I am never more disappointed in adults than when I see them treat younger people with disrespect.
Honestly, I’m often appalled by the way we talk about our little humans. We almost treat them like they have no idea what they’re doing or having any right to feel like they do.
Case in point:
Little Human: Why did you get Chick-Fil-A?
Adult: Because I stopped there on my way in for lunch.
Little Human: That’s not fair! I wish I could have Chick-Fil-A!
Adult: How is it not fair? My mommy doesn’t pack my lunch like yours does.
The adult’s tone was one of annoyance. I know this because I know this person. Also because this person was me.
This attitude isn’t just something we have with small children. We treat teenagers with the same annoyance. We roll our eyes at their time spent on devices, the things they get upset about, and the immature things they do. But if we really dig deep, I think we’re just annoyed at their lack of experience.
Children will have less life experience than you do because they’ve lived less than you have. Mind blown, right? They will be less mature and less responsible than you because they’ve had less than 18 years to figure it out. Our job as adults is to help them learn, not get frustrated with them because they don’t know.
I think we need to do a better job remembering younger people are not just an inconvenience in our days. They are little humans who have their own days – good and bad.
They have good days – just like me.
They have bad days – just like me.
How difficult my day may have been is no more important than their day. How their day went affects them just as much as my day affects me.
Life is not a competition about who has it harder. We’re all in this together. And if we’re really honest, none of us know what we’re doing. We’re just kinda winging it, hoping it works out.
Kids are the same. Just with less experience than we have.
Sure, the most random things will bring the world to its end, but are adults any different?
I lost my purse in Chicago. Also, you should know that I lose everything and I never know where anything is. I just kind of go through life hoping things are where I think they should be. I swear 95% of my day is spent asking, “Have you seen my coffee cup?” “Did I leave my Pepsi in here?” “Did anyone move my backpack?” It’s just part of my life and I’ve accepted that.
However, when I noticed I didn’t have my purse and told my friend I thought I left my purse at the restaurant, did she get frustrated with me? No. She was more than willing to walk back with me to look for it. She for sure could have been annoyed with me. We had been walking all day, our feet and knees and hips were killing us, and we both just wanted to go back to our hotel and watch a cheesy Christmas movie. But there were no complaints, no “It’s just a purse, you can get another one” or “You have your wallet, do you really need to get your purse?” or “I’m really feeling the hotel right now. You lost it, you go get it”. Nope. Not a word about it. She just went with me to help me look.
This isn’t often the way we act towards younger people when they lose something. We often say stuff like, “It’s just a pencil, you can get another one” or “I don’t know where it is either, go look for it” said with annoyance on steroids.
As if looking for a lost pencil is the biggest inconvenience of our day.
Little kids are so pure, and I don’t think we give teenagers the credit they deserve or really see them as the young adults they are growing into. There is so much passion and conviction in young people because they haven’t learned to not dream yet. From where they stand, the whole world is spread out before them,
And we have the glorious opportunity to stand behind them and push them up their mountains.
Young people learn from us. But not by our lectures, not by our assemblies, not by our programs. They learn by how we act toward one another. Glennon Doyle Melton wrote, “I heard a radio report that students who are most likely to be bullied are gay kids, overweight kids, and Muslim kids. Hmmmmm. I bet at this point in American history, gay adults, overweight adults, and Muslim adults feel the most bullied as well . . . What they are doing in the schools, what we are doing in the media–it’s all the same. The only difference is that children bully in the hallways and the cafeterias while we bully from behind pulpits and legislative branches and sitcom one-liners.” (Carry On, Warrior)
Children are great little mirrors. They do exactly what they see. When the adults in their life treat one another with disrespect, how can we expect them to handle conflict with compassion and understanding? When they see adults yelling to get their point across, how would they learn to disagree respectfully and calmly?
Jesus loved children. He took time from His teaching to heal and pray over them. He even rebuked His disciples for trying to keep the children away (Matthew 19:14). Here is the Creator of the Universe, the One who is able to defeat sin and death, and yet He welcomes the interruption of children saying that His kingdom will be made of people like them.
I’m not entirely sure what Jesus meant by His kingdom being made of people like those children, but I wonder if He was talking about their purity. Children love wholly and completely. They believe whatever they might believe with their whole hearts. They may not always understand why something is the way that it is, but if someone they admire tells them something, there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. They have unwavering faith that those trusted adults would never steer them wrong.
Isn’t this the way we should look at our Heavenly Father? With complete trust and faith that what He has said is true regardless of what anyone else might say? Shouldn’t we live with our arms and hearts wide open without fear of what the future might hold?
In the New Testament, we are charged to be examples for those who are younger and to teach them about how they should live (Titus 2). So many kids in our world today live in shattered homes without solid adults to model themselves after. We have so many opportunities to live out the Gospel with how we interact with those around us, especially those less experienced and mature than we might be.
Plus, if you want to seem really cool, just throw some video game jargon around. Kids are easily impressed.
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