Recently, our young adult children talked about growing up in our home, and how we managed problems and issues. They were positive about it, praising Steve and me as parents, especially now that they observe other families from an adult perspective. However, in that conversation, I heard two words that caught my attention and made me cringe. They were “Mom’s lectures.” They weren’t speaking negatively about my lectures per se, but the word “lecture” doesn’t have as appealing a ring to it as say, “talks,” or “sharing,” or even “instruction.”
I don’t think my children came up with the term “lecture” because of the content of my talks but because of the length of them. A lecture to them was something that seemed to go on and on. Looking back, I wish I had kept the messages for my children short and sweet. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).
As I pondered lectures versus their alternatives, I thought about how I want Steve to present something negative to me. I prefer that he express it kindly, stating the facts, and moving on. If he spent a long time going over every little aspect of it and repeating each part a couple of times, I might think, “Okay. Enough. I’ve got it. I understand.”
Could it be that way for children? For younger children, they don’t have the maturity to understand a full explanation anyway. Older children have that maturity, but would likely prefer the truth spoken in love but briefly.
Since this realization hit me, I have shared it with several moms who have little children. They acknowledge doing a fair amount of talking to their children to try to keep them on the right path. Often during these lectures, the children have blank or bored looks or argue with Mom.
From those typical negative childish responses to lectures, I wonder if there isn’t a greater possibility, too, that Mom will have negative attitudes and emotions toward her child. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Whereas we want to display gentleness and love with a quiet voice and spirit, we might be frustrated, irritated, and even angry with a child who isn’t grabbing hold of our words with agreement and a positive spirit.
What To Do
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Could it be that we would do better to briefly explain to a child what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and the consequence? Briefly. Sweetly. Over and done in just a minute or less, and then move on with life.
I am not saying that there won’t be times for longer discipleship discussions with our children based on the Word. I am, however, doubting whether those are most productive when a child has done something he shouldn’t or not done something he should. Heart to heart talks might be better received when not in the midst of a possible consequence and when the emotions on both sides are neutral or positive.
Listen to Yourself
If you did something foolish or wrong and someone talked to you about it the way you talk to your child, would you like it? Is your child old enough to comprehend the depth of explanation you give for his bad behavior? If he is old enough, does he emotionally engage with you positively through your discussion with him? If the answers to those questions are “no,” then you might want to consider changing your method to “short and sweet.”