#3~You Lecture ~ You Lose
(NIV) “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7 (KJV: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”)
I surmise that your thoughts are of the “Why is she quoting this scripture about prayer when she is supposed to be talking about raising children”. Yes, this scripture is concerning how we pray, but I want you to just think about it for a moment. If Jesus wants us to keep it short, sweet, and heart-felt when we talk with HIM…….
I believe we get so carried away with being “right”, we truly forget we are talking to a child. The average attention span for a child has a ‘rule of thumb’ suggestion. Their age in years is their attention span in minutes. So a five year old has a 5 minute attention span. But remember this: it must be a very entertaining 5 minutes. If you are the type of parent who lectures a five year old, you have five minutes for “much speaking” but you best have a tablet for illustratory cartoons, a cell phone with their fav netflix show pulled up, and the best facial expressions and hand antics in the world. And know that after about 15 seconds, you are lecturing a child who hears your voice only as background noise.
If it’s a teenager you wish to lecture for even five minutes, you are background noise as soon as you say their name to get their attention and ask them to set their cell phone aside. This is not a fault of the child. It is the day and age we live in and I for one love it! I can face time with my dear friend who lives on the other side of the U.S. any time I want. I can text instead of talking on a phone tied to a wall. I love technology! It’s a good thang!! And yes, teenagers are consumed with social media and texting and playing games, etc., but pause for a moment, take a deep breath and think what all they could be doing. Then thank God for your teenager.
Yes, children need boundaries and discipline when they step outside the boundaries you have set for them. But seriously? That same cell phone, tablet, and gaming system are your best leverage. They step across the line you have set, their cell phone is yours for the day. They step over again, it’s yours for 48 hours. Leverage is priceless when raising a teenager. Unplug them for a week? You’ll have a very well-behaved child for several days. Then you’ll do it all over again.
Don’t ever make the mistake that once you have dealt with the error of their ways, it won’t happen again. That sends your frustration through the roof every time because you are expecting more than is possible for them to give. Keep your hopes high, but understand the chances that this event will be a repeated offense are high also. It takes repetition and consistency, for them to really get the message you are relaying. They may be pushing forty years of age before it actually dawns on them that you were right about at least one thing when they were growing up. Seriously!
It really is okay once in a while to say “NO!” and the reason can be implied. “Because I said so!” It will not work every time, especially as they age. But just a flat-out “No!” gets your point across more efficiently than a lecture. Let “No” become your only “vain repetition”. I believe most of the time when we “babble” or lecture, it’s because we think our “wisdom” as a parent is showing, but check out your child’s expression and you will see they have already checked out. The one time you are definitely going to have to explain yourself is when you change up the rules on them. That’s the next blog!
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6