Parallel to my work with Motor Racing Outreach, I am also a ‘tentmaker’ working for one of my best friend’s travel agency. The travel agency, Off to Neverland Travel®, specializes in Disney Destinations; leaving us with all kinds of ‘business’ trips with the family to Walt Disney World® Resort and other Disney Destinations. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?
I remember vividly a moment that unfolded on one of these trips late in 2013.
One morning as we were waiting for a tram at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, we were watching a young boy who was around three years old as he played. He was a typical, energetic, little boy, wearing a Make-A-Wish Foundation t-shirt. As he played while we all awaited the next tram, his feet inadvertently stepped into the tram loading area before the tram arrived.
Without missing a beat, a Disney Cast Member walked over to the young boy, and told him “You need to step behind the line, or the tram is going to run you over.”
Welcome to Walt Disney World, right?!
Following our short tram ride to the front of the park, we spied this young boy again with his family. As they were walking towards the front gate of the park, the young boy stepped a few steps away from his father. His dad’s boisterous “get back over here” stole our attention.
We paused as we watched this dad begin to scream towards his mother, “I don’t care if the kid is Make-A-Wish, I am going to beat his butt right now.” The boy, shocked and scared, fell to his knees crying by the feet of his dad, refusing to get up
The dad’s response was less than dignified. He began to hatefully scream at the boy, as loud as he could. When I say loud, I mean he stopped dozens of people in their tracks, all stopping to watch the scene unfold. The words were hateful and mean, as the young boy sobbed on the sidewalk.
It made us hurt for this young boy. I wondered what his home life was like on a daily basis.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand discipline, and believe it is vital for parents to discipline their children. I also understand love, and respect. This dad was full of pride, and he didn’t want everyone else to see him being ‘one-upped’ by a three year old. So his response was to berate the young boy in front of everyone around him.
In Ephesians and Colossians, Fathers are reminded that we are not to provoke our children to anger, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In Titus, men are reminded to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.
Our children are our future. How can we expect them to grow in respect, if we don’t respect them as children? How can we expect them to grow to be gentle, if we bully them as children? How can we expect them to grow in love, if our pride overrides love when they are children? They absolutely require discipline, but they also require it be done with love, respect and dignity.
Their lives, and the Kingdom of God, depend upon it!
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6