I'm Offended, Part 1

My wife recently gave birth to our third child, and one of the many questions we have as we watch her grow is what her personality will be like. Both our eldest and our newly crowned middle child are distinct in approaches to life — yet there is one thing that binds all kids together: temper tantrums.

While the range, pitch and frequency varies from child to child, they all have what we affectionately call “meltdowns.” Usually due to a lack of rest and not getting his or her way, the child has an emotional implosion — or explosion, depending on the child. I have watched my sweet girls morph into door-slamming, foot-stomping, lip-pouting demonstrators.

It’s especially bad in public. One book reflects on the experience by saying, “The fear of your child losing control in public is enough to make you want to stay home, order takeout, and shop online. Most people are staring at you, the parent, not the child. They are watching to see if you will keep your cool. Think about the last time you saw a child freaking out in a store; weren’t you secretly hoping the parent didn’t lose control too?”1

I confess sometimes I wish the opposite so I can judge another parent and feel good about my own shortcomings. Then I repent.

However the children in your life lose control of themselves, private or public, we all have a responsibility as mature adults to gently help discover better ways to express what they are feeling. Common decency tells us that screaming, hitting, name-calling, mean letters and refusing to play because we don’t get our way isn’t how grown-ups behave.

We go to great lengths to explain to our children the proper way of dealing with emotions like anger and fear. We do our very best to make them aware of the people around them, how they look when they embrace ugly behavior, and how it makes Jesus look if we claim to love and follow Him.

After all, inspiration tell us that “there are those who are watching this people [Seventh-day Adventists] to see what is the influence of the truth upon them.”2 What effect does the advent message on its adherents? Jesus answers simply by telling us we are to taste good (see Matt. 5:13).

Yes, we can all agree on the necessity to impress upon today’s children the need for mature adults, especially those following Jesus, to conduct themselves respectfully, and to communicate their thoughts and feelings in ways that build people up.

But then we come to church.

  1. Michelle Nicholasen and Barbara O’Neal, I Brake for Meltdowns, 8.
  2. Ellen White, Selected Messages Book 3, 260.

Read Seth Pierce's first piece, "I'm Offended, Part 2." 

July 30, 2014 / Perspective