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Toddler Tantrums and Confession Or: How Many Times Have I Told You?

In disciplining my three-year-old, these words come out of my mouth: “How many times have I told you? That is not how we treat your brother.” And within the hour, I’ve said something unkind to their father because I was frustrated and didn’t get my way. When they get upset because their sibling has something they want I tell them, “Don’t worry about them, just worry about yourself,” and then find myself coveting my neighbor’s home. It’s hard being this on top of my spiritual game.

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I see myself in them—the willful, wrong, and stubborn child of God that I am. There’s a reason God is our Father, and the Virgin Mary is our Mother. Adults still need authority, discipline, and guidance.

My children are not yet at the age of reason, so they aren’t as culpable as I am. But my inward reaction to the Cross is eerily similar to their outward reaction. I just have enough awareness of social cues to avoid jumping up and down, flapping my arms, shouting, “I don’t want to!” before thrashing about on the floor when faced with some unpleasantness. But on the inside that pretty much sums up my reaction. Maybe that’s why toddler tantrums are so appalling—we see what open rebellion looks like, and it’s not pretty.

I’m told it’s beneficial to have a regular confessor who knows your struggles, and has walked a ways down the spiritual road with you. But then you find yourself saying, “Here I am, with the same tired list of sins, the same faults, here for yet another confession.” And that is extremely humbling. To be there once again, asking for forgiveness, and yet again, promising to do better.

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Yet no priest has ever heard my confession and said, “Are you serious? I’ve told you one thousand times not to do that!” […] The reality is that I have, in fact, been told a thousand times. Yet I’m still forgiven and given another chance to choose the good…

—from the blog post Motherhood: a glaring reminder of the greatness of God’s mercy by Denise Renner at The Motherlands

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One comment on “Toddler Tantrums and Confession Or: How Many Times Have I Told You?

  1. So much truth in this post.

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