Monday, July 22, 2013

How many times do I have to tell you?

Kids don't listen.

It's a simple, universal truth.

I don't think they're being deliberately disobedient (most of the time). I think they're just involved in their own little world, and my droning voice doesn't register until I say things "like, a million times," and it reaches a decibal level equivelant to a CF-18 doing a low level flyby at the air show.

Once I do have their attention, out comes one of those phrases we all said we would never say when were parents. My go-to cliche is, "How many times do I have to tell you...?"

Just to shake things up I also use, "If I have to tell you one more time..."or "If I've told you once, I've told you a [large exaggerated number] times!" The odd time I silently mouth the words, acting like I'm yelling, but don't make a sound, just to mess them up. Odd that I'm the only one who thinks that is clever at the time—or ever.

Teaching kids what is right, teaching them to make good decisions and act upon them, takes a lot of patience and persistence. And as parents, that means repeating ourselves a lot.

I often wonder how frequently God says to us, "How many times do I have to tell you...?" Admit it, you know what you're supposed to do, but you don't do it all the time. There's the battle between spirit and flesh (cf Gal 5:17) raging within every single day, many times per day.

Kids don't listen. Universal truth. It applies to all of us as God's children.

God, being the patient and persistent Father that He is, doesn't really want an answer to the question. It's truly rhetorical because He is always ready and willing to forgive, to let us know it's OK if we don't listen perfectly all the time, to let us know His love is unconditional.

As disciples of Christ, we must be merciful as God has been merciful to us (cf Mat 5:7), forgive more than we want to (cf Mat 18:22), give that same unconditional and sacrificial love we have been given. Even if we have to say something a million times before it sinks in.

St. Joseph, patron of fathers and protector of families, pray for us.

Now, don't make me repeat myself.

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