What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Naughty or Nice?!

Our home is two children less today than it has been for a few days. Corynn is not very patient with the Panda and the Panda is acting like a grumpy bear. I think they both enjoyed having playmates and are missing them-even Andrew, who was outnumbered in the guy department.

I have lots of little projects on my plate this week. Just a few days ago we got a call asking us if we were up for some weekend houseguests. Of course, our door is always open, so of course (Remember this people-and take advantage of it! We do love our visitors!) we said yes! Thankfully, as opposed to two weekends ago, I got a bit of notice-so that I might plan the vittles and prepare a bit.

That is especially important since our miniature houseguests left yesterday. ;-) I must say though, the children were SUPER well behaved, cleaned up after themselves, and were a joy to have over. You can always tell the children who have diligent parents with high expectations for their kids. The children, consequently, are well behaved. Kind. Generous. Quiet(er). FUN to be around. All around good kids.

Got me to pondering just a bit and started me on a tangent. I won't go crazy here, trying to explain it all. But this is the jist of it.

When the Lord said that obedient children are a crown to their mother-He wasn't kidding. Good children speak of the richness of a mother. They give her a reason to hold her head up high, they give her pride and confidence. They are a blessing to her AND to others.

Contrarily, when he said that an ill-mannered undisciplined child is a shame to his father, well, all I can say is "right again." It would seem it may be an understatement at first. Then you really think about the import of 'shame'. Let's ask Webster:

A painful emotion caused by the consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or inpropriety.

A condition of humiliating disgrace.

Undisciplined children should bring SHAME. Not excuses. Not laughter "Ha ha ha. Johnny is so funny when he stomps his feet and scowls at me. Hahaha."

That laughter-that is the voice of humiliation in its attempt to cover itself up. Oh dear me-that drives me crazy.

"Oh-it is just so cute when your child ignores you." "Oh-isn't she precious when she talks back?!?"

That sounds ludicrous when I write it here. Of course, no one would ever SAY those things. But-that is what is meant. That is what is implied. I find absolutely NO humor in that and can't even snigger a bit out of politeness.

It is NOT funny. It is awkward, embarrassing, and a reflection of your SHORTCOMINGS. It is you looking at yourself in the mirror and saying "I have failed."

After re-reading up until this point, I realized I should expound upon something. I am not pointing the finger away from myself. My children are at times naughty. The beginning of this post even speaks about my own kids not being as admirable as I would like them to be today. Surely all children can have ups and downs. All children are at times naughty. It is, after all, their nature. Even mine. So don't think I am not including myself in this mantra. I am. But when my children are naughty. I don't snigger. I don't EVER laugh. I WANT to cry. Just thought I would clear it up. Nope. I am not putting myself of a high horse. I am speaking specifically of parents who allow their children (and by doing so, encourage them) to live in their own selfish, horrible little behaviors without any repercussions. Those parents who are developing a lifestyle for their children of selfishness, spoiledness, and disobedience.

Now-here is a very BIG question I have been pondering lately, and I still don't know the answer to it. I would just LOVE it if I could get some insight here. Maybe at some point I will become less of a fence sitter on the subject and finally make my mind up, once and for all, about the whole thing.

I just spent more time than I wanted to talking about naughty children versus good. Or-better said- disciplined versus NON. Everyone knows there is a difference. Everyone knows children that fall into both categories. So-here is my question.

Should I, as a parent, guard and protect my children from associations and friendships with children who are ill-mannered, ill-tempered, selfish, mean and spiteful and disrespectful? After all-children are impressionable creatures, and often will be tainted with the ill affects for days afterwards.


Would that be too over-protective...after all, not all children/parents have the exact same ideals as you. Besides, the whole world is full of characters all over the spectrum. I can't guard my child forever. And it might prove to be a great lesson to my young, impressionable children: there are good children and bad children. "This is why so-and-so was naughty." "This is why I don't want you to do this."

Of course, you know, as I am homeschooling, that my theory is more the first than the latter. I would rather protect my children from horrible outside influences than to have them be affected by it. I am not going to throw my child to the wolves in order to make a good 'lesson' for him/her.

Of course we know that some situations can't be controlled. But what about FRIENDS? Family? Neighbors? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject...

Okay. That is done. This post has made a TOTAL transformation from what I had at first intended it to be. When I began, it was just going to be a "been doing this, will be doing this" sort of post. :-) I sure can get on tangents...

Well, my time is up for today and I didn't really say anything that I meant to say. Before I go-I WILL say one thing. The most important. I finally added a few things to my Etsy shoppe. "Finally" being the understatement of the century! Check it out. I have quite a few projects that are in phase 9 out of 10...so I should be adding more things this coming week-INCLUDING-the most Adorable little rodeo baby quilt. Just wait til you see it! If I had a littler boy, I would have kept it for myself!
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Paula said...

How funny that I was just working up a post about this last night/this morning. I just finished it and posted it (after snagging that adorable bonnet set in your store of course!). :)

Ann'Re @ Home said...

That is a beautiful picture.

This subject is something I've struggled with for a long time. Kids are like a sponge and they absorbe a lot, even the things we don't want them to. I have family members who have children that aren't well behaved at all. Even short exposure with them leaves my 7 year old son with behaviors that take some time to correct. So do I stay away from my family? As far as other kids who aren't well behaved, like kids in the neighborhood, we just don't let him play with them. I think as long as they are impressionable, we should try to make the impressions positive...when we can't, we just have to do our best to correct it and help them understand why it's wrong...and pray pray pray over our kids.

Anonymous said...

While we can not parent other's children - it is not our place to do so, we can choose the association they have....if a playmate is of unruly temper, I distance my son from that child. It is not up to me to tell "johnny" to play nicely, if the parents are not attentive to this, I don't think that leaves you any choice but to remove them from your child's life - at least until "Johnny's" behavior is corrected.

It's not a matter of sheltering them, its a matter of excersizing your inner "mother bear" wisdome. You know what influences will have negative effects on them - especially at the younger formitable years!

That said, I feel we must also not shelter to the point of excluding those who do not "meet up to your standards". As my children grow up I want to impart in them the understanding that there are "rules" to live by, and that we are in no position to judge others for their behaviors - that's God's job!

There's my tangent for ya! :)


Mothering is a hard job! We have to say our prayers and do the best we can!

Rebecca said...

"As my children grow up I want to impart in them the understanding that there are "rules" to live by, and that we are in no position to judge others for their behaviors - that's God's job!"

Very good point Kristi!

SB said...

I'd just caution to keep in mind that bad behavior, as shaming as it often is to parents, is not always the parent's fault. With a normal child it's probably ok to come to that conclusion, and there certainly are parents of children who need more parental supervision and discipline! But the more I read about parents struggling with children with learning disabilities, the more I understand that sometimes children are simply not able to control their behavior in the ways that their parents have taught them. So in line with the last poster's line about not judging people for their behavior, keep in mind that not everything about a child's behavior is under their parent's control. I think it's probably the more mature behavior, when see parents with poorly behaved children, to offer them our help and support rather than judging them or immediately thinking about shame.

smilnsigh said...

I doubt you have to be told where I stand on this... "Letting kids get away with *murder* thing." -sigh- Spoken as a Nana who is at her wits end, watching 'the baby' grandchild be let be a brat. :-((( I don't allow it, in my presence. And remove myself from next door's presence, for the sake of my blood pressure. -sigh-

As to keeping children from others, who are let sort of *run amok* in the discipline department... My hope would be to trim their exposure to those influences, where possible.

But all of life is a learning experience. Right from the start. And there are un-disciplined children and people in the world. Kids have to learn how to deal with them.

If we keep our own kids too sheltered, it does them no favor. When they eventually have to come up against 'the world,' it may be too much for them to easily deal with.

Yes, we shelter them from the really weird stuff, if possible. And let them gain maturity, before bumping up against it. But total shelter is never possible, for life.

Eventually, all children will grow and have to deal with the world. It's not all nice/pretty out there. But it is, as it is. And they'll have to deal.

And now I say something which won't go over well, with a lot. This is what I fear is lacking, with home schooling. Learning to deal with the total spectrum of children found in school and to thus learn to live in the world.

But! We did keep our children in private parochial school, for the secure environment it afforded. NO environment is totally secure! But, we skrimped and saved, to have the money, for a private parochial education. So maybe, this was a 1/2 and 1/2 type solution? Because many would say that a private school is a form of *homeschooling,* at least as contrasted with lots of public education facilities.

All this above, is just my view. And just because you asked. :-)


smilnsigh said...

Did not read other's comments, until I posted my own. So just found the insightful comment of 'sb.'

There are children with learning disabilities. And they are a special challenge to the parents, and to all who come in contact with them. And a sad thing this is. Especially for the parents. My heart goes out to them.

As long as they ADMIT there is a problem, and try to deal with it. Closing their eyes to the possibility of there being a problem, does no one any good.


Rebecca said...

While I understand entirely where you are coming from, SB, and do not necessarily diagree...there is something that I might like to add. Perhaps for clarity.

Of course, children with disabilities are an exception to the rule-but I have also found that a 'disorder' can be used as a justification for bad behavior, or at times, parents feel so badly for the child that they coddle them in ways they shouldn't. Prime example would be Helen Keller, of course.

So, in the case that you mentioned-where children are INCAPABLE of restraining themselves, of course-nothing can be done or said-only grace can be poured out. In the latter situations, it is just as much a failure as with a normal child.

So you see-I do not disagree with you. You bring up a good point. I only wanted to broaden the spectrum. I liked what you said about not just overlooking-but actually ACTIVELY offering support. An excellent point.

Carmichael Family said...

I enjoyed this post immensely, Rebecca, and I had to stop and examine myself closely to make sure I was not guilty of this very thing, because sometimes I do find the humor in a situation when everything seems to be going wrong, but that is different than my children misbehaving...Anyway, I too have struggled a bit with whether to let my children play with other "unruly" youngsters...the primary conclusion Edward and I have come to is that if the other children's parents do not have values similar to ours (or we do not know well enough) than we supervise the playing (i.e. we all go to a park together, or have the other family or children come over to our house), rather than letting our children go to the other family's house alone or to another unsupervised situation. In this way we can influence the interactions, as well as one of my favorite, "We don't do that at my house!" Which I can apply to anyone's child, my own or otherwise.
Thank you for bringing up this very useful topic, I definitely look forward to reading more responses from others.

Mrs. Bonnie said...

This is one of my favorite topics... Don't know why, maybe beacause I feel justifyed ranting about it.
Anyway, yes, I feel it is the parents duty to monitor play time with unruly children. As has been stated several times before, children are sponges. I have noticed the change in Audrey's behavior after only being around her cousins for a short time. She whines, tattles and cries when she does not get her own way. When she gets like this, she is informed in no uncertain terms that this sort of behavior is unacceptable in our house, and if she continues to act this way, punishment will follow. It almost always works.
My other favorite excuses are " They're just tired" and " I know its hard to behave when you're (such and such) and age"
On the first- Do you know how many "tired" children seem to come to church? What a great cop-out for not training your children to behave!
And as for the age thing, kids don't magically start behaving at a certain age. Its a process, of training, correction and punishment, to let children know how they should act.
People are amazed that at less than 2 years old, Audrey was sitting quietly in church, looking at books, instead of being dumped in the nursery as soon as we walked in the door.
And one more thing, I have been complimented several times recently at the grocery store about how well behaved my children are. What joy to a mothers heart hearing such things!
My kids are most certainly not perfect, in fact these last 2 weeks have been particularily(sp?) trying, but I know that we will reap the benefits of sticking to our guns when training, instead of giving in because Jonnys just a little kid.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Rebecca!!!!
I'm running out the door and unfortunately can't read all the above comments (I'll be back), but just wanted to say that yes, we shelter our children, for the Bible says that bad company corrupts good morals; and we have found this to be the case time & again. I'll pop in later.
Blessings to You & Yours,
Your Secret Sis

SB said...

I guess I just wonder how you would know, as an outsider, whether a child's poor behavior was the result of neglectful parenting or of a disability unless you knew that family extremely well. I mean, sometimes even parents of children with learning disabilities, who live with those kids all day, or teachers who teach those kids, have a hard time understanding where the line is between inability to obey and disobedience.

This woman's story, for example, is instructive.

It's hard work to be a good parent, no doubt, and yet it's probably even harder for us, every one of us, to look behind our prejudices to truly love our neighbors. I imagine the parents of many children with behavioral problems are already so ashamed that it can't be helpful for us to shame them as well.

Rebecca said...

This has been a GREAT discussion everyone! I think this is first time a discussion has been broached on my blog-and it has been a joyful interaction-even with differing viewpoints-so kudos to everyone for sharing your thoughts-ESPECIALLY by doing so in a loving way!

Catherine~I think it is a GREAT trait to find humor as EVERYTHING is going wrong. I have days like that, and let me tell you, I WISH I could look at it and laugh. That would save me SO much stress, let me tell you! :-)

Mrs. Bonnie~Oh yeah-I forgot about the "She's tired bit." I have my own little soapbox there-don't get me started. I have uttered those words a few times, and as soon as they leave my lips I think, "well then-it is YOUR fault for setting your child up for failure Rebecca."

Secret Sister~so true. If only we would take what scripture says at face value, and not try and twist it to accomodate us...

SB~The people who I was specifically referring to in the comments section I DO know extremely well. But the post was written GENERALLY speaking. I suppose I just assumed that everyone would understand that when I said children bring shame I was referring to YOUR children. If YOUR children are bad YOU should feel shame. Again, I will reiterate that there ARE exceptions to the rule. If children have disabilities where they are incapable of restraining themselves at times, it would only be right that we would pour out MORE compassion on them and MORE understanding and heap upon them MORE patience. I wasn't seeking for people to JUDGE others-but rather, to judge THEMSELVES. Do a bit of introspection, and contemplate if THEY are doing all that is necessary in raising children to be thoughtful, kind, obedient, respectful, etc.

I don't believe anyone would lump a disabled child into the category I spoke of below:

"I am speaking specifically of parents who allow their children (and by doing so, encourage them) to live in their own selfish, horrible little behaviors without any repercussions. Those parents who are developing a lifestyle for their children of selfishness, spoiledness, and disobedience."

Christine said...

This is something God had been working on in my life and I recently read a verse about it and it said something about keeping your children from evil(sorry, I can't remember the what verse this is). It really helped me get off the fence and to try to protect my kids more from other kids who were as we say here "making bad choices" I can't always protect them and in those circimstances we use it as a time of learning. I've seen more and more how this has been saving my kiddos from hurt and they also treat each other better.

Michelle said...

Hello..I just discovered your blog a few minutes ago and was surpised (in a good way) to see this particular topic.

This is something I've not had much reason to think about until recently. The question of should I limit interactions or not has been plaguing my mind for some time now. Not only with the children my children have sometimes played with, but also the parents! Sometimes I feel that what I come away with from interactions with certain people isn't good for me either.

I met a few people after moving to a new neighborhood and after having spent several years with only a very few friends (lived in area where I was unable to get out and properly meet many people before) I became 'friends' with a few people that upon knowing them better I wish that I had treaded more carefully. These are also the parents of the children that I worry our not good for my children to be around.

The problem is that the adults and the children are not mean or uncaring--they do have some good qualities--but the negatives weigh heavily and the 'after effects' linger long on both me and my children.

I found it insightful to read everyone's responses so far on this post and will be checking back to see if anyone else posts. I would be curious to know if anyone would have any suggestions on how to gently extract oneself and one's children (my husband doesn't have as much interaction with them) with no hurt feelings from any of the parties.

I look forward to reading more of your blog as well!