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Mama’s Excuses

December 15, 2001
Mama’s Excuses Revisited

“My little man missed his nap today and that is why he slapped your Johnny. When your Johnny started screaming that he was hurt, it upset my boy so badly that he threw your cup and broke it, but he didn’t do it intentionally. Besides, he was just upset that it was empty and he doesn’t yet understand how to ask. This whole thing was just a misunderstanding. He is normally such a sweet child, but doesn’t do well around so many new people. He is shy, you know, and his way of showing his feelings is pitching a fit. Well, it’s not really pitching a fit; it is only that he loses control of his emotions because he is so emotionally high strung. I read about high-strung children being uptight and often explosive, and not knowing how to direct their feelings. I think he must be overly bright. His aunt is, and she has to use medications to help her relax. I do not believe in Ritalin, but I know there are some brain disorders where such drugs are necessary, and my doctor said it might help my sweet child to relax. Being emotionally volatile runs in the family, you understand?”

“Are you having peas for dinner? I am so sorry, but could you fix something for my little man? He is so sensitive to textures and just can’t swallow peas. No, really, he will choke to death before he can swallow them. Poor little guy. He gets so scared when he chokes that he screams for hours, and I never like to upset him.”

“Please don’t shut the door; he likes to always be able to see his mommy. We are so close. Oh, here is mama’s boy now. He is hungry now and can’t wait for dinner. I think maybe he has a touch of low blood sugar, and he just gets frantic when he’s hungry. No, he does not like applesauce, it is mushy. I told you about that, how he gets choked, remember? He wants a peanut butter cookie. I know you planed on having the cookies later, but one little cookie will not make any difference, and his sugar level seems to know what he needs.”

“Please forgive him, he did not hear you tell him to pick up his cup off the floor, or maybe he did not understand. He is only three years old, and when a request is made out of context he can’t understand. Besides, he is easily distracted and simply forgets what you told him to do.”

“I would put him down for a nap, but he can’t go to sleep unless I am lying beside him, and it is noisy in here. Noise upsets him. My mother was like that. She is dead now, but she would stay awake for days if there was any noise. I told you he missed his nap, and I think there is a good possibility he is cutting a new tooth. It bothers him. He bit one of the babies at Church this week. I tried to tell the mother he did not mean to hurt the little thing; it is only that his mouth was hurting him, and he was distracted with all those children. As you know, he does not do well with big crowds.”

“Oh honey, don’t hit. It hurts Mama’s heart to see you hit someone. I am so sorry he hit your Johnny. He thinks it’s unfair that Johnny gets the best toys. At MY house I try to let the youngest visiting children have the best toys, but I guess YOU do not have that rule—the golden rule, you know. Yes, I know I did not do it last time you were there, because my boy was just too young to understand, but I have decided to do it from now on. Anyway, he is so young he can’t understand why Johnny’s toys are not his. He is not capable of understanding sharing yet. He is too young. He gets so stressed. Not mad; just stressed when he thinks the other child unfairly has the best toys. He has such a high sense of right and wrong. I really hate to explain to him about the toys being Johnny’s, because he gets so depressed when he realizes that he is wrong and has to give up his toy. I know it is just a stage he is going through.”

“You know, I have heard that really smart people tend to be moody, and he is given to depression. I have that problem as well. When he is tired or hungry, sometimes I can tell he has a headache and it makes him irritable. I bet he has a headache right now. If he really gets disappointed about something he holds his breath. I am afraid he will die right there just because some child was too selfish to share with him.”

“That lady at church that leads the little boys’ class avoids my son, and I can tell she does not like him. He is so sensitive and he knows when someone thinks he is bad. It is not fair. He told me she did not give him a cookie last week, and she gave one to all the other boys. I asked another little boy and he said that only the boys that picked up their books got a cookie, but I knew she did it just to hurt him and make him feel rejected. In fact, he plays by himself more and more because people seem to pick on him.”

“Kids are so cruel these days. My son feels like no one likes him, and I believe he is right. And the other lady would not let him go with the five-year-old boys’ class last week. He told me how the other children are mean to him and it just breaks his heart. When it is my turn to keep the younger boys, I make them play the games my son likes. The only time there is true justice is when I am in charge and see to it that the other boys play nicely. He loves it when I am there. We are so close.”

“He has such a strong will, like his daddy; he finds it very hard to give in. Most children with average IQs just blindly do what they are told. With his good mind, he has to think things out before he decides to obey. That is the reason he shut the door when you told him not to. And you heard him; he does not obey anyone but his mama. I thought about teaching him to obey others, but I am so afraid some stranger might take advantage of him. Of course, he might not have understood what you meant right then. He is too young to understand the now and later thing. He did not mean to disobey or shut it on your baby’s hand. It was an accident. He is so easily frustrated because he expects so much of himself, and since he’s so sensitive he can tell others are displeased with him. He needs people, especially ladies like you, to really like him so he can feel good about himself. His daddy does not take time with him like he should. I try to make up for his daddy’s lack of interest, but no one can take the place of a good father, even a mother who is as closely bonded as we are.”

“No, please do not think he lied to you. He would never intentionally lie. He misunderstood what the children were doing. You can see by the intense, earnest way he is looking at you that he could not be lying. No child could look you in the face so innocently and be lying. He is not old enough to understand such duplicity. I can always tell if he is guilty. I know most mothers cannot because they are not as attuned to their children as I am to him. He tells me everything, and I mean everything. He tries to not say bad things about the other boys, but you should hear some of the awful things the other children do or say, and he says they make ugly faces behind my back. It is disgusting. I cannot go to the other mothers and tell them what my son told me that their children do. They would not believe it. But he does tell me everything and that is the reason I know he is telling you the truth now. I can tell. Trust me.”

“I have to go. My husband is home and he will wonder where we are. No, darling, those are Johnny’s toys. Put them down. Do not pitch a fit. He’s not really pitching a fit, he is just expressing his disappointment, and he is so high strung emotionally that this kind of upset makes him lose control. The other day he was embarrassed because a lady talked to him and he had a fit, well, not really a fit, but lost control. People need to understand that raising one of these highly intelligent, emotionally volatile children is totally different from raising regular children. Would you mind so much if we just took one little toy home, well, maybe two little toys… OK honey, three toys home with us? I will be glad to bring them back in a day or two. There is no sense in upsetting him. Asthma runs in the family and stress often brings on asthma. If he gets the toys, he will settle down at home. He plays better by himself. Oh, by the way, he wants to take the applesauce to eat on the way home. He thinks he likes it now.”

“No, thank you. I know you feel strongly about that book, but I read it and so did my pastor, and he says it is too harsh. Yes, I know that the pastor’s children have gone to the devil, but that is just it. The pastor says the reason his grown children are in such sin is because he was too harsh on them. Yes, I know his younger children are little terrors; everyone knows that. But he says when you lose one you lose them all. He says the Pearls try to train children like they were animals. We all know that our children have sinful natures, so what good does it do to try to train them before they can understand? A child so small should not be put under the emotional stress of having to obey. I tried it for a few days and it just made my son mad. I love my child and want to nurture him. If I spanked him for every disobedience, I would be spanking him all day long. I know your children are gentle and obedient, but your children do not have the same temperament as mine. I want my child to be close to me, to bond with me.”

“Anyway, I am sorry, but I must really be going. My husband will already be at church, and our pastor is having a meeting for all the parents with small children. We are going to have to make some changes in the children’s church. You know how it is when you get a bunch of children together. I think we should spend the money to get better videos, something that will hold their interest. What do you think?”

This article was updated April 13, 2012 for inclusion in the May-June 2012 magazine.

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32 comments on “Mama’s Excuses”

  1. I have heard these excuses MANY times. Unfortunately they were coming from my sister-in-law. I told myself that when I had a child I would really try not to be like that. In fact, I’m the one that gets yelled at when I try to discpline my son. I pray that someday people will realize that if we bring our children up the way we’re supposed to (according to God’s plan) children won’t be the way they are today.

  2. Wow! You hit the nail on the head with America’s future! It is not because others do not like children who are half-raised. Children like this will likely be worse adults if parents do not follow Scripture by implementing simple discipline. Parents who offer no discipline in the home raise irresponsible children. The cycle will continually get worse if the cycle does not change.

  3. Great response! This seemed a bit obvious to me, do we need advice on everything? It seems that we have lost of our instinct when it comes to parenting. Maybe it’s just more obvious when someone else is dealing with the situation….

  4. Oh thank you so much for the teasing video. PLEASE do more of these. I love to see how other parents model parenting young children. SOmetimes I am at a loss for ideas etc and this is so helpful to see what others do. Please keep them coming.

  5. I am not sure whether to laugh or to cry as I have heard and seen all of this stuff. The problem I have is how to respond to this. It’s such a shock really to hear a grown (at least on the outside) woman say these things. I have said, “It doesn’t have to be like this. You can discipline your child. You just have to decide who is gonna be in charge you or (the child).” The best teacher I think is making times with people like this very short or non-existent, and tell them why.

  6. I wondered about your grandchilds behavior when they were playing pin the tail on the donkey. I think he threw a fit or threw his body in the floor or something along those lines. Is this the same? It seemed like it was explained away b/c of his personality. Are some things really just personality or is it just plain brattiness b/c of lack of discipline. The article about the “pin the tail on the donkey kid” really confused me especially when I read this. I’m not being rude, just a mom trying to survive 6 kids and one on the way and I want to make good choices. Everyone’s eyes are on the family with alot of kids.

    1. I have the same question. I don’t disagree, just wonder how this fits in with the example of the pin-the-tail kid. I have small children and dealing with emotional outbursts when something doesn’t go well is a daily, almost hourly occurrence. I train proactively and consistently but there is emotional maturity my small children (1 1/2 and 2 1/2) just haven’t come to yet. I encourage them to get up and move on when things don’t go like they had hoped and if its a matter of not liking what I’ve directed then they are disciplined for responding that way. I daily pray for wisdom in helping my children be emotionally healthy so any wisdom in this area would be welcome.

      1. When we write we cover one subject…not all at once. This article addressed mamas who always excuse their children. There are many situations where children (like adults) do have a legitiment excuse for stressing. A good mama will seek wisdom to know how to keep her children from reaching emotional stress and when he does to help him learn how to maintain control of his responses.

  7. Thankyou so much for speaking the truth! How easily some of these excuses have crept into the way I train our children. This was very convicting to me, a very good reminder to ask God for wisdom and strength in this area. I know God will use this article to save my children alot of pain. God bless.

  8. I see a lot of this very regularly and I have started to ignore it now as it is very difficult when you cannot say anything. It is a great opportunity though to teach your children to stand their ground with bully kids. I hope and pray that people will see the fruit in our children and then ask us for advice.

    1. If you read To Train Up A Child, you can see a child as young as 5 months can be trained to obey. In fact Mrs. Pearl had to train a nursing baby not to bite. If these very young ones can learn, there is hardly any reason your dear daughter shouldn’t be given a try.

        1. “The doctors say” may be intended just to shut me up, but I am no fan of doctors. Unless they are alternative and take diet and nutrition and thimerisol into account, and other toxins freely given to damage your children- msg, aspartame, those are killers. And in many everyday foods.

          Have you checked out the additives option? Food dyes, and preservatives, see this link, and watch the videos, the Feingold solution;

          These moms say it was an amazing change in behavior once the toxins were out of their diets. And this is something most conventional docs don’t support or believe in.


          the free glutamate (not to be confused with amino acid glutamine) in msg and aspartame do neuron damage, and are now known as excitotoxins, by Dr. Blaylock.
          Also magnesium deficiency, omega 3 deficiency, can cause brain dysfunction, and depression, vitamin D deficiency can cause depression, and these things are all very common now. Thimerisol (mercury base in vaccines, also now aluminum) are supposed to force an immune response besides the actual bacteria or virus, and they do a number on babies and children. They do a number on adults too, as I have had 9 years of diarrhea after a series of childhood vaccines taken as a 41 year old. (to get into nursing school). Thimerisol and glutamate both can cause permanent damage to the adrenals, pituitary and thyroid. Causing lifelong hormonal upsets. Google “pituitary tumors, aspartame, msg” and you will see what I mean. Also Google “msg rats” and “GMO rats”. There is a whole host of stuff researchers have published and the MD’s and the FDA just could not give a thought to what it might mean to damage the population. Also look up James Bowen, aspartame- he was an MD who damaged his system so badly with the early aspartame Kool Aide, it destroyed his practice. He was having alcohol poisoning symptoms, and they accused him of alcoholism (only it is the killer alcohol- methanol, as if ethanol wasn’t toxic enough).

          Also vitamin B complex deficiency can cause dysfunction of the adrenals and the thyroid, (likely if one eats refined grains, white rice, white bread and white pasta instead of whole grains) , and fluoride in the water can damage the thyroid. Dysfunction of these can cause depression and brain fog.

          1. He has a chromosome disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome. We don’t vax and eat pretty healthy. I’m familiar with the Feingold diet, although we don’t use it. I know it did wonders for a relative’s child on the Autism Spectrum.

  9. Grace. Can’t we give children and their mothers a little grace? Goodness, I would hate to be around people that were being this judgemental about every little thing I do or say with my children.

    1. Amen!! I was referred to this link via an online forum, and am amazed at the comments I am seeing from other readers. How about we lift each other up (which is also in scripture) and be kind to one another and patient with parents and their kids? Every mother at some point in their child’s life will make an excuse for their behavior, whether they are an infant or an adult. That is a natural reflex for us to want to explain their behavior and to protect them from ridicule and judgment from others.
      However, I think if a parent sat there and didn’t make any excuses for their child’s behavior others would be questioning and wondering if you even notice the behavior at hand.

    2. The point of the article isn’t the occasional realistic excuse but showcase the mother who uses nothing but excuses to cover for the fact that her son is an untrained brat.

  10. Parents who make excuses like these for their children, and don’t discipline them and hold them accountable for their actions are setting their children up for eternal consequences. A child who feels no responsibility or accountability for their actions will be more likely to negate any accountability to God. They will be more likely to value their own pleasure and satisfaction and will above the warnings and commandments of God.

  11. I admit I was one of those mama’s who excused my daughter’s temper due to genetics. All I have to show for that is a 4 year old with very little self control. God showed me that I was making excuses for her behavior and taking the easy way out. No more I have stopped taking the easy way out and stepped up to the plate. I discipline for temper tantrums and they are getting fewer and far between.

  12. I wonder at all the responses above. I didn’t read any that were sincere enough to admit they’ve used some from time to time. I’ve read “To Train Up a Child” and I’m in a study working through Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” and, though I’m working on applying better information, I still feel embarrassed at the recognition that I’ve used a few of them from time to time. I guess it can be argued that some of those excuses may be so, but it doesn’t change the fact that our kids (and their parents) are depraved sinners who need a Savior. As parents we can make excuses for our kids and never help them learn self-control or we can train them according to the Word and teach them to behave in ways that will make them a joy to be around at home, at friends’ houses or in public.

  13. This is so helpful, and a wonderful checkpoint for mothers who are displeased with the behavior of their children. If we find that we are constantly explaining away or excusing a child that is no fun to be around, something needs to be worked on at home. Because I’ve read so much of the child-training material, I know how to do this! Thank you for this! My 6 children (20 and down) are the beneficiaries, and #7 will be as well.

  14. I don’t know which other article to ask this on, so I’ll just post it here.

    My brother is 16 months old, and he hates, I mean absolutely HATES getting his teeth brushed. We have to keep his limbs out of the way, and keep his head from turning to the side to get it done.
    I know we probably should have got him excited about it when we first introduced him to it. (I think he was, actually, but then he started not liking it.) But what can we do now to fix it?