As a child I was lectured. . .a lot.
I hated those lectures. They were incredibly lengthy. . .
And they were set up, to the lecturer’s plus, exactly like they were supposed to be: state the issue, explain the issue, restate the issue.
Here we go. If you state the issue, I get it. If you d-i-s-c-u-s-s the issue, I get bored. If you restate the issue. . .well, if I didn’t listen at the get-go what makes you think I’m going to listen now, after all that lengthy explanation that I was bored out of my mind on?
My Daddy said he could readily identify my “glazed look” very quickly into the lecture. (And yet, he persisted!)
That’s what I remember of lectures when I was a kid. I hated them. It was one thing I swore I would never do to my children.
And then I married my husband, who not only loves to lecture, but likes to throw out those emotional barbs throughout as well.
When my oldest was all of maybe 10 months and I saw my husband set him down to “correct” him about touching something off limits, I put my foot down.
We have a “one-sentence” rule in our house when it comes to correction, and people continually express their amazement that it works.
So, let’s “play this out” shall we. (Because, while I may not be wiser; I’m assuredly older and I have learned a thing or two.)
You (the parent) have just caught your child at something. (In this scenario it matters naught what it is.)
Now, all the parenting books say to deal with the “sin” immediately; thus you sit down to have a “talk”, “discussion”, “LECTURE”.
And this is good and right, right???
Do you remember that old adage of walking in another’s shoes. Yeah, well, we’re going to switch hats. Take off your parent hat for a second and re-instate the “culprit” hat. Oh yes, I said “re-instate”, because all of us have been there!
And what, pray tell, is the culprit feeling right about now? I mean they’ve just been caught. Let’s see, I’m thinking: frustration, anger, resentment, embarrassment, shame, humiliation, guilt, sadness. . .
Okay, now put the parent hat back on. Time to correct, right?
Wait just a sec. You just “caught” your child, the owner of a very precious piece of your own heart. How are you feeling? Would it be fair to say that you are feeling a good many of the feelings of the culprit? Would it also be fair to say that I could tack the feeling of “INSUFFICIENT” on to that list?
Really? And you think you’re qualified to lecture right now?
So, it’s time to correct? Right?
YES! The books are steering you true. You need to correct immediately.
But, you don’t need to lecture. In fact, think about the culprit again. If you had all those emotions raging through you. . . what would you hear in a lecture? If you had all those emotions raging through you as a parent, what are you liable to say?
Thus, the one sentence rule.
“Stop.” “Don’t do that again.” “That was not very wise.” “You are grounded for _____.” And my personal favorite, “Think, before you act.”
And you aren’t allowed to throw out an interrogative! Oh no! You may not say, “WHAT were you thinking?” For, that demands a response, and you are the parent. You are telling. Not to mention whatever they may have been thinking at the time, is now all muddled in what they are thinking / feeling now, and I can pretty much guarantee you will NOT like the answer.
And that’s the end of it?
You still have the duty to correct, and teach, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE. But it need not occur at this exact moment. Nor need the culprit’s involvement in this action necessarily ever be brought up again. (You risk putting the offender on the defensive immediately if you “hit the nail on the head” as it were.) It is amazing how many like-subjects arise day-to-day to give you a teachable moment. You can teach the offense without including the offender. And those moments all add up.
HA! I’m a fantastic lecturer! 19 years and counting! 😉