One of my kiddos threw a tantrum the other night.
On the toilet.
It was a bad one. He broke the toilet paper holder, threw his potty seat and kicked his stool over. He was extremely disrespectful to his daddy.
After a while, I decided to go into my screaming squatter and try to point him to Jesus.
Um, yeah. I took a deep breath.
For some reason when he's throwing a fit, more often than not, he gets really quiet when I walk in the room and gives me a limited amount of time to speak. (If he doesn't like what I'm saying, like reiterating why he's there or what he has to do to get up or whatever, the screaming resumes). I knew I had to be careful with how I presented it or I wouldn't make it more than a few sentences.
So, I began. I told him that his behavior was dishonoring Mommy, Daddy and God.
He began to whimper. I didn't have much time.
I pointed out that this was bad, bad news, but that this story could have a happy ending. I asked if he wanted a happy ending. He was in no mood to play my game, but I could tell by his quiet mouth and the intense eye contact that he did.
I told him that even though so far the story had been bad, there were three ways the story could get better.
1) Jesus could forgive his sins.
2) Daddy could forgive his disrespect.
3) He could obey the original directions with a good attitude and make this bad story turn into a good one.
I told him to run and apologize to his daddy if he was ready to start the good part of the story and then run back to me to obey. To my shock, he jumped off the toilet (this might not be surprising with a compliant child, but we had just witnessed one of his worst tantrums to date). He ran in and apologized to my husband (who willingly forgave him) and ran back to comply with the original terms.
I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I am absolutely convinced that the gospel is the "secret" to parenting. Not too long ago I would have reprimanded my son for the bad without showing him the good of the gospel. I would have tried to get him to muster up some goodness on his own and would have chastised him for not having it this time. As I shared a couple of weeks ago, gospel parenting doesn't guarantee a happy ending like this one (and even in this story, the victory was short lived. He threw another tantrum at bedtime only a few minutes later...) But, the gospel is what my child needs more than anything (including exhibiting good behavior). And it's what I need to parent him well.
The gospel is a game changer. Even on the toilet.