Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Have you ever been in the presence of a friend when one of their children fails to be obedient? How did they handle it? How do you handle it when your children don't obey you in the presence of family and friends? Sometimes I think these particular tests come to us as parents to humble us. We are so busy comparing, contrasting, one upping, that we forget to be the "abundance of counselors," that which proverbs is speaking.
I have seen many a mom snap at children in the presence of their friends out of frustration. I'm not immune to this myself. But the greatest education for me is the look on the child's face after being publicly "disciplined." I see embarrassment, shame, and frustration. I do believe one of the great challenges as parents is to encourage first time obedience. Oh my, it is a long long road to get there. I have yet to arrive, but I'm seeking it. The fifth commandment is honor your father and mother. The first commandment with a promise. I want my children to have long days.
We cannot hope for our children to desire to honor us if we belittle them in public. I am a firm believer that discipline should never, never, never happen in public. If possible, not in front of other siblings as well. Trust me, they all know what is happening in the other room. Take the time to go into another room and deal with their disobedience as the Lord would have you.
If the behavior of your children makes you angry, you must first look at your own heart. Have you avoided discipline until it has gone too far? Are you needing to apologize and ask the forgiveness of you children for not dealing with issues of the heart? Are you parenting in your own strength, and need to more deeply depend on the grace of God? Have you let attitudes go undisciplined, and now you don't know where to begin?
When I realized that I was asking and asking for obedience from one of my children over and over until my jaw was tense and I was full of frustration. I had to first apologize to my child for my lack of dealing with the disobedience early. I then explained that from this point on they would have a consequence for that particular behavior immediately. First I had to repent. And the disobedience stopped and my repentance.
I have a sister who always points out the bathroom in any given public place. She reminds the child that just because they are in public does not mean they are immune from discipline. Most times that is all that is needed. Kids enjoy knowing the boundary. If we set the expectation high before we go in public and praise them generously when they reach it, we will be training that first time obedience their heart needs. Every week before church we have the same conversation about what we expect of our children in worship. It may seem redundant, but it works. At Sunday lunch, we praise obedience and talk about ways we can improve.
I know it may be an inconvenience to leave a room with a child, but remember your child's heart is more important than time with friends. And friends, let's build one another up. Tell a mom when she handles her discipline with grace and patience that you love her. Call a friend today that stays home and tell her two things you have seen her do great with her kids. Let's spend more time in building up one another rather than comparing ourselves to one another.