On Friday afternoon, Carolyn and I were scanning groceries at a self-checkout line in the Balch Springs Wal-Mart. Suddenly, a woman nearby started screaming at her daughter. Her rant was laced with expletives (which I won’t repeat): “I have given you the whole world, and you give me no respect! You’re 12 years old, and you get your nails done and your toenails done. How many 12-year-olds could say that? When I get you home, I’m going to beat you black and blue. Go ahead and call DHS! I don’t care. I got up this morning and went to work at Wal-Mart at 7:30 and worked until noon. I did that for you, and you don’t appreciate it. You don’t treat me with any respect.” The humiliated child didn’t say a word. She just stood there with tears in her eyes.
This deluded and foolish mother was overlooking a couple of things obvious to any sensible person witnessing the misbehavior. First, working four-hour shifts at Wal-Mart probably doesn’t enable a parent to hand her child the world on a silver platter. Second, a mom can never hope to win her daughter’s respect by completely humiliating her in public.
The Bible says: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:20-21). Yes, children must treat their parents with respect, but parents must be careful to avoid breaking their child’s spirit. And who should be teaching whom?
The parents who actually receive respect from their children treat them as they would want to be treated. They provide the structure made possible by teaching and discipline. They have the strength to say a firm no and also the wisdom and patience to explain their limits. But they don’t scream, rant, insult, humiliate, make harsh threats, or behave rashly and cruelly.
Mama, even if you could lay the whole world at your daughter’s feet, it wouldn’t mean a thing in the absence of love, kindness, and self-control.