How Much and How Long, Lord? Part 4 When Children Misbehave in Front of Guests

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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.

foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.
Proverbs 17:25

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.
Proverbs 10:1-2

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!

22 Replies to “How Much and How Long, Lord? Part 4 When Children Misbehave in Front of Guests”

    1. Thanks, Whittney! So glad to have you here. I, too, love to spend a relaxing day with family. Those are precious. We find we have to plan them, because other things squeeze out and push in to rob us of time together, especially just relaxing time being together. Thanks for sharing!

  1. Happiest Birthday, Wendy!

    Is it 29 years…(again??) 🙂

    You give the wisest advice – and this post has so much practical information in it. It’s helpful to know how to handle some of those *sticky* situations that arise!


    1. Sharon,
      Thank you! I actually own up to all 55 years, though (most days) I don’t feel that old:)
      The “sticky” situations (all of them) I have experienced myself, especially children acting up in public, and know that almost all children will do that at least once. But, will we allow them to do it more than once? I liked in “Growing Kids God’s Way” how they encouraged parents, when their child did something in front of someone else, to say, “We’re working on that at home.” 🙂
      Thanks again!

  2. Went to the Olive Garden for the summer birthdays this year with my mom, sister, etc. Most of us ordered the endless soup and salad — absolutely my favorite too!!

  3. HaPpY BiRtHdAy Wendy!!

    I already follow you.

    In answer to your question, I must say that I agree with everyone else. Take me out to dinner please (McDonald’s does NOT count)! That’s a special rare treat.

    1. Heather,
      Thank you! Hands-down favorite for most women, I think, is going out for dinner. Besides not having to cook (or clean up), you get to look at your hubby across a table (usually without kids) and have him all to yourself and his undivided attention for a whole meal!
      Olive Garden has their Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, which is really good, but I actually like the soup and salad all-you-can-eat the best of anything. Can you tell I love that restaurant? It is only around birthdays that I get to go out much, so I really love it.
      Thanks for sharing! (and I will, Lord willing, get you your freebie tomorrow).

  4. Yes, I would like a birthday freebie, thank you Wendy! I didn’t read the top part very carefully….favorite way to spend my birthday: taking a long walk followed by or preceded by dinner out 🙂

    1. Yes, I can see you walking by the ocean on a moonlit night with your hubby:)
      As I mentioned to Tami, I’ll be getting those freebies out tomorrow, Lord willing, because I was gone all evening! My lovely family and mom took me out to dinner! Olive Garden is my favorite; I never tire of it. And where else, in this day and age, can you get a dinner with that much food for $8.95?!
      Lots of Love,

    1. Hi Tami,
      Thanks for subscribing, and I will get your freebie out tomorrow. My family and mom took me out for dinner for my birthday:) to Olive Garden! My favorite restaurant.
      Glad to have you here!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! As a follower, you may also receive my birthday freebie:) if you’d like. Thanks for your faithful friendship and encouragement.

  5. Yes, Krista! I should have mentioned that, so thanks for asking! I am so grateful for all of my wonderful subscribers and followers–FRIENDS! You most definitely are eligible to receive this freebie! And, since I have your email as a subscriber, I will send that right away:)

    I totally agree that being taken out to dinner is probably my number one favorite thing to do on my birthday!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Since I already subscribe via email, am I still able to receive this free giveaway?

    I really enjoy your wisdom and insights on MANY topics. Thanks for your friendship.

    Oh, I really enjoy being taken out to eat for my birthday since I’m the chief cook and bottle washer on my homestead. So, for me being “taken out” is quite nice. Plus, there are no dishes involved! 🙂


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