On a nice night out at a restaurant with the family, nothing ruins dinner more than a kicking and screaming toddler who, in that moment, you hesitate to claim as your own .
When a child is misbehaving in public, society has this awful tendency to shame parents. The looks, the salty eye-rolls, the stares, the snarks, people are not afraid to let you know that your child is out of control.
Clint Edwards is a daddy blogger, who admittedly has no idea what he’s doing. He took to Facebook this week after a family dinner at Red Robin went horribly wrong:
“I’m stuck in the van with my toddler. We went out to dinner as a family, and she had a meltdown because mom wouldn’t let her throw chicken strips. So she screamed, and screamed, and kicked and kicked, and since I was the only one finished with my meal, I had the pleasure of dragging her out of Red Robin.
I carried her past the bar and everyone stared at me, most of them childless, I assumed. No one with children would give me that straight faced, lip twisted, look that seems to say, ‘If you can’t control your kid, then don’t go out.’
Clint, whose own father never invested in his life, continues his post with the realest of real parenting rant he could possibly give to everyone who gave him “the look.”
“She’s two and it’s going to take years to teach her how to act appropriately in public, and the only way I am ever going to teach that is to take her out and show her what’s right and wrong. By saying no a million times, letting her throw a fit, and telling her no again.
These lessons take patience, hard work, and real world experiences, and I’m sorry to those at the bar who got irritated by my child’s fit, but you are part of this practice. Your parents did the same with you, and that’s how you now know how to recognize when a child does something irritating in a restaurant. It’s how you learned to look at a situation and say, ‘That parent needs to control their kids.’
It’s how you learned to be a respectable person.”
He finishes the post by asking people to drop the judgements and find compassion and understanding:
“I get it. Kids are irritating when they are loud in a restaurant. I know. I’m living it. But before you get angry and judgmental, realize that what you are witnessing is not bad parenting, but rather, parents working hard to fix the situation.
You are looking at what it takes to turn a child into a person.”
His post reminds me of what Paul teaches us in Colossians, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12.
We are called to be kind and compassionate toward every brother and sister—yes, even those whose daughter is throwing chicken in the restaurant. It’s easy to believe in what Paul is saying in this passage, but the real test is living it out when an angry toddler is interrupting your dinner.
Clint’s post has gone viral, being shared more than 130,000 times since it was first posted on Saturday. Comments flooded through the feed from parents and grandparents who could totally relate.
It’s never fun to be the parent of a child that is out of control. But more likely than not, we’ve all been there at some time or another. May we be a society of Christians who don’t look on with judgment, but extend overwhelming amounts of grace and encouragement.