There I was, a grown woman standing in the middle of my kitchen, being lectured. My roommate had moved in a few months earlier, a friend of a friend. I figured that as long as she wasn’t an axe-murderer and she paid the rent on time, I was good to go.
It turns out that this little lady had big problems with just about everyone and she wasn’t afraid to let them know. She loved to lecture people and now it was my turn. I don’t recall the particulars but it doesn’t matter. She truly believed that the most effective way to get people to do her bidding or come around to her way of thinking, was to get in their faces. I didn’t enjoy any of it. I wasn’t open to listening to her because she was condescending and it was a true struggle to not harden my heart toward her entirely. The best part about our relationship was when we parted ways.
When I became a mom, I never thought to myself, “when my kids are older, I’m going to lecture them” and yet sure enough, I did. If my kids needed a lesson, I launched into a good ole fashioned talking to despite my intentions to avoid angry lectures. Even though it never did any good, I kept yammering away, expecting them to rise up and cheer or humbly admit their wrongdoing and become angelic little soldiers who fell into line. Instead, they had the same kind of reaction I have when someone spews a bunch of irritated words at me. It made them angry.
I don’t like being lectured so why do I think that will go over well with my boys?
Here’s the thing. When my children misbehave, I will probably always feel like giving them a lecture. That’s okay. The feeling—the temptation itself, is not the problem. What’s not okay is if I give in to it. I have learned over the years that talking to them about an issue during a time of peace and calm accomplishes what I want most of the time. They listen, take my words to heart, and feel loved. I can teach and train them while modeling a Christ-like attitude. In the end, our relationship is stronger. Better.
The lecturing mom is a losing mom. We win the battle for the hearts of our children when we speak to them with dignity and offer them the respect we want them to give to us. Treating others as we want to be treated is a foundational principle in Scripture. Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” If I don’t want my kids to lecture me, then I certainly shouldn’t be lecturing them.
I still struggle with this at times, no doubt about it. But these days, we strive to communicate in far more loving ways. Maybe we talk about our tone of voice with one another over ice cream cones in the backyard, or we discuss what it means to listen and obey their dad while washing dishes together. Sometimes I ask them about being truth-tellers after watching a movie where a main character’s lies got him into trouble or we chat about kindness when we see someone offer to hold the door for them at a store. Gentle conversations that are intentionally built into the everyday moments of our lives feel much more special and far more helpful.
Working on being kinder communicators is a continual goal we are all striving for at our house. It makes our home a lecture-free zone--and that’s something we all can live with.
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