We have all had those moments as parents when we’d like to crawl in a hole because of embarrassment from our children’s behavior. My personal best came in the middle of a very crowded superstore.
It’s been a couple of years ago now, but boy do I remember it clearly. My sweet little Emma was going through a fit-throwing stage like I have never witnessed before. Truthfully, I thought that type of behavior was a myth or at least something that only happened to other people. My children would never pitch a fit in public, I trained them better than that.
Wrong. Seriously, I was wrong. I suppose I underestimated the power of the flashy toys & sugary treats strategically placed at toddlers eye level at the front of every store in America.
My mother and I were attempting to get my 5 children to the checkout line when Emma spotted something she desperately wanted. I said No. Cue the meltdown of epic proportions. She flung herself down in the floor and screamed like I had just beaten her within an inch of her life. People started to stare as I tried to talk rationally to my little “princess.” That’s when it happened, I smacked her little behind, right there in front of everybody. For those of you who have done the same in public, you can imagine the looks of disgust that were thrown my way. The fact that she has a face like a doll and had crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks was not helping my case.
Thankfully my momma handled the rest of my children while I dragged Emma out to the car and attempted to strap her in to the car seat. It was not going so well for me as she was still writhing and screaming at glass breaking decibels. Finally I managed to strap her in and stood leaning against my mom-mobile as I waited for the rest of my brood. The screaming continued from inside the vehicle as concerned passers-by looked on with mixed emotions. Most of them wore looks of judgment as if I had somehow failed as a parent because my 3 year old was uncontrollable. For all I know, they were the same ones who had witnessed the “whooping” inside the store moments before. But I was cool with it because I know what the Bible says about discipline.
“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 19:18 Message)
You see, I could have easily given into my crazed child in the store when she demanded the toy “or else” and completely avoided the embarrassing fit. However, my logic is that it would be more humiliating to see that child grow into a disrespectful adult with an undeserved sense of entitlement because I didn’t parent them while I had the chance. I want to give good gifts to my babies, too, but I have learned that those things need to be earned to teach them ethics and build their character in the formative years.
I know it’s hard to punish your children, especially when it has to be done in front of others. It is natural that we are concerned how outsiders will view our choice of correction, but they are not going to be held accountable for the upbringing of our kids, we are. Proverbs 13 reads : “Those who don’t correct their children hate them. But those who love them are careful to train them.” While it is difficult to explain to our children that we are disciplining them out of love when we are in the midst of doling out punishment, point out to them that God also disciplines the one He loves and we are following his leading.
One day, when they turn out to be well-rounded, respected adults, they will likely thank us for not catering to their demands but instilling in them biblical values and moral standards that they would have otherwise missed out on had we chosen to “spare the rod and spoil the child.”