“Each of you must respect his mother and father” (Leviticus 19:3, NIV).
I felt sorry for a mother at the grocery store the other day. She had two small boys who zipped up and down the aisles, running and playing hide and seek. She asked them to walk quietly several times. Finally, the boys knocked over some cans of corn. The manager arrived to see cans rolling all over the floor. The mother took each child firmly in hand. “You stop it,” she said, “or else you’re in big trouble.”
The children were quiet for about five minutes, and then they began to run and play again. The mother said, “Be good or else!” The children looked at her and kept running.
She said it again. This time they didn’t even look. They had learned that she didn’t really mean it.
Children can be expert manipulators. They know the best time to get their way. They sometimes choose times when you are busy or in the public eye to misbehave.
I know only one way to stop this. You must mean what you say. You must follow through by doing what you promise. Don’t threaten discipline you don’t intend to give. Don’t make a promise you don’t intend to follow up. Both of those are manipulative tactics. When you manipulate your children they learn from you.
God expects us to keep our word, especially to our children. Discipline them consistently at home.
Don’t let them get the best of you in public. Your time away from home will be much more enjoyable.
Kimberly Snider is a missionary to the Philippines.
From “Moments for Moms,” a free email subscription.
Copyright (c) 2005 Women’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God.