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Grace, Delivered by a Child November 25, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in anger, Communication, Discipline, Family, Football, Love, Parenting/Children, Self-Worth, Sports, Stupidity.


It’s a simple word, and one that takes on a variety of meanings in today’s culture. For instance, we may “say grace” or say that someone “exhibits a certain grace” when they move.


Or, we might experience the strange wonder of undeserved forgiveness. This is what the Apostle Paul talks about in the New Testament book of Romans. Typically, parents expect to be the “givers of grace.” A more amazing grace is that which can be delivered by your child.

Not long ago, my youngest son touched a nerve. Actually, that’s not true. It would be more accurate to say that he hit the nerve with a hammer.

Now, to be fair, I had already had a lousy day. It was a frustrating day at work, and my patience had been tested many times. When I walked in from the garage, I saw my son playing a video game, surrounded by a dozen or so soft-drink cans.

“WHY? Why do we have to put up with this?” I demanded. By the second word, it wasn’t yelling. It was screaming. “You know, we don’t ask for much around here, but we don’t even get that. We ask for silly things like keeping the dirty clothes off the floor, picking up your dishes, throwing away empty cans… What part of that do you just not understand?”

I went on, but you get the idea. By the time I was finished, my 15 year-old, football playing son, appeared to be near tears. I stomped up the stairs, leaving him there… speechless.

When I got upstairs, my wife asked what was wrong. “He’s left a complete disaster in the basement, never does anything about it, and we’ve been after him for weeks to take care of it. And now I’m mad at myself for losing it.”

“Really?” she asked, “It sounded like you were in a bad mood before you came in the door.”

The only thing more annoying than being mad at yourself for doing something stupid is to have someone else point (accurately) out the truth of the situation. Her assessment didn’t help.

The Apology
I took a few minutes to cool off, and then went back downstairs to apologize for losing my cool. He didn’t say anything as I came down and sat near him. He paused the video game, suspecting that I had more to say.

“First of all” I began, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for losing it and talking to you the way I did. I may have had a reason to be upset, but I had no excuse for making it seem like there aren’t things that you do right.”

I continued, “You do so many things right, and your mom and I are so proud of you. I was out of control, and you caught all the frustration of my bad day. You didn’t do something to deserve that, and you deserve better than that from me. I’m sorry.”

The Amazing Moment of Grace
The heading here is a lie. There wasn’t just one amazing moment of grace, there were two. The first came immediately, when he looked me in the eye and said “It’s OK, Dad. It’s OK.”

The second moment of grace came a couple of weeks later. Sitting at McDonald’s, we were talking about some prospective football players for the high school team next year. My son mentioned a boy who has great physical ability, but hasn’t been involved in sports for several years. (Instead, he’s been hanging around with the stoner crowd.)

“I hope his dad doesn’t push him too hard,” I offered. “He and his dad haven’t had the best relationship in recent years, and his dad pushing him could make things worse. I think football could give him a chance to express who he is and establish his identity.”

My son then responded with a question that embodied grace. “Why is it that so many kids can’t talk to their parents Dad? Why is it that we can talk to you guys, but so many kids can’t?”

It took me a minute to respond. In asking the question, my son had given me a compliment that meant more than anything an adult could say.

“I don’t know for sure, but I think maybe some parents don’t really listen. Another thing that you and your brother have done is responded to us treating you like adults… by acting like adults. As you’ve become older, we’ve given you more and more freedom and you’ve been responsible with it. In other words, I think a good bit of the credit for this situation should go to you.”

My son smiled, finished his burger, and we headed for the car. I was smiling too.

That’s what grace feels like.


1. Tim - November 27, 2006

Yes, I agree that I am very fortunate in that regard. Raising boys brings different issues than girls (according to my Mom). I’m not sure one is easier than the other. They just require a different tack. 🙂 – Tim

2. tiffanytaylor - November 27, 2006

You’re very fortunate to be able to talk to him, in the same way that I’m very fortunate to be able to talk to my daughter. My son is showing more resistance to open communication — it’s weird to raise a boy and see him develop his Official Male Shell as he starts adolescence. Testosterone does some odd things to people. I’m hopeful that he’ll communicate more with my husband (whom my daughter is resistant to talk with). As long as both of them will talk to one of us, we should be OK… 😀

3. Rose - November 30, 2006

What a great peek into child rearing…the Gooch way. Thanks for your openness – I love to see open communication with parents…I had that same relationship with my Mom and we talked about everything. It made a huge difference in my upbringing

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