This is a story told to me by a friend this week. She is a brilliant, loving, friend, and mother to one little girl aged three, as well as three rambunctious boys aged 8, 8 & 6. She desires so much for her children to grow up to be holy servants of Christ. I retell the story here for you all because of what happened next…
A little while later I told the boys they could stop. They apologized and then asked if they could keep cleaning. "Um What?" Joyfully, the three boys finished the walls in the room, then moved on to cleaning their own rooms.
I love this story because it highlights the importance of having our children serve some penance for their actions. Getting mad at our children shouldn't be the punishment. Yelling at our children shouldn't be the punishment. We should be giving our children a chance to serve some meaningful penance for their misdeeds.
God the Father has giving us the gift of reconciliation through the sacrament of confession. It includes verbally admitting or confessing ones sins, showing sorrow for those sins, receiving absolution, and serving penance. The act of penance gives us something concrete that we can do as an expression of love. The sacrament invites God back into our lives to heal our soul.
I love going to confession as do my boys because they feel so free once it is over. It can be a drag to actually go. We have to stop playing and waiting in line which is never easy for a 9 and 12 year old boy. But they are so light and joyful when they we head home afterward.
When my friend told me this story I thought immediately to the example that she was setting in her home. A sin was committed when the children were disobedient in crossing the street and, compounded when the son shouted at his father. The mother (being closer in proximity to the children) responded swiftly and took away the privilege they were expecting (going for a treat). Many families would have stopped here and sent the kids to a time out or just told them to go play. This mom gave her kids the chance to repair the damage - to physically DO something to heal the relationship - and it gave the boys and the mother great joy.
So next time you are dishing out the discipline in our home, think about giving your kids the chance to do something concrete for you. You set a great example of the gift of penance and you may just end up with some clean walls.
Thanks for stopping by to think with me!