Through a child’s eyes, the world can often feel like an unfriendly place. When friends talk behind his or her back, when the kid down the street acts like a bully, when siblings are pushy, there is at least one person (or two if they’re lucky) who they can count on to be there for them. One person they can count on to support them, love them, and protect them against the harsh realities of the world. One person who is the rock in their harbor, who loves them unconditionally, and who cares about their well-being.
Of course that person is his or her parent. It’s me. It’s you. It’s anybody who is a mom or a dad, a care-giver, or a mentor. We are often the last bastion of safety in our children’s lives.
At least until they don’t pick up their room.
Yes, that’s right. One Georgia dad recently made news for emptying his daughter’s room onto the front driveway of the house. He claims he was tired of her not picking up after herself, and after repeatedly telling her to do it, decided to take matters into his own hands and physically moved the contents of her room out onto the driveway while she was out of the house. He claims he didn’t do it to shame her, but the evidence proves otherwise.
Had he really not wanted to shame her, he could have done the same thing except put her stuff in the garage or in the backyard instead of putting out in front of the house for all the world to see — with a huge spray-painted sign bearing her name and “clean it next time,” no less. And when the news crews came around he could have ordered them off his family’s property instead of giving an interview. So Mr. Schlichenmeyer, own up to your role in this matter and admit you did it exactly TO shame your daughter.
I say the shame is on him.
Are there times that our children frustrate us? Sure, it’s called being a parent. Are their times our children don’t listen to us? Sure, it’s called being a kid. But do we take it out on them? No. As adults who have been through it before, we should be more mature than that. We should hold it together instead of losing it. It’s called growing up. One might expect a man of military discipline to be able to control his emotions better than Mr. Schlichenmeyer did. That is not to say any of us are perfect. Most of us lose it at one time or another and hopefully, we are also mature enough to admit it to our children. But in the time it took to completely disassemble all of her furniture and move it out and reassemble it on the driveway one might think he’d have had time to think about whether or not this was the right move.
According to the article on Huffington Post, Mr. Schlichenmeyer stated that he had the right to do what he did. I don’t deny that. But was it the best way to show a child that you love them? In my opinion, I don’t think so. We get so wrapped up in “justice” we often forget the mercy we all pray for when things go wrong. When we are late paying a bill, we hope the credit card company will reverse the charge just this once. When the mortgage comes in just a bit behind, we hope the bank is merciful and will cut us a break. When we scream at our spouse after a hard day at the office, we hope they will forgive us for taking it out on the wrong person. Shouldn’t we show that same mercy to our children — even before they have to ask for it?
The intended result, making his daughter pick up her room, may or may not work. But she did learn something from this event. She can’t trust dad not to humiliate her — a dark cloud that no child really needs in this troubled world.