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I’m continuing today in a Series on Hospitality, in which we’ve been talking about “How Much and How Long, Lord?“–this is Part 4–discussing when guests stay “too long” or don’t help, or you just feel that it’s “too much.” Click on the links to read all the posts on Hospitality, and this Series and join in the discussion.
Children misbehaving in front of guests and embarrassing you is one reason some families don’t practice hospitality. (We’re not talking today about when you feel that guests or their children are being a bad influence on your children. I will try to address that issue in another post.) What does a parent do if their normally obedient children disobey when guests are present? Why do children always choose the choicest moments, when guests are around and you’re wanting everything to go nicely, to act up?
Perhaps it’s because they know you can’t–or won’t–do anything about it? Of course, children will continue behavior that they are rewarded for, and discontinue behavior when there is nothing in it for them. So, they must be getting something out of it–a reward for their bad behavior–in some way.
Or maybe, in the busyness of your preparations for company, you’ve made them feel unloved, or ignored, and they are just trying to get some of the attention back. Or, maybe in their foolish little minds (they’re little, after all) they think they’re helping to entertain the guests!
As a parent, we must evaluate how serious the situation is, maybe after all the guests have gone home, find an appropriate time to talk about what is behavior which will honor our guests, and why we want to show love and honor to guests, anyway (from a Biblical standpoint).
If the behavior is more serious, then my suggestion in this situation is to examine how you are reinforcing disobedience or misbehavior and, in fact, encouraging the opposite of what you actually want.
Step back and look at what is happening; rewind the event in your mind, and look for ways your child was rewarded by his bad behavior or allowed to disobey. If the reward came from your other children or your guests, or he was encouraged (giving the child the thing they desire when they scream just to shut them up, or giving them attention–even negative attention is better than none–when they act naughty, or laughing at their “antics”–“aren’t they cute”–are just some of the ways we encourage inappropriate behavior), then you must talk to those of your children involved, and guests, (if this seems reasonable and, of course, not in the middle of your dinner party) and explain the situation and ask them to support your efforts to raise a child to be well-mannered and able to know how to behave in a social setting!
If they didn’t receive some kind of encouragement, then you need to evaluate if you are letting the behavior “slide” and not disciplining consistently, because of having guests. This is so easy to do, and our children know we don’t want to stop everything to discipline and so they take advantage of the situation!
Depending on the severity of the behavior, there might be a time when we must deliver the discipline immediately, but in any case, we must always be consistent and administer the discipline, later after the event, that the child’s behavior would have received had there not been guests present. If, horror of horrors, you have to administer discipline immediately, then with as little muss and fuss as possible, take the child to a private location and administer the discipline (See my Series on Spanking). They must not be allowed to think there are two sets of rules, or that they can disrupt and ruin a family or other event, dishonoring you and your guests.
I’m talking about if they’ve committed a serious offense, of course. If they openly rebel or sass you to your face, for instance, there needs to be immediate action. Quickly, quietly usher them to a private location and give them what they’re asking for. This is for a serious disobedience or action. They need to know that they may not act one way when it’s just your family and when others are in your home expect the rules to change.
As parents, if our children do not behave well when guests are in the home, isn’t this just showing us the areas of their heart that need the Lord’s working on? And showing us the areas we need to work on? If the heart of wisdom and maturity is not within them, and discernment is overcome by the influence of others in our home, then it will certainly not be there when they leave.
First of all, we need to help them to know and love the Lord, and to have a heart that wants to please Him in all they do. We must continue to discipline, train their hearts and behavior, be an example, and pray!
Even with small offenses and acting foolishly, if we just let the behavior go and don’t deal with it, there will never be appropriate behavior and choices (indicating wisdom) in our children. The Scriptures are true. We need to constantly be training foolishness out of our children, and training in righteousness and wisdom. Teaching is important, but training is giving an expected consequence when the thing taught isn’t happening, and clearing up all miscommunication.
A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
In a non-confrontational time and way, teach and train why and how to show love to others in a social setting, such as when you have guests in your home. Be consistent in your training, example and prayer, showing him what was inappropriate in his behavior and what he should have done differently and what is expected and why. Use lots of Scripture in your training of your child’s heart. That’s where the power is. The Holy Spirit must change his heart. Then you will see your child develop a caring heart and the ability to act in an appropriate manner when guests are in your home.
I’m linking up today at Raising Homemakers in the Homemaking Linkup!