I have heard comments from moms saying that they feel as if their parenting skills are being harshly judged by other Christian women. I have felt sad for these mothers as I read posts about them being criticized because their 6 month old child was not wearing socks in 90 degree weather—or grumbled at because their teen, who can make most of his own decisions, decided he did not want to wear a coat. And I have seen the random post downgrading the mom in the checkout line with the loud, busy toddler.
We as Christian women need to offer support and kindness to mothers. Think of the light you could be by being kind instead of harsh. Proverbs 15:1 is so important here, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
When we had our first foster children, they had been through a lot so they acted out. I remember my first trip to Wal-Mart with 4 small children, a young pre-teen, and myself. This was prior to the wonderful Wal-Mart pick-up.
The little girl started throwing a huge tantrum in the aisle because she wanted the Frozen Cereal. Nothing of interest had really happened prior to this; yet, she just sat in the aisle and screamed, “But I want it!!!!!” If I were a casual passerby, I might scoff and think, “Well that mom does not know how to handle her child.” (Insert other judgmental thoughts here, with a Facebook post to follow, “To the Mom in Walmart, with the little girl screaming for cereal.”)
The rule with foster kids is that you cannot tell anyone “This is a foster child” and you cannot spank. You have to think of other ways to discipline. The little girl had just arrived that day and I was try to build up a rapport with her. I wanted her to be able to pick food that she would like, but that quickly went downhill. I began bargaining with her, “Ok if you are good the rest of the Walmart trip I will get you the Frozen Cereal. She did not get the cereal. I wanted to sit in the aisle myself and cry. I looked like I had flunked Parenting 101!
I got to the check out and needed to use WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ) for the first time, not realizing you need a Master’s degree from the college of WIC to be able to understand the process. By that point in the trip my brain had stopped working. I don’t think I could have added 2 + 2 together. I had to go back and exchange some stuff because I had picked out the incorrect food items that WIC allowed. It was at this point, the two toddlers who had been pretty quiet started to make their presence known. And it was pretty much chaos at the check-out. You know what helped me that day? The wonderful Walmart cashier! Had she not been there to guide me through the WIC process, I would have left my stuff out the counter and ran out of the store. All it took was a sweet simple, “It’s OK, I understand how hard it is. Let me help you.” Bless her heart!! I don’t know who she was but I have thought about her a lot. Just the calm, reassuring voice is what I needed. It gave me enough energy that day to say, “Yes, I can do this!”
Now if she would have breathed heavily at me, treated me like I was stupid, (I definitely felt that way) and told me to hush my kids up, the day would have been much different.
The whole point of the story is to say that we should not automatically think we know what the situation is. We assume things and criticize in our minds without knowing everything. This leads us to form a belief. This belief may not be truth.
Situations like this have the ability to humble you really quickly. But even though those things have happened to me, I am still so quick to judge. I have to work on this daily. I have to start my morning with prayer and pray that I will not be quick to judge. If I am in a situation and I see that I am about to think critical thoughts, I stop myself, pray, and look for a way that I might be helpful in the situation. Even if it’s just something as simple as a smile. I have to remember that I don’t know other people’s circumstances just like they may not know mine. Maybe the reason her baby does not have on socks in Wal-Mart is because the baby cannot handle having them touch his feet due to sensory issues. Maybe the reason the mom is on a laptop computer while her kids play at the park is because the mom has a work at home job. The mom might be letting the kids have a fun outing while she gets some work done. People can misconstrue or misunderstand so many things. There are many children with various disorders that you can’t always see—and trust me spanking them will not help those situations. But being kind to the parent might.
Think of how much better it would be to show kindness. It is a Fruit of The Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
It is also something that older women are supposed to teach the younger women.
…to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.Titus 2:5
Kindness is also what love is…
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
In the Book Getting Along by Nancy Eichman, she states, “Kindness is intentionally showing goodness and mercy to someone else, and we often have to stretch beyond ourselves.” It may be hard for us to do at times but it is worth it and it is very Biblical. The Bible has a lot more to say about kindness and it says it so much better than I can.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
2 Peter 1:5-9
There are so many different circumstances that happen. We must show kindness and mercy. Don’t automatically assume the negative. Instead of jumping to conclusions, try thinking outside the box. What might have brought them to this situation? And most importantly, offer kindness instead of harsh judgement.
There are so many different circumstances that happen. We must show kindness and mercy. Don’t automatically assume the negative. Instead of jumping to conclusions, try thinking outside the box. What might have brought them to this situation? And most importantly, offer kindness.
*I am not saying that there are not times that we need to be more discerning but that is not what this article is about.
by Sharla Orren