Have your kids ever hurt your feelings? I don’t mean their critique of your clothes, cooking, or stupid jokes. I mean the thing they say that just cuts to the quick.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my boys said something and it hurt so much, it felt like the wind was knocked out of me. He’s young enough where I don’t think the words were said with the intention to hurt, and he was oblivious to how hurtful his words were. But I am not naïve. I know a day will come when my boys will know the power of their words. And then they’ll use those words to cause pain on purpose.

Family is messy. At this stage, most messes come in the form of food under the kitchen table, diapers in a full diaper genie, and endless leaves, rocks, and flowers filling my counters. But at some point, I know the messiness will come in the form of verbal shrapnel. I know the messiness will be less literal and more figurative. (Or maybe with two teenage boys by that time, it’ll be both.)

And I knew from a couple of weeks ago, when the words from one of my kids hit me like they did, that I had better figure out what I was going to do when those moments come.

At the time, I shut down. I got him ready for bed and I read him books. I was present physically, but emotionally distant. But when it was time to pray, to sing, and close up the night, I realized something had to give. He may not have known I was holding back, but I did. And I decided then and there to do what felt like the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.

I decided to move close. To not let careless words create a rift. To not let hurt feelings dictate my behavior towards him. To move towards the one I felt inclined to back away from.

I decided to be a peacemaker. To be a mender of things made wrong—even when I was the one who had been wronged. To move past what had been broken in me, in order to make right what was broken between my son and me.

Not just a peace-liker. Not simply a peace-supporter. But a peace-maker

Jesus said peacemakers are called the children of God.
James, the brother of Jesus, said peacemakers reap a harvest of righteousness.
I say peacemakers have a better chance of a healthy relationship with their kids in the future.

Making peace is hard. Moving towards the one who’s hurt us is challenging. It’s counterintuitive and not all fair at times. But a parent who makes peace with their kids now sows a relationship of peace in the future. And at the end of the day, that’s my goal.

Our kids are growing up in a world we know all too well. One that thrives on conflict, revels in drama, and has no problem writing relationships and people off because of mistaken steps and words. Let’s show them an alternative exists. Maybe not in culture, but in our homes. Let’s show them peace exists, and it’s worth fighting for.

No matter what my child does or says, no matter what my child doesn’t say, or doesn’t do, I want there to be no doubt about what he’ll get from me. A mom who’ll go to great lengths—not to keep the peace, but to make the peace. To create space in our home for reconciliation. To make a habit of moving towards one another—of being the first one to take the first step—no matter what.

If my boys leave my home certain of nothing else than that, I’ve won. I’ve showed my boys no conflict mattered more than my relationship with them, and I’ve demonstrated the same tenderness and tenacity our heavenly Father shows us. He’s the God of peace after all.

As parents, let’s work on resembling our heavenly Father in this. And live in expectation of what might happen when we do.