Fathers Don't Shame Your Children

Its slow enough in the store today that I can write this...

A man and his wife just came into the store. Trailing behind them and playing happily were a couple of boys, probably around the ages of 5 and 3. As mom and dad were looking over the menu board something happened that made the littler boy start crying. Dad freaked out and grabbed the older boy and spoke sharply into his son's ear. This caused the offender to start crying and to hide his face on first dad, and then eventually mom's leg. Apparently calmed down, Dad tried to step back in and soothe his son. But nothing worked. No bribe of root beer, no letting the boy pick out a seat. Nothing. The interchange between dad and son was finished.

The older son was visible ashamed of himself and the entire situation. The way he was treated publicly by his dad was causing him to shut down and withdraw. From his body language he obviously wanted to hide.

I know I have reacted this way towards my own kids and it is not right. Rather than staying calm and taking my kids to a private place, I have shamed them in front of others. This is not effective discipline, and if it happens repeatedly it will have lasting affects on the psyche of my kids.

I felt sorry for the boy and I wanted to protect him but I didn't know what to do. As I was working and trying to process the whole experience it was clear to me that the best way for me to help the boy is to authentically befriend the father. Because of the nature of my job I can't befriend every person who comes into the door, but I do feel even more passionate now for the need for Christian men to befriend and influence non-Christian men.

Fathers have a powerful influence in the minds and hearts of their kids, and if we want to reach future generations we have to start by genuinely loving the men who are shaping them.