Faith, Parenting Gone Awry, Snips And Snails

Strutting Away. Not In The Bible.

There’s a particular little boy that Sean plays with sometimes who I would describe as “all boy”.  He is a bit more rough and tumble than Sean and uses language that we don’t use  try not to use don’t approve of at our house.


Periodically, Sean will tell me he doesn’t like playing with Billy and then gives me an earful of what kinds of things this little guy says.  With great judgment and condemnation Sean reports that Billy calls him a poo poo head and says idiot and butt and that he doesn’t like that.


He looks to me for agreement.


I can see in his face he wants me to jump on his bandwagon and say, “Yeah! That Billy!”  But I don’t say it. Out loud.  He then folds his arms across his chest with a harrumph, furrows his brow and pokes out his bottom lip to demonstrate the disdain he has for Billy.


I stop what I’m doing and look into his face.  “Well Sean, some people use those kinds of words, but we don’t.  We don’t think those are nice words,” I tell him.


“Well I’m not going to play with him anymore!” he says and harrumphs his arms to his chest again, this time adding a little foot stomp for effect.


“You know Sean, sometimes it’s better to continue to play with someone and just try to be a good example by being kind and not using ugly words,” I tell him.  As I say this, I realize it’s asking a lot of a four-year-old.  


And then I add, “But sometimes, you just have to find someone else to play with.”


He considers this for a moment.


“Well the next time he calls me a poo poo head, I’m just going to strut away!”


The mental image of Sean Travolta strutting across the playground made me laugh.


And then the mental image of a strutting Christian made me queasy.


31 thoughts on “Strutting Away. Not In The Bible.

  1. He might need a pair of white polyester bell-bottoms for said strutting. But yeah, I bet Jesus rarely strutted. Except maybe after the whole upsetting-the-moneychanger-tables-in-the-temple incident.

  2. I see a book here: “Raising the Confident Christian Kid.” Jesus himself demonstrated that it is possible to be both humble and confident … look at what He did to the money-changers in the Temple!

    And just think of the names HE used to use: “You brood of vipers, unwashed tombs!” No lack of confidence (or righteous anger) there!

  3. My son has always been full of the whole righteous indignation thing. We have struggled mightily with the take the log out of your own eye first philosophy. I won’t tell you his age so as not to discourage you, but it is a fine line we walk. It is hard, even for me, to know and recongnize right and wrong yet not judge.

  4. I need to come play with Sean. Maybe he will teach me to strut from evil. I think ‘strut’ could be defined as ‘fleeing with dignity and sass’. Purely scriptural!

  5. It’s fascinating how early those essential drives begin to assert themselves: the drive to say “butt” and the drive to judge those who say “butt.” What you’re doing with Sean is going to work – just look at the way he desires your stamp of approval on his judgment. He’s learning already that a sense of belonging in your family is going to come from compassion, not judgment.

  6. Ha ha ha! Sean Travolta! That’s a hoot!
    But seriously, what a very important point you make here. I just tried to imagine myself in that same situation and I think my first response would’ve been the “well, don’t play with him” line. I think the “be a good example” is a better way to look at it…unless the kids is becoming a bad influence, then that’s a different story. We’ve got a little neighbor boy that we have the same kind of issues with…it’s tough.

  7. Those dang little Billies of the world! What I want to know is if their moms are letting them talk like that at home. My boys TRY to get away with it – any potty word is like the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. What’s a mom to do?

  8. I always feel like I’m walking a fine line when I’m trying to talk with my kids about “Billy”. I don’t want them to think themselves superior, but I don’t want them to adopt the negative behaviors either.

  9. Seems every generation of kids growing up, past and present, have to deal with the Millie Conway’s, Nellie Oleson’s, and Billy’s (bullies) that seem to test our faith, patience,integrity,and virtues.
    I am sure Sean will not harbor sour feelings for 70 years; and a can of whoop ass is out of the question at his age.
    Strutting away, and not to play, is probably the best thing to do.
    Years from now he and his family can set down at the table and talk about Billy, Millie, and Nellie, and have a good ole’laugh…..”remember when”?

  10. I think you handle this really well. First instinct would be to take Sean out of that “bad” environment, but he also has to learn that some ppl are different to you and your family and that he can play an important role in being there for them. As a role model or as a friend to someone who might need it more than one realises.

  11. I say good on you for not disuading Sean from playing with the boy. It’s so important for our kids to grow up realizing there are a lot of different people in the world and our way isn’t necessarily to end of the conversation. The strutting though…my kids do it a little, put-off by bullies and rudeness, and they’re not Christians…they’re just pretty sure some behaviours aren’t ok. Kids are smart. Smarter than us sometimes.

  12. Hi. I’ve just recently found your blog and am really enjoying your posts. This one really struck me as we’re slowly beginning to get into some of these conversations with our son. It’s really tough sometimes to know how to handle, but I think I’m with you in that we can’t pull them away from everyone that uses words we don’t like. A good example of how we learn to live IN the world but continue to love those around us regardless of the choices they make. I’m thinking that’s what Jesus would do (for example, the woman at the well).

    Have a great day!

  13. Sounds like you are raising a child with good moral judgment. He prefers to NOT play with someone who doesn’t follow in line with what he believes. The Bible tells us to “be angry, but do not sin,” Pray for your enemies,” and the list could go on.
    I have to tell my 4 yr old that Jesus died for those people (those who act ugly, dress funny, etc)too. It’s up to her to show them Jesus and be an example. Whether she actually does that has yet to be determined.

  14. My mother bear instinct is to scoop him up and hide him away from the ugliness of the world. But my heart tells me that I have to innoculate him against the world, not isolate him. It is my prayer that he will grow to be a man who will leave the world a little better than how he came to it and if he is going to do that, he will have to learn early on to be where the work is. Having said that, even if he is “a good boy”, if he is haughty about it, it is all for naught and has done more harm than good. IMO.

    But he’s only four. And just now I want to scoop him up and hide him away…

  15. You demonstrate the fine line very well: Laughter and then the subtle sickening feeling. I think it is a combination of our imperfections and quirks as humans and our desire for Heaven.

    Really good post.

    May we all be so gracious and Christ-like.


  16. I think this is one of the hardest challenges of raising kids. Some kids get so haughty about being “good,” and I don’t think anyone has found a great way to correct this when they’re little. For so many of us, learning grace takes a lifetime.

  17. Maybe it will more resemble the “swagger”, which I think will better suit him. And could possibly be more biblical.

    But is so much better than say, my inclination, which would be to whisper to the offending child, “You hurt my baby, and I’ll squash you like a bug.” Not biblical. 🙂

    You handled it beautifully, mom.

  18. Would it help if you mentally replace the word “strut” with the word “walk”? That might be what he really meant. Then again, maybe not. Maybe “strutting” is his means of shaking Billy’s bad-word dust off his feet and moving on.

    Either way, I don’t think you have too much to worry about unless Sean’s strut is truly arrogant and not just a little boy marching loud and proud like little boys tend to do. By walking away, he’s demonstrating that he is a leader, not a follower, which is a good thing in this particular situation. He’s non-verbally stating “this is how I live”. Billy will quickly figure out that certain behavior is not acceptable around Sean. If Billy wants to play with Sean, Billy will have to come up to the mark that Sean sets.

  19. Sean cracks me up. His mother makes me think.
    Tolerence is not one of my strong suits. I find myself being either too self- righteous and judgemental or far too willing to over look bad behavior all based on if I like the person. God works on me on a regular basis… sometimes through a 4 year old and his mom.

  20. As president of the Southeastern Region of Super Strutting Christians Anonymous, Inc. (hello, my name is Shayne and I am a strutter…*sob*) I must say that strutting is not something to be toyed with lightly AM. It’s a vicious, vicious disease and it can hit you like a mack truck anywhere, anytime.

    It hits me mostly on the highway when people cut me off. How dare they!!!! It’s MY road people. I can only imagine how little Sean feels when accusations of poo-poo head are being flung at him like little poison darts…*sniff*

    I need a hug.

  21. He’s so precious! Sometimes I hear a lesson I need to learn or practice better when I’m explaining to my children how to or how not to behave.
    Personally, I’ve been around too much harrumphing as of late. It’s the recent comment by a coach who didn’t really want to “open that door to THAT family” that bothered me the most. Jesus opens the door for everyone, or at least waits patiently on the other side while we open it. Yep. Too much discernment and too much harrumphing! I hope Billy is nicer next time:)

  22. My greatest fear is raising my children to be Pharisees.

    I know many parents pray for their kids to be protected from the evil in the world. I pray that mine will be protected from the gracelessness of many Christians.

  23. Exactly…he is only 4. There will be plenty of time for him to learn but now he is learning by watching you and your husband.

  24. Something tells me that you spend bunches of time conversing with Sean or he wouldn’t have that vocabulary. I love your child!

  25. That’s certainly food for thought. I often say “How lucky he is to have friends like you” but perhaps “How lucky you both are to learn from each other’s friendship” would be better? Less “Superior”! Thank you, Antique Mommy.

  26. That he has such an appreciation for what is right at such a young age speaks volumes for your antique parenting. I have no doubt that he will learn to love instead of strut away from those friends in the years to come. How can he keep from it with your incredible and honest example? I hope my little Gracie comes across your little Sean sometime in her life. I would be so glad for them to be friends.

  27. Here’s where, I think, being an “Antique Mommy” comes in handy. Wisdom and experience can give us the perspective we need on love and compassion to the world around us. Jesus would be happy with your perspective and one day, far off in the years, Sean will be happy he had a mom who cared enough to teach him these great values. Kudos to you mom!

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