My dearest child, I really hate you sometimes you little…

On vacation so I’m bumping an older post.

Just a little rant about something that has been bothering me…

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As I was walking through the parking lot of one of my favorite places the other day, I observed something I see far too often lately; a loving mother absolutely berating her small child whom, I gathered, couldn’t muster the discipline required to act like a model citizen in public.

“What the f*&! Is wrong with you?” She yelled.

“How dare you embarrass me like that!” She yelled.

“I really hate you sometimes you little $@^$*!” She yelled.

“I swear to God, if you ever act like that again, I’m going to…” She yelled.

I have four kids of my own so I get it, I really do. Kids can be awful; they can test us, try us, get on our last nerve and stay there for what seems like forever. And, even the best parents know that there is no one but our own offspring who have the ability to drive us to the edge of sanity only to wait for exactly the right moment to push us over.

In fact, one of my own little angels was so bad in a store once (we jokingly refer to this as the Wal-Mart incident of 1999) that I swore to myself I would take him home, ground him from everything but air, water, and basic nutrition for a million years, remove everything from his room but carpet, and cancel every birthday, Christmas, vacation, trip to the pool, movie…from that day until the end of time.

So again, I get it, I’ve been there, countless times.

Before I go further, and so no one jumps to the conclusion that I think I am perfect, morally superior, more deserving of a parent of the year award than anyone else, or that I am overflowing with either patience or grace, I’m not. I’ve lost my temper and lost my cool too, all parents have.

What separates me from the yoga pants wearing tyrant I saw the other day however is that, while I do get that kids can be incredibly frustrating at times, I also get that they are kids and that they should be treated with the same respect and dignity every single adult reading this expects to be treated with.

If you don’t believe me, or you side with the poor mom who was just acting out in frustration, or you think parents are entitled to lose it every now and then, imagine if you were treated in the exact same manner this child, who was no more than three by the way, was treated by anyone else.

On a side note here, you, other parents, and your adult friends might buy the premise that parents are entitled to go into full freak out mode every now and then but kids don’t and can’t buy it. They don’t feel your pain, they aren’t empathetic, and they don’t get what it’s like to be a parent with parent problems, adult concerns, and adult frustrations. All they get, sadly, is that mom and/or dad seem angry all the time and that must be how normal adults are supposed to act.

Now Imagine if you walked into your house and were greeted with “I really hate you sometimes you little $@^$*!” from your spouse. How would that make you feel? It would likely result in an epic argument wouldn’t it? Or bitterness, resentment, or a feeling that you weren’t loved? Or, better yet, a feeling that your spouse had something wrong with them.

What if a kid, parent, or teacher at your little darling’s school or daycare center treated him or her exactly the way you do? You would be OK with that, right? At the risk of not looking like a hypocrite, you kind of have to be OK with it, don’t you?

Imagine being called into your boss’ office and hearing “What the f*&! Is wrong with you?” How would you feel? Would you quit or perhaps visit HR to file a complaint?

What if your boss raised his hand in anger and threatened you if you repeated your substandard behavior? Odds are, and especially since we live in a perpetually offended victim society, this wouldn’t sit well with you at all, would it?

Bottom line here is that, while discipline is good, punishment is good, rules are good, and setting boundaries is good; lashing out like a crazed lunatic at people (You know they’re just kids and they do not sit up all night dreaming of ways to make your life miserable, right?) you are supposed to love unconditionally is never, ever good.

If this is what people do in public, what in the world do they do at home behind closed doors?

Exit question: We do live in a society that likes to talk incesently about bullying, respect, tolerance, love, peace…don’t we? I thought we did.

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Categories: Christianity

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17 replies

  1. That’s the trouble. Many children are not loved unconditionally.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, James!! We live in such an angry world, don’t we? And isn’t it ironic how it’s considered socially acceptable, even honorable, for adults to vent their anger and outrage over just about anything and direct it toward just about anyone? With one exception, of course – get angry all you want, but your anger better not be directed at me. Just like you said, it’s okay for us to dish it out, but oh, no, we sure better not get it back because then it’s suddenly wrong.

    I actually did a post exactly like this a few years ago on an old blog after seeing a 3-year-old berated by his father at Disney, and I couldn’t help but think, too, if the parents do this out in public, when you’d think they’d be on their best behavior, what is that child having to endure at home behind closed doors? I subsequently was chastised for my post by a reader who stated the reason I was so sensitive to it couldn’t be because I had a heart for others and didn’t like to see others mistreated. It was because I was, in fact, guilty of the same behavior and that’s why I so quickly noticed it and disliked it in others – speck in their eye, plank in mine. I do get the point, and I have definitely been anything but the perfect parent. But truth is one of the biggest reasons I was and continue to be so sensitive to things like seeing children – and even adults – being berated, belittled and demeaned is because that’s what happened to me growing up and well into adulthood. And my daughter as well at the hands of her father. We bear the scars of it to this day and so when we see others who are treated the same way, we hurt because we know the hurt being inflicted. And every single time we can’t help but think the same thing – how would you like it if someone treated you like that?

    Well, the ironic truth there, in my opinion, is someone has. As the saying goes, hurting people hurt people. People who lash out like that against their children, spouses, friends, employees, store workers, the guy on the help line of the cable or phone company, anyone, do so because they have all been hurt, too, at some point. Someone humiliated them, controlled them, demeaned them, disrespected them, and they didn’t understand that the proper response isn’t to curse the driver in the lane next to you, or go home and kick the dog, or yell at your child. It’s to cry out to God. It’s to turn every hurt and pain and wound that’s ever been inflicted on us over to Him so that He can take them from our hands and give us Himself in return, so He can heal us.

    Just like Pavlov’s dogs, human behavior, just like you said, is a learned response. The stress bell rings and we salivate uncontrolled anger. We can tell our kids bullying is wrong all day long, but when we get stressed out and, in turn, bully them, what message do people really think their child is taking away from it? You are so right, most of the ills in this world are the direct result of bad parenting. If we want our children to show love, respect and kindness, then we have to exhibit them in our own life first and, first and foremost, to them. Then when we tell them to be good and play nice with others, our words will actually have meaning.

    Thank you so much for bringing this somewhat touchy subject up at a time of year when unconditional love, appreciation and gratitude are supposed to be the hallmarks of the season but seem to be in shortest supply!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. unconditional love does not mean we are not sverely tried tested and occasionally loose it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! Kind of depressing, I’ve seen women do that same thing to husbands and boyfriends out in public. Sometimes I wonder if the guy grew up with a mother just like that, because it’s the only explanation I can come up with letting a spouse talk to you in public like you’re a much resented child. Kids have no choice, but what kind of a crazy world are we living in where adults just tolerate such things?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d be upset to be constantly treated like that, and then, the offender/bully/whatever says: “I love you!” Got a feeling that would make my skin creep.

    Great page.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. laughing at the title of the wal-mart incident of 99-

    and really great exit question – because parents can be some of the biggest bullies around.

    One of my favorite books – an old but classic book– is How to talk to so kids will listen –
    http://www.amazon.com/How-Talk-Kids-Will-Listen/dp/1451663889
    and when I see this happen, I pray for the parent and child – that God will buffer the hurt and help the parents heal and mature and grow etc. –

    Also, wanted to share a quick story – I have education in my background and was exposed to the awesome Ruby Payne – she writes more about economic differences in families – but her neat on culture differences has really helped educators in certain areas because she notes how some parents respond in harsh ways – and if teachers know this – well they need to help the student more hands on and not necessarily by going through the parent.

    For example (and this is rusty paraphrasing) if Tommy fails something – the teacher tells the mom – and then this mom (from a certain culture group) harshly punishes the child – and then sends him back to school. But no behavior change, because that style of parenting is to punish, forgive, and feed – it’s a cycle and it is hard to break – and so teachers are encouraged to find a way to help children less traditionally – like by giving parents review material and asking them to help with a specific school review task – or just by understanding the culture and watching how parents are looped in.

    but sadly in the Christian community I have seen the harshest authoritarian parents – they miss the mark and scar their kids in many ways. The worse parents I have ever seen have been in the Christian community.
    Cos many misunderstand the “spare the rod= spoil the child” verse – which is not a reference for hitting – it refers to training – – “spare the training and you will ruin the child because they will flounder and not know which way to go…”
    The rod is a shepherd’s tool that trains the sheep – and you never saw a shepherd beating a sheep – they did not have to – well maybe they had to hook them real quick to realign the path – but they did not hit; instead, they tapped the ground and both were in sync.

    my favorite point you make is for parents to think about how they would want to be treated or not treated. this would change a lot – but sadly, so many are misplacing their aggression out on their kids – or have such sloppy, unchecked ways to where it is just not right. but thankfully God is there – behind the scenes and not only do all things work for good, but he is there in the midst of any gunk – and one day… when we all get to heaven – “what a dray of rejoicing that will be” with no more tears… ahhhh

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very good post and something to really think about for parents out there…

    Oh, BTW, sorry for the late comment but thanks for the follow 🙂

    Like

  8. 1) A big part of the problem today is kids having kids. They just simply are not mature enough yet to handle the situations that their children put them in.
    2) When I was a child my dad would “take me out to the car.” He only had to do that ONCE. The same method worked well for my kids too.
    3) Raising my children with respect, a solid Christ foundation, mom AND dad, has resulted in children whom I am proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You make some great points here. I was disciplined by my parents but never thought they were out of line and I always had a ton of respect and love for them.

      One of the problems I see nowadays, I do a lot of volunteer work at local schools, is a distinct lack of respect for authority.

      I think this comes, to a large extent, from poor parenting. It’s hard to learn respect if you have never felt respected or valued.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Very good point. Lashing out, which is a manifestation of man’s anger, rarely leads to righteousness for anyone

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Amen. Nice post. I don’t get parents that act that way. They are the ones that are embarrassing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Unfortunately, I see stuff like this too often. Good post.

    Mark

    Like

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