A couple of weeks ago I had an experience at church that no one should have to deal with. Especially at church. Considering I belong to a church that teaches about not judging others. My experience deals with 2 extremes in approaching a situation that was difficult for me as a parent. When reading this keep in mind that my daughter is 11 years old. She is not a small kid.
I don’t make it a habit of broadcasting to the world my parenting struggles, however I felt that this needed to be written in the hopes that others may understand that sometimes the greatest of harm can result from the best of intentions. It is important to seek first for understanding before judgement. I make an effort to deal with my kids in the best way I know how. This story is a story of 4 people. Myself, my daughter and 2 people at church who viewed the circumstances from 2 completely different positions. Let me tell you a bit about what happened.
I had asked my daughter to sit down and please be reverent and quet during the church services. We were not actually sitting in the chapel but the foyer outside the chapel with the speakers on so we could hear the sacrament talks. My children are not the kinds of kids that can simply sit still in a pew for an hour and listen to people talk which is why we often sit in the foyer. They are often fidgety and active kids. You know the kind of kids that get put on Ritalin and are told they have a mental illness because they can’t sit still for an hour.
My daughter, who I needed to just sit down for a few minutes reverently refused to do so. She had previously been getting angry with her sister for looking at her. When she tried to get up I asked her to sit down and proceeded to sit her down in the chair. She did not take kindly to this and began to hit me, kick me and scream at me. Even though I asked her to stop she refused. While I was busy being hit and kicked and yelled and screamed at (If an adult were behaving this way it would be considered assault and would be a criminal offense) I grabbed a hold of her arms and sat her down in my lap while restraining her. She continued to kick me so I restrained her legs as well. While using her head to head butt me and screaming and yelling at me she continue to fight against me hurting me in the process. She was screaming “let me go, I hate you, you’re hurting me” and other things like it.
Shortly after this started a man came out of the chapel and approached me. His response was not helpful to say the least. Let me summarize the conversation for you. It went something like this.
“stop that you’re hurting her”
“Thankyou but I can handle this”
“you know that could be considered child abuse and you need to stop”
“excuse me, who are you to come out here and accuse me of child abuse, how dare you”
“I did not say it was child abuse”
“you implied it when you said this could be child abuse, you have crossed a line sir and have no right to judge me”
“you have crossed a line as well learn how to parent and stop what you doing”
“walk away now I am getting angry just walk away”
“learn how to parent then and you won’t have this problem”
His comments were made in a rather condescending and judgemental tone. At this point, naturally I was not happy with this man and to be honest more angry with him than my daughter. I was not even that angry with my daughter, I was more frustrated with her than angry. This is where a woman came to intervene before I lost my temper and cool with this man who I was ready to assault at this point so it is a good thing he walked away. However he did not walk away till a women who I did not previously know entered the scene. She approached the man and told him that he needs to leave, he is not helping and he should just walk away before matters got worse. When she finished guiding him away she approached me and apologized on this mans behalf and told me that she was sorry that happened and felt that his comments and tone were out of line and that he did cross that line. She offered to help and asked if there was anything she could do to help the situation.
Clearly this was not an ideal situation to be dealing with. Not one any parent would want to deal with. It is difficult enough as it is dealing with a child that can act out aggressively towards you at times without having to deal with judgemental, condescending and arrogant attitude of others. This woman took the opposite approach and made an effort to understand what was going on and made an effort to help the situation rather than contribute to an already escalated problem.
A while later when my daughter had not calmed down I told her that we are going home but she refused. Not so much because she did not want to go but because she was in a state of mind that she could not calm down from. I asked her to get her coat and boots on (keeping in mind that it is winter here in Canada and temperatures are cold). She refused so I had taken her to the door with her boots and coat and asked her again to get dressed. She refused again so I took her through the first set of doors and asked her again to put her boots and coat on. She refused. I took her outside knowing that the cold would convince her it is time to go with boots and coat. She promptly put her winter clothes on and agreed to leave. Once she realized I was not messing with her she calmed down and decided it was not worth the fight and agreed to come back to church without the fight and behave. This same man apparently witness this as well and once against judged me to be an abusive man. He reported to the Bishop that I was abusing my daughter.
Naturally the Bishop became alarmed at such a report and asked to speak with me. I explained what was going on and that this person is lucky they walked away when they did because I was likely to begin the laying on of hands. I explained to him everything I just explained before in this post and that I stand by everything that I did 100% and would do it again. Apparently this brother also claimed that I had hit my daughter as well. Interesting in that he was the only witness to this in a room of at least 5 other people. I told the bishop that if he is reporting that, then he is not only judgemental and condescending he is also a liar and I have even bigger issues with him now. I told my bishop that I will use as much force as is necessary to prevent myself from getting hurt, whether that is my daughter or any one else. It is not about hurting my daughter, however she is not a small kid and that requires me to use more force than I would on a 4 or 5-year-old. It is not supposed to be comfortable. That would defeat the purpose of any kind of punishment or discipline. I told him that I see nothing wrong with restraining my daughter to prevent me from being hit or kicked as much and as hard as I must to prevent injury. Any “pain” she may have felt was a direct result of fighting against my restraint rather than me squeezing her so hard that I hurt her.
This is an experience that I hope that I do not have to deal with again. I tried to approach this brother a week later to try to help him understand how he came across to me in the hopes that we could make this issue water under the bridge. Sadly I was shut down and he basically made it clear that he has no interest in hearing what I had to say and that his opinion is unchanged.
I Thank God for an understanding Bishop who takes the time to hear what is happening and does not come to rash judgements based on little to no info. After my conversation with the Bishop I thanked him for taking the time to understand the situation and he feels that I have done no wrong in this situation. This other brother however I can’t help but wonder if he is confident enough in his assessment to stand as a witness in a legal court with such accusations. Regardless he is entitled to his opinion but this experience goes to show that there is a much better way to approach such a situation.
The moral of the story. Don’t judge me because you disagree with my parenting. I have enough problems with that from my own family as it is. In fact it is one of the reasons I have not spoken to or seen my mother in over a year. If you have never had to raise a child with behavioral problems then you can not possibly understand the difficulty involved in dealing with less than ideal circumstances.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew.
PS. Please don’t tell me how I should have my daugther assessed by a pyschiatrist because they have a drug for that. I have written plenty about why I won’t do that and your comments in this area won’t help. It has honestly become a pet peeve people tellimg me I should have my daugther drugged. That will never happen!