I was recently out in public with a couple of littles in tow when I saw something that truly broke my heart.
A dad was walking with his little girl who couldn’t have been more than 3 years old. She wasn’t making a scene, but softly whimpering that she wanted her mommy. Dad proceeded to berate her all the way to their car, saying things that couldn’t possibly make sense to this young mind. “Well I don’t care who you want, you’re stuck with me.” “How about we sit at home and do nothing since your life is so miserable with daddy.” There was more, but that’s enough. As we got into our cars, I could see from a distance that he had now resorted to yelling into the backseat. Even from a distance, I could see his face twisted in anger. I would have cowered from him so I can imagine how that little girl felt.
As much as I wanted to, I didn’t speak up for one basic reason: I had children with me and he seemed agitated enough that I feared what he might say in their presence. I was so upset that I texted my husband about what I had just witnessed and the horrible guilt I felt for not taking the opportunity to say something. As is oftentimes the case, he offered some words of wisdom “Its hard to make the right call in those situations. You saying something could have caused his anger to escalate and made things worse for her once they got home. Sometimes praying for God to intervene is the best course!”
So very true.
It seems here lately the news is flooded with stories of child abuse, neglect, or worse. Now, I’m not accusing this particular dad of these things but my heart hurt for that little girl who seemingly did nothing wrong other than ask for her mommy. Sometimes I think we all need these reminders:
“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father.” (Matt 18:10 NLT)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4 ESV)
Mommies and daddies are going to get frustrated and we are all going to say things we do not mean. Sometimes the little ones we’ve been blessed with are going to wear on our frayed nerves. But just as with anything else, the more you do something the easier it becomes. So let’s make it a habit of thinking before we speak or react, especially when it comes to the tiny humans in our lives. And let’s pray for those who seem to be at their wit’s end.