I spent some time with a friend and her children the other day. It had been a while since we had seen each other. Kids sure change quickly in a short amount of time. We couldn't believe how each other's had grown since the last time we saw one another. Most noticeably to me, however, was the way her elementary children talked to me. When they needed to know where something was, they looked directly at me, spoke clearly and loud enough. They used 'please' and 'thank you' without being prompted by a nearby parent. I was visibly impressed and commented to my friend that her children had stellar manners.
As I reflected more on our time together, it became clearer to me why her children made an impression on me. It wasn't just what they did, but also what lack of I see from so many other children day to day. I was at the store recently and a mother was asking her son, who was about the same age as my friend's boy (7 yrs.), what yogurt he wanted. As she went through the varieties, his responses to her where disheartening and frankly uncomfortable to hear. "Ah, yah. Ah, no." With all the attitude included. And the mom, she seemed oblivious to the whole thing, perhaps just happy to get an answer out of her boy.
Our children know that they are expected to speak kindly to any adult, be it a parent, grandparent, store clerk, neighbor, teacher, etc. Unfortunately, I think a lot of parents give up too early when teaching their very young children how to be respectful to them. And in return, they and their children miss out on the rewards that come from leading a life of properly placed respect.
In chapter 1 of the book of Daniel in the Bible, we see that Daniel was taken as a youth from his family and forced to live in a foreign culture, and given food that was forbidden by his God. It is recorded in two separate instances where he makes a request to an authority that would allow him to follow the dietary laws of his faith. The scriptures say that God had given Daniel favor in the sight of these authorities. Let's think about this for a minute. This child, probably a very young teen, ripped from his parents, was asking to do something other than his captor had commanded just because he wanted to obey his God. Aside from the awesome fact that he was standing up for what he believed in, I want you to notice how he must have talked to the authorities in such a way that God had given him favor with them.
When my friend's children spoke to me with respect, I wanted to help them, I wanted to 'go that extra mile' to see that they had what they needed. By them treating me with respect, I treated them with respect in return. I know that I have felt this in my own life, and I think we can see that happening in the Daniel example as well. My husband and I often tell our children that many good things come from talking rightly, and it starts at home. What is done at home will overflow into other settings, and it should, for the home is the training ground for life.
These 2 very different examples that I came upon were a strong reminder for me to stay the course with our children. I want them to have the best opportunities in life. It's not easy to stay on top of disrepectful attitudes, but the rewards are much longer than the toil it took to train them.
Be encouraged my mom friends, your hard work is worth it!