Last night I was very disappointed with my son’s defiance when I tried to teach him to say “milk”. He shook his head vehemently and said “no” forcefully several times, indicating that he understood me, but did not want to comply with my requests in the least. Then he screamed and cried and remained defiant for more than half an hour until I gave in. I gave in because when I looked him in the eyes I could tell that he didn’t understand why mommy was being so mean and withholding his milk from him, so I gave it to him.

But what troubled me afterwards was my reaction to this whole episode. I knew that my son is only a toddler, and is liable to have temper tantrums, and yet, I found myself angry with him to the point where I wanted some type of “revenge” on him for his bad behavior. I managed to give him some compliments for some good behavior after he drank his milk, but overall I sulked in my anger, and remained mostly quiet for the next hour or so. I think he could tell because he came over to me and sat beside me on the couch, playing quietly, as if trying to please me, until I put him to bed. (He did not get a bath or bedtime story due to his behavior). My husband put him down in the crib, and he sat with a sad frown, and then we went out of the room, and I heard no protest from him. Then I reflected on my thoughts and feelings, confessed them to DH and forced myself to forgive my son, determined to start over with a new day the next morning. I prayed and ask God to help me love my son with His unconditional love, because my own human love was inadequate.

This morning I realized that my anger is a dangerous thing, and that in the past, it led me to do some things that generally alienated other people from me. I remembered the verses that God is “slow to anger and abounding in love”, and that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.” Then I contemplated and realized that my son did not know what he was doing when he defied me. In the same way, Jesus, when he hung upon the cross, cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Next time someone hurts me or angers me, I should remember this–that they are like large toddlers that do not know what they are doing. And I must learn to be slow to become angry.

Immediately I felt compassion for my son, and resolved that I would love him with the kind of love that God has for us. I had a great day with him, but I also learned that I must deal with my own anger, no matter how much it may seem justified, before I hurt those around me. A good lesson to remember

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