My face took on the gross resemblance of a sour prune, wrinkled in anger and frustration. The scolding and lecture followed. And thus, so did the tears. The issue at hand didn’t improve, my child’s heart did not suddenly change for the better, and the only thing that was certain is that I had just wounded our parent-child relationship.
My child lost. I lost. And none of us were the better for it. This was a pattern that I hated and wanted to change, but I knew it would take some radical changes on my part.
When we become parents, we automatically believe that scolding is a part of parenting.
We parent, therefore we scold! What makes us think that a child is going to respond well when we run off at the mouth at them? Have any of us been productive for a boss who was always on our case, made us feel 2 inches small, or had only harsh words for us every time we messed up? Did that create a good culture and motivation for doing well on the job? Yeah, not so much. But as parents, we take this for granted with our kids, largely because we can get away with it. But it's doing much more harm than good.
If we examine Scripture, we find that there is a better way and that scolding, is in fact, unbiblical.
In his book, The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo, he quotes from Mark 14:3-5 and then elaborates on the passage. Take a look:
“And while He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining (at the table), there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; (and) she broke the vial and poured it over His head. But some were indignantly (remarking) so one another, ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and (the money) given to the poor.’ And they were scolding her” (Mark 14:3-5)
One of the Greek words from which the term scolding (in the above text) was derived, means “to snort with anger.” It was used to describe the snorting of horses. In his book, Hints on Child Training, first published in 1891, H. clay Trumbull, considered to many to be the founder of Sunday School, explains:
“To scold is to avail or revile with boisterous speech. The word itself seems to have a primary meaning akin to that of barking or howling. Scolding is always an expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of temper…the essence of the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of strong feelings that, while eminently natural, out to be held in better control.
If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to weigh them, or to show and excited state of feeling, the parent’s first duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured, there is no use of the parent’s trying to attempt any measure of child training. The loss of self-control is for the time being an utter loss of power for the control of others.
In giving commands or in giving censure to a child, the fewer and the more calmly spoken words the better. A child soon learns that scolding means less than quiet talking; and he even comes to find a certain satisfaction in waiting silently until the scolder has blown off the surplus feeling which vents itself in this way. There are times, indeed when words may be multiplied to advantage in explaining to a child the nature and consequences of his offense, and the reasons why he should do differently in the future; but such words should always be spoken in gentleness, and in self-controlled earnestness. Scolding-rapidly spoken censure and protest, in the exhibit of strong feeling-is never in order as a means of training and directing a child.”
Convicting stuff, right? I recently wrote this post which confirms my stance that training a child should always occur outside of times of conflict. When we try to train or teach our children when our feelings are running high, we almost always resort to scolding.
Can you imagine what your parenting would like if you bucked the system and culture of parenting that scolds kids and places a premium on authoritarian methods as opposed to respect, kindness, and gentleness?
I’m not there yet. Too often I feel the urge to scold my kids, but I have made a lot of progress. This is a daily practice for me, and I would love to see some of you commit to practicing self-control in the way we speak to our kids too. Take a look at these passages that affirm a more gentle approach and a more effective way to reach the hearts of our kids:
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3
Let all that you do be done in love. I Corinthians 16:14
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
“…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:3
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Take some time to evaluate what leads you to scold your children in the first place and consider how you can respond Biblically in those moments. Make a plan in advance to handle the difficult moments with self-control and wait until you can speak calmly and lovingly towards your kids. And remember that a lot of good can come from asking your kids for forgiveness when you fail. I have eaten more than my fair share of humble pie, but it goes a long way for our kids to see us working on our weaknesses too! That in and of itself is a great life lesson!
Let’s commit to growth in this area of our parenting! Let’s put scolding on the shelf and replace it with words that will build our kids up while also giving them loving correction with kindness!
Pray With Me:
Father, I want to be patient and have self-control as a parent. I don't want to scold my kids and spew angry words at them. It hurts them! I need Your loving help and strength to guard my mouth. Change me from the inside out so that I see my kids as You do, Lord-impressionable, fragile, blessings, gifts! Keep me from scolding and lecturing and help me to point them to you and train them up in times of peace and calm, not in the aftermath of conflict or the heat of the moment. Give me wisdom!
In Jesus Name, Amen!
Note, this post contains an affiliate link to the book I mentioned and when you make any purchase through that link, I make a few cents to support my ministry at NO EXTRA charge to you! Thanks for your help! :)
YOUR TURN! Do you scold your kids more than you care to admit too? Can you see the benefit, from a Biblical perspective, of speaking in a way that is gentle and consistent as opposed to becoming angry and spewing the first words or lectures that come to mind? What can you do differently for your own growth, even if your kids never changed?