I was recently walking through the parking lot at a major retail store when I overheard the sound a father speaking harshly to his son. By the tone and ire in in the man's voice, I expected to see a teenager son and his dad.
As I got closer to the persons involved I was surprised to see that the recipient of the father's anger was a small boy probably 3 years old or less. The man was speaking extremely forcefully and telling the child pinned in his arms to quit crying or he wasn't getting anything when they got inside. My first thought was, How lame that a grown man has to intimidate and dominate a child into submission through the BOOM of his voice.
Let's be honest for a second. It is way easier to yell and scream when our children don't follow directions than it is to be graceful, understanding and long-suffering isn't it? Long-suffering - that's not a word we use much anymore; no one wants to suffer for a long time. In a culture of instant gratification we want what we want, and we want it NOW! Life at microwave dinner speed.
An attitude of 'my happiness now' can creep stealthly into our homes. When it comes to parenting, if we are not careful, we can easily begin to demand perfection and obedience from our children within a millisecond of our giving direction. And when it doesn't happen, we tend to fly off the handle in a ridiculous rage at the way our kids are treating us.
I don't know if there is a better picture of selfishness than an irascible and insolent parent. I see parents like this all the time while I'm at work, walking through the aisles of my retail store hollering at their little kids. A part of my heart breaks for these kids as I imagine what kinds of impressions are being left on their tender little minds. Another part of my heart breaks as I remember the times I've treated my own children in a similar fashion.
All this is to say, parents love your children well, again and again. Cultivate the virtues of patience, kindness, and gentleness within yourself and breath a breathe of love into your kids. Be characterized by your gracefulness and if you must, error on the side of being too tolerant. Our time with our children is so short, and the imprint we leave on tender souls is too deep to not be careful. You don't need to dominate your children. Just love them well.