Children are quick learners.
They may fake it sometimes but they do catch on. We all do, especially in the right environment, with the right words, the right tone. And repeated OFTEN. Haha.
We all desire to be the type of guest that gets invited back, that leaves feeling refreshed not stressed.
While it's often in the back of our minds, it shouldn't be about having someone think we are great mothers because our children are so well behaved. Right? If they aren't and they really mess up, what does that mean for you? We are back to asking the question of we are good enough. But that question has been asked and answered.
Yes, you are good enough regardless of the behavior of your children. Don't let them be the litmus test of your goodness. Don't let anything, actually.
Why? Because the Creator of the universe says so. You need to start believing it.
So, why should we teach our children to behave when a guest in someone's home?
Because it teaches them to honor people and their possessions.
It teaches them that God is a God or order not chaos and we are to live with [relative] order, even in our behavior.
It teaches them self control over their bodies.
It teaches them that Mom is helping them have tools to live and engage with people, setting them up for success.
It teaches them that you are a team and a team works together to accomplish things.
It gives you, Mom a time of connection with another Mom which is so important. Mother can be a lonely job. Linking arms with other mothers is a gift we need to treasure.
It allows you to enjoy a cup of coffee, perhaps even hot coffee.
So many good things come from teaching those sweet ones how to behave when around people.
What does this actually look like?
When on your way to a friend or family's house, talk with your children about who these people are, how you know them and your care for them, perhaps a little bit of history, always keeping it positive. It can add meaning to the visit and give your children a view of people that can stir compassion, connection, and interest.
Maybe one of your children will ask a friend questions based on what we said in the car. This teaches them to inquire of people and that they don't need to be afraid of talking to adults.
Please Note: Don't worry what your kids will say. Give them space to ask. You might laugh. You might cry or you might learn a little more about how your child thinks.
I still remember glancing back at my kid's sweet faces as we drove and asking them to tell me how they are to act when we visit a friend's house.
"We take off our shoes at the door." Yes.
"We don't jump on the furniture." Correct.
"We eat food at the table." Good.
"We look people in the eyes when they are talking to us." Cool.
"Awesome job guys! This is going to be fun!"
The first 20 times they might just think you are being silly and don't answer or simply giggle. But keep at it, reminding them OVER and OVER and OVER. It might just take that. Eventually, they will catch on, though.
To be sure, the idea isn't to make robots out of them or create children that are perfectly perfect in every way. We are simply teaching them how to honor people and their home. Honor is a lost art these days. Let's bring it back.
When my kids were babies, I remember reading an article (before the days of google) about a woman with 14 kids. The purpose of the article was to tell how rested and refreshed this mother was, how her children were a delight to her.
Honestly, at the time I thought this was strange, thinking they must live in such terror of her that they just do exactly what she says. All the time.
Knowing what was in my heart, the Lord began to show me the truth. The more I invested in training my kiddos, kindly teaching them, sweetly encouraging them, the more I enjoyed being with them, the less I expected defcon 5 to happen when we were out in public.
I did not do this perfectly. At all. I yelled a lot. I used yelling to get my point across. It never did.
In fact, my yelling took their eyes off changing what THEY did wrong and put their eyes on what I was doing wrong.
There were parts of me that were broken, wounded, from my younger years and my own making. Lies I believed about myself that I let grow and hurt me. This came out in my parenting often. But I did the best I could with what I had at the time.
Sweet mothers, your children can learn from your mistakes, too. Telling them I was sorry was a regular part of our days back then.
Fortunately, God was so faithful. He placed people in my life who helped shape me, encourage me. Staying close to Jesus allowed me to see areas that needed work. Then, we would work on them together, He and I.
Working smarter not harder looks like sharing with your kids how you expect them to behave in someone's home. It looks like being guests that people want to invite back. It looks like you and your kids being a team who blesses people and has fun doing it.
Try it and share how it went.
[This is part of a series called Working Smarter NOT Harder for Moms.]