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Talking with Kids (Part 1)

Are you glad your kids are back in school? It definitely makes for a different environment around the house. Kids can get loud and crazy at times, but I always try to remind myself there will come a day when they are all grown up. They’ll move out, and we’ll miss all of the loud and crazy times. (At least that is what I tell myself since other parents tell me it is true.)

Back to school time seems like a good time to think about how we talk to our kids. Talking with kids is an art that most of us struggle to perfect, if we can perfect it at all.

In The Art of Talking so that People Will Listen by Paul W. Sweets (1983, New York) there is a great chapter on talking with kids called “Establish Respect when Talking with Kids”. Sweets builds an acronym from the word RESPECT as a way to help us talk to children, making a number of really good points. I’m going to share several of these with you over the next couple of posts. The first one is “R – Remember your childhood.”

“From our own reservoir of knowledge based on our childhood experience, we can create an image of what it means to be a child, how it feels to think and act like a child. When we have that image clearly in mind, we can develop a basis for understanding children today.” (p. 105)

Does it seem a little too simplistic? It gets to the heart of something I struggle with. At times, I feel as though I’m being too negative towards my kids. Why are there times when it seems the only words out of my mouth are words correcting something? Your answer may be, “Well, they are kids.” Yes, but to remember your childhood is to remember that kids have feelings that are different from those of adults. Kids process things differently. Maybe the most important thing is that kids are well, kids, not perfect robots. Sweets quotes “Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned. I won’t quote it here, but it is definitely worth a read. (You can find it with a quick search.)

These verses aren’t specifically instructions written to parents on how to talk to kids. However, it is easy to see how they apply:

11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)24 And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Sure, it’s okay to correct. As parents that is part of our job description. Although, it is wise to pause a minute to consider why we are correcting. Is it for our own peace and quiet? Are the kids really the problem or are we upset at something else? Is what they are doing or the trouble they are causing really as big of a deal as I’m making it?

It’s okay to correct, but it’s important to ensure that correcting isn’t all that we do. It’s important to remember to encourage them. It’s important to share with them in their life in such a way that they know they are made to love. They are made to do good works. Unfortunately, speaking as a parent, this doesn’t mean they’ll always “be good.”


Pastor Matt

(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)

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