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5-minute Commentaries 13 March 2006
RAISE YOUR CHILD — NOT YOUR VOICE!
"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32, KJV).

The title of Duane Cuthbertson's book says it all--Raise Your Child--Not Your Voice! While we smile at the humor, the title reminds us that when logic fails, we parents usually turn up the volume to get our child's attention. Howard Hendricks recounts playing with a friend as a youth when the friend's mother called him. He ignored her voice. The mother called again, this time louder. He still ignored his mother's voice. Howard said, "Don't you hear your mother?" "Yeah, I hear her," commented the friend. Still he didn't make any effort to respond. Meanwhile the mother's voice grew louder and more intense.

Finally, recounted Hendricks, the friend said, "I got to go now!" "But you knew that when you first heard her," remonstrated Hendricks. "Yeah," said the friend, "but when her voice gets that high I know she really means it!"

Do you as a parent ever find yourself yelling at your children because you can't get their attention or cooperation? Does it work? Not really. When you make yelling a habit, logic and cooperation break down. Not only is your child out of control, but you're out of control as well. And when you as a parent are out of control, don't expect your child to be in control. When you scream at your children, eventually your children will scream back at you, and when that happens you come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Is that really fair? Should children be punished for doing exactly what we as parents have taught them to do? The real problem is not what the child is doing; it's what we as parents are doing. Children learn from us parents, and, at times, we teach them exactly what we deplore.

When you find yourself yelling at your children, back off and apply these suggestions.

Guideline #1: Remember, parenting is the raising of children by parents, not the raising of parents by children. Somebody is going to be in control--either you or the child, and it had better be you as a parent. That's what God intended.

Guideline #2: Be aware that with responsibility comes authority. It's the result of who you are, not how loud you are. It isn't established by noise, so when you tend to find yourself "out of control" you've got to first get control of yourself so that you can exert control over your offspring.

Guideline #3: Discipline yourself first--then your child. I'm thinking of the father who had his three-year-old with him shopping. A sales clerk overheard the dad saying, "Take it easy, John." "Take a deep breath...." "Don't let that get to you." Finally, the clerk walked up and said, "I want to congratulate you on John's good behavior. He's a darling boy." The father replied, "John's not his name--it's my name!"

Guideline #4: Speak gently. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. When a child is pushing you to the limit, a word of warning is always in order. Children are intelligent. They learn quickly, and when they know that a verbal warning is the only thing that stands between them and discipline, you will be amazed how quickly their hearing improves.

Guideline #5: Strive to be consistent. That's hard when we as parents come home stressed out, under tension, and tired to the bone. At times our children become the victims of ourselves, and easy targets for our pent-up emotions and feelings.

Screaming or yelling at your children is never the answer. When you begin to lose control, take a deep breath and pray, "Lord, help me--I feel like I'm losing it." You'll be amazed at what happens.

Resource reading: Colossians 3

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