The Silent Treatment

Confession…I have given and received some wicked silent treatments. They’re empowering in the worst way imaginable. They give an unholy sense of revenge and the sad truth is…I am guilty of indulging in a good silent treatment.

I was talking with a young woman a while back and she told me how she planned to get back at her boyfriend by not talking to him for a week. In her opinion, this “silent treatment” would show him how much he loved her and missed the sound of her voice. I don’t know about you, but everything I know about relationships tells me her boyfriend will not come to this conclusion. If anything, he’s going to be more angry that she shut him out of her life for a week and didn’t tell him why. What’s my point? Silent treatments don’t work in any relationship.

Now I use the conversation with the young lady merely as a reference. The silent treatments God has been talking to me about lately are the ones I unleash on my children. As John and I pursue the idea of gospel centered parenting, we find that nearly everything we do has to be reexamined through the gospel lens.

What am I talking about?! You’ve never done this, right? You’ve never wanted to slap your child with silence in order to demonstrate how seriously you feel about the crime committed. You’ve never wanted to isolate yourself and shut the world out because you’re hurt and can’t figure what to do next. I’m alone on this one, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so. So, let’s talk about it and look at this through the lens of the gospel.

The gospel is all about God’s intense love for us. It’s a story of our sin and how it’s separated us from God. It’s a story about how God couldn’t stand the separation and so HE sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself. He could have shunned us because of our sin. He could have withdrawn His presence. He could have stayed silent. He didn’t! He crossed the line and spoke words of correction and love to us. He kept talking amid our sin. He pursues us with a love that we can’t even fathom. He continues to love and speak and pursue.

The questions is then, how can I, as a parent, model that love to my children? How do I deal with them when they sin? What should my response be as a gospel parent? When they sin, I choose to continue to love and speak correction to them. Does it mean I am not angry? No. Does it mean I yell and scream and shame? No. Does it mean I gloss over what they have done?  No, but it does mean that I don’t withdraw from them to prove my point. It means I pursue them in love.  Speaking correction, in love, in a skill developed over time. It’s time for us to start learning that skill. We avoid correction because we don’t want to offend. Or we remain silent to avoid saying things we don’t mean. We keep our mouths shut because we are angry,  but we cheat our children out of valuable lessons when we remain silent. I won’t be perfect at this, and I have in no way mastered this, but it is something God has been showing me. It is something I wanted to share with you all. And so I choose not to remain silent.

Until another confession…

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