Jana and I spent last Saturday afternoon at the zoo with Adi, our oldest granddaughter. It was a scary time because a lot of animals were running around that should have been in cages. Let me tell you about three of them. The last one was the wildest of all.
We were looking at a magnificent jaguar when I heard a mother behind me scold her child. “Don’t go running off from me. You’re such a cute thing that somebody will snatch you for sure!”
What?! Was that a compliment? A manipulation tactic to get the child to stay close by? What was going through that momma’s brain? Threatening that somebody will “snatch you” sure isn’t a healthy thought to plant in a child’s brain. What other crazy stuff does that mom tell her child?
But it got worse.
At the petting zoo a Dad was taking a picture of his wife and two little girls kneeling by a baby goat. I started toward them to offer to take the photo so he could be in it but, “snap”, the Kodak moment was over and Dad said, “OK, I’m outta here. Let’s go.”
“But,” mom said, “the girls want to pet the baby pig.”
“Nah, I’m done here. Let’s go. I’m leaving.”
I sure wish I could mind my own business but I couldn’t help but think, “So this is all about you? You bring the kids to the zoo (Good for you dad) and then make the whole event about you and what you want to do.”
The real winner though was as we were leaving a little girl and her grandmother were walking ahead of us. The 7 or 8 year old was enthralled reading the zoo map and walked right into a lamp pole.
Ouch! But she wasn’t hurt … at least not until grandma loudly jumped in.
“What’s the matter with you?! That was a stupid thing to do! You have to watch where you’re going. Stop reading that thing and watch where you’re going.”
Can you imagine if this woman had been with a friend who did that? She would have never spoken to a friend like that. Why would you speak to a child that way?
You could see the pain in the little girl’s eyes. She already felt foolish for walking into a huge pole but now grandma shoved a little salt into the wound. After a few more comments that assured the little girl she was the most imbecilic creature God ever put on earth the grandma inserted the coup de gras, “Are you hurt? Here, let me kiss it.”
Really? You think she wants a kiss after that tongue lashing? And the little girl made it clear that a kiss wouldn’t heal her wounds.
I guess what I’m trying to say in this rant is,
“It’s important we try to see things from our kid’s point of view.”
Dear “let me kiss it” Grandma:
Our words go deep into our kid’s heart because we are so significant in their lives. It’s nice to want to kiss it but she was actually OK until you reacted to your own embarrassment and raked her over the coals with your burning words.
Make sure you fill your kids’ hearts with words of encouragement and value because there will be plenty of voices in the world telling them they are stupid and worthless.
Colossians 4:6 – Let your speech be gracious and attractive …
To “I’m outta here” Dad:
You’re right the world should not revolve around your children. One of the quickest ways to destroy your kids is to make your home “child-centered”. They need to learn they’re not the center of the universe. Not everything revolves around what they want to do, when they want to do it.
But, dad, neither should you act like you’re the center of the universe. Teach your kids to be considerate of others by modeling it. Every now and then lay down your preferences and desires and put others above yourself.
Philippians 2:4 – don’t just look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.
To “snatch you” mom:
Yes, it’s a dangerous world out there. But I believe one of the greatest dangers is living in constant fear of those dangers. Fear has torment – 1 John 4:18
We want our kids to be aware of the dangers but we also want them to know they can take some risks. They don’t have to huddle fearfully in a dark corner. They have a God who is with them at all times, who is actively working to accomplish His purpose in their life and no scheme of the enemy can derail God’s plan for them.
To all of us:
We were all kids once. Try to remember what it was like. Before we speak and before we act, let’s try to see things and hear what we’re about to say from their perspective.