Mothering styles show value placed on children

By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist

Several years ago, my girls and I witnessed an incident in the airport in Lubbock that was a powerful commentary on mothering.

While passengers were sitting around waiting for fights, we watched two women. I think we noticed them because they were completely opposite.

Closest to us was one mother with two little girls. This woman was quite attractive and her manicured slender fingers adorned with stylish rings stood out again the black vinyl chairs. Long silver earrings dangled from her ears. Her matching shorts outfit was made of a bright flowered pattern and she was simply dazzling in demeanor. She was cool, calm and collected.

Her two little girls sat next to her. Each one had a backpack and the two little girls sat motionless with hands folded in their laps. Their mother looked straight ahead and never talked to them. Staring out at the crowd, the little girls seemed oblivious to all the commotion that was going on just down the aisle.

Two rows of seats over, the situation was the opposite. A mother with three children was dressed in denim pants and tennis shoes. She wore a t-shirt with the words “Pirates Mother — City Champions.” The children were dressed casually and were talking happily.

In an effort to keep them entertained, this mother was on the floor with the children making paper hats out of newspaper. The children put the hats on and marched around the chairs. The mother would blow a kiss to each one as they marched by.

The flight was called. The stilted mother stood up and straightened each girl’s backpack. After she identified herself to the attendant as their mother, the woman turned to the girls and said, “Behave yourselves. I will see you in two weeks.” No kiss, no hug and the two little girls walked stiffly behind the attendant down the tunnel to the plane. Their mother exited the terminal.

Behind them, the other mother greeted the next attendant who had come for her children. The mom took each child in her arms, kissed each one and said lovingly, “Grandma will be waiting for you in Dallas. I will drive with Daddy in the car and U-Haul and we will meet you there tomorrow. Then we will go see our new house! I love you. … I will call tonight.” The three happy, skipping children followed the attendant to the plane. She watched the plane taxi down the runway and when it was in the air, she left the terminal.

It is interesting to think of the first mother. Perhaps in 10 years when the girls as teens will not talk to her, she will wonder what happened. She will be totally puzzled as to why the girls don’t appreciate her. She will no doubt question why they seem distant.

What about the other mother? What will her situation be like? Will she have thriving and happy teenagers with whom she will talk and communicate? We can only speculate on the years ahead.

Jesus put great value on little children. Christ’s attitude toward children was gentle (Isaiah 4:11). He used a child as an example (Matthew 18:2). He declared that a childlike spirit is absolutely essential in faith (Matthew 18:3-4) He was affectionate and gentle with little children and commanded that we receive children and pay attention to them (Mark 9:36-37). He said to bring the children to Him (Mark 10:4).

Children are our greatest treasure. It will matter nothing in 50 years how much we had in our bank account or where we brought our clothes or how beautiful we may have been. But it will matter how we treated our children.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: cbrandon@plateautel.net