"You have completely disobeyed me. You have disrespected me, and embarrassed me. I will not buy that book for you, and when we get home, terrible things are going to happen to you."
( Child crying)
"You can't imagine how awful it's going to be when we get home. I can't believe you would embarrass me like this."
I turned the corner, expecting to see a shriveled, crone like jailer woman and a burly, cowed criminal. Instead, I saw an attractive, twenty-something blond woman with a baby in a jogging stroller, and a little boy of probably three. He had tears streaking down his face, but they both smiled brightly when they saw me. Nothing to see here.
As a mother of three small children, I have few stones to throw. I've had my share of 'mommy meltdown' moments. Those times I lost it and screamed at my kids in front of God and everyone. "I can't believe you did that! Put that down! I'm never buying you lip gloss again!" Sometimes it's hard to take an emotional break from the situation, step back, and re-evaluate the situation. But here are some questions I try to ask myself when I'm dealing with a moment of discipline.
- Am I threatening things I would actually never do, and never follow through with?
- Am I more upset because of the behaviour, or more upset because I am being embarrassed?
- Am I worried about my child's growth and learning to do the right thing, or am I more worried about what everyone else thinks?
- Am I respecting my child? If I don't treat them with respect, how are they going to learn to treat others with respect?
Please understand, I am not saying there isn't a time and a place where we must address our children's behavior in public. I have to do it all the time. I carried my screaming three year old out of a Target the other day, and I'm sure there were many judgemental ears tuned into the tirade. (for the record she didn't get what she wanted and we left immediately). But there is a time when we need to hold back, to think our words through, and speak them in love. Would we want God to speak those words to us?