Friday, June 25, 2010

Our new speaking guidelines

I love the added freedom in our schedule that summer brings.  I love that the kids get to play more with friends and one another.  But I don't love the way I've been overhearing them talk to one another.  We've instituted some new speaking rules, well guidelines really. 

1.  Is someone else talking?  If yes, then wait.  If no, then proceed to next question.

2.  Is what I want to say true and important?  It's not that my children are all pathological liars, but I've been noticing this trend toward talking just to be heard, especially among my younger children.  What they say may be completely absurd, they just want everyone's attention on them.  And the important part is to remind them that mindless chatter devoid of any substance is more noise than communication.

3.  Is what I want to say kind and encouraging?  We spent almost an hour yesterday role playing different situations because almost anything that needs to be said can be said in either a kind and encouraging way or a defensive and ugly way.  I hope they're beginning to get the idea.  For example, let's say American Boy (4) has failed to pick up his room.  One could say something simply awful in an accusatory tone like, "You're room is trashed!  What have you been doing all this time?!"  Or the same important information could be conveyed in an encouraging way by saying something like, "Your room is looking a bit better, but I see  you still need to put your books away.  Do you remember how to do that using two hands so that you slide each book into your shelf neatly?"  You get the idea.  And by the way, I really need to work on this, too!

Last night during family worship rather than scouring Proverbs for every verse on the tongue (Big D has a 5 page Word document on this that he's promised me he'll bring home), we decided to focus on a few passages that the kids already know by memory.

"Therefore, putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth to your neighbor, for we are members of one another.  Be angry, and do not sin:  do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.  Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.  Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all maliceAnd be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints, neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks."  Ephesians 4:25-5:4 (emphasis mine)

Then Measle Bug recited 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 for us and we talked about what it means that "love bears all things".

I find myself getting frustrated that we study these verses, learn them by heart, but then don't obey them.

My prayer is that the Word of God that we hide in our hearts really will keep us from sinning against God (Psalm 119:11).  Our desire as parents is not to fill our kids with theological knowledge so that they can be experts in Bible trivia or impress others with their sharp minds.  Our goal as parents is for the powerful Word of God to change their hearts and minds (and ours, too) and conform them to the image of Christ.  I know this part is a work of God that I cannot do in my children.  But rather than being frustrated which is not profitable, I need to be all the more diligent to keep them saturated with the Scriptures so that God's Word can do it's work.

Do any of you have speaking guidelines in your home?  What are they?  Have they worked?

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.