I read the above quote today at Clover Lane and it gave me the nudge I needed to write this post. I had been deliberating on whether or not it was too heavy, but ultimately decided that it seemed important to share it.
I am not known for being someone who enjoys confrontation, in fact I would say I am just the opposite. My personality and life experiences have led me to shy away from entering into any lion’s den. That is, except where children and their safety are concerned.
This afternoon, my daughter and I were grocery shopping. As I was doing the usual evaluation of what was needed for the week and price checking, I heard some very escalated adult voices in the next aisle and a screaming toddler. When I say escalated, I mean the tone and language being used with this young child was truly frightening. I thought I would just circle around near by and let the mother know that someone was watching. Sometimes people will be nicer to their children if someone is observing them. In this case it didn’t work. These two young women(I believe that one was the mother and one was the aunt) proceeded to continue screaming in the child’s face, while one grabbed her and spanked her with a visceral anger. Talk about two against one.
I waited, thinking of what to do, and the young mother looked at me defensively. I said as quietly and steadily as I knew how, “Please calm down, she’s just a child.” She was naturally quite unhappy with me, and I walked down the next aisle, thinking that I would get a manager to intervene if it continued. The yelling stopped, and the tone changed a bit. I am fairly certain that I did not make any huge changes in the heart of the mother by speaking to her about this issue. But for the moment, at least, the child was safer. I wish I always knew the perfect way to respond in these situations.
As I was checking out, the woman in front of me said “I agree with what you said. I wanted to say something myself, but I was too scared.”
If two grown women were that afraid of the level of anger that was being displayed, can you imagine what the child felt?
I know that sometimes mamas get tired and frustrated. And that is okay. But when being frazzled leads to behavior that is scaring or damaging a child, a line has been crossed and something needs to be addressed.
I am thankful for parent educators that are working diligently to teach skills that have already led many to parent with compassion and true understanding. Carrie at Parenting Passageway has so much wisdom to share in handling negative emotions so that they do not harm our children. Another powerful post on the issue of gentle parenting is this one from Amy at to love.
I know that this is a sensitive issue, but this is me on my soap box just once imploring us as mothers to allow ourselves to be made by the Spirit into the most whole human beings that we can be. This doesn’t mean perfection, but moving every day toward more love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (See Gal. 5:22).
And to have the courage to speak up when necessary.