One of my children once made me so angry that I lost my temper and almost did and said things I would likely forever regret. I remember seeing her face and realizing that for the first time in her life, she was actually scared of me. It immediately chastened my temper and several minutes later I was repenting before God and apologizing to her. Parenting is one of the most difficult responsibilities that a human being can have. Now that I have five kids, I often find myself praying and reflecting on the tremendous challenges that my wife and I face. And yet I’m also very thankful in knowing that we are not alone.
I don’t know any parents who haven’t lost their temper with their kids. If they exist, they aren’t in my social circles. And if I was introduced to one I’d likely think they were lying. There’s something really interesting in the fact that family members, people you deeply care for and love, can make you so angry that you do and say things you later regret. But I digress…
Recently a Baltimore mother was caught on camera discovering her son getting ready to participate in the riots (video here). It has been trending all over social media (#baltimoremom) and the news media has mentioned it in numerous stories.
Watching the video raised a few thoughts in my mind, and I’d love to know yours as well. These thoughts are not to be understood as “correct” or “final thoughts” but are for the sake of discussion…
First, if I came upon one of my sons about to participate in something like “violent rioting” versus “peaceful rioting,” I’d probably do something very similar. My love and concern for my child could easily transform into anger. Some see this as “righteous anger” and others would recognize this as “losing your temper.” Where is the line?
Second, I can understand why many are applauding this mother. On the other hand, I understand why some are very concerned about both her demeaning language to her son as well as the violence she displayed toward him. How can we expect our children to not participate in violence when we teach them violence?
Third, I’m not sure these questions are fair in their judgment of the mother. I’ve read several comments from people assuming that the mother should have been more involved in the child’s past. How in the world are we to know that the mother hasn’t been? There are plenty of parents who, for lack of better words, do everything correct and their children still rebel. Parenting is tricky because, after all, we’re dealing with people and people can be and are different.
Fourth, the Police Commissioner in Baltimore, Anthony W. Batts, is reported as saying:
“If you saw the scene, you had one mother who grabbed her child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed,” Batts said. “I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids out there.”
Yes, I can understand his comments. On the flip side, I wonder if more police commissioners should apply this to their own police departments and get more involved in curbing the consistent mistreatment by some (not all) police officers and police departments against minorities?
Fifth, some of the comments my privileged white male friends have been making suggests to me that there is a huge disconnect between them and multi-ethnic communities. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years it’s that we are not where I thought we were in relation to racial equality, etc. All this is to suggest that you can serve in a multi-ethnic church and have ethnically diverse friendships and still be deeply disconnected from the challenges, concerns, hurts, pains, and oppression that your friends of color experience. And most of the time, they will not point it out to you because they are far more gracious and forgiving (please do not read into my use of “they” there).
Lastly, I too am a white male with lots of privilege and probably unable to offer much other than my prayers for those who are hurting and suffering, both the “innocents” and the “guilty” in Baltimore. This isn’t to suggest I cannot and should not stand with my fellow human beings who are being mistreated, because I do, which has and will demand more than my prayers. But in this situation, from my home in Wisconsin, I offer my prayers.
- What are your thoughts?
- How are you processing and praying?
- What would you add?
I will keep these comments open as long as they are focused on the topic at hand. If you are looking for a place to rant about the rioters and rioting and whether or not they should be viewed in a certain way, this isn’t the place. Thanks for your understanding…
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
One women in our town asked “where is his dad?”
“On the flip side, I wonder if more police commissioners should apply this to their own police departments and get more involved in curbing the consistent mistreatment by some (not all) police officers and police departments against minorities?”
In a perfect world with a perfect parent, Adam and Eve still chose to sin.
Humble prayers spoken from the lips of one imperfect parent for another may not change the entire world, but they can cover one who hurts with God’s love.
I think there’s a real danger in taking a 10 second snapshot of a persons life and making any judgments about it – good or bad. What I do know is that on my best day I reflect the image of God to world who desperately needs him. On my worst day I am a carrier of the evil that made Christ’s sacrifice on the cross necessary. Take that and combine it with the social/racial/geographical disconnect and emotions like fear, anger, pride, and embarrassment, and I have no idea what I’m even seeing there. I think it’s pretty safe to say that it was better for this kid not to join the riots. It’s probably also safe to say that this video isn’t doing him any good. But who knows. I could be wrong about that too :).