Years ago, when my son was little, I did something very foolish. A friend and I decided to go camping on the beach, with just our children. Neither of our husbands could get the time off work, but since some of her other friends could meet us there with their motor homes, we ventured out on our impromptu trip. The problem was that neither of us owned a motor home; instead, we traipsed off, towing a horrendously overloaded pop-up all the way to our beach side oasis.
Amazingly, we made it there without a hitch (no pun at all intended). Seriously, for me hitches are not a laughing matter! Here is why. No sooner had we unloaded kids and bikes, than the two female camping pros proceeded to set up camp. One of my jobs was to pop-up our temporary dwelling. My husband had spent hours training his not-at-all mechanical wife how to do so. His instructions on unhitching the trailer and lowering the stabilizing wheel worked flawlessly – on pavement. Those same guidelines did not work so well in sand. As I attempted to unhitch the trailer, because of the sand and my ineptness, the entire weight of it came crushing down onto my exposed, flip-flopped foot. Just in time, I managed to pull my foot free. I ended up hobbling my way around camp most of the week but avoided a fracture, which was inevitable had the full heaviness of the pop-up landed squarely on me. These beach-combing gals learned a valuable lesson: never go trailer camping without capable help and never set up shop in sand!
The potential for foolishness is inherent in all of us, but is particularly predominate in very young children and teens. My husband and I have experienced our fair share of both with our children, especially with what some call teenage angst. In the verse above, it is evident that God understands such foolishness and the tough job of parenting. What I find so interesting are the contrasts described; a son who is wise brings joy to a father, whereas a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. In another verse:
“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.”
Implied is that wise children are those who demonstrate honor and respect to both parents; by doing so, they bring a blessed peace to the home. When things get out of kilter with respectfulness, such as during angst, things go haywire at home for everyone.
I derive much comfort from this verse above because it validates what I already knew, that moms seem to bear the brunt when a child strays into foolishness. Any mother going through the trauma of dealing with disrespect, rebellion or defiance from a child knows that she just bears the burden differently from her spouse. Overall, dads can encounter a late night outburst from a child then go right to sleep, but moms lie awake and cry. The burden brought about by the foolishness hurts both parents, but for the mother it really does feel like a crushing weight.
The Lord understands this heavy burden carried by hurting mothers, but knows that fathers are suffering, as well. Using the contrast above, He thoughtfully ties the two together. Dads may not feel as crushed by the rebellious child, but they are nonetheless affected. I am reminded of the saying, ‘When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ The heavy emotional toll of a mother not coping with a parent-child conflict usually spills right over onto the dad. The Lord knows that a father cannot be joyful when his wife is falling apart.
The flip side to this is that when things go differently, and a child quits being foolish to walk wisely instead, it brings joy all around. The mother’s overbearing burden is removed, and she feels as light as a feather. The heaviness leaves, the tension dissipates and a once sad situation becomes suddenly delightful. With peace restored, momma is once again happy. Dad enjoys the change in the child’s behavior, too, and seeing his wife happy makes him happy. Everyone is happy!
We have all acted foolishly before and are all in need of God’s grace. Some of my past harebrained decisions and periods of rebellion, I would like to forget. Thankfully, Jesus has always shown that He will forgive and mend our foolishness. I must do the same. Along the way in our parenting journey, He keeps teaching my husband me how to love unconditionally, to forgive and to keep moving on.
Though the burdens of parenting can be massively weighty, God is able to lift them and to restore joy back into our lives-for both moms and dads! During those times, when it seems as though the heaviness brought about by a foolish child is simply beyond bearing, God has a way of letting us know just how fully He understands. He too knows firsthand the hurt rebelliousness brings. He experiences it daily from His children. On the other hand, whenever this child (me or you) acts wisely, it makes for a very glad Father!