I had a blog post scheduled for today, but when I saw this in the news, I knew I had to address it. To make matters worse, I first saw it on a British news source so these angry parents made international headlines.
You probably heard about it too.
Keep in mind that the umpire was 13-years-old.
Keep in mind that the players were seven-year-olds.
Seems there was a Little League game last weekend in Lakewood, Colorado. During the game the umpire (remember — 13-years-old) said he thought one of the kids was batting out of order. Simple enough to figure out … most teams have their lineups down on paper.
So, you’d think a mature adult would quietly question what the problem was. Then check with the printed lineup and either agree or disagree.
I mean, that’s what you think would happen.
But, oh, no!
Instantly a parental brawl broke out with about 20 people (both men and women) knocking each other down, punching each other, and wildly pushing anyone who was in their way. Several people have already been cited and injuries have occurred, one person seriously.
Meanwhile, the seven-year-old ball players ran from the field in fright.
I was thinking about this. I was thinking about a seven-year-old standing on second base nervously wishing the ball would come (or not come) his way … when suddenly he sees his dad angrily bursting from the stands, screaming and hitting everyone in sight. Or, he sees his mom in the middle of the brawl pushing and scratching another lady.
Seriously. Words fail me. How can we teach our kids kindness, patience, gentleness, and self-control, if we’re out there knocking someone down (who wasn’t even the one who made the disputed call)? And yes, these brawling parents were probably not believers and therefore have a different moral code than believers (though we don’t know anything about their faith), but just common decency would say don’t demonstrate anger in such a horrific way.
And yet we wonder why there are so many school shootings?
And why there is so much bullying?
And why kids are so mean to each other online?
Not sure we have to look too far.
I would hope that you , my reader, would refrain from a fist fight at a kids’ ballgame, but how about other angry reactions that quickly ignite?
When the lady cuts you off on the highway …
When the boss takes credit for your work …
When your child leaves his blocks on the floor … something you discovered when walking across the living room in your bare feet …
I wanted to come up with a verse that covered this subject with clarity and I didn’t have to look too long because immediately Ephesians 6:4 came to mind.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
We often think of that verse as a directive to not do something intentionally to our child to make her angry. But I think it can also be applied to this kind of situation – Do not show a pattern of anger in your own life so that your child imitates you when something happens in her own life.
Another familiar passage from Ephesians tells us what we should do instead –
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32) (Just a thought, I think there was some clamoring happening on that baseball field.)
So as the adults in our kids lives – whether that’s our own kids, grandkids, ministry kids, neighbor kids … let’s not provoke our kids to anger, but be kind and tenderhearted …
Even when a 13-year-old umpire says he thinks a seven-year-old is batting out of turn.