Some years, and quite a few Coffeetime Columns ago, we wrote an article called Hellion Alert. It was about Andy recounting a true incident of eating lunch in a restaurant where a small, undisciplined child was wreaking havoc while the mother ignored it all.
When the article was published in the newspapers, a few readers took exception to Andy’s opinion of the lax parenting that allowed this toddler to act out. These readers felt that he had harshly judged the mother and her child, who ‘most likely suffers from autism or was just having a bad day.’ But he stood on the fact that as a local pastor, he actually was acquainted the child. A child who attended his church many times and hadn’t shown any signs of autism, and who functioned well… under the supervision of children’s workers there at the church.
Fast forward a few years.
Not long ago we encountered a set of brand-new parents who were thrilled with their tiny little newborn. As is typical, that baby was cute and lovable in every way, and they had every reason to feel the way they did. But then one of them made a comment that sent up quivers of concern and set mental alarm bells ringing.
Quote, “(Name withheld) is so perfect. We will never discourage her in anything she does. We will ALWAYS encourage her to do whatever she wants to do.”
Now, let us be clear on what we are about to say. They were enamored with their newborn, and rightfully so. And they want to make certain they always encourage and stand behind that child - which we applaud.
But… and it is a big one.
Scripture plainly teaches that “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) It matters little that a baby is beautiful and cuddly. Cuddly babies grow up into self-willed children and then self-centered adults. And if a toddler is not loved enough by the parents to be disciplined and carefully guided, there is a good chance that this child will become the one that everyone sees dreads coming in their door.
Society tells parents to give their child love and freedom to be himself. And we do agree that every child needs Love and Freedom to be whoever he is. BUT…there is a third leg missing on this three-legged platform for rearing your child. It is Discipline…teaching a child that their wants and desires are not the only thing that matters in this world. The welfare of others is also important, and they have to learn to ‘play well with others.’
If a lazy and indulgent parent lets their child grow up without boundaries and standards regarding considerate behavior toward others, then their Lovable Lindy or Cute Chris can become the “Oh, No, Eat Quick, Hellion Alert Just Walked In.”
Sometimes, enforcing “No” is the greatest form of love for your wonderful child.