A tall platform at the Colorado Springs Zoo gives patrons a once-in-a-lifetime, eyeball-to-eyeball experience with giraffes, the gentle giants of the animal kingdom. Not quite two, my little grandson fed lettuce leaves to his new tame and very attentive friends.
“Look at those big brown eyes!” I crowed. “Big, beautiful eyes like yours!”
“Long purple tongue!” he roared with a husky laugh, absolutely delighted with the monstrous, deep violet mouthful of muscle the giraffe was using to seize the lettuce leaves from his extended hand.
Once I had adjusted my own lens to a two-year-old male perspective, his response made perfect sense to me. Having raised four little boys, I’m sure I’ve heard every bathroom joke, dodged ten thousand Nerf bullets, removed countless dead worms from little jeans pockets, and spent hours of my life hushing potty talk and teaching good manners at the dining room table.
It’s amazing! Those adorable little bundles wrapped in blue who come home from the hospital smelling like baby shampoo don’t take long to become obsessed with gross humor, bodily functions, and things that make adult females cringe. It seems that part of the boy mom’s job description is coming to terms with the Yuck Factor and steering our little darlings toward commonly held standards of civility.
We do this by cultivating an appreciation for good manners and by making them aware that their potty mouth is offensive to us and to others. We remind them consistently that their bodily functions are simply not as fascinating to everyone else on the planet. And we do it every day, so if you’re getting discouraged, read on… I’m remembering life with four sons around a noisy dining room table and offering tried and true tips on teaching common courtesy and mutual respect to rambunctious boys. CLICK HERE to join the conversation!
Let courtesy and mutual respect be your family’s rule of law. The Golden Rule prescribes a way of eating at the table, sitting in the family room, or even riding in the minivan: Whatever you wish others would do to you do also to them.Tweet
And since, sometimes, moms and sons have to forgive one another, this resource is timely, so …
Let’s Talk Books!
With the topic of forgiveness finding its way into the news in the wake of every new outrage, Tim Keller’s argument in favor of forgiveness is relevant–and in Keller-esque manner, it is also convincing. Forgive sets out to answer the two most basic questions around forgiveness: Why should I and how can I? Keller begins his argument in the same place Jesus did–with the parable of the unforgiving servant, a man who was forgiven much but then withheld forgiveness from his fellow servant.
Emerging from an era in which survivors of abuse were pressured to “forgive and forget,” it’s clear that the concept of forgiveness comes freighted with baggage. Is there a contradiction between granting forgiveness and advocating for justice to be done? Keller asserts that biblical forgiveness poses no threat to victims and no loophole for the guilty.
When we forgive, we forfeit our “right” to retaliate. “Forgiveness means the cost of the wrong moves from the perpetrator to you, and you bear it [in] a form of voluntary suffering.”
Too, while forgiveness and justice go hand in hand, the true test of forgiveness is a willingness to reconcile. (It should be noted that reconciliation need not include returning to the risk of further harm!) True forgiveness happens only in the heart of one who has identified with the wrong-doer as a fellow sinner also in need of infinite quantities of forgiveness.
One important clarification the book provides involves the notion of earned forgiveness. Rather than interpreting Jesus’s words in Matthew 18:35 (“this is how my heavenly Father will treat you unless you forgive…”) as merit-based, a better interpretation focuses on heart change. “Divine mercy should change our hearts so that we are able to forgive as God forgave us. If we will not offer others forgiveness, it shows that we did not truly repent and receive God’s.”
Like all acts of true righteousness, forgiveness flows from the new heart as evidence of our relationship with God. It is not a condition, but, rather, a response.
The Bible models a forgiveness rooted in costly grace, but forgiveness is an entirely different proposition from excusing. When we ask for forgiveness, we admit to our guilt without excuses. When we grant forgiveness, we acknowledge that harm has been done and that the perpetrator is in the wrong and bears the responsibility for the affront. Therefore, forgiven people must still bear the consequences and penalties for their actions.
Forgive by Tim Keller is a review of the gospel, a glorious acknowledgment that sin is deadly and guilt is real, and yet God’s mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance are so rich that we will spend the rest of our lives deepening our understanding of his love for us. The message is not, “Forgive and be forgiven,” but rather, “Be forgiven–and then forgive.”
Holding You in the Light,
Forgive by Tim Keller is a review of the gospel, a glorious acknowledgment that sin is deadly. Guilt is real, yet God’s mercy is deep. It’s not, “Forgive and be forgiven,” but rather, “Be forgiven and then #Forgive.” @VikingBooksTweet
How Will You Come Close to God in the Days Leading up to Easter? (Here’s a FREE Resource to Help…)
As a gift to my newsletter subscribers, I’ve created a collection of 20 devotional readings called Come Close to the Story, a preparation for your true celebration of resurrection on Easter Sunday. This Lenten season I invite you to join me for a daily pause—most readings should take five minutes or less—to come close to the story. In your busy life, remember that Easter is on its way. Affirm your belief in resurrection power, and then admit that without a death, there would be no resurrection.
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2 thoughts on “How Can I Discourage My Son’s Potty Mouth and Encourage Good Manners?”
I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with saying a giraffe has a long purple tongue. 🙂 But even though I don’t get that one, with three boys, we’ve had plenty of experience with the things you’ve mentioned. I loved your idea of the fancy Valentine’s Day and “passing the pitcher” practice. And sometimes you do just have to laugh.
I read years ago that when James Dobson was trying to teach his kids to place the napkin in their lap first thing at a meal, they had a rule that whoever forgot had to stand up and sing–including the parents. Thought that was a fun way to help establish that habit.
I agree, the Golden Rule is the best guide.
My point with the purple tongue was just that little boys seem to delight in and notice gross details rather than more lovely things.