Honestly, sometimes I just shake my head. Really? You know exactly what those parents should have done?
People criticized and bullied the mother whose child slipped out of reach at the zoo. “She should have had more control over her child,” they said. I noticed that many of the critical people were singles. Seriously? They weren’t there, don’t know her child, didn’t see what happened, and they’re judging her?
And then, there’s the nasty little boy in Japan whose parents left him alone in the woods for a few minutes to teach him a lesson—and he escaped—being found alive and well and no doubt smirking a week later. “Those parents should be prosecuted,” comes the knowing comment. Oh yes, the “experts” know what you should do with a bad little boy!
One of my relatives had a textbook child. He did everything he was supposed to do on the date he was supposed to do it. He responded just the way he was supposed to. He was quiet when he should be and slept through the night.
He ruined it for the rest of us!
Then, they had a second child. This one I would describe as “normal.” At one year old, he climbed up onto the top of the table and was found happily sitting there, spooning rice all over the table and floor. This second little guy had broken the “perfect mold.” Boy, were we thankful!
There are the difficult children. James Dobson, in his Strong Willed Child describes them: “Such a child comes into the world smoking a cigar.” They’re defiant. They challenge their parents. They don’t go by anybody’s book. They’re stubborn, manipulative, and smart. Some of them are just plain mean.
Not long ago, I saw a meme on social media: “I was an expert on raising children, until I became a parent.” Exactly! Sometimes, it takes having two children until we learn we don’t have all the answers.
I was shopping with another relative and her three little children. We were looking at clothes. All of a sudden, we realized one child was missing. It was a split second, and he was gone! We called. We searched. We were getting worried. Then, one of us found him—hiding in the middle of the clothing carrousel, thinking it was very funny. This little person wasn’t a bad child; he was just playing a trick on us. (Clear teaching was in store for him afterwards.) We were not neglectful. We were right there with the children. We didn’t let this child wander off. He just ducked under a layer of clothing and remained silent.
Yet, many people jump all over other parents. They “know” what’s best for their child. They think it was “criminal” to scare the little brat in Japan—who ended up winning the battle.
I’m not arguing for or against these parents. I think some parenting methods are extreme. I personally might have chosen to do things differently.
But, let’s face it. Some kids are little Houdinis. Some children can be so nasty that it’s no wonder parents might try something desperate to try to get their attention. There are some great tantrum throwers out there, and some climbers, and some that jump in deep water, and kids that have absolutely no fear. There are children who are defiant, mean, and grumpy. Some kids hold their breath and turn blue. Some think it’s funny to push things into electrical sockets.
And, sometimes we’re not perfect parents. Sometimes, we choose the wrong methods. Sometimes, like the parents in Japan, our attempts to get our child’s attention end up backfiring on us. No one makes all the best calls!
It drives me crazy when people who’ve never had any children are self-proclaimed experts on child rearing. I can think of a well-known Christian teacher who taught generations of people about marriage and family, yet he didn’t have a marriage or a family. Feminists tell mothers how they should work and manage child care. Yet, they don’t have husbands or children. Even some religions believe odd things about families.
Whatever your opinion about the mom whose child fell into the moat at the zoo or the parents who left their bad little boy out of the car in the woods, let’s stick with the Bible.
Here are some of my favorite child rearing passages:
- And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
- My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not (Proverbs 1:8-10).
- My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments (Proverbs 3:1).
- Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).
- That they (older women) may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children (Titus 2:4).
Instead of criticizing others, let’s strive to be godly parents ourselves. Our kids are special gifts to us. Parenting is a full-time, challenging job. Even when we give it our best shot, we still make wrong calls. That’s why we need the Lord’s direction and strength every day. That’s why, on occasion, we need to apologize to our kids. Parenting is a blessing, and no one--but God--is an expert.
God bless you and yours.