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Talking with Kids (Part 3)

This is going to be the last post in our little series on “Talking with Kids,” not that there isn’t more to be said. Please check out the other two posts (Part 1 and Part 2) if you haven’t read them. Hopefully these posts encouraged you to start listening more to what you are saying to your kids, and also, hopefully you are taking more time to listen to what your kids are saying too.

I’d like to say that I’ve saved the best for last, but it might feel like the worst. By worst, I mean, it might be the one that hits us, or maybe just me, the hardest.

Again, we are working from The Art of Talking so that People Will Listen by Paul W. Sweets (1983, New York) and his 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. So far we looked at “R – Remember your childhood” and “E – Encourage Self Esteem”. This week we will look at “P – Practice Behavior You Expect.”

What do you hope to see out of your children? What do you hope they accomplish? How do you hope they treat you and other people? How do you want them to communicate?

Are they living these out the way you would like? If not, how do you help them get there? What tools or methods do you use to help your children learn what you expect? Are these tools and methods helping you get there or making the problem worse?

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, this hits a little too close to home:

“Once your goals are formulated, you will need to develop effective strategies to reach them. Be careful not to be deceived. Methods that seem to ‘get results’ can be counterproductive in the long run. For example, the following practices create distance and defensiveness:Screaming, yelling, threatening, bribing, name-calling, crying, pleading, sarcasm, teasing, ridiculing, insulting, interruptingAlthough these efforts might bring about temporary compliance, they do not teach or demonstrate respect… If a father yells, the child will learn to yell. If mother screams insults, the child will learn the same…” (p. 116)

If you are like me, I tend to come back to a number of the items in that paragraph too often. They do seem to work. Although as Sweets mentions, they are often temporary. Elyse Fitzpatrick in her book Give Them Grace offers some other ways of helping our children grow and mature.

As I think of practicing behavior that I expect to see, I think of Paul’s passage in 1 Corinthians 11:1 where he tells the Corinthians:

Follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s.

As parents, it’s “follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s.” This includes, as it did in Jesus, grace, love, humility and sacrifice, our own sacrifice.

It is such an honor and blessing to be a parent. It comes with great rewards as well as great struggles. Remember though you are not alone. This is especially true for those of you connected to a community of believers. Stay connected. Help one another. Encourage one another. Even consider watching each other’s kids once in a while to let mom and dad go out on a date…just saying.


Pastor Matt

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