Quiet Time

At church, we usually sit near a family that reminds me of my own. They have six children, three boys and three girls. Their father is in the bishopric, like mine was for several years, so he sits up on the podium. Jenny pointed out that since they sit close to the front of the congregation, the father can keep an eye on the kids, and she regularly notices him signaling to them through facial expressions.
I don’t particularly remember behaving well during church; I don’t know what our parents did to keep us occupied and quiet. I do remember lots of people commenting on it–almost as if the defining quality of our family was that we stayed quiet. At least in part because of our good manners in church, people came to think that we were well-behaved in general.
For one reason or another, I was thinking about this topic on Sunday, and had a chance to ask the father of this family about how he and his wife managed to keep their children in order during church. He didn’t even have to think before launching into a detailed and enthusiastic description. Overall, I think that I would describe their plan long-term strategic management. First, he said that they know what their kids like, and what occupies their attention and keeps them quiet; they use those things during church. They also use some disciplinary methods–for instance, he had noticed that they didn’t have any notepads that particular day, so he guessed that they must have done something to lose that privilege. More than that, he said that they practice; e.g. when the kids are young, they sometimes practice sitting quietly for an age-appropriate amount of time.
That brief conversation serves as a window to their overall parenting technique. Having been the recipients of a dinner invitation from them, we know that on a regular basis they invite people over. In preparation for and during such social interactions, they also practice appropriate behavior, manners, conversation topics, and so forth.
I have interacted with their boys in Cub Scouts, so I know that they have as much energy and rambunctiousness as anyone, so I think that we can attribute their good behavior to training more than temperament.
Jenny and I still have plenty of time before we’ll be in the thick of that kind of parenting, but I’m trying to stay ahead of the game. My one takeaway from observing this family has been that we should make long-term plans, and remain actively engaged. Please leave a comment with your thoughts! Mom and Dad, what did you do to keep us quiet during church? Brothers and sisters, do you remember anything else?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Quiet Time

  1. Lisa

    I can’t imagine a time when you ever did anything even the least bit objectionable, Mark. Really.

  2. Lisa

    I guess what I’m saying is that you have good genes, behavior-wise… but perhaps you don’t want to put all your eggs in that basket.

  3. beatthedrum

    Just a quick comment its not always about keeping them quiet but alsogetting them to participate. I have wrote a few ideas down about how we have done this on my blog

    http://beatthedrum.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/let-the-little-children-come-to-me-and-do-not-hinder-them-for-the-kingdom-of-god-belongs-to-such-as-these/

    Have a read and see what you think

    Beatthedrum
    http://www.beatthedrum.wordpress.com

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