Good morning, Five Minute Families. Do you ever cringe when you see a video of a parent shaming his or her child? Like one of those where the child is standing on the street corner with sign stating what they did wrong. Ephesians 6:4 admonishes us parents, “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Public shaming seems to fit in the category of stirring up anger in our children to us.
Notable greats throughout history have applied the “praise publicly; criticize privately” adage and applied it quite effectively. Vince Lombardi won five national football championships, and he was a big proponent of the concept. Many families will adopt such a motto or tailor it to themselves with something more along the lines of “praise in public; punish in private” or “public commendations; private corrections.”
Appreciation feels good, and as family members, we should desire to bring good and fond attention to our loved ones’ strengths. Proverbs 27:2 points out that we are to let another praise us instead of ourselves, so if family members make it their goal to praise one another in public, it helps build trust and admiration within the family unit.
To be biblically strong, our family identities must include a culture of constructive correction. A large part of parenting is remembering that Hebrews 12:6 tells us that even “the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives.” Constructive feedback about our weaknesses and how to address them is helpful and good. While the term criticism may have negative connotations, we must remember the discipline, instruction, admonition, and punishment are all aspects of learning that a child (and, truly, we adults as well) need in order to grow more mature and responsible and to grow in the sanctification process.
A second reason for private correction comes from Matthew 18:15 which encourages us that, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” If we step into a public forum for correction that should have begun in private, we lose the opportunity to deepen understanding and growth. Proverbs 15:1 tells us that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Even if we don’t intend it, a word of correction in public can be taken much more harshly than a word in private because embarrassment adds to the feelings and thought patterns.
However, there are exceptions, and a five-minute family must know when to apply the guideline and when to break it. Most of the time, it is a fairly good policy to follow. Sometimes, our family member will mess up big time in public. If that behavior is left unchecked in public, then other people outside the family may think that this wrong behavior is acceptable. If someone outside the family unit was wronged or hurt in the process, then a public correction may be needed for the good of everyone involved. We must be loving and prayerful if we feel that this is the correct approach.
On a final note, please realize that another instance in which the “public praise; private correction” idea might not be the best would be in the case of an Introverted family member, especially children. For some people, any public acknowledgment of them can bring them much embarrassment and concern, and may even lead them not to do well in the future because they do not want to be in the spotlight. We must know our loved ones and meet them where they are in this occasion.
Parents, we should encourage our children to respectfully address their concerns about us as well. Not publicly but privately. Now, we can address our own parenting fails publicly if we feel that others who know us will be able to learn from our mistakes, but nonetheless, our children need to know how to address concerns that they see in others and working through those challenges within the family unit will allow you to grow in your parenting skills and your child to grow in their interpersonal communication skills.
If you and your family as well as families you are living life with want to learn more communication and biblical relating principles, we would love to chat with you about coming to Clear View Retreat for a family camp next year. A family camp is out of the norm in most circles, but the families who have made the trip say that they learned together, had fun together, grew closer, and have better relationships after investing a weekend of time in each other. Check out our website clearviewretreat.org for more information. Be blessed.