Wednesday, 30 March 2016

How to Teach Children Courtesy

As a Mother, I hate two things:

 Children whinging and whining when you ask them to do chores.
 Children whinging and whining when they want something from you.

I don't think I'm alone in this. There is nothing worse than a child who grumbles and complains as a habitual form of communication and refuses to speak courteously to you as their Mother. I think that habit alone has driven me more times, than anything else, to seek the solace of my bedroom, puff up my checks and exhale loudly to myself and Yahweh. For I'm happy to listen to their needs, just not when they are expressed this way. My goal is not to exasperate them..BUT

I don't want to be around them when they behave like this.
I don't want to cave in to their demands either.
I don't want to reward their behaviour in anyway.
They are not treating me with honour and respect.
I discipline them with my silence.

"Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh is giving you." Ex 20:12

Teaching our children to communicate with us in a courteous, respectful manner, without whinging and whining has been a full time job for quite a while now. My usual strategy is to take 'time off' their bedtime - they lose their age in minutes off their normal bed time for each offence. My theory is their behaviour is caused by over tiredness, so the solution is more sleep. There's nothing more effective than telling your 15 year old that that he needs to go to bed at 7pm because he'd complained all day! The look of horror is quite priceless. Plus with this strategy, as parents we get the added reward of an early evening of peace and quiet - to ourselves. Typically there is a big improvement in behaviour the next day when this strategy is followed.

Yet, there have been times in my life when I have behaved the very same way towards my Heavenly Father, Yahweh.  Like the Israelites in Exodus 17, I childishly whinged and whined, grumbled and complained habitually in prayer. I allowed the tone of my prayers to become a tone of complaint, rather than a tone of respect and honour.

I didn't like what Yahweh was asking me to do in his I grumbled and complained.
I didn't like having to suffer or experience I grumbled and complained.
I didn't like knowing pain in my I grumbled and complained.

Yahweh doesn't listen when I speak to him like this.
He ignores my requests.
Like any loving parent, He disciplines me with his silence.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." James 4:1-3

God's Word, the Bible asks us to communicate with the Lord God a different way. We are to bring him our needs and requests with an attitude of praise, thankfulness and and joy! We are to be courteous and honouring in our prayers.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it agin: Rejoice! ... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Phil 4:4-6
"Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, Your name be honoured as holy." Matt 6:9 

The world would be a much nicer place if we all not only prayed to Yahweh like this, but also spoke to each other this way.

Imagine if politicians actually thanked us for our hard work 
before they kindly asked us to sanction an increase in taxes. 

Imagine if children actually thanked their parents for all that they had given them 
before they courteously expressed their requests. 

Imagine a church where leaders sincerely thanked their members for their hard work
and openly listened to their courteous concerns.

Imagine a marriage where husbands and wives gratefully respected each others' different roles
before they courteously expressed their own needs. 

Imagine a world where we courteously listened to each other 
 because each person was valued, great and small, old and young, sick and healthy alike.

Artwork by

That is the kind of world Yahweh desires. He came up with the idea. He deserves the credit and the praise for it. And I like it all!

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