Mom and Tag - Olivia Newport

Photo by Larry Mohr

I remember the four-year-old girl in children’s church in 1984 who was not following instructions or behaving in a remotely socially appropriate way. When I asked her to do something I thought might help her settle down, she glared at me and said, “You’re not the boss of me.”

Ahem. Let’s just see about that!

I probably would handle it differently now. That was before I had any kids of my own or very much experience in children’s ministry. I thought of that show-down recently when my mom said,

“Nobody can boss me around at my age.”

The day may come when Mom will need suggestions that are a bit firmer than what she gets now, but essentially she was right. And she did not speak in the context of hostility, but rather a statement of fact about the freedom she enjoys to choose what she wants to do or not do at this stage in her life.

The lesson for me in both these encounters is to treat others with respect. Normal healthy relationships should not be about who can boss who around. Sure, kids needs to learn boundaries and adults with aging parents may need to learn to draw boundaries. But who is the boss of who? That is not the issue.