A Facebook friend recently shared this on her Wall:
What would you do? Could you do anything? I’m curious what others do or think. I felt nothing I could do would help, and I was too overwhelmed caring for my babies. But I saw a scandalizing example of why many people develop a dislike for Christians. A mother w/ a 2ish year old and 4ish year old shared the “cry room” with us for a random church session. And proceeded to hiss, yell, slap, pinch and otherwise verbally attack her kids throughout the whole thing. It was very disturbing and I ended up leaving the room to stand in the back w/ my kids.
At the end, she literally physically dragged them into the main church and told them they had to do stations of the cross for being bad while on their tippy toes. She kept twisting the older child’s arm b/c he wouldn’t stop sobbing. I feel bad b/c my reaction was so strong I could not think clearly or think of any helpful way to intervene/redirect/de-escalate. My kids were freaking out and I didn’t want them to see what was happening, too. Mostly I was shocked that she had no filters whatsoever…she didn’t seem to care at all that others saw her and heard her. Ok so there’s my current stomach-turning issue.
Comments ranged from total compassion for the mother (‘you don’t know what kind of day she was having’) to complete and total derision toward her (‘you should have called CPS right away.’) Parenting is full of Monday Morning Quarterbacking moments and this is for sure one of them.
I think that we have all been in that sort of situation to some degree. We have been the mom at our wits’ end with our children and we have been the passive bystander asking herself “What should I do? Should I ask her if I can help? Oh, those poor children!” None of us are parenting experts, even those with a whole alphabet’s worth of letters after their name. We all have great parenting days and we all have craptastic parenting days, but the mark of a Parent with Grace is how you handle those craptastic moments.
I will say that I take issue with how this mother handled her craptastic moment in general and specifically at Mass. Pinching, Twisting, and Bopping your kid only teaches this that it’s acceptable to pinch, twist and bop those weaker than you if they don’t do as you say. Mass is supposed to be a celebration and Church should a happy place to be… not a punishment for anyone. If nothing else, this mother has planted the seeds for extreme religious hatred for her children. Instead of seeing the Stations of the Cross as a monument of Christ’s love for us, they will see it as a punishment, something that they had to to when they pissed mom off at church.
Discipline is proactive. Punishment is reactive. There are days that I would love to get to daily Mass, but it doesn’t happen if I know that my children are not prepared for the Mass. That means: well-rested, fed, dressed and briefed as far as my expectations go for them. If I am choosing to take them to Mass and I know they are hungry and tired, I have no one to blame but myself for setting THEM up for failure. We, as parents, need to also drop this facade of perfection that we carry around. We all have bad days and accepting help from a stranger, or asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If someone offers you a hand, do not take it as a personal affront to your parenting skills, as it is only when we accept help from others that we allow them to become Christ to us.
So what would I have done if faced with this dilemma? Honestly, I have no clue. I’d like to think that I would have said something to her but I really don’t know…
What would you do? Should you do anything?