be. Nicer already!” (something I’m not proud to say I’ve done more times than I want to think about), what will I have accomplished? Nothing. At least in the long run. They may go be quiet and leave each other alone right now, they’ll probably get sneakier about their fighting so I don’t even know about it in the future making me think I’ve succeed… but I haven’t helped teach them how to better handle their emotions in the future. I haven’t helped teach them how to respond to anger with kindness by modeling that with my own actions. And I certainly wouldn’t have helped heal the rift in their own relationship.
If I respond with the cold and calculated efficiency advocated by many non-violent parenting sources, if I calmly separating them without showing any emotion “until you can play nicely and share” what will I have accomplished? I have stopped the problem in the moment, yes, and I haven’t added my own physical or emotional violence to the situation. But I also haven’t done anything to help them do better in the future.
But when I respond in love, when I respond by coming into the situation as a partner with compassion and understanding for all parties involved I can help actually heal the wounds. My love overflows onto them, and they in turn often respond with their own love and compassion that then overflows onto one another in the form of apologies, forgiveness, and constructive brainstorming of how they can both do better in the future. By responding in love I have helped actually fix the issue instead of just stopping the problem, I’ve also helped them repairing what was broken between them/in them AND gave them the tools to do that themselves in the future.
Does that mean the chaos won’t erupt again in an hour? Not necessarily. But I’ve been learning how to handle conflict for almost three decades now and still feel like I only do a good job half the time… I can absolutely extend some grace to people who have only had a couple years of practice.
Within parenting my love can cover not only a multitude of my own questionable decisions, it’s also capable of covering a multitude of fractures within my childrens’ relationship and within themselves, or a multitude of their “sin” if you’re more comfortable with that term.
The fact that I have the power to do that blows my mind… that’s an amazing power… that’s a HUGE deal! And at this age I have the power to do that about 100 times a day. That’s a lot of power for good that I’ve been entrusted with.
Anyway, that’s what’s been growing in my heart lately.