Hot Mess of a Mom
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
I saw a horrible display of parenting yesterday at our friendly neighborhood Costco. It was a mother and not a father, but nonetheless, she was definitely exasperating her child and it was actually disgusting to witness. He obviously was misbehaving, I missed that part, but she knew what hot words to use to keep him in an unconsolable state, and she just didn’t let up. She threatened him with thing after thing and his gross sobs increased in noise and intensity. Then she told him that he was embarrassing himself (he was like 9 or 10 and blubbering on the floor like a toddler) and that everyone was starring at him. She was right, we were staring but not at him. She had complete control over his increasing tantrum and kept feeding it, and seemed to enjoy doing it. That is just nasty!
It was probably the most accurate definition of exasperating a child I have ever seen. There was no end in sight to the punishments on top of punishments she kept loudly threatening him with that just kept upsetting him more and more. It started off with, “That’s it! You’re going to work with me tomorrow and for the rest of the summer,” to “and I’m going to take away your new (thing) you just got,” and a bunch of “and (so and so) isn’t coming over anymore...” She just didn’t stop. That kid had 50 punishments for whatever 1 infraction he had committed in the store. They didn’t even leave the store. She just kept simultaneously shopping and verbally assaulting her son saying mean thing after mean thing, and he would loudly escalate his caterwauling accordingly. What a freaky mess!
I am so THANKFUL that God doesn’t ever never not ever discipline, instruct, correct, or parent me in this way. Would I want anything to do with God if he did? Like the Unmerciful Servant from Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18, God is furious with people who treat people like they themselves would not appreciate being treated.
God’s parenting style is the opposite of exasperating. In fact, Paul says, in Romans 2:4, that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. That kid in the store was just a miserable pile of snot and tears. He did not repent one single time. Coincidentally, his mother was not kind.
What if she’d just simply taken him out to the car and gave him a little spank for whatever he’d done and let that be the end of it. That would have been kind. The piling on is what constitutes exasperation. And if one enjoys it, like this mom obviously did, then there is a sick demented side to them of which they need to repent. She could have easily assessed he was not up for a shopping trip and just taken him home and given him a consequence for having to make her leave the store, that’s fine. She had the power to end the crisis. And whenever we have an opportunity to do good, we should do the good thing (Galatians 6:10) not make things worse.
Parenting 101 from Psalm 103:7-10...
The Lord shows mercy and is kind.
He does not become angry quickly, and he has great love.
He will not always accuse us,
and he will not be angry forever.
He has not punished us as our sins should be punished;
he has not repaid us for the evil we have done.
This passage doesn’t advocate indulgent parenting but calm, rational parenting. If a kid is obviously inconsolable (and most likely tired and hungry by 4pm in a Costco) don’t fan the flame... Slow to anger.
In no way do I want to identify with this hot mess of a mom. Thank God, by his grace my children have been spared of me ever being that exasperating to them. And witnessing such a parenting disaster in Costco yesterday furthered my resolve to not let exasperating parenting styles be present in my parenting toolbox. All I thought about for the rest of the day after seeing that was Zephaniah 3:17. The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing. That’s what I want for my kids because that’s what I want for me! How wonderful it would have been to see that mom just pick up her overly overwrought son, just hug him and clam him down whether he deserved it or not.
From my own experience, more productive parenting, instruction, and discipline is accomplished when I quiet my children with my love. And when punishment needs to be executed because a child has refused discipline, it should be one punishment, and then it’s over. New Start. Restoration. Do Over. No Grudges. Lots of Grace. All things I enjoy and appreciate from my Heavenly Father should be available to my own children exasperation free by me because I belong to HIM. Otherwise, I am the Unmerciful Servant, a violator of The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), or worse yet, that nasty Costco mom!
I pray for that lady, whoever she is, to find you today, and if she already knows you, help her to realize that YOU are the parent she should imitate, not whomever parented her. I love reflecting on what a kind and patient Father you are with me; thank you for showing us through your Word how you parent us, and help us translate that into our parenting of our kids. Thank you that kindness and quieting with love actually works better than rage and shame. I love my kids so much; please keep showing me how to treat them like the special treasure they are so they can grow up and repeat the cycle. I love you and thank you and pray in Jesus’ name, amen.