The mysteries of this world never cease.
My 2-year-old son has a strange habit. When he wakes up in the morning or from his nap, he makes his way from his bed directly to his closed bedroom door, lies down flat on his stomach, and gazes through the crack beneath it. Then he waits. He has a room full of toys that I imagine would better attract his attention, yet he waits. He has a pile of blocks to build towers that he can “go Godzilla” on, yet he waits. He waits for someone—anyone—to walk by, in the hopes he might be able to rope him or her in to his escape plan.
Here’s the thing, though: he can open doors! He opens the office door when I’m working. He opens the front door when we’re not looking. He opens the pantry door and plays with the trash can. But he will not open that bedroom door. He won’t even try.
When I think about this habit, a couple of things come to mind. First, while lying there, he wants nothing more than to be on the other side of that door. He wants very much to be in his mother’s and my world. He wants to see what we are doing and participate in it with us. He wants to spend time with us.
Second, his vision is limited because of the small space between the door and the carpet. He can’t see beyond what the small space allows. He certainly can’t see what’s going on in the living room around the corner. And most importantly, because he is so focused on seeing through the crack, he doesn’t realize that he can simply open the door to go where he wants to be.
As a parent, I find my son’s behavior mystifying but also instructive. Whenever I see him through the crack beneath the door, I think about how much I’d like to be in his world. I want to know his mind more fully so that I can better train and guide him toward Christlikeness. Jesus told us that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). When it comes to our kids, the ability to fulfill this second commandment—an ability that ultimately is given by the Holy Spirit—involves knowing them well (seeing the world through their eyes). We need this so that we can serve them in a way that will be of most help to their spiritual growth.
In the attempt to see through his eyes, I also recognize my own limited vision of him. In effect, I, too, am looking through the crack under the door. No parent has been blessed with a God’s-eye view of the world. Therefore, our responses to our kids should always reflect a certain measure of humility. Remembering that we, too, are sinners who struggle to stay on the right path should temper our response to our kids. It should ensure that our interaction with them is seasoned with grace and mercy while avoiding the awful trap of hypocrisy. Ephesians 6:4 teaches us that we are not to provoke our children to anger. This occurs when we come off as autocrats who care little for the difficulties our kids face. They get most frustrated when our direction seems to come out of nowhere. Rather, we should teach them discipline from our own example while rooting everything we teach in the Scriptures.
Seeing the world from our children’s perspective allows parents to have greater insight into what our kids need to become more like Christ. But adopting that mentality also involves adopting humility as a way of life. It can’t be all about us. To truly serve and help our kids, our lives must be turned outward, toward both Christ and our kids (the same focus of Jesus’s two great commands—God and others). Just as living the kind of life that would best serve God involves seeing the world through His eyes, living the kind of life that would most help our kids involves seeing the world through their eyes.