All babies are cute. Yes, I mean it. Some are cuter than others, yet there are cute qualities in all babies. There is something innate in the young of most species (shall we leave out snakes?) that causes us to respond with tenderness and a smile. I believe we were created that way so that we would care for the young and helpless.
An interesting study on the language patterns of adults talking to babies showed that throughout the world, in every culture, adults raised the pitch of their voices and talked softer to babies than other humans. Test it sometime. Watch the big, burly football player talk to a newborn. Precious!
All puppies are cute. Some are so ugly they are cute. I came home one day so excited about the basset hound puppies that were for sale. “They are SO cute, Phil. You must see them!” I pleaded. “Gayle,” he replied, “all puppies are cute. They just don’t stay that way. They grow up to be DOGS!”
Which brings me to the point of this post. Some of our children’s behavior that is cute when they are very small, is NOT cute at 4, 6, or 8 years old.
One of our daughters called today and said “Fred (name changed to protect the guilty) is NOT cute any more!”
“Oh yes, he is!” I immediately contradicted her as any grandparent would. He is only 18 months old and his smile melts my heart every time I see it.
“NO,” she replied. “He has started hitting his brothers and yelling at them whenever I hold someone besides him in my lap.” “Fred” had exceeded his cuteness quotient. His cries for preferential treatment will now be dealt with in order of urgency, just like his siblings.
We have all probably laughed when a small child says something that an adult would not get away with. Yet when we do this we send a very strong message that the behavior is funny, therefore people like it. It is not funny when older children are rude or disrespectful, so it should not be funny if they are 2 or 3 either. We should set an example of respectful behavior no matter what the age of a child. Certainly small children will make mistakes and say rude things. We can quickly and gently correct them and share an example of a better way to respond to others.
Does our Heavenly Father look at our mistakes and smile? Even if we are “baby” Christians? I think not. God is patient and kind, yet He does require obedience. The Bible talks about the importance of growing up as Christians. God does not want us to stay immature and self centered.
I Corintians 13:11-13 addresses this issue in the chapter many refer to as the “love” chapter of the Bible.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
There is a time to put away childish things. As Christians we need to ask ourselves “Am I behaving in ways that are immature? Are there things I am saying or doing that I should “put away”?
I desire to be an example of mature godliness to my children and grandchildren. That may mean not excusing or encouraging “cute” actions that have exceeded the cuteness quotient.