Righteous Parents

Written by on March 9, 2006 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 0 Comments

I was in Taco Bell last night with my youngest daughter, when I noticed a woman berating a very young child for not eating. She scolded her saying she needed to eat, so they could go to church and that they were already late. The girl was sitting in a high chair. She was fussy and evidently, not eating much. Maybe because it was close to 8:00 P.M., and this child should have been in bed instead????

I heard the woman threaten to throw away all the girl’s toys the next morning. Of course, this was really helpful and cheered the child right up.

There was another child at the table, a slightly older boy, and someone I presumed was the father. I was sitting across the aisle and about a table up from them facing way, but I could see them clearly in the reflection in the window, so I could watch them without staring directly at them. At one point, the father got irritated with the boy. Evidently, the boy wasn’t eating properly or something, and the father grabbed the food out of the boy’s hand, while he was eating, and said, “You’re doing it wrong.” And tossed the taco or burrito back on the table. The boy objected with some plaintive whining.

He had been eating. He just wasn’t doing t right. So now, he sat there not eating at all, not saying or doing anything. All of a sudden, the woman reached out and slapped the boy in his face. I was shocked. The boy didn’t scream out like it hurt a whole lot, but he was stunned by the suddenness of it and started crying. I, too, was stunned. I could not believe my eyes. It was a quick slap, maybe not the hardest…not to leave a bruise or red mark, but regardless how hard it may or may not have been, to strike a child like that was just wrong. Ironically, I heard the father comment to the boy that he’d better not disrespect his mother, totally oblivious to the contempt the mother just showed the child. She might have told him to eat after his father took the food out of his hand, and he didn’t, but it appeared to have come out of the blue to me.

This is where child rearing “style” merges with child abuse. No doubt, they thought it was their parental duty, probably divinely ordained according to their interpretation of scripture, to obtain complete obedience through any means. To me, it was child abuse, verbal, emotional and physical, hands down. But legally, that’s another story.

I had to leave. I told my little girl to wrap up her food, I couldn’t stay here.

When I got up, I had to pass the table on the way to the front to get a take out bag. I looked the father straight in the eye. He looked at me, and looked away, could not hold my gaze. I looked at the mother, she did the same. I could not hide what I felt inside. I know it showed in my eyes. I was angry for the children, for not only tonight, but for the years of damage they would inflict on those kids.

I wanted to say something, warn the parents, that what they were sowing today they would reap, and that the pain they inflicted on these kids would come back to haunt them. But if people can treat their kids like that in public, just how much worse is it at home, and how much would those kids suffer if “their disobedience” caused a stranger like me to embarass them in public?

I couldn’t help but think about those kids all night. It bothers me that it happened. It bothers me those kids were and will continue to be defenseless for years to come. It bothers me I didn’t know what to do, that I felt helpless to help in that moment.

Jesus said what you do to the least of these, you do to me. Maybe they covered that in their service last night.


About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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