The store was pretty crowded as I made my way along, shopping for a few groceries one afternoon. Ahead of me in the aisle, was a young woman with an already full cart, a little girl in the seat, and an older little boy hanging onto the side. She was talking on her cell phone, but every little bit she would look down at the kids and loudly berate them for whining and arguing with each other. I turned out of that aisle to try and get away from the noise, but her harsh, almost hateful voice could still be heard even several aisles away. I finally got out of the store, but my mind was on those kids for the rest of the day.

Sadly, this is not an unusual event. It seems that wherever you go, whether shopping or in restaurants, you find families loudly trying to discipline their kids. They don’t seem to care that they are out in public, and that their words and loud voices can be harsh and hateful.  It’s no wonder that our children are growing into teenagers with no respect for anyone when they are treated with such disrespect at home from an early age. Children will become what they are exposed to the most and what they hear the most as they grow. Negativity, meanness, and disrespect will stay with them. This can manifest itself in them becoming bullies in school and malcontents as adults.

This unloving behavior on the part of parents reminds me of a night many years ago when I was rocking my weeks-old first baby boy in our small third floor apartment while my husband was at night school. The rocking was making me drowsy, too, but as I was trying to stay awake, a strange thought came to my mind. I was responsible for doing my best to give this new person love and guidance for his life. If I treated him kindly, spoke to him with a soft, caring voice, and never exposed him to negative, mean talk, he would surely grow up to be a kind and loving man. On the other hand, if I yelled at him in anger, berated him for making mistakes, and was physically mean, he would turn into an unlikeable person who might be prone to getting into much trouble. Having been raised by parents who never yelled or treated me with unkindness, I too, chose the softer touch. And I carried that on to my other son when he was born.

Now, many years later, those boys are two of the finest men I know. They are great fathers and grandfathers who also chose the softer touch.

Parents, yes children need to be disciplined. They cannot be allowed to just run amok around every one in every place they go. You soon will not be welcome to go to a lot of places if that continues.  But please, learn to use a softer touch when disciplining them. Down the road they will grow up to be happier, well-behaved youngsters and you will be proud to take them anywhere.