I do not have any kids so I'm probably not qualified to blog about this but here it comes. I've commented before that I believe that the maturity level of today's youth leaves much to be desired especially in comparison with a generation or two ago and I do feel that lax parental discipline has played a role. Disrespectful actions that are commonplace today would have been considered shocking in my grandparents' time. However, this rant is about the other extreme case. I observed an 11 year old boy thoughtlessly step on a muddy path. Maybe he thought it had dried. Maybe he wasn't thinking at all. Either way, it's not a big deal, right? Wrong. The poor kid's father completely flipped out on him. He said stuff such as: "Why did you do that?" "I want to know what was going on in your 11 year old mind and what neurons were misfiring that caused you to do such a stupid thing." It wasn't just the words either. The father's attitude was so vicious, bullying and condescending that I really felt bad for the kid. When the kid quietly said that he didn't know it was muddy, the angry father turned to his wife and said: "He didn't know it was muddy! Ha! Then, he repeated incredulously: "I didn't know it was muddy!" Then he went on for another minute or two about what a stupid thing that was to say. Just to kick him when he was down, he made the kid, who was near crying, take off his shoes and look what he had done because he didn't know it was muddy. They weren't even dress shoes either. They were just basic black New Balance tennis shoes. After some deliberation, I decided that it was none of my business and just went to my car. I really wish I had simply patted him on the shoulder and whispered "it's okay" before doing so. That could have made him feel a bit better. What was especially sickening is that this happened as the family had just walked out of church. How about simply making him wash the shoes, clean the car if necessary and tell him to pay more attention to his surroundings? The Bible says that tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) and there was no good reason to humiliate that kid with such hurtful words. If things don't change soon in that household, I predict that the kid will have a lot of behavioral problems as a teenager. When he turns 14-15, he'll just rebel and become disrespectful both at home and at school.
I broke my share of things around my parents' house which is a lot more serious that getting my shoes dirty. It was either because I was playing too rough or just spaced out. Yes, sometimes my parents were frustrated when it happened but as long as it was an accident, I never was punished or yelled at too much, at least not like what was described above.
Now, another issue that I'd like to discuss is verbal abuse. If anyone I know is in a physically abusive relationship, I would advise them to get out immediately and I don't want to hear any bullcrap about how "he didn't mean it" or "I love him." When it comes to defenseless children who grow up in that environment, my heart really breaks for them. I can only hope that either their parents clean up their act or they find a new home in which they are loved and cared for. What if you are in a relationship in which there is persistent verbal abuse and continued unkind comments with no remorse or signs of change? I believe that it is indeed grounds for leaving. Whoever says that words will never hurt is sorely misguided. As for children trapped in that situation, the only thing we can do is pray that the verbal abuse stops before any more damage is done as well as reconciliation and forgiveness from both parties.