The Embarrassing Kid and The Foolish Parent

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I’ve had my moments as a mom. The meltdowns in public places. The temper tantrums in the middle of a store. The smart-mouthed answer coming out when you least expect it. And then of course there are times my kids behave that way too.

But seriously, we have all been embarrassed by our kidsAnd the more I mature as a mom, I realize that “being embarrassed” is the wrong attitude. Now maybe some of y’all younger, less experienced, but way smarter mommies figured this out a lot quicker than I did… it took me a good ten years. The truth is, our children’s behavior is never embarrassing. They are kids. They are going to flub it up, try things they shouldn’t, surprise us with their unbelievable ability to try and hurt themselves, and in general wow us continually into saying, “I never figured they’d do that!”

And yet, they are kids. We give them boundaries, and they HAVE to test them. Over and over again. We give them rules, and they have to break them. Royally. This is their job…to test our resolve, ask us to prove ourselves worthy of their respect. They humble us, and at times humiliate us. I have had more than my fair share of humble pie. And it doesn’t taste good.

Truthfully, moms and dads, our kid’s behavior is never embarrassing. What is embarrassing is if we do nothing about it. Let it slide. Let it go unchecked.

And yet I see this labeled as “grace.” Or parents ignore the behavior. Call it a phase. Hope the kid gets through it. Or blame someone for it…the coach, the teacher, the youth group leader. Moms and dads—it’s OUR job. These are OUR kids. OUR responsibility.

And then there are the parents (and I have been in this category myself…many times) who stand paralyzed and stupefied. Their “I NEVER figured junior would do THAT” paralyzes them into inactivity. No action because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. Listen, I have learned something valuable over the last 20 years. Our kids don’t expect us to always get it perfect, but they need our responseThey need us to hold the lineThey need us to do SOMETHING, even if it isn’t the perfect response or reaction when they disobey or call us on the carpet with their behavior.

I’ve had kids call names. Throw punches. Start fights. Say bad words. Throw fits. Meltdown. Smart mouth. Outright do the exact opposite of what I told them to do. In public. In church, for heaven’s sake! One thing I can tell you from this vantage point of experience—is that they ALL TRYWe just have to prove to them that they won’t get away with it. And then love them into oblivion, telling them over and over again that no matter what, momma’s love and daddy’s love is never at stake.

Don’t be apathetic and call a lack of response grace. Don’t be lazy or uncertain and label it mercy, a syndrome, or a phase. Our kids never make a fool of us. We only make a fool of ourselves if we do nothing about their misbehavior. 

Image Courtesy of the Author

Lyette and her husband of 23 years, David, have 15 children (and one on the way). Their ten daughters and five sons range from 20-years-old to almost two. Lyette just so happens to believe that her children and yours will change our world for good. With Lyette's vast experiences in parenting, she loves to offer hope and help to families on her website Lyette is also the author of Please God Don’t Let Me Screw This Up: Hope & Help from a Mom of Fifteen