5 Lessons to Learn from Your Toddler
- Cortni Marrazzo Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 18 Jul
As my son has recently transitioned from being a toddler to a preschooler, he has definitely come into his own and developed more of a personality and independence. He is learning about the world and how to respond to those around him, and part of this process includes pushing the limits in his life. Most of these limits are imposed by my husband and me, so I’ve been experiencing this learning phase in full force.
Through this, I have been learning a lot about myself and how I sometimes act toward my Heavenly Father and how childish I can be in my life. Our children can teach us so much about life just through the way they act, and my child definitely has! I want to share just a few of the lessons I’ve learned lately from my son and some ways we can change our attitudes in our walk with God to perhaps act a bit less childish ourselves.
I hear this phrase a lot these days. Immature children seem to think that simply because they want something, they are entitled to it. There are times when I can give my son exactly what he wants, and it often makes me happier than it makes him! But there are also times when I won’t give him what he wants in the moment because I know it’s not good for him (candy before dinner, removal of consequences from bad choices, etc.). In the instances where I have to say no, he will often follow up with “but I want!” as if that will change things and convince me to give in.
In those times, I’m reminded that just because we really want something doesn’t mean we should automatically get it. Often we are told 'no' in our lives because what we want is not good for us or it’s not the right timing, like having candy before dinner. Sometimes getting what we want in that moment may spoil our appetite for something awesome God has for us later. We can tell God what we want, but if he says ‘no’ or ‘not right now,’ or ‘how about this instead?’ we need to accept it instead of whining about how we really want it. The sooner we can learn this lesson (which unfortunately comes through experience with God telling us no) the more peace we will have in our lives.
"My life is ruined!"
When my son can’t find a toy or can’t get his shoe on or the bath water is slightly too warm, I’m often flabbergasted by how upset he gets over something that is obviously such a little thing in life. Yet he gets so upset because that is all he is focused on at that moment. When we are entirely focused on the circumstances of our life, it is very easy to get very upset when we are told 'no' or when something happens that we don’t like or makes us uncomfortable.
When we can look at our lives and circumstances through God’s perspective, we can see things in better context and realize that our problems are not the end of the world. Once we get that, it is easier to stay calm, trust God and move on from the disappointment.
"Can you do it for me?"
My son is almost 4 years old and he is getting ready to be a big brother here soon, so he is excited to learn to do things all by himself (and let’s face it, that excites me too!) Whether it’s getting himself dressed, brushing his own teeth, or grabbing a snack on his own, he is usually pretty motivated to do a new thing the first few times, but then something switches and all of sudden he will want mom and dad to do something for him that he’s shown he is very capable of doing himself. Often times it would be easier (especially on my ears) to jump in and do these things for him, but I try to always encourage him to do it himself, and if he needs any help, I will be there. If I were to jump in and take over, he wouldn’t get the practice he needs to learn how to master the skills he is learning.
I know I’ve had many circumstances in my life where I’ve wanted God to do something that I am very capable of handling myself, and while I can get frustrated in the moment, God is essentially telling me to do it myself. I can usually see in hindsight how doing it myself actually helped me grow as a Christian and as a leader. I’ve been through situations where I’ve needed to confront somebody and have begged God to just take the situation away, yet I’ve ended up walking through it and becoming a more mature and understanding leader because of it. I’ve been through tough financial situations where I’ve prayed for more money, when I’ve simply needed to be more disciplined and to spend less money. There are so many times where I’ve wanted God to baby me and take care of everything, but instead he’s allowed me to learn and grow through many tough situations and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for those lessons I learned.
Ah, the "why?" phase… It’s often humorous watching other kids go through it, yet it can be very irritating when it’s your own child asking you this question 8 billion times a day. Sometimes I have answers for the whys, but even when that is the case, the question usually continues until I simply can’t answer it anymore. Sometimes I have no answer because I already told him the answer; sometimes it’s because he’s too young to understand, and sometimes it’s because it’s just the way things are!
If only he could simply trust me, and what I say, and not always have to question everything. But I understand that he is at that age and is learning about his world. And it also makes me laugh when I think about all the times I’ve pestered God with that same question. Why didn’t I get that job? Why couldn’t we sell our house? Why did that person have to do that to me? Why did this medical emergency happen? Why did that person die? Life has so many whys, especially for Christians, because we often mistakenly feel that we should -and will- be sheltered from all pain and discomfort. That's just not the case. We need to trust God when things happen (obviously in addition to praying about it) instead of demanding to know why all the time, because we may not be mature enough to handle the answers yet. Just like we as parents know what is best for our children better than they do, God our Father is the same way in our lives.
I was at a friend’s house the other day for a playdate for our sons, and I saw something take place between my friend and her son that made me laugh, only because I’ve seen it play out so many times in my own home. She asked him to do something and he replied with “Ok, but first I have to show my friend something.”
In true mother fashion, my friend responded with “No, you need to do it right now.”
This exchange went back and forth a few times until he finally did give up and do what his mom told him to do. It made me realize how often we try to negotiate with God when he asks us to do something. “Ok God, I will increase my giving, but first I’m going to buy myself a new TV because I’ve wanted one for a long time” or “Ok God, I will step out at serve at church or lead a small group, but not until next year because I have a lot going on right now.”
Sound familiar? The circumstances change, the basic dialogue remains the same. “Ok God, I will obey you, but let me do it how I want to do it, or let me do what I want first.”
My thinking is that God is sitting there thinking “Can’t you please just do what I ask of you when I ask it? Things will go so much better if you do!”
I have personally experienced many frustrating moments as a parent, and I’m definitely learning how I can cause some frustration to my Heavenly Father in the same manner. I’m thankful that he has more patience with me that my human self tends to have with my son (and that he’s also helping me to have more patience in this area). Slowly but surely, he's helping me change my attitude to be less childish. Perspective can often change everything, so by seeing how I’m acting toward God through the actions of my child, I’m definitely learning and practicing better ways to respond and act towards him. God isn’t looking for perfection from us, but simply looking for us to strive towards growth and change on the path to becoming more like him and less like our fleshly selves.
And at the end of the day, he loves us even more than we love our own children, no matter how silly and ridiculous we may act.
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at [email protected] or on Facebook.
Publication date: July 18, 2014