Compassion is not a trait we usually put with parenting.  We tend to love our children and be compassionate towards others.  Unfortunately this slight twist in our attitudes means we tend to be more gracious towards others than we are towards our own children.  We tend to deal in tough love (because we love them), we tend to think in terms of teaching our children but if we had an attitude of compassion I think we would be more understanding, more gracious, more forgiving, and in the end – more helpful! I would define compassion as caring enough to do something about someone’s need.  We cannot show compassion, or act out our compassion (because compassion isn’t just an emotion – it is an action) unless we have love.

How do we view our children’s needs?  We certainly see that they have a need to grow up and mature.  And this is often our only focus.  We teach, practice, guide and encourage our kids to change from childishness to maturity.  But we forget that they have many other needs along the way.  They have spiritual, moral, emotional, intellectual, social and physical needs.  And they need our compassion – our loving actions that help them where they are at. We try and ‘fix’ our kids – not necessarily a bad thing.  We want our kids to learn so they can do the right thing.  But sometimes they may just need our compassion – not our solutions.  Sometimes they may need us to help them, to listen to them, to support them, to comfort them instead of teaching them.  Not to say that teaching isn’t a part of our compassion towards our children – but they may need another response from us at times. Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another.   Or another version puts it: Be gentle with one another, sensitive.  Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. So much to guide us in our parenting in that verse alone! Compassion comes from two latin words

  • Com – meaning with
  • Parti – meaning to suffer

So the word really means that we are to suffer with.  This takes away all thoughts of ‘fixing’ but rather we are to feel their pain, understand their needs and be with them. Do we feel our children’s pain when they hurt? Do we feel their frustrations when they don’t get it right? Do we understand their anxiety when they face new or hard things? Are we gentle with them in these times?  Are we sensitive?  Are we forgiving?   Ahhh but that child is so frustrating!  Who is showing me compassion in my time of need as a parent!  Well, God is.  He will be there for you in your times of need and hurt.  He understands our pain.  He will listen to us, he will comfort us, he will strengthen us, he will guide us (it is for these reasons that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit.)  God has shown us great compassion – he was motivated by his love to do something about our sinful condition – he sent Jesus.  Jesus showed us great compassion – he sent the Holy Spirit to help us in his (physical) absence. We don’t need to take our frustrations out on our kids – we need to turn to Jesus for his love and support and then reflect that back to our kids. Romans 5:8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we are thinking about being compassionate in our responses to our children let’s also think how we can be compassionate towards other people in our life – our husband, our inlaws, our neighbour and maybe even the annoying telemarketer! Compassion:  Driven by our love to meet the hurts and needs of others.

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