Saturday was a bad day. Well, actually about half an hour of Saturday was bad. The brief spurt between the end of my son’s basketball game and our departure for family pictures was 30 minutes of unadulterated chaos. The majority of the disaster revolved around two things–my son’s meltdown and my failure to react well to it. In the course of 30 minutes I acted in some ways I never want to as a father–being impatient, threatening punishment, and yelling. While I hate that I reacted in those ways, I do think there are some redemptive things that can come out of such parenting failures.
The opportunity to model responsibility.
When I fail in one respect or another as a dad I have the opportunity to take responsibility for my actions. I could have gone to my son and given him all the “reasons” I didn’t react the way I should have. I could have pushed the blame onto him for melting down (because an 8-year-old should be more mature than a 35-year-old, right?). We live in a society that often seeks every course of action other than taking responsibility for our actions. I don’t want my son to grow up to be one of those people. Times like Saturday allow me to go to him and clearly take responsibility for my actions.
The opportunity to engage conflict in healthy ways.
I have hated conflict for as long as I can remember. I have always avoided conflict. That’s not a good thing. When conflict is avoided or mishandled it leads to a negative impact on relationships. When it is engaged and worked through it actually adds depth and character to relationships. It makes them stronger. I’ve been learning that, especially in the past five years, and this was another opportunity to grow as a person and model positive conflict resolution for my son.
The opportunity for my son to extend forgiveness.
I won’t be the only one who does something wrong to my son in his life. I also won’t be the only one who wants to be forgiven. I want to be a person who can forgive others and I want that for my kids too. My failure gave my son the opportunity to practice forgiving. I hope this leads to an ability to forgive others as well–even those who don’t particularly care to be forgiven.
The opportunity to be forgiven.
I would rather extend forgiveness to someone than receive it myself. When I mess up with my kids, my wife, or others I love I have an especially hard time forgiving myself. But I need to be able to receive forgiveness from others. It is an important part of deep relationships and is a core component of my faith.
The opportunity to see the strength of our relationship.
Later on Saturday we had some good times together. As we were riding in the car together I was struck by the beauty of relationships that can withstand some meltdowns and failures. Our relationship is no worse off because of his meltdown or my failure in response–if anything it’s probably better. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this and it made me long to continue becoming the kind of parent, husband, and friend who can fail and be failed by others.