Trading Whining for Honor, Part 2May 2, 2006
Join us for today's broadcast when Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of the book Say Goodbye to Whining, give a 30-day miracle cure for whining.
Join us for today's broadcast when Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of the book Say Goodbye to Whining, give a 30-day miracle cure for whining.
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Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. If there was such a product, if we only had the pills, the magic pills …
Dennis: You could see it on telephone poles, couldn't you? "Thirty days to whine-free family living." Oh, man.
Bob: Call this number – 1-800 – yeah, you 'd sell a million of them, wouldn't you?
Dennis: You really, really would. And there's a reason, Bob. There's a reason why you'd make so much money. It's because of the progression that takes place as God gives us children. He kind of begins to rearrange our hope. He puts our hope in the right place, and our guests have a little – well, they describe what happens with the first baby, the second baby, and the third baby, and I think these are really cute.
First baby – at the first sign of distress, even a whimper or a frown, you pick up the baby with tremendous compassion, by the way.
The second baby – you pick up your baby when her wails threaten to wake up your firstborn. That's when you pick up the second baby.
Third baby – you teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.
Okay, there's more. Here's another one – First baby – you prewash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and then fold them neatly in a little dresser. The second baby, you check to make sure the clothes are clean and discard only those with the darkest stains. The third baby – boys can wear pink, can't they?
It kind of goes downhill, doesn't it?
First baby – you take your infant to baby gymnastics, baby swim, and baby story hour.
Bob: That's right, gotta do it all.
Dennis: Second baby – you take your infant to a co-op play group. Third baby, you take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaners. They go everywhere with you.
One more – the first baby – the first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.
Bob: We've done that, yes.
Dennis: Second baby – just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached. Third baby, you leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she's blood.
Bob: And then call somebody else. Call 911; leave us alone.
Dennis: Those are tips from the authors of "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids." Scott Turansky and JoAnn Miller join us – Scott, JoAnn, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Scott: Thank you, Dennis.
JoAnn: Thanks, good to be here.
Dennis: JoAnn is a pediatric nurse, a homeschooling mom, speaker, author. Scott's a pastor on the East Coast and also a homeschooling father of five. He has give teenage children, which ought to qualify him …
Bob: We've got a medal we're going to present at the end of the broadcast.
Dennis: I guarantee you, I guarantee you. You both present the concept of honor as being the solution to bad attitudes, whining, and complaining. How so, JoAnn?
JoAnn: Well, honor deals with how we get things done in family life. We say that obedience gets the job done, but honor deals with how the job is done. So when we have complaining, we have whining, bad attitudes, that deals with our relationship, and we want to work on those relationships, and we want to try to infuse honor into our relationships the way we relate to one another.
Bob: And you gave us a definition of honor yesterday, Scott. Restate that for us. I wrote it down, but for those who weren't here with us, what do you mean by honor?
Scott: We say that honor is treating people as special, doing more than what's expected, and having a good attitude. In essence, honor is like oil in the machine of a family. Obedience gets the job done, honor allows us to get that job done with less friction.
Bob: And this seems to be indigenous to all families no matter what. In fact, from time to time, Dennis, I'm asked by a group if I'll come speak on the subject of parenting, and it almost always comes right after something has happened at home, where I go, "I can't speak on parenting to anybody."
Dennis: "I'm a failure."
Bob: It's just complete hypocrisy, and yet a part of what we do as we share principles is we share from our failures, don't we?
JoAnn: We sure do. You know, and we say right up front that we are not parenting experts, we don't claim to have perfect children, but we're learning, and we're learning secrets from all different places. We're drawing it together and trying to make it available to parents so that we can be successful. But, you know, a lot of it comes from our own mistakes, or the things that we see in family life – just the natural responses our children have to life.
I remember one day my son, David, was speaking with Scott's son, and they were talking about the parenting classes that we teach and the books we've written and the different stories we tell, and Scott's son, Josh, said to my son, "You know, David, you're not the only one who learns from your mistakes. Hundreds of other families learn from your mistakes."
Dennis: My kids – I hope they're listening to the broadcast, because I'm sure they'll use that on me someday, there's no doubt about it.
JoAnn: Yeah, we're all learning, aren't we?
Dennis: You know, this concept of honor is a biblical one. Romans, chapter 12:20 commands us to honor one another. 1 Peter 2:17 commands us to honor all men and honor the King. It is not something that is easily taught to our children, but it's in the midst of the mistakes they make, Scott, that we train them and teach them how to show honor to one another.
Scott: Yes, that's right, and, you know, the command to honor your father and mother is given eight times in the Bible. Why so many times? I think it's because we have a tendency to forget that. Children need to learn honor, because hidden within honor are the success principles that are going to help our children grow up to be that successful responsible adult.
What makes the employee a good employee? It's not that that employee just gets the job done, but that employee also can add something to the atmosphere in the job environment. What makes the student an excellent student? It's often because that student adds something extra to that paper, which makes the teacher say, "Ah, this is an A+ paper."
Dennis: You know, there's one thing you're saying here that I wish we could have clarified early on in our parenting experience, and that was on Saturdays, before we got out the chore list, if we could have just clarified the expectations for what a good job looks like, because that's where we got into trouble. We did not do a good job explaining to a child what was a good job. And so there wasn't the possibility, JoAnn, of a child exceeding expectations because we, as parents, had not clarified the expectations up front.
But I like what you're talking about because this takes a clearly explained job and then you challenge them to go beyond that, to do something that honors the family on behalf of that job. I think that might have turned around Saturday chores a bit, and instead of the focus being on the child not completing the chore, whether it be sweeping the driveway or carrying out the trash or picking up the yard, instead the focus was doing as little as possible and not fulfilling what Mom and Dad had asked him or her to do.
Bob: You know, this does seem like something that the earlier we get started with as parents the better off things are going to go, because when I ask my six-year-old to set the table and do something extra, do something special, and give some creative ideas, there is real delight in the life of a six-year-old for doing something like that. You go to a 12-year-old or a 14-year-old and say, "Do a little something extra," and they look at you like "Why would anyone do that? I've got homework."
So it's a concept that the earlier we get started with, it's going to pay dividends for years to come, isn't it?
JoAnn: Sure, that's true, because especially young children. They love to please their parents. It may not look that way sometimes, but they really do. They get an internal delight of pleasing their parents. But as they get older, they've got some other goals in life, and some other values, and they're not always looking to please their parents anymore, and so we may go about it a little different way and then maybe just making observations, dropping hints – "It sure would be nice if someone else would empty the dishwasher." You know, and maybe the child would come down and have a little extra energy and empty the dishwasher sometime before they're asked – catch them doing it just once and be delighted. Get real excited about it.
Dennis: You know, there's one thing that has hit me as we've been talking – we really don't have a working definition of whining. What is whining?
JoAnn: You know, we say that whining is a manipulative technique that children use to trick their parents into doing something they want.
Dennis: But wait a second – it's a trick? It's a manipulation of a child of the parent?
JoAnn: Yes. Sometimes they don't even realize they're doing it, but they're trying to get their way, and they figure somehow that voice is going to get it for them. You know, the amazing thing is that often it works, and that's why they keep doing it. Parents can keep it going, they can encourage that whining in the family instead of discourage it by the way they respond to it.
Bob: And you see this in the supermarket checkout line, you see it at the Wal-Mart, and you see it more often in other people's kids. You know it happens with your kids, but when it happens with the other people's kids, don't you just want to turn around and say, "Ma'am, if you will do these things, you can stop this child from annoying everyone in the line." And yet my kids have done it in the line as well. So what do we do in the supermarket checkout line when one of your kids comes along and says, "Can I get this candy bar?" "No, you've had enough candy today." "All I had was this." "No, we're not going to have any candy now." "I'll pay for it myself." "No, we're not going to have any candy." "Why? Why can't I have any candy?"
Okay, you've seen that scenario, right.
Scott: It's nice if it ends there. Sometimes it's a temper tantrum, and we've got a whole scene going in the grocery store.
Bob: So what do you do?
Scott: Well, we teach parents that you don't practice at the grocery store. That's like the final exam. If you want to have children who are able to deal with disappointment, and that's really the issue here. The answer is no, and when a child can't accept no as an answer and starts whining then they've got a problem. It's a dishonoring problem; they need to learn honor. Where do we practice it? We practice it in the home, we practice it at the park, we practice it at places where we have lots of time and opportunity to make corrections and changes so these children develop healthy patterns of responding with honor. So we get into the grocery store; they know how to handle it.
Dennis: You mentioned, JoAnn, that usually whining, complaining, and bad attitudes occur all around them being disappointed.
JoAnn: There are three areas where we see a bad attitude. The first one would be when a child is given instruction. Another when the child is corrected, and a third area would be when a child is given a "no" answer. They're disappointed, they can't go to their friends, they can't have a snack. For one reason or another the parent says, "No." Those are three prime candidates for a bad attitude.
Dennis: And at that point, the child needs to obey and needs to step forward and do what the parent has asked them to do. And sometimes the child doesn't want to do that, and you have a twofold solution for the child who is really struggling with what they're being asked to do.
Scott: That's right. What we've tried to do is look at the Scriptures and determine what are two godly responses for children when they don't want to do what an authority has asked them to do? The first one we say is "Obey first, and then we'll talk about it," and the second one we called "the wise appeal." Once children are able to do the first, then sometimes we allow them to do the second.
Bob: So let's take "I want to spend the night at my friend's house on Friday night." The child comes to you and says, "Can I go over to Peter's house Friday night and spend the night?" You go, "We've got plans as a family, so it's not going to work." Now, at that point, the child still wants to go to Peter's and spend the night on Friday night and is hoping to try to influence you to change your mind on what you just said. What's an appropriate way for a child – rather than for the child to go "I haven't gotten to spend the night at anybody's house all month, and Katy got to spend the night last month at so-and-so" – what's the appropriate thing for the child to do when you've just said, "No, you're not going to Peter's on Friday night?
Scott: In that situation, what a child needs to learn is how to accept "No" as an answer. There are three areas where a bad attitude is demonstrated. If we turn that around, we can make it very positive. We can say there are three areas where children can demonstrate a good attitude – when they're given an instruction; when they're correct; and when they are given a "no" answer.
What we want to do with children is teach them specifically how to respond in any of those situations. So we're going to take it apart. How do you want a child to respond when they receive a "no" answer? I think one of the things we want them to be able to say is, "Okay, maybe next time," at least to themselves.
If they're being corrected, how do we want them to respond? Well, ideally, we'd like them to be able to say I'm sorry. If we're talking to children and giving them an instruction, and they don't like it, we want to help them to be able to say, "Okay, Mom," or "Okay, Dad." Those are honoring responses, and they're important for children to learn. Now, they have to deal with some emotional stuff in the midst of that, and we want to help them do that but to still come off in an honoring way.
Dennis: Bob, when a child does have a parent who says no to spending the night at a friend's house, we've had that happen among our teenagers over the years, and when their voices raise to a higher pitch, their face begins to take on a contorted sort of look of sorts, and they begin to whine and complain, I then just say in a calm voice, I say, "You know, if you would not raise this to an emotional level, if you would speak with me respectfully" and basically do what they're talking about here – embrace the no – "and then begin to appeal with a wise appeal – at that point you might make it easy for me to change my mind. But the way you're behaving now," as a young lady or as a young man, "I want you to know that I'm not going to reward this kind of behavior of you whining, complaining, raising your voice with me, and pitching a fit."
Now, sometimes that makes sense, sometimes it doesn't, but the key is, as a parent, I believe, to hold the line. Don't change your mind at that point. Stand forth and let the child do the changing and change their attitude and begin to learn how to make a wise appeal.
Scott: Let me tell you what it means to "obey first, and then we'll talk about it." If little Billy is four years old, and he's climbing up on a chair to get on the counter to get something, I may say, "Billy, I'd like you to get down." "But I want" – "No, you need to obey first, and then we'll talk about it." When Billy gets down, then we talk about it.
You see, what happens is that parents often talk about a request over and over and discuss it because sometimes they believe that a child has a right to know everything about a request before they obey. But that isn't how it happens in the Scriptures. Often, God asks us to obey before we understand completely.
It's important for children to be able to do that, too, and so what we're trying to do is help children to obey first and then we'll talk about it. When the child gets down, then we can develop a solution together so that they can understand what to do. When parents give in and spend a lot of time discussing an instruction before the child has to obey, inadvertently, parents often teach their children that not liking a request is enough cause for resistance. These parents teach their children that they can argue and resist and often these children don't have the ability to obey without some kind of a discussion or an argument.
Dennis: You know, a lot of times, it's motivated out of a right motive by the parent. The parents want to do a good job helping the child understand why they're doing what they're doing, but in our family I think our children received an extra dose of a character quality that's a good character quality, but in this area it really cost you. And the character quality is perseverance. I mean, they don't quit – over and over and over again, and it's at those points when I think a little formula like you're talking about here – obey first, then we'll talk – and, secondly, then make a wise appeal, and it ought to be said almost parenthetically, a wise appeal that is an unemotional appeal, which is very difficult for a 13-year-old, 14-year-old, a child who doesn't have control of his or her emotions.
Scott: Yes, we're trying to give children a formula that they can even use – plug it in. You want to use a wise appeal? This is exactly what you do. We say with young children, we even encourage them to fill in the blanks. We say, "I understand you want me to because …." "I have a problem with that because …" "So could I please" and then fill in the blank. So if little Jimmy is playing with his train set, and Mom says, "I want you to clean that up right now because we've got to go run errands, and Jimmy, instead of whining and pitching a fit turns with a wise appeal and says, "I understand you want me to clean up the train set because we've got to go out and run errands. I have a problem with that because I just got it out, I haven't even got a chance to play with it yet, so could I please leave it out for a little bit longer and play with it when we get back?"
What we're doing here is the child is learning a process – now, some people are going to look at that and say it sounds like a cross between "Leave it to Beaver" and "The Brady Bunch." My kids aren't going to do that. Well, you know, it's something that we teach kids over a period of time, and they grow into it so that they can respond in a way that is more honoring. It's a wise appeal, it's an honoring way to bring a concern or deal with a request that you're not particularly happy with, and it's something that children can use as they get older.
Bob: We've used the appeal process around our home, and there have been times when we've said, "Okay, we're moving into a no-appeal period. We're going to go for two weeks of no appeals."
JoAnn: True, and we say that the wise appeal is a privilege, and we give children that privilege when they're able to obey first, and then we'll talk about it.
Bob: That's right, that's right.
JoAnn: So the obedience definitely comes first and, like any other privilege, it can be abused, and if a child is overusing the wise appeal or they're not accepting no for an answer, or maybe they're coming up with a solution with the wise appeal, but then they don't follow through with their part of the bargain, any of those are abuses of the wise appeal, and we may say to a child then, "You know, I think we're going to take away the privilege of the wise appeal for a couple of days until I see you obeying first with a good attitude. Then maybe we'll get that wise appeal back."
Dennis: I just want to remind folks of two things – number one, children are going to behave like children. That doesn't mean that we don't need to train them to begin to mature and grow up and show character qualities that the Scripture speaks about. We just need to realize we're dealing with children. They are going to make mistakes. They're going to need plenty of grace just like you and I received grace when we were children.
Secondly, you are the adult, you're the parent, you are the one who supposedly is mature and growing in your own faith. And I want to tell you something – this is where the Christian life makes up its mind, right here. I mean, when I am facing a scowling face, eyes that roll back in the head, stomping, door-slamming teenagers – this is when you, as a parent, have to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. You have to be obedient to Jesus Christ, and you're the one who needs to call them up to maturity. That assumes that we are being mature.
And if that's kind of an "ouch!" for you, know that it's been an "ouch!" for me and Barbara and Bob and Mary Ann and our guests here in the studio today. But hear God's voice in these matters and realize that a family at those points is simply being used by God to cause you to grow.
Bob: Well, and I think it helps if you've got a plan – some kind of a plan of action. If you know what to say when you face these kinds of attitudes, and that's what our guests have outlined in the book, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids." We've got copies of the book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and you can go online at FamilyLife.com to request a copy. Go to our website and click the "Go" button that you see in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to the page where you can get more information about the book. You can order online, if you'd like. There is also information there about Scott and JoAnn's new book, which is called "Parenting is Heart Work," and it's a terrific resource that helps us get to the root of these issues – not just adjust behavior but deal with our children's hearts. And as I said, we've got copies of that book in our FamilyLife Resource Center as well.
In fact, if you're interested in both books, you can order them, and we'll send along at no additional cost the two-CD audio set that features our conversation this week with Scott Turansky and JoAnn Miller, and even if you've heard the whole program, you can pass it along to somebody who would benefit from listening to it. Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. Click on the button that says "Go" in the middle of the home page. It will take you right to the site you need where you can order copies of these books. You can also download the things we've talked about today from our website, the signs and things that are available that you can put up around your home to help reinforce these ideas with your children.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about the books or the CD audio. Again, it's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
We received some great news here at FamilyLife recently. Some friends of ours who care about the ministry of FamilyLife Today and want to see it grow and expand, we were talking with them, and they are aware of the fact that often, during the summer, we will see a drop in donation revenue here at FamilyLife. The summer months can be lean for a ministry like ours and for many media ministries, and so these folks came to us and said, "We'd like to help you be prepared for that possibility," and here is how they agreed to do it. They are going to match, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, any donation we receive during the month of May up to a total of $350,000. That is a very generous offer and, frankly, we hope we can take full advantage of that matching gift, but to do so we're going to need as many of our radio listeners as possible to contact us this month with a donation of any amount.
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Once again, you can donate online at FamilyLife.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation, and we do hope that we can hear from you this month.
Now, tomorrow, Scott Turansky and JoAnn Miller are going to be back with us. We're going to talk about how we can help our children shift from having what I heard someone describe recently as a "Copernican worldview" thinking that the world revolves around you at the center of it, to a worldview that is more "other-centered." We'll talk about that 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 next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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