Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

December 30, 2013

Reflections on children in adult situations

Mineral Wells Index

— When our Carolyn was about four or so, we were at First Methodist here in Mineral Wells.

She began to make quite a racked, and I whispered to her that is she didn’t stop instantly I would take her out of the sanctuary.  To which she replied, “Take me out. Take me out.”

Never had that problem with her again in a quiet situation.

When Christi was about the same age, I was covering the burning of a church note at a small Methodist church outside Dallas.

The bishop was speaking, and I was taking notes and photographs in the front pew of the church.  About half way through the bishop’s sermon, Christi decided to crawl up the middle of the pews to the back, disturbing every person whose legs she bumped into as she slithered past them.

After the service was concluded and I had apologized to a most gracious bishop, we went to the car.  Following a long and somewhat painful discussion - on her part, at least - she never again behaved that way in public.

When our two eldest grandsons were about four and seven we attended the Fort Worth Baptist Theological Seminary’s presentation of Handel’s Messiah.  As the program progressed, they became rather noisy, and, once again, children had to be taken out of an adult situation.

Following that night, they were able to quite reasonably listen to music or sermons, visit museums and galleries, eat in fine dining restaurants, without the need for any of us to leave the room.

Children, when they are born, do not have instructions in their minds about how to behave in public, and especially how to act in adult-type situations.  They have to be taught, and they certainly can be taught without a whole lot of exertion.

They must learn respect.  They must learn acceptable behavior. But if parents aren’t willing to teach them, they don’t get the opportunity to learn until they are adults as well.

Raf recently sang in the Parker County Community Choir’s presentation of Handel’s Messiah.

The performance was beautiful - at least what I could hear of it.

I happened to sit on the end of a row where, on the other end, there were parents with three small children.  One was a baby. One was about two and the other about three.

My mantra in these sorts of adult situations it two-fold.  Either do not take a small child into an adult situation where quiet is essential, or teach the child, in this case children, how to behave when attending such an event.

Too many parents today feel the necessity to be the pal of their child‚ to never tell the child no and to never explain what should be expected of anyone who is attending an event in which quiet it necessary.

Nor do some parents want to discipline their children – to expect their children to respect themselves and those around them - to learn to appreciate the church, music, art, good food.

I don’t know whether it’s fear of offending the little darlin‚Äôs or what, but, come on. How are children expected to become responsible adults if they are not taught?

So, what happened at Weatherford College the night of the Messiah performance. Those children howled, played, ran, screamed, and the parents chased them back and forth, but they never were expected to obey and be respectful, and they were never taken home. I watched as the children cut their eyes at the parents, almost daring them to do anything.

The result? No one in the audience had a good experience, and those poor children were left not understanding anything about correct behavior in a quiet setting.

I beg young parents to recognize the need to require their children to behave appropriately and to respect themselves and those around them!