I hesitate to write this because many people may be somewhat offended by the content. It’s not my intention to offend nor to attack. It’s simply my intention to point out a truth that it seems like all adults agree upon. Being around an ill-behaved child is something that absolutely grates on one’s nerves. We then will often think of how much we would like to have that child for one day so that we could “straighten them out.” (This line of thinking isn’t at all based in reality, but it is something that often may go through our heads.) Whether the child is in our family or a stranger in the grocery store, this issue is a serious one in our society.
Before going any further, let me clear up two major issues. The first one is that in many instance, we are not at all aware of what’s going on with the child. There are situations of special needs and those aren’t always evident (although it seems these days that many times when children are ill-behaved the first reaction is to have the child labeled or diagnosed with some condition that alleviates anyone of any responsibility for the child’s actions or attitudes). There are many children that have legitimate issues that make them react a bit differently that we might desire and we must be patient with that…as well as with situations involving the child’s home life and how those areas of tension affect children deeply. The second issue I want to bring forward is probably the most important and is definitely connected to the others. No matter how the child acts and no matter what the child’s condition is…we MUST remember (I’m preaching to myself here) that this is not their fault. A child acts the way their parents allow them to act or teach them to act as well as how certain conditions affect their behavior. When we see these situations in public or private, our knee-jerk reaction may be thinking about how much the child needs to be dealt with, but we should be reluctant to pass judgment since we don’t know the full story.
Having mentioned those exceptions…what about the rest of the children out there? What about the ones that are not special needs or dealing with past trauma? What’s the story there?
One of the most often misquoted Bible verses of all time is Proverbs 13:24. What many people believe it says is, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” That’s not what the Bible says. The correct statement from Scripture is, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” There is a whole world of difference between these two statements. The first and incorrect one seems to come from the position of penalizing and punishing, possibly with a harsh attitude. The second and correct one is about loving the child, caring about what they learn, and teaching them the right way. It’s not focused on punishment but discipline. Discipline is about teaching…guiding…loving.
The really sad thing is that many people don’t seem to realize that they are creating a situation in which no one wants to be around their children. They are making life harder for their child. The child is greatly disliked and at such a young age, it is not at all their fault. They are simply acting out what they’ve learned.
Why do many parents have such a hard time with this? I am not totally sure, and let me be very clear about something: I am far from the model parent. That is not token or false modesty. That is simply the truth. I have A LOT of growing ahead of me. What I do think however is that there are a few problems that parents need to think about. First of all, we don’t want to spank our child because it breaks our hearts. I believe in corporal punishment, which is to say that I am a strong believer in spanking. When I say, “spanking,” I don’t mean a soft pop on the rear (obviously, this is age dependent), but enough of a strike on the backside that will inflict a level of pain. Also, other forms of punishment can be used but young children seem to respond best to spanking when they have been made to have a healthy fear of it. I hate doing it. I. Hate. IT. But…if I allow my feelings for spanking to stop me from doing what’s best for my children, then…effectively, what I’m doing is loving myself more than I love my children. Many people are (in my opinion) misguided about corporal punishment, but I will say that I can always tell a difference in the level of a child’s respect for their parents depending on whether or not they spank their children. When I was growing up, one of my friends told his mother he hated her. Nothing was done. I remember thinking my parents would have ended me. No…I didn’t think it. I knew it. Ended me. Game. Over. To this day, my dad will deal with me if I need for him to. As he should.
Another problem is that parents can just be too lazy. By “lazy” I don’t mean that they are layabout and worthless. Parenting is tiresome…and sometimes…we’re just too tired to deal with something. But, once again, that is not what our children need…but it is what feels good to us in the moment…but we must do what is best for them instead of what makes us the most comfortable.
They deserve it. They deserve our love. They need our attention and guidance. They need our love…even if that love sometimes doesn’t feel good.
*Image taken from: http://bibsandbaubles.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/brat-400×400.jpg