Note: I found this gem in the archives and thought I would share. It’s a few years old, so I’ve not resumed using a sitter and the eldest hasn’t magically reverted to 3 years old. 

A few weeks ago, upon arriving at pickup from the babysitter’s, H Boy darted out the door quicker than I could say hello. The sitter informed me that he had to spend some time in the corner that day for not listening and not being especially nice. While I do recognize he’s 3, I still left with a sense of failure. MY kid was being disrespectful?

Days later, as he was trying to convince me that he had acted in a way deserving of watching a movie, he dropped it that he had “Spit in Michelle’s [the babysitter] cup”. When pressed for why he would do such a thing, he told me that “she said no.” He was sent to bed without a movie. Thankfully, upon further investigation, the incident was around a toy cup, not the babysitter’s mug of coffee. A fortunate turn, as I’m simply not that prepared to take on the vileness of outright obstinate behavior .

But the experience of mothering a 3-year-old has allowed me to dip my toes into thinking about sin and the age of accountability and fallenness and grace and imperfection. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Formula and Process girl. Nothing wins my heart like a good “If / Than” clause. And though I can cerebrally tell you that parenting doesn’t fit into that framework, you’ll still catch me trying.

While I realize perfection is slightly out of reach, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to raise good kids. And not because I feel like it would add a few credits to my Good Person account. God will love me no more (or less), no special seating privileges at the pearly gates, not even promises of earthly rewards. So I required a little soul searching for why I was completely appalled regarding the Cup Spitting Affair. Why do I want good kids? Why does anyone want good kids?

Perhaps the promise of ease plays into it. No bailing anyone out of jail or dealing with other Bad Kid ramifications like going to parent teacher conferences. Maybe I believe that good kids are less work, which appeals to my general inclination toward laziness.

Or I believe that if I raise good kids, they’ll automatically have good things happen to them. They won’t be stricken with cancer or loose their job or have rough patches in their marriages. Maybe I believe that good kids become Good People and nothing bad happens to good people. Right?

I could want good kids because I somehow believe that good kids equate to sinless kids, thus by being good, they’ll be spared the expense of pain and consequences that come with sin. And that’s just incorrect thinking.

Mostly, though, I believe I want good kids because it reflects my ability to parent, as if I’m doing something right based on their behavior. Which is absurd. I can no more control another human being than I can the weather. However, I somehow equate a cup-spitter with a poor mom.

The logic applies to hurting and hurtful people and their God. He can no more stop them from hurting others than I can keep a boy from spitting in a cup. So the pain we see in the world isn’t a reflection of God, it’s a reflection of ourselves and our inability to understand how our actions effect others. God wants more from us and does hold us to a higher standard, but short of explaining the expectations and providing a consistent and worthwhile example, what’s He to do? The “pain in the world” argument against the existence of God doesn’t hold any water with me. God isn’t failing in that department, we are.

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