Six Ways to Teach Honor to Children, Part 2May 4, 2006
Are you tired of all your children’s whining? Then maybe it’s time you did something about it. On today’s broadcast, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of the book Say Goodbye to Whining, tell parents how to stop whining before it starts.
Are you tired of all your children’s whining? Then maybe it’s time you did something about it. On today’s broadcast, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of the book Say Goodbye to Whining, tell parents how to stop whining before it starts.
Bob: It's quite possible that the reason some children whine and complain is because that's what they've seen modeled by grownups. Here's Scott Turansky.
Scott: You know, I used to coach my son's Josh's baseball team. We had a great time just evaluating the other coaches and how they coached. Some would yell at the players, yell at the other coaches, yell at the umpire. So what's really the most important thing in life? Is it that we win a game or is it that we treat each other with honor?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 4th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about how you and your children can help one another develop a better attitude.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I hope that if you've been with us all this week, and you've been applying what we've been talking about …
Dennis: … your home is now completely whine-free.
Bob: It should be whine-free.
Dennis: A whine-free zone.
Bob: I think we should take the picture from the front of Scott Turansky and JoAnn Miller's book – that kid who is scowling on the front …
Dennis: … can we put him on our website? He could be the poster kid.
Bob: We'll put his picture up there with a red circle around it and a line through, you know, a no whining symbol, something that you can print out and hang in your home.
Bob: I remember, I don't know if you saw the movie that came out a while back that Disney did called "The Kid." Did you ever see that movie?
Dennis: I did not, Bob.
Bob: There was a point in this movie where somebody was whining, and the adult responded to the whining by saying – by whining back, and he said, "Ohhhh, why doesn't somebody call the waaahmbulance?" The waahhhmbulance, because he was just going wahhhh, call the waaaahhhmbulance. Sometimes that's what we need to do – call the waaahhmbulance because our kids are just going wahhhh all day long.
Dennis: Well, we have the solution for the waaahhh. This book, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids" – Scott Turansky and Joann Miller, I've got to believe both of you have brought a great deal of hope and encouragement to moms and probably some dads all across the country over the past couple of days. And today we want to continue on with our list of how you teach children to honor instead of whine and complain. And, in doing so, and, Bob, we're going to have you review the first three principles in just a moment, but I'm going to start by telling a story. I've told this on the broadcast before, but this is the perfect story for continuing to teach the principle of honor.
And what was occurring was a battle around cleaning the kitchen after dinner, all right? And finally the kids refused to do what they were supposed to do. They were griping, they were complaining, they were saying, "It's his fault," "It's her fault," "It's not my responsibility" – all those things, and it had been a hard day at work. I'm looking for some pity here. Someone give me some compassion, all right? It was just one of those days where, you know, you just didn't – I just didn't seem to have the capacity, and so instead of walking in the spirit, for a moment I slipped over the edge, and I walked in the flesh, and I got ticked. I got angry, I raised my voice, and I took a box of Kleenexes and in a fit that would really be appropriate for an adolescent teenager, truthfully, I was a grown man doing this – I threw the Kleenex box – not at the kids, because I didn't want to hurt them – but I threw it at the floor, and I just threw it at the floor, and I said, "You guys are pitiful." And I stormed out of the house and slammed the door, and it was winter, and it was cold outside. And, after a while, you know, my steam began to emanate, and the cool of the winter began to take over, and I go, "Wait a second. I am standing outdoors. I, secondly, pay for the mortgage on this house. They are inside warm, probably snickering in the kitchen about how Dad is behaving. What am I doing out here?"
Bob: Something's wrong with this picture.
Dennis: And why are they back in there? I should have made them go out here and stand in the cold and get their act together about cleaning the kitchen. Now, that's how not to deal with whining, complaining, and a bad attitude. You can't exemplify the same thing yourself.
Bob: Yesterday we began walking our way through six principles – six ways in which we can teach honor to our children. This comes from a chapter in Scott and JoAnn's book, and we have that chapter available on our website at FamilyLife.com, if you want to go and review these principles. But the first thing we talked about was teaching our children how to treat other people as special. Then we talked about teaching them to do more than is expected, and we ended up talking about the whole issue of a bad attitude and how we correct, how we deal with a bad attitude and how we deal with anger.
The fourth principle is one that you guys had to travel all the way to Africa to learn and see illustrated, right, Scott?
Scott: Well, yes, we tell the story in that chapter about how we're trying to teach honor lessons in life, and my family was in Kenya on the mission field for a period of time, and JoAnn and her family came to visit us while we taught some parenting seminars to missionaries and out in the bush to Kenyans.
But we decided to take a vacation together – all 11 of us in a van for 10 hours with no air conditioning driving from Nairobi down to the coast of Mombasa, knowing that the car is a tremendous place where dishonor is demonstrated. We decided to create then what we call now the "Woops and Ah" game. The Woops and Ah game was simply the identification of several negative kinds of speech – arguing, complaining, whining, talking too much, and being bossy. What we said that if anybody could identify that kind of speech, they could say "Woops," and the rest of us would pick which of the five it was and then give some suggestions on how that person could change their kind of speech.
I remember that David said, "There are black rhinos and white rhinos in Africa." And Tim says, "Oh, no, there's only black rhinos." Somebody said "Woops" for arguing. It was suggested that Timothy say, "I think there are only black rhinos in Africa."
We also were looking for positive kinds of speech – gratefulness, encouragement, praise, and when that happened, then we would say "Ahhhh." And people would love to get the Ahhhh response. I remember Megan said, "Dad, thanks for bringing us here," and I said, "Ahhhh." Everybody could feel that.
Well, Ed and I kept throwing in these Ahhhh responses. So I said, "I'm the best driver in all of Kenya." And that earned me a hearty "Woops," for boasting. So we spent a lot of time in the car with the Woops and Ahh game, but I'll tell you, when we got all the way there to the other side of the country, we had to call the game off, because there are so many opportunities for dishonoring speech that it just creates problems in family life; that if we would have kept the game going, the intense analysis would have driven us crazy.
Bob: I'll tell you, just to have a game like that available for the car – the car is, as you said, such a great place for disrespect and dishonor to come out, and unless parents are proactive with some kind of a strategy, it's just going to deteriorate into bickering and complaining.
Back over spring break, I had taken the kids for a short trip, a couple of hours in the car, and a couple of hours coming back – not that long, right? But along the way there was the normal bickering and complaining, and I remember one of my children, a couple of times during the day, saying, "Boy, spring break sure is fun, isn't it, Dad?" You know, with kind of a lighthearted approach, reminding everybody in the car that we really do need to have a better attitude, kind of calling us up to a higher standard but having a proactive approach and saying, "Here is how we're going to deal with this." It's kind of like you've done with your dime jar in the car. If there is complaining, you take money out of the dime jar and at the end of the trip you get to divide up what's left. So nobody wants to complain because there's more money in the jar for everybody if nobody complains.
Dennis: And to pick up on their principle here – one of the things we did also was put money in the jar when they said good things to one another and built one another up. And, JoAnn, that's one of the things I like so much about your book. You're trying to turn parents away from always focusing on the griping, the badgering, the complaining, the grumbling, the disputing. You're turning their eyes and the child's eyes away from the negative to the positive of training your children in how to show honor. And that's a good place to be in a family, isn't it?
JoAnn: It sure is, and we want to take a positive approach whenever we can, as parents. I think when we're not careful as parents we can get caught up in just looking at the negative, focusing on the things the children are doing wrong, "You need to stop doing that," "Stop talking that way," "Don't act that way," and we become very negative ourselves. And what we want to do is take a more positive approach and teach our children the right response. Don't just tell them what not to do, but we can tell our children what they should be doing and encouraging them in that, even make it fun. If we can turn it into a game at first to develop those good habits, that will just make family life more enjoyable.
Dennis: There is another principle of teaching honor to your children, and it's pretty simple. You talk about modeling it before your children.
JoAnn: That's right, if we're going to respond to our children with dishonor, it will be pretty hard to teach them how to show honor to one another and to us. So we really need to start with ourselves and show honor to our children and model it for them as we treat one another in the family we want to be showing honor.
Bob: And not just in the family but when we go to a sporting event, we've got to make sure that in the stands we're treating the umps with respect, we're treating the other coach with respect, all of those kinds of things, right?
Scott: That's right. You know, I used to coach my son, Josh's, baseball team. We had a great time that season just evaluating the other coaches and how they coached. Some would yell at the players, yell at the other coaches, yell at the umpire. It was terrible to see what people were doing, and we would lose games, but Josh and I would talk about life. So I might have lost games as a coach, but I was sure winning in the department of relationship with my son, because we'd discuss these things.
The fascinating thing was one game we were in the playoffs. And this one coach was so mean, yelling at me, the other coach, and Josh happened to be the pitcher, and in the end we lost that game, but we walked away from that saying, "I would never want to win a game if it required that I be that kind of a person." The amazing thing about this story is that my son, Josh, won an award the next year. One student was picked out of all 500 students that were playing Little League as the student who was the most encouraging and sportsmanlike. They picked Josh. And the coach who gave the award was this opposing coach.
Again, it was just one of those fascinating stories that made a lasting impression on both Josh and on me about what's really the most important thing in life? Is it that we win a game or is it that we treat each other with honor? So we talked about how to coach and what's important and tried to talk about how we modeled that in daily relationships. It's important for us, as parents, to model honor to our children.
Bob: And that really points to the final issue in how we teach honor, which is appealing past the rules to the conscience, to the law of God that is written on the heart of a child and appeal to them to a clean conscience, right?
JoAnn: That's right. We want to be able to appeal to their conscience, and that's done very gently. It's not done by lecturing at them or being harsh with them, but it's done sometimes through sadness – "Boy, I’m disappointed that you're making that choice. That's not going to be good for you in the long run." And just making comments in passing – with sincerity. We're not laying on a guilt trip here, but we're just being sincerely sad that they're making the wrong choices, because we know that down the road they're going to have to pay the price, and as we just are transparent about our sadness, I think our children can be touched by that.
Dennis: Years ago there was one of our teenagers who was going through one of these bad attitude periods, and I just remembered the Lord gave me just an extra touch of love for that teenager in the midst of that, and I looked at the teenager one day, and I said, "You know what? I'm offering you a steak, medium rare, with the most delightful sauce you could ever imagine, poured all over it, and you are sitting there chewing on a hot dog. I just want you to know I’m not going to go away with my steak, but if you want to keep on chewing on the hot dog, that's your freedom.
And it's a little bit of what you're talking about – it's looking at them, honoring them, smiling, loving them, but inviting them out of their bad attitude, inviting them to something better. That's what we're to be as parents.
JoAnn: That's right. We want to call them to maturity, we want to call them to a higher standard, but we don't want to be always pushing and shoving because that just develops negative relationships then.
Bob: You know, there comes a point, as our children get older, that we start turning over more of the decision-making to them. I remember a time when one of our children had called home. There was a group going to see a movie. One of our children had called home and said, "Can I go with this group to see this movie?" And I decided it was time, and so I said, "I'm going to leave that decision up to you." I think it was the first time this child had had that freedom. And the child said, "Well, what do you know about the movie, Dad?" And I said, "Well, I don't know much, but let me look online." So we went over there, and I said, "Well, here is what's in the movie," and I described that to the child, and the child said, "Well, is it okay if I go?" And I said, "That's up to you. I've just told you what's in the movie. It's up to you to decide whether that's a movie that you want to go see."
Well, all of a sudden, there was – it was, like, I have moved to a new place where instead of pushing against my parents' values, I have to decide what my own values are, and I was appealing to the child's conscience to say, "You can go and see this." And I remember the child saying, "Well, will you be disappointed if I go?" And I said, "Are you asking my opinion as to whether I think it's a good move for you to go see?" "Yeah." "I don't think it would be a good movie for you to go see, but I want you to know it's still your decision."
Dennis: So how'd you answer the question about the disappointment?
Bob: I said, "If you make the choice to go see this, I'll still love you and support you in the decision that you made, but, yeah, I'll be a little disappointed." "Okay," and the child hung up the phone. And, you know, we're sitting at home, going, "Are they going to pass the test," you know? And this was one of those situations – this was not a movie where I would just say, hard-line, "No, you're not going to see that movie." There would be something like that, right? This was one where I’m just going to leave it, it's gray area, questionable kind of stuff.
But as I appealed to conscience, all of a sudden, what happened for the child was I'm moving to a new phase in life where I'm going to have to make these decisions rather than relying on Mom and Dad and just regularly pushing back. And it was one of those defining moments for that child.
JoAnn: When we treat our children with honor, treating them as mature, they often will rise to the occasion and act in a mature way, because that's what we're expecting of them.
Dennis: Okay, Bob, so what did the child do?
Bob: In that particular case, they got to the theater, and the movie that the other kids wanted to go see was sold out.
JoAnn: Now, there's the Holy Spirit for you, huh?
Bob: That's right. It just happened that they had to make another choice, anyway.
Dennis: So it was a win-win for you.
Bob: It was a win-win kind of a situation, and, you know, we've laid that situation out in front of kids, and they've made choices that have disappointed us, but we've also had an opportunity for them to realize some consequences of those decisions.
Another real quick story – a child called and said, "I want to go with some friends" on a Saturday afternoon to do something, and we said, "Don't you have a lot of homework?" "Yeah, yeah, I can take care of that. I want to go do this with my friends" on a Saturday afternoon.
Dennis: I know where this is going, yeah.
Bob: And I said, "Well, I will tell you that I think it would be wise for you to come home, do your homework, but I'll leave that decision up to you." "Okay, thanks, Dad. See ya," you know, I'm outta here with my friends.
Now, it happened that that child turned in a paper late in the coming week, and lost a full letter grade because it was a day late. We had the chance to go back and revisit that issue and say, "This is a consequence of the decision that you made, and I know at the time you really wanted to go with your friends. Was this worth it?" and for the child to go, "Yeah, I don't care about the letter grade," but we talked about the value of that over the long haul versus the value of how they'd spent time.
Sometimes they will make decisions that are disappointing. You've got to make sure it's not – they're not moral decisions that are going to lead them down the wrong path; that it's not life-threatening situations, and then you've got to let them make some bad choices. Better to have them doing that while they're still at home than to send them off to college making bad decisions there with no one watching over them.
Dennis: Absolutely, and what we're talking about here really embodies Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 4, and although this is written to fathers, the application, I think, to moms is worth noting.
"And you, Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord," and that means we have the gentleness of the Lord. We love our kids, we give them room, we give them space, and that becomes difficult as they get older, as we watch them make some choices that maybe are less than the ideal. But I think you've given us, on the broadcast today, Scott, JoAnn, you've exhorted us to change our focus from the negative, from the complaining, the griping, the bad attitudes, and you've given us some blueprints to turn our children's hearts back to Christ and also back to honor.
And, Bob, I think this book really is a great encouragement for parents who are in the trenches, who are out there in the everyday work-a-day world who are hammering out their family where it isn't easy. They're facing instant messages on the computer, chores that are undone, homework that is being blown off by teenagers, Saturday chores going undone, kitchens that – well, they're a little bit like my illustration about the kitchen. Maybe their kids are pushing back. They need some practical help in knowing how to deal with this – this book provides it.
Bob: Well, we've been at parenting in our house for 19 years now, and I know that the thing that we need regularly is reminders – a fresh call to do what's right, not to become weary in well doing, not to just throw in the towel and run away and go live in a cave somewhere and let your kids grow up by themselves.
Dennis: Well, after 19 years, Bob, your family is a whine-free zone, isn't it?
Bob: It is from time to time. And then we have to get called back to the battle, and that's the whole point. We need the refresher course over and over again because our kids are growing, and there are new issues that emerge. I'm taking this book home so that Mary Ann and I can review it together as husband and wife to remind ourselves of these principles and to call one another back to the hard duty of raising children because the Bible says that if you do not become weary in well doing, in due time you will reap a good harvest.
Dennis: Yes, and, Bob, if you were looking at my book that I have in my hands as the book you're going to take to Mary Ann – huh-uh. I have a bad attitude about that, Bob.
Bob: Now, wait, where did you get that book, do you remember?
Dennis: Where did I get the bad attitude or the book?
Bob: The book – where did the book come from?
Dennis: You gave it to me. Are you now taking it back?
Bob: Taking it back? I lent it to you, that's what I did.
Dennis: Bob, there are certain privileges that the host of the broadcast gets to have.
Bob: You always – because you're the host, you always get …
Dennis: You never, you never give me …
Bob: Do you have any help for us here, Scott?
Dennis: You never give me books, Bob.
Bob: The title of the book is "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids." We have it available on our …
Dennis: I think you and I need to read the book.
Bob: We have it available in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if you'd like to get a copy, go on our website at FamilyLife.com. In the middle of the screen, you'll see a red button that says "Go," and if you click on that button, it will take you right to the page where there is more information about Scott and JoAnn's book, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids." We also have copies of Scott and JoAnn's new book, which is called "Parenting is Heart Work," and it's a terrific book that helps us get to the root of a lot of these issues. So we're not just modifying behavior, but we're actually addressing the heart issues that have got to be addressed as we raise our children to understand the Gospel and to follow after Christ.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, click the "Go" button to get to the page where there is more information about these resources, or call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on the team can get your information and get the resources sent out to you. If you're interested in both of the books by Scott and JoAnn, we can send at no additional cost the two-CD audio series that features this week's conversation on this subject. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com or call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
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There is still one subject we haven't talked much about this week, and tomorrow we want to get to that. It's the subject of a child who is continually recognizing and pointing out the sins of a brother or a sister. I think it's called "tattling." We're going to talk about it tomorrow, I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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