Monday, April 13, 2015

A to Z Challenge "K is for..."

"...Kids Behaving Badly--Yours and Other People's"
From the series "Words Matter"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Editor, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

If Someone’s Kids are Behaving Badly

Should you tell someone her kids are doing something you know she, as a parent, would not approve of? Before you pass on any information about her child, be sure the action or behavior you’re reporting is something that could harm the child (or another person), or is something you know the parents would not approve of. 

While you might not let your kids wear shorts if it is below 60 degrees outside, some parents let their kids wear shorts regardless of the temperature. Another example: In some families, using certain words might be acceptable, even if they are not words you allow used in your home. If you report something like this to parents and it is within their family rules, you risk sounding judgmental. 

If the child is doing something that is against the law--stealing, drinking alcohol, smoking--or putting himself or others in danger by posting her home address on an Internet chat site or talking
about bringing a gun to school, you have an obligation to tell his or her parents, and the proper authorities, if necessary.  

Do not pass on any information about a child’s behavior or actions unless you actually saw the event happen or know the information is accurate. The parent’s first reaction might be to become angry with you; stay calm, reassure the parent of your intentions to protect the child, and offer to help the parent deal with the problem. Here are several ways to approach this difficult situation.

What to Say

  • “Since teens have such a high rate of accidents anyway, I wanted to tell you that I saw Seymore driving well above the speed limit the other day, and he was not wearing his seatbelt.”
  • “I would want this information passed on to me if it was one of my children, so I wanted to let you know that I saw Carlie smoking with a group of kids outside of the school yesterday.”
  • “My mother saw Dexter at the mall yesterday during school hours; she knew it was him because he was wearing his letter jacket with his name on it.”
  • “My kids came home very upset after Leslie told them she was going to bring beer to school in her backpack tomorrow.” 
  • “My children were checking out your daughter’s online profile yesterday--there are some very suggestive photos on it, along with her cell phone number.” 

What Not to Say

  • “I don’t know if it’s actually true but you need to know that I heard that . . . “
  • “Your kid is going to get into big trouble if you don’t start paying attention . . .” 

What to Do

  • Pray for the wisdom to handle the situation in a way that will protect the child. 
  • Be kind, pleasant, and non-judgmental when you talk to the parents about their child. Remind them that you told them in order to help their child.  
  • Offer to give parents the phone number of a counselor, name of a helpful book, information about group meetings, or other resources as applicable to the situation, without being pushy. 
  • Realize that giving the parents this information could cause tension in your friendship. Remember that you’re doing it for the safety and well-being of their child and others. 
Don’t . . . 
  • . . . pass on second, or third, or fourth hand information.

If Someone Else’s Kids are Having Problems

It’s a difficult time for a friend if her child is in trouble or having
problems. Whether the problem is fairly minor or more serious (stealing, using drugs, being involved with a gang), parents will appreciate your  support and encouragement. 

What to Say

  • “You are all in our prayers.” 
  • “It must be difficult to have this going on in your life.” 
  • “I know you taught her different than that; sometimes as parents we just can’t prevent things like this.”
  • “Our child went through a stage where he didn’t want to go to church and turned away from God; it only lasted a few months but seemed like much longer. Hang in there! I’m here if you want to talk about it.”
  • “How are things with Colleen going?” 
  • “When my kids were doing that, I  . . . “ 
  • “A book that really helped us was . . . “
  • “You are doing the right thing, even though it is difficult.”
  • “I have the name of a counselor who is good with children of that age. Would you like the name and number?”
  • “God gives our children free will to make their own decisions, no matter what we’ve taught them.”
  • “Your work as a parent was not in vain.” 
  • “Your children have made a lot of good choices; this is just one negative one.”
  • “Hang in there . . . this too shall pass.” 

What Not to Say

  • “Here’s what you need to do.”
  • “You better do something or he’ll turn into an axe murderer!”
  • “He’s that way because . . . “ 
  • “Well that won’t help!” (when said as a reply to what the parents are trying to do to help the child).

What to Do

  • Pray for God to guide the parents to do the right thing for their
  • Call or e-mail to offer encouragement.
  • Listen without judgment; allow the parent to express his or her feelings/emotions, and accept his or her feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, fear, and so on. 
  • Offer to go with the person to seek information, talk with a lawyer, etc. 
  • Take  younger kids in the family to the movies or park or out to eat, to give the parents some time alone together or with the child who is having problems.  

Don’t . . . 

  • . . . criticize what the parents are doing (or not doing).
  • . . . spread information if you don’t know it is true.

If Your Kid is in Trouble

What to Say 

  • “We’re disappointed at the path he’s taking, but we still love him.” 
  • “That’s not how we brought him up, but he’s still our child.”
  • “We’re doing everything we can to help.”
  • “We’re keeping the details to ourselves; we’re doing everything we need to.”
  • “We are respecting our daughter’s privacy in this; please pray for her to make good decisions.”
  • “Please keep our family in your prayers.”

What Not to Say

  • “Don’t ask about it!” (Be polite about requesting your privacy.)

What to Do

  • Pray for guidance to do what is best for your child.
  • Ask parents who have been through troubles with their children, for help.

Don’t . . . 

  • . . . share any details you’re not comfortable sharing. 

Have you told parents their kids are behaving badly? What did you say?

This post is an excerpt from “What Should I Say? The Right (and Wrong!) Words and Deeds for Life’s Sticky, Tricky Uncomfortable Situations”
by Shelly Burke, RN. Coming soon!
 Download “What Should I Say” and be prepared for any of life’s sticky, tricky uncomfortable situations!
The mission of the “Nebraska Family Times” is to “inspire, encourage and motivate you on your Christian walk.” To receive local, state and national news from a Christian point of view, as well as devotions, Bible Study and articles about all aspects of Christian life, in your mailbox every month, subscribe for only $20 for 12 issues! Click “Subscribe” on the sidebar or send your address and payment to Nebraska Family Times, 209 27th St. Apt. #13, Columbus, NE 68601.
I am also taking the Blogging A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide,

where the theme is “Lifehacks for Christian Moms.”

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