Monday, September 26, 2011

Saying Just Enough

In my early years of parenting, I read some advice that I put into practice.  It went along the lines of when young children were being disciplined for disobedience that the children must understand what they did wrong and a thorough discussion must be given for them to understand what they did wrong and to avoid the same mistakes in the future. 

I found out that this one area was one I could do well!!  Talk and explain so they could understand what they did wrong?? Yep!  I nailed it!  And I continued this tradition for many years.  Through toddlers, pre-school, school age we talked things over. I found pre-teens and teenagers seemed to need a little more attention  and the issues got a bit more complicated, so I explained in detail....even more!  And to make sure they understood, it would be sit down, look eye to eye and they were expected to graciously receive my wisdom.  Now, this technique worked well for smaller children, but quickly loses steam as age increases.

As my boys got older, when these talk times came, you could see misery on their face.  It was so important to me to pass along the right thing to do, so I often ignored their pleas and glazed over expressions while I plowed ahead in my speech.  Although I am no expert on teenagers, having been through this stage for a few years now, I have learned (finally) that this approach does NOT work!  In fact, one of the common complaints and ineffective communication tactics is forced lecturing.  As this age progresses, they usually know right from wrong and their choices come from what is inside their heart, not from mama's lectures. It becomes more effective to talk with them instead of talking at them.  So....if they are going to listen, words must be quick and to the point.  I'm learning to "Say Just Enough".

Saying just enough means no fluff or emotional words, it means addressing the issue directly.   Saying just enough can bring conviction, but must also bring hope and encouragement.  It means that be using time and energy to find fault and beat them over the head with it (as I did) turns their heart away. They may endure hearing the talk, but it doesn't impact the heart if done in a nagging manner. Saying just enough can address the wrong, but show unconditional love while drawing expectations higher for next time.  Simple power packed words - strong words that convey love, discipline and encouragement.

I"m still working on this area and my boys will remind me when I tend to get long winded - we know, you've gone over this before!  Nagging doesn't get very far! 

A few resources that I found helpful to navigate through these waters are:
Non-verbal Communication - Keep all communication skills sharp!
Five Days To Better Communication With Your Teen - a crash course to communicate better.

How does this fit into Marriage Monday?  Raising children is a tough job!  Children need the influence of both parents. This brings a balance of mom's nurturing and caring (which comes naturally) and dad's strong leadership and guidance.  As mom and dad dedicate time and effort to their marriage, children see first hand how issues, situations and disagreements are handled.  We are modeling a marriage for generations to come.  Marriage must be the first priority as we raise our children.  We were wives first, then mothers.  When the time with our children at home is finished, we will still be a wife.  Wise women keep investing in the marriage through the challenges of these years. It may be a lot of hard work with busy seasons of life, but the role of wife and mother are high callings of a woman to be embraced with God's grace to equip and sustain us.  May we dedicate each day to be the best we can be.  Our influence is limitless!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and totally agree with you about saying less with teens. I know that it is the case in my own they've gotten older, I have had to find more creative ways to "lecture" without actually you know what i mean. I love this and am wondering if i can make a copy of it for a couple of the women in my small group that i lead (we are called Got Teens?! and there are 8 of us (all CHristians) who tweens/teens....this would really add to our next meeting's discussion.....blessings to you and enjoy the week!

  2. OK, since you're getting the hang of it, and we're bloggy friends and all, do you wanna' talk to my teens? jk...

    Great advice. Parenting changes so much when the kids change, that puberty stuff is rough for us all, and it's like getting sideswiped. You have to relearn everything you thought you knew about parenting because the "rules" change. Thanks for putting the time into blogging us through what the Lord has shown you.

  3. I'm making a sign that says "Say just enough" and putting it on my mirror and steering wheel!

    I teach high school, so I see the wisdom of this concept with my students and my own children (18 and 20).

    But I also think I need to keep it in mind with my husband. Poor man still asks, "So, how was your day?" hoping one of these days he'll get a 3-sentence answer followed by delightful quiet!

  4. Good advice! I will keep this in mind as my oldest approaches the teens. I am also very good at the long explanations... gonna have to watch that:)

  5. Right on! Well said, Joyful. Especially with boys, our corrective words should be brief and factual *for their sake*, rather being than an emotional outlet for ourselves.

    And with that said, off I go!(Trying to be brief here, LOL.)

    Thanks for joining us for Marriage Monday, as always.

    Blessings, e-Mom ღ

  6. Thanks so much, Joyfull, for sharing your experience of changing approaches with teens. Now, that I have teens, these are really applicable to me so your tips here are really helpful to me. Okay, get to the point quickly especially for boys. This works with hubby so I believe this will also work with my boy. I remember this advice in "Raising Boys". Thanks for reminding me.

    Btw, I appreciate your comment in my MM post. God bless.

  7. Oh, yes, the unique challenges - and joys - of raising teenagers....and boys like even less talk. Always will:)

  8. We are modeling a marriage for generations to come. Marriage must be the first priority as we raise our children.

    Amen sister! We give our kids security when we provide a stable marriage.


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