KIDS ARE ALWAYS LEARNING – YOU ARE ALWAYS TEACHING

A few days ago I was standing in line behind a father and his two kids at fast food restaurant called Moe’s. Moe’s is kind of like a Chipotle, serving a Tex-Mex style cuisine with a Subway-style serving line. The father lets his two kids place their orders before them even though they are barely tall enough to look over the counter.

Behind the counter is an 18 to 20-year-old male, with gold teeth, designer glasses, and long gold chain, who was not enthusiastic about serving customers burritos and tacos. He didn’t act angry, arrogant, or like he had a chip on his shoulder, he just didn’t smile, greet people, speak loudly, or look even in the direction of his customer’s faces. One might expect that in mind, based on how he dressed and carried himself, that he was just going to serve tacos until his mixtape dropped and he found himself on the cover of Hip-Hop magazine. All joking aside, I give the guy a little bit of respect for lowering himself to serve Tex-Mex food and earn a modest living, though he didn’t fit the perfect picture of customer service.

So this little kid, probably about 8 or 9 years old, asks the guy for a burrito, with chicken, and NO beans. I’m standing about two people back, farther away than the server. I distinctly heard the kid say NO beans. Sure enough, the guy plops a spoon full of beans on the kid’s burrito. The kid immediately looks to his father and says “Dad, he put beans on it, I said no beans.” The father looks and the guy and back at the kid and never says a word to the server. The child let out a small whimper, and the dad turns to his child and tells him to be quiet.

Now, if you just read that correctly, and not a little irritated at that dad, you should be. Trust me; I am all for teaching children to choose their battles, but I am more of a proponent of teaching your kids to stand up for yourselves and when you know what you want, to go out and get it. What does is teach a child when fathers don’t stand up for them? It illustrates to the child they aren’t important enough to be stood up for. All this father had to do is say “Excuse me, my son didn’t want beans, do you mind starting over?” And I guarantee that guy would have tossed the burrito and started over after all his job is to please the customer. And you can’t make an excuse don’t irritate a food service person, or they will spit in your food, they are fixing it while you watch!

Without picking on this guy too much, I have to wonder if he won’t fight this small battle for his kids, what other more meaningful conflicts will he act like a giant chicken?

Kids are constantly watching parents and trying to learn from them. The other day, I finally got around to hanging some new pictures around the house. After hanging a few pictures in the living room, my two-year-old son started following me around with his toy hammer and banging on the walls next to me. Of course, we view this attitude as cute but here is the truth: I didn’t say to Bryce: “Son, let me show you how to do this, and you can help me, here are the tools, and here is the goal…” No. Simply by doing something around my son, he tries to mimic me on his own. Now, this is an example of a physical activity, but you better believe even though that child was upset by having beans on his burrito he learned the following lessons from his father in a matter of seconds:

  1. I’m not important enough for my father to fight for me.
  2. What I want is not important.
  3. When someone does substandard work, we should smile and nod, not critique, or correct.
  4. No one cares what I like or what I care about.
  5. When I ask for something as a customer, what they give me is not important, I should just take it.
  6. Suffering is a part of life, and we should just be quiet and suffer.
  7. My father would rather hurt my feelings than confront another adult.
  8. My father doesn’t listen to my wants or needs.
  9. My father won’t stand up for me.
  10. My father doesn’t love me enough to make sure that I have a quality experience.
  11. My father is a chicken.

Conservative theologian, Douglas Wilson said, “If boys don’t learn, men won’t know.” If a boy learns the above 11 lessons from his father, what will he take into manhood? These 11 lessons were taught in probably 11 seconds. It’s important to recognize that it’s the little things we don’t or don’t do as fathers every day that make a difference in child’s entire life. We have to be a bit more careful as fathers, be the dads we always wanted or needed, and to be strong and ACT LIKE MEN!

Parents, do not anger your children but rear them in the discipline and in the teaching of Our Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

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