Last night Shirley and I went to eat at Mimi’s at Friendly. They seated us back in the New Orleans section of the restaurant. The waitress had come and we had given our order. We were just sitting there having a quiet and relaxing time, preparing our minds and stomachs for the treats that were to come.
All of a sudden about twelve people walked in as the staff prepared this long table in the middle of the room. Yippie! It was a birthday party for these two twins. There were so many presents I thought it was Christmas. However, one of the twins wasn’t feeling all that well. He was crying and didn’t want to sit in the chair assigned to him. Before long, the young (20 some year-old) mom is taking these two twins (boy and girl – probably 3 years old) to the bathroom for a talk. When they returned the little boy was quiet happy to sit in his seat.
It wasn’t long till another young couple with a young boy (perhaps also 3 years old) was seated in the booth directly behind us. The little boy was fussy, jumping around in the seat, and generally not going along with the program. In an attempt to control the situation we heard this young mom (early 20’s) say to this three-year old: “If you can’t sit still we will have to leave.” He called her bluff. He said: “I don’t want to eat here.” Guess what? After making apologies to the waitress, they got up and left the restaurant. I wonder where they ended up? Probably McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A.
These two families begged the question: “Who is raising who?” I know we all have different styles in raising our children, and there is perhaps not one way that is correct for every child and every family.
The first young mom took her children to a place where they would not be embarrassed to have mom remind them of how this game of life is played. Who is the parent and who is the child, and how the parent is in charge of raising the children. Apparently this young mom was skilled enough that when they returned to the table everyone was more accommodating, pleasant, and there were no signs of tears being shed. I was really impressed.
The second mom framed her argument in such a way that the child made the decision whether they ate at this restaurant or not. When the child called her bluff, she had no choice but to leave.
Mom one was raising her children. Mom two was allowing her child to make the decisions on how this he would be raised. Somewhere down the road someone is going to have a come to Jesus meeting with one of these children. I wonder which one?
Growing up – back in our day – there were not as many restaurants and we ate at home most of the time. We were not asked what we wanted. We ate what was on our plates – or children in China would starve… and we didn’t want children in China to starve… so we ate carrots, squash, vegetables and all sorts of stuff children today will not consider eating. When we did go to a restaurant we didn’t have many choices… most of which were what we would have received at home… so it was quiet easy to decide what we wanted. One thing was for sure, we were expected to behave. If we didn’t there would be no bathroom talks, we would answer for our disrespectful behavior when we returned home. Everybody of my age knows what that meant. No, it did not mean we would lose our iPad for a week. It meant we had better find something to pad our behind cause it was going to come into contact with some disciplinary actions.
So who was right and who was wrong? Here is my own personal philosophy. Make sure your children know you love them above all else… that is CRITICAL. Teach them to respect themselves and others. Teach them to reach for the highest goals they can attain. Try not to box them in so much that they lose their creativity or eagerness to learn. Teach them that there are consequences to every action. Both parents must agree on how to raise and discipline the children. If you must correct them in public, do so without taking away their dignity. Treat them with respect in front of their peers and friends. The tough talks are done in private where all parties are allowed to express their true feelings and come away knowing what the offense was, why it was wrong, what is the plan for correction, and how we will deal with it in the future.
If they know and experience your love for them you are well ahead of the game. If they don’t know you love them, you are losing the battle, and so will they.
Dear Lord, help me to make sure my children know that, above all else, I love them with a love that stretches to the end of the earth, and that the motivation behind all I do is to foster greater love and respect in their hearts and mine, in and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace
PS: I you want to follow this blog and not just read it on Facebook, go to the top left of this page and click on the word “Follow.”
Still waiting for pictures of the Ivory Ordination Statues that were given to the ordinands in the late 1990’s. I you have one or know of someone who does please send pictures to share with others.