When My Kids Embarrass Me in Public


The following article was written by Chrystal Evans Hurst:

I’m very involved in church. VERY involved. So we are at church a lot. Not only are we AT church a bunch but we are in a very visible position when we are there, somewhere in the first three or four rows.

I’m used to being in this spot. I’ve been a preacher’s kid my whole life and I know that there is a decorum that’s required of kids that everyone can see. And, let me tell ya… I’ve done my best to teach my children that decorum.

Sometimes my involvement means that I expect my children to behave when they are in my line of sight but not quite within my reach.

Such was the case recently when I had a few minutes during worship to make announcements from the stage. Our church has two services and I had instructed my children in detail for how the morning would go. After the first service announcements, I promised to take them to the special room for donuts and then we could hand out in the back to relax until service was over after which we would join other people for breakfast who serve for two services.

They thought that sounded like great fun.

I also told them that during the second service, I would expect them to sit through service like we normally do and behave ~ especially during the time that I would be on stage making the announcements again.

I was clear. I was detailed. I was balanced in my approach. After all, hadn’t I made church for the day something to be excited about being a part of. Hadn’t I created space for them to be children and space for them to relax and enjoy themselves before I asked them to put on their best behavior?

I had done my part.

Not only had I done my part that day. I think I do a good job of doing my part on a regular basis on most days as I raise and train my children.

We have Bible reading time at home where I’ve given my kiddos the opportunity to practice being still and/or keeping their little hands busy. I feel like I’m balanced in my expectations of my children to both exercise self-control in appropriate situations while not denying them the chance to be children and run and play and scream when that is appropriate as well. I’ve explained the rules of proper behavior for church just as I have the library etiquette or inside vs. outside appropriate behavior.

My kids understand the rules.

My kids should understand the rules.

But guess what. They are C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N.

And while I was on that stage, in front of more than a couple thousand people, in the middle of my announcements, my ten year old shouted out a great big “HALLELUJAH”.

I was moritified.

It was loud.

Very loud.

Apparently he wanted to show his agreement with my announcements about the flu shot or the church’s harvest festival or maybe it was the upcoming women’s gathering. Who knows.

Who cares.

One thing is for certain, I stood there for about 3 seconds that felt like an eternity, staring my son down, trying to regain my composure and figure out how that happened and what to do about it.

Did I correct him later? Yes.

Did we have a serious discussion about that later? Yes.

Will he possibly embarrass me again another way and leave me aghast at the apparent lack of evidence of my parenting being any good. Absolutely?

Why? Because he’s a child. And children make mistakes. Children will need correction. Children will embarrass me every now and again.

And while I’m not waving a nonchalant hand at the importance of discipline or the importance of guidance and correction, I am definitely nodding my head at the reality of having little people in my life that embody 1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…

Because the little people in my life are children, that means that they will not represent my perfectly planned and executed training 100% of the time in 100% of the situations they are placed in.

They will make mistakes. They will forget. And Lord knows they will test the boundaries.

Lord knows, that will make me want to do a power-jack off a stage and run to give them “the look” up close and personal, drag them out of the sanctuary and show everyone who’s looking that I’m boss.

Lord knows, I might feel the urge to embarrass them from the microphone and make them think twice before ever doing that again.

The Lord is my witness that I might want to ground them for a year from anything that looks, smells, or tastes even the littlest bit like FUN to prove that I’m in control and that my words goes.

But parenting is not about vindication or getting even or looking good. Parenting is about loving guidance, tender correction, and maybe even a firm tone that is matched with a loving smile.

Parenting is not about approval from the public. It is all about approval from God above who wants my children, His children, to know Him and His love.

And my God, My savior, was a perfect example of staying power with the knowledge of how sometimes my life would be an embarrassment to Him.

He stayed on the cross. He did not jump down when as He was dying because He had a thought of how would embarrass Him later when my soul would appear in time born out of eternity.

He stayed on the cross, even when He knew that at times I would slight Him in the public eye as my friends bore witness to my life during the college years or later in my twenties, or if I admit the truth… still and yet in my 40s.

He stayed put and lovingly walks with me daily as I learn to walk in line with His guidance for my life.

He did his part even when I wasn’t doing mine.

He continues doing His part every day.

And He wants me to parent the same way.

Even when my kids embarrass me in public.


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  1. Emily says

    Maybe it’s just me, but I actually think it sounds sort of sweet! (Embarrassing, yes, but sweet! ;)) Maybe your son was just trying to give you a little encouragement and affirmation up there! :) Thanks for the great reminder that it’s not about how we look to others, but to God. There is such an air of pressure that comes from comparison…and we tend to so easily judge and feel judged. Thank God that there is such a freedom in our identity in Christ, and just focusing on our service to Him in training up our children!

  2. Eunice says

    Everyone has an opinion, unfortunately. “Your children are so well behaved.” “Your children are too well behaved.” “You should shelter your children.” “Don’t shelter your children.” “You need to _____.” I will keep my mind stayed on Christ and follow His individual plan for each of these precious children. Everyone has an opinion, but it is only His that counts! Thank you for posting this. I’m sure you’ll get your share of what others think you should do as you have written transparently. Real-life scenario lived out.

    “Parenting is not about approval from the public. It is all about approval from God.”

  3. Erica says

    I think it is too bad that in sharing your heart here you already have judgmental comments about how much time your children spend in church. I think the point is that no matter where our kids are publicly they are at some point going to do childish things that embarrass us. I’ve experienced this in the grocery store, library, relatives houses, homeschool co-op, and church. I totally appreciate your take on this. It is something I have struggled with and I find it encouraging that another mom would be willing to share her story. As moms we need more encouragement – not more finger pointing! The job is hard enough as it is…

  4. says

    I can’t tell you the number of times one of my children has done something irrational in public and thoroughly embarrassed me – church included! I can relate!

    Ya know, this past summer our family vacationed with my in-laws, and my father-in-law commented on how well the children take a quiet time or nap, but couldn’t understand why my littlest ones wouldn’t stay in bed the first time round at night. Well, there are a lot of factors that could go into the why of that, but I simply and gracefully replied, “They’re children.” He smiled, nodded and repeated, “They’re children.” Well said, Chrystal.

  5. says

    I can only imagine that feeling in that moment. It’s true. It’s what kids do. It’s happened to me plenty of times as a mother of 3. I usually expect far more from my kids than I probably should. I forget that they don’t think the way I do.
    I’m so glad our Heavenly Father puts up with me when I don’t think and act the way He purposed me too. I’m so appreciative of His mercy!

  6. Rebecca says

    I love that your son shouted, “Hallelujah!” in the middle of it all. Yes, it might be embarrassing for us moms when our kids act in a way we wish they wouldn’t, especially in public but, I can’t help but wonder what God would do with his action. Maybe there really was a cause for a “hallelujah” and adults can sometimes be so restricted by what is considered appropriate that they wouldn’t dare interrupt. Or maybe it caused someone that was daydreaming to pay attention to something that God wanted them to hear. You never know what miracles God will work from what we see as a mistake or a mess up. His “hallelujah” could have been the beginning of the answer of someone’s prayer.

  7. Mrs. Tad says

    Praise The Lord when we can be abased– good point! I just heard your husband preaching for the first time the other evening on the way home from a date with my husband. Preaching about the roles of men and women in the church. Good stuff, necessary teaching. May God continue to bless and protect your covenant as you minister His Word. Blessings!

  8. says

    I love this! I can only chuckle as I think of my son would be the type to do the same thing. Good thing I don’t have to get up in front of church :)
    Great perspective to keep!

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