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Some of the Most Poisonous Words You Can Say
Don't appeal to the crowd.
When your children are acting up or disobeying, especially in public, parents can be tempted to say the worst thing possible. It’s some form of the following:
“What will people think?”
“I can’t believe you would do that in front of all these people!”
“Don’t you know you’re embarrassing me?”
What’s wrong with saying these things? They train the child to look for the approval of others as their standard of behavior. They train a child to care about the opinions of others.
The last one is especially pernicious because a child should care what his parents think. But, his parent’s feelings of embarrassment are not the standard he should be measured against.
All of these things will cause a child to tiptoe around, looking over his shoulder, making sure he doesn’t upset the wrong person. The child’s behavior is skin-deep. It hasn’t reached his heart and marrow. They will happily join the latest mob. They will think nothing of participating in the latest fad. All of this is potentially soul-destroying stuff.
You want brave, dangerous children who will do what’s right regardless of what anyone else thinks of them. Children who laugh in the face of a mob. Children who don’t care if they are hated as long their own conscience is clean. Children who don’t mind standing alone. Children who are the right kind of rebels.
Do not make them slaves of other people’s opinions. You risk crushing their spirit so they dissolve into the blob of conformity. Or, they might rebel in all the wrong ways against your oppressive
Try these alternatives instead:
“That behavior is unacceptable.” Follow up by telling them why, appealing to the proper standard. God hates it, it was direct disobedience, etc. Do not appeal to the watching crowd.
“This was the wrong place for that behavior. Let’s talk about the right times you want to do that.”
“That was brave, but unwise. I’m proud of you, but here is how to spot better opportunities.”
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