The repetitious phrases of parenting can at times grind on a grown man. I have compiled a quick top 10 list of phrases we use at our address; see if any of these sound at all familiar:
1) “Don’t touch your sister!”
2) “That is not a toy, its glass.”
3) “Please use your spoon and wipe your mouth with your napkin next time.”
4) “Stop running through the house!”
5) “Where are your shoes? Where is your shirt? What do you mean you don’t know?!”
6) “Say ‘excuse me’ next time you interrupt.”
7) “That’s not appropriate….”
8) “Appropriate means, proper…” “Proper means, being good!” “Oh JUST PLEASE STOP!”
9) “Turn off the light.”
10) “Please shut the door.”
Maybe your list is longer and louder, but these are some pretty common statements heard at the Hagee household spoken repeatedly to our four children, starting with our 23 month old up to our 9 year old. To be perfectly honest, the cadence of these declarations have been handed down for generations because, if I recall, these same phrases were quite often heard bouncing off the walls in my childhood home. As a matter of fact, it seems to be one of the rights of passage in life that sooner or later we all wind up saying the exact same things that our parents said to us, and spend time wondering why our kids behave the way we use to!
It’s inevitable. Whether you want to or not, you are bound to break the childhood promise you made to yourself when you exclaimed, “I will never say that to my kids when I grow up!” Yet, there you stand, a grown man, sometimes assuming the same imposing posture, repeating the familiar words you swore you’d never say. Why? Because you are a parent and you love your children. Therefore, you actively engage in making sure they know right from wrong. There isn’t a greater testimony of your deep affection for your kids than for the world to see that you have taught them how to properly behave.
Maybe you have noticed that there is an overwhelming lack of good behavior these days. I’m not talking about the obvious actions. It’s easy to sound off on the thugs in the street playing “knock out” as they brutalize an unsuspecting victim for the revolting “simple joy” of inflicting pain. I am talking about the more common behaviors that are often ignored in our society today. Things like “Sir and ma’am”; “Please” and thank you”; holding the door open for others to walk through; helping a lady take off her coat; willingly yielding to an elder simply because it is the proper thing to do, rather than argue. These were simple lessons I was taught in my childhood that seemed pretty universal not too long ago, but they have disappeared because apparently there isn’t yet a smart phone app that teaches children manners. I would wager to say that there will never be one that can do it as well as a parent, because hard wired in the DNA of every child is the deep desire for instruction.
In the New Testament, Paul echoes the book of Proverbs and gives parents this admonition; “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but train them…” The connection most people aren’t making is the provocation comes from NOT teaching (training) these children right from wrong. They grow up not knowing the difference and in their frustration, they act out against all forms of authority because when they were at an age where they could have been trained, they were ignored.
The word “train” means to demonstrate something over and over again. It doesn’t happen through occasional reminders; it occurs only when it is ingrained through repetition. So today I want to encourage you to not grow weary in well doing. Keep training your children as I will keep training mine, and by God’s grace, they will become a generation that reminds the world what kindness, patience, and gentleness looks like.
You know training doesn’t always come in the form of correction. It also is deeply rooted through encouragement. Here’s another top list I strongly suggest you use over and over again:
1)” You can do it, I know you can.”
2) “I am proud of you.”
3) “You were awesome!”
4) “You are so very important to me.”
5) “I believe in you!”
6) “That was great.”
7) “Don’t ever give up.”
8) “We can always try again.”
9) “I’m on your side!”
10) “I love you with all my heart.”
Remember, God has given you a chance to change the world when He blessed you with children to raise… even if it seems like you’ve said it 10,000 times before…say it again!