Joan, a viewer, asks:
I'm 77 years old and love your show. I wish I would have seen it when my children were young. I would have done things a lot different. You are doing such a beautiful job of raising your children. Do or have you ever had to spank your children?
Michelle: We have people ask us that all the time. We’ve really chosen to focus on praising our kids for good character, for Godly character. And as we do that, we find that we have a lot less trouble with correction when we are constantly looking for ways to praise them.
When we see them do a kind deed we praise them publicly. We always say, “You deserve praise.” You praise someone publicly, but if you’re going to have to correct someone, you correct them privately. You take them aside and talk to them privately so that you don’t humiliate them in front of people.
And by doing that I think it really sets a tone in your home of peace and harmony and a joyful place to live – it really is a happy place to be. The kids don’t dread coming home because they know this is the place they’re going to get strengthened and encouraged, and they’re going to have the energy to go out and do great things from here. To be able to stand alone when tough things come their way and know in their heart, “You know, that’s not right. I don’t want to partake in that because I can see the destruction that’ll come.” So when the home is the center of their worth as far as them being strengthened and edified and encouraged, they know they can go out and do anything set in front of them and do great things for God. That’s our goal.
So in training the little guys, day in and day out, if I see the little ones not being kind to each other, I will take them aside and I will deal with them and talk to them and have them work this out amongst themselves and learn to communicate and be kind to each other. And then when I see them being sweet and doing what’s right, I make a big deal! “Oh, Jennifer, you were such a sweet big sister! You got Jordyn a cup. You are so sweet! What a kind thing to do!!”
We’ve learned all the character qualities — we’re working on that for these little guys now. But the bigger ones, when they were little, we [talked about the] the definition of kindness: Seeing needs in the lives of others as opportunities to demonstrate love for Christ. “So when you got your sissy that cup of water, you were showing her love and kindness by doing that. You didn’t have to that; it wasn’t your job. But you saw that she was thirsty and you did that just because of your love for your sissy and because you love Jesus and Jesus tells you to be kind to others.” I always point them back to the reason why they want to do what’s right. And when you praise that character of kindness, they want to be more kind. Every time they get an opportunity, they’re going to look for a way to be kind.
And it doesn’t just have be our kids. Our spouses, the people we work with every day, people at school, all of us need to be encouraged. That’s why God gives us that scripture that says, “Encourage one another and build each other up, for this is right.” So often the natural inclination of us would be to look at all the negative, “They didn’t empty that trash. They know that’s their job. I can’t believe they didn’t do that …” We usually will spot the negative things – those tend to be the first things we see.
I think biting your tongue as a parent and saying, wait a minute, hold on. Let me look for something good. Surely there’s one thing good that they did! (Laughs) I’m going to find that one thing and then I’m going to find the character quality and praise them for it. Even the tiniest little effort they made, you’re building character. When you focus on the Godly character, it makes a much happier place to live. Learning to bite your tongue when you want to be negative and praising each other – it’s contagious. Then our children learn to praise by example. And so there’s a lot less correction going on.