Parent's, Don't Negotiate With Terrorists!
Fits, Freedom, and a Frightening Future
By Mike Augsburger
GET JACK BAUER!
This scene is cliched in many movies and TV shows: The terrorist holds a detonator in his hand for a nuclear weapon poised to wipe out a major American city. In his other hand is a phone by which he talks to the President. “Meet my demands or else!” The President doesn’t flinch and replies back in a foreboding voice, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists!”
Why would a nation operate by a policy to not negotiate with terrorists? Because once you go down that road, there’s no stopping. If terrorists sense a weakness in policy, they will exploit that weakness, and the list of demands will grow and never be satisfied.
This month we are focusing our content toward parents, families, and back to school issues. The purpose of this piece is to look at difficult current events and help to locate the root of the problem–well, at least part of the root.
You see, we can watch TV shows about terrorists and feel steel in our spines toward people trying to blackmail our nation. At the same time, we are housing our very own little terrorists under our roofs. Let me illustrate.
Before I had kids, I was an expert in parenting *sarcastic voice implied*. After parenting now for 10+ years, I look back with whimsy at my naïve, younger self. Even in my youthful ignorance, however, there was one principle I knew purely from common sense: don’t give a child what they want when they throw a fit. For a child, throwing a fit is an act of terrorism. It can make even the strongest parent acquiesce to the demands of the screaming child.
I distinctly remember watching a friend trying to navigate a situation with his son. My friend and I were having a conversation and his son came up and demanded, “I want a donut!” My friend responded and said, “No donuts right now.” What happened next is all too familiar: the child collapsed into a pile of flailing appendages screaming, “I want a doooonnnnnuuuuttttt!!!!!” My friend looked up, flustered and helpless, and said to his wife, “Can you get him a donut?”
Again, I was not a parent yet, but everything inside of me screamed, “Don’t give him the donut!” Why? Because by giving him the donut you are ostensibly rewarding him for throwing a fit. He’s getting what he wants, but not only that, he’s being trained to get what he wants by misbehaving.
OVER-GROWN, FIT-THROWING, CHILDREN
I am alarmed by what I see in our culture today. I’m not just talking about recent events, but events in the past few decades. There seems to be an increasing penchant toward mob violence and rioting in response to cultural events. Why is this alarming? Because the Bible doesn’t speak kindly about a mob culture. Let’s get something straight: there is a difference between a peaceful demonstration/march and mob violence. The former is a constitutional right, the latter is detestable in the sight of God.
Why do things seem to be trending toward mob rioting? In part, I believe it’s due to children raised in environments where they were allowed to throw fits. As a child, if your mind is shaped by the knowledge that throwing a fit gets me what I want, then why wouldn’t that continue into adulthood?
Let’s be equal opportunity offenders and criticize the leaders of this nation as well: why are cities and towns allowing these mass fit-throwings, and why aren’t they putting a stop to them? I think it goes back to parenting. There has been a weakening disposition in parents to standing up to their kids and that’s translating into the broader culture.
Take for example CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) in Seattle. A group of rioters took over a city block and claimed it as an autonomous zone. Nothing about this is commendable. Yet, the city failed to take action right away. Why didn’t they act? We all knew this would have to end at some point. We all knew responsible grown-ups would have to come in and break up the party at some point. Why did they negotiate with terrorists? Friends, we are setting a dangerous precedent for the future.
MAKING IT PERSONAL
“My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded. If they say—“Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun!”… “We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder…”
Are there issues in this country that need to be solved? Yes. However, throwing a fit, and capitulating to fit-throwing is a terrible idea. Here are three results of fit-throwing no matter the age of the fit-thrower:
IT BREEDS UNGRATEFULNESS
When children are allowed to throw fits, it is an expression of ungratefulness and it will foster more ungratefulness. Thankfulness views a blessing as undeserved, whereas a fit sees a blessing as expected. Thankfulness is a right response to a blessing whereas a fit is a demand for a blessing.
IT BREEDS ENTITLEMENT
An entitlement is something a person believes they deserve as a reward for existing. When a child throws a fit for a donut, that child believes that he should have the donut simply because the donut and he exist in the same room. If those attitudes aren’t pruned when the child is young, you will release a monster on society.
IT LIMITS THE FREEDOM OF OTHERS
Moms, you know what this is like. Think of the panic you feel when your child starts screaming in the line at the checkout because she wants some candy. That panic you feel is your freedom being limited by that little terrorist! Ungrateful, entitled people become a burden on everyone else in society, thus limiting the freedom of others.
As Christian parents, let’s bless our culture by raising children who fear God, respond with grateful hearts, and who love others enough not to throw fits.
In closing, I’ll quote a line my daughter learned in preschool, “You get what you get, so don’t throw a fit!” In our home, throwing a fit receives swift discipline, and I would admonish you to do the same. I try to make it clear that fits will never get you what you want. Fits will only get bad things in return. In so doing, I’m making clear that I do not negotiate with terrorists. As Christian parents, let’s bless our culture by raising children who fear God, respond with grateful hearts, and who love others enough not to throw fits.