Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Smart Aleck Kids

Nothing makes me want to slap someone as much as a smart aleck kid.  Sorry, I know that sounds horribly violent but don't worry, I promise not to smack your child even though I may feel like it.  It's just when I see a child act disrespectfully towards their parents and other adults I see a harmful spirit that has the power to destroy so much of that child's life unless it is stopped.  I have no problem with punishing children when it's done right, but the problem of being disrespectful has a root that needs to be dealt with, that punishment alone is not going to resolve.

Teenagers that roll their eyes, make snide remarks and always have to answer back to their parents are, believe it or not, looking for a strong example of a parent to look up to.  They may not be balking at your firm hand of discipline as much as the fact that they feel unsure of your authority.  Parents can give very conflicting messages:  "I have slept around with a lot of guys, your father was a loser just like your brother's father, but don't you dare go out to that party with those boys tonight!"  Or the mom who is always trying to cut corners at work, gossips constantly about her boss and her neighbors, eats like a slob and shouts at her son, "What kind of grades are these?  All you do is text your friends and your homework is a mess!"  If you've ignored their emotional needs, sent them off to school for others to teach and raise, had no time to invest in shaping their lives as they've grown, you've created your own monster.

Do you want your kids to respect you?  You should, for everyone's sake.  But if they see that you are unstable, insecure, hypocritical and inconsistent with what you say you believe in, they feel frustrated that they don't have a mom they can rely on.

If a mom has failed at teaching her children well by example, and now has to deal with teens with a bad attitude, it's not too late to change.  They will always long to have a home where they can safely rest knowing that you lead with God's wisdom, order and confidence - they'll never put that into words, but all children desire that from their patents.

First of all, face up to your own hypocrisy.  Talk to them about the mistakes you've made: the promiscuity, the gossip, the lying, the selfishness, the ignorance etc.  And then truly change.  Show that you are not that person any more and that because of your faith in God, you will never return to that old life.  Don't allow them to use your hypocritical behavior as an excuse to disrespect you.  If you are sincere and show them how useless a life like that was by acting completely different than you used to, they will begin to feel a measure of respect even if they don't show it right away.  If you stubbornly defend yourself, you lose.

Secondly, make it clear that any talk or behavior that cuts others down is totally unacceptable.  From you all the way down to the youngest, words that are spoken to each other should be pleasant and encouraging, even when you're showing that you're unhappy with what they've done.  Hateful arguments between the kids where they throw out angry words has to stop.  Completely.  Maybe you've always treated that as their right to "express themselves" - maybe they even learned it from you - but even if no curse words are being said, curses are still flying through all the negative, destructive things that are being said in a moment of anger.  Selfishness cannot exist in your home, and apologizing should be a natural occurrence, from forgetting to take out the trash to apologizing for any unkindness.  If you have taken the first step of changing and are doing it with all your heart, you have the moral authority to enforce the second step, and with punishment included for those who don't obey.

Yes, they will complain, they'll try to test the boundaries and try to throw your past in your face as if you were still the same person that you once were.  But stand your ground.  Reinforce to your kids that you are not that old person, that you learned your lessons and have changed by God's power, which is why everything at home needs to change too.  But act swiftly every time you see that attitude of selfishness and rebellion rise up in any of them, and the punishment should be appropriate for their age and what stings the most.  Spanking a 14 year old may work for some, but confiscating their cell phone might hurt even worse - or grounding, or extra chores - God will inspire you to choose what's right.  And then when those bad attitudes subside, even for the moment, be sure to praise them, hug them and reward them in some way that they'll be able to see that a loving home is so much better than one in conflict.

Kids with bad attitudes developed them over time and as a reaction to the confusion of your life.  It will take time to undo all of that negativity, but if done with prayer, with God's leading and with a faith that He will do the supernatural as you do your best in the natural, changes will come much sooner than you may think.  The older they get, the window of opportunity narrows.  Once they're adults, healing in this area becomes much harder and more complex, so don't think for a moment that they'll just outgrow it someday.  Make the changes now, and have a happy home for the rest of the time you have them under your roof.


suLmaaa said...

Mrs Evelyn this is so true!

I remember when I used to argue with my mom I used to pinpoint that she smoked and that what I did wasn't as bad as what she did. This always silenced her...

I wouldn't respect her because I thought she wasn't a good role model for me. I yelled at her and she yelled back. Then I'd yell that I hated her and she'd tell me mean thigns. And it was the same cycle over and over...

Eventually things changed when we started coming to church. At first my mom went and told the pastor how I argued with her and stuff and then I would get mad at her for that. I thought it was her fault if she didn't do certain things then I wouldn't get mad.

But then, my mom started smiling more and stopped smoking - I couldn't use that against her anymore. I still yelled at her but she started to remain silent! It REALLY annoyed me at first! I was used to hearing her screaming back. But that time, her silence spoke louder than any words could've...

This made me think a lot. How cruel I was and also how the pastor said that we should respect our parents no matter what or who they are...

It was only in church the fist time I can remember (in my life) I told my mom I loved her.

The parents have a lot due with how the kids are in my opinion. If they want respect then they, the parents, should be the first to give it. (Or vice-versa) :]

(sorry for the long comment)

Erika said...

This is very helpful Ms.Evelyn
I will pass this on.

Anonymous said...

I really feel bad for the parents who have to put with this kind of kids, but when the Mrs mentioned about the example that the parents give, might also be the problem, I immediately thought of that, and it made sense!

Sometimes parents out there they expect their kids etc.. to change and to do better

but if the mom or dad is not doing their part, than they are going to have to wait!

because no kid changes without seeing their own parents change first! That is how smart aleck kids work,and it is the only way they change.

Maritza Barr said...

Mrs Evelyn, not only is everything that you said true but I can relate to it.

I was extremely rebellious with my mother and often times very disrespectful. Obviously my problem went way deeper than what was visible. But, like you mentioned, I was looking for that strong parent figure who would lay down the law for me, regardless of the situation.

I ultimately was looking for a fatherly figure. Since my mom wasn't with me for long periods throughout the day, and I didn't have a father, I turned towards rebellious attitudes. For me there existed no such thing as an "authority figure," for I never saw it at home.

It was hard for me to obey teachers because I didn't even obey my own mother. But, I can see what your saying by rebuking a child when he's young. There are better chances for that child to grow up with good manners and so forth... If you try to teach them 'respect' later on in life, its merely impossible, because they already have a mind that is set up.

I makes me sad when I see how many young children start disrespecting their parents at a very early age. And, to some extent its quite frightening.

Maria said...

This is so true. I think a lot of kids are so disrespectful these days. My husband and I have 5 kids so we are way outnumbered. Knowing that we don't have all the answers we have read books, researched online for expert opinions. One website that I came across recently was Parenting Powers by Susan Epstein. She actually has a FREE teleseminar coming up this week on this exact topic. She also has a bunch of information on her site for parents with kids of all ages. For all you parents with teens, she has just about every topic covered. Her website is www.parentingpowers.com/member

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Divya said...

Very powerful message MRs. Evelyn, and probably what many parents do not want to hear. Change really start in them, and it will eventually reach their children.

That parents should talk about their own mistakes is a good point. Sometimes parents will say that it was different in their case, which does not make any sense. Like my dad when he used to smoke and tell my brother to stay away from smoking. The famous "do what I say and not what I do" speech. Thank God none of them smoke now. But I noticed that parents like to expect from their children what they do not do themselves. They will hide their faults and be intolerant with their children when they need to talk.

Sulma's and Maritza's stories are very helpful too. I learned very much from reading them.

Anonymous said...


your MN sis-in-law

Anonymous said...

I remember, when I used to be like you have just described, no matter how much my parents smacked, grounded, or punished me for my actions I always felt like I had to disrespect them for some reason, but it was only after I saw another teen doing the same to their parent and I tried to say something to her was that I realized I was just being a hypocrite and had to change my actions cause I was down right stupid. So thanks for reminding me of how I am not suppost to be, and fight to change each day!

Graciele Santos said...

Is so strong.

Izamar Romero said...

I really like Sulma's testimony (GO SISTER)

Shella-Manila,Philippines said...

Hi Mrs.Evelyn,

It's true! Thank you for this blog,It will really help us.

Alicia said...

'live what you preach'

im not a parent but this makes total sense. How can a parent expect good kids while being bad parents???

Triana ! said...

Mrs.Evelyn may God Bless you so much ,
I have a younger sister and she is 11 years old. I try so hard to tell her to not do this or dont do that face btu at times i dnt know what to do bbut you have helped me understand so much in this blog thankyou.