Friday, March 04, 2011

Teachable Moment: Reputation

I'm gonna tell you right now that this post is going to end with a quote by Luigi. Because he is one passionate little car. And he's Italian. Two things I respect.

Today I worked in my son's K-garten class. That is always an interesting experience. And it was a completely disgusting germ fest, given the number of apparently ill children in that room. I don't know how that teacher survives it without a full on hazmat suit. But I swear, every week, that 90 minutes I volunteer is by far some of most well-spent time of my week. I learn volumes about my child and the way he is interacting in the portion of his world I am in no way controlling.

So today, a pretty little lady friend of his came up to me, pointed to my son across the room and quietly said, "Um, he sometimes doesn't listen." She was probably a first born, making sure I knew there were shenanigans happening with my child. I said, "Oh. Does he sometimes make a bad choice?" and she replied, "Yea, and sometimes he doesn't be a good listener and sometimes he gets his pin moved down." (They all have clothespins that get moved up or down depending on behavior.) I wasn't shocked or anything. At all, actually. Remember this post?

But I thought her words would make for a good teachable moment later. I thought I'd mention it to him when we got home and perhaps talk a little about the word "reputation". Now, my son is actually pretty mature for a K-gartner, by the way. I didn't get the sense at all that this was over his head, or I would have saved my "teachable moment" speech for a later date. But when I shared the story with my son, he said, "Yea, a lot of kids say that about me and tell the teacher when I do something bad." He didn't seem to like being turned in for his classroom crimes. At that point, I saw the green light go on for introducing the idea of why a good reputation was important.

But first, I went to Bible Gateway, the site I ALWAYS use to look up anything and everything, and searched for verses that included the word "reputation." It wasn't giving me what I wanted, but I recalled that somewhere I'd read verses that talked about the value of desiring a "good name." That search led me to Proverbs 22:1. I then grabbed my daughter's Bible, which is the NIRV (NIV version for young readers, in simplified language - LOVE IT!) and read it to my little guy in that version:

You should want a good name more than you want great riches.
To be highly respected is better than having silver or gold.
It took a little explaining of the words "highly respected." And what it meant to have a good name. Of course, I clarified that the verse does not mean having a cool name, but it means it is important what people think about you when they hear your name. Then I gave examples: "Let's think about daddy. When he is at work, and when someone hears his name, they think 'Yeah, that guy is a really hard worker, and he treats others with kindness.' That means daddy has a 'good name' at his job; people think good things when they hear his name. That's also called having a good reputation. And the Bible says it is something we should want even more than lots of money. That is how special it is." 
He was totally tracking with me. I then neatly printed the verse on a 3x5 card and said he'd be memorizing this verse this week. (We simplified the words a little so that he could read them all.) Now, this is the first time I've required scripture memory as a form of correction. I have some mixed feelings about it. Of course, I'd never want scripture memory to be associated with punishment! But the Bible also says that all scripture is "useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness," (2 Tim 3:16). My son has done pretty well at memorizing verses in AWANAs for the past two years, so I know he can do it without a problem. I'm just aware that I need to be very careful at how I present such a challenge.
I was so impressed that at dinner tonight, when I asked my son to show his verse card to my husband, he was able to explain the entire thing in his own words. When my husband asked him what it meant to have a "good name" he knew. And when my husband asked an even trickier question, "What is something someone may say about you if you have a good name?" he said, "Wow, (his name in 3rd person) is a really good listener in class." It stuck. Kinda shocking, huh?
You know that feeling when you realize something you chose to do as a mother actually worked? Well, today I had that feeling for a moment. And my feelings would best be expressed in the words of Luigi from Cars: I must scream it to the world, my excitement from the top of someplace very high!

Because you know what? My parenting ideas don't always work. And maybe my 5-year old won't have an improved reputation amongst his peers by the end of the year. But truth was heard today in my home, and that conversation will surely be revisited over the years.

The truths of the Bible are just seeds. I just need to plant one every so often. Imagine what may just spring up...


  1. Oh I love this sooo much. Thank you for sharing this wisdom!! My little boy is in kindergarten this year as well and I've been running to God for wisdom like never before! What a great verse to use!

  2. This is so lovely and encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yay! What a great, encouraging post. My same-name little guy would benefit greatly from memorizing this verse. I love how memorized verses can be the springboard for all sorts of discussions; once we understand the truth of the verse, it can be applied to so many situations!

  4. I love this teachable moment! I often have my kids copy out applicable verses when certain behaviors need to be dealt with. It's not their favorite thing, but I know it works because my mom did the same thing when I was little. We need to saturate them with God's truth every chance we get!

  5. great post!
    and great mommy-ing.
    not too controlling and not too ignoring (in my humble opinion)....

  6. [super long comment alert!] "You know that feeling when you realize something you chose to do as a mother actually worked?" totally know the feeling... even though my little one isn't even two, i totally know that feeling. and i'm so glad this particular strategy worked for you! like shauna mentioned (and she knows you way better than i do) it was probably just the perfect approach to help him to learn from what you were teaching, rather than feel like you were trying to force him to be a good boy. the verse isn't telling him specifically to obey you, or anyone else really. it's giving him an over-arching principle that will hopefully remind him to obey the teacher in hopes of greater reward, which is: a good name. ah, i love it!