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If you are a parent, then you have been there. That dreaded moment when your sweet little blessing from above decides to display their independence in public places.

We were on the last of our errands, I had just filled his belly with mall yumminess and set the expectation that we would not be getting treats or trinkets from the dollar section. We were not even past the entrance mats when he hit the dirt. “I want a pretzel!”  

Now, this was not my first rodeo. Unfortunately, it was the norm for a while as he struggled to find his place in the world. And today was no different, except we were only shopping for this one item and my car was on the other side of the mall. But this tantrum was not the part of this story that stuck in my head. It was the reaction I received from strangers.

I attempted to reason with my son, to no avail, as he blocked the main walkway of the store. So I began to walk away. Just far enough that I could keep my eye on him. He did what I expected. He picked himself up and threw himself on the floor by my feet. But a lady strolling by decided to confirm the already defeated feelings I was having. “You need to get control of that boy.”

Suddenly I felt small. Too small to overpower a three-year-old. Already tired and humiliated, I was now judged and scorned for attempting to handle the situation to the best my defeated mind and now heart knew how.  

The tantrum continued with leg kicking and tears. I attempted to do my shopping with a child wrapped around my foot when another helpful guest walked by and exclaimed, “That poor, poor boy!”

Now I was hot! Do not feel sorry for the little tyrant exploding himself on all of us. He is taken care of in every way. And these little episodes have been a regular occurrence. Do NOT feel sorry for him!

And then a lady came behind me, walked by and said, “Mom, you are doing a good job. You have got this.”

These simple words of encouragement made a world of difference. I can handle this. God gave me this boy because He felt I was enough. I was enough to be his mom and handle each and every one of these tough situations with the help of our Father.

I don’t remember how the tantrum ended but it did, and I did get my final item from the store. But more importantly I learned a lesson that day. What if we as parents provided less condemnation and sympathy, and more encouragement and empathy? What if we stop passing judgment about how we would have handled the situation differently and began to speak life and words of praise to one another?

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Our words have the power to make someone feel worthless, enraged or empowered. They can make a mom feel capable or defeated. They have the power of life or death. We need to use them wisely.

Update: Truett is now 5 and for the most part, our tantrum days are over!

To moms of toddlers: Hang in there! It does get better. Stand your ground. They will not throw themselves on the floor of your favorite store forever. You are doing a good job, a job He created you to do!

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About the Author: Mindy Welhouse

Mindy is a wife to her husband, Eric, mom to 4 amazing kiddos and most importantly daughter of the King. She is passionate about encouraging women on their walk with the Lord and willing to be real about all of the lessons she has learned. She believes the journey is not always easy, so it is especially important to do it together. You can learn more about her family of six, as well as the joys and struggles of parenting and special needs parenting on her blog, Victories in the Valley.

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